Stray Bullets 27 (October 2002)

Stray Bullets #27How does Lapham resolve a story he didn’t have any reason to do? Poorly.

He fractures Beth’s search for Virginia, cutting in scenes in their past, scenes of Beth’s investigation, lots of little cameos from other cast members. And then he turns it into an action movie. The entire issue has a frantic pace, so having a car chase at the end only seems logical. And having an open ending? Well, it’s Stray Bullets after all.

I don’t think I’ve ever said something has jumped the shark before and it’s unclear if this issue signals a downward trend for the series, but it’s a terrible, terrible comic. It’s inept. Lapham takes one of his two best characters and reduces her to a crying mess before building her into Charles Bronson. But a bad Charles Bronson.

The issue’s a bunch of manipulative scenes strung together. Every one of them is pointless.

How does Lapham resolve a story he didn’t have any reason to do? Poorly.

He fractures Beth’s search for Virginia, cutting in scenes in their past, scenes of Beth’s investigation, lots of little cameos from other cast members. And then he turns it into an action movie. The entire issue has a frantic pace, so having a car chase at the end only seems logical. And having an open ending? Well, it’s Stray Bullets after all.

I don’t think I’ve ever said something has jumped the shark before and it’s unclear if this issue signals a downward trend for the series, but it’s a terrible, terrible comic. It’s inept. Lapham takes one of his two best characters and reduces her to a crying mess before building her into Charles Bronson. But a bad Charles Bronson.

The issue’s a bunch of manipulative scenes strung together. Every one of them is pointless.

F 

CREDITS

Broken; writer, artist, and letterer, David Lapham; editor, Deborah Purcell; publisher, El Capitán Books.

Madame Frankenstein 1 (May 2014)

Madame Frankenstein #1I was going to try to temper myself, but I can’t. There’s a lot of self-indulgent drivel out there, but Madame Frankenstein might be the current prize winner. Maybe it’s because there’s never a moment writer Jamie S. Rich takes the reader’s experience into account. If it were just the bad dialogue or the unlikable characters or the purposelessly convoluted timeline, it wouldn’t be so bad.

But then there are little fairies only the protagonist knows about. They might be the straw.

Megan Levens is a perfectly decent artist, but the wrong one for this series. It’s set in 1932 and nothing about the art, besides some inserted details, sets it in that year. Though there’s only so much the art could do for this thing.

And it’s not just a crappy comic, it’s a really fast, superficial one too. Even being a fast read somehow makes it worse.

F 

CREDITS

Writer, Jamie S. Rich; artist, Megan Levens; publisher, Image Comics.

Genesis (April 2014)

GenesisPlease excuse the colloquial expression, but what a piece of utter crap. Did anyone read Nathan Edmondson's script? Maybe it's just me. Maybe I don't like terrible plays from twelve-year olds, so I don't like Edmondson's script for Genesis. I can't even imagine if I'd paid seven dollars for this tripe.

It's about a minister who can't save people so he tries to kill himself and one of the guys from Blue Man Group tells him he isn't dead and he's got all sorts of powers. He can refigure reality. Edmondson goes on and on about it. It's a long comic and about half of it is back and forth with the protagonist.

Except, Edmondson doesn't do anything with the religious stuff. He's not thinking about it from that angle; the plot's inane and possible there facilitate artist Alison Sampson's drawing desires.

It's an exceptional comic. The script's indescribably bad.

F 

CREDITS

Writer, Nathan Edmondson; artist, Alison Sampson; colorist, Jason Wordie; letterer, Jon Babcock; publisher, Image Comics.

The Incredible Hulk 76 (October 2004)

The Incredible Hulk #76It’s hard to feel bad about Doc Samson getting his butt kicked after he just lectured the Hulk on the importance of corporal punishment for children.

Did Jones even think about what he was writing? Did his editors read the scripts?

Braithwaite and Reinhold are back on art. Sometimes they’re a little better than usual, but Braithwaite’s Hulk is still awful.

I guess Jones’s wrap-up of his huge conspiracy story line makes “sense.” It’s not a good wrap-up, but it’s better than where he tries to leave Bruce Banner at the end of it. Maybe the closing line–with someone being real mean in a Hulk description–calls back to an earlier comic. I hope so, because, otherwise, it’s just a crappy line.

Jones leaves the comic much in the place he started it. He wipes the slate clean and leaves Bruce Banner far less a character than he started out with.

F 

CREDITS

Shattered; writer, Bruce Jones; penciller, Dougie Braithwaite; inker, Bill Reinhold; colorist, Raul Trevino; letterer, Randy Gentile; editors, Cory Sedlmeier and Axel Alonso; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Incredible Hulk 74 (September 2004)

The Incredible Hulk #74I don’t like finishing a comic wondering what the heck I’ve just read. Getting through this issue of Hulk isn’t just troublesome because of the incredibly uneven art–Braithwaite and Reinhold spend the least amount of time on the big fight between Hulk and Iron Man–but through the constant stupidity.

Jones boils down his resolution to a confession, which doesn’t make much sense. Of course, having the drama hinge around Tony Stark having a suicidal girlfriend with a lock-picking, would-be amateur assassin brother doesn’t make much sense either.

Then there’s poor Bruce Banner. What’s he doing this arc? Following Tony around mostly. Only neither character has a real arc. Tony’s is superficial, Bruce is just a spectator. Jones doesn’t spend any time on Bruce outside him helping with the experiment.

There are numerous false endings too. It’s easily the worst issue Jones has done on the title.

F 

CREDITS

Big Things, Part Four; writer, Bruce Jones; penciller, Dougie Braithwaite; inker, Bill Reinhold; colorist, Rainier Beredo; letterer, Randy Gentile; editors, John Miesegaes and Axel Alonso; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Dead Letters 1 (April 2014)

Dead Letters #1Just fair warning, I’m going to be really mean to Dead Letters. I want to clarify right off Chris Visions doesn’t deserve any of it for his art. His art’s packed, frantic, detailed. It’s good art, if a little too much. But it’s too much of itself, which isn’t a bad thing.

No, I’m going to rant and rave about Christopher Sebela, unoriginality, Hollywood desperation and maybe a little about crappy dialogue.

Letters opens like the Bourne Identity except without trusting the reader, so Sebela has to make things obvious. Now, he’s trying to be confusing, wrapping the narrative up with flashbacks and amnesia. Being obvious doesn’t make any sense. And it plays out bad.

The lead isn’t a spy though. He’s a generic bad ass criminal. Hollywood will undoubtedly come calling, cheaper budget, less exotic locations than a spy….

Sebela’s dialogue is derivative, predictable, lousy.

Except Visions, Letters’s atrocious.

F 

CREDITS

Writer, Christopher Sebela; artist, Chris Visions; colorist, Ruth Redmond; letterer, Steve Wands; editors, Chris Rosa and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Tomb Raider 1 (February 2014)

297094 20140227154909 largeThank goodness Gail Simone has Lara Croft say “mates” and use kilometers instead of miles. Wouldn’t want to forget she’s British. Or something. Those little details, along with the forced exposition, drag the reader out of what’s already a chore.

Why would Dark Horse bother licensing Tomb Raider if they were just going to give it to artists who can’t draw action? The inks don’t seem to do much, they certainly don’t lend any motion to Nicolás Daniel Selma’s lead-footed pencils. There are motion lines. Maybe inker Juan Gedeon added them, thinking they were enough. They aren’t.

Having never played the game, I’m not sure if Simone’s script is meant to appeal to fans or to general readers. If it’s the latter, the comic’s in real trouble. There’s only one scene where the character shows any natural personality and it’s forced (she’s encountering sexism).

At least it reads fast.

F 

CREDITS

Season of the Witch; writer, Gail Simone; penciller, Nicolás Daniel Selma; inker, Juan Gedeon; colorist, Michael Atiyeh; letterer, Michael Heisler; editors, Shantel LaRocque, Ian Tucker, Aaron Walker and Dave Marshall; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Pariah 1 (February 2014)

UnnamedI don’t have time for Pariah. Writers Aron Warner (is he famous? He alone gets his name above the title) and Philip Gelatt devise the most annoying dialogue and narration juxtaposition imaginable and seem to think it’s awesome. It’s not awesome, it’s terrible.

They start a thought in narration, trail off with an ellipses and pick up a totally different subject in dialogue, all in the same panel. I’m not sure what kind of art is necessary to make putting up with such an atrocious narrative device worthwhile, but this comic doesn’t have it.

Artist Brett Weldele isn’t bad. He’s kind of like Ben Templesmith lite. Nothing lite is going to be good enough.

I think they’re trying to be different, to somehow make Pariah immediately compelling and, if so, they don’t just fail, their editor fails too.

Pariah is the kind of comic you’d want to return for cash.

F 

CREDITS

Writers, Aron Warner and Philip Gelatt; artist and letterer, Brett Weldele; editor, Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Undertow 1 (February 2014)

296544 20140219112058 largeI would have liked to open with the similarities between Undertow and “Battlestar Galactica” (the new one) but I can’t. Instead I need to open with writer Steve Orlando’s dialogue. He writes it with modern English slang–oh, sorry, the series is apparently about ancient Atlantean explorers coming to the surface (it could go on to be a workplace sitcom, I’ll never know).

Tackling an ancient, made-up language is never easy but combined with the bad pacing and Orlando’s terrible narration… Undertow quickly becomes intolerable. Assuming Orlando gave artist Artyom Trakhanov descriptions of each panel, the comic gets even worse. The narration isn’t over story panels, it’s over cinematic establishing shots. Orlando writes a script out of a bad Gold key comic, but doesn’t even let Trakhanov illustrate it.

Or maybe Trakhanov made that choice. It’s highly stylized art and not bad, just pointless. Much like the comic itself.

F 

CREDITS

Messiah Ward; writer, Steve Orlando; artist and colorist, Artyom Trakhanov; letterer, Thomas Mauer; publisher, Image Comics.

Robocop: To Live and Die in Detroit 1 (February 2014)

RobocopAgain, not having seen the new Robocop movie, it’s hard to say who’s responsible for the nonsense of To Live and Die in Detroit. It could be writer Joe Harris. He certainly does write some terrible exposition about the Motor City and juxtaposes it against the lame action and activities of Robocop. Robocop, it turns out, is an asshat by the way. But did the editors make him an asshat or did the liaison at the license holder?

The art isn’t too bad. Piotr Kowalski does all right, actually. The sleek image of Robocop is boring, but the rest of the action’s decent. Shame about all Harris’s exposition. It’s nauseatingly obvious and incredibly lame. Unless some Detroit politician wants to give out the comic at a campaign rally.

But not with the resolution. The resolution is pure crap. Whoever came up with it should be ashamed of him or herself.

F 

CREDITS

Writer, Joe Harris; artist, Piotr Kowalski; colorist, Vladimir Popov; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Alex Galer, Ian Brill and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

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