The Shadow 2 (June 1986)

The Shadow #2

So after an entirely forward-looking first issue, Chaykin gets around to the flashbacks in the second. In some ways, since the Shadow isn’t the most familiar character, an origin is necessary. But Chaykin goes overboard. He feels the need to rationalize the magical city where the Shadow, back before he was the Shadow, finds himself. There’s too much confusion around the Shadow’s identity too; it’s too dense. The origin takes a whole fourth of the series and there’s got to be some stuff in there Chaykin doesn’t need.

It’d be worse if he uses it all, considering how stuffed he makes the origin. All that extra material cuts back on the composition possibilities too. There’s a nice visit to Shanghai, but the out of fuel airplane sequence is a waste of visual time. And the magical city? Chaykin’s too cynical for it.

It’s decent enough, but Chaykin handles it predictably.

B 

CREDITS

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

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Letter 44 8 (July 2014)

Letter 44 #8

Soule and Letter bounce back big time with an outstanding issue, both for the President and the astronauts on the Clarke. It’s a rocky start, given Alburquerque’s goofy body armor designs. The President has loosed all the futuristic weaponry to get the troops out of the Middle East and Afghanistan; Alburquerque makes the armor look like golden suits of armor. Knight armor. It’s almost like an “SNL” skit set at a Medieval Times.

But it’s easily forgivable because of the political stuff, not to mention Soule’s alternate history doesn’t even need to go with alien invasion and his handling of the politics and world events would still make for a great comic.

As for the space ship, the Clarke, investigating the aliens? It’s mostly character stuff, but deftly done. Soule encourages the reader–in space and on Earth–to question characters motivations and actions. Letter 44 is special because of that approach.

A 

CREDITS

Writer, Charles Soule; penciller, Alberto Jiménez Alburquerque; colorist, Dan Jackson; letterer, Crank!; editor, Robin Herrera; publisher, Oni Press.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 37 (July 1985)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #37

Not a good issue. Joey Cavalieri fills in on writing the main story, which has Ronnie’s nightmares informing his Firestorm adventure. It never gets explained how his nightmares could be so important to a Firestorm adventure, but it involves alien life forms so it shouldn’t be hard.

Cavalieri tries too hard to give the story gravity and weight but there’s a framing sequence informing the reader it’s a flashback. So who cares?

Alex Niño pencils the story, with Duncan Andrews inking, and it’s a vaguely psychedelic experience. Niño and Andrews go crazy with the details but there’s no sense of composition, not to mention a complete lack of natural transitions between panels.

The framing sequence isn’t much better, with Kayanan getting two inkers to replace Alan Kupperberg. Only all new inkers Ian Akin and Brian Garvey bring are flat, awkward faces and strange body parts.

It’d work with better art.

C 

CREDITS

Not In Our Stars But In Ourselves!; writers, Gerry Conway and Joey Cavalieri; pencillers, Rafael Kayanan and Alex Nino; inkers, Ian Akin, Brian Garvey and Nino; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, Duncan Andrews; editor, Julius Schwartz; publisher, DC Comics.

Letter 44 7 (June 2014)

Letter 44 #7

Joëlle Jones fills in on art this issue–a flashback to the early oughts when the long distance space shuttle program is getting started up. Her style resembles the regular art, but there’s something different about it. She draws all of her characters the same age; they all look like they’re in their early twenties.

So it looks a little like “Beverly Hills 90210,” because they’re all devastatingly good looking too.

Soule splits the issue between two characters; frankly, if they’re in the current timeline on the series, Soule’s not doing a good job establishing his characters because they seem totally independent from the series so far. Maybe the cast just isn’t memorable enough.

One of them is an anthropologist or archeologist with personal problems, the other is a geologist with debt problems. It’s not an exciting issue but Soule successfully maintains Letter 44 as realistic sci-fi. It’s thoroughly solid filler.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Charles Soule; penciller, Joëlle Jones; colorist, Dan Jackson; letterer, Shawn DePasquale; editors, Charlie Chu and Robin Herrera; publisher, Oni Press.

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