I really don’t know where to start, given how Last Days of Animal Man ends. Conway, at the end, makes it something incredibly different, even for an imaginary story, inserting a lot of reality into it, raising a lot of questions, even if the life and death stuff seems like it’s out of a fortune cookie. It’s a strange ending, which breaks the reader from his or her expectations (trips them, more like), and it’s hard to know what it’s all about, because it’s less about something literal, it seems, than it’s about the experience of reading.
I’m wondering if anyone thinks the ending is cheap; I’d love to talk to them about it if they do, because it doesn’t read as cheap to me. It reads as Last Days being about something more than it seems (and succeeding at it).
Maybe I just like superhero stalker stories.
Live; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Chris Batista; inker, Dave Meikis; colorist, Mike Atiyeh; letterer, Clem Robins; editors, Chris Conroy and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.
No way, there’s a surprise in store for the last issue? Conway really hypes his new villains here, as they take out the League of Titans–or is it the League or Justice–lots of typos in Animal Man, apparently, as the year keeps jumping around (from 2018 to 2024 with something in between). I’m almost wondering if Conway didn’t just have an idea in mind for a final hero story and DC let him do it with Animal Man. Like I said before, as unfamiliar with Animal Man as I am, I have no idea if Conway’s getting all the details right.
This issue is basically all just ramping up to the final issue. There are some okay family moments, but only when read quickly. They’re barely personal to the characters, much less revelatory to the reader (I kept wondering why Ellen didn’t ask about Starfire).
Still, it’s good.
Accept; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Chris Batista; inkers, Dave Meikis and Wayne Faucher; colorist, Mike Atiyeh; letterer, Clem Robins; editor, Chris Conroy and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.
One of those way too quick issues, with Conway resolving his Animal Man and Starfire making out cliffhanger in a couple pages to give the reader a long action issue. It’s not a bad action issue–though I imagine if I were reading it monthly I’d be a little upset I got done reading it in three and a half minutes–and it does bring up an interesting point.
Why does every writer of every limited series make his or her new villain (who will never be seen or heard from again) the most powerful bad guy known to man (or Animal Man)?
Bloodrage and the Mirror Master girl (she has a name but it’s one of those silly eighties names with about fourteen letters and I’d misspell it) have superpowers almost no one could surmount. It’s absurd they’d go after Animal Man, who’s got mediocre, silly powers at best.
Despair; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Chris Batista; inker, Dave Meikis; colorist, Mike Atiyeh; letterer, Clem Robins; editor, Chris Conroy and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.
Okay, with issue three, Conway gives us the full ground situation–2018, sort of sequel to the Infinite Crisis spin-off tie-in thing with Animal Man and Starfire (I don’t know, I’m guessing), with the Justice League replaced by the League of Titans, which is a lame name, but does it mean Superman is a grown-up Superboy?
What Conway does well here–besides the standard traditional superhero stuff (like the villains teaming up)–is write a desperate character as a protagonist in a superhero comic. Animal Man is something of an aloof douche, clinging to his “secret” identity because the “real” one is in shambles. It makes for great drama.
Also interesting is Animal Man’s lesbian daughter. I can’t believe how quietly, in neon, they reveal that one. There’s no indication, either way, Animal Man knows his daughter is gay.
Very nuanced storytelling, even with all the bravado.
Bargain; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Chris Batista; inker, Dave Meikis; colorist, Mike Atiyeh; letterer, Clem Robins; editor, Chris Conroy and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.
Now Conway really gets into that eighties vibe with a lengthy expository origin of the villain (of the issue or of the series, the second Mirror Master’s daughter–I didn’t know there was a second Mirror Master) and abandons Animal Man for a bit. It’s kind of rough going, but taken with a gulp of that solid DC Comics nostalgia, it goes down all right.
Different, however, is the “new” Green Lantern–a whale–and the new Justice League (Nightwing, Starfire, other folks, and a black Flash). It’s jarring. Last Days of Animal Man is an imaginary future story? I mean, that’s cool, the kind of thing DC ought to be doing more of, but there really needs to be a label, especially for people like me, who have abandoned DC for the most part these days and need to google to see if the whale Green Lantern is “real.”
Rage; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Chris Batista; inker, Dave Meikis; colorist, Mike Atiyeh; letterer, Clem Robins; editor, Chris Conroy and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.
Old time hockey. Sorry, Slapshot reference. Animal Man isn’t exactly old time comic books (Conway’s peak was the early-to-mid-eighties, so not exactly old time), but it’s close. It’s a solid DC Comics limited series, something I always used to rely on. Under the Didio administration, they’ve failed for the most part, at least as far as superheroes are concerned.
I’ve never been much of an Animal Man reader–the costume, I think, put me off–and when Morrison was doing his thing, I was probably into Image or something crappy, so I don’t know where Conway’s characterization fits. But whatever he’s doing, it’s neat. It’s a personable Dark Knight Returns, with aging being the enemy more than anything else.
Batista’s art is really clean and fits the storytelling well.
It is clear, unfortunately, with his return to comic writing, Conway has learned how to do decompressed storytelling.
Deny; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Chris Batista; inker, Dave Meikis; colorist, Mike Atiyeh; letterer, Clem Robins; editor, Chris Conroy and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.
Parker wraps it all up nicely, answering some half-asked questions (i.e. what was the dragon thinking sending him over to see Jade Claw without a briefing), while not seeming like he’s doing anything abrupt. There’s even something organic about it, since Temugin joined the team at the start and now he’s off on his own, returning the status quo.
Unfortunately, the art’s split between Hardman and Panosian, with an emphasis on Panosian, so it doesn’t look as good as it could. But Parker nicely does an almost all-action issue, giving the impression of no dramatic points or even breathers (but they’re there, in fact, the the issue takes place over two days, but I didn’t remember that point–having read it ten minutes ago–until I looked back).
It’s a fine close to the series–Parker gets most of his threads closed.
But I need more Atlas.
Terror of the Jade Claw, Part Three; writer, Jeff Parker; artists, Dan Panosian and Gabriel Hardman; colorists, Elizabeth Dismang Breitweiser and Sotocolor; letterer, Tom Orzechowski; editors, Nathan Cosby and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.
Is Parker’s intent to make me cry, to weep for this brilliant comic book in its second-to-last issue of the ongoing? Because he’s close to successful. I mean, wow. Parker turns in maybe the best “team” book issue I can remember reading here. It’s a perfect comic book (even if the coloring on Hardman’s art is a little problematic in the darker scenes).
Let’s see, Parker gets in a lot of story (he even introduces a new subplot, which is kind of mean, given there’s only one more issue), with the threat of the Jade Claw being a big thing, but there’s also lots of character stuff. The comic’s separated into chapters and when it gets to Bob’s (titled “The Smart Guy”), it’s devastating how much is being put on him, and Parker’s showing it to us, even though Bob doesn’t say a word the entire time.
Terror of the Jade Claw, Part Two; writer, Jeff Parker; artists, Gabriel Hardman and Paul Rivoche; colorist, Elizabeth Dismang Breitweiser; letterer, Tom Orzechowski; editors, Nathan Cosby and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.
Do I complain too much about artist changes on Agents of Atlas? Because, if I do, I’m going to really seem like I can’t stop as I’m now going to complain about Dan Panosian. He does an adequate job, but he really doesn’t have enough fluidity to his forms, especially given how much action this issue ends up having.
I think Parker knew the ongoing series was winding down at this point, because he’s tying it all together here. It’s maybe the first issue I finished reading and didn’t really have an impression from. It’s good stuff, but there’s nothing lasting about it. There are some nice details–the intro of the opposing dragon, if a misfire, is well executed and it’s hard not to smile at Parker’s treatment of Bruce Banner–but it just doesn’t add up to anything concrete.
I hope it’s not a sign Parker’s lost interest.
Terror of the Jade Claw, Part One; writer, Jeff Parker; artist, Dan Panosian; colorist, Elizabeth Dismang Breitweiser; letterer, Tom Orzechowski; editors, Lauren Sankovitch, Nathan Cosby and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.
Ugh. Okay, on the good side, Waid seems like he’s going to leave Doyle dead (which brings up the further question–why did Waid bother creating the character to kill him on his fifth issue, it’s kind of like what’s her face in The Dark Knight). Additionally, Allingham’s a lot less obnoxious when she’s not all-knowing. But the new assistant as the double agent thing, it’s a disaster.
Apparently, the serial killer they were after has the money and connections to have a busty female sidekick who can transport people to Italy and distract them so the serial killer can continue his work. It all has to do with the little boy in town, no doubt, who apparently has a “Twilight Zone” power–the entire town is in his imagination (wasn’t that reveal a Star Trek episode too?).
Still, a lot better than Waid’s last attempt with this one.
Writer, Mark Waid; artist, Minck Oosterveer; colorists, Javier Suppa and Andres Lozano; letterer, Marshall Dillon; editors, Dafna Pleban and Matt Gagnon; publisher, Boom! Studios.
No way, Waid came up with a genuinely compelling mystery? The setting is lame (Italy?) but the way it plays out is like a solid film noir, even if the art’s still problematic. Oosterveer seems to have improved at the beginning, but it’s not long before he’s drawing Doyle like Gorilla Grodd’s albino twin brother again. Then the women show up and it’s all cleavage, all the time.
But the story’s definitely better this time–until it inevitably turns into some religious nonsense, which probably will happen in the third issue.
Waid’s too determined to globe trot with these characters, who could be interesting, but only in a confined setting. Sherlock Holmes never went to Morocco.
Also, Waid seems uncomfortable to put Allingham in any gender-based physical danger, but such a situation would tell a lot about the character. But character certainly isn’t the point of his writing here.
Writer, Mark Waid; artist, Minck Oosterveer; colorist, Andres Lozano; letterer, Marshall Dillon; editors, Dafna Pleban and Matt Gagnon; publisher, Boom! Studios.
Maybe I need to take a break from going through these straight because everything’s starting to run together. I’d totally forgotten Suwan (not just the name, but the character), though seeing the team in action against the Hulk is fun. Unfortunately, Pagulayan is back and there’s, once again, something way too finished about his art for this book. Maybe for the “Dark Reign” issues I can see it, him doing the “new” Marvel house style, but as Agents of Atlas starts to figure out what it’s going to do without being a tie-in series, he just seems wrong. He spends way too much time on the Hulk’s hair styling, for example.
Lots of references to stuff in between the limited series and the ongoing to confuse the heck out of me, but Parker does well, even in with the “Dark Reign” constraints still somewhat present.
They need some fun.
Monster Makers; writer, Jeff Parker; penciller, Carlo Pagulayan; inkers, Jason Paz and Noah Salonga; colorists, Jana Schirmer and Elizabeth Dismang Breitweiser; letterer, Tom Orzechowski; editor, Lauren Sankovitch, Nathan Cosby and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.
Parker basically undoes what he did in the previous issue–the Namor and Namora romance, at least the impending nuptials–as fast as he can. There are some backstory developments and some supporting cast developments, but it’s really just an excellent exercise in drama. Parker’s undoing of this romance, he does it in one issue instead of twelve (the modern story-arc is so much different than even fifteen years ago), is superior because of his storytelling ability.
It’s hard to imagine the narrative going any differently–especially with all that undersea life for Bob to get naughty, touchy-feely thoughts about–and there’s where Parker truly succeeds. Even though it’s a fast resolution, which retcons Namor and Namora’s entire existence, Parker sells it.
The issue is apparently the last one with the “Dark Reign” tag on the front, which Parker clearly references in the issue, with Jimmy discussing it.
Secrets of the Deep, Part Two; writer, Jeff Parker; artist, Gabriel Hardman; colorist, Jana Schirmer; letterer, Nate Piekos. Mr. Lao is Sleeping; writer, Parker; penciller, Carlo Pagulayan; inker, Jason Paz; colorist, Elizabeth Dismang Breitweiser; letterer, Tom Orzechowski. Editors, Lauren Sankovitch, Nathan Cosby and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.
What am I going to say about him doing a breather issue with the sixth? Ostensibly, it’s another action issue–there’s the cover promised fight between the Agents and the Atlanteans–but it’s really this mellow, relaxing sixty-two year payoff in the story between Namor and Namora. Parker doesn’t miss the opportunity for humor (underseas hillbillies), but it’s really just a nice issue.
Having Gabriel Hardman on the art helps, since he did the flashback scenes in the previous four issues and seems to have a better grasp of the Agents of Atlas at rest than anyone else has so far in this series.
Parker has time not just for his humor, his romance, his fight scenes and his catch-up (the way M-11 gets put back together is just awesome–and off-page), his also has time to develop Jimmy’s character.
It’s the best issue so far.
Secrets of the Deep; writer, Jeff Parker; artist, Gabriel Hardman; colorist, Jana Schirmer; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Lauren Sankovitch and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.