Ron Randall

Future Quest 4 (October 2016)

Future Quest #4What did I just read? I know why I read it, but what was it? Future Quest has become a hodgepodge of Hanna-Barbera properties thrown together without any apparent rhyme or reason; all because Doc Shaner’s late on the art? I mean, why else is writer Jeff Parker filling in on the art himself? Parker’s art is fine. In some ways it has more personality than Shaner’s just because Shaner’s style doesn’t fit this content at all. Jonny Quest teaming up with Space Ghost’s annoying tween sidekicks isn’t content anyone should illustrate cleanly and Shaner’s nothing if not clean.

Ron Randall also does some pages and he’s fine. But none of it matters because the story is just a bunch of–well–the story is a bunch of hooey. It reminds of those old DC pseudo-event mini-series throwing together some properties they were trying to keep copyright on back in the late nineties and early aughts, only without any charm. Whenever Parker runs out of story, he puts some little kid in danger and it’s apparently supposed to be enough.

Or there’s a dinosaur. Or a cameo from some other Hanna-Barbera character you didn’t even admit liking when you watched the cartoon when you were a kid.

I think Future Quest can go on without me.

CREDITS

How the Mighty Fall!; artist, Evan Shaner. The Structure of Fear; artist, Jeff Parker. Frankenstein Jr. Making Friends; artist, Ron Randall. Writer, Parker; colorist, Hi-Fi Colour Design; letterer, Dave Lanphear; editors, Brittany Holzherr and Marie Javins; publisher, DC Comics.

Future Quest 2 (September 2016)

Future Quest #2I’m going to just have to say it–I’m not digging Future Quest. Yes, Shaner’s art is great, yes, Jonathan Case’s art is great, sure, Ron Randall’s art is fine (I think I’d prefer him on the Jonny Quest arc anyway–he’s more enthused about drawing adolescent adventuring). But Crisis on Infinite Earths or Secret Wars with Hanna-Barbera superheroes and adventurers? The cartoons you didn’t really want to watch because, while technically competent, they were just kind of lame?

Yeah, they’re still kind of lame. Parker just has them banter at each other, which doesn’t help the comic at all, but what else is he going to do? Future Quest has way too many characters, way too poorly contrived teaming-up, way too little graceful action. Future Quest is frantic. It feels like there’s a quota for panel appearances by character. Parker’s script is boring. More fighting in the Everglades. The most boring Battleworld ever. There’s so much going on, there’s not time for the artists do anything. They’ve got to fill panels with characters no one cares about. And not because no one has nostalgia for these properties, but because Parker doesn’t spend any time establishing any of them as characters.

He also cops out of the Space Ghost cliffhanger from the previous issue.

So, like I said, I’m not digging this book. It’s a strange misstep in DC’s otherwise shockingly successful Hanna-Barbara titles. Maybe Parker’s not the right guy for it. The artists are all right on, but Parker isn’t connecting with these characters or their team-up.

CREDITS

Visitors from Beyond; writer, Jeff Parker; artists, Evan Shaner, Ron Randall and Jonathan Case; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Dave Lanphear; editors, Brittany Holzherr and Marie Javins; publisher, DC Comics.

Swamp Thing Annual 4 (June 1988)

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The weirdest part of the annual–which is mostly a Batman story, which doesn’t suit Pat Broderick’s pencils as well as the Swamp Thing–is Chester getting stoned with Labo. I always understood Labo to be a stand-in for Alan Moore… so Stephen R. Bissette wrote a scene with Alan Moore getting stoned?

The scene doesn’t work. Labo’s presence is too strange at Chester’s, too much like a sitcom.

Otherwise, it’s a fairly okay issue. It’s not much of an annual. Bissette does write Batman as a violent madman, which is sort of interesting, but Swamp Thing’s got so little to do it’s never compelling. It’s especially distressing how little Alec cares about his neighbors.

Broderick has a lot of little art problems–very small heads on big people and so on.

The backup–with Mike Hoffman art–is fine. It’s just page filler, but Hoffman’s art is good.

CREDITS

Threads; writer, Stephen R. Bissette; penciller, Pat Broderick; inkers, Ron Randall and Eduardo Barreto. Traiteur; writer, Bissette; artist, Mike Hoffman. Colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, Bob Pinaha; editor, Karen Berger; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman 360 (June 1983)

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I can’t tell for sure, but it doesn’t seem like Doug Moench’s thrilled to have Batman saddled with Jason Todd. He writes the kid sympathetically–this issue is set approximately a month after his parents died–but Moench can’t wait to leave him behind at Wayne Manor.

Batman heads off on an urgent case and Jason doesn’t make another appearance.

The issue has a great pace. It opens with a teaser of the villain, moves to the next morning, then the rest of the issue takes place over the day. There’s a lot of Batman in the daylight (so much there’s exposition about how effective he comes off) before Moench tightens up the pace.

The villain’s fairly weak and the C plot with Gordon’s heart troubles is too obvious, but it’s pretty otherwise good. Don Newton comes up with some excellent action layouts and he matches Moench’s procedural pace well.

Swamp Thing 47 (April 1986)

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So the artists on the first appearance of the Parliament of Trees are Woch and Randall… They do a fantastic job and all, but it shows how comic book series are actually organic and susceptible to outside pressures; they do better loose, not planned.

Moore concentrates on the Parliament visit, which is dense with exposition and amazing visuals. Woch fills the panels with these astounding former plant elements; they’re eerily without speech and the art conveys the relative silence of the jungle setting.

Also in the issue is a developing subplot about Abby and Swamp Thing being photographed. Without it–and Constantine’s appearance–one could almost forget the issue is part of a longer, more traditionally minded narrative.

It’s also the first Swamp Thing-centric issue in a while and Moore juggles the character through tender relationship scenes, which are almost human, to the inhuman Parliament scenes.

It’s masterful work.

Swamp Thing 44 (January 1986)

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I never thought I’d be making this statement–but I can’t tell Randall from Totleben. Randall does some of the inks here and two inkers are seamless at first read. Maybe if I had been concentrating more on the art….

Instead, this issue of Swamp Thing is a big mishmash and, against the odds, it works.

I mean, there’s a scene with Batman bumping into Constantine and Mento (from Doom Patrol) on the street. Moore’s integration of Crisis is hilarious. He acknowledges it, but treats it as inconsequential. I guess they already knew Swamp Thing was safe from a relaunch.

There’s a great scene with Abby being rude to Swamp Thing, then him sulking. But it’s a small moment and the rest of the issue is about a serial killer.

His trip to Louisiana does not go well.

It’s a good issue; however, its parts are better than the whole.

Swamp Thing 43 (December 1985)

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Moore introduces Chester this issue; I’d sort of forgotten when he came into the series. Chester will be a member of the supporting cast, but for now, he’s simply the protagonist in a fill-in. He finds one of Swampy’s tubers and investigates it.

Now, Chester, in addition to being a hippie nature lover, is a drug dealer. His customers really like the idea of the tuber and take it.

It gives Moore a chance to not just have a lovely little story about a dying woman’s last night with her husband, but also one where an annoying jerk goes nuts off the tuber.

There are a bunch of visual references to the original Swamp Thing series, but it’s from fill-in artists Woch and Randall… which tempers my enthusiasm somewhat. They do some excellent work, but cameos from the first series deserve Bissette and Totleben.

It’s another great issue.

Swamp Thing 33 (February 1985)

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So while Swamp Thing has his adventure in “Pog,” Abby has her own one here. Except she’s mostly just in a framing sequence, not quite an adventure.

For whatever reason, Moore brought the original appearance of Swamp Thing into continuity with this issue. So there’s a few pages of Abby with Cain and Abel–Moore’s starting to explore the nature of storytelling a little, something he’d later expand on in Promethea–and then a reprint of the Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson House of Secrets Swamp Thing.

The end ties it all together, but the story isn’t consequential at all. It’s Moore mixing playfulness and good humor. He ends it on a joke. Moore’s often his most startling when he’s doing light comedy. It’s nice.

Ron Randall does the Abby bookend art. It’s the best work I’ve seen from him.

But he’s nowhere near Wrightson.

And Wein’s nowhere near Moore.

Dark Horse Presents 41 (June 1990)

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I guess up against Zick and The Argosy, Randall’s writing on Trekker seems really good. Maybe the plotting is a little better this time around from Randall–I wasn’t expecting the ending at all–and he’s still doing a lot of good work on the art. It’s crazy how different Trekker looks from when it started, even if it hasn’t exactly become original. Though the relationship between the female protagonist and her sister gets close.

The Argosy is something of a train wreck. The most important thing in the entire story happens in a tiny panel on the last page. Zick’s art is Kirby influenced, but in an interesting, thoughtful way, not the obvious. So it’s all right to look at, it’s just really stupid and pointless. Just rent Jason and the Argonauts or Clash of the Titans.

Sheldon’s “story” is art plates with some text. Art’s good, text’s pointless.

CREDITS

The Argosy; story and art by Bruce Zick; lettering by Pat Brosseau. Trekker; story and art by Ron Randall; lettering by David Jackson. Same Story Told Yesterday; story and art by Monty Sheldon. Edited by Randy Stradley.

Dark Horse Presents 40 (May 1990)

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You know, I think Matt Wagner’s Aerialist is homophobic. Every man is forced to be gay. Anyway, it’s not at all impressive, a Rollerball knockoff. When his characters aren’t in costume, Wagner’s art is rather weak. I guess the hot air balloons look good.

Bob the Alien is absolutely amazing as a) Bob moves to a black neighborhood in Brooklyn and b) discovers God. It might be the funniest installment so far. I can’t believe this comic isn’t more appreciated.

The Argosy is a really wordy retelling of Jason and the Argonauts. It’s fantasy, introduces about forty character names in eight pages. It’s a waste of time.

Randall continues his good art on this Trekker installment. Still bad writing–some really silly developments here.

The Wacky Squirrel story’s a waste of pages, but I guess Bradrick’s art is good.

Campbell’s Bacchus features the (presumably true) store of Dom PΓ©rignon. Fantastic.

CREDITS

Trekker; story and art by Ron Randall; lettering by David Jackson. The Aerialist, Part One; story and art by Matt Wagner; lettering by Kevin Cunningham. Bob the Alien, Bob, the alien, Learns About God; story, art and lettering by Rich Rice. The Argosy; story and art by Bruce Zick; lettering by Karen Casey-Smith. Wacky Squirrel, Diet Riot; story by Mike Richardson and Jim Bradrick; art by Bradrick; lettering by Jack Pollock. Bacchus, Gods, Monks, & Corkscrews; story and art by Eddie Campbell. Edited by Randy Stradley and Diana Schutz.

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