2000 AD 4 (19 March 1977)

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Pat Wright takes over the art on Invasion and it’s immediately less interesting. Gerry Finley-Day’s writing isn’t terrible, but without dynamic art, the cracks show a lot clearer.

Flesh still has great art from Sola. Ken Armstrong’s writing is even worse than usual, especially the dialogue. And they rip off Westworld whole sale. It’s a chore when dinosaurs aren’t on page.

Gibbons has a great opening splash page for Harlem Heroes. Tully concentrates on making the game seem real; while not exciting, the dedication to the concept is something. They could have cut a lot of corners and they don’t.

Dan Dare is lame. I guess Belardinelli does do well with gross alien creatures. Not a lot of space shots either.

Pat Mills is back writing M.A.C.H. 1. Artist Enio’s apparently scared to make the Arab villains look too Arab. It’s awful.

Dredd’s fun. McMahon compacts his visuals well.

CREDITS

Invasion, The Resistance, Part Four; writer, Gerry Finley-Day; artist, Pat Wright; letterer, Tom Frame. Flesh, Book One, Part Four; writer, Ken Armstrong; artist, Ramon Sola; letterer, Bill Nuttall. Harlem Heroes, Part Four; writer, Tom Tully; artist and letterer, Dave Gibbons. Dan Dare, Part Four; writer, Kelvin Gosnell; artist, Massimo Belardinelli; letterer, Jack Potter. M.A.C.H. 1, To Kill a President; writer, Pat Mills; artist, Enio; letterer, John Aldrich. Judge Dredd, The Brotherhood of Darkness; writer, Malcolm Shaw; artist, Mike McMahon; letterer, Nuttall. Publisher, IPC.

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The Superior Spider-Man 8 (June 2013)

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Well, Slott recovers this issue. Big time.

He must have watched “ER” too–all you need to make something touching is a sick child, add a megalomaniac like Otto being touched by said sick child? One’s sympathies for the story and its characters go through the roof.

There’s also the big Avengers fight, which is funny afterwards because all Otto’s ramblings of them being morons are accurate. Ramos proves the right artist for it too. He draws everyone like a giant baboon.

The resolution with Cardiac is outstanding too, though Slott still isn’t addressing all his ongoing subplots. He also addresses the Ghost Peter thing–which is a big surprise this early–and uses it for his hard cliffhanger.

And so I have to eat a little crow. Slott does know what he’s doing, though this issue and last would’ve been better as a giant-size instead of two issues,

CREDITS

Troubled Mind, Part Two: Proof Positive; writer, Dan Slott; penciller, Humberto Ramos; inker, Victor Olazaba; colorist, Edgar Delgado; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editor, Ellie Pyle and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Swamp Thing 145 (August 1994)

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And now Millar’s changed his approach. Alec’s not really the protagonist anymore; for his half of the comic–Colonel Strong, the monster hunter, gets the other–Alec’s just the biggest name in a disaster movie. Millar sets up a lot of little characters, quite well too, before putting everyone in a bad situation.

While that bad situation is precisely executed, it’s obvious he’s spending more time on Strong. There’s a distinct flashback, a lot of lead up to its revelations; Millar’s creating a supervillain. Though it’s unclear how much Alec’s the hero anymore. Besides his concern for human life, the human appearance makes him somewhat unrecognizable.

A lot of the strangeness is from Hester’s pencils. Swamp Thing is not a beautiful book about plants and mystical mysteries anymore… it’s dark and scary. Every page has some disturbing detail. I’m not sure Hester draws a single smile in the whole issue.

CREDITS

Big Game; writer, Mark Millar; penciller, Phil Hester; inker, Kim DeMulder; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, Richard Starkings; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, Vertigo.

2000 AD 3 (12 March 1977)

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Ramon Sola does the art on Flesh and all of a sudden it looks great. The dinosaurs, the landscapes, even the cowboys. All the strip needed was good art to make it palatable.

Belardinelli handles the art on both Dan Dare and M.A.C.H. 1. He doesn’t do a good job on either, but Dare is better thanks to the space scenes. He can draw the space stuff, just not humanoids interacting.

Invasion is okay enough–Blasco’s still the best art. The writing’s a little wonky, but not terrible. Harlem Heroes is inoffensive sports stuff, if a little dumb. And Gibbons’s art is problematic on the athletics.

Judge Dredd, with Kelvin Gosnell writing–McMahon is still on art–is little better. It helps if one reads it as some kind of riff on a Dick Tracy comic strip, some comedically self-aware future one.

AD’s definitely improving.

CREDITS

Invasion, The Resistance, Part Three; writer, Gerry Finley-Day; artist, Jesus Blasco; letterer, Jack Potter. Flesh, Book One, Part Three; writer, Ken Armstrong; artist, Ramon Sola; letterer, Bill Nuttall. Harlem Heroes, Part Three; writer, Tom Tully; artist and letterer, Dave Gibbons. Dan Dare, Part Three; writer, Kelvin Gosnell; artist, Massimo Belardinelli; letterer, Potter. M.A.C.H. 1, Battleship; writer, Nick Allen; artist, Belardinelli; letterer, Tony Jacob. Judge Dredd, The New You; writer, Gosnell; artist, Mike McMahon; letterer, John Aldrich. Publisher, IPC.

The Superior Spider-Man 7 (June 2013)

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This issue Ghost Peter discovers he can influence his old body and also make enough noise to distract Otto. Sadly, Slott uses that trick three times at least this issue to save someone from Otto’s wraith. Well, maybe twice with the third just being a little wink.

But it’s not a particularly good issue. In fact, it’s the first one where Slott doesn’t deliver a worthwhile narrative. Otto beats up some superhero who steals medical equipment to save poor people and then the Avengers confront him.

There’s nothing else to the issue. It’s a short opening, a long, poorly illustrated fight scene with Otto’s megalomania taking over, and the Avengers finale. And that finale’s just the cliffhanger.

Subplots aren’t just absent, Slott doesn’t even acknowledge the series has any.

It’s a rather upsetting turn of events. I sort of thought Slott could do no wrong on Otto’s adventures; he can.

CREDITS

Troubled Mind, Part One: Right-Hand Man; writer, Dan Slott; penciller, Humberto Ramos; inker, Victor Olazaba; colorist, Edgar Delgado; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editor, Ellie Pyle and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Swamp Thing 144 (July 1994)

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Now solo on the book, Millar’s approach is to make Alex the lead. He’s cut off from the Green and, for whatever reason, Millar’s not bringing back the supporting cast from before Collins purged them.

And then there’s the new power–Alec can form himself human bodies now. He’s hanging out in New York dressed as Matt Cable.

Millar is going back practically to the first series; I’m not sure Abby is mentioned by name while Linda Holland comes up multiple times. It’s a little uncanny, with Hester’s art working beautifully for the vibe, and it’s new. Millar might be ignoring continuity, but he’s making everything unpredictable.

There’s a bit of talk about Gotham–the biggest continuity tie–with the government hiring a monster hunter to go after Swamp Thing. And the Parliament of Trees, which used to be so hippy and loving, is also after Alec.

It’s rather different.

CREDITS

A Hope in Hell; writer, Mark Millar; penciller, Phil Hester; inker, Kim DeMulder; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, Richard Starkings; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, Vertigo.

2000 AD 2 (5 March 1977)

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Once again, Invasion is the best strip, M.A.C.H. 1 is the worst and Harlem Heroes is the strangest.

Starting with Harlem… Gibbons’s art is better this time, but the future setting is poorly thought out (Harlem’s a bad neighborhood even after future retrofitting?). It’s not a traditional storyline though, which is nice.

Flesh is a little better too, with Armstrong getting into some of the day to day of dinosaur hunting. Boix’s art is still iffy.

Dan Dare is crappy again. Bad writing, bad art. The art’s probably worse than the writing.

That Blasco art on Invasion makes up for the hurried pace. It’s a great looking strip. The art on M.A.C.H. is a little better too.

The first Judge Dredd finishes the programme. Peter Harris’s writing is weak, Mike McMahon’s art is indistinct. Dredd’s second seat to the villain even. From mundane beginnings….

CREDITS

Invasion, The Resistance, Part Two; writer, Gerry Finley-Day; artist, Jesus Blasco; letterer, Jack Potter. Flesh, Book One, Part Two; writer, Ken Armstrong; artist, Joan Boix; letterer, Bill Nuttall. M.A.C.H. 1, Vulcan, Part Two; writer, Robert Flynn; artist, Enio; letterer, Potter. Dan Dare, Part Two; writer, Kelvin Gosnell; artist, Massimo Belardinelli; letterer, Nuttall. Harlem Heroes, Part Two; writer, Tom Tully; artist and letterer, Dave Gibbons. Judge Dredd, Judge Whitey; writer, Peter Harris; artist, Mike McMahon. Publisher, IPC.

The Superior Spider-Man 6 (May 2013)

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Been a while since I read an Humberto Ramos comic. Between steel fortitude and Slott’s writing, I didn’t get sick.

The issue continues the “Spidey is going too far” theme, with Mayor Jameson setting Otto loose on some superpowered Internet pranksters. There’s also the stuff with Otto and his tutor, which is wonderful.

The Jameson stuff plays to the reader’s expectation of him being a boob and deserving getting pranked. The Spidey too far stuff–the Avengers cameo–plays to the storyline in general, but the stuff with Otto and his tutor is where Slott is doing something different.

Whatever his end game is for Superior Spider-Man, one hopes Slott has a good resolution for the tutor romance in mind.

It’s a fast read; Otto doesn’t show up for a little while and Ghost Peter spends his time watching flashbacks of young Otto being bullied.

Ramos aside, good stuff.

CREDITS

Joking Hazard; writer, Dan Slott; penciller, Humberto Ramos; inker, Victor Olazaba; colorist, Edgar Delgado; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editor, Ellie Pyle and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Swamp Thing 143 (June 1994)

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The Parliament of Stones? What’s the Parliament of Stones?

Morrison and Millar end the issue on a couple ominous notes, the aforementioned new Parliament being one of them. They also have the handful of strange guys playing handheld video games (the video games have to do with Alec’s quest).

The rest of the issue is an awesome action issue. Phil Hester doing Swamp Thing monster action needs to be seen. He manages the brutality, the size and the various plant roots quite well.

And it’s good the writers have the end surprises, because there’s really not much else to the issue. Abby and Alec break up again, after he saves her. Apparently, Morrison and Millar change continuity a little–Abby lost TefĂ© to the Parliament of Trees, she didn’t abandon her–and the break up feels like a repeat of a few issues ago.

It’s fun. Fake smart, but fun.

CREDITS

Desert Hearts; writers, Grant Morrison and Mark Millar; penciller, Phil Hester; inker, Kim DeMulder; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, Richard Starkings; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, Vertigo.

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