firestorm v2

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 45 (March 1986)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #45

It's funny, but George Tuska really brings the book around. He's just filling in, but Conway's got Multiplex (Firestorm's foe since the second issue of the original series) getting all the villains together–although Firestorm's rogues gallery doesn't have a clubhouse–to attack him. Or something.

But it's a very Flash, very Spider-Man story and Tuska just brings that fun, Silver Age vibe to the book. The art isn't great–some of he and Mike Gustovich's faces are atrocious–but it's got a lot of energy to it. They bring the same energy to the civilian storyline, with Ronnie and Martin both having problems at school. Ronnie because his stepmother-to-be is suing Firestorm and Martin because his sexy dean has the hots for him.

Conway's prudish portrayal of Martin–along with a chaste one of Ronnie and his girlfriend's relationship–is peculiar. He teases character development then doesn't deliver.

Still, the Tuska energy gets it through.

B- 

CREDITS

A Gathering of Hate!; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, George Tuska; inker, Mike Gustovich; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, Carrie Spiegle; editor, Janice Race; publisher, DC Comics.

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annihilator

Annihilator 1 (September 2014)

Annihilator #1

A Hollywood screenwriter discovers his creation has sort of come to life and he also has a brain tumor. The writer, not the creation.

Grant Morrison has clearly seen Barton Fink and a bunch of other movies. What originality does he bring to the idea in Annihilator? Getting artist Frazer Irving to do a lot of sex scenes? Umm… Oh, Morrison's seen Lord of Illusions too, I think.

Would Annihilator be better if it were Grant Morrison's movie reviews, with Irving illustrating? Probably. Morrison gives Irving L.A. or some other planet to draw. Irving's got a spared back style–he doesn't seem to want to work too hard on this one–and occasionally his figures remind of Corben. So the comic's interesting looking, even if none of the visuals are particularly impressive.

The Fountain. Lots of it reminds of The Fountain too.

Why read a knockoff when you can watch the original?

C 

CREDITS

Writer, Grant Morrison; artist, Frazer Irving; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editors, Greg Tumbarello and Bob Schreck; publisher, Legendary Comics.

star-trek-marvel

Star Trek 13 (April 1981)

Star Trek #13

It's another high concept issue from Pasko. He's got McCoy meeting his estranged daughter for the first time in years–she's marrying a Vulcan (a much, much older one), he's got the Enterprise landing on The Planet of the Apes and how it plays out when the Klingons get there. Pasko plays a lot with the Apes thing, working in all sorts of genre stuff from outside. For a few pages, it all feels like a mystery, and for the last few pages, Pasko goes for difficult character work.

In the meantime, there are also Klingons around causing trouble. These are post-The Motion Picture Klingons having a very television series encounter with the Enterprise crew. Pasko hits all the right notes.

Unfortunately, Joe Brozowski, Tom Palmer and Marie Severin don't exactly knock it out of the park on the art. There's some detail, but it's more consistently messy than anything else.

B+ 

CREDITS

All the Infinite Ways; writer, Martin Pasko; pencillers, Joe Brozowski, Tom Palmer and Diverse Hands; inkers, Palmer and Marie Severin; colorist, Carl Gafford; letterer, Joe Rosen; editor, Louise Jones; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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

Fury of Firestorm Annual

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man Annual 3 (November 1985)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man Annual #3

Akin and Garvey’s inks are a little better this issue. Not much, but a little. There are a lot of action sequences and most of them come off well, as does Firestorm’s trip to the sun. Martin has some theories about their powers and wants to investigate; for a moment, Firestorm feels like sci-fi and it works better for it. Conway’s engaged and imaginative.

The main story of the issue, however, just gives Kayanan an excuse to draw elaborate fight sequences in Miami. They’re fine, they’re just pointless. Ronnie and Martin get involved because they see it on TV. And Conway wastes a lot of time setting up the characters for this pointless excursion.

Well, it’s an annual so I guess it’s the special element to the issue.

The rest–Martin’s going away party at work, Ronnie’s father’s awful girlfriend–is the regular series stuff; sadly, Conway short-changes them on page time.

B- 

CREDITS

Sparx; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Rafael Kayanan; inkers, Ian Akin and Brian Garvey; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, Duncan Andrews; editor, Janice Race; publisher, DC Comics.

wild's-end

Wild’s End 1 (September 2014)

Wild's End #1

Wild’s End is supposed to be The War of the Worlds meets The Wind in the Willows. Only Dan Abnett’s approach to the quaint British townsfolk isn’t Willows, it’s a bad BBC show. There’s the sexy bruiser, there are the closeted elected officials, there are the annoying townsfolk. It’s dumb.

But End has some more problems. I.N.J. Culbard’s art isn’t anywhere near detailed enough or stylistic enough. The animal (properly attired, of course) cast is boring to look at. Culbard has no personality to the animals. Sure, doing anthropomorphized characters well probably isn’t easy but Culbard doesn’t even seem to be trying.

Some of the problem seems to be the lack of seriousness with End. Willows has, in recent years, become recognized as a work of literature and Worlds certainly has a solid reputation. Abnett and Culbard seem to be cashing in for a possible cheap CGI movie deal.

Boo.

D 

CREDITS

The Village Fete; writer, Dan Abnett; artist and letterer, I.N.J. Culbard; editors, Cameron Chittock and Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

six-hours

Hulk / Wolverine: Six Hours 4 (May 2003)

Hulk / Wolverine: Six Hours #4

Bickering. Jones concludes the series with Bruce and Logan bickering. Why are they bickering? Because Wolverine first appeared in a Hulk comic and Jones is trying to tie into their long history together? Who knows–Wolverine sure isn’t remembered for his Hulk appearance.

The resolution is tightly paced, with Jones first using humor to get through Wolverine’s fight with the Shredder. The Shredder proves disposable–a distraction from the main event of the issue, Wolverine versus the Hulk. Even the resolution to the plane crash takes a backseat to the fight.

And Kolins draws a visceral yet still amusing fight between the two. The Hulk’s foaming at the mouth at one point; Jones wisely doesn’t try for an intelligent Hulk or even a sensible one. It’s just the fight the comic has been promising since the first issue.

It’s jokey, oddly pleasant while still maintaining some toughness. Jones isn’t going for deep.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Bruce Jones; artist, Scott Kolins; colorist, Lee Loughridge; letterer, Dave Sharpe; editor, John Miesegaes; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Hawkeye

Hawkeye 20 (November 2014)

Hawkeye #20

What do the Kate Bishop Hawkeye comics read like if you haven’t seen The Last Goodbye?

Fraction wraps up Kate’s trip to Los Angeles with one of his fractured (Fraction fractures, get it? Oh, never mind) narratives–the beginning is actually a midpoint and the ending is a reference to the beginning. But it’s a finite fractured narrative and it works. He doesn’t go too far with it.

He’s always been better with Kate on the book, probably because the reader is going to identify with her read of Clint Barton as a tool. Fraction writes him as a tool after all.

There’s a lot of humor, a lot of black humor, the occasional creepy moment and some great Kate narration. Fraction doesn’t do a lot of resolution for the L.A. outing, however, which would have been nice.

Wu’s art is great.

It gets laggy but it works out swell.

A- 

CREDITS

Writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Annie Wu; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Devin Lewis and Sana Amanat; publisher, Marvel Comics.

firestorm v2

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 44 (February 1986)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #44

It’s Conway’s most ambitious issue in a long time. The first third of the issue is Firestorm versus a natural disaster–a freak tornado in Pittsburgh. Of course, Typhoon is creating the tornado to draw Firestorm out, but Firestorm doesn’t know it. Conway does a lot with the narration and the trying to use it to pace the scenes.

It doesn’t work, but it’s ambitious. Maybe if the art were better. Machlan’s inks are a mess this issue. They’re better in the superhero part, but still a mess.

The second part of the issue is Ronnie and Martin’s adventures at school. It’s just a regular day–they’re worried they can’t turn back into Firestorm but it’s barely a plot point. It’s all character development; if it weren’t for the dumb high school nemesis, it might work out.

Meanwhile, there’s the villain storyline, which Conway also handles ambitiously.

It’s decent enough.

B- 

CREDITS

An East Wind Blowing; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Rafael Kayanan; inker, Mike Machlan; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, Carrie Spiegle; editor, Janice Race; publisher, DC Comics.

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.

six-hours

Hulk / Wolverine: Six Hours 3 (April 2003)

Hulk / Wolverine: Six Hours #3

Jones maintains a great pace through Six Hours. He’s got his four plot lines going–Bruce and Logan, the villain (the Shredder, because apparently Eastman and Laird don’t know how to copyright), the captive pilot and the missing boy’s parents back in Florida. It moves really well; Jones doesn’t cover a lot of time, but he does spend just the right amount on each characters’ experiences.

Unfortunately, he also has some really goofy dialogue. And Bruce and Logan barely have anything to do in the comic. They bicker a lot. Jones isn’t big on character development and he’s even less inclined to spend any time developing his two leads. The cliffhanger, with Bruce and Logan versus the Shredder (or at least the first attack), is just silly.

Dialogue aside, it’s also silly because it’s a big action set piece on a tranquil lake. Kolins does fine on art, lake and all.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer, Bruce Jones; artist, Scott Kolins; colorist, Lee Loughridge; letterer, Dave Sharpe; editor, John Miesegaes; publisher, Marvel 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.

firestorm v2

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 43 (January 1986)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #43

What is it about Kayanan? Why does he never gets the right inker on Firestorm? Mike Machlan is better than the last couple guys, but still not great. For a lot of the pages, Kayanan seems to avoid a lot of close-ups because Machlan butchers the faces.

The story has Ronnie and Martin at college, with Ronnie adjusting to college freshman life and Martin's thought balloons covering his unease as a new professor. He doesn't really get a story, however. And Conway gives Ronnie too much. Between football tryouts, which Kayanan doesn't break out well, his girlfriend and his high school nemesis plotting his downfall… it's too much. What's really bad is how ineffectual the girlfriend is as a character; Conway basically reinvents her every seven issues.

The other plot–villain Typhoon's return–as awkward. Conway wants him to be both dangerous and sympathetic, but goes to far in the first direction.

B- 

CREDITS

Night of Tears, Sky of Sorrow; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Rafael Kayanan; inker, Mike Machlan; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, Carrie Spiegle; editor, Janice Race; publisher, DC Comics.

PROMETHEUS FIRE AND STONE

Prometheus: Fire and Stone 1 (September 2014)

Prometheus: Fire and Stone #1

Maybe doing a sequel to an in name only movie franchise isn’t a good idea. Because Paul Tobin’s script for Prometheus doesn’t have much to do with the movie. Anything yet, actually. Except the planet. It’s actually a sequel to Aliens, the movie, not the comics (near as I can tell).

Tobin sends a group of varied scientists and military personnel and some other things–no warrant officers so far–to the planet. Someone’s investigating the death of Guy Pearce from the movie but it’s set 130 years later or something because no bumping into the unmade but planned Prometheus sequel.

It’s predictable alien planet exploring. I’ll bet there’s some stuff with the goop and, hey, look, a ship of aliens from Aliens. I’m shocked.

Juan Ferreya is way too gentle for the art too.

Tobin’s script is boring and forced from the first page. Fire and Stone sinks fast.

D 

CREDITS

Writer, Paul Tobin; artist, Juan Ferreyra; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Ian Tucker and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.