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.

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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.

princess-ugg

Princess Ugg 4 (September 2014)

Princess Ugg #4

Somehow Naifeh manages to get through all of Ugg's problems to get the comic to a good spot for the finish. He's still on the horse–sorry, unicorn–where Ülga is helping her hideous mean girl roommate get ready for a house competition.

Ülga has the awesome mentor guy for support, but then she has some awfully mean teachers as well. Naifeh has this problem of creating a fantasy school for princesses visually and technologically set in the Middle Ages but socially far more modern and having a mean teacher creates a disconnect. He spent so much time setting up the reality of Ülga's people and nowhere near enough setting up the reality of the other princesses and their respective kingdoms.

He also lays out a couple coming plot lines–romance and war. Presumably they'll do better than bonding over horses, because he still doesn't redeem the nemesis.

But it's a steadier read.

B 

CREDITS

Writer and artist, Ted Naifeh; colorists, Warren Wucinich and Naifeh; letterer, Wucinich; editors, Robin Herrera and Jill Beaton; publisher, Oni Press.

sally-of-the-wasteland

Sally of the Wasteland 2 (September 2014)

Sally of the Wasteland #2

Gischler finds the perfect mix of all action and enough story to get things along. Sally takes front and center, with her stranded party getting into trouble with some pirates. It leads to glorious ultra-violence, which both Gischler and Bettin relish in. Bettin has some slight problems on the art–it's a little too slick–but he delivers on the action, time and again.

Similarly, Gischler goes for the occasional easy dirty joke–which makes Sally all of a sudden feel like distracted Garth Ennis–but then he'll bring it around with moments of sincerity to his characters. Well, those types of moments but also some great action and great supporting cast stuff. There's a texture to Sally of the Wasteland; Gischler sees the obvious, sometimes engages with it, but he also does the work on everything else.

So, besides the two or three tepid jokes and Bettin's occasionally problematic art, it's awesome stuff.

A- 

CREDITS

Writer, Victor Gischler; artist, Tazio Bettin; colorist, Jon Chapple; editor, Steve White; publisher, Titan Comics.

Robocop-Boom

Robocop 4 (October 2014)

Robocop #4

Williamson does a couple unexpected things this issue. First, he brings a level of what one has to call Robocop 2 ultra-violence–well, technically Magno brings it–but Williamson wrote the scene. It's a big hero moment for Robocop and it's awesome. Robo saves the day.

Then Lewis turns around and figures out a way to save the day a little bit more, if only temporarily, because Williamson doesn't have a short game for Robocop. He's going long with the series and he's asking the reader for something of a significant investment. He's going beyond the accepted norms for a Robocop comic.

Sure, the cliffhanger–gun control is so tight Robocop has to lose the sidearm–is a Robocop 2 moment in the worst way, but the issue shows some definite ambition on Williamson's part.

The really awkward scene where Murphy talks about dying is great too.

It's a difficult, not entirely successful comic.

B 

CREDITS

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

voice in the dark get your gun

A Voice in the Dark: Get Your Gun 1 (September 2014)

A Voice in the Dark: Get Your Gun #1

A Voice in the Dark is back and in full color now. Well, not exactly full color–the figures get fully colored while the background are muted and messy. It’s a great look for the book, especially since writer and artist Larime Taylor doesn’t emphasize the backgrounds. The colors are striking.

The issue opens with a bookend and then goes back in time to fill in the details. Protagonist Zoey and her paramour–another college-aged serial killer–are in trouble in the present action bookend. The flashbacks start explaining how they got there.

As usual for the series, Taylor is precise in both his composition and his plotting of Zoey’s daily life. Dark is very well-crafted, which is why the love interest is such a problem. Taylor goes too fast, tries too hard. The first date scene is mediocre, not sublime.

Still, it’s fine enough and definitely ambitious.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, artist and letterer, Larime Taylor; colorist, Jay Savage; editor, Duncan Eagleson; publisher, Image Comics.