Duane Swierczynski

The Black Hood 1 (April 2015)

The Black Hood #1Michael Gaydos is the wrong guy for The Black Hood, just because he’s so perfectly the “right guy” for it. The series is Archie Comics’s attempt to do something knew with their superhero properties (they’ve been trying to do something with them for a couple decades now). Duane Swierczynski writes a tough story, Gaydos does tough art. It’s all realistic, set it modern Philadelphia, very depressing.

So why’s Gaydos wrong? Because he doesn’t bring anything to the comic. Swierczynski doesn’t have an appealing protagonist or a compelling setup–a cop gets injured (and disfigured); he eventually gets hooked on painkillers and then assumes the identity of the Black Hood, a vigilante he himself killed in the incident where he got disfigured.

It’s all so clean it’s pointless. Swierczynski is going through the motions; make this comic tough. Gaydos is doing the same thing.

Whether it’s tough isn’t important at all.


The Bullet’s Kiss, Part One; writer, Duane Swierczynski; artist, Michael Gaydos; colorist, Kelly Fitzpatrick; letterer, Rachel Deering; editors, Vincent Lovallo, Paul Kaminsky and Alex Segura; publisher, Archie Comics.

Bloodshot 13 (July 2013)

278986 20130728183459 largeSwierczynski takes a peculiar approach to dealing with Bloodshot’s side of the final Harbinger Wars issue. He makes it as lame as humanly possible.

It’s actually not even Bloodshot’s issue, it’s his sidekick Kara’s issue and his sidekick Kara hasn’t had much presence during the crossover event. She’s his voice of reason, not much else. Babysitter for the kids too.

Speaking of the kids, after spending a couple issues establishing them, Swierczynski dumps them to instead focus on really bad dream sequences. They’re an afterthought to the issue. Valiant must have really wanted to do a crossover special, but by not doing it straightforward, these issues are weak.

The art’s also got problems. Kitson’s has three inkers (himself included) and each of them makes the finished art look different.

It’s a bad issue and left me wondering why anyone would ever want to read another one. It’s rough and pointless.


Living the Dream; writer, Duane Swierczynski; penciller, Barry Kitson; inkers, Stefano Gaudiano, Kitson and Mark Pennington; colorist, Brian Reber; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Jody LeHeup and Warren Simons; publisher, Valiant Entertainment.

Birds of Prey 3 (January 2012)

I feel like Saiz must have coordinated with colorist June Chung, like he let her know he was going to go light on detail and she’d need to shade in what he should have otherwise been drawing. The art on Birds of Prey feels rushed and only the occasional Saiz greatness shines through.

It’s upsetting. The book at least had good art.

Swierczynski brings Poison Ivy onto the team–though it’s hard to figure out when everyone votes her in–and it does add some flavor to the story. There’s such a lack of personality, Ivy can’t help but spruce it up.

Get it? Spruce?

Anyway, the standard problem is still extant. Swierczynski’s creation for the series, Starling, is still without personality and just a blah character. Oh, wait, she makes fun of Katana and then Swierczynski chickens out of Katana’s reaction.

Besides the occasional signs of life, it’s lame.


You Might Think; writer, Duane Swiercynski; artist, Jesús Saiz; colorist, June Chung; letterer, Carlos M. Mangual; editors, Bobbie Chase and Janelle Asselin; publisher, DC Comics.

Immortal Weapons 5 (January 2010)

You know who David Lapham can’t write? Danny Rand. You know who he has as his de facto protagonist? Danny Rand.

John Aman—the Prince of Orphans—is secondary to his own issue. Lapham even writes an adventure for Danny and Luke with a wacky miniature villain. I guess Aman gets the opening scene but….

Worse, it’s like Lapham never even read Brubaker and Fraction’s Immortal Iron Fist issues with Aman and Danny to get the relationship down. He just makes Danny a pest—it’s like he’s writing Spider-Man as Danny Rand.

I guess it’s an okay story for not being any good and Lozzi’s art is lovely.

This whole Immortal Weapons series is a waste of time.

And the Swierczynski Iron Fist backup, which started so nice, is a waste. Swierczynski lost hold of the narrative—it’s obvious. And Diaz’s artwork is even worse than before. He’s awful.


Prince of Orphans: The Loyal Ten Thousand Dead; writer, David Lapham; artist, Arturo Lozzi; colorist, June Chung. The Caretakers, Conclusion; writer, Duane Swierczynski; artist, Hatuey Diaz; colorist, June Chung. Letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Warren Simons; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Immortal Weapons 4 (January 2010)

There’s the Swierczynski I was expecting… turning in a completely useless issue.

Tiger’s Beautiful Daughter gets the feature. Swierczynski’s so wrapped up in his Amazon warrior women story he neglects to mention a) the name of the Heavenly City and b) how they could possibly have an Immortal Weapon. It’s nonsensical, but also bad.

Swierczynski tries real hard not to be sexist, but fails miserably. I also like how he borrows the reasoning for some Muslim women taking the veil (so their features aren’t their defining factor) as the warrior women putting on face guards. However, these warrior women are running around in bikinis so I’m not sure what difference the face guard makes.

Also… if Tiger’s Beautiful Daughter is supposed to be beautiful, did someone forget to tell Evans? The character’s funny looking.

The Iron Fist backup is, again, too short and too unbearably ugly (thanks to Diaz’s art).


Tiger’s Beautiful Daughter; writer, Duane Swierczynski; penciller, Khari Evans; inkers, Victor Olazaba and Allen Martinez. The Caretakers, Part Four; writer, Duane Swierczynski; artist, Hatuey Diaz. Colorist, June Chung; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Warren Simons; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Immortal Weapons 3 (November 2009)

Who’s this Rick Spears guy and why have I never heard of him before? His origin of Dog Brother #1 is fantastic.

He opens it in late nineteenth century Hong Kong, where Dog Brother is something of a myth. Spears’s protagonists are these two orphans, trying to navigate the gangs, the British and the poverty. It’s sort of incredible how subtle Spears’s writing manages to be, given everything going on in the story.

Eventually, whether or not Dog Brother #1 has anything to do with the story doesn’t matter anymore. Spears gives his protagonists this tragic arc. He never pushes it or makes it melodramatic. He just lets all the awfulness play out.

Some fine art from Green… just a great piece of work.

The Iron Fist backup is messy. It’s too short, confusingly follows the previous installment and Diaz’s artwork is terrible. Swierczynski tries, but he can’t do much.


Dog Brother #1 “Urban Legend”; writer, Rick Spears; artist, Timothy Green; colorist, Edward Bola. The Caretakers, Part Three; writer, Duane Swierczynski; artist, Hatuey Diaz; colorist, June Chung. Letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Warren Simons; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Immortal Weapons 2 (October 2009)

What a stinker.

The whole thing plays like a bad Marvel horror comic from the seventies, with a team of mercenaries (they have matching outfits, of course) out to retrieve a spider. It’s not any spider, it’s one of the Bride of Nine Spiders’s spiders. There’s a bit of a continuity break, showing the Bride to always be beautiful, when in Immortal Iron Fist flashbacks she wasn’t shown as such.

So, it’s an action horror comic instead of a kung fu horror comic.

Bunn’s writing is occasionally okay—his dialogue is fine—but he’s establishing all these characters in a single issue. The Bride he never gets around to establishing though. She’s barely in her own comic.

Also, Brereton’s problematic—his proportions are off.

It’s just a forced horror comic. Big mistake.

However, great Iron Fist backup. Gaudiano’s inks make Foreman’s pencils fantastic. Still, doesn’t make up for the feature.


The Spider’s Song; writer, Cullen Bunn; penciller, Dan Brereton; inkers, Tom Palmer, Stefano Gaudiano and Mark Pennington; colorist, Paul Mounts. The Caretakers, Part Two; writer, Duane Swierczynski; penciller, Travel Foreman; inker, Gaudiano; colorist, June Chung. Letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Warren Simons; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Immortal Weapons 1 (September 2009)

Could this story be more depressing?

Aaron does a decent job on Fat Cobra’s backstory—though he doesn’t go enough into defining Fat Cobra’s Heavenly City. He buys his way back into it at one point and buying one’s way back into a Heavenly City seems a little common.

Then there’s all the retconning of Fat Cobra into Marvel Comics history. He was almost an Invader, he was Ulysses Bloodstone’s sidekick and so on and so forth. Aaron’s trying to hard to be cute. When we get to the end of the story and find out the salient feature of Fat Cobra’s (forgotten) past… all the other stuff becomes silly.

That feature—Fat Cobra has no memory of his past—is similarly problematic. Aaron needed to explain it.

Good art from a variety of artists. It’s a fine package.

Swierczynski’s Iron Fist backup is the best Iron Fist he’s written.


The Book of the Cobra; writer, Jason Aaron; pencillers, Mico Suayan, Stefano Gaudiano, Roberto De La Torre, Khari Evans, Michael Lark and Arturo Lozzi; inkers, Suayan, Gaudiano, De La Torre, Victor Olazaba, Lark and Lozzi; colorists, Edgar Delgado, Matt Hollingsworth, Jelena Kevic Djurdjevic and Jodi Wolff. The Caretakers, Part One; writer, Duane Swierczynski; penciller, Travel Foreman; inker, Gaudiano; colorist, June Chung. Letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Warren Simons; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Immortal Iron Fist 27 (August 2009)

Swierczynski’s Iron Fist goes out with a whimper. He mimics Fraction’s last issue on the title. I’m not sure Swierczynski should have gotten to close, since he was just following Brubaker and Fraction–not to say his writing wasn’t occasionally quite good, it was just never original.

Foreman goes back to inking himself (I think) and it looks a little better than usual. It’s a dark, emotive style. Until the Lapham pages. They look out of place and, worse, lazy.

Swierczynski is more concerned getting Danny to the last page–expecting a baby, financially ruined–than doing it in any realistic manner. One has to wonder about editorial mandates, how much was about getting Danny set for his next series or whatever.

It’s too bad Swierczynski did ten or eleven issues on the series and never made an impression on his own. It’s still too much Brubaker and Fraction’s series.

The Immortal Iron Fist 26 (July 2009)

Oh, come on.

I think Foreman’s the bigger problem, but Swierczynski really does completely fail when it comes to a good conclusion. He has a dramatic cliffhanger, but it’s a confusing one (one the previous page implies is unlikely).

But worse, he fails to deal with K’un-L’un. He changes the status quo again and abandons it. He really has no idea how to pace an issue. He goes for dramatic effect with brief, intense moments… then leaves them hanging. He doesn’t follow through to make them solid.

But, like I said before, the real problem is Foreman. Even with someone like Palmer on inks, he just can’t do a good mass action scene. I could barely follow it–is Cobra still alive? It’s a shame because the series was always so good looking, it’s unfortunate it got ugly when Swierczynski started.

Whatever Swierczynski’s problems, he doesn’t deserve confusing art.


Escape from the Eighth City, Conclusion; writer, Duane Swierczynski; pencillers, Travel Foreman and Juan Doe; inkers, Tom Palmer and Doe; colorists, Matt Milla and Doe; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Warren Simons; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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