Ennis brings Rifle Brigade safely home for its delightful conclusion.
It’s a somewhat busier issue than usual, as it opens with the boys still in the SS prison. They get out quickly, sabotage some German laboratory and head off for their escape. Actually, most of the issue is action–they’re escaping in a stolen plane and elite German commandos (genetically engineered thugs) attack them.
Ennis is able to get in a constant stream of jokes–while the action’s going on, while the Germans are recovering from the attack. The only place he doesn’t do a lot of humor is at the end (the issue ends as the D-Day fleet is in transit). I wouldn’t say he gets respectable, but he does tone it down a little once the boys intersect with history.
What’s so striking is how smart the script has to be, even though the humor’s crude.
Up Yours, Fritz; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Carlos Ezquerra; colorists, Patricia Mulvihill and Jamison; letterer, Clem Robins; editors, Jennifer Lee and Axel Alonso; publisher, DC Comics.
The lunacy continues. And maybe amplifies a little.
While the boys in the Rifle Brigade are being questioned by a busty SS woman, the regular army guy who caught them is bickering with the SS commander. Basically, Ennis just uses the structure to get in as many Nazi jokes as possible. There’s a beauty to his comic writing–especially the panel where, after the Rifle Brigade has inspired the entire prison to sing about the manly deficiencies of the Nazi Party leaders, a Brit in front of the firing squad gets off a bit of the chorus.
It’s somewhat hard to tell if the British are supposed to be foolish but stubbornly brave or just stubbornly brave. The only stupid Rifle Brigade member is the gay guy coming on to the captain again this issue.
Beautiful art from Ezquerra in what’s basically a talking heads issue.
Simply marvelous comedic work.
Definitely Not Cricket; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Carlos Ezquerra; colorists, Patricia Mulvihill and Jamison; letterer, Clem Robins; editors, Jennifer Lee and Axel Alonso; publisher, DC Comics.
Rifle Brigade might be Ennis at his funniest (this first series anyway). He mixes absurdly graphic violence with constant humor here. There’s nothing going on but his attempt to get a laugh out of situations. He even takes the time to set up jokes, like the gay soldier trying to get a dying kiss out of his captain. But it doesn’t stop there, since the captain’s now suspicious.
Ezquerra’s artwork is fantastic stuff. He can make just an illustration worth laughing over (The Piper, for example, brings a grin whatever panel he’s in) but he’s also able to do all the action Ennis requires of him.
The joke of it–British bravado amped up–is particularly hilarious because Ennis doesn’t make them smart. They’re dumb, vicious and hilarious. Of course, having the Nazis as bad guys means being vicious isn’t going to make them unsympathetic.
It’s an utterly hilarious comic.
Once More Unto the Breach; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Carlos Ezquerra; colorists, Patricia Mulvihill and Jamison; letterer, Clem Robins; editors, Jennifer Lee and Axel Alonso; publisher, DC Comics.
Gillen mildly redeems himself–not really, he avoided the most interesting characters in Singles Club and filled three issues with malarky, but somewhat–with an almost wordless issue featuring Kid-With-Knife, another supporting cast member from the first series. He ends up with the girl from the first issue, the one we’re not supposed to like.
Otherwise, the story is mostly just a silent street adventure. Kid-With-Knife is a superhero too, in addition to being Gillen’s only likable character. He saves these people from being mugged and leads the muggers on a chase.
It’s got a lot of nice art from McKelvie.
There are four backups this issue and they sort of ruin the high Gillen was on. All of them are pointless, none of them make a real impression of any kind.
Except maybe the Cloonan one… only because it’s a completely idiotic waste of time.
Wolf Like Me; penciller, Jamie McKelvie; inkers, McKelvie and Julia Scheele; colorist, Matthew Wilson. The Queen Is Dead; artist, Nikki Cook. 30; artist, Andy Bloor. Once In a Lifetime; artist and colorist, Sean Azzopardi. Writer, Kieron Gillen; letterer, McKelvie; publisher, Image Comics.
Gillen wants the reader to through pages and pages of poorly written text with bad punctuation. The writing eventually gets so bad I had to give it up.
Here, instead of a bad person in Phonogram, Gillen wants the reader to enjoy making fun of the loser. I’m not sure why he included this character in the story, since he brings nothing to it except some laughs–and this issue clearly shows Gillen can’t stretch it out.
It’s a strange thing to be asked to dislike a character; Gillen has done it twice now. I’m not sure why he thinks it makes Phonogram worthwhile. I do like how the last page (seemingly unintentionally) implies the character is gay.
The backups, with art by PJ Holden and Adam Cadwell, are nice.
The Holden one is actually a good story, even with Gillen’s bad narration. The Cadwell one has good art.
Ready To Be Heartbroken; penciller, Jamie McKelvie; inkers, McKelvie and Julia Scheele; colorist, Matthew Wilson. Your Song; artist, PJ Holden; colorist, Steven Denton. Altantis To Interzone; artist, Adam Cadwell. Writer, Kieron Gillen; letterer, McKelvie; publisher, Image Comics.
Here we get the story of another depressed girl–she opens the issue cutting herself–and she tells most of her story in quotes from songs. While it’s admirable how much work Gillen put into finding those quotes and making them work in the narration, it’s not good writing. His first person narrator is talking directly to the reader, which makes absolutely no sense but he also can’t pull it off.
It doesn’t help the story is generally bad too. She’s a boring caricature. At least his other caricatures so far in Singles Club have been sensational.
It feels a little like Gillen’s running out of enthusiasm for the series overall. This issue has only one backup story, illustrated by Boultwood. Gillen concentrates on funny lines, which is fine for a backup, but Boultwood’s style doesn’t lend itself to sight gags.
The main story doesn’t even have a satisfying conclusion.
Lust Etc.; penciller and letterer, Jamie McKelvie; inkers, McKelvie and Julia Scheele; colorist, Matthew Wilson. Ska Attack Squad; artist, colorist and letterer, Dan Boultwood. Writer, Kieron Gillen; publisher, Image Comics.
Whether Gillen intends it to be or not, this issue is more a concept issue than anything else. The protagonists are the two DJs at the club and we pretty much don’t see anyone but them for the entire issue. There’s a lot of affected dialogue, but Gillen can get away with it because of the concept.
Unfortunately, it leaves McKelvie with almost nothing to do. He’s drawing the same panel over and over, maybe some differences in expression, but most of the expressions get repeated eventually. Because of the design, it works fine… it’s just not particularly interesting once finished reading it.
As opposed to the previous issues, Gillen has no insight into the characters. He’s intentionally writing caricatures, not doing so because of limitations.
The backups–one by David Lafuente and one by Charity Larrison–are useless.
Lafuente’s art is good. The Larrison one is pointless, but pleasant.
Konichiwa Bitches; penciller and letterer, Jamie McKelvie; inkers, McKelvie and Julia Scheele; colorist, Matthew Wilson. Roses; artist and letterer, David Lafuente; colorist, Christinae Strain. Theory and Practice; artist, colorist and letterer, Charity Larrison. Writer, Kieron Gillen; publisher, Image Comics.
Not sure how you’re supposed to read this one. Gillen’s protagonist this issue is Emily, a supporting cast member from the first series. But it ends with her having casual sex with a complete stranger in order to forget her past. I’m not sure if we’re supposed to judge her for it–Gillen would probably argue any judgment is a misogynistic response–but if we aren’t supposed to judge her for it, why does Gillen make it so clear she’s truly unhappy? And if she is truly unhappy, isn’t he just using a woman and her suffering the way he complained about indie bands doing in the first issue?
It goes round and round.
Great art from McKelvie and the issue’s solid even if the intent is fuzzy.
The Gallagher backup (retelling the first series) is awesome. The O’Connor one is lame because Gillen’s making some kind of music commentary.
We Share Our Mother’s Health; artist and letterer, Jamie McKelvie; colorist, Matthew Wilson. David Kohl: Phonomancer; artist and colorist, Leigh Gallagher; letterer, McKelvie. Control; artist, colorist and letterer, Lee O’Connor. Writer, Kieron Gillen; publisher, Image Comics.
Oh, wait, the girl from the first issue isn’t really that terrible and didn’t deserve to be treated so meanly?
Gillen is apparently doing a night at the club from everyone’s perspective, so this issue we get to see how some other guy spent the night. Basically, it was him being depressed over some foreign exchange student who is now gone (either dead or just gone back to Helsinki).
It’s maybe Gillen’s best writing of a character just because he’s not going out of his way to make the guy as annoying or unlikable as possible. He’s just a guy.
Some more great art from McKelvie. It really brings an added dimension to it, since in black and white he’s frequently sparse because of the graphic design approach.
The backups here are filler.
Vieceli’s has some beautiful artwork and succeeds.
Heard’s art is fine in other, there’s just no story.
Wine and Bed and More and Again; artist and letterer, Jamie McKelvie; colorist, Matthew Wilson. Wuthering Heights; artist and colorist, Emma Vieceli. The Singer; artist, colorist, Daniel Heard; letterer, McKelvie. Writer, Kieron Gillen; publisher, Image Comics.
The issue has three stories in it. The most successful is the two-page one, illustrated by Ellerby. It’s just a little, amusing strip… but it manages not to have the problems the others do.
The second back-up should be a blog post discussing the casual misogyny of indie music, using a suffering woman as an easily effective subject. Gillen needs to get himself that blog instead of trying to turn it into a narrative. McCubbin’s art isn’t bad though.
The feature–with McKelvie in color and he looks great in color–has problems of its own. It’s all about some self-centered girl realizing she shouldn’t be so self-centered, she realizes it after her friends and acquaintances are mean to her. The problem is Gillen doesn’t write any likable characters so asking the reader to dislike his protagonist is problematic.
The art makes up for it though.
Pull Shapes; artist and letterer, Jamie McKelvie; colorist, Matthew Wilson. She Who Bleeds For Your Entertainment; artist and colorist, Lauren McCubbin; letterer, McKelvie. The Power Of Love; artist, colorist and letterer, Marc Ellerby. Writer, Kieron Gillen; publisher, Image Comics.
Conan has another dalliance, this time as consort to a queen. It doesn’t turn out so well for him—well, he gets in trouble because of her fetching handmaid as well. At least in the queen’s perspective. To Conan, he’s getting weary of women.
The sex is so obvious, I was a little surprised to see the Comics Code on the cover.
Thomas gets in a first and second act here, not much of a third one. There’s an organic feel to the plotting though—it’s very nice how he passes two weeks in brief narration.
The ending is Conan and the handmaid against the queen’s pet monster. Windsor-Smith does an excellent job of the action, using pages full of small panels to convey the scene.
The backup is a story of a knight’s machinations to marry the king’s daughter. Great art from Kane. Thomas paces it poorly though.
The Dweller in the Dark; artist, Barry Windsor-Smith; colorists, Mimi Gold and Smith; letterer, Sam Rosen. The Blood of the Dragon; penciller, Gil Kane; inkers, Kane, Tom Palmer and Bernie Wrightson; letterer, Artie Simek. Writer, Roy Thomas; editor, Stan Lee; publisher, Marvel Comics.