Alberto Ponticelli

Hungry Ghosts #1 (January 2018)

Hungry Ghosts #1Hungry Ghosts is the story of restaurant staff who get suckered into telling ghost stories with one of their hideous rich customers. The hook of the series, presumably, is “executive producer” Anthony Bourdain. He’s credited as co-story but–from the back matter–it’s clear Joel Rose, the other story credit, did the writing work.

Though, presumably Bourdain agrees most of his customers are hideous rich people.

Alberto Ponticelli and Vanesa Del Rey do the interior art. Ponticelli does the setup and the first story, Del Rey does the second story. It’s the one about the pirate ship rescuing a drowning woman just so they can rape her. It doesn’t go as planned. It’s not scary though. None of Hungry Ghosts is scary or even disturbing. It’s PG–13, conceptually as well as visually.

Yawn.

The first story has a cook not feeding a homeless guy and the homeless guy turning into a demon to exact retribution. So, maybe if you bring a copy of Hungry Ghosts #1 to a Bourdain restaurant you get a free meal? Because the story literally says not feeding the hungry deserves death.

So. I guess the comic is for people who just love anything with Anthony Bourdain’s name on it? Because there’s nothing else to it. Sure, it’s updating Japanese “Kaidan” but so are a lot of things. Even some actual scary things, which Ghosts isn’t.

At all.

CREDITS

Writers, Anthony Bourdain and Joel Rose; artists, Alberto Ponticelli and Vanesa Del Rey; colorist, José Villarrubia; letterer, Sal Cipriano; editor, Karen Berger; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. 3 (January 2012)

001e9a31_medium.jpeg
Lemire continues the uptick on Frankenstein, but it’s hard not to think it’d be better as a series of backups, not a feature title.

The format of the issue suggests chapters. For example, once the team gets done with one disaster, they talk a couple pages and have another disaster. The pacing would be perfect for an eight-page backup.

Besides the first few pages and the middle monster fight, the issue’s almost entirely exposition. The cast stands around and figures out what to do next. There’s bickering, joking and flirting and Lemire does it all pretty well.

It’s still unclear if we’re supposed to laugh at Frankenstein or support him. This issue he comes off a little like Peter Griffin from “Family Guy,” only right all the time.

Ponticelli is the key to Frankenstein‘s success though. His off-beat monster art makes the lengthy exposition scenes fun to read.

CREDITS

War of the Monsters, Part Three: The Titans of Monster Planet!; writer, Jeff Lemire; artist, Alberto Ponticelli; colorist, Jose Villarrubia; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Kate Stewart and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

Unknown Soldier 25 (December 2010)

214486.jpg
For a moment, I thought Dysart had lost his mind and was going to do some kind of Inglourious Basterds wish fulfillment kind of thing.

Instead, I suppose… he makes Moses’s failure a success for his personal humanity. It’s hard to say. I estimate Dysart had about twenty more issues before coming to a conclusion like this one. The series ends with the lovely news Christian fundamentalists in the United States are bankrolling Uganda–I mean, Dysart never got around to the problems with anyone but Kony in Uganda… I imagine he would have.

It is a depressingly real comic book and I write this response with teary eyes.

Dysart and Ponticelli haven’t just succeeded overall, they also but together a really nice cap to the series. There are small measures of happiness and of hope, which is about all anyone can ever get.

Unknown Soldier is a major accomplishment.

CREDITS

Beautiful World, Conclusion; writer, Joshua Dysart; artist, Alberto Ponticelli; colorist, Oscar Celestini; letterer, Clem Robins; editor, Pornsak Pichetshote; publisher, Vertigo.

Unknown Soldier 24 (November 2010)

212311_20101007072221_large.jpg
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but it appears Dysart might take the series in a wholly different direction than I assumed to finish it off.

Here, Moses (or whoever Moses was) meets the Unknown Soldier (I really didn’t expect the series to tie in to the original character, but Dysart does it nicely) and the series takes a sharp turn into the unexpected. Dysart’s filled the series with impending doom, for the protagonist, for the situation in general.

Now, he’s introducing the idea of personal hopefulness… previously we just had Jack playing basketball and smiling or flirting with girls. Here there’s the idea, whether it’s fulfilled or not, even Moses might be able to have hopefulness–what’s interesting is how Dysart introduces that idea in the same issue he reveals the reader has never and will never know Moses. Moses also will never know Moses.

It’s a bold close.

CREDITS

Beautiful World, Chapter Three; writer, Joshua Dysart; artist, Alberto Ponticelli; colorist, Oscar Celestini; letterer, Clem Robins; editor, Pornsak Pichetshote; publisher, Vertigo.

Unknown Soldier 23 (October 2010)

00.jpg
Yeah, this is not going to end well.

If for no other reason… Joseph Kony is still alive.

Of course, whether Unknown Soldier went on as long as initially intended (I think all Vertigo series have a finite intention, don’t they?), Kony would still be alive. So, even though the series was cancelled prematurely, Dysart’s still got to be taking a different tact… it’s not action movie wish fulfillment, it’s going to be something else. It was always something else.

This issue says goodbye to the three principals who have been with the series since the beginning. Sera gets her last scene with Moses, though hopefully not her last scene because, in a lot of ways, she’s Dysart’s strongest character. Jack gets his farewell scene. And it says goodbye to Moses too, even though he doesn’t get a farewell. Though, hopefully, we’ll find out enough about him he will eventually.

A 

CREDITS

Beautiful World, Chapter Two; writer, Joshua Dysart; artist, Alberto Ponticelli; colorist, Oscar Celestini; letterer, Clem Robins; editor, Pornsak Pichetshote; publisher, Vertigo.

Unknown Soldier 22 (September 2010)

unknown-soldier-22.jpg
A strange issue.

It’s Sera’s issue, maybe the one I’ve been waiting for since she showed up again a few issues back. It’s also the first issue of the series’s final arc, so it’s interesting to see how Dysart’s going to handle it. Ponticelli takes a new approach, mixing his old and new styles of artwork–the countryside is more lush, the towns are the old, hard reality.

But even though Dysart is wrapping things up–prematurely–he still manages to make the book operate on a few levels. It’s still a look at modern Africa through the outsider’s eyes, though this issue, he’s able to do it closer–Sera, being native to a different region than a wedding party, brings the Western reader to that celebration. It’s a nice move, since it also informs the reader about her.

It’s a touching, sad issue; I’m going to miss this comic.

CREDITS

Beautiful World, Chapter One; writer, Joshua Dysart; artist, Alberto Ponticelli; colorist, Oscar Celestini; letterer, Clem Robins; editor, Pornsak Pichetshote; publisher, Vertigo.

Unknown Soldier 20 (July 2010)

UnknownSoldier2.jpg
It’s sort of a mellow issue.

It’s an all action issue, with Moses on the run from some cattle raiders. He meets up with this family also on the run from them and the family gets stuck helping Moses try to fend them off.

What’s mellow about the issue is Dysart’s approach–it’s told from the disabled son’s point of view, like a folk tale. Dysart even works in a traditional folk tale disguise element, which is really neat–he’s able to produce an action-packed issue, but told in a really creative way.

In other words, it’s no such Unknown Soldier didn’t sell well. It’s way too smart.

The end of the issue, which returns to Moses and the voice, is somewhat jarring. The last page might be the biggest “action” moment the series has ever had.

Ponticelli’s art is simply wonderful here, giving the story a mystical feel.

CREDITS

A Battle of Little Note, Conclusion; writer, Joshua Dysart; artist, Alberto Ponticelli; colorist, Oscar Celestini; letterer, Clem Robins; editor, Pornsak Pichetshote; publisher, Vertigo.

Unknown Soldier 19 (June 2010)

us19.jpg
Once again, Dysart does the unexpected. This issue picks up exactly where the last one left off, only the last issue made it seem like he wasn’t going to concentrate on showing the big battle scene. But he does. In fact, there are three two page spreads in this issue. It’s the most action I can remember the series ever having; there are explosions everyone.

But the reader also gets some back story on Moses in regards to the Unknown Soldier, the voice. Dysart’s narration is a CIA report–referring to Moses as “Subject 9” (a little V for Vendetta homage there?)–walking the reader through not just the battle, but the way arms trading works in Uganda.

Necessary or not, Dysart jump-starts the series’s tone a little bit. There’s a concentration the action, but without jeopardizing the political discussion. Not to mention the readers finds out about Moses experiencing suicidal urges.

CREDITS

A Battle of Little Note, Chapter One; writer, Joshua Dysart; artist, Alberto Ponticelli; colorist, Oscar Celestini; letterer, Clem Robins; editor, Pornsak Pichetshote; publisher, Vertigo.

Unknown Soldier 18 (May 2010)

us18Huh.

Dysart finishes the arc without giving the action payoff I was expecting (I was also expecting another issue of the arc).

It seems he’s saying goodbye to Paul too, after giving the kid a really rough lesson or two this issue in futility. Moses learns a similar lesson and ends the story in a far worse place than he started it.

Sera doesn’t make an appearance here, which confused me a little bit.

What’s most interesting about the story is the time Dysart took with it. In modern series, with their trade-ready arcs, there aren’t as many asides anymore–certainly not ones running enough issues for a trade of their own. Dysart basically took six issues to tell a story about what happens when Moses and Paul go to Paul’s old village.

It’s bold and artistically solid and great.

I can’t believe Vertigo let them make the trip.

CREDITS

Dry Season, Conclusion; writer, Joshua Dysart; artist, Alberto Ponticelli; colorist, Oscar Celestini; letterer, Clem Robins; editor, Pornsak Pichetshote; publisher, Vertigo.

Unknown Soldier 17 (April 2010)

us17Well, I certainly wasn’t expecting that ending.

I think this arc runs five issues and Dysart is three in–and wrapping up some of the revelations–so I was wondering how he was going to keep it going. He’s keeping it going by turning the entire comic on its head.

Turning Moses into an unreliable narrator–who isn’t reliable to himself either–isn’t an unprecedented narrative move, but it’s completely unexpected. For sixteen issues, Moses has been utterly reliable.

This issue has a little of the return to action, but it also has a bunch more character stuff. Dysart’s bringing Sera–Moses’s wife–back into the comic as a seen presence, Paul’s making decisions contrary to Moses’s orders. I never think of the series as having a cast, but it does.

This story–especially after this issue–is shaping to be a lot more important than the first issue suggested.

CREDITS

Dry Season, Chapter Three; writer, Joshua Dysart; artist, Alberto Ponticelli; colorist, Oscar Celestini; letterer, Clem Robins; editor, Pornsak Pichetshote; publisher, Vertigo.

Scroll to Top