IDW

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.

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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.

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

Star Trek: The City on the Edge of Forever 2 (July 2014)

Star Trek: The City on the Edge of Forever #2

Not only is Janice Rand back, she kicks butt.

There are a few more big changes in this issue, with Kirk and company beaming up after time has changed to find themselves on a mercenary freighter or some such thing. It’s where Yeoman Rand reveals her fighting skills.

It’s very hard to take City seriously with this sort of distraction, although it does feature some decent action art from Woodward. Not great, because painted fight scenes just don’t move, but decent. Yeoman Rand kicks butt and all.

The rest of the issue has Kirk and Spock going back in time and getting into some trouble with thirties rabble rousers. This comic shouldn’t be made just for people familiar with the original episode, but the creators certainly aren’t making it accessible otherwise. The whole soft cliffhanger hinges on that familiarity.

It’s a mediocre comic and its curiosity value is waning fast.

C 

CREDITS

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

transformers-vs-gi-joe

Transformers vs. G.I. Joe 1 (July 2014)

Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #1

Scoli and Barber’s madness continues and amplifies. What I love is how they put in some sense of a narrative–there’s a subplot involving Snake Eyes and what he’s been doing since he left G.I. Joe, not to mention how the Joes’ plan doesn’t get revealed until it’s already underway via flashback. Because the rest of the comic is a madhouse–Scoli gives the big non-action story scenes small scale panels to save room for more action. The result is big dramatic moments in small panels.

There’s one crazy full page spread where the characters move down the page, without much visual hinting; Scoli’s intentional lack of depth just makes Transformers vs. G.I. Joe even more gorgeous.

The comic doesn’t require any enthusiasm about the franchises themselves, just how Scoli and Barber are approaching the subject matter. A pseudo-simplistic illustrated toy commercial; it’s like a new genre, but not.

Scoli’s rocking it.

A- 

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 0 (May 2014)

Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #0

Transformers vs. G.I. Joe is not serious. It is not a realistic examination of an elite international military organization battling sentient robotic beings from another star.

It is Tom Scioli capturing the sensation of being a six or eight year-old boy watching afternoon cartoons, getting excited for that cartoon’s toys being advertised during commercial breaks. Seeing as how it’s a comic book and a printed medium (sort of), Scioli even integrates nods to action figure packaging. Even though this issue is just the promotional zero issue of a subsequent limited series, Scioli has done something no one else has done. At least not sincerely.

Because the visible sincerity of the comic–just look at Scioli’s amount of detail and thoughtfulness of panel composition–is what makes it singular. If Scioli were doing it all as a joke, it wouldn’t work. He and co-writer John Barber are masterfully realizing boyhood fantasy. It’s breathtaking.

A 

CREDITS

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

Flesh and Stone

Star Trek: Flesh and Stone (July 2014)

Star Trek: Flesh and Stone

Was someone out there desperate for a really bad team-up of all the doctors from “Star Trek” shows? The only regular medical officer the writers don’t include is the new continuity McCoy, which is just as well–the issue is heavy on McCoy anyway.

The important events, at least as how writers Scott and David Tipton show them, all take place in the past. The “Next Generation” doctors, along with all the other doctors, are just around to find McCoy and get his story. None of it’s interesting and the medical condition is less a condition as something they lost the solution for beating. The story is about finding that solution, not creating it or discovering it.

I didn’t have many hopes for Flesh and Stone, but it failed to meet any of those. It’s a lame comic and the David Brothers’ lifeless art doesn’t help it much either.

D 

CREDITS

Writers, Scott Tipton and David Tipton; artists, Joe Sharp and Rob Sharp; colorist, Andrew Elder; letterer, Neil Uyetake; editor, Sarah Gaydos; publisher, IDW Publishing.

ragnarok

Ragnarök 1 (July 2014)

Ragnarok #1

Someone, either at IDW or Walt Simonson himself, is doing everyone the great disservice of suggesting Ragnarök is some kind of Thor rip-off IDW is doing just because the character is a Norse god and in the public domain.

It isn’t. It’s some barbarian comic where a blue snow witch or some such thing sees armageddon approaching and takes one last job as an elite assassin to save her kid. While her husband stays at home to watch the daughter. And I didn’t even like the comic while Simonson was going through these scenes. It was okay, but I kept waiting for the dumb Thor reference.

It never came. Instead, the comic got increasingly more distinct and good. Simonson doesn’t write his protagonist particularly well on her own, but amongst the mercenaries she eventually hires? Those scenes are where the comic comes to life.

Unfortunately, the cliffhanger’s lame.

But still….

B- 

CREDITS

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