2000 AD 10 (30 April 1977)

Overall, it’s not a terrible issue. Nothing really stands out as good or bad. The first half of the Dan Dare is okay even–Belardinelli really does do a lot better with space battles than anything else. The Invasion entry has decent art from Eric Bradbury and a nice reveal at the end. Finley-Day’s dialogue’s moronic, but it’s always moronic. Studio Giolitti does a little better on the Flesh writing. Boix continues to draw dinosaurs rampaging well. The Harlem Heroes has a great panel or two from Gibbons. Again, dumb but not terrible–the story’s plotted okay. M.A.C.H. 1 rips off some … Continue reading 2000 AD 10 (30 April 1977)

2000 AD 5 (26 March 1977)

It’s a distressingly tepid issue. Even with Judge Dredd fighting a giant robot gorilla–or maybe because of that emphasis on absurd bigness. The Dredd story does look good though–Carlos Ezquerra bakes dry humor into every panel. The opening Invasion story is a bore. Finley-Day’s just writing dialogue for action scenes and he’s not particularly good at it. Sarompas’s art on the story is lacking. At least the art on Flesh is good. Nothing happens in the story except dinosaur rampage (including raptors before anyone knew to call them raptors). Sola’s artwork is beautiful, which makes up for a lot. But … Continue reading 2000 AD 5 (26 March 1977)

The Boys 34 (September 2009)

And the Ezquerras are back for the finish. It’s an awesome finish for with the Super Nazi going down–though, really, Hughie getting queasy over them attacking a super-powered Nazi is a real problem. Maybe with a vaguely sympathetic superhero it’d be different, but not this guy. I assume Ennis knows what he’s doing with it. Vasili (from Russia) pops in for a bit and it’s good to have him back in the book. He puts Butcher and Mother’s Milk pleasantly off-guard, which they never are otherwise. Great resolution with the Female too. Even if Ennis doesn’t want to concentrate on … Continue reading The Boys 34 (September 2009)

The Boys 32 (July 2009)

My bad, the Female doesn’t die. I thought she did (and I took it, as a reader, in total stride). But she makes it. And then the Boys get into a big fight with a second-rate super team. Lots of violence, but with the Ezquerra art it’s all very digestible. A couple things stand out this issue. First, Annie gets a new costume and new origin story. While the costume appears to be a dig at Marvel’s costumes for various female heroes, the rape-centered origin is straight out of DC. The Ezquerra’ art on her subplot is awful but Ennis … Continue reading The Boys 32 (July 2009)

The Boys 31 (June 2009)

Holy crap. Ennis kills one of The Boys (or so it seems). It’s a strange occurrence for a few reasons. First, it doesn’t seem like a big change in the series. Ennis has already done a lot of jarring things, so killing off a lead doesn’t faze as much as it could. But it should, right? Killing off a lead didn’t even seem possible before this issue. And, now, after reading it, I’m disconnect from it. It makes me question how invested I am in the characters versus Ennis’s storytelling. It probably helps Carlos and Hector Ezquerra are on the … Continue reading The Boys 31 (June 2009)

Battlefields 3 (January 2013)

Ennis saves the big tank battle for the last issue of the arc; he also does away with most of the historical details. They’re an aside. The tank crew’s experience in the battle is the focus. In many ways the tank crew are bystanders in the issue. Ennis shows how they experience what’s happening to their fellow soldiers; not a lot happens to Stiles and company themselves. Maybe because Ennis didn’t really establish anyone but Stiles, his sidekick and Stiles’s fellow tank commander. Even with the shift in tone, Ennis is able to make the arc feel seamless. Once again, … Continue reading Battlefields 3 (January 2013)

Battlefields 2 (December 2012)

Stiles and his sidekick spend the issue away from the rest of the crew, observing a famous historical battle. They participate, but Ennis mostly just uses Stiles to explain what’s going on. He does it in such a way, of course, it never feels like exposition. It should though–I mean, Stiles’s sidekick is a generic new recruit, the perfect person to be getting the exposition. Maybe the horrific conditions makes it seem less obvious, but it really didn’t occur to me how obvious it could have been until after finishing the issue. During, one can’t concentrate on anything but what … Continue reading Battlefields 2 (December 2012)

Battlefields 1 (November 2012)

It wouldn’t be Battlefields without the Tankies and Sergeant Stiles. But Ennis is also doing a Korean War story–and drawing attention to the lack of attention the Korean War gets–so Ennis is coming from a different place. He’s educating. A lot about Battlefields is different. Stiles is older and more self-reflective, for example. Te tank crew isn’t as important (so far). Stiles has a big scene with another WWII veteran as Ennis emphasizes the men returning to battle after an unsatisfying peacetime. And the Ezquerra brothers are a little loose on the art. It’s still distinct and good, but it’s … Continue reading Battlefields 1 (November 2012)

Adventures in the Rifle Brigade 3 (December 2000)

Ennis brings Rifle Brigade safely home for its delightful conclusion. It’s a somewhat busier issue than usual, as it opens with the boys still in the SS prison. They get out quickly, sabotage some German laboratory and head off for their escape. Actually, most of the issue is action–they’re escaping in a stolen plane and elite German commandos (genetically engineered thugs) attack them. Ennis is able to get in a constant stream of jokes–while the action’s going on, while the Germans are recovering from the attack. The only place he doesn’t do a lot of humor is at the end … Continue reading Adventures in the Rifle Brigade 3 (December 2000)

Adventures in the Rifle Brigade 2 (November 2000)

The lunacy continues. And maybe amplifies a little. While the boys in the Rifle Brigade are being questioned by a busty SS woman, the regular army guy who caught them is bickering with the SS commander. Basically, Ennis just uses the structure to get in as many Nazi jokes as possible. There’s a beauty to his comic writing–especially the panel where, after the Rifle Brigade has inspired the entire prison to sing about the manly deficiencies of the Nazi Party leaders, a Brit in front of the firing squad gets off a bit of the chorus. It’s somewhat hard to … Continue reading Adventures in the Rifle Brigade 2 (November 2000)

Adventures in the Rifle Brigade 1 (October 2000)

Rifle Brigade might be Ennis at his funniest (this first series anyway). He mixes absurdly graphic violence with constant humor here. There’s nothing going on but his attempt to get a laugh out of situations. He even takes the time to set up jokes, like the gay soldier trying to get a dying kiss out of his captain. But it doesn’t stop there, since the captain’s now suspicious. Ezquerra’s artwork is fantastic stuff. He can make just an illustration worth laughing over (The Piper, for example, brings a grin whatever panel he’s in) but he’s also able to do all … Continue reading Adventures in the Rifle Brigade 1 (October 2000)

Battlefields 6 (May 2010)

The curse of the full page panels. Ezquerra has two in the last few pages and it hurts the reading experience. The tank battle needed more elucidation, not full page panels. I have no idea how this issue ends, but I’m assuming since Ennis is literal with Battlefields, it’s not ending with a ghost. It’s more Ezquerra’s fault, his panicked faces are all looking alike at the end of the issue. But it’s also Ennis’s fault for not leaving enough room. The confusion leaves the arc a lot less steady than I thought possible for a Battlefields story. Sadly, Tankies … Continue reading Battlefields 6 (May 2010)

Battlefields 5 (April 2010)

I’d like to call a foul on Ennis here for playing the reader but it’s not his fault. Maybe he knew the reader would get comfy, a little relaxed, laughing at the jokes… only to have the last couple pages of the issue knock the wind out of him or her. So instead of calling foul, I’ll just say he makes a great turn at the end. I can’t imagine what this story would read like without Ezquerra. He does such a perfect job with the expressions. He manages the humor, the exhaustion, the anger and the horror in such … Continue reading Battlefields 5 (April 2010)

Battlefields 4 (March 2010)

Hey, it’s the sequel to Tankies. I didn’t even realize from the cover. Well, I’m not sure it’s exactly a sequel to Tankies, rather another adventure of that tank crew. If I remember the original correctly, the plotting’s basically the same. The issue opens and closes with a different group of characters, here it’s some Nazis. Then we get to our crew. The majority of the issue is talk, with the Sarge (he gets a last name here–Stiles–though he might have had it in the first series) talking to an American about an off-page tank attack (the Germans from the … Continue reading Battlefields 4 (March 2010)

Battlefields: The Tankies 3 (July 2009)

The final issue of Tankies is even better than I remembered and maybe even imagined. I’m really glad I forgot the ending–Ennis gives it two finishes, one for the tank company, one for the colonel at command–and it’s just perfect. What the colonel’s ending does is a little different–Tankies is not just a standalone story, it’s Ennis’s story about the men in tank companies…. But packaging it in Tankies, with the humor, with the fourteen-hour present action for three issues, Ennis never gets sentimental (there’s no dedication, for example). Instead, he simply presents the situation of the tank companies and … Continue reading Battlefields: The Tankies 3 (July 2009)

Battlefields: The Tankies 2 (May 2009)

Oh, it’s lovely. Ennis has something of a narrative tree going here–he has his main story with the tankies, but then he’s got command’s story. Command’s story has a little to do with the tankies, but not much. It has it’s own subplot. I think maybe half the issue has nothing to do, immediately, with the story of the tank company. So, instead, there’s the large picture of the situation and then this one tank moving through it, with Ennis moving back and forth. Tank stories–the ones I’ve read or the films I’ve seen–are intimate, because it’s just a handful … Continue reading Battlefields: The Tankies 2 (May 2009)

Battlefields: The Tankies 1 (April 2009)

I’ve always claimed The Tankies as Ennis’s best of the Battlefields (first series, anyway). I didn’t really remember why. Then I read the first issue again. Ennis sets up the story as a mission story. Maybe not even a mission, maybe just a part of a mission story. The present action is continuous. He opens the comic with a page of text explaining the situation to the reader. The white text on black alone foreshadows dread. However, Ezquerra’s art is funny. His character expressions–and Ennis is dealing with British stereotypes for the most part, so there are lots of them–are … Continue reading Battlefields: The Tankies 1 (April 2009)