The Man-Thing 2 (February 1974)

The Man Thing #2

One problem I can see Gerber having with Man-Thing is what to do on the regular issues, the ones where he has a somewhat ambitious narrative structure, but isn't doing anything fantastical. Gerber excels at the fantastical. This issue is not fantastical.

The structure's kind of neat. Man-Thing saves a guy who runs into a girl in trouble while Schist is plotting against Man-Thing (though Gerber tries too hard on the humor of the big scheming scene) and then Man-Thing runs into the trouble the girl's running from (a biker gang). It all comes together at the end.

Maybe if the guy, the protagonist for a lot of the issue, were a better character, it would work. Instead, he's a comical doofus; Gerber goes for jokes for his backstory without thinking them through.

It's a dense issue, however, and Gerber's plotting is a success. Mayerik and Trapani keep it moving.

B 

CREDITS

Nowhere to Go But Down!; writer, Steve Gerber; penciller, Val Mayerik; inker, Sal Trapani; colorist, Petra Goldberg; letterer, Jean Izzo; editor, Roy Thomas; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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The Auteur 4 (June 2014)

The Auteur #4

What do you do when your last issue goes off the rails? Well, if you're Rick Spears and you're writing The Auteur you do something really odd.

You pretend it never happened. Oh, there's some fallout–the producer protagonist, Rex, feels bad about the events in the previous issue, but Spears quickly moves him into a new activity. He's romancing his new leading lady–as part of the guilt, he's making romantic comedies now–only she's rejecting him so there's this hint of danger given Rex does know some serial killers.

Well, one. Who used to be a main character in the comic, but Spears has apparently dismissed.

There's a lot of irreverent humor and Spears moves the comic at a breakneck pace. Callahan is doing these tiny panels to try to get in all the information.

Is it a successful issue? Definitely. Does it mean Spears has fixed the series? No idea.

CREDITS

Presidents Day, Part 4 of 5: The Martini; writer and letterer, Rick Spears; artist, James Callahan; colorist, Luigi Anderson; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

The Flash 294 (February 1981)

The Flash #294

The super gorillas. I forgot about the super gorillas. If Bates likes writing anything more than strange applications of Flash’s powers, it’s got to be these super gorillas.

But the super gorillas aren’t interesting to talk about, because it’s just the overdone dialogue and the gorillas talking about their intelligence. The Flash’s powers and their applications? At least in those scenes Bates is trying something. It’s a decidedly not visual way to express the powers. Artist Heck doesn’t do anything special with these scenes either. The feature story’s visually unimaginative.

Luckily, Bates has a good plot. It’s multi-layered, it’s got a lot of neat plotting tricks. It works out well, even though Bates probably shouldn’t have started foreshadowing the cliffhanger so early in the book. Not so obviously.

The Firestorm backup has terrible art from Jim Starlin and Bob Wiacek. It’s impossible to ignore it and the story suffers.

B 

CREDITS

Fiend the World Forgot; writer, Cary Bates; artist, Don Heck; colorist, Gene D’Angelo. Firestorm, The Typhoon Is a Storm of the Soul; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Jim Starlin; inker, Bob Wiacek; colorist, Jerry Serpe. Letterer, John Costanza; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Clockwork Angels 3 (June 2014)

Clockwork Angels #3

I don't know how it's possible, but somehow Anderson has sucked even more drama out of Clockwork Angels. I'm not a Rush aficionado, so I have no idea whether the source material is a song or album, but if it's a song, it's got to be a really boring one.

This issue has the small town protagonist kid joining a circus and falling in love with the lovely tight rope walker. She doesn't return his affections because he's a weak character. This situation does not change throughout and it's not like the kid gets any better at the circus stuff. Instead, Anderson has revelations about the Clockmaker (or the Wizard of Oz) and finally gets around to showing the titular angels.

Sadly, even though Robles's art is gorgeous, the scene with the angels is really boring. There's no flare, there's no visual emphasis, it's just another scene.

Another boring one.

C 

CREDITS

Writers, Neil Peart and Kevin J. Anderson; artist, Nick Robles; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Jasmine Amiri and Ian Brill; publisher, Boom! Studios.

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