This issue’s content implies the Presents editors didn’t care about the script, as long as the art was good. It’s a real improvement, actually, since there are some issues whether neither are any good.
I’ll start with Blackheart to get it out of the way. Morrison uses demonic possession as his deus ex machina here. Real creative. However, he does go and say FDR’s government during the New Deal supported racist paramilitary organizations. I don’t think Morrison’s doing it for effect, I think he’s just an idiot. Great Quitely art though.
LaBan’s Eno and Plum has some excellent, carefully done cartooning. Too bad the script is inane slacker with rich girl stuff. I do like the bad guy has a butt for a chin. But the script’s awful.
As for Wheeler’s Too Much Coffee Man… he tries to inject narrative. It fails. Again, some nice design, but a terrible script.
Eno and Plum, Part One; story and art by Terry LaBan. Blackheart, Part Three; story by Robbie Morrison; art by Frank Quitely; lettering by Clem Robbins. Too Much Coffee Man, Too Much Coffee Man Meets His Coffee Maker, Part Two; story and art by Shannon Wheeler. Edited by Bob Schreck and Edward Martin III.
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.
You know, Mignola doing a fight scene isn’t particular impressive. In fact, Hellboy had a fairly boring finish. Mignola tries to maintain the minimalist tone for the fight and so the fight is lame. There isn’t even any resolution to the story itself. It’s just Hellboy versus a big werewolf, who may or may not turn into leaves when he dies. It’s a weak finish… somewhat harmless, but weak.
Baden has its conclusion too. It’s McCallum’s best art on the story, some really nice panels. Too bad Alexander’s script is confusing and dumb. I think it turns out the whole thing is meaningless, but maybe not. Unfortunately, the final panel threatens of a sequel.
Then there’s Blackheart. I knew Quitely had some art in this issue but I forgot and read the story thinking about the great art. It’s some lovely work. Morrison’s script’s mediocre at best–way too overdone.
Hellboy, The Wolves of Saint August, Part Four; story and art by Mike Mignola; lettering by Pat Brosseau; edited by Barbara Kesel. Baden, Part Three; story by Jim Alexander; art by Rob McCallum; lettering by Clem Robins. Blackheart, Part One; story by Robbie Morrison; art by Frank Quitely; lettering by Robbins. Edited by Bob Schreck and Edward Martin III.