Batman: The Dark Knight 4 (June 1986)

Miller probably could have spread this issue out over two. There’s the follow-up to the Joker’s death, there’s a bit with Superman fighting the Russians, there’s Gotham as a disaster zone. Miller gets confused. His comic’s working at cross purposes. Clark sees a connection with Bruce and Bruce doesn’t, so there’s the epic fight scene only Clark comes off more sympathetic. Bruce is working towards an end without any self-awareness. Clark has nothing but self-awareness. There’s also the series’s first third person narration. Miller uses it for Alfred at the end; it’s a mistake. It treats Alfred as disposable, which … Continue reading Batman: The Dark Knight 4 (June 1986)

Batman: The Dark Knight 3 (May 1986)

I guess Miller liked having interior monologues so much, he gave them to everyone. Batman, Superman, Robin, the Joker, the new police commissioner. I don’t think anyone else. But there’s a lot of interior monologue. More than the media coverage. Superman’s is actually the most revelatory. Miller writes him as scared, which is sort of funny considering he’s Superman. The best monologue, in terms of writing, is probably Robin’s. She only has it for a few pages, during an action scene, and Miller is terse. Terse works for it. As for the Joker and Batman? Their monologues are about the … Continue reading Batman: The Dark Knight 3 (May 1986)

Batman: The Dark Knight 2 (April 1986)

This issue, Batman becomes less of a lead character in his own comic. Miller writes his some good interior monologues–occasionally really good. The standouts usually reveal something–like how Batman uses environment to beat the Mutant Leader or how, when delirious, he has one-sided conversations with the absent Dick Grayson. But, for the most part, it’s not Batman’s comic. Some of it is the reaction to Batman returning; there’s a lot of media talking heads going on about him. To justify Batman’s vigilante behavior, Miller then shows a lot of innocent people in peril scenes and the public’s response. Their response … Continue reading Batman: The Dark Knight 2 (April 1986)

Batman: The Dark Knight 1 (March 1986)

Miller establishes he’s telling The Dark Knight [Returns] in twelve panels a page, four columns, four rows. He quickly breaks this layout, but always for emphasis. I’d never realized how beautifully he designs the comic. It’s very cinematic, even if the actual content often isn’t visual. He implies most of the action. Batman’s return is mostly implied, the issue’s fight scene finale is all implied. Miller even implies big plot developments instead of just showing them. The result is being either inside Batman’s head–and Miller goes out of his way to show how psychologically disturbed he is from the first … Continue reading Batman: The Dark Knight 1 (March 1986)

Daredevil 170 (May 1981)

Miller brings back the Kingpin and, wow, is it bad. The Kingpin stuff isn’t terrible–Wilson’s off in Japan, “reformed” thanks to his wife–but the Daredevil stuff is the worst Miller’s written so far. Whether it’s Matt’s lame thought balloon explanations of how his powers work, which Miller doesn’t stick with when he should, or just the goofy dialogue, this issue has terrible writing. Even worse, the art’s weak. It looks like Miller really just sketched it out and let Janson fill in the blanks. Except Janson didn’t work really hard on the inks either. The result is an ugly, blocky … Continue reading Daredevil 170 (May 1981)

Daredevil 169 (March 1981)

Frank Miller sure does write a great Batman comic. Oh, wait, this is Daredevil? Regardless of Matt acting rather batty, it’s an excellent comic. Bullseye has escaped Arkham, where they discovered he’s actually got a tumor and he’s causing him to misbehave more than usual. He’s on the streets, assaulting people he mistakes for Daredevil–once again, Miller’s got a nice, unexplored inference. Bullseye can’t tell the hallucinated Daredevils from the real one. There’s a bunch of good action scenes, including a great fight in a movie theater with some nicely layered supporting dialogue and fine use of film stills. Miller … Continue reading Daredevil 169 (March 1981)

Daredevil 168 (January 1981)

Miller’s first issue as a writer, not to mention the first appearance of Elektra, is nearly an abject misfire. Miller’s handle on Matt Murdock’s history is shaky. He’s retroactively introducing this all important new character, but his backstory for Matt’s awful. Matt and Foggy are in college. Matt’s never used his powers, except to help the clumsy Foggy, but he’s had them for four years. He’s also a nitwit. When college Matt meets college Elektra, he thinks she rejects him because he’s blind… not because she’s got a bodyguard who makes it impossible for her to have a social life … Continue reading Daredevil 168 (January 1981)

Daredevil 167 (November 1980)

This issue opens at a Long Island estate, but there’s no geographic reference so for a minute or two I thought it’d be Daredevil in Beverly Hills. It could be quite easily, since the estate is the center of the issue. When David Michelinie does take the action back to Manhattan, it’s just for a panel or two of a determined Matt Murdock. Michelinie’s script, and his focus on keeping the action in one general setting, feels “low budget” but it works. He has a compelling enough mystery, a lot of good action opportunities for Frank Miller and Klaus Janson … Continue reading Daredevil 167 (November 1980)

Daredevil 166 (September 1980)

Matt has to run out on Foggy’s wedding because the Gladiator (I guess DC’s not the only company with idiotic villains) is holding a bunch of kids hostage–underprivileged kids, no less. There’s enough going on McKenzie’s weaker writing habits don’t glare like usual and the issue’s pretty good until it’s obvious the kids aren’t in any actual danger. And setting the big fight in a museum of supervillains is a little goofy. Sure, there’s supposed to be other stuff at the museum, but it’s just bad guys. Miller and Janson do phenomenal on the action art and pretty well on … Continue reading Daredevil 166 (September 1980)

Daredevil 165 (July 1980)

Daredevil versus Dr. Octopus should be entertaining, right? McKenzie and (now co-plotter) Miller fail to make it entertaining. The big problem, besides McKenzie’s now routinely silly dialogue and narration, is the Black Widow. She’s in Matt’s apartment, helping him do investigative work, but she’s not important to the issue whatsoever. She’s around to be jealous and to run off when he hurts her feelings. McKenzie’s incapable of writing these troubled romance scenes. At best, they’re awkward. At worst, they’re laughable. As for Doc Ock and Daredevil? It feels like Spidey and Doc Ock. Daredevil’s banter immediately drifts into Parker territory … Continue reading Daredevil 165 (July 1980)

Daredevil 164 (May 1980)

I have two big problems with this issue. First, Ben Urich–as a character–was never going to out Matt as Daredevil. Wait, three problems. Okay, continuing. Urich was never going to out Matt, so why use him instead of another reporter who might actually do it. Second problem, why do another Daredevil origin? Sure, Miller and Janson draw a great comic and even make the yellow costume look good, but it’s kind of pointless. The retelling gives no new information. The third problem, which is related to the second, is all the “devil” stuff. Apparently the Marvel Universe is a place … Continue reading Daredevil 164 (May 1980)

Daredevil 163 (March 1980)

The cover, with Daredevil looking at an out-of-frame Hulk, is probably the best thing about this comic. Bruce Banner’s in New York and Matt’s the only one who can help him. Sadly, there’s no help for the creative team. Between McKenzie’s lame script, which gives the Hulk origin in expository thought balloons at least twice, and the tepid art, this issue’s a drag. Miller’s got Joe Rubinstein assisting Janson on the inks, but one can’t blame the inkers here. Miller doesn’t know how to draw the Hulk. The body and musculature is all off. Worse is the city. After all … Continue reading Daredevil 163 (March 1980)

Daredevil 161 (November 1979)

McKenzie opens the issue writing a black guy like Stepin Fetchit. I guess Marvel didn’t worry about appealing to black readers. The art from Miller and Janson make up for a lot of McKenzie’s bad writing. There’s some great action stuff at Coney Island, which all looks amazing. One double page spread in particular is wonderful. The finale, though, disappoints. There’s a lot of Black Widow and McKenzie writes her poorly. Maybe if he didn’t entirely rely on her thought balloons it would be better. He also writes Bullseye bad, which closes the issue off on a bad footing. Miller … Continue reading Daredevil 161 (November 1979)

Daredevil 160 (September 1979)

I think I’m unappreciative of a narrative cuteness from McKenzie. The issue opens “Epilogue” and closes with “Prologue.” I think McKenzie means it to be “prologue” to the next issue while the opening is “epilogue” to the previous issue. If the above is right, it’s dumb. If it’s wrong and no one caught the mixup, it’s worse. I can’t decide between the two. I mean, McKenzie forgets Matt Murdock’s blind here for a bit. Miller and Janson still turn in strong art, but there’s nothing spectacular about it. McKenzie has a lot going on in the issue–Bullseye and Black Widow, … Continue reading Daredevil 160 (September 1979)

Daredevil 159 (July 1979)

It’s a good thing Miller and Janson’s art is so strong, because there’s not much else to recommend this issue. Their New York rooftops are just fantastic. Anyway, McKenzie shows an inclination to decompression here. A mystery bad guy hires an assassin to take out Daredevil. There’s some lead-up to the big fight with the assassin’s henchmen threatening Matt and Foggy, but most of the issue is just the fight. While Daredevil’s outnumbered and even ends up in the water during the fight, there’s no contest. There’s no real struggle for him and it’s boring. The art’s good throughout the … Continue reading Daredevil 159 (July 1979)

Daredevil 158 (May 1979)

Frank Miller’s first issue of Daredevil–he’s the new penciller–gets off to a rocky start. Roger McKenzie follows Black Widow through the Unholy Three kidnapping Matt. It’s a lot of Natasha whining about her place in the world, how she’s a curse on everything around her. She’s very annoying. And Miller and inker Klaus Janson draw her funny on the first page. But once McKenzie’s following Matt through his kidnapping, the issue gets good. The revelation of the bad guy–the Death-Stalker (who’s really ugly, which is entirely for the reader’s benefit, not Matt’s) and the resolution are excellent. Miller does a … Continue reading Daredevil 158 (May 1979)

Dark Horse Presents 114 (October 1996)

Miller’s pseudo-anti-misogyny Lance Blastoff is back… it’s amazing how someone can turn in something so stupid and pretend it’s profound. I guess the sci-fi setting means Miller has to work a little harder on his art. Trypto gets weird this time. The dog develops superpowers and goes around (flying like Krypto) freeing and magically rehabilitating dogfighting dogs. And maybe killing the fight audience. Mumy and Ferrer’s script is fine. They turn their passion for the cause (anti-dogfighting) into a working story. Again, Leialoha bites off more than he can chew art-wise. Simonson copies and pastes a bunch of panels, zooming … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents 114 (October 1996)

Dark Horse Presents 100 4 (August 1995)

I guess Dave Gibbons had no quibbles about Frank Miller ripping off Watchmen for their Martha Washington story this issue. Nice art, bad writing. Forney’s got an anecdote about meeting Tom Waits. It has some charm, but not enough to sustain it. Then Geary’s back with a one page strip, as are Pekar and Sacco. They’re both harmless (but thank goodness they’re short). Warner brings in a Black Cross piece. His writing has gotten a little better in terms of dialogue in the hundred issues since he introduced the character. The story’s useless though. Art’s not terrible, not good. Sendelbach’s … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents 100 4 (August 1995)

Dark Horse Presents 100 1 (August 1995)

Where to start…. Miller opens the issue with sort of a “ha ha, you can’t say it’s misogynistic because it’s intentional” Lance Blastoff! story. Killing dinosaurs, eating meat, those are the things women really need whether they know it or not. The writing’s crap—no shock—but Miller at least draws the dinosaurs. Bennett and Guinan’s Heartbreakers returns after fifty issues and is no less boring. Sometimes it veers towards interesting territory, but it’s setup for more adventures. Bennett and Guinan avoid the human factor in the new ground situation. Art’s decent. Pekar and Sacco’s thing is, besides being pointless, fine. French’s … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents 100 1 (August 1995)

Dark Horse Presents 62 (May 1992)

Maybe what Miller needs for Sin City is a full issue. This issue, dedicated to Marv finishing up all the villains–I wonder if Miller intentionally gave his psychotic cannibal a harmless name like Kevin or if there’s some backstory to it–and getting executed, is nearly reasonable. The opening is a disaster, with lots of the Miller narration, but there’s actual humor in the issue, like when Marv crawls into bed with the girl. Miller has some extra lazy moments with art here, though no more than usual. The issue works because of Marv’s likability. It’s all contrived and really stupid, … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents 62 (May 1992)

Dark Horse Presents 61 (April 1992)

Sin City has gotten useless to the point I’m not even sure I should talk about it. It’s sort of interesting in regards to Miller’s terrible plotting. One might think he’d adapt Chandler or even Hammett, just amping it up, but he doesn’t. He figures out his own “hard boiled” structure and it’s awful. I guess he draws a little bit more this entry than usual. Not much though. It’s the longest Earth Boys story so far and the extra pages don’t help the writing. But Story’s back inking Johnson, so it definitely looks a lot better. The Creep is … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents 61 (April 1992)

Dark Horse Presents 60 (March 1992)

Oh, lucky me, Sin City isn’t over yet. Instead, Miller spends most of his pages with one image, a lot of white space and even more terrible narration. I think I hate this entry the most. Not sure if it’s because I’m subjected to more of Miller’s writing or if it’s because I thought I was actually done with Sin City for now. Geary has two different strips this issue. One’s two pages, the other is one. Neither is particularly good, but the second one is pretty bad, actually. Nice art, weak sentimental nonsense. The Creep starts its second story … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents 60 (March 1992)

Dark Horse Presents 59 (February 1992)

Wow, I really don’t know what’s the best thing in the issue. Geary’s one page entry is a failure. It’s his solid art, but the writing doesn’t work here. It’s just too much forced sentiment. Alien Fire seemingly comes to an end this issue–some very nice space frog art from Vincent–but Smith’s writing is just addlebrained. I can’t believe more attention would make it make any sense… I also can’t imagine giving it any more attention. It’s been one of the biggest wastes of time in Dark Horse Presents in a while. I think Sin City‘s first arc ends here. … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents 59 (February 1992)

Dark Horse Presents 58 (January 1992)

Well, the first installment of Alien Fire might have been good but this one is not. It’s apparently some sci-fi thing about a car and Native Americans and homophobes. Or something along those lines. It’s got a lot of quirky details, which Vincent draws well enough, but it’s useless. The Creep finishes (hopefully not for good). Arcudi has a nice close, but the real sell in this installment is Eaglesham. He does this lengthy dialogue-free sequence and it’s beautiful. A very pleasant surprise. Duffy’s Fancies continues. It’s cute (I think Fancies is a play on fantasy), though I’m wondering what … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents 58 (January 1992)

Dark Horse Presents 57 (December 1991)

Not much to recommend Next Men this time. Byrne handles his violent action sequence well, but he’s also selling a U.S. senator killing a federal agent. Who knows, maybe it’s all a Tea Party thing. Regardless, no longer interested in the series. The Creep is, again, excellent. I can’t believe Arcudi’s writing it. And Eaglesham’s artwork is great. He’s doing this unfinished finished look, hard to explain. Geary does one page. It’s fine. His longer work’s better. Alien Fire is this excellent sixties piece about a Vietnam vet. It’s very quiet, lovely writing from Smith. Vincent’s artwork is good, with … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents 57 (December 1991)

Dark Horse Presents 56 (November 1991)

This oversized issue opens and closes with an Aliens two-parter. Loose art from Guinan and Akins doesn’t help Arcudi’s script. It’s absolutely incomprehensible if you don’t read the Aliens series. Byrne finally produces a Next Men I’m not interested in. It’s two government guys revealing all. The art’s really, really mediocre. It’s like even Byrne doesn’t have any interest in this part of the story, which really makes one wonder why he’s bothering tell it. Duffy and Geary both have nice stories. Duffy (with Chacon art) has an amusing fantasy story, Fancies about a tavern fight, while Geary does the … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents 56 (November 1991)

Dark Horse Presents 55 (October 1991)

Sin City is really bad this time. The amount of white space suggests Miller didn’t spend a lot of time drawing it. It also doesn’t seem like he spent much time writing it. Even with his terrible narration, this installment is a new low. Though I guess some of it does sound a lot like the Spirit movie narration, which doesn’t seem appropriate. Johnson’s art is a little better on this installment of Earth Boys. He clearly worked at it more. But the story itself is still terribly written (by Biggers and Brooks). Byrne continues his Next Men with a … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents 55 (October 1991)

Dark Horse Presents 54 (September 1991)

The big surprise this issue is Byrne’s Next Men. It’s actually pretty solid (though I think it features all four Byrne faces). The art’s great–nice flow of action–and the story’s intriguing. I think it’s the strongest narrative structure I’ve ever read from Byrne (though it might just be because it’s a prologue). Geary’s got a few Transgression Hotline strips. They’re solid, amusing and unremarkable. Geary’s a professional though and they’re well-produced. The Homicide closer from Morrow and Arcudi is fabulous. Morrow transforms the strip from Arcudi’s regular bore to something out of a film noir. During this installment, Arcudi even … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents 54 (September 1991)

Dark Horse Presents 53 (August 1991)

It turns out all I need to like Homicide is a good artist. I think Arcudi fashioned the story to fit Morrow’s sensibilities, but it’s easily the best dialogue Arcudi’s written on the series. Morrow really shows how important an artist is in making a mediocre (at best) script work. Geary’s got a single page again. It’s a little more profound than usual and not entirely successful. Paley’s got a crazy cat strip and it’s simply lovely. She breaks the comic strips panels and lets loose this swash of ink. Even with Morrow in the issue, it’s the best art, … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents 53 (August 1991)

Dark Horse Presents 52 (July 1991)

The Bacchus story is a really upsetting story of Simpson, Bacchus’s sidekick, and his journey through hell. I’m not up on my Dante, but it seems like it follows Inferno a little bit. It’s a good story, but it’s a real downer and very different from the other Bacchus entries so far. The Heartbreakers story features some really dumb plot developments. But Bennett may have gotten the narrative to a good starting point. Finally. Then there’s Sin City—two installments in and I’m really sick of it. Half the story looks like Miller’s drew Batman then replaced him with Marv (trench … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents 52 (July 1991)