J. Bone

Justice League: The New Frontier Special (2008) #1

Justice League The New Frontier Special  2008  1It would be wrong to describe Justice League: The New Frontier Special as hack work. Darywn Cooke’s art on the feature, even his plotting of it, is not hacky. Neither is the Robin and Kid Flash story’s art, courtesy Dave Bullock and Michael Cho. Even the Wonder Woman and Black Canary go to a Playboy Club art by J. Bone isn’t… hack work. Bone’s cartoonish style does what it’s supposed to do.

Now, the writing on that last story might be hack work. Cooke opens with a gentle jab at political correctness, confirms Bruce Wayne is a pig in his off time, and then has Wonder Woman slut shame. It’s not quite cringe because it’s six pages, but it’s definitely eye-roll.

And the Robin and Kid Flash story is more just annoying. Between Robin’s hep cat narration and the proto-groovy dialogue (and the “commie” villains?), it’s tiresome. But gorgeous art. Arguably better looking than Cooke’s feature, which is… something.

The feature tells the untold tale from the original New Frontier (this not at all special Special tied into the release of the lousy New Frontier animated movie)—Batman v Superman: Dawn of the Greater Good. Besides getting some insight into how Cooke would write Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman if he’d written them more in the original comic (good thing he didn’t), it also has more of dickhead Dwight D. Eisenhower, who sends Supes after Bats. I remember reading something about (Canadian) Cooke thinking we needed Eisenhower back—when asked about his politics during Iraq War II, where there was only one right answer—which adds a layer to the comic.

If Cooke liked Ike… it’s hard to imagine how he’d have written him if he didn’t like him. Killing a puppy maybe?

The feature’s twenty-four interminable pages, with Cooke clearly not spending a lot of time on the art. The Batman and Superman fight itself is pretty good, rather drawn out, but with a goony resolution. It’s also one hell of a retcon of the original series.

Overall the most successful thing in the comic is the one page prologue with Rip Hunter telling everyone not to take it seriously.

All of a sudden, I’m real glad I don’t have one of the New Frontier collected editions with the Special included. If I’d read it on publication, I forgot about it. I hope I can forget about it again.

The Saviors 2 (January 2014)

294640 20140131143415 largeThanks to the double page spreads, this issue has something like seventeen pages of story. Only most of it is action stuff with the stoner lead on the run for the sheriff. Only the sheriff is now a flying dragon alien.

Bone’s art is fine, but not the right style for an all-action issue. Worse, when Robinson does take a break, he pretty much just mimics scenes from Terminator movies. He’s hinted at some original ideas–like the alien invaders are psycho environmentalists–but none of them come through enough to make a difference.

It’s the second issue and all Robinson’s promises for the next one is more unoriginal answers and more chasing. Maybe at some point The Saviors will get interesting, but it seems a long way off with Robinson taking every diversion he can.

A faster pace and less grandiose panel layout would help things a lot.

C 

CREDITS

Writer, James Robinson; artist and letterer, J. Bone; publisher, Image Comics.

The Saviors 1 (December 2013)

291859 20131224152647 largeWeird. Weird is a good word for the first issue of The Saviors.

The J. Bone art–black and white–is good. It’s simultaneously energetic and pensive. He’s drawing the word from the perspective of the perpetually stoned protagonist, Tomas, so there’s got to be a balance. Bone finds it.

The story apparently has to do with a stoner discovering evil monsters are impersonating people on Earth in positions of power. Writer James Robinson never gets to that revelation. He establishes Tomas through a stoned monologue (to a lizard) and then gets going on an action roller coaster. The action is better than the setup.

The book has its problems, of course. Foremost has to be the blandness of Tomas as a lead. He’s the stoner from high school grown up, with Robinson silently judging him. It would’ve been more interesting for Robinson to lionize the stoner.

It’s decent though.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, James Robinson; artist and letterer, J. Bone; publisher, Image Comics.

The Rocketeer/The Spirit 4 (December 2013)

Idw publishing rocketeer spirit pulp friction issue 4And there’s a nice happy ending with no resolution to any of the lame character subplots Waid brought into the series to try and give it some semblance of a story.

But apparently all Cliff needs is a Zorro mask when he’s not in flight and life’s much easier for the Rocketeer. That idea (from the Spirit) comes during an odd heart to heart the characters have. Waid just can’t figure out how to do this series and someone at IDW should have noticed long before it got to series.

There’s also the issue with Bone, who does a fine job in some ways, but just doesn’t have any interesting ideas for juxtaposing two very different visual characters and art styles. It’s The Rocketeer in something like a Spirit style, without anything going to the other way.

It almost feels like Waid’s trying to introduce the properties to younger readers.

D 

CREDITS

Pulp Friction, Part Four; writer, Mark Waid; artist, J. Bone; colorist, Rom Fajardo; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Rocketeer/The Spirit 3 (November 2013)

1621742So J. Bone takes over the art. Maybe the intention was always a different artist on each issue, but it doesn’t play particularly well. Bone does very nice homage to Eisner’s character design without being too literal.

The story’s a little weak though… definitely a little weak. Waid definitely likes the Spirit and his supporting cast, but he casts Cliff as a buffoon. Betty’s a strumpet and Cliff’s a buffoon. Until the big action sequence–the two heroes’ different fist fights juxtaposed against each other–the Rocketeer doesn’t show up. Waid’s just got Cliff running around like an ass.

It’s awkward and unpleasant. The crossover is ill-advised–the characters’ don’t sync–but Waid could have come up with something better than Cliff being a boob.

The issue reads fast and Bone has some decent moments. Otherwise, it’s getting even worse than I had expected. Waid’s dropping the ball here.

CREDITS

Pulp Friction, Part Three; writer, Mark Waid; artist, J. Bone; colorist, Rom Fajardo; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror 4 (May 2013)

272200 20130508131521 largeEverything ties up nicely for the finish. I’m still trying to determine how Langridge made this take on The Rocketeer. He’s turned Cliff into a young doofus, added Groucho Marx as the narrator and so on… yet it’s definitely the Rocketeer.

There’s a big action scene to resolve everything. It takes most of the issue and Langridge has to fill it out with some minor twists and turns. Some of his intimations are still too vague for me–though I think maybe Doc Savage makes an appearance.

Without being identified, of course.

The Bone art probably does hurt the comic’s commercial viability–the non-realistic comic strip influenced art doesn’t scream sales–but it’s impossible to imagine the series without it.

Langridge and Bone should be very proud. There are all sorts of great little details, but the overall result is outstanding too. It’s an excellent series, start to finish.

CREDITS

A Night at the Altar; writer, Roger Langridge; artist, J. Bone; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror 3 (April 2013)

270508 20130410122958 largeOh, Langridge is just having too much fun now. He reveals the narrator–Groucho Marx. It’s a hilarious little detail; it doesn’t make any sense yet (how he’s omniscient but he’s Groucho so who cares). There also might a slight Return of the Jedi nod as far as Betty’s outfit goes.

It’s a slower issue than normal, as Cliff has to figure things out. He’s not racing after Betty with believable speed–Langridge writes the characters differently. Cliff is a bit of a dunce. Betty’s the smarter one, which makes her constant peril an interesting contradiction.

The hero is the damsel in distress.

Even the villain’s big reveal scene works beautifully. Langridge and Bone work beautifully together.

The film has a lot of the Golden Age Hollywood feel to it. That Hollywood setting permeates throughout; it’s one of Langridge’s finest achievements on the book. He never forcibly includes the details.

CREDITS

In the Soup; writer, Roger Langridge; artist, J. Bone; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror 2 (March 2013)

901042Langridge really embraces the Thin Man tie-in. It’s without names, instead of him doing thinly veined homages. It’s a nice touch, sending Betty off on her own adventure without Cliff.

Actually, Betty’s got the much bigger story. She’s the one who has figured out there’s some creepiness with the Scientologist Cthulhu fan–sorry, Cosmicist–while Cliff’s basically just running around dumb. He’s on the run from Howard Hughes’s guys, who want to bring the jet-pack in for a tune up.

There’s some more great work from Bone this issue. He’s got a lot of Rocketeer action, some great reaction shots between Cliff and Betty; that whole vibe, from cartoon broadness to comic strip focus, continues here, if not amplifies.

While Langridge does follow the general IDW Rocketeer continuity, Hollywood Horror never feels forcibly tied in. They’re creating their own thing; so far, better than anyone else has done.

CREDITS

These Troubled Times; writer, Roger Langridge; artist, J. Bone; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror 1 (February 2013)

899169In the past, I think I’ve referred to J. Bone as some kind of Darwyn Cooke wannabe. I take it back. I regret making those statements, though Hollywood Horror seems to be a breakthrough for him.

He mixes old animation styles with comic strips to wonderful success. Even though she’s cartoony, Betty’s anger is real (and, since it’s Betty, her figure voluptuous). Cliff might be a square-jawed hero, but he’s real too–panic, excitement, aggravation.

As for Roger Langridge’s script, it’s unsurprisingly divine. There’s humor, there’s a fantastic “dear reader” narrative device, there are cameos from Nick and Nora Charles. Langridge and Bone also throw in a Einstein stand-in and some Lovecraft.

It’s fast and fun, with some amusing Rocketeer heroics–which the creators use to subtly add in direct references to the subplots.

There’s a lot going on–too much to even identify the main plot yet.

CREDITS

The Rocketeer vs. the Hollywood Horror; writer, Roger Langridge; artist, J. Bone; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Rocketeer Adventures 2 4 (June 2012)

870643John Byrne easily does the best story in this issue. Really. And he can even draw Peevy. He lays out his story well, though the details on the characters aren’t any great shakes. The Rocketeer’s funny looking, while Cliff looks like Snidely Whiplash. Still, Byrne’s clearly enthusiastic about the characters and the setting. The other creators this issue clearly aren’t.

Well, maybe the Simonsons are enthusiastic but are incapable of conveying it. Louise Simonson’s plot isn’t terrible, but her dialogue is unbearable. From the first word balloon, it’s clear the story’s going to be a chore. And Walt Simonson’s art doesn’t help. He’s lazy with everything but Betty, including the action. It stinks.

David Mandel recasts the Rocketeer as Adam Strange for a sci-fi comedy, only Mandel’s not funny. And J. Bone’s style flops on alien worlds.

It’s another lame Adventures, thankfully the last one. IDW fumbled this series.

CREDITS

War Hero; writer, Louise Simonson; penciller, Walt Simonson; inker, Bob Wiacek; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, John Workman. Warlord of Blargon; writer, David Mandel; artist and colorist, J. Bone; letterer, Shawn Lee. Fair Game; writer and artist, John Byrne; colorist, Bone; letterer, Neil Uyetake. Editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

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