Future Quest 4 (October 2016)

Future Quest #4

What did I just read? I know why I read it, but what was it? Future Quest has become a hodgepodge of Hanna-Barbera properties thrown together without any apparent rhyme or reason; all because Doc Shaner’s late on the art? I mean, why else is writer Jeff Parker filling in on the art himself? Parker’s art is fine. In some ways it has more personality than Shaner’s just because Shaner’s style doesn’t fit this content at all. Jonny Quest teaming up with Space Ghost’s annoying tween sidekicks isn’t content anyone should illustrate cleanly and Shaner’s nothing if not clean.

Ron Randall also does some pages and he’s fine. But none of it matters because the story is just a bunch of–well–the story is a bunch of hooey. It reminds of those old DC pseudo-event mini-series throwing together some properties they were trying to keep copyright on back in the late nineties and early aughts, only without any charm. Whenever Parker runs out of story, he puts some little kid in danger and it’s apparently supposed to be enough.

Or there’s a dinosaur. Or a cameo from some other Hanna-Barbera character you didn’t even admit liking when you watched the cartoon when you were a kid.

I think Future Quest can go on without me.

CREDITS

How the Mighty Fall!; artist, Evan Shaner. The Structure of Fear; artist, Jeff Parker. Frankenstein Jr. Making Friends; artist, Ron Randall. Writer, Parker; colorist, Hi-Fi Colour Design; letterer, Dave Lanphear; editors, Brittany Holzherr and Marie Javins; publisher, DC Comics.

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Future Quest 3 (September 2016)

Future Quest #3

I was considering dropping Future Quest based on this issue but Parker takes that option away. Or tries to take it away. He does a fill-in issue with Birdman and the Herculoids each getting an origin story. The Birdman story has Steve Rude art. It’s awesome Steve Rude art too. Even when something is dumb–and it’s really dumb because Parker’s not trying to tone down the Hanna-Barbera dumb stuff. He’s embracing it. Future Quest feels like a cartoon you watched as a kid, only you’re watching it as an adult and the art is a lot better than it should be. But the writing is either on the same level or just being a little too self-aware.

If it were the sensation of watching a Saturday morning cartoon block, it’d be something. But it isn’t. Parker isn’t going for that sensation–he’s just doing a Crisis of Infinite Hanna-Barberas. It’s a very mundane stuff.

I mean, the Herculoids story doesn’t have Steve Rude art and it has more content (and opportunity to be dumb), but it’s still better. Maybe because it’s the second story and it means the comic is over, but Aaron Lopresti and Karl Kesel can do action art, even with dumb actors. Lopresti and Kesel don’t make the Herculoids look cool, but they do make their action sequences competent. It’s action versus the Birdman story, which was iconic superhero action without an iconic superhero. And a dumb James Bond knock-off plot. Herculoids is always dumb, but it’s imaginatively dumb.

But neither story continues the main plot. So do I want to keep reading a comic just for Steve Rude art. Because it’s not a disappointment. No one could do this approach better than Parker. It’s all just too stupid to be taken seriously. With these properties, it’s just a bad idea.

CREDITS

The Deadly Distance; artist, Steve Rude; colorist, Steve Buccellato. Vortex Tales: The Herculoids in Mine-Crash!; penciller, Aaron Lopresti; inker, Karl Kesel; colorist, Hi-Fi Colour Design. Writer, Jeff Parker; letterer, Dave Lanphear; editors, Brittany Holzherr and Marie Javins; publisher, DC Comics.

Future Quest 2 (September 2016)

Future Quest #2

I’m going to just have to say it–I’m not digging Future Quest. Yes, Shaner’s art is great, yes, Jonathan Case’s art is great, sure, Ron Randall’s art is fine (I think I’d prefer him on the Jonny Quest arc anyway–he’s more enthused about drawing adolescent adventuring). But Crisis on Infinite Earths or Secret Wars with Hanna-Barbera superheroes and adventurers? The cartoons you didn’t really want to watch because, while technically competent, they were just kind of lame?

Yeah, they’re still kind of lame. Parker just has them banter at each other, which doesn’t help the comic at all, but what else is he going to do? Future Quest has way too many characters, way too poorly contrived teaming-up, way too little graceful action. Future Quest is frantic. It feels like there’s a quota for panel appearances by character. Parker’s script is boring. More fighting in the Everglades. The most boring Battleworld ever. There’s so much going on, there’s not time for the artists do anything. They’ve got to fill panels with characters no one cares about. And not because no one has nostalgia for these properties, but because Parker doesn’t spend any time establishing any of them as characters.

He also cops out of the Space Ghost cliffhanger from the previous issue.

So, like I said, I’m not digging this book. It’s a strange misstep in DC’s otherwise shockingly successful Hanna-Barbara titles. Maybe Parker’s not the right guy for it. The artists are all right on, but Parker isn’t connecting with these characters or their team-up.

CREDITS

Visitors from Beyond; writer, Jeff Parker; artists, Evan Shaner, Ron Randall and Jonathan Case; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Dave Lanphear; editors, Brittany Holzherr and Marie Javins; publisher, DC Comics.

Future Quest 1 (July 2016)

Future Quest #1

Jeff Parker. Doc Shaner. Steve Rude. Hanna-Barbera. Future Quest.

Three of those five phrases give chills or can (and certainly do in conjunction with one another) while one of them seems a little odd. Hanna-Barbera. But then you look at Future Quest and there’s nothing better looking than Shaner illustrating the Florida swamp playground of Jonny and Hadji. They’re flying around on jetpacks and bantering. It should be amazing and it does look amazing and it’s certainly all right, but Parker’s script for Future Quest is more competent than inspired. He’s teaming up Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters in a DC comic with Shaner and Rude art. He succeeds. But there’s nothing else to Future Quest.

So is it worth the price of admission for wholly competent scripting and glorious artwork? Sure. It’s got a lame, shoehorned hard cliffhanger and I’m a little perplexed why they teamed Shaner and Rude. Their styles for the book are near identical, so was it because Shaner had too many pages to do? Did Rude really want to do some talking heads? Because not much happens this issue. There’s a little bit of action, some sci-fi exposition stuff, character setup, but not much else. There’s no character development. It’s sort of sad to think of how well Parker can do a hodgepodge team book and then there’s this erstwhile event comic with a hodgepodge team and no connection with it.

Jeff Parker. Doc Shaner. Steve Rude. Those creator names are magical. But Future Quest isn’t magical, even though it’s got a lot of the right ingredients to be magical. It’s hard not to be a little disappointed. Especially considering how much better it might be if the characters actually had time to bond and truly interact, instead of move from set piece to set piece.

CREDITS

Lights in the Sky; writer, Jeff Parker; artists, Evan Shaner and Steve Rude; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Dave Lanphear; editors, Brittany Holzherr and Marie Javins; publisher, DC Comics.

Flash Gordon 8 (January 2015)

Flash Gordon #8

I’m really hoping there’s an explanation for Flash Gordon, like Dynamite’s licensing deal changed or something along those lines. Because it’s hard to believe Parker and Shaner put all their previous effort into a comic where the majority of pages went to advertisements for upcoming comics. And their amazing Flash Gordon adaptation only gets something like twelve pages to finish.

Shaner gets to do some nice Alex Raymond nods and Parker gets in one to the movie, but there’s no enthusiasm anymore. They aren’t doing anything original (actually, I’m not sure if Parker did it intentionally, but he does rip off the ending of a recent British cult television series).

Of course, if the explanation is a licensing deal, they are kind of stuck. Maybe Parker and Shaner will go on to something without such a disappointing finish. Best of luck on future projects and so on.

It’s gorgeous, empty.

CREDITS

Writer, Jeff Parker; artist, Evan Shaner; colorist, Jordi Bellaire; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Nate Cosby; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Flash Gordon 7 (December 2014)

Flash Gordon #7

Well, if this issue of Flash Gordon feels a little light, it might be because Parker and Shaner’s story clocks in at something like fifteen pages. The rest of the comic is promotional material.

As for the Flash comic… it’s fine until the end, when Parker tacks on a questionable cliffhanger–after racing through some other scenes. Flash, Dale and Zarkov have an adventure with Vultan and the Hawkmen but Parker doesn’t have much story for them. There’s some talking head, some science with Flash is asleep and some banter and very little else. Shaner gets a few awesome things to draw and some average ones. It’s a pretty story while it’s going on.

It’s just too short. And the cliffhanger is just too abrupt. Parker is done with Flash Gordon an issue early; there’s no more character development–there’s no Ming this issue either. It’s a rather lazy outing.

B- 

CREDITS

Skyfall; writer, Jeff Parker; artist, Evan Shaner; colorist, Jordi Bellaire; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Nate Cosby; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Flash Gordon 6 (October 2014)

Flash Gordon #6

Parker does a great job with the Arboria adventure–with Dale getting to hang out with some Hawkmen and then rescue Flash and Zarkov on her own. There’s a lot of personality for the Arborians–well, the people with the wings, less so for the sirens who don’t have wings. Parker keeps it relatively simple; maybe too much so, but it’s Flash Gordon and it works with simplicity.

He resolves the cliffhanger, moves into Dale’s adventure, has some good laughs at Flash and, especially, Zarkov’s expenses and then brings in Vultan. Now, he and Shaner don’t do a lot of obvious Flash Gordon: The Movie references but something about Vultan’s introduction just screams Brian Blessed. It’s a wonderful touch.

The final has a too abrupt cliffhanger, but then there’s some nice epilogue art with Ming from Greg Smallwood. And Parker’s finally giving Ming some real personality.

It works out well.

A- 

CREDITS

Writers, Jeff Parker and Jordie Bellaire; artists, Evan Shaner and Greg Smallwood; colorist, Bellaire; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Nate Cosby; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Flash Gordon 5 (August 2014)

Flash Gordon #5

Odd issue. Parker splits it in two–with Sandy Jarrell and Richard Case on art for the first part and Shanier on the second. The first part, which is just Flash, Dale and Zarkov in their spaceship trying to get to the next world, has a lot of personality. There’s banter, there’s Ming megalomania. Even with the art change, it feels like the Flash Gordon comic Parker and Shanier have been working towards. Jarrell and Case do well too.

But the second half–where Shanier actually does the art–feels way off. The cast lands on Skyworld and gets into immediate trouble. Parker paces it terribly. While the art is good, the content isn’t expansive enough to make the abbreviated story worth it. Parker makes Dale the de facto protagonist but doesn’t give her anything to do but whine.

Like I said before, odd. It’s likely just a bump. Hopefully.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer, Jeff Parker; artists, Sandy Jarrell, Richard Case and Evan Shaner; colorists, Jarrell and Bellaire; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Nate Cosby; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Flash Gordon 4 (July 2014)

Flash Gordon #4

The cynic in me assumes the Phantom’s one panel appearance in a flashback to Flash fighting off the invaders from Mongo on Earth is so Dynamite can do a team-up limited series some time down the road. The reader in me hopes they do it and get Parker to write it.

Parker’s plotting on Flash is a little stunted; the story has been told–quite famously–many times and anticipated of what Parker and Shaner do in their revision plays into how the comic reads. But this issue, with Parker developing Dale as she does exposition, really shows the series’s strengths. Underneath all the flash (sorry), Parker is taking it seriously.

He’s just enjoying himself while he does it.

There’s a good little scene for Zarkov this issue and a great one for Ming. It moves fast, but not too fast to enjoy Shaner’s art.

Flash is working out.

B+ 

CREDITS

Tell the Legend; writer, Jeff Parker; artist, Evan Shaner; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Nate Cosby; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Flash Gordon 3 (June 2014)

Flash Gordon #3

Reading the big gladiator fight scene in this issue–and I make this statement as a compliment–one can almost hear the Queen music from the movie. Parker has a couple big action sequences in this one, with Flash destroying the factory at the beginning and then the gladiator battle against Ming’s beastmen.

And Parker is finally delivering on the Flash Gordon promise. There are a few things Flash Gordon does–well, there are a lot of things, but these three things are important because they aren’t obvious and they’re what make him a different kind of hero. First, he always acts selflessly. Second, he inspires. Now, lots of other comic and media heroes do these things, but always forced. Third, he isn’t bright. The magic of Flash Gordon is his childlike understanding of right and wrong. It’s magnificent.

And Parker gets it. Even if the cliffhanger’s forced.

Great art from Shaner too.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Jeff Parker; artist, Evan Shaner; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Nate Cosby; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Flash Gordon 2 (May 2014)

Flash Gordon #2

This issue doesn’t just have gorgeous art, it also has Parker getting to a Flash Gordon moment. Flash Gordon’s a hard character to portray because his behaviors are often contradictory. Parker understands some of that contradiction this issue, with Flash both being foolish and also being selfless. The selfless bit comes gloriously at the end.

As for the Shaner art, the comic is beginning to seriously impress. Flash and company are on Arboria and Shaner does a great double page (half) panel of an airship carrying them around. It’s fantastically rendered, as is everything else this issue.

Parker doesn’t spend much time establishing any of the characters–and Prince Baran seems a little too unobservant–but the time he does spend is successful. Dale is still a mystery, but Professor Zarkov is great. Both funny and smart at the same time; humor and exposition in one.

Flash’s starting to impress.

B+ 

CREDITS

Flash in the Forest; writer, Jeff Parker; artist, Evan Shaner; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Nate Cosby; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Flash Gordon 1 (April 2014)

Flash Gordon #1

Another Flash Gordon? Hasn’t this license well been long tapped dry? Based on this first issue, maybe not. Oh, it’s got problems–the soft cliffhanger is a disaster, turning the residents of Arboria into Ewoks (so far), and writer Jeff Parker digs himself a hole with the narration structure–half the issue in the past, half in the present, all the big invasion events in expository dialogue–but it’s not bad. A lot of it’s pretty good.

The past stuff sets up the characters in the modern context, which is both good and bad. The scenes are fine, they just don’t really introduce the characters, only the changes Parker has made bringing them into the twenty-first century.

The good stuff comes once Flash, Dale and Zarkov are on the run on Mongo. Parker writes their character interactions well.

Decent art from Evan Shaner–great scenery.

It’s problematic but okay.

B- 

CREDITS

The Man From Earth; writer, Jeff Parker; artist, Evan Shaner; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Nate Cosby; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Namora 1 (August 2010)

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Other Atlas members get limited series from Jeff Parker, but Namora just gets a one-shot. It’s not even Atlas branded, it’s “Women of Marvel” branded. It seems like a sexist move (I’m sure it’s just a business one—female characters don’t sell enough to have their own series at Marvel).

It doesn’t help Parker doesn’t exactly have enough story for even a one-shot either. Oh, there’s some stuff here with Atlantis and some stuff with Namorita, but Parker isn’t revealing anything new or interesting about Namora here. He writes first person narration and there’s not a single moment of surprise. She likes breathing sometimes. Whoop-de-doo.

It’s an okay enough issue. Parker’s competent, even when he’s uninspired, and Namora’s a fine protagonist. Sara Pichelli’s art is also somewhat uninspired; at times it’s manga-influenced, but mostly not and the unsureness is no help.

Namora deserves better attention.

CREDITS

Lost at Sea; writer, Jeff Parker; artist, Sara Pichelli; colorist, Rachelle Rosenberg; letterer, Dave Sharpe; editors, Sana Amanat and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Thunderbolts 150 (January 2011)

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Seeing Kev Walker draw Iron Man is frightening. I think he based the armor off a toaster.

But, once again, Walker’s able to integrate Parker’s odd fantasy elements—this issue, the majority of the action takes place in some idyllic countryside with talking frogs and such—and the issue works.

Parker shows his cards here—he plots well in advance, since Crossbones’s arc comes to an end here, with him facing off against Steve Rogers and apparently burning his face down to something akin to the “Pink Skull.” That duel isn’t particularly good; far better are Juggernaut versus Luke and Thor and Iron Man versus Ghost. Those fights develop into something. The Crossbones thing is just resolving what happens to the character (and prepping him for whatever next event he appears in).

It’s probably the best Thunderbolts issue I’ve read, but it barely stars any Thunderbolts. It’s an Avengers comic.

CREDITS

Old Scores; writer, Jeff Parker; artist, Kev Walker; colorists, Frank Martin and Fabio D’Auria; letterers, Albert Deschesne and Richard Starkings; editors, Rachel Pinnelas and Bill Rosemann; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Thunderbolts 149 (December 2010)

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I see what Parker’s trying to do overall but it doesn’t work.

He’s even left with a confusing end narration. The rest of the issue doesn’t have any narration so I’m not even sure who’s point of view the last page’s narration is from. I suppose I could have given it some thought, but Thunderbolts doesn’t encourage much thought and I didn’t want to give it.

Parker’s apparently realized he’s been too nice to Crossbones this issue. First he has a character commenting on him being a racist nut, then he has him kill a cop for fun and frame a dead zombie ninja. But the Ghost saw, so we’ll see how long that revelation takes to come out.

Regardless, Parker still makes Crossbones the issue’s primary character in a lot of ways.

Shalvey’s art continues to disappoint. Maybe if it were bad in an interesting way….

Still, not terrible.

CREDITS

Writer, Jeff Parker; artist, Declan Shalvey; colorist, Frank Martin; letterer, Albert Deschesne; editors, Rachel Pinnelas and Bill Rosemann; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Thunderbolts 148 (November 2010)

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I can’t believe it… I miss Kev Walker. Not for the whole issue, of course. Declan Shalvey does a fine job with all the lead-up stuff—Luke’s in New York because of the “Shadowland” crossover (which seems like it’s really lame). He calls in the team—in an abuse of his authority—to go look for a friend’s son. Parker does a good job not tying it too much to the crossover; he takes a lot of time on the Thunderbolts too, which is nice.

Although he makes Crossbones so sympathetic I’m wondering if Marvel’s going to have a white supremacist line of titles… “Tea Party Comics” maybe.

But then it gets to the action stuff and Shalvey just flops. It isn’t only about Walker establishing an action tone for the series, Shalvey just doesn’t do well. He’s got a main character apparently dying and it’s way too subtle.

CREDITS

Writer, Jeff Parker; artist, Declan Shalvey; colorists, Frank Martin and Fabio d’Aurea; letterer, Albert Deschesne; editors, Rachel Pinnelas and Bill Rosemann; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Thunderbolts 147 (October 2010)

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Poor Parker… they stuck him with an Avengers Academy crossover. It’s set up like a “scared straight” thing for superheroes and it’s an idiotic idea. The story shows all the reasons it’s totally unbelievable anyone would willy-nilly stroll around the Raft.

And having Hank Pym as a tour guide doesn’t sound safe.

Parker uses John Walker’s situational report as the narration and it kind of works… Parker can’t do the badass Luke Cage scenes though. He has one here and it flops.

The cliffhanger gets a quick resolution (at least it feels quick) and there’s some hints Crossbones will be in for some trouble soon. But the Thunderbolts really aren’t part of this issue after that resolution. Instead, it’s Luke and Walker. Maybe one other guy, but I don’t even remember who… Juggernaut?

It’s like Parker surrendered the issue to the crossover without even trying to make it work.

CREDITS

Writer, Jeff Parker; artist, Kev Walker; colorist, Frank Martin; letterer, Albert Deschesne; editors, Rachel Pinnelas and Bill Rosemann; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Thunderbolts 146 (September 2010)

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Once again with the Walker art… he does fine during the battle scene, but when he’s doing anything else, it’s absolutely rancid. I’m not sure why, but during regular scenes, he draws Luke as mildly deformed, like one of the Un-Men.

This issue again has the Thunderbolts fighting monsters. I wasn’t aware they were the Ghostbusters of the Marvel Universe, but so far… it seems like it. Probably because putting them up again human villains, one might have to consider Crossbones is a neo-Nazi. It makes it a little hard to believe he’s taking orders from Luke Cage. I guess the Marvel Universe is post-racial.

Parker does all right—the fight scene is better than the rest of the book. It often reads like Man-Thing is the only character Parker really enjoys writing. Maybe if it were a MAX title (it should be), it’d be better.

CREDITS

Writer, Jeff Parker; artist, Kev Walker; colorist, Frank Martin; letterer, Albert Deschesne; editors, Rachel Pinnelas and Bill Rosemann; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Thunderbolts 145 (August 2010)

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Okay, Parker’s getting the series on course here. It’s not perfect—Thunderbolts is still kind of a stupid idea (doesn’t DC have their own Thunderbolts series now too—or is it Suicide Squad again, which Thunderbolts ripped off)—but it’s a lot better.

Walker continues to annoy, at least until they get to the big action sequence in the second half and then he’s an asset. Just two pages before, during the briefing, he’s weak on talking heads. And when he has John Walker (U.S. Agent) show up as Luke’s supervisor… wow, does Walker draw buff blond guys bad (he drew Steve Rogers identically in the first issue).

The previous issue’s cliffhanger turns out to be a stupid ruse; if they’d just done a double-sized issue, combining this one and the previous, it’d have started the arc out on good footing. Instead, this issue feels Parker’s playing catch-up.

CREDITS

Field Test; writer, Jeff Parker; artist, Kev Walker; colorist, Frank Martin; letterer, Albert Deschesne; editors, Rachel Pinnelas and Bill Rosemann; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Thunderbolts 144 (July 2010)

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Wow, if Thunderbolts is so unbelievably stupid with a good writer like Jeff Parker on it, what’s it like when it’s got some regular Marvel hack writing?

It’s actually a good example of how a comic book has to visually flow together. When Baron Zemo shows up at the end, it just looks stupid. Sure, some of it is Kev Walker’s artwork—which I’d never seen before and it reminds me a little of Ed McGuinness but without any enthusiasm for superheroes. Walker’s style is a mix between McGuinness and a misanthropic Sam Kieth. It’s not just a matter of taste—Walker’s clearly incapable of putting Parker’s script on the page.

Parker’s got this big movie moment of Luke Cage jumping out of a plane to make an entrance and it just flops.

Then there’s the visually awkward prison tour.

It’s not all Walker’s fault, he just makes it worse.

CREDITS

Writer, Jeff Parker; artist, Kev Walker; colorist, Frank Martin; letterer, Albert Deschesne; editors, Rachel Pinnelas and Bill Rosemann; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Atlas 5 (November 2010)

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So, either Parker wanted the story to go six issues or eight. It’s hard to tell. I imagine if it had gone at least six, he wouldn’t have needed the three pages of text he uses in this one to move the story along. As a prose writer… Parker should stick to comic scripting.

As for the final issue… it’s a little defeatist. I imagine Marvel’s unsympathetic to another Atlas series, but Parker kind of throws in the towel for the final few pages.

Nice work all around though—Rosanas and Hardman do well—so does Parker one a story he pencils and inks. Actually, I think Hardman has the most problems, but he’s got the most compressed part of the story.

There are some really good moments in here for the team (Bob’s very non-traditional superhero is a surprise).

I just wish it’d been a stronger series overall.

CREDITS

The Return of the Three Dimensional Man. Part Six; artist, Ramon Rosanas; colorist, Jim Charalampidis. Part Seven; artist, Jeff Parker; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser. Part Seven; artist, Gabriel Hardman; colorist, Breitweiser. Writer, Parker; letterer, Ken Dukeshire; editors, Nathan Cosby and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Atlas 4 (October 2010)

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Poor Bob. This issue reveals he’s really a lot more alien than he’s let anyone know, keeping his appearance hidden. Parker hinted at it in the Gorilla-Man series, but it didn’t make sense until this issue.

But that revelation is just another reason to love Agents of Atlas. Parker does a beautiful job on the humanity of his characters, it’s just fabulous.

Once again, he changes gears and Atlas works again. A little action to resolve last issue’s cliffhanger (Mr. Lao helps) and then some thinking and investigating and then Rosanas takes over the next part of the story. It might have worked better if Parker had used that breakdown each issue (Hardman handles one half, Rosanas another).

The story’s moving in an unexpected DC “Crisis on Multiple Earths” direction… it reveals, once again, Atlas is a great DC series at Marvel.

Parker and company produce a fantastic issue.

CREDITS

The Return of the Three Dimensional Man. Part Four; artist, Gabriel Hardman; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser. <Part Four; artist and colorist, Ramon Rosanas. Writer, Jeff Parker; letterer, Ken Dukeshire; editors, Nathan Cosby and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Atlas 3 (September 2010)

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Huh. It’s hard to say what Parker’s doing or why.

He basically drags a quarter of an issue’s worth of story out to an entire issue—the bad guys infiltrate the Atlas headquarters, nothing else important happens. He ends it on a hard cliffhanger with Venus shot and Namora possessed. There’s some investigation into 3-D Man’s story (I’m still not sold on how good an addition he is for the series) but it’s drawn out.

It does give Hardman a wide variety of things to draw… but that opportunity shouldn’t dictate the narrative.

Parker’s still got the enthusiasm for the characters (3-D Man’s presence aside), but I can’t say the same thing for his plotting. It’s like the Atlas backups in Hercules changed up his pacing style.

Atlas feels off.

The Rosanas illustrated backup about M-11, however, is a lovely little recap of M-11’s origin.

CREDITS

The Return of the Three Dimensional Man, Part Three; artist, Gabriel Hardman; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser. The Human Robot; artist and colorist, Ramon Rosanas. Writer, Jeff Parker; letterer, Ken Dukeshire; editors, Nathan Cosby and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Atlas 2 (August 2010)

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There’s the Atlas I love. Parker brings back everything great about the series (the serious tone with the humor, Mr. Lao having something going on he forgets to tell Jimmy about) and adds 3-D Man to the roster.

The issue’s pretty simple—we get an introduction to the team as 3-D Man tries to escape (including some additional revelations about Venus), an origin recap, then a mission for the team and a set-up for the next issue.

What’s wrong has nothing to do with the content (Hardman gets some beautiful stuff to draw this issue). No, it’s when it’s happening in the series run. This issue is a first issue, not a second. 3-D Man becomes very likable here, not puzzling like he was in the previous issue.

The backup, illustrated by Rosanas, is also very nice. It’s not so much fun as just well-executed.

CREDITS

The Return of the Three Dimensional Man, Part Two; artist, Gabriel Hardman; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser. Department Zero, Part Two; artist and colorist, Ramon Rosanas. Writer, Jeff Parker; letterer, Ken Dukeshire; editors, Nathan Cosby and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Atlas 1 (July 2010)

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Parker does something very strange for the first issue of Atlas. He barely features them. There’s a backup with the team in the fifties, which helps, but the primary story belongs to 3-D Man, a character I’m unfamiliar with.

He’s got ties to the fifties too, so I guess he sort of works, but giving him the entire issue doesn’t.

Also, Parker has a very strange narration for it. He narrates with 3-D Man talking to, near as I can tell without going back and checking, a guy in a coma. Except, of course, he’s talking to the guy in his head, not in actuality.

Some of the writing is strong as usual, but it’s as though Parker willfully sucked all the charm out of an Agents of Atlas title. It’s a shocking choice.

As always, lovely art from Hardman… he just doesn’t have anything interesting to draw.

CREDITS

The Return of the Three Dimensional Man, Part One; artist, Gabriel Hardman; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser. Department Zero, Part One; artist and colorist, Ramon Rosanas. Writer, Jeff Parker; letterer, Ken Dukeshire; editors, Nathan Cosby and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Gorilla-Man 3 (November 2010)

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Parker plays fast and loose with the logic for the conclusion. Not for the flashbacks–which is careful not to overlap the previous Gorilla-Man origin–but for the modern stuff. It ends on a strange note, showing Ken to maybe be Parker’s strongest Agent of Atlas. He’s able to make profound statements and tell crude jokes and have it work.

The looseness is to get the story done quickly. The pacing is good, but Parker could have used another issue. The flashback material is compelling and begs for more attention. Some questions frustratingly go unanswered–even in the modern part, a side effect of the loose logic.

There’s a lot of brief action too. Caracuzzo has a great scene with Ken knocking people around with a giant log.

I can’t believe I forgot–it opens with Ken talking to a gorilla. For some reason, it’s a beautiful, quiet scene.

Parker does a fine job.

CREDITS

The Serpent and the Hawk, Part Three; writer, Jeff Parker; artist, Giancarlo Caracuzzo; colorist, Jim Charalampidis; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Nathan Cosby, Michael Horwitz and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Gorilla-Man 2 (October 2010)

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There’s a little bit of action (in the modern story) at the open of the issue, then it’s a trip down memory lane.

Parker makes the connection between Ken, his past and his current mission rather quickly; I’m glad he didn’t try to keep it for a surprise. He’s able to cover a lot of history here—even though the origin of Gorilla-Man (as a gorilla man) probably won’t be part of it. It’s interesting to see how Parker deals with Ken’s timeline. It seems like if Parker had more issues, he might have just told the story without the frames. It’s solid stuff, the flashback to the thirties and forties.

The issue ends on a soft cliffhanger but it’s a good one.

The Caracuzzo continues to work (it might be better this issue). Though, since it’s Tom Fowler style, why not just get Tom Fowler on the book?

CREDITS

The Serpent and the Hawk, Part Two; writer, Jeff Parker; artist, Giancarlo Caracuzzo; colorist, Jim Charalampidis; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Nathan Cosby, Michael Horwitz and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Gorilla-Man 1 (September 2010)

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Parker sets the series (presumably, at least the first issue implies) in modernity. It’s in between Atlas titles, with Ken on an Atlas mission to Africa to stop some bad guy. That part of the story isn’t the most interesting, of course. The most interesting is the flashbacks to Ken’s childhood Parker peppers the issue with. It gives a look at his early history—and some part of it will likely tie in to the modern story because it’s a comic book limited series, after all.

The drawing factor isn’t the plot, but the charm Parker brings. Ken’s not an absurd character— Parker plays the idea of a Gorilla-Man against the content. Even if the opening is some fantastical art thief with a bunch of beautiful henchwomen (Ken recruits a few for Atlas, of course).

Caracuzzo’s art is decent and a fine match.

It’s off to a good start.

CREDITS

The Serpent and the Hawk, Part One; writer, Jeff Parker; artist, Giancarlo Caracuzzo; colorist, Jim Charalampidis; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Nathan Cosby, Michael Horwitz and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Agents of Atlas 6 (March 2007)

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Parker ends Agents of Atlas with M-11. It’s very appropriate since he’s been the biggest mystery of the series and to the team members. There’s something incredibly tragic and beautiful about the character; Parker goes for it and succeeds.

It’s too bad M-11 couldn’t carry a limited of his own.

The issue itself, setting Jimmy and the team up as Atlas, is a talking heads book. There’s action and layered narrative, so it doesn’t seem like a talking heads book… but it is one.

The big surprise is a surprise, even with the hints, the main one–which would have occurred in the original adventures of the team–isn’t present. Parker constructs not just a great ending and perfect setup for future issues, he creates a space where he can just let the characters talk to each other.

It’s a fantastic issue, a perfect close to the limited series and even more.

CREDITS

The Master Plan; writer, Jeff Parker; penciller, Leonard Kirk; inker, Kris Justice; colorist, Michelle Madsen; letterer, Dave Lanphear; editors, Nathan Cosby and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Agents of Atlas 5 (February 2007)

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And here again, Parker does the improbable. The issue has a relatively short present action, something like a half hour. Maybe a little more, but the big part of then issue isn’t long, as watched on a clock. Well, actually I’m wrong–it’s indeterminate.

Parker sticks with Derek as a narrator, which brings–I’m realizing for the first time–the human angle. Jimmy’s the only other regular person, but he’s too extraordinary to be a good narrator. Instead, Derek–already an outsider since he’s from Wakanda–provides a great perspective; he’s earnest, not at all naive, and human. It’s through Derek’s narration, the reader gets to see why this team is so spectacular. He even talks about it if they aren’t paying enough attention.

Oh, I haven’t gotten to the more issue specific plotting stuff. Parker fits the redemption of one character and the secret origin of another and a big fight scene in here.

CREDITS

The People’s Leader; writer, Jeff Parker; penciller, Leonard Kirk; inker, Kris Justice; colorist, Michelle Madsen; letterer, Dave Lanphear; editors, Nathan Cosby and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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