Marvel Team-Up 141 (May 1984)

25860.jpgWow, Priest can write. I’ve liked his stuff, been impressed what he could do with Marvel superheroes, but this issue is just fantastic. Maybe because he… he writes thought balloons like they’re internal monologue and not declarative statements, not opportunities for expository shortcuts.

He also should write Batman, because he borrows Batman and Jim Gordon’s relationship for Matt Murdock and Ben Urich.

The issue’s a nice story about Matt trying to help a client–not sure how ethical it is for Daredevil to act as Matt’s private investigator, since he’s not informing the client–and Spider-Man trying to help a technically innocent teenage thug.

The teenager and client are the same person, but Priest explores the difference in Spidey and Daredevil’s approach to how and why to resolve the situation.

Goofy art–Matt’s hair is absolutely hilarious–but not bad Marvel house style.

I’m stunned by the book’s quality.


Blind Justice!; writers, Tom DeFalco and Christopher Priest; pencillers, Greg LaRocque and Mike Esposito; inker, Esposito; colorist, Glynis Wein; letterer, Diana Albers; editors, Bob DeNatale and Danny Fingeroth; publisher, Marvel Comics.


The Amazing Spider-Man 252 (May 1984)


Tom DeFalco really likes expository dialogue and thought balloons, not to mention narration. Peter Parker cannot shut up he’s talking to himself so much, then there’s the Black Cat thinking about recent events to catch the reader up. Strangely, the issue opens on this amusing exchange between Jonah and Robbie about the best way to use art on the cover of the Bugle.

The opening and close is pretty strong–DeFalco paces the issue really well and reading it is an investment of time (oh, the eighties… one got to read one’s Marvel comic for longer than five minutes… I’d forgotten).

Spidey and Curt Connors get back from Secret Wars in a nice sequence, then the lengthy Peter exposition stuff, but the conclusion is Spidey taking an arguing teenage couple out to see New York the way he does.

It’s occasionally overwritten, but still a rather good mainstream comic book.


Homecoming; writers, Roger Stern and Tom DeFalco; penciller, Ron Frenz; inker, Brett Breeding; colorist, Glynis Wein; letterer, Joe Rosen; editor, Danny Fingeroth; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Detective Comics 521 (December 1982)


Good to know editorial disconnect isn’t something recent. Conway apparently hadn’t been reading the excellent Catwoman backups running in his issues of Batman and Detective because here he’s got her guest-starring and menacing Vicki Vale and acting… well, cat-shit crazy.

Sadly, the issue features some of the best Vicki Vale writing Conway has done since she showed up. Instead of just going after Bruce to reveal he’s Batman, Conway’s giving her some layers here. Unfortunately, even if I wanted to give the issue credit for that development–to be fair, he does write one decent Catwoman scene, before she goes nuts–the Irv Novick superhero artwork is atrocious. Characters not in costume, fine. In costume… awful.

The Green Arrow backup is a silly early eighties computer story. I think Ollie gives away his secret identity at least twice. Von Eeden’s art is fine, but disappointingly unambitious. Page filler.


Cat Tale; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Irv Novick; inker, Sal Trapani; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. The High Tech Highwayman!; writer, Joey Cavalieri; artist, Trevor von Eeden; colorist, Tom Ziuko; letterer, Phil Felix. Editors, Carl Gafford and Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman 354 (December 1982)

Conway’s starting to wrap up his big storyline and, again, it’s bumpy. He’s got Vicki Vale rushing off to see Bruce–Bruce who hasn’t thought of Vicki since she first showed up two dozen issues ago (she’s been around as a plot twist)–not to mention Hugo Strange showing up at the end, back from the dead.

But the big problem is the resolution of the political situation. It’s Batman versus the cops, round two, and this time the police commissioner can’t shut up about how they need to kill Batman to keep him quiet. Again, pretty sure Batman has someone he could call about corrupt politicians taking over a major metropolitan city and killing people. I don’t know, maybe Superman? Does Batman have Superman’s phone number?

But it’s Newton and Alcala so who cares if the story doesn’t make any sense? From the first page, it’s a visual delight.


Showdown; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Don Newton; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda; editors, Carl Gafford and Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Chew 5 (October 2009)


This issue promises nothing will be the same in Chew again. I think it means we’ve know got the situation established–the government covered up a hundred million people dying as a bird flu thing. But Tony’s partner, the fat guy, knows it’s not true. So he’s going to do whatever he can to find out what’s going on. And Tony’s going….

Oh, whatever.

From what I’ve read so far, Layman’s going to introduce aliens into the conspiracy at some point, since aliens have already put in an appearance.

I haven’t decided if I’m trying the next issue–where nothing will be the same again–just because if Layman actually writes mysteries to be solved with the peculiar investigative technique of tasting the victim’s flesh, it might be interesting.

I’m guessing it won’t be interesting, however. I’m guessing it will be lame and get lamer.

At least I discovered Guillory.


Taster’s Choice, 5 of 5; writer and letterer, John Layman; artist and colorist, Rob Guillory; publisher, Image Comics.

Chew 4 (September 2009)


Well. I wanted subplots. I certainly got subplots. The issue opens with a subplot–the hit out on protagonist Tony–then Layman does a layered narrative (which always sounds good, but sometimes it’s just so you can force interest in a story by showing something interesting)–then we get another subplot (Tony’s brother is in trouble). Then the issue ends with space aliens and a government conspiracy and Layman assuming the reader knows nothing about how long it takes light to travel through space.

There’s also a fairly decent scene with the medical examiner and a couple funny things about government-funded private research.

But, basically, Layman’s approach to this series is to throw everything he can at it and call it good. He’s making a stew out of leftovers. It’s actually a shame he’s writing it. Someone with some focus and understanding of good police procedurals could make it significant instead of slight.


Taster’s Choice, 4 of 5; writer and letterer, John Layman; artist and colorist, Rob Guillory; publisher, Image Comics.

Chew 3 (August 2009)


So I think I’m starting to understand how Layman’s using the bird flu. It’s his subplot. Instead of an actual subplot, he’s got this big political situation going on. In some ways, serialized television has ruined comic books. It’s funny since it’s been around since the eighties at least (“Hill Street”) but only got “popular” with hipsters when HBO started doing it.

Of course, comics have been serialized storytelling since… well, at least the sixties. So instead of being informed by, say, Stan Lee’s Spider-Man pacing, Layman is informed by “Lost.”

There’s something very wrong with that equation… it’s like trying to make chicken piccata based on a microwave dinner instead of referring to a chicken piccata recipe.

That fundamental disconnect aside, Chew‘s a solid book. It amuses. It has a likable protagonist, engaging artwork and it only costs three bucks an issue. Those features make it an attractive read.


Taster’s Choice, 3 of 5; writer and letterer, John Layman; artist and colorist, Rob Guillory; publisher, Image Comics.

Chew 2 (July 2009)


I like how Layman uses his letters page to crap mouth DC. It really defines the audience for the book. He wastes half an issue on the incredibly stupid office politics–turns out the FDA has violent bullies running the place (think Gene Hunt but without caring about justice)–and then makes a crack about DC ruining Wildstorm in his letter column. Maybe next issue he’ll crack a New Coke.

Besides some of the idiotic details–like the boss, like the ninjas, like the chicken ban–Chew‘s a decent comic book. It takes a while to read. Even though the present action is limited (here it’s a day), it’s a full day. The comic is a solid procedural.

It’s only the second issue and Layman has no subplots yet so it’s still hard to tell how the comic’s going to shape up. Layman recovered from the atrocious FDA office scene, so anything is possible.


Taster’s Choice, 2 of 5; writer and letterer, John Layman; artist and colorist, Rob Guillory; publisher, Image Comics.

Chew 1 (June 2009)


I imagine creator Layman will be able to get Hollywood to option Chew, but turning it into a movie or TV show will be somewhat problematic. I’d heard the concept–protagonist Tony Chu (get it, Chu? The book’s full of those) gets a psychic read off things he chews, including people–but, so far, the selling point is Layman’s humor and Guillory’s art. Guillory manages to embrace the quirkiness, but not go overboard. It’s set in reality, just one with some visually funny stuff (the absurdly overweight federal agent).

Unfortunately, Layman’s over thought the ground situation–in the world of Chew, chicken has been outlawed following a bird flu epidemic (this development has nothing to do with the protagonist’s superpower, so why complicate things?).

This issue is just a setup. Since it gives no indication of the format the comic will take… it’s hard to be optimistic or otherwise. Guillory’s a find, though.


Taster’s Choice, 1 of 5; writer and letterer, John Layman; artist and colorist, Rob Guillory; publisher, Image Comics.

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