Sci-Spy 1 (April 2002)

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Sci-Spy is kind of confusing. Moench and Gulacy have done sci-fi before, but here they’re sort of suffocating the reader with all the ground situation information. The protagonist has two sidekicks. One is his supervisor, a computer named Motherbank. In addition to being his boss, the computer is also his mother as it found him in space as a frozen embryo. All those details come out in the first three pages. I admire Moench’s brevity, but the expository dialogue exchange is painful.

The second sidekick is an orb following him around; it shoots lasers, it has cameras, it drives the space cars. The orb is slightly less confusing, but only because we never see Motherbank.

Moench comes up with some nice twists towards the end and the art’s good. Palmiotti is a fine inker for Gulacy; Sci-Spy looks lively.

After the wobbly open, it finds its feet.

CREDITS

Starchild; writers, Paul Gulacy and Doug Moench; penciller, Gulacy; inker, Jimmy Palmiotti; colorist, Paul Mounts; letterer, Clem Robins; editors, Zachary Rau and Will Dennis; publisher, Vertigo.

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The Unwritten 17 (November 2010)

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The playful, “Choose Your Own Adventure,” aspect to this issue is stunning. It’s not the point of the comic—in fact, in a stream of consciousness sort of way, reading it straight through makes more sense (otherwise, why would Carey have ended the issue on the final pages)—but it’s a stunning device.

This issue we get Lizzie’s backstory. We do not get, however, any answers to the present questions raised and Carey raises even more questions about Lizzie than he answers.

So the ride is what’s important and it’s a wonderful ride. It makes Wilson a real character and makes Lizzie a subject.

Savoy is the opposite, of course—he’s Tom’s sidekick, regardless of how important his presence is to the triumvirate. It’ll be interesting to see if, since he’s explained Lizzie, Carey will focus on Savoy.

Nice art from Ryan Kelly too; it looks like Unwritten, but special.

CREDITS

The Many Lives of Lizzie Hexam; writer, Mike Carey; pencillers, Peter Gross and Ryan Kelly; inker, Kelly; colorists, Chris Chuckry and Jeane McGee; letterer, Todd Klein; editor, Pornsak Pichetshote; publisher, Vertigo.

Swamp Thing 24 (August-September 1976)

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Poor Alec Holland… he finally regains his humanity, hooks up with a girl (who seems to be excited at the idea of seducing a widower) and then his comic gets cancelled.

The final issue of Swamp Thing is a hideous affair—so bad no one’s ever revisited it, not even as a joke. These last two issues establish an all new secret organization out to get Swamp Thing and this issue reveals more about them. Hostess Fruit Pie advertisements had better villains.

The art—from Ernie Chan and Fred Carrillo—is a little better than I expected. It’s genial DC seventies stuff (about as good as a Hostess ad); Swamp Thing never actually shows up so they only have flashback shots of him. Otherwise, the pair’s art looks like they’re aping Infantino.

David Anthony Kraft’s script is bad, but not in any extraordinary way… nothing could make this comic good.

CREDITS

The Earth Below; writers, Gerry Conway and David Anthony Kraft; penciller, Ernie Chan; inker, Carl Gafford; colorist, Carl Gafford; editors, Paul Levitz and Joe Orlando; publisher, DC Comics.

Swamp Thing 23 (June-July 1976)

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Who could predicate this turn of events… Alec Holland’s got a brother no one has ever mentioned before and he cures Swamp Thing….

Maybe the lame Ernie Chan cover sets it up. Or maybe Conway bringing in some obscure character from ten issues previous—I remember the name, but not the character—to turn into this idiotic villain with a sword for a hand.

It’s incredibly lame.

Most of it, anyway. Actually, the stuff Conway does with the smarter Dr. Holland’s female assistant—it turns out Alec is the dumb brother—is quite good. Conway brings some humanity to the comic, even as he slowly returns the physical manifestation of it to Swamp Thing.

Conway fills pages like mad too—pointlessly retelling Swamp Thing’s origin.

Redondo does okay, but more in his panel composition than in the actual art. The other Dr. Holland, for example, never gets a consistent face.

CREDITS

Rebirth and Nightmare; writer, Gerry Conway; artist, Nestor Redondo; colorist, Carl Gafford; editors, Paul Levitz and Joe Orlando; publisher, DC Comics.

Swamp Thing 22 (April-May 1976)

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It’s another decent issue from Michelinie and, big shock, it’s not a Swamp Thing comic so much as a “Twilight Zone” episode.

Here it’s about some government nuclear test causing a virus and the government secretly quarantining the infected… including the lead scientist’s family. He’s the main character of the issue. Swamp Thing just sort of walks around a bit. Michelinie doesn’t even bother with a lot of thought balloons for Swamp Thing anymore, which is good since he always wrote terrible ones.

Redondo again has a lot of opportunity for varied subjects. Not just the desert vistas or the underground prison. Redondo gets to draw a lot of people, sick and not, in various states of emotional turmoil. The issue would be better halved, without Swamp Thing showing up.

As for Michelinie’s pointless soft cliffhanger? It’s necessary to make it a Swamp Thing comic, but the ship’s clearly sailed.

CREDITS

The Solomon Plague; writer, David Michelinie; artist, Nestor Redondo; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, Marcos; editors, Paul Levitz and Joe Orlando; publisher, DC Comics.

Swamp Thing 21 (February-March 1976)

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Michelinie returns to do a Swamp Thing meets aliens issue. Swampy gets whisked to an intergalactic zoo where he takes part in the conveniently timed uprising of the prisoners.

Swamp Thing is completely passive in the issue—Michelinie spends a lot more time on the jailer and his favorite female companion and he turns in a decent little sci-fi story. It’s not really a Swamp Thing story, but it’s not terrible (like most of Michelinie’s Swamp Thing writing).

Also of note is the Redondo art. He gets to do a lot of different stuff; not just the different creatures imprisoned alongside Swamp Thing, but also the intergalactic platform itself. Redondo’s sci-fi art is very grounded—though Michelinie’s “science” is sometimes mind-numbing. It makes one wonder if he believes in gravity.

Not surprisingly, when Michelinie has to make it about Swamp Thing at the end… the issue collapses.

CREDITS

Requiem; writer, David Michelinie; artist, Nestor Redondo; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, Marcos; editors, Paul Levitz and Joe Orlando; publisher, DC Comics.</

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