Crossed + One Hundred 8 (August 2015)

crossedonehundred8The good news of Crossed + One Hundred number eight is that the story does has someplace to go. Alan Moore’s “Series Outline” credit has been proven creditable, and the new arc is shaping up in a logical way to the groundwork laid out in volume one. Simon Spurrier’s future-English dialogue is still not as diabolically punny as Moore, but he’s playing around with some new details. This issue spends time with a new character’s dialect that’s a mishmash of Bostonian and Jersey twang. There’s also a monologue from one of the Salt-Crossed, probably the longest speech we’ve heard from any of them, and it reads how you’d hope it would: brutal, scary. After their near-absence in issue seven, Moore seems to have figured out how to continue revealing their insanity gradually, to maintain the creep factor.

That monologue reveals an important new plot point, which is also the turning point where Crossed + One Hundred justifies its ongoing existence. The Salt-Crossed’s organizational skills open up a whole new slew of dramatic possibilities, based on what is actually a fairly unique sci-fi/horror hybrid idea: if a burgeoning civilization were centered around the celebration of sadism, how could such a civilization function? The question slightly nudges the franchise out of the realm of pure horror and into a more philosophical kind of terror that’s not exactly a zombie tale any longer. It’s more akin to 1984, The Man in the High Castle or The Handmaid’s Tale, where the horror comes from contemplating the ruthlessness of an insane society. Future Taylor isn’t nearly as fucked as Winston Smith or even Evey from Moore’s V For Vendetta, but she’s got her work cut out for her in trying to stem the rising tides of Salt water.

Spurrier’s scripting, besides the adequate continuation of the future-speak, is not as good as Moore’s in terms of panel and page pacing, but come on. Whose is? The highlight once again is his bookending of Future’s latest sci-fi book review around her situation at hand.

The only missing component from the equation is, once again, Fernando Heinz’s art. The technical skills are mostly there – despite one distracting perspective problem on the opening splash page which makes a character appear armless, he actually nails a lot of tricky angles from high aerial perspectives as Future travels around by hot air balloon.  But his particular manga-influenced style is just too unserious. Future still looks weirdly younger than she did in the first arc, despite it taking place a year after the taking of Chooga and characters occasionally just look cute. One of the Crossed, leering maniacally, vaguely resembles a heavy from Dragonball Z. Even Future’s expressions of fear are a little too aesthetically appealing. It doesn’t ruin the whole package, but undermines the moments of grave seriousness.

Despite the aesthetic setback, Crossed + One Hundred is still compelling reading.

CREDITS

Writer, Simon Spurrier; Series Outline, Alan Moore; artist, Fernando Heinz; colorist, Digikore Studios; letterer, Jaymes Reed; publisher, Avatar Press.

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Providence 4 (August 2015)

Providence #4

Unsurprisingly, Providence continues to impress, but–and maybe surprisingly–this issue doesn’t up the ante much as far as terrifying the reader. There are Lovecraftian elements around and there’s almost realization from the narrator in this issue’s back matter (which has Moore’s most obvious attempt at telling the reader to pay attention; he does it well and necessarily), but it’s not exactly scary.

Moore’s suspects–the players in the story–aren’t particularly dangerous as of yet. Maybe because they say they aren’t dangerous to the narrator, who’s just a visitor in their stories, not a participant or person of consequence, or maybe because they show concern. Moore’s doing a lot with the idea of town and country with Providence–which is somewhat strange, given the history and look at how people are treated differently is for New Englanders, not the British. It’s just his dedication to the project.

Reading the lengthy back matter, one has to wonder how much of it will eventually matter and how much of it is just Moore doing his job. He’s making Providence a filling read for its audience. He’s respectful of the reader’s time, respectful of the reader’s attention.

It’s an awesome, mellow comic. The one horror Moore does imply is so outrageous, one can’t truly fathom it so why try. Plus, Moore tells the reader not to try fathoming it. Subtly, but forcefully.

CREDITS

White Apes; writer, Alan Moore; artist, Jacen Burrows; colorist, Juan Rodriguez; letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.

Providence 3 (July 2015)

Providence #3

It’s so good. It’s so painfully good. Not just in how Moore gets to all the somewhat familiar Lovecraft moments. Again, the disclaimer–I haven’t read Lovecraft, just read or seen Lovecraft-inspired stuff–so when I recognize something, it’s because it looks like In the Mouth of Madness all of a sudden.

But Burrows goes away from the traditional 1920s cities to a rural town, which raises these questions about how things are going to develop. Moore’s script, Burrows’s visuals, they engage the reader to ask more theoretical questions. If Moore’s actually doing some kind of “prequel” to Neonomicon (which is fast getting to be the dividing point in Moore’s post-ABC career, from Top Shelf eccentric to redefining horror comics), how much does it connect? Is it an actual connection or just Moore enthusiastically showing off tonal connections for the equally enthused Moore reader?

Of course, Moore never makes it feel like a fan club newsletter. His connection with fandom, just as it was back in the Swamp Thing days, puts craft and work above all else. Story, both in writing and in art, is king.

So, as a comic, Providence is great.

Except it’s not just a comic because Moore’s got more of the protagonist’s diary (in prose). The comic’s third person, the diary is first person. The differences, which Moore still somewhat uses to shock but not much… well, those differences change Providence again. Moore’s not satisfied with making “horror comics” a real genre, he needs to break it into an entirely different genre.

And never makes it seem like showing off.

CREDITS

A Lurking Fear; writer, Alan Moore; artist, Jacen Burrows; colorist, Juan Rodriguez; letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.

Crossed + One Hundred 7 (July 2015)

crossed100-7Simon Spurrier isn’t the first writer to have to fill Alan Moore’s shoes on a title, but I can’t recall another writer having to do it quite so immediately, with such an urgency to validate himself. Swamp Thing had a history before Moore, Before Watchmen was done years after the original, and Tom Strong was way more than six issues in before anyone else had to take over. Spurrier’s no slouch; his Wish You Were Here series for the Crossed franchise was about on par with any of Garth Ennis’ arcs. Moore also gave his blessing in interviews, and claimed to have bequeathed extensive notes for the furtherance of the series – which apparently must be true because while Spurrier has the “story” credit, Moore is credited for “Series Outline,” whatever that entails. Still, hardly an enviable position.

Issue seven isn’t an oh-eight level surprise, just mediocre. Gabriel Andrade has been replaced with Fernando Heinz, whose manga influenced style makes Future Taylor look like she’s fifteen. She gets action lines during an emotional outburst in one panel, there’s gratuitous ass shots, a child in a crowd scene looks like he fell out of a Tokyopop book and another ‘Slim looks like Spike Spiegel. It’s all professionally rendered, but tonally inconsistent with Andrade’s designs – it feels less serious, more cartoonish. The coloring helps. Digikore Studios continues their fine work, keeping the bleakly naturalistic palette entirely consistent with what’s come before.

Spurrier’s writing is the big relief. Moore’s amazing post-apocalypse diction created for + One Hundred has more or less been maintained, with all the impish wordplay and a few funny new malapropisms. And but it’s hard to skull if you’ve audied the vernacular so closely now, you’re just used to it, or if Spurrier’s writing it a little easier to read for the first-timers. That’s a fuck possible, since the issue’s biggest problem is that nothing happens. He’s writing for the trade, for volume 2. Future does a big recap of the last issue, and Murfreesboro does a defense drill against a potential churchface attack. Some of them show up at the very end, basically just to realize that Keller lied; Future’s still alive. It actually pales in comparison to an early bit of casual, highly blasphemous worldbuilding about ‘Slim life in Murfreesboro. After so much masterful suspense built up around the revelation of the Bo Salt Crossed tribe, all I want now is to see more of them, but this issue is still just teasing.

Carrying on Moore’s literary studies theme, Spurrier bookends the issue with Future’s take on Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend, certainly a sci-fi book more comparable to her own situation than any of the wishful fictions Moore referenced in the initial arc. She acknowledges one of the genre details which Ennis has publicly cited as inspiration for Crossed, that all zombies and vampires can only be so scary if they have well-known exploitable weaknesses. She also acknowledges the similarity of the novel’s twist ending to Moore’s own twist conclusion from the previous issue. It’s thoughtful but almost too deconstructive of itself.

Despite being merely competent + One Issue after Moore, the Fewch of Crossed + One Hundred may still be worth an opsy.

CREDITS

Writer, Simon Spurrier; Series Outline, Alan Moore; artist, Fernando Heinz; colorist, Digikore Studios; letterer, Jaymes Reed; publisher, Avatar Press.

Crossed + One Hundred 6 (June 2015)

Crossed + One Hundred #6

Reading the last issue of this arc (as I guess it’s continuing somehow), I couldn’t stop thinking about the finale of Garth Ennis’s original Crossed run. How he mixed humanity with desperation without exactly going for sympathy.

Moore does something similar with this issue. It’s not the unimaginable horror show the quiets in the series promised, however. It’s a Crossed horror show to be sure, but it’s not unimaginable. Moore and Andrade concentrate on the story, they concentrate on the explorers as they’ve been doing. These characters don’t see it as a horror show; it’s life. The trick is how Moore and Andrade work the reader’s perspective without desensitizing.

+ One Hundred has always been a strange concept–Alan Moore doing a special series of an Avatar franchise. The finale is just as thoughtful, just as unexpected as the rest of the comic’s been. Great writers write great, regardless of material.

CREDITS

Writer, Alan Moore; artist, Gabriel Andrade; colorist, Digikore Studios; letterer, Jaymes Reed; publisher, Avatar Press.

Providence 2 (June 2015)

Providence #2

It’s so good.

Providence is so good. This issue is creepy–from the cover alone–but also somewhat touching as protagonist Robert meets a fetching police detective while looking into a mythic Arabic text. It’s a talking heads book, beautifully composed with lush backgrounds and lots of visual information.

Providence is, even at the end of this issue, just drawing the reader in deeper. Moore again has very important back matter (though the protagonist’s diary is far more affecting, if not important, than “reprints” of scholarly material on the Arabic text).

Burrows’s art isn’t particularly precise. He’s rushed–some of his faces have a lot more personality than others (unless it’s going to be part of the narrative)–but he captures the mood perfectly.

The talking heads nature does mean there’s not a lot of development, not even after the back matter. The treading water doesn’t matter; it’s all good.

CREDITS

The Hook; writer, Alan Moore; artist, Jacen Burrows; colorist, Juan Rodriguez; letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.

Crossed + One Hundred 5 (May 2015)

Crossed Plus One Hundred #5

After so many calm issues, Moore gets around to showing a little of + One Hundred’s plan and it’s a doozy. But the way he shows it is so fantastic.

Moore has lulled the reader into expecting the calm while still imagining some sensible, if horrific, explanation. He gradually reveals the truth here, as Future reads some diaries she finds and everything starts to make sense. While Moore didn’t give the reader enough information to guess it, his style for the book also lulled the reader into not thinking about guessing.

Instead, he spent the entire time making the reader care about the characters. And now, through a masterfully executed reveal, they’re all in trouble. Only Future’s just as calm as always. Why? Because she grew up in + One Hundred and it’s the reader who’s anxious. That aspect, the calm of the damned, is one of Moore’s great moves here.

CREDITS

Tyger, Tyger; writer, Alan Moore; artist, Gabriel Andrade; colorist, Digikore Studios; letterer, Jaymes Reed; publisher, Avatar Press.

Providence 1 (May 2015)

Providence #1

I’m not sure what to make of Providence. The first issue doesn’t have much going on except flashbacks and talking heads scenes–writer Alan Moore is establishing his protagonist (and then writes a bunch of necessary back matter to get a better idea) while he’s got artist Jacen Burrows establishing the setting. It’s 1919. It’s Manhattan. Something is afoot.

Providence’s protagonist is a rookie–or, at least, newish–newspaper reporter. He’s also gay. The way Moore handles that revelation is interesting. He foreshadowed some kind of secret (though hinted at another one) but the scenes are beautifully written. All of the flashbacks do fantastic character work, but the romantic ones have a depth to them. They’re controlled, sure (it’s Moore), but they’re also extravagant.

The majority of the comic deals with some arcane texts; they cause people to commit suicide. Or so the protagonist is investigating.

Providence definitely intrigues.

CREDITS

The Yellow Sign; writer, Alan Moore; artist, Jacen Burrows; colorist, Juan Rodriguez; letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.

Crossed + One Hundred 4 (March 2015)

Crossed +100 #4

In this issue, Moore drops Future and company in a Muslim settlement (the only religious community in the world… AFAWK). Future’s got a thing going with the archivist there, giving Moore and Andrade a chance to mix talking head Crossed history in with a sex scene. There’s some stuff with the Crossed in the issue–the tape, finding out the Crossed can breed (for me anyway)–but it’s Future’s romantic interlude is the action standout.

And Moore ends on that same gentle note. Given Future’s narration of the comic is in her journal and Moore loves playing with how storytelling works, it’s unlikely the comic will ever end an issue on a different note. Or, if he does… well, it means the comic’s changed.

Of course, Moore’s not threatening Future either.

It’s a strange, thoughtful comic. This issue has lots of dialogue, but also lots of character moments.

Awesome again.

CREDITS

Writer, Alan Moore; artist, Gabriel Andrade; colorist, Digikore Studios; letterer, Jaymes Reed; publisher, Avatar Press.

Crossed + One Hundred 3 (February 2015)

Crossed + One Hundred #3

For this issue of Crossed, Moore goes nice and calm. He brings his explorers back to their home and lets all the things they’ve learned settle in. What’s so disconcerting–but not bad–about One Hundred is the way Moore’s vernacular makes sense by the end of the issue but not necessarily at the beginning. It’ll probably be perfect in a trade.

Moore even makes a joke (using Cormac McCarthy’s The Road).

Most of the issue is the protagonist, Future, hanging out with her mom, her cat (Flash Gordon) and catching up. Through that catch-up, Moore’s able to reveal the future society a bit. Then there’s the building toward whatever the big reveal is going to be.

It’s a calm, fantastic, quietly terrifying issue; the people’s lives seem so mundane, it conditions the reader not to get too excited by the horrific nature of it all. Moore’s kicking butt.

CREDITS

Writer, Alan Moore; artist, Gabriel Andrade; colorist, Digikore Studios; letterer, Jaymes Reed; publisher, Avatar Press.

Crossed + One Hundred 2 (December 2014)

Crossed + One Hundred #2

Moore takes the comic to Graceland–sans Elvis cameo–because even though Moore has a lot of pop culture references in Crossed, they’re never cheap. They’re never too obvious, they’re never forced. A few of them had me wondering where Alan Moore would have heard about them, given I don’t picture him on Facebook reading memes.

The comic continues to be fantastic. The language he’s using for the future apocalypse is still fantastic. He even paces out the comic to have a good finish. Even though he’s doing a limited series, the issue itself satisfies with its conclusion. Once again, shocking to see Moore putting so much thought and effort into work-for-hire. He even gets in some really nice character moments.

As for Andrade’s art… it works out. It’s not the best it could be, but he gets how to break out the story for it to succeed.

CREDITS

Writer, Alan Moore; artist, Gabriel Andrade; colorist, Digikore Studios; letterer, Jaymes Reed; publisher, Avatar Press.

Crossed + One Hundred 1 (November 2014)

Crossed + One Hundred #1

Who would have thought Crossed + One Hundred wouldn’t just be good, but would be some really strong mainstream stuff from Alan Moore. He gets to create a language–future English–which undoubtedly gave him a lot to think about (since the language also shows how the world has changed since the apocalypse and what’s important and what’s not). And he gets to imagine a future civilization.

Not surprisingly, it’s upbeat. Moore shows the humanity both in his cast of survivors, but also in the crossed. It’s very strange because they’re not sympathetic yet, but he’s got a anthropologic distance from them and it does make them very interesting.

A lot of the details don’t have anything to do with Crossed and are probably just ideas Moore has had kicking around for a while. But he fits them perfectly to the world such a calamity might create.

Gabriel Andrade’s art’s excellent.

A 

CREDITS

Writer, Alan Moore; artist, Gabriel Andrade; colorist, Digikore Studios; letterer, Jaymes Reed; publisher, Avatar Press.

Tom Strong 22 (December 2003)

Tom Strong #22

Moore brings it all together for the Tom Stone finale. He even gets around to a scene or two I really wasn’t expecting. It turns out there are drawbacks to a more emotional Tom Strong or Tom Stone. They play out unexpectedly for the characters, but maybe expectedly for the superhero comic book medium.

Ordway proves the perfect artist for the issue–and the arc–given the vast number of guest starring science heroes. They’re everywhere during some of the issue, with Ordway getting to do very different Bronze Age superhero action composition. It’s very cool, even if Moore’s successful at the scenes being emotionally devastating.

With all the time travel and alternate universes, it’s initially odd Moore wants to close off the Tom Stone storyline. The conclusion, where he actually gets to develop Tom Strong a little more, wouldn’t work without treating the arc rather seriously.

It’s excellent work.

A 

CREDITS

How Tom Stone Got Started, Part Three: Crisis on Infinite Hearts; writer, Alan Moore; penciller, Jerry Ordway; inkers, Ordway, Sandra Hope and Richard Friend; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Kristy Quinn and Scott Dunbier; publisher, America’s Best Comics.

Tom Strong 21 (October 2003)

Tom Strong #21

The Tom Stone story continues with Moore doing a combination alternate history lesson of the twentieth century–with Tom Stone and the good Saveen rehabilitating all the villains instead of fighting them–and wink at the traditional Tom Strong back story.

The most interesting part is how Tom Strong’s mother is basically the only villain in the issue. She’s the one knowingly endangering the fabric of the space-time continuum. But not really, because everything in the Tom Stone world is okay.

And Tom Strong gets to hear all about how he didn’t do things as well as Tom Stone would have done–the deciding factor seems to be Tom Strong’s dad not being as sympathetic as Tom Stone’s–and even he gets tired of it.

There’s not a lot of drama to the issue, something Moore saves entirely for the soft cliffhanger.

It’s competently done, but lacks any momentum.

B 

CREDITS

How Tom Stone Got Started, Part Two: Strongmen in Silvertime; writer, Alan Moore; penciller, Jerry Ordway; inkers, Trevor Scott, Karl Story and Richard Friend; colorist, Wildstorm FX; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Kristy Quinn and Scott Dunbier; publisher, America’s Best Comics.

Tom Strong 20 (June 2003)

Tom Strong #20

Jerry Ordway guest pencils for a special alternate history story. The shipwreck on the tropical island goes differently and so there’s never a Tom Strong. Instead, there’s a Tom Stone, son of Tom Strong’s mother and the ship captain. His understanding of racism firsthand–and still having the empathy to ignore it and help everyone–allows him to convince Saveen to become a science hero with him.

There’s a lot more, with Saveen marrying Dhalua and they have Tesla while Tom Stone marries some other chick. He’s actually nowhere near as important to the story; Moore realizes he can only get so much mileage out of that character and everyone else is more interesting.

It’s a constantly surprisingly comic, though the final reveal suggests Moore foreshadowed everything carefully throughout the issue. He’s not asking the reader to pay attention, he’s ignoring readers who do not.

It’s a tad manipulative, but definitely engaging.

A- 

CREDITS

How Tom Stone Got Started, Part One; writer, Alan Moore; penciller, Jerry Ordway; inker, Karl Story; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Kristy Quinn and Scott Dunbier; publisher, America’s Best Comics.

Tom Strong 19 (April 2003)

Tom Strong #19

This issue, containing three different stories by two writers (Moore on the first and last, daughter Leah on the middle one) and three different art teams (Howard Chaykin on the first, Shawn McManus and Steve Mitchell on the second, regular artists Sprouse and Story on the third), is mostly awesome.

Moore and Chaykin do a domestic adventure for Tom and Dhalau in the first story; Dhalau is kidnapped and Tom has to save the day. Throw in a matriarchal society and Moore gets to explore gender in comics. Chaykin’s exuberant but a tad too loose.

Leah Moore and McManus do a decent enough story with villain Saveen. McManus’s art is excellent but the final twist is too predictable.

The final story is an awesome riff on comic readers and the love of classic comics as objects. It’s funny, smart and mildly disturbing.

It’s a discreetly ambitious commentary on the medium.

A- 

CREDITS

Electric Ladyland!; writer, Alan Moore; artist, Howard Chaykin. Bad to the Bone; writer, Leah Moore; artist, Shawn McManus. The Hero-Hoard of Horatio Hogg!; writer, Alan Moore; penciller, Chris Sprouse; inker, Karl Story. Colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Kristy Quinn and Scott Dunbier; publisher, America’s Best Comics.

Tom Strong 18 (December 2002)

Tom Strong #18

I think all of the jokes Moore gives Svetlana X–proud Russian science hero who has an interesting way of saying things (Moore gives her the cursing, only with accurate if misunderstood translation)–just primes for the big finish. He ends the story arc involving the giant space ants with a great cheap joke. There’s a lot of humor throughout, but the finish is an easy, wonderful joke.

Sprouse gets three big moments this issue. He’s an illustrating intergalactic battle and the script builds to each reveal. Sprouse has to make each bigger than the last. Given the first one involves a solar flare from the sun, it’s an accomplishment he’s able to properly amp up the others.

There’s good stuff with the supporting cast and Tom finally gets himself back in joint. He and Svetlana are hilarious together (he’s too polite to correct her).

As usual, Strong is reliable.

B+ 

CREDITS

The Last Roundup; writer, Alan Moore; penciller, Chris Sprouse; inker, Karl Story; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Kristy Quinn and Scott Dunbier; publisher, America’s Best Comics.

Tom Strong 17 (August 2002)

Tom Strong #17

Moore’s subplot for this issue is Tesla and her fire monster boyfriend, Val. Mostly with her mom trying to keep the progress of their relationship quiet in front of Tom. It never gets a full resolution but Moore foreshadows one nicely.

The main plot is the preparation for the space battle against the giant ants. Giant space ants. Moore is kind of doing fifties sci-fi with the ants, but not exactly–Sprouse gets to mix sci-fi elements. It’s simultaneously retro and mainstream modern. Moore and Sprouse fit a lot into Tom Strong, they never let it get too much into one genre or another.

The only dragging scene is Tom going and visiting the intelligence on Venus or whatever planet. It’s a talking heads scene with a rock. It’s not bad, it’s just pointless.

Great subplot with the Strongmen too. Moore certainly appears to love writing for them.

B+ 

CREDITS

Ant Fugue!; writer, Alan Moore; penciller, Chris Sprouse; inker, Karl Story; colorist, Alex Sinclair; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Neal Pozner, Kristy Quinn and Scott Dunbier; publisher, America’s Best Comics.

Tom Strong 16 (April 2002)

Tom Strong #16

Moore has a bunch of fun this issue. He enlists the Strongmen of America and they even get to sleepover with the Strong’s. The way he handles the absurdity of these kids getting to sleep over at a superhero’s is great and all, but having Dhalua call their mothers’ to get permission is even better.

And then there’s Tesla’s little fire monster boyfriend who Tom doesn’t like. That subplot’s wonderful because Moore shows it a little from Tom’s perspective–his daughter’s moon-eyed and he doesn’t approve–but Moore’s really showing it from Tesla’s. And she knows what she’s doing.

The main plot has to do with an alien invasion–it’s actually a little Cowboys vs. Aliens (I’m sure Moore was fine not getting credit for that movie) as the guest star is an intergalactic cowboy. Great details from Moore on that back story and some wonderful art.

Outstanding stuff.

B+ 

CREDITS

Some Call Him the Space Cowboy; writer, Alan Moore; penciller, Chris Sprouse; inker, Karl Story; colorist, Alex Sinclair; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Neal Pozner, Kristy Quinn and Scott Dunbier; publisher, America’s Best Comics.

Tom Strong 15 (March 2002)

Tom Strong #15

Moore plots out the issue precisely, not just how he uses the action, but also how he uses Tesla. The issue is just as much hers as Tom’s… or maybe even a little bit more.

The issue opens with her disappearing under extreme circumstances. Tom, Dhalua and Solomon have to go rescue her. Moore gets his expository dialogue about Tesla’s history exploring volcanos done while he’s talking about the protective suits everyone is wearing. It’s a little thing, but brilliantly executed.

The issue then has some exploration before Moore brings Tesla into it. A lot of the issue is spent with Tom not thinking and Tesla thinking. The characters figure things out–Moore doesn’t pause to let the reader figure them out, the reader’s going to hear about them, Moore needs the characters to do it.

It’s an interesting form of action.

Excellent art from Sprouse and Karl Story too.

B+ 

CREDITS

Ring of Fire!; writer, Alan Moore; penciller, Chris Sprouse; inker, Karl Story; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Neal Pozner, Kristy Quinn and Scott Dunbier; publisher, America’s Best Comics.

Miracleman 16 (December 1988)

Moore bites off a lot for this final issue to the arc. It isn’t enough Miracleman and company will turn the world into a utopia, Moore has to sell it. He uses great detail–like the Warpsmiths liking the Inuit language the most–to make things process. He also throws in a lot of personality. Heavy metal gangs turning Kid Miracleman into a sensation; it’s unnecessary but perfect.

And Liz. How Moore deals with Liz is crazy good. Winter comes back, but she’s kind of comic relief. Liz figures in differently. One has to wonder if Moore always had this plan for her.

There’s a bit of joking at Thatcher’s expense. Moore is having a good time, after all.

Miracleman is not a superhero comic. Maybe Moore never intended it to be one, just let it pretend like on Gargunza’s tapes.

Fabulous work from Totleben too. The art is breathtaking.

A+ 

CREDITS

Olympus, Chapter Six: Olympus; writer, Alan Moore; pencillers, John Totleben and Thomas Yeates; inker, Totleben; colorist, Sam Parsons; letterer, Wayne Truman; editor, Letitia Glozer; publisher, Eclipse.

Miracleman 15 (November 1988)

7976 20051127175750 large

What’s incredible–and possibly singular–about how Moore approaches Miracleman is his distance. There are moments this issue where another writer might wink at superhero comics. Moore doesn’t. Even in those moments, he’s only writing this one. More so, he’s only writing this moment, even though it’s technically a flashback.

London is destroyed, decimated. There is no happiness. Moore pulls Miracleman away from humanity even more; tellingly, Totleben doesn’t do any of his “beauty of Miracleman” panels. The visual poetry is violence and blood. Even in the small panels.

Moore caps it off with Miracleman’s final shedding of his human self, possibly through the most humane act possible. It’s so sad it makes one despondent. Not the act or event itself, but how Moore and Totleben tell it.

I think there are slow parts to the issue. Maybe too much time spent on filler. But it doesn’t matter… it’s amazing.

A 

CREDITS

Olympus, Chapter Five: Nemesis; writer, Alan Moore; artist, John Totleben; colorist, Sam Parsons; letterer, Wayne Truman; editor, Letitia Glozer; publisher, Eclipse.

Miracleman 14 (April 1988)

7975 20051127175716 large

As far as the art goes, it’s near perfect. Moore’s script (presumably with panel arrangement), Totleben’s art, it’s outstanding.

And most of the issue is excellent too. The stuff with the Moran family, the stuff with Miracleman and the other super-powered beings setting up their club… well, actually that decision is Moore’s second most questionable this issue. Miracleman, Miraclewoman, the other aliens, they set up a superhero club, something apparently all worlds with superheroes do. It feels too obvious.

The real problem is with how much abuse Moore throws at Billy Bates. He’s been being tortured by other kids for a number of issues now, always resisting the urge to turn into Kid Miracleman. Moore goes too far with it; it’s too much torture. Moore’s practically martyring the kid.

The bookends flow throughout the issue; during one recollection, Miracleman dances. It’s crazy, fantastic; easily makes up for the bumps.

A- 

CREDITS

Olympus, Chapter Four: Pantheon; writer, Alan Moore; artist, John Totleben; colorist, Sam Parsons; letterer, Wayne Truman; editor, Letitia Glozer; publisher, Eclipse.

Miracleman 13 (November 1987)

7974 20051127175652 large

It’s an awesome issue. Not just in the flashback plotting and reveals, but with how Moore structures Miracleman’s narration from the present. Even though the present day stuff is all static and all summary, Moore manages to get in an amazing finish for this issue. Moore doesn’t try to frustrate the reader with foreshadowing, he instead overwhelms.

Miracleman and Miraclewoman go to the galactic council or whatever it’s called and there’s a bunch of political stuff set to Totleben’s trippy alien designs. Miracleman often has smaller panels, so it’s impressive how much Totleben’s designs resonate even if they don’t get close-ups.

But there’s also stuff with Billy and Liz and how it will all shake out to get the story to the future bookends. Moore juggles the otherworldly and the human; he brings them together in the soft cliffhanger.

It’s an outstanding issue. Definitely the best with Totleben’s art.

A 

CREDITS

Olympus, Chapter Three: Hermes; writer, Alan Moore; artist, John Totleben; colorist, Sam Parsons; letterer, Wayne Truman; editor, Letitia Glozer; publisher, Eclipse.

Miracleman 12 (September 1987)

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More hints at what’s to come–both in the bookends and in the present action. Moore’s pretty slick with one of the reveals–so quiet maybe it’s a typo–but the other, revealed on the last page but suggested much earlier… Well, things might just get really dramatic here in a bit.

This issue reveals Miraclewoman’s back story. It involves the evil scientist, of course, which sadly reminds one of Chuck Austen’s terrible conclusion to that story arc. This issue continues with Totleben, who does quite well. He’s really getting the idea of Miracleman as an Adonis, not just a regular superhero.

There are the surprises, some great panels–big and tiny, Moore’s got Totleben doing these practical thumbnails with great composition–and some really odd, nice moments with the supporting cast. The insect people are interesting, but Moore’s clearly saving more for later.

Excellent comic, though it ends abruptly.

A- 

CREDITS

Olympus, Chapter Two: Aphrodite; writer, Alan Moore; artist, John Totleben; colorist, Sam Parsons; letterer, Wayne Truman; editor, Letitia Glozer; publisher, Eclipse.

Miracleman 11 (May 1987)

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Wow. Even with Moore’s overcooked prose–it’s from Miracleman’s memoirs–wow.

It opens five years later, with Miracleman somewhere above the Earth in a floating castle. I think (about the location, not the time).

Moore opens with these grandiose images and then brings things down again. New–and lovely–artist John Tolteben can do both fantastical and mundane with ease. The story Miracleman is telling is the continuation from the previous issue. This issue he has a run-in with the space aliens and Moore has a big reveal of a new character.

Except these are relatively small. The battle with the aliens is just a fight scene, Liz in danger is just a thriller scene. Totleben doesn’t let the visuals get too big, so as the bookends work better. He and Moore are off to a great start together.

Moore’s isn’t rigidly constrained; he might even be having fun.

A

CREDITS

Olympus, Chapter One: Cronos; writer, Alan Moore; artist, John Totleben; colorist, Sam Parsons; letterer, Wayne Truman; editor, Cat Yronwode; publisher, Eclipse.

Miracleman 10 (December 1986)

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John Ridgway returns to ink Veitch and it works out nicely. Veitch has fine composition, with the Ridgway inks the panels all have a lot of personality. I love how Mike looks so ancient and tired.

Most of the issue is spent with two aliens who have come to Earth to check on the miracle-people. Turns out there are more of them than Moore previously revealed (at least one more) and the aliens use the alternate universe in a similar way.

The stuff with the baby, while beautifully rendered, gets a little tiresome. Moore amps up the pressure on the characters only to immediately release it when a scene is winding up. The baby’s also not visually around a lot and sometimes when Liz and Mike talk about her, it sounds like there’s a monster in the crib.

Moore uses some lovely storytelling devices here too. Really lovely ones.

B 

CREDITS

Mindgames; writer, Alan Moore; penciller, Rick Veitch; inker, John Ridgway; colorist, Ron Courtney; letterer, Wayne Truman; editor, Cat Yronwode; publisher, Eclipse.

Miracleman 9 (July 1986)

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That is one ugly baby.

Sorry, getting ahead of myself.

This issue features Moore’s returns after a reprints issue and fresh artists. Rick Veitch pencils, Rick Bryant inks. It’s a major improvement over Austen–the panel compositions are once again ambitious–but it’s not particularly great art. Veitch and Bryant do a little Mick Anglo homage and things of that nature, but it’s too broad. Miracleman thrives on visual realism.

The story, which has Liz giving birth to her miracle baby, is pretty good. She goes into labor the first page, then Moore resolves the last of the story arc (more like clean-up) while getting the delivery done. It’s a cute narrative, with Miracleman thinking about the beautiful of life and his place in the universe. Moore manages to sell it too. He’s got an amazing amount of rope on Miracleman.

Oddly, the last panel is the best drawn.

B 

CREDITS

Scenes from the Nativity; writer, Alan Moore; penciller, Rick Veitch; inker, Rick Bryant; colorist, Ron Courtney; letterer, Wayne Truman; editor, Cat Yronwode; publisher, Eclipse.

Miracleman 7 (April 1986)

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I wonder how Alan Moore felt about seeing these finished pages. He turned in a great script, sent it off, got back these Chuck Austen pages. It’s a shock he didn’t quit comics then.

Oddly enough, Austen is better this issue than last. He’s still terrible though. He can’t do a subplot about some former Nazi youth being excited at the arrival of the Aryan Miracleman. Austen hasn’t got an ounce of subtlety. It’s shocking.

He must have been cheap.

The issue finishes up Miracleman’s encounter with his creator. Moore comes up with what should be a beautiful sequence for that particular finale and Austen drops the ball on it. Moore’s trying to go between childlike wonder and visceral violence. Austen doesn’t exhibit the ability for either.

It’s very odd to read a story in a visual medium and be left recalling it more vividly than the artist rendered it.

C+ 

CREDITS

Bodies; writer, Alan Moore; artist, Chuck Austen; colorist, Ron Courtney; letterer, Wayne Truman; editor, Cartherine Yronwode; publisher, Eclipse.

Miracleman 6 (February 1986)

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And here we have the first appearance of Chuck Austen on the art. And wow. Wow. I complained about Alan Davis–who does the first chapter–I complained about his work on faces. But he got the mythic quality of the story. He got how people, even if they aren’t beautifully drawn, do look different.

Austen doesn’t get anything. It’s bad. It’s worse than I… it’s bad.

The story’s good though. Moore neatly ties all the jungle scenery to the finale (or the cliffhanger). Austen butchers it. It should be great stuff but nope. It looks like a crappy eighties cartoon.

Anyway, there are some other really good moments in the modern day story. The art’s not good, but there are good moments.

Then there’s Young Miracleman story with Ridgeway art. It’s more cute than anything else, but it’s good. Moore shows some whimsy, which the main feature doesn’t have.

B- 

CREDITS

…And Every Dog Its Day!; writer, Alan Moore; artists, Alan Davis, Chuck Austen and John Ridgway; colorist, Ron Courtney; letterer, Wayne Truman; editors, Dez Skinn and Cartherine Yronwode; publisher, Eclipse.

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