Static Shock 3 (January 2012)

Every issue of Static Shock I wonder if it’s possible for McDaniel to get worse as an artist and as a writer. Once again, he doesn’t disappoint. Besides the action scenes being incomprehensible, they’re badly paced. The big action scene this issue is reduced to one crappy page. It’s sort of amusing in its incompetence. Speaking of incompetence, on to McDaniel and Rozum’s writing. Static’s special science high school–named after Dwayne McDuffie no less–is overrun by gang bangers. Science-happy gang bangers. And then there’s the narration. Static is just as bad Spider-Man cocky in his day-to-day narration as he is … Continue reading Static Shock 3 (January 2012)

Static Shock 2 (December 2011)

I’m not sure where to start. Now, the first issue of Static Shock was unbelievably bad, but this second issue… it somehow manages to be even worse. Maybe I just blocked the awfulness. First, the art. McDaniel and Owens open with an incomprehensible action scene. Apparently, Static’s arm gets cut off and reattaches. I only figured out the extent of the injury during the truly godawful page where he talks to himself about his problems. The art doesn’t show this event clearly enough to follow it. Then there’s the villains. They don’t just talk in exposition, they talk in exposition … Continue reading Static Shock 2 (December 2011)

Static Shock 1 (November 2011)

The first issue of Static Shock ends with the titular hero about to be killed by some superhumans on floating mopeds. Unfortunately, I don’t think he’s going to die. Because if he did die, I’d never have to read a third issue of this series. I’m not even going to talk about the Scott McDaniel art. It’s an easy target—it’s impossible to tell what’s going on and I can’t figure out why the book needs two inkers. They do about the work of a third of a bad inker. Anyway, skipping McDaniel… the writing is awful. It hurts me to … Continue reading Static Shock 1 (November 2011)

Xombi 21 (February 1996)

So David’s poor fiancée never gets a single line. She never even gets to mention he looks twenty-five years younger than the last time she saw him. Rozum’s not just shortening the series this issue; double-sized or not, he’s hurrying up the storyline. At one point he inexplicably shifts perspective in a way to trick the reader. In addition to creating some tension, he’s also able to hurry things along a great deal. The beginning of the issue, with David and the Rabbi journeying through the paranormal world (paranormal is what Rozum decides on to call all the magic and … Continue reading Xombi 21 (February 1996)

Xombi 20 (January 1996)

Maybe Rozum should have just written a novel. This issue has David meeting his essentially immortal future love—they won’t get together for eighty years, which is then the lifespan of the series’s potential present action—and the Rabbi going around her castle seeing a bunch of funny supernatural people. Rozum has names for everything and everyone, but he never comes up with a good term for the goofy, sometimes creepy inhabitants of Xombi. It’s unfortunate. It’s also unfortunate he spent most of this arc on David’s future love interest. She’s out of the book now (for eighty years) so why waste … Continue reading Xombi 20 (January 1996)

Xombi 19 (December 1995)

Talk about padding. Before I forget, the fiancée does come up again for a brief mention. No appearance, but a mention. The issue itself is David and the Rabbi going through some more strange stuff and then waiting for this ancient, immortal woman. It turns out she’s David’s soulmate or something, but he doesn’t know it yet and she isn’t sure she’s going to tell him. Rozum’s dragging this meeting out—the issue ends on the softest of cliffhangers, David being brought to see her. There’s action, at least the implication of it, elsewhere though. These super bad guys—bogeymen dread, which … Continue reading Xombi 19 (December 1995)

Xombi 18 (November 1995)

This issue, concentrating on the second xombi, is pretty good. Rozum always does well with these done-in-ones and this issue, though it’s part of a bigger story (there’s some subplot brewing going on too), is basically one of those issues. David and his problems are barely mentioned (everyone has seemingly forgotten the fiancée… it’s amazing what an editor can do). Rozum makes the other xombi’s story something of an African fable. It doesn’t quite fit the rules he set up last issue in regards to the differences between a zombie and a xombi, but it’s not the undead flesh-eating type … Continue reading Xombi 18 (November 1995)

Xombi 17 (October 1995)

After what seems like his editorially mandated guest star issues… Rozum gets Xombi back on track. This issue continues directly from what Rozum promised three issues ago—David gets to find out about the strange world he lives in. It doesn’t open with him, however. Instead, it opens with the reader finding out David is going to destroy the world. Someday. When he does show up, his friend the Rabbi takes him on a tour of the supernatural in the city. There’s a lot of creepy, disturbing stuff, but Rozum gets to the point at the very end of the issue. … Continue reading Xombi 17 (October 1995)

Xombi 16 (September 1995)

Okay, by not reading the cover, I missed knowing the giant rat—Boogieman—was guest-starring from one of the Milestone superhero books. It looks like this issue is where Rozum had to bring in guest stars to try and up the sales on Xombi. There’s some other character in it too, some flying chick with a bad attitude who Xombi had a crossover with at some point (I think at the zero issue—Rozum makes a comment about the timing). It’s a solid enough action issue. Not much magic. There’s some really funny dialogue from the Nun, who fights better than David, and … Continue reading Xombi 16 (September 1995)

Xombi 15 (August 1995)

Yeah, Xombi’s definitely taken a change in direction. This issue, Rozum brings back some barely relevant monsters and makes them attack the population. Can David and his friends stop them? Who knows, there’s a cliffhanger first—this issue makes the third where David’s powers don’t make a significant appearance. Neither does his fiancée. No mention either, which means she’s not even on par with Maris from “Fraiser.” It’s a good issue, no doubt. Very brisk, intelligently written—lots of pop culture bickering between David and his friends, who still don’t seem to notice he appears much younger. Rozum comes up with some … Continue reading Xombi 15 (August 1995)

Xombi 14 (July 1995)

I think I just hit the point in Xombi’s publication history when it got an editorial mandate. This issue does not contain the story promised at the end of the last issue. It does not feature David’s fiancée returning. It does not even mention her. Instead, David’s hanging out with his nanotechnology expert friend. He’s helping her get ready for a science pavilion (it sounds like a World’s Fair type event) and some ancient computer wakes up and wants to get plugged in to the Internet and is going to suffocate them if they don’t help it. Rozum doesn’t even … Continue reading Xombi 14 (July 1995)

Xombi 13 (June 1995)

I think this issue is Rozum’s best on Xombi, but it’s hard to say. It’s so unrelentingly, hostilely downbeat, it’s difficult to fully appreciate it. The issue’s not about David. He appears at the bookends, consulting the Rabbi as to how to inform his fiancée about his… lifestyle change. The Rabbi tells David about his own experience, when his wife discovered the supernatural and the Rabbi’s place in that world. The bulk of the issue is set in the 1930s, which is a far more interesting setting than the modern Milestone universe. There’s one plus. The second is Rozum’s attention … Continue reading Xombi 13 (June 1995)

Xombi 12 (May 1995)

Rozum brings in David’s fiancée here—though only on the phone—but he doesn’t really need her. The issue, written from David’s perspective (which is good as it was the last time), is more about introducing David’s friends. His regular friends… who don’t notice he looks twenty years younger. Birch now draws David like a punk teenager (punk as in punk rock). It’s either an interesting choice or Birch is just rushing. I’m think it’s a little more the latter. The regular friends are not particularly interesting characters; neither of the two who know David’s condition are impressed. There’s some shock and … Continue reading Xombi 12 (May 1995)

Xombi 11 (April 1995)

So the big revelation this issue? David Kim is kind of an angel. The guest-starring angels, off panel, tell him so. And, just as Rozum has pushed the series as far away from tangible reality as possible, the back matter promises to bring it back. Next issue will feature David’s fiancée, who apparently hasn’t missed him in the last two months since he’s been fighting supernatural beasts. I’ve been reading Xombi ever hopeful; Rozum had an excellent issue and the writing’s always technically good… he just doesn’t have a story. This issue, in terms of continuity, comes right before the … Continue reading Xombi 11 (April 1995)

Xombi 10 (March 1995)

Rozum paces the issue somewhat well. He was some twists in the first few pages by the end, I thought they happened last issue as the hard cliffhanger. It lets him utilize a couple different tones to it. Of course, Birch helps with the tone too. The end becomes this frantic chase sequence, usually comedic; when the issue ends on its own cliffhanger, it’s a surprise. It seemed like Rozum was going to wrap things up. In fact, resolved events are turned back, left unresolved. Rozum finds a great deus ex machine and he brings it in and… well, maintains … Continue reading Xombi 10 (March 1995)

Xombi 9 (February 1995)

More mentions of Xombi‘s meaning—it’s pronounced zombie, notch—but nothing explaining how David became one (it’s not just a science thing, presumably, but also a magic thing) when he had his science-driven origin. His friends don’t talk much about it either. Rozum does something very strange here, bringing another of the supporting cast into the issue for what seems to be no reason. Next issue might reveal his reasoning and I hope it does… otherwise, it’s pretty clear he’s padding these issues out. Birch ends the issue on a rather hideous image. It’s easily the most hideous image in the issue, … Continue reading Xombi 9 (February 1995)

Xombi 8 (January 1995)

So apparently the title, Xombi, isn’t just a riff on zombie, but some way of describing David Kim. We learn about it from the latest bunch of new characters Rozum adds this issue. I don’t think he goes a single issue without introducing two new characters. Here it might be four. Again, not much of the comic has really to do with David. He’s again moving through a situation he doesn’t belong in and, with all the new supernatural elements, one wonders if he’s even one of the more interesting characters anymore. The guy with the giant pet lion and … Continue reading Xombi 8 (January 1995)

Xombi 7 (December 1994)

Just after I’ve gotten used to the supporting cast, Rozum gets rid of them for a new one. These people have more to do with David, I suppose, but they’re his regular friends. They’re nowhere near as interesting as the wacky, magical ones. This issue starts a new arc and Rozum has returned to the regular narration. No more David Kim narrating, unfortunately. Most of the issue hinges on how successful Birch is at drawing something really disturbing. it turns out he’s really good at it and makes someone with a hand for legs incredibly uncanny. It’s mostly an action … Continue reading Xombi 7 (December 1994)

Xombi 6 (November 1994)

And so Rozum promised a lot, maybe without realizing it, from this issue and he delivers. He delivers more than I hoped. He seems to get how important it is for Xombi to finally be about the protagonist. This issue, the supernatural oddness of the last four are almost forgotten; their brief mentions are all to remind they exist in an otherworldly realm David doesn’t primarily inhabit. Rozum narrates it first person, from David’s point of view. It’s the first time he’s really gotten inside the character and he sends him on a tragic, but redemptive issue. My cynical side … Continue reading Xombi 6 (November 1994)

Xombi 5 (October 1994)

The soft cliffhanger implies Rozum is going to start dealing with David’s stuff next issue. I’m not holding my breath, but I am somewhat hopeful…. This issue is another mixed bag. The issue revolves around this giant monster—who Rozum just now introduces, even though he’s been sort of present a while—and the gang trying to defeat with it. It doesn’t taken them very long. In fact, it’s like Rozum and Birch don’t realize they’re not doing a movie. Giant monsters in comics don’t have a lot of dramatic effect. One of the non-permanent supporting cast members exits here too. He’s … Continue reading Xombi 5 (October 1994)

Xombi 4 (September 1994)

Even Birch seems to give up a little this issue, which introduces a bunch of new things—not just new characters, but new creatures—for David Kim to contend with. Birch’s faces look unfinished, like he skipped inking them because he had to much other stuff to do. There’s only a little stuff with Kim this issue; he gets to beat up the villain and show off his superpowers again. By the end, Rozum is already introducing more stuff for the next issue. Xombi doesn’t work in any traditional sense—it’s like Rozum had an idea for the big story and just used … Continue reading Xombi 4 (September 1994)

Xombi 3 (August 1994)

At one point this issue, the Nun of the Above—who’s that nun I mentioned last time—tells one of the new cast members she’s never heard of him. My response is similar. I’m weary at trying to keep the cast straight. From the first five pages, Rozum has got five or six people moving through the issue. He introduces two to six more by the end, depending how you want to count. It’s all very mystical, very supernatural… and has nothing to do with protagonist David Kim. It’s impossible to discount the comic book. Xombi is a very good comic book; … Continue reading Xombi 3 (August 1994)

Xombi 2 (July 1994)

J.J. Birch is the perfect artist for this book. He can even make cute little mechanical birds like mildly scary. Rozum resolves his cliffhanger. Actually, it wasn’t a hard cliffhanger, but a soft one. There are no happy moments, no redemptive ones, no smiles. Well, maybe some smiles. Here, Rozum introduces the supporting cast—and, yes, one of them is a nun—and he has a good time with them. They’re all meeting the protagonist, David Kim, for first time, but they’ve been around together. There’s bickering, there are inside jokes; it’s a great scene. There’s some hints at the villains too, … Continue reading Xombi 2 (July 1994)

Xombi 1 (June 1994)

There’s a way to end on a downer…. Wow. Rozum moves between science and magic this issue. The science stuff basically just uses concepts the reader is likely familiar with—nanotechnology mostly—and shows how awesome it could be. The magic is a little different. It gives Rozum a lot of room to be creative. He also gets to have a ghost-busting nun—well, I’m hoping she’s a ghost-busting nun. The issue takes place over a day, so the reader gets to know the protagonist through his new assistant. It’s an interesting kind of protagonist for a comic. He’s Asian, first of all, … Continue reading Xombi 1 (June 1994)

Xombi 0 (January 1994)

What a goofy way to launch a series. This zero issue of Xombi—introducing the character—doesn’t just take place during a crossover, it also takes place eleven issues into the regular series run. Except the series hasn’t started its regular run yet. John Rozum explains it all in the letters page, but avoids mentioning how difficult it might be to understand. But, given the constraints, he does a fine job introducing the character. He does the important stuff—establishing the superpowers, his identity—not much else. It’s actually a nice way of being dropped into a situation. Besides a rocky start with the … Continue reading Xombi 0 (January 1994)