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lazarus

Lazarus 11 (September 2014)

Lazarus #11

Not a torture issue, thank goodness; instead it's a Lazarus issue with a lot of well-done political intrigue. There's not a lot of fighting, but there are some stylized stand-offs. Lark can do talking heads, he can do stand-offs. The issue's the perfect medium grade Lark–he's not stretching, but he's surpassing all goals.

Rucka gets to do political plotting related to the previous issue–the torture one–but also back to the first story arc. All of those awkward opening issues with too much melodrama have laid the groundwork for Rucka to get creative with his storytelling. His requirements are a lot different now.

There's some good character stuff with Forever, which has been a long time coming. She's slowly becoming a worthwhile protagonist instead of just an interesting character.

Lazarus has been on slow burn but it's starting to get downright reliable issue after issue. It's very solid work from Rucka.

B+ 

CREDITS

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

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prophet-strikefile

Prophet: Strikefile 1 (September 2014)

Prophet: Strikefile #1

Prophet: Strikefile, after the entire relaunched series, explains a lot of what's been going on in the comic. The writers of Prophet always let in little details about the universe, without ever doing full exposition. Strikefile simultaneously has that full exposition, but writers Simon Roy and Brandon Graham still tell it in a reserved manner. They still rely on the art to subtly infer, for example.

The issue has a lot of different artists, most of them regular artists from the series, so they know how to compose an informative Prophet page.

Roy's opening history of the universe–with Grim Wilkins on art–is so dense, the subsequent pages covering various Prophet people, places and things is all gravy.

In their exposition, Roy and Graham maintain a somewhat playful attitude; it's like they know Strikefile is extraneous but they still want to have fun with it.

And, while entirely superfluous, it succeeds.

B+ 

CREDITS

Writers, Simon Roy and Brandon Graham; artists, Roy, Grim Wilkins, Graham, Sandra Lanz,Matt Sheehan, Malachi Ward, Bayard Baudoin, Onta, Giannis Milonogiannis, Joseph Bergin III, Ron Ackins and Tom Parkinson-Morgan; colorists, Sheehan, Ward and Amy Clare; letterer, Ed Brisson; publisher, Image Comics.

copperhead

Copperhead 1 (September 2014)

Copperhead #1

Copperhead is a Western. It has sci-fi and some elements of police procedural, but it’s a Western. It opens with a new sheriff coming to town on a train and having an unhelpful deputy. It’s a Western.

And it’s a darned good one.

Writer Jay Faerber operates with a “people is people” mentality. Even though the sheriff is human, her deputy and many (or most) of the townspeople are not. Undoubtedly, Faerber will explore the different alien races, but their personalities are what’s strongest now. So while artist Scott Godlewski draws all manner of aliens–cute, scary, in-between–Faerber’s writing defines them.

Well, and Godlewski’s great attention to expression.

Faerber gets a lot done, giving the sheriff a nemesis and a couple cases. She’s also got a kid who just can’t help being helpful. Again, very Western.

I wasn’t expecting anything from Copperhead but it’s an awesome comic.

A 

CREDITS

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

nightworld

Nightworld 2 (September 2014)

Nightworld #2

The second issue of Nightworld has even better art than the first. Leandri doesn’t have as many things to draw, but his huge chase sequence between the hero demon and the speed demon adversary is fantastic. There’s a lot of the speed demon on a cross-dimensional treasure hunt with a nice Raiders homage.

The only problem would be McGovern’s script. There’s a lot of humor in it, but none of it is particularly funny. The grandfather in the supporting cast sort of talks in puns and vague rhymes. Is it amusing? It’s cute, not sure about amusing. Definitely not amusing enough to carry a scene.

And the speed demon gets tiresome rather quickly too. Nightworld has a disconnect–the writing is nowhere near as strong as the art and scenes can be simultaneously gorgeous and exasperating.

But McGovern does mean well and he’s got a lot of enthusiasm. It evens out.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Adam McGovern; artist and letterer, Paolo Leandri; colorist, Dominic Regan; publisher, Image Comics.

Southern-Bastards

Southern Bastards 4 (September 2014)

Southern Bastards #4

What a surprise ending!

Except for Aaron tacking on the epilogue so as to set up the next arc. Aaron’s giving the illusion of doing something original while really not; with the epilogue on there, he even retroactively makes it predictable. The reader can go back and look for all foreshadowing to the big surprise.

All that foreshadowing is actually in Aaron’s attention to writing. It’s really good writing as far as the narration goes. It’s just not particularly good plotting. Aaron seems to be assuming his readers haven’t read lot of books or read a lot of his books because the narrative devices are similar to ones he’s used in the past.

And while a new arc is starting next issue, Aaron’s shown his hand as far as how manipulative he’s going to write. If the point is the tricks he can play, what’s the point?

Great art though.

C 

CREDITS

Here Was a Man, Conclusion; writer, Jason Aaron; artist and colorist, Jason Latour; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editor, Sebastian Girner; publisher, Image Comics.

god hates astronauts

God Hates Astronauts 1 (September 2014)

God Hates Astronauts #1

I'm not sure God hates astronauts, but I'm getting the feeling he hates me. Or I just hate myself. There's no other reason I would subject myself to God Hates Astronauts.

It's a somewhat difficult comic to talk about because Ryan Browne's art is truly fantastic. His composition, his detail–his visual narrative chops aren't great but it's because his narrative is atrocious.

God Hates Astronauts reads like if Beavis and Butthead wrote a comic book. Browne's storytelling sensibilities are pretty simple–bestiality is funny. Anything related to it is funny. You don't actually have to be funny–you just reference bestiality and something is funny.

If, for whatever reason, bestiality doesn't make something funny, you have someone swear. Because swearing is funny.

God Hates Astronauts isn't offensive. It's too poorly written to be offensive. Everything is a setup for a joke, usually involving bestiality or swearing. Maybe God just hates bad writing.

F 

CREDITS

A Star is Born; writer and artist, Ryan Browne; colorist, Jordan Boyd; letterer, Chris Crank and Browne; publisher, Image Comics.

cowl

C.O.W.L. 4 (August 2014)

C.O.W.L. #4

Stéphane Perger joins Reis on the art this issue; their styles compliment one another, but are still distinct. The art is both more stylized and emotive over all and it helps the issue immensely.

As for Higgins and Siegel’s story, it’s phenomenal. They’re apparently comfortable enough in C.O.W.L. to let some subplots rest without getting full recaps and minimal motion. There’s some quiet family drama, there’s some quiet relationship drama. It’s all very quiet; even though it’s about the superheroes picketing the police department.

Real quick–the picket lines meet a predictable conclusion when it’s one law enforcement agency picketing and another one not. Higgins and Siegel find a whole lot to talk about this comic and not much of it has to do with flying men. They aren’t turning C.O.W.L. into a history lesson, they’re instead using it as a discussion piece about history.

The comic’s really shaping up well.

A- 

CREDITS

Principles of Power, Chapter Four: Unity; writers, Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel; artists, Rod Reis and Stéphane Perger; letterer, Troy Peteri; editor, Andy Schmidt; publisher, Image Comics.

Wayward_01-1

Wayward 1 (August 2014)

Wayward #1

Wayward is awful. I wish it weren’t, because Steve Cummings’s art is awesome. With the single exception of the teenage girl protagonist looking about the same age as her mother. But otherwise.

So why is Wayward so bad I can’t even stick with it for the art?

Writer Jim Zub. Unless he’s trying to do a “girl power” comic with some deceptive objectifying of women and some really bad dialogue, all the writing is a disaster. Every word. Down to Marshall Dllon’s lettering choices.

The dialogue sounds like a combination of protracted, insincere soap opera expository writing and poorly translated subtitles. At times, Wayward really does feel like Zub is trying to mimic a bad subtitle job. There are some goofy plot developments–like the fantasy ninja girl wanting strawberry milk.

As for the sexism, Zub’s characters are generic, predictable fetish objects. Sadly, Zub’s serious and not mocking the genre.

D 

CREDITS

Writer, Jim Zub; artist, Steve Cummings; colorist, John Rauch; letterer, Marshall Dillon; publisher, Image Comics.

Wicked-+-Divine

The Wicked + The Divine 3 (August 2014)

The Wicked + The Divine #3

Something is a little off this issue. Gillen has maybe run out of establishing stuff to do and he’s getting underway with the actual story. This young woman investigating the gods and just happening to see some amazing stuff like a god-fight.

The fight, which is full of banter between the gods, is just filler. Gillen’s strengths on the comic clearly aren’t going to be the investigative scenes and this issue doesn’t have much besides those. Except the protagonist and her sidekick recapping what they know at the end. It doesn’t go over well either.

A lot of the problem is McKelvie. Most of the issue feels like someone trying to carefully mimic his style and even when it does feel like him… it feels very rushed. And without solid art, Wicked + Divine’s problems start to show. You start looking behind the curtain for the Wizard.

It’s too bad.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer, Kieron Gillen; artist, Jamie McKelvie; colorist, Matthew Wilson; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editor, Chrissy Williams; publisher, Image Comics.

manifest destiny

Manifest Destiny 9 (August 2014)

Manifest Destiny #9

There's just enough disgusting creativity to pull the issue through–even if it's far from original. Dingess still has he problems with pacing and plotting, but he does get around to a few characters this issue. He's got Clark and a bunch of people stranded, while Lewis tries to figure out how to get rid of the giant monster frog. So there are a few scenes for Lewis, but a lot for the landing party.

Clark actually doesn't get much to do until the end of the issue. Instead, there's a new friend for Sacajawea and then some more rumblings of mutiny. But the big thing (pardon the pun) has to be the giant insects; they bring back Manifest Destiny's pulse in the second half of the issue.

Dingess writes some good scenes for the cast, he's just taking too much time on everything. Roberts's art can't carry the comic alone.

B 

CREDITS

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

Stray Bullets: KIllers

Stray Bullets: Killers 6 (August 2014)

Stray Bullets: Killers #6

Well, it’s far from the worst issue of Killers. It’s more with Virginia and her mostly lame boyfriend Eli; Lapham does very little to show why Eli’s any good as a boyfriend other than he’s usually sweet to Virginia.

This issue has him not being sweet for the first time and it’s an awkward scene. Usually outburst scenes in Stray Bullets lead to some kind of murder scene. This time it leads to teenage angst.

It’s also one of the first issues–Killers or regular series–where something turns out not to be the worst possible scenario. Except maybe some of those early Virginia issues where Lapham frequently threatens her to keep the tension high. It’s a Stray Bullets comic without the big finish. Very odd.

The art’s really lazy at times; Lapham rushes through the talking heads sequences and it hurts the comic. Ditto the narratively pointless hallucination subplot.

B- 

CREDITS

99 Percent; writer, artist and letterer, David Lapham; editors, Renee Miller and Maria Lapham; publisher, Image Comics.

Fade-Out

The Fade Out 1 (August 2014)

The Fade Out #1

The Fade Out is the story of a Hollywood screenwriter in the 1940s. Ed Brubaker writes the comic’s narration in really close third person. Between Brubaker–who has his fair share of writing predictable twists–and the protagonist–who would probably write even more of them–one of them should have noticed the utterly predictable nature of this issue.

The writer wakes up next to a dead body. Is there any chance he could have something to do with the dead body–a young starlet whose picture he’s working on? He sure doesn’t think so and Brubaker sure tries to make it seem like he’s not involved but guess what… you probably don’t have to guess if you’ve ever seen a single film noir.

I’m being a little hard on the comic, which is well-researched and beautifully illustrated by Sean Phillips. It’s recycled material–James Ellroy deserves an “inspired by” credit at least–but professionally, thoroughly presented.

B 

CREDITS

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

A review of a Starlight comic book, a series published by Image Comics.

Starlight 5 (August 2015)

Starlight #5

I didn’t realize Starlight was a limited series. I guess it makes sense, given the creative team, but Millar sure didn’t pace it well for a finite run. Subplots would have been cool. I just thought he was padding it out.

This issue is all action. There’s a minute amount of character development for Duke, but it’s really just old man action movie stuff and it’s fine. Millar writes it well enough and Parlov draws it beautifully. It’s too bad Millar’s plotting isn’t better because most of the action takes place in a gas fog and all the activity is in long shot.

The tediously setup cliffhangers have the supporting cast in shackles and Duke on his way to save them. Duke surviving an off-panel death might be a spoiler but Millar doesn’t actually present it as a possibility. It’s a narrative trick.

They’re all tricks, but effectively executed.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer, Mark Millar; artist, Goran Parlov; colorist, Ive Svorcina; letterer, Marko Sunjic; editor, Nicole Boose; publisher, Image Comics.

Ghosted

Ghosted 12 (August 2014)

Ghosted #12

I’m having a little trouble counting the reveals in this issue. It’s either three or four. Two of the biggest ones come before the end of the issue and then the cliffhanger reveal doesn’t even have the inkling of context. Williamson is having some fun.

This issue is setup for the next arc–with Goran Sudzuka continuing on art–and Williamson goes all out. There isn’t just a little setup, it’s the entire issue. He opens with a ghost event out in the world and follows up on it, ties it into the discussion, for the end of the issue. It’s not cliffhanger material, just interesting material.

But while he’s doing all this setup, Williamson is moving his protagonists forward. It calls back to previous issues, but the comic is essentially a soft boot. It works out rather well.

Even the most hackneyed character comes off as charming and vibrant.

B+ 

CREDITS

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