IDW

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.

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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.

Squidder

The Squidder 1 (July 2014)

The Squidder #1

Ben Templesmith has a fairly interesting setting for Squidder. Imagine Cthulhu does come to the world, what happens when people fight back through technology and modern (or futuristic) warfare. It’s post-apocalyptic but after an inter-dimensional demon invasion. Why only fairly interesting? Because besides the vocabulary and details, it’s not much different than The Road Warrior.

There’s some really cool art in the comic. It’s not great, but it’s iconic and cool. Templesmith’s abilities as an artist are not in question. His writing, however, leaves a lot to be desired. His first person narration is mostly mediocre, sometimes worse. Templesmith can’t figure out how to make his protagonist sound cool while still revealing something about himself.

I don’t remember the protagonist’s name. I think it does come up once or twice but it’s not worth the effort to look it up. Or remember.

Squidder looks great and reads tepid.

C+ 

CREDITS

Writer, artist, letterer, Ben Templesmith; publisher, IDW Publishing.

x-files-year-zero

The X-Files: Year Zero 1 (July 2014)

The X-Files: Year Zero #1

I’m not a big “X-Files” fan; I have not watched many episodes but I have seen the movies. And I do not recall atrocious banter being part of the formula. Karl Kesel writes inane dialogue for his protagonists, who artist Greg Scott questionably visualize. They aren’t going for photo-reference–there’s a decided lack of detail–but everything is so static they might as well have done it.

The story has the agents investigating a case about cat people. Is it scary? No. Is it interesting? Not really. The Year Zero in the title refers to the comic flashing back to the first FBI team investigating the supernatural. So flashbacks to the late forties. The flashback art, by Vic Malhotra, art runs hot and cold. Just when Malhotra does something good, he flops something else.

This comic doesn’t offer anything worthwhile to anyone outside an “X-Files” memorabilia collector.

D 

CREDITS

Writer, Karl Kesel; artists, Greg Scott and Vic Malhotra; colorist, Mat Lopes; letterer, Robbie Robbins; editor, Denton J. Tipton; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Star-Trek-idw

Star Trek 35 (July 2014)

Star Trek #35

I’m having a hard time trying to figure out how to talk about this issue of Star Trek. Not because the comic is all of a sudden doing well or good–and not because new artist Tony Shasteen is doing anything special–but because the comic has finally given in to itself.

Here we have the new Star Trek franchise crossing over to the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” franchise and, if one can guess from the cliffhanger, its spin-offs. In other words, Star Trek the comic has become the desperate cash grab it was always meant to be.

This issue has Jean-Luc Picard in a small role. Johnson writes him great. You can hear Patrick Stewart. Similarly, Johnson writes Q great and he also writes the regular cast better than his usual too. He’s finally excited; he’s not updating something old.

Sadly, Shasteen’s photo-referenced, static, nonsense art can’t match the enthusiasm.

B- 

CREDITS

The Q Gambit, Part One; writer, Mike Johnson; artist, Tony Shasteen; letterer, Neil Uyetake; editor, Sarah Gaydos; 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 1 (June 2014)

Star Trek: Harlan Ellison's The City on the Edge of Forever: The Original Teleplay #1

I guess I didn’t realize–or care–how much Harlan Ellison’s original teleplay for the classic “Star Trek” episode The City on the Edge of Forever got changed.

From the first couple pages, it certainly seems like IDW is mounting an ambitious adaptation. Artist J.K. Woodward paints a mean Enterprise and writers Scott Tipton and David Tipton certainly set up the characters well. Not the principal cast, but the supporting characters.

Then the regular crew shows up and the problems start showing. Woodward spends too much time on likenesses, while the Tiptons’ script doesn’t do enough with the characters. As a comic, City on the Edge of Forever is way too dedicated to the source material. Adapting the original script, while an interesting project, is somewhat short sighted. There have been thousands of “Star Trek” stories since… something in them might synthesize well.

The coolest thing so far is Yeoman Rand’s inclusion.

C 

CREDITS

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

Winterworld-IDW

Winterworld 1 (June 2014)

Winterworld #1

Winterworld is about some guy who has a teenage girl sidekick in a post-apocalyptic frozen wasteland.

Writer Chuck Dixon has a very strange approach to the plotting–every scene is a glimpse of a full scene without any real transition between them. It reads like it’s on fast forward. Luckily, Dixon has Butch Guice on the art and it doesn’t matter how fast it reads, Guice’s panels are gorgeous.

Particularly great are the frozen battleship and then a chase sequence where the protagonists are on the run from some bad guys on motorcycles. Maybe it’s like The Road Warrior but who knows because Dixon doesn’t spend time on anyone but the leads. And all they do is bicker and try to survive.

The surviving stuff isn’t particularly interesting; the bickering passes the conversations. Dixon can write so maybe the pacing’s intentional. Or he just knows Guice will carry it.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer, Chuck Dixon; artist, Butch Guice; colorist, Diego Rodriguez; letterer, Robbie Robbins; editor, David Hedgecock; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Rocky and Bullwinkle

Rocky and Bullwinkle 4 (June 2014)

Rocky and Bullwinkle #4

Once again, Evanier seems to be running out of ideas–at least for what to do with his titular characters. Even the Dudley Do-Right story has Dudley reduced to a brief walk on appearance. Though the whole horse thing is back, which is awkwardly hilarious.

But for the feature, it’s Rocky and Bullwinkle against Boris and Natasha–this time it’s a hamburger war. Evanier spends forever setting up the scheme from the villains and then has to quickly wrap it up in the second half of the story without Rocky or Bullwinkle getting much to do.

I apologize for that lengthy sentence.

There’s nothing particularly great about the story or even the art. Langridge does a fine job and gets to do some variety, but there’s not a lot of enthusiasm. Or anything to get particularly enthusiastic about. Hamburgers aren’t visually exciting, no matter what.

It’s a decent finish.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Mark Evanier; penciller and letterer, Roger Langridge; inker, Dan Davis; colorist, Jeremy Colwell; editor, Sarah Gaydos; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Star-Trek-idw

Star Trek 34 (June 2014)

Star Trek #34

There's a goofy aspect to this issue because there's got to be, given Johnson's storyline. It's a rip-off of some other things, with a couple odd Jurassic Park homages thrown in, but it's not a terrible story. Johnson gives Kirk a lot to do.

But Corroney's art doesn't help things. He does fine with the flashbacks to the 1970s. The art on that single page flashback is good. But then, once in Star Trek time, he falls apart. He spends too much time referencing photos of the actors playing the cast–which is hilarious for Bones, who Johnson writes wonderfully like the original series–and not enough time coming up with a style.

There's an alien monster involved with the story and Corroney turns it into a goofy purple thing. It's not scary or impressive or anything, it's just goofy.

It's nice to see Johnson trying for an original (if derivative) story.

C 

CREDITS

Lost Apollo, Part Two; writer, Mike Johnson; penciller, Joe Corroney; inkers, Corroney, Victor Moya and Rob Doan; colorist, Sakti Yuwono; letterer, Neil Uyetake; editor, Sarah Gaydos; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Star-Trek-idw

Star Trek 33 (May 2014)

Star Trek #33

I read this entire issue without paying attention to the story arc title on the cover. I'm glad I ignored it.

Here's the problem–the art. I wonder how Joe Corroney's art would be if he didn't have to mess around with all the actors' faces. He doesn't do them well, either, so there's no real point to it. The expressions are just terrible because the mouths can't move too much or it won't look like whatever photo he was referencing.

Bad, bad choice. On IDW's part, not on Corroney's.

Still, it's a fun issue. Johnson just writes a little episode where the crew is excited to get off the ship. It's got elements of "This Side of Paradise," some actual personality from Kirk, an ill-advised Return of the Jedi nod. In short, it's exactly what a Star Trek comic should be.

Except for the art, which is just unforgivably misguided.

B- 

CREDITS

Lost Apollo, Part One; writer, Mike Johnson; penciller, Joe Corroney; inkers, Corroney, Victor Moya and Rob Doan; colorist, John Rauch; letterer, Neil Uyetake; editor, Sarah Gaydos; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Rocky and Bullwinkle

Rocky and Bullwinkle 3 (May 2014)

Rocky and Bullwinkle #3

What a splendid comic. I’m not sure of any other word for it. Between the two parts of the feature story, involving Rocky and Bullwinkle having to go to the moon to stop Pottsylvania from claiming it (and taxing anyone looking at it or talking about it or saying it–oops, looks like I owe), and the Dudley Do-Right story, Evanier and Langridge hit a home run.

The only questionable joke–in a comic with NASA jokes, no less–is when they get to the moon and there’s a one liner about moon restaurants having no atmosphere. It’s one of the first moon jokes and it seems like Evanier’s going to go the easy route. Instead, it’s a one off and it works because of it.

Great plot twists too. Not just in the feature but in Dudley Do-Right too.

Also–nice June Foray reference.

Moon-rockin’ stuff.

A 

CREDITS

Writer, Mark Evanier; artist and letterer, Roger Langridge; colorist, Jeremy Colwell; editor, Sarah Gaydos; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Star-Trek-idw

Star Trek 32 (April 2014)

Star Trek #32

Lots of drama this issue. There’s some comedy too, from McCoy and Scotty, but there’s also running around.

Last issue the Enterprise became sentient and grew itself a humanoid body. This issue… well, let’s see, Johnson seems to rip off sections from Star Trek: The Motion Picture and maybe one of the “Next Generation” movie. Not doing connections to them or tie-ins, just ripping off details. The comic’s so disconnected, it doesn’t matter much.

Johnson refuses the let Kirk be the main character and his focus on the events surrounding this android make the issue read too fast. Johnson is cutting from scene to scene without any room for the reader to breath or enjoy.

Farjar’s art is some of his best on the series. Well, some of it. Some of it is really lame, but some of it isn’t bad.

Star Trek remains a series of unfulfilled potential.

C 

CREDITS

I, Enterprise, Part Two; writer, Mike Johnson; penciller, Erfan Fajar; inkers, Fajar and Yulian Ardhi; colorists, Sakti Yuwono and Ifansyah Noor; letterer, Neil Uyetake; editor, Sarah Gaydos; publisher, IDW Publishing.