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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.

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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.

nightworld

Nightworld 3 (October 2014)

Nightworld #3

It’s an all-action issue, with McGovern giving way too many pop culture lines to the hipster demon. It gets annoying on the first page the character shows up; by the end of the issue, it’s practically intolerable. McGovern doesn’t have anything for the character–at least the protagonist and antagonist have some kind of back story and the humans are sympathetic human characters… a sidekick, good demon? No story. Just annoying.

For the action, which is mostly the two good demons fighting bad demons, Leandri does rather well. Nightworld is a good looking comic and it moves well, it’s just really shallow. And McGovern doesn’t try to go any deeper with it, which is nice.

However, when there’s not much to it, any little thing hurts–like confusion during the humans in distress scene and especially the annoying demon. Facebook references are too much.

But it still works out.

B 

CREDITS

One Hundred Demons; writer, Adam McGovern; artist and letterer, Paolo Leandri; colorist, Dominic Regan; publisher, Image Comics.

nailbiter

Nailbiter 7 (November 2014)

Nailbiter #7

Williamson does a Powers homage, with Brian Michael Bendis guest starring as himself. I think the Warren Ellis Powers issue is number seven too (yep, thanks Google). Bendis is in town researching a book and Williamson uses him as the protagonist. It’s a way to delay a return to norm for the comic–only the epilogue has the FBI agent back in lead–and also for Williamson to have some fun.

However, the looser issue–it’s basically a comic relief issue in a series where there’s no real comic relief–feels somewhat self-indulgent. Like Williamson is having a second helping of chocolate cake where the frosting’s real good, but it’s not actually filling.

The cuteness aside, there’s a lot of fluff–like Bendis and the Nailbiter talking about comics–and it’s well-written fluff. It just seems like a holding pattern.

Still, not bad; nice art from Henderson throughout.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Mike Henderson; colorist, Adam Guzowski; letterer, John J. Hill; editor, Rob Levin; publisher, Image Comics.

nailbiter

Nailbiter 6 (October 2014)

Nailbiter #6

All of a sudden, Nailbiter is something different. Williamson changes protagonists and gives the issue a narrator in Alice, the teenager (or slightly older) possible future serial killer. She teams up with the sheriff to track down some crazy woman.

It feels very distinct and separate from everything else in the series so far–even though the characters continue, the former protagonist isn’t in the issue. His story line isn’t continued or really even referenced. Instead of the serial killers in town being so important, the town becomes important. It’s a very nice issue.

Williamson’s writing of Alice is excellent, especially with her rash behavior. He has a great way of making the behavior changes flow, while still being visible and concerning.

There’s some fantastic art from Henderson this issue.

Regardless if it’s just a done-in-one or a new direction, Williamson’s definitely got lots of space with Nailbiter.

B+ 

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Mike Henderson; colorist, Adam Guzowski; letterer, John J. Hill; editor, Rob Levin; publisher, Image Comics.

velvet

Velvet 8 (November 2014)

Velvet #8

I guess Brubaker has seen The Rock. Maybe he’s hoping no one else remembers it….

It’s a bridging issue, which I suppose is to be expected–it is midway through an arc after all–but the places where one would expect Brubaker to excel, he fumbles. He wraps a flashback into the narrative and switches perspective to surprise the reader–the reader who hasn’t seen The Rock–but all those tricks don’t make up for him flubbing the one non-action scene in the book.

Velvet meets up with her former boss in a peculiar situation and every few panels it seems like Brubaker might do some character work or at least a good talking heads scene. But he never does. It’s just exposition about her status as a rogue agent. It’s really too bad.

Still, the Epting art on the action throughout is fantastic.

While derivative, Velvet works fine.

B 

CREDITS

The Secret Lives of Dead Men, Part Three; writer, Ed Brubaker; artist, Steve Epting; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editor; Eric Stephenson; publisher, Image Comics.

nailbiter

Nailbiter 5 (September 2014)

Nailbiter #5

It’s the best issue of Nailbiter in a while as Williamson wraps up his first arc. He’s set up the series now–Finch, the visitor, isn’t just staying but now there’s new shocking new information about him. Williamson, for better or worse, seems to be positioning the series–with its variety of characters but relatively few locations–for a TV series option.

There’s some rather good art from Henderson in the issue. He doesn’t do particularly well with the action sequences, but those missteps might be due to the silliness (the latest serial killer is dressed as some kind of Neolithic warrior); but the regular talking scenes are quite good.

There’s foreshadowing, there’s fake resolution (for every window Williamson closes he opens a couple doors) and there’s the titular nail biting serial killer playing hero. It’s entirely artificial, but so well executed it doesn’t matter. Williamson pulls the strings well.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Mike Henderson; colorist, Adam Guzowski; letterer, John J. Hill; editor, Rob Levin; publisher, Image Comics.

tooth-and-claw

Tooth & Claw 1 (November 2014)

Tooth & Claw #1

Writer Kurt Busiek takes a traditional–though not for comics–approach to this first issue of Tooth & Claw. He treats it as a “pilot movie” for the series, introducing a bunch of characters who aren’t going to be important later but are important to this issue’s story. It’ll be interesting to see if he keeps up the structure for the series going forward, will every issue have an actual complete three act structure.

It’s a fantasy world where animals walk on two feet and talk and cast spells. The whole society is based on magic and trade. There are big hints of humanity being part of the story, but Busiek doesn’t go into it this issue. He should, given the time spent hinting, but he concentrates on his cast and how they handle a catastrophe.

It works out because Benjamin Dewey’s art, gorgeous throughout, is even better on the finale.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Kurt Busiek; artist, Benjamin Dewey; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Jimmy Betancourt; publisher, Image Comics.

birthright

Birthright 2 (November 2014)

Birthright #2

The first half or so of this issue is worrisome. Williamson brings in a whole bunch of fantasy world vocabulary for a flashback–the structure is fairly simple, present day on Earth with Conan grown-up, the fantasy world in flashback when he’s still an Earth kid adjusting. And while Bressan’s art is fine–his action is better–there’s not much one can do with a fantasy world anymore. They’re standard, thanks to comics, movies, video games and television.

The first half also has the pained meeting between brothers–the younger brother now much older (and Conan). Williamson’s sincere in the scene, but it doesn’t offer anything new.

Luckily, the finale has something also not new, but still awesome. Conan breaks free in the police station and it’s the Terminator only with a magical warrior. Good character work in the sequence too. It pulls the issue around just in time.

B 

CREDITS

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

point of impact

Point of Impact 1 (October 2012)

Point of Impact #1

Jay Faerber is really excited about Point of Impact, even if one doesn’t read his back matter about his inspirations. The enthusiasm is clear. Unfortunately, he’s enthusiastic about writing a really generic police procedural.

Everything is connected–a woman falls off a roof while her lover waits in a hotel room, but could she be somehow connected to the newspaper reporter Faerber is following around? And then there are the cops–the female cop knows her from yoga class and doesn’t want to give up the case. Her tough but understanding older black cop partner is there for her, but he’s not going to let her throw her career away.

Everything’s very predictable–plot, dialogue. Without artist Koray Kuranel’s high contrast style–deep blacks on pure white–Impact would disappear it’s so flimsy. Kuranel’s detail for people isn’t great but his buildings and his mood work.

It’s inoffensively bland.

C+ 

CREDITS

Writer, Jay Faerber; artist, Koray Kuranel; letterer, Charles Pritchett; publisher, Image Comics.