Day: 3 January 2010

Uncanny-X-Men-196

The Uncanny X-Men 196 (August 1985)

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I thought this issue was going to be a mystery, but it’s not. It doesn’t even have the pretense of one, except for Professor X asking the X-Men to investigate something. It’s too bad, since it might have been a better comic book with that approach.

It’s an X-Men book so I can identify the more popular ones, but when it comes to all the girls, I’m lost. What’s the difference between Kitty Pryde, Rogue and Rachel Summers? How do people keep up with this stuff? And do X-Men readers make fun of soap opera fanatics; they really shouldn’t.

Claremont packs the issue, which is impressive, I suppose, and desirable for its audience. I just couldn’t wait for the damn comic to end.

The artwork is incredibly loose and uninteresting.

The Secret Wars tie-in is all red skies.

I don’t get X-Men comics at all.

CREDITS

What Was That?!; writer, Chris Claremont; pencillers, John Romita Jr. and Dan Green; inker, Dan Green; colorist, Glynis Oliver; letterer, Tom Orzechowski; editors, Peter Sanderson and Ann Nocenti; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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Captain-308

Captain America 308 (August 1985)

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Reading old DC comics–well, not old, but late seventies and early-to-mid eighties, I’m taken aback by the lame one issue villains they sometimes have. Gerry Conway did a lot of these on his Batman run, as far as I can tell. This issue of Captain America shows Marvel did it a lot too and, well, worse.

This issue opens with Cap breaking into the West Coast Avengers mansion or compound or whatever–it’s a chance to hype the coming West Coast Avengers series presumably–and then he gets into this long fight scene with a new villain, the Mexican-American Armadillo, who works for a super-mad scientist who no one seems to have heard of before and it kicks off some melodrama.

The writing’s competent (the end’s lame though, real lame) but the art’s awful. Cap’s face is often incomplete (no nose).

What a strange comic.

CREDITS

The Body In Question; writer, Mark Gruenwald; penciller, Paul Neary; inker, Dennis Janke; colorist, Ken Feduniewicz; letterer, Diana Albers; editors, Michael Higgins and Mike Carlin; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Frank-Miller-Robo

Frank Miller’s Robocop 9 (January 2006)

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Here’s what I can’t figure out–there’s this interspecies kiss between Robocop and Lewis in this one and then Robocop goes rogue, like some kind of vigilante–why the hell do Frank Miller and Steven Grant and the boys at Avatar think someone without nuts–without sex organs of any kind–is going to be getting all passionate on his partner. His partner who he has one scene with in this entire stupid comic book.

Frank Miller’s writing sucking isn’t new. It didn’t start with All Star Batman or whatever; he was a lousy writer from the start. And I write that sentence loving Batman: Year One and lots of Dark Knight Returns and a couple of the Sin City series. His Robocop is an unholy monster; Avatar did a disservice to the franchise printing this crap.

Of course, taking nearly three years to publish it is something else entirely.

CREDITS

Writer, Steven Grant; artist, Juan Jose Ryp; colorist, Mark Sweeney; editor, William A. Christensen; publisher, Avatar Press.

Frank-Miller-Robo

Frank Miller’s Robocop 8 (April 2005)

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Once again we have the almost naked Officer Lewis bossing everyone around and it’s better than usual. The entire issue would have probably taken about four minutes on film, which is about how long it takes to read. One has to wonder what the Robocop producers thought when they read this script–and how long it took them to bring in a good writer like Walon Green to fix Miller’s crap.

But since it is an action issue, I can’t tell what’s going on. I can’t even tell when Ryp’s trying to draw an explosion. It could be anything yellow, like a mold or something. The comic fails on almost every level, except Grant does manage to get some sympathy for the beseiged police officers.

It’s cheap sympathy sure, but at least he’s finally realizing the reader should care about someone in the story, even if it’s almost over.

Gag.

CREDITS

Writer, Steven Grant; artist, Juan Jose Ryp; colorist, Nimbus Studios; editor, William A. Christensen; publisher, Avatar Press.

Frank-Miller-Robo

Frank Miller’s Robocop 7 (October 2004)

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So there’s that scene in Unforgiven where Clint Eastwood shoots the unarmed man and comments he should have armed himself, which is something like what happened about twenty-five years earlier in Hombre, but whatever.

This issue has Robocop killing a bad guy in a torturous manner. Apparently, Miller thought having government employees torture people was awesome way back in the late eighties, which answers the question of whether he was a fascist before 9/11 or just after.

It is an unpleasant, irresponsible, asinine scene, which probably sums up this entire series. I liked Steven Grant’s column when I read it, but I appear to hate his writing. Not because he writes fascist, sexist crap, rather because he can’t construct a narrative. He’s a nice guy though. Interviewed him once.

The comic’s winding down, stupider than ever. With two issues left, I shouldn’t be dreading reading them so much.

CREDITS

Writer, Steven Grant; artist, Juan Jose Ryp; colorist, Nimbus Studios; editor, William A. Christensen; publisher, Avatar Press.

Frank-Miller-Robo

Frank Miller’s Robocop 6 (June 2004)

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I can’t even tell anymore. Is this issue better than the last or is it the same or is it worse? I mean, there’s a lot of television stuff, a lot of stupid future post-nuclear war stuff–and a big fight scene between Robocop and Robocop 2 I couldn’t follow (Ryp is not given to comprehendible action scenes, something Grant should have thought about)–and it’s over in a few minutes.

Nothing like a four dollar comic you could read three times waiting for a McDonald’s coffee.

I know I’ve read Frank Miller’s Robocop before, so I wonder if, at this point then, I had given up as I have now. I’ll be finishing the comic, I’m a passive participant. I don’t think my brain has shut off completely. The benefit of having seen both Robocop films based on this source material means the occasionally jolting memory.

Three left.

CREDITS

Writer, Steven Grant; artist, Juan Jose Ryp; colorist, Nimbus Studios; editor, William A. Christensen; publisher, Avatar Press.

Frank-Miller-Robo

Frank Miller’s Robocop 5 (February 2004)

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And, almost magically, it goes to crap again. Not total crap–even though Ryp has got Lewis sexualized to the point she’s got less content than a swimsuit model (there’s nothing like realizing mainstream action movie misogyny has absolutely nothing on comic book misogyny, whether in Miller’s late eighties movie script or Grant’s early 2000s comic script), she does have a decent enough chase sequence at the beginning. Since Lewis can die, it’s a little more interesting watching her in peril. Though they haven’t yet even tried to put Robocop in peril, so who knows….

But the second half of the issue is the corporate goons going after Robocop and about to replace him with Robocop 2, who they’re testing out by having it kill civilians. Grant doesn’t seem to get how having utterly repugnant bad guys, especially in a comic, makes things boring.

And another lame cliffhanger here too.

CREDITS

Writer, Steven Grant; artist, Juan Jose Ryp; colorist, Nimbus Studios; editor, William A. Christensen; publisher, Avatar Press.

Frank-Miller-Robo

Frank Miller’s Robocop 4 (December 2003)

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You know what, this issue isn’t terrible. I mean, it’s bad, but not in comparison to the rest of the series. Robocop is in it, more than usual, and as comic relief instead of the protagonist, but whatever, at least he’s in the comic book. And some of the ideas–presumably Miller’s–are actually somewhat entertaining here. Ryp’s sexpot female after sexpot female is annoying, but, again, whatever. It moves faster than the previous issues and is less painful.

Some of it might–might–have to do with Grant finishing the issue with Lewis. Even though she’s barely been in the comic book (and I love how this Amazon War thing is such a great key phrase for everything, nothing like introducing all sorts of nonsense complicated world events for the reader to keep up with), she’s the closest thing it has to an empathetic character.

So, terrible, but fine.

CREDITS

Writer, Steven Grant; artist, Juan Jose Ryp; colorist, Nimbus Studios; editor, William A. Christensen; publisher, Avatar Press.

Frank-Miller-Robo

Frank Miller’s Robocop 3 (September 2003)

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Here’s where the comic sort of jumps off the deep end. I do want to point out how poorly Grant uses the commercial breaks, which are funny, in this issue. He doesn’t do them with any related news program, so there’s just story, commercial, story. He certainly hasn’t set up a comic book where he can makes moves like that one.

As for the drowning Robocop narrative, I find it hard to believe Grant, who doesn’t just write comics, but writes about them, thought this was a solid idea. It’s a complete, unmitigated disaster of a narrative. Grant gives pages to OCP goons, action scenes Lewis couldn’t survive and maybe a page and a half to Robocop this issue.

Ryp’s a bad match for a Frank Miller adaptation. Spared down artwork might have made it more tolerable, but this intestine-filled mess is just getting tiresome and ugly.

It’s crap.

CREDITS

Writer, Steven Grant; artist, Juan Jose Ryp; colorist, Nimbus Studios; editor, William A. Christensen; publisher, Avatar Press.

Frank-Miller-Robo

Frank Miller’s Robocop 2 (September 2003)

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And here Robocop is even less of a character. Grant (or Miller?) has found a character he wants to follow, a voluptuous female version of Dr. Phil who can guide the story.

The supporting cast here is really thin; since Ryp doesn’t exactly do likenesses (at all), the familiar movie cast is identifiable only by their traits. The sergeant at the police station is black, check; Lewis blows bubbles, check. The comic’s major problem is with the yawn-inducing corporate bad guys taking center stage.

The issue ends on a lame cliffhanger, but it’s only appropriate, since it opened on a really lame cliffhanger resolution. Frank Miller’s Robocop came relatively early in the unproduced scripts to comics genre and it’s unclear how Avatar thought anyone might confuse this book for one Miller actually wrote himself.

It’s too much of a misfire to even be interesting enough to be a disaster.

CREDITS

Writer, Steven Grant; artist, Juan Jose Ryp; colorist, Nimbus Studios; editor, William A. Christensen; publisher, Avatar Press.

Frank-Miller-Robo

Frank Miller’s Robocop 1 (July 2003)

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There’s technically twenty-two pages of story here, but so much of it is wasted–five pages alone, at the front, go to showing clips of television shows of the future (Grant adds, presumably, the material about TV being safe for all kids, since when Miller wrote his Robocop 2 script it was 1988 or whatever)–it doesn’t even feel like half an issue.

The big problem is the lack of characters–Robocop isn’t a character here and maybe he just doesn’t work with comic books. He doesn’t have an alter ego to humanize him, so maybe you need to actor with the voice, need the acting.

Ryp’s art has its moments and his Robocop certainly does look worn down and “realistic,” but it’s a little too much. The comic relies on his detail over writing or plotting. He also can’t figure out how to make Robo-Vision look good.

CREDITS

Writer, Steven Grant; artist, Juan Jose Ryp; colorist, Nimbus Studios; editor, William A. Christensen; publisher, Avatar Press.

New-Mutants-190s

The New Mutants 30 (August 1985)

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I don’t think I’ve ever read a Sienkiewicz comic before. I know, I know. I was a DC guy in the eighties for the most part and, even if I did, I was a kid and probably wouldn’t have appreciated it. Sienkiewicz did mainstream books? It’s incredible to think about it–his work’s design oriented but also has a narrative flow. It’s absolutely great.

The comic itself, a Secret Wars II crossover, is all right if unspectacular. Even though I’m completely unfamiliar with the title, I could figure some things out (though not all the character names, besides Dazzler and Kitty Pryde), maybe because Claremont is the wordiest comic book writer I think I’ve ever seen.

I wonder if the title was produced “Marvel style” (Sienkiewicz illustrating off a plot, then Claremont filling in text)–there’s a lot of art covered up here with exposition.

It’s a decent enough comic.

CREDITS

The Singer & Her Song; writer, Chris Claremont; artist, Bill Sienkiewicz; colorist, Glynis Oliver; letterer, Joe Rosen; editors, Peter Sanderson and Ann Nocenti; publisher, Marvel Comics.

robocop-3

Robocop 3 3 (November 1993)

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Actually, I’ve changed my mind about Nguyen’s art. It’s not, you know, in the artistic sense, any better, but it’s like he’s doing a Mad magazine adaptation here. He’s trying to fit everyone he can into each panel. Heaven forbid Dark Horse had tried some imagination with their Robocop license and turned this one into a six issue limited without all the truncating and maybe dealing with the kissy-kissy between Robocop and his doctor, but in lieu of that approach, they should have done it as a farce. They should have aped the movie, because Nguyen is geared toward it and you get the idea Grant knows the crappy dialogue he’s using from the script is crappy.

I’m kind of glad I stopped reading Dark Horse by this one; I don’t have a negative view of them. I’m sure if I’d spent $7.50 on this dreck, I would have.

F 

CREDITS

Writer, Steven Grant; penciller, Hoang Nguyen; inker, Art Nichols; colorist, Penny Zemaitis; letterer, Clem Robins; editors, Dan Thorsland and John Weeks; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

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Robocop 3 2 (September 1993)

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I always forget how ugly some nineties art can be. Nguyen’s fairly competent, I mean, I can recognize his characters, even if the facial details leave something to be desired and he’ll occasionally layout a panel well, but his Robocop is bulky and gross. It looks like a five year-old’s Robocop, certainly not a sleek, streamlined future machine. Nguyen’s way too expressive for this comic, way too loose, since Grant’s script is completely locked down.

The one moment where the comic is mildly interesting is when Robocop’s new girlfriend seems ready to make out with him. I don’t know if Grant got that from a script or if he came up with it himself, but it’s incredible and it’s a shame they don’t do anything with it. At all. I mean, it’s about as discreet as a daytime soap, but it’s at least interesting.

Otherwise, the comic’s a bore.

C- 

CREDITS

Writer, Steven Grant; penciller, Hoang Nguyen; inker, Art Nichols; colorist, Jim Sinclair; letterer, Clem Robins; editors, Dan Thorsland and John Weeks; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.