God Hates Astronauts 1 (September 2014)

God Hates Astronauts #1

I'm not sure God hates astronauts, but I'm getting the feeling he hates me. Or I just hate myself. There's no other reason I would subject myself to God Hates Astronauts.

It's a somewhat difficult comic to talk about because Ryan Browne's art is truly fantastic. His composition, his detail–his visual narrative chops aren't great but it's because his narrative is atrocious.

God Hates Astronauts reads like if Beavis and Butthead wrote a comic book. Browne's storytelling sensibilities are pretty simple–bestiality is funny. Anything related to it is funny. You don't actually have to be funny–you just reference bestiality and something is funny.

If, for whatever reason, bestiality doesn't make something funny, you have someone swear. Because swearing is funny.

God Hates Astronauts isn't offensive. It's too poorly written to be offensive. Everything is a setup for a joke, usually involving bestiality or swearing. Maybe God just hates bad writing.

F 

CREDITS

A Star is Born; writer and artist, Ryan Browne; colorist, Jordan Boyd; letterer, Chris Crank and Browne; publisher, Image Comics.

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Stray Bullets 40 (October 2005)

Stray Bullets #40

This issue is the story of Kevin’s father. Kevin is the bad guy who has kidnapped Virginia with badder guy Huss.

Kevin’s dad is deaf and he’s a drunk because a low level mobster took off one of his fingers and he can’t hear his kid trying to gang rape a teenage girl. Lapham’s aiming for the stars here as far as artistic ambition.

Oddly, he clearly thinks it’s a great idea–the storytelling device with the deaf guy moving in front of all this action and not being aware of it. But the art’s crap, so it’s not like he worked on it.

Lapham also thinks it’s a good idea to reduce a character who was once one of the best female comic book characters to a mannequin who’s single purpose to be exploited. Apparently, Lapham can’t do anything else with Bullets but assault, rape or molest Virginia.

It’s repugnant.

F 

CREDITS

Zippity Doo-Dah!; writer, artist, and letterer, David Lapham; editors, Renee Miller and Maria Lapham; publisher, El Capitán Books.

Stray Bullets 27 (October 2002)

Stray Bullets #27

How does Lapham resolve a story he didn’t have any reason to do? Poorly.

He fractures Beth’s search for Virginia, cutting in scenes in their past, scenes of Beth’s investigation, lots of little cameos from other cast members. And then he turns it into an action movie. The entire issue has a frantic pace, so having a car chase at the end only seems logical. And having an open ending? Well, it’s Stray Bullets after all.

I don’t think I’ve ever said something has jumped the shark before and it’s unclear if this issue signals a downward trend for the series, but it’s a terrible, terrible comic. It’s inept. Lapham takes one of his two best characters and reduces her to a crying mess before building her into Charles Bronson. But a bad Charles Bronson.

The issue’s a bunch of manipulative scenes strung together. Every one of them is pointless.

How does Lapham resolve a story he didn’t have any reason to do? Poorly.

He fractures Beth’s search for Virginia, cutting in scenes in their past, scenes of Beth’s investigation, lots of little cameos from other cast members. And then he turns it into an action movie. The entire issue has a frantic pace, so having a car chase at the end only seems logical. And having an open ending? Well, it’s Stray Bullets after all.

I don’t think I’ve ever said something has jumped the shark before and it’s unclear if this issue signals a downward trend for the series, but it’s a terrible, terrible comic. It’s inept. Lapham takes one of his two best characters and reduces her to a crying mess before building her into Charles Bronson. But a bad Charles Bronson.

The issue’s a bunch of manipulative scenes strung together. Every one of them is pointless.

F 

CREDITS

Broken; writer, artist, and letterer, David Lapham; editor, Deborah Purcell; publisher, El Capitán Books.

Madame Frankenstein 1 (May 2014)

Madame Frankenstein #1

I was going to try to temper myself, but I can’t. There’s a lot of self-indulgent drivel out there, but Madame Frankenstein might be the current prize winner. Maybe it’s because there’s never a moment writer Jamie S. Rich takes the reader’s experience into account. If it were just the bad dialogue or the unlikable characters or the purposelessly convoluted timeline, it wouldn’t be so bad.

But then there are little fairies only the protagonist knows about. They might be the straw.

Megan Levens is a perfectly decent artist, but the wrong one for this series. It’s set in 1932 and nothing about the art, besides some inserted details, sets it in that year. Though there’s only so much the art could do for this thing.

And it’s not just a crappy comic, it’s a really fast, superficial one too. Even being a fast read somehow makes it worse.

F 

CREDITS

Writer, Jamie S. Rich; artist, Megan Levens; publisher, Image Comics.

Genesis (April 2014)

Genesis

Please excuse the colloquial expression, but what a piece of utter crap. Did anyone read Nathan Edmondson's script? Maybe it's just me. Maybe I don't like terrible plays from twelve-year olds, so I don't like Edmondson's script for Genesis. I can't even imagine if I'd paid seven dollars for this tripe.

It's about a minister who can't save people so he tries to kill himself and one of the guys from Blue Man Group tells him he isn't dead and he's got all sorts of powers. He can refigure reality. Edmondson goes on and on about it. It's a long comic and about half of it is back and forth with the protagonist.

Except, Edmondson doesn't do anything with the religious stuff. He's not thinking about it from that angle; the plot's inane and possible there facilitate artist Alison Sampson's drawing desires.

It's an exceptional comic. The script's indescribably bad.

F 

CREDITS

Writer, Nathan Edmondson; artist, Alison Sampson; colorist, Jason Wordie; letterer, Jon Babcock; publisher, Image Comics.

The Incredible Hulk 76 (October 2004)

The Incredible Hulk #76

It’s hard to feel bad about Doc Samson getting his butt kicked after he just lectured the Hulk on the importance of corporal punishment for children.

Did Jones even think about what he was writing? Did his editors read the scripts?

Braithwaite and Reinhold are back on art. Sometimes they’re a little better than usual, but Braithwaite’s Hulk is still awful.

I guess Jones’s wrap-up of his huge conspiracy story line makes “sense.” It’s not a good wrap-up, but it’s better than where he tries to leave Bruce Banner at the end of it. Maybe the closing line–with someone being real mean in a Hulk description–calls back to an earlier comic. I hope so, because, otherwise, it’s just a crappy line.

Jones leaves the comic much in the place he started it. He wipes the slate clean and leaves Bruce Banner far less a character than he started out with.

F 

CREDITS

Shattered; writer, Bruce Jones; penciller, Dougie Braithwaite; inker, Bill Reinhold; colorist, Raul Trevino; letterer, Randy Gentile; editors, Cory Sedlmeier and Axel Alonso; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Incredible Hulk 74 (September 2004)

The Incredible Hulk #74

I don’t like finishing a comic wondering what the heck I’ve just read. Getting through this issue of Hulk isn’t just troublesome because of the incredibly uneven art–Braithwaite and Reinhold spend the least amount of time on the big fight between Hulk and Iron Man–but through the constant stupidity.

Jones boils down his resolution to a confession, which doesn’t make much sense. Of course, having the drama hinge around Tony Stark having a suicidal girlfriend with a lock-picking, would-be amateur assassin brother doesn’t make much sense either.

Then there’s poor Bruce Banner. What’s he doing this arc? Following Tony around mostly. Only neither character has a real arc. Tony’s is superficial, Bruce is just a spectator. Jones doesn’t spend any time on Bruce outside him helping with the experiment.

There are numerous false endings too. It’s easily the worst issue Jones has done on the title.

F 

CREDITS

Big Things, Part Four; writer, Bruce Jones; penciller, Dougie Braithwaite; inker, Bill Reinhold; colorist, Rainier Beredo; letterer, Randy Gentile; editors, John Miesegaes and Axel Alonso; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Dead Letters 1 (April 2014)

Dead Letters #1

Just fair warning, I’m going to be really mean to Dead Letters. I want to clarify right off Chris Visions doesn’t deserve any of it for his art. His art’s packed, frantic, detailed. It’s good art, if a little too much. But it’s too much of itself, which isn’t a bad thing.

No, I’m going to rant and rave about Christopher Sebela, unoriginality, Hollywood desperation and maybe a little about crappy dialogue.

Letters opens like the Bourne Identity except without trusting the reader, so Sebela has to make things obvious. Now, he’s trying to be confusing, wrapping the narrative up with flashbacks and amnesia. Being obvious doesn’t make any sense. And it plays out bad.

The lead isn’t a spy though. He’s a generic bad ass criminal. Hollywood will undoubtedly come calling, cheaper budget, less exotic locations than a spy….

Sebela’s dialogue is derivative, predictable, lousy.

Except Visions, Letters’s atrocious.

F 

CREDITS

Writer, Christopher Sebela; artist, Chris Visions; colorist, Ruth Redmond; letterer, Steve Wands; editors, Chris Rosa and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Tomb Raider 1 (February 2014)

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Thank goodness Gail Simone has Lara Croft say “mates” and use kilometers instead of miles. Wouldn’t want to forget she’s British. Or something. Those little details, along with the forced exposition, drag the reader out of what’s already a chore.

Why would Dark Horse bother licensing Tomb Raider if they were just going to give it to artists who can’t draw action? The inks don’t seem to do much, they certainly don’t lend any motion to Nicolás Daniel Selma’s lead-footed pencils. There are motion lines. Maybe inker Juan Gedeon added them, thinking they were enough. They aren’t.

Having never played the game, I’m not sure if Simone’s script is meant to appeal to fans or to general readers. If it’s the latter, the comic’s in real trouble. There’s only one scene where the character shows any natural personality and it’s forced (she’s encountering sexism).

At least it reads fast.

F 

CREDITS

Season of the Witch; writer, Gail Simone; penciller, Nicolás Daniel Selma; inker, Juan Gedeon; colorist, Michael Atiyeh; letterer, Michael Heisler; editors, Shantel LaRocque, Ian Tucker, Aaron Walker and Dave Marshall; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

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