Why couldn’t they have just done it as a Western? It would have been perfect.
The final issue of Crimson Empire has the best and worst from the series. The woman–her name is Sinn, which is stupid so I probably forced myself to ignore it–declares to the “holy stars” she’ll hunt down the main guy because it turns out he’s kind of a bad guy. Now, “holy stars” (Star Wars was always a little areligious, wasn’t it?) aside, it’s terrible writing from Stradley and Richardson. Sad the series ends on a bad note writing-wise.
Luckily, Gulacy does fine. His art’s really complex this issue. There are these side scenes to an issue long fight scene, so Gulacy’s got to concentrate on supporting cast while fighting goes on in the background. There’s lots to track; the reader has to pay attention.
Except for bad writing, it ends well.
This issue, if I’m adding right, takes place over a couple hours. Maybe the reason Star Wars comics aren’t taken seriously is because in those two hours, not only is a space battle determined, but there’s also time for the woman and her sidekick to fly to an entirely different solar system to save the protagonist.
The protagonist doesn’t get any lines this issue, which is too bad, but does fit in with the Crimson Empire is a Western feel. It’s unfortunate Gulacy and Richardson didn’t cultivate that genre and reign in the story. Seriously, the leaps in logic (I mean, the Star Wars movies establish how long space travel takes) might be what keeps this franchise down.
Russell doesn’t ink Gulacy too harshly; it’s nice to see the Gulacy eyes return this issue. There’s a lot of good art and the battle scenes are all very well-paced visually.
This issue concentrates on the Rebels, specifically the woman. I can’t remember her name though. Stradley and Richardson repeat all the other names so much, she and her lizard-man sidekick are sort of nameless. I’m sure they say it a few times throughout… just didn’t make any impression.
There’s a lot of excellent Gulacy composition here. He might not be spending as much time on his art as he did in the eighties, but the panel design is still there.
Gulacy’s art gets the issue through. There’s really not much going on, just the woman being tortured and giving information in a scene a little too reminiscent of the first Star Wars. Stradley and Richardson might have considered it homage but it’s really quite lazy.
While the issue’s fine, it could have easily been half the length. There’s a lot of padding. Lots of filler for a bridging issue.
From the second panel, it’s clear something off with the art. Either Gulacy hurried through faces and let Russell finish or Russell got eager and got rid of all Gulacy’s rounded lines. The former would just be unfortunate… the latter would just piss me off. This issue doesn’t feel like Gulacy until about halfway, which is too long.
Even though very little happens–there’s a battle scene, some talking among good guys, a flashback, bad guys talking–it’s probably the best issue of Crimson Empire so far. Richardson and Stradley aren’t being coy about their protagonist anymore and, in fact, reveal him to be a rather complex character.
Hopefully some of these complexities will have room to play out. There’s also a lot with the Imperials infighting and politicking, which is amusing enough (but probably the worst scenes as they look so silly).
Art problems aside, it’s getting rather entertaining.
For some of this issue, the Gulacy sci-fi art makes one forget it’s a Star Wars comic and imagine it’s just a Gulacy (with Doug Moench) comic. Then Richardson and Stradley have some awful dialogue from the big villain and the illusion comes crashing down.
It’s like the comic can get away with bad dialogue because Star Wars got away with it. But there’s a lot more of it here, as the bad guys bicker with each other.
Still, the story’s compelling enough the dialogue doesn’t matter. Oddly, the good guys’ dialogue is fine. It’s just the insidious declarative statements.
By the end, when the bad guys attack, Gulacy nicely gives the art a cinematic pace.
The story’s somewhat predictable, save a couple details, but with the action scenes sold it’d be hard to not be enjoying it. It’s a Western set in Star Wars land. Lots of fun.
Crimson Empire answers the burning question… what’s with the guys in red from Return of the Jedi. The ones who had fabric capes on the action figures.
Of course, it’s mostly just backdrop for the story of a fugitive. It probably could fit a Civil War story too. A stranger comes to town, kicks butt, has to hide with possibly duplicitous newfound friends. Meanwhile there’s a big villain out to get him, along with all the little ones.
But the real attraction so far is Paul Gulacy’s art. Mike Richardson and Randy Stradley’s script is fine, it’s just not compelling on its own. But Gulacy always does interesting sci-fi, even when he’s working from existing designs, and Crimson is no different.
The action scenes are a little too static, but the vistas are great. P. Craig Russell inks Gulacy well.
It’s a decent comic, with a lot of possibilities.
Uh oh, Reynolds had to show something on the last page–an ominous reveal of future Viking Thing incidents I think–and he couldn’t do it.
I’m getting to hate those moments in comics, where writers do something totally natural for film and then the artist can’t get the point across.
Otherwise, Reynolds’s art continues to be fantastic. The really gross Thing moments are great here, making me wish it was a real comic and not just some online thing.
Niles’s script is mostly action and it works. Until that confusing last page anyway.
What’s most interesting, having only read the comics and seen the 1982 Thing, is it seems like Niles’s Thing is unrelated. Same species, different alien. It doesn’t have me racing out to see the new movie to find out because Niles doesn’t draw any attention to it.
Sure, Northman promotes the movie, but not very well.
Niles is beginning to impress me on Northman. He moves into the famous Thing standard… a lot of suspicious people standing around inspecting one another.
His dialogue’s somewhat better too. There’s one passage where he’s completely obvious at trying to lay the groundwork for a reveal and it’s stunning he’s so brazenly predictable.
But still, I liked this installment. It’s the Vikings in this village trying to figure things out. The resolution to the previous issue’s cliffhanger is so quiet, I had to go back and look to see there was indeed a cliffhanger.
The installment is three scenes. One talking scene, a brief nighttime scene to show time is passing and then another talking scene. Niles paces them out quite well.
And artist Reynolds continues to do well. Even though he occasionally loses track of people.
Northman’s still a stunt, but it’s getting to be a better one.
As an online exclusive, Dark Horse is publishing these Northman Nightmare “issues” (for free). It’s a prequel to the new Thing movie, which is a prequel to the old Thing movie (the 1982 one, not the original). Dark Horse previously published sequels to the 1982 film. It’d be more interesting if they’d done a sequel to the movie prequel, but whatever.
Since Vikings are all the rage now (or semi-rage, thanks to Thor), this unlikely prequel takes place in the twelfth century or something and features Vikings versus the Thing.
Patric Reynolds does a fine job. He draws Vikings, he draws snow-covered landscapes, he draws icky creatures and their skeletons. It’s not exactly heavy lifting, but Reynolds’s approach isn’t a sci-fi comic starring Vikings, it’s Vikings having a sci-fi adventure.
Steve Niles writes an okay script. His dialogue could be better.
Still, it’s a boring stunt.
I feel like I need to send Dan Jolley a thank you letter for making this issue of Dark Horse Comics tolerable. Well, for his Aliens story anyway. It’s got an unexpected conclusion. There’s not a lot of story—it’s a chase sequence and a resolution—but Jolley plays with expectations a little. Nadeau and Pallot do fine on art.
Naifeh and inker Alex Nino, however, are even worse this issue than last on their Thing story. Not the mention Martin’s conclusion is mildly inexplicable. It’s too bad Dark Horse didn’t keep their creators on the Thing comics consistent. Martin really doesn’t cut it, when it comes to plotting. I guess his dialogue is fine, but the art’s so ugly it’s hard to even look at the story.
As for Charles Moore, D. Alexander Gregory and Rob Hayes’s Predator with gangsters in the forties?
The art’s good. Moore’s writing isn’t.
Posted in Aliens, Dark Horse, Predator, Thing from Another World
Tagged Alex Nino, Charles Moore, D. Alexander Gregory, Dan Jolley, Edward Martin III, John Nadeau, Rob Hayes, Ted Naifeh, Terry Pallot
Well, when Naifeh’s art falls off, The Thing gets a lot less interesting. Martin falls into the same tropes the pervious series did (even though Martin ignores them)—repeating the plot points in the Thing movie, only in a new setting. But Naifeh’s the disappointment here. It doesn’t even look like his work.
Barr and Rader finish up The Mark. Barr seems to let Rader just take over and create this homage to a film noir, only in color. It reminds a lot of M. The installment ends on a soft cliffhanger, preparing for a limited series, and it’s unnecessarily confusing.
Dan Jolley, John Nadeau and Terry Pallot contribute an Aliens story. It’s perfectly fine (compared to The Thing). Jolley concentrates on his first person narration; he does a good job with it, combining a natural tone with his exposition. Nadeu and Pallot are competent, what I expect from Aliens.
Posted in Aliens, Dark Horse, Mark, Thing from Another World
Tagged Alex Nino, Brad Rader, Dan Jolley, Edward Martin III, John Nadeau, Mike W. Barr, Ted Naifeh, Terry Pallot
I realized, a few pages in to Mike W. Barr and Brad Rader’s Mark story, Rader’s a good artist. He’s at the beginning of his career, but he’s good. He does these Eisner-homage close-ups. Nice stuff. But The Mark looked bad at the start—because the character’s design is ludicrous.
It takes place in a pseudo-Nazi Germany or something. The writing’s generally okay, but the comics’s all about those close-ups.
Dorkin and Thompson finish their Predator story next and, wow, does Thompson get lazy. Dorkin’s script is dumb—his high humor is a dying guy making dumb jokes about being Ford-tough, but the art hammers in the nail.
Naifeh’s good on The Thing story, which really does seem to avoid any previous comic appearances. There’s some excellent writing… too bad it’s lines directly from the movie and not from Martin.
Besides Predator, it’s not bad.
Posted in Dark Horse, Mark, Predator, Thing from Another World
Tagged Ande Parks, Brad Rader, Derek Thompson, Edward Martin III, Evan Dorkin, Mike W. Barr, Moose Baumann, Ted Naifeh
So is Dark Horse Comics where Dark Horse stuck all their licensed properties once Presents’s sales dropped?
The creative teams are mildly interesting. Jim Woodring writing Aliens—nothing happens, it’s an all action story—with Kilian Plunkett on the art? It looks good anyway.
Ted Naifeh pencilling a Thing story? It’s more distinct because Edward Martin III’s script sort of ignores all the other Dark Horse Thing comics. It’s not a bad thing necessarily, but Martin’s a little less creative than one would like.
Then it’s an Evan Dorkin Predator story. It’s kind of funny—a Predator crashes a paint ball competition. But the humor doesn’t carry over to the dialogue; it’s just a funny idea. The Derek Thompson art is trying something different for a Predator story, lots of emotive, elongated faces.
It’s interesting to see these attempts, but none of them are good. Especially not the Aliens.
Posted in Aliens, Dark Horse, Predator, Thing from Another World
Tagged Ande Parks, Derek Thompson, Edward Martin III, Evan Dorkin, Jim Woodring, Kilian Plunkett, Moose Baumann, Ted Naifeh
I’m sadly unimpressed with de Vries’s finish to Eternal Vows. It’s all supposed to be this great love story about this sailor and his squeeze in this little town. I thought de Vries was actually going to kill MacReady or something.
I swear I read these Thing comics back when I was a kid and they were a lot more sensical.
Gulacy does a fine job with everything. Davis continues to be a good inker for him. It’s too bad there wasn’t much to do. The monstrous aspects of the Thing are sort of tame in the comic book form. Without slime, it just doesn’t work.
It’s also unfortunate de Vries ran out of ideas and did yet another blood test with the flamethrower and the dishes. He moves the action to an anchored ship and rapidly repeats the same tropes.
The finale’s a disappointment. It seemed to be improving….