Ricardo Villagran

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 8 (August 1984)

Atari Force #8Given Atari Force is Conway’s series, it’s too bad the best issue so far isn’t one he writes. He plotted for Andy Helfer and gave him a choice issue. It’s a done-in-one, the first of the series, and it manages to be both gritty and affable.

Babe, the sentient mountain baby–who’s basically just a huge egg with a lot of power and no anger–gets stranded on a planet. He’s got the Hukka (the adorable sort of pet who fills some of the R2-D2 cuteness) but he’s lost.

Helfer juxtaposes Babe’s trials against the team’s. They’re going through lots of drama; even those concerned for the missing Babe don’t realize he apparently can’t be hurt. Babe’s in the middle of a planetary invasion, it turns out.

The art’s lovely, the story’s gentle without ever being condescending. It’s an impressive issue, raising the bar for the series.

A 

CREDITS

Babe’s Story; writers, Gerry Conway and Andy Helfer; penciller, José Luis García-López; inker, Ricardo Villagran; colorist, Tom Ziuko; letterer, Bob Lappan; editor, Helfer; publisher, DC Comics.

Atari Force 7 (July 1984)

Atari Force #7The series is definitely back on track. Not only does Conway come up with a way to utilize all seven principal cast members in the issue, he also comes up with a very amusing turn of events.

Before getting to any of these plot developments, he opens with Tempest’s father going over to the bad guy’s spaceship in what he thinks will be an exchange. In this sequence, Conway makes it very clear the father, Martin, is the action hero of the series. Conway hadn’t utilized him well enough before. All of a sudden the character seems interesting on his own and not as an appendage of the surfer dude son.

There’s a lot of humor too. Dart and Pakrat are good comic relief, though the psychic gets the best jokes. Not many, but good ones.

It’s once again imaginative work from Conway, with some fantastically rendered pages from García-López.

B+ 

CREDITS

Counter Attack; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, José Luis García-López; inker, Ricardo Villagran; colorist, Tom Ziuko; letterer, Bob Lappan; editor, Andy Helfer; publisher, DC Comics.

Atari Force 6 (June 1984)

Atari Force #6García-López returns to full duties and Force gets back on track. Mostly. Conway seems to be influenced by Star Wars–and I’m intentionally using the passive voice, because I doubt he really meant to rip-off going on to the Death Star with some plot accouterments.

Dart and Tempest have to go over to the bad guy’s ship–the bad guy also looks a little too much like a space knight (or Sith Lord); it’s a neat design but it’s way over the top. Unless DC was hoping to sell toy licenses. Anyway, they’re on his ship, the rest of the team is on the regular ship. There’s drama. It’s good.

Conway’s really utilizing the estranged father and son relationship, with Dart thrown in as an awkward sort of sibling. Given there’s a telepathic psychologist on the team, a little much exposition on that subject… but it’s good.

The comic flows quite well.

B 

CREDITS

A Meeting With Life and Death; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, José Luis García-López; inker, Ricardo Villagran; colorist, Tom Ziuko; letterer, Bob Lappan; editor, Andy Helfer; publisher, DC Comics.

Atari Force 3 (March 1984)

Atari Force #3There are a few big surprises this issue. The non-spoiler one has to do with how adult Conway’s willing to take the comic. He’s not goofing around with it, not just with conjugal relations, but also with implying age differences and responsibilities of older partners. It’s all very subtle, all very clear.

That plot line, which gets the most emphasis–Dart always gets the beginning and end–makes up for the weaker ones. The thing with the giant rock alien and the overgrown rodent are mostly fine. Conway gets a lot of humor into those scenes and a nice amount of characterization. The problem’s with the surfer dude.

The whiny, blond surfer dude has another hissy fit this issue. Conway’s gone out of his way to make the character unlikable but I think he’s supposed to be sympathetic too. It isn’t coming off.

The fantastic García-López makes up for any problems, however.

B 

CREDITS

I Saw You Die; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, José Luis García-López; inker, Ricardo Villagran; colorist, Tom Ziuko; letterer, Bob Lappan; editor, Andy Helfer; publisher, DC Comics.

Atari Force 2 (February 1984)

Atari Force #2The second issue follows the same general structure as the first. Open with Dart–she’s the white-haired, good guy mercenary lead–and her boyfriend in some kind of “no win” battle. They eventually beat the odds, because she’s the hero. There’s great García Lopez action art so it looks great too.

Then Conway moves into what’s going on with the rest of the cast, which is a lot of positioning this issue. The psychic guy goes to visit surfer dude’s dad–surfer dude is the human who can travel the multi-verse (not the regular DC one, I don’t think) without a vessel–and the broken father and son relationship, if Conway continues it, might be interesting.

But there are also the other characters, the reluctant smuggler, the stowaway thief; their scenes are just to get them in place for whatever union of story lines Conway utilizes.

The script’s imaginative, the art’s gorgeous. Force’s fine.

B 

CREDITS

Direct Encounter; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, José Luis García-López; inker, Ricardo Villagran; colorist, Tom Ziuko; letterer, Bob Lappan; editor, Andy Helfer; publisher, DC Comics.

Atari Force 1 (January 1984)

Atari Force #1Alien worlds, lots of different kinds of action… what else goes on in Atari Force. Alien species, lots of different alien species. It’s also got a nice setup story. Gerry Conway frames it around one set of characters’ action sequence, then cuts to other characters. Presumably they’ll come together soon enough as the titular Atari Force.

But Conway seems to be writing for his artist, José Luis García Lopez. Not in a bad way; Conway’s not doing quick action scenes and letting García Lopez drag them out. Instead, he’s throwing a bunch of disparate ideas at García Lopez to see how they hash out.

Even before the sci-fi spectacular stuff starts, there’s an amazing fight scene. So much movement.

The female protagonist is more likable, so far, than the male.

It’ll be interesting to see where the creators take the series, since the possibilities are seemingly endless and unconstrained.

B+ 

CREDITS

Fresh Blood; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, José Luis García-López; inker, Ricardo Villagran; colorist, Tom Ziuko; letterer, Bob Lappan; editor, Andy Helfer; publisher, DC 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.

D- 

CREDITS

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.

Detective Comics 561 (April 1986)

5666Because the world needs more anti-drug messages. Jason really likes the new girl at school, but she wants to do drugs. Can Jason–and Robin–convince her to stay square?

It’s hard to say whether Moench wanted to tell a Jason story or wanted to do a drug prevention story. He hasn’t shown Jason at school before, so he has to introduce the bully as well as the girl. Jason’s such a poorly realized character, why would his school be any different. And why would he be in public school? And if he’s not in public school, why couldn’t the bully just steal his mom’s prescription drugs instead of robbing a pharmacy?

Worse, Colan is real lazy. Inkers Smith and Ricardo Villagran don’t do much to fix the problems either. The super-balding Bruce is a particular eyesore.

Beautiful pencils from Moore on Green Arrow. Shame about the story.

D 

CREDITS

Flying Hi; writer, Doug Moench; penciller, Gene Colan; inkers, Bob Smith and Ricardo Villagran; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Workman. Green Arrow, In the Grip of Steelclaw!; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Jerome Moore; inker, Dell Barras; colorist, Jeanine Casey; letterer, Agustin Mas. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

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