Mignola looks good in black and white. There are some very effective panels in Hellboy. The writing helps. He knows when to write and when to just let the art do its work. Up until the end of this issue, it’s almost like Hellboy is a passive force in the story. He’s an unknown quantity. Then he starts kicking butt at the end. Oh, and horrifying werewolf transformation sequence. It’s short, but amazing.
As for Paleolove, the only thing Davis is worse at writing than narration is apparently scenes between two men. It’s hard to believe these cavemen could even follow what the other is saying since Davis seems to think dialogue is better the more confusing it gets. I wonder what Paleolove would be like if Davis could write or draw well.
Finally, there’s another Baden. Lots of technobabble. McCallum’s art is still fine, Alexander’s writing is still bad.
Hellboy, The Wolves of Saint August, Part Three; story and art by Mike Mignola; lettering by Pat Brosseau; edited by Barbara Kesel. Paleolove, Part Three; story, art and lettering by Gary Davis. Baden, Part Two; story by Jim Alexander; art by Rob McCallum; lettering by Clem Robins. Edited by Bob Schreck and Edward Martin III.
This issue features something I never wanted to see… a Paleolove pin-up from Davis. You can tear it out and put bad art up on your wall.
His artwork is really weak for the first half, maybe his worst ever. It gets a little better for the second half of the boring installment. The writing is absolutely awful (Davis goes on and on about the “manly arts” here—basically hunting). He brings in another old character, but at least gives this one something to do.
The Hellboy story is good. It’s amazing how Mignola can make them spooky but generally mainstream. Hellboy’s barely in this installment, most of it has to do with the mystery, but his sidekick gets more page time it seems.
Alexander and McCallum’s Baden is some stupid sci-fi story about a riot cyborg or something. McCallum’s art isn’t bad but Alexander’s script is atrocious.
Hellboy, The Wolves of Saint August, Part Two; story and art by Mike Mignola; lettering by Pat Brosseau; edited by Barbara Kesel. Paleolove, Part Two; story, art and lettering by Gary Davis. Baden, Part One; story by Jim Alexander; art by Rob McCallum; lettering by Clem Robins. Edited by Bob Schreck and Edward Martin III.
Is this issue the first appearance of Hellboy? I think it might be my first full Hellboy (not B.P.R.D.) story. It’s good, but Mignola does something weird with the conclusion. He sets the whole thing up, then has Hellboy come in and reveal it all before the first installment’s done. Makes all the setup a little unnecessary.
Then Lang and Lieber have another of their charming Nanny Katie stories. In this one, she’s revealed to be—at least I assume—an immortal storytelling nanny. It’s a gentle story about an old man waiting for his sons to arrive at his deathbed. Nice art from Lieber—there’s a lot of work on some of these panels, lots of mood.
So after two strong stories, how does it end? Paleolove.
Davis is inexplicably tying together some of his Paleolove storylines here. It’s pointless and trying—even weaker art than usual here too.
Hellboy, The Wolves of Saint August, Part One; story and art by Mike Mignola; lettering by Pat Brosseau; edited by Barbara Kesel. Nanny Katie, Sir John’s Passing; story by Jeffrey Lang; art by Steve Lieber. Paleolove, Part One; story, art and lettering by Gary Davis. Edited by Bob Schreck and Edward Martin III.
Ever have a friend who could draw really well? Moeller’s art on Shadow Empires is like a friend who can draw well. He takes time with it, he works at it… but it’s still totally not ready for the big leagues. It’s somehow even rougher than some of the worse art Presents has published. The writing’s pretty lame too (it’s like Dune again).
Campbell and company turn in another fine episode of Hermes here. While the Eyeball Kid is in hiding, Campbell concentrates on the supporting cast. It’s awesome how little the fight has to do with what Campbell does with the story installments. This issue a trio decides to become supervillains in a rather hilarious conversation (I only hope Campbell shows them in the costumes they discuss).
Davis’s writing hits a new low on Paleolove. Every time I think I’m through reading him, Presents publishes yet another dumb story.
Shadow Empires, The Passage, Part One; story and art by Chris Moeller; lettering by Vickie Williams. Hermes versus the Eyeball Kid, Part Four; story by Eddie Campbell and Wes Kublick; art by Campbell, Peter Mullins and April Post; lettering by Campbell. Paleolove, Part Three; story, art and lettering by Gary Davis. Edited by Randy Stradley.
Yolen and Vess have an absolutely fantastic fairy tale story here. It’s not technically a fairy tale (it’s layered, a nursemaid tells the story to a child, who it directly concerns) but it’s just wonderful. Vess’s art here is superior–he’s able to convey action, antiquity and fear. There’s one moment where it confuses, then it all becomes quite clear. Yolen comes up with a great narrative though. Her writing is the real boon.
Paleolove continues. Davis is on the second of a third part story and there’s no reason for a third part if this one is any indication. Not because it’s bad (it’s not good, but like most Davis, not exactly awful), but because the narrative is already stretched then as this entry closes.
Campbell reveals another character’s backstory in Hermes this installment. It’s so good. The details are indescribable due to imagination and complexity. It’s outstanding work.
King Henry; story by Jane Yolen; art and lettering by Charles Vess. Paleolove, Part Two; story, art and lettering by Gary Davis. Hermes versus the Eyeball Kid, Part Three; story by Eddie Campbell and Wes Kublick; art by Campbell, Peter Mullins and April Post; lettering by Campbell. Edited by Randy Stradley.
Posted in Dark Horse, Eyeball Kid, Hermes, King Henry, Paleolove
Tagged April Post, Charles Vess, Eddie Campbell, Gary Davis, Jane Yolen, Peter Mullins, Wes Kublick
Oh, I finally get it. Paleolove means love in the Paleolithic era. To pay Davis a complement (my first?), he’s never tried so deliberately to tug on the heartstrings until now so I never really gave the title a thought. What amazes me is the artwork. He hasn’t gotten any better with figures since his first Paleolove story, sixty or so issues ago in Presents. At least he’s not getting worse.
Campbell and company don’t explain everything this installment of Hermes and Eyeball. I fact, I don’t think they explain anything other than the Eyeball Kid and the false oracle are in cahoots together. Again, it’s excellent work, very self-aware and very charming–which isn’t easy given the Eyeball Kid. He’s kind of gross looking.
Lang and Lieber’s Nanny Katie story is a lovely little story about an English nanny who can commune with nature. Delicate writing, great art.
Paleolove, Part One; story, art and lettering by Gary Davis. Hermes versus the Eyeball Kid, Part Two; story by Eddie Campbell and Wes Kublick; art by Campbell, Peter Mullins and April Post; lettering by Campbell. Nanny Katie, An Edwardian Nursery; story by Jeffrey Lang; art by Steve Lieber. Edited by Randy Stradley.
Posted in Dark Horse, Eyeball Kid, Hermes, Nanny Katie, Paleolove
Tagged April Post, Eddie Campbell, Gary Davis, Jeffrey Lang, Peter Mullins, Steve Lieber, Wes Kublick
I didn’t know it was possible for me to care about Paleolove and I’m not entirely sure I really do. But I am mad at Davis for the way he ends this story. It seems like the last Paleolove (yay!) but he kills off a side character in the exposition and it’s a really weak move. He’s doing it for effect, to make the story seem poignant… while it would have been poignant if he’d just left it alone.
The story from Jordorowsky and Moebius is all right, nothing more. It’s an academic comedy, with a popular philosophy professor being cuckolded in front of his students. It’s not particularly funny–until the last page, all Jordorowsky’s jokes are fairly common–but I guess it’s painless.
Campbell contributes a number of Alec one pager strips. A couple are successful, the rest are not. It’s the first time I’ve seen Campbell stumble.
The Madwoman of the Sacred Heart, Part One; script by Alexandro Jordorowsky; art by Moebius; lettering by Dave Cooper. Alec, This is Your Lunch, William Tell, The Great Booby Outrage, Remorse and Position Vacant; pencils, inks and lettering by Eddie Campbell. Paleolove, Part Three; story, art and lettering by Gary Davis. Edited by Randy Stradley.
The Predator story keeps getting worse (it turns out it’s just a prologue to some limited series, I love it when Dark Horse uses Presents to advertise their licensed properties). Given Raskin’s worsening artwork and Stradley’s bad writing–he uses a government report as the narrative exposition, he’s used similar devices in the past successfully… here he fails. It’s an awful story; very happy it’s the last installment.
Duffy and Sakamoto have another Nestrobber installment. It’s mean-spirited and lacking in charm. I think it’s supposed to be funny, but I’m completely perplexed with Duffy’s intent. It’s supposed to be manga, but I can’t figure out why anyone would want to read it.
Davis and Paleolove annoy a little. There’s some really pointless writing here. Art’s weak too.
Campbell’s got an amusing slash horrifying anecdote installment of Alec. Only a page, but enough to clear the palate after the rest.
Predator, Race War, Part Three; story by Andrew Vachss; adapted by Randy Stradley; pencils by Jordan Raskin; inks by Bob Wiacek; lettering by Clem Robins. Nestrobber, Survival Skills; story by Jo Duffy; art and lettering by Maya Sakamoto. Paleolove, Part Two; story, art and lettering by Gary Davis. Alec, An Old Australian Yarn; pencils, inks and lettering by Eddie Campbell. Edited by Randy Stradley.
Posted in Alec, Dark Horse, Nestrobber, Paleolove, Predator
Tagged Bob Wiacek, Cary Grazzini, Eddie Campbell, Gary Davis, Jo Duffy, Maya Sakamoto, Randy Stradley, Sean Tierney
The Predator story continues and its problems become real clear. Stradley’s trying to take a “real” approach to certain elements–gang members, serial killers–and it just comes off as silly with the Predator running around. Raskin’s art suggests he’s unprepared for such a big assignment (and Wiacek seems to have been brought in to correct things via the inks). Then there’s the inexplicable cliffhanger. So far, very unimpressive.
Campbell’s got two Alec strips. One is really cute, the other is just a nice example of a one page narrative.
Davis is back with Paleolove. The story is longwinded and the art is still primarily concentrated on the scenery. Davis objectifies his female protagonists in the last panel, which sums up all of Davis’s work.
Duffy and Sakamoto have a story with a bunch of kids and their guardian angel, a hit man. It’s well intentioned, but not any good.
Predator, Race War, Part Two; story by Andrew Vachss; adapted by Randy Stradley; pencils by Jordan Raskin; inks by Bob Wiacek; lettering by Clem Robins. Alec, The Remarkable History of the Nullarbor Nymph and Ah Kids, Don’t Ya Just Love ‘Em; pencils, inks and lettering by Eddie Campbell. Paleolove, Part One; story, art and lettering by Gary Davis. Nestrobber, Swimming Lessons; story by Jo Duffy; art and lettering by Maya Sakamoto. Edited by Randy Stradley.
Posted in Alec, Dark Horse, Nestrobber, Paleolove, Predator
Tagged Bob Wiacek, Eddie Campbell, Gary Davis, Jo Duffy, Jordan Raskin, Maya Sakamoto, Randy Stradley, Sean Tierney
Guinan’s Aliens finish is incredibly weak, featuring not just an Alien reference but some guy in the future running around in an Indiana Jones outfit. The plotting is so weak, it might be construed as a spoof… But I think Guinan’s serious. He’s got some very profound-sounding exposition.
Davis does a one page riff on 2001. It’s the best work of his I’ve seen.
Inabinet has a great retelling of a fable. The writing and art are fantastic. But even better is his opening, where he does a bunch of humor in a traditional–very traditional–setting. Inabinet makes the issue, him and that one page Davis strip.
Zick painfully finishes his Argosy story. Apparently, it’s all a setup for a sequel, but hopefully I’ll be spared. Zick somehow manages to find even more characters to introduce in the final installment. Important ones. At least it’s over (for now).
Aliens, Terminus; story and art by Paul Guinan; lettering by Willie Schubert. The Dawn of Angst; story and art by Gary Davis. The Tale of Yakub and the Vulture; story and art by Sam Inabinet. The Argosy; story and art by Bruce Zick; lettering by Pat Brosseau. Edited by Randy Stradley.
I think Davis’s Delia & Celia has definitively made me hate all fantasy, if I didn’t already dislike it enough. It’s like he sits around trying to think of how much blathering exposition he can fit in each panel, like it’s a contest to one up himself. The story’s completely incomprehensible at this point, but I’m pretty sure it’s never, ever going to end.
On the plus side, Ron Randall’s artwork has gotten fantastic on Trekker. Some of it’s the inking–maybe all of it’s the inking. It’s just gorgeous. Too bad his writing is still terrible. He spends maybe five of his eight pages rambling, trying to find a point to the story. He fails, there isn’t one.
Bob the Alien is, as usual, a delight. I don’t think I’ve mentioned how important “regular” people are to Bob‘s success. Rice has significant insight into the human condition. It’s just wonderful.
Trekker; story and art by Ron Randall; lettering by Steve Haynie. Bob the Alien, Bob, the alien, Schemes; story, art and lettering by Rich Rice. Delia & Celia, Drelin’s Wager; story, art and lettering by Gary Davis. Edited by Randy Stradley.
Chadwick’s Concrete isn’t so interesting this issue for what he does say, but for what he doesn’t. Concrete’s sidekicks get lost in the ghetto and a bunch of black guys attack the car–presumably to beat the guy and “gang rape,” Chadwick’s words, the woman. When Concrete and the guy are sitting around calmly discussing it later, Concrete basically says it’s just how men act and isn’t it awful and shouldn’t women run things. But Chadwick made it pretty clear earlier these men are, specifically, black men. I think it’s supposed to be well-intentioned, but….
Prosser and Pollock contribute the Mary: The Elephant prose story (Pollock illustrates). It’s awful; I can’t believe anyone would want it in their book. Maybe Dark Horse didn’t pay Prosser for something else on the condition they printed this idiocy. Some nice art though.
Delia & Celia is better than usual, but still exceptionally bad.
Concrete, Fire at Twilight; story and art by Paul Chadwick; lettering by Bill Spicer. Mary: The Elephant They Could Not Hang (At First)!; story by Jerry Prosser; art by Jack Pollock. Delia & Celia, A Pyre for Ethrod; story, art and lettering by Gary Davis. Edited by Randy Stradley.
Thank goodness there’s a Bacchus in here because otherwise it’d be a complete loss.
Guinan’s art continues to be acceptable on Heartbreakers, while he and Bennett’s writing just gets worse and worse. Some of the issue is with them trying to do too much in such a short amount of pages… But mostly they just can’t write it. They can’t make their characters matter, so they try to make their ideas matter. Except it’s a bunch of theoretical ideas, so… as usual… who cares?
Speaking of bad, Davis is now changing the hairstyles for the protagonists between panels on Celia & Delia. This installment has a lot of exposition and very little action or even implied action. It’s a complete bore.
The Bacchus story is dark and confusing, but absolutely wonderful. Campbell and Bissette confound with purpose. Reading it–they’re adapting a poem–can be time consuming, but very worth it.
Heartbreakers, The Crowd Roars; story by Anina Bennett and Paul Guinan; art by Guinan; lettering by Willie Schubert. Delia & Celia, Gratitude; story, art and lettering by Gary Davis. Bacchus, Tam O’Shanter; story and art by Eddie Campbell and Stephen R. Bissette. Edited by Randy Stradley.
The Aliens vs. Predator story is most impressive for Norwood’s illustration… but not of aliens or Predators. The story opens on some alien world and it’s just breathtaking. Once the actual story starts (Stradley’s two conversationalists talking about hunting experiences while Predators hunt aliens), it can’t compete with those visuals. Still, for what amounts to shameless self-promotion, these prologues are very successful.
Davis’s Delia & Celia features a number of young women “playing” the two leads. Davis can’t maintain faces for them to the point he must have been photo-referencing. Each panel, they get a new, distinct face. The writing is nearly interesting this time… but Davis fumbles it.
This installment of Heartbreakers kind of makes the clone thing clear–there’s two groups of clones, one tough, one not as tough. But it’s not clear if they’re clones of the same person (just with different haircuts). It’s inoffensively mediocre.
Aliens vs. Predator; story by Randy Stradley; pencils by Phill Norwood; inks by Karl Story; lettering by Pat Brosseau. Heartbreakers, Ceiling Zero; story by Anina Bennett and Paul Guinan; art by Guinan; lettering by Willie Schubert. Delia & Celia, The Great Marsh; story, art and lettering by Gary Davis. Edited by Randy Stradley.