Boom!

Cluster

Cluster 2 (March 2015)

Cluster #2

There’s some nice development with Cluster this issue, but Brisson doesn’t have a good close for the issue. He seems to know it’s a problem because he goes into a flashback and shows another scene of the protagonist back when she was a partying socialite and not a prisoner.

Much of that nice development comes from Couceiro’s influence. Brisson gives him some opportunity for good character interactions–and some very complicated ones–and Couceiro runs with it. The personality they give the characters plays out nicely in quiet ways throughout the rest of the issue. Even if the cast isn’t being explained, Brisson and Couceiro are definitely making the reader more comfortable with them.

Brisson doesn’t plot out the action well, however. He rushes; he rushes the characters, he rushes the story, he rushes Couceiro. Cluster is a visually fantastic sci-fi comic without time to focus on the visuals.

CREDITS

Writer and letterer, Ed Brisson; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Michael Garland; editors, Cameron Chittock and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

curb-stomp

Curb Stomp 1 (February 2015)

Curb Stomp #1

Curb Stomp, quite frankly, plays like a Troma remake of Repo Man. It’s post-apocalyptic, but not in a fantastical way, with its characters just trying to get by in a difficult world. The leads are the five or six members of the gang The Fevers. They’re punk rock and all women, as opposed to their rival gangs, who are coed and don’t have any major unified fashion statements going on.

Writer Ryan Ferrier worries more about cool characters than good dialogue and it works. His dialogue’s fine, affected, not realistic. He doesn’t plot out long scenes. He keeps it moving. A lot happens in the first issue, maybe two major plot points, which is nice to see in an indie limited series.

Devaki Neogi’s art reminds a little of Love and Rockets (in a good way) and the issue is a rather substantial success. Curb Stomp gets started strong.

CREDITS

Writer, Ryan Ferrier; artist, Devaki Neogi; colorist, Neil Lalonde; letterer, Colin Bell; editors, Jasmine Amiri and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

sons-of-anarchy

Sons of Anarchy 18 (February 2015)

Sons of Anarchy #18

It’s an okay flashback issue from Brisson and Bergara. It might have more meaning if one is familiar with the “Sons of Anarchy” television program, not just the comic book. I don’t even remember the protagonist of this issue–Happy–having much to do in the comic overall.

In this issue, set in the eighties, he goes to prison and goes a little crazy and runs off and joins SAMCRO. Brisson does reasonably well making the character sympathetic, but he’s never likable. He’s just surrounded by bigger jerks, not necessarily more dangerous ones. Brisson doesn’t have time to explore that aspect of the story, which is too bad. It’s more interesting than the plot.

Some of that interest problem is because of Bergara. His scenes set in prison come off like Archie In Oz just because the faces are too genial. Works against the mood.

And the ending’s too rushed.

CREDITS

Writer, Ed Brisson; artist, Matías Bergara; colorist, Paul Little; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Mary Gumport and Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Robocop-Boom

Robocop 8 (February 2015)

Robocop #8

I’m not sure how I’d describe Killian, Williamson’s long-in-the-tooth antagonist in Robocop, but soap opera tough guy might be the best description. There’s no depth to the character, which is starting to get really annoying. Though Magno’s design for the him does look a lot like an eighties tough guy, which fits in with it being a sequel to Robocop.

This issue has Williamson lift a scene from Batman Returns to get stuff done, which is fine (there’s nothing else to do in that situation), but the parts with Robocop all of a sudden an upgraded superhero, doing things impossible to do with a man in a tin can suit? It’s where Robocop breaks. It’s where you can’t suspend disbelief long enough to hear Peter Weller’s voice saying the lines.

Williamson is still earnest with Robocop, but he’s not restrained enough. Not having a “budget” hurts it.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Carlos Magno; colorist, Marissa Louise; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Alex Galer and Ian Brill; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Cluster

Cluster 1 (February 2015)

Cluster #1

There’s not much original in Cluster so far. It’s a remix of a lot of sci-fi, popular and not, but writer Ed Brisson manages to coat over all those elements because the story isn’t derivative, the details aren’t homage, they’re just part of the sci-fi language now. Of course there’s something out of BattleTech in Cluster. Why wouldn’t there be?

The first issue introduces the protagonist, who doesn’t have a memorable name, but is a politician’s daughter serving hard time fighting for a colony planet. She makes a sidekick (not friend) and gets into a fight and goes to solitary. Then goes out on a mission.

It doesn’t make a lot of sense at times–the way Brisson paces it–but it doesn’t matter. Because Damian Couceiro’s art is awesome. He goes for big scale sci-fi, but still within the constraints of a comic book.

Cluster‘s solid.

CREDITS

Writer, Ed Brisson; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Michael Garland; editors, Cameron Chittock and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

big trouble

Big Trouble in Little China 8 (January 2015)

Big Trouble in Little China #8

Well, Big Trouble in Little China is definitely going places. This issue, which is mostly (amusing) exposition and (great) banter–with a lot big action set piece thrown in–moves the series to an unexpected cliffhanger. Powell is getting closer and closer to needing to establish a point for the series past the gimmick of its very existence. He seems to be almost there.

The only problem with the issue is Churilla’s art. He’s hurried in places, not putting a lot of thought or time into his compositions. There’s the action set piece and it does work out, but it’s a small part of the issue. The build-up to that sequence has some wonky, disjointed moments.

Powell’s script has a good amount of surprises alongside the humor. The conclusion’s unpredictable (unless I missed something in the previous issues); it probably shouldn’t be. Powell artfully uses the laughs for misdirection.

CREDITS

Writers, John Carpenter and Eric Powell; artist, Brian Churilla; colorist, Lisa Moore; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Alex Galer and Ian Brill; publisher, Boom! Studios.

sons-of-anarchy

Sons of Anarchy 17 (January 2015)

Sons of Anarchy #17

Every third or fourth issue of Sons of Anarchy, I write something about how it’s amazing what Brisson is doing with this licensed title, especially one about bikers, which doesn’t seem the most natural fit for a comic.

I need to change up that practice as of now.

Sons of Anarchy is the best book people aren’t reading. What Brisson does this issue in terms of narrative plotting–executing a bunch of little twists to turn the book from a talking heads to a montage to an action story–is exceptional. And Bergara’s art is essential too. So much happens and he fits it all in.

Brisson is committed to not let Anarchy be disposable. The issue he and Bergara create here is fun, tough, subtle. And Brisson plots it out as only a comic can be plotted out.

He’s using a licensed comic to advertise the medium’s unique strengths.

CREDITS

Writer, Ed Brisson; artist, Matías Bergara; colorist, Paul Little; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Mary Gumport and Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Robocop-Boom

Robocop 7 (January 2015)

Robocop #7

Seeing Robocop run–he gets upgraded–reminds of two things. First, it’s like running zombies. Second, it’s a little like Batman on ice skates. It’s just too much. Magno’s art is stronger than it has been in the last few issues so he’s able to tone it down and keep the action grounded, but it’s still too much.

However, Robocop being faster than a speeding bullet and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound isn’t the emphasis of the issue. The cops finally get around to going after the bad guy; Murphy gets some evidence, Lewis gets some evidence. Williamson’s Mr. Big is going down!

But not this issue. This issue has a boring hard cliffhanger.

Still, Magno does well with all the action and talking heads and so on and Williamson does really well with Lewis’s arc this issue. It’s problematic licensed property stuff, but still worthwhile.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Carlos Magno; colorist, Marissa Louise; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Alex Galer and Ian Brill; publisher, Boom! Studios.

star-trek-planet-of-the-apes

Star Trek/Planet of the Apes: The Primate Directive 1 (December 2014)

Star Trek/Planet of the Apes: The Primate Directive #1

It’s strange, but the best thing about Star Trek/Planet of the Apes: The Primate Direction so far is Rachael Stott’s artwork. And her artwork isn’t particularly good. She does okay with people in action sequences, less with the spaceship stuff, but her talking heads are particularly interesting. She doesn’t go for photo referencing the cast of the original “Star Trek,” but she does capture the actors’ expressions.

And, given writers Scott Tipton and David Tipton are really good at approximately an episode of “Star Trek” in terms of dialogue, the talking heads scenes are rather effective. It feels as much like Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner crossing over with Planet of the Apes in the late sixties as one is going to get.

But what’s the point? So far, nothing. The Klingons go to Apes Earth and cause trouble. Big deal.

Apes is nowhere weird enough for “Star Trek.”

CREDITS

Writers, Scott Tipton and David Tipton; artist, Rachael Stott; colorist, Charlie Kirchoff; letterer, Tom B. Long; editors, Sarah Gaydos and Dafna Pleban; publishers, IDW Publishing and Boom! Studios.

sons-of-anarchy

Sons of Anarchy 16 (December 2014)

Sons of Anarchy #16

It’s a really cute issue. Seriously, it’s cute. Brisson manages to tell a cute, life affirming story with Sons of Anarchy. If there’s the Sons equivalent of a teddy bear, he finds it this issue.

The story has the owner of the pot shop in trouble with an ex; now, said pot shop owner is in business with a biker and he calls the biker for help. So then the biker has this whole investigation thing–the comic really does read like a detective story, but the brute force kind, not the meticulous investigation kind–before he discovers the truth and then there’s go to be the reckoning.

Artist Matías Bergara is not ready for prime time. With some of the action panels, he’s not even close. Occasionally, it does look like he’s got a good talking heads thing going, but the colors mess him up.

It’s an awkward issue.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer, Ed Brisson; artist, Matías Bergara; colorist, Paul Little; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Mary Gumport and Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Robocop-Boom

Robocop 6 (December 2014)

Robocop #6

It’s a bridging issue. An undercover cop goes after Killian–in one of Williamson’s most unexpected moves, the character (who everyone is accusing of being an undercover cop) turns out to be an undercover cop just in time for the cliffhanger. Robocop gets beat up by the new ED–209, which has a silly name I can’t remember. And Anne Lewis gets into a yelling match about how she’s not going to back down from her job (with another female detective).

And Robocop gets new legs. He can run now. Not quite a jetpack, but… a running Robocop.

Next time, because this issue is a bridging issue.

It’d probably be okay if it weren’t for some real compositional laziness on Magno’s part. He’s wasting a lot of space, with angles intended to fill space with blah content. Without anything particularly good in the narrative, the art pitfalls hurt the issue.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Carlos Magno; colorist, Marissa Louise; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Alex Galer and Ian Brill; publisher, Boom! Studios.

escape-from-new-york

Escape from New York 1 (December 2014)

Escape from New York #1

I’m trying to figure out how to describe Escape from New York to those unfamiliar with the movie. You wouldn’t buy the comic on a whim, without a familiarity, because if you paged through it, you’d be immediately lost. Writer Christopher Sebela doesn’t really do an introduction, he does a direct sequel to the movie… then immediately invalidates it.

But, let’s say you stuck with it for a few more pages. And then you wondered why Diego Barreto is drawing the main character so blandly. And why is the dialogue so terrible? Sebela rips off a line from Terminator 2. In a sequel to a movie from eleven years before T2. It feels weird. But not totally awful yet.

It gets awful a few pages later with Sebela’s first “I thought you were dead” line from a diner waitress. It’s a terrible sequel; bad, officially licensed fanfic.

It’s wretched stuff.

D- 

CREDITS

Writer, Christopher Sebela; artist, Diego Barreto; colorist, Marissa Louise; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Alex Galer and Ian Brill; publisher, Boom! Studios.

sons-of-anarchy

Sons of Anarchy 15 (November 2015)

Sons of Anarchy #15

It’s once again amazing how much Brisson is able to do with Sons of Anarchy. Especially this issue, which seems to deal a lot with continuity from the television series. Instead of that continuity dragging the issue down, thanks to Brisson’s rather impressive use of expository dialogue, it makes it better. It provides foundation.

The issue has a rather simple plot. Gemma–the den mother of the club (i assume, still haven’t watched the show)–tells Jax (he’s in charge of the club) to go find her stolen car. The comic plays out over four scenes. Brisson has a big reveal at the end of the issue and the way he simultaneously ties that reveal into everything he’s done in the issue while still keeping it entirely separate is phenomenal.

Even with a simple story, Brisson gets Anarchy running beautifully.

Nice art from Matías Bergara too. Moody but still straightforward.

B+ 

CREDITS

Writer, Ed Brisson; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Michael Spicer; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Mary Gumport and Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

big trouble

Big Trouble in Little China 6 (November 2014)

Big Trouble in Little China #6

And Big Trouble is back. Powell is setting up a new storyline, but he’s also back with his core cast–or maybe just developing his core cast. It feels less like a direct sequel to the movie and more like a real one.

Maybe just because Powell finally gets to explaining what’s going on with Gracie Law, who was inexplicably missing from the first story arc–until now–but also because he’s developing. He’s developing Miao Yin (the kidnapped girl from the movie) and the friendship between Jack and Eddie.

The humor’s stronger too. Powell holds on to jokes and gets all the laughs he can from them; there are also fish people and dumb bikers. The only place where Powell stumbles is with the new villains–men in black–but not significantly.

Churilla gets a lot stuff to draw–the fish people–and some good action.

It’s good again.

B+ 

CREDITS

Writers, John Carpenter and Eric Powell; artist, Brian Churilla; colorist, Lisa Moore; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Alex Galer and Ian Brill; publisher, Boom! Studios.