Letter-44

Letter 44 11 (October 2014)

Letter 44 #11

Soule goes a little nuts with his application of Murphy’s law this issue. There’s a great scene where the President’s former chief of staff–recovering, somewhat, from his attack–lays out the President’s options and there aren’t many (or any). Things are going from bad to worse for the First Lady too, not to mention the soldiers in Afghanistan and then the astronauts.

It’s a great issue in a lot of ways, with Soule letting the reader know, decisively, bad things are going to happen. It’s sometimes hard to remember how serious the comic would be with a different artist; Alburquerque adds a certain cartoonish quality overall (and, again, way too much with those goofy soldier costumes) so there’s a bit of a disconnect.

As for where the comic can go… Soule’s gimmick (Obama, Bush, aliens) is over. He’s into his own territory now and he’s doing quite well there.

B+ 

CREDITS

Writer, Charles Soule; penciller, Alberto Jiménez Alburquerque; colorist, Dan Jackson; letterer, Crank!; editor, Robin Herrera; publisher, Oni Press.

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She-Hulk-(2014)

She-Hulk 9 (December 2014)

She-Hulk #9

The trial of Steve Rogers continues and… Soule fumbles it. There’s no other word for how he handles She-Hulk defending Captain America in a civil suit against Daredevil. He fumbles it.

Because there’s the accusation against Steve Rogers and then there are two possibilities–one, Soule is going for a Mark Millar/Brian Michael Bendis “break the Internet in half” crap on Captain America, which seems unlikely (so his responsibility is just to make it seem possible) or, two, he’s going to drag out the courtroom stuff and reveal Captain America had a great, valiant plan up his sleeve the whole time.

It’s hard to dislike the comic, just because the beginning court scenes are so good (before Soule reveals too much with Matt and Jennifer having an entirely unprofessional chat) and because Pulido’s art is so strong. He does wonders with the courtroom scenes.

But it’s dramatically tepid.

C+ 

CREDITS

Writer, Charles Soule; artist, Javier Pulido; colorist, Muntsa Vicente; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editor, Jeanine Schaefer; publisher, Marvel Comics.

sheltered

Sheltered 12 (October 2014)

Sheltered #12

Can Sheltered work if Brisson doesn’t have any actual sympathetic characters left? He’s bringing in the police, he’ll be bringing in the FBI, the ATF, some kind of child protective services–the issue reads real fast as Brisson and Christmas get to the ending, which sets up the grand finale arc–but he’s taken the “good guy” out of the equation.

So now it’s the man versus a bunch of brainwashed teenagers who killed or helped kill their parents. Who cares. Let them die; the drama is gone.

It’s still a well-executed issue, with the cops not listening to the good girl–who started the series as the protagonist but now I can’t even remember her name–until it’s a little too late. And there are likable cops in danger and all, but… who cares.

Sheltered’s successes aren’t insignificant but the traditional narrative finish is going to hurt.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer and letterer, Ed Brisson; artist, Johnnie Christmas; colorist, Shari Chankhamma; editor, Paul Allor; publisher, Image Comics.

A review of a Starlight comic book, a series published by Image Comics.

Starlight 6 (October 2014)

Starlight #6

You know, I hate Mark Millar. I hate how he was able to goof around with Starlight–not just drag out the series, but be really late on the last issue–and how he’s still able to deliver exactly what he needs to deliver on this finale.

Maybe it works better because he’s already disappointed in other issues, so when this one comes through, it works out. But I think it’s more because Millar actually understands how to write mainstream heroic moments and he just lets himself get too confused, too commercial. Starlight is definitely mainstream, definitely commercial, but it’s also got Millar taking the time with his protagonist.

Even though he’s been through a problematic six issue limited series, Duke McQueen’s a great character and Millar wants to celebrate him–and the time the reader’s spent with him.

So it’s cheap and easy, but it sure does taste good.

A- 

CREDITS

Writer, Mark Millar; artist, Goran Parlov; colorist, Ive Svorcina; letterer, Marko Sunjic; editor, Nicole Boose; publisher, Image Comics.

lazarus

Lazarus 12 (October 2014)

Lazarus #12

If you had told me twelve issues in, Lazarus would be a comic I just had to read first the week it came out, I never would have believed it. You can go back and read the rather negative posts about the first five issues.

But Rucka has found the series. Especially with this arc about the political intrigue with the families; it’s a little soapier and a little showier, but it works out beautifully. He gives Lark the most basic action–the Lazari sparring with each other in the gym–but then gives him some great talking heads and a grand ball to render. Lark does a fantastic job.

The change in the comic seems to be from Rucka’s concentration on the intrigue–and Forever’s character development–instead of him having to guide the reader’s judgment with the families. Or something. Who knows. Who cares. It’s an excellent comic.

A 

CREDITS

Conclave, Part Two; writer, Greg Rucka; artists, Michael Lark and Tyler Boss; colorist, Santiago Arcas; letterer, Jodi Wynne; editor, David Brothers; publisher, Image Comics.

life-after

The Life After 3 (September 2014)

The Life After #3

Ah, the systems of a human imagined afterlife… such compelling ideas, such boring narrative. Fialkov does have some all right ideas and Gabo does illustrate them well, but The Life After is stumbling.

The protagonist–Jude (still maybe for Jesus, but Fialkov’s waiting)–and his sidekick–Hemingway, who makes references to the Spanish Civil War in about the only subtle thing Fialkov does–walk through purgatory some more. They aren’t exploring, they aren’t searching. They’re wandering. And the comic is a little lost.

Fialkov’s biggest problem as a writer seems to be a lot of good ideas, some really good characterizations and no idea how to marry the two into a narrative. The comic isn’t exactly boring; instead, it’s meandering.

When Fialkov does get to the cliffhanger–after teasing a huge action sequence and then not delivering–it’s decidedly unexciting. Cliffhangers need to be parts of compelling narratives after all.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Hale Fialkov; artist and colorist, Gabo; letterer, Crank!; editors, James Lucas Jones and Ari Yarwood; publisher, Oni Press.

Flash Gordon

Flash Gordon 6 (October 2014)

Flash Gordon #6

Parker does a great job with the Arboria adventure–with Dale getting to hang out with some Hawkmen and then rescue Flash and Zarkov on her own. There’s a lot of personality for the Arborians–well, the people with the wings, less so for the sirens who don’t have wings. Parker keeps it relatively simple; maybe too much so, but it’s Flash Gordon and it works with simplicity.

He resolves the cliffhanger, moves into Dale’s adventure, has some good laughs at Flash and, especially, Zarkov’s expenses and then brings in Vultan. Now, he and Shaner don’t do a lot of obvious Flash Gordon: The Movie references but something about Vultan’s introduction just screams Brian Blessed. It’s a wonderful touch.

The final has a too abrupt cliffhanger, but then there’s some nice epilogue art with Ming from Greg Smallwood. And Parker’s finally giving Ming some real personality.

It works out well.

A- 

CREDITS

Writers, Jeff Parker and Jordie Bellaire; artists, Evan Shaner and Greg Smallwood; colorist, Bellaire; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Nate Cosby; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

ms-marvel-2014

Ms. Marvel 9 (December 2014)

Ms. Marvel #9

It’s secret origin of Kamala Khan time. Does she particularly need a secret origin? Maybe. But the way Wilson brings in the Inhumans–they’re not quite deus ex machina, but they’re a very convienient way to tie Ms. Marvel into big Marvel publishing events–doesn’t take advantage of anything.

Wilson literally beams Kamala, her admirer and Lockjaw over to Inhuman City for a quick expository scene with some decent Star Wars jokes. Much better than the Star Wars joke later in the issue, when Kamala returns to her nemesis’s hideout to free the kids. It’s a messy scene, leading to a pat cliffhanger. Wilson doesn’t have the issue plotted well at all.

Worse, Alphona’s artwork doesn’t work out–not in the opening cliffhanger resolution at the high school and not later when Kamala’s talking to her parents. The panels are too busy, too full.

It’s fine, but definitely not standout.

B 

CREDITS

Generation Why, Part Two; writer, G. Willow Wilson; artist, Adrian Alphona; colorist, Ian Herring; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Devin Lewis and Sana Amanat; publisher, Marvel Comics.

transformers-vs-gi-joe

Transformers vs. G.I. Joe 3 (September 2014)

Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #3

Something very bad happens this issue of Transformers vs. G.I. Joe. It becomes inane. Writers Scioli and Barber don’t exactly stop giving characters arcs of their own, they just get rid of having the overall issue story have anything to do with characters.

It’s full of annoying big action moments too, where Scioli lets the art get too confusing and never takes his time with anything. The issue gets worse as it goes along too, as Scioli and Barber continuously make bad choices.

It’s unfortunate. But maybe the concept just couldn’t work out to an actual comic book series. The characters are all so obnoxious, only the end of the world from the attacking Megatron would make them sympathetic. And, even then, not because of any work the writers do, but maybe Scioli could make it work.

As is, however, the comic has prematurely run its course. It’s a shame.

D 

CREDITS

Writers, Tom Scioli and John Barber; artist, colorist and letterer, Scioli; editor, Carlos Guzman; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The-Society-of-Super-Heroes

The Multiversity: The Society of Super-Heroes 1 (November 2014)

The Multiversity: The Society of Super-Heroes #1

Besides the awkward bookends, which writer Grant Morrison seems to be writing as close to pulp as possible, The Society of Super-Heroes is an excellent Multiversity tie-in. Chris Sprouse is the perfect artist for the time period–it’s set in the forties or fifties, with some familiar heroes in newly designed, functional, period appropriate garb.

Morrison is real fast when it comes to establishing the characters–the Al Pratt Atom and Doc Fate get about the most attention–and there’s a mix of pulp sensibility and old science fiction magazine stories. It works out pretty well in the setup, but then Morrison and Sprouse get to the action and nothing else really matters. The comic is fast and entertaining.

There’s some rather nice work in the dialogue too, with Morrison handling the large cast through brief expository dialogue.

Until the really lame, tying to the greater event denouement. Until then, it’s quite good.

B 

CREDITS

Conquerors from the Counter-World; writer, Grant Morrison; penciller, Chris Sprouse; inkers, Karl Story and Walden Wong; colorist, Dave McCaig; letterer, Carlos M. Mangual; editor, Rickey Purdin; publisher, DC Comics.

Ghosted

Ghosted 14 (October 2014)

Ghosted #14

Williamson finally finds a great cliffhanger for Ghosted. What’s so strange about it is how it continues the trend of somehow being either too intimate or too grandiose; but maybe for the first time he’s got his lead in real, scary danger. Ghosted is a supernatural heist story and Jackson is the mastermind and Williamson has spent the series setting him up as being smarter than everyone else.

So finally putting him in an impossible situation and having it work? Great cliffhanger.

The rest of the comic is excellent, opening with various action sequences–Anderson in angry ghost form is awesome–before getting into some character level arguing. There’s not a lot of room for character development this issue, but Williamson does at least acknowledge it a little in the dialogue asides. There’s no time for a break.

And then the conclusion… starts quiet, gets loud. It’s one of Williamson’s best issues.

B+ 

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Goran Sudzuka; colorist, Miroslav Mrva; letterer, Rus Wooten; editors, Helen Leigh and Sean Mackiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

sons-of-anarchy

Sons of Anarchy 14 (October 2014)

Sons of Anarchy #14

Brisson wraps up the arc wonderfully. Everything comes to a collision, there's lots and lots of action, lots and lots of violence. So much violence and action, in fact, it becomes very hard to follow the art. Couceiro just has too many bikers to draw and Michael Spicer's colors are so dark, it's difficult to keep them apart.

So, even though Couceiro's art is strong as usual, it's the reason the issue isn't a total success. Too many pages have to ride on momentum to get through the visual confusion. Brisson has reminders throughout scenes and so on–and the cuts back and forth between sets of characters is good–but there are just too many players in motion. Eventually, people start getting lost.

But it all does wrap up and it's impressive how Brisson makes it happen. He intricately plots these arcs and the pay-off makes it all worthwhile.

Great comics.

A- 

CREDITS

Writer, Ed Brisson; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Michael Spicer; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

chilling adventures of sabrina

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 1 (December 2014)

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #1

For Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa takes a very serious approach. It works well with artist Robert Hack, who does horror well, but also does creepiness and the period–Sabrina is set in the fifties and sixties–well too.

So while there's that classic horror look from Hack, Aguirre-Sacasa works in just enough humorous reference to the anticipated Sabrina comic–her cat familiar chastising her, Sabrina using her spells to meet boys, her cousin being obsessed with rock and roll–to give this new variation a personality.

The comic does open far more traditionally, with Sabrina's origin and her father and a scene out of Rosemary's Baby involving her mother, but the second half is where it really gels. Aguirre-Sacasa quickly establishes the Sabrina character as she enters high school, even if her aunts do take an unevenly reduced role.

The cliffhanger's iffy, but very effective visually.

The comic works out well.

B+ 

CREDITS

The Crucible, Chapter One; Something Wicked; writer, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa; artist, Robert Hack; letterer, Jack Morelli; editor, Jamie Lee Rotante; publisher, Archie Comics.

transformers-vs-gi-joe

Transformers vs. G.I. Joe 2 (August 2014)

Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #2

Even though I can remember having some of the toys–or wanting them–I can’t remember the name of the Transformers planet. But all the action takes place there, with Lady Jane leading an attack force of Joes who are trying to green the planet to take out the evil robot aliens.

Barber and Scioli’s script takes the regular G.I. Joe and Transformers mythology into great account, but there’s also an element of humor involved with how they present the absurdity of the situation. It creates a fantastic tone–it’s never realistic, but they throw in seriously vocabulary to show they know it can’t be taken too seriously.

It’s an all-action issue, with some big reveals at the end–but still no Autobot team-up with the Joes–and Scioli has some wonderful art. My favorite has to be Lady Jane zooming on a motorcycle, jumping off a Transformer.

B+ 

CREDITS

Wheeljacked; writers, Tom Scioli and John Barber; artist, colorist and letterer, Scioli; editor, Carlos Guzman; publisher, IDW Publishing.