Klaus Janson

Firestorm-V1

Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 1 (March 1978)

Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #1

What an awkward first issue. Writer Gerry Conway has a lot of story to tell, since he covers the origin of Firestorm and has to introduce the two alter egos, but there’s also a couple action sequences. His solution for having to convey all the information isn’t original–he uses expository dialogue. Lots and lots of expository dialogue.

Offsetting the exposition is the playful nature of Conway’s narration–from the first issue, Firestorm feels more like a Marvel comic, between the colloquial tone of the narration and penciller Al Milgrom’s New York City backdrop.

Milgrom’s has some rough patches–Firestorm has a funny looking face–but it’s fine for the most part.

With the rush of information and characters getting introduced, not to mention Conway harping on Firestorm’s teenaged alter ago, Ronnie, having low-self esteem. At least he’s got a personality, while Professor Stein (the other alter ego) doesn’t.

C 

CREDITS

Make Way For Firestorm!; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Al Milgrom; inkers, Klaus Janson and Joe Rubinstein; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Todd Klein; editor, Jack C. Harris; publisher, DC Comics.

star-trek-marvel

Star Trek 10 (January 1981)

Star Trek #10

Having an interested artist helps Trek quite a bit. Leo Duranona does get Janson on inks and Janson’s been one of the series’s best parts so far.

The story, from Michael Fleisher, has Kirk sick and Spock and McCoy on an away mission. They get involved with the uprising against a warlord while Kirk tries to figure out a way to get down to the planet.

It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but the art’s engaging enough for everything to move along smoothly. Removing Kirk from so much of the story is an odd move from Fleisher, especially since he doesn’t do a lot with Spock and McCoy. They get separated and work to get back together but McCoy’s biggest scenes are with one of the native girls. As for Spock, he just gets to work a rock quarry in his uniform.

It’s competent enough though. The good art helps bunches.

C+ 

CREDITS

Domain of the Dragon God!; writer, Michael Fleisher; pencillers, Leo Duranona and Klaus Janson; inker, Janson; colorist, Carl Gafford; letterer, Rick Parker; editor, Louise Jones; publisher, Marvel Comics.

star-trek-marvel

Star Trek 7 (October 1980)

Star Trek #7

Tom DeFalco’s Trek script feels a little too generic. He doesn’t bring much personality to the principal cast members, saving it instead for Scotty and Uhura. She gives him a very clear bicep squeeze for support. It’s interesting.

But Kirk just occasionally yells when he’s stressed out and Bones makes a quip or two at Spock’s expense. DeFalco doesn’t write Spock well. It’s probably hard to write the character after Star Trek: The Motion Picture as the character just went under a major change. DeFalco tries with it and does not succeed.

Still, Michael Netzer does a great job on the pencils. He does lots of stuff with panel layout and with perspective in space. The Enterprise shooting while rotated and so on. The art is very imaginative. And Janson inks it beautifully. All the art’s good, some is better.

DeFalco moves the issue well too; it’s just got problems.

B- 

CREDITS

Tomorrow or Yesterday; writer, Tom DeFalco; penciller, Michael Netzer; inker, Klaus Janson; colorist, Carl Gafford; letterer, Ray Burzon; editor, Louise Jones; publisher, Marvel Comics.

star-trek-marvel

Star Trek 6 (September 1980)

Star Trek #6

Barr gives the Enterprise crew a mystery to solve. Unfortunately, it’s almost the same mystery as one of the television episodes. It’s like Barr took out one part just to make it fit better in a comic.

There’s an almost amusing scene for Sulu and Chekhov–the issue otherwise centers around the big three. Uhura never gets a scene. But it might be a more accurate representation of the television show. Barr clearly knows how to structure the issue like the show. That feat sometimes is more impressive than what’s going on in the story.

Cockrum and Janson are really on the ball. Their faces have a lot more depth and have similar expressions to the source actors. Overall, the art just feels less rushed.

I’m still waiting for a lengthy subplot or some sign of character developments. Even for a licensed property, Star Trek feels too restrained, practically stifled.

B- 

CREDITS

The Enterprise Murder Case!; writer, Mike W. Barr; pencillers, Dave Cockrum and Klaus Janson; inker, Janson; colorist, Carl Gafford; letterer, Rick Parker; editor, Louise Jones; publisher, Marvel Comics.

star-trek-marvel

Star Trek 5 (August 1980)

Star Trek #5

This issue's better than the last, with Spock kidnapped by Klingons and Kirk trying to figure out how to resolve the situations. No Dracula appearance–maybe Mike W. Barr didn't like that idea either (or maybe Wolfman always insisted)–but there are still a bunch of dumb monsters showing up.

Barr has the formula down for a "Star Trek" story, complete with Spock and Bones bickering at the end, but he doesn't seem to have the best ideas for the plot. Though less silly than the previous issue, there's still no good reason for these earth nightmare monsters in space. Barr explains it fine, he's just explaining the reasoning behind a bad story.

Also distressing is his lack of story for the characters. Spock gets a bunch of time to himself and Barr writes those scenes well, but Kirk doesn't make any impression. The balance needs work.

A lot needs work.

C+ 

CREDITS

The Haunting of the Enterprise!; writer, Mike W. Barr; penciller, Dave Cockrum; inker, Klaus Janson; colorist, Carl Gafford; letterer, John Costanza; editors, Denny O’Neil and Louise Jones; publisher, Marvel Comics.

star-trek-marvel

Star Trek 4 (July 1980)

Star Trek #4

With the limitless possibilities of a comic book, Wolfman goes instead with the Enterprise encountering some kind of haunted house in space. It’s bewildering, but somehow appropriate–it certainly feels like an episode out of the television show, what with the budget and everything.

The issue itself doesn’t leave much impression. Cockrum and Janson’s art is decent; their renditions of the crew, save Kirk, often have problems. They can’t do age well. It’s too much. They need to hint at it sometimes, but go too far.

The issue’s best scenes are early, before the goofiness starts. Wolfman writes an interesting couple guest stars, though Cockrum bases one of them too much on the monster from Alien.

I had hoped it would be a done in one; the cliffhanger promises a different type of issue as a followup. Assuming there are no more Dracula cameos, it should be an improvement.

C+ 

CREDITS

The Haunting of Thallus!; writer and editor, Marv Wolfman; penciller, Dave Cockrum; inker, Klaus Janson; colorist, Carl Gafford; letterer, Jim Novak; publisher, Marvel Comics.

star-trek-marvel

Star Trek 3 (June 1980)

Star Trek #3

Unfortunately, the final issue of Wolfman and Cockrum's Star Trek: The Motion Picture compounds all the problems they had in the second issue. While they're skilled at densely packing scenes with characters and dialogue, Wolfman apparently can't cut back on the events enough to give the issue a good flow.

He really needs another one, especially considering how little science fiction spectacular Cockrum gets to illustrate. Most of the really visual space scenes are restricted to a small panel, something quick before all the talking starts again.

Wolfman does make some big changes to the movie to streamline the story. Some of it is shifting the dialogue around, but there's also a part where he throws Kirk into a scene where he not just isn't in during the movie, but doesn't serve any purpose. It's like William Shatner's ego influenced the comics adaptation.

It's not terrible, but it started stronger.

C 

CREDITS

Evolutions; writer and editor, Marv Wolfman; penciller, Dave Cockrum; inker, Klaus Janson; colorist, Marie Severin; letterer, John Costanza; publisher, Marvel Comics.

star-trek-marvel

Star Trek 2 (May 1980)

Star Trek #2

There’s a really impressive scene with a lots of dialogue and Cockrum having to fit something around seven people into a small panel. Cockrum and Wolfman occasionally do some masterful adaptation in this issue. It’s nice enough to make up for the bad moments.

The worst moment–there are a handful of shaky ones–has to be when Spock arrives. Wolfman deviates from the movie (perhaps he had a different version of the script) and neither he nor Cockrum give Kirk or McCoy any time. They come off as jerks, with McCoy appearing downright mean-spirited.

Also unfortunate is Cockrum’s handling of the space stuff. There’s the giant cloud in space and every shot is from the rear of the Enterprise. Maybe it was just an easier way to draw it.

The aforementioned impressive scene comes towards the end, which sends the issue out on a high note, but there are clearly problems.

B- 

CREDITS

V’ger; writer and editor, Marv Wolfman; penciller, Dave Cockrum; inker, Klaus Janson; colorist, Marie Severin; letterer, John Costanza; publisher, Marvel Comics.

star-trek-marvel

Star Trek 1 (April 1980)

Star Trek #1

It’s going to be difficult to talk about this one. Not because there’s anything particularly wrong with this first issue of Marvel’s adaptation of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. In fact, there might not be anything wrong with it at all. I suppose the art could be better, but Dave Cockrum and Klaus Janson do all right. Cockrum loves doing some of the space panels.

Then there’s how they draw William Shatner. As opposed to drawing him like it’s really the Kirk of the movie, they draw him more like the Kirk of the TV show. It’s kind of cool.

This issue came out some time after the movie came out and Marv Wolfman’s script almost exclusively uses dialogue from the film itself. It plays less like a promotional material and more like something for a movie fan to take home since sell-through VHS wasn’t around yet.

It’s perfectly fine.

B 

CREDITS

Star Trek: The Motion Picture; writer and editor, Marv Wolfman; penciller, Dave Cockrum; inker, Klaus Janson; colorist, Marie Severin; letterer, John Costanza; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Detective Comics - Doug Moench

Detective Comics 554 (September 1985)

5659

Janson art again. It’s just phenomenal. He’s even figured out he doesn’t like doing splash panels with bland superhero poses so instead he’s doing complex panels indicating lots of movement. The way Janson draws Robin beats how he draws Batman; he’s very enthusiastic about all the movement.

The feature story is actually rather confusing. Not throughout, when Batman, Robin and Harvey Bullock are trying to get on an ocean liner to save hostages, but when Moench gets to revealing why the hostage takers are in town. I had to read like maybe three times and I’m still not sure I’ve got it right.

But with the art–and the banter between Robin and Bullock–who cares. It’s a fine outing.

And then, in Green Arrow, Black Canary gets a new eighties costume and the Canary Cry. It’s not a great story, but the artwork’s excellent and it amuses well enough.

B- 

CREDITS

Port Passed; writer, Doug Moench; artist, Klaus Janson; letterer, Todd Klein. Green Arrow, Crazy from the Heat II: The Past is Prologue; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Jerome Moore; inker, Bruce D. Patterson; colorist, Shelley Eiber; letterer, Bob Lappan. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics - Doug Moench

Detective Comics 553 (August 1985)

5658

It’s an issue of amazing art. Klaus Janson isn’t doing a lot of detail on faces, which is not good, but his composition is breathtaking. The way he translates Moench’s script–sort of sapping out the sentimentality and enthusiasm–this issue is a mix between superhero idealism and melancholy cynicism. It’s beautiful. Janson’s also got the best Jason Todd Robin anyone’s drawn so far.

Moench’s script is fine. There’s too much with the Black Mask and the New Age mumbo jumbo Moench throws in, but the story moves great. It evens out. There’s an odd moment where Julia (Alfred’s daughter) apparently tells Lucius Fox a black joke.

Also, another plot detail to show up in Burton’s Batman–the corrosive acid on faces and subsequent masks.

The Green Arrow backup, with Black Canary losing her nerve, has some awesome mainstream art from Moore and Patterson. The script’s well meaning but slight.

B 

CREDITS

The False Face Society of Gotham; writer, Doug Moench; artist, Klaus Janson; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Workman. Green Arrow, Crazy from the Heat; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Jerome Moore; inker, Bruce D. Patterson; colorist, Jeanine Casey; letterer, Bob Lappan. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics - Doug Moench

Detective Comics 550 (May 1985)

5655

Moench goes a little too high concept for this one, especially since Broderick isn’t really the artist to do a protracted chase sequence.

A small-time thug runs across the rooftops, Batman in close pursuit, and Moench flashes back to all the things in his life to bring the thug to this point. It’s a little contrived, but it’s definitely ambitious. So when Moench actually brings damnation into the picture–the guy, it turns out, has robbed a church and attacked a nun–it’s just too much.

It doesn’t help Broderick eventually gives up and is practically drawing this story comical. There are a couple Batman cowl shots I was surprised Smith didn’t fix, but maybe he’d given up too.

Then the Green Arrow resolution is odd. Moore doesn’t write too much (or enough). It’s a decent enough action story, with lots of mood from Janson but not good detail.

D 

CREDITS

The Spider’s Ninth Leg!; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Workman. Green Arrow, Night Olympics, Part Two; writer, Alan Moore; artist, Klaus Janson; letterer, Todd Klein. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics - Doug Moench

Detective Comics 549 (April 1985)

777250

It’s a nice issue overall.

The feature has Moench, Broderick and Smith doing a Harvey Bullock issue. Moench plays it mostly for laughs, then goes deeper–showing the “real” Bullock–and then giving him a difficult conflict to resolve.

And manages to get in a big fight scene for him and Batman (teaming up against thugs, not against each other). Moench does well with the regular life stuff in Gotham City. It’s a relief not to have to get through his odd Bruce stuff.

But the real kicker is the Green Arrow backup from “guest” writer Alan Moore. I put “guest” in quotation marks because it doesn’t resemble the Cavalieri stories. Actually, the discussion of regular life calls back to the feature.

It’s just Ollie and Dinah out on patrol, with great art from Klaus Janson, and some setup of the story arc’s villain. Moore comes up with excellent stuff.

B+ 

CREDITS

Doctor Harvey and Mr. Bullock; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. Green Arrow, Night Olympics, Part One; writer, Alan Moore; artist, Klaus Janson; letterer, Todd Klein. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics - Doug Moench

Detective Comics 547 (February 1985)

5652

Moench partially redeems his amnesia storyline this issue with the suggestion it’s not going to go on for too long. He also does some decent work teaming up Robin and Nocturna, which he doesn’t play out as well as he could–is it really any odder to have a woman and her ward fighting crime than Batman and his ward?

Eventually it goes bad, with Moench falling back on Jason’s cruelty (the kid really hasn’t got any depth), but for a few pages it works out all right.

Plus, the art from Pat Broderick and Klaus Janson is good. They keep the story moving and put in a lot of mood. Moench has a lot of scenes; each supporting cast member gets some attention. He’s rushing but it’s fine.

Then the Green Arrow involves a Vietnam vet strong-arming Vietnamese businesses in the states. Goofy dialogue, but good mainstream art.

C+ 

CREDITS

Cast of Characters, Sequence of Events; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Klaus Janson; colorist, Adrienne Roy. Green Arrow, Clash Reunion II: Most Likely to Die!; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Jerome Moore; inker, Bruce D. Patterson; colorist, Jeanine Casey. Letterer, Ben Oda; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.