Battling Boy (2013)

Battling Boy appears to be Paul Pope’s answer to all the young adult Joseph Campbell stuff coming out in the last ten years. Only, of course, since it’s Paul Pope, it’s so much better. The big thing Pope plays with in Boy, right from the start, is the fear of the unknown. He’s not dealing with these frightening monsters in prose, where he can hint at their hideousness; he’s drawing them, he’s visualizing them for the reader, but still has to make them terrifying in the imagination. The book opens with the Ghoul Gang, who are half dressed as mummies, … Continue reading Battling Boy (2013)

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. … Continue reading Wednesday Comics 12 (23 September 2009

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 … Continue reading Wednesday Comics 11 (16 September 2009)

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 … Continue reading Wednesday Comics 10 (9 September 2009)

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 … Continue reading Wednesday Comics 9 (2 September 2009)

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, … Continue reading Wednesday Comics 8 (25 August 2009)

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 … Continue reading Wednesday Comics 7 (19 August 2009)

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 … Continue reading Wednesday Comics 6 (12 August 2009)

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 … Continue reading Wednesday Comics 5 (5 August 2009)

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 … Continue reading Wednesday Comics 4 (29 July 2009)

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. … Continue reading Wednesday Comics 3 (22 July 2009)

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 … Continue reading Wednesday Comics 2 (15 July 2009)

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. … Continue reading Wednesday Comics 1 (8 July 2009)

Deep Cuts (1993-2001)

Deep Cuts opens a lot more experimental than it finishes. The book is a collection of Pope’s work while traveling for many years. When it starts, stories share themes or locations, which eventually stops. The first couple stories take place in a dust bowl setting, though they don’t seem to take place in the same time period. Pope’s writing–which Deep Cuts shows is integrally integrated into his art–is lyrical and poetic for them. He then moves into autobiography–starting with a dream recollection–and makes these wonderful (and sublime) observations about life and its fantastical nature. Every story in Deep Cuts deserves … Continue reading Deep Cuts (1993-2001)

The One-Trick Rip-Off (1993-96)

The One Trick Rip-Off isn’t a failed heist story. Paul Pope plays a lot with that genre, updating it to Los Angeles street gangs. Pope’s Los Angeles setting is an entirely different subject, one I’ll get out of the way. One Trick’s setting is lush–both in Pope’s lines and the colors–always urban, but still somehow organic. Pope’s use of the stars and the city skyline are both great ways to make it breath, especially the stars. The first star scene has the protagonists talking about constellations. They obviously aren’t visible, but Pope convinces the reader to look anyway. All right, … Continue reading The One-Trick Rip-Off (1993-96)

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 … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents Annual 1997 (February 1998)

Dark Horse Presents 112 (August 1996)

One Trick Rip-Off finishes here, the first story in the issue too. It’s pretty clear Pope was thinking, especially here—it has a multi-page wordless sequence for dramatic effect—of a single sitting read, not a one-year one. Some very nice art; some weak sentiment. The finish might read better as a single piece. Actually, it’s an issue of finale installments—French has Ninth Gland’s strange close next and it’s… creepy and disturbing but not at all horrifying. In fact, if one were to synopsize the series, it would sound strange but not scary. And then there’s Egg. Lovece writes this installment from … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents 112 (August 1996)

Dark Horse Presents 111 (July 1996)

I was expecting The Ninth Gland to be creepier this issue, but I guess French has to save something for the finish. While it’s disturbing, it’s just disturbing imagery. The story itself is rather tame—though I imagine the payoff next issue will be something awful. Speaking of awful… Egg, Lovece and Schenck after-school special about a father beating his son and the son bringing home a giant monster. This issue is from the father’s perspective and Lovece writes him even worse than he wrote the son. It’s interesting how, in both installments, the whole world is actually out to get … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents 111 (July 1996)

Dark Horse Presents 110 (June 1996)

The issue opens with Egg, which is a well-intentioned look at child abuse. The narrator’s father is beating him and the school officials aren’t doing anything to help, even though some are well-intentioned. Lovece’s writing is better in dialogue. Dealing with the narrator’s Stockholm Syndrome, he fails. Also, introducing a giant creature into the situation seems a little cheap. Schenck’s art is fine. Pope’s One Trick is an action installment. He seems to be ramping up for the conclusion. The art’s great but it’s gone on too long, especially if Pope’s going to load up the ending with action versus … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents 110 (June 1996)

Dark Horse Presents 109 (May 1996)

I can’t believe I’m about to make this statement—I liked Milgrom’s story the best. It’s some charming little thing about a guy treating his roaches as pets (after all other attempts at pet owning in New York fail). Milgrom’s style is more comic strip than I’ve seen and it works. Even if the protagonist does look like Peter Parker with a receding hairline. Pope’s One Trick opens the issue and I remembered all the characters in this installment. One of them was mentioned briefly in the first installment. One Trick doesn’t seem to be meant for a lengthy, interrupted read. … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents 109 (May 1996)

Dark Horse Presents 108 (April 1996)

Ninth Gland is fairly gross this issue, though French still hasn’t done anything to tell the reader what the story’s about. There’s something growing in the alien horse and the two girls who brought it to the hospital maintenance man will be affected somehow. It’s creepy. Pollock’s Devil Chef installment is somewhat less annoying than usual for most of the pages, then it has a moronic ending. The concept—the FDA approving food with a parasite in it to force consumers to eat only that foodstuff—is interesting, actually. Too bad Pollock’s writing is awful. Then Pope’s got problems with One Trick. … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents 108 (April 1996)

Dark Horse Presents 107 (March 1996)

I’ll start with the worst—Devil Chef. Pollock threatens a second installment. He can draw, this story shows, he just choses not to. It’s an unfunny strip with a lot of details and zero charm. On the other hand, Purcell and Mignola’s Rusty Razorciam is quite a bit of fun. Mignola’s not a good fit for sci-fi (it’s hard to tell what he’s trying to convey, action-wise, at times), but Purcell’s got an amusing set of characters. The protagonist narrates an incomplete adventure. It’s really rather nice, even with the art problems. French’s Ninth Gland is weird and ominous. Not much … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents 107 (March 1996)

Strange Science Fantasy 6 (December 2010)

How unfortunate. Morse finishes up here (and has the series’s first dialogue no less) and it’s a disastrous wrap-up. For whatever reason, he felt the need to bring everything together for the final issue. It opens as a crossover Indiana Jones and The Lost World, but only for a few pages. It soon turns in to some strange mix of Joe Versus the Volcano and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. There are aliens, there’s deception, it’s very confused. Morse has a lot of action going on, then he brings it back (out of the dinosaur and alien infested jungle) to … Continue reading Strange Science Fantasy 6 (December 2010)