Thank goodness, Kirk is back for this issue, which is unfortunately the last one. Jolley wraps up a little–he got the Agent Bell backstory into the issue unexpectedly–but only what he absolutely has to resolve.
Zeiss shows up sparingly and Jolley barely spends any time on him. One can see where Jolley might’ve taken that subplot had the series continued though.
The issue’s a little investigation, a lot of talking and a lot of fighting. It’s a strange mix and definitely gives Bloodhound that TV procedural feel again. Agent Bell does the talking, Clevenger does the fighting. Together they’re… well, together they’re Agent Bell and Clevenger, but you get the idea. It’s fun to read the two of them together. Jolley doesn’t force romantic chemistry, though he does acknowledge that expectation of him.
Bloodhound is awesome. It’s very unfortunate Jolley, Kirk and Riggs didn’t get to make more.
Ashes to Ashes; writer, Dan Jolley; penciller, Leonard Kirk; inker, Robin Riggs; colorist, Moose Baumann; letterer, Rob Leigh; editor, Ivan Cohen; publisher, DC Comics.
Jolley skips ahead a little, giving Clevenger practically a superhero outfit–a special Kevlar shirt, I think–and a little more freedom. Jolley uses Clev’s ex-girlfriend to reveal the information. It’s a nice little device, since it develops Clev a little.
Agent Bell gets the most character development in the issue; more of a past revelation, but it makes she and Clevenger’s partnership a lot more interesting.
The issue mostly takes place in a small Southern town where the FBI suspect a metahuman arsonist. There’s a lot of investigating, a whole cast of guest stars and a lot of personality to the town. Kirk and Riggs outdo themselves on making the mundane visually engaging.
There’s a big action set piece at the end of the issue, along with a lot of mysterious goings on. Jolley finds a great formula for the issue. It feels like a good procedural show.
Slow Burn; writer, Dan Jolley; penciller, Leonard Kirk; inker, Robin Riggs; colorist, Moose Baumann; letterer, Nick J. Napolitano; editor, Ivan Cohen; publisher, DC Comics.
Kirk tries out a different style for this issue’s extended flashback. I get it’s supposed to be folksy–the flashback takes place on a farm–but it lacks personality. It’s one of those awful farm stories; it’s effective too. Jolley makes the reader remember it and calls it back later.
There’s very little mystery to this issue. There’s suspense. Bloodhound is more a thriller book than anything else. Jolley brings a lot of toughness into the DC universe with the title. His concepts don’t fit in superhero books, which is kind of the point. It’s the dirty underside.
Jolley’s able to hide his hand for almost the entire issue. It’s going somewhere–Jolley’s solving a subplot–but he never gies it away until it’s happening. The main narrative distracts the reader too much.
It’s another fine issue. Very little character development, if any, but Jolley’s safe skipping it this issue.
Run the Gears, Part Two: The Shotgun; writer, Dan Jolley; penciller, Leonard Kirk; inker, Robin Riggs; colorist, Moose Baumann; letterer, Rob Leigh; editor, Ivan Cohen; publisher, DC Comics.
Putting Clevenger back in prison proves a good choice for Jolley. He plots it to put Clev out of his comfort zone, which creates some drama on its own, then Jolley amps it up with a good soft cliffhanger.
Meanwhile, the FBI agent has some character development scenes and then her own subplot after she finds out a little about what’s happening at the prison.
Jolley doesn’t do any character development on Clevenger, which is odd since he’s the protagonist, but more effective. FBI agent Bell is a better guide through Bloodhound. She (and the reader) can be surprised. Clevenger can’t be. Not about his behavior, anyway.
The issue’s a fast read, but Jolley makes the prison plot complicated enough it doesn’t feel too fast. Kirk and Riggs do a great job on the art, even though there’s little out of the ordinary for them to visualize.
Excellently done comic.
Run the Gears; writer, Dan Jolley; penciller, Leonard Kirk; inker, Robin Riggs; colorist, Moose Baumann; letterer, Rob Leigh; editor, Ivan Cohen; publisher, DC Comics.
Jolley writes Firestorm better in this comic than he does in his own title. Maybe because the Bloodhound stuff just runs off. It’s actually a rather successful crossover issue between two books without any reason to crossover.
It doesn’t hurt Kirk and Riggs easily toggle between realistic action violence and superhero stuff. Or how Jolley lets Clev guide the issue–Jolley basically incapacitates Firestorm, which really helps with the plot developments. It reads a lot less silly than it could.
But even good art and good dialogue can’t make the villain any better. He’s one dimensional and boring. The issue needs strong characterizations. For instance, Jolley writes a strange mentor relationship between Clev and Firestorm. Clev is empathetic.
So while Bloodhound is able to develop through this crossover, the whole point of the crossover is undercooked.
The villain can just be a bad guy, but he still needs a personality.
Firestorm; writer, Dan Jolley; penciller, Leonard Kirk; inker, Robin Riggs; colorist, Moose Baumann; letterer, Rob Leigh; editor, Ivan Cohen; publisher, DC Comics.
It’s the conclusion to the first arc–and an astoundingly bloody one–but also the origin issue. Jolley’s able to work in some background information on Clev, which probably provides the issue with most of its dialogue.
Otherwise, it’s Clev and the bad guy beating the crap out of each other. It’s a vicious fight, lots of blood for a DC book. Even for a tough one. It makes for a good read; Kirk and Riggs outdo themselves.
But there’s a downside. Jolley doesn’t reward the reader. He goes for a realistic ending–or maybe one to direct the series to its next story arc–but the result is downbeat. Even with the funny end joke.
Narratively, the move is probably appropriate, but in a populist sense, the finish is undeniably lacking.
The first four issues might’ve worked better as five. Though maybe not. Jolley paces it tight.
Catharsis; writer, Dan Jolley; penciller, Leonard Kirk; inker, Robin Riggs; colorist, Moose Baumann; letterer, Rob Leigh; editor, Ivan Cohen; publisher, DC Comics.
For lack of a better phrase, one could call this issue the “eureka” issue. Clev and his partner–Agent Bell–do their investigating and realize what they need to realize. Jolley’s able to make it even more dramatic since Clev is a muscle bound grotesque and just having him talk to people makes for a scene.
Jolley doesn’t give the reader too much information on the bad guy and instead makes the issue’s villain the FBI boss. It leads to some funny scenes and some violent ones, but misguided FBI agents aren’t the best villains. Even temporary ones.
Kirk and Riggs’s artwork is, as usual, fantastic. There’s a great mundane scene at a mall, but also more action-oriented one on a freeway. The Southern scenery helps a lot, giving Bloodhound multiple visual personalities.
And Jolley and Kirk end it with a great hard cliffhanger on a one page spread.
Sphere of Influence; writer, Dan Jolley; penciller, Leonard Kirk; inker, Robin Riggs; colorist, Moose Baumann; letterer, Rob Leigh; editor, Ivan Cohen; publisher, DC Comics.
I like a lot of this issue. Jolley opens it well, the middle part is good, most of the ending is good. He goes out on a joke, which doesn’t work, but there’s some great stuff just before the finish.
In other words, Bloodhound is a good book. Jolley puts it all together quite nicely, as the protagonist reacquaints himself with old friends and his new colleagues.
But the most impressive thing in the issue is the way Kirk and Riggs draw a pair of hands. It’s not supposed to be a subtle panel, it’s supposed to be clear, but the technical drawing skill of it is just wonderful.
Jolley sticks to Clev, the protagonist (and the titular Bloodhound), but he does excellent work with his FBI handler. I can’t remember her name yet, but Jolley’s writing of her is great.
Besides the underwhelming last page, it’s an excellent comic.
(Un)leashed; writer, Dan Jolley; penciller, Leonard Kirk; inker, Robin Riggs; colorist, Moose Baumann; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editor, Ivan Cohen; publisher, DC Comics.
Bloodhound takes a while to get bloody. It has to get bloody–most of the issue takes place during a prison riot with the lead characters trying to survive to the exit. When the issue starts, however, it generally feels like a regular DC comic.
I mean, Leonard Kirk and Robin Riggs’s artwork is–while utterly fabulous–definitely mainstream comics art. Kirk has some beautiful panel composition for the reaction shots during conversations and then more during the action scenes.
Dan Jolley’s dialogue has a lot of information to follow, but he never goes overboard with the exposition. There are little comments as people say things to one another and it passes the information. Some of it doesn’t even stick (though I read Bloodhound back when it first came out so I remember some).
The most startling violence comes late, but perfectly timed.
It’s a good, carefully written first issue.
Greenlight; writer, Dan Jolley; penciller, Leonard Kirk; inker, Robin Riggs; colorist, Moose Baumann; letterer, Rob Leigh; editor, Ivan Cohen; publisher, DC Comics.
In the front matter, Cunningham seems to dare the reader to put Forbidden Zone in continuity. A few pages later, Cunningham has an inexplicable gaff. For a bit, I hoped I could just attribute it to playing with the reader. But as the issue ended, I could not.
It’s a slight blight on the otherwise well-crafted series. I wish Kirk had worked harder though. He’s even lazier than usual in this issue, with every one of his human faces bad (instead of just most of them).
Cunningham’s big twist this issue, literally bringing every plot point together, is sort of predictable. But it makes sense in the context of the narrative and characters and it shows Cunningham’s quality.
He knows how to put together a narrative. It’s just Planet of the Apes, he can’t work wonders, but he does create a well-told, well-written four issue limited series.
Kirk appears just to have concentrated his attention on drawing good ape faces, not human. The issue is full of these exquisite ape faces and these terrible human ones. While one can appreciate the former, it’s too bad about the latter.
Cunningham continues to impress with his plotting. The most compelling part of Forbidden Zone is seeing how Cunningham weaves it. He brings three of the plots together, with the final one basically staying on its own.
Forbidden Zone is a war comic, something like a Civil War comic, and it’s a lot better than it should be.
The issue is a fine example of a good third of four. Most limited series have problems with the third issue… not Cunningham. He uses the issue’s place in the series–and the action ramping up for the finale–to stoke the tension.
Cunningham’s Forbidden Zone continues to pleasantly surprise and engage.
Cunningham has four plots this issue (and presumably through the entire series, until the last one). He’s got the peaceful humans and apes, the not peaceful apes, the mutants and then this expedition team. In some ways, it’s like he’s doing a good version of the second Apes movie—without the expectation of a Charlton Heston cameo.
With these four plots–a couple are definitely subplots, but assigning them catagories means deciding between the two remaining plots and it seems impossible to give either of them primacy. Anyway, with these four plots, Cunningham is juggling a big cast. Around twenty speaking parts. And he does a great job.
Forbidden Zone still isn’t remaking the wheel–it’s “just” a licensed property–but Cunningham’s execution is so masterful, it’s a joy to read.
Unfortunately, Kirk’s art is nowhere near as impressive as Cunningham’s writing. The art is decent, but Kirk’s completely unenthusiastic.
Forbidden Zone is quite a surprise, and not just because a young Leonard Kirk is on the art. It’s surprising because writer Lowell Cunningham takes a departure from the regular Adventure approach (even of their good entries) and goes it alone.
This story is set after the regular series and before the movies. It seems to feature an aged version of John Huston’s Lawgiver character (breaking the internal continuity of Adventure’s Apes comics) and deals reasonably with the character.
The bad guys are the mutants from the second Apes movie and Cunningham comes up with a nice way to involve them. He also creates the first intellectually curious gorilla, which is long overdue.
Cunningham’s future manages to be interesting not just as an Apes tie-in, but also as a look at the “apes as slaves” period, which has never really been covered.
It’s not great, but it’s reasonably compelling.
Parker ends Agents of Atlas with M-11. It’s very appropriate since he’s been the biggest mystery of the series and to the team members. There’s something incredibly tragic and beautiful about the character; Parker goes for it and succeeds.
It’s too bad M-11 couldn’t carry a limited of his own.
The issue itself, setting Jimmy and the team up as Atlas, is a talking heads book. There’s action and layered narrative, so it doesn’t seem like a talking heads book… but it is one.
The big surprise is a surprise, even with the hints, the main one–which would have occurred in the original adventures of the team–isn’t present. Parker constructs not just a great ending and perfect setup for future issues, he creates a space where he can just let the characters talk to each other.
It’s a fantastic issue, a perfect close to the limited series and even more.
The Master Plan; writer, Jeff Parker; penciller, Leonard Kirk; inker, Kris Justice; colorist, Michelle Madsen; letterer, Dave Lanphear; editors, Nathan Cosby and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.