The Maze Agency 9 (February 1990)

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So, for those who don’t know, Ellery Queen is an amateur sleuth, created in 1928 or so, and has had numerous print, film, television and probably radio adventures. This issue of Maze celebrates his sixtieth anniversary and gives him a comic book adventure.

I’m vaguely sure Barr mentioned him earlier in the series as a fictional character, which makes his appearance here strange. It’s a gimmick for mystery geeks… not sure there are a lot of those but whatever, Barr actually does quite well.

He establishes the character’s modernized setting quickly, he gives Queen a fun relationship with the leads (Queen admires Jennifer’s abilities while Gabe follows him around like a lapdog) and produces a relatively interesting mystery.

I say relatively because it’s interesting while reading, but immediately forgettable. The guest stars aren’t the suspects–Barr focuses that spotlight on Queen.

Some very nice work from Hughes and Magyar too.

CREDITS

The English Channeler Mystery: A Problem in Deduction; writer, Mike W. Barr; penciller, Adam Hughes; inker, Rick Magyar; colorists, Carol Van Hook and Kevin Van Hook; letterers, Tom Addis and Vickie Williams; editor, David Campiti; publisher, Innovation Publishing.

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Lord of the Jungle 3 (April 2012)

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Nelson continues to impress. Even though his characterizations are definitely too late–Jane’s father is a classic buffoon character but not 1909 classic–but he does come up with some interesting developments.

He also doesn’t shy away from the time period’s realities. Jack Clayton isn’t reminding the Porters of his (higher) station and Professor Porter isn’t above dismissing the black cook’s (intelligent) ideas because she’s a black cook. The first element is 1909. The second is still relevant, but Nelson uses it to turn his lovable buffoon into a less lovable character. Same goes for Clayton being a jerk about money.

As for Tarzan? He peeps on Jane–Castro does cheesecake for her, which is a somewhat interesting decision and maybe Jungle’s most ambitious (to juggle the two approaches)–rescues her from a fellow member of his tribe, then drags her off into the jungle.

It’s surprisingly engaging stuff.

CREDITS

The Call of the Primitive; writer, Arvid Nelson; artist, Roberto Castro; colorist, Alex Guimaraes; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Before Watchmen: Ozymandias 4 (January 2013)

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Where to start… when Wein brings up Rorschach in 1960 but then later says he doesn’t show up until a few years later? I hope the editors didn’t get paid for this one in particular.

The only distinct thing in the comic is Wein’s handling of the Kennedys. Adrian’s very judgmental of them, but then turns around and tries to solve the assassination. In another of Wein’s dumb moves, Adrian can’t figure it out. Wein sets up everything for Adrian’s easy success; Adrian actually having to think would be a nice change.

The dead girlfriend pops up. Apparently she’s been haunting him. Wein never mentioned it before, as his characterization of Adrian is completely inept.

Some weak art from Lee. His rendering of Silk Spectre is the most memorably bad (and she’s only in the comic for two panels).

At least, the pirate backup’s worse than the feature this time.

CREDITS

Shattered Visage…!; writer, Len Wein; artist, Jae Lee; colorist, June Chung; letterer, John Workman. The Curse of the Crimson Corsair, Wide Were His Dragon Wings, Part Five; writer, artist and colorist, John Higgins; letterer, Sal Cipriano. Editors, Mark Doyle, Camilla Zhang and Will Dennis; publisher, DC Comics.

Swamp Thing Annual 6 (1991)

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For her first Swamp Thing, Nancy A. Collins brings back the real horror. By real horror, I mean people being scared by real threats (supernatural ones, sure, but real). It reminds a little of early Alan Moore, with these murdered people joining together into a swamp monster out for revenge.

And the monster does get some revenge, but it’s justified. But Collins doesn’t let all the victims get avenged; instead, the reader’s left with a feeling of incompleteness, just like the swamp monster, just like Alec. He doesn’t really do anything this issue but investigate. Collins’s handling of him implies big changes in how Swamp Thing will go.

She handles the shuffling of the supporting cast well. Her Abby is okay… and apparently no longer Eastern European. The main story suggests good things; I’m undecided on the family stuff.

Jaaska and Rick Bryant’s art is good. Alec’s practically a tree.

CREDITS

Les Perdu; writer, Nancy A. Collins; penciller, Bill Jaaska; inker, Rick Bryant; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, DC Comics.

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