Flash Gordon

Flash Gordon 6 (October 2014)

Flash Gordon #6

Parker does a great job with the Arboria adventure–with Dale getting to hang out with some Hawkmen and then rescue Flash and Zarkov on her own. There’s a lot of personality for the Arborians–well, the people with the wings, less so for the sirens who don’t have wings. Parker keeps it relatively simple; maybe too much so, but it’s Flash Gordon and it works with simplicity.

He resolves the cliffhanger, moves into Dale’s adventure, has some good laughs at Flash and, especially, Zarkov’s expenses and then brings in Vultan. Now, he and Shaner don’t do a lot of obvious Flash Gordon: The Movie references but something about Vultan’s introduction just screams Brian Blessed. It’s a wonderful touch.

The final has a too abrupt cliffhanger, but then there’s some nice epilogue art with Ming from Greg Smallwood. And Parker’s finally giving Ming some real personality.

It works out well.

A- 

CREDITS

Writers, Jeff Parker and Jordie Bellaire; artists, Evan Shaner and Greg Smallwood; colorist, Bellaire; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Nate Cosby; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

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ms-marvel-2014

Ms. Marvel 9 (December 2014)

Ms. Marvel #9

It’s secret origin of Kamala Khan time. Does she particularly need a secret origin? Maybe. But the way Wilson brings in the Inhumans–they’re not quite deus ex machina, but they’re a very convienient way to tie Ms. Marvel into big Marvel publishing events–doesn’t take advantage of anything.

Wilson literally beams Kamala, her admirer and Lockjaw over to Inhuman City for a quick expository scene with some decent Star Wars jokes. Much better than the Star Wars joke later in the issue, when Kamala returns to her nemesis’s hideout to free the kids. It’s a messy scene, leading to a pat cliffhanger. Wilson doesn’t have the issue plotted well at all.

Worse, Alphona’s artwork doesn’t work out–not in the opening cliffhanger resolution at the high school and not later when Kamala’s talking to her parents. The panels are too busy, too full.

It’s fine, but definitely not standout.

B 

CREDITS

Generation Why, Part Two; writer, G. Willow Wilson; artist, Adrian Alphona; colorist, Ian Herring; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Devin Lewis and Sana Amanat; publisher, Marvel Comics.

transformers-vs-gi-joe

Transformers vs. G.I. Joe 3 (September 2014)

Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #3

Something very bad happens this issue of Transformers vs. G.I. Joe. It becomes inane. Writers Scioli and Barber don’t exactly stop giving characters arcs of their own, they just get rid of having the overall issue story have anything to do with characters.

It’s full of annoying big action moments too, where Scioli lets the art get too confusing and never takes his time with anything. The issue gets worse as it goes along too, as Scioli and Barber continuously make bad choices.

It’s unfortunate. But maybe the concept just couldn’t work out to an actual comic book series. The characters are all so obnoxious, only the end of the world from the attacking Megatron would make them sympathetic. And, even then, not because of any work the writers do, but maybe Scioli could make it work.

As is, however, the comic has prematurely run its course. It’s a shame.

D 

CREDITS

Writers, Tom Scioli and John Barber; artist, colorist and letterer, Scioli; editor, Carlos Guzman; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The-Society-of-Super-Heroes

The Multiversity: The Society of Super-Heroes 1 (November 2014)

The Multiversity: The Society of Super-Heroes #1

Besides the awkward bookends, which writer Grant Morrison seems to be writing as close to pulp as possible, The Society of Super-Heroes is an excellent Multiversity tie-in. Chris Sprouse is the perfect artist for the time period–it’s set in the forties or fifties, with some familiar heroes in newly designed, functional, period appropriate garb.

Morrison is real fast when it comes to establishing the characters–the Al Pratt Atom and Doc Fate get about the most attention–and there’s a mix of pulp sensibility and old science fiction magazine stories. It works out pretty well in the setup, but then Morrison and Sprouse get to the action and nothing else really matters. The comic is fast and entertaining.

There’s some rather nice work in the dialogue too, with Morrison handling the large cast through brief expository dialogue.

Until the really lame, tying to the greater event denouement. Until then, it’s quite good.

B 

CREDITS

Conquerors from the Counter-World; writer, Grant Morrison; penciller, Chris Sprouse; inkers, Karl Story and Walden Wong; colorist, Dave McCaig; letterer, Carlos M. Mangual; editor, Rickey Purdin; publisher, DC Comics.

Ghosted

Ghosted 14 (October 2014)

Ghosted #14

Williamson finally finds a great cliffhanger for Ghosted. What’s so strange about it is how it continues the trend of somehow being either too intimate or too grandiose; but maybe for the first time he’s got his lead in real, scary danger. Ghosted is a supernatural heist story and Jackson is the mastermind and Williamson has spent the series setting him up as being smarter than everyone else.

So finally putting him in an impossible situation and having it work? Great cliffhanger.

The rest of the comic is excellent, opening with various action sequences–Anderson in angry ghost form is awesome–before getting into some character level arguing. There’s not a lot of room for character development this issue, but Williamson does at least acknowledge it a little in the dialogue asides. There’s no time for a break.

And then the conclusion… starts quiet, gets loud. It’s one of Williamson’s best issues.

B+ 

CREDITS

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

sons-of-anarchy

Sons of Anarchy 14 (October 2014)

Sons of Anarchy #14

Brisson wraps up the arc wonderfully. Everything comes to a collision, there's lots and lots of action, lots and lots of violence. So much violence and action, in fact, it becomes very hard to follow the art. Couceiro just has too many bikers to draw and Michael Spicer's colors are so dark, it's difficult to keep them apart.

So, even though Couceiro's art is strong as usual, it's the reason the issue isn't a total success. Too many pages have to ride on momentum to get through the visual confusion. Brisson has reminders throughout scenes and so on–and the cuts back and forth between sets of characters is good–but there are just too many players in motion. Eventually, people start getting lost.

But it all does wrap up and it's impressive how Brisson makes it happen. He intricately plots these arcs and the pay-off makes it all worthwhile.

Great comics.

A- 

CREDITS

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

chilling adventures of sabrina

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 1 (December 2014)

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #1

For Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa takes a very serious approach. It works well with artist Robert Hack, who does horror well, but also does creepiness and the period–Sabrina is set in the fifties and sixties–well too.

So while there's that classic horror look from Hack, Aguirre-Sacasa works in just enough humorous reference to the anticipated Sabrina comic–her cat familiar chastising her, Sabrina using her spells to meet boys, her cousin being obsessed with rock and roll–to give this new variation a personality.

The comic does open far more traditionally, with Sabrina's origin and her father and a scene out of Rosemary's Baby involving her mother, but the second half is where it really gels. Aguirre-Sacasa quickly establishes the Sabrina character as she enters high school, even if her aunts do take an unevenly reduced role.

The cliffhanger's iffy, but very effective visually.

The comic works out well.

B+ 

CREDITS

The Crucible, Chapter One; Something Wicked; writer, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa; artist, Robert Hack; letterer, Jack Morelli; editor, Jamie Lee Rotante; publisher, Archie Comics.

transformers-vs-gi-joe

Transformers vs. G.I. Joe 2 (August 2014)

Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #2

Even though I can remember having some of the toys–or wanting them–I can’t remember the name of the Transformers planet. But all the action takes place there, with Lady Jane leading an attack force of Joes who are trying to green the planet to take out the evil robot aliens.

Barber and Scioli’s script takes the regular G.I. Joe and Transformers mythology into great account, but there’s also an element of humor involved with how they present the absurdity of the situation. It creates a fantastic tone–it’s never realistic, but they throw in seriously vocabulary to show they know it can’t be taken too seriously.

It’s an all-action issue, with some big reveals at the end–but still no Autobot team-up with the Joes–and Scioli has some wonderful art. My favorite has to be Lady Jane zooming on a motorcycle, jumping off a Transformer.

B+ 

CREDITS

Wheeljacked; writers, Tom Scioli and John Barber; artist, colorist and letterer, Scioli; editor, Carlos Guzman; publisher, IDW Publishing.

war stories

War Stories 1 (September 2014)

War Stories #1

Garth Ennis is back with more war stories–this time appropriately titled War Stories–and he’s off to an excellent start. The first arc of the new series has him covering an American flier in Britain in a bomber; well, the flier doesn’t actually get into a mission yet, with Ennis instead concentrating on his experiences before his first mission.

Then the first mission takes an unexpected turn or two.

Ennis writes in first person from the protagonist, talking about all the things he’s seeing as he journeys across the United States and then to Britain. There’s muted culture shock, there’s character development, there’s attention to detail. It’s excellent writing and Ennis obviously takes it very seriously.

Matt Martin’s art works out too. He has good composition and attention to period detail. Those pluses make up for the occasionally loose physical traits on people. Great tone though.

It’s outstanding stuff.

A 

CREDITS

Castles in the Sky, Part One of Three; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Matt Martin; colorist, Digikore Studios; letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.

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.

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.