Image

bitch-planet

Bitch Planet 1 (December 2014)

Bitch Planet #1

The back matter of Bitch Planet describes a bait and switch in the issue. The person writing said back matter doesn’t use “bait and switch” as a pejorative phrase, just a description.

But she is correct–it is a bait and switch–and I’m being pejorative.

Bitch Planet is a really cool idea. Oppressive future society, interplanetary travel, women in prison, but not exploitative. What could be an awesome sci-fi comic–and still can be a good one–is a little too straightforward.

It’s like writer Kelly Sue DeConnick had a property with a sensational title and a great concept and she ran with it as an important property instead of a solid story. The multiple surprises–or bait and switches–are cheap. They distract from what the story could be to instead… I don’t know… give Bitch Planet weight.

Nice art from Valentine De Landro.

It’s rather problematic.

C+ 

CREDITS

Writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick; artist, Valentine De Landro; colorist, Cris Peters; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editor, Lauren Sankovitch; publisher, Image Comics.

tooth-and-claw

The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw 2 (December 2014)

The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw #2

It turns out the savior of the animal Earth of Tooth & Claw is–shock of all shocks–a human. A savage, but honorable warrior, which makes sense because something about the way Busiek writes the exposition about the savior (before his species was revealed) reminds of Conan.

Oh, and it’s The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw now. I thought it was just a style thing (since the people all crashed down to the ground from the floating cities), but apparently it’s a trademark thing.

The result is the story having, so far, nothing to do with autumn. Actually, the issue takes place in one night with a herd of boar attacking–they’re happy the city-dwellers have been brought low–and the savior hatching. There’s arguing and some character stuff from the previous issue’s protagonist, but Busiek’s going for action and lots of events.

It’s fine, but Dewey’s art makes it worthwhile.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Kurt Busiek; artist, Benjamin Dewey; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterers, John Roshell and Jimmy Betancourt; publisher, Image Comics.

Copperhead 4 (December 2014)

Copperhead #4

This issue of Copperhead returns the series to its previous level of quality, which is fantastic, because I really wanted to love this comic and it looks like I still can.

It’s a very busy issue. Faerber wasn’t busy last issue (the weak one); he’s busy here, he keeps Clara busy, he keeps Boo busy, he keeps the supporting cast busy. There’s stuff with the doctor–an actual scene before he gets drug into the issue’s primary subplot–and there’s stuff at the beginning, possible back story for Clara. It all works out beautifully.

I say possible back story because Faerber tells this story about her, which may or may not be true, then has a whole montage sequence showing it might be true. It’s just a cool way of plotting out the issue… getting the reader wondering, then busy with other stuff, then delivering.

Copperhead is back on track.

A 

CREDITS

Writer, Jay Faerber; artist, Scott Godlewski; colorist, Ron Riley; letterer, Thomas Mauer; publisher, Image Comics.

birthright

Birthright 3 (December 2014)

Birthright #3

It’s a particularly interesting issue because Williamson never talks about the big secret–the big gimmick, the big deception, the big unknown. There’s stuff related to it, but he never identifies why he’s on these topics. It would be a bad jumping on issue.

There’s some good stuff with the parents. Not together so much, because Williamson is moving quickly. He doesn’t slow down for things he would need to stop and work with. The issue is kind of sprinting, actually. The mom has her good scenes, the dad has a couple scenes where it could lead somewhere better.

Then there’s the brother. The older brother who becomes younger but still somewhat wiser–at least in the ways of Earth. His scenes are good too; probably the best in the issue.

But Williamson is still soft booting the series with every issue. He still hasn’t found the Birthright’s sustainable tone.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Andrei Bressan; colorist, Adriano Lucas; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Helen Leigh and Sean Mackiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

prophet-strikefile

Prophet: Strikefile 2 (November 2014)

Prophet: Strikefile #2

Strikefile continues with more strangeness. This time, in the individual subjects, the strangeness has to do with Rob Liefeld. He contributes a page of art–a superhero team, of course, called Youngstar. Plus there are some further Liefeld references later. It’s strange; even though Prophet never shied away from the references to old Image books… in Strikefile, they stand out more.

The issue opens with the history of the universe–courtesy Simon Roy, Matt Sheehan and Malachi Ward. It’s strange, imaginative, engaging, makes you want to pay more attention to the details while still wanting to skim them to get to the artistic eccentricities. In other words, it’s definitely a Prophet comic.

Opening with it, however, makes the rest of the issue–all of the subject topics getting a page or two (a pinup and a paragraph)–a bit sluggish. Grim Wilkins’s final contribution is a neat one page strip.

B+ 

CREDITS

Writers, Simon Roy and Brandon Graham; artists, Matt Sheehan, Malachi Ward, Gael Bertrand, Rob Liefeld, Roy, Addison Duke, Lodroe, Grim Wilkins, Sandra Lanz, Xurxo G. Penalta, Graham and Tom Parkinson-Morgan; colorists, Sheenan, Ward and Joseph Bergin III; letterer, Ed Brisson; publisher, Image Comics.

ODY-C

ODY-C 1 (November 2014)

ODY-C #1

ODY-C is Matt Fraction and Christian Ward’s retelling of The Odyssey as a space opera, in a matriarchal society. I didn’t know about it being an adaptation going in and it just seemed like Fraction doing a science fiction comic with fantasy nomenclature instead of futuristic stuff.

I didn’t even catch it when the Greek gods showed up. Then, a page later, I got it. And ODY-C stopped being Fraction doing some fantasy crap like everyone else or a indie sci-fi book like everyone else. No, he’s doing a straight adaptation of one of the major classic literary works.

And not just any classic literary work, one most of his readers will be familiar with. ODY-C will be read as it compares. Inventive adaptation is more important than actual writing with such a major work to adapt.

It’s a preplanned event, a reasonably decent one.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Christian Ward; colorists, Ward and Dee Cunniffe; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; publisher, Image Comics.

cowl

C.O.W.L. 6 (November 2014)

C.O.W.L. #6

It’s a gimmick issue, with artist Elsa Charretier filling in. The comic is supposed to be a licensed biography of the Grey Raven from 1962. The best part of the gimmick–conceptually, not in execution–is the sixties advertisements for other modern Image Comics. The ads don’t come off, but the idea is cute.

The big problem with the issue is the disconnect between it being an official biography of a character and what it actually conveys to the reader. The Grey Raven discovers his father isn’t just a corrupt cop, but an actual bank robber. There’s no character development, since Higgins and Siegel are doing their version of a sixties comic… no character development, no subtlety.

It’s a reductive gimmick and doesn’t offer much. It’s still a competent enough outing and Charretier fits the gimmick perfectly. She doesn’t have much detail or compositional ingenuity.

It’s passable, if remarkably unambitious.

B- 

CREDITS

Raven’s First Flight!; writers, Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel; artist, Elsa Charretier; colorist, Rod Reis; letterer, Troy Peteri; editor, Andy Schmidt; publisher, Image Comics.

lazarus

Lazarus 13 (November 2014)

Lazarus #13

It’s a decent issue, but not one with much content. Most of the politicking takes place off page and Rucka even turns the cliffhanger resolution into an expository recap. He does it to show Forever’s burgeoning romance with one of the other Lazari, which is good from the character development standpoint… Only it’s all Rucka really does this issue.

He ends on a setup for what’s next–and I really hope this issue’s developments for Forever (friends, family, romantic interests) aren’t just fodder for later conflicts–but nothing really happens. Lark doesn’t get much to draw; three pages of Forever and her romantic interest’s flirtations and petting seems like a combination waste of pages and of Lark’s talents. Talking heads with one or two lines a panel….

Still, Rucka has a good amount of steam on Lazarus and it gets through. Forever’s a fantastic protagonist, even in a dull entry.

B 

CREDITS

Conclave, Part Three; writer, Greg Rucka; artists, Michael Lark and Tyler Boss; colorist, Santiago Arcas; letterer, Jodi Wynne; editor, David Brothers; publisher, Image Comics.

drifter

Drifter 1 (November 2014)

Drifter #1

After one issue, all Drifter has done is establish itself as another sci-fi Western. It’s not a new genre. Nic Klein clearly works at the art, so while the design work reminds of other sci-fi movies, TV shows and comic books going back forty years, at least he’s visibly committed.

And writer Ivan Brandon seems committed too. Unfortunately, he shows that commitment with truncated narration and dialogue–Drifter reads like a pulp novel with its tough guy (and girl) dialogue. Ditto the protagonist’s narration. Instead of establishing characters, Brandon goes with caricatures.

Only the comic is about some guy who wakes up in a settlement on an unknown (to him) desert planet. Without Klein’s illustration–which seems fit more for covers to old science fiction paperbacks than it does to sequential narrative–Drifter wouldn’t have much going for it. It’s blandly inoffensive, unimaginatively derivative. There’s just no meat.

B- 

CREDITS

Hanging On; writer, Ivan Brandon; artist, Nic Klein; letterer, Clem Robins; editor, Sebastian Girner; publisher, Image Comics.

mph

MPH 4 (November 2014)

MPH #4

There’s quite a bit of talking in this comic. Not just the lead characters, who talk a whole bunch, but also the government guys out to catch the lead characters. There’s also a revelation scene, which Millar doesn’t do particularly well. It’s a talking heads issue and Millar is just dumping exposition to set up for the finish.

He opens the issue with the secret government agency explaining most of the backstory to the drug and to the mysterious prisoner, who’s been so unimportant he’s barely memorable. Millar plays some tricks, since he’s dealing with fortune telling and, presumably, next issue will have a big surprise or two, but the problem with MPH is the characters.

They aren’t just unsympathetic at this point, they’re annoying and tedious. Millar didn’t set them up strong enough and without development–especially after all the talking–they’re just dragging the comic down.

Too bad.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer, Mark Millar; artist, Duncan Fegredo; colorist and letterer, Peter Doherty; editors, Jennifer Lee and Nicole Boose; publisher, Image Comics.

Ghosted

Ghosted 15 (November 2014)

Ghosted #15

Gianfelice has some great expressions this issue. Wonderful moments with the characters mid-thought. These moments occasionally make Ghosted seem to light while also making it more accessible. Williamson goes for a lot of exposition this issue. There’s so much talking, the word balloons obscure important visual details (the pacing of the big action scene is all off because of them). It’s too much to digest, especially since most of it’s fluff.

There are some excellent moments throughout the issue but almost as many mundane ones. Williamson tries way too hard to make callous protagonist Jackson lovable. Gianfelice does it in the art already, far more discreetly. Though, to be fair, Williamson doesn’t exercise any restraint. He goes overboard.

The excesses hurt the issue. It reads like Williamson’s asking the reader to come back next time instead of being confident. Bad kind of excess. But it’s still more than adequate.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Davide Gianfelice; colorist, Miroslav Mrva; letterer, Rus Wooten; editors, Helen Leigh and Sean Mackiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

Fade-Out

The Fade Out 3 (November 2014)

The Fade Out #3

Brubaker switches protagonists for the issue–with the normal, screenwriter protagonist basically getting a cameo–and moves over to the actress replacing the dead actress in the movie.

It’s a phenomenal comic book, showing more ingenuity from scene to scene than anything Brubaker’s done in The Fade Out in a while. Than he’s done in anything in a while, actually–he has a number of great surprises in the issue and they’re just details he’s revealing. They’re not flashy, they’re just great writing.

The issue just covers this actress on her last screen test, with Brubaker using slight expository dialogue to imply her history and her relationships–not to mention how gently he moves along the main plot.

Brubaker’s really good at these done-in-one issues set amid his bigger stories. Or maybe Fade Out is going just get better. Regardless, this issue’s great work from Brubaker and Phillips.

A 

CREDITS

The Replacement Blonde; writer, Ed Brubaker; artist, Sean Phillips; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser; editor, David Brothers; publisher, Image Comics.

copperhead

Copperhead 3 (November 2014)

Copperhead #3

From the first page, there’s something off about this issue of Copperhead. Godlewski goes with a full page spread but of a really bland situation–actually, it’s supposed to be a tense situation but the full page spread makes it bland. Then the scene itself is bland, with Faerber eschewing logic and character.

The issue itself moves way too fast–there are three or four scenes, all of them part of the police investigation, none of them doing any character work or even establishing the setting. Godlewski gets to draw a few locations–there’s a mine, for example–but the comic rushes through them.

And then the finale reveals everything so far has been connected, which makes Copperhead feel really small and contrived. It’s still a decent comic, it’s just not on par with what Faerber and Godlewski have done until this point.

Hopefully the problems are just Copperhead hiccuping.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Jay Faerber; artist, Scott Godlewski; colorist, Ron Riley; letterer, Thomas Mauer; publisher, Image Comics.

nightworld

Nightworld 4 (November 2014)

Nightworld #4

Once again, McGovern manages not to do anything special–or even particularly good–with his script for the issue and still it all turns out fine. Leandri’s art is so strong, his ability to mix in all the action and the mood–this issue has the good guys creeping through a varied landscape–just makes Nightworld work.

McGovern still has some dumb pop culture stuff and he entirely changes the narrative style for this issue–there’s a lot of talking–and the ending is weak, but there’s an earnestness to the script. And Leandri can deliver the visuals.

Unfortunately, McGovern’s plotting is so shabby the last page is a real disappointment. There’s not enough space to make the finish visually compelling; the series goes out on a down note.

But the rest of the art is so strong, it doesn’t matter. It’s a goofy, glorious comic; Leandri does awesome work.

B 

CREDITS

Clash by Night; writer, Adam McGovern; artist and letterer, Paolo Leandri; colorist, Dominic Regan; publisher, Image Comics.