Eric Shanower

Age of Bronze 9 (December 2000)

97470.jpg

The issue ends with the good guys (at least, it seems like they’re the good guys) setting sail for Troy. I can’t say “finally,” because Shanower never really gave a timeline for when the war was to start. This issue is the first where the long lapses in time seem to affect the characters.

It opens with Achilles arriving. Shanower plays it as a comedic scene (for a while), which brings a moment of levity before the denseness sets in. Besides a lot of political stuff, there’s Achilles meeting his father for the first time in… an extended period. Again, Shanower needs a cast list—I didn’t even remember Achilles had a father.

There’s the seeds of betrayal regarding a priest (whose prophesies seem to be repeats), there’s the High King revealing victory will have its costs—there’s word Helen, the kidnapped, is soliciting troops for Troy.

Shanower’s started rolling.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, artist, inker and editor, Eric Shanower; publisher, Image Comics.

About these ads

Age of Bronze 8 (August 2000)

97469.jpg

Shanower needs to include two things. First are maps. He moves all over the place; each issue should end with a map. Second is a cast list. He’s got this one character returning after being gone three issues. It’d help if a cast list reminded the reader of characters and their histories.

Otherwise, it’s a fantastic issue, probably the best so far. With Odysseus, Shanower has finally found a worthy protagonist for the comic. The issue opens with him departing home, saying goodbye to wife and child, bringing the long missing human component.

Then Shanower does another one of those jumps in time. This issue is now almost two years since Helen was kidnapped, so probably a year passes at some point during this issue. The passage of time needs work.

Regardless, the series is finally coming together. Shanower is even working on the faces–Odysseus is very distinct and recognizable.

CREDITS

Writer, artist, inker and editor, Eric Shanower; publisher, Image Comics.

Age of Bronze 7 (March 2000)

97468.jpg

Shanower fast forwards approximately nine months and opens with the birth of Achilles’s son. No one knows about Achilles and the girl, everyone still thinking he’s a girl too. It’s somewhat extraordinary and doesn’t work in Shanower’s realistic retelling. Achilles is such a jerk, it’s also unlikely sometime in the nine months he wouldn’t have gone off the handle… as he does at the end of his scene.

No Helen or Paris, but Shanower finally gets around to presenting the political argument for the war. It’s an issue late (and the time period—why everyone took nine months off between this issue and last is problematic) but it’s a neccesary scene.

The last part of the issue is the introduction of Odysseus. Shanower handles the scene rather well (it’s nice to get someone heroic instead of not).

Great art here—though the faces still look alike.

It’s a strong issue.

CREDITS

Writer, artist, inker and editor, Eric Shanower; publisher, Image Comics.

Age of Bronze 6 (January 2000)

97467.jpg

Well, certainly by Republican standards, Achilles is not a rapist.

The issue ends with him, dressed as a female, forcing himself on a girl. They’re presumably about thirteen. Between him and Paris, Shanower seems to be implying men’s errors tend to be due to desire for women (in Paris’s case, Helen). I imagine it’s in the source material too, but it’s sort of boring.

Besides Achilles being a rapist and still being a hero, the issue’s excellent. Shanower goes all over the place with the story, lots of different characters, all of them properly identified so one isn’t trying to discern identity from appearance. The war is building up.

Again, there really isn’t much humanity to the story. Achilles’s friend (or girlfriend or victim) is about the only one who gets any non-melodramatic, event moments. She gets a couple panels.

It’s a wonderful exercise. The question is, of what?

CREDITS

Writer, artist, inker and editor, Eric Shanower; publisher, Image Comics.

Age of Bronze 5 (October 1999)

96653.jpg

The combination of everyone looking alike and Shanower being deceptive for emphasis really plays in this issue.

He opens with Helen’s two brothers coming home to find her missing. They look like Paris, only with facial hair. At least their identities are quickly revealed.

The problem comes with the rest of the issue, which doesn’t really concern Helen and Paris. Instead, it’s about someone’s mother. Now, Shanower is very quiet about the identity of the character for those readers not versed in ancient Greek literature.

It seems like it could be Paris because of some of the details and because this issue’s mystery mom looks just like Paris’s mom, only with some makeup on her cheeks.

It turns out the mystery kid is Achilles, who becomes another central character. Shanower writes Achilles as a more obnoxious version of Paris, only for the other side.

It’s still good, it’s just muddled.

CREDITS

Writer, artist, inker and editor, Eric Shanower; publisher, Image Comics.

Age of Bronze 4 (May 1999)

96652.jpg

Shanower constructs the plot of this issue well. It keeps the reader engaged–the focus moves from the unidentified Helen to Paris to other people around them, only becoming linear at the end. Shanower saves the big reveal–Paris is disobeying his father out of selfishness and is about to start a war–for the last couple pages.

The form lets Shanower get away with not having any character moments. Since Helen is unidentified, her sequences are more for effect. As the issue ends and Paris reveals himself to be stubborn, selfish and stupid, there isn’t enough time to reflect on it. Shanower moves on. The hero of the first issue has become the villain of the fourth.

Again, Shanower attempts sensual art and it just comes off as flat and somewhat creepy. And the people still look basically the same. Otherwise, the art’s great.

Shanower does a lot here.

CREDITS

Writer, artist, inker and editor, Eric Shanower; publisher, Image Comics.

Age of Bronze 3 (March 1999)

96651.jpg

Shanower seems to have worked past his problems now. The protagonist is no longer Paris, who is developing more into a villain (due to lack of intelligence) and the issue is better for it. Having Paris, with his fantastical history, works against making the book feel real.

Instead, Shanower moves the focus–for some of the issue–to Hektor. Hektor is thinking, feeling–his first scene is reuniting with his mother and siblings; it grounds Age of Bronze with real emotion. A lot of time goes toward ominous foreshadowing and moments without are welcome breathers.

This issue has a fantastic flashback–done with more cartoon-like art–to fill in some backstory. Shanower mixes the two styles seamlessly.

I’d always heard the series is a big deal; this issue is the first to show its potential.

Though, and I hate to say it because I love the art overall, all Shanower’s people pretty much look alike.

CREDITS

Writer, artist, inker and editor, Eric Shanower; publisher, Image Comics.

Age of Bronze 1 (November 1998)

96649.jpg

Shanower sets up Age of Bronze somewhat traditionally in the heroic sense. The protagonist, Paris, is secretly—or so it’s implied—of higher birth than his farmer parents. He’s bored of life as a cattle farmer and when the king’s men come to take away a prized bull, he sees the situation as wrong. So he sets out to do something about it.

Besides great art—the second page has this amazing shot of the cattle and Paris walking—Shanower brings a great deal of humor to it. Paris is the impetuous youth, running into a situation against all warning. Shanower doesn’t tell the story entirely from his perspective, so the reader is able to get a better view of the character.

The ending is a little abrupt; Shanower’s going from something cinematographic, but it doesn’t come off. It’s fine, just abrupt.

The sex scene, however, is bad. It’s creepy.

CREDITS

Writer, artist, inker and editor, Eric Shanower; publisher, Image Comics.

Dark Horse Presents 67 (November 1992)

dhp67.jpg

The issue opens with an idiotic story about an annoying character called Zoo-Lou. Hedden and McWeeney usually do great work. The art here’s excellent, but the writing is an absolute nightmare. Dark Horse really loves poking fun at themselves… and usually it comes out awful, like Zoo-Lou.

An Accidental Death comes to its conclusion here. No one does this kind of angst and suffering like Brubaker. Everything he does these days is a waste compared to what he could be doing. Brilliant work from Shanower too.

Duffy and Sakamoto have an awful story called Nestrobber. It’s just atrocious.

The Predator story is weird–it’s based on an Andrew Vachss story. Not bad, just too soon to tell.

Campbell’s got a funny Alec, then Russell closes with an Oscar Wilde adaptation. It’s a brilliant piece of work, but it really needs color to make the fairy tale element work.

CREDITS

Zoo-Lou vs. Editor; story, art and lettering by Rich Heddon and Tom McWeeney. An Accidental Death, Part Three; story by Ed Brubaker; art and lettering by Eric Shanower. Nestrobber, Money for Nothing; story by Jo Duffy; art and lettering by Maya Sakamoto. Predator, Race War, Part One; story by Andrew Vachss; adapted by Randy Stradley; pencils by Jordan Raskin; inks by John Beatty; lettering by Clem Robins. Alec, A Pub Far Away; pencils, inks and lettering by Eddie Campbell. The Selfish Giant; story by Oscar Wilde; adaptation, art and lettering by P. Craig Russell. Edited by Randy Stradley.

Dark Horse Presents 66 (September 1992)

dhp66.jpg

Obviously, the major attraction is the second chapter of An Accidental Death. The pace changes throughout; it opens with the body being hidden, then Brubaker moves to summary, then to scene again. The final scene–the discovery–comes after the two boys (the protagonist and the murderer) start to discover where they really live. Reality, in more ways than one, rushes in on them. But Brubaker’s writing is nuanced, never obvious. It’s just lovely.

Then Dr. Giggles, hopefully, finishes up. I don’t think I’ve mentioned how inept Coto is at plotting this narrative. The plot developments get stupider and stupider. At least it’s over.

The Concrete story is a little overwritten… lots of narration, but it’s amusing and Chadwick and Hotchkiss do a great job with the art.

The issue ends with two one page Alec comics from Campbell. Both are quiet, wonderful and somewhat profound. It’s such good work.

CREDITS

Concrete, Byrdland’s Secret; story and art by Paul Chadwick; lettering by Bill Spicer. Dr. Giggles, Part Three; story by Manny Coto; art by Alan J. Burrows; lettering by Willie Schubert. An Accidental Death, Part Two; story by Ed Brubaker; art and lettering by Eric Shanower. Alec, Genetic Defects and Overheard While I Was Supposed to be Working; story, art and lettering by Eddie Campbell. Edited by Randy Stradley.

Dark Horse Presents 65 (August 1992)

dhp65.jpg

An Accidental Death opens this issue. It’s been a while since I’ve read it. The most immediate thing is Shanower’s art. It’s finished and precise; I’m sure Dark Horse Presents has had artwork as good, I just can’t think of any example. But then there’s Brubaker’s writing–and the way he presents the moral ambiguity of being a teenager. He’s able to make the naive behavior create sympathy… then the danger arises. It’s great work.

The Dr. Giggles story has awful writing from Coto. He didn’t get any better between issues. Burrows has some really gross visuals here and they work. It’s just sad Dark Horse used Presents to hawk their crappy movie tie-in. Unfortunately, it’s not even the worst thing they published to this point.

Hedden and McSweeney contribute a story without dialogue or narration. The reader gets to cut and paste. The art’s fantastic, but it’s pointless.

CREDITS

An Accidental Death, Part One; story by Ed Brubaker; art and lettering by Eric Shanower. Dr. Giggles, Part Two; story by Manny Coto; art by Alan J. Burrows; lettering by Bill Spicer. Interact-O-Rama; pencils by Rich Hedden; inks by Tom McWeeney. Edited by Randy Stradley.