The Legend of Wonder Woman 3 (July 1986)

The Legend of Wonder Woman #3

Someone–Busiek or Robbins or both of them–came up with the structure of this series and all of a sudden it becomes clear this issue and it’s fantastic.

Legend goes from being a nice homage series to something wholly original. Unless the old Wonder Woman comics are as well-plotted, in which case they don’t get enough credit.

Busiek works up the revolt angle, with Wonder Woman starting imprisoned then getting free and fighting alongside Steve Trevor. There’s some wacky fake, but very amusing, atomic science in here too, but then comes the big moment. Busiek and Robbins work towards what should be a rewarding, if all action finish and then go past it.

But if they’re padding for a fourth issue, it never feels like it. The characters, their decisions, all make sense. Busiek does a great job with Steve Trevor too.

Awesome work with the brat too.

A- 

CREDITS

Inside the Atom Galaxy; writers, Trina Robbins and Kurt Busiek; artist, Robbins; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, L. Lois Buhalis; editor, Alan Gold; publisher, DC Comics.

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Hawkeye 18 (May 2014)

Hawkeye #18

Fraction gets some kudos for getting tough on Kate in L.A., but then he goes and does two really annoying things. First, he sets up Kate’s latest case as a way to get her back to New York and teamed up with Clint. It’s contrived. Second, the hard cliffhanger requires Kate be unaware of her surroundings. She’d probably be long dead if she were so unaware.

Otherwise, it’s an excellent issue. Kate gets herself into another bunch of trouble, this time investigating an acquaintance’s past. There’s some good flashback stuff, giving the reader a look at Wu doing nineties period stuff and “realistic” supervillains.

The art’s quite good the entire issue. Even though not much happens–it’s really just Kate investigating most of the time–Wu keeps things moving along.

Sadly, Fraction seems hell-bent on running this series to exhaustion. This issue might be the first Kate issue not to be amazing.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Annie Wu; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Devin Lewis and Sana Amanat; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Incredible Hulk 65 (March 2004)

The Incredible Hulk #65

Here’s the thing. If Jones had structured this series better, been less concerned with diversions like the Absorbing Man, he might have been able to do a fantastic storyline regarding the Banner, the bunnies, Doc Samson, the evil conspiracy. It would have worked. The issue works to some degree just because Jones lets the characters all feel the weight of what’s occurring.

Terrible Deodato art. His page composition, not panel composition, but his page by page layouts of panels is atrocious.

Even though this issue’s a big wrap up–hopefully Jones will soft boot the title next issue–there’s a lot of good action sequences. There’s Samson and the bunnies going into the base, there’s Nadia and Bruce Banner. Jones is very deliberate about how he pulls one over on the reader, but it’s kind of all right. He’s doing the same thing to his characters.

Shame about the art.

B- 

CREDITS

Split Decisions, Part Six: Double Exposure; writer, Bruce Jones; artist, Mike Deodato Jr.; colorist, Studio F; letterer, Randy Gentile; editors, John Miesegaes and Axel Alonso; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Rocky and Bullwinkle 1 (March 2014)

Rocky & Bullwinkle #1

I can’t decide if Rocky & Bullwinkle should or shouldn’t work as a comic book. Conceptually, I mean. I suppose I should mention it does work–and very well. Writer Mark Evanier and artist Roger Langridge adapt the source material’s sensibilities for the comics medium, which is exactly the way to go about adapting a property from another medium… yet so few ever do it.

The all-knowing narrator works well in exposition boxes; Evanier ups it with Bullwinkle becoming psychic. His predictions interact both with the narrative and how Langridge illustrates that narrative. Very cool stuff.

As for Langridge, I notice he’s working in a lot of simple, but intricate background activity. He’s keeping the reader’s eyes consuming even when the principals aren’t doing a lot.

And then there’s the Dudley Do-Right intermediate story. Evanier sets it up as a series of really funny, somewhat inappropriate jokes.

It’s an excellent comic.

A 

CREDITS

Writer, Mark Evanier; artist and letterer, Roger Langridge; colorist, Jeremy Colwell; editor, Sarah Gaydos; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Legend of Wonder Woman 2 (June 1986)

The Legend of Wonder Woman #2

Right after I say Robbins doesn’t spend a lot of time on backgrounds… she spends a lot of time on backgrounds this issue. The difference is the setting. It’s a fantastical hidden city, not Washington D.C.–and, during the action sequence, the backgrounds do still fade away. So my observation seems about half right.

There are lots of developments this issue. The little brat sidekick becomes a good character–or a better one and not just comic relief–and Steve Trevor stages a revolt in the atomic world. Busiek does a great job applying real emotion to the outlandish situations, not just with Trevor but with how the hidden city invasion plays out.

The way Busiek and Robbins introduce the hidden city is cool too. They split Wonder Woman and the sidekick to cover more ground, but both threads inform the other.

The adventure seems slight, but the creators’ imaginativeness keep things going.

B+ 

CREDITS

The Land of Mirrors; writers, Trina Robbins and Kurt Busiek; artist, Robbins; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, L. Lois Buhalis; editor, Alan Gold; publisher, DC Comics.

Satellite Sam 7 (March 2014)

Satellite Sam #7

Fraction's doing less of an arc than a window into Mike–as in the new Satellite Sam–and his descent into obsession. It's funny, but I think Fraction's still trying to get keep the character as likable as possible. He's just over his head, trying to relieve his father's photography fetish.

There are the subplots going too, of course. There's a great one with the disgraced writer on his way out and then the troubles of a new show going on. Not to mention a flashback to the original Satellite Sam and how he conducted himself, drafting a girl Friday who tracks down Mike for something here.

The comic opens with the series's most explicit moment (so far). Chaykin choreographs it perfectly. There's some great stuff from long distance profile later one too. I love how Chaykin makes the comic about classic TV feel like classic TV with panel composition.

Awesome issue.

A 

CREDITS

Exposure; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Howard Chaykin; letterer, Ken Bruzenak; editor, Thomas K.; publisher, Image Comics.

The Incredible Hulk 64 (February 2004)

The Incredible Hulk #64

Oh, good grief. When Deodato goes for artistic it’s a really bad page. Also when he goes for Hulk action. Hulk rips open a mountain. Is it any good? Nope, it’s boring.

But the issue is otherwise not bad at all. Between the Hulk smashing the evil organization, which brings those two parts of the arc together, and Doc Samson and his bunnies–Sandra, Mr. Blue (nope, not spoiling because it doesn’t matter yet) and Nadia–fighting the mean little monsters. It’s effective stuff, the people in crisis, out of bullets. Not sure why the women had to take off their clothes but Jones is maybe trying to tell the reader Doc Samson shouldn’t be trusted.

Then there’s the cliffhanger. Jones has always had problems with his big hook for the series. The cliffhanger just reestablishes the hook and the problem.

The series is slowly improving, even with its problems.

C 

CREDITS

Split Decisions, Part Five: Deja Vu; writer, Bruce Jones; artist, Mike Deodato Jr.; colorist, Studio F; letterer, Randy Gentile; editors, John Miesegaes and Axel Alonso; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Fatale 21 (March 2014)

Fatale #21

This issue, while obviously winding up to the big finish, is a bit of return to form. Brubaker takes the time to introduce a new character–one impervious to Jo's charms–and he's a nice addition. There's some levity amidst Jo's preparations.

Speaking of Jo's preparations, Brubaker does go too far with a reveal in the last page or two. He makes Jo do something incredibly dumb. After showing her to be plotting and careful, she goofs. It doesn't work.

But Jo's really back to being the mysterious femme fatale this issue. Nicolas is the protagonist, meeting Jo's sidekick, trying to figure out what's going on with her–he hasn't been the protagonist for a long, long time. And the series is only twenty-one issues in and the guy feels foreign to the captain's chair.

It's an outstanding issue; still, it also shows how reductive Brubaker's being with the series's many intermediary details.

B+ 

CREDITS

Writer, Ed Brubaker; artist, Sean Phillips; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser; publisher, Image Comics.

The Legend of Wonder Woman 1 (May 1986)

The Legend of Wonder Woman #1

How far can unbridled enthusiasm take something? Well, if The Legend of Wonder Woman is any indication, unbridled enthusiasm can go a very long way.

Kurt Busiek and Trina Robbins have the task of saying farewell to the pre-Crisis Wonder Woman. It opens in the present, so having Robbins’s Golden Age-inspired art showing modern events immediately forces the reader to adjust. For example, Robbins doesn’t spend a lot of time on backgrounds in action shots; her style forces the reader to pay attention to the establishing shots.

But those panels aren’t empty. There are often a lot of people reacting. The time Robbins didn’t spend on detailed backgrounds goes into the background cast.

The story itself is complicated pretending to be cute. Busiek concentrates quite a bit on character (Wonder Woman, the villain, Wonder Woman’s nasty little kid sidekick) before the big monster attack finish.

The abrupt ending’s problematic though.

B 

CREDITS

Legends Live Forever; writers, Trina Robbins and Kurt Busiek; artist, Robbins; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, L. Lois Buhalis; editor, Alan Gold; publisher, DC Comics.

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