Batman 400 (October 1986)

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I hate this comic. I hate how DC used it, I hate how Moench writes it, even if it was an editorial decision.

There are nods to Moench’s run, but only so far as he gets to give each of his characters a page to sort of say goodbye. There’s no closure on any of the story lines, not a single one.

There’s also a lot of crappy art. It’s an anniversary issue with a lot of big names drawing either poorly or against their style. Rick Leonardi and Arthur Adams are some of the worst offenders, but not even Brian Bolland does particularly well. Ken Steacy is the only decent one.

Moench’s writing for a different audience than usual, the casual Batman reader, not the regular. Apparently he thinks the casual readers like endless exposition and incredible stupidity. It’s a distressing, long read; a terrible capstone to Moench’s run.

D- 

CREDITS

Resurrection Night!; writer, Doug Moench; pencillers, John Byrne, Steve Lightle, George Perez, Paris Cullins, Bill Sienkiewicz, Art Adams, Tom Sutton, Steve Leialoha, Joe Kubert, Ken Steacy, Rick Leonardi and Brian Bolland; inkers, Byrne, Bruce Patterson, Perez, Larry Mahlstedt, Sienkiewicz, Terry Austin, Ricardo Villagran, Leialoha, Kubert, Steacy, Karl Kesel and Bolland; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterers, John Costanza and Andy Kubert; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

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Detective Comics 546 (January 1985)

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From the start, it’s kind of clear Colan’s rushing on the art. Pretty much everyone looks like Dracula, from villainous Mayor Hill to angry little Jason Todd. Hill’s plotting, Jason’s being mean to adoptive mom, Nocturna, as they’re out for an evening walk.

In the meantime, Batman’s on the run from the cops, who don’t look like Dracula just because Colan and inker Smith draw them all really fat.

Moench writes a hurried story, really pulling on the heartstrings for the Nocturna subplot. He’s got a lot of balls in the air–her, the corrupt mayor, Bruce’s love life–and none of the threads are particularly interesting. Doesn’t help Bruce and Jason get the lightest characterization.

Then in the Green Arrow backup, Ollie goes to his high school reunion and fights a guy in what apparently becomes the Vigilante costume. The art, from Jerome Moore and Bruce Patterson, is good.

CREDITS

Hill’s Descent; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Adrienne Roy. Green Arrow, Clash Reunion; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Jerome Moore; inker, Bruce Patterson; colorist, Jeanine Casey. Letterer, Ben Oda; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Camelot 3000 6 (July 1983)

Dick Giordano pitches in to help ink (or finish) and it’s a small disaster. This issue takes a completely different tone thanks to the art change. It’s the faces, really. The detail is gone from them.

After what’s so far the series peak last issue, Barr returns the comic to a middling affair. Arthur and Guinevere are getting married, which brings in questions about Arthur as the savior of the human race. Barr hasn’t thought it out. He also mucks around with the duality between being a regular person and a reincarnated one. Like I said, middling.

Barr doesn’t even keep up the tension through the comic. There’s a lot of drama, but it relieves, then tenses again. Barr never gives the reader enough information to know what’s going on with all the characters.

Camelot 3000 was DC’s first twelve issue maxi-series; I think Barr needed some more issues.

CREDITS

Royal Funeral; writer, Mike W. Barr; penciller, Brian Bolland, Bruce Patterson and Dick Giordano; inker, Patterson and Giordano; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.


Contemporaneously…

Camelot 3000 5 (April 1983)

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Well, it’s only taken Barr to the fifth issue but he’s finally made Camelot 3000 a compelling read.

He opens with Morgan LeFay’s story and it’s a good one. The finish is ludicrously contrived–without any acknowledgment of the contrivance–but the idea of a medieval witch who goes off to space and revolutionizes an alien race is a gleeful homage to Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Then Barr moves on to the Knights of the Round Table, who are bickering amongst themselves and generally unhappy with their newfound lot in life. The characters all of a sudden become interesting with all this turmoil and the issue benefits from it.

As for Barr’s characterization of Arthur as slightly deranged and a hopefully murderous cuckold… it’s interesting for a mainstream comic to say the least.

And Bolland does well in this contained setting. He’s not lazy here and he has some fantastic panels.

CREDITS

The Tale of Morgan Le Fay!; writer, Mike W. Barr; penciller, Brian Bolland; inker, Bruce Patterson; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.


Contemporaneously…

Camelot 3000 4 (March 1983)

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Bolland’s art gets downright lazy quite a few times this issue and not with his white backgrounds either. He’s losing control of faces here; no matter how many iconic double-page spreads he does, he’s not going to make up for lazy faces.

The issue’s weak overall. Barr’s vision of future governments is incredibly similar to modern ones–the United States, China, some vague Soviets and even more vague Africans. And for all the multiculturalism of the resurrected Knights of the Round Table, Barr’s not above an evil gay dude at the United Nations out to spoil the heroes’ fun.

As for the heroes, Barr uses the human character to state the obvious. It’s annoying at the start of the issue and insufferable by the end.

Bolland also shows another weakness… the inability to make a big battle scene interesting. It’s sad seeing such good illustrating with such weak composition.

D 

CREDITS

Assault on New Camelot!; writer, Mike W. Barr; penciller, Brian Bolland; inker, Bruce Patterson; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Camelot 3000 3 (February 1983)

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What a goofy ending. Barr’s going for fifties sci-fi, which doesn’t seem appropriate, especially since he doesn’t have any humor about the book. Camelot 3000 is all very straight-faced, even Queen Guinevere’s futuristic battle garb being comic book female hero trampy. Meanwhile, Lancelot gets a bitching set of space armor.

Barr handles the love triangle unexpectedly, which starts the issue off on better footing than it finishes. He also reveals the source of the alien invasion, contriving a connection to the resurrected Knights of the Round Table. Why’s it contrived? Because he didn’t write the first issue with the revelation incorporated. The series would be much stronger if he had.

Bolland draws a lot of different stuff this issue, lots of future Earth locales, but he continues to ignore backgrounds once he’s done an establishing panel or two. The comic suffers for that decision.

Still, it’s mildly engaging.

CREDITS

Knight Quest!; writer, Mike W. Barr; penciller, Brian Bolland; inker, Bruce Patterson; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.


Contemporaneously…

Camelot 3000 2 (January 1983)

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This issue’s goofiness isn’t all Barr’s fault. For instance, Bolland’s the one who reduces a riot scene to three people against a white backdrop. Guess he didn’t want to take the time on backgrounds.

But amidst the combined, considerable goofiness, there are a couple good things coming through. First is the love triangle between Arthur, Lancelot and the queen whose name I can’t remember. Guinevere? Anyway, Barr continues it straight–they’re all reincarnated or resurrected, but the history exists. It gives Camelot some actual volume, which the series desperately needs. The human protagonist from the first issue is barely present here. Barr uses him to do a Marvel-style recap of the first issue but nothing else.

The other good part is Merlin and Arthur’s bickering. Merlin treats Arthur like a moron. It’s funny, especially since Bolland draws Merlin so mean.

The art’s masterful, but boring. Maybe it’s the subject.

CREDITS

Many Are Called…; writer, Mike W. Barr; penciller, Brian Bolland; inker, Bruce Patterson; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.


Contemporaneously…

Camelot 3000 1 (December 1982)

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Besides the beautiful, precise art from Brian Bolland and Bruce Patterson, it’s hard to determine exactly what Camelot 3000 has going for it from the first issue.

Mike W. Barr writes the human protagonist pretty well; his emotional turmoil is believable, for example. But a lot of the comic features a larger than life King Arthur, who remains unperturbed whether he’s waking up after two thousand years, fighting aliens or playing with ray guns. He’s a lousy character, especially since Barr changes the focus from the kid (who becomes Arthur’s squire) to Arthur around the halfway point.

While the art’s beautiful, it’s ineffective. Bolland’s occasional full page spreads never have enough oomph. The Lady of the Lake raising up Excalibur is an iconic shot but a dull scene.

Barr doesn’t spend enough time establishing the setting either, though he deserves credit for dropping the reader into an alien invasion cold.

CREDITS

The Past and Future King!; writer, Mike W. Barr; penciller, Brian Bolland; inker, Bruce Patterson; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.


Contemporaneously…

Dark Horse Presents 105 (January 1996)

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Dark Horse had a misprint this issue. A couple pages were out of sequence on Niles’s Cal McDonald. Well, that misprint in addition to continuing Shaw’s Alan Brand and Musgrove and Chamberlin’s Pink Tornado.

What’s funniest about Shaw this issue is how lazy he gets. Lots and lots of white space here. Alan Brand started out interesting and then got idiotic very quickly. As it did, Shaw’s art got lazier and lazier.

As for Pink Tornado, the art’s a bit better this issue. Musgrove and Chamberlin have problems with eyes. They also, again, write poorly. It’s amazing someone at Dark Horse thought this material constituted quality. Given the subject matter (a fetus as a superhero), maybe they were just trying to get press.

Niles’s story ends. It’s bad, but fine.

This installment of One Trick finds Pope plotting a very European twist. The cliffhanger’s sort of confusing, but excellent overall.

CREDITS

Cal McDonald, Hairball, Part Four; story by Steve Niles; pencils by Casey Jones; inks by Bruce Patterson; lettering by Sean Konot. Alan Bland, That’s Mr. Painter to You, Part Four; script and art by Stan Shaw. The One Trick Rip-Off, Part Five; story and art by Paul Pope; lettering by Michael Neno. The Pink Tornado, Part Three; story and art by Scott Musgrove and Darick Chamberlin; lettering by Konot. Edited by Bob Schreck and Scott Allie.

Dark Horse Presents 104 (December 1995)

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Musgove and Chamberlin have a Helen Keller joke in this installment of The Pink Tornado, presumably because they thought it makes them edgy. They’re really just incredibly stupid and rather terrible writers. Their dialogue’s endless and their art’s bad.

As for Niles’s Cal McDonald, it’s fine. I mean, it’s bad, but it’s Jones’s fault. Niles writes an action story and Jones isn’t capable of illustrating an action sequence. It’s maybe the best thing I’ve ever read with Niles’s name on it, as he doesn’t profusely narrate the action sequence.

Shaw’s Alan Bland is, again, weak.

But then there’s Pope and The One Trick Rip-Off. Pope injects magical realism into his urban gang story here. While Pope’s art does lend itself towards the fantastic, his story is set–until this installment–in reality. It’s an odd development, one he handles beautifully.

Oh, and another harmless Pekar and Sacco one pager.

CREDITS

The Pink Tornado, Part Two; story and art by Scott Musgrove and Darick Chamberlin; lettering by Sean Konot. Cal McDonald, Hairball, Part Three; story by Steve Niles; pencils by Casey Jones; inks by Bruce Patterson; lettering by Konot. Alan Bland, That’s Mr. Painter to You, Part Three; script and art by Stan Shaw. The One Trick Rip-Off, Part Four; story and art by Paul Pope; lettering by Michael Neno. Felipe Alfau; story by Harvey Pekar; art by Joe Sacco. Edited by Bob Schreck and Scott Allie.

Dark Horse Presents 103 (November 1995)

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I want to take back all the nice things I said about Shaw’s Alan Bland. This installment is annoying and idiotic–Shaw has so many sight gags, he eventually runs out of space on the page. And the script thinks old hippies (who look more beatnik) are hilarious. It’s atrocious.

Pope’s got second slot, which is nice… makes the issue more digestible. One-Trick continues, with Pope complicating the heist aspect of the narrative. It’s such a delicate mix, overall, between genre and tone. Lots of concentration on race and culture here.

Musgrove and Chamberlin contribute The Pink Tornado. No surprise from Musgrove, it’s decently illustrated and terribly written. Presents‘s emphasis on cartoonists continues to fail.

It has to be bad (besides the Pope) because Niles’s mystery is actually the second best story in the comic. There’s less bad dialogue, only because there’s less dialogue, and the mystery’s mildly interesting.

CREDITS

Alan Bland, That’s Mr. Painter to You, Part Two; script and art by Stan Shaw. The One Trick Rip-Off, Part Three; story and art by Paul Pope; lettering by Michael Neno. The God Trilogy (excerpt); pencils by Jack Kirby; inks by Mike Royer. The Pink Tornado, Part One; story and art by Scott Musgrove and Darick Chamberlin; lettering by Sean Konot. Cal McDonald, Hairball, Part Two; story by Steve Niles; pencils by Casey Jones; inks by Bruce Patterson; lettering by Konot. Edited by Bob Schreck and Scott Allie.

Dark Horse Presents 102 (October 1995)

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Shockingly, the Niles story story this issue–one of his Cal McDonald ones–is mildly inoffensive. It’s poorly written detective narration, but at least he’s work in a recognized genre (badly written detective narration). It’s stupid and Casey Jones’s art isn’t any good… but it’s not intolerable.

Oh, the Marz and Wrightson Aliens story ends this issue too. It’s not as predictable as I thought it was going to be, but it’s still pointless. Maybe it’s setup for a series or something.

Shaw’s Alan Bland, about a floundering painter, is all right. Shaw’s art isn’t quite finished enough for the cartoon look, which he seems to be going for. He’s too busy with lines. But it’s not bad.

Pekar and Sacco contribute another page–this time so Pekar can tell jazz enthusiasts to check out Sun Ra. Thanks Harvey.

The issue ends with a sublime Pope installment. It’s just lovely.

CREDITS

Aliens, Incubation, Part Two; story by Ron Marz; art by Bernie Wrightson; lettering by Sean Konot. Alan Bland, That’s Mr. Painter to You, Part One; script and art by Stan Shaw. Sun Ra; story by Harvey Pekar; art by Joe Sacco. Cal McDonald, Hairball, Part One; story by Steve Niles; pencils by Casey Jones; inks by Bruce Patterson; lettering by Konot. The One Trick Rip-Off, Part Two; story and art by Paul Pope; lettering by Michael Neno. Edited by Bob Schreck and Scott Allie.

Dark Horse Presents 100 3 (August 1995)

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The Concrete story goes on forever, but it’s actually pretty funny how it turns out. Not funny enough to laugh at, but Chadwick definitely comes up with something amusing. Oh, I’ll just spoil it–a mom and son pull a long con on Concrete for something he did back in his first appearance. Decent art, nothing spectacular. Concrete’s just such a miserable character, he’s hard to read sometimes.

Pekar and Sacco have a little story. I still don’t get the appeal. It’s too affected to be real life, so….

Brunetti does a page of funnies, some of which I’ve read. They’re still awesome.

The strangest entry is from Savage, Waskey and Patterson. Waskey and Patterson illustrate an anecdote from Savage about being gay. It’s decent enough, but the art should have been better, more able to adapt an anecdote to comics.

Kelso’s got a socially conscious, depressing piece about homelessness.

CREDITS

Concrete, The Artistic Impulse; story and art by Paul Chadwick; lettering by Bill Spicer. Breakfast at Billy’s; story by Harvey Pekar; art and lettering by Joe Sacco. The Funnies; story, art and lettering by Ivan Brunetti. Faggot Story; story by Dan Savage; art by Jason Waskey and Bruce Patterson; lettering by Sean Konot. Whistle and Queenie; story, art and lettering by Megan Kelso. Edited by Bob Schreck and Scott Allie.

Detective Comics 518 (September 1982)

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It’s decent, underwhelming issue.

In the feature, Batman recovers from his vampire attack–and it’s apparently forgotten Dick was a vampire for a while (he’s fully recovered here, with the explanation being he was hypnotized not converted)–and then gets into a big fight with Deadshot, teaming up with the Human Target posing as Bruce Wayne.

The issues long subplot about Vicki Vale and the Bruce Wayne is Batman photos is resolved and everything is just hunky dory at the end… except the possible suggestion the priest who helped Batman fight the vampires is bad.

Oh, and Dick and Alfred act like sitcom morons. Thank goodness Batman recovers fast.

The Bruce Patterson inks make Newton look like (a better) Jim Aparo. It’s clean, solid superhero art but it’s missing the Newton feel.

The Batgirl backup is overwritten; Randall loves her some wordy exposition. The art is too design oriented; way too static.

CREDITS

The Millionaire Contract; writers, Gerry Conway and Paul Levitz; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Bruce Patterson; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. He with Secrets Fears the Sound…; writer, Barbara J. Randall; artist, Trevor von Eeden; colorist, Jerry Serpe; letterer, Milt Snapinn. Editor, Dick Giordano; publisher, DC Comics.

Robocop: Mortal Coils 4 (December 1993)

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It’s so, so bad. I mean, I thought since Grant turned in a decent third issue, he might be able to pull off a fourth too, but no. It’s just awful. It’s hard to explain how bad it is without sitting down and reading it because it’s just so unbelievable.

Grant goes for this melodramatic ending and then somehow gives his terribly paced limited series too many endings, the first time showing the inspiring human spirit of Robocop with his girlfriend–sorry, sorry, his female lab technician friend–and then having a comedic finale with the U.S. government about to kill Robocop and him getting saved by some asinine nineties punk criminal guy who he teamed up with for a bit.

It’s so funny Dark Horse let their licensed properties tarnish the image. I mean, I always thought Dark Horse at least tried at this point, but not at all.

CREDITS

Writer, Steven Grant; penciller, Nick Gnazzo; inkers, Bruce Patterson and Dave Ryan; colorist, Pamela Rambo; letterer, Patrick Owsley; editors, Anina Bennett and Bob Cooper; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Robocop: Mortal Coils 3 (November 1993)

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Holy cow, Robocop, it’s almost an okay issue!

It doesn’t take much for an issue of this series to be better than before, since the first two issues–and lots of this one–are so exceptionally terribly, but this issue does have some imagination to it.

No, not imagination, sorry, what was I thinking… not imagination. Storytelling competence. Steven Grant’s probably written two thousand comic books, it’d be hard for him not to have one acceptable moment and he does, here in the third issue, and it’s a pretty good moment.

Robocop saves some crooks who are going to strip him for parts and it pays off for him.

Amid Grant’s idiotic Denver as lawless future robot city with Grapes of Wrath bad guys (in terms of setting up labor camps), there’s that one decent moment. Oh, wait, there’s Grant’s super-buff, super-tough guy too. He loves those lamers.

CREDITS

Writer, Steven Grant; penciller, Nick Gnazzo; inker, Bruce Patterson; colorist, Pamela Rambo; letterer, Patrick Owsley; editors, Anina Bennett and Bob Cooper; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Robocop: Mortal Coils 2 (October 1993)

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The problem, occasionally, here at Comics Fondle is the length constraint. Each review of a standard issue is one hundred and fifty words. I have five words to say about Robocop: Mortal Coils issue two. What a piece of crap.

So how to fill the other hundred words?

Does it matter what’s wrong with it?

I mean, does one even have to read further to figure out why a licensed property comic from the nineties is a piece of crap? Doesn’t it go without saying the writing is awful and stupid and misogynistic? I did like seeing some reference to the Robocop movies before Robocop 3, however; I guess that slipped past the editors, since the license is apparently only for Robocop 3. They’re arguably discrete references.

Or the art? Is it a surprise nineties art isn’t exactly… visually tolerable?

No.

There’s nothing worth saying about this comic at all.

CREDITS

Writer, Steven Grant; penciller, Nick Gnazzo; inker, Bruce Patterson; colorist, Pamela Rambo; letterer, Patrick Owsley; editors, Anina Bennett and Bob Cooper; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Robocop: Mortal Coils 1 (September 1993)

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How to start… maybe licensing Robocop 3 instead of Robocop is a bad idea. I mean, it’s not like The Terminator, where licensing got all split up, sequel after sequel. Dark Horse could have gotten Robocop and not had to do sequels to Robocop 3, right?

This issue is Robocop in Denver. It’s kind of like Passenger 57 is Die Hard on an airplane. No, it’s not. Look at how hard I’m trying to figure out how to talk about this tripe.

Denver is apparently worse off than Detroit, which is stupid and doesn’t fit into the movie mythology–it’s another Judge Dredd lift, or maybe a Road Warrior one. I don’t know. I don’t care. It’s amazing how lifeless licensed properties got for Dark Horse just a few years after they revolutionized the genre with Aliens.

Mortal Coils is going to be awful; banal and inane. Three more issues….

CREDITS

Writer, Steven Grant; penciller, Nick Gnazzo; inker, Bruce Patterson; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Patrick Owsley; editors, Anina Bennett and Bob Cooper; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

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