Let’s see. Of all the lame turns in this issue, I think Tefé all of a sudden being old enough to form questions is the worst. She’s concerned about Alec, who has rooted in his sorrow at Abby’s leaving him.
Abby, meanwhile, has already found a new romantic interest thanks to Constantine. It’s all very contrived–and unclear how the new guy is a better choice for her than Chester, except maybe he’s taller. Collins is all of a sudden cheapening the relationship between Alec and Abby. It’s unclear why, especially since it’s requiring her to make big changes in the characters. Not just as how others wrote them, but how she herself did.
Oh, and Arcane is possessing Sunderland. It combines Swamp Thing’s two main villains, but removes half the personality. It’s a really lame move, like all the other ones this issue.
The comic’s become a train wreck.
Marital Problems; writer, Nancy A. Collins; penciller, Scot Eaton; inker, Kim DeMulder; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, Vertigo.
The issue reads a little like “Wilson Taylor: Year One.” Gross and Carey give him a decent origin story, set in the trenches of World War I. Carey concentrates on the soldiers’ experience, hitting all the effective standards, but making them tie into Unwritten.
Actually, the questions he raises about stories, perceptions and reality during war are really interesting ones. He probably could get a decent limited series out of the concepts.
Gary Erskine’s art is good. The battlefields are either obviously frightening or Erskine just infers it. There’s a lot of refocusing but Erskine makes Taylor distinct enough to stand out.
The comic has a haunting quality. Even with all the magic, nothing compares to the lunacy of the war. Carey nicely lets Taylor revolt to jar the reader into paying attention. It’s a very serious issue. I don’t think Carey even goes for a smile. Well, maybe one.
The Whisper Line; writers, Peter Gross and Mike Carey; artist, Gary Erskine; colorist, Lee Loughridge; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Joe Hughes and Karen Berger; publisher, Vertigo.
Oh, Langridge is just having too much fun now. He reveals the narrator–Groucho Marx. It’s a hilarious little detail; it doesn’t make any sense yet (how he’s omniscient but he’s Groucho so who cares). There also might a slight Return of the Jedi nod as far as Betty’s outfit goes.
It’s a slower issue than normal, as Cliff has to figure things out. He’s not racing after Betty with believable speed–Langridge writes the characters differently. Cliff is a bit of a dunce. Betty’s the smarter one, which makes her constant peril an interesting contradiction.
The hero is the damsel in distress.
Even the villain’s big reveal scene works beautifully. Langridge and Bone work beautifully together.
The film has a lot of the Golden Age Hollywood feel to it. That Hollywood setting permeates throughout; it’s one of Langridge’s finest achievements on the book. He never forcibly includes the details.
In the Soup; writer, Roger Langridge; artist, J. Bone; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.
What’s so funny about this issue is how Collins clearly thinks she’s telling it from Abby’s point of view. Besides the physiologically unlikely scene where Alec cries, most of the comic–the significant bits anyway–follows Abby. And Collins also does have Chester perv on her. Literally a moment after she has a big fight with Alec. No wonder Liz left him.
Oh, and Collins does touch on Abby abandoning Tefé. Alec mentions it and Abby tells him not to “throw it in her face” or something to that effect. But she never talks about it. If Collins were telling the story from Abby’s point of view, her decisions would make sense. They might not seem rational, but they would make sense from the character’s viewpoint.
But not here.
It’s a weak issue. Luckily, with Eaton’s hit or miss (mostly miss) art, it almost never reminds of good Swamp Thing.
She’s Leaving Houma; writer, Nancy A. Collins; penciller, Scot Eaton; inker, Kim DeMulder; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, Vertigo.
Perker’s finishes over Gross lead to a somewhat different look for the book. Besides Tom looking more like an action movie star than a twenty-something, there are some weird panel transitions. It’s not bad art, it just doesn’t feel like Unwritten at times.
It’s a combination of an action issue and a revelation one. The leader of the Cabal’s a good Bond villain who explains everything–multiple times–and there are a lot of explosions.
Carey weaves in a surprise–cheating, since the characters know about it but the reader doesn’t, but it plays well. Tom’s maturing as a character, the exposition is good, Lizzie and Richie have a good time. It’s a fine issue, but it just doesn’t wow.
It’s like Carey was giving more thought to the concurrently running .5 issues and letting the main story run on autopilot. Good material, smooth sailing, but not really engaging.
Tommy Taylor and the War of Words, Part Four; writers, Peter Gross and Mike Carey; pencillers, Gross and M.K. Perker; inker, Perker; colorist, Chris Chuckry; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Joe Hughes and Karen Berger; publisher, Vertigo.
Langridge really embraces the Thin Man tie-in. It’s without names, instead of him doing thinly veined homages. It’s a nice touch, sending Betty off on her own adventure without Cliff.
Actually, Betty’s got the much bigger story. She’s the one who has figured out there’s some creepiness with the Scientologist Cthulhu fan–sorry, Cosmicist–while Cliff’s basically just running around dumb. He’s on the run from Howard Hughes’s guys, who want to bring the jet-pack in for a tune up.
There’s some more great work from Bone this issue. He’s got a lot of Rocketeer action, some great reaction shots between Cliff and Betty; that whole vibe, from cartoon broadness to comic strip focus, continues here, if not amplifies.
While Langridge does follow the general IDW Rocketeer continuity, Hollywood Horror never feels forcibly tied in. They’re creating their own thing; so far, better than anyone else has done.
These Troubled Times; writer, Roger Langridge; artist, J. Bone; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.
Is Eaton trying visually infer romantic feelings between Chester and Abby? It’s the first such occurrence and I’m sure it’s unintentional, but it’s far more interesting than anything else this issue.
Except maybe the stuff with Tefé. When she gets tough towards the end of the issue, Collins writes the scene rather well. Otherwise, the issue’s a mess.
One character dies in front of a sheriff, who doesn’t even file a report, then Abby runs off in the middle of a huge tragedy. She abandons Tefé, which seems somewhat unlikely. Then there are all the scenes with the giant petal monster. They don’t work because it’s viciously killing a bunch of people instead of being a fun giant monster fight.
It’s not the worst issue Collins has written lately, but it’s far from good or even mediocre.
And Swamp Thing still rocking his inexplicable, dumb-looking, shaggy grey hair cut.
Daisy Chain; writer, Nancy A. Collins; penciller, Scot Eaton; inker, Kim DeMulder; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, Vertigo.
This issue’s exceedingly good. These .5 issues really do give Carey the ability to show off his talent; even though they relate to the main series, they don’t rely upon it fully. This issue’s about a soldier stationed at a great estate in the eighteenth century.
The story eventually ties into the regular Unwritten world, but for a while it’s just straight historical fiction. Carey shows the soldiers’ lives, he establishes their personalities, and then he lets his protagonist loose. And the protagonist gets himself into trouble.
The resolution to the issue, which features the big tie-in, is great. Peter Gross is really hesitant when it comes to visualizing the fantastic in this issue. It doesn’t have a place in the story, not how Carey’s telling it; Gross’s visualizations match the mundaneness. There’s never any glamour to it.
Carey, Gross and Vince Locke turn in a particularly great issue.
From The Lives of the Marionettes; writers, Peter Gross and Mike Carey; pencillers, Gross and Vince Locke; inker, Locke; colorist, Lee Loughridge; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Joe Hughes and Karen Berger; publisher, Vertigo.
In the past, I think I’ve referred to J. Bone as some kind of Darwyn Cooke wannabe. I take it back. I regret making those statements, though Hollywood Horror seems to be a breakthrough for him.
He mixes old animation styles with comic strips to wonderful success. Even though she’s cartoony, Betty’s anger is real (and, since it’s Betty, her figure voluptuous). Cliff might be a square-jawed hero, but he’s real too–panic, excitement, aggravation.
As for Roger Langridge’s script, it’s unsurprisingly divine. There’s humor, there’s a fantastic “dear reader” narrative device, there are cameos from Nick and Nora Charles. Langridge and Bone also throw in a Einstein stand-in and some Lovecraft.
It’s fast and fun, with some amusing Rocketeer heroics–which the creators use to subtly add in direct references to the subplots.
There’s a lot going on–too much to even identify the main plot yet.
The Rocketeer vs. the Hollywood Horror; writer, Roger Langridge; artist, J. Bone; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.
Collins can’t write a fight issue, especially not one where she desperately needs one side to win to progress Swamp Thing. Or maybe it should have gone the other way. She’s got Alec fighting clone Alec. Regular Alec now looks grey with antlers, clone Alec is the traditional green Swamp Thing.
They fight for seventy-five percent of the comic, then Alec ends the fight in a page. He just didn’t know his elemental powers.
It’s really lame and not just because Collins has made Alec so unaware of himself he’s a painful protagonist. The other lame things involve a former Nazi gubernatorial candidate trying to take Tefé away (through the law). It’s both odd and inept, with Collins’s attempts at social commentary flopping.
The best part of the comic is how fast it reads. I am not entirely which of the many options I would pick for worst part.
Home Body; writer, Nancy A. Collins; penciller, Scot Eaton; inker, Kim DeMulder; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, Vertigo.
Something’s off about the art this issue. I can’t tell if it’s Gross or Perker, but something’s definitely off. Tom looks like a bland underwear model.
This issue features Tom’s assault on the Cabal. Lizzie and Richie both tell him he’s going too fast, which is also advice for Carey. There’s quick montage of Tom invading the headquarters–as the Cabal prepares their counterattack (based on Pullman’s obtuse advice)–but it’s rushed. No one seems like they’re enjoying themselves, particularly not Carey.
The issue gets some mileage out of Tom beating up the bad guys with magic–which Carey’s been hinting at for thirty issues–but the issue runs out of gas long before the finish.
Carey’s disinterest suggests the arc itself is for bridging, not just the issues. He needs to get Unwritten somewhere else and he’s not enjoying taking it there.
Even worse, Carey totally forgets Frankenstein’s Monster.
Tommy Taylor and the War of Words, Part Three; writers, Peter Gross and Mike Carey; pencillers, Gross and M.K. Perker; inker, Perker; colorist, Chris Chuckry; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Joe Hughes and Karen Berger; publisher, Vertigo.
Adequate is probably the best word for this issue. Stokoe doesn’t actually do much with the idea of space monsters. It’s just a big monster fight issue–Godzilla, Mechagodzilla, Ghidorah and Gigan–with a little of the protagonist. He pilots Mechagodzilla, which should work but he’s too busy fighting monsters to narrate.
And Stokoe doesn’t do much interesting with the art. Giant monsters fighting in Antarctica actually doesn’t give him a lot of opportunity for his level of super detail.
Still, Half-Century War is now the stick by which to measure Godzilla stories, comic or otherwise. Stokoe cracked the formula. Danger and fear. He doesn’t even worry about scale–why would Stokoe’s somewhat realistic Mechagodzilla have glove attachments instead of the systems being internal?.
As for the ending… Stokoe goes for cinematic and doesn’t have the pacing. He wastes pages, doesn’t have good time progression.
Like I said, adequate.
The End of the World, 2002; writer, artist and letterer, James Stokoe; colorists, Stokoe and Heather Breckel; editor, Bobby Curnow; publisher, IDW Publishing.
I don’t remember Swamp Thing ever having a costume change before. Except for special occasions, like when he went through space or time. Collins and Eaton give Alec a costume change, complete with rock star hair and spikes… it’s awful and it’s dumb. Even though Alec can travel from place to place, he can’t grow his body in some other way.
More of Collins’s convenient power limitations for the character.
Most of the issue is spent getting Alec well again after the toxic waste. He meets some elves and they use magic to fix him up; he looks funny because of the elf magic. Collins’s pacing of the issue is atrocious. The introduction of a strange race reminds of the old Wein clockmaker children issue except Collins grossly misspends the issue’s time.
And these days, it’s always bad when Swamp Thing reminds of older issues. Collins’s stuff is never better.
Folk Remedy; writer, Nancy A. Collins; penciller, Scot Eaton; inker, Kim DeMulder; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, Vertigo.
Going into The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West, I didn’t realize it was an indie(er) attempt at a Zenescope cheesecake comic. Actually, it’s not clear until the last page. Until then, it’s just lame. The cheesecake factor makes it a lot less ambitious as a property.
Writer Tom Hutchinson recasts Dorothy in the girl with no name role, traveling from town to town with her horse, Toto, and some ruby guns. It doesn’t have to be bad, but Hutchinson’s dialogue is atrocious. He’s got Dorothy talking in long exposition to the horse for the first few pages. It’s mind-numbing.
The artist, Allisson Borges, is okay. Her medium and long shots are good. The closeups aren’t though and eventually there’s a lot of talking and closeups. But the composition’s all right and it does read fast.
Besides Hutchinson, the big problem’s Kate Finnegan’s colors almost ruin the art.
Writer, Tom Hutchison; artist, Allisson Borges; colorist, Kate Finnegan; letterer, HDE; publisher, Big Dog Ink.