Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil #4 (January 2018)

Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil #4

I wasn’t particularly concerned about Sherlock Frankenstein #4 going into it. I knew Lemire would have something good cooked up.

And he does. He and Rubín don’t just do the history of Sherlock Frankenstein, they do the history of the Black Hammer universe, at least in the twentieth century. It goes from Golden to Silver to Bronze. Lemire doesn’t break out all the heroes it goes through, just gives Rubín space to show off some familiar–and not familiar–designs.

Lots of double page spreads this issue. Rubín goes crazy with it to great success. Lucy and Sherlock’s meeting pays off.

And the ending of the book, which has very little to do with Black Hammer itself, is a perfect finish to this series. Lemire’s been doing a lot with the “supervillains” of BH. The finish embraces that work (more than it does having a Lucy investigates issue).

It’ll be interesting to see what Lemire does with the next spin-off, which is Lucy-less.

CREDITS

The Undying Love of Sherlock Frankenstein; writer, Jeff Lemire; artist, colorist, and letterer, David Rubín; editors, Cardner Clark and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

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Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil 3 (December 2017)

Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil #3

The only thing wrong with Sherlock Frankenstein is realizing it’s almost over. I don’t know why I thought it was six issues; just being hopeful, I guess.

Lucy’s investigation continues, even after someone has attacked her in the sanctuary. Real quick–apparently Black Hammer (the character) got his powers from the New Gods? I don’t think the New Gods and their planet were in Black Hammer. Maybe I’m wrong but… it seems like a fresh reveal.

Anyway, the investigation continues and Lucy makes a couple surprise discoveries. The first leads to a lovely scene from Lemire, who really gets to leave Hammer’s sadness aside when he writes Lucy. She’s got sadness, but it’s not that hopeless sadness. It’s a hopeful sort of sadness.

And that scene leads to the big reveal and the soft cliffhanger tag announcing the final issue. Boo, final issue. Yay, Sherlock Frankenstein.

Great art from Rubín, of course, including some fantastic double-page spreads. His little Lucy intro is great too.

CREDITS

Who is the Metal Minotaur?; writer, Jeff Lemire; artist, colorist, and letterer, David Rubín; editors, Cardner Clark and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil 2 (November 2017)

Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil #2

Lemire just won the Cthulhu game. For over ten years, comic book companies–usually indie ones–have been doing Cthulhu stuff. Boom!, Avatar (obviously), Archie, Dark Horse, Image. And Lemire just won it for Dark Horse with this issue of Sherlock Frankenstein.

In searching for her father, Lucy Weber meets Cthu-Lou II. He’s a sewer varient of Cthulhu’s chosen emissary on Earth and he’s not interested. He fights with his wife, who’s got a husband with an octopus head and no interest in super-villainy. They’ve got a sweet daughter, also with octupus head, but in a cute way. It’s just this sad story for Weber to encounter. There are clues too, but it’s really just this sad family.

Lemire couldn’t do it without Rubín though. Not at all. Rubín uses comic strip pacing for some of the issue, which makes the mundane hilarious and the terrifying genial. The expressive faces–it’s a talking heads issue–are wonderful.

It’s a fantastic comic. Lemire and Rubín each do great stuff here.

CREDITS

The Call of Cthu-Lou!; writer, Jeff Lemire; artist, colorist, and letterer, David Rubín; editors, Cardner Clark and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil 1 (October 2017)

Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil #1

The panel composition. David Rubín sometimes spirals the panels in double-page spreads, sometimes just moves action horizontal, always guiding the reader’s eye. It’s a visual treat, which is particularly awesome given it’s a talking heads issue.

Set before Lucy Weber joins Black Hammer, Sherlock Frankenstein and Legion of Evil has her investigating arch-villain Sherlock Frankenstein (think a mix of Sivana and Lex Luthor) in hopes of finding her father and the other heroes. Writer Jeff Lemire paces it well–he clearly loves writing Lucy Weber, the comic’s got first-person narration–and even the hinted revelations have a lot of weight. Though Frankenstein is probably incomprehensible if you haven’t kept up on Black Hammer.

Rubín’s art isn’t just amazing for the double-page spreads, it’s the single panels too. The way he visualizes Spiral City, modern technology amid grime, it’s breathtaking.

So good.

CREDITS

Whatever Happened to Sherlock Frankenstein?; writer, Jeff Lemire; artist, colorist, and letterer, David Rubín; editors, Cardner Clark and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Black Hammer 12 (August 2017)

Black Hammer #12

David Rubín returns for another issue (maybe a few), with Lemire doing an origin story for Lucy Weber. The entire thing is flashback, starting when Lucy’s a kid (right after the heroes’ disappearance) and going until she starts investigating it as an adult. There’s some talking heads, some exposition, some foreshadowing; Rubín beautifully visualizes it all, making the final reveal–which is somewhat static–emotionally devastating. It’s a different kind of Black Hammer, but Lemire clearly knows how to do all kinds of them.

CREDITS

Writer, Jeff Lemire; artist and letterer, David Rubín; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Cardner Clark and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Black Hammer 9 (May 2017)

Black Hammer #9

It’s a depressing issue. Lemire knows he’s going to do a depressing issue–he set it up with the previous issue’s cliffhanger–but he just drags the reader through it all. David Rubín fills in on the art, which is a fantastic mix of psychedelic and cartooning. His expressions on Colonel Weird, in a flashback to the Colonel’s younger, Adam Strange days, are phenomenal. It’s practically comic relief, which Lemire desperately needs for the comic. Black Hammer can be depressing, it can be despondent, but when something actually sad happens… it’s almost too much to bare (thanks to all the other stuff). It’s a solid issue with some great art.

CREDITS

Writer, Jeff Lemire; artist and letterer, David Rubín; editors, Cardner Clark and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Ether 1 (November 2016)

Ether #1

Ether is about a scientist who finds his way into a magical dimension. He’s got some Adam Strange-like conditions on his visits and a comedic sidekick. He’s also like Sherlock Holmes, complete with nemesis. It’s familiar territory but entertaining with some great art from David Rubín.

CREDITS

Writer, Matt Kindt; artist and letterer, David Rubín; editors, Cardner Clark and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

The Fall of the House of West (2015)

The Fall of the House of West

The Fall of the House of West is heavy stuff. There’s a little bit of comic relief with Aurora’s friend Hoke having a crush on her, but it doesn’t get much attention. Writers Paul Pope and J.T. Petty don’t want to let up on the reader, which is a little surprising.

Maybe the big character development for Aurora at the end of the comic sways things, but–by the end of the book–the reader knows Aurora less well than at the beginning of the comic. Her character arc is huge and Pope and Petty don’t deal with the full ramifications here. There isn’t time for it. Her journey is the point, the reader’s experience of that journey is the point. Plot twists aren’t the point.

Similarly, Pope and Petty leave the MacGuffin unresolved as well. They’re able to get incredible emotional response from the reader only to belay any resolution. It keeps the reader invested. There’s a definite commercial quality to the comic–and Aurora West as a character–but they aren’t chasing a movie deal. They’re chasing the reader. They’re trying to get their readership invested.

David Rubín’s art is decent. Most of the comic takes place at night, which is fine, but Rubín’s got a lot more personality on well-lit subjects. The panel composition is fantastic, though; it really helps the comic be so welcoming.

West demands the reader’s attention, in a very entertaining way. It’s excellent.

CREDITS

Writers, J.T. Petty and Paul Pope; artist, David Rubín; letterer, John Martz; publisher, First Second.

The Rise of Aurora West (2014)

The Rise of Aurora West

The Rise of Aurora West is simultaneously original and not. Paul Pope and J.T. Petty have a derivative adventure for an entirely original character, even though her back story is derivative. Sort of. The details are derivative.

Aurora West is the teenage daughter and sidekick to Haggard West. He’s a science hero. Just like Tom Strong. Except he fights monsters in a way quite similar to Bruce Wayne. So some of Aurora West is really just Batman and his teenage daughter hunting down criminals. Except they’re monsters.

But with a lot of science and Aurora growing up in a world with monsters, there’s just enough difference to let her not be Robin or anything like a Robin. So then some of Aurora West has nothing to do with Batman and his teenage daughter. There’s too much comedy for it to just be a riff. Pope and Petty maneuver Aurora very carefully through the book–the comedy relieves pressure, keeps the pace set, gives the reader a chance to reflect. It’s beautifully constructed.

David Rubín’s art is nice. He’s not as good as Pope but does a decent imitation, with the black and white lending to some of the more Eisner-like imagery.

It’s an extremely ambitious narrative presented easily. Neat comics, as usual, from Pope.

CREDITS

Writers, J.T. Petty and Paul Pope; artist, David Rubín; letterer, John Martz; publisher, First Second.

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