The Man-Thing 4 (April 1974)

The Man-Thing #4

Abel inks Mayerik even better this issue; occasionally there’s an almost Eisner-like roundness to the figures and the faces. The hair too–the hair’s not Eisner-like, but there’s often a lot of phenomenal hair.

Gerber continues with the Foolkiller, recounting his origin. It’s a tad much, actually. There’s some anti-religion, anti-military propaganda in Gerber’s story for the character and it’s not effective. It might have been a big deal at the time, but it’s really just a shortcut to not having to do much character work.

The art and the rest of the comic smooth out those bumps. The outlandish humor aspect–down to the Foolkiller having a van and car setup from “Knight Rider” (but before the television show; wonder if Marvel got a check for it)–and the way Gerber doesn’t try to do anything with Man-Thing except as the lumbering deus ex machina… it all works out.

Works out well.

B 

CREDITS

The Making of a Madman!; writer, Steve Gerber; penciller, Val Mayerik; inker, Jack Abel; colorist, Linda Lessmann; letterer, Dave Hunt; editor, Roy Thomas; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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Stray Bullets: Killers 4 (June 2014)

Stray Bullets: Killers #4

It's all connected! It's all connected! And why shouldn't Virginia Applejack fall for the kid from the first issue of Killers once he's grown up? It makes everything so neat and tidy, even if Lapham does skip over the actual romance because it'd be too hard to establish it. And even if Lapham does turn the guy's mom into a shrill knock-off of Virginia's evil mom.

There's still a lot of good stuff in the comic, maybe even some great stuff; the connections almost seem added later. Lapham really tries hard to make Killers, save Virginia, its own interconnected thing.

Why?

Because he still hasn't realized interconnected stories don't necessarily make something good.

It's a fine issue, but more of what I expected from Killers than Lapham has been doing. Until now, the nostalgia has been subtle. Here, it's forced. It's still above average until the desperate third act.

B 

CREDITS

Sorry; writer, artist and letterer, David Lapham; editors, Renee Miller and Maria Lapham; publisher, Image Comics.

The Flash 296 (April 1981)

The Flash #296

What’s strange about the feature is how much better Bates writes Elongated Man and Sue Dibney than he does Barry and the Flash. There’s a lot of charm to his characterizations of the Dibneys and it breathes a lot of life into the story.

Of course, the story also has Carmine Infantino artwork and every page has one or two phenomenal panels; Infantino is able to turn anything the Flash does into a moment of comic gold, whether it’s a fight scene or just a costume change. It’s not just how much movement Infantino implies, it’s how he composes each panel to have a narrative flow to it.

It also doesn’t hurt the story’s a genuine surprise with a great reveal.

The Firestorm backup has Conway trying too hard to make the protagonist likable, but some ambitious artwork from Starlin. Rather unfortunately, the detail doesn’t live up to the composition.

B 

CREDITS

The Man Who Was Cursed to the Bone!; writer, Cary Bates; penciller, Carmine Infantino; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Gene D’Angelo. Firestorm, Rain, Rain, Go Away… Come to Kill Us Another Day!; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Jim Starlin; inker, Bob Wiacek; colorist, Jerry Serpe. Letterer, John Costanza; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

C.O.W.L. 2 (June 2014)

C.O.W.L. #2

This issue of C.O.W.L. doesn’t so much have scenes as it has snippets of scenes. The whole thing plays like a movie trailer for itself.

Higgins and Siegel open with the two plainclothes guys dropping on of them’s kids off for school. The kid gives his dad crap for not having a costume. Think it comes back in a dramatic fashion? Big time.

Then there’s some corruption stuff and some scheming stuff. All of these scenes hint at something ominous going on but ominous ongoings don’t make the story move. The characters should make the story move, only Higgins and Siegel barely let the characters breathe. The best scenes in the comic are the conversation scenes wiht the guy investigating the corruption. The political stuff is terrible.

“The West Wing” it ain’t.

Worse, the plainclothes guys stuff is bad because they don’t get enough time.

Luckily, Reis’s art holds up.

CREDITS

Principles of Power, Chapter Two: Self-Deception; writers, Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel; artist, Rod Reis; letterer, Troy Peteri; editor, Andy Schmidt; publisher, Image Comics.

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