ant-man

Ant-Man 1 (March 2015)

Ant-Man #1

My goodness, isn’t Ant-Man likable? Given the economics of the comic book industry, Big Two or not, it’s interesting how Marvel models their comics after the movies, even though the audience for the two is completely different.

But Nick Spencer writes a likable Ant-Man comic. It’s self-depreciating and heartwarming, with Scott Lang endearing himself to the reader through narration. Not to mention Scott’s ex-wife being a harpy but Scott doesn’t want their daughter blaming her. Spencer gets away with a lot on the likability card. But, in the end, besides the rather competent execution from Spencer and artist Ramon Rosanas, the selling point is the gimmick.

It’s about a guy who can shrink himself… what if he lived in a dollhouse? I’m sure this Ant-Man story has been told before. But why not tell it (and read it) again?

Same ant channel, same ant time.

CREDITS

Writer, Nick Spencer; artist, Ramon Rosanas; colorist, Jordan Boyd; letterer, Travis Lanham; editors, Jon Moisan and Wil Moss; publisher, Marvel Comics.

birthright

Birthright 4 (January 2015)

Birthright #4

Williamson keeps improving with Birthright. He never loses what he’s already done, but he develops further–and not with his flashbacks to fantasy land, which get tiresome (something the father realizes too, in a great scene). Instead, he’s able to reveal things about the family without having to use a flashback. It comes up in the conversation, with the older brother reminding Conan of their lives before fantasy land.

What’s particularly compelling about Birthright is how seriously Williamson takes both sides of the story. I’m dismissive of the fantasy elements because I’m not interested in them. But he’s still doing a tough story about this sword and sandal alternate reality; he never forces the tough. There’s an idealism, but a grounded one.

And the family stuff is just getting better. It’s getting so good, actually, Bressan’s a little too clean for it.

Birthright isn’t just impressive, it’s getting more so.

CREDITS

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

Robocop-Boom

Robocop 7 (January 2015)

Robocop #7

Seeing Robocop run–he gets upgraded–reminds of two things. First, it’s like running zombies. Second, it’s a little like Batman on ice skates. It’s just too much. Magno’s art is stronger than it has been in the last few issues so he’s able to tone it down and keep the action grounded, but it’s still too much.

However, Robocop being faster than a speeding bullet and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound isn’t the emphasis of the issue. The cops finally get around to going after the bad guy; Murphy gets some evidence, Lewis gets some evidence. Williamson’s Mr. Big is going down!

But not this issue. This issue has a boring hard cliffhanger.

Still, Magno does well with all the action and talking heads and so on and Williamson does really well with Lewis’s arc this issue. It’s problematic licensed property stuff, but still worthwhile.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Carlos Magno; colorist, Marissa Louise; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Alex Galer and Ian Brill; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Fade-Out

The Fade Out 4 (January 2015)

The Fade Out #4

Even though there’s sensational material in the issue, the issue itself isn’t sensational. Brubaker is very measured. He’s meticulous in the plotting, giving just enough hints and just enough callbacks to the previous issues to get to some big surprises. By the time the issue ends, The Fade Out is something of a different comic than it was before.

There are three big reasons. First, the previous issue where Brubaker changed up format. Second, the sensational material–the Red Threat in Hollywood. Third, the use of actual celebrities as characters. Brubaker’s very subtle about how he uses the last one and it works out beautifully.

And Phillips. Phillips gets some great stuff to draw this issue. Not just the period scenes, clubs, talking heads banter, but a flashback to World War II and some more information about protagonist Charlie. It might turn out to be a great comic after all.

CREDITS

The Word on the Street; writer, Ed Brubaker; artist, Sean Phillips; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser; publisher, Image Comics.

judge-dredd eagle

Judge Dredd 29 (March 1986)

Judge Dredd #29

It’s a fairly strong issue, with only one weak story–a retelling of Frankenstein, only in Mega-City One; the other three stories are good.

The first couple, with art from John Cooper, shows a kinder, gentler Dredd. The first deals with animal experimentation, the second with the plastic substance they use in the future dissolving. Writer Wagner goes for a final twist in the latter, which doesn’t do it much good (he’s thrown Dredd into a story not needing Dredd), but it’s still a good story. Cooper handles the humor of the situations and the action well.

The last story, with Brendan McCarthy art, opens with a New Year’s Eve thing, then reveals the actual story. It’s still kinder Dredd, but ruthless too.

As for the Frankenstein story–Brett Ewins does okay with the art, but it’s still weak. Wagner’s details are better than the plot.

Still, nice overall.

CREDITS

Writer, John Wagner; artists, John Cooper, Brett Ewins and Brendan McCarthy; colorist, John Burns; letterer, Tom Frame; editor, Nick Landau; publisher, Eagle Comics.

rocket-salvage

Rocket Salvage 1 (December 2014)

Rocket Salvage #1

Rocket Salvage has a lot of information and nothing going on. The story, from Yehudi Mercado, is a future world out of the The Phantom Menace and a handful of other really popular movies or TV shows. Nothing original there.

The hook–as far as the series concept goes, not as far as it being actually engaging–is a family of futuristic trash collectors. Dad’s a failed racer, Sis is super smart, Bro doesn’t have any luck with the ladies. And where’s Mom? Well, it’s a mystery.

Rocket Salvage isn’t a pilot for a Disney show, it’s a pilot for an “adult” cartoon. Just not a funny one. Bachan’s art is detailed without being interesting. His design for the comic is precise, full of animated personality and nothing exciting.

Mercado is obviously enthusiastic about Rocket Salvage. He just doesn’t seem to realize he’s got to make others enthusiastic for it.

CREDITS

Writer, Yehudi Mercado; artist, Bachan; colorist, Jeremy Lawson; letterer, Deron Bennett; editors, Alex Galer and Rebecca Taylor; publisher, Archaia.

Abigail-and-the-Snowman

Abigail and the Snowman 1 (December 2014)

Abigail and the Snowman #1

Abigail and the Snowman feels very familiar. Roger Langridge does a beautiful job with the artwork, which has a bunch of great montage sequences and sight gags. The art is great. And a lot of the writing is good. Really good. All of the writing is good, occasionally it’s really good.

Occasionally too, however, the comic feels like a fresh take on a standard situation. Abigail is the new girl at school, she has a single parent–her dad, she sort of has to take care of him, she doesn’t make friends easily. There’s nothing interesting in the ground situation Langridge is setting up. A lot of it is stale.

The titular Snowman appears towards the end of the issue. Presumably he’ll figure in more in subsequent issues…

It’s a good comic from Langridge, but it never even approaches sublime. It’s too constructed, too self-aware of its selling points.

CREDITS

Writer, artist, letterer, Roger Langridge; editor, Rebecca Taylor; publisher, KaBOOM!.

harbinger-faith

Harbinger: Faith 0 (December 2014)

Harbinger: Faith #0

A lot of Faith, the comic, not the character, comes down to her boyfriend, Torque. Being majorly behind on Harbinger, I had no idea they were dating. I never liked the character and they seem like a questionable fit, which is what the comic turns out to be–Faith realizing her place in the world.

Writer Joshua Dysart takes it seriously too. He puts enough work in so the dumb boyfriend moments like Torque feel like natural dumb boyfriend moments and not artificial ones engineered to move the plot along. They do look like those types of moments, but they aren’t. Dysart keeps the comic sincere.

Artist Robert Gill does a good job too. He doesn’t have a lot of action to do, but he handles it well when it does come up.

Dysart uses a Twitter device. It’s distracting… if only because I couldn’t stop thinking about character count.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Dysart; artist, Robert Gill; colorist, Jose Villarrubia; letterer, Dave Sharpe; editor, Kyle Andrukiewicz; publisher, Valiant Entertainment.

star-trek-planet-of-the-apes

Star Trek/Planet of the Apes: The Primate Directive 1 (December 2014)

Star Trek/Planet of the Apes: The Primate Directive #1

It’s strange, but the best thing about Star Trek/Planet of the Apes: The Primate Direction so far is Rachael Stott’s artwork. And her artwork isn’t particularly good. She does okay with people in action sequences, less with the spaceship stuff, but her talking heads are particularly interesting. She doesn’t go for photo referencing the cast of the original “Star Trek,” but she does capture the actors’ expressions.

And, given writers Scott Tipton and David Tipton are really good at approximately an episode of “Star Trek” in terms of dialogue, the talking heads scenes are rather effective. It feels as much like Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner crossing over with Planet of the Apes in the late sixties as one is going to get.

But what’s the point? So far, nothing. The Klingons go to Apes Earth and cause trouble. Big deal.

Apes is nowhere weird enough for “Star Trek.”

CREDITS

Writers, Scott Tipton and David Tipton; artist, Rachael Stott; colorist, Charlie Kirchoff; letterer, Tom B. Long; editors, Sarah Gaydos and Dafna Pleban; publishers, IDW Publishing and Boom! Studios.

theyre-not-like-us

They’re Not Like Us 1 (December 2014)

They're Not Like Us #1

Not to be too reductive, but the proper response to They’re Not Like Us appears to be “OMG! It’s like a real life X-Men.” Only, apparently, the gifted youngsters don’t use their powers for good, but for selfish reasons. Writer Eric Stephenson sort of foreshadows said youngsters–really a collection of twenty something hipsters–using their powers to harm others. Just like Professor X, the leader has rules… the first being to kill everyone who you knew before you join the team.

Will the Jean Grey-esque protagonist join with them, killing her family (who misunderstood her superpowers as schizophrenia)? Who cares. No one’s forcing me to read the comic, so I have no stake in it. Stephenson certainly doesn’t care about making his characters worth reading about.

Simon Gane’s artwork is good. A little self-indulgent, but good.

Like Us is a concept in search of a story.

B- 

CREDITS

From Despair to Where; writer, Eric Stephenson; artist, Simon Gane; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Fonografiks; publisher, Image Comics.

She-Hulk-(2014)

She-Hulk 11 (February 2015)

She-Hulk #11

Well. A She-Hulk versus Titania issue. With Volcana thrown in for good measure. It’s sort of fun, seeing Pulido do a huge fight sequence. He uses double-page spreads, half double-page spreads; it all looks pretty great.

Unfortunately, even though Soule likes writing Titania’s banter, there’s nothing to the issue. It’s an all action issue without a gimmick. Pulido drawing the fight is fine, but they end up in the middle of nowhere, which is safer for collateral damage… and visually boring. Pulido’s looking at how the fight mechanics work between the two of them. And it just makes the whole thing a little tired.

Of course the mystery bad guy is going to hire Titiana. Who else would he hire?

And there’s no real pay-off with the final reveal because Soule takes the moment away from the regular cast. It’s amusing, but thin. It’s all thin.

B- 

CREDITS

Titanium Blues; writer, Charles Soule; artist, Javier Pulido; colorist, Muntsa Vicente; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editor, Jeanine Schaefer; publisher, Marvel Comics.

star-spangled-war-stories

Star Spangled War Stories 5 (February 2015)

Star Spangled War Stories #5

Lovable. Star-Spangled War Stories and G.I. Zombie are lovable. I’m not sure if it’s what Gray and Palmiotti intend–I assume so, since they go out of their way to make the comic read like a familiar, pleasantly inventive amusement. It’s the genial procedural of comic books.

None of the details really matter–it doesn’t matter that G.I. Zombie works for the feds and isn’t a private eye–because Gray and Palmiotti just have to string together the little scenes. The great moments of the comic where the benefit of an undead hero comes in handy. There’s even time for him to catch up with an old–human–friend this issue.

It’s awesome, start to finish. Gray and Palmiotti have found something special with this approach, because it’s not a horror comic and it’s not an action comic, but it borrows from both.

And Hampton’s art looks absolutely fantastic.

A 

CREDITS

Door-To-Door Delivery; writers, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray; artist and colorist, Scott Hampton; letterer, Rob Leigh; editors, David Piña and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

cowl

C.O.W.L. 7 (December 2014)

C.O.W.L. #7

The issue starts off a little rocky. Reis gets a big action sequence and it’s all style and no substance. Then Higgins and Siegel gradually ease the substance out of that scene as the rest of the comic progresses. Because they’re now introducing the supervillains, or what goes for a supervillain in C.O.W.L. and things are getting very interesting.

There’s a lot of subplot building, between the murdered union member, the union boss making a deal with the villains, the guy getting out of the hospital. There’s a lot–so much when there’s this thing with one of the regular superheroes and a cop talking, it’s just too much to track. But Higgins and Siegel keep it in line and constantly surprising.

And Reis gets another good action sequence.

Then the cliffhanger brings in a whole other issue, since it’s a reveal no one knows but the reader.

Very cool.

B+ 

CREDITS

The Greater Good, Chapter One: At the Brink; writers, Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel; artist, Rod Reis; letterer, Troy Peteri; editor, Andy Schmidt; publisher, Image Comics.

Letter 44 13 (December 2014)

Letter 44 #13

Soule frames the issue around a speech from the President, revealing the existence of the aliens. He’s also got some scenes in space–the majority of those scenes are useless by the end of the issue–and some earthbound political intrigue.

He also has the United States and Germany going back to war and nothing happens from it. It’s an exceptionally interesting idea, one with a lot of promise, but Soule just uses Germany as this little group of villains. It’s a strange misstep, given how smart the rest of Soule’s political intrigue usually goes.

And the stuff in space isn’t great. The issue has some of Alburquerque’s best art at the beginning during a boxing match, but then the encounter with the aliens is poorly illustrated. There’s no depth or perspective to the art.

As for the aliens… Hopefully Soule has something more going than what he does here.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Charles Soule; penciller, Alberto Jiménez Alburquerque; colorist, Dan Jackson; letterer, Crank!; editor, Robin Herrera; publisher, Oni Press.