Boom!

black-market

Black Market 2 (August 2014)

Black Market #2

Two issues into a four issue limited series and I can't figure out why I'm supposed to be reading the comic. Barbiere's writing is–at best–mediocre. Not because there's anything particularly wrong with it, but because there's nothing particularly good about it. He's not just not doing anything original, he's not even trying to be imaginative. He's got his hook, he's running with it and he doesn't mind it being highly derivative.

Santos's art continues to be the comic's redeeming factor, especially since Barbiere gives him an action sequence or two this time. Santos makes the chase sequence, which goes on too long as far as writing, work out beautifully. Though it is Barbiere who comes up with the strong conclusion to the chase.

If Black Market had anything distinctive to it–besides Santos's art–it might be something significant. Or at least compelling. It'd be nice if it were compelling for once.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer, Frank J. Barbiere; artist, Victor Santos; colorist, Adam Metcalfe; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Chris Rosa and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

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Thomas-Alsop

Thomas Alsop 3 (August 2014)

Thomas Alsop #3

If you think about it longer than fifteen seconds, Miskiewicz’s big reveal about 9/11 is offensive. It’d be offensive if it were about the death of Elvis Presley or the Battle of Verdun; he’s hijacking a real event to drive his story. See, 9/11 is apparently about these bad warlocks in the eighteenth century planting haunted wood on Manhattan.

Is it not supposed to be offensive because it’s magical and stupid? Maybe. But it’s definitely magical and it’s definitely stupid and it’s also still offensive. Miskiewicz is latching on to the biggest event in U.S. history in decades. It isn’t to better Thomas Alsop, it’s to give the comic a story.

Yuck.

There’s also a long drug induced hallucination setup and it doesn’t give Schmidt much to draw. The murky visions into the past, flashbacks in flashbacks, it’s just too much.

Maybe it’s too dumb to be offensive. Or not.

D 

CREDITS

The Hand of the Island, Part Three; writer, Chris Miskiewicz; artist, Palle Schmidt; letterer, Deron Bennett; editors, Jasmine Amiri and Ian Brill; publisher, Boom! Studios.

big trouble

Big Trouble in Little China 3 (August 2014)

Big Trouble In Little China #3

It’s a little too fast of a read–Powell tries to slow it down a bit with a flashback to one of Jack Burton’s wives, who all appear to be evil women who can brainwash him into terrible deeds–but it’s another excellent issue.

Powell, Churilla and Carpenter (possibly) goof on the whole quest aspect of the story. It gets an explanation for the soft cliffhanger, but it’s a case of Jack Burton being the right guy in the right place at the right time, which might be the biggest difference between the movie and this comic. In the comic, his buffoonery actually gets things done.

The jokes are good–in the case of the three bad chimps out to avenge themselves on the heroes, really good–and the art’s good.

Big Trouble continues to be a silly, irreverent, excellent time. Its strengths more than compensate for the pacing issues.

B+ 

CREDITS

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

Robocop-Boom

Robocop 2 (August 2014)

Robocop #2

Robocop continues to have problems, but this issue they're different ones. For instance, Magno's art isn't as detailed. He's concentrating on foreground figures and letting the backgrounds go loose (with a handful of splash page exceptions). And his figures get flatter as the issue progresses.

But Williamson is doing better with Robocop and Lewis. Most of Robo's scenes are action ones to further the plot–Detroit is banning guns and the cops are out collecting, so it's a lot of quick scenes of Robocop in action. Good stuff. As for character development, it comes later and Williamson only teases this issue. His Robocop is going to be complicated; his promise seems sincere enough to allow for a delay.

The problem's the villains. He's got a crime boss masquerading as a community leader and then some out of town bad guys coming in. They're so peculiar they're distracting.

Like I said… problems.

B 

CREDITS

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

daymen

Day Men 4 (July 2014)

Day Men #4

Day Men is on its fourth issue. About a year after its first issue. No one’s going to tell Brian Stelfreeze to hurry up and try to do a monthly and it seems the writers know the score on that one, because they still haven’t gotten over establishing the ground situation.

Gagnon and Nelson aren’t refreshing or starting over with this issue; they’re following up on all their old plot lines and story threads. But they’re definitely aware it might be the first issue a reader is picking up and they’re writing it for that casual reader, not the one who’s been around. Because there’s no other reason to introduce major plot points–like the protagonist having the unintentional hots for his vampire clan leader woman–other than to make Day Men seem fresh.

It isn’t fresh. It’s stale. Boom! should’ve just done a graphic novel, regardless of Stelfreeze’s art being awesome.

C 

CREDITS

Writers, Matt Gagnon and Michael Alan Nelson; artist, Brian Stelfreeze; colorist, Darrin Moore; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

black-market

Black Market 1 (July 2014)

Black Market #1

I’m not sure if I’d say Black Market has a charm to it. Writer Frank J. Barbiere does have a big twist at the end, but he’s telling the story in two time periods a few months apart. Having a good twist and being able to do something with it for the rest of the series are two different things.

Here, he has his main character getting into the illegal superhero DNA trade; he shows the character before and after this life of crime. If it weren’t for Victor Santos’s art, it wouldn’t work at all. Santos is the one who makes the protagonist–Ray–sympathetic. Barbiere just gives him a sob story and a manipulative older brother. It’s Santos who makes the guy’s world seem real.

Because of the two timelines, the pacing is awkward; Barbiere doesn’t balance things well. But that end twist and Santos make it worth a look.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer, Frank J. Barbiere; artist, Victor Santos; colorist, Adam Metcalfe; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Chris Rosa and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

sons-of-anarchy

Sons of Anarchy 11 (July 2014)

Sons of Anarchy #11

I thought this issue might just be okay–good, but not startling. Then Brisson does a big double ante finish with a surprise or two. He foreshadows them both, but discreetly enough they aren’t predictable. He’s got a loose focus on the cast this issue–the regular Anarchy club members are practically guest stars–and it lets him get away with a lot.

This arc is apparently set in Arizona and involves another biker gang trying to expand their meth empire. The local SAMTAZ chapter gets drug into it, the regular cast just happen to be visiting. It’s not an engaging situation in and of itself, but the way Brisson plots it makes it compelling.

Of course, Couceiro’s art is an essential part of the series’s success. He’s able to go between the action set pieces and the talking heads without missing a beat. His realism makes the outrageous believable.

B+ 

CREDITS

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

Thomas-Alsop

Thomas Alsop 2 (July 2014)

Thomas Alsop #2

It’s funny what doesn’t work in Thomas Alsop. Again, by not working I mean Miskiewicz’s script. Schmidt’s art is always on it. Even with the severely problematic cliffhanger.

There’s a lot of successful stuff this issue and the script is plotted quite well, at least in terms of the narrative events in the present action. Except Miskiewicz apparently doesn’t think about the character during the time previous to the art of this series. A big plot point hinges on the protagonist visiting someplace after ten years. Why not before this issue? Because then there wouldn’t be a comic.

Miskiewicz takes contrived to a new level.

He also rips off “Warehouse 13” a little.

While most of the issue isn’t bad and some of it is good, Alsop is apparently now going to be very ambitious (the best part of the comic is how little to resembles the previous).

I’m unconvinced.

C 

CREDITS

The Hand of the Island, Part Two; writer, Chris Miskiewicz; artist, Palle Schmidt; letterer, Deron Bennett; editors, Jasmine Amiri and Ian Brill; publisher, Boom! Studios.

big trouble

Big Trouble in Little China 2 (July 2014)

Big Trouble in Little China #2

Powell continues to show he gets it with Big Trouble. He and, presumably, Carpenter, give Churilla a bunch of crazy stuff to draw. Not right away. Right away is more comedy stand-off stuff with Jack Burton being an idiot but a well-intentioned one. The crazy stuff starts when Jack and Egg’s quest starts; they’re driving through a mystical Chinese sort of underworld… it’s phenomenal.

What’s great about Churilla’s art is how he doesn’t compose the same way he illustrates. He’s a cartoony artist, but his composition is detailed and thoughtful. It’s a great combination and it works perfectly for Big Trouble.

There are a lot of great tangents. Powell introduces a lot more genre into the series’s mythology–actually, he’s kind of creating it–and it definitely works. The idea of Jack Burton as an unaware magnet for supernatural trouble? I’m hoping Big Trouble will truck on for a good long while.

A 

CREDITS

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

The Woods

The Woods 3 (July 2014)

The Woods #3

Something important happens this issue of The Woods. It becomes “‘Lost’ with teenagers.” I can’t believe it took Tynion this long. It might not have been so sadly apparent if artist Dialynas were maintaining the previous issue’s level of quality, but he’s not. The book can’t handle the writing losing any ingenuity as the art becomes problematic.

The best thing about the comic are Josan Gonzalez’s colors.

The problem, at least as far as Tynion’s responsibilities go, is the cast. No one is likable except the obviously likable, no one is bad except the obviously bad. Tynion operates in absolutes; predictable absolutes.

It’s particularly bad when there’s a shining knight scene and Dialynas draws it so poorly it looks like a guy making out with his twin sister. The art with the monsters is even lazier.

Oddly, Tynion’s cliffhanger isn’t bad and the comic’s relatively inoffensive. It’s just not worthwhile.

C 

CREDITS

Writer, James Tynion IV; artist, Michael Dialynas; colorist, Josan Gonzalez; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Jasmine Amiri and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Robocop-Boom

Robocop 1 (July 2014)

Robocop #1

This comic is way too short.

It’s frustrating too because creators Joshua Williamson and Carlos Magno go out of their way to show they know how to do a Robocop comic. Magno’s art is excellent, nice amount of grit, nice amount of visual reference to the first movie and especially the actors (without being desperately photo-referenced). And Williamson writes some great scenes. His only slip-up would be using a too familiar quotable.

The problem’s the pace. There’s the opening action sequence and it’s great looking, but it doesn’t really have much impact. It should have been half as long and then Williamson would have had time to establish how he’s going to write Murphy as a character. Williamson has got Lewis down, but she’s not the hard one.

Murphy’s too much a subject, not enough an active player.

So it’s a soft start, but there’s clearly solid foundation.

B 

CREDITS

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

Clockwork-Angels

Clockwork Angels 3 (June 2014)

Clockwork Angels #3

I don't know how it's possible, but somehow Anderson has sucked even more drama out of Clockwork Angels. I'm not a Rush aficionado, so I have no idea whether the source material is a song or album, but if it's a song, it's got to be a really boring one.

This issue has the small town protagonist kid joining a circus and falling in love with the lovely tight rope walker. She doesn't return his affections because he's a weak character. This situation does not change throughout and it's not like the kid gets any better at the circus stuff. Instead, Anderson has revelations about the Clockmaker (or the Wizard of Oz) and finally gets around to showing the titular angels.

Sadly, even though Robles's art is gorgeous, the scene with the angels is really boring. There's no flare, there's no visual emphasis, it's just another scene.

Another boring one.

C 

CREDITS

Writers, Neil Peart and Kevin J. Anderson; artist, Nick Robles; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Jasmine Amiri and Ian Brill; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Thomas-Alsop

Thomas Alsop 1 (June 2014)

Thomas Alsop #1

Thomas Alsop is one confused comic. Not the art from Palle Schmidt, it’s excellent throughout. But Chris Miskiewicz’s story ranges from annoying to outstanding. Outstanding is when he flashes back to the titular character’s ancestor on Manhattan in the 17th century. Annoying is all the modern stuff.

Miskiewicz writes the modern stuff as the lead character’s obnoxious blog posts. They’re based on the idea he’s a charismatic guy. He’s not. Thomas Alsop is a tool. His adventures as the mystical protector of Manhattan are ill-defined too (especially given the events of 9/11, something I don’t know if I’d even want Miskiewicz to attempt discussing).

The modern stuff jumps around to show the reader Alsop hasn’t always been a tool–in the present-most time, he’s a rock star tool. Before he was just a buffoon. Miskiewicz is bad at writing the narration.

Still, the art, and flashbacks, intrigue.

C- 

CREDITS

The Hand of the Island, Part One; writer, Chris Miskiewicz; artist, Palle Schmidt; letterer, Deron Bennett; editors, Jasmine Amiri and Ian Brill; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Loki Ragnarok and Roll

Loki: Ragnarok and Roll 4 (June 2014)

Loki: Ragnarok and Roll #4

Loki’s a trickster so it’s all been a trick! I won’t spoil it and say how or what has been a trick, but the biggest trick has to be Esquivel’s–he got me to read the whole series.

The problem with wrapping up the entire comic in a reveal–and by entire comic, I mean all four issues–is there not being anything else going on for said comic. Esquivel wasted the last couple issues; he throws in some desperate attempts at character development here, then ignores them a page or two later. All because of that amazing reveal.

As reveals go, it’s not bad. But there’s nothing else in the issue or comic. I remember the first issue being really tightly told and then the series went down hill. This final issue would be the absolute bottom, with Esquivel wasting many pages on lame action scenes.

Loki’s a disappointment.

D 

CREDITS

Writer, Eric M. Esquivel; penciller, Jerry Gaylord; inkers, Jerry Gaylord and Penelope Gaylord; colorist, Gabriel Cassata; letterer, Ryan Ferrier; editors, Chris Rosa and Ian Brill; publisher, Boom! Studios.