Cullen Bunn

Godzilla-Catacylsm

Godzilla: Cataclysm 1 (August 2014)

Godzilla: Cataclysm #1

I wanted Godzilla: Cataclysm to be good. Not before I started reading it, but as I read the first few pages where writer Cullen Bunn sets it all up. It’s got an intriguing ground situation–after the monster war, humans have to make do in their wrecked world. So it’s post-apocalyptic but not futuristic.

And there’s no attempt at explaining the monsters.

Dave Wachter’s monster art is decent too. Giant monsters fighting, lots of detail in the panels. It’s good stuff.

Then the issue gets going and it gets worse and worse as it goes along. Like Bunn not establishing characters; characters need to be interesting even if giant bugs don’t attack them. The bugs would’ve been an adequate menace for the issue, but Bunn can’t help upping it.

Only Wachter doesn’t want to up his game–instead of detail, he does huge sound lettering as backgrounds.

Cataclysm indeed.

C- 

CREDITS

Writer, Cullen Bunn; artist, Dave Wachter; letterer, Chris Mowry; editor, Bobby Curnow; publisher, IDW Publishing.

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Empty-Man

The Empty Man 1 (June 2014)

The Empty Man #1

There's an air of not-so-quiet desperation about The Empty Man, like writer Cullen Bunn is sitting in the front row of a class with his hand up, practically leaping out of his seat, trying to get the attention of the great Hollywood gods who can option his new comic and turn it into a TV show.

Only, like most desperate people, he's forgotten to be original and is instead recycling already existing media properties for most of the comic.

There's something of a prologue–or two–before the main characters appear. They're FBI agents and are in a world of dark magic where evil spirits (or one) roam the real world. They have terrible chemistry too. Bunn tries too hard with everything, ending on a weak hard cliffhanger.

Vanesa R. Del Rey has a distinct style and I love she modeled one character on Clark Gable. But it's far from enough.

C 

CREDITS

Writer, Cullen Bunn; artist, Vanesa R. Del Rey; colorist, Michael Garland; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Chris Rosa and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

sinestro

Sinestro 1 (June 2014)

Sinestro #1

You know, Dale Eaglesham does do a great job on Sinestro. I wouldn’t subject my brain to another issue of this prattling, but Eaglesham’s art is really good.

Writer Cullen Bunn has the task of bringing Sinestro back from a self-imposed exile. For all the endless expository narration from Sinestro, I’m unclear why exactly he’s in exile. It’s kind of hard to care too, because Bunn doesn’t make him a particularly interesting lead. He fights lions or tigers, talks to some inexplicably scantily clad lady with writing on her and then they go off and have a space adventure.

Apparently the comic’s supposed to be engaging because Sinestro’s an anti-hero–he only saves people of his planet from being killed, not the other people he could also save.

So he’s a bastard, who cares? Maybe if Bunn put him in an interesting situation, but he doesn’t.

It’s tripe.

D 

CREDITS

Blackest Day, Brightest Night; writer, Cullen Bunn; artist, Dale Eaglesham; colorist, Jason Wright; letterer, Dezi Sienty; editors, Chris D. Conroy and Matt Idelson; publisher, DC Comics.

Captain America and Black Widow 640 (February 2013)

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It’s another all action issue–there’s some talking heads for the planning and the various plot twists, but it’s an action issue. A bunch of slightly different superheroes–the Black Knight has a magical chainsaw and Venom can pilot a spaceship and Ghost Rider’s techy–attack some slightly different other superheroes who are now bad. Human Torch is a burning skeleton, I think.

It’s all confusing but very nicely illustrated. Francavilla has a great time with the battle scenes.

Otherwise, Black Widow gets the most important scenes. Cap gets none. His promise to the lizard people gets a summarized follow up. The multiverse thing gets even sillier.

Bunn fails at the one duplicate of the bad lady he needs to get right. The other one he does in this issue, he does well. But not the important one.

It’s not a success, it’s mildly disappointing, but at least it’s competent.

CREDITS

Writer, Cullen Bunn; artist and colorist, Francesco Francavilla; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Jake Thomas and Lauren Sankovitch; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Captain America and Black Widow 639 (January 2013)

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Apparently, in some realities, Captain America is a dick. Bunn gets how to write Steve’s honesty and morality. It helps here, but doesn’t fit with Bunn’s style otherwise.

I also didn’t get the guy in the Doc Ock arms was the Lizard. My bad. I just thought it was some creature. But no, it’s Curt Connors and he’s not too terrible a guy in this alternate reality.

Decent art from Francavilla. It’s mostly talking heads. The alternate Black Widow talks at length (as usual) about the multiverse. The big action is in the background or in extreme close up, so Francavilla never really shines . I guess I’ve gotten used to how he does the close up conversations.

Bunn giving Steve a promise to help people in the garbage planet dimension makes the comic immediately more interesting. Of course he’s getting home, but will he be able to keep the promise.

CREDITS

Writer, Cullen Bunn; artist and colorist, Francesco Francavilla; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, John Denning and Lauren Sankovitch; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Captain America and Black Widow 638 (December 2012)

Captain America and Black Widow Vol 1 638

You can tell the Black Widows apart by their belts. I hadn’t realized that detail. My bad.

Once again the Francavilla art is good. He’s stronger on the distance shots than he is during the close ups. Not to knock him–he’s good all the time but there are a couple fantastic long shot panels this issue.

It’s another all action issue. It takes place over twenty or so minutes, approximately five times longer than it takes to read the comic.

There’s a tiny bit with the bad lady and her duplicates. The scene features Bunn’s best writing. He’s not good for the existing character stuff. He needs to be generative, not repackaging Steve and Natasha exposition. The other best writing bit, for example, is the two Black Widows talking. The bad one’s much more compelling.

It’s a technically competent issue; it’s a waste of time in the important ways.

CREDITS

Writer, Cullen Bunn; artist and colorist, Francesco Francavilla; letterer, Cort Petit; editors, Jake Thomas and Lauren Sankovitch; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Captain America and Black Widow 637 (November 2012)

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Clearly I haven’t been reading Marvel comics for a while. Since when do they talk about a multiverse like it’s early eighties DC and what’s the deal with the big tripod monsters?

Confusion aside, it’s a fairly good issue. Bunn’s plot twist is somewhat unexpected–supervillain arms dealer only employs her multiverse selves; there’s none of the cool different back stories this issue, which is too bad.

Instead, Bunn and Francavilla do an action issue with some occasional confusing talking bits. There are two Black Widows and it’s unclear who is who… But it doesn’t really matter, since the issue moves so fast.

As far as the writing, Bunn’s got Steve telling a proctologist joke. It’s an odd moment, making one wonder if Steve’s really a multiverse double too. It’s not good banter for him.

It’s an interesting misfire–way too heavy on the dystopian sci-fi–with nice art

CREDITS

Writer, Cullen Bunn; artist and colorist, Francesco Francavilla; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Jake Thomas and Lauren Sankovitch; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Captain America and Black Widow 636 (November 2012)

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I like Francesco Francavilla. He’s a little awkward with Captain America out on a mission and the superhero stuff, but he makes the talking heads interesting and he’s got a great rendering of Central Park at the open.

As for Cullen Bunn? He has a similar problem. The issue’s perfectly well-written, somewhat confounding stuff about an arms dealer seemingly with clones. Except all these clones have different memories, which Bunn covers in the narration. There’s a great bit with Hawkeye complaining about different dimensions.

But Bunn’s Steve Rogers lacks personality. He plays off people–Hawkeye, Iron Man, the bad arms dealer lady. Even when there’s a good line–Captain America liking Sizzler–it passes quickly. Does Steve Rogers really like Sizzler? There are Sizzlers in Brooklyn?

Bunn can probably get away with it, since the story’s intriguing (and he writes Black Widow well) but it’s unfortunate Steve’s so vapid.

CREDITS

Writer, Cullen Bunn; artist and colorist, Francesco Francavilla; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Jake Thomas and Lauren Sankovitch; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Sixth Gun 23 (June 2012)

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I’m unsure why this issue is called “Part Six” of the previous story arc. It’s a done in one setting up the next story arc a little, but also catching up with previous guest star Kirby Hale. In turn, he runs into some other former guest stars and Bunn’s plan for the next arc becomes somewhat clear.

Tyler Crook fills in on the art and does a fine job. Bunn writes Kirby as incorrigible, almost more likable after each page. Especially the finish. Bunn gives him a great exit line.

But where are Becky and Drake? It really didn’t seem like Bunn was done with them in the last issue and here they just get an off page mention. Maybe my expectations are out of whack as Bunn identifies this issue as part of the last story….

Titling concerns aside, it’s another excellent issue. Bunn clearly has his favorite guests.

CREDITS

A Town Called Penance, Part Six; writer, Cullen Bunn; artist, Tyler Crook; colorist, Bill Crabtree; letterer, Douglas E Sherwood; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

The Sixth Gun 22 (May 2012)

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Turns out I was wrong–last issue did end with a soft cliffhanger. Becky and Drake are relatively fine as this issue opens; Bunn does not acknowledge the dialogue-free previous issue either. It’s sort of strange, not to mention it, but the issue works anyway.

Bunn continues showing Drake’s viciousness, which is another interesting move. He’s juxtaposing that viciousness against the real possibility Drake is some kind of magical guy. Like an immortal soul tied to the metal in the guns. And Becky is along for the ride. There’s a great moment of conflict for her, when she internally questions Drake’s behavior. Of course, this internal questioning is just between lines of dialogue and in Hurtt’s art. It’s a great scene.

Neither the reader nor the characters know all the details about the guns, leading to a deferment in moral judgment to characters’ behaviors.

Bunn writes a good comic.

CREDITS

A Town Called Penance, Part Five; writer, Cullen Bunn; artist, Brian Hurtt; colorist, Bill Crabtree; letterer, Douglas E Sherwood; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

The Sixth Gun 21 (April 2012)

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Bunn does a dialogue-free issue. It should be called, “One Helluva Rescue,” as Becky saves Drake from his captors and they battle the Order in its stronghold.

But the issue isn’t just free of dialogue, it’s silent. When Becky and Drake communicate, they do it through body language. It’s not like Bunn and Hurtt are inferring they’re talking between panels. It’s just silent and that silence emphasizes the action.

The issue follows Becky until the last couple pages. How she finds the hideout, how she gets down to free Drake. Bunn even sticks with her when Drake takes his revenge–that moment, her waiting–is when it’s clear how far Bunn and Hurtt have taken their characters in Sixth Gun.

The issue also has a hard cliffhanger masquerading as a soft one. The leads are in danger of drowning.

It’s an awesome issue with some gorgeous artwork from Hurtt.

CREDITS

A Town Called Penance, Part Four; writer, Cullen Bunn; artist, Brian Hurtt; colorist, Bill Crabtree; letterer, Douglas E Sherwood; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

The Sixth Gun 20 (March 2012)

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Brian Hurtt has a very pleasant style to his artwork. It’s often warm, regardless of content. This issue, however, featuring Drake tortured, it’s not so pleasant. The aged doctor doing the torturing is almost cute in an eccentric mad scientist way, but he’s doing such terrible things. Hurtt’s art style leads to The Sixth Gun being a constant surprise.

Also a constant surprise is how low Bunn is willing to take Drake and still keep him a sympathetic character. Even when he’s being tortured, Bunn manages to reveal something else unpleasant about the character.

Meanwhile, Becky is in the middle of a shootout–which has a couple surprises–and it becomes clear Bunn’s keeping the arc’s supporting cast distant for a reason. While Drake’s scenes are interesting because it’s a lot of information about the backstory, Becky’s half of the issue is pure Western shootout excitement.

It’s an excellent issue.

A 

CREDITS

A Town Called Penance, Part Three; writer, Cullen Bunn; artist, Brian Hurtt; colorist, Bill Crabtree; letterer, Douglas E Sherwood; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

The Sixth Gun 19 (February 2012)

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Bunn still doesn’t have much of a story for Drake. He pretty much gets a good meal and then gets in a bunch of trouble. Or he’s about to get in a bunch of trouble. There’s the threat of it….

But Becky does get in a bunch of trouble, a couple times even. Bunn gives her the Yojimbo plot, which is more interesting because of the gender roles. Also because there’s a big secret she discovers and it plays into the plot a little.

Bunn’s really good at toying with reader expectations. There are a couple tense moments in the issue, lead characters in danger, where it seems like it could go either way.

And Hurtt gets some varied action to render. There are only two action scenes but they’re quite different.

There’s still a lack of spark to the new supporting cast members, but Gun’s starting to cook again.

CREDITS

A Town Called Penance, Part Two; writer, Cullen Bunn; artist, Brian Hurtt; colorist, Bill Crabtree; letterer, Douglas E Sherwood; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

The Sixth Gun 18 (January 2012)

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It’s a setup issue. Becky is in a desolate, starving town looking for Drake. Drake is meanwhile dealing with his captors. They both make–or think about making (it’s unclear so far)–unexpected deals.

And that recap is about it. Bunn introduces some new characters, but none of them resonate except the ones Becky encounters. They only resonate, however, because their situation is so desperate.

It’s not lazy writing, or even unimaginative… it’s just very workman. Bunn has to get the next arc setup and he does, only without making it compelling on its own. Instead, he lets the series’s momentum carry the issue through.

Sadly, the lack of action gives Hurtt little to do. His art’s excellent as usual, there’s just nothing dynamic going on.

The issue is too passive. Becky and Drake’s respective supporting casts are far more active than the leads. The imbalance makes the issue drag.

CREDITS

A Town Called Penance, Part One; writer, Cullen Bunn; artist, Brian Hurtt; colorist, Bill Crabtree; letterer, Douglas E Sherwood; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.