Punisher-Army-of-One

The Punisher 1 (August 2001)

The Punisher #1

Garth Ennis takes a rather strange approach to this issue–and presumably this Punisher series. He does it as a comedy. There are levels of mocking, with the Punisher getting the least and Soap getting the most. There are some actual criminals in there and their stupidity gets mocked, but they’re at least aware. Soap isn’t even aware.

Meanwhile, Steve Dillon does some pretty good art on the issue. He’s not drawing anything particularly fantastic, subject-wise, but he’s doing good work.

I just read the comic and I can’t remember much about it. The cliffhanger is a big one, but not as big as the reveal of the villain. Ennis is going for Preacher-level absurdity without any justification. It’s goofy, but he thinks it’ll be funny, so he’s using it. Not just logic be darned, but sense of reality be darned.

He’s not trying, but it’s still okay.

B- 

CREDITS

Well Come On Everybody and Let’s Get Together Tonight; 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.

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Dark-Engine

Dark Engine 1 (July 2014)

Dark Engine #1

If I had to describe artist John Bivens's style, I'd say Paul Pope meets Frank Frazetta–warrior women versus dinosaurs with a lot of lines. Unfortunately, Bivens has no narrative storytelling chops so it's one static panel after another. I don't think I've ever read such a boring fight scene involving a dinosaur and a cavewoman.

Except the lead isn't a cavewoman. She's a nearly naked product of genetic engineering. Ryan Burton doesn't answer why she has to be a woman, except perhaps for the constant nude scene possibilities. But his script is entirely undercooked so why expect it….

Dark Engine is set in an otherworldly dimension where Burton wants the reader to remember a bunch of lame fantasy proper nouns but then uses Biblical names for his characters. Who curse in English.

It's lazy, bad writing. Bivens's illustrating skills aside, there's nothing to Dark Engine. It's stalled at the gate.

D 

CREDITS

Writer, Ryan Burton; artist, John Bivens; letterer, Crank!; publisher, Image Comics.

firestorm v2

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 5 (October 1982)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #5

Conway appears to have a formula for two-part stories. He opens with some action for Firestorm, then moves into the personal drama of Ronnie and Martin while working the villain subplot. Then Firestorm gets together, so to speak, and encounters the villain just in time for a cliffhanger.

Oddly enough, it works great. This issue has a visiting villain–The Flash’s Pied Piper–and the personal drama for the characters is rather amusing too. Ronnie’s having girlfriend troubles and decides to pursue a girl interested in Firestorm, dragging the Professor into it. Conway doesn’t slow down for their conversation about being a composite personality pursuing romance; instead he has it while they’re flying around. It’s an amusing conversation though.

At the same time, it relates back to their individual character development. Conway’s very concise in the character stuff.

Plus, the Broderick and Rodriguez art is fantastic this issue. It’s much more finished.

B+ 

CREDITS

The Pied Piper’s Pipes of Peril!; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterer, Phil Felix; editors, Carl Gafford and Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Squidder

The Squidder 1 (July 2014)

The Squidder #1

Ben Templesmith has a fairly interesting setting for Squidder. Imagine Cthulhu does come to the world, what happens when people fight back through technology and modern (or futuristic) warfare. It’s post-apocalyptic but after an inter-dimensional demon invasion. Why only fairly interesting? Because besides the vocabulary and details, it’s not much different than The Road Warrior.

There’s some really cool art in the comic. It’s not great, but it’s iconic and cool. Templesmith’s abilities as an artist are not in question. His writing, however, leaves a lot to be desired. His first person narration is mostly mediocre, sometimes worse. Templesmith can’t figure out how to make his protagonist sound cool while still revealing something about himself.

I don’t remember the protagonist’s name. I think it does come up once or twice but it’s not worth the effort to look it up. Or remember.

Squidder looks great and reads tepid.

C+ 

CREDITS

Writer, artist, letterer, Ben Templesmith; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Mice-Templar-Volume-II

The Mice Templar Volume II: Destiny 9 (May 2010)

The Mice Templar Volume II: Destiny #9

A couple quick observations. The first I should have made a long time ago–I wonder if having templar in the title and it being the name of famous knights affects people’s initial impression of Mice Templar. I see it as being a dismissive thing and, after reading Glass’s amazing success here… no one should be dismissing this comic.

Second, again one I should have made already, has to do with Santos’s art and how he deals with scale. The way he makes the reader the size of the mice changes how one reads Mice Templar. He makes the world dangerous and fantastic subjectively, not objectively. The comic’s not on zoom, in other words.

As for this issue, which does setup the sequel–Glass hits a home run. Every time he needs a plot twist or not, it works. Every action sequence is perfectly paced.

It’s assured and wholly successful. It’s great.

A 

CREDITS

The Festival of Samhain II; writer, Bryan J.L. Glass; artist, Victor Santos; colorist, Veronica Gandini; letterer, James H. Glass; editor, Judy Glass; publisher, Image Comics.

rocket-raccoon

Rocket Raccoon 1 (September 2014)

Rocket Raccoon #1

Rocket Raccoon is cute. Part of its cuteness is how it’s not supposed to be cute, even though it’s Skottie Young and he does cute stuff.

Raccoon isn’t supposed to be cute because it’s all about how Rocket is actually a dangerous space rogue and Casanova. The ladies can’t get enough of him. Why would be the first question? It’s funny, of course, because he’s a raccoon or whatever but it would have been nice for Young to pay it some attention.

Unless no one can figure it out, other than he’s a cute little critter and the ladies just can’t resist.

The issue moves pretty well from joke to joke. One problem would be the sitting and talking on the phone sequence. Young tries to keep it lively with Star-Lord having an action sequence but it’s not enough.

Young’s the right Raccoon artist, but maybe not the right writer.

B- 

CREDITS

A Chasing Tale, Part One; writer and artist, Skottie Young; colorist, Jean-Francois Beaulieu; letterer, Jeff Eckleberry; editors, Devin Lewis, Sana Amanat and Nick Lowe; publisher, Marvel Comics.

firestorm v2

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 4 (September 1982)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #4

Conway has got his plotting down again with this issue. He gives Broderick a lot of varied action–it’s an all action issue, but set over a few hours (they just skip the quiet moments)–and Broderick’s ambitious in visualizing the different scenes. There’s the battles in a frozen New York, a fight between Firestorm and the Justice League, a visit to Hollywood and then a stop-off at the JLA satellite.

The art’s especially important since Conway quiets down the narration quite a bit. He’s letting it play out visually so he can keep some plot twists secret until their respective reveals. Rodriguez does a nice job with the inks too. Can’t forget the inks.

Playing Firestorm off the other superheroes also gives Conway a chance to develop that character, who’s somewhat different than his two human alter egos.

The big resolution is fantastic too. It’s great superhero stuff.

A 

CREDITS

The Icy Heart of Killer Frost!; writer, Gerry Conway; pencillers, Pat Broderick and Rodin Rodriguez; inker, Rodriguez; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Carl Gafford and Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

x-files-year-zero

The X-Files: Year Zero 1 (July 2014)

The X-Files: Year Zero #1

I’m not a big “X-Files” fan; I have not watched many episodes but I have seen the movies. And I do not recall atrocious banter being part of the formula. Karl Kesel writes inane dialogue for his protagonists, who artist Greg Scott questionably visualize. They aren’t going for photo-reference–there’s a decided lack of detail–but everything is so static they might as well have done it.

The story has the agents investigating a case about cat people. Is it scary? No. Is it interesting? Not really. The Year Zero in the title refers to the comic flashing back to the first FBI team investigating the supernatural. So flashbacks to the late forties. The flashback art, by Vic Malhotra, art runs hot and cold. Just when Malhotra does something good, he flops something else.

This comic doesn’t offer anything worthwhile to anyone outside an “X-Files” memorabilia collector.

D 

CREDITS

Writer, Karl Kesel; artists, Greg Scott and Vic Malhotra; colorist, Mat Lopes; letterer, Robbie Robbins; editor, Denton J. Tipton; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Mice-Templar-Volume-II

The Mice Templar Volume II: Destiny 8 (April 2010)

The Mice Templar Volume II: Destiny #8

Glass has a lot to deliver with the resolution to this series and he knows it. This issue is just he and Santos upping the ante over and over. They already have a difficult setup and they try for more.

Cassius meets up with his men as he invades the palace. It gives him a bunch of Templar on his side, but it also give Glass more opportunities for swashbuckling and plot twists. Speaking of plot twists, the resolution to the one from the previous issue has a lot of unexpected turns–Glass excels at never taking the predicted route but always taking the more sensible one. Even if the sensibility isn’t clear.

There’s also Karic’s attack with the zombie cat and his friends and family’s side of the story. Not to mention the evil king’s plot coming together with everything else.

It’s awesome; I just hope the finish succeeds.

A 

CREDITS

The Festival of Samhain I; writer, Bryan J.L. Glass; artist, Victor Santos; colorist, Veronica Gandini; letterer, James H. Glass; editor, Judy Glass; publisher, Image Comics.

infinity-man

Infinity Man and the Forever People 2 (September 2014)

Infinity Man and the Forever People #2

I was having trouble keeping track of what happened this issue until I realized the problem–nothing happens this issue. Didio and Giffen aren’t good at the banter with the marooned New Gods–or are they New Gods on their pilgrimage to Earth; it doesn’t matter. The banter’s lame. Four of the five leads are lame. And the last one is apparently a werewolf with some Wolverine influences.

At least he’s not lame.

The story has the team going to investigate some crop problems. There, they have an uninteresting battle with some soldiers from Apokolips. Why are they on Earth? No idea; it’s not as important as giving the titular Infinity Man–who looks like a Tron reject–a dramatic entrance.

There’s nothing terrible about the comic and nothing good either. Tom Grummett and Scott Hanna’s art looks less Kirby influenced than Byrne; strange. It’s all painfully indistinct and unimpressive.

C 

CREDITS

Wake Unto Me; writers, Keith Giffen and Dan Didio; penciller, Tom Grummett; inker, Scott Hanna; colorist, Mike Atiyeh; letterer, Travis Lanham; editors, Kyle Andrukiewicz and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

firestorm v2

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 3 (August 1982)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #3

Conway lays on the melodrama a little thick this issue with Ronnie getting cut from the team, slapped by his dad (in front of his best friend) and dumped. Why? The same reason every other superhero got dumped at one time or another–significant others just don’t understand a person disappearing in the middle of a crisis. Well, for the last of that list. The other two are just the time constraints.

Except Conway hasn’t shown enough of Ronnie’s regular life to get away with these big events. Maybe if he’d opened the series with them, starting one of his characters down, it would have worked.

But the rest of the comic–again, especially the interplay between Ronnie and the Professor–works great. The villain–Killer Frost–is a little talky, but her ice kingdom version of New York is when Broderick gets creative again.

He’s the other problem–he tries, but doesn’t succeed with melodramatics.

B 

CREDITS

A Cold Time in the Old Town Tonight…; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Carl Gafford and Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Ghosted

Ghosted 11 (July 2014)

Ghosted #11

It’s kind of a fill-in issue, with Williamson doing the origin of Agent Anderson (I think her name’s Anderson), only it has original artist Goran Sudzuka. So it’s not exactly a fill-in. It’s definitely filler, with Williamson spending most of the issue telling the story of an utterly unlikable character.

There are also some problems with Williamson’s first person female point of view. They might not stand out if the story itself were okay. But it isn’t. The series isn’t oriented well for this kind of issue; Williamson writes big, this issue is small and contrived–bikers who are human traffickers? How original.

Then the comic changes gear to reveal the context of Anderson’s monologue and I just realized it would have worked had Williamson really written it as a conversation. There’s something missing–the banter between her and the protagonist.

It’s a bad issue, but the series’s fine.

C 

CREDITS

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

Mice-Templar-Volume-II

The Mice Templar Volume II: Destiny 7 (February 2010)

The Mice Templar Volume II: Destiny #7

It’s hard to know where to start with this one because Glass comes up with a monster cliffhanger. Big twist and some interesting ramifications for what Glass has already revealed, not to mention whatever his explanation will be. It sort of overshadows everything else.

The issue starts with Karic being difficult. It’s the closest Glass has come in a while to him being an annoying teenager, but that sentiment passes quickly. Once it’s clear he’s got some really good ideas and it’s Cassius who’s being obtuse, the issue flows. It flows right into an awesome action sequence with the zombie cat as Karic reveals his plans.

Glass skips over to the castle and the setup for the arc’s grand finale. He hits on all the subplots he put in earlier and let sit–not too much exposition either; having royal dialect and mystical mumbo jumbo helps.

Once again, an outstanding issue.

A- 

CREDITS

Seizing Destiny; writer, Bryan J.L. Glass; artist, Victor Santos; colorist, Veronica Gandini; letterer, James H. Glass; editor, Judy Glass; publisher, Image Comics.

vampirella

Vampirella 2 (July 2014)

Vampirella #2

It would be so much easier to read Vampirella if her costume weren’t so atrocious. I mean, come on–Collins writes her as an espionage agent for the Vatican. She should have appropriate attire.

The comic’s strangely not terrible, with Collins writing her protagonist a lot better than the book seems to deserve. There’s a whole bunch of exposition and it goes on way too long, but every few pages, Collins writes a good moment for Vampirella and it’s an acceptable read. More nonsense, good moment, once again acceptable.

Another problem is Berkenkotter’s lack of imagination. He does a Max Schreck Nosferatu visual homage only it’s not done with any humor or acknowledgement of doing a visual homage. It’s supposed to be serious and instead it flops. If it’s going to be goofy and nostalgic, make it goofy and nostalgic.

Collins reveals her setup for the arc; it seems fine.

C 

CREDITS

Writer, Nancy A. Collins; penciller, Patrick Berkenkotter; inker, Dennis Crisostomo; colorist, Jorge Sutil; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Hannah Gorfinkel, Molly Mahan and Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.