Steve Pugh

Weird War Tales 1 (November 2010)

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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 finale, it’s Jan Strnad and Gabriel Hardman. The story is kind of weak, but Strnad can write the dialogue so it all moves through all right. The Hardman artwork is absolutely fantastic. This one nearly makes the issue worth a look, but not quite.

CREDITS

Armistice Night; writer, artist and letterer, Darwyn Cooke; colorist, Dave Stewart. Advance… and be recognized!; artist, colorist and letterer, Steve Pugh. The Hell Above Us; writer, Ivan Brandon; artist and colorist, Nic Klein; letterer, Steve Wands. Private Parker Sees Thunder Lizards; writer, Jan Strnad; artist, Gabriel Hardman; colorist, Daniel Vozzo; letterer, Wands. Editors, Chris Conroy and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

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Hotwire: Deep Cut 3 (January 2011)

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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 does it (as the issue progresses, it becomes increasingly clear he needed either another issue or another ten pages) and it’s a solution. It’s not a particularly good one.

Luckily, Alice is such a strong character it’d be hard to go wrong; Pugh doesn’t.

It’s cramped, but lovely.

CREDITS

Everyone Gets A Medal; writer, artist, colorist and letterer, Steve Pugh; editor, Marie Javins; publisher, Radical Comics.

Dark Horse Presents 49 (March 1991)

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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 can’t overcome the script. Too bad, I was looking forward to this one.

Harlequin, on the other hand, reveals itself to be completely excellent here. Csutoras makes excellent use of asides as he sets up this offbeat road trip. Gaudiano paces it well. It’s a very pleasant surprise.

CREDITS

Homicide, Restless Sleep; story by John Arcudi; art by Earl Geier. Downtown; story by Ian Edginton; inks by Steve Pugh. Harlequin, Act II; story by Stephen Csutoras; art by Stefano Gaudiano. Edited by Randy Stradley.

Dark Horse Presents 48 (February 1991)

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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.

CREDITS

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.

Hotwire: Deep Cut 2 (October 2010)

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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 defines his character. The three panels where Alice talks to her belligerent artificially intelligent teddy bear is better than anything I’ve read in a while.

Even with the rapid pace, the ending is sublime. Somehow Pugh has made Alice’s condescending attitude towards everything rather comforting.

CREDITS

My Name is Bertus; writer, artist, colorist and letterer, Steve Pugh; editor, Marie Javins; publisher, Radical Comics.

Hotwire: Deep Cut 1 (July 2010)

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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 a bunch of flashbacks, three separate present day story threads and more.

The key, and the reason the cliffhanger disappoints, is Alice. She’s such a solid lead, taking the ending away from her, even for two pages, leaves the issue unstable.

Still very good though.

CREDITS

Bad Dogs Get The Pipe Wrench; writer, artist, colorist and letterer, Steve Pugh; editor, Marie Javins; publisher, Radical Comics.

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

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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 and the art’s even sloppier than before. I feel bad because I only read the comic because of the Pugh artwork and it’s so weak, I’ve done little but comment on it (and mock the series as whole, but, really, what else could I have done?).

CREDITS

Writer, Alan Grant; penciller, Steve Pugh; inker, Mike Perkins; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Clem Robins; editors, Phil D. Amara, Eddie Berganza, Tim Ervin-Gore and Maureen McTigue; publishers, Dark Horse Comics and DC Comics.

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

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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 to prevent it from ever happening. It’s not like he had to complete the one goal to go back, it’s just filler for the pages.

More cameos here too–Lex Luthor shows up for a bit, weren’t he and Supergirl dating at one point?

Very lame.

CREDITS

Writer, Alan Grant; artist, Steve Pugh; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Clem Robins; editors, Phil D. Amara, Eddie Berganza, Tim Ervin-Gore and Maureen McTigue; publishers, Dark Horse Comics and DC Comics.

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

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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 all?

The writing’s pretty lame too, but at least it’s competent in the continuity-heavy sense. It’s a Superman comic guest-starring Terminators, nothing else. Between Supergirl’s fight scene and Steel’s constant presence, it’s pretty clear.

Honestly, I’m really curious to see how it turns out.

CREDITS

Writer, Alan Grant; artist, Steve Pugh; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Clem Robins; editors, Phil D. Amara, Eddie Berganza, Mike D. Hansen and Maureen McTigue; publishers, Dark Horse Comics and DC Comics.

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

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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 Superman defending the Conners and a lot of continuity with the Superman titles and that nonsense.

None of that confusion matters, though.

What matters is the Terminators now have heat vision, which makes them a lot less interesting.

Pugh’s art is okay… his Superman is a problem.

CREDITS

Writer, Alan Grant; penciller, Steve Pugh; inker, Mike Perkins; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Clem Robins; editors, Phil D. Amara, Eddie Berganza, Mike D. Hansen and Maureen McTigue; publishers, Dark Horse Comics and DC Comics.

Hotwire: Requiem for the Dead 4 (August 2009)

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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 does oscillate between Hotwire and her partner). He never shows what’s going on with the second tier villains, the Homeland Security stand-ins. He kills lots of them, but positions them as space invaders, not human beings.

It’s a good book overall, just a problematic finale.

CREDITS

Skull Face; writer, artist, colorist and letter, Steve Pugh; editor, Dave Elliott; publisher, Radical Comics.

Hotwire: Requiem for the Dead 3 (May 2009)

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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, really, as she spouts off on living and not-living alike.

Pugh’s attempts at heartfelt revelations are more problematic than not, but it doesn’t matter since he’s got Hotwire fighting skeletons possessed with evil people.

I’m confused as all hell, but enjoying the comic very, very much.

CREDITS

Deep Blue; writer, artist, colorist and letter, Steve Pugh; editor, Dave Elliott; publisher, Radical Comics.

Hotwire: Requiem for the Dead 2 (March 2009)

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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 process this issue and Pugh hasn’t even made things simple yet. There isn’t a bad guy yet. There’s bad stuff happening, suggestions of bad intentions, but no real villain.

Instead, it’s all very complicated–these people are bad, but not the bad guys, et cetera–and it works.

CREDITS

Dead Letters; writer, artist, colorist and letter, Steve Pugh; editor, Dave Elliott; publisher, Radical Comics.

Hotwire: Requiem for the Dead 1 (February 2009)

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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 Hotwire up as Blade Runner with ghosts (down to the Blade Runner font, but I imagine that decision wasn’t his to make) and it really does work. It’s never really “spooky,” but it’s off-putting and not comfy.

I can’t wait for more.

CREDITS

Read This First; writer, artist, colorist and letter, Steve Pugh; editor, Dave Elliott; publisher, Radical Comics.