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.

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