IDW

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.

About these ads
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.

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.