Howard the Duck 13 (June 1977)

Howard the Duck #13

Maybe Colan drawing Ace Frehley just got me off on the wrong foot with this issue of Howard but it does seem like Gerber’s got way too much going on.

He splits the issue between Howard and his new lady friend, Howard’s insanity, Howard’s doctor and guest starring Son of Satan, the evil German nurse and her evil German boss and then the return of a villain from a previous issue. It’s very, very busy and not much of it has to do with Howard.

And the rest of it isn’t particularly interesting. Gerber doesn’t reveal the evil German plan (it’s German, it involves cults, it must be evil), so it’s just ominous, not ominous and funny. That disconnect might be the problem with the issue–it’s absurd, just never absurdly funny.

Gerber just never seems to get anywhere, even though he does get to a reasonably amusing hard cliffhanger.

CREDITS

Rock, Roll Over, and Writhe!; writer and editor, Steve Gerber; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, Janice Cohen; letterer, Jim Novak; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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Howard the Duck 12 (May 1977)

Howard the Duck #12

It’s another great issue of Howard the Duck. I’m even willing to give Gerber a chance to make the hard cliffhanger’s unfortunate corporate synergy guest stars worthwhile next issue. He does such a good job with the comic–this issue has Howard tried and committed–I’m willing to give him a lot of leeway.

Gerber balances the absurdity and the political and social commentary quite well. He manages to mix all three into the comic. He’ll have these absurd set pieces with multiple commentaries going on. It’s really cool to read and to follow the tangents to their conclusions.

Plus there’s Howard. Even though Gerber’s doing so much, he’s also got this really interesting character. (I’m really starting to miss Bev). By keeping Howard’s history a secret, Gerber encourages readers to get further invested in the character. But it never feels calculated, just enthusiastic.

Howard, weird cliffhanger and all, rocks.

CREDITS

Mind-Mush!; writer and editor, Steve Gerber; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, Janice Cohen; letterer, Jim Novak; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Howard the Duck 11 (April 1977)

Howard the Duck #11

It’s Howard without Beverly–in a delirious state he assumes she has run out on him with one of the hairless apes but it’s really innocent (or so we hope)–and that change in balance would be enough to get the issue done. It’s Howard fending for himself and all. Gerber could easily fill the pages with that angle.

Instead, Gerber adds to it–Howard’s still sort of delirious, even though he’s a little better, but then he’s on a bus with a collection of spiritual types and a fetching, lisping lady and his nemesis, the kidney lady. It’s weird. And it moves. Gerber and Colan do the movement of this bus beautifully. The pacing is just stunning.

And Gerber ignores all the plot points one might assume in the issue. He even goes out on an entirely unexpected hard cliffhanger, but displays it as a mild ending.

Amazing work.

CREDITS

Quack-Up!; writer and editor, Steve Gerber; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, Janice Cohen; letterer, Jim Novak; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Howard the Duck 10 (March 1977)

Howard the Duck #10

Steve Gerber tears down comics and rebuilds them in this issue of Howard the Duck. Well, maybe just in the first ten pages of the issue. He hangs out in the rebuilt part for the rest of the story. Real quick–Gerber’s Duck is an idea of where mainstream comics should go. And it’s a rejected idea. Seeing all the potential the medium and industry squandered is depressing.

The comic has Howard dreaming about his current psychological predicament. Gerber makes it a story about a duck out of water without ever showing the reader the water. It’s all inferred (Howard’s home) and it collides with all the political commentary Gerber is doing. It’s awesome work. So, so good. So thoughtful.

This issue also gives Colan a bunch of strange stuff to draw. He does it. Colan is realistically rendering the absurd while still keeping it absurd. It’s awesome work too.

CREDITS

Swan-Song …of the Living Dead Duck!; writer and editor, Steve Gerber; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, Janice Cohen; letterer, Jim Novak; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Howard the Duck 9 (February 1977)

Howard the Duck #9

The cover promises the action of Howard the Duck battling a giant beaver at Niagara Falls. The comic doesn’t disappoint; that sequence, beautifully rendered by Colan and Leialoha, ends the issue. But it comes after an extremely goofy and sort of sad adventure for Howard and Bev.

He’s lost the election, which is unfortunate, and he’s got to clear his name. More, he’s got to clear Bev’s name–a photo of them bathing together was leaked to the press. It’s a fix though. She doesn’t like the smell of wet feathers. Gerber has a beautiful way of keeping the reader off balance, revealing this strange details of Howard and Bev’s “regular” lives. It’s a neat idea, to acknowledge the characters have time off from the reader’s scrutiny.

The investigation leads them to Canada. Gerber has a lot of good Canada jokes. He doesn’t have to get mean with them either.

CREDITS

Scandal Plucks Duck; writer, Steve Gerber; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, Michele Wolfman; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Archie Goodwin; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Howard the Duck 8 (January 1977)

Howard the Duck #8

This comic is difficult to believe. Not the content of the issue, where Gerber just goes wild with a look at American presidential candidacy, but its very existence. Marvel Comics published a comic about the American public rabidly anticipating the assassination of political candidates. They let Gerber get away with it, they even paid Gene Colan to draw it. It’s amazing in its existence.

As a comic, it’s pretty good. Gerber’s plotting is strange. The issue really just is a series of assassination attempts on Howard’s life. There’s barely any character development. Gerber is just moving Howard and Bev from one setup to another. It’s efficiently done too, which is cool. It feels like a race.

The art, from Colan and inker Steve Leialoha, is awesome as usual. But this issue gives Colan and Leialoha a lot of thriller sequences they also have to make somewhat amusing. They confidently succeed.

CREDITS

Open Season!; writers, David Anthony Kraft, Don McGregor and Steve Gerber; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, Janice Cohen; letterer, Irving Watanabe; editor, Archie Goodwin; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Howard the Duck 7 (December 1976)

Howard the Duck #7

It’s an amazing issue. Primarily because it ends with Howard the Duck being made a Presidential candidate, but also because Gerber hits every right note throughout the issue. He introduces politics into the comic after finishing up the previous issue’s cliffhanger. It involved a giant gingerbread man attacking Howard and Bev after being brought to life by a seven year-old mad scientist.

And this issue is political intrigue mixed with absurdist humor. Okay, I suppose there’s some absurdist humor to the gingerbread man but it’s somewhat broader. And there’s the built in classiness of that sequence–unexpected as it may be–because Gene Colan adds class to everything.

But the way Gerber sets up Bev and Howard in this political convention, the time he takes setting everything up; he layers the entire second half of the comic with plot hints and moments of character development.

It’s brilliantly done stuff.

CREDITS

The Way the Cookie Crumbles!; writer, Steve Gerber; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, Marie Severin; letterer, Jim Novak; editor, Archie Goodwin; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Howard the Duck 6 (November 1976)

Howard the Duck #6

Part of me desperately wishes Gerber and Mary Skrenes (who helped with plotting) just gave Colan a scary house script and then had the absurdism added later. Because if you took out the word balloons and the narration boxes, it would seem like Howard and Beverly had ended up in a twisted Marvel horror comic. Tomb of Dracula almost, though the scene where fundamentalist Christian cult kids threaten Howard is scarier than anything in Dracula.

The beautiful part of the script–all of the art is beautiful; Colan does some great work–but the script’s beauty is in how little humor Gerber goes for. He doesn’t make any of the obvious jokes. He plays everything straight, which just makes it funnier.

He does some nice character development on Beverly this issue. She and Howard are on the outs over a cigar squabble.

Gerber changes up Howard; it works out great.

CREDITS

The Secret House of Forbidden Cookies!; writers, Mary Skrenes and Steve Gerber; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, Glynis Wein; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Archie Goodwin; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Howard the Duck 5 (September 1976)

Howard the Duck #5

If you’re a duck stuck in the Marvel Universe, how are you going to earn some quick cash? Wrestling, of course. Everyone knows fighting crime doesn’t pay and you’ve got to look out for number one!

Howard and Beverly are having money troubles–I love how Gerber gets around to discussing the obvious logic problems in Howard (I can only hope there’s the sleeping situation issue)–and Howard tries finding a job of his own.

Beverly’s modeling gig isn’t going to make them millionaires, after all.

His misadventures get him on TV–fighting a clown (the clown did hit him with a cream pie)–and then working as a collection agent. Not any kind of work for a respectable duck, hence the wrestling for ten grand.

There’s a lot humor, but Colan’s pencils really show the humanity of it all. Gerber works some considerable magic with Howard the Duck’s thoughtfulness.

CREDITS

I Want Mo-o-oney!; writers, Martin Pasko and Steve Gerber; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, Michele Wolfman; letterers, Gaspar Saladino and Irving Watanabe; editor, Marv Wolfman; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Howard the Duck 3 (May 1976)

Howard the Duck #3

What’s so great about Howard the Duck–or one of the great things, as I’m now discovering there are a lot of them in the comic–is how Gerber is able to use the absurdity of the concept to examine comic book reality. Howard and Beverly exist in a world with the fantastical nature of the Marvel Universe, but without any of the magic.

This issue has some of the magic spilling over in a kung fu master. It’s an entirely absurd, hilarious, beautifully drawn sequence but Gerber’s able to do it sincerely too. Howard, a blowhard closet intellectual, is a real character. He just looks like a duck and talks to Sam Spade. And Beverly’s already showing more depth than expected.

John Buscema does the art this issue. It works out well, though he doesn’t have the detail (or the Donald references) Brunner brings to Howard.

Another great comic.

CREDITS

Four Feathers of Death!; writer, Steve Gerber; penciller, John Buscema; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, Michele Wolfman; letterer, Annette Kawecki; editor, Marv Wolfman; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Howard the Duck 2 (March 1976)

Howard the Duck #2

What an amazing comic. Gerber tells the story straight–so it’s this very simple tale of a talking duck, this girl he likes, this boy who likes the girl the talking duck likes and then the talking turnip who controls the boy who likes the girl who the talking duck likes.

The turnip and the duck don’t know each other. But they must do battle, as is the way of the world.

In the meantime, Gerber gives the boy this great overdone sci-fi space odyssey through his own mind as the turnip takes over. Gerber imaginatively–and not hostilely–snickers at sci-fi.

Of course, there’s also the talking duck. And his lady friend. They have a great relationship between Gerber never writes Howard as anything but a jerk yet Beverly always falls for it. She’s an optimist, clearly.

Great Brunner art–dirty Donald at times.

Very good comic.

CREDITS

Cry Turnip!; writer, Steve Gerber; pencillers, Jim Starlin and Frank Brunner; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, Michele Wolfman; letterer, Tom Orzechowski; editor, Marv Wolfman; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Howard the Duck 1 (January 1976)

Howard the Duck #1

It’s not clear if it’s going to be the secret of the series or just the secret of this issue, but the way writer Steve Gerber makes Howard the Duck work is by coming up with this hippie political commentary plot and except have it narrated by Sam Spade.

Only Sam Spade isn’t a P.I.

And it’s not Sam Spade. It’s Howard. The talking duck. Gerber moves Howard through the comic like a forties heavy. He’s Edward G. Robinson chewing on scenery while Gerber spins this crazy story of a powerful magician who also happens to be a complete square who wants to use a cosmic calculator to rearrange the universe.

And there’s a girl.

And a Spider-Man cameo.

And gorgeous art from Frank Brunner. Gerber gives him a lot of weird stuff to draw but it’s all weirder going together and Brunner nails it every page.

Awesome comics.

CREDITS

Howard the Barbarian; writer, Steve Gerber; penciller and colorist, Frank Brunner; inker, Steve Leialoha; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Marv Wolfman; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Batman 400 (October 1986)

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I hate this comic. I hate how DC used it, I hate how Moench writes it, even if it was an editorial decision.

There are nods to Moench’s run, but only so far as he gets to give each of his characters a page to sort of say goodbye. There’s no closure on any of the story lines, not a single one.

There’s also a lot of crappy art. It’s an anniversary issue with a lot of big names drawing either poorly or against their style. Rick Leonardi and Arthur Adams are some of the worst offenders, but not even Brian Bolland does particularly well. Ken Steacy is the only decent one.

Moench’s writing for a different audience than usual, the casual Batman reader, not the regular. Apparently he thinks the casual readers like endless exposition and incredible stupidity. It’s a distressing, long read; a terrible capstone to Moench’s run.

D- 

CREDITS

Resurrection Night!; writer, Doug Moench; pencillers, John Byrne, Steve Lightle, George Perez, Paris Cullins, Bill Sienkiewicz, Art Adams, Tom Sutton, Steve Leialoha, Joe Kubert, Ken Steacy, Rick Leonardi and Brian Bolland; inkers, Byrne, Bruce Patterson, Perez, Larry Mahlstedt, Sienkiewicz, Terry Austin, Ricardo Villagran, Leialoha, Kubert, Steacy, Karl Kesel and Bolland; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterers, John Costanza and Andy Kubert; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones 21 (September 1984)

Indy 21

There are a bunch of inkers on this issue. They stay consistent until the finish, when it’s very obvious the inker has changed. The final inker changes Steve Ditko’s pencils so much, it barely looks like the same comic.

Ditko doesn’t do a great job on Jones, but it’s really cool to see his old standard panel arrangements used again. And the eyes. Love the eyes. It’s a shame Priest didn’t write the issue as a retro thing to match Ditko, but given the number of inkers, I’m sure no one at Marvel had any idea who was drawing it when Priest was writing it.

The story itself is lame. It’s a lot of action and some silly villains. Priest continues to flush the romance between Indy and Marion… Not to mention playing up Marcus Brody being tough.

Priest is also really bad with the setting. He writes too modern.

CREDITS

Beyond the Lucifer Chamber; writers, David Michelinie and Christopher Priest; penciller, Steve Ditko; inkers, Bob Wiacek, Steve Leialoha, Jack Abel, Al Milgrom, Carl Potts, Edward Norton and Danny Bulanadi; colorist, Rob Carosella; letterer, Joe Rosen; editor, Eliot Brown; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Marvel Treasury Edition 28 (July 1981)

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Was Jim Shooter paying himself by the word, because I don’t think I’ve ever read more exposition in a comic book. It’s terrible exposition too, but I suppose the sentences are grammatically correct. For the most part.

But what I can’t figure out is the artwork. The combination of John Buscema on pencils and Joe Sinnott on inks produces one of the worst eighties comic books I can remember seeing. Superman’s figure is strangely bulky, with a little head. But the facial features on everyone are awful. It’s a hideous thing to read.

The story concerns Dr. Doom trying again to take over the world, which is boring. The interesting stuff is Clark working at the Bugle and Peter working at the Planet. They should do a series. But not by Shooter, who makes Peter constantly horny.

Interesting to see the black chick after Clark though.

It’s an awful comic.

CREDITS

The Heroes and the Holocaust!; writers, Marv Wolfman and Jim Shooter; penciller, John Buscema; inkers, Joe Sinnott, Terry Austin, Klaus Janson, Bob McLeod, Al Milgrom, Steve Leialoha, Walt Simonson, Bob Layton, Brett Breeding, Joe Rubinstein and Bob Wiacek; colorist, Glynis Wein; letterer, Joe Rosen; editor, Milgrom; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Dark Horse Presents 118 (February 1997)

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I thought the other Monkeyman & O’Brien stories were bad. Here, Adams seems to forget how to draw with perspective and scale. It makes the story a hideous curiosity, but not much else. The script’s incomplete at best.

Then Trypto finishes up and it’s probably be Leialoha’s best installment as an artist… and Mumy and Ferrer’s worst script. Trypto apparently isn’t from space. No, he’s an inter-dimensional ghost dog out to do something. Get back with his original family. How he got the new family in this story is never explained. There’s also a talking raccoon. It’s a very strange finish for the series, which started so strong.

As for Dorkin’s Hectic Planet? I liked the art a lot. The story’s about Dorkin making fun of this character, both in plot with supporting cast mocking him. It’s exceptionally mean-spirited and not aware of it. Still, it was compelling enough.

CREDITS

Monkeyman & O’Brien, Gorehemoth – The Garbage Heap That Walks Like A Man, Part One; story and art by Art Adams; lettering by Lois Buhalis. Trypto the Acid Dog, Wheel of the Broken Voice, Part Six; story by Bill Mumy and Miguel Ferrer; art by Steve Leialoha. Hectic Planet, Part One, 5 Years Ago and Counting; story and art by Evan Dorkin. Dr. Spin, Part Four, Doc Spin: Agent Of A.C.R.O.N.Y.M.; story by Gordon Rennie; art by Roger Langridge. Edited by Bob Schreck and Jamie S. Rich.

Dark Horse Presents 117 (January 1997)

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Okay, Dr. Spin and Trypto come around a little here.

First, Rennie finally finds some kind of narrative for his characters (reassembling a disbanded team) to go along with all the comic book jokes. Though he does coin the title, “Infinite Crisis,” here. A shame he couldn’t sue DC. Langridge’s art is excellent, but the composition doesn’t allow for one to easily notice all his details.

Mumy and Ferrer find a story on Trypto too. The kid finds out his dog is some kind of space dog (Leialoha’s terrible about illustrating the bad aliens as cats though—it’s sort of incredible). The story’s a got a mildly touching ending, following a nice alternate reality sequence.

Then there’s the Aliens story, from Barr and Colan. Colan’s already in his pencils only phase here and Dark Horse published them without much clean-up. It’s okay Colan, decent dialogue, total waste of time.

CREDITS

Aliens, Headhunters; story by Mike W. Barr; art by Gene Colan; lettering by Sean Konot. Dr. Spin, Part Three, Requiem for a Heavyweight; story by Gordon Rennie; art by Roger Langridge. Trypto the Acid Dog, Wheel of the Broken Voice, Part Five, Days of Future Past; story by Bill Mumy and Miguel Ferrer; art by Steve Leialoha. Edited by Bob Schreck and Jamie S. Rich.

Dark Horse Presents 116 (December 1996)

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Unfortunately, it’s a very loose issue.

Musgrove’s installment of Fat Dog Mendoza here is a big improvement over his previous work. Musgrove goes for cheap sight gags and a less narration while doing some decent artwork. It’s painless, occasionally amusing, but never funny.

Without the dogfighting element, Trypto is lost. There’s a space alien element introduced, which is a whole lot less interesting than what Mumy and Ferrer were doing earlier. Again, they give Leialoha a script he can’t render coherently. I’m assuming the ending—with dog and his boy owner kidnapped by aliens—means something will happen next time.

As for Rennie and Langridge’s Dr. Spin? The joke’s old and it’s only the second installment. Langridge’s art keeps the story going to some degree, but making fun of crossover events and grim and gritty comics needs some structure. Rennie just has it pop up everything. It’s a disappointing development.

CREDITS

Fat Dog Mendoza, Lies (Sweet Little Lies); story, art and lettering by Scott Musgrove. Trypto the Acid Dog, Wheel of the Broken Voice, Part Four, Lost in Space; story by Bill Mumy and Miguel Ferrer; art by Steve Leialoha. Dr. Spin, Part Two, Sgt. Bananas and the Baboon Platoon; story by Gordon Rennie; art by Roger Langridge. Edited by Bob Schreck and Jamie S. Rich.

Dark Horse Presents 115 (November 1996)

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Wow, what a downer.

Arcudi’s The Creep returns (with O’Connell on art this time). It’s a very depressing story about him hanging out with a prostitute. It’s utterly fantastic. It still shocks me Arcudi can be so subtly devastating.

Trypto has a happy installment though; the dog rescues his owner from a drug cartel. Again, Leialoha’s art doesn’t convey the story well. Mumy and Ferrer’s emphasis has changed… it’ll be interesting to see where they go now.

Rennie and Langridge’s Dr. Spin is a bunch of fun too—it’s an anti-superhero comic superhero comic. It’s a lot of fun, with Rennie getting in a lot of jabs at the industry in general. Langridge is a little more restrained than usual, but excellent.

Then there’s Lowlife. It’s Brubaker writing from a girl’s perspective about her unhappy romances and perpetuating them. Some hiccups in the perspective, but it’s an effective downer.

CREDITS

The Creep; story by John Arcudi; art by Brian O’Connell; lettering by Sean Konot. Trypto the Acid Dog, Wheel of the Broken Voice, Part Three, L.A. Proved Too Much for the Man; story by Bill Mumy and Miguel Ferrer; art by Steve Leialoha. Dr. Spin, Part One, Trapped in the Dimension of Pretension; story by Gordon Rennie; art by Roger Langridge. Lowlife, Part Three, When I Started Saying “We”; story, art and lettering by Ed Brubaker. Edited by Bob Schreck and Jamie S. Rich.

Dark Horse Presents 114 (October 1996)

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Miller’s pseudo-anti-misogyny Lance Blastoff is back… it’s amazing how someone can turn in something so stupid and pretend it’s profound. I guess the sci-fi setting means Miller has to work a little harder on his art.

Trypto gets weird this time. The dog develops superpowers and goes around (flying like Krypto) freeing and magically rehabilitating dogfighting dogs. And maybe killing the fight audience. Mumy and Ferrer’s script is fine. They turn their passion for the cause (anti-dogfighting) into a working story. Again, Leialoha bites off more than he can chew art-wise.

Simonson copies and pastes a bunch of panels, zooming sometimes, for Star Slammers. It’s some dumb sci-fi thing (better than Blastoff, but not really).

And Brubaker’s Lowlife? Wow. He gives another breakup this end of the world importance and drags his protagonist through the gutter. Then gets somewhere quietly profound. Very good story.

CREDITS

Lance Blastoff!; story, art and lettering by Frank Miller. Trypto the Acid Dog, Wheel of the Broken Voice, Part Two, Where Angels Fight; story by Bill Mumy and Miguel Ferrer; art by Steve Leialoha. Star Slammers, Fever Dream; story and art by Walt Simonson; lettering by John Workman. Lowlife, Part Two, Under a Big Black Sun; story, art and lettering by Ed Brubaker. Edited by Bob Schreck and Jamie S. Rich.

Dark Horse Presents 113 (September 1996)

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I was trying to remember where I knew Leialoha from… he inks now. He pencils and inks Trypto, which has a superhero dog splash page and then a rather traditional story. It’s about a stolen dog being forced to dogfight. Mumy and Ferrer’s script is fine and Leialoha has some imaginative composition, but his art doesn’t carry it.

Seagle and Gaudiano’s My Vagabond Days is set in the late sixties; it concerns a disrespectful young kid learning those soldiers in Vietnam are over there dying for his freedom. Seagle’s writing is, politics aside, lame. Worse, Gaudiano doesn’t work very hard on the art—it’s almost like a sketch album.

Thankfully, Brubaker’s Lowlife appears. Is Chris the protagonist the whole time (the Brubaker stand-in)? Anyway, this story chronicles the first day of a breakup. Inventive, human dialogue and some great composition. I’ve read these stories before, and they’re still great.

CREDITS

Trypto the Acid Dog, Wheel of the Broken Voice, Part One, Circle of Fire; story by Bill Mumy and Miguel Ferrer; art by Steve Leialoha. My Vagabond Days; story by Steven T. Seagle; art by Stefano Gaudiano; lettering by Megan Rodriguez. Lowlife, Part One, Wreck; story, art and lettering by Ed Brubaker. Edited by Bob Schreck and Jamie S. Rich.

The Dead Boy Detectives 4 (November 2001)

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As expected, the series comes to a solid, if unspectacular, conclusion. It seems like Brubaker front-loaded a little, filling the first issue with content and having to pad a little throughout the remainder.

There’s not really much memorable about the issue, storytelling wise–it’s never clearly stated why kids can see the ghosts, for example, while adults can’t. Especially since the kids in question are jaded teen runaways, who undoubtedly are more mature than, well, lots of the adults the leads pass by undetected.

Talbot’s the star here. He’s got some amazing panels, simultaneously horrific and charming. The issue has one big action sequence and he and Brubaker match up beautifully on it… Brubaker’s writing, at the standard thriller revelation moment, is very strong. What he doesn’t do in plotting, he makes up for in his excellent scenic writing.

It’s too bad Vertigo didn’t publish more Dead Boy mysteries.

CREDITS

The Secret of Immortality, Part Four; writer, Ed Brubaker; penciller, Bryan Talbot; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, Daniel Vozzo; letterer, Willie Schubert; editor, Will Dennis; publisher, Vertigo.

The Dead Boy Detectives 3 (October 2001)

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And here’s where there’s some more connection to The Sandman series (I think, not really knowing, but they spend some time talking about people who aren’t in this book, so I assume they’re in the Sandman book).

Again, I’m not sure how Brubaker’s writing the leads. They’re so naive, even when they’re impaired, it’s hard to believe they spend a hundred years (or whatever) watching and reading detective stories. There’s a lot of sex in them–especially since one of them makes a James Bond reference at some point in the series–and Brubaker writes them asexual.

It’s kind of cute, in that same way the art’s precious, but it cuts back severely on the characters’ potentials. Having a single goal–to be detectives–and nothing going on the back burners makes them too flat. There’s no drama to them, no conflict.

Still, it’s a solid series, just not monumental.

CREDITS

The Secret of Immortality, Part Three; writer, Ed Brubaker; penciller, Bryan Talbot; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, Daniel Vozzo; letterer, Willie Schubert; editor, Will Dennis; publisher, Vertigo.

The Dead Boy Detectives 2 (September 2001)

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Ah, perhaps my apprehension comes from this issue… it’s not bad at all, but it’s more focused on the backstory of a supporting cast member than it is on the two leads (who act really silly at one point, playing dress-up with wooden swords, an activity I associate much more with eight year-olds than the leads in this comic). It’s a nice showcase for Talbot’s artwork (except the ghost eyes again), since it lets him do stuff modeled after wood carvings of the Middle Ages and such, as well as the modern London scenes.

Brubaker’s working in a framework here–there are chapters, they open with text exposition–and it feels fine… but again, I’m apprehensive. I don’t want to get too enthusiastic because I know (or think–or kind of remember) it takes a hit.

But it’s shocking how well-produced Vertigo limited seres used to be.

CREDITS

The Secret of Immortality, Part One; writer, Ed Brubaker; penciller, Bryan Talbot; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, Daniel Vozzo; letterer, Willie Schubert; editor, Will Dennis; publisher, Vertigo.

The Dead Boy Detectives 1 (August 2001)

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I’ve read The Dead Boy Detectives before and I remember it not working out, but this first issue is fantastic. Brubaker brings a fairy tale slash Mark Twain feel to the story and Bryan Talbot’s art is, there’s no other word for it, precious. The two detectives–Charles and Edwin, I think–are adorable in a way no regular teen detectives ever could be… they’re ghosts. Teenage ghost detectives. I’m shock DC hasn’t turned it into a film property yet.

The case–it’s just one case, I think–hasn’t really taken off yet, though they’ve done a lot and given Talbot a lot of time to show off. My only art complaint is the eyes. The ghost eyes. It looks too emo for its own good.

But a great first issue; not a lot of limiteds have those… especially not today.

Brubaker writing so much dialect is my only complaint.

CREDITS

The Secret of Immortality, Part One; writer, Ed Brubaker; penciller, Bryan Talbot; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, Daniel Vozzo; letterer, Willie Schubert; editor, Will Dennis; publisher, Vertigo.

Secret Wars II 9 (March 1986)

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Yay, it’s finally over.

I have no idea what happens in this issue except a bunch of superheroes hang out in the Rocky Mountains, fight the Beyonder, talk a lot, and look sad at the end.

Shooter appears–he doesn’t even reveal what the Beyonder’s final plan was going to be–to be aping 2010 (the movie) and a little of 2001 (the movie), only set in the Marvel Universe. There’s even this strange set-up for the New Universe, but I guess Marvel never directly said it was a result of this series.

The art’s really bad, from the layouts to the close-ups. No one could have thought this issue looked good–when all the heroes group together, it’s just lame. They’re moping around, not active.

The Beyonder does a video diary at one point, which makes absolutely no sense. Shooter also writes him some really stupid monologues.

CREDITS

God in Man, Man in God!; writer, Jim Shooter; penciller, Al Milgrom; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, M. Hands; letterers, Joe Rosen and Rick Parker; editor, Bob Budiansky; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Secret Wars II 8 (February 1986)

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So the Beyonder got all bent out of shape because of his failed encounter with Puma… (Puma was supposed to kill him, according Puma’s tribe’s legends) and spends this entire issue moping. Oh, he gets in a fight with the X-Men–unfortunately he doesn’t kill them, which doesn’t fit, since he’s enraged and that Rachel Summers is really annoying. He teases Molecule Man a lot and that situation gives Shooter a chance to get in some more of his misogynist writing in regards to Volcana.

Then he argues with Spider-Man. Then something else happens, then something else.

What’s funniest about the comic is how Shooter clearly doesn’t have anything to do but he’s got to get another issue published (no surprise, the major guest stars are the X-Men and Spider-Man, Marvel’s two biggest dollar draws).

The whole thing stinks, but this issue is a new low.

CREDITS

Betrayal!; writer, Jim Shooter; penciller, Al Milgrom; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, Christie Scheele; letterers, Joe Rosen and Rick Parker; editor, Bob Budiansky; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Secret Wars II 7 (January 1986)

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The Beyonder sits around this entire issue. What fun. Mephisto plots against the entirely passive Beyonder–who doesn’t even speak a full paragraph until the final two panels–while the Thing is basically the main hero in the issue.

Not surprisingly, Shooter doesn’t discuss Mephisto’s apparent homosexual relationship with the now-male Death. I guess Mephisto hasn’t checked the groin area yet or just doesn’t care.

There’s a really strange sequence with the Molecule Man presumably knowing a third of the galaxy is about to be destroyed–including his freaking girlfriend–and plays Trivial Pursuit (poorly) instead.

Milgrom’s artwork here is occasionally funny. There’s Mephisto about to cry (why does he have a costume, should the Devil be wearing a costume), there’s the Beyonder either looking like a white Michael Jackson or just some burly chick… Lots of fun to be had.

Wow, only two more issues to go. Whee!

CREDITS

Charge of the Dark Brigade!; writer, Jim Shooter; penciller, Al Milgrom; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, Julianna Ferriter; letterers, Joe Rosen and friends; editor, Bob Budiansky; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Secret Wars II 6 (December 1985)

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The issue ends with the Beyonder trying to “forgot” this chapter in his experiences; if only the reader were so lucky.

Besides featuring all of the cosmic–sorry–conceptual beings (along with an introduction to each), it’s the Beyonder plays superhero and turns it into a business. It’s all exceedingly lame, except at the end when the Beyonder has to bring Death back to life, going from a female who’s been around since the beginning of time to some lame reporter creation of Shooter’s. Shooter never gets into it whether the conceptual beings, next time they get busy with their “lover” Death, will now be gay?

Milgrom’s art is real sloppy this time around; maybe the deadlines were getting to him.

Secret Wars II is almost over and I think I’m safe saying it’s one of the stupidest things I’ve ever read. Shooter must’ve thought Marvel readers were brain dead.

CREDITS

Life Rules!; writer, Jim Shooter; penciller, Al Milgrom; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, Minny Hands; letterer, Rick Parker; editor, Bob Budiansky; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Secret Wars II 5 (November 1985)

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I kind of remember this issue. It ends with the Marvel heroes beating up on a melancholy, downbeat Beyonder. He shuffles off while they bicker over what to do.

One of the benefits to running a company and writing its big crossover is no one’s going to tell you you’re an idiot. Shooter’s got a checklist of all the things he wants the Beyonder to show the reader–it’s like a tour of the Marvel universe–this issue it’s the Celestials. The Beyonder goes and beats them up because he’s having self esteem issues.

Why is the Beyonder having self esteem issues? Because Shooter can’t think of anything else to write about.

This issue pairs the Beyonder with a thirteen year-old sidekick (she looks eighteen at least); if Shooter was going for her age being any kind of emotional factor, Milgrom failed to convey it.

Terrible beginning to end.

CREDITS

Despair!; writer, Jim Shooter; penciller, Al Milgrom; inkers, Steve Leialoha and Joe Rubinstein; colorist, M. Hands; letterer, Joe Rosen and Rick Parker; editor, Bob Budiansky; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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