Rick Magyar

The Maze Agency Annual 1 (August 1990)

340992The annual has three stories. The first has Rick Magyar, Darick Robertson and William Messner-Loebs illustrating a Spirit homage. It’s a lot of fun; Barr’s script for it is very fast. Gabe’s on a mission, runs into Jennifer, both having Spirit references in their appearance. It’d be impossible to tell the story without the art angle. Very nice opening.

Sadly, the second story just goes on and on. Allen Curtis is a mediocre artist and Barr asks him to do a lot. The mystery involves a corpse in a moving box. It takes forever to get going, then Barr rushes the big finale. Curtis doesn’t draw characters distinctly enough; two suspects look exactly the same, making the end confusing.

The last story–with Adam Hughes pencils and Magyar inks–is a reprint of a convention special. The mystery’s solution is confounding, but the excellent art makes up for it.

B- 

CREDITS

A Night at the Rose Petal; artists, Rick Magyar, Darick Robertson and William Messner-Loebs; colorists, Michelle Basil and Susan Glod; letterer, Vickie Williams. Moving Stiffs; penciller, Allen Curtis; inkers, Keith Aiken and Jim Sinclair; colorists, Basil and Glod; letterer, Williams; Murder in Mint Condition; penciller, Adam Hughes; inker, Magyar; colorist, Glod; letterer, Bob Pinaha. Writer, Mike W. Barr; editors, Michael Eury and David Campiti; publisher, Innovation Publishing.

The Maze Agency 15 (August 1990)

275580Barr does an amazing job pacing out the narrative this issue. He opens with Gabe and Jennifer, but moves quickly to Lieutenant Bliss. She dominates the issue–the first time a supporting cast member was gotten a Maze spotlight–even when she’s off panel in the second act. Barr comes up with an amusing way of keeping her around then too.

And Bliss becomes so important to the issue, Barr doesn’t even save time to resolve Gabe and Jennifer’s subplot. He deals with it in a panel or two, second fiddle to the murder resolution.

The issue has fill-in art from Mike Okamoto, who has an odd set of problems. His figures don’t match in terms of size and the way he positions them almost feels like he’s gluing cutouts together. But he’s got some great facial expressions, which is very important in a dialogue-heavy book like Maze.

CREDITS

Too Much Bliss; writer, Mike W. Barr; penciller, Mike Okamoto; inkers, Mike Witherby and Rick Magyar; colorist, Susan Glod; letterer, Vickie Williams; editor, David Campiti; publisher, Innovation Publishing.

The Maze Agency Special 1 (1990)

340993It’s a busy day for Gabe and Jennifer in this Special issue. What makes it special–besides the three interconnected stories, the reprint of Barr’s ashcan for Maze Agency and the extra pages–is the art. Each story has incredibly different artwork.

The first has Joe Staton (inked by Rick Magyar). Shockingly, it works out well. His story looks very fifties or sixties crime comic. His detail isn’t great, but it’s all consistent. Never thought I’d be so impressed.

Magyar takes over the art himself on the second story. He has a beautiful, moody style. It’s a shame he usually just inks the book.

Then the Pander Brothers do the last one. They’re wonderfully crazy. Seeing a straight mystery comic in their style is awesome.

And Alan Davis does the ashcan. His art’s the least impressive, which is a surprise.

The mysteries are fine but the art’s the thing here.

CREDITS

Morning: What Goes Up…; penciller, Joe Staton; inker, Rick Magyar; colorist, Scott Rockwell; letterer, Vickie Williams. Afternoon: Murder by a Hair; artist, Magyar; colorist, Rockwell; letterer, Williams. Evening: The Dog That Bit Back…; artists, Arnold Pander and Jacob Pander; colorist, Alicia Basil; colorist, Williams. The Mile-High Corpse!; artist, Alan Davis; letterer, Todd Klein. Writer, Mike W. Barr; editor, David Campiti; publisher, Innovation Publishing.

The Maze Agency 14 (July 1990)

275579More bad art from Phipps. I’m not sure, but I think he’s getting worse. Like Barr thinks he’s getting better so he can handle more stuff–this issue there’s a lengthy “trial” sequence and then a nightmare scene at the end… the only scary parts being Phipps’s art though.

He hurts what Barr is trying to do with the romantic angle, with both Jennifer and Gabe changing as their relationship deepens. Phipps being weak on the mystery stuff is fine, it always gets resolved by the end of the issue, but he’s messing up what makes the comic distinct.

This issue takes place at a prison, where Jennifer and Gabe have to solve an unlikely murder to end a riot. Barr’s pacing is a little off. It’s front heavy, with all the characters’ introductions–not to mention the return of a previous villain–but it’s a decent mystery, if predictable.

CREDITS

Before Midnight; writer, Mike W. Barr; penciller, Robb Phipps; inker, Rick Magyar; colorist, Susan Glod; letterer, Vickie Williams; editor, David Campiti; publisher, Innovation Publishing.

The Maze Agency 13 (June 1990)

275578This issue might have the worst Phipps art so far. It’s incredibly bad, but also very precise. So each bad panel pokes at you as you read it; the hands are off, the expressions are terrible. Phipps doesn’t have any personality either, which might not make the art any better but at least it’d be interesting.

The crime this issue is rather vicious, with a dismembered and mutilated corpse. There’s also a subplot about one of Jennifer’s friends, a retired Secret Service agent turned gumshoe. Barr tries too hard to make the guy likable; unfortunately he seems to be a new regular.

As for Gabe and Jennifer’s romantic stuff… Barr has a case of mistaken identity cause some acerbic banter but it’s just tacked on. It’s a quick, glossy read; without the sensational murder it wouldn’t have any teeth.

The Phipps art pretty much does it in from the start.

CREDITS

The Adventure of the Bleeding Venus; writer, Mike W. Barr; penciller, Robb Phipps; inker, Rick Magyar; colorist, Susan Glod; letterer, Vickie Williams; editor, David Campiti; publisher, Innovation Publishing.

The Maze Agency 12 (May 1990)

275577Hughes is back this issue; he concentrates on mood more than faces, which is odd for a detective comic. At least it seems odd for Maze Agency. Oh, there are some good shots of Jennifer and Gabe, but some of the suspects are completely indistinct.

The cynical take is Hughes was hurrying through and skipping faces sped things along. Even so, the result is a peculiarly wonderful looking book. The lack of focus puts the reader off to the side of the story while still inside it, like things overheard. It’s very interesting.

The mystery itself isn’t particularly interesting. There are some good character moments for Gabe and Jennifer–Hughes doesn’t rush through their scenes and his facial expressions are amazing–and a funny little “Remington Steele” nod.

The wrap-up, however, is a little rushed. The comic feels like it’s missing a page or two. But it’s fine work.

CREDITS

Murderer’s Mask; writer, Mike W. Barr; penciller, Adam Hughes; inker, Rick Magyar; colorist, Susan Glod; letterer, Tom Addis; editor, David Campiti; publisher, Innovation Publishing.

The Maze Agency 11 (April 1990)

275576Between Phipps’s awkwardly cherubic faces and the forgetful coloring (sometimes faces don’t get done, sometimes they get overdone–I assume it’s a printing issue and not Michele Wolfman’s fault), this issue isn’t much to behold. Phipps doesn’t have graceful figures and his framing suggests he’d be better suited for a newspaper comic strip than a full book.

It’s a Christmas issue, with Gabe and Jennifer celebrating their first one as a holiday. It’s not a particularly effective subplot; Barr gives them a silly subplot and not enough space to actually resolve it. It’s a transition issue–for Jennifer–but we don’t why she’s changing.

The mystery involves a mob family and their police informant problems. If Barr spent more time on it, it would have been better… but there’s the romance stuff.

The comic still has some charm, but not much else. No one seems to be trying particularly hard.

CREDITS

Twas the Crime Before Christmas; writer, Mike W. Barr; penciller, Robb Phipps; inker, Rick Magyar; colorist, Michele Wolfman; letterer, Vickie Williams; editor, David Campiti; publisher, Innovation Publishing.

The Maze Agency 10 (March 1990)

275575Robb Phipps takes over as penciller this issue (Magyar stays on inking thank goodness). He’s not good, not bad. His scale is off, with people, settings, especially hands, but he’s competent. Maze feels professional, in terms of the art, just not special.

The story, however, is quite good. Now, with Gabe and Jennifer dating–this issue is more of him in her world–Barr focuses on the non-mystery aspects. Jennifer’s back story is far more interesting than the rather tame mystery. Barr uses Gabe as the vehicle for these discoveries (the reader the passenger) and there’s never any boring exposition.

There are some fantastic moments in the dialogue. Barr sets up difficult situations and writes great lines to move them along. Phipps is good at the visual pacing of these scenes, probably more so than the actual investigation ones.

It’s solid, the writing overcoming the somewhat trivial art problems.

CREDITS

Deadly Anniversary; writer, Mike W. Barr; penciller, Robb Phipps; inker, Rick Magyar; colorist, Susan Glod; letterer, Vickie Williams; editor, David Campiti; publisher, Innovation Publishing.

The Maze Agency 9 (February 1990)

275574So, for those who don’t know, Ellery Queen is an amateur sleuth, created in 1928 or so, and has had numerous print, film, television and probably radio adventures. This issue of Maze celebrates his sixtieth anniversary and gives him a comic book adventure.

I’m vaguely sure Barr mentioned him earlier in the series as a fictional character, which makes his appearance here strange. It’s a gimmick for mystery geeks… not sure there are a lot of those but whatever, Barr actually does quite well.

He establishes the character’s modernized setting quickly, he gives Queen a fun relationship with the leads (Queen admires Jennifer’s abilities while Gabe follows him around like a lapdog) and produces a relatively interesting mystery.

I say relatively because it’s interesting while reading, but immediately forgettable. The guest stars aren’t the suspects–Barr focuses that spotlight on Queen.

Some very nice work from Hughes and Magyar too.

CREDITS

The English Channeler Mystery: A Problem in Deduction; writer, Mike W. Barr; penciller, Adam Hughes; inker, Rick Magyar; colorists, Carol Van Hook and Kevin Van Hook; letterers, Tom Addis and Vickie Williams; editor, David Campiti; publisher, Innovation Publishing.

The Maze Agency 8 (December 1989)

275573Barr does a lot better introducing Jennifer to Gabe’s world than he did introducing Gabe to her’s. Gabe lives in a crappy New York apartment with an assortment of interesting neighbors. Bringing glamorous Jennifer into it provides a lot of amusement.

There’s also a lot of innuendo, whether it’s the actual sex or Gabe begging for sex. Barr does a good job with it–Gabe is back as Maze’s protagonist.

The mystery involves his neighbors, which also works out. It’s interesting to see a high profile private detective thrown into a more mundane crime setting. The regular police detectives sadly don’t appear; Barr establishes the new ones too fast.

Hughes and Magyar do well with the art. There are no fantastic locations, but Hughes has some nice summary pages of the investigation and its solution.

It’s a good issue. Barr’s excellent handling of the dating makes all the difference.

CREDITS

A New Lease on Death; writer, Mike W. Barr; penciller, Adam Hughes; inker, Rick Magyar; colorists, Carol Van Hook and Kevin Van Hook; letterer, Deborah Marks; editor, Michael Eury; publisher, Innovation Publishing.

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