The Maze Agency 7 (June 1989)


I’m not sure what does more damage this issue, Barr’s melodramatic writing or the art. Greg Shoemaker’s so bad, it doesn’t make any sense to mock him. He’s just not ready for a full comic. Or a tenth of one. I suppose his scenery is all right; at least it’s fully visualized, which I can’t say about his figures.

But then there’s Barr’s writing. He takes leads Jennifer and Gabe to the Hamptons for a weekend of murder and lots of expository dialogue. Even for a mystery, there’s a lot of exposition because Barr thinks Jennifer has to talk about her feelings.

Gabe’s always been Maze’s erstwhile protagonist, but this issue he’s not just reactionary, he needs to be reminded to act. Barr thinks he’s come up with something great for Jennifer (it’s not); he downgrades Gabe.

There’re some decently written scenes, but Barr flops with the omnipresent romance stuff.


Hearts of Glass; writer, Mike W. Barr; penciller, Greg Shoemaker; inker, Bill Anderson; colorist, Julia Lacquement; letterer, Tom Addis; editor, Michael Eury; publisher, Comico.


Lord of the Jungle 1 (January 2012)


Besides moving way too fast, Lord of the Jungle’s not bad at all. Arvid Nelson puts the Tarzan origin in the political context of what’s happening in the Congo contemporaneously. I’ve never seen a Tarzan story make that effort. It’ll be interesting to see if Nelson maintains it.

Otherwise, it’s a summary of Tarzan’s parents’ adventures after being shipwrecked. They are not happy adventures. Roberto Castro makes the castaways visually appealing–she’s beautiful, he’s heroically rugged–and Nelson quickly makes them sympathetic.

The story of Tarzan’s adoption takes about half the issue, since Nelson has to establish the apes. He does fine with that task, even gives them interesting noises for communicating.

It’s impossible to say how the series will go. The titular character doesn’t even have any lines this issue.

I’m pleasantly surprised; I had no expectations for this one. Nelson and Castro both do rather good work.


The Savage Home; writer, Arvid Nelson; artist, Roberto Castro; colorist, Alex Guimaraes; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Before Watchmen: Ozymandias 2 (October 2012)


Wein seems to think giving Adrian very purple narration suggests intelligence. It doesn’t. Adrian’s of “sleek” as an adjective is laughable.

Then there’s the problem of the thugs oscillating between ostentatious dialogue and traditional moronic thug dialogue. Wein is trying really hard; it kills any chance the series has–which isn’t much, given Lee’s painfully static art.

Speaking of Lee, his rendition of the Comedian is some of the worst comic art I’ve seen in a while. There’s only the one reveal page, but it’s truly hideous.

Wein rips off some details from the Shadow–the agents of Adrian (maybe Moore had those too)–but it’s otherwise indistinct superhero stuff. Lots of cursing to show it’s a grown-up comic book and not for kids.

As for the ties to the rest of Before Watchmen, a good editor would’ve made them more integral.

The pirate backup’s got really lazy art.


The Hand That Mocked Them…!; writer, Len Wein; artist, Jae Lee; colorist, June Chung; letterer, John Workman. The Curse of the Crimson Corsair, The Devil in the Deep, Part Ten; writer, Len Wein; artist and colorist, John Higgins; letterer, Sal Cipriano. Editors, Mark Doyle, Camilla Zhang and Will Dennis; publisher, DC Comics.

Swamp Thing 108 (June 1991)


Abby’s story comes to its predictable cliffhanger. Wheeler foreshadowed it way too early and then spends the rest of the issue building it into a cliffhanger for the whole issue. He never brings Abby and TefĂ© back to the others, so now Alec’s got to go on a rescue mission.

There’s also a reasonably good action sequence with Alec trying to escape his evil fish captors (it doesn’t play as silly as it sounds) but the final third of the issue is all talking. Talking heads with plants. Not the most dramatic stuff.

When there are little action asides (as the Grey attacks the Parliament), Hoffman draws it all too small. Based on the two-page spreads, it’s clear he needs both those pages for big action. Wheeler gives him a quarter page sometimes. It’s not exactly confusing, just not magnificent.

The strangest thing is how fallible Wheeler makes Alec.


Siege, The Quest for the Elementals, Part Five; writer, Doug Wheeler; artist, Mike Hoffman; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, DC Comics.

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