The Boys 36 (November 2009)

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Once again, Ennis avoids the big question the flashback raises. Hughie and Mother’s Milk are still talking–I think Hughie went for coffee–and there’s a bit more back story. Not a lot. Ennis skips about fourteen years. He does get in a big fight scene, which Robertson draws quite well.

But the issue–as none of the Mother’s Milk stuff really matters–is about the plans to put up the Freedom Tower in New York. Or whatever it’s going to be called. Ennis is using The Boys to talk about it being a dumb idea; given the last page, one would assume he’d go for rebuilding the World Trade Center.

As Brad Pitt once put it… “But you make it one floor taller.”

It’s an interesting use of a periodical and a love letter to New York City from an aficionado. Shame there isn’t a compelling story too.

CREDITS

Nothing Like It In The World, Part Two; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Darick Robertson; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

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Hawkeye 2 (November 2012)

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The second issue isn’t what I was expecting. Fraction doesn’t exactly give Clint a lot more personality–he’s from Iowa, to answer my question from last issue and he’s not playing protector of the downtrodden here. Actually, even though he hires an assistant, it’s unclear what Clint’s doing.

If he’s just playing good guy to the people who don’t usually get helped–he has a crime board after all, like a consulting superhero or something–it’s fine. Fraction and Aja have done something similar before (Iron Fist) and the character works for the niche; why not run with it?

And it continues to be a lot of fun. Fraction doesn’t go overboard with the quips, peppering them in mostly, until a big quip-filled conversation between Clint and his assistant (the female Hawkeye). Aja comes up with a checkerboard for their conversation and it all works great.

Hawkeye’s good fun.

CREDITS

Vagabond Code; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, David Aja; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editor, Sana Amanat and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Before Watchmen: Comedian 4 (December 2012)

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And another good one. Azzarello likes doing war comics; he should stick to them. Even though there are some confusing parts to the narrative–Azzarello fractures it without establishing the bookends–and the song lyric excerpts don’t work, it’s a successful issue.

Towards the end, Eddie and his gang drop acid before going on patrol. If Azzarello had structured the whole comic around the trip, it would have integrated much better. Instead, it feels like Azzarello’s just explaining a series of events. That approach is good since the writing’s good, but the fracture structure feels too forced.

And there are some changes to Eddie. Azzarello never goes into how the changes really effect him, but some are very obvious. There’s no judgment in Comedian. Following his movie inspirations, Azzarello just lets Eddie and company personify the insanity of the Vietnam War.

It’s not original at all, just darn good writing.

CREDITS

Conquistador; writer, Brian Azzarello; artist, J.G. Jones; colorist, Alex Sinclair; letterer, Clem Robins. The Curse of the Crimson Corsair, Wide Were His Dragon Wings, Part Six; writer, artist and colorist, John Higgins; letterer, Sal Cipriano. Editors, Mark Doyle, Camilla Zhang and Will Dennis; publisher, DC Comics.

Swamp Thing 123 (September 1992)

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I think Eaton thinks he’s doing a Steve Bissette impression. If so, it’s not producing any good art. Lots of static panels and busy line work don’t make up for some actual movement.

There’s story movement though. Collins sends Chester away this issue–after Eaton’s practically turned him into an action hero, at least physically–and the evil Sunderland corporation is moving full steam ahead against Alec.

Except Alec knows about them, so why doesn’t he jump into a fern at their corporate headquarters? Because Collins makes him very, very weak except in the elemental action scenes. She’s pretty much spent all of her good momentum from when she took over. A three parter about a doctor moonlighting as a brainwashed assassin isn’t a good Swamp Thing.

The writing on Abby is getting weak too. With the nanny around, Abby’s become completely disinterested in her kid.

It’s dreadfully tepid stuff.

CREDITS

Punctures; writer, Nancy A. Collins; penciller, Scot Eaton; inker, Kim DeMulder; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, DC Comics.

The Boys 35 (October 2009)

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Ennis gets to Mother’s Milk’s story–and hints at something to do with the Female’s. M.M.’s story is a doozy. Ennis takes a somewhat traditional story–the giant corporation knowingly poisoning people with toxic waste–and adds the superhuman element.

It’s devastating at times, even with some of the more amusing visuals. It’s like Ennis and Robertson are setting up jokes, then knocking the reader for being shallow enough to prepare for them.

The only real problem is how Mother’s Milk tells the story. He just tells Hughie. It’s not just without prompting, Hughie’s busy asking about other things. M.M. just ignores those questions. The lack of a good delivery system is what hurts the story–especially since there’s no resolution to the big question the story raises.

Still, it’s a darn good issue. Robertson does some outstanding art; additionally, Ennis’s thoughtful 9/11 observations need airing.

CREDITS

Nothing Like It In The World, Part One; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Darick Robertson; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Hawkeye 1 (October 2012)

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I realized, finishing the first issue of Hawkeye, is how little the comic has to do with Hawkeye. It’s about Clint Barton, New Yorker. For some reason I always assumed Clint was a West Coast kind of guy, but Matt Fraction writes him as a empathetic New Yorker. And David Aja draws a great New York City. It’s not seventies gritty, but eighties grimy. It’s a great setting.

Wait, I lost track. The comic not being about Hawkeye. I guess it isn’t much about Clint either, at least the reader’s expectation of the character. It’s practically a superhero “Seinfeld.” Clint tries to do the right thing, without resorting to the costume, and has a number of misadventures involving his Russian mafia landlord.

It’s funny, touching, everything one would want from an inexpensive Marvel Studios Hawkeye movie. And Fraction and Aja do a great job doing a soft relaunch slash pilot.

CREDITS

Lucky; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, David Aja; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editor, Sana Amanat and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Before Watchmen: Comedian 3 (November 2012)

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It’s another surprisingly good issue.

Eddie’s on leave in Hawaii after he aggravated a riot while on leave in L.A. Azzarello structures the whole issue around him telling Bobby Kennedy (his strongest government supporter) about it.

Going between race riots and war protests, Azzarello manages to look do a nice little history issue. There’s not a lot of facts, but he definitely investigates the complications behind these things. And Eddie even gets a little character.

Eddie can’t have too much character, however, as Azzarello is moving him through the series as the reader’s guide through history. The other Watchmen superheroes haven’t shown up yet–and the brief mention of them this issue is a surprise–because they don’t work with what Azzarello’s doing.

This Comedian series is half done; it’ll be interesting to see if Azzarello can stay so gleefully disentangled from the original series in the second half.

CREDITS

Play With Fire; writer, Brian Azzarello; artist, J.G. Jones; colorists, Alex Sinclair and Tony Avina; letterer, Clem Robins. The Curse of the Crimson Corsair, The Evil That Men Do, Part Five; writer, artist and colorist, John Higgins; letterer, Sal Cipriano. Editors, Mark Doyle, Camilla Zhang and Will Dennis; publisher, DC Comics.

Swamp Thing 122 (August 1992)

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Collins doesn’t improve here. Eaton might a little, even though his pencils become incredibly static. He finally puts noses on the cast, which outweighs his other inabilities at a talking heads issue.

But Collins. She splits the Sunderland threat apart–one from the maniacally evil Sunderland daughter herself and another, tangentially related one from the gubernatorial candidate Alec embarrassed–but both threats are idiotic. Even if Alec can’t sense when people are plotting against him–all he does this issue is bond a little with Lady Jane–they still don’t need to use goofy plans.

Swamp Thing hasn’t felt so contrived in a long time. Collins is mostly just using keywords and catchphrases. I hope so she recovers soon, because when she turns pacifist hippie Chester into Rocky Balboa, the issue just collapses. It becomes a spoof of itself.

Even cliffhanger’s absent any tension. Collins is spreading everything too thin.

CREDITS

The Eye of the Needle; writer, Nancy A. Collins; penciller, Scot Eaton; inker, Kim DeMulder; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, DC Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 71 (March 2005)

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And here’s the rewarding turn of events. It’s entirely depressing–maybe even beyond depressing–as Peter confronts his greatest fear… he’s going to get everyone killed.

Bendis doesn’t even try to end the comic on an okay note. Peter’s consumed with despondence; it’s palpable and Mary showing up to complete the bookend from the last issue just makes it worse. Bendis has all of a sudden turned the book into a look at the (super) human condition and he doesn’t have anything nice to say.

The Ultimate Dr. Strange stuff, which probably takes up half the issue, is great. Bendis practically hands the comic over to him; it works quite well. The character’s amusingly vain but still likable and sympathetic.

Bagley and Hanna change up the art occasionally, for Peter’s nightmare panels, and it’s rather effective.

For Peter, the whole thing is, quite literally, hellacious; Bendis drags the reader along.

CREDITS

Strange, Part Two of Two; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Scott Hanna; colorist, Jonathan D. Smith; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Nick Lowe and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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