The Invincible Iron Man 25 (June 2010)

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I was going to complement Fraction on having the greatest pacing of a comic book ever this issue… then realized it was oversized.

Still, it’s hard not to be impressed with how much Fraction does this issue. Since it’s Invincible Iron Man and it has some relation to the movies, whether it’s acknowledged or not, here Fraction gets Tony out of the weapons business (like in the first movie).

But he’s also got time to introduce Tony’s adversaries… Justin Hammer’s daughter and granddaughter. It’s an industrial conflict. Very nice.

Fraction gives Maria Hill and Rhodey some kind of send-off from the series. It’s nice, totally unnecessary and exactly what’s great about this issue. Like Tony and Reed Richards bickering. Not necessary, but great.

And Tony and Thor? Very nice stuff there too.

It does mean, however, Larroca’s doing a talking heads book. He does okay. Not good but okay.

CREDITS

Stark Resilient, Part One: Hammer Girls; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Salvador Larroca; colorist, Frank G. D’Armata; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Alejandro Arbona, Ralph Macchio and Joe Quesada; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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Dark Horse Presents 118 (February 1997)

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I thought the other Monkeyman & O’Brien stories were bad. Here, Adams seems to forget how to draw with perspective and scale. It makes the story a hideous curiosity, but not much else. The script’s incomplete at best.

Then Trypto finishes up and it’s probably be Leialoha’s best installment as an artist… and Mumy and Ferrer’s worst script. Trypto apparently isn’t from space. No, he’s an inter-dimensional ghost dog out to do something. Get back with his original family. How he got the new family in this story is never explained. There’s also a talking raccoon. It’s a very strange finish for the series, which started so strong.

As for Dorkin’s Hectic Planet? I liked the art a lot. The story’s about Dorkin making fun of this character, both in plot with supporting cast mocking him. It’s exceptionally mean-spirited and not aware of it. Still, it was compelling enough.

CREDITS

Monkeyman & O’Brien, Gorehemoth – The Garbage Heap That Walks Like A Man, Part One; story and art by Art Adams; lettering by Lois Buhalis. Trypto the Acid Dog, Wheel of the Broken Voice, Part Six; story by Bill Mumy and Miguel Ferrer; art by Steve Leialoha. Hectic Planet, Part One, 5 Years Ago and Counting; story and art by Evan Dorkin. Dr. Spin, Part Four, Doc Spin: Agent Of A.C.R.O.N.Y.M.; story by Gordon Rennie; art by Roger Langridge. Edited by Bob Schreck and Jamie S. Rich.

Dark Horse Presents 117 (January 1997)

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Okay, Dr. Spin and Trypto come around a little here.

First, Rennie finally finds some kind of narrative for his characters (reassembling a disbanded team) to go along with all the comic book jokes. Though he does coin the title, “Infinite Crisis,” here. A shame he couldn’t sue DC. Langridge’s art is excellent, but the composition doesn’t allow for one to easily notice all his details.

Mumy and Ferrer find a story on Trypto too. The kid finds out his dog is some kind of space dog (Leialoha’s terrible about illustrating the bad aliens as cats though—it’s sort of incredible). The story’s a got a mildly touching ending, following a nice alternate reality sequence.

Then there’s the Aliens story, from Barr and Colan. Colan’s already in his pencils only phase here and Dark Horse published them without much clean-up. It’s okay Colan, decent dialogue, total waste of time.

CREDITS

Aliens, Headhunters; story by Mike W. Barr; art by Gene Colan; lettering by Sean Konot. Dr. Spin, Part Three, Requiem for a Heavyweight; story by Gordon Rennie; art by Roger Langridge. Trypto the Acid Dog, Wheel of the Broken Voice, Part Five, Days of Future Past; story by Bill Mumy and Miguel Ferrer; art by Steve Leialoha. Edited by Bob Schreck and Jamie S. Rich.

Dark Horse Presents 116 (December 1996)

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Unfortunately, it’s a very loose issue.

Musgrove’s installment of Fat Dog Mendoza here is a big improvement over his previous work. Musgrove goes for cheap sight gags and a less narration while doing some decent artwork. It’s painless, occasionally amusing, but never funny.

Without the dogfighting element, Trypto is lost. There’s a space alien element introduced, which is a whole lot less interesting than what Mumy and Ferrer were doing earlier. Again, they give Leialoha a script he can’t render coherently. I’m assuming the ending—with dog and his boy owner kidnapped by aliens—means something will happen next time.

As for Rennie and Langridge’s Dr. Spin? The joke’s old and it’s only the second installment. Langridge’s art keeps the story going to some degree, but making fun of crossover events and grim and gritty comics needs some structure. Rennie just has it pop up everything. It’s a disappointing development.

CREDITS

Fat Dog Mendoza, Lies (Sweet Little Lies); story, art and lettering by Scott Musgrove. Trypto the Acid Dog, Wheel of the Broken Voice, Part Four, Lost in Space; story by Bill Mumy and Miguel Ferrer; art by Steve Leialoha. Dr. Spin, Part Two, Sgt. Bananas and the Baboon Platoon; story by Gordon Rennie; art by Roger Langridge. Edited by Bob Schreck and Jamie S. Rich.

Dark Horse Presents 115 (November 1996)

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Wow, what a downer.

Arcudi’s The Creep returns (with O’Connell on art this time). It’s a very depressing story about him hanging out with a prostitute. It’s utterly fantastic. It still shocks me Arcudi can be so subtly devastating.

Trypto has a happy installment though; the dog rescues his owner from a drug cartel. Again, Leialoha’s art doesn’t convey the story well. Mumy and Ferrer’s emphasis has changed… it’ll be interesting to see where they go now.

Rennie and Langridge’s Dr. Spin is a bunch of fun too—it’s an anti-superhero comic superhero comic. It’s a lot of fun, with Rennie getting in a lot of jabs at the industry in general. Langridge is a little more restrained than usual, but excellent.

Then there’s Lowlife. It’s Brubaker writing from a girl’s perspective about her unhappy romances and perpetuating them. Some hiccups in the perspective, but it’s an effective downer.

CREDITS

The Creep; story by John Arcudi; art by Brian O’Connell; lettering by Sean Konot. Trypto the Acid Dog, Wheel of the Broken Voice, Part Three, L.A. Proved Too Much for the Man; story by Bill Mumy and Miguel Ferrer; art by Steve Leialoha. Dr. Spin, Part One, Trapped in the Dimension of Pretension; story by Gordon Rennie; art by Roger Langridge. Lowlife, Part Three, When I Started Saying “We”; story, art and lettering by Ed Brubaker. Edited by Bob Schreck and Jamie S. Rich.

Dark Horse Presents 114 (October 1996)

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Miller’s pseudo-anti-misogyny Lance Blastoff is back… it’s amazing how someone can turn in something so stupid and pretend it’s profound. I guess the sci-fi setting means Miller has to work a little harder on his art.

Trypto gets weird this time. The dog develops superpowers and goes around (flying like Krypto) freeing and magically rehabilitating dogfighting dogs. And maybe killing the fight audience. Mumy and Ferrer’s script is fine. They turn their passion for the cause (anti-dogfighting) into a working story. Again, Leialoha bites off more than he can chew art-wise.

Simonson copies and pastes a bunch of panels, zooming sometimes, for Star Slammers. It’s some dumb sci-fi thing (better than Blastoff, but not really).

And Brubaker’s Lowlife? Wow. He gives another breakup this end of the world importance and drags his protagonist through the gutter. Then gets somewhere quietly profound. Very good story.

CREDITS

Lance Blastoff!; story, art and lettering by Frank Miller. Trypto the Acid Dog, Wheel of the Broken Voice, Part Two, Where Angels Fight; story by Bill Mumy and Miguel Ferrer; art by Steve Leialoha. Star Slammers, Fever Dream; story and art by Walt Simonson; lettering by John Workman. Lowlife, Part Two, Under a Big Black Sun; story, art and lettering by Ed Brubaker. Edited by Bob Schreck and Jamie S. Rich.

Dark Horse Presents 113 (September 1996)

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I was trying to remember where I knew Leialoha from… he inks now. He pencils and inks Trypto, which has a superhero dog splash page and then a rather traditional story. It’s about a stolen dog being forced to dogfight. Mumy and Ferrer’s script is fine and Leialoha has some imaginative composition, but his art doesn’t carry it.

Seagle and Gaudiano’s My Vagabond Days is set in the late sixties; it concerns a disrespectful young kid learning those soldiers in Vietnam are over there dying for his freedom. Seagle’s writing is, politics aside, lame. Worse, Gaudiano doesn’t work very hard on the art—it’s almost like a sketch album.

Thankfully, Brubaker’s Lowlife appears. Is Chris the protagonist the whole time (the Brubaker stand-in)? Anyway, this story chronicles the first day of a breakup. Inventive, human dialogue and some great composition. I’ve read these stories before, and they’re still great.

CREDITS

Trypto the Acid Dog, Wheel of the Broken Voice, Part One, Circle of Fire; story by Bill Mumy and Miguel Ferrer; art by Steve Leialoha. My Vagabond Days; story by Steven T. Seagle; art by Stefano Gaudiano; lettering by Megan Rodriguez. Lowlife, Part One, Wreck; story, art and lettering by Ed Brubaker. Edited by Bob Schreck and Jamie S. Rich.

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