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tooth-and-claw

The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw 4 (February 2015)

The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw #4

Yeah, Dewey really can’t draw people. He’ll do this beautiful anthropomorphic giraffe and then the lame human character. Of course, the human character is only lame in how Dewey draws him; Busiek writes the character rather well.

Busiek brings Dusty–who the first entire issued followed–into the present narrative as the human’s sidekick. They go out and explore the world and discover things aren’t like Dusty, on the sky-ship, has been told. And all the art is beautiful. Except the human.

I can’t remember how to spell the human’s name, which is why I’m just calling him the human. Busiek goes for something close to Leonard, but there’s a Y in there somewhere.

There’s the behind the scenes corrupt and the evil, if dumb, owl. I was hoping Busiek would tone down the political intrigue a bit, but the issue works out well even with it hanging around.

CREDITS

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

mph

MPH 5 (February 2015)

MPH #5

Millar gets to a nice manipulative finish on MPH. He does give Fegredo a bunch of cool stuff to draw and the art’s great, but Millar has enough story for another five issues and he doesn’t want to tell it.

He suggests MPH is deeper for his lack of interest in proper storytelling, but it’s really not. It’s just more manipulative.

Half the issue is spent on a super-speed fight sequence. It’s pretty cool, actually. If it took the whole issue, it’d be even more cool. And then Millar could save the two big reveals for another issue, which would’ve worked a lot better.

But it still wouldn’t have been good. Because one of Millar’s reveals is a huge one and he tries to pass it off as small potatoes. It should be the defining element of the series; it’s not. Because it’s not flashy enough.

Still, beautiful art.

CREDITS

Writer, Mark Millar; artist, Duncan Fegredo; colorists, Peter Doherty and Mike Spicer; letterer, Doherty; editors, Lucy Unwin and Nicole Boose; publisher, Image Comics.

manifest destiny

Manifest Destiny 13 (February 2015)

Manifest Destiny #13

It’s a bridging issue of Manifest Destiny. Dingess makes it seem full, starting with a different journal than the normal one, but he doesn’t do much with it. He gets the reader’s brain going in the first few pages, then doesn’t ask anything more of him or her.

There’s a little with Sacagawea this issue; more than usual, but it’s more hints, no answers. Dingess seems resolved to use her as little as possible, while constantly implying she could be doing so much more.

Otherwise, it’s just more rumblings of mutiny and vague flirting. And monsters. But possibly cute ones. It’s hard to tell with Roberts’s art how scary a monster’s supposed to be until it eats someone.

As usual, Manifest Destiny running just a bit longer would help–especially since Roberts is doing big panel arrangements (with lovely landscapes) to hide the brevity in the script. It’s too lean.

CREDITS

Writer, Chris Dingess; artist, Matthew Roberts; colorist, Owen Gieni; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editor, Sean Mackiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

lazarus

Lazarus 15 (February 2015)

Lazarus #15

Much of the issue–maybe even most of the issue–is a sword fight. There’s no dialogue, no description; Lark moves through the fight, sometimes showing reaction shots, sometimes working on a subplot, but the point is the two women fighting. It’s brilliantly choreographed and it shows a level of concentration from Lark, who I never thought of as a movement guy.

The story is good too, with Rucka finding space for some rather good content in the speaking parts of the comic. But the fight and visual nature of it are part of the writing too. Rucka helps the fight and gets to benefit from it and Lark gets to do this lengthy sequence.

Lazarus first surprised when it managed not to be as terrible as the beginning arc suggested, then it got really good, now it’s getting ambitious with the medium. The book is ever the constant surprise.

CREDITS

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

birthright

Birthright 5 (February 2015)

Birthright #5

Williamson has a surprise in him. Birthright has it’s big surprise, of course, the big overall one, but Williamson totally changes the series with the last scene and it’s pretty cool. Birthright, just because the concept is so defined, occasionally feels like it can’t surprise. Even when it’s really good, it’s because Williamson’s doing really well with that concept.

Not here. Here, he shows he can surprise and give the series even more depth. Very cool.

And Bressan gets a hard job–visualizing an “imaginary friend”–and does really well with it. The way the scenes work have the character staggered; on the first appearance, it seems like a big misstep for Bressan. But during the second scene, it’s clear his design is perfect.

There’s a lot of exposition during the fight scene, both from the people in the know and the people not. It’s all just fantastically well-executed.

CREDITS

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

Ghosted

Ghosted 17 (February 2015)

Ghosted #17

Ghosted feels like a much different comic book with Vladimir Krstic Laci on art. It feels like a seventies ghost comic, slick in a classical sense, not a hip sense. It works against a bunch of the book’s concepts and makes Ghosted a much more entertaining read this month. Just the way Laci breaks out the action alone changes the experience.

The issue has Jackson going over to the ghost town to fight his nemesis. It’s a lot of great talking heads because Laci makes everything feel a little uneasy and Williamson’s ominous dialogue is strong. When the supernatural does come in, Williamson and Laci handle it really well too.

I’m not sure if Laci’s the best fit for the book, which doesn’t have to be homage to seventies horror comics, but it’s a nice approach to this particular story line. It fits it better. Realistic fantastical stuff going on.

CREDITS

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

Satellite-Sam

Satellite Sam 11 (February 2015)

Satellite Sam #11

The writing on this issue of Satellite Sam is excellent. Fraction hits every subplot, sort of checks its temperature, stirs it a little, then combines a couple of them into the final scene of the comic.

There’s a lot of plotting and a lot of unfortunate choices and situations. It’s soapy without seeming too soapy. The S&M and drug abuse and swinging certainly give Sam some edge, but there’s also how Fraction approaches the subjects, sans exploitation.

This issue has some character development, a bunch of surprises, another really good scene for the black actor passing as white. He’s practically Fraction’s only sympathetic character in the whole comic. Everyone else has issues. He’s also one things distracting from the comic’s soapiness.

This issue also has Chaykin’s worst art on the comic so far. He’s getting lazy, relying way too much on bad digital effects. But, otherwise, Sam is rocking.

CREDITS

Good Morning, Good Morning; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Howard Chaykin; letterer, Ken Bruzenak; editor, Thomas K.; publisher, Image Comics.

velvet

Velvet 9 (February 2015)

Velvet #9

It’s a decent, not great, issue of Velvet. Brubaker’s resolution to his rip-off of The Rock works out a whole lot better than I would have expected; he and Epting do a nice talking heads comic with the Sean Connery (sorry, Patrick Stewart more like) telling Velvet just enough of what she thinks she knows. And Brubaker writes the hell out of the exposition. He had me trying to anticipate the twists, which I don’t usually care about.

Epting doesn’t get much action to draw–there are some flashbacks, but they’re limited; the way he draws the conversations is fantastic. His art keeps the pace on those long sequences. Brubaker can be interesting, but without engaged art, talking heads don’t work.

The cliffhanger is a let down, of course, as is the way Brubaker foreshadows the cliffhanger in the cutaway scene just before it.

Still, it’s mostly good stuff.

CREDITS

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

nailbiter

Nailbiter 10 (February 2015)

Nailbiter #10

It’s a rather good issue of Nailbiter. I’m beginning to think the problem with Williamson’s writing isn’t too many ideas (or a lack of them on the fast issues), but a pacing one. On Nailbiter, his two issues would work better as one than two. The cliffhanger aside. Or maybe muted.

This issue has the resolution to the school bus kidnapping and then a cliffhanger setting up the series for a big change. Depending on how Williamson handles it. But it’s a really good cliffhanger; Williamson leads up to it intellectually, not through forced events. He thinks his way through Nailbiter, which is what makes the book work in general.

It’s a more than silly concept, handled very realistically in terms of visual tone and character interactions, and the balance succeeds because of Williamson’s writing.

Yay, Nailbiter.

Unfortunately, Henderson is really pressed for time here. He often skips drawing faces.

CREDITS

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

cowl

C.O.W.L. 8 (January 2015)

C.O.W.L. #8

There are some definite issues with Reis’s art here. The people don’t look right; he’s maybe trying a new style and it doesn’t take. Or maybe there are just too many people to draw. The issue is a lot of talking heads scenes, no real action besides the introduction of staged supervillains.

Higgins and Siegel spend a little time with every character, which leaves C.O.W.L. feeling like it’s in need of a protagonist, or at least someone to follow through all these scenes. Instead, it’s a lot of different people and the writers handle those scenes pretty well, but it feels like a collection of subplot scenes thrown into one issue.

Not even the cliffhanger, with the supervillains attacking, has much weight. It’s kind of a treading water issue, kind of not. The writers are good with their characters and Reis’s art is mostly strong. The issue just feels slight.

CREDITS

The Greater Good, Chapter Two: Doppler Shift; writers, Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel; artist, Rod Reis; letterer, Troy Peteri; publisher, Image Comics.

bitch-planet

Bitch Planet 2 (January 2015)

Bitch Planet #2

This issue of Bitch Planet, as far as DeConnick’s technical writing goes, is amazing. It’s the best plotted, best constructed comic I’ve read in a long time. The balance of talking heads to action sequences, how DeConnick and De Landro work those action sequences out, it’s phenomenal.

But I still don’t care.

DeConnick reveals the future is a little bit Hunger Games, little bit Rollerball, little bit Running Man, all mixed in with a seventies exploitation film. The characters are amusing–oh, wait, the bad guy is even a Mr. Big-type villain–but the cast in the prison is amusing.

The best thing Bitch Planet has going for it is DeConnick’s script, which makes wonderful connections and is very gradual, very careful with how it leads the reader through the narrative. The rest of the comic is the MacGuffin. Would it be nice if it all connected?

Eh.

Maybe?

CREDITS

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

dying and the dead

The Dying and the Dead 1 (January 2015)

The Dying and the Dead #1

The Dying and the Dead sure seems like it’s got some good old fashioned zeitgeist elements to it, like the ancient protagonist who’s still an action movie badass. What would aging Hollywood actors do without mainstream “indie” comic book writers coming up with new projects for them to turn down?

Writer Jonathan Hickman does change some stuff. He’s got a Bond villain organization but they’re secretly immortal and clones and the only person who can stop them is this old guy who has a dying wife and nothing to lose. Except the dying wife, presumably. Guess they didn’t have kids.

Ryan Bodeheim’s art is really detailed and occasionally interesting to read–and the comic does go on forever (it’s a double-sized issue) so it feels very full. It’s just nothing original and nothing special. It’s decently executed, just empty.

And that title’s not going to get Liam Neeson’s attention.

CREDITS

Writer, Jonathan Hickman; artist, Ryan Bodeheim; colorist, Michael Garland; letterer, Rus Wooton; publisher, Image Comics.

tooth-and-claw

The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw 3 (January 2015)

The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw #3

Busiek finally seems to be going somewhere with The Autumnlands. It’s unfortunate he needed a human to get the story moving, but Busiek turns what appears to be a contrived new character into just the thing the series needs.

The human savior from the past is a soldier with cybernetic implants or something. I’m sure Busiek will get around to explaining; he hints at a lot of stuff here, including have the guy use slang. And speak the language of the beast. It gives the reader better access to the world of the characters.

Speaking of characters, there’s a lot of good character development this issue. Busiek concentrates, he doesn’t look around too much, he doesn’t try focusing on anyone too much. Not even the teenage dog kid who was apparently once protagonist but not anymore.

Dewey’s art is still gorgeous, with one exception. He doesn’t draw humans particularly well.

CREDITS

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

ODY-C

ODY-C 2 (January 2015)

ODY-C #2

With the second issue of ODY-C, which is definitely easier to follow than the first, it’s still unclear why one should read the comic. Unless he or she is really, really interested in Homer and The Odyssey. Because Fraction and Ward moving the story to a matriarchal galactic adventure really isn’t enough.

Not with Fraction relying on occasional curse words and breaking out of the “space classical” language of the regular exposition to wake up the reader.

For people who love Ward’s art, it might be worth it. But Fraction isn’t doing anything new here. A distant Odysseus who comes off as unlikable? No, that one’s never been done before. Fraction doesn’t have a different take on the characters, he just puts them in different clothing. And it’s not like it’s Gone With the Wind or something subtly familiar.

It’s The Odyssey. It’s been adapted for hundreds of years.

CREDITS

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