The Immortal Iron Fist 2 (February 2007)

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Lots this issue. Well, kind of lots. It seems like lots.

But as it turns out, the titular Iron Fist isn’t Danny Rand this issue, it’s Orson Randall. Danny spends some of the issue being funny, then having a really great scene with Luke Cage–the way Brubaker and Fraction characterize the two of them, it feels perfect. Even if the reader only vaguely knows about the Power Man and Iron Fist days, it’s enough.

The issue is really all Randall, though. It’s like if Obi-Wan Kenobi were a badass in Star Wars, the way Randall Jedi mind tricks his way through security, then has his big fight scene. It’s just fantastic–the John Severin illustrated flashback is a little jarring, but it works beautifully.

Aja has some beautiful panels–Randall’s fight scene shows a great mix of art and design.

Interesting how Fraction’s Star Wars influences appear here.

CREDITS

The Last Iron Fist Story, Part 2; writers, Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction; pencillers, David Aja, Travel Foreman and John Severin; inkers, Aja, Derek Fridolfs and Severin; colorists, Matt Hollingsworth and Dean White; letterer, Dave Lanphear; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Warren Simons; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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The Immortal Iron Fist 1 (January 2007)

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Fraction and Brubaker do a nice double cliffhanger here. The first one isn’t really a cliffhanger because it’s just Danny Rand falling off a roof. We know he’s not going to die. Well, presumably, he’s not going to (he doesn’t).

But it provides a nice close to his part of the issue, while being able to tie it in to the opening of the issue. Brubaker and Fraction do this origin in motion of Danny–and the Iron Fist in general (which is important for the second cliffhanger)–to catch the reader up.

The present action of the issue is pretty small; the writers try to conceal it with flashbacks and flash forwards. Basically, Danny objects to something during a meeting, investigates it as Iron Fist, gets in a fight. They do a great job establishing Danny in the meeting and the fight’s fun.

And Aja’s art is a delight.

CREDITS

The Last Iron Fist Story, Part 1; writers, Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction; pencillers, David Aja and Travel Foreman; inkers, Aja and Derek Fridolfs; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Dave Lanphear; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Warren Simons; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Dark Horse Presents 18 (June 1988)

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Badger’s ink washes on The Mask are real nice, but they’re so much easier to comprehend than his regular art, I almost wish he’d done the whole thing with that process. It’d be worth the wait. With the ink washes, when he does something crazy, it just works better. Maybe because it feels realer when the Mask appears and reality splits.

Chadwick uses his Concrete spot for some more old stuff–in the letter column, the editor reveals these “Sky of Heads” stories are nothing but old Chadwick material from a drawer, which I said the first time. The story in the story in the story is all right. Chadwick’s a lot meaner than usual. It’s not as sappy as Concrete.

Bob the Alien is kind of funny. Rice’s art is a little rough even for a strip, but it’s consistently amusing.

It’s an okay issue, nothing terrible, which helps.

CREDITS

Concrete’s Sky of Heads, Quality Time; story and art by Paul Chadwick; lettering by Bill Spicer. The Mask; story and art by Mark Badger; lettering by Tim Harkins. Bob the Alien, Bob, the alien’s, First College Party; story, art and lettering by Rich Rice. Edited by Randy Stradley.

Dark Horse Presents 17 (April 1988)

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Roachmill is the quality level I expected the entire time from Dark Horse Presents, only it’s coming in the seventeenth issue. The art from Hedden and McWeeney is lovely stuff–reminds of Eisner in black and white. There’s a lot of work put into this issue. They aren’t inking with Bics here.

The writing is sort of good. You’re not reading Roachmill for the writing, you’re reading it for the art and the decent enough writing is just a bonus. Their problem is the protagonist, Roachmill, is the weakest character in the comic.

The character, if they gave him enough page time, would be a Dirty Harry of the future… well, with some added future concepts (apparently, it’s okay to exterminate any sentient aliens in the future).

Hedden and McWeeney do come up with a solid surprise for the ending.

Only other thing–the roach arms on Roachmill? Very gross.

CREDITS

Roachmill, The Adventures of the Rooftop Raider, Part Two; story, art and lettering by Rich Hedden and Tom McWeeney. Edited by Randy Stradley.

Dark Horse Presents 16 (March 1988)

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Wow, what an issue.

Chadwick uses Concrete to bookend a short story. Or he uses double bookends to frame a story. It’s kind of pointless, so it fits with the other Concrete stories… At least the story’s mostly about people, so Chadwick’s art is strong. Strong enough. It really feels like something he had in the drawer and threw Concrete in to get it printed.

Captain Crusader limps to the finish. There are some art issues, but Martin’s idiotic writing is the problem. I think he wanted people to talk about how the story ends. I can’t imagine anyone talking about anything but his bad writing.

Then there’s Paleolove, which I’d been looking forward to reading for some reason. Silly me. Davis’s art is very precious and very problematic. His figures lack any consistent realistic proportions and his faces are weak. Not to mention Davis’s writing being way too descriptive.

CREDITS

Concrete’s Sky of Heads, With a Whimper; story and art by Paul Chadwick; lettering by Bill Spicer. Captain Crusader; story by Gary Martin; art by Martin, Ernie Colon, Howard Simpson and Paul Gulacy. Paleolove, When the Old World Was New; story, art and lettering by Gary Davis. Edited by Randy Stradley.

Dark Horse Presents 15 (February 1988)

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I’m so glad they put The Mask in the middle. I’m not sure the issue would have been tolerable if it hadn’t been at the center.

The issue opens with another bad episode of Captain Crusader. The only nice thing I have to say about the story is Martin draws brick walls well. Not people, not figures, not regular backgrounds, just brick walls. The real world superhero gets beat up again.

The issue ends with Babes ‘n Arms, which is slightly better than before thanks to Stradley’s writing. Unfortunately, it’s still completely awful. I can’t believe Dark Horse took the time to have this story illustrated.

The Mask story is confusing and Badger hints at revealing things, but never really does. Badger opens the story with a big discussion of art, but continues using his regular Mask style for the story. It works. The opening is almost cute, but not.

CREDITS

Captain Crusader; writer and artist, Gary Martin; letterer, David Jackson. The Mask; writer and artist, Mark Badger; letterer, Tim Harkins. Babes ‘n Arms; writer, Randy Stradley; artist, Michael Ebert; letterer, David Jackson. Editor, Randy Stradley; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Dark Horse Presents 14 (January 1988)

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Reading Mr. Monster, I thought a lot about how much I love Will Eisner’s Spirit in black and white. Not because Gilbert’s art in any way reminds of Eisner, but because it doesn’t. Because instead of publishing wonderful black and white comics, Dark Horse Presents is publishing Gilbert’s Mr. Monster and it looks like pencils run through the photocopier to darken it. Art aside, it’s still atrocious.

The Concrete story is completely depressing. While visiting his parents’ grave, Concrete contemplates his future. It’s bleak. Chadwick’s art isn’t particularly special here (why is Concrete the one thing he doesn’t draw well), but it’s one heck of a lovely downer.

Badger’s Mask story is just a filler, maybe announcing Badger’s leaving or maybe not. It’s hard to tell.

Nelson has a one page Dinosaur Tales, which is more design than anything else, but still nice.

That Mr. Monster story was really awful.

CREDITS

Concrete, Now is Now; writer and artist, Paul Chadwick; letterer, Bill Spicer. The Mask, Gone Fishing!; writer and artist, Mark Badger; letterer, David Jackson. Mr. Monster, His World; writer and artist, Michael T. Gilbert; letterer, Ken Bruzenak. Dinosaur Tales; writer and artist, Mark A. Nelson. Editor, Randy Stradley; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Dark Horse Presents 13 (December 1987)

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At least there’s a Mask story this issue because the rest of it is just atrocious. Since I’ve already started with The Mask, I’ll finish it up. Badger doesn’t write as strongly here and his meta approaches to the storytelling, bookending the story, don’t help. But it’s still compelling and solid.

However, I don’t even know where to start with Babes ‘n Arms, which appears to be Dark Horse’s attempt to do an unfunny manga with girls in bikinis. Sure, they seem stupid, but they’re the only ones who can take down a rampaging giant robot. Dark Horse owns the property–according to the indicia–which I found interesting.

Captain Crusader finishes the issue. It’s this painfully mediocre “real life” superhero thing. Guy runs around New York in lycra as a publicity stunt, ends up getting beat up. All “reality” goes out the window when it opens with him hopping roof tops.

CREDITS

Babes ‘n Arms; writer, Jon Lee; penciller, Michael Ebert; inker, Robert Caracol; letterer, Pat Brosseau. The Mask; writer and artist, Mark Badger; letterer, Tim Harkins. Captain Crusader; writer and artist, Gary Martin; letterer, David Jackson. Editor, Randy Stradley; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

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