tales of honor

Tales of Honor 5 (October 2014)

Tales of Honor #5

There’s some great stuff in the issue, specifically where Hawkins describes how space battle works between ships. He does some quick, but detailed exposition, then carefully maneuvers the dialogue to reinforce what the reader already has passing familiarity with. It works out very well.

And the issue, which takes place over an hour or two, works out. It’s tense and compelling, with Hawkins never giving any comic relief. There’s no relief valve for the tension, except maybe through the art, which is never good enough to transport the reader to the battle. There are some good establishing shots in the issue, for double-page spreads, but it’s otherwise the same weak Jeong art as always.

The problems come at the end of the issue, with Hawkins wrapping things up too quickly. He’s been telling a story directly related to the bookends and not clear enough about the important connections throughout.

B 

CREDITS

On Basilisk Station, Part Five; writer, Matt Hawkins; artists, Sang-Il Jeong and Linda Sejic; letterer, Troy Peteri; editor, Besty Gonia; publisher, Top Cow Productions.

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batgirl-35

Batgirl 35 (December 2014)

Batgirl #35

It's the all-new Batgirl, which is mostly just a "Veronica Mars" in college where Babs solves hip crimes–the supervillain this issue is hacking phones and putting the embarrassing private information online. Why? Because he's a bad guy. And he's got a cybernetic brain and can hold his own with Batgirl in a fight.

Writers Cameron Stewart and Brendan Fletcher write a painfully hip comic for hip comic reading college girls, but they do so with fervor and a real understanding of how to tell a story. For all the visual, modern gimmicks, this issue of Batgirl is just seventies DC Comics updated. The dressing is just a little different.

Babs Tarr's art is fine–Stewart handles the page layouts. Stewart and Fletcher do it like an episode of "Sherlock" how Babs sees the world with her photographic memory.

It feels a little too like Kate Bishop Hawkeye but it's successful enough.

B 

CREDITS

Burned; 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.

copperhead

Copperhead 2 (October 2014)

Copperhead #2

How can this comic be so good? Faerber keeps up the fantastic mix of sci-fi and Western in the second issue, with a couple plots. The sheriff's son is in trouble in the desert from giant bugs, with the neighbor girl, and a mysterious protector (calling him Ishmael is a cute touch from Faerber).

So that plot is mostly danger, with Godlewski's art concentrating on keeping the reader on edge. The giant bugs aren't clear at first, they get introduced all. It moves very fast.

The investigation is the other plot, the sheriff and deputy Boo. The best moment in the comic is when Faerber reveals Boo isn't stupid; he's smart, but looks stupid and slow. It's a great, quiet scene in the issue.

There are some new characters, some unexpected scenes with already introduced scenes; Faerber just writes them all wonderfully and Godlewski's art is perfect for it all.

A 

CREDITS

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

birthright

Birthright 1 (October 2014)

Birthright #1

If the first issue is an indication, Birthright is going to be a trip.

Writer Joshua Williamson has a big twist at the end–the story of a missing child who returns as a grown, savage warrior out of a fantasy world–but the better stuff is how he’s handling the regular characters. The back and forth between the family is great, especially how Williamson is carefully positioning the older (but not anymore) brother as the protagonist. He’s the one who’s had to be literally responsible for his father but also monitoring the mother.

Williamson opens the issue with the child going missing, showing the family in the happier days. It also seems like he’s going to try for some science with the child’s return.

Andrei Bressan’s art is a little slick, but his composition and visual pacing are both strong.

The cliffhanger’s an obvious one, but Williamson sells it.

B+ 

CREDITS

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

Ghosted

Ghosted 13 (September 2014)

Ghosted #13

Williamson keeps this issue in constant motion. Even the expository scenes are in motion–with both Williamson and Gianfelice putting the emphasis on keeping things moving. The pace is important because Williamson needs to get in an unexpected turn regarding the villain of the arc before the cliffhanger.

On the way to that cliffhanger, there’s time for Jackson to bond with his new crew, the old witch who gives them information and the ghost hanging over his shoulder. Williamson maintains a certain level of danger throughout, but it’s always relatively funny… if dangerous. The issue does open, after all, with Jackson basically revealed as doubly impervious to physical and magical threats.

Given the reveals in the last few pages, the issue probably qualifies as a bridging issue but Williamson does such a good job with the trip across said bridge, it never feels like it.

Ghosted is a sturdy read.

B 

CREDITS

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

big trouble

Big Trouble in Little China 5 (October 2014)

Big Trouble in Little China #5

Big Trouble isn't exactly in big trouble yet, but Carpenter and Powell's plotting is definitely getting long in the tooth. The comic opens with a very funny trip through various hells; this trip seems like it should be setting up the showdown between Lo Pan and Jack Burton. But it doesn't.

Instead, Jack is on the road again, this time with a different sidekick. If Powell and Carpenter's plan is just to send Jack away from Chinatown with one person and then back to pick up another, it needs to be handled a lot more obviously. This issue is also the first without some funny and slightly disquieting flashback to Jack's past.

It's a fine enough issue–and Churilla does get some excellent action sequences–but the series has stalled out a bit. It remains to be seen if there's anywhere for the comic to go… all of a sudden, seems not.

B 

CREDITS

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

gotham academy

Gotham Academy 1 (December 2014)

Gotham Academy #1

Gotham Academy manages to be entirely competent without being compelling at all. Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher do a good job setting up the series–they go through the cast, making sure to make supporting players just memorable enough (the fireworks dealer, for example)–while raising questions about the protagonist.

Said protagonist is Olive, who is at Gotham Academy on the Wayne Scholarship. So she knows Bruce Wayne–she even sees Batman standing in his place sometimes when groggy–and she's got a sort of ex-boyfriend and she's the mentor to his little sister. It's all very formulaic, all very melodramatic, all very well handled from Cloonan and Fletcher.

Karl Kerschl's art is fine. He brings a lot of personality to the cast, getting their emotions across.

Gotham Academy is better than I would have thought, but there's still nothing special about it other than it being a decent young, female protagonist DC comic.

B 

CREDITS

Welcome to Gotham Academy; writers, Becky Cloonan and Brendan Fletcher; artist, Karl Kerschl; colorists, Geyser and Dave McCaig; letterer, Steve Wands; editors, Matt Humphreys and Mark Doyle; publisher, DC Comics.

Dream-Thief-Escape

Dream Thief: Escape 4 (September 2014)

Dream Thief: Escape #4

Nitz closes up the limited with just enough good will. Galusha doesn’t hack the talking heads scenes any better than he does the action scenes and there are lots of both this issue. All of a sudden Dream Thief has these ineptly composed sequences, something the comic just can’t support.

The fault isn’t entirely Galusha’s either; Nitz seems like he’s ready for the Escape series to be done. He rushes through the big action finale, something he’s been promising for all four issues of this series and even hinted at during the first series. He hasn’t introduced much of a supporting cast this series and, as he closes it down, he’s setting Dream Thief up for a much different continuation.

And, thanks to Galusha’s unfamiliar–and inconsistent from page to page–art, it seems like a perfectly good idea.

It’s too bad this series wasn’t great, but good enough works.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Jai Nitz; artist, Tadd Galusha; colorist, Tamra Bonvillain; editors, Everett Patterson and Patrick Thorpe; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Dream-Thief-Escape

Dream Thief: Escape 3 (August 2014)

Dram Thief: Escape #3

Things take an unexpected turn when John’s sidekick takes him hostage (after he’s been possessed). It’s a bit of a spin on the Dream Thief standard but Nitz also has a new artist on the book–Tadd Galusha–and everything feels a little different.

And not just because Galusha draws everyone too squat.

Nitz turns the possession into more of a gimmick than ever before this issue, even though there’s not a lot to do with it for a while. He forecasts the gimmick in the flashback, with John’s dad having a sweet moment with his family before rocketing from the house following an unintended snooze.

Galusha composes all the panels just fine… but he doesn’t have enough sense for the violence. While peculiarly stylistic, it feels unresponsive. Galusha doesn’t bring the series’s despondence (even if the script does) and the result is lacking.

It’s still pretty good, of course.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Jai Nitz; artist, Tadd Galusha; colorist, Tamra Bonvillain; editors, Everett Patterson and Patrick Thorpe; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

sally-of-the-wasteland

Sally of the Wasteland 3 (October 2014)

Sally of the Wasteland #3

Gischler slows down a little too much this issue. Not enough to hurt Sally’s momentum exactly, but enough the cliffhanger feels protracted.

The ship gets attacked again, the cast is shipwrecked again. Gischler and Bettin don’t draw any attention to the similarities–and it does make sense, given the world is full of aquatic mutants (in this issue, they’re cannibals) but there’s only so much Bettin can do with shipboard action sequences.

The issue does move things forward–though somewhat confusingly–for Sally and her crush. Gischler takes an odd approach to the supporting cast–they’re immediately memorable and well-drawn, but they’re really just background to Sally and whoever else is important in a scene. The supporting cast is texture not possible subplots.

The abrupt cliffhanger kills the tone of its scene. But, otherwise, solid stuff.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Victor Gischler; artist, Tazio Bettin; editor, Tom Williams; publisher, Titan Comics.

men of wrath

Men of Wrath 1 (October 2014)

Men of Wrath #1

What if the Punisher was a mob assassin who killed babies? What if he had a son who was in trouble with the mob? What if their last name was Rath? Wouldn't it be cool to have a hard-boiled crime comic called Men of Wrath, since they're both men and their last name is….

I sort of tuned out on this first issue when writer Jason Aaron ripped off one of the more famous lines from Unforgiven. I'm pretty sure Aaron has ripped it off before, for one of his other comics about poor people, probably in the South, behaving badly.

The comic does offer some thoroughly decent art from Ron Garney though. It's not great, because Garney's figures are big and thick and somewhat unbelievable and his action is a little too static, but it's fine.

The comic's generally fine too. It's a waste of time, sure, but generally fine.

C 

CREDITS

Among the Sheep; writer, Jason Aaron; artist, Ron Garney; colorist, Matt Milla; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editor, Sebastian Girner; publisher, Icon.

Fade-Out

The Fade Out 2 (October 2014)

The Fade Out #2

Brubaker goes all over the place in the second issue of Fade Out. There's a bunch of stuff with protagonist Charlie's secret partner and best friend–and the way Brubaker narrates from a close third person on Charlie is phenomenal–but there's a lot at the movie studio too.

Not to mention the scenes with Charlie and his friend's wife or Charlie and the dead girl. Those scenes are just great. Brubaker doesn't do anything with the murder investigation; the comic doesn't feel like a too gimmicky noir, it feels like Brubaker trying to figure out this story and it's often great.

Overall, there are some problems towards the end because there's still the narrative–it's still about this dead girl and protagonist Charlie's involvement in it. But Brubaker's emphasis on the cast and making sure the texture of the setting comes through, not to mention Phillips's illustration of those things, is great.

B 

CREDITS

The Death of Me; writer, Ed Brubaker; artist, Sean Phillips; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser; editor, David Brothers; publisher, Image Comics.

Letter-44

Letter 44 10 (September 2014)

Letter 44 #10

It's an okay issue. It's not a great one, probably not even a good one. Soule coasts on a lot of good will and a lot of promise of what's to come–misunderstandings with the aliens, possible American-backed terrorism, the First Lady stepping out for a vote–and he doesn't actually do much here.

In addition to the promise, there's also a lot of action art from Alburquerque–and more of his lame futuristic army armor. There's energy to the art, but very little control and the sequences become visually boring rather quickly. Alburquerque can't do the big reveals in Soule's script either. He's got two, one physically small, one physically large, and both of them completely bomb.

Letter 44 is about big events and small events… Soule tries too hard to big events this issue. Telling it small doesn't do any good. It's a way too manipulative issue as it turns out.

B- 

CREDITS

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