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Posts Tagged ‘J.D. Mettler’

H-E-R-O #14

August 7, 2012 Leave a comment

March 8, 2004

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Ch-Ch-Changes Conclusion

Stuck in the body of Electro-Lass, what does a common construction worker do when his girlfriend is being held hostage and his best friend wants to marry him?

Writer: Will Pfeifer
Pencils: Leonard Kirk
Inks: Wade Von Grawbadger
Colors: JD Mettler
Letters: Ken Lopez
Editor: Peter Tomasi
Cover Art: John Van Fleet
Publisher: DC Comics

Trapped in the body of Electro-Lass after using (and promptly losing) the H-Device, the former burly construction worker goes through a roller-coaster in this issue. His best friend tells him he’s in love with him, his girlfriend is being held hostage by a couple of muggers he took out last issue, and he still can’t find the only thing that could give him his own body back.

This issue really shows off the sort of stories you can tell in a book like this with no regular cast, focusing instead on a concept that leaps from character to character. The way this story unfolds and concludes could probably never be done with a continuing character. It makes for an original read that really shouldn’t feel as original as it does.

Will Pfiefer doesn’t skimp on the major subplot of this title either, giving us a scene with the original device-wielder Robby Reed that promises to start tying together the various tales that this book has told since issue one.

It’s always a pleasure to see Leonard Kirk penciling a comic book, and it’s a shame that he doesn’t have a regular series at the moment. He’s one of the most underappreciated artists in comic books – he always has good characterization, dynamic poses and strong storytelling. It’s only due to a quirk of his own (which he freely admits) that he’s no longer penciling JSA. This book only whets my appetite and makes me want more. Together with Wade Von Grawbadger and JD Mettler, they do great work on a comic book bereft of supervillains and with only a few characters in spandex at all (although there are plenty of energy effects which are done very well).

This is a solid book that tells interesting superhero stories that you just couldn’t get anywhere else. The subplot with Robby promises to really kick things into high gear very soon – if you aren’t reading this title, why not? You’re just depriving yourself of one of the smartest superhero comic books out there.

Rating: 8/10

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Ex Machina #2

January 19, 2011 Leave a comment

July 18, 2004

Quick Rating: Average
Title: State of Emergency Chapter One

Mayor Mitchell Hundred faces a new foe… a painting.

Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Pencils: Tony Harris
Inks: Tom Feister
Colors: J.D Mettler
Letters: Jared K. Fletcher
Editor: Ben Abernathy
Cover Art: Tony Harris
Publisher: DC Comics/Wildstorm Signature Series

Last issue we got introduced to the Great Machine, a superhero with the power to control complex machinery. After stumbling around for a few years, he hangs up his mask, goes public and wins the mayorship of New York City. The first issue, to me, seemed to be part shock value and part political posturing, which is sure to make it a darling of a lot of critics, but doesn’t particularly endear it to me.

This issue Mitchell Hundred, now mayor of New York, faces the first crisis of his stewardship. It’s not any high-flying threat, though… it’s a much more benign crisis – an artist has created a scandalous piece of work and the wrath of the public is liable to come down on him.

I absolutely love Brian Vaughan’s work on Y: The Last Man, but I don’t like feeling like a comic is preaching to me. The first issue of this series tread that line very carefully. This isn’t isn’t as bad on that front, but it winds up committing a far more egregious crime: it’s kinda boring. Sure, the issue of using taxpayer money to fund offensive pieces of art is an important one worthy of debate, but it doesn’t make for a very good comic book. It isn’t easy to work a civics lesson into a comic book, but it could certainly have been done better than it was here.

Harris and Feister do a very good job with the art chores. They have a very nice (if all too brief) action sequence at the beginning, and manage to make each character distinct and unique. They also deserve a lot of credit for a fantastic, eye-popping cover that will get the attention of anybody passing by the comic book rack.

A great cover can only take you so far, though, and the story within just isn’t gripping enough to hold my attention. Vaughan has done a lot of really great storytelling. Just not, so far, in this series.

Rating: 5/10

Ex Machina #1

December 31, 2010 Leave a comment

June 12, 2004

Quick Rating: Average
Title: The Pilot

The world’s first superhero runs for political office… how will the world handle it?

Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Pencils: Tony Harris
Inks: Tom Feister
Colors: J.D. Mettler
Letters: Jared K. Fletcher
Editor: Ben Abernathy
Cover Art: Tony Harris & Tom Feister
Publisher: DC Comics/Wildstorm Signature Series

I’m going to go out on a limb and predict this title will become a critical darling the instant the first issue hits the stands, but frankly, it just leaves me feeling kind of flat. I’m a huge fan of Vaughan’s Y: The Last Man, but I’m never a fan of “soapbox” entertainment – not in television, not in movies, and not in comic books, and this title runs dangerously close to that line.

Mitchell Hundred has the startling power to talk to and control machines. He used this ability for a year as a masked superhero before deciding that any good he was doing was negligible. Hoping to do more good, Hundred unmasked and ran for – and won – the mayorship of New York City. This book bounces around quite a lot in time, from his childhood to some indistinct point in the future where he’s telling his story of tragedy and woe to an unseen off-panel companion. We see, at various points along the timeline, an assassination attempt, a blackmail attempt and the remnants of what may either be Mitchell’s greatest triumph or greatest failure, depending on your perspective.

Vaughan’s stories frequently take on political overtones, but this story draws the lines too starkly, verging on the preachy at some points. He also pulls in one of his now-infamous last-page twists, one that completely took me by surprise, but that’s mostly because the image you see is so striking, so startling for people in our real world that it takes advantage of a visceral gut reaction you can’t help but have. It’s either very clever or very tasteless, and frankly I can’t decide which it is at this point.

Helping this series along is some great art by Tony Harris and Tom Feister. They’ve been doing a lot of fantastic cover and interior art together over the past few years, from titles ranging from Fantastic Four to The Legion, and in this issue they paint a very realistic portrait of a superhero with Mitchell’s unique ability. Their designs are, for the most part, very utilitarian, very functional, and that’s what this book requires.

I’m not sold on this series, but I don’t hate it. I have no doubt that a large number of Vaughan’s fans will jump right into this issue and enjoy it. When you get right down to it, it may simply turn out to be a story that’s just not for me.

Rating: 5/10

H-E-R-O #11

November 9, 2010 1 comment

December 7, 2003

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: The Great Leap Forward

A self-contained issue tells the story of the first bearer of the H-Device

Writer: Will Pfeifer
Art: Kano
Colors: JD Mettler
Letters: Ken Lopez
Editor: Peter Tomasi
Cover Art: John Van Fleet
Publisher: DC Comics

The most interesting aspect of this title for me is the prospect of, after all these years, finally having a story behind the H-Device. We get a bit of a clue in this issue that spirals back in time 50,000 years to a group of cavemen who find a strange glowing device that comes crashing to Earth. Archeologists through the centuries find the remnants of the power a caveman is granted, without ever grasping the true significance of their finds.

This is a quick read, as there is no English in the long prehistoric segments (caveman dialogue seems limited to “Oot” and “Hurm”), but it’s a good read nonetheless. This is a consistently good title that doesn’t get quite the recognition it deserves. Since issue one it’s been an exploration of superheroism. With this issue it becomes an exploration of superpowers throughout history.

Kano may not be a comic book superstar artist, but he’s hands-down the right artist for this title. He has a slightly more iconic style than you average superhero artist, but it works really well on this title, and on this issue in particular. The cavemen look very good, and the later museum scenes work equally well.

For a book like this, which is increasingly hinging on the mystery of the H-Device, it’s nice to take a look at the backstory once in a while. I’m left with just one question, though… when the Device crashed to Earth in 48,000 B.C., why were the letters in English?

Another mystery to ponder, Mr. Pfeifer. Thanks a lot.

Rating: 8/10

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2006 Series) #1

October 2, 2010 Leave a comment

October 7, 2006

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Freddy’s War Part One

The new girl on Elm Street is in for a Hell of a ride!

Writer: Chuck Dixon
Pencils: Kevin West
Inks: Bob Almond
Colors: Tony Avina
Letters: Wes Abbot
Editor: Ben Abernathy
Cover Art: Tony Harris, Jim Clark & J.D. Mettler
Publisher: DC Comics/Wildstorm

I read the recent Avatar Press Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th comics, and while they were okay, they really didn’t blow me away. It seemed that the creators behind those comics thought all you need for a successful horror franchise is buckets of blood, curse words and the occasional naked girl. And it’s true that all of those things are pretty much staples of the slasher genre, but is that what really makes for a good story? Not in my book.

Now those titles have jumped from Avatar to Wildstorm, and if this first issue of A Nightmare on Elm Street is any indication, it’s a change for the better. Chuck Dixon knows how to generate suspense, and puts those skills to use here in the story of Jade and Brad, the two new kids moving to the town of Springwood with their single father, a man who has never quite gotten over his wife’s death. Jade begins having horrifying dreams, and a new friend at school tells her about a local legend, that of a killer and child molester who was killed by a lynch mob of parents, then returned from the grave to exact his revenge.

Dixon doesn’t assume that the reader is already familiar with Freddy Krueger’s story (although it’s probably safe to assume that almost everyone who reads this comic will be), but the recap feels like a seamless part of the story, not gratuitous or dull at all. What’s more, he uses the good parts of Freddy – the sort of psychological horror aspect that sets him apart from the Jasons and Leatherfaces of the horror world – to base this story. He seems genuinely scary here, not the macabre clown he’s become in his films.

Kevin West does a really good job on the artwork. He’s got a nice, clean style with strong character designs, not going too overboard with the gore but giving us enough to get the point across. The color scheme is a little brighter than I would expect for a story of this nature, but that’s a minor quibble.

On the whole, this is a really strong launch for Wildstorm’s new line of New Line horror comics.

Rating: 8/10