IDW

Rocky and Bullwinkle

Rocky and Bullwinkle 2 (April 2014)

Rocky and Bullwinkle #2

Something is amiss in Frostbite Falls.

Evanier keeps his structure from the first issue–first part of Rocky and Bullwinkle, Dudley Do-Right, then the second part of Rocky. Only this time, the first part of the feature is weak. It feels tired, down to all the references to post-smartphone soullessness. Rocky and Bullwinkle come across a magician who can’t get a job anymore and, dang, if it’s not all apps and CGI’s fault.

The cliffhanger’s too deliberate and then the Dudley Do-Right tries too hard for a single laugh. It gets two but the first is mostly because of goodwill. By the end, the goodwill’s gone.

Then the second half of the feature is even worse than the first. Evanier reduces Rocky to an almost dialogue-free part in the feature and the narration is terrible.

Langridge doesn’t bother mustering much enthusiasm.

It’s a pedestrian licensed comic, which the first issue wasn’t.

C 

CREDITS

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

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Rocky and Bullwinkle

Rocky and Bullwinkle 1 (March 2014)

Rocky & Bullwinkle #1

I can’t decide if Rocky & Bullwinkle should or shouldn’t work as a comic book. Conceptually, I mean. I suppose I should mention it does work–and very well. Writer Mark Evanier and artist Roger Langridge adapt the source material’s sensibilities for the comics medium, which is exactly the way to go about adapting a property from another medium… yet so few ever do it.

The all-knowing narrator works well in exposition boxes; Evanier ups it with Bullwinkle becoming psychic. His predictions interact both with the narrative and how Langridge illustrates that narrative. Very cool stuff.

As for Langridge, I notice he’s working in a lot of simple, but intricate background activity. He’s keeping the reader’s eyes consuming even when the principals aren’t doing a lot.

And then there’s the Dudley Do-Right intermediate story. Evanier sets it up as a series of really funny, somewhat inappropriate jokes.

It’s an excellent comic.

A 

CREDITS

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

Star-Trek-idw

Star Trek 31 (March 2014)

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This issue feels very much like a Star Wars approach to Trek. Not storytelling, but franchise stuff. Apparently there's a new character in the Into Darkness movie who has no memorable lines and isn't a familiar actor, but he's got an amazing story and the comic gets to reveal it.

It feels like when you only knew a Return of the Jedi character's story because of the fan club and action figure exclusives.

This new character is a living computer, which will undoubtedly some day make the Abrams continuity Data feel very not special. The issue opens with Johnson writing from his perspective, then moves into a flashback to explain things.

The flashback stuff isn't bad until it becomes clear where the story's going. For about five pages, the comic just feels like a decent "Star Trek" episode.

And I think Fajar's art has improved a little. A little helps.

C 

CREDITS

I, Enterprise, Part One; writer, Mike Johnson; artist, Erfan Fajar; colorists, Ifansyah Noor and Sakti Yuwono; letterer, Robbie Robbins; editor, Sarah Gaydos; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Star-Trek-idw

Star Trek 30 (February 2014)

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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.

B+ 

CREDITS

Parallel Lives, Part Two; writer, Mike Johnson; artist, Yasmin Liang; colorist, Zac Atkinson; letterer, Gilberto Lazcano; editor, Sarah Gaydos; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Star-Trek-idw

Star Trek 29 (January 2014)

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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.

B+ 

CREDITS

Parallel Lives, Part One; writer, Mike Johnson; artist, Yasmin Liang; colorist, Zac Atkinson; letterer, Gilberto Lazcano; editor, Sarah Gaydos; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Illegitimates 2 (January 2014)

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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.

D+ 

CREDITS

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.

Star-Trek-idw

Star Trek 28 (December 2013)

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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.

C 

CREDITS

The Khitomer Conflict, Part Four; writer, Mike Johnson; artist, Erfan Fajar; colorist, Beny Maulana; letterer, Gilberto Lazcano; editor, Sarah Gaydos; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Illegitimates 1 (December 2013)

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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.

C+ 

CREDITS

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.

The Rocketeer/The Spirit 4 (December 2013)

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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.

D 

CREDITS

Pulp Friction, Part Four; writer, Mark Waid; artist, J. Bone; colorist, Rom Fajardo; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Maze Agency 3 (January 2006)

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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.

C+ 

CREDITS

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.

The Maze Agency 2 (December 2005)

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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.

D 

CREDITS

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.

The Maze Agency 1 (November 2005)

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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.

C- 

CREDITS

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.

Star-Trek-idw

Star Trek 27 (November 2013)

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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.

CREDITS

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.

Half Past Danger 6 (October 2013)

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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.

CREDITS

Killing with Kindness; writer and artist, Stephen Mooney; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; editors, Christopher Schraff and Chris Ryall; publisher, IDW Publishing.