Swamp Thing 90 (December 1989)

Alcala’s not the best inker for Pat Broderick. Broderick takes over pencils this issue. Swamp Thing looks fine, so do the plants, but the people look wrong, like there’s not enough detail to them. Wheeler tries to put Alec on a psychedelic recap of his time travel adventures but it doesn’t work. The one panel callbacks to recent issues can’t compare to Arcane trying to escape Hell. The other modern day stuff–Constantine’s quest and Abby’s labor–overshadow Alec’s trip too. It’s a simple problem–Wheeler couldn’t do a stream of consciousness piece for Swamp Thing. Either he doesn’t have the character down … Continue reading Swamp Thing 90 (December 1989)

The Maze Agency 3 (February 1989)

The art is good here, it doesn’t even matter when it doesn’t make sense. Hughes comes up with these lovely pages for the investigation scenes–Gabe and Jennifer are touring New York state to question people–and the pages are simply wondrous. There’s this amazing condo in the middle of nowhere; Hughes’s page composition makes the mundane extraordinary. As for the mystery, things get lost but it’s still decent. A prototype car disappears. Murder plays a factor eventually, since there’d be no danger otherwise. Barr and the artists handle all that aspect just fine. But Maze’s other plot–the romance–gets downgraded. Gabe is … Continue reading The Maze Agency 3 (February 1989)

Rocketeer Adventures 4 (August 2011)

Even with some of the art, this issue’s a complete stinker. None of the writers actually exhibit any love (or respect) for the characters. Hampton does a nice mix of bright pulp and his static painting; as a result, the first story is very pretty. But Dave Gibbons’s script gives Cliff a dumb adventure, makes him slightly unlikable and Betty a strumpet. But those characterizations are nothing compared to Joe Pruett and Tony Harris’s second story. Pruett and Harris re-imagine Cliff as half-weasel, half-dweeb and Betty as the shallowest person in America. They’re repugnant characters. The third story, from John … Continue reading Rocketeer Adventures 4 (August 2011)

Swamp Thing 89 (November 1989)

The issue’s beautiful to be sure–Tom Yeates drawing Alec’s adventures in a far flung past, before the continents have even shifted, meeting with the first three trees in the Parliament. At the same time, Abby is preparing to have the baby and Constantine is trying to get back. But Wheeler’s way too ambitious. His enthusiasm is unchecked–I’m shocked his editor didn’t have him rein it in. Swamp Thing, traveling so far back in time, becomes the starter of life on the planet Earth. As time travel arcs go, it’s dumb and way too convenient. Worse, Wheeler doesn’t have a handle … Continue reading Swamp Thing 89 (November 1989)

The Maze Agency 2 (January 1989)

Barr uses Gabriel–the amateur detective slash novelist-for-hire (there’s a great joke about Friday the 13th adaptations)–to bring the reader to the mystery. Then he has to bring Jennifer–the professional detective–into it. The approach lets him do some more character development without having to use too much exposition, but Barr often errs on the side of subtlety. Maze is, at this point in the series, about the chemistry between Gabriel and Jennifer, who aren’t exactly dating. Not steady, anyway. So when Gabriel meets another suitor, it should give Barr the chance to explain some things. He doesn’t. He just lets it … Continue reading The Maze Agency 2 (January 1989)

Rocketeer Adventures 3 (July 2011)

Rocketeer Adventures really needs some editorial guidance. Or at least the stories need to make sense in relation to one another. The first story, from Ryan Sook, is pretty good. But Sook makes a big point of how Cliff gets the fame Betty so desperately wants, only he never indicates whether she’s jealous about it. His finish, while beautifully done, could go either way. Then there’s the Joe R. Lansdale short story. Lansdale writes a pulpy text–nothing particularly special and he doesn’t describe the action very well. Bruce Timm’s occasional illustrations ignore the pulpy quality. Timm does G-rated art for … Continue reading Rocketeer Adventures 3 (July 2011)

The Boys 29 (April 2009)

I think I reread the finish to this issue five times. You want to go through and pick out the people dying so you can enjoy it. Ennis never did find a story for this arc. It’s seven issues to have a brief conversation between Butcher and the evil corporate. The whole G-Men thing is something of a red herring; Ennis even finds a way to make the reader feel bad for enjoying it. His ability to suck the humor out of the situation–and even the memory of the previous issues’ humor–is astounding. Robertson’s art is great. He’s got a … Continue reading The Boys 29 (April 2009)

The Maze Agency 1 (December 1988)

While it might be full of intrigue and murder–well, contain murder, not quite full of it–The Maze Agency is very clean. Adam Hughes and Rick Magyar’s Manhattan is so perfect, it’s almost dreamlike. That comment’s not a knock–the art is excellent. Some of the faces are bland, but otherwise Hughes does great work. As for the rest of the issue, it’s a lot of fun. Mike W. Barr sets up his romantically possible protagonists, Jennifer and Gabriel, at alternating speeds. Their back stories come in throughout the issue; there’s no big exposition scene. Barr succeeds at keeping the dialogue natural … Continue reading The Maze Agency 1 (December 1988)

Rocketeer Adventures 2 (July 2011)

This issue’s loser comes courtesy Lowell Francis and Gene Ha. Well, not Ha. Ha does a fine job. Francis’s “script” consists of a boxing match radio broadcast juxtaposed with the Rocketeer fighting a flying bad guy. The gimmick quickly tires and the fight doesn’t really give Ha any interesting content. When there finally is dialogue, Francis flubs it something terrible. The best story is probably the first; Mark Waid writes, Chris Weston does the art. It’s Cliff at the World’s Fair having a misadventure. Waid tries a little hard setting it up, but once the action starts, it’s a fine … Continue reading Rocketeer Adventures 2 (July 2011)

The Boys 28 (March 2009)

Hughie disobeys orders to try to help the G-Wiz, which doesn’t go well for them. It also doesn’t go well for the reader because Higgins is back on the art and he’s bad. He’s bad when he’s just doing regular scenes (he draws Butcher like a hobbit at one point) and he’s even worse for the bloodbath with the Frenchman and the Female. Ennis tries to fit a bunch of characters in–the bad guy suits, the Legend, everybody gets an appearance (except Annie)–only it’s all very slight. When Mother’s Milk reveals the secret of the G-Men, it’s been obvious to … Continue reading The Boys 28 (March 2009)

Planet of the Apes Special 1 (February 2013)

Calling this issue a Special seems like a little much. It’s over-sized, maybe, but since nothing happens in it and Diego Barreto’s art wouldn’t be able to convey anything well anyhow… it’s hard to know what to call it. It’s somewhat inaccessible for a non-regular Boom! Apes reader too. I am not one, for instance. I was able to follow the story somewhat, but I can’t figure out why writer Daryl Gregory thinks the reader should care. There are three factions battling for power in a city-state–Barreto does an awful job when it comes to giving the city scale–and presumably … Continue reading Planet of the Apes Special 1 (February 2013)

Rocketeer Adventures 1 (May 2011)

I’m going out of order because Kurt Busiek, in eight pages, made me tear up. He does a Rocketeer during WWII story; Cliff’s in the Pacific as a flyer and as the Rocketeer. Cliff writes Betty letters, we get summaries. It’s freaking amazing work. Great art from Michael Kaluta. The Rocketeer details are inconsequential; they just makes it more touching. It’s the third story, easily the best. The first story, from John Cassaday, comes in second. Cassaday doesn’t draw a good Cliff, but his Betty’s all right and his Rocketeer helmet’s good. The story also works. Cassaday gets how to … Continue reading Rocketeer Adventures 1 (May 2011)

The Boys 27 (February 2009)

Yeah, once again… not entirely sure why Ennis is dragging out this arc. Mother’s Milk’s investigation is downright interesting–the G-Men kidnap kids and shoot them up with the compound to turn them into G-kids or whatever–but there’s nothing else in the issue. Butcher and Hughie both have Saint Patrick’s Day adventures. Hughie’s with the G-Wiz guys for a while; he comes up with an interesting explanation for their behavior. Ennis is branching out from X-Men jokes this issue, really considering things, but it’s unclear why. The G-Men seem like an aside. Butcher’s Saint Patrick’s Day–Hughie eventually joins him–is basically jokes … Continue reading The Boys 27 (February 2009)

Batman: The Dark Knight 4 (June 1986)

Miller probably could have spread this issue out over two. There’s the follow-up to the Joker’s death, there’s a bit with Superman fighting the Russians, there’s Gotham as a disaster zone. Miller gets confused. His comic’s working at cross purposes. Clark sees a connection with Bruce and Bruce doesn’t, so there’s the epic fight scene only Clark comes off more sympathetic. Bruce is working towards an end without any self-awareness. Clark has nothing but self-awareness. There’s also the series’s first third person narration. Miller uses it for Alfred at the end; it’s a mistake. It treats Alfred as disposable, which … Continue reading Batman: The Dark Knight 4 (June 1986)

The Boys 26 (January 2009)

I’ll never complain about Robertson being lazy on The Boys again. Actually, I probably will, but I sure do miss him this issue. John Higgins fills in and, while he can handle a lot of the content, he misses the nuance to some of it. He draws Annie like any other bimbo comic book blonde. Gone is the innocence. It changes the character quite a bit. Higgins’s finest work might just be on Terror. He might draw the dog better than anything else. Ennis is stretching out the story arc unnecessarily with this issue. Hughie’s interlude with Annie doesn’t build … Continue reading The Boys 26 (January 2009)

Batman: The Dark Knight 3 (May 1986)

I guess Miller liked having interior monologues so much, he gave them to everyone. Batman, Superman, Robin, the Joker, the new police commissioner. I don’t think anyone else. But there’s a lot of interior monologue. More than the media coverage. Superman’s is actually the most revelatory. Miller writes him as scared, which is sort of funny considering he’s Superman. The best monologue, in terms of writing, is probably Robin’s. She only has it for a few pages, during an action scene, and Miller is terse. Terse works for it. As for the Joker and Batman? Their monologues are about the … Continue reading Batman: The Dark Knight 3 (May 1986)

The Boys 25 (December 2008)

There have been insightful parodies of Superman and Batman before–Ennis has done them in The Boys–but his take on Professor X is something unexpected. This whole “G-Men” arc is unexpected, but Ennis has an observation about Professor G I didn’t see coming. X-Men keep resurrecting because Professor X is a nut. Obviously, that observation isn’t accurate (comic publishing realities), but it does say something about the end product. Besides that moment–and some amusing stuff at the G-Mansion where Ennis gets to make fun of the X-Men a little–there’s not much to Hughie’s plot in this issue. Sure, it’s funny, but … Continue reading The Boys 25 (December 2008)

Batman: The Dark Knight 2 (April 1986)

This issue, Batman becomes less of a lead character in his own comic. Miller writes his some good interior monologues–occasionally really good. The standouts usually reveal something–like how Batman uses environment to beat the Mutant Leader or how, when delirious, he has one-sided conversations with the absent Dick Grayson. But, for the most part, it’s not Batman’s comic. Some of it is the reaction to Batman returning; there’s a lot of media talking heads going on about him. To justify Batman’s vigilante behavior, Miller then shows a lot of innocent people in peril scenes and the public’s response. Their response … Continue reading Batman: The Dark Knight 2 (April 1986)

The Muppets 4 (December 2012)

It’s Christmastime at the Muppet Studio and, of course, things don’t go particularly well. They also have a new fridge, which Kermit guards carefully. Piggy is trying to get a marriage proposal as a gift, Fozzie can’t come up with jokes for his sketch, Rizzo and Gonzo are trying to clone dancing yogurt… there’s probably something else I’m forgetting. It turns out to be so packed, even Langridge can’t make the whole thing fit. He skips through one of the plot resolutions. It’s too bad, because it sounds like it might’ve been funnier than any of the other sketches. Oh, … Continue reading The Muppets 4 (December 2012)

The Boys 24 (November 2008)

At first, I was going to concentrate on Ennis using Animal House as the model for his X-Men teenage team knock-off. I haven’t read a teen X-Men book in a while, but I can’t believe Marvel would ever have the stones to do it so honestly. The knockoff scenes are funny enough (and very self-aware), but Ennis uses them to lead into Hughie and Annie’s romance subplot. But then I realized this issue of The Boys might be the first where Ennis evenly distributes time between the cast. Hughie’s undercover, Butcher is hanging out with the Legend (they’re talking in … Continue reading The Boys 24 (November 2008)

Batman: The Dark Knight 1 (March 1986)

Miller establishes he’s telling The Dark Knight [Returns] in twelve panels a page, four columns, four rows. He quickly breaks this layout, but always for emphasis. I’d never realized how beautifully he designs the comic. It’s very cinematic, even if the actual content often isn’t visual. He implies most of the action. Batman’s return is mostly implied, the issue’s fight scene finale is all implied. Miller even implies big plot developments instead of just showing them. The result is being either inside Batman’s head–and Miller goes out of his way to show how psychologically disturbed he is from the first … Continue reading Batman: The Dark Knight 1 (March 1986)

The Muppets 3 (November 2012)

Langridge gives Pops his own issue. Or most of one. Pops the doorman is going to have to retire and the Muppets have to figure out how to keep him. Langridge is only able to use that plot line for one sketch (and the closing music number), so he comes up with a secondary thread to run through–or at least get mention–in the other sketches. He does an homage to Dream of the Rarebit Fiend with Rizzo (and gorgonzola). The sketch itself isn’t as funny as its followup scenes, which have some very funny references to it. For Pops’s plot … Continue reading The Muppets 3 (November 2012)

The Boys 23 (October 2008)

Well, Ennis gets to ripping on Marvel and, wow, does it ever go well for him. He goes for the X-Men, which I didn’t expect. There’s a lot about their popularity and the number of teams and so on. It’s all quite well-done. There’s a definite change in tone (from DC to Marvel)–the Boys have a different kind of target. It’s nice Ennis is able to toggle between the two companies. I hadn’t expected him to cover the X-Men at all, much less so deftly. There are a couple good subplot starts–these scenes are the issue’s more seriously–but the last … Continue reading The Boys 23 (October 2008)

Todd, The Ugliest Kid on Earth 2 (February 2013)

Kristensen really runs with the Todd in jail angle. It’s a busy issue–Todd’s parents get their own subplots, the moron cop who arrested him gets a little page time and, of course, the real serial killer gets a scene or two. There’s some wonderful about the panels of Todd running around the prison yard playing with a butterfly. Perker’s art perfectly captures the innocence of the act, but also all the danger around Todd. There are a lot of jokes this issue. Not just the prison jokes, which start at inappropriate and get funnier, but also digs at Oprah, Scientology, … Continue reading Todd, The Ugliest Kid on Earth 2 (February 2013)

The Muppets 2 (October 2012)

Langridge’s does a beach party for the summer issue of this season-based series… except, since it’s the Muppets, things don’t go particularly well. There’s a freak snow storm and the Kermit and Scooter have to figure out how to turn the show into a winter-themed one. Meanwhile, Fozzie gets an offer he can’t refuse and goes off to do summer stock. Langridge splits the issue between the show itself, the production problems and Fozzie’s adventure. As usual, the best sketch is the huge musical number at the end. Langridge builds expectation for it throughout the issue–almost to the point of … Continue reading The Muppets 2 (October 2012)

The Sixth Gun 23 (June 2012)

I’m unsure why this issue is called “Part Six” of the previous story arc. It’s a done in one setting up the next story arc a little, but also catching up with previous guest star Kirby Hale. In turn, he runs into some other former guest stars and Bunn’s plan for the next arc becomes somewhat clear. Tyler Crook fills in on the art and does a fine job. Bunn writes Kirby as incorrigible, almost more likable after each page. Especially the finish. Bunn gives him a great exit line. But where are Becky and Drake? It really didn’t seem … Continue reading The Sixth Gun 23 (June 2012)

The Muppets 1 (September 2012)

Animal falls in love. Who would have thought. With a gorilla, sure, but I still wouldn’t have thought. Roger Langridge has a lot of other side things going on–not many for Miss Piggy, however. She just gets jealous of the gorilla. Langridge’s handling of the gorilla–Meredith–is rather interesting. One might even say Langridge thinks gorillas are dumb. She can’t talk and she’s incapable of a lot; she’s rather cute though, especially when she’s trying to impress animal. Some of the other strongpoints are the songs–there are two or three–and the episode of Pigs in Space. Langridge does a great job … Continue reading The Muppets 1 (September 2012)

The Sixth Gun 22 (May 2012)

Turns out I was wrong–last issue did end with a soft cliffhanger. Becky and Drake are relatively fine as this issue opens; Bunn does not acknowledge the dialogue-free previous issue either. It’s sort of strange, not to mention it, but the issue works anyway. Bunn continues showing Drake’s viciousness, which is another interesting move. He’s juxtaposing that viciousness against the real possibility Drake is some kind of magical guy. Like an immortal soul tied to the metal in the guns. And Becky is along for the ride. There’s a great moment of conflict for her, when she internally questions Drake’s … Continue reading The Sixth Gun 22 (May 2012)