September 2016

Cinema Purgatorio 7 (November 2016)

Cinema Purgatorio #7Well, it’s not the best issue of Cinema Purgatorio. Not the best at all. It’s not really the worst either, I don’t think. I mean, this installment of Modded is probably Kieron Gillen’s strongest writing. But it’s not a particularly distinct issue.

Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill explore the American Western, which is fine. There’s nothing amazing about it. It’s actually a little obvious; it’s light, which is strange.

Code Pru is okay. Ennis is trying a little harder. It doesn’t really come to anything. Maybe he if he had even two more pages, he’d be able to get someplace better with it. It’s actually an improvement over the earlier stories, it’s just still not clicking.

Like I said before, Modded is Gillen’s best writing. Nice art from Nahuel Lopez. It’s a side story from the main plot, so of course it’s going to be better than usual. Gillen still manages to screw it up at the end, of course.

A More Perfect Union has a really nice double-page spread from Michael DiPascale and some stupid Civil War reference from Max Brooks. I don’t care. No one cares, Max Brooks, no one cares. If they cared, if Avatar is really pitching Cinema Purgatorio to Civil War enthusiasts, well, those guys all left during Code Pru and Ennis’s sex positivity.

And The Vast is a reprint from last issue. I think. I don’t even care. If it’s not, nice art from Gabriel Andrade. If it is, nice art from Gabriel Andrade.

Moore and O’Neill worked up some momentum on this book and if they’re running out… well, Cinema Purgatorio is more often disappointing overall than not, it’s just they had a couple really great stories. And Ennis seemed like he was getting with it. As always, it’s too bad it’s not better.

CREDITS

Cinema Purgatorio, After Tombstone; writer, Alan Moore; artist, Kevin O’Neill. Code Pru, Men; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Raulo Caceres. Modded; writer, Kieron Gillen; artist, Nahuel Lopez. A More Perfect Union; writer, Max Brooks; artist, Michael DiPascale. The Vast; writer, Christos Gage; artist, Gabriel Andrade. Letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.

War Stories 20 (September 2016)

War Stories #20It’s another excellent issue. Ennis has got a lot of exposition in the dialogue but there’s no better place for it than a war comic; it’s not just for his narrative, it’s for the history too. Script’s steadily paced and Aira’s art flows quite well this issue.

CREDITS

Vampire Squadron, Part Two: The War Effort; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Tomas Aira; colorist, Digikore Studios; letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.

Cinema Purgatorio 6 (September 2016)

Cinema Purgatorio #6If there’s meant to be an ideal Cinema Purgatorio, this issue comes closer than I’d ever imagine the comic would get. Even with the occasionally phenomenal, usually good, always fine features from Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill, there’s not much of a feel to the comic. It’s an anthology without tone, not even in terms of the story selection. It feels like Alan Moore inserted into a bad Avatar idea.

Until this issue. It’s not like Gillen’s Modded is any better, but Nahuel Lopez’s artwork is less complicated than the last artist’s and it makes it read better. It might not make it better, I feel like Lopez isn’t ambitious as much as functional while the last guy was ambitious, but it makes it read better. It makes Modded less of a letdown when you get to it.

Because it’s not just like the Moore and O’Neill feature is great, Code Pru is actually pretty awesome. Pro is having dinner at the Nighthawks diner and she has a talk with a reject from a bad eighties Terminator/Highlander knockoff. It’s funny, it’s kind of touching, it’s kind of strange. It’s Ennis finding something cool to do with this usually devastatingly series. Ennis doesn’t have a handle on this comic, maybe because of the length, maybe because of whatever, but this time out, he finds it. He finds his character. Caceres’s art is fine. It doesn’t end up fitting well enough, but it’s fine.

A Most Perfect Union is dumb but DiPascale’s on a role with his art, both in terms of the narrative pacing and of his character expressions. He’s developing a visual tone for the comic even though Brooks’s script is weak. And The Vast is cute. Andrade’s art gets confusing, but Gage actually paces out a fight scene well.

So Cinema Purgatorio is finally a diverting read. Not rewarding in all its parts, but diverting in them. But it all hinges on Moore and O’Neill. This issue of Cinema Purgatorio opens with a political bombshell. Moore and O’Neill tell the story of the Warner Brothers–you know, the guys whose company now owns DC Comics and has made lots of bad movies off of Alan Moore’s comic books, which he infamously hates being involved with. I actually thought he was going to go further, but he stayed classy. Heinous individuals get proper treatment. There’s a lot in the story–a couple times O’Neill just gives up and lets the dialogue and visual references take over. I couldn’t help reading the feature–Moore casts the Marx Brothers as the Warner Brothers, which brings in even more politics. Today Warner owns the MGM library, including the Marx Brothers movies (at least for home video distribution, I actually have no idea if they lease them or own them or what, not the point)–so is Moore making a deeper jab at Warner? Was his King Kong feature a couple issues ago a jab at Warner? Am I reading too much into it? It’s Alan Moore, after all. Aren’t I supposed to read into it?

Anyway, the feature’s great. Beautifully visually, beautifully in terms of dialogue and the Marxist banter. It flows so nicely into Ennis’s Code Pru, it’s impossible not to be generous with this rest of the comic.

CREDITS

Cinema Purgatorio, A Night at the Lawyers; writer, Alan Moore; artist, Kevin O’Neill. Code Pru, Big Jimmy C.; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Raulo Caceres. Modded; writer, Kieron Gillen; artist, Nahuel Lopez. A More Perfect Union; writer, Max Brooks; artist, Michael DiPascale. The Vast; writer, Christos Gage; artist, Gabriel Andrade. Letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.

Surgeon X 1 (September 2016)

Surgeon X #1I really wanted to like Surgeon X. Right there on the front cover, third credited, Karen Berger–the editor getting cover credit. And John Watkiss art. It has to be something special. Only it’s not. The super sad part of Surgeon X is it isn’t special.

It takes place in the future after a medical crisis. I think it’s the second or third Image book with a medical crisis going on. There are rioting people because of refugees and racism basically. It takes place twenty years in the future, but writer Sara Kenney is pretty obvious in her commentary and she’s just trying to make a future where things get worse. But mundanely worse, not fantastically worse. The narrator is a doctor who quits to become a rogue surgeon, dealing out life and death in equal amounts. There’s a lot of narration. It’s not good narration.

But the real problem is Watkiss’s art. It’s not clear if he’s not the right artist for so much dialogue–exposition everywhere–or if he’s just rushing. The script’s an information dump not a narrative and Watkiss is never able to generate any tension off the thrill scenes. Maybe the colorist is just wrong for Watkiss.

Regardless, I’m really bummed. I wanted this book to something vaguely exciting.

CREDITS

The Path of Most Resistance: Chapter One, Cutting Loose; writer, Sara Kenney; artist, John Watkiss; colorist, James Devlin; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editor, Karen Berger; publisher, Image Comics.

I Hate Fairyland 9 (September 2016)

I Hate Fairyland #9I Hate Fairyland continues on its demented way, with Young throwing Gert into her next misadventure. The recap text actually made me think there might be some kind of followup to the previous issue’s events, but no, instead Young’s full steam ahead.

This issue has Gert going into Larry’s magic hat to try to find a captured beast to pay off a gambling debt. She tries to sweet talk her way out of trouble. Doesn’t work, beautifully so. Instead, she’s got to go into Larry’s hat–Larry’s a bug of some sort, in case you don’t read Fairyland, which you should–and fight lice in order to save herself both in miniature form and big form.

Young’s new plotting for the comic–done-in-ones–is going beautifully. There’s just a solid, hilarious, maybe grotesque adventure every issue. It doesn’t get much better. Or, if it could, I can’t imagine how.

CREDITS

Writer and artist, Skottie Young; colorist, Jean-Francois Bealieu; letterer, Nate Piekos; publisher, Image Comics.

Manifest Destiny 23 (September 2016)

Manifest Destiny #23As a series, Manifest Destiny started up and slowly traveled down. Though sometimes it has charged downhill in terms of plotting quality. But Roberts’s art has always been a draw. It’s always been something the series can lean on when Dingess’s writing isn’t cutting it. Until now. Roberts is either in a rush or as bored with the story as I am. He hurries through and it looks bad. Not all of it, but enough of it.

The issue has the crazy flashback guy on a mission from the evil inter dimensional bird god thing. Lewis and Clark are meeting with a Native American tribe to figure out where they’re camping for the winter–I remember when this comic had the momentum of the expedition. It’s shocking how Dingess has let it flop on the deck.

For every solid moment in the Lewis and Clark story, and there are only a handful, there’s something even worse with the flashback guy. It feels like a bad Tales of the Black Freighter knock-off, both in terms of narration as it contrasts reality and the art design.

I don’t think I can do Manifest Destiny anymore.

CREDITS

Sasquatch, Part Five; writer, Chris Dingess; penciller, Matthew Roberts; inkers, Tony Akins and Stefano Gaudiano; colorist, Owen Gieni; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Arielle Basich and Sean Mankiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

Hadrian’s Wall 1 (September 2016)

Hadrian's Wall #1Hadrian’s Wall opens with a paragraph explaining the setting–it’s set in an alternate future because it has an alternate past (the U.S. and U.S.S.R. nuked each other in 1985 so the future’s different)–but then it’s just a traditional future cop sci-fi thing. And it’s pretty good at it too. Writers Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel just have one major mystery for the cop to solve–who killed his ex-wife’s new husband? Who she initially had an affair with, who got him fired, who shot him four times.

The protagonist is now a painkiller popping wreck of a man. Will he be able to unravel the mystery out in the stars–Hadrian’s Wall refers to the ship where there a limited number of suspects. And we already know someone isn’t what they seem.

Basically, it’s an excuse to look at some gorgeous artwork from Rod Reis. The dialogue is fine–it’s pulpy future cop stuff (and it’s hard to believe it didn’t start as a screenplay)–the characters are okay. The art on them is great. I mean, it’s not an ambitious book, it’s just a solid one.

CREDITS

Writers, Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel; artist, Rod Reis; letterer, Troy Peteri; editor, Matt Idelson; publisher, Image Comics.

Kaijumax: Season Two 4 (September 2016)

Kaijumax: Season Two #4Cannon doesn’t offer a breather after a heavy previous issue. He sends Electrogor under the sea into the old gods’ territory (with Cthulhu showing up at the end) and it’s a real downer. I feel like it’s the first time he’s branched into different monster mythologies to this degree in Kaijumax–I mean, Cthulhu’s never been a kaiju (right?). Most of Electrogor’s half of the issue is spent with him feeling terrible, which is sort of his thing, but for really good reason as he meets the residents of this hidden, undersea slum. It’s heartbreaking and horrifying, but not in for any predictable reasons.

At the same time, Chisato the good mecha, gets herself a new partner and has to work vice, which provides Cannon the opportunity to do some mixed size action sequences. It doesn’t necessarily seem heavy, but then Cannon sticks the reader right at the end of the issue. He’s heavy on the “real life, real crime” parallels, which isn’t as successful as just when he sticks to the complicated world of Kaijumax.

Season Two is working out to be far more successful than the previous one, which is no small feat. Between Chisato and her character development–it’s not like the humans in Kaijumax have ever been particularly sympathetic so seeing someone try to be more like them is rather effective; her new partner–the burnout human–is a wonderful contrast, of course.

It’s such a good comic. It’s just brutally downbeat.

CREDITS

The Seamy Underbelly; writer, artist and letterer, Zander Cannon; colorists, Cannon and Jason Fischer; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

Resident Alien: The Man with No Name 1 (September 2016)

Resident Alien: The Man with No Name #1Resident Alien is back. As always, cause for rejoicing, especially with Steve Parkhouse having a great time returning to the characters. He maintains the series’s comfortable feel, but with a visible enthusiasm. As far as the writing goes, Peter Hogan eases the reader back into the adventures of Harry and company. Even the series title–The Man with No Name–goes unanswered this issue; Hogan and Parkhouse know how to set up a limited series.

These series have to read great in trade.

This issue’s highlights include Harry going for a walk with the mayor, who’s running for re-election, the Men in Black tracking down Asta and the local sheriff having a talk with her, then Harry going to the mayor’s poker night. It’s just a mellow book with great dialogue, great characterization and great art.

Even as he’s laying the groundwork for the eventual mystery, Hogan makes sure to work on the characters first. The poker game is one of the issue’s longer, more amusing scenes. Hogan writes the book through Harry’s appreciative, forgiving eyes, even when he’s not in a scene. It’s positive without being unnecessarily idealistic. Bad things can still happen, of course. And the issue ends on a fairly ominous hard cliffhanger.

CREDITS

Writer, Peter Hogan; artist, Steve Parkhouse; editors, Megan Walker and Philip R. Simon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Kong of Skull Island 3 (September 2016)

Kong of Skull Island #3Giant apes are more interesting than political intrigue, even political intrigue involving multiple betrayals. These betrayals all happen during a crisis and all happen with characters it’s impossible to really care about because we’re three issues into Kong of Skull Island–the title does now make awesome (and plural) sense, however.

Still Asmus does a bit of a better job this issue than the last time around. Not good enough to right the course of the comic but at least enough to encourage further time and reading energy.

Another problem this issue is how much Magno has to do with the art and in how little time. He’s got a volcanic eruption, a political coup and a Kong riot. By the time the lava gets to some stranded folks, I’d forgotten about the volcano entirely. There was too much of the other stuff–including that pointless political intrigue. At least the Kong wrangler lady gets more to do, even if way too much of it happens off panel so Asmus can concentrate on moving the disaster part of it forward.

But next issue promises lots of giant apes versus dinosaurs–and some yawn-inducing political intrigue, no doubt–so I’ll be back. But Kong’s almost out of the goodwill the first issue generated.

CREDITS

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p style=”font-size:11px;”>Writer, James Asmus; artist, Carlos Magno; colorist, Brad Simpson; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Alex Galer and Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

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