Dark Horse

Black Hammer: Age of Doom #2 (May 2018)

Black Hammer: Age of Doom #2Black Hammer goes Vertigo. At least Lucy’s half of the comic. Not only does she go Vertigo and to Hell, she meets a former costumed hero-type who’s now in Hell as well. Lots of almost rhyming, sorry.

Wasn’t a former hero type in Hell a Swamp Thing plot point back in the day?

Lucy’s story is kind of an odyssey, but only after she gets sent to Hell, and only taking the cliffhanger into account. Otherwise, she’s just become a superhero–moments earlier–and is now on a crappy first adventure. With a lot of talking and not much of it relating to the Black Hammer story.

Meanwhile, back on the farm, it’s a Barbalien and Gail issue. They go to the library to investigate the empty books Lucy found last series. They’re in for a surprise. There’s also the moment when Gail tells Barbalien about an illicit romance… which got introduced in one of the spin-off books and really doesn’t have any emotional impact here.

It’s kind of concerning. But it’s also Ormston art and Black Hammer Prime has miles of goodwill to burn through. It doesn’t really burn any here, just implies it might.

Fingers crossed Lemire’s got some plans. Right now, it doesn’t seem like he’s got any plans.

CREDITS

Writer, Jeff Lemire; artist, Dean Ormston; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Brett Israel and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Resident Alien: An Alien in New York #2 (May 2018)

Resident Alien: An Alien in New York #2This issue of Resident Alien, which actually has Harry getting to New York City and being overwhelmed, is somehow entirely understated. A comic about being overwhelmed keeps it calm, always. Harry brings his friend–and love interest’s father–along with him for initially moral support then protection (it’s not safe for an alien); the friend, Dan, gives Hogan a good perspective on Harry for the reader.

Plus Dan and Harry are cute together.

Meanwhile, an unwelcome guest doctor shows up to take over Harry’s practice for his vacation. Either it’s going to be a subplot for Alien in New York or it’ll be something for the next series. Hogan’s plotting for these books is so chill, it’s hard to guess.

As for Harry’s New York Mystery? Next issue might be some answers. This issue just raises more questions.

The Parkhouse New York City is, no surprise, absolutely gorgeous stuff.

Doctor Star and the Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows #3 (May 2018)

Doctor Star and the Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows #3I suppose this issue–where Doctor Star discovers he’s inadvertently inspired the creation of the Green Lantern Corps (different name, same exact idea)–is the best so far in the series. There’s a lot of dramatics and a lot of interstellar stuff.

The dramatics are more flashbacks with Doctor Star coming home. He argues with his wife, goes to Vietnam looking for his son, then finds his son in the hospital (presumably stateside). These scenes have a lot more dramatic fodder than the present day, where Doctor Star is trying to save his son from cancer. Why Lemire skipped out on the more dramatic stuff for the melodramatic tropes… just another of Doctor Star’s mysteries.

The space stuff is at least cool looking, thanks to Fiumara. It’s all a knock-off of Green Lantern now, but whatever, it does look good.

One more issue to go. There’s nowhere for Lemire to go at this point. But at least the book has stopped being as disappointing, though only because it’s a moot point now.

CREDITS

Writer, Jeff Lemire; artist, Max Fiumara; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Brett Israel and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Vinegar Teeth #4 (April 2018)

Vinegar Teeth #4Vinegar Teeth ends. Vinegar Teeth, the character, remains likable. Nixey’s art remains crazy and awesome and gross (but not too gross). Detective Buckle… well, he barely figures into the last issue. He’s zonked out of his mind for a while; when he does come back, he’s got to save the city from Vinegar Teeth’s dad, a Cthulhu-like interdimensional evil monster.

It’s easily the worst issue in the series. Gentry and Nixey’s script just keeps moving and moving and moving until the ending. It’s all action, with Vinegar Teeth and Buckle having to complete a task to stop the invasion. If you’ve seen a certain Tim Burton movie from the nineties, it’s not a surprise. It still works to some degree, thanks to Nixey’s art.

But, even with the lackluster finish, Vinegar Teeth is a success. It’s a gross, strange book and it never gives up on being gross or strange. It instead embraces them, as Nixey’s so capable at visualizing such things without being revolting. There’s beauty in his visual pacing.

This issue might have some of the best panels; they’re just too small and the issue’s moving too fast for them to come off.

So a success. Just not as successful as hoped.

CREDITS

Writers, Damon Gentry and Troy Nixey; artist and letterer, Nixey; colorist, Michelle Madsen; editors, Brett Israel and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Vinegar Teeth #3 (March 2018)

Vinegar Teeth #3Vinegar Teeth continues being Vinegar Teeth.

So it turns out these first page courtroom bookends are set during the final (and next) issue–the D.A.’s questions for Artie even make sense now (because of this issue’s events). They sort of make sense for the comic? But not really.

Anyway. The action immediately moves on the Vinegar Teeth, working the streets alone, as all the citzens turn into Cthulhu (called something else) zombies. Vinegar Teeth finds himself unable to control his hunger and he eats some bad guys. It upsets him, so he goes and gets drunk with Artie. They bond and Artie’s back on the force, back to being Vinegar Teeth’s partner.

If Vinegar Teeth weren’t so visually disgusting and eating people, it’d almost be a nice sequence. They get wasted and puke. Touching stuff.

The rest of the comic is revelations about the zombies and Vinegar Teeth. But amid the police procedural–city’s in crisis, Artie and Vinegar Teeth are needed–and with a lot of jokes. Lots and lots of jokes. Most of them connect.

There’s some excellent art from Nixey this issue. He lets loose with the action, does some great visual pacing work.

Vinegar Teeth is a good comic; expectations are high for next issue’s finish.

CREDITS

Writers, Damon Gentry and Troy Nixey; artist and letterer, Nixey; colorist, Michelle Madsen; editors, Brett Israel and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Black Hammer: Age of Doom #1 (April 2018)

Black Hammer: Age of Doom #1Not a lot of content in Age of Doom #1 but it’s sure nice to have Dean Ormston back on Black Hammer. He didn’t ever really leave but the book’s been on hiatus awhile and you don’t realize how much you miss his sad superheroes’ faces until you see them again.

No, Jeff Lemire doesn’t solve the Black Hammer riddle. Lucy Weber, new Black Hammer, solves one riddle–though it’s unclear how she solves it, whether it’s because she discovered something or just found out when she got the hammer–and finds herself in a new one. Before she has a chance to tell anyone what’s going on.

So the regular cast is basically just regrouping–though them making a concerted effort is new for them–and getting their drink on.

It’s a little fast of a read and while Ormston does do a lot of detail in his panels, he doesn’t do very big panels. But it’s very nice to have Black Hammer Prime back.

CREDITS

Writer, Jeff Lemire; artist, Dean Ormston; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Brett Israel and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Resident Alien: An Alien in New York #1 (April 2018)

Resident Alien: An Alien in New York #1Resident Alien, not to get too extreme about it, is good for the soul. Writer Peter Hogan’s quiet, careful deliberateness with all the characters–and all the character development–alongside Steve Parkhouse’s gentle, emotive, detailed art? It’s just such a nice comic to read. Before everything else, there’s this professional love of the medium the two creators exercise throughout. It’s a joyful read, regardless of content; always has been.

And An Alien in New York is no different. Doctor Harry has his standard B plot–he’s worried the Men in Black are going to discover him (they sort of have, but he doesn’t know yet)–and now he’s worried he should abandon his established life as a town doctor. There’s some romantic drama (but very gentle) as he and female friend, Asta, carefully orbit each other.

So while he’s thinking about doing a runner from his regular life to instead be an alien on the run, he comes across evidence of an alien in the New York area.

And then the issue’s over. It’s a teaser for the series itself (I’m so glad Dark Horse gave them four issues again for New York). It’d be the perfect time for Hogan to catch up new readers… but no.

One thing about Resident Alien, which is both good and bad–good as a fan, bad as a fan who wants the book to get more readers–is Hogan never bothers with catch-up. This time Harry’s whole crisis gets kicked off because he finds out about the picture of him a child drew–kids can see he’s an alien–and his staff wants to hang it up. The picture’s from last series. The Feds are on to him from last series.

I appreciate the hell out of the book as Hogan and Parkhouse execute it, but I want it to catch on too. Hogan’s not just writing for the trade, he’s writing for the trades as a series.

Who cares. Harry’s back. I’ll worry about it later. Next issue is New York. Steve Parkhouse New York.

CREDITS

Writer, Peter Hogan; artist, Steve Parkhouse; editors, Megan Walker and Philip R. Simon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Doctor Star and the Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows #2 (April 2018)

Doctor Star and the Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows #2What’s really bad is I barely have any memory of Doctor Star #1 other than it not being particularly good and a Starman homage, certainly not for a Black Hammer brand title.

The second issue isn’t much better but it’s at least got space aliens.

Doctor Star is a terrible father. Well, not exactly. Not intentionally. But his dying son wants nothing to do with him; the issue’s got some flashbacks to the early fifties to explain it all. I suppose it gives Fiumara some cool stuff to draw, but then Lemire pulls him back to the mundane. Fiumara does better with the fantastic. His mundane is boring.

Outside being a crappy (but not exactly) dad, Doctor Star doesn’t have much character. He’s sad and he’s sorry. Nothing else. The flashback scenes showing him being busy dad to his son (as a kid) and loving his wife doesn’t make him into a character. It fleshes out the caricature with more caricature.

I suppose the book’s in a better place than it was after the first issue, but it’s a long way from solid.

CREDITS

Writer, Jeff Lemire; artist, Max Fiumara; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Brett Israel and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Mata Hari #1 (February 2018)

Mata Hari #1Mata Hari is pretty boring. Writer Emma Beeby fractures the narrative to drum up drama, but even with that fracturing, there’s not much drama. Some of it is artist Ariela Kristantina’s lack of scale–Mata Hari feels incredibly cramped, both the panels on the page and the characters rendered in the panels. Maybe everything was small in 1917 France.

The promotional materials for the series mention the attention to realism (the writer and artist using actual MI5 files for reference). Still, it’s an incredible yawn. It’s not scholarly enough to be snooty compelling and it’s nowhere near dramatic enough to be entertainment.

It’s a history comic without a reason for being a comic (so far). The wikipedia page is probably more interesting.

Once again, the Berger Books imprint disappoints. Once again, it disappoints with material shockingly “not ready for prime time.” Kristantina’s style is too rough, Beeby’s exposition-only dialogue (and narration) is muddled blather.

If the creators are enthralled with the mystery of Mata Hari… well, it’d have been nice if some of that energy came across on the page.

Instead, it’s a tedious snore.

CREDITS

Bare Faced; writer, Emma Beeby; artist, Ariela Kristantina; colorist, Pat Wasioni; letterer, Sal Cipriano; editors, Rachel Roberts and Karen Berger; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Vinegar Teeth #2 (February 2018)

Vinegar Teeth #2The first issue of Vinegar Teeth made the protoplasm cop visually reasonable so the second issue goes all in with the writing. Nixey and Gentry explore the strangeness of Brick City, from its music clubs to its boy scouts turned bank robber.

There’s also a framing device (for a page), with lead copper Artie in trouble in court. The issue doesn’t come back to it; there’s some more with Artie in trouble, like when Vinegar Teeth gets assigned to be the lead detective, but not the courtroom. The courtroom’s a memorable scene. It sets the tone for the issue.

And the issue’s got those boy scout bank robbers and Artie’s interest in music, which are strange enough on their own. There’s also the green and yellow colors of Brick City. Guy Major does them. They make it all seem like spoiling vegetables, which means Vinegar Teeth is working.

There’s a soft cliffhanger for Vinegar Teeth and Artie, but also the end implication of an interstellar threat.

The writing also pushes against the fourth wall a couple times, which comes as a surprise but ends up being a fine fit. Vinegar Teeth can get away with a lot.

CREDITS

Writers, Damon Gentry and Troy Nixey; artist and letterer, Nixey; colorists, Guy Major and Michelle Madsen; editors, Cardner Clark and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

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