Don McGregor

Howard the Duck 8 (January 1977)

Howard the Duck #8This comic is difficult to believe. Not the content of the issue, where Gerber just goes wild with a look at American presidential candidacy, but its very existence. Marvel Comics published a comic about the American public rabidly anticipating the assassination of political candidates. They let Gerber get away with it, they even paid Gene Colan to draw it. It’s amazing in its existence.

As a comic, it’s pretty good. Gerber’s plotting is strange. The issue really just is a series of assassination attempts on Howard’s life. There’s barely any character development. Gerber is just moving Howard and Bev from one setup to another. It’s efficiently done too, which is cool. It feels like a race.

The art, from Colan and inker Steve Leialoha, is awesome as usual. But this issue gives Colan and Leialoha a lot of thriller sequences they also have to make somewhat amusing. They confidently succeed.

CREDITS

Open Season!; writers, David Anthony Kraft, Don McGregor and Steve Gerber; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, Janice Cohen; letterer, Irving Watanabe; editor, Archie Goodwin; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Nathaniel Dusk II 4 (January 1986)

11059Well, Dusk’s personal story arc for this series sure doesn’t go anywhere expected. Maybe it’s because McGregor didn’t set him up for enough development or maybe it’s because almost a fourth of the double-sized issue is wasted on a poorly paced resolution to last issue’s cliffhanger.

The issue has good art, even during that lengthy opening, but it’s just a bunch of action scenes strung together. The final one, involving Dusk playing Indiana Jones doesn’t even feel like the same comic. McGregor’s rushing to get in all his period detail and not worried enough about the story itself.

There are no supporting characters in this final issue. No one who’s appeared before makes any impression, not on the plot, not on the protagonist. If it weren’t for McGregor’s competence and the still good art from Colan, things would have been a lot worse.

It’s a shame Dusk’s finale disappoints.

B- 

CREDITS

Apple Peddlers Die at Noon, Part Four; writer and editor, Don McGregor; artist, Gene Colan; colorist, Tom Zuiko; letterer, John Costanza; publisher, DC Comics.

Nathaniel Dusk II 3 (November 1985)

11058McGregor gets to a lot of revelations this issue. Well, more like two. But they’re big ones. One involves the case, one involves Dusk’s involvement with his dead girlfriend’s kids. The case one is particularly interesting because McGregor does it without much emotion. McGregor isn’t unenthusiastic, he’s just measured–both for the comic (it’s not the big reveal) and for the character. This type of thing isn’t something to get Dusk emotional. He’s disconnected from it.

However, there’s one plot point full of emotion for Dusk and McGregor does explore that point much more thoroughly. McGregor gets a lot of mileage out of the hard boiled private investigator thing. He never throws too many contrary details in, just enough to make the character compelling.

This issue, very gently, even brings attention to New York density versus something like L.A. openness.

It’s a fantastic issue. McGregor and Colan do great work.

A

CREDITS

Apple Peddlers Die at Noon, Part Three; writer and editor, Don McGregor; artist, Gene Colan; colorist, Tom Zuiko; letterer, John Costanza; publisher, DC Comics.

Nathaniel Dusk II 2 (November 1985)

11057 1The second issue has a lot of action. The issues are double-sized and McGregor plots them quite well. There are three, maybe four, big action sequences in this one, along with a bunch of scenes involving the case itself, but there’s still time for the character work. McGregor always makes sure to work some of it into the investigation-related scenes too.

Even with all the character work, McGregor hasn’t hinted how the Dusk character is going to progress during this story. It’s set in the same year as the previous series, something I hadn’t realized until it came up in dialogue, so measured changes are fine. But there ought to be some change… and the only place I can guess is the easiest place.

I’ll have to wait and see.

The art’s stunning once again, those Zuiko skies are gorgeous.

McGregor and Colan are making good comics here.

B+ 

CREDITS

Apple Peddlers Die at Noon, Part Two; writer and editor, Don McGregor; artist, Gene Colan; colorist, Tom Zuiko; letterer, John Costanza; publisher, DC Comics.

Nathaniel Dusk II 1 (October 1985)

Nd21For Nathaniel Dusk II, Gene Colan’s pencils go without inks. However, they go with Tom Ziuko’s colors. Ziuko’s a familiar name as a colorist but I was still a little surprised with his work here. He takes Colan’s pencils and turns them into a painted comic. The colors are muted, but still lush. There are some fabulous skies in this one and Colan probably only contributed the cloud outlines.

Don McGregor’s script is excellent. He starts out with the finish of one of titular private investigator Dusk’s cases, then gradually introduces not just the series’s case, but also plays catchup. Not so much has happened since the last series, just enough. McGregor carefully makes the issue accessible for new readers while still rewarding returning ones.

The attention to detail–1934 Manhattan–is fabulous.

McGregor occasionally gets a little too enthusiastic with that detail, but the art picks up any slack.

A- 

CREDITS

Apple Peddlers Die at Noon, Part One; writer and editor, Don McGregor; artist, Gene Colan; colorist, Tom Zuiko; letterer, John Costanza; publisher, DC Comics.

Detectives Inc.: A Terror of Dying Dreams 3 (December 1987)

113784 20131105221507 largeThe ending is worse than I expected and I wasn’t expecting much. McGregor plotted these issues awkwardly, with way too much material before the actual investigation. The stuff with following the wife beating husband around in the last issue was pretty much pointless. McGregor didn’t need it to make the mystery work. In fact, he might have done it all backwards.

There are some okay moments here. There’s good banter between the leads, though McGregor doesn’t give them enough time together. They seem familiar, sure, but McGrefor never just lets them relax together. He’s always working in exposition or some plot point.

There’s some action, some unlikely surprises and a truly terrible villain. The postscript is ludicrous too, but McGregor does get some sympathy for his characters so he can sell it. The nonsense before? He can’t sell that nonsense.

Okay Colan art. Some nice angles, but too static overall.

C 

CREDITS

The Corpse In the Bloodstained Body Bag; writer, Don McGregor; artist, Gene Colan; letterer, Mindy Eisman; editor, Catherine Yronwode; publisher, Eclipse Comics.

Detectives Inc.: A Terror of Dying Dreams 2 (September 1987)

113783 20131105221241 largeThe fight scene is painful. It goes on for three or four pages–at least, two, anyway–and is impossible to comprehend thanks to Colan only doing pencils. It’s like a sketch of a fight scene, not an actual realized sequence.

There’s some good art, of course. Colan isn’t going to do a comic without some good art in it. Most of the good art is for the establishing pages at the beginning of each chapter–there are three or four this issue. More than two. Colan takes his time with the scenery. His pencils are less rough too. There are definite lines.

As for the story, again the best part is when Denning is off on his date. It’s a very awkward romantic sequence, not too graphic, but trying very hard to be suggestive. McGregor’s writing an honest scene though. The rest of the issue feels perfunctory in comparison.

C 

CREDITS

Knishes and Boardwalk Surveillance; writer, Don McGregor; artist, Gene Colan; letterer, Mindy Eisman; editor, Catherine Yronwode; publisher, Eclipse Comics.

Detectives Inc.: A Terror of Dying Dreams 1 (June 1987)

81754 20131105220709 largeI feel like A Terror of Dying Dreams should be a little better. Gene Colan does the art–just pencils, no inks; it’s good art but Don McGregor’s script doesn’t just play to Colan’s strengths, it plays to his standards. Inexplicably enormous scary mansion in the New York area? Check. Urban blight? Check. Even the one fight scene looks like every Colan fight scene.

There’s some reality to those sequences usually absent from Colan’s mainstream work. The fight scene is a social worker fighting back against an abusive husband who’s targeting her. The urban blight is one of the leads, Rainier, hanging around at nudie bars on Broadway. McGregor’s trying hard to update the miserable detective but doesn’t have much for him to do.

The other lead, Denning, is dealing with his mother’s illness. Those scenes are beautifully written, but Colan’s out of his element on them.

Still, ambitious stuff.

B 

CREDITS

Cheerful Lies and Desperate Truths; writer, Don McGregor; artist, Gene Colan; letterer, Mindy Eisman; editor, Catherine Yronwode; publisher, Eclipse Comics.

Nathaniel Dusk 4 (May 1984)

45581 20080417211625 largeDusk is a good comic and all and McGregor does good with it and all but I’m shocked he could pull this issue off.

He resolves a drowning cliffhanger, he corrects his plotting problem from last issue very obviously (Dusk actually investigating), he has two or three major action sequences, he has a hallucination and he has an epilogue.

And it’s all fantastic. Even that leftover scene with Dusk’s interview for his investigation, even it works.

McGregor changes up the emphasis a little the issue. These scenes work because of the characters. McGregor has been gently establishing them, both in scene and in Dusk’s narration, and he uses that familiarity to make his scenes work here.

Colan’s art is fantastic. The way he can do a big scene in two pages, but then slow down for an action layout where only a few seconds pass on the page.

Outstanding work.

A 

CREDITS

Lovers Die at Dusk, Part Four; writer, Don McGregor; artist, Gene Colan; colorist, Tom Zuiko; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Alan Gold; publisher, DC Comics.

Nathaniel Dusk 3 (April 1984)

45580 20080417211508 largeHow do you have a private eye comic without a mystery? This issue of Dusk is the perfect example of such a thing. Now, Chandler didn’t always have the most intricately laid mysteries–the investigation mattered. And McGregor has gotten to that point in this mystery. The investigation is the thing. Only, it’s not particularly compelling.

McGregor is very serious about the setting and he’s got some great details for thirties New York. He even sets the series during a cab strike, which figures into an action sequence. Hopefully it’ll figure into the story at some point and not just a set piece. All the pieces are here, all are beautifully constructed, they just aren’t doing much special.

It might just be the medium. Comics lend towards action or dialogue. A detective story needs moments of quiet introspection, it needs thinking.

Still, it’s a good comic with some great art.

B 

CREDITS

Lovers Die at Dusk, Part Three; writer, Don McGregor; artist, Gene Colan; colorist, Tom Zuiko; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Alan Gold; publisher, DC Comics.

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