Carey–with plotting assistance from Gross–internally spins off Unwritten with these .5s. I’m guessing, anyway; this one is my first .5. Carey uses Wilson Taylor’s journals investigating the Cabal’s history.
Michael Kaluta handles the art on the first story, regarding Pullman silencing some monks in ancient China. It’s a decent story with a good twist at the end, but it lacks any wow factor.
The second story, however, has the wow. Rick Geary perfectly illustrates the tale of a newspaper cartoonist who has to face the realities of being a storyteller. It’s quietly frightening, especially the postscript. Carey again utilizes a twist. It’s less showy than the first, but more successful.
The third story–beautiful Bryan Talbot medieval stuff–has the best twist because the reader’s in the dark about it for a page. The story progresses before the revelation.
The issue’s an excellent exercise from Carey and company.
Men of Letters. 1: Here is the Man of Virtuous Words; artist, Michael Kaluta. 2: No Honest Man Need Fear Cartoons; artist, Rick Geary. 3: Copy Errors; artist, Bryan Talbot. Writers, Peter Gross and Mike Carey; colorist, Chris Chuckry; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Joe Hughes and Karen Berger; publisher, Vertigo.
It’s a “theme” annual—characters in their youths.
It opens with Wagner, Chin and Wong on Xena. The art’s a little rough, but Wagner’s writing is solid.
Mignola’s Hellboy is adorable (as young Hellboy stories tend to be). It’s a cute couple pages.
Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo drags. It’s way too didactic. Sakai’s art some okay moments and some not okay ones.
Shockingly, the Ghost story is good. Zanier and Mariano’s artwork is excellent and Kennedy’s writing isn’t bad. It’s confusing for a new reader, but quite decent.
This issue also has the first Groo I’ve read. Though Aragones’s art sometimes gets a little too dense, he and Evanier write a fine story.
Chadwick’s Concrete story is lame. It’s maybe the worst writing I’ve read from Chadwick.
Norwood’s Star Wars thing bores. Surprisingly weak art from him too.
The finish is Geary’s take on The Mask. Some decent art, but pointless.
Xena: Warrior Princess, The Worm; story by John Wagner; pencils by Joyce Chin; inks by Walden Wong; lettering by John Workman; co-edited by Scott Allie and Dave Land. Hellboy, Pancakes; story and art by Mike Mignola; lettering by Pat Brosseau; co-edited by Allie. Usagi Yojimbo, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Tournament; story, art and lettering by Stan Sakai. Ghost, My Sister’s Keeper; story by Mike Kennedy; art by Christian Zanier and Marvin Mariano; lettering by Steve Haynie. Groo, Groo for Sale; story by Sergio Aragones and Mark Evanier; art by Aragones; lettering by Sakai; co-edited by Allie. Concrete, Orange Glow; story and art by Paul Chadwick; lettering by Bill Spicer. Star Wars, Walkabout; story and pencils by Phill Norwood; inks by Shannon Denton; lettering by Amador Cisneros. The Mask, Angry Young Mask; story, art and lettering by Rick Geary. Edited by Randy Stradley, Adam Gallardo and Chris Haberman.
Posted in Concrete, Dark Horse, Ghost, Groo, Hellboy, Mask, Star Wars, Xena: Warrior Princess
Tagged Christian Zanier, John Wagner, Joyce Chin, Mark Evanier, Marvin Mariano, Mike Kennedy, Mike Mignola, Paul Chadwick, Phill Norwood, Rick Geary, Sergio Aragones, Shannon Denton, Stan Sakai, Walden Wong
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 happens this issue (the emphasis is on making the reader uncomfortable), but French’s art is fine; the story works.
Pope’s at a bridging point in One Trick. It’s a Paul Pope talking heads story, actually. It’s a good installment, very cinematically paced.
Geary does another inconsequential page.
Rusty Razorclam; story by Steve Purcell; art by Mike Mignola; lettering by Lois Buhalis. The Ninth Gland, Part Two; story and art by Renée French. The One Trick Rip-Off, Part Seven; story and art by Paul Pope; lettering by Michael Neno. Devil Chef, Part One; story and art by Jack Pollock. Humiliation and Debasement; story and art by Rick Geary. Edited by Bob Schreck and Scott Allie.
I guess Dave Gibbons had no quibbles about Frank Miller ripping off Watchmen for their Martha Washington story this issue. Nice art, bad writing.
Forney’s got an anecdote about meeting Tom Waits. It has some charm, but not enough to sustain it.
Then Geary’s back with a one page strip, as are Pekar and Sacco. They’re both harmless (but thank goodness they’re short).
Warner brings in a Black Cross piece. His writing has gotten a little better in terms of dialogue in the hundred issues since he introduced the character. The story’s useless though. Art’s not terrible, not good.
Sendelbach’s Mr. Applehead is like a deranged hipster SpongeBob. I guess if you’re a hipster you might like it. Art’s good cartooning.
Luckily, there’s Brubaker and McEown’s story about a guy having problems after breaking up with his girlfriend. McEown’s art is fantastic and Brubaker’s very sensitive. It’s a nice one.
Give Me Liberty, Attack of the Flesh-Eating Monsters; story by Frank Miller; art by Dave Gibbons. The Night Tom Waits Poured Me a Bourbon on the Rocks; story by Julie Batersby; adaptation and art by Ellen Forney. The Symphony of Daily Nourishment; story, art and lettering by Rick Geary. Oh My Goodness!; story by Harvey Pekar; art and lettering by Joe Sacco. Black Cross; story and art by Chris Warner. Mean Mr. Applehead, Violence is Golden; story and art by Brian Sendelbach. Bird Dog; story by Ed Brubaker; art by Pat McEwon. Edited by Bob Schreck and Scott Allie.
Posted in Black Cross, Dark Horse, Give Me Liberty, Mean Mr. Applehead
Tagged Brian Sendelbach, Chris Warner, Dave Gibbons, Ed Brubaker, Ellen Forney, Frank Miller, Harvey Pekar, Joe Sacco, Julie Batersby, Pat McEown, Rick Geary
The issue opens with Wheeler’s Too Much Coffee Man, which is a cute enough story about a disaffected guy with a coffee pot for his head. Wheeler uses the character to generally rail against modern capitalist society. Wheeler’s got a good sense of design and some of the observations are funny (none are profound). It’s fine enough… but it gets old before this first installment is even done.
Blackheart continues… revealing the villains to be costumed Tea Party members. Oh, wait, it’s a little early since Blackheart‘s set in the thirties. Maybe they’re just the well-to-do wing of the Klan. So, you know, proto-Tea Party. Quitely’s art is fantastic and Morrison’s scripting is okay. He sort of jogs around the race thing, which seems silly, since it’s right there.
Geary’s got a very long piece this issue. Some very detailed artwork and nothing resembling a good narrative.
Too Much Coffee Man, Too Much Coffee Man Meets His Coffee Maker, Part One; story and art by Shannon Wheeler. Blackheart, Part Two; story by Robbie Morrison; art by Frank Quitely; lettering by Clem Robbins. Night-Drive; story, art and lettering by Rick Geary. Edited by Bob Schreck and Edward Martin III.
This issue is fairly weak.
The Eighth Wonder finishes. Plunkett’s art is good and Janes’s scenic writing–his dialogue, for example–is fine, but the story lacks any real heft. It feels like they hurried or ran out of pages. It ends with a great unanswered questions–why no boats? They’re building a bridge from Europe to Colombia. What happened to boats? It’s disappointing, after the first installment, but not terrible.
Geary’s got a bunch of single page contributions. Like most of his work, some are good, some are not so good. They feel like filler.
Chadwick turns in an utterly useless summary of Concrete’s origin. It might have been nice back in the late eighties, when he first appeared. Interestingly, there’s the promise of a second Concrete… though I doubt Chadwick would ever think of them fighting,
The last Star Riders appears here, thank goodness. Racine’s art is terrible.
The 8th Wonder, Part Three; story by Peter Janes; art by Kilian Plunkett; lettering by Vickie Williams. Concrete; story and art by Paul Chadwick; lettering by Bill Spicer. Home Remedy, Standing on Line, Yes, It Happened, The Phantom Telephone; story, art and lettering by Rick Geary. Star Riders, Part Three; story by Étienne Gagnon and Edward Martin III; art by Alex Racine; lettering by Williams. Edited by Randy Stradley.
Well, Hermes’s slump continues. Campbell’s problem might be the villains—the Eye of Fate (or something… the skeleton head guy) is a lot more interesting than anyone else in the story than the Eyeball Kid. So we want the Eyeball Kid to win (even though Eye of Fate doesn’t) and Eye of Fate to win… but he’s a villain. He’s just a really amusing one. Though there’s an actual fight between Hermes and the Eyeball Kid this installment, it’s still not one of the stronger ones.
Geary’s got a couple stories in here. Neither are good. Apparently he learned how to make his Presents stuff formulaic and he does.
Boyd and Lopez’s Buoy 77 disappoints too. Instead of Boyd writing strong characters like before, he writes lame ones here. Disappointing.
Itner’s got a JLA superhero spoof for a few pages. It’s awful. It’s not funny and the art’s really bad.
Hermes versus the Eyeball Kid, Part Seven; story by Eddie Campbell and Wes Kublick; art by Campbell, Peter Mullins and April Post; lettering by Campbell. Close Calls; story, art and lettering by Rick Geary. Buoy 77, Part Two; story by Robert Boyd; art by Francisco Solano López; lettering by Vickie Williams. Just Folks; story, art and lettering by Geary. The Legion of Justice; story and art and lettering by Steve ltner. Edited by Randy Stradley.
Posted in Buoy 77, Dark Horse, Eyeball Kid, Hermes, Just Folks
Tagged April Post, Eddie Campbell, Francisco Solano Lopez, Peter Mullins, Rick Geary, Robert Boyd, Steve ltner, Wes Kublick
Oh, lucky me, Sin City isn’t over yet. Instead, Miller spends most of his pages with one image, a lot of white space and even more terrible narration. I think I hate this entry the most. Not sure if it’s because I’m subjected to more of Miller’s writing or if it’s because I thought I was actually done with Sin City for now.
Geary has two different strips this issue. One’s two pages, the other is one. Neither is particularly good, but the second one is pretty bad, actually. Nice art, weak sentimental nonsense.
The Creep starts its second story arc and Eaglesham is even better than he was on the first. It’s nice to see Arcudi able to write something well, considering he’s always got a decent plotting sensibility.
Earth Boys closes the issue. Johnson’s art (probably the Story inks) is better. Maybe Biggers and Brooks’s writing is too.
Sin City, Episode Eleven; story, art and lettering by Frank Miller. Murder Tour, Beautiful Homes; story, art and lettering by Rick Geary. The Creep; story by John Arcudi; art by Dale Eaglesham; lettering by Pat Brosseau. Earth Boys, Invasion of Privacy; story by Cliff Biggers and Brett Brooks; pencils by Dave Johnson; inks by Karl Story; lettering by Mike Heisler. Edited by Randy Stradley.
Posted in Creep, Dark Horse, Earth Boys, Sin City
Tagged Brett Brooks, Cliff Biggers, Dale Eaglesham, Dave Johnson, Frank Miller, John Arcudi, Karl Story, Rick Geary
Wow, I really don’t know what’s the best thing in the issue.
Geary’s one page entry is a failure. It’s his solid art, but the writing doesn’t work here. It’s just too much forced sentiment.
Alien Fire seemingly comes to an end this issue–some very nice space frog art from Vincent–but Smith’s writing is just addlebrained. I can’t believe more attention would make it make any sense… I also can’t imagine giving it any more attention. It’s been one of the biggest wastes of time in Dark Horse Presents in a while.
I think Sin City‘s first arc ends here. It’s twenty-one mostly lazy pages from Miller, who apparently discovered back in the nineties all one needs to do is use full page action spreads to pad out the page count. There’s one or two slightly amusing lines, but it’s really just idiotic.
It’s a lousy issue.
Sin City, Episode Ten; story, art and lettering by Frank Miller. Alien Fire, Pass in Thunder, Part Three; story by Anthony Smith; art and lettering by Eric Vincent. In the Baggage Coach Ahead; story, art and lettering by Rick Geary. Edited by Randy Stradley.
Not much to recommend Next Men this time. Byrne handles his violent action sequence well, but he’s also selling a U.S. senator killing a federal agent. Who knows, maybe it’s all a Tea Party thing. Regardless, no longer interested in the series.
The Creep is, again, excellent. I can’t believe Arcudi’s writing it. And Eaglesham’s artwork is great. He’s doing this unfinished finished look, hard to explain.
Geary does one page. It’s fine. His longer work’s better.
Alien Fire is this excellent sixties piece about a Vietnam vet. It’s very quiet, lovely writing from Smith. Vincent’s artwork is good, with some caveats.
Campbell’s Alec story–about traveling the globe for a couple comic conventions–is astounding. It’s the best thing in Dark Horse Presents to date. He puts autobiography into this narrative device (numbered stills) but also scrapbook-like design work.
Sin City is awful. I hope Marv dies soon.
The Next Men, Nativity; story, art and lettering by John Byrne. The Creep; story by John Arcudi; art by Dale Eaglesham; lettering by Pat Brosseau. Grampa Speaks; story, art and lettering by Rick Geary. Alien Fire, Pass in Thunder, Part One; story by Anthony Smith; art and lettering by Eric Vincent. Alec, Around the World in Eighty Frames; story, art and lettering by Eddie Campbell. Sin City, Episode Eight; story, art and lettering by Frank Miller. Edited by Randy Stradley.
Posted in Alec, Alien Fire, Creep, Dark Horse, Grampa Speaks, Next Men, Sin City
Tagged Anthony Smith, Dale Eaglesham, Eddie Campbell, Eric Vincent, Frank Miller, John Arcudi, John Byrne, Rick Geary
This oversized issue opens and closes with an Aliens two-parter. Loose art from Guinan and Akins doesn’t help Arcudi’s script. It’s absolutely incomprehensible if you don’t read the Aliens series.
Byrne finally produces a Next Men I’m not interested in. It’s two government guys revealing all. The art’s really, really mediocre. It’s like even Byrne doesn’t have any interest in this part of the story, which really makes one wonder why he’s bothering tell it.
Duffy and Geary both have nice stories. Duffy (with Chacon art) has an amusing fantasy story, Fancies about a tavern fight, while Geary does the history of Eldgytha. She was British royalty who had a lot of husbands. It’s fantastically concise and engaging work from Geary.
Sin City is crap, but not as mean-spirited as Earth Boys.
Arcudi and Eaglesham’s The Creep is good. It’s maybe the best thing I’ve read from Arcudi.
Aliens, The Alien; story by John Arcudi; pencils by Tony Akins; layouts and inks by Paul Guinan; lettering by Willie Schubert. The Next Men, Prelude; story, art and lettering by John Byrne. Fancies; story by Jo Duffy; art by Joven Chacon; lettering by Gaspar Saladino. The True Chronicle of Eldgytha; story, art and lettering by Rick Geary. Sin City, Episode Seven; story, art and lettering by Frank Miller. The Creep; story by John Arcudi; art by Dale Eaglesham; lettering by Pat Brosseau. Earth Boys, The Trouble with Kiib’Bllz; story by Cliff Biggers and Brett Brooks; art by Dave Johnson; lettering by Pat Brosseau. Edited by Randy Stradley.
Posted in Aliens, Creep, Dark Horse, Earth Boys, Fancies, Next Men, Sin City
Tagged Brett Brooks, Cliff Biggers, Dale Eaglesham, Dave Johnson, Frank Miller, Jo Duffy, John Arcudi, John Byrne, Joven Chacon, Paul Guinan, Rick Geary, Tony Akins
The big surprise this issue is Byrne’s Next Men. It’s actually pretty solid (though I think it features all four Byrne faces). The art’s great–nice flow of action–and the story’s intriguing. I think it’s the strongest narrative structure I’ve ever read from Byrne (though it might just be because it’s a prologue).
Geary’s got a few Transgression Hotline strips. They’re solid, amusing and unremarkable. Geary’s a professional though and they’re well-produced.
The Homicide closer from Morrow and Arcudi is fabulous. Morrow transforms the strip from Arcudi’s regular bore to something out of a film noir. During this installment, Arcudi even manages to insert something subtle, which I didn’t realize he was capable of doing.
Finally, Sin City. Miller uses almost this entire installment to promote violence, torture and cruelty. Wait, can you torture without cruelty? Anyway, he throws in some terrible dialogue and narration as a bonus.
Homicide, The Creep, Part Two; story by John Arcudi; art and lettering by Gray Morrow. The Next Men, Interlude; story, art and lettering by John Byrne. Transgression Hotline; story, art and lettering by Rick Geary. Sin City, Episode Five; story, art and lettering by Frank Miller. Edited by Randy Stradley.
It turns out all I need to like Homicide is a good artist. I think Arcudi fashioned the story to fit Morrow’s sensibilities, but it’s easily the best dialogue Arcudi’s written on the series. Morrow really shows how important an artist is in making a mediocre (at best) script work.
Geary’s got a single page again. It’s a little more profound than usual and not entirely successful.
Paley’s got a crazy cat strip and it’s simply lovely. She breaks the comic strips panels and lets loose this swash of ink. Even with Morrow in the issue, it’s the best art, just because she’s doing so much on each page. It’s a great comic.
Not great (or good) is the Biggers, Brooks and Johnson entry, Earth Boys. It’s two wasted pages.
As for Sin City? The only thing worse than a regular Sin City entry is one where Miller does filler.
Sin City, Episode Four; story and art by Frank Miller. Secret Places of My Shameful Past; story and art by Rick Geary. Kute Kitty Kartoon; story and art by Nina Paley. Earth Boys, Wheel to Power; story by Cliff Biggers, Brett Brooks and Dave Johnson; art by Johnson. Homicide, The Creep; story by John Arcudi; art and lettering by Gray Morrow. Edited by Randy Stradley.
Posted in Dark Horse, Earth Boys, Homicide, Sin City
Tagged Brett Brooks, Cliff Biggers, Dave Johnson, Frank Miller, Gray Morrow, John Arcudi, Nina Paley, Rick Geary
Between Gaudiano and Pugh, this issue is just an art feast.
Csutoras’s writing on the Gaudiano story, Harlequin, is decent, concerning a European living in the States, his loony acquaintances and some intrigue. Gaudiano makes the protagonist’s monologues atmospheric and the regular action somewhat continental in feel. The narrative is intentionally confusing, which may get annoying. But for now, it’s a very solid entry.
Pugh and Edginton do Downtown, which is seemingly a British reprint. It’s hard to gauge as a series, since it’s not the first installment. It’s deals a little with the fourth wall and is very funny. They open with a Santa and his gangster reindeer and it just gets stranger from then on.
Arcudi’s Homicide is back, with Geier on art. It’s bad. Arcudi’s villain is an disfigured, abused child grown up since it makes for an easy bad guy.
Plus a nice Geary one pager.
Harlequin, Act I; story by Stephen Csutoras; art by Stefano Gaudiano. Downtown, A Nightmare on Elf Street!; story by Ian Edginton; art by Steve Pugh. Desperate Clergy; story, art and lettering by Rick Geary. Homicide, Tick; story by John Arcudi; art by Earl Geier. Edited by Randy Stradley.