Daytripper 1 (February 2010)

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Could this comic be more depressing?

I’m going to use a word here and I don’t want anything thinking it’s pejorative or in some way dismissive. Daytripper is precious. It’s deliberate and it’s precious. I can’t believe Vertigo put it out; it’s a personal piece from Moon and Bá and they’re not discreet about it. It’s luscious, vibrant. Vertigo doesn’t do books like this one, not even when they do good stuff (i.e. it has zero commercial appeal).

But the issue, a day in the life of its protagonist, isn’t art-centric. The protagonist is a writer, his friend who has the longest scene is a writer, his bad day is about his father, who is also a writer. It’s filled with writing samples from the protagonist, giving it an air of dejection and surrender.

I’m trying to think of a sustained happy moment, but I don’t there this is one.

CREDITS

32; writers and artists, Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Sean Konot; editors, Brandon Montclare, Pornsak Pichetshote and Bob Schreck; publisher, Vertigo.

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Marvel Team-Up 144 (August 1984)

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What a lame issue. I mean, I wasn’t expecting much when I saw Cary Burkett’s name on it, but it’s a lot worse than I thought. Pretty sure Peter gives away his identity–or at least risks giving it away–at the end of the issue too.

There’s a lot bad about it–Burkett’s expository dialogue is terrible, his constant narration is tedious. It takes forever to get through a page because he’s got so many narration boxes. Or are they narration squares? Did John Byrne ever weigh in on that one?

Maybe if LaRocque were a better artist it might be more tolerable.

Wait, I forgot a couple things. The white guys saving Chinatown from itself–the Chinese are way too corrupt to not need Spidey and Moon Knight to save them.

And Moon Knight–who likes Moon Knight? He’s lamer than Jeph Loeb Batman.

Just a dreadful read.

CREDITS

My Sword I Lay Down!; writer, Cary Burkett; penciller, Greg LaRocque; inker, Mike Esposito; colorist, Glynis Wein; letterer, Joe Rosen; editors, Bob DeNatale and Danny Fingeroth; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Aliens vs. Predator 4 (December 1990)

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It’s a weak close, partially because Stradley probably needed another issue to fully develop the relationship between the protagonist and the friendly Predator (he also needed space to give it a proper ending), but mostly because Chris Warner is no replacement for Norwood.

Warner kills that beautiful design sense Norwood brings to the book. Instead of the panels being so well-composed it can distract from the narrative, they’re rote. Aliens vs. Predator, between Warner and Campanella, becomes a boring movie tie-in. Norwood made it special.

Even with the action pacing and the lack of narration, Stradley’s able to keep his protagonist strong. Sadly, one of her strongest moments is inferred instead of shown.

Stradley can only do so much. He’s a good writer, he clearly has a decent plot. But he doesn’t have the time to tell the story. He also doesn’t adjust the writing for Warner’s pencils.

CREDITS

Writer, Randy Stradley; penciller, Chris Warner; inker, Robert Campanella; colorist, Monika Livingston; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editor, Diana Schutz; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Aliens vs. Predator 3 (October 1990)

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The change in inkers makes Aliens vs. Predator look exactly as drab and boring as I’d expected the first few issues to look. Campanella can’t do much to Stradley’s figures, but he rounds out the faces–not all the time, which makes the art disjointed–but definitely in close ups. Everyone looks like they’ve had the definition erased.

The issue’s a solid effort. Stradley is fully into the action part of the story now, so it’s nowhere near as good as the previous two. He’s strengthening his protagonist (while taking away most of her narration), but measuring her arc. She’s not acting out of character punching out a rancher, we just never got her in that situation the first issue.

The story sticks with the people, which is smart. Too much Predator stuff is boring and Stradley uses the aliens for mass effect, not to be scary.

It’s winding down.

CREDITS

Writer, Randy Stradley; penciller, Phill Norwood; inker, Robert Campanella; colorist, Monika Livingston; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editor, Diana Schutz; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Aliens vs. Predator 2 (August 1990)

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The issue opens with some weak dream exposition. It doesn’t fit the narrator’s voice–Stradley never establishes why he’s using it (I think it’s a callback to the Aliens series where people have nightmares around the aliens)–and it’s a weak opening.

But then Stradley recovers beautifully. Until the end of this issue, Aliens vs. Predator is more a Western than a sci-fi thriller. The sci-fi elements are all well-done, but the narrative tone is straight out of Rio Bravo. He continues strengthening his characters as he introduces the titular elements–lots of aliens and Predator money shots this issue, but it doesn’t feel forced.

Norwood has a lot to do with the art being forceful but not overdone. I won’t say his inability to draw figures is a bonus, however. It’s just how well he composes the panels, how well he implies movement.

It’s good stuff.

CREDITS

Writer, Randy Stradley; penciller, Phill Norwood; inkers, Karl Story, Mark Propst, Brian Stelfreeze, Stine Walsh and Dave Dorman; colorist, Monika Livingston; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editor, Diana Schutz; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Aliens vs. Predator 1 (June 1990)

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Norwood’s very design-oriented–he’s a Hollywood storyboard guy–and the art suffers for it. The setting, the designs of the human settlement on an alien planet, is great. The panel composition is stunning. The figures are awkward and bad. Everyone’s proportions are off a little bit. They’re too stout for their height.

Stradley’s writing here is really strong–he has a female narrator, but makes distance part of her character (I’m not sure if she’s Japanese because it’s a comic from 1990 about the future of corporations or if Stradley used it to add even more distance, this time cultural). But his establishing of the setting is great too. There’s no lengthy exposition, he just sets it up, makes sure to give everyone important a name within a page or two of their first appearance.

The aliens fighting Predators antics haven’t started yet; it’s just solid sci-fi here.

CREDITS

Writer, Randy Stradley; penciller, Phill Norwood; inkers, Karl Story, Mark Propst, Brian Stelfreeze and Stine Walsh; colorist, Monika Livingston; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editor, Diana Schutz; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Aliens vs. Predator 0 (July 1990)

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Stradley’s issue is two bored cargo spaceship having a conversation while Norwood’s art shows us all about the Predators getting ready for the Aliens vs. Predator series. First it’s showing the alien eggs, then it’s a bunch of fighting for dominance. The off panel dialogue back and forth constantly relates to the dialogue-less action going on.

The issue is reprints of prologue stories from Dark Horse Presents, which explains why it’s always a surprise when the story continues following a climax in the conversation, but it works.

I’m not particularly familiar with Norwood but he does a fine job here. A lot of the art is just the Predators, which aren’t the most exciting topic, but the composition and designs of alien worlds are good. Story’s lines are nice too–I’d forgotten black and white forces the attention to the artwork.

Stradley’s dialogue, Norwood’s art–it’s a neat issue.

CREDITS

Writer, Randy Stradley; penciller, Phill Norwood; inker, Karl Story; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Stradley and Diana Schutz; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

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