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.

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Detective Comics 513 (April 1982)

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How did DC let this one get to the printers? Chiaramonte’s inks are a complete disaster. Maybe Newton was in a rush and Chiaramonte had to cover a lot but… it doesn’t even look like Newton here.

The story’s got some interesting parts, not the “Batman is missing” parts (Two-Face has kidnapped him and is holding him prisoner, keeping him alive due to lucky–or unlucky–coin tosses). Jim Gordon’s out of his job, which is interesting, Vicki Vale is telling Alfred she knows Bruce’s secret… unfortunately, neither of these parts get any real attention once the action starts. We also don’t get to find out why Two-Face’s girlfriend hates Batman. In a way, it’s “real,” but it’s also some sloppy editing.

The Batgirl backup is atrocious. Worst Delbo art yet (I make that comment a lot). But the writing’s bad too. The story’s trite, obvious and boring.

CREDITS

…Is Better Than None!; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Don Newton; inker, Frank Chiaramonte; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. Duel with Demons!; writer, Cary Burkett; penciller, Jose Delbo; inker, Joe Giella; colorist, Tom Ziuko; letterer, Adam Kubert. Editors, Dave Manak and Dick Giordano; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman 346 (April 1982)

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The cover villain is Two-Face but apparently he’s got a girl sidekick who’s the one who’s really after Batman. Presumably we’ll find out her story next issue.

The most interesting–I was just reading some comic creators on Twitter say critics use the word “interesting” to mean “bad,” which is ludicrous, but anyway–the most interesting thing about the feature is the way Newton draws Vicki Vale. She looks like a professional woman in her thirties, someone you could believe as a magazine editor. It gives her romance with Bruce a lot more heft, especially since it’s still not clear if she’s after him as a story or a lover.

The Catwoman backup disappoints. Jones spends three pages describing the backstory of the villain, then just a couple wrapping it up. It’s a decent wrap-up–Catwoman watches the villain die–and it’s well-written and the art’s ambitious and good. It’s just a slight finish.

CREDITS

Half a Hero…; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Don Newton; inker, Frank Chiaramonte; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. In the Land of the Dead!; writer, Bruce Jones; penciller, Trevor von Eeden; inker, Pablo Marcos; colorist, Tom Ziuko; letterer, Shelly Leferman. Editors, Dave Manak and Dick Giordano; publisher, DC Comics.

Criminal: The Sinners 5 (March 2010)

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It’s completely predictable but I guess it’s nowhere near as bad as it could have been.

I read the Sinners and I think back to when Brubaker actually wrote real conversations. It’s like he uses Criminal‘s noir influences to excuse no one talking to each other, just at each other.

This issue features nothing new, no interesting developments in the criminal underworld of the nameless city, no insights into the Tracy Lawless character. It just trails off, cheating the reader out of the teenage killers getting killed. Their priest too. That scene with Tracy and the priest might be the lamest scene Brubaker’s ever written.

If I weren’t, basically, done with Brubaker, the Sinners might do it. I’m sure I’ll be back, I like Phillips too much (not to mention bitching about cheap narrative tricks). But it wasn’t too long ago I’d salivate over a Brubaker book.

I miss it.

CREDITS

Writer, Ed Brubaker; artist, Sean Phillips; colorist, Val Staples; publisher, Icon.

Criminal: The Sinners 4 (February 2010)

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I’m not trying to be a jerk with the following question. Really, I’m not. Has Brubaker ever read Criminal? Because this arc, with Tracy Lawless being an honorable man among the riffraff, it really feels like Brubaker hasn’t read his comic before. It might explain why Criminal‘s quality is always so sporadic.

This issue has better narration than the last, which is good. Brubaker mostly sticks to Tracy this issue–hey, maybe they’ll make a Tracy Lawless action figure! Brubaker seems to have turned Criminal into a sellable property with the Sinners. A little touchup and a little paint and it’s all set for a movie or a tv show.

Too bad the comic book is swirling around in the toilet bowl.

Brubaker’s pace is off with this series too. He’s all of a sudden hurrying to the conclusion, which he wasn’t doing in the first issue.

Criminal‘s gasping for air.

CREDITS

Writer, Ed Brubaker; artist, Sean Phillips; colorist, Val Staples; publisher, Icon.

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