Karl Kesel

Future Quest 3 (September 2016)

Future Quest #3I was considering dropping Future Quest based on this issue but Parker takes that option away. Or tries to take it away. He does a fill-in issue with Birdman and the Herculoids each getting an origin story. The Birdman story has Steve Rude art. It’s awesome Steve Rude art too. Even when something is dumb–and it’s really dumb because Parker’s not trying to tone down the Hanna-Barbera dumb stuff. He’s embracing it. Future Quest feels like a cartoon you watched as a kid, only you’re watching it as an adult and the art is a lot better than it should be. But the writing is either on the same level or just being a little too self-aware.

If it were the sensation of watching a Saturday morning cartoon block, it’d be something. But it isn’t. Parker isn’t going for that sensation–he’s just doing a Crisis of Infinite Hanna-Barberas. It’s a very mundane stuff.

I mean, the Herculoids story doesn’t have Steve Rude art and it has more content (and opportunity to be dumb), but it’s still better. Maybe because it’s the second story and it means the comic is over, but Aaron Lopresti and Karl Kesel can do action art, even with dumb actors. Lopresti and Kesel don’t make the Herculoids look cool, but they do make their action sequences competent. It’s action versus the Birdman story, which was iconic superhero action without an iconic superhero. And a dumb James Bond knock-off plot. Herculoids is always dumb, but it’s imaginatively dumb.

But neither story continues the main plot. So do I want to keep reading a comic just for Steve Rude art. Because it’s not a disappointment. No one could do this approach better than Parker. It’s all just too stupid to be taken seriously. With these properties, it’s just a bad idea.


The Deadly Distance; artist, Steve Rude; colorist, Steve Buccellato. Vortex Tales: The Herculoids in Mine-Crash!; penciller, Aaron Lopresti; inker, Karl Kesel; colorist, Hi-Fi Colour Design. Writer, Jeff Parker; letterer, Dave Lanphear; editors, Brittany Holzherr and Marie Javins; publisher, DC 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.



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.

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis 3 (July 1991)

36093This third issue is the pits. Well, maybe not. Fate of Atlantis has been steadily sinking (sorry, had to do it) since the first page of the first issue. There’s no reason to think the last issue won’t be even worse than this one.

The problem, besides Barry’s pencils and composition, is the script. The writers tell most of the story in summary. One night, Indy is on watch so he talks to himself to fill in all the information the readers don’t know but should. He does it another time too. It’s past lazy, it’s incompetent.

Worse, the scenes the writers do concentrate on aren’t any good. This issue there’s a desert tribe and Indy and the girl spend a bunch of time with them. Why? Why is the desert tribe more interesting than the treasure hunt… no idea. It’s just another bad choice.

It’s all a bad choice.



Writers, Dan Barry and William Messner-Loebs; penciller, Barry; inker, Karl Kesel; colorist, Lurene Haines; letterer, Gail Beckett; editors, Diana Schutz and Mike Richardson; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis 2 (May 1991)

36092I can’t tell if Barry helping with the script is making things better or worse. Probably worse, since this issue is a breakneck race around the world for artifacts from Atlantis without any texture whatsoever.

I take that texture remark back partially–there is texture in the New York scenes. It’s when the story gets to exotic locales things are too rushed.

Fate of Atlantis is a good example of a bad adaptation. Barry and Messner-Loebs turn the girl into the protagonist, which is fine–they write her a lot better than Indy, who comes across as a brutish numbskull–but they don’t commit to it. It’s either her or Indy, only when they use Indy, they pull back too far from him.

As for the art, Barry’s pencils continue to lack charm. The scenery, while period specific, looks like something out of a Gold Key comic.

Atlantis stinks.



Writers, Dan Barry and William Messner-Loebs; penciller, Barry; inker, Karl Kesel; colorist, Lurene Haines; letterer, Gail Beckett; editors, Diana Schutz and Mike Richardson; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis 1 (March 1991)

36091It’s very hard not to think William Messner-Loebs is just cashing a paycheck with Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. There are some incredible logic holes. First and foremost, Messner-Loebs can’t write Indy’s interaction with the female sidekick. Or, more accurately, her interaction with him. He severely damages her business and reputation and she just forgives him because he’s cute.

Except, the way Dan Barry draws Indy, he’s not cute. He’s got a long face, a funny nose and odd hair. I can understand not doing photorealistic renderings of Harrison Ford, but at least match what people think when they think of the character.

The story itself, based on a video game, is a little weak. Messner-Loebs is in a hurry and Barry doesn’t layout the pages very well. There’s not natural progression to the comic.

Uninspired, even for licensed material, might be the best description.



Writers, Dan Barry and William Messner-Loebs; penciller, Barry; inker, Karl Kesel; colorist, Lurene Haines; letterer, Gail Beckett; editors, Diana Schutz and Mike Richardson; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Batman 400 (October 1986)

830781I hate this comic. I hate how DC used it, I hate how Moench writes it, even if it was an editorial decision.

There are nods to Moench’s run, but only so far as he gets to give each of his characters a page to sort of say goodbye. There’s no closure on any of the story lines, not a single one.

There’s also a lot of crappy art. It’s an anniversary issue with a lot of big names drawing either poorly or against their style. Rick Leonardi and Arthur Adams are some of the worst offenders, but not even Brian Bolland does particularly well. Ken Steacy is the only decent one.

Moench’s writing for a different audience than usual, the casual Batman reader, not the regular. Apparently he thinks the casual readers like endless exposition and incredible stupidity. It’s a distressing, long read; a terrible capstone to Moench’s run.



Resurrection Night!; writer, Doug Moench; pencillers, John Byrne, Steve Lightle, George Perez, Paris Cullins, Bill Sienkiewicz, Art Adams, Tom Sutton, Steve Leialoha, Joe Kubert, Ken Steacy, Rick Leonardi and Brian Bolland; inkers, Byrne, Bruce Patterson, Perez, Larry Mahlstedt, Sienkiewicz, Terry Austin, Ricardo Villagran, Leialoha, Kubert, Steacy, Karl Kesel and Bolland; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterers, John Costanza and Andy Kubert; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Venom 1 (May 2011)

What a depressing comic. It’s like Rick Remender looked at some old Spider-Man comics and tried to figure out how he could make any even more depressed arachnid superhero.

Flash Thompson (the new Venom) comes into the comic a jingoist and leaves it a broken wretch. I initially had problems with Remender’s characterization because it seemed cheap–Marvel trying to sell comics to the U.S. Army. The end decidedly makes the book something quite different.

There’s a slight disconnect because Thompson’s “Agent Venom,” the worst detail in the comic is that name, comes in acting like a super-U.N. peacekeeper, but it’s soon revealed he’s just a black ops guy for the U.S. government. Neither fit into Flash’s self-image at the start of the comic.

But Flash was never smart, something Remender doesn’t shy away from.

Tony Moore’s okay enough. I think the overdone inks actually help him.



Project Rebirth 2.0; writer, Rick Remender; penciller, Tony Moore; inkers, Sandu Florea and Karl Kesel; colorist, John Rauch; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Dark Horse Presents 33 (September 1989)

What can one say when the best story in the issue is the Mr. Monster… it just seems wrong.

Pollock’s Mike & Viv has a lame plot, a couple funny lines and decent art. A bickering couple gets stuck in the Cretaceous period. Dark Horse was picking from the bottom of the stack here.

Race of Scorpions is confusing, weakly written and Duranona isn’t pretending to use shadows. In other words, it’s the norm for the series. It has a incomprehensible cliffhanger this time too.

Zone‘s okay, with Kraiger tying together the previous story threads to imply something significant. However, he ends the issue with some kind of slapstick routine, ignoring all the social commentary he was doing in the rest of the pages.

Buniak, not Gilbert, does the majority of the Mr. Monster story. He’s funny and his artwork’s fantastic.

Kesel’s Nick ‘n’ Nora is weak, but the art’s competent.



Mike & Liv, Mike & Liv Go To Las Vegas; story, pencils and lettering by Jack Pollock; inks by Jorge Pacheco. Race of Scorpions, Eaten by the Earth; story and art by Leopoldo Durañona; lettering by Laura Davis. Zone; story, art and lettering by Michael Kraiger. Mr. Monster, The Movie; story by Michael T. Gilbert and Brian Buniak; art by Gilbert, Buniak and Donnie Marquez; lettering by Mike McCarthy and Ken Bruzenak. Nick ‘n’ Nora; story, art and lettering by Karl Kesel. Edited by Randy Stradley.

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