She-Hulk 12 (April 2015)

She-Hulk #12

Well, there’s quite a bit to the last issue of She-Hulk, where Soule reveals the great conspiracy but not the paralegal’s secret. The conspiracy has to do with magic and some other stuff and Soule assumes the reader remembers small details from eight issues ago. Not enough expository reminding and it affects how the issue reads.

Of course, Pulido’s art also affects the issue’s reading experience, simply because he’s not doing very much. Most of the issue takes place in the middle of nowhere North Dakota. Even when Pulido does have scenery, he doesn’t do much with it. The whole thing–even if Soule and Pulido intentionally wanted to focus on the characters–feels rushed.

And the resolution isn’t much of a pay-off. It answers all the questions, but it’s a pat resolution.

Soule and Pulido close genially enough. She-Hulk’s been mostly amusing and occasionally awesome.


Final Verdict; writer, Charles Soule; artist, Javier Pulido; colorist, Muntsa Vicente; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editor, Jeanine Schaefer; publisher, Marvel Comics.


Lazarus 15 (February 2015)

Lazarus #15

Much of the issue–maybe even most of the issue–is a sword fight. There’s no dialogue, no description; Lark moves through the fight, sometimes showing reaction shots, sometimes working on a subplot, but the point is the two women fighting. It’s brilliantly choreographed and it shows a level of concentration from Lark, who I never thought of as a movement guy.

The story is good too, with Rucka finding space for some rather good content in the speaking parts of the comic. But the fight and visual nature of it are part of the writing too. Rucka helps the fight and gets to benefit from it and Lark gets to do this lengthy sequence.

Lazarus first surprised when it managed not to be as terrible as the beginning arc suggested, then it got really good, now it’s getting ambitious with the medium. The book is ever the constant surprise.


Conclave, Part Five; writer, Greg Rucka; artists, Michael Lark and Tyler Boss; colorist, Santiago Arcas; letterer, Jodi Wynne; editor, David Brothers; publisher, Image Comics.

judge-dredd eagle

Judge Dredd 33 (July 1986)

Judge Dredd #33

This issue of Dredd seems to be the strange issue, like they found all the absurdly funny strips from 2000 AD and gave them their own issue. And artist Ron Smith works for it. He has a jovial, cartoon-y style. He doesn’t draw Dredd very well, but everything else is good. Dredd–and the rest of Judges–seem inserted and static.

Wagner and Grant’s stories range from what happens with the morbidly obese following the Apocalypse War, where the foodstuffs of the future come from (it’s oddly prescient), then a rabid robo-dog one (probably the weakest) and one about plastic surgery to all look alike. Besides the robo-dog story, Wagner and Grant are certainly getting better at their sci-fi elements. Sure, Dredd and the Judge stuff feels shoehorned in, but shoehorned into a thought-out story.

Mega-City One’s not quite plausible, but can be intriguing.


Writers, John Wagner and Alan Grant; artist, Ron Smith; colorist, John Burns; letterers, Tom Frame and Tony Jacob; editor, Nick Landau; publisher, Eagle Comics.


Birthright 5 (February 2015)

Birthright #5

Williamson has a surprise in him. Birthright has it’s big surprise, of course, the big overall one, but Williamson totally changes the series with the last scene and it’s pretty cool. Birthright, just because the concept is so defined, occasionally feels like it can’t surprise. Even when it’s really good, it’s because Williamson’s doing really well with that concept.

Not here. Here, he shows he can surprise and give the series even more depth. Very cool.

And Bressan gets a hard job–visualizing an “imaginary friend”–and does really well with it. The way the scenes work have the character staggered; on the first appearance, it seems like a big misstep for Bressan. But during the second scene, it’s clear his design is perfect.

There’s a lot of exposition during the fight scene, both from the people in the know and the people not. It’s all just fantastically well-executed.


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


The Comics Fondle Podcast | Episode 21

Satellite Sam, Squirrel Girl, Nameless, Hawkeye, Casanova, Birthright, Ghosted, Robocop, Nailbiter, Crossed +100, Bitch Planet, Sixth Gun, C.O.W.L., They’re Not Like Us, Empty, Cluster, Lady Killer, Stray Bullets, Walking Dead.

Other stuff:
Convergence and Secret Wars
Mature comics with the indies

Other media:
The Flash
The New Spider-Man

you can also subscribe on iTunes…


Ghosted 17 (February 2015)

Ghosted #17

Ghosted feels like a much different comic book with Vladimir Krstic Laci on art. It feels like a seventies ghost comic, slick in a classical sense, not a hip sense. It works against a bunch of the book’s concepts and makes Ghosted a much more entertaining read this month. Just the way Laci breaks out the action alone changes the experience.

The issue has Jackson going over to the ghost town to fight his nemesis. It’s a lot of great talking heads because Laci makes everything feel a little uneasy and Williamson’s ominous dialogue is strong. When the supernatural does come in, Williamson and Laci handle it really well too.

I’m not sure if Laci’s the best fit for the book, which doesn’t have to be homage to seventies horror comics, but it’s a nice approach to this particular story line. It fits it better. Realistic fantastical stuff going on.


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


Satellite Sam 11 (February 2015)

Satellite Sam #11

The writing on this issue of Satellite Sam is excellent. Fraction hits every subplot, sort of checks its temperature, stirs it a little, then combines a couple of them into the final scene of the comic.

There’s a lot of plotting and a lot of unfortunate choices and situations. It’s soapy without seeming too soapy. The S&M and drug abuse and swinging certainly give Sam some edge, but there’s also how Fraction approaches the subjects, sans exploitation.

This issue has some character development, a bunch of surprises, another really good scene for the black actor passing as white. He’s practically Fraction’s only sympathetic character in the whole comic. Everyone else has issues. He’s also one things distracting from the comic’s soapiness.

This issue also has Chaykin’s worst art on the comic so far. He’s getting lazy, relying way too much on bad digital effects. But, otherwise, Sam is rocking.


Good Morning, Good Morning; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Howard Chaykin; letterer, Ken Bruzenak; editor, Thomas K.; publisher, Image Comics.


Velvet 9 (February 2015)

Velvet #9

It’s a decent, not great, issue of Velvet. Brubaker’s resolution to his rip-off of The Rock works out a whole lot better than I would have expected; he and Epting do a nice talking heads comic with the Sean Connery (sorry, Patrick Stewart more like) telling Velvet just enough of what she thinks she knows. And Brubaker writes the hell out of the exposition. He had me trying to anticipate the twists, which I don’t usually care about.

Epting doesn’t get much action to draw–there are some flashbacks, but they’re limited; the way he draws the conversations is fantastic. His art keeps the pace on those long sequences. Brubaker can be interesting, but without engaged art, talking heads don’t work.

The cliffhanger is a let down, of course, as is the way Brubaker foreshadows the cliffhanger in the cutaway scene just before it.

Still, it’s mostly good stuff.


The Secret Lives of Dead Men, Part Four; writer, Ed Brubaker; artist, Steve Epting; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editor; Eric Stephenson; publisher, Image Comics.


Nailbiter 10 (February 2015)

Nailbiter #10

It’s a rather good issue of Nailbiter. I’m beginning to think the problem with Williamson’s writing isn’t too many ideas (or a lack of them on the fast issues), but a pacing one. On Nailbiter, his two issues would work better as one than two. The cliffhanger aside. Or maybe muted.

This issue has the resolution to the school bus kidnapping and then a cliffhanger setting up the series for a big change. Depending on how Williamson handles it. But it’s a really good cliffhanger; Williamson leads up to it intellectually, not through forced events. He thinks his way through Nailbiter, which is what makes the book work in general.

It’s a more than silly concept, handled very realistically in terms of visual tone and character interactions, and the balance succeeds because of Williamson’s writing.

Yay, Nailbiter.

Unfortunately, Henderson is really pressed for time here. He often skips drawing faces.


Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Mike Henderson; colorist, Adam Guzowski; letterer, John J. Hill; editor, Rob Levin; publisher, Image Comics.


Robocop 8 (February 2015)

Robocop #8

I’m not sure how I’d describe Killian, Williamson’s long-in-the-tooth antagonist in Robocop, but soap opera tough guy might be the best description. There’s no depth to the character, which is starting to get really annoying. Though Magno’s design for the him does look a lot like an eighties tough guy, which fits in with it being a sequel to Robocop.

This issue has Williamson lift a scene from Batman Returns to get stuff done, which is fine (there’s nothing else to do in that situation), but the parts with Robocop all of a sudden an upgraded superhero, doing things impossible to do with a man in a tin can suit? It’s where Robocop breaks. It’s where you can’t suspend disbelief long enough to hear Peter Weller’s voice saying the lines.

Williamson is still earnest with Robocop, but he’s not restrained enough. Not having a “budget” hurts it.


Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Carlos Magno; colorist, Marissa Louise; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Alex Galer and Ian Brill; publisher, Boom! Studios.


C.O.W.L. 8 (January 2015)

C.O.W.L. #8

There are some definite issues with Reis’s art here. The people don’t look right; he’s maybe trying a new style and it doesn’t take. Or maybe there are just too many people to draw. The issue is a lot of talking heads scenes, no real action besides the introduction of staged supervillains.

Higgins and Siegel spend a little time with every character, which leaves C.O.W.L. feeling like it’s in need of a protagonist, or at least someone to follow through all these scenes. Instead, it’s a lot of different people and the writers handle those scenes pretty well, but it feels like a collection of subplot scenes thrown into one issue.

Not even the cliffhanger, with the supervillains attacking, has much weight. It’s kind of a treading water issue, kind of not. The writers are good with their characters and Reis’s art is mostly strong. The issue just feels slight.


The Greater Good, Chapter Two: Doppler Shift; writers, Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel; artist, Rod Reis; letterer, Troy Peteri; publisher, Image Comics.


Hawkeye 21 (April 2015)

Hawkeye #21

What’s confusing about this very late issue of Hawkeye is how little anyone is invested in it; Fraction has the most fun when doing a one page scene between Clint and Jessica Drew and Aja manages to do some great design, but not turn it into great art. So what does Fraction do? He goes for a gut shot at the end, just to make Hawkeye feel like it matters.

Only, it’s been so long since Fraction’s done anything interesting with Clint, he’s got way too big a hill to climb.

Strangest is how they handle the “meat” of the issue. The regular tenants of the building fighting the Eastern European mobsters Home Alone-style, as one character puts it. It seems like a very small fight with only a handful of participants. The coordination, both in writing and art, isn’t there.

Maybe Fraction should’ve let someone else finish it.


Rio Bravo; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, David Aja; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Devin Lewis and Sana Amanat; publisher, Marvel Comics.


Cluster 1 (February 2015)

Cluster #1

There’s not much original in Cluster so far. It’s a remix of a lot of sci-fi, popular and not, but writer Ed Brisson manages to coat over all those elements because the story isn’t derivative, the details aren’t homage, they’re just part of the sci-fi language now. Of course there’s something out of BattleTech in Cluster. Why wouldn’t there be?

The first issue introduces the protagonist, who doesn’t have a memorable name, but is a politician’s daughter serving hard time fighting for a colony planet. She makes a sidekick (not friend) and gets into a fight and goes to solitary. Then goes out on a mission.

It doesn’t make a lot of sense at times–the way Brisson paces it–but it doesn’t matter. Because Damian Couceiro’s art is awesome. He goes for big scale sci-fi, but still within the constraints of a comic book.

Cluster‘s solid.


Writer, Ed Brisson; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Michael Garland; editors, Cameron Chittock and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

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Judge Dredd 32 (June 1986)

Judge Dredd #32

Dredd has his showdown with the surviving Angel brothers. It’s an oddly incomplete story just because Walter has a silent but important role and Wagner and Grant never get around to resolving it. At least not in this collection of progs; maybe in the actual 2000 A.D. they got to it in a good amount of time.

There’s some more silly stuff–the rat going to get Dredd at the Hall of Justice–but the showdown is good. Wagner and Grant pace it out well and Ezqerra’s energy is good. The final resolution for the Judge Child is fine; pointless, but fine.

Unfortunately, the second story–with nice, if too comedic, art by Jose Casanovas Jr.–is idiotic. Wagner and Grant try too much for social commentary. And they don’t even have anything to say, they’re often clearly padding out the exposition.

But they do reference the Apocalypse War well.


Writers, John Wagner and Alan Grant; artists, Carlos Ezquerra and Jose Casanovas Jr.; colorist, John Burns; letterer, Tom Frame; editor, Nick Landau; publisher, Eagle Comics.