Star Trek 8 (November 1980)

Star Trek #8

Martin Pasko writes the heck out of this comic book. He’s got a really complicated plot and it makes for a fantastic, lengthy read. Pasko doesn’t just come up with a great reveal for the aliens, he’s also got the really cool subplots going. He runs two subplots through the comic, resolving one and then introducing the next. And those run under this intriguing main plot.

It shows why, for once, a licensed property comic can excel. The comic only works because it’s a Star Trek comic yet Pasko so profoundly transcends the norm in plotting ability, it becomes something singular.

Unfortunately, Ricardo Villamonte is the apparently worst possible inker for Dave Cockrum in the world. Forget the characters looking too photo-referenced, they don’t even look the same between panels. And there’s no depth. Villamonte didn’t put in any shadows. None.

But that Pasko script is a wonderful thing.

A- 

CREDITS

The Expansionist Syndrome; writer, Martin Pasko; pencillers, Dave Cockrum and Ricardo Villamonte; inker, Villamonte; colorist, Carl Gafford; letterer, Ray Burzon; editor, Louise Jones; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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Princess Ugg 1 (June 2014)

Princess Ugg #1

If the first issue is any indication, Princess Ugg is going to be a rip-roaring good time. It’s kind of like a fish out of water story, only maybe a more appropriate description would be a (good-hearted) piranha in the goldfish tank story.

One Princess Ülga–not sure where the title Ugg comes from yet–makes some decisions against the normal way of her people. She’s kind of viking, but tougher. She decides she wants to go get proper princess schooling outside her mountain kingdom. At some kind of royal academy. Ted Naifeh doesn’t really specify yet, because he’s having way too much fun.

The comic works because Naifeh isn’t going the humor route, at least not as how Ülga sees it. She wants this education to further her understanding of the world, to better serve her people. He gets all of that sentiment in quickly. Naifeh knows how to pace.

Ugg rocks.

A 

CREDITS

Down the Mountain; writer and artist, Ted Naifeh; colorist and letterer, Warren Wucinich; editors, Robin Herrera and Jill Beaton; publisher, Oni Press.

Stray Bullets 39 (September 2005)

Silly me, how did I forget Lapham always follows up hard cliffhangers with Amy Racecar stories. Sadly, not even Amy Racecar is safe from Lapham’s laziness.

It isn’t a story about Amy–her sidekick, William, returns, because apparently Virginia and Amy both always need sidekicks now. She doesn’t narrate, which is good, because it’s a terrible story and I wouldn’t have wanted to read Lapham write bad Amy Racecar narration. It would have made me sadder.

The issue has her in feudal Japan because someone–probably Lapham, not Virginia–was on a Kurosawa kick. Lots of visual references to some of Kurosawa’s most famous samurai movies. Not to mention a direct homage to Yojimbo. It’s too bad Lapham didn’t spend the time on the actual content of this issue.

Also, there are a lot of bad puns.

Lapham’s awful output’s confusing. He’s not trying with story or art; it’s terrible.

D- 

CREDITS

Hatukaraki!!!!; writer, artist, and letterer, David Lapham; editors, Renee Miller and Maria Lapham; publisher, El Capitán Books.

Vampirella 1 (June 2014)

Vampirella #1

It’s difficult to take Vampirella seriously with that costume. Even though writer Nancy A. Collins does come up with a decent plot and a couple good twists (and a lame soft cliffhanger), the costume hurts the comic quite a bit. It just says, “We aren’t that serious.”

Another big problem is how Collins paces out the narrative. There’s a prologue with a family in danger, then Vampirella coming to investigate and then an action sequence and then, finally, Collins taking the time to establish the character. Collins uses third person narration for it; while lamely presented in a text box, the narration itself is good.

Strangely, even though the comic doesn’t seem to have much promise–the art from Patrick Berkenkotter and Dennis Crisostomo is adequate if uninspired mainstream stuff (too slick to be scary)–the comic’s still compelling. Collins’s two good twists are excellent, making Vampirella a definite curiosity.

C 

CREDITS

Writer, Nancy A. Collins; penciller, Patrick Berkenkotter; inker, Dennis Crisostomo; colorist, Jorge Sutil; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Hannah Gorfinkel, Molly Mahan and Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

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