Evolution #6 (April 2018)

Evolution #6

And after its best issue, Evolution returns to its regular level. A little rushed–or, more accurately, a little abrupt–and all setup for something coming in a future issue. Delayed realization.

Once again, the art becomes the most important thing about the comic. Infurnari delivers, though it’s not a lot of interesting stuff. L.A. diners and New York hospitals are only so visually stimulating. The infected, evolved monsters are out of John Carpenter’s The Thing, which is fine–maybe they should’ve done a licensed title instead–but nothing new.

This issue has a big twist at the end involving the one doctor who knows what’s going on. He was previously the closest thing the comic had to a protagonist (unlike the other two plot lines, he gets two plots an issue–so maybe two writers too). It’s not a great twist. In fact, it’s one of those “do I still want to read this comic” twists.

CREDITS

Writers, James Asmus, Joseph Keatinge, Christopher Sebela, and Joshua Williamson; artist, Joe Infurnari; colorist, Jordan Boyd; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Arielle Basich and Jon Moisan; publisher, Image Comics.

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Evolution #5 (March 2018)

Evolution #5

Evolution just passed an interesting landmark—the comic is no longer reliant on the art. First and foremost, it’s been an interesting looking book—until now. This issue has the best writing so far in the comic, on each of the separate plot lines. The characters have finally been around long enough to be compelling.

Which means I hope the comic doesn’t get too ambitious with series length. After five issues, the gaggle of writers have got the book into a great spot. They’re not going to be able to keep it there forever.

It’s a fantastically plotted issue. The development work in each plot is outstanding, the art is good, the dialogue is fine. The series is paying off. Of course, it would’ve been nice if that success weren’t so surprising to me. The writers really pull off a good issue here.

CREDITS

Writers, James Asmus, Joseph Keatinge, Christopher Sebela, and Joshua Williamson; artist, Joe Infurnari; colorist, Jordan Boyd; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Arielle Basich and Jon Moisan; publisher, Image Comics.

Deathbed #2 (May 2018)

Deathbed #2

Deathbed still has pacing issues. Williamson does a lot better without exposition on the girl. The first issue pretended she was the protagonist. This issue reveals she’s the sidekick. She’s a good sidekick, but just the sidekick.

And it’s not even because the lead guy–Luna (the aged but still virile adventurer–seriously, how long has it been since Tom Strong established the old man adventurer in comics); anyway, its not because the lead guy gets more to do. He obviously does, because there’s a big fight at a funeral. Artist Rossmo’s comedy chops exceed his action. The action is good. A little busy but good. The comedy is great.

The comedy art will need to be great because Deathbed isn’t just about Luna and his biographer having adventures. It’s about Luna growing as a person. Williamson writes Luna the grower better than Luna the shower. Oh, sorry, I must still be thinking about how fixated Deathbed is at showing Luna nude. It might be funny if the biographer cared but she doesn’t. Instead it’s weird. Is it a machismo thing?

Anyway. Much improved second issue.

It does still read too fast.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Riley Rossmo; colorist, Ivan Plascencia; letterer, Deron Bennett; editor, Amedeo Turturro; publisher, Vertigo.

Deathbed #1 (April 2018)

Deathbed #1

I’ve been reading indie books so long I forgot what Vertigo pacing feels like. Besides the pacing, Deathbed actually doesn’t feel too much like a “Vertigo book.” Sure, the witty, buxom female protagonist feels like a Vertigo book–oh, no, am I going to regret saying it didn’t feel like a Vertigo book–but the subject of the book doesn’t feel like a Vertigo “hero.”

Deathbed is about a failing writer who agrees to ghostwrite the autobiography of some guy she’s never heard of. But he’s rich. And it turns out he’s a monster hunter. It’s never clear whether or not the protagonist–Val–is aware there are monsters. It’s a problem, but writer Joshua Williamson skips over it. He’s got the issue to finish.

It’s going to be six issues, which is probably fine. Nothing much happens here–not in terms of establishing the protagonist (though it’s entirely possible she’s not going to get any more character than she’s got at the end of issue one)–except there’s eventually mummies attacking a naked old (but astoundingly fit) guy and him killing them all.

It’s not a spoiler. It’s kind of the point of the book. He’s on his final quest–rid the world of bad guys until one of them kills him. Val, ghostwriter, will be there to watch.

Riley Rossmo’s art is all right, but the book’s so rushed there’s not a lot of time to appreciate it. There’s a strange reliance on double page spreads, which just hurry things along even more.

Deathbed needs to slow down.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Riley Rossmo; colorist, Ivan Plascencia; letterer, Deron Bennett; editor, Amedeo Turturro; publisher, Vertigo.

Evolution #4 (February 2018)

Evolution #4

Evolution #4 shows off the possiblities of the format–multi-writer, one artist. Each writer has a subplot they do, while artist Infurnari gets to draw the gross.

People are evolving only into monsters and there’s some Cthulhu-ish undertones of course. Because there are always Cthulhu-ish undertones.

The comic opens with a talking heads scene between Claire, who’s the protagonist of one of the subplots (and writer’s contributions), and her mysterious benefactor. I think she just saw this guy kill a monster a couple issues ago. Now he’s doing a backstory exposition dump and giving her a check. Infurnari gets the mood just right. It’s creepy but maybe not dangerous. But maybe dangerous.

Then it’s off to Rome to check in on the nun-on-the-run. She’s just seen the Church cover up some of the monsters. Her story is the most sympathetic, if only because Claire (who’s in L.A.) doesn’t realize the danger around her. The nun gets it. She goes off to see a priest who’s left the church (maybe he’s left, it’s unclear). And then there’s her backstory exposition dump.

The only story with an exposition dump is the scientist. He’s already had his backstory reveal. Now he’s just ranting to himself about how he’s going to stop the evolution and the monsters. His subplot is Evolution’s weak link. It makes sense–in that disaster movie sort of way, you need someone to do exposition dumps as things happen–but he’s an unlikable character. You can be working to save the world and be unlikable, apparently.

Evolution’s gross–Infurnari does blood, guts, and tendons enthusiastically; he also does general creepiness well–but almost a pleasant reading experience. None of the writers try too hard. It’s a methodical, “anthology” horror comic. The writers embrace the constraints to decent result.

CREDITS

Writers, James Asmus, Joseph Keatinge, Christopher Sebela, and Joshua Williamson; artist, Joe Infurnari; colorist, Jordan Boyd; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Arielle Basich and Jon Moisan; publisher, Image Comics.

Evolution #3 (January 2018)

Evolution #3

The story develops. The characters react to what they’ve experienced. But not much else happens in Evolution #3.

The nun discovers the Church is going to try to silence her, restrict her from trying to help. The doctor realizes the epidemic is worse than he thought. The two young women in California fight about their future, luckily detached from the worst of the horrors.

It’s character work, sure, but it’s character work separate from the characters’ functions in the comic. Are the characters going to be compelling enough to warrant their own issue, with the main plot of Evolution stagnant.

Maybe?

Infurnari’s art helps. It’s super creepy, super unpleasant. He makes even the most mundane panel dangerous.

Maybe if the doctor’s section–involving telephone messages and then a phone call with his estranged wife and lots of expository information from her–maybe if it worked a little smoother, this issue wouldn’t feel so clunky.

It’s not bad. It’s just blah. With good art.

CREDITS

Writers, James Asmus, Joseph Keatinge, Christopher Sebela, and Joshua Williamson; artist, Joe Infurnari; colorist, Jordan Boyd; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Arielle Basich and Jon Moisan; publisher, Image Comics.

Evolution #2 (December 2017)

Evolution #2

Evolution reads like a novel. Or it doesn’t. Then it does again. Then it doesn’t. The comic makes the four different writes working on different things–presumably, I still haven’t read the back matter, but there are four different plot threads going. Anyway, sometimes there’s rhythm between the writers. Sometimes there’s none. This one time there’s terrible expository dialogue, while the rest of the book is fine.

Well. Wait. The last scene has the doctor who knows evolution is happening really fast all of a sudden narrating to his journal. It’s kind of obnoxious, especially since he was part of the talky expository dialogue sequence. So whoever writes that one needs a little more editing.

But… that writer also got to do the evolved monster people are congregating in groups in something with micro-face tentacles. Kind of like The Thing but more gross. Infurnari has this beautiful way of doing gross as horror. It’s scary to look at the gross, which makes it more visually compelling.

Evolution is still solid. It’s impressive what they’ve done, four separate writers and all, but the editing could be a little tighter. Not just in the dialogue; the comic still hasn’t found a rhythm. Though it might take a while with all those different writers.

CREDITS

Writers, James Asmus, Joseph Keatinge, Christopher Sebela, and Joshua Williamson; artist, Joe Infurnari; colorist, Jordan Boyd; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Arielle Basich and Jon Moisan; publisher, Image Comics.

Evolution 1 (November 2017)

Evolution #1

Evolution is an end of the world (as we know it) story. It’s happening all over the world, though with a predominately American bent. People are turning into monsters, but not mean monsters, just monstrosities. Because it turns out lots of people are evolving rather quickly and it’s happening all over and only one man can stop it.

Well, one man, a nun, and two twentysomething women who happen upon it.

Evolution has four writers and one artist. There’s back matter, which I haven’t read, and it might delineate who is writing what. I prefer not to know. I want to see how it all fits together. Is consistent art enough?

So far it seems like yes. In fact, so far, Evolution seems like a fine exercise in collaboration. It’s not an anthology. In fact, an anthology might have more similarities between stories–besides the overarching threat, the plotlines have little in common.

Other than Joe Infurnari’s horrific art. Horrific in a good way. It’d be in an even better way without Jordan Boyd’s colors (Image had a black and white sample version and the art’s much better without the distraction).

Anyway. Good stuff.

CREDITS

Writers, James Asmus, Joseph Keatinge, Christopher Sebela, and Joshua Williamson; artist, Joe Infurnari; colorist, Jordan Boyd; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Arielle Basich and Jon Moisan; publisher, Image Comics.

Frostbite 1 (November 2016)

Frostbite #1

You know what, Frostbite would be a perfectly fine graphic novel. Maybe not with the colors–Luis NCT adds a bunch of fake perspective with the pointalized coloring and it takes even more personality out of Jason Shawn Alexander’s art, but as a single sitting commitment, it’d be fine.

It’s about some post-apocalyptic wasteland with an artificially created atomic winter complete with a mysterious plague called frostbite. Freezes the body into an ice cube. Can’t you just see it on a TV show? I feel like the CW just needs to commit to a Vertigo anthology TV show and then we could get back to more interesting comics from them. But maybe not.

There’s a plucky, but dark, Han Solo-type leading this group of ice mercenaries or smugglers or something. Doesn’t matter. There’s an annoying scientist the team has to save so the world can be saved. It’s like when a TV pilot just doesn’t do it. I don’t care. The hook isn’t in. Not with the art; even though Alexander’s got the right setting, he doesn’t have fluid enough lines. His art doesn’t move.

And he’s really cheap on backgrounds.

Maybe I’ll read the first trade.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Jason Shawn Alexander; colorist, Luis NCT; letterer, Steve Wands; editor, Maggie Howell and Jamie S. Rich; publisher, Vertigo.

Birthright 12 (December 2015)

Birthright #12

Ah, a good old-fashioned subway fight. Not New York subway, Chicago subway. The setting should give Birthright some kind of distinction, but it doesn’t. In fact, there’s no distinct this issue, except maybe the first time I’ve seen Bressan rush through a scene so bad he loses his detail. The last seven or so pages feel like an entirely different artist, sort of aping Bressan’s style, but not really.

There’s also nothing special as far Williamson’s plotting. It’s sort of a bridging issue, but nothing happens. Just build-up for something later on, the good guys from Conan-land are going after Birthright’s “hero.” Hopefully his little big brother will stand up for him, but he’s asking questions too.

And the stuff with the mom and the now grown son’s pregnant girlfriend? The pregnant, flying warrior woman girlfriend? They get jumped by these bozo men in black guys. It’s really lame. It’s a weird issue.

I think I might be done with Birthright. I just can’t make the time.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Andrei Bressan; colorist, Adriano Lucas; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Arielle Basich and Sean Mackiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

Birthright 11 (November 2015)

Birthright #11

Williamson surprises a little bit with this issue of Birthright because he positions the Conan character as sympathetic. Or at least inviting sympathy. There’s this flashback to when he was Kid Conan and coming into his own adventuring and all that fantasy nonsense and he’s a likable character. The gimmick of Birthright is two-fold. There’s that initial hook of doing a really solid modern fantasy thing and then the followup punch of having it all be an evil deceit.

After ramping up the secondary part of the gimmick for so long, Williamson lets the book be fun for an issue. Kid Conan rescues a kidnapped princess or something. She’s not a princess, but you get the idea. It’s neat. And Bressan’s art is awesome.

Bressan’s art this issue might be the best so far in the series. He does the fantasy stuff great, but he also does these modern-day, “real world” talking heads scenes great. His expressions are full of emotion. It makes the flashback narrative affecting. Good stuff.

And Williamson’s soft cliffhanger suggests it’s going to keep being entertaining. Birthright’s just the right amounts of smart, playful and fun.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Andrei Bressan; colorist, Adriano Lucas; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Arielle Basich and Sean Mackiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

Nailbiter 16 (October 2015)

Nailbiter #16

To everything, turn, turn, turn, there is a season… oh, sorry. It’s just Williamson has hit the end of this season of Nailbiter. He ends on an expository note, though there is at least the nod at a subplot about some kids going to the Nailbiter’s house on Halloween.

But everything else? The sheriff, the FBI guy, the serial killers? It all gets wrapped up in talking head scenes. The sheriff’s hospital room is a meeting spot for people looking to get their storylines finished. It’s not so much rushed as drawn out. Williamson could’ve structured it with one of the protagonists–like, maybe the FBI guy since it was originally his comic–but instead, he’s in a rush.

I think I’m done with Nailbiter. Williamson has never really gotten anywhere on the book and Henderson’s art hasn’t either. It’s a competent comic book, but they chased Hollywood to the point they lost anything special.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Mike Henderson; colorist, Adam Guzowski; letterer, John J. Hill; editor, Rob Levin; publisher, Image Comics.

Birthright 10 (August 2015)

Birthright #10

As usual for Williamson–and easily the most frustrating thing about his writing–the issue reads too fast. This issue of Birthright is some female bonding and a lengthy fight sequence. At the end of the fight sequence comes a big surprise. And it’s a good big surprise, but it’s not good enough to forgive the issue taking place over five minutes.

Especially since Bressan is wasted on a slow fight scene. Bressan’s an imaginative artist and instead of letting him visualize cool things, this issue has him visualizing a scene out of an eighties fantasy action movie. Released by Cannon.

Speaking of which, as a compliment, Williamson and Bressan should search out a licensee for the property who’ll honor that eighties vibe.

I really like Birthright. It just never fully delivers. Maybe Williamson’s just writing for the trade (and the YA audience in book stores), which would be smart. It’s an incredibly accessible book and one with a wide range of potential reader.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Andrei Bressan; colorist, Adriano Lucas; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Mike Williamson and Sean Mackiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

Nailbiter 15 (August 2015)

Nailbiter #15

Is the explanation for Nailbiter’s town of serial killers going to be Nazi experiments in the forties? I think Williamson is going to go for it, meaning he’s always had an explanation in mind for the comic. He’s also getting even soapier as it (presumably) winds up.

The sheriff has a big secret, which the flashbacks are hinting at.

And Nailbiter can almost handle it. It can almost handle being “Twin Peaks,” “Beverly Hills 90210,” “The X-Files,” and “Criminal Minds” rolled into one. But Henderson’s art is all wrong for it. He can’t do the absurdity in the soap. He can’t handle it. He plays it straight and it makes Nailbiter flop. He does it on a full page spread this issue too.

Just flops.

The mood overpowers the narrative novelty and that novelty’s all Nailbiter has that this point so it’s a problem.

But, it’s okay enough.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Mike Henderson; colorist, Adam Guzowski; letterer, John J. Hill; editor, Rob Levin; publisher, Image Comics.

Birthright 9 (July 2015)

Birthright #9

It’s like Terminator 2. Birthright, at least this issue, reads like watching Terminator 2 for the first time. Well, parts of it; the really good action parts. Something about Bressan’s composition and the level of detail to figures in motion–the action scenes in the comic feel like a really well-executed movie action sequence.

It’s weird, since Birthright is a fantasy book. But it’s a fantasy setup put into an eighties action movie. Even the brother’s adventure (the little big brother) feels like an eighties action movie. These comparisons aren’t slights; Williamson’s writing a wonderful homage to that era and, more specifically, sentimentality to it.

It’s got to be intentional.

Anyway, at the same time, Williamson is building some other things (specifically the mom’s character as well as the complexities of the politics in the fantasy world). It works out. I still don’t like the cliffhangers, but good issue.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Andrei Bressan; colorist, Adriano Lucas; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Mike Williamson and Sean Mackiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

Nailbiter 14 (July 2015)

Nailbiter #14

Nailbiter is such a strange book. Not so much in its actual content, but in what a wide net Williamson throws over the various genres. In some ways, it feels like a “Twin Peaks” imitator. But here Williamson introduces a bit of an “X-Files” vibe.

This issue has the heroes teaming up–so you have serial killer, serial killer’s ex-girlfriend now sheriff and super-violent FBI guy–to discover the secret of the serial killers. Not so much the titular Nailbiter, but all the other serial killers. Williamson’s explanation, which he hints at having without hinting at the solution, seems more appropriate for an M. Night Shyamalan movie. Or maybe some kind of realistic superhero movie.

Like I said, it’s a strange book. And it doesn’t quite gel. The series has too many characters Williamson forgets about and then brings back.

Confusing, messy, it’s still a compelling read.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Mike Henderson; colorist, Adam Guzowski; letterer, John J. Hill; editor, Rob Levin; publisher, Image Comics.

Birthright 8 (June 2015)

Birthright #8

This issue of Birthright moves rather well. Williamson gets in a lot of busyness. Not much happens–Conan brings his little big brother to a first aid station after passing some possessed guys (possessed by creatures from the fantasy world). Then he has to fight them. And his flying girlfriend (who’s pregnant) has a run in with the FBI.

For the first time, I can also see Williamson’s track. I can’t see where he’s going, but you can see the track of how long Birthright’s supposed to run. We’re getting close to halfway. It’s nothing in the plotting as much as how Williamson treats the characters; the parents are subjects now, not active players.

After a lengthy action sequence with the flying girlfriend, Bressan starts slowing down in the rest of the book. I think it’s the first time he’s been overwhelmed on the series.

It’s a fine comic.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Andrei Bressan; colorist, Adriano Lucas; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Mike Williamson and Sean Mackiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

Nailbiter 13 (June 2015)

Nailbiter #13

Some of this issue is the best Nailbiter in a long time. Some of it is not. The end of the comic is definitely not; Williamson even manages to reverse a good scene he did at the start of the issue. He’s too concerned with having a plot twist every issue. A constantly twisty plot isn’t enough to keep a comic going (definitely not at thirteen issues in). It’s like he misunderstands the principles of the Brubaker reveal.

Because what’s great about this issue is the characters, the revelation the sheriff used to be a serial killer fan in high school. All of the kids were serial killer fans as their teenage rebellion. Far more interesting than whatever surprising but narratively pointless plot twist comes next.

Williamson spent too much time on the disgraced FBI guy. The sheriff’s a far better protagonist.

So, it’s a somewhat rewarding, somewhat not read.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artists, Mike Henderson and Adam Markiewicz; colorist, Adam Guzowski; letterer, John J. Hill; editor, Rob Levin; publisher, Image Comics.

Birthright 7 (May 2015)

Birthright #7

Well, Williamson turns in another fine issue of Birthright. I just wish they were all either this fine or I’d even take it a little less fine. Just so it’d be a steady read, because I don’t like feeling iffy on a series.

The story is good, he just doesn’t always tell it the same way. He misses out on where the story works–the characters’ relationships. He’s treating that aspect of the story as the McGuffin, when it’s really the other thing. This issue seems like he’s figured it out.

It’s like he realized he could only cry wolf so many times and he’s finally gotten over it.

There’s some good character development and some amusing scenes. Birthright always feels a little too fast a read, but Williamson gets a bunch of stuff done. Bressan’s good on the art, as always. Even gets to do some superhero-like stuff.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Andrei Bressan; colorist, Adriano Lucas; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Mike Williamson and Sean Mackiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

Ghosted 20 (May 2015)

Ghosted #20

Ghosted ends. Rather abruptly. While Williamson does discuss ending the series in the back matter–and he pretty much brings back every slightly sympathetic character for a farewell of sorts–the pacing doesn’t feel right. Even if he meant to work towards a reveal and then go another route… it’s not a successful destination.

Some of the problem is Goran Sudzuka trying a different style for his brief return to the comic. And then Laci and Williamson pretending they’re doing a desperately romantic Vertigo comic from the nineties. The tone is just off.

Still, even if it’s not a compelling read, the final issue of Ghosted is a pleasing one. Williamson doesn’t take enough time with the characters but he gives them all fine farewells. The ties back to the series’s first arc just show how constrained Williamson envisioned the comic, which is too bad.

Ghosted finishes acceptably, nothing more.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artists, Goran Sudžuka and Vladimir Krstic Laci; colorist, Miroslav Mrva; letterer, Rus Wooten; editors, Michael Williamson and Sean Mackiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

Nailbiter 12 (May 2015)

Nailbiter #12

It’s a fine issue of Nailbiter, though I’m not sure about Adam Markiewicz’s art. It’s not fluid enough–it’s in the same general style as Henderson, but it’s more static and somewhat bloated. Like Far Side bloated.

Nailbiter is such a strange comic because of how Williamson paces it out. Someday he’s going to write some great television shows, I just hope it gets to be a series he creates; because Nailbiter’s problem is not enough space for all the subplots. There’s just not time in a twenty-four page story.

Based on the “Three’s Company” reference in this issue–a perfectly beautiful one, as the titular Nailbiter becomes Chrissy to the lady sheriff (“She’s the Sheriff!”) and the rogue FBI agent–maybe it’d be a great thirty-minute drama.

It’s not a great comic, but it’s a good one. Henderson just can’t make it belong in the medium.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artists, Mike Henderson and Adam Markiewicz; colorist, Adam Guzowski; letterer, John J. Hill; editor, Rob Levin; publisher, Image Comics.

Birthright 6 (April 2015)

Birthright #6

It’s too soon to say I’m worried about Birthright, but I guess I’m starting to get concerned. Or maybe I wasn’t concerned but this issue is concerning.

Williamson is accelerating the story of the evil villain controlling Conan and accelerating Conan’s younger big brother figuring out something’s wrong with his brother. There’s some nice stuff with Williamson writing the character–Conan–as he remembers things from his past on Earth, many years before; it suggests there was probably a story here without the whole betrayal subplot, just not as long of one.

Or as action-packed?

There’s a really lame scene between the parents. Williamson doesn’t have the mother’s character down, which is getting to be a big problem. The parents are both generic–Dad good, Mom bad–and there’s too much time spent on them here.

Nice art from Bressan as usual.

Hopefully Birthright’s just stumbling, not falling.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Andrei Bressan; colorist, Adriano Lucas; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Mike Williamson and Sean Mackiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

Ghosted 19 (April 2015)

Ghosted #19

Okay, Laci’s art isn’t working out for Ghosted, especially not this issue. It’s talking heads–with one important bit of unexpected actions and one hinted one; so it’s mostly talking. And Laci can’t do it. His art works on a macro creepy level, but he doesn’t get into expressions enough for the characters to “perform” their fear and discomfort.

Williamson has quite a bit of fun with the script. He starts off with something entirely unexpected, then sort of avoids it. The issue takes place over twenty minutes at the most, following two and then three sets of characters. If the issue didn’t have such a surprising (though maybe it shouldn’t have been) development, it would have been fine with five or six pages.

And being able to make something a big deal is one of Williamson’s strengths. He does the character work to make his big plot developments succeed.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Vladimir Krstic Laci; colorist, Miroslav Mrva; letterer, Rus Wooten; editors, Michael Williamson and Sean Mackiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

Ghosted 18 (March 2015)

Ghosted #18

Very unexpected turns in this issue. Williamson almost seems to be getting to a place where he might wind Ghosted down. Soon. I hope not.

This issue–this arc–is the greatest hits of the series so far. He brings back the first villain, he brings back cast members from subsequent arcs. The interplay between these characters, who came into the series in its wholly different phases, is great. Even when it’s a little aside or a character talking under his or her breath, it’s great. Williamson’s got a vision for how the comic plays out.

Again, hope it’s not winding down.

But this issue, which has the characters tasked with getting from point A to point B (albeit through a field of angry ghosts), goes somewhere unexpected. It’s a nice, gentle move from Williamson.

It’s Ghosted so it’s not gentle in action, just in how he gets to it.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Vladimir Krstic Laci; colorist, Miroslav Mrva; letterer, Rus Wooten; editors, Helen Leigh and Sean Mackiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

Birthright 5 (February 2015)

Birthright #5

Williamson has a surprise in him. Birthright has it’s big surprise, of course, the big overall one, but Williamson totally changes the series with the last scene and it’s pretty cool. Birthright, just because the concept is so defined, occasionally feels like it can’t surprise. Even when it’s really good, it’s because Williamson’s doing really well with that concept.

Not here. Here, he shows he can surprise and give the series even more depth. Very cool.

And Bressan gets a hard job–visualizing an “imaginary friend”–and does really well with it. The way the scenes work have the character staggered; on the first appearance, it seems like a big misstep for Bressan. But during the second scene, it’s clear his design is perfect.

There’s a lot of exposition during the fight scene, both from the people in the know and the people not. It’s all just fantastically well-executed.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Andrei Bressan; colorist, Adriano Lucas; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Helen Leigh and Sean Mackiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

Ghosted 17 (February 2015)

Ghosted #17

Ghosted feels like a much different comic book with Vladimir Krstic Laci on art. It feels like a seventies ghost comic, slick in a classical sense, not a hip sense. It works against a bunch of the book’s concepts and makes Ghosted a much more entertaining read this month. Just the way Laci breaks out the action alone changes the experience.

The issue has Jackson going over to the ghost town to fight his nemesis. It’s a lot of great talking heads because Laci makes everything feel a little uneasy and Williamson’s ominous dialogue is strong. When the supernatural does come in, Williamson and Laci handle it really well too.

I’m not sure if Laci’s the best fit for the book, which doesn’t have to be homage to seventies horror comics, but it’s a nice approach to this particular story line. It fits it better. Realistic fantastical stuff going on.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Vladimir Krstic Laci; colorist, Miroslav Mrva; letterer, Rus Wooten; editors, Helen Leigh and Sean Mackiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

Nailbiter 10 (February 2015)

Nailbiter #10

It’s a rather good issue of Nailbiter. I’m beginning to think the problem with Williamson’s writing isn’t too many ideas (or a lack of them on the fast issues), but a pacing one. On Nailbiter, his two issues would work better as one than two. The cliffhanger aside. Or maybe muted.

This issue has the resolution to the school bus kidnapping and then a cliffhanger setting up the series for a big change. Depending on how Williamson handles it. But it’s a really good cliffhanger; Williamson leads up to it intellectually, not through forced events. He thinks his way through Nailbiter, which is what makes the book work in general.

It’s a more than silly concept, handled very realistically in terms of visual tone and character interactions, and the balance succeeds because of Williamson’s writing.

Yay, Nailbiter.

Unfortunately, Henderson is really pressed for time here. He often skips drawing faces.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Mike Henderson; colorist, Adam Guzowski; letterer, John J. Hill; editor, Rob Levin; publisher, Image Comics.

Robocop 8 (February 2015)

Robocop #8

I’m not sure how I’d describe Killian, Williamson’s long-in-the-tooth antagonist in Robocop, but soap opera tough guy might be the best description. There’s no depth to the character, which is starting to get really annoying. Though Magno’s design for the him does look a lot like an eighties tough guy, which fits in with it being a sequel to Robocop.

This issue has Williamson lift a scene from Batman Returns to get stuff done, which is fine (there’s nothing else to do in that situation), but the parts with Robocop all of a sudden an upgraded superhero, doing things impossible to do with a man in a tin can suit? It’s where Robocop breaks. It’s where you can’t suspend disbelief long enough to hear Peter Weller’s voice saying the lines.

Williamson is still earnest with Robocop, but he’s not restrained enough. Not having a “budget” hurts it.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Carlos Magno; colorist, Marissa Louise; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Alex Galer and Ian Brill; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Ghosted 16 (January 2015)

Ghosted #16

It’s a done-in-one setting up the next story arc, with Williamson following the villain through his evil plans in a small German town. Juan Jose Ryp does the art, which leads to some crazy riot scenes, but the best moments of Ryp’s art are actually the kids playing. It’s a strange thing to see from Ryp (and in Ghosted) and it’s rather nice.

Actually, Ryp now does a lot of points for shading on faces and it gets annoying fast. Like it’s a Photoshop filter or something.

The story’s decent. Williamson has a lot of fun not just with the villain but setting up the situation in the town. When Jackson finally does appear towards the end of the comic to get the set up going, he’s out of place.

Williamson doesn’t just have fun with the issue, he crafts it very well. It feels enthusiastic and finished.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Juan Jose Ryp; colorist, Miroslav Mrva; letterer, Rus Wooten; editors, Helen Leigh and Sean Mackiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

Nailbiter 9 (January 2015)

Nailbiter #9

Somehow, Williamson can turn an exciting cliffhanger resolution into a boring comic. I mean, it’s interesting. Even if Henderson doesn’t get as much good to draw as usual because there’s the cliffhanger resolution and then another scene in the same location. Then it’s a bunch of interiors–the sheriff’s house, where Williamson works on his B plot involving the local preacher, and the school bus, the issue’s ostensible A plot.

That A plot is just to get Williamson to another big cliffhanger, presumably one he’ll resolve quickly next issue and not just not offer any resolution but also use to get hostile about the idea of the reader connecting with the comic.

Nailbiter is far too removed from itself; Williamson doesn’t want to focus on his main characters because he’s bored with them. Everyone else is far more interesting. Hopefully, he’ll be able to refocus the comic on something engaging.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Mike Henderson; colorist, Adam Guzowski; letterer, John J. Hill; editor, Rob Levin; publisher, Image Comics.

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