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Rover Red Charlie

Rover Red Charlie 5 (March 2014)

Rover Red Charlie #5

Ennis sure does like going out on an ominous ending with this one. It’s somewhere between a hard and soft cliffhanger; maybe a soft-boiled one. He hints at disaster earlier too, rather blatantly. Hopefully his time to cop out with a dream sequence has passed.

Not a lot happens in the issue. He skips across the dogs crossing a desert, which seems like it would take quite a while and not just a few panels. The emphasis, besides Red (who isn’t fixed) meeting a lady dog (who looks like Lassie), is on the dogs learning to want for themselves. It’s pretty forced stuff, but Ennis is coasting on good will. Even the lamer scenes, like them coming across yet another dog who knows more about what’s going on, Ennis can coast through them too. His cast is strong enough.

It’s not a bridging issue as much as a shortcut one.

B- 

CREDITS

The Big Big; writer, Garth Ennis; artist and colorist, Michael DiPascale; letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.

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Rover Red Charlie

Rover Red Charlie 4 (February 2014)

Rover Red Charlie #4

Ennis utilizes a very effective device this issue–he has such a great last scene, it overrides the issue’s problem. What problem? Three things happen the entire issue.

One of the friends tries cooking duck, the friends meet an army dog, the friends meet an infected dog. Three things. Ennis drags out the army dog meeting, which doesn’t really service much purpose other than to show how different dogs think. Of course, that level of examination seems more appropriate for an ongoing, not a limited series.

He also makes an effort to hint at whatever has driven the humans crazy. There’s no place in the series to give an answer to the reader–the narrating dog realizes he’s been on his own long enough he wants to know why, but it’s for him (and he wants to know why about many things now).

It’s still good and thoughtful, just slight.

B 

CREDITS

Walked Off to Look for America; writer, Garth Ennis; artist and colorist, Michael DiPascale; letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.

Caliban

Caliban 1 (March 2014)

Caliban #1

Oh, good, Garth Ennis wants to try his hand at derivative sci-fi. Caliban takes place on a ship traveling through warpspace–which sounds a lot more “realistic” than hyperspace or warp… wait, never mind. It doesn’t.

But he does try to work in the reality of cryogenic sleep for long voyages. The cast of the series are the maintenance crew for the ship who don’t get to sleep. Instead they bicker and flirt and write very explanatory journal entries on their iPads.

Given the odd pacing and pointless characters, I wonder if Ennis tried his hand at writing a movie script. Because as a comic, this issue is a mess. It’s more annoying than anything else once it gets obvious. Regurgitated sci-fi movie ideas from as far back as 2001 and as recent as Prometheus.

It’s not even an imaginative regurgitation.

Facundo Percio’s mediocre art is another problem.

C 

CREDITS

The Ship; writer, Garth Ennis; penciller, Facundo Percio; inker, Sebastian Cabrol; colorist, Hernán Cabrera; letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.

Rover Red Charlie

Rover Red Charlie 3 (January 2014)

Rover Red Charlie #3

Every once in a while, Garth Ennis must decide he has to do something to remind everyone how thoroughly raunchy he can get. Unlike a lot of his recent work, his raunchy moment in this issue of Rover Red Charlie works a lot like how it worked in Preacher. With witnesses echoing the reader’s plea for Ennis not to take things there.

It’s foul, but the foul isn’t bad. It’s just foul and gross and sticks in one’s mind’s eye even after the page–and comic–has passed.

Of course, having Dipascale’s sweet art for that moment makes it even more intense.

This issue, Ennis introduces a lot. Characters, ideas, about the only thing he doesn’t introduce are new dog vocabulary terms. There are a few, but nothing as memorable as before.

Sorry to be so myopic….

The issue’s solid, formulaic but still engaging. The soft cliffhanger’s too ominous though.

B 

CREDITS

God Backwards; writer, Garth Ennis; artist and colorist, Michael DiPascale; letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.

Rover Red Charlie

Rover Red Charlie 2 (December 2013)

Rover Red Charlie #2

Ennis brings in the cats. The hisspots. I can’t spoil the twists and turns with them, but he does a great job with it.

He ends the issue on a very melancholy note and one has to wonder if he’s just lost his ability to riff. He needs to be more controlled, more thoughtful, more measured. Like his comics can’t grow organically, they need to be regimented.

And it works for Rover Red Charlie. He creates genuine concern for the three main characters, probably utilizing a reader’s built in sympathy for animals, even though most of his effort is spent expanding the dog mind.

He knows he’s doing it. If it weren’t for the vocabulary, how he uses the exposition, not to mention DiPascale’s art, the ending would flop. Instead, it’s a cheap glorious, but glorious nonetheless.

However, Ennis has four issues left. Lots of time to trip himself up.

B+ 

CREDITS

A Distant Shore; writer, Garth Ennis; artist and colorist, Michael DiPascale; letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.

Rover Red Charlie

Rover Red Charlie 1 (November 2013)

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I was sort of expecting Rover Red Charlie to be a Crossed spin-off. It’s Garth Ennis doing a story where people go nuts and start killing each other in awful ways. Why not do something sly like a crossover.

You know, for marketing.

Only Charlie is unexpected because Ennis is doing something he hasn’t done much lately and usually not at Avatar. He’s trying. He’s setting up characters, he’s showing his soft side, he’s working in the insane terminology of dogs. It’s crazy inventive as far as the dogs go, not just how their society works, but how Ennis shows their perspective of the apocalypse. It’s awesome.

It helps he’s got Michael DiPascale on the art. The style is just right. DiPascale draws the dogs like it’s a greeting card and the end of the world with fresh eyes. Literally. It’s very clean apocalypse.

Ennis certainly raises one’s expectations.

B+ 

CREDITS

Something Happened; writer, Garth Ennis; artist and colorist, Michael DiPascale; letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.

God Is Dead 1 (August 2013)

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God Is Dead is godawful.

The comic’s concept is simple–the ancient, mythological gods return to Earth in the present day and wreck havoc. Zeus, Odin (writers Jonathan Hickman and Mike Costa are gleeful in their Norse god usage, presumably to stick a finger up at Marvel and Thor), the Egyptian gods, the Aztec god… no Native American spirits, however.

The execution is hideous. There’s a human resistance movement, of course. The resistance is the smart people but there are only five of them. One’s a cute, acerbic witted girl. Got to have her. The lead’s apparently the new member of the resistance.

But Hickman and Costa–how they split writing tasks is unclear, but Hickman’s the credited creator in case Hollywood comes knocking–stick with Odin and his god party.

Indescribably bad. Di Amorim’s art isn’t good but even he deserves a better script.

It’s Edith Hamilton for morons.

CREDITS

Deus. Rex. Terra.; writers, Jonathan Hickman and Mike Costa; artist, Di Amorim; colorist, Juanmar; letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.

The Extinction Parade 2 (August 2013)

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Oh, the two lead girls–and the sidekick doesn’t die yet, Brooks is holding off on it–are East Asian. It wasn’t clear last issue. I guess Caceres’s art failings do have more repercussions than I thought.

This issue is entirely in summary. It reads really fast, Brooks narrating from his female protagonist’s perspective. He opens with this inane contradiction about how the rise of the middle class and technology has made it harder for a vampire to hunt because people’s absences go noticed easier. My first thought was all the poor people in the world… then he actually double backs and makes the same comment–it’s actually okay because of the poor people. So why bring up the middle class?

Some of the book just seems like moments for zombie art from Caceres. It’s intricate and big but pointless in terms of narrative.

The Parade isn’t going anywhere yet.

CREDITS

Writer, Max Brooks; artist, Raulo Caceres; colorist, Digikore Studios; letterer, Kurt Hathaway; editors, Jim Kuhoric and William A. Christensen; publisher, Avatar Press.

The Extinction Parade 1 (May 2013)

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The Extinction Parade has such a timely gimmick I can’t believe no one got to it already–vampires versus zombies. Even though writer Max Brooks doesn’t do the full reveal here, he’s pacing himself obviously, it’s pretty obvious.

While zombies don’t eat vampires, if zombies do overrun the planet, vampires will have nothing to feed on. All the humans will be gone. Shame that.

Brooks’s protagonist is an exotically named female vampire. She’s ages old (he’ll probably reveal more of her backstory, along with the rare vampire breeding process he hints at, later on) and a decent protagonist. She’s got a female best friend who likes the male vampires more than the protagonist does.

The female friend will probably die somehow in the next issue. Brooks paints with coats and coats of foreshadowing.

Raulo Caceres’s artwork is okay for an Avatar book.

It’s too soon to predict how Parade’ll do.

CREDITS

Writer, Max Brooks; artist, Raulo Caceres; colorist, Digikore Studios; letterer, Kurt Hathaway; editors, Jim Kuhoric and William A. Christensen; publisher, Avatar Press.

Fashion Beast 10 (May 2013)

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What a bad last issue. Poor Percio ends up doing something like four to eight panels a page to get all the story done and he doesn’t work well under pressure. Lots and lots of loose art.

There’s a fight scene at the climax. A pointless one. Actually, wait, most of this issue is pointless. Then there’s the goofy finish. In his adapting, somehow Johnston has drained everything good about Fashion Beast–as a comic–and instead puts forward this terribly done mimic of a movie.

Lots of the problems–probably all of them–are from the original script and plot. Moore doesn’t get off the hook (but he clearly didn’t care enough about Beast to adapt it himself). There’s barely any dialogue; the issue races. There isn’t any time for personality.

It’s an unfortunate end. Johnston’s lack of ambition–or freedom–in adapting Moore’s original script does it in.

CREDITS

The World; writers, Malcolm McLaren, Alan Moore and Antony Johnston; artist, Facundo Percio; colorist, Hernan Cabrera; letterer, Jaymes Reed; editor, Jim Kuhoric; publisher, Avatar Press.

Fashion Beast 9 (April 2013)

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Well, Tomboy finally gets a proper name.

But no lines. Lines aren’t important for anyone but the evil ladies working the clothes factory this issue. And the custodian girl gets a few scenes. It’s odd how Johnston brings things together from the first issue in the ninth. His sequential adaptation of the script is terrible on the technical level.

Lots of time passes this issue, with definite description–six weeks; it feels the like a comic for the most part, like this portion of Moore’s original script lends itself best to the format.

It’s too bad it’s not a good issue. Some of the dialogue’s good, but there are major plot holes and the whole thing’s inconsequential. The issue ends reversing a decision made at the start of the issue. It’s like half the issue didn’t happen.

Doll becomes a practical background player in her own comic.

It’s a shame.

CREDITS

The Star; writers, Malcolm McLaren, Alan Moore and Antony Johnston; artist, Facundo Percio; colorist, Hernan Cabrera; letterer, Jaymes Reed; editor, Jim Kuhoric; publisher, Avatar Press.

Fashion Beast 8 (March 2013)

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More problems. Doll goes back to her old neighborhood and Tomboy shows her how everything has changed.

Only Johnston–and Moore, he doesn’t get off the hook for this one–never showed how it was when Doll was there. There’s no passage of time; Doll could have been a model for a couple weeks, a couple months or a year. Since Johnston and Moore never established the ground situation or how much time has passed since the beginning of Fashion Beast, it’s hard to say.

The lengthy tour with Tomboy explaining why functional fashion is better is trying. It’s Moore’s second big monologue about the place of fashion in the world and not even the first one worked. Fashion Beast isn’t enough about fashion for these monologues.

And then the shocker of an ending. It almost reads like Johnston hadn’t read the whole script when breaking it out to issues.

CREDITS

The Lovers; writers, Malcolm McLaren, Alan Moore and Antony Johnston; artist, Facundo Percio; colorist, Hernan Cabrera; letterer, Jaymes Reed; editor, Jim Kuhoric; publisher, Avatar Press.

Fashion Beast 7 (February 2013)

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Percio gets Fashion Beast’s most thankless task… trying to make the characters act.

With Johnston sticking to Moore’s dialogue and apparently unwilling to make it fit the comic medium better, Percio’s actually the one who has to make it work.

This issue features the boss–the titular beast–unintentionally (one assumes) flirting with Doll. So Percio has to illustrate his desire, her confusion and then her enthusiasm to it. All while the dialogue works against that reading; it’s a subtext and it’d be fine if it were acted, but comics don’t do well with subtext. Especially not with Johnston involved.

The result is a fast, slight read. There’s a lame opening montage, which Johnston could’ve done better in a page with a paragraph of totally acceptable exposition, the seduction scene and then Doll and Tomboy arguing.

Fashion Beast has a lot of problems (read: Johnston), but charms its way through.

CREDITS

The Fool; writers, Malcolm McLaren, Alan Moore and Antony Johnston; artist, Facundo Percio; colorist, Hernan Cabrera; letterer, Jaymes Reed; editor, Jim Kuhoric; publisher, Avatar Press.

Fashion Beast 6 (January 2013)

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The next big twist is predictable. It just had to work out the way it does–I guess there was one other alternative but Moore and company had done enough with gender. It makes the majority of the issue sort of superfluous.

The real moment comes at the end when Doll becomes the protagonist again. Tomboy doesn’t show up the entire issue, which is a good thing for it too. Johnston hasn’t been letting Fashion Beast breath. He’s been putting things too close together.

This issue is a talking heads one and there’s only so much space with it. For once, Johnston doesn’t try to overextend the content.

It’s an odd issue–in some ways, it’s the best so far–but only because of that opening. One conversation allows for the series’s sublimest moment, but that one conversation isn’t anything special in itself, it’s just the fuel.

An excellent issue.

CREDITS

The Devil; writers, Malcolm McLaren, Alan Moore and Antony Johnston; artist, Facundo Percio; colorist, Hernan Cabrera; letterer, Jaymes Reed; editor, Jim Kuhoric; publisher, Avatar Press.