Moonshadow 1 (September 1994)

Moonshadow #1

For Moonshadow, writer J.M. DeMatteis doesn’t shy away from showing off the comic’s sci-fi influences. There’s a little Douglas Adams, a little Kurt Vonnegut. But DeMatteis doesn’t rely on those nods to move the story along, they’re just around to make the reader feel comfortable.

This first issue introduces Moonshadow, a half-human boy being raised in an intergalactic zoo, and his supporting cast. There’s his mother, who was a hippie on Earth, their cat, Frodo, and then Moon’s de facto best friend, Ira. Ira’s a shaggy alien who looks like Cousin It from “The Addams Family.”

Not a lot happens in the first issue, just the setup–Moon, at twelve, ready to explore the universe–and a lot of good narration from DeMatteis and some beautiful art from Jon J. Muth. The comic moves deliberately and calmly, with DeMatteis carefully including some humor and Muth delivering gorgeous pages.

A- 

CREDITS

Songs of Happy Cheer; writer, J.M. DeMatteis; artist, Jon J. Muth; letterer, Kevin Nowlan; editors, Shelly Bond, Laurie Sutton and Archie Goodwin; publisher, Vertigo.

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The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 49 (July 1986)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #49

It’s sort of a goofy issue, with Firestorm’s lawsuit ending in the first scene, then the rest of the issue is the Moonbow story. Conway continues the Marvel vibe–maybe it’s because Moonbow (a female college student who moonlights as a vigilante) looks like a Marvel character, but also because there’s no other vibe to the comic.

Conway doesn’t give his protagonists anything to do. Martin has a date, which Ronnie interrupts for a Firestorm outing, and Conway uses the interruption so as not to make any decisions for Martin. It’s more treading water.

There are art problems too–Pablo Marcos and Rodin Rodriguez join Machlan on inks and the issue never has a consistent look to it. Brozowski again does all right with his page composition and the comic moves at a good pace.

Even the ending, with Firestorm and Moonbow finally crossing paths, moves well.

It’s passable enough.

B- 

CREDITS

Justice: Lost and Found; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Joe Brozowski; inkers, Mike Machlan, Pablo Marcos and Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, Carrie Spiegle; editor, Janice Race; publisher, DC Comics.

Point of Impact 1 (October 2012)

Point of Impact #1

Jay Faerber is really excited about Point of Impact, even if one doesn’t read his back matter about his inspirations. The enthusiasm is clear. Unfortunately, he’s enthusiastic about writing a really generic police procedural.

Everything is connected–a woman falls off a roof while her lover waits in a hotel room, but could she be somehow connected to the newspaper reporter Faerber is following around? And then there are the cops–the female cop knows her from yoga class and doesn’t want to give up the case. Her tough but understanding older black cop partner is there for her, but he’s not going to let her throw her career away.

Everything’s very predictable–plot, dialogue. Without artist Koray Kuranel’s high contrast style–deep blacks on pure white–Impact would disappear it’s so flimsy. Kuranel’s detail for people isn’t great but his buildings and his mood work.

It’s inoffensively bland.

C+ 

CREDITS

Writer, Jay Faerber; artist, Koray Kuranel; letterer, Charles Pritchett; publisher, Image Comics.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 48 (June 1986)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #48

Firestorm hasn’t cratered or anything so severe, but Conway does seem to have found a new level for the book. It’s a little low, sure, but he’s hitting it consistently.

And even though Brozowski and Machlan leave a lot to be desired in the art–creativity–the book does look okay. It doesn’t look much like a DC comic this issue, however; it looks a lot like an eighties Spider-Man, which is fine.

Conway doesn’t do anything fresh or inventive. Firestorm is getting sued by Ronnie’s stepmother-to-be and she’s real impressed with his speech in court. Of course she’s impressed, otherwise the story might do something unexpected. Ditto the introduction of another girl in Ronnie’s life. Could she be the bow-wielding vigilante plaguing Pittsburgh’s mob?

Conway doesn’t even make that one a surprise.

It reads okay in parts, not okay in others. It’s bland superhero stuff.

B- 

CREDITS

Moonbow; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Joe Brozowski; inker, Mike Machlan; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, Carrie Spiegle; editor, Janice Race; publisher, DC Comics.

War Stories 2 (October 2014)

War Stories #2

There’s something slightly off about the second issue of War Stories. Keith Burns’s art isn’t great, but it’s all right and Ennis’s script is strong enough to get over any visual bumps. Except the effort Burns puts into the aerial battles–there’s a lot of detail, but there’s no narrative to the illustration. So it contributes to that slightly off vibe, but not entirely.

The real problem is Ennis. He doesn’t actually have a story. He has some great scenes and anecdotes for bomber crews and the protagonist’s relationship with a British widow makes for a good scene, but Ennis doesn’t have a narrative. He’s just stringing these scenes together and hoping the protagonist’s narration will somehow get it through. And it doesn’t. The narration has a couple excellent moments, but they’re jagged too.

It’s not a cohesive issue. It’s a bridging issue in a three issue arc. But good.

B 

CREDITS

Castles in the Sky, Part Two of Three; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Keith Burns; colorist, Digikore Studios; letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.

Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers 3 (October 2014)

Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers #3

Even though Casey is incredibly derivative–the Close Encounters nod is simultaneously cute and too much–Captain Victory continues to be a nice diversion. It’s not exactly a fun read, just because Casey doesn’t let his cast enjoy anything. There is some banter with the scientists on Earth who are looking at one of the spacecraft, but it’s over in a page.

Otherwise, the comic is very serious. And having Jim Mahfood do the adventures of a cat-man on a slightly hostile planet without any humor is too much. The comic has some great art–Fox some outstanding work–but Captain Victory isn’t actually ambitious sci-fi. It pretends to be ambitious sci-fi; Casey’s script is very traditional stuff. Even the artists’ page layouts are very traditional (even when trying to appear otherwise).

It’s an acceptable, enjoyable comic. But the artists deserve a balls to the wall script.

CREDITS

Writer, Joe Casey; artists, Nathan Fox, Jim Mahfood and Farel Darlyrmple; colorist, Brad Simpson; letterer, Simon Bowland; editors, Molly Mahan, Hannah Elder and Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Sally of the Wasteland 4 (November 2014)

Sally of the Wasteland #4

It’s another solid issue of Sally. There’s a lot with her and Tommy, which is nice because Sally cares a lot about him and Gischler handles their flirtation (for the first time, joint flirtation) really well.

Most of the issue takes place in a flooded city and artist Bettin does fine with the buildings and even the mutants, but he has some problems with the cast. Their faces become too generic at times; it reads fast, which helps a lot. Until it becomes clear Gischler has written himself into a hole and he’s going to get himself out as fast as possible.

So much happens over so few pages, it reads like Gischler is getting tired, which is too bad. Sally has been a great ride–and even continues to be, albeit too fast of one here–hopefully he’s got a nice finish for the series.

It really deserves one.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Victor Gischler; artist, Tazio Bettin; letterer, Tom Williams; publisher, Titan Comics.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 47 (May 1986)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #47

It’s not a bad special guest star issue, just another pointless one. Blue Devil and Firestorm are now teamed up–after a couple issues of mistaken fighting–against all of Firestorm’s villains.

Brozowski continues to do a very clean, obvious approach with the composition; he and inker Mike Machlan don’t have a single outstanding panel in the comic, but there also aren’t any lemons. It’s straightforward superhero stuff and, given there’s a hallucination sequence with demons, the art works out okay. Never anything more… but okay isn’t terrible.

As for Conway’s script… he tries a little character development (Ronnie’s dad and stepmother-to-be are hostages of all his villains, along with a mention of one of the villain’s failed rehabilitations), but it’s mostly action. It’s not great action; the giant-size computer showroom is goofy.

Like I said, it’s not too bad. It’s a guest star issue, big whoop.

B- 

CREDITS

Dead Devils Don’t Wear Blue!; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Joe Brozowski; inker, Mike Machlan; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Janice Race; publisher, DC Comics.

Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland 2 (October 2014)

Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland #2

Shanower is really dedicated to giving Little Nemo a narrative and it doesn’t help the comic at all. Jimmy (or Nemo) is an annoying kid who Shanower has throughout the entire issue–he’s not having a little adventure and then waking up, he’s around the reader for page after page of adventure and he’s always got something annoying to say. Instead of turning these brief annoyances into the punchline, they’re the pulse of Return to Slumberland.

It’s a far from ideal situation.

Similarly, having this kid be so upset about having to hang out with a girl (the princess) is perfectly appropriate… if Shanower wants to fit into the sexism of previous generations. It would have been something if he hadn’t wanted to embrace that deficiency.

The gorgeous Rodriguez art, meticulous not just in detail but in functioning the same way as McCay’s originals did in reading style, helps immeasurably.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer, Eric Shanower; artist, Gabriel Rodriguez; colorist, Nelson Daniel; letterer, Robbie Robbins; editors, Michael Benedetto and Chris Ryall; publisher, IDW Publishing.

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