Avatar

crossed-plus

Crossed + One Hundred 1 (November 2014)

Crossed + One Hundred #1

Who would have thought Crossed + One Hundred wouldn’t just be good, but would be some really strong mainstream stuff from Alan Moore. He gets to create a language–future English–which undoubtedly gave him a lot to think about (since the language also shows how the world has changed since the apocalypse and what’s important and what’s not). And he gets to imagine a future civilization.

Not surprisingly, it’s upbeat. Moore shows the humanity both in his cast of survivors, but also in the crossed. It’s very strange because they’re not sympathetic yet, but he’s got a anthropologic distance from them and it does make them very interesting.

A lot of the details don’t have anything to do with Crossed and are probably just ideas Moore has had kicking around for a while. But he fits them perfectly to the world such a calamity might create.

Gabriel Andrade’s art’s excellent.

A 

CREDITS

Writer, Alan Moore; artist, Gabriel Andrade; colorist, Digikore Studios; letterer, Jaymes Reed; publisher, Avatar Press.

About these ads
war stories

War Stories 3 (November 2014)

War Stories #3

If Ennis had just started out with the story he finishes telling in this issue, it would have been a much more satisfying story arc. He doesn’t want to seem too sentimental, I guess. But he starts narrating it in the past tense, directly referring to the war being over, so his protagonist clearly makes it.

Only the protagonist isn’t really telling his war story. Ennis has this interesting thing–a war story where the narration doesn’t engage with all the visuals, the protagonist has forgotten the details, they’ve ceased to be the important thing about this period of his life. It could have been an awesome little story.

Instead, Ennis tries to correct it all this issue and he rushes through it and it doesn’t work. It’s well-written, it’s just obvious and desperate.

And Burns’s detail on the war battle can’t make up for his terrible human beings.

B 

CREDITS

Castles in the Sky, Part Three of Three; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Keith Burns; colorist, Digikore Studios; letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.

war stories

War Stories 2 (October 2014)

War Stories #2

There’s something slightly off about the second issue of War Stories. Keith Burns’s art isn’t great, but it’s all right and Ennis’s script is strong enough to get over any visual bumps. Except the effort Burns puts into the aerial battles–there’s a lot of detail, but there’s no narrative to the illustration. So it contributes to that slightly off vibe, but not entirely.

The real problem is Ennis. He doesn’t actually have a story. He has some great scenes and anecdotes for bomber crews and the protagonist’s relationship with a British widow makes for a good scene, but Ennis doesn’t have a narrative. He’s just stringing these scenes together and hoping the protagonist’s narration will somehow get it through. And it doesn’t. The narration has a couple excellent moments, but they’re jagged too.

It’s not a cohesive issue. It’s a bridging issue in a three issue arc. But good.

B 

CREDITS

Castles in the Sky, Part Two of Three; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Keith Burns; colorist, Digikore Studios; letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.

war stories

War Stories 1 (September 2014)

War Stories #1

Garth Ennis is back with more war stories–this time appropriately titled War Stories–and he’s off to an excellent start. The first arc of the new series has him covering an American flier in Britain in a bomber; well, the flier doesn’t actually get into a mission yet, with Ennis instead concentrating on his experiences before his first mission.

Then the first mission takes an unexpected turn or two.

Ennis writes in first person from the protagonist, talking about all the things he’s seeing as he journeys across the United States and then to Britain. There’s muted culture shock, there’s character development, there’s attention to detail. It’s excellent writing and Ennis obviously takes it very seriously.

Matt Martin’s art works out too. He has good composition and attention to period detail. Those pluses make up for the occasionally loose physical traits on people. Great tone though.

It’s outstanding stuff.

A 

CREDITS

Castles in the Sky, Part One of Three; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Matt Martin; colorist, Digikore Studios; letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.

Rover Red Charlie

Rover Red Charlie 6 (May 2014)

Rover Red Charlie #6

Garth Ennis just made me cry.

Jerk.

I’m not sure Red Rover Charlie has the most honest finish, but it has the finish the series needs. Ennis manages to reward the reader–which he definitely should, given the four dollar price tag per issue–and he does it with breaks. There are a whole lot of endings in this issue and Ennis keeps doing them through the rewarding ones to the somewhat profound ones.

There are actually quite a few profound moments in the comic, both about animals, humans, the idea of pets and then the idea of nature itself. It’s actually a rather lovely comic.

All the sentiments are difficult to balance out and it might be where Ennis has the most success. He’s very sure of himself and willing to risk going too far to make it work.

Some very nice art from DiPascale too.

Charlie’s an unexpectedly great series.

A 

CREDITS

The Angel With His Darker Draught; writer, Garth Ennis; artist and colorist, Michael DiPascale; letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.

Caliban

Caliban 2 (April 2014)

Caliban #2

The beginning of the issue is slightly better than I expected. Not because Ennis has any good characters, but because he handles the scene with the big alien laboratory pretty well. There are all these alien species in preservation tanks, the humans freak out. It’s a decent scene.

Then there’s a standard briefing scene and I figured Ennis might just be trying to move things along logically. Then comes the scene from one of then Alien movies, then comes the scene ripping off possession or androids or whatever. KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park maybe. It doesn’t matter. Ennis doesn’t actually have any new ideas or even thoughtful ways to compile his bad ideas.

It’s supposed to be smart sci-fi and it comes off like a bunch of clips from famous sci-fi movies.

Percio’s art is mediocre and unimaginative as far as design.

It’s boring and unoriginal.

C- 

CREDITS

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

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.

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)

290505 20131214195121 large

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)

282190 20130904184916 large

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)

281715 20130830174446 large

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.