firestorm v2

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 11 (April 1983)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #11

It’s a mess of an issue. Conway makes the Hyena’s return a really complicated story with curses and multiple were-hyenas–including Firestorm turning into one too. But there’s also Professor Stein’s ex-wife, who Conway avoids really defining and just makes her ominous instead. Ronnie’s tired at school, which turns out to be okay with his basketball coach–even though it shouldn’t be–and then there’s some nonsense with his girlfriend changing her hairstyle.

Conway’s doing a whole bunch of stuff and not spending enough time on any of it. He makes Professor Stein’s contributions to the Firestorm scenes even worse. No longer satisfied doing wordy, obvious exposition, Conway uses Stein to tell the reader why things are bad for the characters. It’s beyond lazy.

The issue finishes with the big action scene finale flopping. The Hyena doesn’t work on a large scale and Conway inexplicably stages a fight at the World Trade Center?

C 

CREDITS

Waking Darkness; writer and editor, Gerry Conway; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterer, Adam Kubert; publisher, DC Comics.

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Dream-Thief-Escape

Dream Thief: Escape 2 (July 2014)

Dream Thief: Escape #2

Nitz is wrapping everything together rather nicely, but then he goes a little overboard. He explains the plan in detail only to throw a significant wrench in it. That wrench is another ghost possessing protagonist John; presumably this act of vengeance will make things difficult for the A plot.

It’s a problem because Nitz is rushing, he’s telling instead of showing. Most of the issue is in summary and the events are all lined up and the contrivances are starting to show. The final, cliffhanger possession–maybe the first time one of the ghosts gets to be in the driver’s seat as far as the reader experiencing it–is too dramatic after all the summary.

Escape is only a four issue limited series and by the end of this issue, it sure seems like Nitz needs five to get the story done right.

Still, most of it’s awesome as usual.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Jai Nitz; artist and letterer, Greg Smallwood; editors, Everett Patterson and Patrick Thorpe; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

auteur

The Auteur 5 (July 2014)

The Auteur #5

I don’t know why Spears can get away with the end of The Auteur. I don’t want to think about it too hard either, just because the last issue of this arc (or the series, it’s unclear) is so entertaining and sincerely presented.

Some of the success is because Callahan’s art is so good. He doesn’t even have particularly fantastic subjects to illustrate; the biggest set piece is a gross out scene with a drug’s side effects being harmless bleeding from the skin. It’s a really funny scene. Not laugh out loud, but funny.

Spears’s sincerity in the issue is the craziest part. Not the gross out stuff, not the one liners. At first, his mention of the protagonist’s love of film seemed like a last minute addition, but Spears really just goes with it. Every chance he can to commit to insane earnestness, he does.

It’s a great finish.

A 

CREDITS

Presidents Day, Part 5 of 5: Show Don’t Tell; writer and letterer, Rick Spears; artist, James Callahan; colorist, Luigi Anderson; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

She-Hulk-(2014)

She-Hulk 6 (September 2014)

She-Hulk #6

I really hope Wimberly isn’t staying. He’s got a peculiar style and I gave it some slack last issue because it was different. This issue he’s doing superhero action and a lot of dialogue humor and it flops. Over and over, it flops.

He does draw She-Hulk as more of a monster than a cover girl, which is interesting, I suppose, but Soule is still writing it for the wink and the smile. The two elements aren’t moving together.

There’s also the way Soule shuts everything down in the issue after going out of his way to get the reader interested. It’s manipulative and pointlessly so. Whatever happens next is misdirection so why not just get to the meat and potatoes of a monkey with life-giving (literally, it seems) spit.

The issue reads fairly well, but Soule definitely forces the ending. Actually, the entire second half is forced.

B- 

CREDITS

Blue, Part Two; writer, Charles Soule; artist, Ron Wimberley; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editors, Frankie Johnson and Jeanine Schaefer; publisher, Marvel Comics.

firestorm v2

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 10 (March 1983)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #10

The issue opens with the Hyena hunting a bunny rabbit; Broderick and Rodriguez do a great job on the bunny rabbit, but it looks like there are some problems with the Hyena. So the issue starts right off with some questionable art and then it just gets worse.

Broderick does fine with the action scenes, does fine with all his composition but he and Rodriguez’s detail on the regular folks this issue is terrible. And the Hyena is a problem throughout; it’s too slick to be convincing as a giant were-hyena. Not enough fur detail, I guess.

There’s also way too much detail on teenage Doreen’s sheer nightie. It’s a weird choice; someone should have caught it.

Otherwise, the issue’s fine. Not Conway’s finest hour–the Hyena’s backstory is too convoluted and tied Peter Parker style to Ronnie’s civilian life–but he’s still got some nice character moments and Firestorm action throughout.

B 

CREDITS

Prowl; writer and editor, Gerry Conway; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterer, Adam Kubert; publisher, DC Comics.

Groo-vs-Conan

Groo vs. Conan 1 (July 2014)

Groo vs. Conan #1

Groo vs. Conan. Even the title takes a moment to digest.

Sergio Aragonés and Mark Evanier fully embrace the absurdity of it, including the middle part of the comic–the majority of the comic, in terms of pages–being the two men walking around talking about doing such a crossover and how crazy it would be.

So why do it? Well, in the comic, Aragonés gets bumped on the head and thinks it’s a great idea.

As for the actual Conan and Groo scenes, the issue is mostly setup. Groo gets confused about who he’s supposed to battle and why and his concerned potential victims head to find Conan to save them. Tom Yeates draws the Conan pages. He does a fantastic job. Aragonés does fine with the Groo stuff and the “real world” stuff, but Yeates doing fantasy is treat as always.

The issue’s amusing without being particularly successful.

B- 

CREDITS

Writers, Sergio Aragonés and Mark Evanier; artists, Aragonés and Thomas Yeates; colorist, Tom Luth; letterer, Richard Starkings; editors, Dave Land, Katie Moody and Patrick Thorpe; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Punisher-Army-of-One

The Punisher 5 (December 2001)

The Punisher #5

Good grief–Ennis end the comic with a big Dubya is an alcoholic moron joke right before 9/11. Did they change the reveal for the trade?

It’s a dumb joke too. Instead of giving the Punisher an actual enemy, it gives Ennis a scene. He has lots of scenes this issue, some better than others, some pointless like this one. The big finale with the Russian is sort of pointless because there’s a predetermined finish to it.

Or maybe Ennis is keeping the Russian around even longer, because it’s easier for him to do absurdist humor than to write the comic.

There are a couple okay moments in the issue, like when the Punisher stands off against the big villain. The villain’s a mercenary general who has a long speech. Ennis goes for a cheap finish.

It’s a tired finish but it works okay… just like the comic itself.

B- 

CREDITS

No Limits; writer, Garth Ennis; penciller, Steve Dillon; inker, Jimmy Palmiotti; colorist, Chris Sotomayor; letterers, Richard Starkings and Saida Temofonte; editors, Kelly Lamy, Nanci Dakesian and Stuart Moore; publisher, Marvel Comics.

ms-marvel-2014

Ms. Marvel 6 (September 2014)

Ms. Marvel #6

New artist Jacob Wyatt comes in just in time for Wilson to find–or find again–Ms. Marvel’s awesome.

Wilson doesn’t appear to be changing anything to right the series’s course, she’s just explaining the things needing explaining and bringing back the unpredictability of the comic. Having unpredictable events in Kamala’s superhero life means having Wolverine guest star, which isn’t a big deal. Unpredictable events in superhero stories are the norm.

But unpredictable events in Kamala’s regular life–and there’s a big one this issue—are really cool and they ground the comic. It needs some grounding given the oddness of the powers, though Wyatt’s art helps with that aspect too.

Wilson also balances the superhero and regular better here. There’s a commercial factor to Ms. Marvel and it needs embracing, not avoiding.

Also–the villain. Wilson redeems him with a combination of logic and humor.

It’s great comics.

A 

CREDITS

Healing Factor; writer, G. Willow Wilson; artist, Jacob Wyatt; colorist, Ian Henning; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Devin Lewis and Sana Amanat; publisher, Marvel Comics.

firestorm v2

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 9 (February 1983)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #9

I wonder if Conway was playing with the idea of doing an anti-climatic story. Both Firestorm and Ronnie have muted outcomes to big events–Firestorm’s rematch with Typhoon and then Ronnie’s first fight with his classmate antagonist, Cliff. Neither have much visual payoff. The Typhoon fight does get a big lead-in with a flooding New York City, however.

It also feels a little like Conway is trying to adjust the course of the comic. He’s bringing Ronnie’s friends in more while giving Professor Stein a traumatic subplot (losing his job, falling off the wagon). Things are changing in the comic.

Moore does an adequate job on the pencils. He’s better with the high school stuff and Professor Stein’s work drama than with the superhero action this issue. It’s his detail on his figures–Firestorm and Typhoon look too rounded and short. The scenery’s good.

It’s odd, but fine.

B 

CREDITS

Baby, the Rain Must Fall!; writer and editor, Gerry Conway; penciller, Jerome Moore; inker, Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Tom Ziuko; letterer, Adam Kubert; publisher, DC Comics.

ragnarok

Ragnarök 1 (July 2014)

Ragnarok #1

Someone, either at IDW or Walt Simonson himself, is doing everyone the great disservice of suggesting Ragnarök is some kind of Thor rip-off IDW is doing just because the character is a Norse god and in the public domain.

It isn’t. It’s some barbarian comic where a blue snow witch or some such thing sees armageddon approaching and takes one last job as an elite assassin to save her kid. While her husband stays at home to watch the daughter. And I didn’t even like the comic while Simonson was going through these scenes. It was okay, but I kept waiting for the dumb Thor reference.

It never came. Instead, the comic got increasingly more distinct and good. Simonson doesn’t write his protagonist particularly well on her own, but amongst the mercenaries she eventually hires? Those scenes are where the comic comes to life.

Unfortunately, the cliffhanger’s lame.

But still….

B- 

CREDITS

Writer and artist, Walt Simonson; colorist, Laura Martin; letterer, John Workman; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Punisher-Army-of-One

The Punisher 4 (October 2001)

The Punisher #4

Ennis has lost track of any real person–by real person, I mean the bartender from the first couple issues or maybe one of Soap’s cop antagonists–and he’s back to having a jolly old time. Lots and lots of pop culture references. Some day you’ll need footnotes to understand all the references and then further footnotes to explain why they’re funny.

Oh, Sixth Sense plot twist jokes. Let me wipe the tear from my eye.

Still, Ennis is taking Frank a little more serious this issue. He’s the protagonist for his scenes in the issue, not the subject, not the butt of wry jokes. And Ennis does give him some vaguely interesting things to do. Not inventive so much, but diverting.

The problem is the lack of content and the villain. The villain is lame and boring, which even Ennis seems to accept.

Dillon does well on the art.

B- 

CREDITS

Dirty Work; writer, Garth Ennis; penciller, Steve Dillon; inker, Jimmy Palmiotti; colorist, Chris Sotomayor; letterers, Richard Starkings and Wes Abbott; editors, Kelly Lamy, Nanci Dakesian and Stuart Moore; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Wildfire

Wildfire 2 (July 2014)

Wildfire #2

The second issue of Wildfire ties back to the beginning of the first issue–Los Angeles aflame. This issue explains more about how it happens, with Hawkins even taking the time to cut to the fire starting. He doesn’t really need to make the cut–he spends the rest of the issue establishing the characters, including newscasters who could cover it.

And everyone sees the fire pretty quick, it does spread like, well, wildfire.

Hawkins’s ability to get all the science while still moving his characters forward, not to mention rapidly accelerating the crisis, is what makes Wildfire so good. It never reads too fast, even though Hawkins moves fast through the events. Again, there’s a lot of science, which might cause a natural slowdown.

The only problem is Sejic’s computer art. She has this style of a cartoonish–if detailed–character against a glossy, computer generated background. It frequently distracts from the story.

B+ 

CREDITS

Writer, Matt Hawkins; artist, Linda Sejic; letterer, Troy Peteri; editor, Betsy Gonia; publisher, Top Cow Productions.

firestorm v2

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 8 (January 1983)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #8

Jerome Moore fills in on the pencils this issue; Conway gives him a lot to do. There’s the superhero stuff, which is mostly filler at the beginning–with a big action set piece, sort of unimaginably big, at the end. Moore handles it well. He also handles to high school drama pretty well too, though he does draw the characters a tad too old.

And the character stuff with Ronnie and Martin is good too. They’re experimenting with Firestorm to figure out their power source and capabilities. It’s very logic plot progression from Conway. And the high school drama isn’t bad either. He gives Ronnie more relationship drama, which should seem contrived but doesn’t because Conway’s finally moving the relationship forward instead of keeping it in static tension.

The big finish is just phenomenal superhero action. Firestorm versus Typhoon, a giant water tragic villain (Conway even makes time for his backstory).

B+ 

CREDITS

Typhoon Warning; writer and editor, Gerry Conway; penciller, Jerome Moore; inker, Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterer, Adam Kubert; publisher, DC Comics.

manifest destiny

Manifest Destiny 8 (July 2014)

Manifest Destiny #8

The problem with Manifest Destiny is too little going on in the action issues. This issue takes place over at least two days, but the way Dingess breaks out the scenes–basically two big sections of little scenes run together and then the action sequences–it just feels too fast.

Some of the problem might be Roberts’s efficiency with visualizing the scenes. There are a few times the fast pace is because the art flows so seamlessly between panels. Destiny is almost too competent at this point; Dingess knows what Roberts can handle and does try to task him with more ambitious sequences. Simultaneously, Dingess isn’t trying to do anything more with the plotting.

This issue has zero character development–unless resentment over Sacagawea counts–even though Dingess splits the cast into more manageable groups.

It almost seems like Dingess is treading water because he doesn’t know where he’s going to take the story.

B- 

CREDITS

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