Incognito: Bad Influences 5 (April 2011)

Brubaker goes with a simple conclusion—not out of Tom Strong, but keeping with his Moore fascination on this series, out of Watchmen—and it works. Maybe it doesn’t, I don’t know. He ends the series with a lovely setup for a third Incognito and that setup works and so it just makes me want another one more. Actually, I should be upset. The entire series was just a setup to get Zack to where Brubaker ends this issue. Brubaker even reveals a certain logic to the series (it takes place over a week) and he could have used it during, having … Continue reading Incognito: Bad Influences 5 (April 2011)

Incognito: Bad Influences 4 (March 2011)

I just noticed, this issue, Phillips is really playing up the masks this series of Incognito. Everyone’s got a mask of some kind or another (well, all the girls have Catwoman masks out of the Adam West “Batman”) so it looks like he’s keeping busy illustrating other stuff, since Brubaker’s still not giving him particularly interesting set pieces. It all takes place at night; maybe the non-colored work is more dynamic. But Brubaker definitely needs more issues. He’s introducing all these new and interesting things but just showing them for a second before he has to move past. It’s like … Continue reading Incognito: Bad Influences 4 (March 2011)

Incognito: Bad Influences 3 (February 2011)

Okay, so every issue of Bad Influences so far has had a different pacing structure. Here, Brubaker splits it between his three or four main characters. Except two of the main characters are antagonists and it’s unclear how much either is going to have to do with the series overall and he gives Zoe Zeppelin her own focus now too. She’s even less of an active character than the bad guys. As for Zack Overkill, it’s hard to say where Brubaker’s taking him this series. He’s not quite treading water with the character, but he’s moving along really slow, to … Continue reading Incognito: Bad Influences 3 (February 2011)

Incognito: Bad Influences 2 (December 2010)

Look at Brubaker surprising me… not so much with anything going on in the issue, but with the soft cliffhanger. The entire issue suggests he’s going to have problems filling out three more issues, then the cliffhanger suggests he’s not going to have enough time for all his plans. I coasted through this issue on goodwill from the first one. It’s not a bad issue, it’s just a stretched one. Brubaker takes a lot of time to get Zack’s story to a place he could have in the first half of the issue, maybe even less. The Black Death is … Continue reading Incognito: Bad Influences 2 (December 2010)

Incognito: Bad Influences 1 (October 2010)

Until the last few pages, the first issue of Bad Influences seems like a slice-of-life book. Zack Overkill is relating his new life to the reader and it’s all rather amusing. The issue opens with an event then Brubaker goes back and explains it—humorously and cinematically. Even with the ending’s change in narrative tone, this series has stronger writing than the last one. Brubaker’s allowing himself to have some fun. That fun isn’t just in the humor of the scenes, but of the narrative in general. Incognito now feels even more like the illegitimate, albeit darker offspring of Tom Strong. … Continue reading Incognito: Bad Influences 1 (October 2010)

Black Widow: The Things They Say About Her 6 (April 2006)

It’s interesting how Morgan finishes the series—it’s kind of setting up Civil War only with Dubya as the bad guy. I guess Marvel lost the cajones. He also runs out of space, hinting the character he wasted about fifteen pages on throughout the series will be a threat next time, not this time. And there is no next time. The editor really should have asked for an outline. The issue opens like a dream sequence, where everything’s going to be okay and then Natasha will wake up from a drug-induced delusion. Only she doesn’t wake up. The calvary arrives and … Continue reading Black Widow: The Things They Say About Her 6 (April 2006)

Black Widow: The Things They Say About Her 5 (February 2006)

It’s not an all-action issue, instead Morgan creates the all-torture issue. Well, okay, he’s got a scene with the blond Black Widow saving Daredevil and another one with Black Widow’s sidekick, but basically the entire issue is just Natasha either being tortured or about to be tortured. Oddly, the torture isn’t what drives the comic (and presumably the series) off the rails. It’s the pacing. Nothing happens this issue. Nothing gets resolved from last issue. Morgan’s just dragging it out. It’s like he needed one more issue of the last series so instead Marvel gave him six. There’s something incredibly … Continue reading Black Widow: The Things They Say About Her 5 (February 2006)

Black Widow: The Things They Say About Her 4 (February 2006)

I think I just remembered how this series ends. I think it’s with a big, unresolvable cliffhanger. Unfortunate. Anyway, this issue’s pretty good. It’s an all-action issue—Natasha goes and gets her sidekick from the South American work farm. There’s also another big Daredevil scene with Nick Fury—Matt beats up a bunch of guys—and it’s where Morgan is setting up the eventual series cliffhanger. The art is off again. It’s the faces. They aren’t Sienkiewicz faces here, they’re a strange amalgam. The issue opens with those bad faces and it’s this scene setting up yet another plot thread. I guess the … Continue reading Black Widow: The Things They Say About Her 4 (February 2006)

Black Widow: The Things They Say About Her 3 (January 2006)

Reading the scene where Nick Fury gets tortured by a Bush flunky, it’s clear why comics should never get too involved with politics, especially not superhero comics. It’s Nick Fury… shouldn’t Captain America bust in and save him? And if Captain America isn’t busting in and saving him, isn’t the reason why more important than anything else going on? Otherwise, the issue is all right. About half of it is spent on Black Widow’s teenage sidekick, who’s recuperating in a third world South American hospital. It takes the focus away from Natasha, which is okay because Morgan doesn’t really have … Continue reading Black Widow: The Things They Say About Her 3 (January 2006)

Black Widow: The Things They Say About Her 2 (December 2005)

The art problems continue. It appears even when he’s just doing finishes, Sienkiewicz didn’t really want to take the time on the series. This issue improves the series overall, even if Morgan is sort of racing around. There doesn’t seem to be a story so much as clean-up from the last series. Natasha is trying to find her friend (who I really hope doesn’t turn out to be brainwashed to be an assassin against her) while her enemies are trying to track her down. Then there’s Daredevil and Nick Fury, who are just standing around so they can guest star. … Continue reading Black Widow: The Things They Say About Her 2 (December 2005)

Black Widow: The Things They Say About Her 1 (November 2005)

It’s Sienkiewicz over Phillips so you’d think the art would be good… You’d think. Instead, it’s a bad combination. Sienkiewicz is too contained in the layouts, Phillips is too broad because he knows there are going to be finishes. There’s no magic here. Morgan starts this issue a week after the last series ends. It’s a direct sequel, lots of returning characters. Unfortunately, it’s been more than a week for the reader, so one might need a cast refresher and none is offered. As for the series itself, it’s too soon to tell. Morgan just barely introduces the overall story, … Continue reading Black Widow: The Things They Say About Her 1 (November 2005)

Criminal: The Sinners 5 (March 2010)

It’s completely predictable but I guess it’s nowhere near as bad as it could have been. I read the Sinners and I think back to when Brubaker actually wrote real conversations. It’s like he uses Criminal‘s noir influences to excuse no one talking to each other, just at each other. This issue features nothing new, no interesting developments in the criminal underworld of the nameless city, no insights into the Tracy Lawless character. It just trails off, cheating the reader out of the teenage killers getting killed. Their priest too. That scene with Tracy and the priest might be the … Continue reading Criminal: The Sinners 5 (March 2010)

Criminal: The Sinners 4 (February 2010)

I’m not trying to be a jerk with the following question. Really, I’m not. Has Brubaker ever read Criminal? Because this arc, with Tracy Lawless being an honorable man among the riffraff, it really feels like Brubaker hasn’t read his comic before. It might explain why Criminal‘s quality is always so sporadic. This issue has better narration than the last, which is good. Brubaker mostly sticks to Tracy this issue–hey, maybe they’ll make a Tracy Lawless action figure! Brubaker seems to have turned Criminal into a sellable property with the Sinners. A little touchup and a little paint and it’s … Continue reading Criminal: The Sinners 4 (February 2010)

Criminal: The Sinners 3 (December 2009)

Well, I figured out one major problem–besides the contrived plotting–Brubaker doesn’t have a protagonist this series. He did the first issue, because he hadn’t introduced his teen killers for God (an ex-Army Catholic priest is getting kids to kill criminals), but now he’s got nothing. The narration is awful this issue. It’s probably the worst narration Brubaker’s ever written in Criminal, maybe ever. Brubaker is pushing the series from plot twist to plot twist and there’s nothing going on beyond them. He’s juxtaposing Tracy and one of the young killers, trying to get a neon arrow pointing between the two … Continue reading Criminal: The Sinners 3 (December 2009)

Criminal: The Sinners 2 (November 2009)

Brubaker opens the issue with some terrible adjective use, so I started out ready to nitpick. Of course, he didn’t have to prove me right… but he went ahead and did so anyway. I really loathe these types of reviews, because I really do love Brubaker’s work. It’s just… fallen off since he’s gotten to Marvel. Swan dived, actually. Oh, before I get the complaints–great art from Phillips. It’s always great art from Phillips, but this issue he really gets to do a lot. All right, the laundry list. It’s just too contrived. Brubaker expects the reader to make a … Continue reading Criminal: The Sinners 2 (November 2009)