The Shadow 1 (May 1986)

The Shadow #1

Howard Chaykin's The Shadow. He takes an interesting approach to bringing back a World War II era costumed adventurer–he lets everyone age while the Shadow is away. Most of the issue has various agents–people in their later years–getting viciously murdered.

One of the Shadow's agents has had a daughter who works for some crime bureau place and she recognizes the pattern and goes to save her father. There's a fantastic action sequence that time. Chaykin's composition throughout the comic is phenomenal; the comic is always moving, with Chaykin's page layouts helping the reader get through the pages quick enough.

Only the villains get much development–the good guys are either getting killed off or trying not to get killed off. Chaykin's got a certain level of absurdity for the mega-rich villains but he keeps it in reasonable check. It's like an enthusiastic, extremely bloody and mean James Bond movie.

It's awesome.

A 

CREDITS

Blood & Judgment, Part One; writer and artist, Howard Chaykin; colorist, Alex Wald; letterer, Ken Bruzenak; editor, Andrew Helfer; publisher, DC Comics.

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Wildfire 3 (August 2014)

Wildfire #3

Sejic’s art is a lot better for about half the issue. Instead of doing the CG shading on characters faces, she just colors them. All of a sudden Wildfire looks like animation cels, but it works. Sejic apparently does give her characters expressions, but then the complicated coloring ruins them.

For a lot of this issue, when she’s not doing the CG depth, the expressions work. It’s rather a nice change.

Hawkins goes full Irwin Allen this issue–along with Michael Bay by bringing in the military and starting the countdown to further disaster clock. But it all works. Somehow Hawkins is able to take the most obvious, familiar disaster story tropes and make them feel entirely fresh. Even his characters aren’t original, but something about his presentation immediately deepens them, immediately makes them sympathetic.

Hawkins is a fantastic comic book writer, simply fantastic.

And Wildfire continues to exceed.

Great stuff.

B+ 

CREDITS

Writer, Matt Hawkins; artist, Linda Sejic; letterer, Troy Peteri; editor, Betsy Gonia; publisher, Top Cow Productions.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 36 (June 1985)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #36

Whatever magic Kupperberg had been working on the inks is over now. All of a sudden, he’s doing a bad job. The faces in particular. The features aren’t in the right places on faces. It’s an ugly comic, which is a shame because it’s got some great settings and should look amazing.

Worse are the talking heads moments, when Kayanan and Kupperberg are doing the civilian side of things. The figures look tacked on to the backgrounds, then the faces look tacked on too.

It’s a peculiar issue. Conway shows how Ronnie can handle the world on his own–the villains have Firestorm knocked out and they escape, leaving him to recover (why wouldn’t they kill him?). When he does come to, Martin isn’t part of the Firestorm matrix, Ronnie’s flying solo.

Sadly, Conway immediately invalidates the personal growth while apparently dismissing other subplots too.

It’s ugly, messy, but okay.

B- 

CREDITS

Slowly I Turned… Niagara Falls!; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Rafael Kayanan; inker, Alan Kupperberg; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, Helen Vesik; editors, Janice Race and Conway; publisher, DC Comics.

C.O.W.L. 4 (August 2014)

C.O.W.L. #4

St├ęphane Perger joins Reis on the art this issue; their styles compliment one another, but are still distinct. The art is both more stylized and emotive over all and it helps the issue immensely.

As for Higgins and Siegel’s story, it’s phenomenal. They’re apparently comfortable enough in C.O.W.L. to let some subplots rest without getting full recaps and minimal motion. There’s some quiet family drama, there’s some quiet relationship drama. It’s all very quiet; even though it’s about the superheroes picketing the police department.

Real quick–the picket lines meet a predictable conclusion when it’s one law enforcement agency picketing and another one not. Higgins and Siegel find a whole lot to talk about this comic and not much of it has to do with flying men. They aren’t turning C.O.W.L. into a history lesson, they’re instead using it as a discussion piece about history.

The comic’s really shaping up well.

CREDITS

Principles of Power, Chapter Four: Unity; writers, Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel; artists, Rod Reis and St├ęphane Perger; letterer, Troy Peteri; editor, Andy Schmidt; publisher, Image Comics.

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