The Rocketeer (1982-85)

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I’d never read the Rocketeer. Back when I first learned about it, in 1990 or 1991, it was because Comics Scene had a feature on the movie. And I loved the movie (still do) but it never translated to me reading the comics. For a time, they were hard to find, but probably not back then. Though I don’t think there were any new Rocketeer after the movie… oh, there was one (thanks Wikipedia).

But anyway, even though I’m generally familiar with the story and some of the comic’s details, I’d never read it, until now.

Obviously, the art is beautiful. It’s hard to tell what Stevens liked drawing more–Betty or the Rocketeer. Only when he’s drawing Cliff’s adventures, out of helmet so to speak, is there any sense he wasn’t completely deliberate. It’s not just Stevens’s attention to detail, his panel layouts are amazing too. The comic’s always in motion.

The writing has some issues. Not many. There’s a lot of great stuff, like Stevens letting the exposition boxes do narrative chores (the rocket pack doesn’t get visually introduced when Cliff finds it, for example) or how Betty’s pretty much the only one with a lot of thought balloons, which turn the comic into a model’s self-reflections on how to properly navigate relations, romantic and business, with men.

However, Stevens writes the dialogue in a thirties Hollywood dialect, which distracts to say the least.

It’s a small quibble, however, and the Rocketeer is an excellent comic book.

CREDITS

Writer, artist and letterer, Dave Stevens; colorists, Stevens and Joe Chiodo; editors, David Scroggy and Cat Yronwode; publishers, Pacific Comics and Eclipse Comics.

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The Complete Dracula 5 (December 2009)

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With Worley returning to the art, The Complete Dracula stands as three-fifths of the best telling or retelling of Stoker’s Dracula… far better than the novel itself, even with the occasional adaptation quibbles. The book immediately returns to the multimedia presentation, the artwork again becoming a mix of painted landscapes and domestics and half-static, half-moving painted live action. It’s a lovely thing to look.

Thanks to the source novel, the story has problems. Stoker couldn’t write characters with distinct voice, he plotted poorly (Dracula’s been wanting to “invade” England for hundreds of years and runs off because of some saps?), so those problems remain. But Moore and Reppion, who might appreciate the novel a little too much to truly make it work, get past them overall.

It’s a lovely close to a troubled series. It’s unfortunate Dynamite thought a fill-in artist was the way to go.

CREDITS

Writers, Leah Moore and John Reppion; artist and colorist, Colton Worley; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Complete Dracula 4 (December 2009)

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In the notes for this issue, Moore and Reppion discuss the novel’s sexism. I think the less guarded description would be Stoker’s misogyny. It’s somewhat curbed here, in the adaptation, as the writers are aware of its presence, whereas Stoker would not have been.

Lots happens in the issue and I could only wonder how it would have read with a better artist. Verma continues to disappoint. Aaron Campbell’s no longer contributing and the comic has lost its visual flare. There’s no more mixed media. There’s no more visual creativity. It’s gone, now, from being a pleasant surprise to the kind of crap Radical puts out. It’s embarrassing, actually. I feel bad for the writers, since–if I were to have bought the hard cover sight unseen–I would have tried to return it once the art changed.

It’s beyond too bad, since the adaptation itself is quite well-written.

CREDITS

Writers, Leah Moore and John Reppion; artist, Dheeraj Verma; colorists, Digikore Studios and Colton Worley; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Complete Dracula 3 (September 2009)

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Unfortunately, Worley’s gone this issue (he’s credited with layouts). Verma is … Verma’s painted comic art looks like all the lame painted comic art I’ve seen before, the stuff to make me dread a painted comic. His figures are fine, his faces are awful. The texture and depth of the book is now gone. It’s so distractingly, it’s hard to think about the writing, as this change in artist takes the book from being a measured success to a moderate failure.

Oddly, Verma’s illustrating abilities are strong (his pencils are in the issue’s notes).

I can’t remember the novel, if there really is so much time spent on the death of Lucy, but when Moore and Reppion take the whole issue, it’s hard not to think something’s going to be missed. But Mina is Dracula’s victim in the novel, right? Not his lover. So they should be fine filling two issues.

CREDITS

Writers, Leah Moore and John Reppion; artists, Aaron Campbell, Colton Worley and Dheeraj Verma; colorist, Malti Verma; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Complete Dracula 2 (July 2009)

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So, I guess I hadn’t realized how important Aaron Campbell’s layout contributions are to this series. There’s an example in the back of the comic and it’s clear he’s significant.

The Dracula novel, with the diary entries, the letters, the clippings, is sort of a multimedia (for the late nineteenth century) piece, and this adaptation fully realizes the potential, now incorporating visuals.

Not all the visuals work, however, especially here. There’s a lot of photoshopping going on, a lot of clearly blurred images, a lot of photographic backgrounds with a minimal amount of “painting” over. There moments distract, since Worley’s paintings are usually quite good, even if Mina doesn’t look the same panel to panel (one can’t tell if she’s supposed to be attractive, for example).

The comic’s so successful adapting the novel’s diary entries and letters, actual dialogue comes as a shock, like it doesn’t belong here at all.

CREDITS

Writers, Leah Moore and John Reppion; artists, Aaron Campbell and Colton Worley; colorist, Worley; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Complete Dracula 1 (May 2009)

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No one told me Dracula was going to be a digitally painted comic. I usually avoid those. But I probably still would have picked this one and a good thing, because it’s not bad.

As a novel, Dracula, is complete garbage. It’s such garbage, it’s almost impossible to find a good adaptation of it, illustrated, filmed or otherwise. Stoker’s lack of basic writing competence being a major problem. Fruit of the poisonous tree and all.

Moore and Reppion combat it a little with a prologue, making Harker more of a protagonist. But, as usual, the Castle Dracula stuff gets old fast (they even reference a scene they didn’t adapt).

However, the Mina Murray stuff is nice, maybe because Worley paints all the panels like static paintings. He occasionally captures profound moments for Mina, which works.

I’m not sure where the comic’s going quality-wise, but it seems interesting at least.

CREDITS

Writers, Leah Moore and John Reppion; artist and colorist, Colton Worley; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Secret Wars II 8 (February 1986)

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So the Beyonder got all bent out of shape because of his failed encounter with Puma… (Puma was supposed to kill him, according Puma’s tribe’s legends) and spends this entire issue moping. Oh, he gets in a fight with the X-Men–unfortunately he doesn’t kill them, which doesn’t fit, since he’s enraged and that Rachel Summers is really annoying. He teases Molecule Man a lot and that situation gives Shooter a chance to get in some more of his misogynist writing in regards to Volcana.

Then he argues with Spider-Man. Then something else happens, then something else.

What’s funniest about the comic is how Shooter clearly doesn’t have anything to do but he’s got to get another issue published (no surprise, the major guest stars are the X-Men and Spider-Man, Marvel’s two biggest dollar draws).

The whole thing stinks, but this issue is a new low.

CREDITS

Betrayal!; writer, Jim Shooter; penciller, Al Milgrom; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, Christie Scheele; letterers, Joe Rosen and Rick Parker; editor, Bob Budiansky; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Robocop: Roulette 3 (February 1994)

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Byrd’s art is pretty awful, but it’s a surprisingly okay issue. Even taking all the stupidity into account, Arcudi does manage a couple all right moments here, like when Robocop goes back to the scene of his own murder.

There’s also a lot of cop talk, not related to Robocop, and it passes the panels. It’s not exactly filler, just more of Arcudi doing whatever he can to avoid making Robocop the protagonist in his own comic (which isn’t bad, necessarily, the first Robocop spent a lot of time with other characters–except they were interesting, Arcudi’s are not).

Maybe the time between reading the previous issue and this one has something to do with it. They certainly weren’t written “for the trade,” so a delay–just to let the brain cells regrow–is a must.

Still, shame they can’t do anything with Robocop; it’s a waste of a license.

CREDITS

Writer, John Arcudi; penciller, Mitch Byrd; inker, Brian Garvey; colorist, Jim Sinclair; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editor, Jennie Bricker; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

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