I can’t believe I forgot about the Brubaker fake arc. It’s when he identifies something as an arc, but it leads directly into the next issue, which starts another arc. He usually uses a hard cliffhanger (and does so here too).
It’s always vaguely frustrating because Brubaker uses the expectations to fool the reader. It’s mostly a Marvel phenomenon for him and it’s always a little hostile.
With an extremely fast-paced issue–like this one–it leaves one wondering why bother reading it at all. The recap in the next issue will have all the pertinent information, since Brubaker doesn’t have a single character moment in this issue. It’s all setup for what’s next.
If Brubaker’s Marvel career has been rehashing the books he liked in the seventies, Winter Soldier is more just rehashing his own earlier Marvel work. Bucky’s got a nemesis. Big whoop.
It’s okay, albeit unrewarding.
Broken Arrow, Part Three; writer, Ed Brubaker; penciller, Michael Lark; inkers, Brian Thies and Stefano Gaudiano; colorist, Bettie Breitweiser; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Jake Thomas and Lauren Sankovitch; publisher, Marvel Comics.
Once again, I’ve got to question Brubaker’s approach. He splits this issue of Winter Soldier between Bucky and the bad guy. The bad guy has kidnapped Natasha and he’s going to brainwash her. It’s unclear why he hates Bucky so much–Brubaker plays fast and loose with that logic a lot. He tries to “realistically” update seventies Marvel comics, but he doesn’t take into account the character motivations.
Except when Bucky’s fellow SHIELD agent wonders why Bucky would be dating Black Widow in the first place.
Bucky and SHIELD are trying to find Natasha, which provides some fight scenes. Nothing too fantastic, just Bucky beating the crap out of thugs. Again, logic. A super-spy is hiring thugs from waterfront bars? Because it’s the 1940s? Later, Bucky’s metal arm saves his butt. It made me question how good he’d be without it.
As usual, it’s great looking, fun and problematic.
Broken Arrow, Part Two; writer, Ed Brubaker; penciller, Michael Lark; inkers, Brian Thies and Stefano Gaudiano; colorists, Bettie Breitweiser and Mitch Breitweiser; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Jake Thomas and Lauren Sankovitch; publisher, Marvel Comics.
Brubaker uses Bucky as narrator here, but mostly Bucky just waxes on about Natasha. It’s filler. I wanted to make a joke about it seeming almost as romantic as Jeph Loeb’s Superman/Batman narration but it’s insincere.
Brubaker has no reason to try to convince the reader of Natasha’s skills as a super-spy. He’s just filling some exposition boxes.
Otherwise, the issue’s great. It’s Michael Lark drawing a superhero spy book. There are no super powers, so the threats are all a lot more grounded. Lark maintains the realistic mood while still doing the absurd action too. It makes Winter Soldier even more interesting to read, to see how Lark bridges the disconnect.
The issue probably does read a little fast and the busy middle of the night mountain highway seems a tad much, but it’s very exciting. Shame Brubaker felt he needed to blather on in the narration.
Broken Arrow, Part One; writer, Ed Brubaker; penciller, Michael Lark; inkers, Brian Thies and Stefano Gaudiano; colorist, Bettie Breitweiser; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, John Denning and Lauren Sankovitch; publisher, Marvel Comics.
As usual, Ed Brubaker excels when not telling a story about his lead character. In this issue, instead of focusing on Bucky, Brubaker follows around one of his former proteges. The protege has a nice backstory and then an interesting side story to Bucky’s. Brubaker plays with the timeline to get a good ending and it works.
It’s such a strong story for the Russian agent, it doesn’t matter Bucky and Natasha barely have a presence this issue. They talk a little bit and they do some investigating from the SHIELD (or whatever organization they’re with) control room. Brubaker’s running into a problem of how to define Bucky post-Captain America and all, but who cares? It’s a good issue.
But I can’t forget the Michael Lark art. It’s Lark inked by Stefano Gaudiano. It’s beautiful art; incredibly confident heroics. Lark’s preppy hair cut for Bucky is strangely awesome too.
Broken Arrow, Prologue; writer, Ed Brubaker; penciller, Michael Lark; inkers, Stefano Gaudiano and Brian Thies; colorist, Bettie Breitweiser; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, John Denning and Lauren Sankovitch; publisher, Marvel Comics.
Tom Palmer is a very strange inker for Guice. Gaudiano shows up for a bit, at the beginning and end most noticeably, but Palmer handles the big action scene. It’s Bucky, Natasha and Doctor Doom versus the Super-Apes and some other bad guys. With the Palmer inks, it looks like something out of a seventies Marvel comic. It’s glorious action in the Marvel style. This issue makes up for the lackadaisical pacing in the last few and it’s not even Brubaker’s fault. It’s all Tom Palmer.
Even more, when he does the quiet scenes, he brings age and gravity to Bucky. I love Gaudiano, but with Palmer… Winter Soldier is a whole different book.
Brubaker writes some great Nick Fury and Doctor Doom banter–they need a team-up series, obviously–and maintains Bucky’s questionable morality.
It’s an excellent finish to a first arc. Fast and fun but fulfilling.
The Longest Winter, Part Five; writer, Ed Brubaker; penciller, Butch Guice; inkers, Stefano Gaudiano, Tom Palmer and Guice; colorist, Bettie Breitweiser; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editor, Lauren Sankovitch, John Denning and Tom Breevort; publisher, Marvel Comics.
Wait a second… at no time during Marvel’s attempts to “toughen up” the line did anyone ever stop to consider Doctor Doom having nuclear weapons is a lot more dangerous than the Hulk?
Sorry, I just gave away Brubaker’s big reveal for the issue. Sadly, it’s a lame one.
Otherwise, the issue’s okay. The pacing is still bad. Bucky and Doctor Doom head to beat up a Doombot, which leads to some excellent art from Guice and Gaudiano. They’re an interesting pair for Doctor Doom and he looks great. The mass destruction chase scene at the U.N. is good too. It’s just without payoff.
As for Black Widow, she gets a side mission. Unfortunately, she mostly just recounts it in exposition.
And that ending? It’s three times longer than it should be, if not more, and Brubaker hasn’t got any reward for the reader.
Winter‘s technically excellent, but highly problematic.
The Longest Winter, Part Four; writer, Ed Brubaker; penciller, Butch Guice; inkers, Stefano Gaudiano, Guice and Brian Thies; colorists, Bettie Breitweiser and Matthew Wilson; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editor, Lauren Sankovitch, John Denning and Tom Breevort; publisher, Marvel Comics.
So, if the good guys are going to figure out the identity of the bad guy–bad girl, actually–before the issue starts, why bother making it a mystery?
In addition to that silly plotting, this issue is the first where Brubaker’s pacing is too hurried. There’s a mission briefing, there’s the mission, then there’s the surprise ending. Except it’s not a particularly good surprise. Maybe in the Marvel Universe, there just aren’t any good surprises. I mean, it’s good comics and it’s fun and Brubaker writes Doctor Doom really well, but the end isn’t a surprise.
I guess there’s some more filler–the bad guys doing bad things–and a funny primate sight gag, but this issue is thin.
Well, except for Guice and company. The artwork is absolutely amazing, both in how Guice toggles between detail and action and how he composes the pages. Even the filler’s beautiful.
The Longest Winter, Part Three; writer, Ed Brubaker; penciller, Butch Guice; inkers, Stefano Gaudiano, Brian Thies and Guice; colorists, Bettie Breitweiser and Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editor, Lauren Sankovitch, John Denning and Tom Breevort; publisher, Marvel Comics.
Wow, the first Terminator story in Presents. I thought they’d gone through all the licenses, but no. It’s not terrible. Grant’s writing is adequate and Teran’s art has an energy to it. He’s a little confusing in action scenes (Grant’s plotting hurts there too) but he’s got some great designs.
Martin and Rude’s The Moth is just a lot of fun. It borrows some Batman elements and I think Rude does an homage to Spider-Man in one panel. The Moth’s a superhero (maybe) posing as a supervillain and playing mobsters against each other. Rude’s art would make anything good, but Martin’s writing is fine.
Seagle outdoes himself on My Vagabond Days, revealing his protagonist to be not just unlikable, but idiotic. This kid is a complete moron. He’s bringing rocks to Canada because Canada might not have rocks. Maybe Seagle is writing him younger than Gaudino is drawing him….
The Terminator, Suicide Run; story by Alan Grant; art by Frank Teran; lettering by Gary Fields. The Moth; story by Gary Martin; pencils by Steve Rude; inks by Andy Bish; lettering by Willie Schubert. My Vagabond Days; story by Steven T. Seagle; art by Stefano Gaudiano; lettering by Charity Rodriguez. Edited by Randy Stradley and Terry Waldron.
So Nazis versus Predator and the best Marz can come up with is a story set in South America? Castellini’s art makes up for some of it—even though he can’t draw the Predator, the rest of it looks good. But Marz’s writing is pretty dumb.
Seagle and Gaudiano have another My Vagabond Days, this time about the space program. Sort of. Seagle seems to think doing a lyrical narrative about growing up in the Sixties is inherently interesting. Even with Gaudiano’s artwork, it’s not interesting. Seagle, it turns out, didn’t grow up in the Sixties as a teen… have I already mentioned that fact? Regardless, it’s still a waste of good art.
Randall and Verheiden finally finish The Ark here. It’s yet another double-sized installment and, wow, Verheiden’s writing is really awful here. Randall still manages to turn in some decent work (except on the aliens, they’re boring).
Predator, Demon’s Gold; story by Ron Marz; art by Claudio Castellini; lettering by Gary Kato. My Vagabond Days; story by Steven T. Seagle; art by Stefano Gaudiano; lettering by Charity Rodriguez. The Ark, Part Four; story by Mark Verheiden; art by Ron Randall; lettering by Kato. Edited by Randy Stradley and Terry Waldron.
The annual opens with Mignola doing a retelling of Hellboy‘s origin. I guess it’s all right. Kind of pointless, but fine.
Weissman finally gets a two page Phineas Page and shows why he should have stuck to a page.
Van Meter and Ross team for the first comic book appearance of Buffy. The writing is more lame than not, but it’s maybe the best Ross art I’ve ever seen.
Watson’s Skeleton Key is a fairly charming little story about a witch and a little kid. I’m assuming the character’s a witch, otherwise it’d be pointless. Some wacky art mistakes though.
The Ark is a long setup with aliens as pay-off. Verheiden’s got some okay writing and Randall’s art isn’t bad.
Guadiano’s art is the primary selling point on he and Seagle’s My Vagabond Days. It’s not terrible though.
Burke and Bolton’s Infirmary is confounding, but Boltan’s art is gorgeous.
Hellboy, The Right Hand of Doom; story and art by Mike Mignola; lettering by Pat Brosseau. Phineas Page, The Bookshelf Phantom; story and art by Steven Weissman. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, MacGuffins; story by Jen Van Meter; pencils by Luke Ross; inks by Rick Ketcham; lettering by Steve Dutro. Skeleton Key, Witch; story and art by Andi Watson. The Ark, Part One; story by Mark Verheiden; art by Ron Randall; lettering by Sean Konot. My Vagabond Days; story by Steven T. Seagle; pencils by Stefano Gaudiano; inks by Pia Guerra; lettering by Charity Rodriguez. Infirmary; story by Matthew Burke; art by John Bolton; lettering by Ellie De Ville. Edited by Randy Stradley, Jamie S Rich and Ben Abernathy.
Posted in Ark, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dark Horse, Hellboy, Infirmary, My Vagabond Days, Phineas Page, Skeleton Key
Tagged Andi Watson, Jen Van Meter, John Bolton, Luke Ross, Mark Verheiden, Matthew Burke, Mike Mignola, Pia Guerra, Rick Ketchum, Ron Randall, Stefano Gaudiano, Steve Weissman, Steven T. Seagle
I was trying to remember where I knew Leialoha from… he inks now. He pencils and inks Trypto, which has a superhero dog splash page and then a rather traditional story. It’s about a stolen dog being forced to dogfight. Mumy and Ferrer’s script is fine and Leialoha has some imaginative composition, but his art doesn’t carry it.
Seagle and Gaudiano’s My Vagabond Days is set in the late sixties; it concerns a disrespectful young kid learning those soldiers in Vietnam are over there dying for his freedom. Seagle’s writing is, politics aside, lame. Worse, Gaudiano doesn’t work very hard on the art—it’s almost like a sketch album.
Thankfully, Brubaker’s Lowlife appears. Is Chris the protagonist the whole time (the Brubaker stand-in)? Anyway, this story chronicles the first day of a breakup. Inventive, human dialogue and some great composition. I’ve read these stories before, and they’re still great.
Trypto the Acid Dog, Wheel of the Broken Voice, Part One, Circle of Fire; story by Bill Mumy and Miguel Ferrer; art by Steve Leialoha. My Vagabond Days; story by Steven T. Seagle; art by Stefano Gaudiano; lettering by Megan Rodriguez. Lowlife, Part One, Wreck; story, art and lettering by Ed Brubaker. Edited by Bob Schreck and Jamie S. Rich.
I’m tempted to mention Cooper’s one page strip first because it’s a page and I don’t really have anything to say about it. Oops, there I went and did.
Brubaker and Gaudiano finish up Here and Now. It’s got a bit of a surprise ending, which makes perfect sense, but for whatever reason (probably a combination of Gaudiano’s realistic illustrating and Brubaker’s occasional summary storytelling), it works perfectly. The story really deserves to be collected (though the private detective angle detracts in some ways).
Rennie and Langridge’s Kabuki Kid features a story about Japanese products and their dismissal of the human worker. I’ve read three of these stories and I can’t tell if they’re really supposed to be socialist propaganda or if it’s another joke.
Campbell’s Doreen Grey has a strange installment. There’s some great stuff, but it feels incomplete. I can’t believe Campbell can tie it up next issue.
The Eyeball Kid, The Picture of Doreen Gray, Part Five; story by Eddie Campbell; art by Eddie Campbell and Hayley Campbell. Kabuki Kid, Part Three, Assembly Line Apocalypse!; story by Gordon Rennie; art by Roger Langridge; edited by Greg Vest. Nude; story and art by Dave Cooper. Here and Now, Part Three; story by Ed Brubaker; art by Stefano Gaudiano; lettering by Sean Konot. Edited by Bob Schreck and Scott Allie.
I wonder what Rennie’s Kabuki Kid scripts look like. This installment has a setup, introduces some villains, then it just goes wild. Langridge has the Kabuki Kid and his sidekick fighting an army of adversaries (though it does get weeded through fast). It’s funny and fast, even better than the first installment.
Schutz and Pander have three pages of filler set at a jazz club. Pander’s art’s good, but the entry’s pointless. Unless maybe it was a real place.
Then Brubaker and Gaudiano continue their dysfunctional private investigator in Here and Now. It’s an exceptionally depressing piece. I also wonder if it wouldn’t have been even more affecting to separate the two stories (the P.I. part and the dysfunctional family).
As for Campbell and Doreen Grey? This installment is even better, with Campbell sort of turning everything on its head. I love how he has characters discuss unlikely plot contrivances.
Kabuki Kid, Part Two, For a Few Noodles More!; story by Gordon Rennie; art by Roger Langridge; edited by Greg Vest. Tuesday Night at the Jazz Club; story by Diana Schutz; art by Arnold Pander; lettering by Sean Konot. Here and Now, Part Two; story by Ed Brubaker; art by Stefano Gaudiano; lettering by Konot. The Eyeball Kid, The Picture of Doreen Gray, Part Four; story and art by Eddie Campbell. Edited by Bob Schreck and Scott Allie.
I’m not sure if Presents has ever had such a good issue. They may have… but this one’s rather excellent.
Brubaker and Gaudiano’s Here and Now is a detective story, but one with an introspective, lost in his thoughts not his cases detective. Gaudiano’s artwork is fantastic–it’s basically a guy walking around most of the story, but he makes it compelling. Brubaker’s writing narration for the first half, then introduces a bunch of plot. It’s great.
Rennie and Langridge’s Kabuki Kid is a strange sort of samurai comedy. I’m hesitant to say samurai because Rennie throws in some Chinese stereotypes too (but Langridge doesn’t into the art). It’s violent and funny, with Langridge making his seemingly static panels fluid.
Then Campbell’s excellent Doreen Grey continues with two minor surprises and one major one. Lots of character stuff–I almost thought the Eyeball Kid was going to get a girlfriend.
Here and Now, Part One; story by Ed Brubaker; art by Stefano Gaudiano; lettering by Sean Konot. Kabuki Kid, Part One, A Pot Full of Noodles; story by Gordon Rennie; art by Roger Langridge; edited by Greg Vest. The Eyeball Kid, The Picture of Doreen Gray, Part Three; story by Eddie Campbell; art by Campbell and Peter Mullins. Edited by Bob Schreck and Scott Allie.