Alex Maleev

Empire of the Dead 4 (June 2014)

Empire of the Dead #4Romero is still setting things up. At least there’s not too much with the vampires this issue and the SWAT zombie making friends with a little runaway is kind of cool. There’s a lot of time spent on new supporting cast members, some rednecks who are in town to start trouble; they’re weak characters. Not to mention the woman’s a rip-off of Frank Miller’s neo-Nazi gal from Dark Knight.

But even as Romero fills out the cast, it feels like Empire is starting to wind down. There’s too many characters, too much going on. The script is starting to feel too oriented towards a movie and not enough to a comic. Maleev draws a whole bunch of pointless montage sequences and they don’t play to his strengths.

Zombies and vampires and New York City–maybe there isn’t much mileage anyone could get out of the combination. Nice art though.

C 

CREDITS

Writer, George A. Romero; artist, Alex Maleev; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Jake Thomas and Bill Rosemann; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Empire of the Dead 3 (May 2014)

Empire of the Dead #3Not much happens this issue; the smart zombie gets away at the end, there are other smart zombies out there, lots of dumb vampires doing stuff to get themselves found out. While he was hiding the vampires, Romero used them sparingly. This issue it’s different. They’re everywhere. The human characters from the first couple issues are practically just cameos.

The big problem with the vampires is they’re boring visually. Romero doesn’t do much with them. They attack some girl, then dump her body. Twice in one issue. The girl’s not even a character. Maleev can’t make anything exciting out of such a bland event. Worse, Romero’s doing lots of politics stuff with the other vampires.

How exciting, vampires running for mayor. It’s like “Spin City” only with vampires and not funny at all. Or even interesting.

The art and some of Romero’s ideas keep it going, but just barely enough.

C+ 

CREDITS

Writer, George A. Romero; artist, Alex Maleev; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Jake Thomas and Bill Rosemann; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Daredevil 1.50 (June 2014)

Daredevil #1.50I'm really glad Mark Waid cares so much about Daredevil to craft the comic, and Matt Murdock, such a sweet story for the fiftieth anniversary of the character. It's a nice story. It's also completely pointless.

Waid tells a future story with Matt Murdock as former mayor of San Francisco (or something) and gives him a crisis to resolve–some mystery villain has made most of the city blind, including little Jack Murdock. Mom is a mystery but Foggy's around. He's probably supposed to be fifty too. He looks like a thirty year-old.

The story is slight and saccharine. Javier Rodriguez and Alvaro Lopez's art's decent, never anything more.

Then, to amplify the self-indulgence, Brian Michael Bendis does a text piece with Alex Maleev art. Comic book text pieces are real bad. Every time.

Finally, Karl Kesel and Tom Palmer do something goofy. It's bad, but they appear to enjoy themselves.

C 

CREDITS

The King in Red; writer, Mark Waid; penciller and colorist, Javier Rodriguez; inker, Alvaro Lopez. My name is Stana Morgan…; writer, Brian Michael Bendis; artist, Alex Maleev; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth. The Last Will and Testament of Mike Murdock; writer and penciller, Karl Kesel; inker, Tom Palmer; colorist, Grace Allison. Letterer, Joe Caramagna, editor, Ellie Pyle; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Empire of the Dead 2 (April 2014)

3663199 eotdcoverMaleev has some awesome panels this issue. He could be better on some of it–there are some arena scenes (zombie versus zombie for the people’s pleasure) and Maleev doesn’t do establishing shots well enough, but he does quite well on the vampire stuff. The vampire stuff is the strangest thing in Empire, probably because it works so well.

Romero started out with human characters–they’re back this issue, with the doctor getting a smart zombie to study. They’re not the protagonists though, there’s a hand-off where the vampires get to run the issue. Romero does a great job establishing their quarrels and such. He also opens up the idea Empire could go anywhere.

As long as there are vampires and zombies. So maybe not anywhere.

The dialogue’s good, the scenes are funny; Romero’s got the comic running smoothly only two issues in, but doesn’t go overboard raising expectations.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, George A. Romero; artist, Alex Maleev; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Jake Thomas and Bill Rosemann; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Empire of the Dead 1 (January 2014)

Portrait incredibleThere’s something perfect about this comic. The medium gives George Romero a great way to do exposition, with two characters meeting each other, talking about their worlds. But it wouldn’t work without Alex Maleev. Romero’s kicking around ideas he’s been using for thirty years or so, but Maleev makes it all seem so fresh.

This first issue, set after the zombie apocalypse, after the rebuilding has started, is a great start. There’s a particularly awkward moment where Romero retcons Night of the Living Dead, almost half a century after he made that film. Yeah, exactly… Romero should have been writing comics for years, apparently. It’s an awkward fix, but not bad. Maleev makes it work.

The end has a big surprise and instead of finding it cheap, because it is definitely gimmicky, I find myself fully trusting Romero. He sells some lengthy exposition here. He can handle McGuffins I’ll bet.

B+ 

CREDITS

Writer, George A. Romero; artist, Alex Maleev; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Jake Thomas and Bill Rosemann; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Scarlet 3 (November 2010)

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Okay, Bendis is still pretty heavy into the silliness–he needs to do a comic about being a middle-aged comic book writer who decides he wants to be a woman, it would fit him–but it’s hard to complain when the ending has protagonist Scarlet shooting some cops in cold blood with a sniper rifle.

That commitment to being out there is something Bendis didn’t do the first issue and didn’t really do the second issue (we find out this issue about a bunch of torture we missed out on). Sure, Bendis is just taking a page from Ennis here….

But the Walt Disney Company is publishing a comic book advocating the murder of police officers.

No matter what–Secret Invasion, Siege, Jinx–one has to admire Bendis for getting this book out there from them… which doesn’t make it worth reading. Though Maleev does make it worth seeing.

CREDITS

Writer, Brian Michael Bendis; artist and colorist, Alex Maleev; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editor, Jennifer Grünwald; publisher, Icon.

Scarlet 2 (September 2010)

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Bendis does write himself some likable hipster chicks. Scarlet is basically just Alias applied to something else, which is fine. This issue is a lot better since the reader already has had to accept Bendis’s silly plot line (one has to wonder how much Criminal influenced him), so coming back to it… it’s just based on the specific issue content, which is generally fine.

The art might make the book worth a look–it certainly gets one through at times. It’s a very good approach to a finite story, the way Bendis has Scarlet talk to the reader. It’s not revolutionary, but it’s a narrative method good for comics not many people use right now.

Unfortunately, it’s not really finite enough. If Bendis had drug it out, made her killing the dirty cop a lengthy journey into the heart of darkness…. But, he didn’t. He’s trying to sell a movie.

CREDITS

Writer, Brian Michael Bendis; artist and colorist, Alex Maleev; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editor, Jennifer Grünwald; publisher, Icon.

Scarlet 1 (July 2010)

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For a second, maybe the first half of the issue, I was going to say Scarlet is the best writing Bendis has done since Alias. Then the second half happened and I realized it’s just Bendis on a podium, but not one he’s going to take any responsibility for.

I mean, the story turns out to be about corrupt, drug-addled, white trash Portland, OR cops and getting back at them. So why doesn’t Bendis, who’s a successful media producer, take his first issue and go and get some feedback from the Portland police and print it instead of his self-congratulatory letter pages?

The Maleev artwork is fantastic. No, I won’t make–oh, wow, he did this on a computer comment–but it’s sort of there. The layouts are great, there’s clearly a lot of work in the art.

And there’s some work in the writing. But not enough.

CREDITS

Writer, Brian Michael Bendis; artist and colorist, Alex Maleev; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos; editor, C.B. Cebulski; publisher, Icon.

Spider-Woman 5 (March 2010)

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In this five minutes of comic book reading–it took a little longer because I was actually expecting the crooked cop to be a Skrull–Bendis does it again. It’s one thing to bring back a c-list character who has a lot of fans and do a shitty job on her title, but to bring back a c-list character who you say you love and to do a shitty job on her title is another.

I mean, is Spider-Woman even c-list? She might be d-list, brought back by Bendis–to what end? First that awful Origin series, now this awful ongoing?

I just don’t get it. How can this series be so godawful? Bendis, more occasionally now than before, writes good stuff. What’s the point? He’d sell a lot more books if it were a new Wolverine title if he just wants to produce garbage.

CREDITS

Writer, Brian Michael Bendis; artist and colorist, Alex Maleev; letterers, Cory Petit and Virtual Caligraphy; editor, Lauren Sankovitch; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Spider-Woman 4 (February 2010)

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Seriously, Bendis? You actually think this comic book is acceptable? Do I get my money back on Spider-Woman–are you still offering that deal, to refund any money anyone spent on your books? Because I’m sure there are some retailers out there who’d like their money back too.

I wish I’d time how long it took me to read this issue. I’m guessing three minutes. A dollar a minute. Maybe–maybe–it took Bendis ten minutes to write it, but I doubt it. The whole issue is action, except the interrogation scene with the Skrull at the beginning, so I’m guessing he didn’t work on the later pages much.

Maleev’s artwork might make this series worthwhile to some people (only those who really want to study illustration). There’s no storytelling craft here.

Do you think Bendis thinks he’s doing good work or is he aware he’s full of shit?

CREDITS

Writer, Brian Michael Bendis; artist and colorist, Alex Maleev; letterers, Cory Petit and Virtual Caligraphy; editor, Lauren Sankovitch; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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