Satellite Sam 10 (September 2014)

Satellite Sam #10

Just when I thought Fraction would never turn the series around, he delivers a fully fantastic issue. There’s no wasting time here, there’s no dawdling. At most he spends a few pages with the minor supporting cast, but it all turns out to be to prop up the main cast.

And having Mike back as the lead helps immensely. Even though the supporting cast–Gene’s secret gets out, along with some other secrets–have their share of story this issue, Fraction is back to Mike on his investigation. He doesn’t discover much, though Fraction and Chaykin do an astounding explanation of women’s stockings, but the investigation (and its weight on him) brings Sam back around.

Hopefully Fraction can maintain the pace–he’s spent a lot of time putting things in place without them paying off and now he’s showing his deliberate pacing was worth the wait.

It’s amazing stuff again.

A 

CREDITS

Keyhole and Welt; Shadow, Seam, Heel; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Howard Chaykin; letterer, Ken Bruzenak; editor, Thomas K.; publisher, Image Comics.

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C.O.W.L. 5 (September 2014)

C.O.W.L. #5

It’s a decent enough issue–with Reis doing a lengthy Sienkiewicz-inspired action sequence–but it’s a little light.

C.O.W.L. is a hard-sell, which makes writers Higgins and Siegel’s accomplishments more significant, because it’s a comic book about a labor union and union politics and union negotiating. The superhero aspect of the comic doesn’t come into play much throughout the issue, with Higgins and Siegel saving it for the finale.

But even then it has a lot to do with the union and its problems.

Most of the art is highly stylized, but Reis never gets in the way of the story. He keeps the talking heads scenes visually interesting. Even with its problems, the issue is impressive. Higgins and Siegel find time for character scenes, they find time for conspiracies, they just don’t have enough A plot for the issue.

Slightness aside, it’s still perfectly good stuff.

CREDITS

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

The Fez 2 (September 2013)

The Fez #2

The Fez is, unsurprisingly, a lot of fun. The longest story in the issue has the Fez helping exorcize the queen of England. It comes in the middle of the comic, after Langridge has done some smaller stories establishing the Fez as something of a buffoon. There's a great Twitter-related joke to show just how out of it the Fez can get; he's an invisible man, so who knows what kind of stresses he's under.

But the Queen story moves fast and unexpectedly–The Fez is a very British comic, one of the most British things I've read from Langridge–and he doesn't slow down for the reader. The jokes get their own space, but Langridge doesn't make any extra.

The final story has the Fez versus a bunch of his foes, in something of a Spirit homage. It works out too.

It's just a solid little book from Langridge. Very pleasing.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, artist and letterer, Roger Langridge; publisher, Hotel Fred Press.

Pop 2 (September 2014)

Pop #2

Copland's art would be enough to carry Pop; he has intricate panel composition–through a bunch of psychedelic sequences–but also a wonderful sense of movement for the rest. About the only thing he doesn't get to do this issue is talking heads scenes, since most of the issue's calm moments are internal. But the art is very impressive.

And Pires's script has its impressive moments too. He just doesn't offer any character development on his protagonists. Everything and everyone acts on them, even though they're somewhat active–the guy takes the escaped from her gestation pod pop star into the woods to trip and try to sort things out–there's no movement for them.

But the supporting cast gets a lot of attention, with Pires doing the bickering, punk assassins, their obsessive, hideous secret bosses, the lead's sidekick… it all works, especially when Pires does comic relief.

He just doesn't mind his protagonists.

B 

CREDITS

Pseudologia Fantastica; writer, Curt Pires; artist, Jason Copland; colorist, Pete Toms; letterer, Ryan Ferrier; editors, Roxy Polk, Aaron Walker and Dave Marshall; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

The Wicked + The Divine 4 (September 2014)

The Wicked + The Divine #4

Well… let’s see… where to start–the issue is two and a half scenes. The first has our protagonist, the human girl detective investigating on Lucifer’s behalf, with her sidekick interviewing Baal. He’s evil but irresistible. Only it’s not really an interview scene, it’s to get the protagonist into see all the gods and ask them for help with Lucifer’s wrongful imprisonment.

McKelvie makes a very interesting choice with the gods’ hangout chamber. It looks like Tron. Not a little like Tron, exactly like it. Only the protagonist is too young to make the reference.

So then there is a lot of talking and a lot of banter from the various gods and none of it’s good. Gillen spends almost half the issue on exposition he could summarize in a paragraph.

The second scene is the protagonist and Lucifer. It’s even slighter.

It’s all about the gimmick, not the protagonist.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer, Kieron Gillen; artist, Jamie McKelvie; colorist, Matthew Wilson; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editor, Chrissy Williams; publisher, Image Comics.

Velvet 7 (September 2014)

Velvet #7

Leave it to Brubaker–my favorite issue of Velvet so far and she isn't even in her own comic. Instead, it's Brubaker chronicling the efforts of two guys working for the agency (and neither seem to be the corrupt faction out for Velvet) trying to find her.

There's really good narration from the first guy, Colt, as Brubaker takes him through the first half of the comic. The guy's figuring out how Velvet's working, which is subtle at first but then gets more important. He's also surprised at himself–the character, not Brubaker–for missing the signs of Velvet being a master spy.

The second guy is Colt's boss and he's also got a path to go on to figure things out. Brubaker never forces the narration, never does anything obvious. When the boss figures out Velvet's next step, it's a huge surprise for the reader.

It's an outstanding issue. Brubaker nails it.

B+ 

CREDITS

The Secret Lives of Dead Men, Part Two; writer, Ed Brubaker; artist, Steve Epting; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editor; David Brothers; publisher, Image Comics.

Manifest Destiny 10 (September 2014)

Manifest Destiny #10

Dingess just can't stop with the cliffhanger problems. Manifest Destiny always has these fake cliffhangers, where Dingess is teasing what ever is going to happen next and it usually is a character's intention, not an outside event. It's an interesting narrative device, but Destiny isn't character driven. If it were, such cliffhangers might make sense.

Most of the issue is good. There's a blowout between Lewis and his female assistant and it's pretty good stuff. Dingess definitely knows how to do the talking heads scenes to give them weight; they're nice and layered. Sadly, it comes right before a confusing montage. Roberts visually implies a mutiny, which doesn't correspond to the actual scene content at all.

There's some good Sacajawea action, even though it's off-screen–Dingess can't seem to figure out what to do with her.

But the series feels a little stuck… appropriate given the expedition is, quite literally, stuck.

CREDITS

Writer, Chris Dingess; artist, Matthew Roberts; colorist, Owen Gieni; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editor, Sean Mackiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

The Man-Thing 8 (August 1974)

The Man-Thing #8

In some ways, this issue has Gerber's most predictable comics scene. Man-Thing and his arch-nemesis, Schist, duke it out in a laboratory where Man-Thing could regain his humanity and Schist could gain immortality. Sure, it's got Ploog artwork, but there's nothing special about it. Man-Thing's almost human again and Gerber can't think of anything to do with him except fight.

Again, Ploog art, so it's a nice-looking fight, but it's just narratively goofy.

Gerber opens the issue with an about-face in the cliffhanger resolution. Man-Thing goes straight back to the secret city, this time Schist and a sidekick following. Man-Thing's return to the city is the most impressive handling in the issue, with Gerber giving him a guide and so on. It just doesn't go anywhere. The character development on the guest stars, for example, is just filler before the fight scene.

It's a pretty good issue… but not great.

B 

CREDITS

The Gift of Death!; writer, Steve Gerber; artist, Mike Ploog; colorist, Petra Goldberg; letterer, Artie Simek; editor, Roy Thomas; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Man-Thing 7 (July 1974)

The Man-Thing #7

Gerber only puts in a few pages of about Man-Thing's erstwhile human sidekicks, but it's all rather effective. It grounds the issue in reality, while elsewhere Gerber pulls even more out of it. Turns out Schist isn't just a bad guy industrialist, he's actually a bad guy industrialist looking for the fountain of youth.

Unconnectedly, Man-Thing finds himself captured by a bunch of Spanish conquistadors and stumbles across said fountain and a lost city.

The issue works thanks to Gerber's pacing and Ploog's art. The capture sequence is lengthy–and Man-Thing's attack on the city is somewhat inexplicable–but Gerber keeps everything busy enough he's able to sneak in a big moment towards the end. While there's a visual component, there's also how Gerber handles the familiar expository narration regarding Man-Thing.

It's an excellent issue. Ploog doesn't get to draw much in terms of variety, but he excels at what he's given.

A- 

CREDITS

The Old Die Young!; writer, Steve Gerber; artist, Mike Ploog; colorist, Glynis Wein; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Roy Thomas; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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