Besides Liang’s art problems–she can’t make the photo-referencing look good and the female McCoy is a disaster–and an illogical cameo, this issue of Star Trek has got to be the best in the series so far.
Johnson’s got a lot of easy jokes, except they’re still honest jokes, so he can get away with all of them. He’s also unconcerned with written–though visual ones get through–nods to the original series. The characters, confronted with their gender opposites, are fully defined. I only wish it were the start of an arc where Johnson traded Chekhov for her female counterpart. She’s less annoying.
A lot of the art is fine. Liang still does well with most of the female characters (except regular Uhura, of course) and she has positive, playful vibe to her work.
Johnson writes a bunch of good scenes.
The issue’s a very successful outing.
Parallel Lives, Part Two; writer, Mike Johnson; artist, Yasmin Liang; colorist, Zac Atkinson; letterer, Gilberto Lazcano; editor, Sarah Gaydos; publisher, IDW Publishing.
All it takes for a great Star Trek is a gimmick. And I don’t want to give away the gimmick, so it’ll be a little difficult to talk about. The gimmick alone makes for a fun comic, but somehow Johnson manages to find all these great insights into the characters through the gimmick.
Some of there insights are slight and for fun, but he’s got one profound one. Loved it. Maybe even teared up a little.
Johnson gets to the story at the end and it’s not bad–running with this gimmick actually would be a better series than the regular one–but it’s disappointing it’s ending soon.
The art helps a lot. Until the likenesses become important, Yasmin Liang’s art is rather strong. It’s somewhat cartoonish, but that tone doesn’t hurt Johnson’s script at all. Liang also pays attention to expressions, which is important.
It’s a shockingly good issue.
Parallel Lives, Part One; writer, Mike Johnson; artist, Yasmin Liang; colorist, Zac Atkinson; letterer, Gilberto Lazcano; editor, Sarah Gaydos; publisher, IDW Publishing.
I tried, I really did try. But Sharpe’s lame, generic buff figures are just too much. He’s got no style, no finesse. The script is full of James Bond winks and Sharpe can’t bring personality to stereotypes much less settings.
But it’s not all Sharpe’s fault. Andreyko and Killam do a fine job with all the James Bond stuff–the villains conspiring, the crisis station–they just don’t do a good job with their lead actors, the James Bond Squad or whatever.
The writers go for cheap gags instead of actual scenes. Not one of the presumable main cast members has any personality in this issue, not a one. It’s like reading a movie trailer and getting all the worst parts of the movie left in. I’m sure the creators–and IDW–are hoping for a movie deal on the concept.
Because they sure don’t have it on the story.
We Are Family; writers, Marc Andreyko and Taran Killam; penciller, Kevin Sharpe; inker, Diana Greenhalgh; colorist, Pete Pantazis; letterer, Thomas F. Zahler; editor, Sarah Gaydos; publisher, IDW Publishing.
A couple fast observations about Star Trek, in general. First off, Johnson has no confidence writing Kirk. A lot of the other characters have a “voice,” except maybe Chekhov who Johnson just uses absurd spellings to show the Russian accent, but at least Spock and McCoy feel like characters. Johnson’s lost his handle on Kirk. He just spouts off when he needs to profound; also, Johnson’s playing him way too reliable. Spock’s the rebel here.
Second… that damn Fajar art. It’s all photo-referenced for the people, then weak space battles between ships with terrible designs. Maybe it’s just the new all Enterprise. It’s made to be visual, not functional (even as a model). Maybe it doesn’t translate. But the static people? Fajar needs to liven things up. Or IDW just needs to get a regular comic book artist.
Still, it’s inoffensive if talky. It’s hollow licensed malarky after all.
The Khitomer Conflict, Part Four; writer, Mike Johnson; artist, Erfan Fajar; colorist, Beny Maulana; letterer, Gilberto Lazcano; editor, Sarah Gaydos; publisher, IDW Publishing.
I thought The Illegitimates was from Image. It’s from IDW. Now the art makes sense. Kevin Sharpe and Diana Greenhalgh are slick without being fully competent.
Okay, on to the rest. I’m looking forward to the next issue, but I don’t know why. The comic opens somewhat weakly, a retread of James Bond standards (except with a guy named Jack Steel–I think). Then it’s clear writers Marc Andreyko and Taran Killam are going through the Bond filmography and its different styles and commenting on the change. It’s cool. Or maybe I just like Moonraker jokes.
The comes the setup. The guy dies and now MI–6 is going to turn his bastard offspring from over the years into a super spy team. They introduce all the bastards in question and there you go.
Except, nothing’s going to be as amusing as the initial joke. But I’ll be back anyway.
Who’s Your Daddy?; writers, Marc Andreyko and Taran Killam; penciller, Kevin Sharpe; inker, Diana Greenhalgh; colorist, Pete Pantazis; letterer, Thomas F. Zahler; editor, Sarah Gaydos; publisher, IDW Publishing.
And there’s a nice happy ending with no resolution to any of the lame character subplots Waid brought into the series to try and give it some semblance of a story.
But apparently all Cliff needs is a Zorro mask when he’s not in flight and life’s much easier for the Rocketeer. That idea (from the Spirit) comes during an odd heart to heart the characters have. Waid just can’t figure out how to do this series and someone at IDW should have noticed long before it got to series.
There’s also the issue with Bone, who does a fine job in some ways, but just doesn’t have any interesting ideas for juxtaposing two very different visual characters and art styles. It’s The Rocketeer in something like a Spirit style, without anything going to the other way.
It almost feels like Waid’s trying to introduce the properties to younger readers.
Pulp Friction, Part Four; writer, Mark Waid; artist, J. Bone; colorist, Rom Fajardo; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.
It’s too bad the last issue of IDW’s Maze relaunch is easily the best. The problems still remain–Padilla is a boring artist who doesn’t bring any personality to anything, not characters, not setting. Forget about ominous mood. And Barr is still writing this comic like it’s the eighties, which might have been the last time someone could have done a fugu fish related story without mentioning “The Simpsons.”
He doesn’t mention the show and it seems like an odd oversight.
There are too many suspects–nine–but the pace of the issue is good and the investigation engages. Barr doesn’t spend much time on his protagonists, except some bickering and cuddling (Padilla can’t do either). The scene where Jennifer mentions being exceptionally wealthy doesn’t play out well here. In fact, it just reminds of better, original series Maze.
Still, it’s nice this Maze goes out on a relative high.
One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Doomfish; writer, Mike W. Barr; penciller, Ariel Padilla; inker, Jason Paz; colorist, Rain Beredo; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Dan Taylor; publisher, IDW Publishing.
It’s a beauty pageant mystery–with Jennifer oddly chosen as one of the judges (are detective agency owners really such community figures)–and I’m surprised Barr hasn’t already done this one.
All of the previous issue’s problems are here, Padilla’s lack of personality, the rendering of the leads as twenty-somethings off “Buffy” (which might just be an IDW thing), but there’s another problem in the mix….
Barr tries too hard on the banter. Instead of actually talking, Gabe and Jennifer exchange quips. Barr’s got a real problem with a revival series–appeal to the existing fan base while being accessible to new readers. Only his existing fan base is from the eighties; it’s impressive he was able to mount a revival almost twenty years later, but comics readership might have changed too much. Or maybe he shouldn’t have tried for bland.
A compelling mystery would have helped a lot.
A Beautiful Crime; writer, Mike W. Barr; penciller, Ariel Padilla; inker, Ernest Jocson; colorist, Romulo Fajardo Jr.; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Dan Taylor; publisher, IDW Publishing.
And The Maze Agency is back again, with Mike W. Barr still writing, of course, but with a fresh new look. Ariel Padilla and Ernest Jocson update the protagonists for the oughts and, wow, are they bland. Padilla tries straight good girl with Jennifer and it doesn’t work. As for Gabe… he looks more like an early twenties male model than a struggling mystery writer.
Yeah, I suppose the ages are the problem. The characters look way too young. There’s also no toughness in Padilla and Jocson’s New York City. It’s post-Guilliani and absent any personality
One last thing on the art. Padilla’s layouts aren’t bad, they just don’t lend to the mystery. Barr’s murder mystery has a lead-in establishing the protagonists and an absurd appearance by the FBI long before the actual suspects show up.
This Maze is without any distinguishing characteristics at all. It’s uniformly undercooked.
The Crimes, They Are a-Changin’; writer, Mike W. Barr; penciller, Ariel Padilla; inker, Ernest Jocson; colorist, Rainier Beredo; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Dan Taylor; publisher, IDW Publishing.
It’s too bad Fajar is still on the art for this series. Johnson’s writing–and his post-Star Trek 2 plotting–is getting fairly entertaining and the bad art really just kills the issue’s momentum.
There are some rather good parts with Kirk facing off with the bad guys, Spock and McCoy bickering… Even with the idiotic way they spell out Chekhov’s accent, Johnson has made Star Trek feel like it has an actual cast and not just photo-referenced stand-ins. But Johnson also gives Fajar way too much to do.
Not usually making that compliant–a writer giving an artist a lot of chances to do different things. Fajar fumbles all of them. The space battle is terrible, but it’s leagues better than the away team getting into a phaser fight. That last action sequence is just atrocious.
The bad art is holding this series back–nothing else.
The Khitomer Conflict, Part Three; writer, Mike Johnson; artist, Erfan Fajar; colorists, Ifansyah Noor and Sakti Yuwono; letterer, Chris Mowry; editor, Sarah Gaydos; publisher, IDW Publishing.
Mooney brings Half Past Danger to a reasonably good conclusion, though the whole thing just feels like a setup for a sequel series. Hopefully, if Mooney does a sequel, it won’t end with a setup for another series.
The issue is all action until the epilogue. The good guys each have their own adversary (or adversaries) to deal with before there’s the big decision about how to escape the Germans. Mooney isn’t reinventing the wheel with this stuff either, just getting it to roll well. The payoff scenes–there are multiple ones–are safe but rewarding.
But the finish is a little too thin. Mooney puts off resolving some plot lines because he’s setting up a sequel. He does have a nice moment for the good guys, however, who haven’t really had a chance to bond in a few issues.
It’s an fantastically fun comic. It’s just a little light.
Killing with Kindness; writer and artist, Stephen Mooney; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; editors, Christopher Schraff and Chris Ryall; publisher, IDW Publishing.
So J. Bone takes over the art. Maybe the intention was always a different artist on each issue, but it doesn’t play particularly well. Bone does very nice homage to Eisner’s character design without being too literal.
The story’s a little weak though… definitely a little weak. Waid definitely likes the Spirit and his supporting cast, but he casts Cliff as a buffoon. Betty’s a strumpet and Cliff’s a buffoon. Until the big action sequence–the two heroes’ different fist fights juxtaposed against each other–the Rocketeer doesn’t show up. Waid’s just got Cliff running around like an ass.
It’s awkward and unpleasant. The crossover is ill-advised–the characters’ don’t sync–but Waid could have come up with something better than Cliff being a boob.
The issue reads fast and Bone has some decent moments. Otherwise, it’s getting even worse than I had expected. Waid’s dropping the ball here.
Pulp Friction, Part Three; writer, Mark Waid; artist, J. Bone; colorist, Rom Fajardo; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.
Waid continues full steam ahead with two characters who probably should have never crossed over. The result is more a Spirit comic guest starring the Rocketeer cast than anything else. Loston Wallace’s heavy on the Eisner influence for the character designs–except Betty to some degree–and, as a result, Cliff feels totally out of place.
Peevy and Dolan getting along like aged pranksters is a whole different problem.
But the comic also makes the Spirit feel way too literal. Waid’s got him fighting bad guys on biplanes, big crash sequences, on and on. It’s the Spirit in an action movie, with occasional Rocketeer moments–Waid tends to follow Cliff when he’s got the helmet off and the Spirit when Cliff’s suited up.
The comic’s also way too predictable. Given the properties in question, there’s nothing at risk here for the characters… and Waid should be going for constant amusement.
Pulp Friction, Part Two; writer, Mark Waid; penciller, Loston Wallace; inker, Bob Wiacek; colorist, Hi-Fi Colour Design; letterer, Tom B. Long; editors, Scott Dunbier and Chris Ryall; publisher, IDW Publishing.
If it weren’t for the terrible art from Fajar, this issue might actually be pretty good. Johnson splits the crew–spending Spock off to consult the Federation while everyone on the Enterprise questions him leaving Kirk and Kirk off with the Klingons as a prisoner.
Johnson’s juxtaposition is interesting because Kirk’s the one who has the most faith in Spock; now, will Johnson answer the question of whether Kirk has faith in Spock’s own decision making or does Kirk really have faith the human crew will convince Spock to act. Or will Johnson ignore that plot thread because he’s really more about wowing the reader.
Except Johnson has no ammunition. As a sequel to Into Darkness, this story arc will always have to be muted–it’s a poorly drawn licensed comic after all. Paramount won’t allow anything major.
It’s a fine enough issue, though the hard cliffhanger is spectacularly lame.
The Khitomer Conflict, Part Two; writer, Mike Johnson; artist, Erfan Fajar; colorists, Ifansyah Noor and Sakti Yuwono; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Sarah Gaydos; publisher, IDW Publishing.