Review of a The Incredible Hulk comic book, a series published by Marvel Comics, written by Bruce Jones.

The Incredible Hulk 75 (October 2004)

The Incredible Hulk #75

Here I thought Darick Robertson and Tom Palmer on the art would help….

It does help for a while. But the issue’s double-sized and once Doc Samson shows up, maybe a quarter of the way in, the art starts sliding.

Jones reveals the mastermind behind all of Bruce Banner’s troubles. It gets sillier when the villain explains all of it; the ludicrousness of Jones’s conspiracy doesn’t hold up well under examination.

There’s a slightly interesting gimmick, which Jones shuts down so he can bring back the supporting cast. I’m not sure how Nadia–just a regular small business owner in Nevada or somewhere–can get to L.A. in a matter of hours to help save the day. Worse, Tony Stark is around to hang out with Doc Samson. Wouldn’t it make more sense for Tony to help as Iron Man? Or maybe call the Avengers.

It’s a lousy comic.

D- 

CREDITS

Wake To Nightmare; writer, Bruce Jones; penciller, Darick Robertson; inker, Tom Palmer; colorist, Raul Trevino; letterer, Randy Gentile; editors, John Miesegaes and Axel Alonso; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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Daredevil150

Daredevil 1.50 (June 2014)

Daredevil #1.50

I'm really glad Mark Waid cares so much about Daredevil to craft the comic, and Matt Murdock, such a sweet story for the fiftieth anniversary of the character. It's a nice story. It's also completely pointless.

Waid tells a future story with Matt Murdock as former mayor of San Francisco (or something) and gives him a crisis to resolve–some mystery villain has made most of the city blind, including little Jack Murdock. Mom is a mystery but Foggy's around. He's probably supposed to be fifty too. He looks like a thirty year-old.

The story is slight and saccharine. Javier Rodriguez and Alvaro Lopez's art's decent, never anything more.

Then, to amplify the self-indulgence, Brian Michael Bendis does a text piece with Alex Maleev art. Comic book text pieces are real bad. Every time.

Finally, Karl Kesel and Tom Palmer do something goofy. It's bad, but they appear to enjoy themselves.

C 

CREDITS

The King in Red; writer, Mark Waid; penciller and colorist, Javier Rodriguez; inker, Alvaro Lopez. My name is Stana Morgan…; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; artist, Alex Maleev; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth. The Last Will and Testament of Mike Murdock; writer and penciller, Karl Kesel; inker, Tom Palmer; colorist, Grace Allison. Letterer, Joe Caramagna, editor, Ellie Pyle; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Review of an Atari Force comic book, a series published from January 1984 to August 1985 by DC Comics.

Atari Force 7 (July 1984)

Atari Force #7

The series is definitely back on track. Not only does Conway come up with a way to utilize all seven principal cast members in the issue, he also comes up with a very amusing turn of events.

Before getting to any of these plot developments, he opens with Tempest’s father going over to the bad guy’s spaceship in what he thinks will be an exchange. In this sequence, Conway makes it very clear the father, Martin, is the action hero of the series. Conway hadn’t utilized him well enough before. All of a sudden the character seems interesting on his own and not as an appendage of the surfer dude son.

There’s a lot of humor too. Dart and Pakrat are good comic relief, though the psychic gets the best jokes. Not many, but good ones.

It’s once again imaginative work from Conway, with some fantastically rendered pages from García-López.

B+ 

CREDITS

Counter Attack; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, José Luis García-López; inker, Ricardo Villagran; colorist, Tom Ziuko; letterer, Bob Lappan; editor, Andy Helfer; publisher, DC Comics.

manifest destiny

Manifest Destiny 6 (April 2014)

Manifest Destiny #6

It’s a decent issue with some great art sequences from Roberts–the explorers are fighting plant zombie wildlife after all–but it moves too fast. Dingess seems too concerned with keeping things moving and keeping to his narration structure to really relax and enjoy.

This issue, for example, once again has Sacajawea kicking butt. Only Dingess is too busy showing Lewis and Clark’s side of the event, which involves hallucinations, to let the reader enjoy the butt-kicking. The script sometimes makes Roberts’s art feel stunted. Who knows, maybe it’s the other way around and the art’s a stunted rendition of the script.

But I doubt it.

Still, the baseline quality of Manifest Destiny is undeniable. It remains to be seen whether Dingess is going to achieve something amazing for the series or be satisfied being above average.

The characters, who Dingess does give good attention, deserve more ambitious plotting.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Chris Dingess; artist, Matthew Roberts; colorist, Owen Gieni; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editor, Sean Mackiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

Review of a The Incredible Hulk comic book, a series published by Marvel Comics, written by Bruce Jones.

The Incredible Hulk 74 (September 2004)

The Incredible Hulk #74

I don’t like finishing a comic wondering what the heck I’ve just read. Getting through this issue of Hulk isn’t just troublesome because of the incredibly uneven art–Braithwaite and Reinhold spend the least amount of time on the big fight between Hulk and Iron Man–but through the constant stupidity.

Jones boils down his resolution to a confession, which doesn’t make much sense. Of course, having the drama hinge around Tony Stark having a suicidal girlfriend with a lock-picking, would-be amateur assassin brother doesn’t make much sense either.

Then there’s poor Bruce Banner. What’s he doing this arc? Following Tony around mostly. Only neither character has a real arc. Tony’s is superficial, Bruce is just a spectator. Jones doesn’t spend any time on Bruce outside him helping with the experiment.

There are numerous false endings too. It’s easily the worst issue Jones has done on the title.

F 

CREDITS

Big Things, Part Four; writer, Bruce Jones; penciller, Dougie Braithwaite; inker, Bill Reinhold; colorist, Rainier Beredo; letterer, Randy Gentile; editors, John Miesegaes and Axel Alonso; publisher, Marvel Comics.

sons-of-anarchy

Sons of Anarchy 8 (April 2014)

Sons of Anarchy #8

There’s a lot of lovely art this issue. It’s a hard story–most of the leads are in jail, the women are being threatened on the outside, but Damian Couceiro–with the able help of colorist Michael Spicer–manages to embrace the hardness while still being stylishly appealing. About the only time the art doesn’t work is when there’s too much artificial pacing to it, like for the cliffhanger.

Ed Brisson’s script moves nicely between prison and the outside world. He focuses on the characters, leaving himself a little space for tension relieving humor, but Sons of Anarchy is a serious book without room for much in the way of jokes. It’s still a very odd licensed property but Boom! executes it well.

Again, I still haven’t seen the show, yet Brisson’s able to get the reader immediately engaged with the characters and their troubles.

It just ends too fast.

B+ 

CREDITS

Writer, Ed Brisson; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Michael Spicer; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Review of an Atari Force comic book, a series published from January 1984 to August 1985 by DC Comics.

Atari Force 6 (June 1984)

Atari Force #6

García-López returns to full duties and Force gets back on track. Mostly. Conway seems to be influenced by Star Wars–and I’m intentionally using the passive voice, because I doubt he really meant to rip-off going on to the Death Star with some plot accouterments.

Dart and Tempest have to go over to the bad guy’s ship–the bad guy also looks a little too much like a space knight (or Sith Lord); it’s a neat design but it’s way over the top. Unless DC was hoping to sell toy licenses. Anyway, they’re on his ship, the rest of the team is on the regular ship. There’s drama. It’s good.

Conway’s really utilizing the estranged father and son relationship, with Dart thrown in as an awkward sort of sibling. Given there’s a telepathic psychologist on the team, a little much exposition on that subject… but it’s good.

The comic flows quite well.

B 

CREDITS

A Meeting With Life and Death; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, José Luis García-López; inker, Ricardo Villagran; colorist, Tom Ziuko; letterer, Bob Lappan; editor, Andy Helfer; publisher, DC Comics.

lumberjanes

Lumberjanes 1 (April 2014)

Lumberjanes #1

I wish Lumberjanes was better. The first issue definitely shows promise, but it’s missing something. Unfortunately, what it’s missing seems to be a connection between the writing and the art.

Brooke Allen’s art is hyperactive and intense. The comic takes place at a girls camp where one cabin of girls is obviously going to get into trouble. Only they’re apparently getting into trouble with mystical creatures and their cabin leader isn’t in on it but the camp director knows about the creatures. Allen has a great time with all of it.

But writers Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis are writing too slow for the art. They don’t maintain an adequate level of humor and they let their characters disappear without exuding enough personality. Allen can make up for some of it on the art, but not if she doesn’t have the material in the script.

I’m still hopeful, but guardedly.

B- 

CREDITS

Writers, Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis; artist, Brooke Allen; colorist, Maarta Laiho; letterer, Aubrey Aiese; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, BOOM! Box.

Review of a The Incredible Hulk comic book, a series published by Marvel Comics, written by Bruce Jones.

The Incredible Hulk 73 (August 2004)

The Incredible Hulk #73

Watching Braithwaite try to do depth in panels gets painful fast. Bruce is pointing at Tony Stark in one panel and the hand is at exactly the same depth as his body. Maybe it’s Bill Reinhold’s inks, but there’s something definitely off with the art.

Also off is the story. Bruce Banner is still helping Tony Stark on a government contract. There’s a third scientist on the project and he’s mad at Tony, then there’s the guy who Tony’s holding hostage (he did try to kill him so apparently it’s okay). Throw in a Playmate who plays waitress to everyone and Jones has set up a really disturbed version of “The Real World.” Oh, and they’re all stuck in the Stark mansion.

Lousy dialogue and bad characterizations don’t help things. Bruce isn’t just different from the rest of Jones’s run, he’s different from the last issue.

Jones’s checked out completely.

D- 

CREDITS

Big Things, Part Three: Shock Waves; writer, Bruce Jones; penciller, Dougie Braithwaite; inker, Bill Reinhold; colorist, Rainier Beredo; letterer, Randy Gentile; editors, John Miesegaes and Axel Alonso; publisher, Marvel Comics.

asylum

John Carpenter’s Asylum 5 (April 2014)

John Carpenter's Asylum #5

It isn’t enough for there to be one exorcism this issue, Jones has to flashback to a previous exorcism. The flashback does get some of the back story between the priests out of the way, which is good, but it’s a whole lot of demonic art. Manco has almost nothing to draw except demons in various stages of upset this issue.

As for Jones, for the most part he’s just got to write priests saying lines out of Exorcist movies. Not particularly heavy lifting for him. Manco at least has a lot to do. There’s a double-page spread of angels and demons–it’s totally useless as far as narrative value, but it’s very detailed work from Manco.

There are some big plot developments and big things for cast members. Unfortunately, there’s so little concern for the cast it doesn’t really matter who’s in danger.

Besides Manco, Asylum’s running near on empty.

C- 

CREDITS

Writers, Bruce Jones, Sandy King and Trent Olsen; artist, Leonardo Manco; colorist, Kinsun Loh; letterer, Janice Chiang; editor, King; publisher, Storm King Comics.

Review of an Atari Force comic book, a series published from January 1984 to August 1985 by DC Comics.

Atari Force 5 (May 1985)

Atari Force #5

There seem to be some pages missing, like the scene where Martin talks his kid into stealing a space craft. His estranged kid.

Conway glosses over that problem, along with the one where Martin convinces his shrink to commit treason to join his mission. The mission, to save the world, isn’t revealed until over halfway through. Seems somewhat unlikely people who sign up without some idea. They do steal a huge spaceship after all.

Multi-dimensional ship, but you get the idea.

There’s not much time for the characters, though the huge baby alien character gets a couple nice moments and the action’s not bad. It reminds a little too much of Star Wars for a moment but not bad.

Conway seems to be setting up the series for high adventure. He doesn’t quite promise it, which might be good since this issue doesn’t deliver any.

The comic harmlessly underperforms.

C+ 

CREDITS

Dark Dawn; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Ross Andru; inker, José Luis García-López; colorist, Tom Ziuko; letterer, Bob Lappan; editor, Andy Helfer; publisher, DC Comics.

Shotgun Wedding

Shotgun Wedding 1 (April 2014)

Shotgun Wedding #1

Shotgun Wedding is “Spy vs. Spy” with hormones. It opens up with a jilted bride, implying she’s just a girl from Nevada who likes her assault rifles. Then writer William Harms jumps forward four years to introduce the jilting bride groom. He’s an international assassin or something. Probably a good guy, based on the accent of his target.

There’s some back story showing how bloody the girl makes things, with Harms showing past events to make the reader worry about the guy’s new fiancée and his invalid mother. It’s really cheap, derivative stuff from start to finish.

Edward Pun’s art is simple, black and white, stylized. He’s definitely trying to do things with the action, to tell a scene in the most engaging way possible. That effort doesn’t go unnoticed. It’s counter to Harms’s standard, unambitious script.

Worst, Harms seems to think being mean is the same thing as funny.

C 

CREDITS

Writer, William Harms; artist, Edward Pun; letterer, Troy Peteri; editor, Betsy Gonia; publisher, Top Cow Productions.

Review of a The Incredible Hulk comic book, a series published by Marvel Comics, written by Bruce Jones.

The Incredible Hulk 72 (July 2004)

The Incredible Hulk #72

Deodato has some kind of painted thing going on. It’s not good and it’s often unclear what’s going on–and there are real problems with montage–but at least he’s not doing the little panels for big action.

The issue continues with the Iron Man guest appearance. There’s a strange fight scene where Bruce is in Iron Man armor fighting Tony. Because Tony wants to prove his innocence regarding a girl who committed suicide. It makes no sense; Jones’s editors must have been napping.

Even though Bruce Banner is front and center again, but Jones is more using him as an add-on to an Iron Man story. And the Iron Man story is bad. Jones doesn’t have much insight into Tony as a character; none of his actions make sense. He’s just around for the murky art crossover.

The crossover is a complete misfire. Jones has lost his grip.

D 

CREDITS

Big Things, Part Two: Strange Bedfellows; writer, Bruce Jones; artist, Mike Deodato Jr.; colorist, Rainier Beredo; letterer, Randy Gentile; editors, John Miesegaes and Axel Alonso; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Rover Red Charlie

Rover Red Charlie 4 (February 2014)

Rover Red Charlie #4

Ennis utilizes a very effective device this issue–he has such a great last scene, it overrides the issue’s problem. What problem? Three things happen the entire issue.

One of the friends tries cooking duck, the friends meet an army dog, the friends meet an infected dog. Three things. Ennis drags out the army dog meeting, which doesn’t really service much purpose other than to show how different dogs think. Of course, that level of examination seems more appropriate for an ongoing, not a limited series.

He also makes an effort to hint at whatever has driven the humans crazy. There’s no place in the series to give an answer to the reader–the narrating dog realizes he’s been on his own long enough he wants to know why, but it’s for him (and he wants to know why about many things now).

It’s still good and thoughtful, just slight.

B 

CREDITS

Walked Off to Look for America; writer, Garth Ennis; artist and colorist, Michael DiPascale; letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.