Robb Phipps

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 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.

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