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Posts Tagged ‘Frank Quitely’

The Walking Dead #100

July 25, 2012 Leave a comment

July 13, 2012

Title: Something to Fear Part Four

Writer: Robert Kirkman
Art: Charlie Adlard
Letters: Rus Wooton
Gray Tones: Cliff Rathburn
Cover Art: Charlie Adlard & Cliff Rathburn
Variant Covers: Marc Silverstri & Sunny Gho; Frank Quitely; Todd McFarlane & John Rauch; Sean Phillips; Bryan Hitch & John Rauch; Ryan Ottley & John Rauch; Charlie Adlard & Cliff Rathburn, Charlie Adlard
Editor: Sina Grace
Publisher: Image Comics/Skybound

Let’s hear it for Robert Kirkman, shall we? Aside from a hit TV show and what will likely prove to be the highest-selling comic book of 2012, The Walking Dead is now a member of that ever-shrinking family of comic books that have lasted 100 issues or more… and this for a black-and-white character drama with no superheroes. That’s damn impressive.

Also impressive is the story we get here. Kirkman tells a great story, but he doesn’t go out of his way to make this some huge, mind-blowing, 100th-issue extravaganza. We get extra story pages here, but a lot of it is talking heads stuff. Rick and his friends are going out to take a stand against the mysterious Negal, leader of a group of survivors demanding unfair tributes from the group Rick’s people have fallen in with. Rick and company wind up in a face off with Negal, only to wind up captured, and forced into the most horrible situation a human could place them in.

There’s so much about this comic that’s impressive to me. The fact that the drama can come not from the zombies, but from the still-living, is really just the top of the iceberg to me. The fact that, after 100 issues, Kirkman can still legitimately amp up the drama regarding who will live and who will die… the fact that this issue ends with our heroes at a new low point, a point of rage and grief and pain that the reader will share… it’s remarkable that he can still do that after all this time.

Adlard pours it on this issue, turning out some of his best work. Pain, anguish… gore… he puts it all into these pages, turning out a stark look at a horrible world that’s nevertheless wonderfully entertaining to read.

This book is hard to read. But if it wasn’t, it would be worthwhile.

Rating: 9/10

Books of Magick: Life During Wartime #1

April 12, 2012 Leave a comment

July 13, 2004

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Have You Seen the Stars Tonight?

Tim Hunter has given up on magic… but magic hasn’t given up on Tim Hunter.

Writer: Si Spencer
Story By: Neil Gaiman & Si Spencer
Art:Dean Ormston
Colors: Fiona Stephenson
Letters: Todd Klein
Editor: Shelly Bond
Cover Art: Frank Quitely
Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo

Review: I am an unabashed fan of Tim Hunter. I loved the original Books of Magic series about his childhood and the subsequent Hunter: The Age of Magic about his teenage years. Right from the outset, from the addition of that “k” to the word “Magick” in the title, it is clear that this will be a very different Tim than we have seen in the past.

It seems about four years have passed since we last saw Tim. He has turned away from his destiny to become the greatest sorcerer of them all, denied his place as the Merlin. He has settled down with the love of his life, Molly, and he is happy in a world without magic.

Cue the cataclysm.

Something is very wrong with this universe. Magical creatures are dying… being slaughtered. People seem to be forgetting all about gods and faith. Hell seems to be coming to Earth and, as always, John Constantine is going to have to get Tim back on track if the world is going to be saved.

I’ll be honest here, this is not a very accessible issue. As big a fan of this series as I am, I had to read this issue twice and I’m still not entirely sure what’s going on. Now some of that, of course, is because this is the first issue of the series and a lot will be filled in as the story progresses, but new readers won’t grasp who Tim is or why he’s so important or why Constantine is thinking about him. Having read the earlier books is almost a prerequisite for this one.

Dean Ormston’s artwork is spot-on. He has a fantastic quality that is still quite dark and dirty, reminding us of the subtitle of this new series, Life During Wartime. This is not a bright, happy tale. This is likely to be a hellish, brutal story. War is Hell, and Ormston’s artwork, even in the early, jollier scenes, conveys a sense of foreboding. You can look at the panels, at the serenity in Tim’s face, and you know that in a matter of issues, it’s all going to be shattered.

This is a very new direction for Tim Hunter, and while it may be a bit confusing, it’s one I like. I’ve already hitched myself to this title. I’ve got to see where it goes.

Rating: 8/10

Bite Club #3

September 29, 2011 Leave a comment

June 8, 2004

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Men Are From Mars, Women Are Intravenous

Father Leto makes his decision on the family business.

Writers: Howard Chaykin & David Tischman
Art:David Hahn
Colors: Brian Miller
Letters: Jared K. Fletcher
Editor: Shelly Bond
Cover Art: Frank Quietly
Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo

Chaykin and Tischman’s vampire mob story continues, and it keeps getting better. As Father Leto remains torn between his vows to the church and the calling to take over his family’s mob operations, his sister Risa continues to pull the strings behind the scenes. Meanwhile Leto’s old girlfriend Carrie, who was Risa’s best friend in high school until she screwed them both over, returns to town.

A new discovery this issue also tempts Leto with the possibility of turning the entire business legit. There’s a touch of science fiction in here, with the idea of using a vampire’s blood both as a narcotic and as a solution for a very real medical problem in our own world, so the writers add layers of yet another genre to a book that was already defying classification. Part horror, part crime drama, and now part speculative fiction, the important thing is that the book is all smart and fun to read. Leto’s struggles are understandable, wavering between the church, his family and his own desires.

David Hahn was unknown to me as an artist before this series, but he is a perfect match for it. His characters are almost cartoonish enough to fit in with the Batman Adventures art style, but small touches make them a little more realistic and a lot grittier. Risa oozes sensuality and Leto comes across visually as a very young man carrying a very large burden. Brian Miller’s colors also work very well on this book, using uniform color palettes for each scene, but somehow working a lot better than when he uses a similar trick in the DC Focus line.

Vertigo, at its best, has always been a line that has succeeded by putting familiar elements together in unfamiliar ways, and Bite Club is another fine example of that. With the miniseries half-over, I sincerely hope they come back to these characters in the future.

Rating: 8/10

Bite Club #2

July 22, 2011 Leave a comment

May 8, 2004

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Flesh and Blood

Father Leto settles in to take over the family business, but Risa’s jealousy may win out.

Writers: Howard Chaykin & David Tischman
Art: David Hahn
Colors: Brian Miller
Letters: Jared K. Fletcher
Editor: Shelly Bond
Cover Art: Frank Quitely
Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo

The saga of the vampire mob family continues, and continues well. The Del Toro family is still reeling from the news that the late patriach Eduardo left his son Leto in charge. Leto has been the black sheep of the family ever since he entered the priesthood, and now that he’s in charge, his brother and sister are more than a little disturbed.

We delve much deeper into Leto this issue, seeing his own flaws and perversions which remind us that, priest or no, he’s still a vampire born into a family of criminals, and he’s got a lot of nasty things in his blood. Risa makes a particularly shocking move against him, and the last page of the issue is a portent of even more problems to come.

In another branch of the family, we see Danny Del Toro, son of Eduardo Jr., and the problems his bloodsucking heritage cause him at his high-end public school. In this world where the existence of vampires is public knowledge, they are treated as another ethnic minority, picked on a prejudiced against by some with small minds. Picking on the grandson of a mob boss is never a good idea, though, even if the minority they belong to isn’t one that drinks blood, and one gets the feeling that Danny’s darker side is going to come out before this miniseries is over.

The violence, while not absent from this issue, is toned way down, while the sex is turned way up. The relationship between Leto and his sister seems to be the axis around which this book is turning, and the things we learn about that relationship this issue are downright freaky, even while making for a great mob drama.

David Hahn’s artwork works really well in this issue. Not as detailed or realistic as a lot of artists, he has a more iconic style that suits the principals well. Leto manages to look confused most of the time, while Risa oozes sensuality. The book uses a muted color palette, but not as badly as the DC Focus books that carry almost a monotone. Colorist Brian Miller chooses a different dominant tone for each scene, and he’s good at choosing the tone that gets across the mood of the segment best. Good art always compliments a comic book story instead of overwhelming it, and that’s what we get here.

Two issues in and I’m really enjoying this miniseries. It’s a different take on vampires and mobsters, using elements familiar to both genres and blending them well. There seems to be lot of room to tell lots of stories here, and I hope our writers take advantage of all the corners this weird universe has and really start to explore.

Rating: 8/10

American Virgin #1

July 21, 2011 Leave a comment

March 6, 2006

Quick Rating: Fair
Title: Head Part One

Adam Chamberlin believes in God’s plan… too bad he’s the only one.

Writer: Steven T. Seagle
Art: Becky Cloonan
Colors: Brian Miller
Letters: Jared K. Fletcher
Editor: Shelly Bond
Cover Art: Frank Quietly
Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo

Vertigo’s latest series is low on the horror and bizarre fantasy that for so long defined the imprint. It doesn’t even seem to have the aspects of terrorism and espionage that have defined some of the more recent entries. In fact, the only thing that seems to earmark this title for Vertigo is its frank discussion of sex.

Adam Chamberlin is a Christian youth minister with a message of maintaining abstinence until marriage. He makes the college circuit and charges up his crowds, and he’s at the top of his game when this issue starts. By the end of this first issue, however, he’s been assaulted, tempted and shattered when he sees that something he believed was God’s plan go up in smoke.

To Steven Seagle’s credit, he doesn’t go the easy route of ridiculing Adam or his beliefs. To the contrary, Adam comes across as a very sincere young man with very strong beliefs, and although we see him assaulted with temptation like anyone else, his determination to resist it is genuine. Even the horrifying ending doesn’t come across as a “ha-ha, you were wrong” sort of moment, but rather as an, “oh no, what will happen to him next” bit?

Adam, of course, does not exist in a vacuum, and Seagle has surrounded him with lowlifes and hypocrites, although he manages to do so without getting too much into commentary on them. This is Adam’s story, the rest of the characters are window dressing.

This is a stronger first issue than I expected, although regular Vertigo readers will not find much familiar territory in this storyline. What’s more, I’m somewhat at a loss to comprehend how long Seagle can maintain such a premise in an ongoing series. (Let’s face it, there will come a point where Adam either has sex – at which point the title will effectively be over – or we’ll wind up just seeing him resist temptation again and again, which could get boring.) Still, this is an interesting enough starting point.

Rating: 6/10

DC Universe Holiday Special 2008

December 23, 2010 Leave a comment

December 23, 2008

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: The Man in Red and other stories

A series of seasonal tales from across the DC Universe!

Writers: Sterling Gates, Matt Cherniss, Peter Johnson, Dan Didio, Paul Dini, Joe Kelly, Franco Aureliani, Art Baltazar, J.C. Vaughan, Amanda McMurray, Rex Ogle, Alan Burnett, Adam Schlagman
Pencils: Karl Kerschl, Ivan Reis, Ian Churchill, Dustin Nguyen, Mick Bertilorenzi, Tim Levins, Lee Garbett, Rafael Albuquerque, Michael J. Dimotta, Kevin Maguire, Rodolfo Migliari
Inks: Joe Prado, Dan Davis, Trevor Scott
Colors: Pete Pantazis, Rod Reis, Bob Rivard, Dustin Nguyen, Pam Rambo, Heroic Age, Cris Peter, Frank Martin, Michael J. Dimotta, Max Niumara
Letters: Travis Lanham, Rob Leigh, Pat Brosseau, Sal Cipriano, Nick Napolitano
Editors: Dan Didio & Eddie Berganza
Cover Art: Frank Quitely
Publisher: DC Comics

Holiday specials, to be frank, are usually a mixed bag. You get some good stories, some bad stories, and in the end you’re left trying to decide if there was enough good to justify the price. This year, however, the DC Universe Holiday Special has a surprising amount of good, more than enough to balance out the rest.

“The Man in Red” begins the issue with a very familiar story – the last son of a dying world is sent to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. It’s obvious from the beginning, of course, that there’s a twist – and even more specifically, just what that twist is – but somehow, that doesn’t make the story any less fun. “Somewhere Beyond the Sea” is a bizarre Aquaman story. When the king of the seas finds s ship being hijacked on the surface, he leaps to the aid of the husband and pregnant wife fighting for their lives. Along the way, though, he finds himself playing the part of a different king. I really liked this story, I must say. The parallels were obvious, but not heavy-handed, and definitely gutsy.

Paul Dini and Dustin Nguyen give us a very different take on Batman and Robin in “Good King Wenceslas,” and even though DC isn’t currently using the label, this is as good an Elseworlds story as you’ll find this year. Batman comes back again in “A Day Without Sirens,” by Joe Kelly and Mick Bertilorenzi. Jim Gordon is skeptical when a local agency tries to pledge a night with no sirens, no crimes, no emergencies for the GCPD to handle. But as the clock ticks and the phone doesn’t ring he’s forced to question – is it a Christmas miracle?

“It’s a Wonderful Night” takes advantage of a unique dynamic as Nightwing and Robin encounter Captain Boomerang. Lest we forget, their fathers killed each other, so there’s a tension there unlike any other. Perhaps my favorite story in the book, though, was “Christmas With the Beetles.” Three generations of criminal have run afoul of three generations of the Blue Beetle, and the cycle looks like it’s going to start again, unless a father convinces his son to change his life. I love seeing the two older Beetles in action, and as a fan of Jaime Reyes, he was welcome in this book too. “An Angel Told Me” is a nice – if not amazing – Huntress story about a kid in her school who has been showing up with mysterious bruises. It’s a bit predictable, but gets the point across without preaching.

“The Night Before Christmas” features a highly up-to-the-minute Teen Titans team (plus Traci 13, Jaime’s girlfriend) hanging in New York City at Christmas. The story deals heavily with the dynamics of the characters, with Robin and Wonder Girl contemplating how to keep the team together, Bombshell refusing to interact with her teammates, and Red Devil feeling kind of left out. Unlike most of the stories in this book, which have an ambiguous sense of time about them, this story could easily be inserted in-between pages of the current Teen Titans run, and in fact, probably should be included in a trade paperback of the series.

Alan Burnett and Kevin Maguire step up with “Party Animal,” a tale of the Shaggy Man. The addle-brained villain is rounded up on Christmas Eve, but rather than interrupt the Christmas festivities at S.T.A.R. Labs, Green Lantern and Red Arrow bring him to the JLA Satellite – to interrupt their party. The story is funny, and Maguire’s fantastic artwork helps a lot to get the comedy across.

Finally, Dr. Light stars in “Let There Be Light” by Adam Schlagman and Rodolfo Migliari. Stuck at work on Christmas Eve, Kimiyo Hoshi is attacked by the surviving members of the Fearsome Five, teammates of the villain whose identity she has claimed. There seems to be a definite attempt to bring this character to the forefront these days, which I’m fine with as long as it’s done well. Migliari does some excellent artwork with her, and the story actually addresses the one thing about the character that has always bothered me – namely, why she’d adopt the name and costume of a monster like Arthur Light.

Although there are a few lesser tales in this book, this mixed bag is far less mixed than the typical Yuletide special. There’s a lot of really good material in this issue, and the special is definitely worth the price.

Rating: 8/10

Bite Club #1

October 25, 2010 Leave a comment

April 12, 2004

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Suck Off and Die

Sex clubs… organized crime… 300,000 vampires… that’s life in Miami.

Writer: Howard Chaykin & David Tischman
Art: David Hahn
Colors: Brian Miller
Letters: Jared K. Fletcher
Editor: Shelly Bond
Cover Art: Frank Quitely
Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo

Howard Chaykin returns to the Vertigo imprint with a story about a vampire crime kingpin Eduardo del Toro whose murder brings his three children back together – the sex-fiend Risa, Eduardo Jr., who is following in his father’s footsteps, and the black sheep of the family, Father Leto del Toro.

Crime dramas are big right now. Vampires are big right now. Sex is pretty much always big. What’s impressive, though, is how Chaykin and Tischman have blended these elements together into such an interesting story. The idea of a world where vampires are public figures, treated like another ethnic minority, is not a new one, but to see it mixed with the crime and sex genre is a nice twist that works very well. Still, this story wouldn’t be quite so original were it not for the twist on the last page. It’s a twist you can see coming from pretty far away, but that doesn’t lessen its potential for some great stories as the story progresses.

David Hahn and Brian Miller do a good job on this issue, with artwork that reminds me of great crime comics like Gotham Central in tone, if not in style. At times sensual, at times gory, it always fits the scene, and the image of a priest with vampire fangs is one that is quite amusing, but integral to the storyline.

This has the potential to be another solid hit for Vertigo if the comic manages to stay interesting without lapsing into the absurd. Hopefully the book will find the audience that American Century didn’t and enjoy a good, long run. There’s always room for another great vampire story, after all.

Rating: 8/10