Damian Couceiro

Cluster 6 (August 2015)

Cluster #6I wish I enjoyed Cluster.

I like Couceiro’s art. But his sci-fi setting for Cluster is the same generic sci-fi setting with space troopers as Aliens or Starship Troopers. There’s nothing interesting about it. Some of the stuff with the aliens is good, but Brisson spends his time on the humans, so it’s background.

And I like Brisson’s writing. It’s all very competent, but it’s nothing special. The protagonist has gotten lost so Brisson could get to the space revolutionaries and so on. But he doesn’t spend much time on the revolution or anything else. Cluster is too fragmented, Brisson has too many subplots fueling the main plot. There isn’t enough time to care about anything.

Except the characters he’s already killed. They were more memorable than any of the new ones he’s introducing.

Brisson and Couceiro can keep Cluster running in competence, but they’re getting bad mileage.

CREDITS

Writer and letterer, Ed Brisson; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Cassie Kelly; editors, Cameron Chittock and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Cluster 5 (July 2015)

Cluster #5I’m trying to figure out what’s wrong with Cluster. There’s definitely something off about it because I should be gleefully anticipating a monthly dose of Brisson and Couceiro.

I think I’ve got it too–Cluster isn’t good as an episodic, serialized read. It might do better in trade, but Brisson’s got too many characters without enough history for them to be interesting in a monthly. I don’t even care the protagonist has been turned into a cyborg. She’s just not compelling enough. And poor Couceiro doesn’t get enough cool things to illustrate. This issue it’s mostly the jail.

Who cares. A future prison planet. Unless Cluster’s future prison planet is made out of plants, which it isn’t, there’s not much to do with that setting.

I like the idea of Cluster and I like some of Brisson’s writing, some of Couceiro’s art, but I’m forcing myself to read it.

CREDITS

Writer and letterer, Ed Brisson; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Cassie Kelly; editors, Cameron Chittock and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Cluster 4 (May 2015)

Cluster #4Brisson picks a really weird place to do a cliffhanger this issue. It’s the most predictable spot–so predictable, it doesn’t even constitute an actual cliffhanger anymore. He spends the entire issue counting down to a plot point and then ends with that plot point. Literally counting down.

Other than that big, awkward finish–maybe it’s not even a fail, it’s like Brisson forgot to assemble the issue’s flashback framing correctly because the alien prison planet stuff is so much more interesting. But other than it, the issue’s pretty strong. There’s some useless (i.e. too supporting) character stuff and some of the tone doesn’t match Couceiro’s very sci-fi art, but it’s a good issue.

Couceiro has some problems with the battling spaceships and all, but he’s not really a machines versus machines kind of artist. The human stuff works, even when it’s too predictable.

It’s a good mixed bag.

CREDITS

Writer and letterer, Ed Brisson; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Michael Garland; editors, Cameron Chittock and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Cluster 3 (April 2015)

Cluster #3This issue of Cluster has a few successes. Most prominently, the cliffhanger revelation is pretty neat. Brisson successfully leads the reader down a garden path before the twist, which is a significant one. Maybe not overall for the series, but definitely for the issue.

And Cluster still operates on a “by issue” basis. Brisson hasn’t, three issues in, implied how long or where the story might be going. It’s moving fast, but recklessly. One hopes Brisson has replacements for the things he gives up in this story; there are quite a few.

Similarly, Couceiro gives up a lot of detail (people’s faces in long shots are consistently left undone) to make time for the detail on the alien settlement. But the alien settlement stuff isn’t important. Couceiro doesn’t even get enough space for the issue’s action scenes.

The issue ends well, but it’s a rocky trip to the last page.

CREDITS

Writer and letterer, Ed Brisson; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Michael Garland; editors, Cameron Chittock and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Cluster 2 (March 2015)

Cluster #2There’s some nice development with Cluster this issue, but Brisson doesn’t have a good close for the issue. He seems to know it’s a problem because he goes into a flashback and shows another scene of the protagonist back when she was a partying socialite and not a prisoner.

Much of that nice development comes from Couceiro’s influence. Brisson gives him some opportunity for good character interactions–and some very complicated ones–and Couceiro runs with it. The personality they give the characters plays out nicely in quiet ways throughout the rest of the issue. Even if the cast isn’t being explained, Brisson and Couceiro are definitely making the reader more comfortable with them.

Brisson doesn’t plot out the action well, however. He rushes; he rushes the characters, he rushes the story, he rushes Couceiro. Cluster is a visually fantastic sci-fi comic without time to focus on the visuals.

CREDITS

Writer and letterer, Ed Brisson; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Michael Garland; editors, Cameron Chittock and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Cluster 1 (February 2015)

Cluster #1There’s not much original in Cluster so far. It’s a remix of a lot of sci-fi, popular and not, but writer Ed Brisson manages to coat over all those elements because the story isn’t derivative, the details aren’t homage, they’re just part of the sci-fi language now. Of course there’s something out of BattleTech in Cluster. Why wouldn’t there be?

The first issue introduces the protagonist, who doesn’t have a memorable name, but is a politician’s daughter serving hard time fighting for a colony planet. She makes a sidekick (not friend) and gets into a fight and goes to solitary. Then goes out on a mission.

It doesn’t make a lot of sense at times–the way Brisson paces it–but it doesn’t matter. Because Damian Couceiro’s art is awesome. He goes for big scale sci-fi, but still within the constraints of a comic book.

Cluster‘s solid.

CREDITS

Writer, Ed Brisson; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Michael Garland; editors, Cameron Chittock and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Sons of Anarchy 9 (May 2014)

Sons of Anarchy #9Here’s the problem with Sons of Anarchy, at least how Brisson is pacing it. It’s a licensed comic with a not comic shop traditional audience so Brisson is pacing it for a collection. It makes this issue really frustrating because of the cliffhanger. Brisson does well building up his story for the unfamiliar reader, so he or she is invested in the plot, not the characters.

And it’s a really good plot. The stuff in prison isn’t anywhere near as interesting as how things play out on the outside. The action in the prison just can’t compete, not with a fantastic multi-part Couceiro chase sequence at the end of the issue.

What’s particularly nice is the texture Brisson gives the scenes. Sure, he gets some mileage out of getting to use well-established characters, but there’s a lot of implied depth. It keeps the series lean but also not.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Ed Brisson; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Michael Spicer; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Sons of Anarchy 8 (April 2014)

Sons of Anarchy #8There’s a lot of lovely art this issue. It’s a hard story–most of the leads are in jail, the women are being threatened on the outside, but Damian Couceiro–with the able help of colorist Michael Spicer–manages to embrace the hardness while still being stylishly appealing. About the only time the art doesn’t work is when there’s too much artificial pacing to it, like for the cliffhanger.

Ed Brisson’s script moves nicely between prison and the outside world. He focuses on the characters, leaving himself a little space for tension relieving humor, but Sons of Anarchy is a serious book without room for much in the way of jokes. It’s still a very odd licensed property but Boom! executes it well.

Again, I still haven’t seen the show, yet Brisson’s able to get the reader immediately engaged with the characters and their troubles.

It just ends too fast.

B+ 

CREDITS

Writer, Ed Brisson; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Michael Spicer; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Sons of Anarchy 6 (February 2014)

SonsOfAnarchy 06 rev 1This issue isn’t just all action, it’s basically all action down a short stretch of highway. There are some flashbacks and interludes, but really, it’s just three action sequences. First, the club gets ambushed–that one might be a cliffhanger resolution–then the girl and her protector go on down the highway a bit and the other guys in the club continue the shoot out. Then the girl and her protector get into a fight with the angry motorcycle guy.

And even though no one’s in danger–it’s a licensed comic, after all, are they going to kill a regular cast member–Golden and Couceiro sell it. There are some really confusing panels in the second shoot out because the good guys and the bad guys generally look alike, but Couceiro brings it all together for the finish.

It’s shocking what solid reading this book has turned out to be.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Christopher Golden; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Stephen Downer; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Sons of Anarchy 5 (January 2014)

Page 1 object 958  XIt’s an all action issue. I’m not sure there’s time for anything else in this series besides action. At best a page or two, here and there, with the characters preparing for their eventual participation in the action. It’s good and pulpy.

One definite standout is the color from Stephen Downer; whoever decided to make the blood blue to make it stand out (there’s still red blood around… oceans of it), whether it was Downer or the editor or whoever, it’s a good choice. It draws attention to the violence, it makes the danger vibrant.

But it’s hard to say how well Golden can wrap this whole thing up. He’s got his major plots, but all the subplots have fallen away. It’s doesn’t feel like episodic but it also doesn’t feel like the girl on the run’s story.

Still, it’s definitely a good read for a licensed comic. Just slight.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer, Christopher Golden; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Stephen Downer; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

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