Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis 1 (March 1991)

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It’s very hard not to think William Messner-Loebs is just cashing a paycheck with Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. There are some incredible logic holes. First and foremost, Messner-Loebs can’t write Indy’s interaction with the female sidekick. Or, more accurately, her interaction with him. He severely damages her business and reputation and she just forgives him because he’s cute.

Except, the way Dan Barry draws Indy, he’s not cute. He’s got a long face, a funny nose and odd hair. I can understand not doing photorealistic renderings of Harrison Ford, but at least match what people think when they think of the character.

The story itself, based on a video game, is a little weak. Messner-Loebs is in a hurry and Barry doesn’t layout the pages very well. There’s not natural progression to the comic.

Uninspired, even for licensed material, might be the best description.

C- 

CREDITS

Writers, Dan Barry and William Messner-Loebs; penciller, Barry; inker, Karl Kesel; colorist, Lurene Haines; letterer, Gail Beckett; editors, Diana Schutz and Mike Richardson; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

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A Voice in the Dark 4 (February 2014)

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Taylor’s either got a new stylistic flourish–people in the background being in grey–or I just haven’t noticed it. It’s a fine enough development, either way, as Taylor’s spending more time on his foregrounds.

Hopefully, cliffhangers are the next thing he works on. A Voice in the Dark improves every issue–which is really cool, even if it’s in little ways. But this issue’s lack of drama hurts it, even if the scenes are better. There’s another murder, there’s a dispute with the evil sorority girls, there’s a death penalty debate… there’s just not much forward motion. And Taylor’s got this story in a frame, so clearly it’s going to get interesting eventually.

Why put it off?

One more thing–well, three if I count the two cops with goatees–the college being the serial killer capital of the world? It’s idiotic, but palatable. Taylor’s adjusted reality just enough.

B- 

CREDITS

Killing Game, Part Two; writer, artist and letterer, Larime Taylor; publisher, Image Comics.

The Incredible Hulk 40 (July 2002)

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Lee Weeks and Tom Palmer. Thank goodness. Even if Weeks isn’t great on the facial details–it’s a very intense talking heads issue (hostages and so on) but talking heads nonetheless–but his composition is strong and he gets the job done. Palmer’s inks seem a little harsh for the story Jones is telling but, again, the art’s not bad at all.

Jones juxtaposes Bruce Banner getting to a town and getting involved in a hostage situation with one page scenes of people contemplating or preparing to commit suicide. It doesn’t feel like “a very special episode” just because Jones presents everything so bluntly. It’s not particularly successful, just because you can’t really muse in a Hulk comic. The attempt is notable, however.

And, as an intense talking heads book, it works okay. It’s way too decompressed of course.

The Call of Duty backup is fine. Jones’s dialogue is good.

B- 

CREDITS

Boiling Point; writer, Bruce Jones; penciller, Lee Weeks; inker, Tom Palmer; colorist, Studio F; letterers, Richard Starkings and Wes Abbott; editors, John Miesegaes and Axel Alonso; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Undertow 1 (February 2014)

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I would have liked to open with the similarities between Undertow and “Battlestar Galactica” (the new one) but I can’t. Instead I need to open with writer Steve Orlando’s dialogue. He writes it with modern English slang–oh, sorry, the series is apparently about ancient Atlantean explorers coming to the surface (it could go on to be a workplace sitcom, I’ll never know).

Tackling an ancient, made-up language is never easy but combined with the bad pacing and Orlando’s terrible narration… Undertow quickly becomes intolerable. Assuming Orlando gave artist Artyom Trakhanov descriptions of each panel, the comic gets even worse. The narration isn’t over story panels, it’s over cinematic establishing shots. Orlando writes a script out of a bad Gold key comic, but doesn’t even let Trakhanov illustrate it.

Or maybe Trakhanov made that choice. It’s highly stylized art and not bad, just pointless. Much like the comic itself.

F 

CREDITS

Messiah Ward; writer, Steve Orlando; artist and colorist, Artyom Trakhanov; letterer, Thomas Mauer; publisher, Image Comics.

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