Batman: Black and White 1 (November 2013)

With the exception of the Neal Adams story, this first issue of Batman: Black and White is excellent. Sure, the Chip Kidd story–with some nice Michael Cho art–is a little much on the Silver Age cuteness, but it’s a decent story. The Adams one is about Bruce Wayne realizing the criminal justice system is unfair. It’s undercooked in both the art (though Adams’s pencils are nice, they’re not inked) and definitely the story. He just tries too hard. The Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy story from Maris Wicks and Joe Quinones is probably the biggest surprise. It’s delightful. John Arcudi and Sean…

Wednesday Comics 12 (23 September 2009

One should never hope for too much from finales. Especially not from an extremely uneven anthology series like Wednesday Comics. Batman’s bad. Kamadi flops. Superman apparently only remembered after twelve installments he had a wife at home. Deadman is okay. One of the better mediocre strips. Green Lantern is bad. Metamorpho is lacking; Gaiman tries too hard for nostalgia. Teen Titans is awful, Adam Strange is great. Supergirl is cute again, but Metal Men goes out too dreary. I still have no idea what story Caldwell told with Wonder Woman. Sgt. Rock’s lame again, but in a syrupy way now. Good Flash…

Wednesday Comics 11 (16 September 2009)

Azzarello writes Batman as a rube while Risso tries to ape Sin City as a Batman. Gibbons once again summarizes the action too much on Kamandi. Sook’s barely got anything to do. Superman is bad. As usual. Deadman’s okay, Green Lantern’s awful. Ditto, respectively, for Metamorpho and Teen Titans. Hope respectively, in that sense, means Titans is the awful one. Good (not great) Adam Strange. Poor (not terrible) Supergirl. For the first time, Garcia-Lopez is too busy on Metal Men. All the large scale action hurts it. And Caldwell breaks out of his little panels for Wonder Woman. It’s a mistake. Sgt.…

Wednesday Comics 10 (9 September 2009)

Batman versus dogs, Azzarello’s inspired and Risso can’t even draw a cool Batmobile. Kamandi comes back a little; there’s a big battle scene, lots of panels. Arcudi misses a great Superman: The Movie homage on his dumb Superman strip. Deadman’s okay, though all the action seems inappropriate. Green Lantern is lame; Busiek doesn’t understand weekly one page pacing. Metamorpho is competent but lame. Teen Titans is awful. Galloway’s a terrible writer. Pope’s Adam Strange rocks. He’s clearly wrapping it up. Supergirl’s weak again. Too much plot, not enough cute. The Metal Men has some great art and a touching final couple panels.…

Wednesday Comics 9 (2 September 2009)

The art on Batman’s good. Risso’s aping Frank Miller, but it’s a stylish fight regardless. Kamandi continues to have story problems and poor Sook has nothing active to draw. Crap Superman. Nice Deadman. It might be Comics’s underdog strip. It’s the best Green Lantern, which says little for the strip. Metamorpho‘s periodic table gimmick is so tired in its second week, Gaiman’s even bored writing it. I think someone told Berganza he was writing a kids’ cartoon for Titans, not a comic strip. Good Adam Strange. Pope hasn’t topped his Earthbound Adam development so it’s kind of underwhelming. Lame Supergirl (too wordy),…

Wednesday Comics 8 (25 August 2009)

Batman’s bad; Azzarello’s desperate to make it a noir and he just can’t. Kamandi’s mediocre. Still nice art but the story’s stalling. Superman has no story and is bad too. Deadman’s got some great art. Oh, Green Lantern. It’s weak again. Metamorpho’s fun, with a periodic table gag, but there’s no story. Teen Titans is inexplicable and bad. Adam Strange is confusing and fantastic. Supergirl’s tiresome. Very nice art on Metal Men from Garcia-Lopez, even if Didio’s run out of character moments. Wonder Woman’s nearly comprehensible, even if Caldwell wastes most of his page. Sgt. Rock’s lame but not bad, The Flash…

Wednesday Comics 7 (19 August 2009)

Batman is a little better than usual. Not the art, but at least Azzarello writes two scenes. On the flip, this Kamandi strip is probably the weakest. Still good, but pointless. Superman’s crap, Deadman’s pretty but slight, the Green Lantern is pointless. The Metamorpho, however, is weird in a good way. Crappy Teen Titans, but amusing–Berganza says Starfire is almost seven feet tall, Galloway draws her shorter than Robin. Great Adam Strange. Pope has really made the strip his own thing. Supergirl–with the Aquaman guest appearance–is weak again. The Metal Men strip is still charming, but it’s starting to drag on. There’s…

Wednesday Comics 6 (12 August 2009)

Let’s get started. Batman–Risso’s artwork is weak. It’s loose when it needs to be strong and vice versa. Fun Kamandi but Gibbons isn’t giving Sook enough room for the content. Superman’s the opposite. Too much room, too little content. Deadman’s mediocre, probably its worst strip (it’s a wee trite). Green Lantern’s continuing to sink too. Busiek’s Hal is an unlikable narrator. Gaiman and Allred cheat on Metamorpho–half the page is a board game. It’s cute, but clearly there’s not much story. Oh, Berganza’s Teen Titans. He gives Blue Beetle the internal monologue of the Taco Bell chihuahua. It’s offensive in addition to…

Wednesday Comics 5 (5 August 2009)

Lame Batman, good Kamandi (Sook does a good Planet of the Apes), lame Superman (though Bermejo’s a little better), okay Deadman (one of the book’s steadiest strips), lame Green Lantern (after always being mediocre before)…. I’m trying something different since these comics usually provide so little to really talk about. Metamorpho’s a little better, Teen Titans is a little worse. Great Adam Strange, just featuring Alanna. Pope gives her a nice strip to herself. And Supergirl’s turning into one of the better strips in the series overall. Palmiotti’s tone for it is perfect and Conner’s art is engaging. Another good Metal Men,…

Wednesday Comics 4 (29 July 2009)

Baker gets awkwardly jokey on the Hawkman, which is otherwise all right. He’s got a great looking space battle involving the JLA satellite. Speaking of art, Bermejo’s Superman is particularly awful this issue. He’s apparently incapable of drawing Ma Kent. He draws her for three or four panels, each worse than the last. Metamorpho makes a slight recovery; at least Gaiman’s got actual panels and something of a narrative. It’s all a tease, but it’s better than it has been. The most reliable strips are Pope’s Adam Strange, Bullock and Heuck’s Deadman (it’s never great, but always decent), Gibbons and Sook’s Kamandi…

Wednesday Comics 3 (22 July 2009)

This issue has even less good strips than before. Sgt. Rock in particular falls off, with Joe Kubert’s art getting way too loose. Gaiman and Allred’s Metamorpho doesn’t recover either. In other words, at issue three, Wednesday Comics is already downhill. Azzarello and Risso’s Batman manages to be worse, as does Arcudi and Bermejo’s Superman. Kamadi by Gibbons and Sook, however, is awesome. It’s perfect as a comic strip. Nice Adam Strange by Pope, nice Metal Men by Didio and Garcia-Lopez. Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner’s Supergirl is rather cute; being well-intentioned and competent compensates for its lack of ambition. Sadly, Kerschl…

Wednesday Comics 2 (15 July 2009)

So even some of the better ones from the previous issue are losers this week. Specifically Neil Gaiman and Mike Allred’s Metamorpho. They flop on the format. Still strong are Pope’s Adam Strange, Baker’s Hawkman, Dan Didio and Jose Luís Garcia-Lopez’s Metal Men (no, really) and Catwoman by Walt Simonson and Brian Stelfreeze. Oh, and Kamandi by Dave Gibbons and Ryan Sook. The biggest surprise has got to be The Flash from Brendan Fletcher and Karl Kerschl. They split it between Iris and Barry and have a very unexpected, but fun, twist. Deadman, from Vinton Heuck and Dave Bullock, is another nice…

Wednesday Comics 1 (8 July 2009)

Wednesday Comics really needs a stronger editorial hand. While some of the creators get the concept, others completely fumble it. The successes (and the mediocrities) make up for the bad patches. In the “no idea how to do the format” section, the issue has Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso on Batman, John Arcudi and Lee Bermejo on Superman (thumbs down to Bermejo’s interpretation too), Eddie Berganza and Sean Galloway on Teen Titans (Galloway’s art is atrocious) and the Kuberts on Sgt. Rock. At least the art’s good on Rock from Joe. The best entries are–no shock–Paul Pope and Kyle Baker’s. Pope does…

Rocketeer Adventures 4 (August 2011)

Even with some of the art, this issue’s a complete stinker. None of the writers actually exhibit any love (or respect) for the characters. Hampton does a nice mix of bright pulp and his static painting; as a result, the first story is very pretty. But Dave Gibbons’s script gives Cliff a dumb adventure, makes him slightly unlikable and Betty a strumpet. But those characterizations are nothing compared to Joe Pruett and Tony Harris’s second story. Pruett and Harris re-imagine Cliff as half-weasel, half-dweeb and Betty as the shallowest person in America. They’re repugnant characters. The third story, from John Arcudi and…

The Thing from Another World: Climate of Fear 4 (December 1992)

Here’s one thing about comic book sequels to movies. Look, I know you can do things in a comic book you can’t do in a movie, but respect the level of reality in the source. You shouldn’t all of a sudden have a giant monster just because Somerville can draw it badly. In other words, Climate of Fear kind of limps to its finish. Arcudi gets in a good final moment, something not as good as the Thing movie, but a tonal homage. And most of the issue isn’t bad. Arcudi’s pacing is great. He takes his time establishing and following through.…

The Thing from Another World: Climate of Fear 3 (November 1992)

Arcudi gets to the cliffhanger I imagine readers had been waiting for since the end of the movie. I won’t spoil—which is not to recommend the series, I really can’t with Somerville’s artwork. He ruins the cliffhanger. It looks like something out of a Saturday morning cartoon, not a horror comic. But Arcudi tries some different things this issue—he’s got third person narration, location tags, and some close third person examining the female doctor. It’s not exactly insightful—she’s got the hots for MacReady (there’s a hilarious line about her not knowing MacReady’s first name—it wasn’t in the movie either). But Arcudi’s trying…

The Thing from Another World: Climate of Fear 2 (September 1992)

It’s shocking how much better Climate of Fear reads when it’s not about MacReady and Childs (from the movie). Arcudi continues—for the majority of the issue—his version of The Thing, only in a warm climate with a female scientist as the protagonist. It’s mostly a talking heads book, with the tensions rising among the people as they get more and more scared. Somerville is still a bad artist, so the book must succeed because of Arcudi’s scripting. He twists the tension tighter and tighter and the explosion, cinematic and bloody, works great. Even his immediate follow-up is good. But then MacReady comes…

The Thing from Another World: Climate of Fear 1 (July 1992)

It didn’t occur to me until I read the letters page… but here you’ve got a comic book with grotesque graphic violence and still the %@!!$ for curse words. Kind of funny. Anyway, Arcudi doesn’t do bad with a Thing series. He moves the action to some remote Argentinean peninsula and provides a whole new cast of morons who ignore MacReady (Kurt Russell from the movie) and his warnings. Politely speaking, it’s an unlikely sequel… but not one without its merits. Arcudi gets how to pace the thriller aspect and the action aspect. His MacReady is a joker card, able to screw…

Dark Horse Presents 149 (December 1999)

Who is Isaac Buckminster Owens and why didn’t he work more? He opens the issue with this future wasteland story and this female soldier hunting for a tank. The plotting isn’t great—he reveals her goal at page five or six—but his artwork is utterly fantastic. He reminds a little of Cameron Stewart, with some Paul Pope thrown in. He’s just great. Still, even though writing isn’t Owens’s strength, he’s still a lot better than Amara’s script on The Nevermen. This issue introduces more characters, more unspoken backstories and more nonsense. Davis’s artwork makes me wish Dark Horse had just printed it without…

Dark Horse Presents 148 (November 1999)

Something about this issue is just very indistinct. It opens with Amara and Davis’s The Nevermen. It’s got some fabulous art—Davis is illustrating all these different pulpy heroes and villains with some sci-fi elements. It fabulous looking. The writing is awful. Amara’s plotting is confusing and his dialogue is wooden. Art’s great though. Then there’s another Xena story, maybe the silliest license I can think of. Wagner manages a decent job on the script—except for the TV stuff, it feels like Roman history for a bit. Deodato does great—except on the TV characters, who he carefully draws to look like the actors.…

Dark Horse Presents 147 (October 1999)

I wanted to like Ragnok—not because Arcudi’s writing, but because Sook’s on the art. But it’s dark and indistinct. Lots and lots of black—very Mignola-lite. If Arcudi maybe had an interesting script, it would work. Unfortunately, the script seems to be going for something eccentric; Sook’s art doesn’t fit it. Maybe it’ll get better…. The last Ghost installment is a waste of time. Luke’s writing has gotten steadily worse as the installments went on (this time, when he tries to talk about sexism, it’s painful). Worse, Baker and Kolle’s art suffers from the script. There’s this waste of a full page panel.…

Dark Horse Presents 146 (September 1999)

I was really expecting more from Edginton here. His Aliens vs. Predator starts out as a rip of Alien—bickering crew, uncharted planet—only adding in aliens once the people land (they don’t have spacesuits either). But then it turns out to be a poorly conceived “thirty years in the future” sequel to the first Aliens vs. Predator series. Doesn’t help Thompson and O’Connell’s art is weak. Though I guess the spaceship looks all right. Shabrken continues with enthusiasm from artists Henry and Lieber (though the scale of the events gets out of control). It’s not terrible—Hartley’s writing is solidly mediocre—it’s just pointless. Arcudi…

Dark Horse Presents Annual 1997 (February 1998)

For a Presents annual (or oversized special), this one has a lot of solid work. Pearson’s Body Bags is a fun diversion. The art’s great and the story moves. It gets a little visually confusing, but it’s good. And Verheiden (with Marrinan) finally produces a decent installment of The American. It’s a thoughtful story, very well written. Arcudi and Musgrove’s The Oven Traveler is dumb. It’s a one page story dragged to four. Aliens (from Smith and Morrow) is atrocious. It’s Aliens meets Westworld. If it weren’t terrible, it’d be an interesting genre mix—plus, Morrow can’t draw the aliens. They look awkward…

Dark Horse Presents 123 (July 1997)

Imago‘s finish opens the issue. Arcudi might have needed more time–this installment just gives up, admitting the concept was more interesting than the execution. O’Connell’s art is okay. His faces aren’t distinct enough, but it’s fine for a short story. Nixey continues the issue’s lackluster vibe with Trout‘s conclusion. In it, Trout (the character) gets his big moment. Except Nixey hadn’t been building toward it except in this installment, so it sort of misfires. Nixey was best when he brought the questing aspect to the story. Without it, like here–an all-action installment–Trout has some good artwork and design, but nothing compelling about…

Dark Horse Presents 122 (June 1997)

I can’t believe I’m saying it but Snejbjerg’s art messes up this Lords of Misrule. He’s unable to draw a regular person. Instead, the person appears frightening, even though he’s not supposed to be frightening. It’s an okay story–but the art, though great in most respects, doesn’t work. Nixey’s back on track with Trout, at least as far as the art is concerned. He sort of hurries through this installment, which takes a lot of the charm out of it. I expected him to have a big world for Trout; instead, it’s very constricted. Jack Zero has another good installment from Zero…

Dark Horse Presents 115 (November 1996)

Wow, what a downer. Arcudi’s The Creep returns (with O’Connell on art this time). It’s a very depressing story about him hanging out with a prostitute. It’s utterly fantastic. It still shocks me Arcudi can be so subtly devastating. Trypto has a happy installment though; the dog rescues his owner from a drug cartel. Again, Leialoha’s art doesn’t convey the story well. Mumy and Ferrer’s emphasis has changed… it’ll be interesting to see where they go now. Rennie and Langridge’s Dr. Spin is a bunch of fun too—it’s an anti-superhero comic superhero comic. It’s a lot of fun, with Rennie getting in…

Dark Horse Presents 64 (July 1992)

Seriously, they thought this issue was good enough? The opening is a terrible bit of corporate synergy–a prologue to the Dr. Giggles movie from screenwriter Coto, who’s just as awful writing comics as he is writing movies. It’s a mean, gory eight pages of crap. Though Burrows’s art isn’t bad. Then there’s a Boris the Bear, which is funny if you like Richardson making fun of Dark Horse. It’s weak, except for Smith’s artwork, which brings a certain amount of charm. The Creep ends on a very depressing note. It’s one of the finest things Dark Horse Presents has published in the…

Dark Horse Presents 63 (June 1992)

Well, the Moebius story is pretty but I’m not sure it’s got much in the way of narrative. It’s a fine little diversion–I think it’s my first Moebius short story–but it’s got zero heft. No idea why they opened the issue with it. The Creep gets near its finish with more great art and a rather big surprise in the narrative. Arcudi doesn’t just deserve credit for the concept, but the execution as well. While Eaglesham makes the series look perfect, Arcudi really does do excellent work here. It’s not just well-written in scene, he really does come up with some great…

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 a continued…