Ross Andru

Atari Force 5 (May 1985)

Atari Force #5There seem to be some pages missing, like the scene where Martin talks his kid into stealing a space craft. His estranged kid.

Conway glosses over that problem, along with the one where Martin convinces his shrink to commit treason to join his mission. The mission, to save the world, isn’t revealed until over halfway through. Seems somewhat unlikely people who sign up without some idea. They do steal a huge spaceship after all.

Multi-dimensional ship, but you get the idea.

There’s not much time for the characters, though the huge baby alien character gets a couple nice moments and the action’s not bad. It reminds a little too much of Star Wars for a moment but not bad.

Conway seems to be setting up the series for high adventure. He doesn’t quite promise it, which might be good since this issue doesn’t deliver any.

The comic harmlessly underperforms.

C+ 

CREDITS

Dark Dawn; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Ross Andru; inker, José Luis García-López; colorist, Tom Ziuko; letterer, Bob Lappan; editor, Andy Helfer; publisher, DC Comics.

Atari Force 4 (April 1984)

Atari Force #4What an odd issue. Not because of Dart making out with her de facto brother–the whiny surfer dude–just after her man has died, but because Conway brings back surfer dude’s dad. Previously, the dad (a main character from the first Atari Force series) has been off to the side. He’s been present, but never the focus. Now Conway reveals he’s basically the protagonist.

Then there’s the art. Ross Andru handles the pencils, Garcia-Lopez only having time for the inks. Andru doesn’t do a bad job–he gets very stylized for some of the scenes and the inks are good, but it’s not the same. Force doesn’t pack the same visual wallop.

The issue has the same subplots too, but Conway isn’t really moving forward on them. There’s progress for surfer dude, but only because Dart’s there and his dad’s there.

It’s odd how the plotting problems coincide with the art change.

B 

CREDITS

Families; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Ross Andru; inker, José Luis García-López; colorist, Tom Ziuko; letterer, Bob Lappan; editor, Andy Helfer; publisher, DC Comics.

Atari Force 4 (1982)

61706Andru’s back for exactly the type of comic I expected with the title Atari Force. It’s roughly eighteen pages–I’m not counting the double-page spreads–and most of those pages is like watching someone else play a video game. Only it’s an Atari game, so the designs are pretty childish. (Not to knock Atari game designers, but how many bits of graphics did they have? Two?).

The issue recounts the victories of a fighter pilot who singlehandedly shuts down an evil alien species mining planets with slave labor. The regular cast does make some appearances, but only once do Conway and Thomas bother giving them any depth in their scenes. And that one instance is never resolved. The rest of the issue makes that scene moot anyway.

It’s generally competent, licensed material dreck. Andru’s art isn’t interesting, but endless space battles with goofy ships isn’t going to be interesting.

D 

CREDITS

Phoenix; writers, Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas; penciller, Ross Andru; inker and editor, Dick Giordano; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Costanza; publisher, DC Comics.

Atari Force 2 (1982)

2333This issue covers two more team members–both new members whose little origin stories come right after their introductions–and both of their stories are, once again, rather rough.

First there’s the Indian guy, who only got out of poverty because some British guy mistakenly accused the kid of theft and a tragedy followed. Then there’s the head of security. For her, Thomas and Conway have a really depressing war story. Atari Force, for all its jumpsuits and Atari lingo, is a rather grown-up comic. Not what one would expect from a game tie-in geared at kids (were Atari consoles aimed at kids?).

There’s also the bigger story. The team comes together to travel between alternate realities to find a world for the benevolent Atari corporation to colonize. So no big sci-fi action yet, but soon.

The art’s still a little off, but it’s fine enough.

B 

CREDITS

Berserk; writers, Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas; penciller, Ross Andru; inkers, Dick Giordano and Mike DeCarlo; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Giordano; publisher, DC Comics.

Atari Force 1 (1982)

2332Atari Force is immediately strange on three levels. First, it’s game tie-in to the company, not a game. Second, it’s a reduced size comic and all the art looks too spacious. Ross Amdru is clearly trying to fill things out.

Finally, writes Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas borrow lots of sci-fi movie tropes. But they don’t apply them in the standard way–they turn them into action set pieces. Atari Force, despite Andru’s awkward page layouts, is something of a direct precursor to the 2010 film. It’s technological excitement in a sunny post-apocalypse.

This issue deals with a couple characters who are heading to Atari headquarters–it’s called something else, maybe the Atari Institute–to help save the world. Something along those lines. There’s actually a really tough flashback to post-World War III Africa. It’s not gritty looking, but it’s serious.

It’s a rather strange comic.

C 

CREDITS

Intruder Alert; writers, Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas; penciller, Ross Andru; inkers, Dick Giordano and Mike DeCarlo; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Giordano; publisher, DC Comics.

The Punisher: No Mercy (2013, Jason Ambrus)

About half of The Punisher: No Mercy is effective. From the credits, it appears the fan short is a labor of love for star Shawn Baichoo–who apes Karl Urban’s voice from Dredd, which doesn’t work here. Baichoo cowrote the script and choreographed the fight scene between himself and Amber Goldfarb.

The fight scene isn’t very good. It’s hard to tell if it’s the choreography, Jason Ambrus’s lackluster action direction or James Malloch’s decidedly limp editing. Mercy, throughout, has terrible sound effects. They should have splurged for a better sound effects CD.

The script’s multi-layered, which is almost neat. The problem is that fight scene. It takes up most of the second half and between the boring fight and Goldfarb’s terrible performance (not to mention it’s all on a confined set)… the short loses all momentum.

Mercy shows talented amateur filmmaking; it’s too bad it’s a waste of time.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Jason Ambrus; screenplay by Shawn Baichoo and Davila LeBlanc, based on the Marvel Comics characters created by Gerry Conway, John Romita Jr., Frank Miller and Ross Andru; director of photography, Jean-Maxim Desjardins; edited by James Malloch; music by Shayne Gryn; produced by Baichoo and Amber Goldfarb.

Starring Shawn Baichoo (Frank Castle), Amber Goldfarb (Elektra Natchios), James Malloch (Dominic Duran) and Giancarlo Caltabiano (Rizzo).


Showcase 2 (May-June 1956)

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Good grief. I thought I was going to be able to talk seriously about this comic, starting with the story of a young Native American lad whose spirit animal keeps saving his butt, then through the story of a misunderstood youth and his mutt… but the final story is about a circus bear who escapes.

Now, the circus bear knows he has it pretty good at the circus, he just wants adventure. So the story–which, sadly, does not have an author credit–proposes the idea circuses (in the fifties) treated animals well. It’s also this Disney-like look at animals, which talk and think. It’s incredible. Russ Heath’s art is pretty charming, actually.

The Joe Kubert art on the Native American kid story is okay, some great vistas, but Ross Andru and Mike Esposito bore on the orphaned kid one.

This comic’s glorious nuts (and completely unaware of it).

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