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Posts Tagged ‘Clem Robins’

Y: The Last Man #22

July 26, 2012 Leave a comment

May 4, 2004

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Widow’s Pass Part Two

Agent 355 sets out to save Dr. Mann from the Sons of Arizona… but who’s going to save her?

Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Pencils: Goran Parlov
Inks: Jose Marzan Jr.
Colors: Zylonol
Letters: Clem Robins
Editor: Will Dennis
Cover Art: Aron Wisenfeld
Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo

Vaughan’s near-epic story about the last man alive continues this issue. As Yorick Brown and Ampersand stay in hiding with a new friend, Agent 355 heads out to rescue Dr. Mann, who is trying to negotiate safe passage to California from the radical militia group The Sons of Arizona. As always happens to our heroes, things quickly spin out of control and even our escape artist Yorick will be hard-pressed to twist his way out of this one.

Vaughan uses several nice elements in this book – a revelation about Dr. Mann that we’ve been waiting for since the first issue, a few funny character moments with Yorick, and a couple of reality checks (it’s just not as easy to knock someone unconscious in real life as it is in the movies). He ties things up with one of his trademark last-page cliffhangers. It wouldn’t be an issue of Y without a last-page cliffhanger. It’s getting to the point where other writers who want to use last-page cliffhangers have to send Vaughan royalty checks.

Goran Parlov, still pinch-hitting for regular artist Pia Guerra, does a fine job on the artwork. It’s easy to make Yorick stand out visually, as he’s the only male character in the book, but all of the artists on this series deserve credit for making so many female characters separate and distinct visually. No one looks like anyone else, and whether that’s because there’s a good blend of ethnicities or because of other tricks like our bald friend P.J., this is one comic book where you don’t need a scorecard to remember who’s who.

There’s not much to say about this comic that hasn’t been said 21 times already. It’s a great, solid adventure story, something really distinct in an artform that seems kind of homogeneous at times. It’s one of the strongest offerings of an already-strong Vertigo imprint, and if you’re looking for a mature tale with a good, meaty story behind it, you just can’t go wrong with this title.

Rating: 8/10

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Hellblazer #195

June 28, 2012 Leave a comment

April 24, 2004

Quick Rating: Good
Title: Out of Season Part One

Constantine’s friends hunt for him as his amnesia causes him even more problems.

Writer: Mike Carey
Art: Leonardo Manco
Colors: Lee Loughridge
Letters: Clem Robins
Editor: Will Dennis
Cover Art: Tim Bradstreet
Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo

After an encounter with an unpleasant fellow with telepathic tendencies last issue, John Constantine is trying to figure out who he is with nothing but his first name. His large friend is looking for him, a new friend isn’t exactly stable, and his old friends are trying to find him by any means necessary.

This is listed as the first of a two-part story, but it essentially continues from last issue’s quite good “Ward 24” story. Seeing Constantine trying to get by without his usual wit, snarky nature or anything else is new territory for the character, and for someone with 195 issues under his belt, finding something new isn’t easy. He gets into a seriously dangerous position in this issue and is unable to rely on any of his usual tricks, not remembering what they are, and the result is much more perilous than usual without actually making the stakes as high as they often get in a book like this.

Leonardo Manco does a fantastic job with the artwork on this issue. He has a handle on Constantine that actually echoes the rendition of the character done by cover artist Tim Bradstreet. It’s not quite as detailed – but doing the level of detail on a Bradstreet cover for the interiors would virtually eliminate any chance of getting an issue done on time. The facial structure is similar, however, and moreso than it usually is when it’s just different artists trying to draw the same character. It’s as if they used the same model.

Manco’s creepier scenes work well too, with just the right touch of blood and gore interlaced with some pretty normal-looking characters. These guys are still in shape, but unlike some horror comics, there is no character in this title that could be mistaken for a superhero.

With My Faith in Frankie over, this is easily the best title Mike Carey is writing now. He manages just the right mix of horror and potboiler, and that’s something that’s always fun to read when it’s done right.

Rating: 7/10

Breach #1

March 20, 2012 Leave a comment

January 3, 2005

Quick Rating: Dull. Typical. Seen it all before.
Title: Otherside

A strange experiment transforms a good soldier.

Writer: Bob Harras
Pencils: Marcos Martin
Inks: Alvaro Lopez
Colors: Javier Rodriguez
Letters: Clem Robins
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover Art: Marcos Martin
Publisher: DC Comics

On the whole, DC Comics deserves a lot of credit for trying out new properties these last few years. While they may not be tearing up the sales charts, books like The Monolith and Bloodhound are intriguing, clever takes on “typical” comic book subjects, and have made for some of the best comics out there that people aren’t reading. Contrast that, if you will, to their newest offering. If there is an original idea anywhere in Breach, I’ve got to break out the magnifying glass and forensics team to find it.

We start off nearly a year in the future, after some undefined disaster somewhere in Siberia, where a mysterious man in white and red with strange, vague powers has given up on humanity. Flash back, then to 1983, where our story begins. While planning for his son’s birthday, Major Tim Zanetti is also working on one of those top-secret military experiments that happen in comic books all the time. This of course causes one of those horrible accidents that wouldn’t have happened if Only We Hadn’t Decided to Play God, as happens in comic books all the time. Zanetti undergoes a horrible transformation and is put under sedation by the government – as happens in comic books all the time. Oh yes, and in case we didn’t catch the message, conveniently-placed news media reports in three different time periods remind us that the military is evil.

To be honest, I really can’t remember if I’ve ever read anything written by Bob Harras before. I know he was a bigwig at Marvel Comics for several years, but he fell off the radar after that before landing this property with DC. Unfortunately, it’s not much of an idea. I felt like I’ve read this story time and again – and usually better.

On the art side, Marcos Martin and Alvaro Lopez serve up a very satisfying package. They get called upon to draw a lot of high-tech, sci-fi gadgets, and do a good job of it, and their design for the mysterious figure at the beginning/in the future is actually quite good.

Still, the art isn’t enough to elevate an incredibly tired and overdone storyline. I don’t see this book finding an audience.

Rating: 3/10

Y: The Last Man #21

February 9, 2012 Leave a comment

April 10, 2004

Quick Rating: Good
Title: Widow’s Pass Part One

On the long trek to San Francisco, our friends are sidetracked by the Sons of Arizona.

Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Pencils: Goran Parlov
Inks: Jose Marzan Jr.
Colors: Zylonol
Letters: Clem Robins
Editor: Will Dennis
Cover Art: Aron Wiesenfeld
Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo

The long walk across a half-dead America to Dr. Mann’s lab in San Francisco has been made even harder than our friends expected thanks to natural disasters that have gone unchecked and woman-made disasters that force them to divert through Arizona. The road gets bumpy again, however, when Yorick, Mann and Agent 355 encounter a young woman who warns them of the actions of the Sons of Arizona, an ironically-named militia group who has decided that the government was responsible for the mysterious plague that killed all the men on Earth, and are determined to save their home state even at the cost of the other 49.

This is by no means the first time this story has gotten political, but it is a little disappointing to see Vaughan return to the frequent whipping boy of the militia. That said, even though it’s not exactly an original idea, Vaughan handles it very well, giving the whole situation an appropriate sense of menace without going overboard.

The characterization in this book really stands out. Yorick finally learned a lesson last issue about his reckless nature, and that lesson is taking its toll on his emotions and actions. The Yorick that marches into Arizona in this issue is a markedly different young man than the boy who was the only male to survive the enigmatic plague 20 issues ago. He has grown, gotten stronger and matured, and more than anything else in the books, he shows how the world has changed with him.

One thing that has surprised me about this series is how much it has really tuned into a road story. At the outset I expected more of a hardcore sci-fi series with a bit of a horror aspect, but the focus is really about our characters walking across America and showing how much every part of the country was touched by the deaths of all the men. For some reason, that focus really struck me in this issue, even though it’s been a part of the series since the beginning. It’s not what I expected in issue one. I love it, though.

Goran Parlov steps in for Pia Guerra as penciller this issue, and does such a good job that I didn’t even realize we had a guest penciller until I read the credit box to write this review. Knowing it’s a guest artist, I was able to see some small stylistic differences, but Parlov either has a very similar style or he deliberately tried to stay consistent with Guerra’s style and either way, we get an issue that looks very good and doesn’t jar the reader with a drastically different style the way a lot of guest-artist issues do.

While I’m not as crazy about this issue as some of the previous ones, it’s undeniably a solid book that advances the story very well. Y: The Last Man fans will not be disappointed.

Rating: 7/10

100 Bullets #50

December 22, 2011 Leave a comment

June 8, 2004

Quick Rating: Huh?
Title: Prey For Reign

As a bunch of crooks wait for the fallout of a job, one of them tells a story of a long time ago.

Writer: Brian Azzarello
Art: Eduardo Risso
Colors: Patricia Mulvihill
Letters: Clem Robins
Editor: Will Dennis
Cover Art: Dave Johnson
Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo

I’m told this book marks the halfway point in this critically acclaimed Vertigo series, and it appears to fill in some needed backstory. However, if you haven’t been reading 100 Bullets – and I haven’t – it’s just going to leave you scratching your head.

A group of criminals called together for a job, Reservoir Dogs-style, sit in a bar and wait for a straggler to arrive or turn up dead. While they wait, one of them begins to tell the others a story of a time long ago when a group of 13 power-hungry men took actions that would place the world in their hands. This of course raises another question, like in the recent 1602, does every comic book title with links to colonial times have to invoke the Roanoke colony? (Yes, I know 100 Bullets was planned out long before 1602, but that doesn’t make the whole thing any less repetitive.)

This is clearly intended to be backstory on the main recurring plot of this series – the mysterious Mr. Graves who gives people guns and 100 untraceable bullets to take revenge on whomever they wish. However, the details and pieces of the puzzle are completely lost on someone like me, who hasn’t really been following the title. It’s a terrible issue if you’re looking for a jumping-on point, but if you’ve been reading the series it’s probably pretty good at filling in some of the gaps you’ve been wondering about.

Risso’s art style was tailor-made for this book. He keeps things dark and gritty, with characters that are basically very realistic, flawed people. His scenes set in the past work well too, employing the same style but translating it to fit 16th century warriors, clerics and explorers.

As confused as I was, I still enjoyed this issue more than any issue of Azzarello and Risso’s “Broken City” run on Batman. This is more the story they are suited to tell, and I’m sure legitimate fans of the book will have much better things to say about it than I do.

Rating: 7/10

Catwoman (2002 Series) #34

December 14, 2011 Leave a comment

August 22, 2004

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Cold Hard Facts (War Games Act One Part Seven)

The Gang War threatens to engulf Gotham’s East End… and Catwoman’s not going to let that happen.

Writer: Ed Brubaker
Pencils: Paul Gulacy
Inks: Jimmy Palmiotti
Colors: Laurie Kronenberg
Letters: Clem Robins
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover Art: Paul Gulacy & Jimmy Palmiotti
Publisher: DC Comics

“War Games” continues to impress with this issue, a major one in the storyline that again succeeds in telling part of the overall whole without losing the individual feel of the title. When the Gang War spreads to Gotham City’s East End, Catwoman’s area of town, she takes it upon herself to put the soldiers down before any innocent people get hurt. You see a lot of Catwoman’s methods in this issue, including a more brutal handling of some of the mobsters than Batman would likely approve of, plus a rundown of the rules by which she runs her section of town.

There are two more major sequences in the book – Catwoman speaks to Leslie Thompkins, the doctor who took Bruce Wayne in after his parents were murdered, and is astonished to find she blames herself for the violence engulfing the city. Leslie isn’t the only one carrying around culpability, though, and the end of this issue answers some of the major questions that have been shadowing this storyline since day one.

Gulacy’s artwork is in top form this issue, including a great car chase/shootout scene at the very beginning that works very well to show how tough a contender Catwoman really is. He does have some problems with scenes of Catwoman and an unexpected companion at the end once the two of them are out of their masks – he does a very good job of them in costume, posing, choreographing, but once the masks are off the faces are a bit too angular, too pointed, and don’t look quite natural.

Overall, a fine issue, and an important one. If you’re getting all of the War Games chapters, this issue will be waiting for you anyway. If you’re only planning to get some of the crossovers, though, rest assured, you need this issue. With the exception of last week’s Robin, it’s the biggest one yet.

Rating: 8/10

Batman: Gotham Knights #54

December 1, 2011 Leave a comment

May 12, 1004

Quick Rating: Fair
Title: Pushback Book Five

Green Arrow joins the hunt for Prometheus.

Writer: A.J. Lieberman
Pencils: Al Barrionuevo & Javier Pina
Inks: Francis Portela & Jimmy Palmiotti
Colors: Brad Anderson
Letters: Clem Robins
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover Art: Lee Bermejo
Publisher: DC Comics

It’s interesting that the most frequent criticism of Lieberman’s writing on this title is that he doesn’t have a very good handle on The Joker, then he turns out an issue like this, which is basically a retelling of the Joker’s origin according to Alan Moore. The Joker has spent 12 years trying to find the man who murdered his wife, and now that the information is at his fingertips, he pauses to reflect on how he got where he is.

Which is really where the problem comes in – the Joker is simply not a reflective character. He’s never been the sort to pontificate about the past – he’s about the now, the chaos, the turmoil he can create in the present. Past and future have never help much import for him. If finding his wife’s murderer is so important to him, why has he spent the past twelve years creating smiling fish and trapping Batman in enormous jack-in-the-boxes? Reading the issue the way it’s written paints the Joker’s entire career up to this point is the comic book equivalent of O.J. looking for the real killers.

Again, I really like Barrionuevo’s artwork on this title – he does a great Batman and Robin and has a good handle on the villains, who are really the stars of the piece. He shares penciling duties with Javier Pina this issue, but their styles are either very similar or Pina has adapted his style to mesh with Barrionuevo’s, because the transitions are seamless. I really can’t tell where one artist departs and the other comes in.

Lieberman’s initial Gotham Knights arc has been pretty much average throughout. He’s got skill at certain things, but has chosen to focus this storyline on things he’s just not as good at. Hopefully after “Pushback” concludes next issue, he’ll shift the focus of the book back to the Batman family, because I think that will be his best chance to really shine.

Rating: 6/10