Miracleman 5 (January 1986)

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Really, the art’s Alan Davis? Mostly, I mean–John Ridgeway’s back to finish the flashback story–but Davis does the art on most of the issue. And it’s not good. It’s really rushed, really loose with detail. There’s definitely some decent composition, but I just thought whoever came on the art had good composition and not good detail ability.

The story mostly concerns Gargunza revealing Miracleman’s past to Liz. It’s during these parts Davis fails the script the most–Moore clearly wants Liz to have gravitas (even when she doesn’t have any real lines), but Davis doesn’t sell it. It’s too bad.

The writing gets it through. Moore’s a lot more successful with the Gargunza and Liz scenes than with Evelyn Cream. Cream’s supposed to offer a human take on Miracleman (who doesn’t do anything this issue) but Moore’s trying too hard.

It’s a bridging issue. The awesome’s just subdued.

B 

CREDITS

The Approaching Light; writer, Alan Moore; artists, Alan Davis and John Ridgway; colorist, Ron Courtney; letterer, G. George; editors, Dez Skinn and Cartherine Yronwode; publisher, Eclipse.

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The Rocketeer/The Spirit 4 (December 2013)

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And there’s a nice happy ending with no resolution to any of the lame character subplots Waid brought into the series to try and give it some semblance of a story.

But apparently all Cliff needs is a Zorro mask when he’s not in flight and life’s much easier for the Rocketeer. That idea (from the Spirit) comes during an odd heart to heart the characters have. Waid just can’t figure out how to do this series and someone at IDW should have noticed long before it got to series.

There’s also the issue with Bone, who does a fine job in some ways, but just doesn’t have any interesting ideas for juxtaposing two very different visual characters and art styles. It’s The Rocketeer in something like a Spirit style, without anything going to the other way.

It almost feels like Waid’s trying to introduce the properties to younger readers.

D 

CREDITS

Pulp Friction, Part Four; writer, Mark Waid; artist, J. Bone; colorist, Rom Fajardo; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Batman 384 (June 1985)

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Hoberg and Nebres’s art is a little perplexing. The medium shots, pretty much anything with Batman, the action sequences, none of these work out. No one’s really putting in any effort. The Batman cowl, for instance, is just awful. But in the pensive close-ups of characters? All of a sudden Hoberg and Nebres are trying.

While that emphasis makes some sense–the emotional resonance of the story–it’s also a superhero comic. Dynamic action, especially with a lame villain like Calendar Man, might make all the difference.

Sadly, Hoberg’s composition–even for the panels he does try on–isn’t any good. So they’re stilted, if detailed, close-ups.

Moench awkwardly resolves a big thread (rushing to a resolution, actually), then has Alfred again pimping out his daughter to Bruce.

Another goofy part is Jason suiting up as Robin to do some computer work in the Batcave. It’s just odd.

C- 

CREDITS

Broken Dates; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Rick Hoberg; inker, Rudy Nebres; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Workman; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Miracleman 4 (December 1985)

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And here’s the first mention of Miracleman as a superhero. He’s hanging out in a park, runs across a kid who’s terrified of a nuclear attack, they bond. Great scene from Moore.

Alan Davis does most of the art this issue. It’s very well composed at times, but his figures feel a little two dimensional. John Ridgeway does one of the chapters (these are still Warrior reprints) and it’s a little more effective. It might just be the content–giant magical kingdoms and vampire legions and so on.

The story moves forward a little, but Moore seems a lot more concentrated on the chapter form. Mike Moran only shows up long enough to change into Miracleman. Even Liz has more scenes without Miracleman (or Mike) than with.

It’s still fantastic stuff. It’s just Moore’s writer fingerprints are showing up. He’s artificial with the plotting and pacing. It isn’t organically growing.

A- 

CREDITS

Catgames; writer, Alan Moore; artists, Alan Davis and John Ridgway; colorist, Ron Courtney; letterer, G. George; editors, Dez Skinn and Cartherine Yronwode; publisher, Eclipse.

Justice League 3000 1 (February 2014)

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Being insincere and not funny are two things Justice League 3000 can’t handle. It’s a dumb idea–in the future, the Wonder Twins clone the Justice League so they can save the galaxy. Only there are problems. For example, Superman is a lot like the Giffen/DeMatteis Guy Gardner, only with some Ultimate Captain America thrown in. He and Batman threaten to kill each other every few panels. Then Batman quips about kryptonite.

3000 isn’t just not funny, it’s desperately not funny.

Keith Giffen gets a plotting credit, so he isn’t as responsible as J.M. DeMatteis, who scripts this terrible dialogue. He’s trying to surprise with the clones, which just makes things worse. Except not as bad as the Wonder Twins banter. Nothing is as bad as the Wonder Twins banter.

The Howard Porter art doesn’t fit the story and isn’t an original future design; clearly no one cares.

F 

CREDITS

Yesterday Lives!; writers, Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis; artist, Howard Porter; colorist, Hi-Fi Colour Design; letterer, Sal Cipriano; editors, Kyle Andrukiewicz and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

Detective Comics 550 (May 1985)

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Moench goes a little too high concept for this one, especially since Broderick isn’t really the artist to do a protracted chase sequence.

A small-time thug runs across the rooftops, Batman in close pursuit, and Moench flashes back to all the things in his life to bring the thug to this point. It’s a little contrived, but it’s definitely ambitious. So when Moench actually brings damnation into the picture–the guy, it turns out, has robbed a church and attacked a nun–it’s just too much.

It doesn’t help Broderick eventually gives up and is practically drawing this story comical. There are a couple Batman cowl shots I was surprised Smith didn’t fix, but maybe he’d given up too.

Then the Green Arrow resolution is odd. Moore doesn’t write too much (or enough). It’s a decent enough action story, with lots of mood from Janson but not good detail.

D 

CREDITS

The Spider’s Ninth Leg!; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Workman. Green Arrow, Night Olympics, Part Two; writer, Alan Moore; artist, Klaus Janson; letterer, Todd Klein. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones 23 (November 1984)

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Herb Trimpe’s writing is far better than his first art issue and his writing isn’t good at all. It’s just not downright bad. The art is bad and incompetent–though I guess Trimpe does try a couple things as far as panel composition. They’re simplistic and unoriginal, but they do show off the only times Trimpe tries hard with any aspect of the art.

The writing, both dialogue and story, is simply lame. Trimpe seems to enjoy the character and setting (based on callbacks to Raiders and time period details) but he doesn’t know what to do with them.

The plot’s stupefying. Indy becomes a stunt man to do a high dive on an uncharted Pacific Island. The Hollywood director actually talks about how cheap it will be to travel past Hawaii for one shot… Okay, he doesn’t say Hawaii but still.

It’s a bad comic, harmless enough but bad.

D 

CREDITS

The Secret of the Deep; writer and artist, Herb Trimpe; colorist, Robbie Carosella; letterer, Joe Rosen; editor, Eliot Brown; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Prophet 41 (December 2013)

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Wait… Did I really read the whole thing? It feels like there should be more. Graham and Roy are back to splitting the issue between new and old John Prophet–though here it’s mostly the sidekicks of the Newfather and not much for the old John’s team–and nothing gets resolved.

Even the cliffhanger is goofy, bringing in a new threat in the last couple pages and then the comic just stops.

Then comes Ron Ackins strange back-up about a black cop defending a city in the future where some African nation has built a new civilization for African Americans. Ackins can’t write–for the first two pages, I thought it was an ad for a music group–and he doesn’t draw well either.

Like I said, it’s an awkward issue. Even in the feature, Graham and Roy rush through their character moments, which they usually spend time on.

B- 

CREDITS

Writers, Brandon Graham and Simon Roy; artists, Giannis Milonogiannis, Roy, Matt Sheean and Malachi Ward; colorists, Joseph Bergin III, Sheean and Ward; letterer, Ed Brisson. Lancaster Bleu; writer and artist, Rob Ackins. Publisher, Image Comics.

Batman 383 (May 1985)

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After my many complaints Moench never writes Bruce Wayne at length (and sensible, as he did write him at length and ludicrous during the Jason Todd adoption thing), he dedicates an entire issue to Bruce.

It’s a day in the life and it’s a comedy. There are angry women, parent-teacher conferences, buffoonish builders, not to mention the eventual street thugs. All the while, Bruce just wants to get some sleep.

It’s not rocket science and it’s often contrived, but contrived is kind of the point. It’s a funny enough concept and Moench executes it quite well. I’m just shocked how much fun he makes of Batman and Bruce Wayne. It’s humorous, yes, but it also suggests the character is often acting out of sleep deprivation rather than intelligent thought.

Gene Colan is an odd penciller to do light comedy but it works out.

Batman as sitcom… Thankfully sans camp.

B 

CREDITS

Just As Night Follows Day…; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterers, Ben Oda and Albert De Guzman; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

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