Star Wars 1 (March 2015)

Star Wars #1

There’re a lot of politics in the first issue of Star Wars. Some of it is just Jason Aaron trying to make the Star Wars universe makes sense for thinking reader, which is always been a problem. Star Wars is not deep.

And Aaron’s script for Star Wars turns out not to be very deep either. He has the obligatory Darth Vader appearance, some throwback references to the last movie. Marvel’s Star Wars series is set immediately following the original movie, just like that Marvel Star Wars series from the seventies. So why read another one? Is it supposed to be the John Cassaday art?

Hopefully not, because the art is pretty lame. Cassaday doesn’t have a lot of enthusiasm for the spacecraft or the setting and he goes for photo reference on the main cast but gets lazy almost every third panel.

Star Wars is lame, lazy and redundant.

CREDITS

Skywalker Strikes; writer, Jason Aaron; artist, John Cassaday; colorist, Laura Martin; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, Charles Beacham and Jordan D. White; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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Men of Wrath 1 (October 2014)

Men of Wrath #1

What if the Punisher was a mob assassin who killed babies? What if he had a son who was in trouble with the mob? What if their last name was Rath? Wouldn't it be cool to have a hard-boiled crime comic called Men of Wrath, since they're both men and their last name is….

I sort of tuned out on this first issue when writer Jason Aaron ripped off one of the more famous lines from Unforgiven. I'm pretty sure Aaron has ripped it off before, for one of his other comics about poor people, probably in the South, behaving badly.

The comic does offer some thoroughly decent art from Ron Garney though. It's not great, because Garney's figures are big and thick and somewhat unbelievable and his action is a little too static, but it's fine.

The comic's generally fine too. It's a waste of time, sure, but generally fine.

C 

CREDITS

Among the Sheep; writer, Jason Aaron; artist, Ron Garney; colorist, Matt Milla; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editor, Sebastian Girner; publisher, Icon.

Southern Bastards 4 (September 2014)

Southern Bastards #4

What a surprise ending!

Except for Aaron tacking on the epilogue so as to set up the next arc. Aaron’s giving the illusion of doing something original while really not; with the epilogue on there, he even retroactively makes it predictable. The reader can go back and look for all foreshadowing to the big surprise.

All that foreshadowing is actually in Aaron’s attention to writing. It’s really good writing as far as the narration goes. It’s just not particularly good plotting. Aaron seems to be assuming his readers haven’t read lot of books or read a lot of his books because the narrative devices are similar to ones he’s used in the past.

And while a new arc is starting next issue, Aaron’s shown his hand as far as how manipulative he’s going to write. If the point is the tricks he can play, what’s the point?

Great art though.

C 

CREDITS

Here Was a Man, Conclusion; writer, Jason Aaron; artist and colorist, Jason Latour; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editor, Sebastian Girner; publisher, Image Comics.

Southern Bastards 3 (July 2014)

Southern Bastards #3

I’m really hoping Earl isn’t leaving voicemails for his dead wife. I’m sort of hoping he’s leaving them for his dude. If Earl were an old gay guy who kicks ass, it might give Southern Bastards an edge. The series already has an edge, but it’s a predictable edge. I think I said it before–Bastards is prime option material for any actor from the Expendables series.

But it’s also got Latour and he’s bringing enough edge to make up for the rest. The comic is visually unexpected, between Latour’s composition choices and just the way he paces out action scenes. It’s a delight to read. It’s just not a delight to dwell on.

Aaron goes for the cheapest cliffhanger he can–young ally in trouble–and one has to wonder if the comic wouldn’t have read better longer, so the cliffhangers could be less forced.

Still, Latour covers it.

B 

CREDITS

Here Was a Man, Part Three; writer, Jason Aaron; artist and colorist, Jason Latour; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editor, Sebastian Girner; publisher, Image Comics.

Southern Bastards 2 (May 2014)

Southern Bastards #2

One of these months, there’s going to be a kick ass issue of Southern Bastards. Maybe next month, maybe the issue after. Because Aaron shows his hand a little here–Bastards is kind of like Rambo V, only in the South. It’s a little like Frank Castle goes country, it’s a little like Gran Torino only an action movie.

This genre–the old badass who just has to stand up and kick ass–is a fun one. Ornery old white guys (these guys always tend to be white guys) kicking ignorant ass is a fun story.

But is there anything original about Bastards? Well, LaTour’s art is pretty original. It doesn’t exactly match Aaron’s traditional comic plotting. But LaTour doesn’t waste time. His style could give way to plodding artistic compositions but he keeps it reined in.

Aaron’s not reinventing the wheel–probably just hoping Tommy Lee Jones’s manager calls–but he rolls it well.

B 

CREDITS

Here Was a Man, Part Two; writer, Jason Aaron; artist, Jason Latour; colorists, Latour and Rico Renzi; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editor, Sebastian Girner; publisher, Image Comics.

Southern Bastards 1 (April 2014)

Southern Bastards #1

I’m getting tired of the pilot issue. What about a nice story, instead of something establishing tone or the ground situation or whatever. It’s a strange thing to want something more standard–even a small resolution would be nice–because Jason Aaron has lots of opportunity in Southern Bastards and he doesn’t utilize any of it. Instead, it feels like an adaption of a novel or something. There’s just enough information, but no enthusiasm.

Bastards is Southern exploitation and good exploitation. It shares details with the old Walking Tall movies and it’s definitely got personality. Jason Latour does outstanding work on the art. He brings depth to the setting, depth to the characters. His panic-stricken characters are amazing.

But it’s just an old man action hero story. Aaron has already established that genre for it, already boxed it in. There are lots of those stories these days. Why another?

B 

CREDITS

Here Was a Man, Part One; writer, Jason Aaron; artist, Jason Latour; colorists, Latour and Rico Renzi; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editor, Sebastian Girner; publisher, Image Comics.

Scalped 60 (October 2012)

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Given Aaron and Guera created Scalped–and it not being a television series–there’s no reason for cast changes. Reading the final issue, seeing who Aaron concentrates on, one would think there were some big cast changes throughout and the need to reorient the finish.

But there weren’t. Aaron just has the five characters he’s going to end with and it doesn’t matter they don’t have the resonance to carry the issue. Oh, Lincoln does, of course. He’s got an absolutely amazing finish. Carol’s and Dino’s finishes are both stupid, though at least Aaron spends time with Carol’s. With Dino and Falls Down, Aaron thinks any attention is good enough.

As for Dash? After sixty issues, all I’ve learned is he needs to figure out how to use condoms.

Scalped‘s many failures outweigh its not insignificant successes. Aaron clearly needs firm editorial guidance; he didn’t any on Scalped from Vertigo.

CREDITS

Trail’s End, Conclusion; writer, Jason Aaron; artist, R.M. Guera; colorist, Giulia Brusco; letterer, Sal Cipriano; editors, Mark Doyle and Will Dennis; publisher, Vertigo.

Scalped 59 (July 2012)

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This issue of Scalped originally cost 2.99. One can watch a collection of John Woo’s Mexican standoffs on the Internet for free. He or she might even be able to watch the finale to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly for free. Of the three choices, the third would have the most artistic value, then the second. The first–this issue of Scalped–offers none.

I think it’s the first time I’ve ever thought Aaron was ripping the reader off. Guera’s action art is competent but uninspired and boring. The brief characterizations are weak, Aaron’s page of first person narrations are awful… There’s nothing to recommend the issue. It’s just the penultimate one. Aaron’s taking advantage of the situation; Scalped has its faithful readers and Aaron knows it.

Aaron apparently misses the irony of Nitz’s incompetence. Had he ever done real detective work, there wouldn’t be a story.

CREDITS

Trail’s End, Part Four; writer, Jason Aaron; artist, R.M. Guera; colorist, Giulia Brusco; letterer, Sal Cipriano; editors, Mark Doyle and Will Dennis; publisher, Vertigo.


Contemporaneously…

Scalped 58 (June 2012)

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The shoot out between Dash and Lincoln is pretty good. It makes up for the hilarious scene where Dash shaves his head to show he’s a tough guy and not the nice boy who’d been shacked up with the American Indian rights girl.

Maybe if Vertigo had taken a publishing break with Scalped, Aaron could get away with the head shaving scene. But he just did the jump forward. It’s silly.

The stuff with Catcher’s bad, the stuff with Dino’s bad… But that shoot up makes up for them too. Only Falls Down and Nitz have good scenes otherwise. For the main plots, Aaron always promises resolutions then makes the reader wait for thirty issues. At least the side plots exist on their own with a natural pacing.

I’m very curious–but not particularly hopeful–about what’s going to happen next. Aaron is going for a record on delayed gratification.

CREDITS

Trail’s End, Part Three; writer, Jason Aaron; artist, R.M. Guera; colorist, Giulia Brusco; letterer, Sal Cipriano; editors, Mark Doyle and Will Dennis; publisher, Vertigo.


Contemporaneously…

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