Day: 21 October 2010

Aliens vs. Predator: Three World War 6 (September 2010)

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Stradley really doesn’t “earn” his ending here.

He decides, on the last issue, to make it all about the protagonist reconciling with her demons and choosing life. It’s inspiration and heart-warming and not at all the story he’d been writing up until this point.

Only this issue and the previous one even hint at the character’s need for internal reconciliation–the comic has a large cast and it’s not like the protagonist gets much page time as anything but the deus ex machina to save her boyfriend’s heinie. Except this time he sort of saves her. It’s actually a rather dramatic sequence–more proof of Stradley’s abilities, regardless of what meaning he chooses to foist on the comic; it’s a shame Leonardi illustrated it.

Alien world, two different types of aliens, flying machines… it should have been an awesome spectacle.

But wasn’t.

Still, the series is a pleasant surprise.

CREDITS

Writer, Randy Stradley; penciller, Rick Leonardi; inker, Mark Pennington; colorist, Wes Dzioba; letterer, Blambot!; editor, Chris Warner; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

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Aliens vs. Predator: Three World War 5 (July 2010)

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Stradley compresses here. Weeks and weeks. Maybe even a month. It’s okay until he gets to the action part of the issue, which is then far less interesting than it needs to be. He follows the civilians (the protagonist’s sidekicks who haven’t really done anything since the first issue–oh, wait, her boyfriend’s there) for the last quarter of the issue and they’re boring. Stradley seems to be using them because they give the best device for his exposition….

Coming after the previous issue, with its strong battle scenes, this issue seems not just anemic but out of place. Stadley had been building towards something–each issue intensifying–but this issue lets the tension slacken. Maybe the series needed to be longer.

Leonardi doesn’t, five issues in, redeem himself, but I’ve gotten used to him. I don’t expect anything; when there’s a decent panel, however, I really do appreciate it.

CREDITS

Writer, Randy Stradley; penciller, Rick Leonardi; inker, Mark Pennington; colorist, Wes Dzioba; letterer, Blambot!; editors, Samantha Robertson and Chris Warner; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Aliens vs. Predator: Three World War 4 (May 2010)

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The romance between the protagonist and the nerdy guy doesn’t work. He’s not really a nerdy guy, of course, because he used to be in the Marines. Or something. But he’s basically the nerdy guy. He’s even got a nerdy name–I think Die Hard ruined the name Ellis for anyone serious.

But part of the comic needs the romance to be touching and significant and it’s not. Maybe Stradley doesn’t buy it either. He writes zero chemistry between them. They seem like siblings.

Otherwise, it’s a rather good issue. It’s a big invading an alien planet issue so there’s a lot of battle scenes with people and Predators fighting the aliens and then the command scenes with people and Predators standing around worried. It’s a rather well-done invasion issue, actually. Some leaps in time logic for dramatic effect, but it’s good.

Even the art doesn’t annoy too much.

CREDITS

Writer, Randy Stradley; penciller, Rick Leonardi; inker, Mark Pennington; colorist, Wes Dzioba; letterer, Blambot!; editors, Samantha Robertson and Chris Warner; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Aliens vs. Predator: Three World War 3 (April 2010)

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Wow… it’s a good issue. All throughout I mean. There’s even a big action sequence at the end and it works. Probably because Stradley writes the sequence instead of just provides a list of actions for Leonardi to draw.

As for the art, it’s still terrible. I might have to revise my opinion. Maybe Leonardi isn’t drawing the protagonist as cheesecake material because he’s simply not willing to take the time. Unless inker Pennington is going all Vince Colletta–there are a bunch of panels where the characters don’t even have faces. It’s not clear if Leonardi just didn’t bother drawing them or if Pennington got out his eraser.

But the art quibbles are somewhat small. Sure, it’s not well drawn, but the writing this time is compelling. It’s a cheap amusement and a well-written one. Stradley’s fast character establishing makes up for all the faceless characters roaming about.

CREDITS

Writer, Randy Stradley; penciller, Rick Leonardi; inker, Mark Pennington; colorist, Wes Dzioba; letterer, Blambot!; editors, Samantha Robertson and Chris Warner; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Aliens vs. Predator: Three World War 2 (February 2010)

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Whatever my problems with Leonardi–they go on and on–I have to give him credit. He draws a female character in, basically, a bikini and doesn’t do it with any of the cheesecake objectification most comic book artists would. In fact, I didn’t even realize it; it just seemed the right outfit. (It’s a human wearing a Predator outfit for those who don’t follow Aliens vs. Predator).

This issue follows the same formula as the first one. The beginning is some really dumb action scene, then the actual story starts and it’s good. Stradley gets in some nice homage to Aliens (the movie)–it’s homage because it’s clear what he’s doing and it’s in an Aliens comic, in case anyone’s wondering why I’m in favor of it while I usually use “homage” as a pejorative around here (always with the quotation marks).

Besides the lame action half, it’s decent.

CREDITS

Writer, Randy Stradley; penciller, Rick Leonardi; inker, Mark Pennington; colorist, Wes Dzioba; letterer, Blambot!; editors, Samantha Robertson and Chris Warner; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Aliens vs. Predator: Three World War 1 (January 2010)

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It has a flashback. It has an actual flashback to explain the events in previous comic books to explain to the reader what’s pertinent.

I tried the Dark Horse relaunches of Aliens and Predator. Both were atrocious on almost every level, but they also didn’t have any flashbacks to explain the ground situation to readers who hadn’t been loyally reading the Dark Horse licensed titles.

Aliens vs. Predator has a flashback. It comes late in the issue, in the narrative even.

The comic turns around, in terms of writing, about halfway through the issue. It opens badly with a big action scene–Rick Leonardi’s artwork is real weak. I’m shocked Dark Horse relaunched these titles (the others have it too) with such weak, cartoonish artwork. There probably isn’t a single good panel in the book… wait, there’s one.

But Randy Stradley can write and he eventually does.

It’s not terrible.

CREDITS

Writer, Randy Stradley; penciller, Rick Leonardi; inker, Mark Pennington; colorist, Wes Dzioba; letterer, Blambot!; editors, Samantha Robertson and Chris Warner; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Batman 259 (November-December 1974)

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So this crappy story is dedicated to the memory of Bill Finger. I guess it’s best to have a crappy story dedicated to your memory rather than you, since if you’re still alive, you might have to read it.

This second team-up between Batman and the Shadow is amusingly weak (but better than the first, which was so awful I never even got around to mentioning the Shadow in my response). Novick and Giordano are very strong on the art–better doing real people than Batman, actually. There’s a jewelry store robbery at the beginning and it’s just fantastic.

O’Neil’s writing is lousy. My favorite is Batman almost getting beat up by a fit ex-con–because Batman isn’t very fit. Not as fit as this fit ex-con, anyway.

Bad dialogue, stupid revelations of Batman’s psychosis.

But at least O’Neil didn’t plagiarize any Oscar winning movies this time.

CREDITS

The Night of the Shadow!; writer, Denny O’Neil; penciller, Irv Novick; inker, Dick Giordano; editor, Julius Schwartz; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman 253 (November 1973)

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What an awful comic book.

Not the art, the art is absolutely fantastic, making something of an Irv Novick convert out of me… but the writing is just hideous.

O’Neil writes Batman as a thuggish cross between Spencer Tracy and a beach movie surfer–the Spencer Tracy imitation makes sense, since O’Neil “pays homage” to multiple set pieces from Bad Day in Black Rock, but the surfer speak is… to make Batman seem cool?

The comic’s from 1973 and there’s no Robin in it so I’d assume it’s not being done to fit in line with the TV show version… so there’s got to be some other explanation for the godawful dialogue. What’s initially stunning is the use of exclamation points. It’s the standard for the era, but O’Neil doesn’t seem to understand how silly all of his bad, but quiet dialogue looks with them.

It’s a truly awful read.

CREDITS

Who Knows What Evil?; writer, Denny O’Neil; penciller, Irv Novick; inker, Dick Giordano; editor, Julius Schwartz; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman 112 (December 1957)

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So this issue has three Batman stories, two comic strips and a one page text story. That level of content is a lot different from today.

The art’s fine… I suppose Dick Sprang, drawing ancient Rome in the second story, has the best panels (but just because of subject matter).

As far as writing… it’s actually kind of interesting to see the differences between the stories. The first one, by Finger, will offer the reader a chance to solve the mystery before Batman does. The clues are often too small to see, but if one really tried and knew a lot of trivia, he or she could do it. It’s also interesting because Batman and Robin almost die, surviving only by luck, not their own doing.

The last story, also by Finger, with Batman confused about his identity, is pretty good. The resolution is idiotic, but the mystery’s decent throughout.

CREDITS

The Signalman of Crime; writer, Bill Finger; penciller, Sheldon Moldoff; letterer, Pat Gordon. Batman’s Roman Holiday!; writer, Edmond Hamilton; penciller, Dick Sprang; letterer, Artie Simek. Am I Really Batman?; writer, Finger; penciller, Moldoff; letterer, Gordon. Inker, Charles Paris; editor, Whitney Ellsworth; publisher, DC Comics.