Keith Giffen

Scooby Apocalypse 2 (August 2016)

Scooby Apocalypse #2It’s Aliens. Giffen and DeMatteis are doing “Serious Scooby-Doo Meets Aliens.” And it’s pretty good.

This issue has the gang trapped in an underground bunker where they have to crawl through the ceilings but avoid the monsters crawling through the ceilings. There’s a lot of emphasis on the humanity of the situation, but then there’s Porter’s art doing these exaggerated hero poses for the characters. What’s so strange is how little it has to do with Scooby-Doo. Giffen and DeMatteis have almost no interest in the dog (or his interactions with Shaggy). It’s not pop culture fulfillment, it’s a brand relaunch.

Hence the lack of Doo in the title?

It’s strongly plotted, great dialogue, excellent visual style. Scooby Apocalypse is great corporate product. It’s not sublime, but it’s great at what it’s trying to do. I just wonder how long Jim Lee, who’s credited with the concept, worked at it and whether or not he had help (or was filling a request from corporate).

CREDITS

Apocalypse Right Now!; writers, Keith Griffen and J.M. DeMatteis; artist, Howard Porter; colorist, Hi-Fi; letterer, Nick J. Napolitano; editors, Brittany Holzherr and Marie Javins; publisher, DC Comics.

Scooby Apocalypse 1 (July 2016)

Scooby: Apocalypse #1I wouldn’t call Scooby: Apocalypse so much good as successful. It’s Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis doing a “grown-up” version of Scooby Doo, which isn’t something I would’ve thought there’d be an audience for but now I’m not so sure. All of Giffen and DeMatteis’s instincts when it comes to the characters are spot on. They’re “grown-up” and modernized but still annoying in the same ways.

And Howard Porter’s art is an interesting choice. Velma and Scooby are the most successful, with Daphne and Fred being somewhere in the more obvious realm and Shaggy being a riff on eighties Mike Grell Green Arrow for whatever reason. In look, not characterization. As far as characterization, it remains to be seen if Giffen and DeMatteis have arcs for the characters or just a lot of solid banter.

The story’s fine–it’s the team’s origin story, Scooby is a failed Army super-dog experiment, Daphne and Fred are lame TV journalists, Shaggy is Scooby’s hopefully stoned handler. I didn’t notice any bud though. If Giffen and DeMatteis can get away making Shaggy and Scooby actual stoners… well, it’d be funny.

Even though Porter’s visualizations of characters are sometimes weird, his art’s totally competent. He puts work into it and he does get how to pace out the script’s jokes.

It’s not a great comic, but it’s not a bad one at all.

CREDITS

Waiting for the End of the World; writers, Keith Griffen and J.M. DeMatteis; artist, Howard Porter; colorist, Hi-Fi; letterer, Nick J. Napolitano; editors, Brittany Holzherr and Marie Javins; publisher, DC Comics.

Atari Force 13 (January 1985)

Atari Force #13So for his last issue, Conway sort of destroys the world. At least, he destroys the world of Atari Force he has been establishing for twelve issues. And he lets Joey Cavalieri write the script for it. Eduardo Barreto takes over the pencils and does a great job with everything except full page spreads. He can’t do those for whatever reason.

Cavalieri manages a few decent moments, mostly with the supporting cast, as Martin–the series’s lead at this point–dukes it out with the big villain. Lousy fight dialogue on that one. Luckily those other scenes make up for it somewhat.

The ending might have more gravity if it weren’t just thirteen issues into the series. It’s hard to care too much about it, even at a macro level. Cavalieri (and Conway) don’t earn the concern.

There is a nice backup from Paul Kupperberg, Dave Manak and Giffen, however.

C- 

CREDITS

The End; writers, Gerry Conway and Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Eduardo Barreto; inker, Ricardo Villagran; colorist, Tom Ziuko; letterer, Bob Lappan; editor, Andy Helfer; publisher, DC Comics.

Atari Force 12 (December 1984)

Atari Force #12I think the problem is simpler than I would have thought–by problem I mean why Conway’s not as on the ball with the series anymore. He’s not even taking the time to script, just plot. Andy Helfer’s got the inglorious task of scripting. It’s hard to hold the issue against Helfer, the series’s breaking.

Atari Force works when it’s about the characters and García-Lopez’s approach to sci-fi. There’s a lot of villain stuff–it’s just Bond villainy at an intergalactic level. Maybe with some Road Warrior thrown in. Boring.

Worse, the character stuff this issue is tepid. Dart being patient with Blackjak isn’t engaging, especially not with Helfer’s very calm, almost feminist approach to his betrayal. And surfer boy’s trial scene is really weak.

There’s a lovely Keith Giffen backup with surfer boy’s pet though, just lovely. It’s kind of a parable.

Hopefully the series will improve.

C+ 

CREDITS

Revelations!; writers, Gerry Conway and Andy Helfer; penciller, José Luis García-López; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Tom Ziuko; letterer, Bob Lappan; editor, Helfer; publisher, DC Comics.

Justice League 3000 1 (February 2014)

936488Being insincere and not funny are two things Justice League 3000 can’t handle. It’s a dumb idea–in the future, the Wonder Twins clone the Justice League so they can save the galaxy. Only there are problems. For example, Superman is a lot like the Giffen/DeMatteis Guy Gardner, only with some Ultimate Captain America thrown in. He and Batman threaten to kill each other every few panels. Then Batman quips about kryptonite.

3000 isn’t just not funny, it’s desperately not funny.

Keith Giffen gets a plotting credit, so he isn’t as responsible as J.M. DeMatteis, who scripts this terrible dialogue. He’s trying to surprise with the clones, which just makes things worse. Except not as bad as the Wonder Twins banter. Nothing is as bad as the Wonder Twins banter.

The Howard Porter art doesn’t fit the story and isn’t an original future design; clearly no one cares.

F 

CREDITS

Yesterday Lives!; writers, Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis; artist, Howard Porter; colorist, Hi-Fi Colour Design; letterer, Sal Cipriano; editors, Kyle Andrukiewicz and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

Drax the Destroyer 4 (February 2006)

271067Giffen does manage a couple nice plot twists for the last issue, but since he’s ending this series as a prologue to some other series… there’s not much closure. In fact, the lack of closure just points out what a strange book Drax has been. The human inhabitants–turned into slave labor–are dismissible. Giffen made two of them sympathetic.

He also doesn’t work to make Drax sympathetic. Instead, the Skrull comes off as more likable. The Skrull has a very nice finish in the series (though apparently not enough to make it to the cliffhanger). There’s a strange coda with Cammi’s mother and her sidekick, like Giffen remembered it later.

The first half of the issue, even without the nice Skrull moments, reads better. Giffen isn’t rushing things for it.

Still, he wrote an amusing comic. Not successful, but definitely amusing. Shame the Skrull couldn’t have been the lead.

CREDITS

Hard Penance; writer, Keith Giffen; artist, Mitch Breitweiser; colorist, Brian Reber; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Molly Lazer, Aubrey Sitterson and Andy Schmidt; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Drax the Destroyer 3 (January 2006)

271066Cute Doctor Who reference.

Giffen also has a nice little moment where the “reality” of the Marvel Universe comes into play. There’s no way to call for help in a rural area to report an alien attack.

The issue opens with the girl bantering with the Skrull, which is a fun scene, especially since Giffen has the girl outwit the space thugs. The good banter distracts from the lack of actual content; there are a number of well-written scenes, but nothing with much heft.

For the issue’s last act–I use the term loosely as Giffen doesn’t really work towards a first or second act–Drax returns. Thanks to alien physiology, it’s the first time the reader gets to meet him. It’s also the first time Giffen gives him much to say.

It’s fun–Giffen writes Drax well against Cammi, the girl–but the comic’s running out of steam.

CREDITS

From the Ashes; writer, Keith Giffen; artist, Mitch Breitweiser; colorist, Brian Reber; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Molly Lazer, Aubrey Sitterson and Andy Schmidt; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Drax the Destroyer 2 (December 2005)

271065Giffen continues to impress on Drax. Besides having the two thug aliens for humor, there’s also the Skrull. The Skrull–and his dimwit sidekick–are very funny. Giffen goes beyond the humor though. He’s got some fantastic plot twists.

The first one involves the girl, Cammi–actually, so does the second one. Giffen writes teenage girls well, apparently. Anyway, the first twist is the aliens leaving her alive. She doesn’t quite stand them down, but she points out living in the Marvel Universe, aliens aren’t exactly exciting anymore.

The second one has her setting Drax up to fight for her. It leads into the end twist. Giffen’s bucking the convention with this character; she’s not the nice human child who befriends an alien.

The last twist–besides that cliffhanger–is the aliens’ plan. They want slave labor to repair their ship. It’s like a fifties b movie. It’s great stuff.

CREDITS

Illegal Aliens; writer, Keith Giffen; artist, Mitch Breitweiser; colorist, Brian Reber; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Molly Lazer, Aubrey Sitterson and Andy Schmidt; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Drax the Destroyer 1 (November 2005)

271064There’s so much sci-fi mumbo jumbo in this issue. So, so much. The first five pages or so are just Keith Giffen writing sci-fi babble for his alien characters. Then the comic starts. The sci-fi babble comes back a little later, but the comic’s strong enough it doesn’t annoy.

It’s a great setup. An intergalactic prison ship crashes on Earth (in Alaska). Will the surviving aliens come across the precious teenagers from the nearby town and will it be trouble? Of course. But Giffen writes the characters well–there’s the tough girl and the dorky guy. And the stuff with the aliens bickering… Giffen does fine with it too.

Where Drax has problems is the art. Mitch Breitweiser has a lot of problems keeping the figures consistent, not to mention the dimensions of heads. Lots of problems there. And the action’s not great.

But the writing’s strong.

CREDITS

Earthfall; writer, Keith Giffen; artist, Mitch Breitweiser; colorist, Brian Reber; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Molly Lazer, Aubrey Sitterson and Andy Schmidt; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Hero Squared X-tra Sized Special 1 (January 2005)

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Hero Squared is not high concept. Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis’s approach to it, however, is high concept. The plot’s simple–a Superman (and Captain Marvel) analog ends up in an alternate universe where Earth has no heroes (I think it’s Earth-3, pre-Crisis) and has to deal with his powerless alter ego. Oh, and the hero? He’s just a comic book hero on this Earth.

Except his powerless alter ego is a floundering, feckless twenty-something incapable of adult emotion. And the superhero? His entire universe has just been destroyed and he’s dealing with those events while trying to maintain the hero thing.

It’s excellent stuff. It’s a little awkward, pacing wise, since it’s a one shot, but Giffen and DeMatteis write fantastic dialogue; they establish their characters in two lines. Outstanding writing.

Joe Abraham’s art is mostly quite good, it’s sometimes off a little. But mostly good.

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