Aaron Campbell

The Shadow 6 (October 2012)

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Eh.

Ennis doesn’t have a good finish for the arc. He goes for the funny finish with a joke about something not particularly amusing. He hasn’t really established the Shadow making jokes along those lines–I think he did mention a foul sense of humor at one point, but it wasn’t enough. The end flops. It’s like Ennis wanted to write as little as possible.

Even with some bloodshed, the comic feels like Indiana Jones again, especially with Cranston and Margo ending up in British India. Ennis’s history is fine, he’s simply not applying it well.

The arc might have gotten more mileage as a standalone series; as the starting arc of an ongoing, though, it’s a misfire. Ennis’s most interesting characters are the bad guys, the Shadow’s magic is unclear and Margo’s a wasted character.

Still, it’s component and Ennis’s wartime intrigue makes it somewhat worthwhile. It’s just disappointing.

CREDITS

The Fire of Creation, Conclusion; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Aaron Campbell; colorist, Carlos Lopez; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Shadow 5 (September 2012)

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Ennis brings the Shadow in–he didn’t show up last issue–and it doesn’t work out. The issue works, for the first half, because it’s the wartime intrigue book. The Japanese villains have their machinations and Cranston and Margo have some stuff going on too. Then Cranston gets into costume and it all goes to pot.

Well, not all to pot. The scenes without the Shadow in them are fine. But the scene with the Shadow–he only has one big one–is pointless. Ennis works towards something, but never gets to it and starts working toward something else. And never gets to it either.

Margo and the American agent disappear after a few good scenes. Ennis just can’t feign the interest in them, which is too bad. There’s another really good Margo scene this issue.

Campbell’s art is probably the best so far.

The Shadow remains a mixed bag.

CREDITS

The Fire of Creation, Part Five; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Aaron Campbell; colorist, Carlos Lopez; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Shadow 4 (August 2012)

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I don’t think Ennis has a good handle on Margo and Cranston’s relationship. He’s trying to figure it out in the story, which is fine, but it’s a minor subplot and it ought to be more. He keeps insinuating things, but never clarifies. It’s a bewildering approach.

Or it would be if he weren’t doing a war comic. It’s not a battle comic, but it’s a war comic–The Shadow, under Ennis’s pen, is about wartime intrigue and he’s great at writing it. There’s a long scene with the Japanese and their Chinese crime boss associate and it’s better than any scene with Cranston or the good guys.

Ennis doesn’t even have to demonize the Japanese villains here, his other material is so strong. He’s able to demonize the Japanese entirely, however.

So while it’s an excellent comic for the most part, it’d be better if it weren’t The Shadow.

CREDITS

The Fire of Creation, Part Four; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Aaron Campbell; colorist, Carlos Lopez; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Shadow 3 (June 2012)

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I wonder if Ennis is going out of his way to demonize the main villains–he ends on with reminder of their atrociousness–as a way to curb the Japanese being the main villains of the story.

When it comes to World War II, the Germans get the most emphasis from Western storytellers. Ennis avoids that route. When Germans do show up, they’re disposable morons.

There’s a little more intrigue this issue. A bunch of different nations are trying to get magic rocks from China (it could be plutonium, couldn’t it?). Ennis handles the espionage quite well, which is good since he doesn’t handle Margo Lane well here.

He lets her character contract; he’s using her as Lamont Cranston’s arm candy. It’s boring.

Campbell does okay for most the issue. Except he draws Cranston rather aged. It’s a bad couple panels.

Ennis still hasn’t taken the book above basic competence.

CREDITS

The Fire of Creation, Part Three; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Aaron Campbell; colorist, Carlos Lopez; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Shadow 2 (May 2012)

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Ennis plays The Shadow like a really tough Indiana Jones picture. Indiana Jones with some magic and the bad guys are worse. They’re not just villains because they’re Japanese, they’re also villains because they do really bad things.

While the issue’s entertaining–and it’s nice to see Ennis give Margo Lane some personality–he hasn’t introduced any real danger for Lamont Cranston yet. He’s not just a guy with a little magic, he’s a guy with a lot of magic and it’s hard to imagine him not getting out of a tough situation.

Besides the assassination attempt on an airship–it’s cool, not thrilling–Ennis spends a lot of time with the evil Japanese guys and their American counterparts. As usual, his passion is in the war history. Cranston and Margo are just along for the ride.

Campbell’s art is better in some places than others.

It’s a serviceable comic.

CREDITS

The Fire of Creation, Part Two; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Aaron Campbell; colorist, Carlos Lopez; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Shadow 1 (April 2012)

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I’m having a hard time describing Garth Ennis’s take on The Shadow. There’s some magic to it, which makes the Dynamite rendition different from the others I’ve read or seen. But the magic just makes the character more cold; he’s not so much vicious or aloof, rather calculatedly cold.

It probably makes the character more fun to write than to read, as Ennis actually doesn’t center on Lamont Cranston until a while into the issue. Instead he uses it to tell a war story.

When the Shadow does arrive, it’s with a lot of violence. Probably too much. Aaron Campbell does a fine enough job with it, but he’s not concerned with authenticity. It’s for shock value and is immediately tiresome.

Campbell does do an outstanding job with the thirties setting, however, down to Cranston hopping a cab.

The Shadow’s wholly competent; too soon to say if it’s compelling.

CREDITS

The Fire of Creation, Part One; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Aaron Campbell; colorist, Carlos Lopez; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Complete Dracula 4 (December 2009)

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In the notes for this issue, Moore and Reppion discuss the novel’s sexism. I think the less guarded description would be Stoker’s misogyny. It’s somewhat curbed here, in the adaptation, as the writers are aware of its presence, whereas Stoker would not have been.

Lots happens in the issue and I could only wonder how it would have read with a better artist. Verma continues to disappoint. Aaron Campbell’s no longer contributing and the comic has lost its visual flare. There’s no more mixed media. There’s no more visual creativity. It’s gone, now, from being a pleasant surprise to the kind of crap Radical puts out. It’s embarrassing, actually. I feel bad for the writers, since–if I were to have bought the hard cover sight unseen–I would have tried to return it once the art changed.

It’s beyond too bad, since the adaptation itself is quite well-written.

CREDITS

Writers, Leah Moore and John Reppion; artist, Dheeraj Verma; colorists, Digikore Studios and Colton Worley; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Complete Dracula 3 (September 2009)

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Unfortunately, Worley’s gone this issue (he’s credited with layouts). Verma is … Verma’s painted comic art looks like all the lame painted comic art I’ve seen before, the stuff to make me dread a painted comic. His figures are fine, his faces are awful. The texture and depth of the book is now gone. It’s so distractingly, it’s hard to think about the writing, as this change in artist takes the book from being a measured success to a moderate failure.

Oddly, Verma’s illustrating abilities are strong (his pencils are in the issue’s notes).

I can’t remember the novel, if there really is so much time spent on the death of Lucy, but when Moore and Reppion take the whole issue, it’s hard not to think something’s going to be missed. But Mina is Dracula’s victim in the novel, right? Not his lover. So they should be fine filling two issues.

CREDITS

Writers, Leah Moore and John Reppion; artists, Aaron Campbell, Colton Worley and Dheeraj Verma; colorist, Malti Verma; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Complete Dracula 2 (July 2009)

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So, I guess I hadn’t realized how important Aaron Campbell’s layout contributions are to this series. There’s an example in the back of the comic and it’s clear he’s significant.

The Dracula novel, with the diary entries, the letters, the clippings, is sort of a multimedia (for the late nineteenth century) piece, and this adaptation fully realizes the potential, now incorporating visuals.

Not all the visuals work, however, especially here. There’s a lot of photoshopping going on, a lot of clearly blurred images, a lot of photographic backgrounds with a minimal amount of “painting” over. There moments distract, since Worley’s paintings are usually quite good, even if Mina doesn’t look the same panel to panel (one can’t tell if she’s supposed to be attractive, for example).

The comic’s so successful adapting the novel’s diary entries and letters, actual dialogue comes as a shock, like it doesn’t belong here at all.

CREDITS

Writers, Leah Moore and John Reppion; artists, Aaron Campbell and Colton Worley; colorist, Worley; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Complete Dracula 1 (May 2009)

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No one told me Dracula was going to be a digitally painted comic. I usually avoid those. But I probably still would have picked this one and a good thing, because it’s not bad.

As a novel, Dracula, is complete garbage. It’s such garbage, it’s almost impossible to find a good adaptation of it, illustrated, filmed or otherwise. Stoker’s lack of basic writing competence being a major problem. Fruit of the poisonous tree and all.

Moore and Reppion combat it a little with a prologue, making Harker more of a protagonist. But, as usual, the Castle Dracula stuff gets old fast (they even reference a scene they didn’t adapt).

However, the Mina Murray stuff is nice, maybe because Worley paints all the panels like static paintings. He occasionally captures profound moments for Mina, which works.

I’m not sure where the comic’s going quality-wise, but it seems interesting at least.

CREDITS

Writers, Leah Moore and John Reppion; artist and colorist, Colton Worley; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

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