Leah Moore

The Complete Dracula 5 (December 2009)

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With Worley returning to the art, The Complete Dracula stands as three-fifths of the best telling or retelling of Stoker’s Dracula… far better than the novel itself, even with the occasional adaptation quibbles. The book immediately returns to the multimedia presentation, the artwork again becoming a mix of painted landscapes and domestics and half-static, half-moving painted live action. It’s a lovely thing to look.

Thanks to the source novel, the story has problems. Stoker couldn’t write characters with distinct voice, he plotted poorly (Dracula’s been wanting to “invade” England for hundreds of years and runs off because of some saps?), so those problems remain. But Moore and Reppion, who might appreciate the novel a little too much to truly make it work, get past them overall.

It’s a lovely close to a troubled series. It’s unfortunate Dynamite thought a fill-in artist was the way to go.

CREDITS

Writers, Leah Moore and John Reppion; artist and colorist, Colton Worley; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Complete Dracula 4 (December 2009)

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In the notes for this issue, Moore and Reppion discuss the novel’s sexism. I think the less guarded description would be Stoker’s misogyny. It’s somewhat curbed here, in the adaptation, as the writers are aware of its presence, whereas Stoker would not have been.

Lots happens in the issue and I could only wonder how it would have read with a better artist. Verma continues to disappoint. Aaron Campbell’s no longer contributing and the comic has lost its visual flare. There’s no more mixed media. There’s no more visual creativity. It’s gone, now, from being a pleasant surprise to the kind of crap Radical puts out. It’s embarrassing, actually. I feel bad for the writers, since–if I were to have bought the hard cover sight unseen–I would have tried to return it once the art changed.

It’s beyond too bad, since the adaptation itself is quite well-written.

CREDITS

Writers, Leah Moore and John Reppion; artist, Dheeraj Verma; colorists, Digikore Studios and Colton Worley; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Complete Dracula 3 (September 2009)

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Unfortunately, Worley’s gone this issue (he’s credited with layouts). Verma is … Verma’s painted comic art looks like all the lame painted comic art I’ve seen before, the stuff to make me dread a painted comic. His figures are fine, his faces are awful. The texture and depth of the book is now gone. It’s so distractingly, it’s hard to think about the writing, as this change in artist takes the book from being a measured success to a moderate failure.

Oddly, Verma’s illustrating abilities are strong (his pencils are in the issue’s notes).

I can’t remember the novel, if there really is so much time spent on the death of Lucy, but when Moore and Reppion take the whole issue, it’s hard not to think something’s going to be missed. But Mina is Dracula’s victim in the novel, right? Not his lover. So they should be fine filling two issues.

CREDITS

Writers, Leah Moore and John Reppion; artists, Aaron Campbell, Colton Worley and Dheeraj Verma; colorist, Malti Verma; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Complete Dracula 2 (July 2009)

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So, I guess I hadn’t realized how important Aaron Campbell’s layout contributions are to this series. There’s an example in the back of the comic and it’s clear he’s significant.

The Dracula novel, with the diary entries, the letters, the clippings, is sort of a multimedia (for the late nineteenth century) piece, and this adaptation fully realizes the potential, now incorporating visuals.

Not all the visuals work, however, especially here. There’s a lot of photoshopping going on, a lot of clearly blurred images, a lot of photographic backgrounds with a minimal amount of “painting” over. There moments distract, since Worley’s paintings are usually quite good, even if Mina doesn’t look the same panel to panel (one can’t tell if she’s supposed to be attractive, for example).

The comic’s so successful adapting the novel’s diary entries and letters, actual dialogue comes as a shock, like it doesn’t belong here at all.

CREDITS

Writers, Leah Moore and John Reppion; artists, Aaron Campbell and Colton Worley; colorist, Worley; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Complete Dracula 1 (May 2009)

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No one told me Dracula was going to be a digitally painted comic. I usually avoid those. But I probably still would have picked this one and a good thing, because it’s not bad.

As a novel, Dracula, is complete garbage. It’s such garbage, it’s almost impossible to find a good adaptation of it, illustrated, filmed or otherwise. Stoker’s lack of basic writing competence being a major problem. Fruit of the poisonous tree and all.

Moore and Reppion combat it a little with a prologue, making Harker more of a protagonist. But, as usual, the Castle Dracula stuff gets old fast (they even reference a scene they didn’t adapt).

However, the Mina Murray stuff is nice, maybe because Worley paints all the panels like static paintings. He occasionally captures profound moments for Mina, which works.

I’m not sure where the comic’s going quality-wise, but it seems interesting at least.

CREDITS

Writers, Leah Moore and John Reppion; artist and colorist, Colton Worley; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Sherlock Holmes 5 (September 2009)

657863.jpgOh, good grief. I almost feel silly reading it. I’m really hoping Moore and Reppion’s foreshadowing of Mycroft being Moriarty is inadvertent or just silly business instead of their actual plans for the series. I imagine it’ll be back, with more lame references to World War I possibly. The book actually saddens me a little, with the minor references to League of Extraordinary Gentlemen–it only introduces comparisons between Moore and her father and she comes up short.

I’m a little put out, given the $3.50 price tag per issue and Dynamite’s generally fine track record so far–I mean, they put out Battlefields, it’s hard to believe they’d let this nonsense out of the stable. Moore and Reppion don’t bring anything new to Sherlock Holmes, nothing movies in the 1930s weren’t already doing.

Except, I suppose, they weren’t ripping off the The Untouchables–turning Watson into an action hero.

D- 

CREDITS

The Trial Of Sherlock Holmes, Part Five: Endgame; writers, Leah Moore and John Reppion; artist, Aaron Campbell; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Sherlock Holmes 4 (August 2009)

657862.jpgThis issue’s lettering has a particular understanding of punctuation. It’s rather annoying, while also being incorrect.

Worse, in a terribly paced series overall, this issue serves no purpose but to promise us the final issue–but I find it unlikely it’ll deliver the promised “Trial of Sherlock Holmes.” Instead, I’m guessing it’ll be some speedy and cute resolution.

And even though Holmes appears in more panels this issue, I think, than any other so far, he’s still a subplot in his own book. Moore and Reppion seem far more interested in their undoubtedly clever mystery than characters, but they’re also not playing fair with the mystery.

From the start, the reader hasn’t been given all the information. I’m not suggesting the reader has to be able to solve it–Conan Doyle didn’t follow that practice–but when you show Watson reading instructions and don’t reveal them?

You’re just plain cheating.

F 

CREDITS

The Trial of Sherlock Holmes, Part Four: Brought to Justice; writers, Leah Moore and John Reppion; artist, Aaron Campbell; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Sherlock Holmes 3 (July 2009)

639976.jpgPerhaps I’m just a little worn down, but I found this issue a lot better. Unfortunately, I know it really isn’t much better–Holmes is still a minor character in his own book and the thing’s way too full with lots of foreshadowing, cameos and sensationalism. But I’ve come to accept the book’s not going to be perfect–or particularly good and I’ve accepted it–I can enjoy the reading experience to some degree now.

A limited one, of course, because it’s an intentionally confusing issue with a lot of storytelling devices at play to allow for the “fullest” issue possible.

What’s missing is charm. The comic makes Holmes the protagonist and “good guy” because it’s easy to, especially in comics and even more especially when the book’s named after the good guy hero. Holmes is a fun character, an erudite pulp hero, there’s too much Sturm und Drang here.

C 

CREDITS

The Trial of Sherlock Holmes, Part Three: A Killer on the Loose; writers, Leah Moore and John Reppion; artist, Aaron Campbell; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Sherlock Holmes 2 (June 2009)

627385.jpgThe second issue is an improvement overall, but there are still a lot of problems. Campbell’s period art is good (if static) and better when he’s not illustrating the principles. There’s something boring about his art during the scenes with Watson or Lestrade, but exciting when it’s absolute strangers.

Moore and Reppion can’t help laying in the foreshadowing–Lestrade’s boss has it out for Holmes for some unknown reason–and it doesn’t help the book any. It’s Sherlock bloody Holmes and he’s barely in the book. He shows up at the beginning and the end. And there’s no progress made on the mystery Holmes purportedly committed, much less the overall one.

It’s a competently produced effort, but it’s got a lot of work to do to get engaging. Having the protagonist in jail leads to narrative problems. Just ask Ed Brubaker.

Still, there aren’t as many lame references this issue.

C 

CREDITS

The Trial of Sherlock Holmes, Part Two: A Locked Room; writers, Leah Moore and John Reppion; artist, Aaron Campbell; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Sherlock Holmes 1 (April 2009)

607576.jpgOk, so, already I have problems. The visual storytelling is complicated, too complicated for a drunkard like me. I’m supposed to read letters characters are reading, not rely on their reading of said letters to impart all the necessary information. Reading said letter revealed it’s a “man dies when the clock strikes seven” mystery, which, being a comic book reader, I remember from the 1970s Englehart/Rogers Batman stuff. Maybe it was in a Sherlock Holmes too, but I don’t remember it from them.

And speaking of Sherlock Holmes–it’s a five issue limited series. Maybe a mystery an issue would have made me a little more pleasant, rather than a longwinded stretched Sherlock Holmes thing. Part of Doyle’s narrative gift was his ability to do multilayered narratives, none of which is present here.

It’s not bad. It’s just pedestrian. And I’m not wild about Campbell. His art’s too static.

C+ 

CREDITS

The Trial of Sherlock Holmes, Part One: The Smoking Gun; writers, Leah Moore and John Reppion; artist, Aaron Campbell; colorist, Tony Aviña; letterer, Simon Bowland; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

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