Trillium 8 (June 2014)

Trillium #8

Lemire has a great device in this issue–lots of small panels full of conversation to show a rapid-fire exchange. Not sure if it's his own creation but it's a wonderful tool for pacing the reader while still having visually dynamic panels. They're just smaller panels.

The good composition and pacing continues until about halfway through the comic, when it all goes to pot.

Lemire goes for a really cheap ending to Trillium; really obvious, really self-indulgent (he changes styles at one point and I think photoshops in panels from earlier issues, regardless where the panels are from–he photoshops badly). The ending reveals how the series's pacing problems disabled it too much. The characters have changed too much, too quickly and the ending Lemire goes after needs a lot of thorough work.

Lemire ignores the series's finest qualities for its finish.

Oddly, I liked his art here more than anywhere else.

D 

CREDITS

Two Stars Become One; writer and artist, Jeff Lemire; colorists, José Villarrubia and Lemire; letterer, Carlos M. Mangual; editors, Sara Miller and Mark Doyle; publisher, Vertigo

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Trillium 7 (May 2014)

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Until the hard cliffhanger, which is just too jarring both in the narrative and visually, Lemire finally gets back to fulfilling Trillium’s potential.

He makes a decision about his characters too. He’s been wishy-washy on assigning a protagonist lately–not just for issues, but for the whole series; letting his time and star crossed lovers share the position wasn’t working. He decides well.

What’s most impressive is how he lets himself go with the sci-fi spectacular visuals. Lemire’s been doing a lot with trying to dictate how the reader approaches the book (the vertically flipped pages, reading back to forth, practically choose your own adventure). This issue had grandiose visuals (many tying to previous issues’ imagery). It works beautifully without any artificial attempts to control how the reader digests it.

Lemire does well with the B plot too.

As far as penultimate issues go, this one’s outstanding.

A- 

CREDITS

All the Shadows Have Stars in Them…; writer and artist, Jeff Lemire; colorists, José Villarrubia and Lemire; letterer, Carlos M. Mangual; editors, Sara Miller and Mark Doyle; publisher, Vertigo.

Trillium 6 (April 2014)

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The pace is a mess. Lemire blows six pages or so on a flashback to Nika’s childhood. She’s the future lady, stuck in an alternate reality past–or who knows, maybe the whole thing has a different history and Lemire is just messing with the reader. But opening with a tragic flashback and burning about a third of the issue? And not giving Nika’s counterpart William a flashback? Padding.

There’s a lot of talking this issue, another sign of padding. The conversations are all about what a character’s going to do or what the character has just done. It’s not exactly a bridging issue because Lemire does take his characters on a journey… he just skips the most interesting part. He skips the journey.

Instead there’s talking.

There are also a lot of the flipped pages, which are losing their effectiveness.

Lemire’s winding Trillium up; shame the plotting isn’t holding.

B- 

CREDITS

Escape Velocity; writer and artist, Jeff Lemire; colorists, José Villarrubia and Lemire; letterer, Carlos M. Mangual; editors, Sara Miller and Mark Doyle; publisher, Vertigo.

Trillium 5 (February 2014)

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What a strange issue. Not because Lemire splits it between his two characters–literally, one gets the top, one gets the bottom, reversed so the reader goes through the comic twice. Rather because it’s just a bridging issue.

It’s a neat concept. Lemire throws the characters into each other’s lives and recreates the worlds around them to make it fit. For instance, the future girl is living in a post-World War I Britain where women are military officers and the men are the cannon fodder. Strangely the art in this part isn’t as thorough as in the guy’s future adventure.

Lemire has been pacing the series really well until this point, but the concept seems like it grabbed him and he forced the story to make it fit.

It’s good, to be sure, but it doesn’t go anywhere really. And the whole split issue design is cute but unnecessary.

B- 

CREDITS

Starcrossed; writer and artist, Jeff Lemire; colorists, José Villarrubia and Lemire; letterer, Carlos M. Mangual; editors, Sara Miller and Mark Doyle; publisher, Vertigo.

Trillium 4 (January 2014)

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I really hope DC didn’t cancel Trillium. The issue ends with a very final note, but Lemire is playing with time travel and black holes so hopefully it’s not some unannounced cancellation.

It’s a good issue, even if the finish is a little rushed. That rushed feeling again seems like Lemire wanted to get a few things done before he lost the series. Something about how the supporting casts resolve… it feels abbreviated and final.

Lemire gives somewhat equal time to both his future scientist and her past explorer love interest. Lemire never goes for the kiss; he moves around it in intense scenes, which is kind of nice. He also lets them have cultural arguments, also nice.

The art continues to underwhelm and the reveals are never particularly original, but the core relationship Lemire has between his time travelers keeps the book going.

I mean, if it isn’t canceled.

CREDITS

Entropy; writer and artist, Jeff Lemire; colorists, José Villarrubia and Lemire; letterer, Carlos M. Mangual; editors, Sara Miller and Mark Doyle; publisher, Vertigo.

Batman: Black and White 2 (December 2013)

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While Dan DiDio and J.G. Jones’s story is good–though Jones is a little static and one has to question whether Batman should really be allowing Man-Bat to eat people, even if they are really bad guys–it’s also the only decent story in the issue. The rest are atrocious.

Rafael Grampá, who has a very indie style until he apes Paul Pope’s Batman, does this terrible little story with the Joker and then a big reveal at the end. Awful narration.

Rafael Albuquerque does something similar, just without narration and it makes a little less sense. Batman in purgatory, confronting his past. Dumb final reveal, bad sting.

Then Jeff Lemire goes for the heavy narration too–about Thomas Wayne mostly–set against Alex Nino’s nearly incomprehensible action art.

The last story, with lovely Golden Age inspired art from Dave Bullock, has an idiotic script from Michael Uslan.

CREDITS

Manbat Out Of Hell; writer, Dan DiDio; artist, J.G. Jones; letterer, Travis Lanham. Into the Circle; writer and artist, Rafael Grampá; letterer, Steve Wands. A Place in Between; writer and artist, Rafael Albuquerque; letterer, Sal Cipriano. Winter’s End; writer, Jeff Lemire; artist, Alex Niño; letterer, Dezi Sienty. Silent Night… Unholy Night!; writer, Michael Uslan; artist and letterer, Dave Bullock. Editors, Camilla Zhang and Mark Chiarello; publisher, DC Comics.

Trillium 3 (December 2013)

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Lemire doesn’t put off today what he could do tomorrow with this issue. It’s not as much of a wow issue as the previous one and some of his composition choices aren’t the greatest, but it’s a good comic.

It’s an all action issue, with Nika the future girl trying to escape her “friends” to return to the temple where she traveled back in time and met Billy the explorer boy. Lemire gives them both some good scenes, but the future ones are so full of exposition the past ones come across a lot cleaner.

Even though they’re exposition heavy too. Just not overloaded.

There’s the sad moment when the future humans decide to exterminate the indigenous people on the planet. Lemire’s metaphor is a little heavy-handed; the comic overcomes it though.

Trillium has its problems, but Lemire is honest with his protagonists, which helps the issue a lot.

CREDITS

Telemetry; writer and artist, Jeff Lemire; colorists, José Villarrubia and Lemire; letterer, Carlos M. Mangual; editors, Sara Miller and Mark Doyle; publisher, Vertigo.

Trillium 2 (November 2013)

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The first issue of Trillium didn’t impress me much. I’m glad I stuck with it for the second. It’s an utterly charming little bit of comics, if Lemire can maintain the emotional quality of the finale… he’ll really have a nice series.

William, the British explorer, and Nika, the future diplomat (or whatever), try to communicate in the Amazon jungle in 1921. She doesn’t know where she is, he doesn’t know where she’s from–he’s actually got a crisis going on–and her universal translator doesn’t work. Lemire does a back and forth where they slowly start to understand each other, complete with some very cute coincidences as far as their impressions of one another.

For over half the comic, Lemire keeps up the back and forth. Then there’s the big communication scene, which he handles beautifully, and then the finale.

I feel bad I dismissed this one so soon.

CREDITS

Binary Systems; writer and artist, Jeff Lemire; colorists, José Villarrubia and Lemire; letterer, Carlos M. Mangual; editors, Sara Miller and Mark Doyle; publisher, Vertigo.

Trillium 1 (October 2013)

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Trillium might be a lot more innovative if it weren’t for, you know, Stargate.

Jeff Lemire starts out with some really boring sci-fi with a female scientist lead who is trying to stop the spread of a sentient virus. It’s unclear why a thinking disease would eradicate its possible hosts, but it’s an emergency.

She goes to meet with this alien race who have magic flowers to stop the disease. Only she ends up going through the aliens’ star gate to reach Earth in the past.

Lemire splits between the scientist and the explorer in the past. The past stuff is far better. Lemire writes exaggerated twenties dialogue a lot better than his future dialogue.

The art is gorgeous when Lemire’s not drawing people. He’s rough with all the people; it’s just not interesting. The sketchy, watercolor alien landscapes? Nice.

But Trillium’s a lot of work for nothing.

CREDITS

The Scientist/The Soldier; writer and artist, Jeff Lemire; colorists, José Villarrubia and Lemire; letterer, Carlos M. Mangual; editors, Sara Miller and Mark Doyle; publisher, Vertigo.

Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. 3 (January 2012)

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Lemire continues the uptick on Frankenstein, but it’s hard not to think it’d be better as a series of backups, not a feature title.

The format of the issue suggests chapters. For example, once the team gets done with one disaster, they talk a couple pages and have another disaster. The pacing would be perfect for an eight-page backup.

Besides the first few pages and the middle monster fight, the issue’s almost entirely exposition. The cast stands around and figures out what to do next. There’s bickering, joking and flirting and Lemire does it all pretty well.

It’s still unclear if we’re supposed to laugh at Frankenstein or support him. This issue he comes off a little like Peter Griffin from “Family Guy,” only right all the time.

Ponticelli is the key to Frankenstein‘s success though. His off-beat monster art makes the lengthy exposition scenes fun to read.

CREDITS

War of the Monsters, Part Three: The Titans of Monster Planet!; writer, Jeff Lemire; artist, Alberto Ponticelli; colorist, Jose Villarrubia; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Kate Stewart and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

Animal Man 3 (January 2012)

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Foreman shows why he belongs on Animal Man this issue. Not because he’s a great artist, but because he can draw disgusting things without making them discomforting.

It’s an all-action issue featuring Animal Man turning into a mutant thing and fighting other disgusting mutant things and… Okay, there’s not much content. However, it’s the first issue where I felt like I should stick with the comic.

Lemire has this one scene–Animal Man’s wife is bitching about the son’s bloody video game, then she herself starts playing it. It’s a tiny little thing, a subtle pin in a haystack of the obvious, but it shows some imagination on Lemire’s part.

Whether Lemire can synthesize subtle character detail and big, gooey action remains to be seen. And he’s a little cheap–the comic’s compelling because a four year old is in danger–but Animal Man is finally rising above mediocrity.

CREDITS

The Hunt, Part Three: Totems; writer, Jeff Lemire; artist, Travel Foreman; colorist, Lovern Kindzierski; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editors, Kate Stewart and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. 2 (December 2011)

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This issue’s actually pretty good. Frankenstein didn’t make much impression (I’d almost forgotten it exists) and I don’t know if this one really will either. It’s pretty good in the sense it’s wholly mediocre with some wit involved. Ponticelli’s art smoothes things along.

But the change is Lemire. He’s no longer introducing his derivative plot details and characters, he’s not even doing much with the titular Frankenstein. He’s concentrating on the supporting cast—the new DC Universe’s Creature Commandos—and it works a lot better for him.

There’s a long flashback explaining their origin, all from the fish-girl’s perspective (think DC can get Dark Horse to do a crossover date issue with her and Abe?). Lemire can’t quite make it compelling, but he doesn’t bore. And he gets in some good observations.

The banter between the Commandos works too.

Still, it’s definitely undecided if Lemire can make Frankenstein work.

CREDITS

War of the Monsters, Part Two: The Dissection of Nina Mazursky; writer, Jeff Lemire; artist, Alberto Ponticelli; colorist, Jose Villarrubia; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Kate Stewart and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

Animal Man 2 (December 2011)

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Lemire’s plot for Animal Man is far from original—I think the idea of a little girl controlling “the Red,” or flesh, is from Mark Millar and Brian K. Vaughan’s Swamp Thing, definitely Vaughan’s. And Lemire’s dialogue is occasionally weak between Buddy and his wife… but the issue’s still compelling.

Foreman is the wrong artist for it, because as Buddy starts getting weird looking, how are we supposed to be able to tell he’s any different from how Foreman usually draws him.

Still, this issue is a lot better than the first one suggests Lemire is capable of doing on the title. It’s mostly a suburban talking heads book and then it becomes a father-daughter story. The uncanny domestic situation takes up about half the issue—animals resurrected, neighbors deformed—and Lemire’s pacing of it is fantastic. It’s panicked and stressful and excellent.

Lemire’s starting to win me over.

CREDITS

The Hunt, Part Two: Maps; writer, Jeff Lemire; artist, Travel Foreman; colorist, Lovern Kindzierski; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editors, Kate Stewart and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. 1 (November 2011)

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I was expecting more from Alberto Ponticelli. The art’s good… but it’s hurried. I guess it’s hard to care when you’re on DC’s attempt to knock-off the Hellboy franchise.

Frankenstein is little more than recasting the Creature Commandos as B.P.R.D., only with Frankenstein’s Monster as Hellboy. It’s not a bad idea, it’s just totally unnecessary.

For his part, Jeff Lemire doesn’t do a terrible job writing. He doesn’t do a good job, just not a terrible one. Frankenstein is constantly referring to his creation and creator, which is supposed to interest the reader in his origins.

Instead, Lemire is obvious and the references are annoying.

But having Professor Bruttenholm decide he wants to run around like a mix of Hit-Girl and Harley Quinn? That bit’s funny.

Frankenstein at least appears, visually, to be amusing. Sadly, I doubt the writing will ever be amusing by itself.

CREDITS

War of the Monsters, Part One: Monster Town, USA; writer, Jeff Lemire; artist, Alberto Ponticelli; colorist, Jose Villarrubia; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Kate Stewart and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

Animal Man 1 (November 2011)

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If it weren’t for all the narration, Animal Man would be a lot better. Jeff Lemire’s narration for Buddy isn’t bad, it’s just too omnipresent. After a while, Lemire relies on it for everything.

The opening scene establishes Animal Man as a family drama–with appropriate comedic touches. Once Buddy’s solo though, Lemire goes self-aware, inwardly hip superhero who thinks in lengthy exposition. Maybe it’s because he gets Buddy alone and doesn’t know what to do.

The comic makes a good impression off the family scenes and Lemire’s reasonably solid writing quality. It isn’t sensational, but it’s not bad either. Lemire’s very safe with Animal Man.

He also has a good partner for staying safe in Travel Foreman. Foreman’s style for the book is indie mainstream superhero–he’s sparse in his lines, no shading, but still well-composed action scenes.

Animal Man probably won’t be special, just thoroughly readable.

CREDITS

The Hunt, Part One: Warning from the Red; writer, Jeff Lemire; penciller, Travel Foreman; inkers, Foreman and Dan Green; colorist, Lovern Kindzierski; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editors, Kate Stewart and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

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