Reborn 1 (October 2016)

Reborn #1

Highly derivative fantasy sci-fi afterlife tripe. An older woman dies and discovers she’s Amethyst, Reborn in a Terminator/LOTR knock-off fantasy world. Capullo’s dragon and dropship art is stronger than his people. Millar’s writing isn’t strong on anything. He even rips off some Watchmen here.

CREDITS

Writer, Mark Millar; penciller, Greg Capullo; inker, Jonathan Glapion; colorist, FCO Plascencia; letterer, Nate Piekos; editor, Rachael Fulton; publisher, Image Comics.

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Chrononauts 1 (March 2015)

Chrononauts #1

I like how Mark Millar has gotten to the point I don’t even bother forming an opinion on his first issue. Take Chrononauts. Good–but surprisingly not great–art from Sean Murphy. Of course, Millar often works with good artists.

The story? Time travel in the near future. Millar comes up with something rather interesting, the idea of a time traveling satellite going back in time, transmitting video of an event, crashing down in a different time period. It’s cool. Then he gets to the guys who are going to go back in time. Both are rock star scientists–because Millar has to write rock star something or others–one has an ex-wife, one is a lothario. Millar’s not stretching here. He’s got his characters, he recycles them.

But the time travel stuff with the guys? Boring. Feels like a Stargate comic.

But, it’s Millar; I’ll delay critical thinking.

CREDITS

Writer, Mark Millar; artist, Sean Murphy; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editor, Nicole Boose; publisher, Image Comics.

MPH 5 (February 2015)

MPH #5

Millar gets to a nice manipulative finish on MPH. He does give Fegredo a bunch of cool stuff to draw and the art’s great, but Millar has enough story for another five issues and he doesn’t want to tell it.

He suggests MPH is deeper for his lack of interest in proper storytelling, but it’s really not. It’s just more manipulative.

Half the issue is spent on a super-speed fight sequence. It’s pretty cool, actually. If it took the whole issue, it’d be even more cool. And then Millar could save the two big reveals for another issue, which would’ve worked a lot better.

But it still wouldn’t have been good. Because one of Millar’s reveals is a huge one and he tries to pass it off as small potatoes. It should be the defining element of the series; it’s not. Because it’s not flashy enough.

Still, beautiful art.

CREDITS

Writer, Mark Millar; artist, Duncan Fegredo; colorists, Peter Doherty and Mike Spicer; letterer, Doherty; editors, Lucy Unwin and Nicole Boose; publisher, Image Comics.

MPH 4 (November 2014)

MPH #4

There’s quite a bit of talking in this comic. Not just the lead characters, who talk a whole bunch, but also the government guys out to catch the lead characters. There’s also a revelation scene, which Millar doesn’t do particularly well. It’s a talking heads issue and Millar is just dumping exposition to set up for the finish.

He opens the issue with the secret government agency explaining most of the backstory to the drug and to the mysterious prisoner, who’s been so unimportant he’s barely memorable. Millar plays some tricks, since he’s dealing with fortune telling and, presumably, next issue will have a big surprise or two, but the problem with MPH is the characters.

They aren’t just unsympathetic at this point, they’re annoying and tedious. Millar didn’t set them up strong enough and without development–especially after all the talking–they’re just dragging the comic down.

Too bad.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer, Mark Millar; artist, Duncan Fegredo; colorist and letterer, Peter Doherty; editors, Jennifer Lee and Nicole Boose; publisher, Image Comics.

Starlight 6 (October 2014)

Starlight #6

You know, I hate Mark Millar. I hate how he was able to goof around with Starlight–not just drag out the series, but be really late on the last issue–and how he’s still able to deliver exactly what he needs to deliver on this finale.

Maybe it works better because he’s already disappointed in other issues, so when this one comes through, it works out. But I think it’s more because Millar actually understands how to write mainstream heroic moments and he just lets himself get too confused, too commercial. Starlight is definitely mainstream, definitely commercial, but it’s also got Millar taking the time with his protagonist.

Even though he’s been through a problematic six issue limited series, Duke McQueen’s a great character and Millar wants to celebrate him–and the time the reader’s spent with him.

So it’s cheap and easy, but it sure does taste good.

A- 

CREDITS

Writer, Mark Millar; artist, Goran Parlov; colorist, Ive Svorcina; letterer, Marko Sunjic; editor, Nicole Boose; publisher, Image Comics.

MPH 3 (September 2014)

MPH #3

Will the real Mark Millar please stand up…

After a couple relatively good issues, MPH starts to have some major problems. First and foremost, Millar has given up on characters for this issue. He has his protagonists robbing banks and sharing the takings with the people of Detroit, but the characters have no personalities. Oh, the one guy is jealous of the guy and the girl, but it’s very hard to care.

Presumably, Millar thought he did enough character work in the previous two issues to establish the characters but he didn’t. The comic is written, very much, for the trade–and that trade is written, very much, to be sold to Hollywood. This issue is all events, all gags, all gimmicks. The ending is idiotic.

Millar has a lot of ideas–and Fegredo does a fabulous job visualizing them–he just doesn’t have a story. He’s generating a property.

C+ 

CREDITS

Writer, Mark Millar; artist, Duncan Fegredo; colorist and letterer, Peter Doherty; editors, Jennifer Lee and Nicole Boose; publisher, Image Comics.

Starlight 5 (August 2014)

Starlight #5

I didn’t realize Starlight was a limited series. I guess it makes sense, given the creative team, but Millar sure didn’t pace it well for a finite run. Subplots would have been cool. I just thought he was padding it out.

This issue is all action. There’s a minute amount of character development for Duke, but it’s really just old man action movie stuff and it’s fine. Millar writes it well enough and Parlov draws it beautifully. It’s too bad Millar’s plotting isn’t better because most of the action takes place in a gas fog and all the activity is in long shot.

The tediously setup cliffhangers have the supporting cast in shackles and Duke on his way to save them. Duke surviving an off-panel death might be a spoiler but Millar doesn’t actually present it as a possibility. It’s a narrative trick.

They’re all tricks, but effectively executed.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer, Mark Millar; artist, Goran Parlov; colorist, Ive Svorcina; letterer, Marko Sunjic; editor, Nicole Boose; publisher, Image Comics.

MPH 2 (June 2014)

MPH #2

It’s bad, but I sort of wanted Millar to flop on the second issue of MPH. Not for any reason other than his adherence to the eighties multi-racial movie gang. He’s got them in here; nothing but it seems.

But he doesn’t flop. Even without doing some fantastic super-speed moments–there’s only one–the issue proves incredibly entertaining and Millar manages to get in some good character work. He’s got a new approach to how the characters experience the drug. The world’s on pause around their adventures. It takes him a while to get to this device, with the guy from the last issue zooming in and out of his friends’ lives.

MPH then has the problem of seeming too impulsive and I was ready for it to flop because of Millar’s brevity. He doesn’t skip the responsibility though, he owns it.

Additionally, it doesn’t hurt the Fegredo art is absolutely gorgeous.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Mark Millar; artist, Duncan Fegredo; colorists, Peter Doherty and Mike Spicer; letterer, Doherty; editor, Jennifer Lee; publisher, Image Comics.

Starlight 4 (June 2014)

Starlight #4

I don't know if Starlight is exactly deceptive, but Millar does make you forget he's up to his old content tricks. There's just enough humor, character revelations (I was going to say development, but not really) and nods to the Flash Gordon roots of the project to move things along. Not to mention the Parlov art. There's some phenomenal Parlov art this issue.

But then, as the issue wraps up, it becomes clear Millar only really resolved his cliffhanger from the previous issue and set Duke up for the next big cliffhanger and the next big opportunity for fantastic Parlov art. There's nothing wrong with that approach but if Starlight is just going to be comic to read for the art… maybe Millar could talk less.

Because he doesn't really have anything to say. He hints at having something to say, but then avoids it.

Even hampered, the comic's successful.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Mark Millar; artist, Goran Parlov; colorist, Ive Svorcina; letterer, Marko Sunjic; editor, Nicole Boose; publisher, Image Comics.

MPH 1 (May 2014)

MPH #1

Leave it to Mark Millar to screw it up when he's got a good thing going. Even without the terrible soft cliffhanger, MPH does have some fantastic art from Duncan Fegredo. Fantastic enough to probably make the comic worth a look even if it didn't have a serviceable script.

There are all the standard Millar problems. It's too self-aware, the pop culture references are too forced, probably a few other things but I ignored them. However, Millar does write a good first person narration for his protagonist. It's some small time crook who ends up in prison for a relatively small crime and then gets superpowers.

The superpowers come from a pill called MPH. There's going to be an idiotic explanation for it, which the soft cliffhanger foreshadows. Still, the way Millar shows the guy's experience is fantastic.

The comic's predictably problematic (given Millar) but it's better than expected.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer, Mark Millar; artist, Duncan Fegredo; colorist and letterer, Peter Doherty; editor, Jennifer Lee; publisher, Image Comics.

Starlight 3 (May 2014)

Starlight #3

For the third issue of Starlight, things are coming together. Well, not so much things, but Millar’s writing. He’s pacing out the narrative a lot better. There are probably six or seven scenes this issue and they’re mostly good scenes. The cliffhanger is a little abrupt and he spends too much time with the lame villain, but the stuff with Duke is all pretty great.

Except maybe how Millar resolves the big action sequence. There’s this fantastic fight scene with Duke taking on a bunch of bad guys–Parlov does beautiful work with the figures, but also with how he lays out the panels on the page–except then Millar remembers Duke is an old guy and has to get real. The real part’s problematic.

And the followup with Duke; not great. But otherwise, all of Duke’s scenes are great.

It’s a well-executed comic book. Parlov’s abilities outweigh Millar’s lack of imagination.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer, Mark Millar; artist, Goran Parlov; colorist, Ive Svorcina; letterer, Marko Sunjic; editor, Nicole Boose; publisher, Image Comics.

Starlight 2 (April 2014)

Starlight #2

I was expecting a lot more from Starlight. This new development where series totally fall off after strong openings didn’t seem like something Millar would fall for, but this issue suggests otherwise. Duke argues with a kid from the planet he saved about whether he’s going back to save them again.

Of course he’s going to go back. Otherwise there’s not a series.

About the only time the comic shows any signs of life is when Duke says they’re going to show off the spaceship to all the people who said he was crazy. And then Millar fails to deliver anything.

So it’s a redundant, predictable talking heads book. Without very interesting art. Parlov doesn’t do a lot of backgrounds and his panels are simplistic. There’s an overemphasis on the kid, who’s not particularly interesting, and most of the moodiness about Duke’s solitude is gone.

Starlight’s dimming. It’s too bad too.

C 

CREDITS

Writer, Mark Millar; artist, Goran Parlov; colorist, Ive Svorcina; letterer, Marko Sunjic; editor, Nicole Boose; publisher, Image Comics.

Starlight 1 (March 2014)

Sl1

Starlight is not an original idea. Goran Parlov’s composition even mimics The Incredibles when establishing the protagonist, one Duke McQueen. He’s not a John Wayne character, he’s Flash Gordon or Buck Rogers. Except he’s gotten old. His kids are selfish little pricks–again, not original–but he’s pushing through.

He’s also exceptionally well-established in just one issue. Mark Millar uses flashbacks to his adventuring to show who he was and then little scenes in the present to show how he hasn’t changed too much.

Is Duke going to go and save the galaxy again? One hopes–oh, wait a second, didn’t Garth Ennis do Dan Dare with this treatment. Like I said, not original.

But it’s earnestly done. Parlov’s art is fantastic. The fantastical stuff gets pushed further thanks to Parlov’s realistically minded but not realistic stylings. So obvious the Earth stuff works.

It’s light reading, but wonderfully so.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Mark Millar; artist, Goran Parlov; colorist, Ive Svorcina; letterer, Marko Sunjic; editor, Nicole Boose; publisher, Image Comics.

Ultimate Spider-Man 86 (January 2006)

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Maybe not everything should get an Ultimate version.

For example, Bendis opens the issue with Ultimate Damage Control. Does there need to be an Ultimate Damage Control… probably not. But Bendis uses it for exposition and to frame his flashback. It’s okay enough.

Except the arc’s not about them, it’s about Ultimate Silver Sable, who’s apparently a corporate espionage person. Does she need an Ultimate version? Hard to say, but definitely not the way Bendis writes this issue.

She has all these morons working for her (the Wild Pack, I think) and Bendis is clearly enjoying writing their dialogue… but it’s all for a useless comic. He’s impressing himself again, which never goes well for the series.

The twist at the end, which should be played for laughs, ends up being vicious. The arc’s a misfire so far.

And the Ultimate Vision backup? Pointless but inoffensive writing; truly hideous art.

CREDITS

Silver Sable, Part One; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; penciller, Mark Bagley; inker, Scott Hanna; colorist, Justin Ponsor. Ultimate Vision, Visions, Part One of Six; writer, Mark Millar; penciller, John Romita Jr.; inker, Jimmy Palmiotti; colorist, Jonathan D. Smith. Letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editors, John Barber, Nicole Wiley and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Swamp Thing 171 (October 1996)

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Millar hits a home run with the final issue.

He ties up all sorts of things, the little things he’s done throughout his run, the bigger things no one ever could have done without his arc. He rewards the faithful reader, with more than a few nods to memorable events in long ago issues.

The reason it works is because of Millar’s narration. He writes Alec as he changes from powerful elemental to ultimate elemental to whatever comes next. There are little tricks he does–putting some scientific terminology into the narration, letting thoughts pass without ever coming to the fore–but he accomplishes something wonderful.

Hester, DeMulder and colorist Tatjana Wood (who’s been on the book from the start) really come through here too. Millar’s got to write the unimaginable, but they have to illustrate it.

The narrative’s miraculously plotted for the reader, but never feels compromised.

It’s magnificent.

CREDITS

Trial by Fire, The End; writer, Mark Millar; penciller, Phil Hester; inker, Kim DeMulder; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, Richard Starkings; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, Vertigo.

Swamp Thing 170 (September 1996)

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Poor Chester and Liz, they only get a page together. But Millar does give Chester just about the only joke in the entire issue.

It’s Alec–turned into a human Alec Holland again–versus the Word. The Word is the embodiment of God’s power (they call him the Voice here, probably as not to alienate any readers). But there’s a lot with Woodrue and all the experimenting his plans on doing to Tefè. She’s seven, it turns out, which means Millar did play a whole lot with the internal timeline logic.

Then there’s some stuff with Abby and Constantine, who are always interesting together. Millar does well with their scene, which is rather important because it’s unclear how honest Alec’s being in his scene.

There’s quite a bit about Tefè’s new origin. It’s Millar’s biggest change. He works hard to sell it and… for the most part, achieves that goal.

CREDITS

Trial by Fire, Part Five: Apocalypse Now; writer, Mark Millar; penciller, Phil Hester; inker, Kim DeMulder; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, Richard Starkings; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, Vertigo.

Swamp Thing 169 (August 1996)

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It’s the big Constantine issue. Oddly, Millar hasn’t really given his own new characters much to do. Instead he relies on the classics to wrap up the comic. It’s appropriate and all, but one might think a writer would be selfish. If Millar’s writing this finale dispassionately, he’s a master faker.

Besides some subterfuge on Constantine’s part, there’s absolutely no action this issue. It’s all talking heads, whether Constantine and Alec or Abby discovering what’s become of Tefé. The Abby scenes with Tefé are better than most of Constantine and Alec’s sequence, though the finish for that one is superior.

Millar has a great cliffhanger for the issue too. The conversation between Alec and Constantine never really references their past relationship (Millar flashes back to a different point in Constantine’s career) but just has the gravity of two people who’ve known each other for a long time.

As expected, excellent.

CREDITS

Trial by Fire, Part Four: The Judas Tree; writer, Mark Millar; penciller, Phil Hester; inker, Kim DeMulder; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, Richard Starkings; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, Vertigo.

Swamp Thing 168 (July 1996)

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Millar continues killing off Parliaments this issue. Between that subplot, Arcane’s return and Abby preparing for her visit, it’s a full issue. Most talky is obviously Arcane’s return, since he really does only come back to lecture. Millar also reveals the new Arcane ties into something in his first issue–he’s doing a really good job of tying the whole series together, whether stuff from his run or much earlier.

There’s some comedy with Chester, Liz (who I think Martin Pasko created at the start) and Abby. It feels like old Swamp Thing when Millar writes the three of them together, even after all the changes in the characters. All the fantastic stuff he’s writing, the humans ground it.

Alec does get a lot of time this issue. He and Arcane talk back and forth for–with breaks–half the issue. Millar the best Arcane since Moore.

It’s all great.

CREDITS

Trial by Fire, Part Three: The Last Temptation of Anton; writer, Mark Millar; penciller, Phil Hester; inker, Kim DeMulder; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, Richard Starkings; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, Vertigo.

Swamp Thing 167 (June 1996)

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Lots of returning faces this issue–Millar’s first (and last?) regular appearance of Chester. He and Abby go to a McDonald’s stand-in and discuss the world’s predicament. Millar positions their relative calm against everyone else, who are all expecting the world to end.

Most of the issue follows Timothy Raven. Millar’s setting up this arc like a heist movie. Every character has a role to play, the reader is watching it all play out, Alec is the loot. He’s pretty much off panel the entire issue.

There’s also what must be the last appearance of the Parliament of Trees. They try to stand up to God. It doesn’t go too well. Millar really shows it in Lady Jane, who is–while scary looking in the Hester rendition–very caring and sympathetic.

There’s only one hiccup. Millar’s got some weird timeline gaff. It’s slight but jarring. Otherwise, another excellent issue.

CREDITS

Trial by Fire, Part Two: The Word of God; writer, Mark Millar; penciller, Phil Hester; inker, Kim DeMulder; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, Richard Starkings; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, Vertigo.

Swamp Thing 166 (May 1996)

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Millar brings in Jason Woodrue, who hasn’t been around for quite a while, and Constantine, who Millar hasn’t written in this series before.

He also jumps ahead a year in the present action. Alec had built himself a Hearst Castle and cut himself off from the world. Woodrue’s journals fill the reader in on the changes while Constantine and Abby–in separate scenes–show how cut off Alec has become. Cut off and quite dangerous.

When Alec finally does appear, Hester has designed him a new look to take the air elemental bit into account. He’s unrecognizable for the most part, except maybe the eyes.

It’s a big issue, dealing with a big question–the end of the world–and Millar does a good job. Even though the issue’s regular length, it feels very full. I haven’t even mentioned the Phantom Stranger has his own subplot this issue.

It’s good.

CREDITS

Trial by Fire, Part One: Golden Days before the End; writer, Mark Millar; penciller, Phil Hester; inker, Kim DeMulder; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, Richard Starkings; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, Vertigo.

Swamp Thing 165 (April 1996)

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The wonderful Chester Williams issue. I remember it from reading it years ago–though I forgot Curt Swan pencilled it.

It’s a joke issue, with Millar turning Chester into a neo-con cop who’s fed up with all the dirty hippy stuff going on around him. It actually follows the character’s history pretty close–though Chester was always so stoned he really didn’t have a personality–and it ends, as it should, with Chester confronting Swamp Thing.

Swan’s pencils are good, but the kicker is the hippy version of Swamp Thing (who looks a lot like the Scot Eaton Swamp Thing from later issues).

It’s a political issue–Millar did it in time for the 1996 presidential election–and it wouldn’t work without Chester. Having him spout generic Republican catchphrases when people are actually talking to him is a fine gag.

The issue’s memorable and decent, but it’s obviously filler.

CREDITS

Chester Williams: American Cop; writer, Mark Millar; pencillers, Curt Swan and Phil Hester; inker, Kim DeMulder; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, Richard Starkings; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, Vertigo.

Swamp Thing 164 (March 1996)

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To become the rock elemental and the water elemental, Millar put Alec through a whole bunch of grief. But to become the wind elemental, there’s really not much to it. He has to solve one of the easier riddles I’ve ever read. It’s probably not even a riddle. He just has to find a clue. A very obvious one.

No wonder Millar spent most of these last issues dealing with the fantasy world and just had Alec depressed. If he came up with the solution first, then wrote the issues, there’d be no way to give Alec an interesting journey.

Alec’s depression, of course, is well-written. Millar’s showing his dwindling humanity in his insensitivity–not to everything but to a few choice targets.

But after multiple issues promising these awesome warlocks, Millar never delivers. We don’t even get to see a single warlock.

Still, it’s fine, with excellent art.

CREDITS

The Parliament of Vapors; writer, Mark Millar; penciller, Phil Hester; inker, Kim DeMulder; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, Richard Starkings; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, Vertigo.

Swamp Thing 163 (February 1996)

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It’s a nice, full issue. Alec meets the son of one of the Cajuns he killed–not his fault, of course, Parliament of Trees banished his human side–and has a very interesting encounter. He bonds with the kid, but also gets to talk to some of his victims.

Millar has almost made the victims a Greek chorus; they’re stuck in trees, apparently immortal, but also part of the Green. They tell Alec a lot he doesn’t want to hear–and it becomes clear Millar isn’t using Alec as a reliable narrator.

But then the last third or so of the comic is this run up to an invasion from another dimension. The three mystical beings who support Swamp Thing magically banished superhero involvement in the saving the world from destruction.

And now Alec doesn’t want to play ball.

Very good stuff, with very evocative art from Hester and DeMulder.

CREDITS

Trees of Knowledge; writer, Mark Millar; penciller, Phil Hester; inker, Kim DeMulder; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, Richard Starkings; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, Vertigo.

Swamp Thing 162 (January 1996)

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It’s a particularly awesome issue, even if the Abby thing doesn’t work out.

The evil druid from another dimension has Alec trapped while he’s burning down a building with a bunch of hostages in it. Millar doesn’t go easy on characterizing the hostages. He makes sure the reader knows how scared and desperate they are in their situation.

Then there’s a big action sequence and it’s awesome, some great narration for Alec. Then there’s a resolution scene full of magic and wonderment–also awesome (Hester and DeMulder do better on the action than the resolution; they don’t do wonderment very well).

Millar hasn’t done an issue like this one, with Alec confronting a threat and also trying to think of others. It’s the most superhero Swamp Thing has been in a hundred plus issues.

But the Abby resolution is bewildering… until one remembers last issue–Millar skips a necessary refresher.

CREDITS

Telephone Calls from the Dead; writer, Mark Millar; penciller, Phil Hester; inker, Kim DeMulder; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, Richard Starkings; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, Vertigo.

Swamp Thing 161 (December 1995)

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See, I say Tefé doesn’t get mentioned and Millar all of a sudden mentions here. This issue features the first time Millar has written the regular Abby solo (before he was working with Morrison). She drops by the swamp for old times sake–and because she and her human lover have split up.

Abby’s always been the hardest character for Swamp Thing characters to get–well, maybe just the ones after Veitch–and Millar only does okay. He doesn’t focus on either character this issue, with Alec’s narration disappearing and turning into expositional dialogue.

Most of the issue is spent on the terrified residents of Houma, who go about their lives without knowing some big bad guy is coming after Alec. Millar spends more time on them than Alec and Abby.

It’s not bad at all; in fact, it’s quite comfortable and good, but Millar’s not stretching himself at all.

CREDITS

Many Happy Returns; writer, Mark Millar; penciller, Phil Hester; inker, Kim DeMulder; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, Richard Starkings; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, Vertigo.

Swamp Thing 160 (November 1995)

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Millar splits the issue between Alec and some old guy named Jim Rook. I don’t think he’s an existing character, but basically he’s a burnt out rock star who used to be a sword and sorcery hero in an alternate reality.

What’s strange is how Millar will go from the comical rock star–the situation’s serious, of course, an elf has come to Manhattan to bring him to save the universe–and the melancholic with Alec.

Alec’s spending his days sitting around the swamp, enjoying nature, maybe messing with Killer Croc a little… He misses Abby (but apparently not Tefé as Millar hasn’t mentioned her in a long time) but he’s relatively content.

The rock star’s story is the important one, as it’ll undoubtedly tie into Alec’s next quest. But the comic’s still called Swamp Thing, even if Millar doesn’t have anything for him to do here.

It’s still good.

CREDITS

Ace of Swords; writer, Mark Millar; penciller, Phil Hester; inker, Kim DeMulder; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, Richard Starkings; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, Vertigo.

Swamp Thing 159 (October 1995)

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Jill Thompson does fill-in for Millar’s attack on, let’s see, both the English upperclass and on Scottish parents.

It involves an elite dining club; the members have to eat whatever is put on their plate to keep in good standing. Can’t really spoil the big surprise, since Millar does a whole bait and switch for seven pages to hide it, but the salad course is an old Swamp Thing head.

Even though it’s horrifying, it’s a lovely little story about a boy and his dog–Millar dedicates it to a past pooch. It also gives him a chance to show off outside the comic’s regular constraints. He gets to be weird and funny but still show some heart without figuring out how to make it tie majorly into Swamp Thing.

Thompson’s art is fine. There’s nothing particularly good about it; the regular artists would’ve handled things just as well.

CREDITS

Swamp Dog; writer, Mark Millar; artist, Jill Thompson; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, Richard Starkings; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, Vertigo.

Swamp Thing 158 (September 1995)

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As much as I like Hester and DeMulder, the beauty of the art this issue surprised me. Alec finds himself meeting the Parliament of Waves, who themselves are quite wondrous, but the art is also very expressive as Millar reveals the secret of “River Run.”

Even though there are a couple big forced foreshadowing moments, it’s one of Millar’s best issues. It’s all so tranquil; his narration for Alec is perfect. One can practically hear running water when rereading it.

The issue itself is actually almost entirely talking heads. Alec and the Parliament–there are a couple continuity breaking moments in the conversation, but Millar’s nicely earned breaking the long continuity. He maintains the important things.

It’s also surprisingly successful because of the short time–the last issue and this one–Millar’s had to fully establish the Anna character. He creates and sets free a fabulous new creation with her.

CREDITS

River Run, Conclusion: The Parliament of Waves; writer, Mark Millar; penciller, Phil Hester; inker, Kim DeMulder; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, Richard Starkings; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, Vertigo.

Swamp Thing 157 (August 1995)

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Hester’s back and he and DeMulder do a fantastic job illustrating Anna–she’s the author of “River Run”–and her life as it all falls apart. Millar might be explaining how she found herself in the predicament of being stuck in her own stories, but it’s not clear. He might be fooling.

Bad things happen to her, page after page, and one forgets the comic is called Swamp Thing. When Alec finally does show up at the end, he’s a stand-in for Millar, the author, explaining to the character why she’s going through such torments.

As a comic about a writer’s life falling apart and her work not even being able to keep her together, it’s quite good. Millar’s rather writerly again and he wears that hat well.

Alec showing up at the end feels forced, like Millar’s now trying to neatly tie everything together.

Messy would’ve been better.

CREDITS

River Run, Chapter Six: Sink or Swim; writer, Mark Millar; penciller, Phil Hester; inker, Kim DeMulder; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, Richard Starkings; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, Vertigo.

Swamp Thing 156 (July 1995)

16126

Phil Jimenez pencilling Swamp Thing. I sort of get it–he’s realistic and the story this issue is set in the real world. It’s a real world retelling of the first Swamp Thing comic only this time the Hollands have a daughter… and Swamp Thing arrives from another dimension to save them.

There are, not surprisingly, complications.

Millar uses the “real” Alec Holland to narrate the issue. The regular Alec–you know, Swamp Thing–he pops in and has some scenes with the Hollands, but he mostly bonds with the daughter.

The daughter is the stand-in for the author of the “River Run” short stories, which means she’s writing them about Swamp Thing. It’s a little odd. I’m hoping Millar ties it together because otherwise it all feels too contrived. Good issues or not, his frame seems false.

The Jimenez art is good, but lacks personality. Wrightson he ain’t.

CREDITS

River Run, Chapter Five: Darker Genesis; writer, Mark Millar; penciller, Phil Jimenez; inker, Kim DeMulder; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, Richard Starkings; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, Vertigo.

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