Hotwire

Hotwire: Deep Cut 2 (October 2010)

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Pugh has some pacing issues but I think the big problem is… three issues isn’t enough Hotwire. He’s moving the series toward a close–and he’s doing an admirable job fitting a lot in (whether it’s Alice being well-liked or the stuff between the ghost soldier and the zombie)–but it’s clear he knows the end is near.

It’s like he had enough story for four issues, then had to fit it into three issues. As the only comic with any artistic integrity Radical has ever published, it’s horrifying Hotwire gets the shaft here.

The artwork is beautiful, but it’s really about how he defines his character. The three panels where Alice talks to her belligerent artificially intelligent teddy bear is better than anything I’ve read in a while.

Even with the rapid pace, the ending is sublime. Somehow Pugh has made Alice’s condescending attitude towards everything rather comforting.

CREDITS

My Name is Bertus; writer, artist, colorist and letterer, Steve Pugh; editor, Marie Javins; publisher, Radical Comics.

Hotwire: Deep Cut 1 (July 2010)

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Hmm… I don’t like Pugh’s cliffhanger. I get the need for it, to establish the bad guys of this series as the mercenaries–not just incompetent but evil (did Pugh write this issue before or after Obama renewed Blackwater’s contract?)–but it’s not a solid ending.

The issue opens with this amazing one-page retelling of the previous series. Pugh’s artwork is so meticulous, so perfect, it’s the ideal way to enter the new series, to acclimate.

Then the series alternates its pace between action and reflection. Pugh really handles it well, given he didn’t start as a writer; his structure suggests otherwise. He manages a bunch of flashbacks, three separate present day story threads and more.

The key, and the reason the cliffhanger disappoints, is Alice. She’s such a solid lead, taking the ending away from her, even for two pages, leaves the issue unstable.

Still very good though.

CREDITS

Bad Dogs Get The Pipe Wrench; writer, artist, colorist and letterer, Steve Pugh; editor, Marie Javins; publisher, Radical Comics.

Hotwire: Requiem for the Dead 4 (August 2009)

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And I’m not so much on board for the conclusion.

Here’s an action-packed issue. Pugh has his villain revealed, who’s really just an aggrieved party and aggrieved parties make terrible villains to demonize, since their plight makes sense. But worst is how he takes the series away from Hotwire at the end and gives it to her new boss. Her new boss has been in the comic for three issues; she doesn’t need to have the conclusion.

Pugh also avoids a lot, like what’s going on in other places. It’s a third-person narrative, but close to the point of distraction (though it does oscillate between Hotwire and her partner). He never shows what’s going on with the second tier villains, the Homeland Security stand-ins. He kills lots of them, but positions them as space invaders, not human beings.

It’s a good book overall, just a problematic finale.

CREDITS

Skull Face; writer, artist, colorist and letter, Steve Pugh; editor, Dave Elliott; publisher, Radical Comics.

Hotwire: Requiem for the Dead 3 (May 2009)

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This issue is Pugh’s version of an all-action issue.

He fails, somewhat, because he’s still got a narrative going. It’s not just one huge action sequence, he takes the time to introduce characters and ideas, not to mention revealing the entire conspiracy (well, most of it) behind the comic book.

It’s a fun issue. Not sure the comic needed to be fun at this point in its run, however. I mean, it’s not entirely fun… quite a few people die and it’s generally unpleasant, but there’s a lot of fun to be found. Hotwire’s got some good lines, lots of good lines, really, as she spouts off on living and not-living alike.

Pugh’s attempts at heartfelt revelations are more problematic than not, but it doesn’t matter since he’s got Hotwire fighting skeletons possessed with evil people.

I’m confused as all hell, but enjoying the comic very, very much.

CREDITS

Deep Blue; writer, artist, colorist and letter, Steve Pugh; editor, Dave Elliott; publisher, Radical Comics.

Hotwire: Requiem for the Dead 2 (March 2009)

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Ok, some of Pugh’s dialogue panels are a little static here, but otherwise, the art’s excellent.

This issue moves the story… well, not quite along, but it reveals more of it. It certainly does do a good job expanding the supporting cast, which is an interesting move for the second issue of a four issue limited (we’re moving into the second act here and ending halfway through the whole narrative).

It gives Hotwire more people to really interact with, which provides some comic relief, since Pugh’s spending a lot of the time explaining stuff. There’s a lot of future ghost reality to process this issue and Pugh hasn’t even made things simple yet. There isn’t a bad guy yet. There’s bad stuff happening, suggestions of bad intentions, but no real villain.

Instead, it’s all very complicated–these people are bad, but not the bad guys, et cetera–and it works.

CREDITS

Dead Letters; writer, artist, colorist and letter, Steve Pugh; editor, Dave Elliott; publisher, Radical Comics.

Hotwire: Requiem for the Dead 1 (February 2009)

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A friend of mine recommended Hotwire to me and, while I trust his opinion, I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. It’s a very stylized, painted-like (is there a term for it yet, Photoshop-painted maybe) comic and he doesn’t like photoshopping or painted comics. But Hotwire‘s not really that genre at all–if it were black and white, it’d look–as I imagine in an idealized sense–like a Marvel magazine from the 1970s. Pugh’s artwork is this luscious, emotional stuff, not at all static, not at all “painted comic” or “photoshopped comic.”

Besides the art, Pugh’s writing is strong. He sets Hotwire up as Blade Runner with ghosts (down to the Blade Runner font, but I imagine that decision wasn’t his to make) and it really does work. It’s never really “spooky,” but it’s off-putting and not comfy.

I can’t wait for more.

CREDITS

Read This First; writer, artist, colorist and letter, Steve Pugh; editor, Dave Elliott; publisher, Radical Comics.

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