Well, after a couple good issues, Carlin’s Ka-Zar is starting to unravel.
The issue also has major art problems; some of these problems might even make Carlin’s script worse, but he still makes some awful choices.
He tries to keep up the high level of content, sending Ka-Zar and Shanna through a battle, imprisonment, another battle, an escape, another imprisonment… You get the idea.
Carlin loses track of characters a couple major times, with the character conveniently popping in to save the day, and he also makes a terrible antagonist decision. The bad guy this issue is a pterodactyl man. He thinks to himself a lot and he’s a big meanie. It’s a goofy villain, made goofier by Mary Wilshire and Ricardo Villamonte’s questionable pencils, and the issue sinks thanks to it.
The art looks dated, like a bland sixties comic.
Luckily, the strong cast still makes it throughly readable.
No one misses Iris? She sort of spends the issue kidnapped.
Manapul and Buccellato can’t seem to plot the issue. It opens with a huge action set piece–the Flash saving a planeload of people–but it’s boring. Manapul can do all the double page spreads he wants, it’s still just a drawing of an airplane. Visual effectiveness doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing on TV as it does in a comic.
Then the rest of the issue is Central City dealing with its huge power outage, but Manapul and Buccellato skip the Flash actually helping people. They cut to some annoying science guy for a forced tie-in to Captain Atom. The attempts at Marvel-like continuity between series is painful.
There’s a hard cliffhanger and it could be a fun resolution. I doubt it.
Manapul and Buccellato’s Barry Allen narration is overcooked and annoying too.
The Flash‘s flopping.
Carlin’s not doing much to make Ka-Zar his own. He follows the existing template well–down to Shanna’s step-daughter being emotionally affecting from her first panel–and it feels like a good impression of Bruce Jones.
Except Carlin doesn’t spend a lot of time on his protagonists’ emotions. He doesn’t keep their self-reflections going throughout the issue, instead using them episodically. It’s not a bad approach, it just gives the narrative a staggered feel.
To be fair, Carlin does get a lot done. He probably has enough content in the issue it’d run six “decompressed.” Ka-Zar and Shanna have a wedding and even get married, along with fighting a demonic bad guy and saving some people. Throw in another five or six pages of villain scenes and you’ve got a packed issue.
Frenz does fine fitting it all in. Even if his pencils aren’t beautiful or even ambitious.