Weird War Tales 1 (November 2010)

Weird War Tales features something I never wanted to see… weak Darwyn Cooke. His story is idiotic—famous war figures have a party—and his artwork is barely there. It’s a bunch of skeletons and stuff, so maybe it’s the subject, but it’s all so incredibly lame I couldn’t believe it was really Cooke. It’s not even amusing. I can’t figure out why he bothered. Oh, money. The next story—from Ivan Brandon and Nic Klein—has good art from Klein and terrible writing from Brandon. It’s a sub story. Brandon’s dialogue is weak and his plot is worse. But that art’s quiet good. For a…

Hotwire: Deep Cut 3 (January 2011)

Pugh really needed some more space. But first, I want to talk about the art a little. Pugh has some really stunning panels this issue, even better than usual. There’s a lot of action and it’s all very well executed, but there are these occasional, amazing panels. It’s like he knew he didn’t have enough space and used particular panels to slow down the reader’s pace. Because he doesn’t have enough space, Pugh does something rather annoying. He changes the point of view towards the end of the issue. Alice starts narrating about six pages from the end. It’s understandable why he…

Dark Horse Presents 49 (March 1991)

Geier’s art on the Homicide installment is pretty weak, but Arcudi actually comes up with an interesting case. It is, of course, unfortunate then Arcudi relies on the art for the final panel. I had to read the page three times, staring at it, before I noticed the big reveal. It’s also too bad about Arcudi’s lame dialogue. Edginton writes a regular Downtown here. The holiday special was a lot better. It turns out the protagonist is a zombie private detective and he has all sorts of wacky adventures. The Pugh art is excellent at times, only good at others… but it…

Dark Horse Presents 48 (February 1991)

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…

Hotwire: Deep Cut 2 (October 2010)

Pugh has some pacing issues but I think the big problem is… three issues isn’t enough Hotwire. He’s moving the series toward a close–and he’s doing an admirable job fitting a lot in (whether it’s Alice being well-liked or the stuff between the ghost soldier and the zombie)–but it’s clear he knows the end is near. It’s like he had enough story for four issues, then had to fit it into three issues. As the only comic with any artistic integrity Radical has ever published, it’s horrifying Hotwire gets the shaft here. The artwork is beautiful, but it’s really about how he…

Hotwire: Deep Cut 1 (July 2010)

Hmm… I don’t like Pugh’s cliffhanger. I get the need for it, to establish the bad guys of this series as the mercenaries–not just incompetent but evil (did Pugh write this issue before or after Obama renewed Blackwater’s contract?)–but it’s not a solid ending. The issue opens with this amazing one-page retelling of the previous series. Pugh’s artwork is so meticulous, so perfect, it’s the ideal way to enter the new series, to acclimate. Then the series alternates its pace between action and reflection. Pugh really handles it well, given he didn’t start as a writer; his structure suggests otherwise. He manages…

Superman vs. the Terminator: Death To The Future 4 (March 2000)

Will Lex Luthor create Skynet? Will Lois Lane’s husband get jealous of her ogling Superman? Will Alan Grant get credit (and residuals) for coming up with the name Terminatrix? No to all three, I believe, unless Dark Horse and DC start doing these crossovers again. It’s strange the epilogue cliffhanger for the series–Lex Luthor is going to take over the world–is something DC couldn’t follow up on without Dark Horse’s permission and participation…. They probably went that route to make the series feel a little less like a complete waste of time. Did it work? No. Worse, Perkins is back inking Pugh…

Superman vs. the Terminator: Death To The Future 3 (February 2000)

Oh, no, will Superman be able to save the world from the Terminators? Crossovers like this one must be incredibly frustrating to plot because there’s no chance things aren’t going to be returning to the status quo at the end (I mean, did Dark Horse even have a regular Terminator series starring Sarah and John Conner at this time or were they just special guest stars for the crossover?). Maybe I’m just mad Superman goes through all this trouble to save the future–a big nuclear explosion and EMP to wipe out all the machines on earth–when he’s just going back in time…

Superman vs. the Terminator: Death To The Future 2 (January 2000)

Well, it’s not just Superman Pugh’s drawing funny–he’s inking himself here too–it’s a lot of people. Supergirl is who I’m thinking about in particular, Pugh gives her an expression like she’s just eaten a barrel of beans and is racing to the john. Actually, most of the art’s bland. Pugh’s probably racing through this assignment himself, but it’s always shocking to me how mediocre 1990s comic art could get. There’s mediocrity today, of course, but at least they try to photoshop it a little, give it some oomph. This comic was, presumably, a big crossover event; one no one cared about at…

Superman vs. the Terminator: Death To The Future 1 (December 1999)

I figured I was safe going into Superman vs. the Terminator without any continuity knowledge of Superman comics in the 1990s. Was I ever wrong…. While I did read “The Death of Superman,” I quickly lost interest and am pretty much completely unfamiliar with all the further nonsense following it–Steel, Superboy, Cyborg Superman, et cetera, et cetera. There’s not just Steel, Superboy and Cyborg Superman in this issue, there’s also Sarah and John Conner, who I never realized Dark Horse was allowed to use (since their license for The Terminator wouldn’t have included Terminator 2 and John Conner). But this issue’s got…

Hotwire: Requiem for the Dead 4 (August 2009)

And I’m not so much on board for the conclusion. Here’s an action-packed issue. Pugh has his villain revealed, who’s really just an aggrieved party and aggrieved parties make terrible villains to demonize, since their plight makes sense. But worst is how he takes the series away from Hotwire at the end and gives it to her new boss. Her new boss has been in the comic for three issues; she doesn’t need to have the conclusion. Pugh also avoids a lot, like what’s going on in other places. It’s a third-person narrative, but close to the point of distraction (though it…

Hotwire: Requiem for the Dead 3 (May 2009)

This issue is Pugh’s version of an all-action issue. He fails, somewhat, because he’s still got a narrative going. It’s not just one huge action sequence, he takes the time to introduce characters and ideas, not to mention revealing the entire conspiracy (well, most of it) behind the comic book. It’s a fun issue. Not sure the comic needed to be fun at this point in its run, however. I mean, it’s not entirely fun… quite a few people die and it’s generally unpleasant, but there’s a lot of fun to be found. Hotwire’s got some good lines, lots of good lines,…

Hotwire: Requiem for the Dead 2 (March 2009)

Ok, some of Pugh’s dialogue panels are a little static here, but otherwise, the art’s excellent. This issue moves the story… well, not quite along, but it reveals more of it. It certainly does do a good job expanding the supporting cast, which is an interesting move for the second issue of a four issue limited (we’re moving into the second act here and ending halfway through the whole narrative). It gives Hotwire more people to really interact with, which provides some comic relief, since Pugh’s spending a lot of the time explaining stuff. There’s a lot of future ghost reality to…

Hotwire: Requiem for the Dead 1 (February 2009)

A friend of mine recommended Hotwire to me and, while I trust his opinion, I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. It’s a very stylized, painted-like (is there a term for it yet, Photoshop-painted maybe) comic and he doesn’t like photoshopping or painted comics. But Hotwire‘s not really that genre at all–if it were black and white, it’d look–as I imagine in an idealized sense–like a Marvel magazine from the 1970s. Pugh’s artwork is this luscious, emotional stuff, not at all static, not at all “painted comic” or “photoshopped comic.” Besides the art, Pugh’s writing is strong. He sets…