Nancy in Hell 1 (August 2010)


So is the title, Nancy in Hell, a reference to Nightmare on Elm Street? Torres opens with that the titular Nancy in the middle of a monologue comparing herself to an eighties horror movie star. Maybe I’m over thinking it.

Because Nancy in Hell does not offer much in the way of story or inventiveness. Actually,the soft cliffhangers compelling and unexpected. Torres does well with it.

What Nancy does offer is Juan Jose Ryp doing his first work—as far as I know, anyway—for someone other than Avatar. It’s less busy and more rounded, mainstream stuff and, oh, it is beautiful. The joke is Nancy is an eighties pin-up girl, so Ryp does get to play with the cheesecake, but really he’s bringing all his excellent action sensibilities… but not busying it too much. You can see what’s going on.

It’s beautiful.

And a not terrible read.


Writer, El Torres; artist, Juan Jose Ryp; colorist, Francis Gamboa; letterer, Malaka Studio; editor, James Heffron; publisher, Image Comics.


Black Widow: Pale Little Spider 3 (August 2002)


It’s a fast finish—maybe too fast—but Rucka’s pacing the series more and more like a TV show. The entire issue is the last few minutes of a longer episode, which probably frustrated when reading the series split over three months but not much in a shorter period.

Unfortunately, from the first page, it’s clear Kordey is hurrying along. Maybe it’s because a lot of the issue is bright. He’s letting the colorist fill in the darks here, whereas before he was making sure they were there. It still works, just because Rucka knows how to craft an espionage story. This issue is the finale and has the big moment for Yelena, but it’s the least about her. Like Rucka also knows he can’t push the situation in an action comic.

Spider‘s a strong approach to the character. It’s a shame Rucka and Kordey didn’t get a follow-up.


Writer, Greg Rucka; artist, Igor Kordey; colorist, Chris Chuckry; letterers, Richard Starkings and Albert Deschesne; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, MAX.

Black Widow: Pale Little Spider 2 (July 2002)


Rucka continues with less of a procedural, though that element is still present, and more of a… well, not character study but something close.

Pale Little Spider is, for the majority of this issue, all about Yelena and her psychological problems. She’s not crazy or anything, but she’s disturbed and she discovers things about herself and her world view while in the S&M club.

I’m not sure where Rucka came up with the issue’s twist, but it’s a good one. He’s bringing thriller movie set pieces to a familiar comics territory. One of the best moments is when it’s clear the Russian police don’t really believe in “The Black Widow.” She’s so scary, she’s just a legend. Then Rucka shows the damaged person behind the assassin.

And great Kordey art too.

The Call of Duty backup is pretty awful. But at least Marvel’s lionizing firefighters and not soldiers, right?


Writer, Greg Rucka; artist, Igor Kordey; colorist, Chris Chuckry; letterers, Richard Starkings and Jason Levine; editor, Stuart Moore. The Call of Duty: 911, Part Three; writer, Chuck Austen; penciller, David Finch; inker, Art Thibert; colorist, Matt Milla; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, C.B. Cebulski, Brian Smith and Ralph Macchio. Publisher, MAX.

Black Widow: Pale Little Spider 1 (June 2002)


Something tells me Marvel won’t be trading Pale Little Spider if Disney ever makes a Black Widow movie. Jaded as I am, I never thought it’d be an S&M-themed Black Widow comic, regardless of it released via MAX.

What’s immediately striking about it is Greg Rucka’s writing. He’s doing a police procedural (in Russia). It opens with regular detectives, then it turns to Black Widow II (you know, the blond one) doing the investigating. The series plays to Rucka’s strengths—though I had no idea S&M was one of them.

It helps he’s got Igor Kordey, of course. Kordey is able to show the entire thing as ugly, whether it’s something simple like the crime scene, the autopsy or the investigators themselves. Disney also wouldn’t want this one traded because Yelena (blond Black Widow) is an ugly little troll under Kordey’s pencil.

Little Spider‘s shocking and good.


Writer, Greg Rucka; artist, Igor Kordey; colorist, Chris Chuckry; letterers, Richard Starkings and Jason Levine; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, MAX.

Our Fighting Forces 1 (November 2010)


You know, when I saw B. Clay Moore’s name on the cover, I was horrified at the thought of reading the issue. Then, as it turned out, Moore’s absolutely capable of writing a mediocre war comic. Chad Hardin and Wayne Faucher apparently aren’t capable of illustrating one, but Moore fills it with so much of the standard war story dialogue… the word balloons cover the ugly, trading card static artwork.

More than anything, this issue is a testament to the strengths of the war story as a genre. Even when it’s nothing intelligent, it’s able to convey a compelling narrative.

Moore has the Losers up against some Germans, outnumbered and overwhelmed. They try, they succeed. It works.

Moore’s format is unsteady—he starts out like he’s going to give every member a fair share of pages, but he doesn’t—and he’s got weak anachronisms.

But it could be much worse.


Winning Isn’t Everything; writer, B. Clay Moore; penciller, Chad Hardin; inker, Wayne Faucher; colorist, David Curiel; letterer, John J. Hill; editors, Chris Conroy and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

Our Army at War 1 (November 2010)


I would have expected Our Army at War a few years earlier. I had no idea the Obama administration was paying companies to create pro-war media. I thought only Bush did it. This issue proves me wrong.

Well, that or DC’s just pro-war.

It’s hard to say.

Marts’s script juxtaposes a soldier in WWII with one in Afghanistan. There might be some unlikely connection, like the modern soldier’s fiancée was the granddaughter of the girl who got away from the guy in WWII. Except it would have meant she married a Japanese guy… I wonder if Marts’s forties history is that bad.

Umm… I’m not entirely sure I’ve read anything stupider (the Pearl Harbor comparison to 9/11 is idiotic) but also more of a cheat.

It’s supposed a Sgt. Rock story. He cameos, along with his modern equivalent (who looks like Ultimate Nick Fury).

Truly hideous stuff.


Time Stands Still for No Man; writer, Mike Marts; artist, Victor Ibáñez; colorist, Ego; letterer, Rob Leigh; editors, Chris Conroy and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

Star-Spangled War Stories 1 (November 2010)


I don’t know if Justiniano and Tom Derenick draw exactly alike or if Andrew Mangum is just a really strong inker. If it’s just Magnum, he’s got have been going crazy to make it all fit.

The issue is a slick espionage story set in occupied France. There’s a decent twist at the end and Billy Tucci writes a strong Mademoiselle Marie. She’s not just smart, she’s cunning to a vicious degree. It’s a nice characterization.

It’s a shame Tucci’s dialogue is weak and his plotting is confusing.

The comic reminds me a lot of a slick Hollywood blockbuster. The pitfalls in the plot don’t matter because it’s moving very fast and is sufficiently compelling—I mean, at times it feels like the comic is missing pages because it’s so disjointed.

Some of the fault lies with the artists (regardless of it being smooth, it’s boring), but it’s Tucci’s responsibility.


Vivre Libre ou Mourir!; writer, Billy Tucci; pencillers, Justiniano and Tom Derenick; inker, Andrew Mangum; colorist, Tom Chu; letterer, Sal Cipriano; editors, Chris Conroy and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

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