Garth Ennis

Rover Red Charlie

Rover Red Charlie 4 (February 2014)

Rover Red Charlie #4

Ennis utilizes a very effective device this issue–he has such a great last scene, it overrides the issue’s problem. What problem? Three things happen the entire issue.

One of the friends tries cooking duck, the friends meet an army dog, the friends meet an infected dog. Three things. Ennis drags out the army dog meeting, which doesn’t really service much purpose other than to show how different dogs think. Of course, that level of examination seems more appropriate for an ongoing, not a limited series.

He also makes an effort to hint at whatever has driven the humans crazy. There’s no place in the series to give an answer to the reader–the narrating dog realizes he’s been on his own long enough he wants to know why, but it’s for him (and he wants to know why about many things now).

It’s still good and thoughtful, just slight.

B 

CREDITS

Walked Off to Look for America; writer, Garth Ennis; artist and colorist, Michael DiPascale; letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.

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Caliban

Caliban 1 (March 2014)

Caliban #1

Oh, good, Garth Ennis wants to try his hand at derivative sci-fi. Caliban takes place on a ship traveling through warpspace–which sounds a lot more “realistic” than hyperspace or warp… wait, never mind. It doesn’t.

But he does try to work in the reality of cryogenic sleep for long voyages. The cast of the series are the maintenance crew for the ship who don’t get to sleep. Instead they bicker and flirt and write very explanatory journal entries on their iPads.

Given the odd pacing and pointless characters, I wonder if Ennis tried his hand at writing a movie script. Because as a comic, this issue is a mess. It’s more annoying than anything else once it gets obvious. Regurgitated sci-fi movie ideas from as far back as 2001 and as recent as Prometheus.

It’s not even an imaginative regurgitation.

Facundo Percio’s mediocre art is another problem.

C 

CREDITS

The Ship; writer, Garth Ennis; penciller, Facundo Percio; inker, Sebastian Cabrol; colorist, Hernán Cabrera; letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.

Rover Red Charlie

Rover Red Charlie 3 (January 2014)

Rover Red Charlie #3

Every once in a while, Garth Ennis must decide he has to do something to remind everyone how thoroughly raunchy he can get. Unlike a lot of his recent work, his raunchy moment in this issue of Rover Red Charlie works a lot like how it worked in Preacher. With witnesses echoing the reader’s plea for Ennis not to take things there.

It’s foul, but the foul isn’t bad. It’s just foul and gross and sticks in one’s mind’s eye even after the page–and comic–has passed.

Of course, having Dipascale’s sweet art for that moment makes it even more intense.

This issue, Ennis introduces a lot. Characters, ideas, about the only thing he doesn’t introduce are new dog vocabulary terms. There are a few, but nothing as memorable as before.

Sorry to be so myopic….

The issue’s solid, formulaic but still engaging. The soft cliffhanger’s too ominous though.

B 

CREDITS

God Backwards; writer, Garth Ennis; artist and colorist, Michael DiPascale; letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.

Rover Red Charlie

Rover Red Charlie 2 (December 2013)

Rover Red Charlie #2

Ennis brings in the cats. The hisspots. I can’t spoil the twists and turns with them, but he does a great job with it.

He ends the issue on a very melancholy note and one has to wonder if he’s just lost his ability to riff. He needs to be more controlled, more thoughtful, more measured. Like his comics can’t grow organically, they need to be regimented.

And it works for Rover Red Charlie. He creates genuine concern for the three main characters, probably utilizing a reader’s built in sympathy for animals, even though most of his effort is spent expanding the dog mind.

He knows he’s doing it. If it weren’t for the vocabulary, how he uses the exposition, not to mention DiPascale’s art, the ending would flop. Instead, it’s a cheap glorious, but glorious nonetheless.

However, Ennis has four issues left. Lots of time to trip himself up.

B+ 

CREDITS

A Distant Shore; writer, Garth Ennis; artist and colorist, Michael DiPascale; letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.

Rover Red Charlie

Rover Red Charlie 1 (November 2013)

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I was sort of expecting Rover Red Charlie to be a Crossed spin-off. It’s Garth Ennis doing a story where people go nuts and start killing each other in awful ways. Why not do something sly like a crossover.

You know, for marketing.

Only Charlie is unexpected because Ennis is doing something he hasn’t done much lately and usually not at Avatar. He’s trying. He’s setting up characters, he’s showing his soft side, he’s working in the insane terminology of dogs. It’s crazy inventive as far as the dogs go, not just how their society works, but how Ennis shows their perspective of the apocalypse. It’s awesome.

It helps he’s got Michael DiPascale on the art. The style is just right. DiPascale draws the dogs like it’s a greeting card and the end of the world with fresh eyes. Literally. It’s very clean apocalypse.

Ennis certainly raises one’s expectations.

B+ 

CREDITS

Something Happened; writer, Garth Ennis; artist and colorist, Michael DiPascale; letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.

The Boys 72 (November 2012)

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And what does Ennis do for the finish? Pretty much exactly what I figured he’d do.

There’s nothing really new to it, except maybe some gesture of humanity from the corporate jerk, which makes one wonder why Ennis bothered. Darick Robertson comes back (with assists from Richard P. Clark). It makes sense, since Robertson created the series with Ennis, only Russ Braun’s been doing the book for ages….

Having Robertson back doesn’t remind of the good times. For better or worse, Ennis broke the comic to the point nothing could fix it. The new and improved Hughie is a laughable creation. I don’t think Ennis could get one natural scene out of him–first thing, he tries (and fails) to show the old Hughie shining through.

After not even faking caring for dozens of issues, Ennis attempts to put on a sincere face. It doesn’t work… but could be worse.

CREDITS

You Found Me; writer, Garth Ennis; artists, Darick Robertson and Richard P. Clark; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Boys 71 (October 2012)

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For the last regular issue–there’s one more, but this one ends the plot line of the the final arc at least–Ennis does rather well. He doesn’t recover the series, however. He turns in almost a standalone. One wouldn’t have to read the previous thirty or forty issues to still get a good experience.

One definitely wouldn’t have to read all the ancillary series, even though Ennis directly refers to many of them.

It’s a talking heads issue, a return to the good old days of Hughie and Butcher shooting the shit. And this time, Braun does really well with the scenery.

Unfortunately, a lot of the dialogue has to do with the silly stuff Ennis was done with The Boys. It reminds the reader the characters were deeper without Ennis trying too hard than when he pushes too hard.

It doesn’t right the course, but it’s definitely good.

CREDITS

The Bloody Doors Off, Conclusion; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Boys 70 (September 2012)

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It’s a fast issue. Hughie gets to meet some mentioned, but never seen characters. Well, let’s just say Ennis should have gone the Vera and Maris route because doing a Lovecraft thing? Not the best scene. He can’t even make it funny when he tries.

Ennis resolves two mysteries the series never needed solving. Then he kicks off an ending somewhat akin to the one in Preacher. He has an excuse for it, sure, but it’s the same thing. Only Braun doesn’t go in enough for the iconic scenery to make it work.

There’s also a complete misfire of a 9/11 reference, which doesn’t sit particularly well. Ennis isn’t trying anything with The Boys, something I feared back when it became clear where he was going with things. Even worse than not trying–I just realized he borrows two things from Preacher–he’s not even trying to be witty.

CREDITS

The Bloody Doors Off, Part Five; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Boys 69 (August 2012)

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I’d say another problem with Ennis’s big twist is how many twists does he really need for this comic book. He’s about to hit seventy issues–I’m not going to do the math, but his readers have dropped north of two hundred bucks on this series (especially since it’s so heavy on continuity–no jumping on late)… Isn’t that investment worth something from the writer besides three or four twists in the grand finale?

Especially when the twists don’t amount to anything. Ennis is at least playing this “big” twist out through the finale arc. The last big twist got resolved in an issue or two.

Worse yet, he doesn’t seem to know how to write his villain. He turns him into a Bond villain and not a very good one.

It’s like he never wanted anyone to read this series a second time through. It’s a perplexing cop out.

CREDITS

The Bloody Doors Off, Part Four; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Boys 68 (July 2012)

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I don’t think I’ve ever quite read something like what Ennis is doing with The Boys. He’s making the reader feel bad about liking the comic. It’s a crazy thing, full of hostility.

There’s also some other stuff. Some good stuff. Well, the one good moment where the Female finally talks. It’s an awesome moment, really subdued. Ennis delivers that moment. The crazy stuff with the cliffhanger? Not so much.

But he’s operating on two levels simultaneously. He’s rewarding the reader for his or her patience while also chastising him or her for liking the characters. It’ll be interesting to see where he takes it. Maybe not good or even engaging, but interesting.

The opening, full of exposition as Hughie reveals the plans he’s discovered–but Mother’s Milk stays oddly quiet as to why he’s on board with Hughie–is a mess though. Ennis just can’t hide his boredom anymore.

CREDITS

The Bloody Doors Off, Part Three; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Boys 67 (June 2012)

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The biggest surprise this issue–and the issue has three or four surprises, maybe five–has to be Ennis deciding to deport the Boys. Except Mother’s Milk. It’s a throwaway little bit, intended to show how Hughie is becoming more like Butcher, but it’s an unexpected complication.

The other surprises? While Ennis hasn’t been foreshadowing them directly, he’s been hinting at them for quite some time. On one hand, he might be getting ambitious again with where he’s going to take the series for its conclusion. On the other, it’s a lot of sensationalism–over and over and over again this issue–and Ennis has already burned out the series’s ability to shock.

Strangely enough, when he’s showing the characters in such distress–previously likable characters–he can’t create concern for them. He’s let the series get too cynical, too harsh, for anyone to register as a human being anymore.

D+ 

CREDITS

The Bloody Doors Off, Part Two; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Boys 66 (May 2012)

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Ennis opens with the most exciting thing in the issue–only he doesn’t intimate there’s not going to be anything else exciting in the issue. He also doesn’t explain the scene. He just lets it play out, then goes back to the fallout from the previous arc.

The Boys sort of break up this issue. They take a break, with Butcher messing around with everyone–mostly Hughie–and then Hughie has another big scene with Annie.

There’s also the corporate stuff, but it’s unclear if Ennis is doing it to show the resilient evil of corporate America or if it’s a subplot he’s going to bring in. Maybe it doesn’t matter.

This arc is set some time–a month, maybe more–after the previous issue. It already feels like a different comic. Instead of a last issue, Ennis is doing a last arc as postscript.

There’s very nice Braun art.

CREDITS

The Bloody Doors Off, Part One; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Boys 65 (April 2012)

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And Ennis comes up with a huge surprise reveal–before teasing a surprise in the next issue. He doesn’t go as far with it as he could; he basically does a Brubaker. He reveals something in the characters’ history to change everything they knew and so on. He doesn’t do a full Brubaker though. I was worried he’d go too far… instead, he goes just far enough. It’s an awesome twist.

It just doesn’t make for an awesome finish. Seeing the Air Force take out the superheroes probably ought to be cooler but it’s just an expository moment. Ennis doesn’t worry about giving the reader anything to care about. It’s an odd misstep, given his experience writing war comics.

But the finish, with Butcher, isn’t particularly good either. It’s a little bit of too much in one issue and too many tricks in one issue.

Still, the big twist rocks.

CREDITS

Over the Hills With the Swords of a Thousand Men, Conclusion; writer, Garth Ennis; artists, Russ Braun, John McCrea and Keith Burns; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Boys 64 (March 2012)

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There’s so much talking. Ennis just has Butcher and Hughie standing around talking for what seems like six pages. They’re waiting at the White House for the big showdown, only there’s a secret they don’t realize–Black Noir is up to something and no one knows about it except Mother’s Milk….

And he decides to wait until next issue to tell Hughie. Why? For drama.

It’s an enjoyable issue, especially with the Voight guy giving the Homelander a speech. The speech sort of implies the superheroes are disappointing because they never do attain the comic book ideal. It’s the closest Ennis has ever gotten to anyone hoping for such a thing in this series. It’s out of place, but a good moment.

There’s some other stuff–all the dirt on the superheroes gets out–but really it’s just Ennis getting ready for the big finale.

Like I said, enjoyable stuff.

CREDITS

Over the Hills With the Swords of a Thousand Men, Part Five; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Russ Braun; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.