IDW

mega city two city of courts

Judge Dredd Mega-City Two: City of Courts 5 (May 2014)

Judge Dredd Mega-City Two: City of Courts #5

Not the strongest last issue, not at all. Though it probably does have Farinas’s most consistently decent art of the entire series. Well, in terms of detail and correct body proportions. His action composition is just terrible–Wolk tries to do way too much for the last issue, especially since he closes with a lengthy action sequence.

The finale goes a little too far with Dredd and trying to make him more complex (albeit briefly). One of the slight twists as things go along require almost some suspicion of Dredd, which is ludicrous. Even for an unfamiliar reader, Wolk has written an excellent Dredd until this last issue of Mega-City Two. Wolk tries too hard with the humor too.

Wolk also seems to set up one possible twist and then ignores it, even though it fits the series’s tone more appropriately.

It’s entertaining often but should have been better.

B- 

CREDITS

Everybody’s in Show Biz; writer, Douglas Wolk; artist, Ulises Farinas; colorist, Ryan Hill; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Denton J. Tipton; publisher, IDW Publishing.

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mega city two city of courts

Judge Dredd Mega-City Two: City of Courts 4 (April 2014)

Judge Dredd Mega-City Two: City of Courts #4

Wolk brings in the ex-judge with the Mexican wrestling mask–it isn’t too exciting as it looks just like a regular judge’s mask, only not a helmet–and Dredd has a team-up. In the second half of the issue, anyway. The first half of the issue is an introduction to Melody Time, which mixes Disneyland and anarchy. It feels like Judge Dredd meets Roger Rabbit, actually. It’s amusing.

Nicely, Wolk gets in stuff about the corruption plotline without stopping the narrative. Sure, at the end he sets up the final issue and the presumed big reveal, but he otherwise handles it rather deftly.

Farinas’s art, for the standard stuff, is better. Not many people without masks or helmets so he can’t mess up features. There are a lot of cartoon references in the story presentation (matching the setting) and they’re a little too simple.

Still, it works out.

B 

CREDITS

The Deterrence Machine; writer, Douglas Wolk; artist, Ulises Farinas; colorist, Ryan Hill; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Denton J. Tipton; publisher, IDW Publishing.

mega city two city of courts

Judge Dredd Mega-City Two: City of Courts 3 (March 2014)

Judge Dredd Mega-City Two: City of Courts #3

Dredd gets a sidekick–temporarily, it’s like Wolk doesn’t want him to bond with anyone in Mega-City Two or something–and fights a giant sea monster. He also gets to see how the city turns away people back to the ocean; there’s a conspiracy going on or something. Wolk also promises a former judge who dresses like a masked Mexican wrestler.

There’s a little bit, with the conspiracy and then the setup at the end, about the main story, with the immigration scene an odd lull in the middle. There’s no action, even with one of Dredd’s camera crew (he’s a TV star) getting eaten by said sea monster.

Farinas does a little better than usual; there aren’t a lot of closeups. He flubs closeups.

The big action sequence with the sea monster doesn’t come off well–Dredd vs. kaiju–but Wolk has enough momentum to carry it through.

B 

CREDITS

Beach Blanket Justice; writer, Douglas Wolk; artist, Ulises Farinas; colorist, Ryan Hill; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Denton J. Tipton; publisher, IDW Publishing.

mega city two city of courts

Judge Dredd Mega-City Two: City of Courts 2 (February 2014)

Judge Dredd Mega-City Two: City of Courts #2

Even though Farinas art gets a little worse, Wolk isn’t spending time setting up the comic, he’s just telling a Judge Dredd goes undercover with a West Coast biker gang of the future. They’re really into found art.

Dredd gets a sidekick in one of the biker gang and a lot of the issue is spent with their adventure to go get future beer. Work gets to concentrate on Dredd exploring the strange world–introducing it to the reader too–while still maintaining Dredd is in control of everything going on. It works rather well.

The end has a good fight sequence, with Wolk utilizing Dredd’s procedural abilities as well as his physical ones. It’s a rather nice finish. And even though Farinas is real light on the facial detail (and of people in general), there are some good visual moments in the comic.

Art problems aside, an excellent issue.

B+ 

CREDITS

Some Dreamers of the Golden Dream; writer, Douglas Wolk; artist, Ulises Farinas; colorist, Ryan Hill; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Denton J. Tipton; publisher, IDW Publishing.

mega city two city of courts

Judge Dredd Mega-City Two: City of Courts 1 (January 2014)

Judge Dredd Mega-City Two: City of Courts #1

The back matter for this issue discusses the history of Mega-City Two, which I only briefly read. Writer Douglas Wolk has a nice structure for the issue–he drops the reader into Mega-City Two, with Judge Dredd as the anchor, and goes crazy. It’s a strange, Hollywood-influenced, happy place. Think the future in Wall-E, only a little more active.

Of course, no reader wants to see such a lame future and having Dredd around to kick things up is awesome. After almost half the issue of Dredd dealing with the dumb, extremely lax laws, Wolk gives the reader the backstory. He’s there on a secret mission, he’s supposed to like the chief judge; a quick recap then back to the story.

Ulises Farinas art is so-so. He does well on the Mega-City Two scenery, not so good on the figures.

Still, pretty good stuff.

B 

CREDITS

West Coast Swing; writer, Douglas Wolk; artist, Ulises Farinas; colorist, Ryan Hill; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Denton J. Tipton; publisher, IDW Publishing.

little nemo return to slumberland

Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland 2 (October 2014)

Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland #2

Shanower is really dedicated to giving Little Nemo a narrative and it doesn’t help the comic at all. Jimmy (or Nemo) is an annoying kid who Shanower has throughout the entire issue–he’s not having a little adventure and then waking up, he’s around the reader for page after page of adventure and he’s always got something annoying to say. Instead of turning these brief annoyances into the punchline, they’re the pulse of Return to Slumberland.

It’s a far from ideal situation.

Similarly, having this kid be so upset about having to hang out with a girl (the princess) is perfectly appropriate… if Shanower wants to fit into the sexism of previous generations. It would have been something if he hadn’t wanted to embrace that deficiency.

The gorgeous Rodriguez art, meticulous not just in detail but in functioning the same way as McCay’s originals did in reading style, helps immeasurably.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer, Eric Shanower; artist, Gabriel Rodriguez; colorist, Nelson Daniel; letterer, Robbie Robbins; editors, Michael Benedetto and Chris Ryall; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Winterworld-IDW

Winterworld 3 (August 2014)

Winterworld #3

Even with the Guice art and some solid writing in places from Dixon, his approach to Winterworld and its revelations is getting too annoying.

The protagonists have found a wonderful refuge from the ice, but it turns out the people living there have only read an Al Gore book and now they’re crazy about global warming and, apparently, crucifying the heroine.

Maybe if there were more grand action from Guice and not so much of the settlement, which looks like the Greek island from Mamma Mia!, the comic would be more compelling. But without any great visuals and such deceptive, manipulative plotting from Dixon, he gets tired fast.

There’s an unnatural stop and go to the pace–Dixon revs up to get to the cliffhanger, for instance, while dragging through other scenes. The comic always comes off too controlled; Dixon and Guice know what they’re doing, maybe even too well.

C+ 

CREDITS

Writer, Chuck Dixon; artist, Butch Guice; colorist, Diego Rodriguez; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, David Hedgecock; publisher, IDW Publishing.

ragnarok

Ragnarök 2 (September 2014)

Ragnarok #2

Why do I even talk? Why do I ever say nice things like Ragnarök isn’t going to be some non-Marvel Thor knock-off?

Because I then end up with egg on my face when Simonson does the big reveal this issue. No, the comic’s not about the lady elf who kicks butt or whatever, it’s actually about a zombie Thor resurrected in a strange land after the Asgardian gods have fallen.

Yawn.

And Simonson spends the entire issue setting up the reveal of it being Thor, even after he brings the hammer back into it. So the entire comic is one scene, the resolution to the previous issue’s cliffhanger. There is a talking rat, however, and I like rats. But a talking rat is not enough to make this comic–or this series–worthwhile.

Maybe Simonson think it’s his great last Thor comic but the deceptive narration kills it.

C- 

CREDITS

Writer and artist, Walt Simonson; colorist, Laura Martin; letterer, John Workman; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

transformers-vs-gi-joe

Transformers vs. G.I. Joe 3 (September 2014)

Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #3

Something very bad happens this issue of Transformers vs. G.I. Joe. It becomes inane. Writers Scioli and Barber don’t exactly stop giving characters arcs of their own, they just get rid of having the overall issue story have anything to do with characters.

It’s full of annoying big action moments too, where Scioli lets the art get too confusing and never takes his time with anything. The issue gets worse as it goes along too, as Scioli and Barber continuously make bad choices.

It’s unfortunate. But maybe the concept just couldn’t work out to an actual comic book series. The characters are all so obnoxious, only the end of the world from the attacking Megatron would make them sympathetic. And, even then, not because of any work the writers do, but maybe Scioli could make it work.

As is, however, the comic has prematurely run its course. It’s a shame.

D 

CREDITS

Writers, Tom Scioli and John Barber; artist, colorist and letterer, Scioli; editor, Carlos Guzman; publisher, IDW Publishing.

transformers-vs-gi-joe

Transformers vs. G.I. Joe 2 (August 2014)

Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #2

Even though I can remember having some of the toys–or wanting them–I can’t remember the name of the Transformers planet. But all the action takes place there, with Lady Jane leading an attack force of Joes who are trying to green the planet to take out the evil robot aliens.

Barber and Scioli’s script takes the regular G.I. Joe and Transformers mythology into great account, but there’s also an element of humor involved with how they present the absurdity of the situation. It creates a fantastic tone–it’s never realistic, but they throw in seriously vocabulary to show they know it can’t be taken too seriously.

It’s an all-action issue, with some big reveals at the end–but still no Autobot team-up with the Joes–and Scioli has some wonderful art. My favorite has to be Lady Jane zooming on a motorcycle, jumping off a Transformer.

B+ 

CREDITS

Wheeljacked; writers, Tom Scioli and John Barber; artist, colorist and letterer, Scioli; editor, Carlos Guzman; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Star-Trek--Harlan-Ellison's-The-City-on-the-Edge-of-Forever--The-Original-Teleplay

Star Trek: The City on the Edge of Forever 3 (August 2014)

Star Trek: The City on the Edge of Forever #3

The bottom falls out this issue. Given nothing compelling to illustrate–unless one counts the various odd jobs Kirk and Spock perform–Woodward is left with talking heads, where he seems to be painting panels directly from pauses of old “Star Trek” episodes. The result? Terrible, static figures. Even worse, he’s rushing, so there’s a lot of loosely rendered, terrible, static figures.

As for the writing, there’s some angry banter between Kirk and Spock. It’s real bad; either from the original Harlan Ellison teleplay or the Tipton brothers adaptation, the characters have no chemistry. Combined with the static faces, it makes for terrible comics.

Even worse is when the love interest arrives. The flirting scene between her and Kirk is atrocious, but Woodward’s so insistent on the Joan Collins reference, the character never fits in the environment.

Edge has been a consistently problematic effort, but this issue really tanks it.

D 

CREDITS

Writers, Harlan Ellison, Scott Tipton and David Tipton; artist, J.K. Woodward; letterer, Neil Uyetake; editor, Chris Ryall; publisher, IDW Publishing.

little nemo return to slumberland

Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland 1 (August 2014)

Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland #1

In Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland, writer Eric Shanower includes something very strange, something Winsor McCay never bothered with. A narrative. This series's Nemo isn't just a kid who has amazing dreams and wakes up when he falls on the ground, he's the kid chosen by Slumberland to be the princess's playmate.

If it sounds like a Wizard of Oz-type thing, don't worry, the opening scenes in Slumberland feel like Oz too. They don't look like it; Gabriel Rodriguez does a wonderful job mimicking McCay's style. And Shanower makes up for a bland inciting action too. Once the issue itself starts mimicking the McCary's strips–each ending with Nemo waking up and getting back into the existing dream narrative the next night–it's fantastic. Shanower gets it, Rodriguez gets it.

But then the issue's over and has nothing to show for it; Shanower can't do a narrative and not have any progression.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Eric Shanower; artist, Gabriel Rodriguez; colorist, Nelson Daniel; letterer, Robbie Robbins; editors, Chris Ryall and Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Star-Trek-idw

Star Trek 36 (August 2014)

Star Trek #36

I love how static Shasteen draws all the faces. It looks like he's going through either publicity photos or maybe screen grabs and picking the ones he thinks are closest to the emotions the characters should be feeling.

Actually, I do not love anything about Shasteen's art. I was being sarcastic in an attempt to feign enthusiasm for talking about this comic book.

It is barely a Star Trek issue in terms of being about the new movie franchise crew; it's more of a "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" comic it turns out. Is it a good "Deep Space Nine" comic?

No.

As a writer, Johnson continues to confuse concept with imagination. Just because the Paramount rep okayed crossing over with the "Star Trek" shows isn't reason enough to do so.

Johnson can't even get any mileage out of Bones and Spock banter. It's pedestrian and pointless with lifeless art.

C- 

CREDITS

The Q Gambit, Part Two; writer, Mike Johnson; artist, Tony Shasteen; letterer, Neil Uyetake; editor, Sarah Gaydos; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Godzilla-Catacylsm

Godzilla: Cataclysm 1 (August 2014)

Godzilla: Cataclysm #1

I wanted Godzilla: Cataclysm to be good. Not before I started reading it, but as I read the first few pages where writer Cullen Bunn sets it all up. It’s got an intriguing ground situation–after the monster war, humans have to make do in their wrecked world. So it’s post-apocalyptic but not futuristic.

And there’s no attempt at explaining the monsters.

Dave Wachter’s monster art is decent too. Giant monsters fighting, lots of detail in the panels. It’s good stuff.

Then the issue gets going and it gets worse and worse as it goes along. Like Bunn not establishing characters; characters need to be interesting even if giant bugs don’t attack them. The bugs would’ve been an adequate menace for the issue, but Bunn can’t help upping it.

Only Wachter doesn’t want to up his game–instead of detail, he does huge sound lettering as backgrounds.

Cataclysm indeed.

C- 

CREDITS

Writer, Cullen Bunn; artist, Dave Wachter; letterer, Chris Mowry; editor, Bobby Curnow; publisher, IDW Publishing.