Keith Champagne

The Multiversity: Ultra Comics 1 (May 2015)

The Multiversity: Ultra Comics #1What’s Grant Morrison doing with Ultra Comics, a Multiversity tie-in issue? Well, he’s giving Doug Mahnke a lot of great stuff to draw. If you ignore all of Morrison’s breaking the fourth wall (but not really–it’s not like it’s a “Choose Your Own Adventure”), the comic just gives Mahnke a chance to realize this quick superhero story in the apocalypse.

What’s caused the apocalypse? A Cthulhu-like monster. It might not come across as a big Alan Moore knock if Ultra–he’s the protagonist of Ultra Comics–if Ultra didn’t look like Miracleman. The issue has a credit to Siegel and Shuster and there’s a Shazam reference; but what isn’t clear is if Morrison likes Miracleman or not.

There’s lame stuff about the reader interacting and generating the life of the comic (and protagonist) and Internet whining. But it’s thoughtless.

Except the Mahnke art makes it all worthwhile.

CREDITS

Ultra Comics Lives!; writer, Grant Morrison; penciller, Doug Mahnke; inkers, Christian Alamy, Mark Irwin, Keith Champagne and Jaime Mendoza; colorists, Gabe Eltaeb and David Baron; letterer, Steve Wands; editor, Rickey Purdin; publisher, DC Comics.

Green Lantern 3 (January 2012)

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Once again, Sinestro is the best thing about Green Lantern. Johns really ought to consider redoing the book with Sinestro as the lead and Hal Jordan as his flunky. Maybe because of the movie (and Ryan Reynolds playing the role), it’s hard to take Hal seriously. Maybe it’s just because Johns makes Hal out to be a complete moron.

Not sure if that development’s new DC Universe or whatever.

Johns has been so successful at making Sinestro a force through the narrative, the focus on him works. Hal’s just a tool. He’s the comic relief. Regardless of Johns’s intention, he’s made Lantern better for making the expected lead a toadstool.

There’s very nice art from Mahnke and company. Occasionally, the differences in inkers–they’re close, but not exact–become clear. But it’s never disjointing.

The issue’s third act is just a great time. Johns manages a predictable, but deft cliffhanger.

CREDITS

Sinestro, Part Three; writer, Geoff Johns; penciller, Doug Mahnke; inkers, Christian Alamy, Keith Champagne, Mark Irwin and Tom Nguyen; colorist, David Baron; letterer, Sal Cipriano; editors, Darren Shan and Brian Cunningham; publisher, DC Comics.

The Mighty 12 (March 2010)

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Someone thought this issue cut it as a close? I mean, really? For twelve issues–for thirty-six bucks–they thought this cut it? The wife’s back from the dead. No one notices? She and the husband go flying around, no one notices? What about all the other super-powered people in Alpha One’s basement? No mention of them.

Ed Brubaker, when talking about a Doctor Doom series he was writing, said something about how the scariest part of Doom and his master plan is, Doom is probably right. Well, Alpha One isn’t exactly wrong here. When Cole gets up and gives his lame speech (how they wasted a whole issue on this nonsense is beyond me, could they have padded more?), he’s talking out of his patoot. It’s embarrassing. Worst is the news media applauds his asinine statement.

But the art… the art almost makes it worthwhile.

But not.

CREDITS

And in the End; writers, Peter J. Tomasi and Keith Champagne; artist, Chris Samnee; colorist, John Kalisz; letterer, Rob Leigh; editors, Chris Conroy and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

The Mighty 11 (February 2010)

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Ok, I predicted wrong. Instead of doing the pat, traditional ending, the solidly banal one out of a disaster movie, a melodrama, or a BBC show, Tomasi and Champagne instead decide to go with an idiotic all fight issue. I mean, Samnee’s art’s good here, real good, but wow, the writing is just stupid.

It’s an incredibly complicated issue because so much is introduced–like Cole can temporarily deafen Alpha One with his Jimmy Olsen signal watch (not exactly, but basically) or how he managed to open the wrong cage or how he gets super powers (that one will, at least, be explained next issue).

But it’s pretty clear they aren’t going to get into the interesting stuff. How Alpha One knows so much pop culture, for example.

Instead of going out strong, The Mighty‘s going to collapse on itself in a whimper.

It’s a disappointment; they can’t pull around.

CREDITS

Twilight of the God; writers, Peter J. Tomasi and Keith Champagne; artist, Chris Samnee; colorist, John Kalisz; letterer, Rob Leigh; editors, Chris Conroy and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

The Mighty 10 (January 2010)

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It’s kind of like an Elseworlds title–instead of Red Son, it could be Superman: Iron Cross or something. Alpha One’s a Nazi, just a … altruistic one. His full origin is revealed here (it’s not really Superman, but it’s close enough) and it finally slows The Mighty down. The reader finally has to pay attention–too bad it’s happening in the tenth issue instead of the third or fourth.

Tomasi and Champagne never hint the truth about Alpha One’s sinister plans (actually, they’re just Machiavellian and the issue’s cliffhanger and limited time to resolve imply a particular ending) before this issue so it’s a bit of a surprise. It’s thoughtful and unexpected. Unfortunately, it’s a little too late.

After spending so long hiding the secret (in a series with way too fast pacing), there’s no time left for them to do really anything with it but quickly wrap it up.

CREDITS

Gates of Eden; writers, Peter J. Tomasi and Keith Champagne; artist, Chris Samnee; colorist, John Kalisz; letterer, Rob Leigh; editors, Chris Conroy and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

The Mighty 9 (December 2009)

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Maybe it was a movie script. I can’t think a time DC did one of those before–adapting a movie script into a comic when it wasn’t an adaptation–but Marvel did it with a Dr. Strange series once. It’d really explain The Mighty‘s pacing; the series probably reads great in trade, without the breaks, just because it’s all coming at you, snap, snap, snap, and the cliffhangers in the issues just ruin the flow.

This issue is an all action issue beyond my standard use of the term. Absolutely nothing happens here except Cole running from Alpha One and having a couple, but not enough, tricks up his sleeve. It feels like a four minute sequence in a movie, which is why my comment earlier. It works as a visceral experience, but certainly not as a comic book.

And I still can’t believe they killed Cole’s wife off panel.

CREDITS

Chums; writers, Peter J. Tomasi and Keith Champagne; artist, Chris Samnee; colorist, John Kalisz; letterer, Rob Leigh; editors, Chris Conroy and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

The Mighty 8 (November 2009)

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Again with the terrible pacing. It almost seems like Tomasi and Champagne are happy once they’ve got one conversation an issue; everything around it is filler. And this issue is almost entirely a talking heads book (with the exception of Alpha One getting pissed off and doing something really suspicious like bury a ticking nuclear bomb).

There’s still the lush color, so the book looks incredible–Samnee, who I’m mostly unfamiliar with, is a fantastic artist–but again, there’s a lot of writing issues.

It’s the bothersome logic stuff. A superhero–the only superhero–has time to sit around and watch over six hours of movies without saving anyone? Why has Alpha One forgotten about all of Cole’s suspicions (apparently forgotten)?

There’s also the first hint at the true origin of Alpha One. Tomasi and Champagne reference Superman as an inspiration of sorts, which works well.

Engaging but too short.

CREDITS

Wide Awake; writers, Peter J. Tomasi and Keith Champagne; artist, Chris Samnee; colorist, John Kalisz; letterer, Rob Leigh; editors, Chris Conroy and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

The Mighty 7 (October 2009)

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First, someone made a big art decision about this issue and I can’t tell who. It’s Samnee on pencils and inks and John Kalisz coloring; Kalisz has been coloring the whole series, Samnee’s been on for an issue before this one. The coloring of The Mighty is now incredibly lush and vibrant. The story’s also intensifying–Alpha One is now killing everyone left and right and it’s clear the series is going somewhere nasty–but the colors….

All this terrible stuff is going on in these amazing colors.

The issue moves way too fast again, as Tomasi and Champagne can’t make a solid decision between protagonist and antagonist. Alpha One gets more panels than Cole and Cole’s supposed to be the lead. Here he’s kind of a guest star.

There’s some weird stuff going on with the dialogue–Alpha One’s pop culture reference to Star Trek II boggles the mind.

CREDITS

Ring of Fire; writers, Peter J. Tomasi and Keith Champagne; artist, Chris Samnee; colorist, John Kalisz; letterer, Rob Leigh; editors, Chris Conroy and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

The Mighty 6 (September 2009)

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What an issue. The pacing is awful–I’m pretty sure it took me about three minutes to read–because the whole thing is just a conversation. After discovering, Alpha One is nuts or something, protagonist–the first time I’ve ever referred to him as such–Gabe hangs out with Alpha One in space for a really creepy moment.

Then the rest of the issue is Gabe trying to tell his wife Alpha One is a nutso without Alpha One hearing but Alpha One does hear.

It’s not so much a weak issue as it is a weak half issue. The Mighty, for a twelve issue limited (or whatever, it was going to be ongoing at one point, right?), is seriously lacking any subplots. It’s all about Gabe discovering Alpha One is a fruitcake bad guy masquerading as a good guy. Or something along those lines.

But it’s got no texture.

CREDITS

Blue Moon; writers, Peter J. Tomasi and Keith Champagne; artist, Chris Samnee; colorist, John Kalisz; letterer, Rob Leigh; editors, Chris Conroy and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

The Mighty 5 (August 2009)

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For Samnee’s first issue, apparently Tomasi and Champagne aren’t going to beat around the bush. Alpha One goes from being a hero with some quirks to being an intergalactic villain. Well, maybe not intergalactic–the alien things on the last page look a lot like something out of War of the Worlds.

Samnee’s art, which is even less superhero style than Snejbjerg’s, fits the series, though it’s unfair to compare the two because Samnee isn’t tasked with trying to infer deception behind Alpha One’s otherwise heroic demeanor.

What’s shocking about the issue is how fast Tomasi and Champagne introduce the bad stuff–there’s a lot of implications against Alpha One–before he goes and murders someone. After spending three and a half issues being cagey about it, The Mighty enters Irredeemable territory–the two books premiered around the same time, which is interesting. No one talked about The Mighty though.

CREDITS

World Gone Wrong; writers, Peter J. Tomasi and Keith Champagne; artist, Chris Samnee; colorist, John Kalisz; letterer, Rob Leigh; editors, Chris Conroy and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

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