Tom Strong 25 (May 2004)

Tom Strong #25

The guest writers continue with Geoff Johns. He has John Paul Leon on the art for a pseudo-eclectic story of a Tom Strong fan who has the power to reshape reality when he’s upset.

Somehow Johns, who does give the guy a backstory, doesn’t realize the universe would be in shambles. Johns even mocks the guy–the reader is supposed to mock the guy. He’s unlikable in his desperation.

Still, it’s okay. Johns writes the cast well–he too is obviously a Tom Strong fan and Leon’s art is an interesting forced mismatch with the series style. There’s rain in a lot of the issue. Leon does well with rain.

The conclusion has a lot of problems, but not too many to overshadow the story’s other strengths. It shows what a strong cast and setting Moore has set up.

Though it really doesn’t support the weight of silly magic.

B- 

CREDITS

Tom Strong’s Pal, Wally Willoughby; writer, Geoff Johns; artist, John Paul Leon; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Kristy Quinn and Scott Dunbier; publisher, America’s Best Comics.

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The Life After 1 (July 2014)

The Life After #1

What a downer. Not because of the big reveal at the end, but because of how writer Joshua Hale Fialkov compares the mundanity to normal existence to purgatory. For a while, it seems like The Life After is just a gentle Matrix riff, with some often really good art from Gabo. The art's not always great, but it's always competent and the ambitious stuff makes up for the rest.

The way Fialkov handles revealing the truth to the reader–and to his protagonist–is to aggressively force the reader to examine everything he or she has read already in the comic. For the protagonist, it's a different experience. Fialkov juggles the two responsibilities–one to the reader, one to the protagonist–well. Even with a surprising guest star at the end, Life After is grounded.

Without the guest star, the comic could actually just be a one shot. Fialkov's plot construction is very strong.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Hale Fialkov; artist and colorist, Gabo; letterer, Crank!; editors, James Lucas Jones and Ari Yarwood; publisher, Oni Press.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 26 (August 1984)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #26

Not much happens this issue past cliffhanger resolution, the villains teaming up with the Soviets and Lorraine and her father doing their every issue recap of his career problems. In some ways, it’s impressive how little gets done but how well the Conways and Kayanan do the issue.

There’s a chase sequence where Firestorm has to fight the Statue of Liberty. It should be cooler than it turns out and then the repercussions of Firestorm destroying it should probably be dealt with too.

The political stuff with the Soviets is goofy and doesn’t get handled well. The Conways’ villains this issue are Native American activists–admittedly, they’re super-powered terrorists–but it’s still a little odd to see them portrayed with so little sympathy.

As for character development, there’s zip. It’s a bridging issue and not an interesting one. It’s a good looking one, thanks to Kayanan and Rodriguez, sometimes really good looking.

B- 

CREDITS

Give Me Liberty–Give Me Death; writers, Carla Conway and Gerry Conway; penciller, Rafael Kayanan; inker, Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, Adam Kubert; editors, Janice Race and Gerry Conway; publisher, DC Comics.

Star Trek 36 (August 2014)

Star Trek #36

I love how static Shasteen draws all the faces. It looks like he's going through either publicity photos or maybe screen grabs and picking the ones he thinks are closest to the emotions the characters should be feeling.

Actually, I do not love anything about Shasteen's art. I was being sarcastic in an attempt to feign enthusiasm for talking about this comic book.

It is barely a Star Trek issue in terms of being about the new movie franchise crew; it's more of a "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" comic it turns out. Is it a good "Deep Space Nine" comic?

No.

As a writer, Johnson continues to confuse concept with imagination. Just because the Paramount rep okayed crossing over with the "Star Trek" shows isn't reason enough to do so.

Johnson can't even get any mileage out of Bones and Spock banter. It's pedestrian and pointless with lifeless art.

C- 

CREDITS

The Q Gambit, Part Two; writer, Mike Johnson; artist, Tony Shasteen; letterer, Neil Uyetake; editor, Sarah Gaydos; publisher, IDW Publishing.

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