Popeye 6 (October 2012)

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It’s a book length story. Langridge and artist Ken Wheaton do a great job of it too.

Langridge probably could have rushed the story, but by taking the whole issue, he lets Wheaton’s art breath a little. The word balloons aren’t packed full of text. Wheaton is able to give conversations reaction shots, for example.

The story concerns Popeye and company going to Hollywood to shoot a movie about Popeye’s life. Popeye’s the consultant… until he has to star too.

So Langridge has time for three acts, even though he opens the issue with a flash forward showing Popeye in the picture itself. One reads it just waiting for Popeye and company to take over the film production. It’s a nicely paced wait.

The issue also reads a little different because more of the cast seems self-aware. Not Popeye or Wimpy, but definitely Olive and Castor. Oh, and Bluto.

CREDITS

The Popeye the Sailor Story; writer, Roger Langridge; artist and letterer, Ken Wheaton; colorist, Luke McDonnell; editors, Ted Adams, Craig Yoe and Clizzia Gussoni; publisher, IDW Publishing.

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Battlefields 3 (January 2013)

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Ennis saves the big tank battle for the last issue of the arc; he also does away with most of the historical details. They’re an aside. The tank crew’s experience in the battle is the focus.

In many ways the tank crew are bystanders in the issue. Ennis shows how they experience what’s happening to their fellow soldiers; not a lot happens to Stiles and company themselves. Maybe because Ennis didn’t really establish anyone but Stiles, his sidekick and Stiles’s fellow tank commander. Even with the shift in tone, Ennis is able to make the arc feel seamless.

Once again, the Ezquerra art leaves a little to be desired. It feels too crisp. The big battle scenes are occasionally confusing and not for the right reasons. The art doesn’t establish anyone but Stiles and his fellow commander and they don’t get a lot of close-ups.

It’s good, not great.

CREDITS

The Green Fields Beyond, Part 3: Death Ride; writer, Garth Ennis; penciller, Carlos Ezquerra; inker, Hector Ezquerra; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre 4 (January 2013)

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Looks like Conner rushed a bit with the art. The issue opens fine and closes okay, but there are some definite rough patches.

The ending is atrocious, when Cooke and Conner tie it directly into a scene from Watchmen, only now we get to hear Laurie’s take on the scene. Guess what? Neither Cooke nor Conner–whoever wrote the scene–are as good of writers as Alan Moore. Shocker.

Otherwise, the issue’s not terrible. Instead of letting her be a hippie superhero, which was interesting and fun, the writers wrap everything up neatly for the finish. And the writing between Laurie and Sally is terrible, which doesn’t help things.

Hollis Mason shows up for a little bit and he should’ve been the narrator of the whole series, given where it goes.

Again, it could be worse–like as bad as Higgins’s pirate story–but it could be a lot better.

CREDITS

The End of the Rainbow; writers, Darwyn Cooke and Amanda Conner; artist, Conner; colorist, Paul Mounts; letterer, Carlos M. Mangual. The Curse of the Crimson Corsair, Wide Were His Dragon Wings, Part Three; writer, artist and colorist, John Higgins; letterer, Sal Cipriano. Editors, Chris Conroy, Camilla Zhang and Mark Chiarello; publisher, DC Comics.

Swamp Thing 102 (December 1990)

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Okay, the shaman does have a name but only Alec uses it. The whole character’s a mistake, so why dwell.

This issue has social commentary, a magic ceremony to encourage Tefé to regrow her body, Swamp Thing fighting monsters and a few other things. There’s even a new supporting cast member who Wheeler doesn’t take enough time to introduce.

It’s a very hurried issue–and should be, it’s set against an approaching hurricane–and Wheeler’s got a good hard cliffhanger.

Sadly, Hoffman doesn’t have room to give it the appropriate space but it’s still effective.

Peter Gross inks Hoffman to mixed results. They remove Swamp Thing’s eyeballs, so Alec’s a lot less sympathetic. Their people feel very horror comic influenced, which would work better without some of Wheeler’s silly details. The fight’s boring; that failing probably has to do with the hurried pace.

It’s not bad, but far from good.

CREDITS

And All the King’s Horses…; writer, Doug Wheeler; penciller, Mike Hoffman; inker, Peter Gross; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, DC Comics.

Popeye 5 (September 2012)

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It’s a parenting issue.

There are two stories concerning Popeye’s parenting abilities.

The first is a babysitting adventure. Swee’Pea goes missing, ending up on the wrong side of town and joining a gang. Swee’Pea, it turns out, is really good at knocking the fleas off dogs. While Ozella does a fine job with the art, the story’s strength comes from Langridge’s concentration on making the tale make sense in the comic strip mentality. He never encourages–or lets–one think too hard about it. To do so would be to miss the point.

He also doesn’t have a lot of supporting cast cluttering. In the second story, he does. Popeye’s drawing Swee’Pea a comic strip and the supporting cast stops by to help. That usage works though–they aren’t cluttering, but literally helping.

It’s a deceptively complicated issue, especially the comic strip in the second story. Langridge and Ozella excel.

CREDITS

The Wrong Side of the Tracks; inker and letterer, Bruce Ozella. The Adventures of Pete and Patsy; inker, Vince Musacchia; letterers, Ozella and Musacchia. Writer, Roger Langridge; penciller, Ozella; colorist, Luke McDonnell; editors, Ted Adams, Craig Yoe and Clizia Gussoni; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Battlefields 2 (December 2012)

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Stiles and his sidekick spend the issue away from the rest of the crew, observing a famous historical battle. They participate, but Ennis mostly just uses Stiles to explain what’s going on. He does it in such a way, of course, it never feels like exposition.

It should though–I mean, Stiles’s sidekick is a generic new recruit, the perfect person to be getting the exposition. Maybe the horrific conditions makes it seem less obvious, but it really didn’t occur to me how obvious it could have been until after finishing the issue. During, one can’t concentrate on anything but what he or she is reading.

The art is still loose, but there are some amazing panels in here. Particularly the phosphorous sequence.

Ennis outdoes himself. Battlefields becomes an educational docudrama and Ennis never draws attention to that value of it. He maintains the dramatic tension throughout, especially the finish.

CREDITS

The Green Fields Beyond, Part 2: God for Harry, England and Saint George; writer, Garth Ennis; penciller, Carlos Ezquerra; inker, Hector Ezquerra; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre 3 (November 2012)

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The mystery of the smiley face button is solved! Finally, now everyone can sleep at night. The addition of said button does make one wonder if Cooke’s flipping off Moore a little (as the button is what started Moore’s disputes with DC).

This issue features a lot of things Cooke and Conner should have covered in the previous one, with Sally worrying about her kid instead of just ignoring it (from the reader’s point of view). The ending isn’t great, but it’s whole.

It’s a bridging issue without any memorable scenes. Even Laurie tripping on bad acid turns out to be a red herring.

The comic’s not bad, however. Conner’s art is still a nice mix of straightforward and sixties–not quite indie, but definitely not mainstream vanilla–and the scenes are well-written.

Laurie just isn’t enough of a character this issue.

The crappy backup has a terrible cliffhanger.

C 

CREDITS

No Illusion; writers, Darwyn Cooke and Amanda Conner; artist, Conner; colorist, Paul Mounts; letterer, Carlos M. Mangual. The Curse of the Crimson Corsair, The Evil That Men Do, Part Four; writer, artist and colorist, John Higgins; letterer, Sal Cipriano. Editors, Chris Conroy, Camilla Zhang and Mark Chiarello; publisher, DC Comics.

Swamp Thing 101 (November 1990)

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Andy Helfer pops in for a nice little issue. Amazing how he’s never written the book before–or worked on it in any capacity (as far as I remember)–yet he does a pitch perfect story juxtaposing Tefé’s spirit form running away and a local woman’s family problems. Helfer even writes Abby well.

Anyway, the issue also has Mike Hoffman on pencils. It’s hard to say how he’ll do on the comic–I think he’s the new penciller–since Alec doesn’t appear in the issue, but he does a great job with the people. This issue is all people, including some complicated scenes like kids playing on a playground. Hoffman infuses that scene with excitement and intrigue, even though it’s mundane.

The issue’s only problem isn’t Helfer’s fault. The Shaman character ludicrously doesn’t have a proper name. Just Shaman. One expects more from Swamp Thing.

It’s a touching, haunting issue.

CREDITS

Keepsakes; writer, Andy Helfer; penciller, Mike Hoffman; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editors, Karen Berger and Stuart Moore; publisher, DC Comics.

Popeye 4 (August 2012)

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The Popeye feature suffers a little from lack of intelligent characters. For a second, I thought Castor Oyl would prove smart; he does not. Wimpy does show intelligence… and never gets recognized for it. But Langridge never loses track of him, which is sort of a reward. Langridge loses track of everyone at some point in the story.

It’s a very busy tale of a small (microscopic) kingdom Popeye and friends have to save. There’s lots of dialogue; Langridge wraps the exposition into the jokes beautifully. It’s well-written, it’s just a war story mixed with a detective story mixed with Popeye. It’s amazing Langridge is able to keep track of it at all.

The Sappo backup is a beautifully simple day at the beach. The jokes are universally strong, Langridge paces them all carefully, Neely’s artwork is lovely.

It’s a good comic, the backup’s just stronger than the feature.

CREDITS

Good Night, Blozo!; artist and letterer, Vince Musacchia; colorist, Luke McDonnell. Hero of the Beach; artist, colorist and letterer, Tom Neely. Writer, Roger Langridge; editor, Ted Adams, Craig Yoe and Clizia Gussoni; publisher, IDW Publishing.

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