Something is amiss in Frostbite Falls.
Evanier keeps his structure from the first issue–first part of Rocky and Bullwinkle, Dudley Do-Right, then the second part of Rocky. Only this time, the first part of the feature is weak. It feels tired, down to all the references to post-smartphone soullessness. Rocky and Bullwinkle come across a magician who can’t get a job anymore and, dang, if it’s not all apps and CGI’s fault.
The cliffhanger’s too deliberate and then the Dudley Do-Right tries too hard for a single laugh. It gets two but the first is mostly because of goodwill. By the end, the goodwill’s gone.
Then the second half of the feature is even worse than the first. Evanier reduces Rocky to an almost dialogue-free part in the feature and the narration is terrible.
Langridge doesn’t bother mustering much enthusiasm.
It’s a pedestrian licensed comic, which the first issue wasn’t.
Writer, Mark Evanier; artist and letterer, Roger Langridge; colorist, Jeremy Colwell; editor, Sarah Gaydos; publisher, IDW Publishing.
I can’t decide if Rocky & Bullwinkle should or shouldn’t work as a comic book. Conceptually, I mean. I suppose I should mention it does work–and very well. Writer Mark Evanier and artist Roger Langridge adapt the source material’s sensibilities for the comics medium, which is exactly the way to go about adapting a property from another medium… yet so few ever do it.
The all-knowing narrator works well in exposition boxes; Evanier ups it with Bullwinkle becoming psychic. His predictions interact both with the narrative and how Langridge illustrates that narrative. Very cool stuff.
As for Langridge, I notice he’s working in a lot of simple, but intricate background activity. He’s keeping the reader’s eyes consuming even when the principals aren’t doing a lot.
And then there’s the Dudley Do-Right intermediate story. Evanier sets it up as a series of really funny, somewhat inappropriate jokes.
It’s an excellent comic.
Writer, Mark Evanier; artist and letterer, Roger Langridge; colorist, Jeremy Colwell; editor, Sarah Gaydos; publisher, IDW Publishing.
Langridge goes out of his way to give the feature a distinct look.
He’s got a lot more lines–for backgrounds–than the other Popeye artists usually use and it gives the story an aged quality. Langridge is crossing Popeye over with another comic strip character, Barney Google, and he takes it seriously.
Castor and Wimpy are the real stars of the story. Popeye’s sturdy as usual–and there are some great lines from him for Olive to hear–but Castor and Wimpy’s individual schemes run off with the story.
It’s also nice how Langridge constructs the narrative–he’s introducing Barney Google to everyone, which makes everything seem so fresh. It’s a good one….
But it can’t compare to the backup. It’s Popeye and Swee’Pea at a carnival. Langridge brackets the story with Popeye writing to Swee’Pea’s mom. It’s touching, it’s funny, it’s perfect.
Langridge continues to make Popeye outstanding.
A Horse of a Different Color. Letter to Momma. Writer, artist, colorist and letterer, Roger Langridge; editors, Ted Adams, Craig Yoe and Clizzia Gussoni; publisher, IDW Publishing.
Bluto’s back in town, this time touring as a magician. Popeye and company go to the show, Wimpy gets a ventriloquist act going (show business means hamburgers) and general mayhem occurs.
The issue’s as close to all-action as Langridge’s gotten on this series. There’s nothing else going on except Olive’s occasionally inappropriate comments about Bluto’s manliness.
The pacing is a little odd because there’s so much Bluto throughout the issue. He’s being a very nasty guy and then Langridge forces the reader to spend time with him. There’s no good explanation why Popeye goes so easy on him in the first place….
Still, there’s a lot of charm to the story. Langridge excels at writing Wimpy; Pappy and Toar have good moments too. It’s just Langridge doesn’t know how to keep Bluto present without it being awkward.
The end gag is excellent, especially since Langridge builds it so carefully.
The Conniving Conjurer; writer, Roger Langridge; artist and letterer, Vince Musacchia; colorist, Luke McDonnell; editors, Ted Adams, Craig Yoe and Clizzia Gussoni; publisher, IDW Publishing.
Langridge continues the odd trend. This issue, in Sappo, there’s this incredibly awful moment and Langridge plays it for laughs. It’s downright disturbing. Lovely art from Ken Wheaton though; a lot of the strip is charming.
The Popeye feature is excellent, with Toar having to box Popeye to get citizenship. Everyone finds out the motive for the fight except Popeye; he spends a lot of the story depressed. It’s a genial little story. Langridge just lets the characters move gently through the story. Langridge plots these Popeye stories wonderfull; in between set pieces, he always makes room for character bits.
Here, as it tends to be, it’s Wimpy. Langridge lets Toar have the first act to himself and he’s a good protagonist. What’s also lovely is how Langridge paces the story–it takes place over a few days–he does really well with summary storytelling.
But Sappo’s still nuts.
American Toar; artist and letterer, Vince Musacchia; Ant Music; artist and letterer, Ken Wheaton. Writer, Roger Langridge; colorist, Luke McDonnell; editors, Ted Adams, Craig Yoe and Clizzia Gussoni; publisher, IDW Publishing.
With nine to ten pages of actual content (the count depends on what constitutes content), Roger Langridge doesn’t have a lot of time in the first issue of The Fez. The cover, with its booming title design, vaguely reminds of The Spirit and the first page does have a recap of the Fez’s villains. They’re very funny villains.
None of them appear in the rest of the issue. The first story has the Fez haunting a thief–three glorious pages. Langridge turns nine very short lines of narration into a very amusing little story. The Fez, you see, is an invisible person wearing a fez, hence the title.
The bigger story involves the Fez doing experiments–to regain his visibility I assumed but Langridge doesn’t address it–and having a hallucinogenic journey.
The comic’s an art tour de force, but Langridge is so good at precise narrative, it’s sublime too.
The Man Who Wasn’t There. Vestige in a Bottle. Writer, artist and letterer, Roger Langridge; publisher, Hotel Fred Press.
It’s a strange issue. Not the Sappo backup so much, but the feature is just… unpleasant.
A new burger sensation has hit town and Alice (she’s Swee’Pea nanny) doesn’t like it. Turns out Bluto is exploiting people in a third world country (or island) to produce the burgers, which are mushroom-based. It’s kind of hard not to read something into the situation Langridge presents; he still manages to turn in a satisfying Popeye story but it also makes one think.
Or maybe I am just reading too much into it.
Popeye gets most of the action and has a few nice character moments; Wimpy does have his moments, of course. Toar is working out to be a fun addition too.
The Sappo backup, for the first time, doesn’t eclipse the feature. It’s a cute story about a ice sculpture invention of the Professor’s. Ozella’s got some great panels too.
The Right Schtuff or Tears of a Goon or Miracle Meat; artist and letterer, Ken Wheaton. Feast Your Ice on This; artist and letterer, Bruce Ozella. Writer, Roger Langridge; colorist, Luke McDonnell; editors, Ted Adams, Craig Yoe and Clizzia Gussoni; publisher, IDW Publishing.
It’s a full-length adventure–Langridge breaks it out into three acts and follows through. I was a little surprised how carefully he plotted the third act; the issue runs on jokes, not the narrative, but Langridge keeps both going.
Popeye’s dad has fallen for a younger woman and Popeye’s suspicious (act one). It turns out she’s after his hidden treasure and Poopdeck Pappy finally sees the light, teaming up with his son–and Olive and Wimpy–to foil her plot (act two). Then there’s the action-packed finish.
Throughout, Langridge keeps the supporting cast fluid. People come in, people go–nice little Castor bit for the attentive reader. The issue feels nice and full, even though it’s a breezy read.
Vince Musacchia packs the pages with panels too. He works up these great little (in size) panels, which read a lot bigger than they measure.
Popeye’s delightful as usual.
Vamped! Or The Fall of Poopdeck Pappy; writer, Roger Langridge; artist and letterer, Vince Musacchia; colorist, Luke McDonnell; editors, Ted Adams, Craig Yoe and Clizzia Gussoni ; publisher, IDW Publishing.
Langridge drawing Popeye looks exactly like… Popeye. This issue’s the first Langridge does the art on too and I guess I was expecting something else. It’s great art, it’s just great Popeye art. Langridge never has ego problems so I don’t know why I’m surprised.
The feature story has Popeye and Castor on a case (Olive and Wimpy come along too). There are a couple things for Popeye to punch, lots for Wimpy to eat and an old boyfriend for Olive to occasionally swoon over. Langridge isn’t reinventing the wheel, just making it as round and smooth as possible.
He does a great job with Castor, turning him into the reader’s stand-in in the story. He can’t overplay him, but he could use him more, he does so well.
The backup, involving a mechanical cow, is–as usual–funnier. Langridge’s only got to sets up joke, not a narrative.
The Beast of Desolation Gulch or The Case of the Desert Yeti. The Cow of Tomorrow!. Writer, artist and letterer, Roger Langridge; colorist, Luke McDonnell; editors, Ted Adams, Craig Yoe and Clizzia Gussoni ; publisher, IDW Publishing.
Everything ties up nicely for the finish. I’m still trying to determine how Langridge made this take on The Rocketeer. He’s turned Cliff into a young doofus, added Groucho Marx as the narrator and so on… yet it’s definitely the Rocketeer.
There’s a big action scene to resolve everything. It takes most of the issue and Langridge has to fill it out with some minor twists and turns. Some of his intimations are still too vague for me–though I think maybe Doc Savage makes an appearance.
Without being identified, of course.
The Bone art probably does hurt the comic’s commercial viability–the non-realistic comic strip influenced art doesn’t scream sales–but it’s impossible to imagine the series without it.
Langridge and Bone should be very proud. There are all sorts of great little details, but the overall result is outstanding too. It’s an excellent series, start to finish.
A Night at the Altar; writer, Roger Langridge; artist, J. Bone; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.
Oh, Langridge is just having too much fun now. He reveals the narrator–Groucho Marx. It’s a hilarious little detail; it doesn’t make any sense yet (how he’s omniscient but he’s Groucho so who cares). There also might a slight Return of the Jedi nod as far as Betty’s outfit goes.
It’s a slower issue than normal, as Cliff has to figure things out. He’s not racing after Betty with believable speed–Langridge writes the characters differently. Cliff is a bit of a dunce. Betty’s the smarter one, which makes her constant peril an interesting contradiction.
The hero is the damsel in distress.
Even the villain’s big reveal scene works beautifully. Langridge and Bone work beautifully together.
The film has a lot of the Golden Age Hollywood feel to it. That Hollywood setting permeates throughout; it’s one of Langridge’s finest achievements on the book. He never forcibly includes the details.
In the Soup; writer, Roger Langridge; artist, J. Bone; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.
Langridge really embraces the Thin Man tie-in. It’s without names, instead of him doing thinly veined homages. It’s a nice touch, sending Betty off on her own adventure without Cliff.
Actually, Betty’s got the much bigger story. She’s the one who has figured out there’s some creepiness with the Scientologist Cthulhu fan–sorry, Cosmicist–while Cliff’s basically just running around dumb. He’s on the run from Howard Hughes’s guys, who want to bring the jet-pack in for a tune up.
There’s some more great work from Bone this issue. He’s got a lot of Rocketeer action, some great reaction shots between Cliff and Betty; that whole vibe, from cartoon broadness to comic strip focus, continues here, if not amplifies.
While Langridge does follow the general IDW Rocketeer continuity, Hollywood Horror never feels forcibly tied in. They’re creating their own thing; so far, better than anyone else has done.
These Troubled Times; writer, Roger Langridge; artist, J. Bone; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.
In the past, I think I’ve referred to J. Bone as some kind of Darwyn Cooke wannabe. I take it back. I regret making those statements, though Hollywood Horror seems to be a breakthrough for him.
He mixes old animation styles with comic strips to wonderful success. Even though she’s cartoony, Betty’s anger is real (and, since it’s Betty, her figure voluptuous). Cliff might be a square-jawed hero, but he’s real too–panic, excitement, aggravation.
As for Roger Langridge’s script, it’s unsurprisingly divine. There’s humor, there’s a fantastic “dear reader” narrative device, there are cameos from Nick and Nora Charles. Langridge and Bone also throw in a Einstein stand-in and some Lovecraft.
It’s fast and fun, with some amusing Rocketeer heroics–which the creators use to subtly add in direct references to the subplots.
There’s a lot going on–too much to even identify the main plot yet.
The Rocketeer vs. the Hollywood Horror; writer, Roger Langridge; artist, J. Bone; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.
It’s a book length story. Langridge and artist Ken Wheaton do a great job of it too.
Langridge probably could have rushed the story, but by taking the whole issue, he lets Wheaton’s art breath a little. The word balloons aren’t packed full of text. Wheaton is able to give conversations reaction shots, for example.
The story concerns Popeye and company going to Hollywood to shoot a movie about Popeye’s life. Popeye’s the consultant… until he has to star too.
So Langridge has time for three acts, even though he opens the issue with a flash forward showing Popeye in the picture itself. One reads it just waiting for Popeye and company to take over the film production. It’s a nicely paced wait.
The issue also reads a little different because more of the cast seems self-aware. Not Popeye or Wimpy, but definitely Olive and Castor. Oh, and Bluto.
The Popeye the Sailor Story; writer, Roger Langridge; artist and letterer, Ken Wheaton; colorist, Luke McDonnell; editors, Ted Adams, Craig Yoe and Clizzia Gussoni; publisher, IDW Publishing.