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Judge Dredd 13 (November 1984)

Judge Dredd #13

Wagner finishes the Chief Judge Cal storyline. There are a couple surprises before the end, with Wagner in something of a hurry. Smith doesn’t get much space on the art, which is unfortunate, but he uses the space he gets really well at times. It’s a satisfactory conclusion, but the denouement is way too abrupt.

The next story has Dredd contending with a block where people are reverting back to apes. Wagner gets a lot of good jokes in, especially with how he writes the misadventures of the affected residents. But he’s just as sympathetic when things go really bad. It’s an excellent story, with wonderful art from McMahon. He does well with the ape people in action.

The last story, with Alan Grant and Kelvin Gosnell writing, is a little obvious. Dredd is suspicious of an amusement center where people act out their violent urges.

Overall, it’s fine stuff.



Writers, John Wagner, Alan Grant and Kelvin Gosnell; artists, Ron Smith and Mike McMahon; colorist, John Burns; letterer, Tom Frame; editor, Nick Landau; publisher, Eagle Comics.

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Kinski 4 (February 2014)

Kinski #4

So now the action moves to the RV park, or RV gathering–it’s unclear how it’s working but the RVs aren’t parked in any sort of sensible way. Not to harp on it, it’s just strange. And the sidekick even says he needs to leave to get back to real life.

This issue is when Kinski goes from being real and strange to just being strange. It’s a tragedy now, with contrivances just to make the plot move. Bad luck following around the protagonist, who gets almost nothing to do this issue–except his action scenes. And an issue like this one, set over a half hour or less, it just… it’s too slight again.

There’s a good scene at the open with the dog owner, with Hardman taking a moment away from the missing dog (in the RV park) main plot. Its writing has personality, the rest… far less.



Writer and artist, Gabriel Hardman; publisher, Monkeybrain Comics.

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Judge Dredd 12 (October 1984)

Judge Dredd #12

It’s a surprisingly awesome issue, with Wagner giving Dredd a big dumb sidekick, but one with a lot of character and comic relief value. They have to get back to the surface (Dredd and company escaped underground), so there’s a decent action sequence when Wagner brings them up against some other judges.

He also explains why the rest of the judges are falling in line with evil, crazy Chief Judge Cal. It’s sort of obvious and should have been handled better, but once Wagner has it out of the way, the rest of the issue’s smooth.

Especially once the focus turns to Dredd’s annoying robot. Wagner is able to follow it through the evil judges’ side of the story and since Chief Judge Cal is crazy, it’s very amusing. His jokes are a lot less forced now.

There’s some great art from Ewins at the end too.

Real good issue.



Writer, John Wagner; artists, Brian Bolland, Garry Leach, Ron Smith and Brett Ewins; colorist, John Burns; letterer, Tom Frame; editor, Nick Landau; publisher, Eagle Comics.


Kinski 3 (September 2013)

Kinski #3

It’s the equivalent of an action issue for Kinski. Hardman resolves the previous issue’s cliffhanger, putting the protagonist and his friend back on the road. There’s some slight character drama–and a way too obvious plea for exposition from the friend–before Hardman gets to the rest stop.

Because they’re stuck in traffic; I forgot they were stuck in RV traffic. It’s a little much, though the image of the one car amid a bunch of RVs does seem like a gritty Far Side cartoon or something.

Hardman doesn’t have much in the way of character work or action this issue. All the character stuff is forced and when he finally does get to a silent scene, it’s the action scene. There’s no talking, but there’s no character work in the art, just running. Lots and lots of running.

Hardman’s timing for the panels is great… the issue’s just slight.



Writer and artist, Gabriel Hardman; publisher, Monkeybrain Comics.

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Judge Dredd 11 (September 1984)

Judge Dredd #11

Somehow, even though Bolland and McMahon alternate the chapters in this issue–so it’s always very clear when moving from one to the next–the story flows a lot smoother. Maybe because Wagner has gotten into the middle of the story, he’s established the lunatic rule of Chief Judge Cal. He’s moving through instead of building up.

He also focuses a lot less on Dredd and his plans. Instead, it’s mostly Cal and his lunacy, though without as many new absurd jokes. Or, if there are absurdities, Wagner backgrounds them instead of bringing them out front as his focus. It works much better.

And Cal’s lunacy gives McMahon a real chance to show off. In the craziest parts of the issue–usually involving Cal having an episode, sometimes on the air, sometimes just for his weary supporting judges–McMahon just goes wild. It looks great.

It’s a sturdy, steady issue.



Writer, John Wagner; pencillers, Brian Bolland and Mike McMahon; inkers, Bolland, Garry Leach and McMahon; colorist, John Burns; letterer, Tom Frame; editor, Nick Landau; publisher, Eagle Comics.


Kinski 2 (June 2013)

Kinski #2

The strangeness of Kinski continues. Hardman sort of wraps the narrative around itself, with the protagonist going back to the same motel from the previous issue, having another encounter with one of the dog’s actual owners. But these similar situations play fresh, thanks to all the character work Hardman does on his protagonist.

And that character work, which Hardman is doing mostly in art, not in dialogue, is one of Kinski’s most striking qualities. It’s a character study masquerading as a more traditional epical story, with Hardman doing the former in the art and the latter in the narrative. Hardman’s not a mad scientist, but he’s definitely experimenting with traditional comic storytelling.

For the most part, the art is outstanding. Hardman never rushes himself; the panel compositions and layouts are great. Until the last scene, where he ends with a full page spread after rushing the previous page.




Writer and artist, Gabriel Hardman; publisher, Monkeybrain Comics.

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Judge Dredd 10 (August 1984)

Judge Dredd #10

This issue reads a lot smoother, with Dredd again a fugitive, leading the revolt against the crazy new chief judge. Unfortunately, Wagner goes for absurdity at every turn–the new chief judge is so crazy he appoints a fish as his deputy–and it’s never believable the other judges would follow the new leader with such blindness. It’s almost like Wagner saw he couldn’t make the story work straightforwardly, so he introduced the lunacy to at least make it funny.

And there are a couple decent comic moments but there’s also a lot of laziness.

Of the three pencillers, Brett Ewins does the best on his pages. He captures the mania of Wagner’s script and the enthusiasm helps a lot. The pacing gets the better of McMahon, who handles the beginning of the issue (and the setup); he can’t keep up.

If Wagner had fuller scenes, it’d probably work better.



Writer, John Wagner; pencillers, Mike McMahon, Brett Ewins and Brian Bolland; inkers, McMahon, Ewins and Garry Leach; colorist, John Burns; letterers, Tom Frame and Jack Potter; editor, Nick Landau; publisher, Eagle Comics.


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.



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

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Judge Dredd 9 (July 1984)

Judge Dredd #9

It’s something of a lackluster issue.

The opening resolves the Cursed Earth storyline, but it’s the final chapter and probably should’ve somehow been fit in with the rest of the Cursed Earth issues. Especially since it’s extremely anticlimactic, though Mills does attend the character relationships he’s developed.

Then Wagner takes over with Dredd on trial, followed by Dredd as a fugitive, followed by Dredd redeemed, followed by Dredd versus a conspiracy. The compiled nature of the series comes through way too much–every few pages it stops and starts, sometimes going in a wildly different direction.

And Wagner’s characterization of Dredd, who’s shouting off one-liners, seems too forced. Wagner’s characterizations of the rest of the cast is similar–he’s rushing. There are some occasional high points, like Dredd’s showdown with a robot duplicate, but otherwise it’s a problematic outing. The constant Dredd in danger cliffhangers get tiresome really fast.



Writers, Pat Mills and John Wagner; pencillers, Brian Bolland, Brendan McCarthy and Mike McMahon; inkers, Bolland, Dave Gibbons, Brett Ewins and McMahon; colorist, John Burns; letterer, Tom Frame; editor, Nick Landau; publisher, Eagle Comics.


Batgirl 36 (January 2015)

Batgirl #36

It’s another solid issue, with Babs stumbling onto a crime on campus. Stewart and Fletcher also introduce a few more supporting cast members–the issue ends with a sitcom-like tag with all of them, sans Dinah, who’s clearly a guest star. It gives Batgirl a nice feel, though the more impressive stuff comes just before.

Babs’s investigation leads her to a showdown with the bad guys, which is the second action scene in the comic. Between two action scenes and a lot of character stuff for Babs–not to mention Batgirl investigating–it’s a full comic book. The plotting is fantastic.

And, slowly, it’s starting to come together. Stewart, Fletcher and artist Tarr are trying really hard to establish Batgirl as a hip, yet incredibly competent comic book. Unfortunately, Babs is the single aspect of the book without a lot of character yet. She’s indistinct; getting better, but indistinct.



Tomorrow Cries Danger; writers, Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher; pencillers, Stewart and Babs Tarr; inker, Tarr; colorist, Maris Wicks; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editors, Dave Wielgosz and Chris Conroy; publisher, DC Comics.

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Judge Dredd 8 (June 1984)

Judge Dredd #8

The resolution to the Las Vegas cliffhanger is a little lame. Dredd just happens to get there in time to challenge the sitting judge and there just happens to be a good resistance movement in place to help out. The whole subplot–the mob being the corrupt judges of Vegas–is weak anyway.

But then Mills does a long flashback of Tweak (the alien) and his full story. It’s a nice diversion, leading to some nice character moments in the present action, as well as some affecting ones in the flashback. It’d be the highlight of the issue, if not for the finale.

There’s a contrived battle scene in Death Valley. Dredd and company versus war robots. The setup stinks and the actual sequence is fantastic. Great pacing and writing also make up for the art getting too confused.

Although the open is rough, the issue turns out quite well.



Writers, John Wagner and Pat Mills; pencillers, Mike McMahon and Brian Bolland; inkers, McMahon, Dave Gibbons and Bolland; colorist, John Burns; letterers, John Aldrich, Gibbons and Tom Frame; editor, Nick Landau; publisher, Eagle Comics.


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.



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

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Judge Dredd 7 (May 1984)

Judge Dredd #7

It’s Dredd versus a dinosaur. Not just any dinosaur, but the offspring of the dinosaur from the early issues of 2000 AD. Mills spends more time writing from the dinosaur’s perspective than he does from Dredd’s, which makes for a vaguely annoying, while still engaging enough outing.

The pacing is off in this one though, with the episodic origin of the story too obvious. Dredd’s story stops and starts with the dinosaur stuff. Mills likes it way too much considering it’s so goofy. Except his flashback to the origins of modern dinosaurs reads a lot like Jurassic Park, just twelve years early.

Then Wagner takes over for Dredd in Las Vegas, which ends up being the issue’s cliffhanger. Everyone in Vegas bets on everything; it doesn’t seem particularly insightful, but McMahon’s art has enough energy to get it through. Ditto the first part; without McMahon’s eccentricities, the issue’d stall out.



Writers, Pat Mills and John Wagner; artist, Mike McMahon; colorist, John Burns; letterers, Tom Frame and John Aldrich; editor, Nick Landau; publisher, Eagle Comics.

big trouble

Big Trouble in Little China 6 (November 2014)

Big Trouble in Little China #6

And Big Trouble is back. Powell is setting up a new storyline, but he’s also back with his core cast–or maybe just developing his core cast. It feels less like a direct sequel to the movie and more like a real one.

Maybe just because Powell finally gets to explaining what’s going on with Gracie Law, who was inexplicably missing from the first story arc–until now–but also because he’s developing. He’s developing Miao Yin (the kidnapped girl from the movie) and the friendship between Jack and Eddie.

The humor’s stronger too. Powell holds on to jokes and gets all the laughs he can from them; there are also fish people and dumb bikers. The only place where Powell stumbles is with the new villains–men in black–but not significantly.

Churilla gets a lot stuff to draw–the fish people–and some good action.

It’s good again.



Writers, John Carpenter and Eric Powell; artist, Brian Churilla; colorist, Lisa Moore; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Alex Galer and Ian Brill; publisher, Boom! Studios.