Rich Tommaso

Dry County #2 (April 2018)

Dry County #2Dry County #2 reveals the mystery and it’s rather unexpected. At least for me. I was expecting some noir. Instead, it’s a kidnapping thriller. Only not a very thrilling one.

The protagonist, Lou, finally thinks things are going to progress with the girl he likes. She’s moved away from her abusive boyfriend, he–Lou–is making things happen at work. Everything is coming together. Then she’s kidnapped. Her roommate is assaulted. She’s just gone. There’s a note with the newspaper cut out letters. Lou starts investigating.

Couple things there aren’t. There’s not a ransom demand. There’s not a followup with the assaulted roommate. The girl’s got another roommate who just goes along with Lou’s “let’s not call the cops and instead stage a different scenario for the assaulted guy” plan. The note says no cops.

Lou’s investigation in the rest of the issue is just him canvasing the city where he thinks the girl might be. Someone keeps trying to run him over, but not seriously. Lou’s always able to get out of the way. He brings along his dumb tough guy friend for muscle, which leads to some genial amusement.

At best, Dry County is genially amusing. It’s not dangerous–it’s not realistic enough to be dangerous–and, as a protagonist, Lou is way undercooked.

Tommaso does instill some charm into the book. But probably not enough to keep it going.

CREDITS

Writer and artist, Rich Tommaso; publisher, Image Comics.

Dry County #1 (March 2018)

Dry County #1The content of Dry County #1 doesn’t really match the subtitle on the cover: “A Lou Rossi Comic – The EVERYMAN Crime Series.” Not to mention the “M” rating. Because there’s no crime in Dry County. There’s not even a whiff of it. Lead Lou Rossi lives in Little Havana, Miami, but it’s basically empty when he’s outside. Lonely guy living lonely existence.

Lou is a comic strip cartoonist at the paper. Between going to work and doing his daily, three-panel gag strip, he gets drunk. Then he meets a girl. Only she’s got problems with her boyfriend. It’s not noir, but it’s noir. Rich Tommaso’s art is extremely mellow. It’s hard to get agitated, even when Lou chases the girl’s abusive boyfriend away.

Tommaso writes it first-person, with Lou’s journal entries in between panels. The entries are on lined paper with neat handwriting; again, not very noirish. It’s too bright and vivid. Not cheerful, but precious.

As mundane slice of life–vividly rendered–Dry County #1 is all right. As the prelude to EVERYMAN crime… well, it’s slow. Especially since the characters are so thin, even the protagonist. Tommaso writes them for occasional gag humor too. It’s hard to imagine it getting bloody.

CREDITS

Writer and artist, Rich Tommaso; publisher, Image Comics.

Spy Seal 4 (November 2017)

Spy Seal #4Spy Seal ends its first series with an all-action issue. Tommaso doesn’t take any shortcuts on the art though. It’s still very detailed, but it’s all for the action. It’s all for Malcolm doing a cross between a thirties Hitchcock spy thriller and a James Bond movie to get the mission completed.

Of course, Malcolm doesn’t exactly know what’s going on. He’s on his own, now a confident spy seal, and he does pretty well with it. It’s a fun issue once Tommaso starts doing all the finale reveals. It’s good–and proves the only characters who can talk in written dialects are anthrophormized animals–but it’s also fun.

The series is smart, it’s mellow, it’s sublime. And it’s all ages. Or pretty close.

And there’s another series due next year. The countdown begins.

CREDITS

The Corten-Steel Phoenix; writer and artist, Rich Tommasi; publisher, Image Comics.

Spy Seal 3 (October 2017)

Spy Seal #5Spy Seal continues to be a precious, precise delight. Spy Seal and Kes continue their mission with Seal’s crush just getting more and more intense. It doesn’t help their mission has he and Kes’s cover a married couple, leading not just to mission essential necking, but also figuring out the sleeping arrangements.

Tommaso does his big action in small panels. He does the precise, thin lined European backdrops. Spy Seal is a special book, with Tommaso letting the art style determine how the narrative reads but not how it progresses.

It’s great. And, unfortunately, it’s almost over.

The Corten-Steel Phoenix; writer and artist, Rich Tommasi; publisher, Image Comics.

Spy Seal 2 (September 2017)

Spy Seal #2Lots of good spy stuff in Spy Seal this issue–including an awesome chase sequence–but it’s at the end where Tommaso hints at how much further the comic might go. It’s not just going to be spy tropes with anthropomorphic animals (the mouse agent is adorable), the plotting is going to be suspenseful and tricky. There’s also a great subplot about Malcolm falling for his mentor, a comely kestrel named Kes. And Tommaso’s thought bubble shorthand for getting information across–he just uses punctuation or ideograms–is fantastic. He’s able to keep up the comic’s pace while still filling out the narrative in each panel.

The Corten-Steel Phoenix; writer and artist, Rich Tommasi; publisher, Image Comics.

Spy Seal 1 (August 2017)

Spy Seal #1Spy Seal is about a seal–Malcolm, the seal’s name is Malcolm–who becomes a spy for MI:6. It’s set in Cold War London, with the Soviets trying to cause turmoil and only so many good guys up for the task. Turns out Malcolm is suited for it, although he only fought Soviet spies because he was drug to an art show (for the free food) when he should’ve been looking for a job.

Creator Rich Tommaso fills this London with talking animals, usually adorable, who are struggling to deal with Cold War tensions boiling over. The animal cast is sometimes inherently funny, but Tommaso’s also got a lot of good scripted comedy. He’s sparing with the puns; they’re often quite subtle and quite good.

His art’s detailed and clean. Malcolm’s adventures take him not just to an art gallery, but also the London rooftops to catch a spy, as well as a dangerous performance piece.

The characterizations are still a little shallow, but it’s early days and Spy Seal is starting strong.

CREDITS

The Corten-Steel Phoenix; writer and artist, Rich Tommasi. Ninja Fukuroh; writer and artist, Joey Weiser. Publisher, Image Comics.

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