Star Trek 1 (April 1980)

Star Trek #1

It’s going to be difficult to talk about this one. Not because there’s anything particularly wrong with this first issue of Marvel’s adaptation of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. In fact, there might not be anything wrong with it at all. I suppose the art could be better, but Dave Cockrum and Klaus Janson do all right. Cockrum loves doing some of the space panels.

Then there’s how they draw William Shatner. As opposed to drawing him like it’s really the Kirk of the movie, they draw him more like the Kirk of the TV show. It’s kind of cool.

This issue came out some time after the movie came out and Marv Wolfman’s script almost exclusively uses dialogue from the film itself. It plays less like a promotional material and more like something for a movie fan to take home since sell-through VHS wasn’t around yet.

It’s perfectly fine.



Star Trek: The Motion Picture; writer and editor, Marv Wolfman; penciller, Dave Cockrum; inker, Klaus Janson; colorist, Marie Severin; letterer, John Costanza; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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Empire of the Dead 3 (May 2014)

Empire of the Dead #3

Not much happens this issue; the smart zombie gets away at the end, there are other smart zombies out there, lots of dumb vampires doing stuff to get themselves found out. While he was hiding the vampires, Romero used them sparingly. This issue it’s different. They’re everywhere. The human characters from the first couple issues are practically just cameos.

The big problem with the vampires is they’re boring visually. Romero doesn’t do much with them. They attack some girl, then dump her body. Twice in one issue. The girl’s not even a character. Maleev can’t make anything exciting out of such a bland event. Worse, Romero’s doing lots of politics stuff with the other vampires.

How exciting, vampires running for mayor. It’s like “Spin City” only with vampires and not funny at all. Or even interesting.

The art and some of Romero’s ideas keep it going, but just barely enough.



Writer, George A. Romero; artist, Alex Maleev; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Jake Thomas and Bill Rosemann; publisher, Marvel Comics.


Stray Bullets 7 (November 1995)

Stray Bullets #7

It’s more adventures of Ginny, the girl with the terrible mother–not like “ha ha” terrible, but like abused one. Her dad gets cancer. Her dad who literally has to protect her from her mother and her sister. So the scary part is his leaving her, which Lapham sort of ignores.

Instead, he goes through day after day of the father getting worse and Ginny watching from the hallway. She’s totally inactive in the second half of the comic–I’m also confused about the passage of time, but whatever. It’s a wrenching experience as one goes through it, even if Lapham never tries to get it to add up.

It appears Amy Racecar would be a story Ginny writes, though Lapham never draws too much attention to it.

It’s like Lapham’s toying with giving Stray Bullets a main character. It might not be the best idea. Ginny’s sympathetic, but thin.



Freedom!; writer, artist, and letterer, David Lapham; editor, Deborah Purcell; publisher, El Capitán Books.

Stray Bullets: KIllers

Stray Bullets: Killers 2 (April 2014)

Stray Bullets: Killers #2

Lapham calls back big time to the original Stray Bullets this issue. He works it in as background, very, very discreet background. His expository dialogue is good enough a new reader could walk right in. The neat part of not going overboard with a callback is it doesn’t make the comic seem too forced. It feels far more organic.

The story concerns a teenage runaway who stops in with her aunt. The aunt’s got some problems going on, the runaway’s got some problems going on, but there’s this wonderful sense of history between the two women. Lapham infers it all, both through his composition and the dialogue.

There are complications–the girl meets a boy, the uncle is nearly catatonic–and Lapham does work his way to a sensational finale. But the things along the way are even better. He’s writing these fabulous scenes between his characters; good plotting is just gravy.



Sweet Jane; writer, artist and letterer, David Lapham; editors, Karen Hoyt and Maria Lapham; publisher, Image Comics.

Adventure Into Fear

Adventure Into Fear 11 (December 1972)

Adventure Into Fear #11

Steve Gerber writes the entire Man-Thing feature with second person narration. Everything thing is the narration talking to Man-Thing, who can’t respond as he doesn’t speak. And because it’s the narration. But if he had talked back to the narrator, the story would be better.

Because otherwise there’s not a lot of personality to it. A couple kids bring a demon from the other side, then go to the movies and the demon wrecks havoc. Without Man-Thing, the demon might have eaten the one summoning him. There’s a lot of activity, something Gerber’s narration amplifies, but nothing really going on.

Gerber does get a little mileage out of the narration, but it’s uneven and not enough. The Rich Buckler and Jim Mooney art is fine. Not great, not good, but fine.

Then the fifties back from Fred Kida is almost better just because it’s actually far weirder.



Man-Thing, Night of the Nether-Spawn!; writer, Steve Gerber; penciller, Rich Buckler; inker, Jim Mooney; letterer, Jean Izzo. The Spider Waits; artist, Fred Kida. Editor, Roy Thomas; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Rover Red Charlie

Rover Red Charlie 5 (March 2014)

Rover Red Charlie #5

Ennis sure does like going out on an ominous ending with this one. It’s somewhere between a hard and soft cliffhanger; maybe a soft-boiled one. He hints at disaster earlier too, rather blatantly. Hopefully his time to cop out with a dream sequence has passed.

Not a lot happens in the issue. He skips across the dogs crossing a desert, which seems like it would take quite a while and not just a few panels. The emphasis, besides Red (who isn’t fixed) meeting a lady dog (who looks like Lassie), is on the dogs learning to want for themselves. It’s pretty forced stuff, but Ennis is coasting on good will. Even the lamer scenes, like them coming across yet another dog who knows more about what’s going on, Ennis can coast through them too. His cast is strong enough.

It’s not a bridging issue as much as a shortcut one.



The Big Big; writer, Garth Ennis; artist and colorist, Michael DiPascale; letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.


Stray Bullets 6 (September 1995)

Stray Bullets #6

And here we get the first Amy Racecar story. Amy’s probably a stand-in for the little girl with the scars, given how silly some of the details of the story get. Amy’s a thirty-first century outlaw on a Dillinger-esque crime spree. So it’s a child’s fantasy. Also, Amy eventually gets scars on her face from her awful mother.

It’s only the sixth issue of Stray Bullets. It seems a little soon for Lapham to escape into sci-fi, gangster metaphors for an entire issue.

The Amy story’s a little easier to digest, however, since no one’s a real person. The terrible things they do and say aren’t as bad as in the regular issue. It’s an imaginary story.

The good moments–Amy has a vision of God and it causes everyone who sees it (because it’s the future you can see people’s experiences) goes insane. And it’s got a good, despondent finish.



“How I Spent My Summer Vacation” or “The Rocket Ship Of Life Is Going My Way” or “Three Cheers For God – He’s Certainly a Swell Guy” or “Home Is Where Mom Lives” or “I Don’t Care, As Long As I Gots Me Space Munchies” or “Nothing From Nothing Was Something”; writer, artist, and letterer, David Lapham; editor, Deborah Purcell; publisher, El Capitán Books.


Sheena, Queen of the the Jungle 1 (April 2014)

Sheena, Queen of the Jungle #1

If I had to guess–and I’m just going to guess because I don’t want to go look it up–from the credits on Sheena, I think script writer Steven E. de Souza and his relation, probably son, David de Souza, wrote a spec script for a movie. It did not sell. I’d even guess, based on the number of vapid college-age characters, it was written during a teen movie boom.

So then the brand owner sold it off as a comic book. Or something. Who cares.

But then the scripting de Souza got lazy and didn’t really want to adapt the movie script into a comic script. So Sheena reads like a bunch of “best of” moments from a movie. The scenes chop back and forth, with artist Jake Minor unable to work out transitions (it’s not his fault).

It could be a lot worse, but there’s nothing to recommend it.



Return of the Jaguar Men, Part One; writers, David de Souza and Steven E. de Souza; artist, Jake Minor; colorist, James Brown; letterer, Bernie Lee; editor, Paul D. Storrie; publisher, Moonstone Entertainment.

Adventure Into Fear

Adventure into Fear 10 (October 1972)

Adventure into Fear #10

Of the three stories this issue–the first two are original, the third is a sixties reprint–Man-Thing is the easy winner. The other two aren't any competition.

The reprint is a Stan Lee and Larry Lieber (probably) written tale of greed. Don Heck gets some moody art in, but nothing particularly good. The writing's lame.

Ditto for the second story, which is sort of a tale of greed. Bugsy Malone versus pirates. Allyn Brodsky's script is terrible. Jack Katz and Bill Everett contribute indistinct art.

But as for Man-Thing… the art, from Howard Chaykin and Gray Morrow, is pretty good. And Gerry Conway's script has a couple moments. Not enough, but a couple. The problem seems to be his pacing. He front loads the story setting up Man-Thing and then doesn't have enough room for a good finish. It's creepier with the bad finish… maybe Conway intended that reading of it.



Man-Thing; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Howard Chaykin; inker, Gray Morrow. The Spell of the Sea Witch; writer, Allyn Brodsky; penciller, Jack Katz; inker, Bill Everett. There Is Something Strange About Mister Jones; writers, Stan Lee and Larry Lieber; artist, Don Heck. Letterer, Artie Simek; editor, Roy Thomas; publisher, Marvel Comics.


The Field 1 (April 2014)

The Field #1

I have a very simple problem with stories where someone’s hallucinating or living the virtual reality or caught in a time warp and gets to repeat the same day over and over again. These stories are about the gimmick. They can run that gimmick out and be about something after it, but most don’t.

Will Ed Brisson have a real story with The Field after he reveals the mystery of it? Who knows. With Simon Roy on the art–my favorite image has to be this small corner of one panel of the protagonist running in his underoos–the comic will at least look good and Brisson’s writing is fine. It’s just about how he’s going to reveal the solution to his mystery.

There are undoubtedly clues this issue to the truth, but the way he layers the contradictions is more engaging. He’ll solve the mystery for the reader anyway.



Writer and letterer, Ed Brisson; artist, Simon Roy; colorist, Simon Gough; publisher, Image Comics.


Stray Bullets 5 (August 1995)

Stray Bullets #5

Lapham goes for mood a lot this issue. Only, he doesn’t do it with the art, he does it with the lettering. He does it with the “sound” going around, the dialogue. It’s a fantastic sequence. It takes place during a party, which is sort of confusing as many of the guests seem to be the same as the other party from a previous issue. But it’s definitely a different party.


Doesn’t matter.

The protagonist of the issue is a teenager who witnesses a car accident. He falls in with an older woman who knows Spanish Scott and Monster (we later learn) but mostly the story is the kid’s. He’s got an overbearing mom, a rebellious younger sister, an ineffectual dad. Lapham does a great job showing his frustration at his inability to take control of his life.

The ending, which is problematic, is also awesome. Lapham really scores.



Backin’ Up the Truck; writer, artist, and letterer, David Lapham; editor, Deborah Purcell; publisher, El Capitán Books.


Five Weapons 8 (April 2014)

Five Weapons #8

I almost feel like I need to go back and read Encyclopedia Brown to see if that series is where Robinson is getting his cliffhanger approach from. If so, I’ll bet Five Weapons reads great in a trade.

Besides the cliffhanger, which frustrates instead of intrigues (as usual), it’s an excellent issue. Enrique is investigating who poisoned the nurse and spends a lot of the issue all by himself, sneaking around the school, seeing stuff. Robinson has managed to turn the comic into a mystery book; it’s nice to see he can do things with different genres in it, though there’s always a mystery element when it comes to Enrique’s solutions, I suppose.

The opening, where Enrique talks himself out of trouble with the archery teacher, at first seems overlong. It’s a lot of talking and bad jokes. But Robinson backs them up with a good flashback.

Strong issue.



Tyler’s Revenge; writer, artist and letterer, Jimmie Robinson; colorist, Paul Little; editor, Laura Tavishati; publisher, Image Comics.

Review of an Atari Force comic book, a series published from January 1984 to August 1985 by DC Comics.

Atari Force 13 (January 1985)

Atari Force #13

So for his last issue, Conway sort of destroys the world. At least, he destroys the world of Atari Force he has been establishing for twelve issues. And he lets Joey Cavalieri write the script for it. Eduardo Barreto takes over the pencils and does a great job with everything except full page spreads. He can’t do those for whatever reason.

Cavalieri manages a few decent moments, mostly with the supporting cast, as Martin–the series’s lead at this point–dukes it out with the big villain. Lousy fight dialogue on that one. Luckily those other scenes make up for it somewhat.

The ending might have more gravity if it weren’t just thirteen issues into the series. It’s hard to care too much about it, even at a macro level. Cavalieri (and Conway) don’t earn the concern.

There is a nice backup from Paul Kupperberg, Dave Manak and Giffen, however.



The End; writers, Gerry Conway and Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Eduardo Barreto; inker, Ricardo Villagran; colorist, Tom Ziuko; letterer, Bob Lappan; editor, Andy Helfer; publisher, DC Comics.


Translucid 1 (April 2014)

Translucid #1

I'm confused, did the world really need an exceptionally pretentious superhero comic without anything to say? Because writers Chondra Echert and Claudio Sanchez don't do much so far with Translucid except lay out a superhero versus supervillain and, oh, if they aren't just alter egos (or at least one of them thinks they are). It's like Batman and the Joker… or not. Maybe Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus? No, not really.

It's actually a lot like Baphomet and Batman because Daniel Bayliss's design for the villain is a knight's chess piece and the two look similar. The less said about the hero's design, the better.

But everything else Bayliss does in the comic is fantastic. Even the bad designs are rendered well. Echert and Sanchez aren't going for a lot of realism, but they get it with Bayliss.

So does the world need the series? No. But yes to Bayliss's art.



Wild Horses; writers, Chondra Echert and Claudio Sanchez; artist, Daniel Bayliss; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Jasmine Amiri and Ian Brill; publisher, Boom! Studios.