Punks Not Dead #3 (April 2018)

Punks Not Dead #3

It’s a quick issue, which is almost a relief since it’s only #3 and Punks Not Dead feels like a lot has happened. Here there’s the aftermath of something happening and the preparation for more to happen. A quintessential bridging issue.

With some great art. Simmonds has a great sense of movement, which isn’t easy with painted comics, even digitally painted. But Simmonds has got it. Punks moves smooth from panel to panel.

And some really scary crows. The crows are looking for Fergie. They seem to be eating souls on the way. Or they’re looking for Sid. It’s not clear yet. Similarly, it’s not clear what’s around the corner for Fergie and Sid. They seem about ready to encounter the government ghostbusters.

Writer Barnett amps up the comedy this issue. Danger is up (a lot), comedy is up (a bit). I’m just as curious for what happens to the protagonists next issue as I am to see how Barnett paces it. Has Punks moved into the second act of the eventual trade (as I now assume all Black Crown are headed to the eventual trade)? Or is it just a quick issue.

Either way, good comics.

CREDITS

Wide Awake in a Dream; writer, David Barnett; artist, Martin Simmonds; colorist, Dee Cunniffe; letterer, Aditya Bidikar; editor, Shelly Bond; publisher, IDW Publishing.

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Love and Rockets #12 (July 1985)

Love and Rockets #12

This issue of Love and Rockets is different from the table of contents–no Mechanics, no Locas. Jaime’s doing a Rocky and Fumble and it’s in between two Palomar. And these are kind of different Palomar tales.

The first gives Tonantzin a feature. She’s been a supporting cast member since the “jump ahead,” and she might have even had a brief appearance in the first story, but now she’s front and center. Beto had made her sort of a ditz before, especially in the party issue. Not anymore. Now she’s a goddess. Kind of literally.

The story is simple, slice of life. She gets up, gets her sister, gets her assistant, goes slug hunting. The finale pulls back to give the story a narrator, who can see the characters–Tonantzin and her sister–for the goddesses they embody. It’s an awesome little strip.

And fun. It’s a fun Palomar. Will Jaime have fun with Rocky and Fumble, his fun strip?

No. He’ll do an intense, dangerous, scary action strip. Rocky and Fumble go to visit Rocky’s niece, who’s just a few years younger. The niece has outer space in her backyard. You climb the fence into outer space, go to other planets. Thanks to Rocky having Fumble, they can go into outer space. And they do. They go to another planet.

Where a crazy guy kidnaps Fumble because the guy wants to kill all robots. So Rocky has to find people to help her rescue Fumble. Very, very intense stuff.

And then there’s an emotionally devastating hard cliffhanger, which incorporates the reality of Rocky and Fumble with its fantastical elements. Serious stuff. Maybe a little too serious. Jaime apparently wasn’t satisified making everyone worry about Maggie, time to worry about Rocky and Fumble too.

Then comes Beto’s second Palomar story. It’s all about Heraclio and Luba. Now, they met in the first Palomar story and this one–in a flashback in the flashback–revises the original relationship between the two characters. It’s a comedy strip, taking all the serious stuff Beto has been looking at, and presenting it slice of life and comedy.

Kind of exactly what he should’ve done to make the party in issue ten work, but whatever. He’s on point here. However, he’s so on point it’s a somewhat less exciting success than his first story this issue. Beto’s not going new places, he’s going familiar places and figuring out how to package them to reveal new things. Heraclio and the guys on the town, for instance, was introduced in the Heraclio and the guys story a few issues ago. The guys and their current situations informs the flashback. The first layer flashback. Beto likes doing the flashback in the flashback, particularly because it lets him get his third person Palomar narration on.

The composition styles are a little different too. The first one is more ambitious with composition and the physical comedy. The second one is more traditional. At least traditional for Beto. Some gorgeous stuff too.

Jaime’s art is something else too. He’s doing action in a way he’s never done before in Rockets, with sometimes silly looking characters. Not just sci-fi looking, but silly looking. As always, he stays focused on the story as it plays through Rocky’s expressions. The strip is about her character development through these fantastic adventures, or at least fantastic looking adventures, and Jaime makes sure the reader can track her expressions.

Killer cliffhanger on it though.

So, different–Jaime going serious in a usually light strip, Beto going light in his more serious strip. So good too.

Monster (2016)

Monster

Monster is a strange comic. It’s British, was serialized weekly, running a couple years in a couple different comics magazines–Scream then Eagle–and there’s a very British comics storytelling sensibility to it. There’s also the reality of a weekly four-to-five page chapter and how doing recap–doing some really effecient recap too, using repetitive dialogue to force events into memory. It’s also about a kid who discovers his deformed “monster” of an uncle locked in the attic and has to take care of him. But it’s still a little strange on its own.

First, because it never becomes a morality tale. Second, because the twelve year-old kid goes from being a protagonist to the subject of the adults’ attention. Cops, doctors, lawyers, social workers, all talking down to the kid. Because the kid thinks his uncle shouldn’t be hunted down like a monster.

It takes a long, long time before the kid even gets one adult to agree. The writers–and especially the artist–aren’t really interested in making the uncle a comfortable presence. He’s always extremely dangerous.

Alan Moore writes the first installment. Not sure his name deserves top-billing; I get it from a marketing standpoint, but seriously… four pages? He wrote four pages on Monster. Most of the writing is John Wagner writing solo, but there’s also some with he and Alan Grant sharing duties. They take a single pseudonym, Rick Clark. Wagner continues using it alone. Wagner’s workman. He’s good workman. But the writing isn’t the draw on Monster (though, when the book seems like it’s going to be a riff on Frankenstein, maybe it could’ve been).

The draw of the book is the art. Jesus Redondo black and white horror art. It’s magical. The first strip has a different artist, Heinzl, who’s got some great gothic detail going but Redondo makes it into a gothic horror action comic. He definitely does the Frankenstein riffing, even if the writing doesn’t keep it up.

Because eventually the kid–Kenny–stops being the protagonist. And the protagonist becomes the uncle, Terry, who’s never going to stop killing people even though Kenny tells him not to kill anyone ever again and Terry promises. Terry always promises, but then Terry gets mad. And, really, it’s nearly always self defense. Or defending Kenny. There’s the occasional rage attack, but by the end of the book, Terry’s fairly in check.

Because Terry gets all the character development. He doesn’t really realize it because he’s three, but he goes from being confined to an attic for thirty-two years-old to traveling the British countryside, Scotland, Australia, whatever else. There’s definite development. There’s also the constant danger, constant threat.

The book has three text stories from a later Scream series where Terry is basically a hero. Clearly, over the run of the strip, there were some changes made to the trajectory.

Even with every fifth page effectively being a repeat of the previous page, Monster is a good read. Kenny’s not the best lead, because Wagner and Grant have zero interest in writing a kid, but Terry’s great.

And the art. The gorgeous, beautiful, haunting, horrific, glorious art.

Not quite the “Alan Moore’s Monster” I was expecting, however.

The Comics Fondle Podcast | Episode 45

Our second podcast for 2018!

Floppies – Terrifics, Doctor Star, Black Hammer, Gideon Falls, Punks not Dead, Kid Lobotomy, Assassinistas, Mister Miracle, Batman White Knight, Vampironica, Ruff and Reddy, Infinity 8, Dry County, Highest House, Vinegar Teeth, Spider King, Resident Alien, Evolution, Kong on Apes, Redneck, Dead Hand, Snagglepuss, I Hate Fairyland , Isola, War Stories, Thrawn, Damned, Lazarus, Barbarella.

Trades – Lone Sloane, X-Men Grand Design, Reefer Madness, Epic Collection Master of Kung Fu vol 1, Dave Sheridan’s Dealer McDope, Leather Nun, and Freak Bros, Aleck Sinner vol 2 The Age of Disenchantment.

you can also subscribe on iTunes

The Terrifics #3 (June 2018)

The Terrifics #3

The Terrifics #3 is completely false advertising. There’s nothing terrific in the comic at all. Certainly not the art; Joe Bennett and the three inkers have bad expressions and static figures. Not the characters. Plastic Man’s obnoxious, Mr. Terrific is a jerk, Sapphire Stagg is enabling her megalomaniac father, Simon Stagg is a megalomaniac, Metamorpho is dim; Phantom Girl is all right. The caveman is all right. Otherwise, no. And the writing isn’t terrific.

It’s kind of stunning how fast this book ran out of steam. Apparently all it had going for it was the promise of Tom Strong being integrated into the DCU. That promise isn’t worth sitting through the rest of the material.

The worst thing about the three different inkers–these aren’t terrible inkers either, at least two of the names are people who’ve worked on fine books (and I don’t recognize the third)–is there’s no visual continuity. There’s Bennett’s busy and visually uninviting composition and everyone looks a little bit different every few pages.

Terrifics has gotten to be anything but.

CREDITS

Meet the Terrifics, Part 3 of 3; writer, Jeff Lemire; penciller, Joe Bennett; inkers, Sandra Hope, Jaime Mendoza, and Art Thibert; colorist, Marcelo Maiolo; letterer, Tom Napolitano; editors, Andrew Marino and Paul Kaminski; publisher, DC Comics.

Evolution #6 (April 2018)

Evolution #6

And after its best issue, Evolution returns to its regular level. A little rushed–or, more accurately, a little abrupt–and all setup for something coming in a future issue. Delayed realization.

Once again, the art becomes the most important thing about the comic. Infurnari delivers, though it’s not a lot of interesting stuff. L.A. diners and New York hospitals are only so visually stimulating. The infected, evolved monsters are out of John Carpenter’s The Thing, which is fine–maybe they should’ve done a licensed title instead–but nothing new.

This issue has a big twist at the end involving the one doctor who knows what’s going on. He was previously the closest thing the comic had to a protagonist (unlike the other two plot lines, he gets two plots an issue–so maybe two writers too). It’s not a great twist. In fact, it’s one of those “do I still want to read this comic” twists.

CREDITS

Writers, James Asmus, Joseph Keatinge, Christopher Sebela, and Joshua Williamson; artist, Joe Infurnari; colorist, Jordan Boyd; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Arielle Basich and Jon Moisan; publisher, Image Comics.

Redneck #12 (April 2018)

Redneck #12

Redneck #12 is a great close to a somewhat uneven arc. Cates’s plotting on Redneck has always had its issues. He tends to rush things. This issue’s a mostly action issue, starting with the cops surrounding the vampire house (in Waco, of course).

Cates starts big and focuses in. He’s got a surprise in store; well, a couple of them, but the issue hinges entirely on one of them. Its successful execution makes everything else possible, including giving Estherren some great redneck vampire action to visualize.

It’d be nice if the book were a little more consistent, issue-to-issue, but Cates always seems to have the finale right. And even if he’s reliable in that regard, it’d still be nice for the arcs to read smoother.

But, as always, arc ends and I can’t wait for the next one to begin.

CREDITS

Writer, Donny Cates; artist, Lisandro Estherren; colorist, Dee Cunniffe; letterer, Joe Sabino; editors, Arielle Basich and Jon Moisan; publisher, Image Comics.

Assassinistas #4 (March 2018)

Assassinistas #4

I’m back on board–fully on board–with Assassinistas. There’s character development here, instead of just the character revelations in flashback. It’s kind of cool too. Howard has the banter down in the present-day action sequences, which helps a lot too. Banter, action, character development. Does wonders.

There’s also a nice mix of serious and silly. The absurdity of the action and so on. But also the real danger–physical and psychological–helps things.

The comic does still read a little fast; the character development is a nice change though. It seems like it’s been a while (like since the first issue, really).

Beto’s art is pretty good. It seems rushed in a few too many places, but his practically stick figure bodies are growing on me. And the action works. He gets the pacing of it just right.

The story itself is either moving too fast or too slow. The series’ll probably have to wrap before it’s clear which one.

CREDITS

The Thing That Grew Inside Me!!; writer, Tini Howard; artist, Gilbert Hernandez; colorists, Rob Davis and Robin Henley; letterer, Aditya Bidikar; editor, Shelly Bond; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Evolution #5 (March 2018)

Evolution #5

Evolution just passed an interesting landmark—the comic is no longer reliant on the art. First and foremost, it’s been an interesting looking book—until now. This issue has the best writing so far in the comic, on each of the separate plot lines. The characters have finally been around long enough to be compelling.

Which means I hope the comic doesn’t get too ambitious with series length. After five issues, the gaggle of writers have got the book into a great spot. They’re not going to be able to keep it there forever.

It’s a fantastically plotted issue. The development work in each plot is outstanding, the art is good, the dialogue is fine. The series is paying off. Of course, it would’ve been nice if that success weren’t so surprising to me. The writers really pull off a good issue here.

CREDITS

Writers, James Asmus, Joseph Keatinge, Christopher Sebela, and Joshua Williamson; artist, Joe Infurnari; colorist, Jordan Boyd; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Arielle Basich and Jon Moisan; publisher, Image Comics.

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