I’m not sure where to start.
Now, the first issue of Static Shock was unbelievably bad, but this second issue… it somehow manages to be even worse.
Maybe I just blocked the awfulness.
First, the art. McDaniel and Owens open with an incomprehensible action scene. Apparently, Static’s arm gets cut off and reattaches. I only figured out the extent of the injury during the truly godawful page where he talks to himself about his problems. The art doesn’t show this event clearly enough to follow it.
Then there’s the villains. They don’t just talk in exposition, they talk in exposition and tell the other villains exactly what to do–which kind of kills the narrative progression.
Oh, the gang stuff. Apparently, gang members in the new DC Universe talk like Steve Urkel.
I can’t believe Rozum’s got his name on this garbage. Static Shock‘s not just bad, it’s laughably incompetent.
Cunningham has four plots this issue (and presumably through the entire series, until the last one). He’s got the peaceful humans and apes, the not peaceful apes, the mutants and then this expedition team. In some ways, it’s like he’s doing a good version of the second Apes movie—without the expectation of a Charlton Heston cameo.
With these four plots–a couple are definitely subplots, but assigning them catagories means deciding between the two remaining plots and it seems impossible to give either of them primacy. Anyway, with these four plots, Cunningham is juggling a big cast. Around twenty speaking parts. And he does a great job.
Forbidden Zone still isn’t remaking the wheel–it’s “just” a licensed property–but Cunningham’s execution is so masterful, it’s a joy to read.
Unfortunately, Kirk’s art is nowhere near as impressive as Cunningham’s writing. The art is decent, but Kirk’s completely unenthusiastic.
So Finch opens ripping off Blade Runner and ends with an homage to Tim Burton’s Batman.
Finch has got some really dumb ideas. I wonder if he ever thinks about them logically. He mixes the Burton Batmobile with the one from the new movies. Not that it makes any sense whatsoever, but I guess Finch thinks it looks cool so who cares.
Right off, he shows himself to be incapable of committing to a cliffhanger. The hulked out Two-Face is just a tease. It’s over in a couple pages, with some terrible Batman narration about being lonely. We then discover all of Batman’s foes have been injected with the Hulk venom so they’re all getting overgrown.
Besides a scene with Gordon, a lot of intercuts with Alfred and some non-Batman action scenes, there’s not much else in this issue.
It’s not even creative enough to be truly awful.
Forbidden Zone is quite a surprise, and not just because a young Leonard Kirk is on the art. It’s surprising because writer Lowell Cunningham takes a departure from the regular Adventure approach (even of their good entries) and goes it alone.
This story is set after the regular series and before the movies. It seems to feature an aged version of John Huston’s Lawgiver character (breaking the internal continuity of Adventure’s Apes comics) and deals reasonably with the character.
The bad guys are the mutants from the second Apes movie and Cunningham comes up with a nice way to involve them. He also creates the first intellectually curious gorilla, which is long overdue.
Cunningham’s future manages to be interesting not just as an Apes tie-in, but also as a look at the “apes as slaves” period, which has never really been covered.
It’s not great, but it’s reasonably compelling.
First off, this comic is good.
I don’t plan on getting too negative sounding, but in case I do… I wanted to open saying it’s good. Gray and Palmiotti have found their niche with Jonah Hex.
And this issue has an El Diablo backup, which is extra nice because it provides a great example of what I wanted to talk about. The cliffhanger on the Hex story is terrible. He’s in danger. A giant is about to pop his head off.
Now, I do not believe for one moment Hex is going to die. It’s a waste of a page. The El Diablo backup, on the other hand, has a rousing soft cliffhanger—El Diablo is about to kick ass.
It’s strange to have both in the same issue, by the same writers.
The puzzling cliffhanger problem aside, it’s great stuff.
Moritat opens the Hex story with a fantastic shootout.
I didn’t think Blood could get worse.
I thought Mann had established the bottom and was comfortable lurking around it. I was very, very wrong.
He breaks with the franchise’s “reality” so abruptly at the end, I wish I’d read Blood first, so I could have either enjoyed other Adventure Apes comics more or just not read them all together. If I were an Apes movie fan and I read this garbage at the time, I’m not sure what I would have done. Maybe sent monkey poop to the Adventure offices.
But Mann doesn’t just have moronic plot developments, he’s got some terrible writing habits as well.
For example, this issue he doesn’t narrate from any character, just an omniscient third person. But this omniscient third person sometimes over-acknowledges the reader, sometimes under-acknowledges. There’s no balance.
Blood is a terrible series with an even worse finish. It’s dreadful.
Well, this one is a disappointment.
Fialkov narrates the entire issue from Mary’s perspective. She’s the bad guy. But she’s also a vampire, so the I, Vampire title still works. Shame Fialkov felt the need to expand on the idea with a second narrator.
Anyway… this issue reveals the vampire holocaust we saw last issue isn’t really a holocaust. It’s a very bad localized incident. There’s no giant vampire army about to take over the world, it’s just a few.
It also means these first two issues are narratively pointless, at least when it comes to establishing the series. All Fialkov establishes is a protagonist and an antagonist and they alternate narrating. No idea about supporting cast, no idea about location.
Fialkov gets by because he’s got Sorrentino on the art. Sorrentino makes Vampire look great, even Mary’s unlikely jaw structure.
But if Fialkov keeps slipping, Sorrentino might not matter.
While this issue of Blood isn’t any better than the previous ones, with Mann and his artists operating at their established their quality level, they can’t exactly disappoint.
Here, Mann joins the creative continuity club of Adventure’s Apes comics and establishes the main ape settlement (from the movies and the regular series) knows about all the colonies.
More than knows about them, there’s some kind of “ape-o-gram,” to send messages between the settlements.
Much like Mann breaking one of the franchise’s primary details just to tell this terrible story, this latest development changes the Planet of the Apes once again. If there’s some lush world beyond the regular city, why doesn’t everyone just leave?
Okay, maybe I did have some more vitriol left than I thought. It’s just how Mann refuses to follow the basic franchise guidelines. Was Adventure really so desperate, they’d hire anyone to write Apes?
Johns is nowhere near as funny this issue of Aquaman. I don’t mean more of the jokes fall flat, I mean he’s given up the gag. Instead, he presents Aquaman as an action hero. Well, he does add Mera to the equation and reveal the couple to be adorable in private.
Though I enjoyed the issue less—and it’s clear Johns was more traditional and less inventive—it almost bodes well for the series and the approach itself. It’s not The Thin Man, but it’s about on par with “Hart to Hart.” Arthur and Mera make a fine team.
Of course, having a great superhero artist like Reis on the book is essential. If it weren’t so much fun to look at, Johns’s stalled pacing might get more annoying.
And it’s creepy. It’s a horror comic, with the nasty unseen creatures of the mist being visible and horrific.
Artists Darren Goodhart and Bruce McCorkindale find an interesting way to be faithful to the source material. Their apes look like people wearing cheap masks. Instead of embracing the limitless possibilities, Goodhart and McCorkindale maybe have the “cheapest” ape design I’ve seen in an Apes comic.
Mann’s script continues to be Blood’s biggest problem though. Here he starts (or maybe he started last issue and I just blocked it) using thought balloons for his protagonist ape bounty hunter. These thought balloons are probably Mann’s worst writing, which is quite a feat, since there aren’t a great deal of them. It’s usually the protagonist making some obvious observation or Mann uses them for exposition.
This series, it turns out, ties into not just the regular Apes series, but also Urchak’s Folly. Mann reminds suffering readers the branding duped them into this bad investment.
It doesn’t even have a good cliffhanger.
Strangely, I don’t care about any of Justice League Dark‘s significant problems. It’s got Janin on the art still and he’s still fantastic, so it can pretty much be about anything. And Milligan isn’t going to write anything offensive. It might get bad, but it won’t offend on any level other than wasting time.
But there’s Janin’s art, so Dark can’t be a waste of time.
Now, it is interesting what a big part Deadman plays here. He’s got this book, DC Universe and Hawk & Dove. I’d hate to think DC is overexposing him just because there’s a TV show in the works.
Sadly, Milligan writes Deadman like he’s a Seth Rogen character. He always begging Dove for sex… and considering she’s not even on the team, it’s strange she gets more page time than the erstwhile principals.
Still, Dove by Janin is awesome.
Dark‘s both bad and wonderful.
So this terrible comic book is about what I was expecting from Adventure’s Apes franchise.
At least the flagship series started well, even if it did eventually go to pot. Blood of the Apes starts in the pot and kind of just stirs around a little.
Because they’re based on an existing franchise, I accept there are a number of constraints to an Apes comic book. But writer Roland Mann’s solution isn’t to be inventive within those restraints, it’s to break them. Here, he breaks that cardinal rule–ape shall not kill ape. His protagonist in Blood is a bounty hunter who loves killing apes. Man-lovers, but still apes.
But this development breaks one of the agreements of the franchise, turning Blood into a lazy knock-off. Actually, it turns it into fan-fic, not a professional, licensed tie-in.
Anyway, crappy writing, crappy art. It’s a terrible time.
There’s something sadly desperate about DC having werewolves and supernatural social clubs, which this issue of DC Universe Presents reveals. They’re now trying to attract the Twilight audience.
It’s so desperate it’s sad.
Also sad is most of Chang’s artwork this issue. About the only character he draws well is Deadman himself, who spends most of the issue jumping from body to body.
Worse, Jenkins’s plotting has gone to the dumps. He wastes a few pages with Deadman and the god Rama, where we and Deadman both know she’s lying to him, but not even giving him tasks lying, just wasting pages lying.
Then Jenkins has to wrap up the rest of last issue’s cliffhanger before Deadman goes on his adventure to the supernatural club. Now, if last issue’s cliffhanger wasn’t important, why put it in a comic? Jenkins’s writing is lazy, unfocused and uninspired.
Universe has plunged in quality.
Sins of the Father is pretty darn good for a licensed tie-in.
Mike Valerio’s writing is strong–he mixes a Sherlock Holmes-like investigation into an ape’s death with an explanation of why Maurice Evan’s Zaius is such a tool in the original Planet of the Apes. He also introduces family relationships into the franchise for the first time. It’s neat.
Unfortunately, the art’s wrong. Mitch Byrd is fine artist, but not for an Apes book. Everyone looks cute, whether it’s the gorillas, who are just kind of cute, or the orangutans, who are cuter than Gizmo. It creates a disconnect between the pictures and the words.
But Valerio’s strength isn’t just in his plotting, it’s in how he realizes the society. While it’s not as confined as the movies, it’s also more thoughtful than the majority of Adventure’s comics.
It’s a great tie-in and a good comic.