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Posts Tagged ‘Ken Lopez’

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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Solo (2004 Series) #3

September 1, 2011 Leave a comment

February 22, 2005

Quick Rating: Fair
Title: The Problem in Knossos and other stories

The works of Paul Pope!

Writer: Paul Pope
Art: Paul Pope
Colors: Jose Villarrubia, Dave Stewart & James Jean
Letters: John Workman & Ken Lopez
Editor: Mark Chiarello
Cover Art: Paul Pope
Publisher: DC Comics

As much as I love the basic idea behind this book, this issue and last haven’t really used the format to its fullest potential. Giving an artist 48 ad-free pages to go nuts and tell whatever kind of stories they want is a great idea, and Paul Pope’s artwork, for the most part, is quite good. But the stories don’t really go anywhere.

I do applaud Pope for straddling several different genres in this issue, however. The first story, “The Problem in Knossos,” is a pretty straightforward telling of the Greek myth of the Minotaur, from the circumstances of its conception to its bloody death. Beautiful artwork, but there’s no real new twist to the story to make you understand why he’s telling it again.

“Are You Ready For the World That’s Coming?” is a retelling of the origin of Jack Kirby’s Omac, one of his more out there science fiction comics. We start with a scrawny little guy named Buddy Blank who gets transformed into something fierce. Straightforward. Pope does a good Kirby riff in the artwork, but again, it’s nothing new.

“Life-Sized Monster Ghost” is probably the best story in the book. It’s a quick and seemingly autobiographical tale of a little boy who’s got big dreams about all those cheesy toys that used to be advertised in the back of comic books – which may not live up to expectations.

In “On This Corner,” Pope does the best art, but with the weakest story in the book. It’s the story of a runaway in a Will Eisner-esque setting, but there’s no meat to it. “Teenage Sidekick,” the last story, is similarly pointless. The Joker has captured Robin (Dick Grayson), and Batman has to save him. The story is an excuse to preach about each of the characters – it commits the cardinal sin of telling instead of showing.

This title, naturally, is a showcase for artists and not for writing, but the previous two artists who worked here hooked up with writers to help them out. Pope’s stories just plain missed the mark.

Rating: 6/10

DC Comics Presents Metal Men #1

August 12, 2011 Leave a comment

August 1, 2011

Writers: Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, Bob Haney
Pencils:
Kevin Maguire, Tim Levins
Inks:
Mark Farmer, Dan Davis
Colorist:
Guy Major, James Sinclair
Letterer:
Nick J. Napolitano, Ken Lopez, Travis Lanham
Editor:
Elisabeth V. Gehrlein, Dan Raspler
Cover Art:
Kevin Maguire
Publisher:
DC Comics

I do love the DC Comics Presents format – inexpensive collections of short story arcs, reprints of old original graphic novels, or in this case, collecting a series of back-up stories that would probably never fill out a graphic novel of their own. In fact, this collection of the Metal Men stories presented in the most recent series of Doom Patrol couldn’t even fill up the 100 pages, so DC tossed in a Metal Men story from 2000’s Silver Age event to fill up the book.

The Silver Age story, written by Bob Haney, is more a curiosity than anything else. In this event, the Justice League had had their brains forcibly switched into the bodies of their enemies, and the Metal Men teamed up with Batman (controlled by the Penguin) in a race to capture Felix Faust and Catwoman (really Green Arrow and Black Canary). This story, originally presented in Silver Age: The Brave and the Bold #1, is interesting, but seems to have been chosen primarily because it was drawn by Kevin Maguire, who drew most of the other Metal Men tales in this volume.

After that, we get into the short stories. The Metal Men have moved into a small town where they’re desperate to prove themselves assets to the community, despite the fact that nobody seems to want them there, they come under attack by the now-insane star of their favorite TV show, and none of them can seem to remember the name of their newest member (Copper). Giffen and DeMatteis, legendary for their comedic take on the Justice League in the 80s and 90s, bring that same comedic sensibility to these stories, and with their old artistic collaborator Kevin Maguire along for the ride, the comics couldn’t be better.

Were I judging this only on the basis of the story and art, the book would get a solid 9/10. But unfortunately, somebody made a drastic, terrible mistake. The page reproduction of everything after the Silver Age reprint is terrible. The pages are pixilated and blurry. In fact, the only thing that comes in clear are the words and text. This sort of production error would be disastrous even from a small press title, but in a book from DC Comics, it’s unforgivable. This should have been caught and fixed before the book ever made it to comic shop shelves, and the fact that it didn’t ruins what should have been an excellent reading experience.

Rating: 7/10

Identity Crisis #4

August 7, 2011 Leave a comment

September 17, 2004

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Very Good

Sue Dibney… Jean Loring… who’s next?

Writer: Brad Meltzer
Pencils: Rags Morales
Inks: Michael Bair
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Kenny Lopez
Editor: Mike Carlin
Cover Art: Michael Turner
Publisher: DC Comics

This issue of Identity Crisis gives us a little bit of downtime. It’s mostly a building issue, centered on the least exciting but most important part of any mystery – gathering the clues and examining the suspects. Atom stumbles onto the scene of the latest attack, on his ex-wife Jean Loring. With the realization that the murder of Sue Dibney wasn’t an isolated incident, the heroes go into overdrive to trace down the clues and find the killer before he… or she… or they… strike again.

Although Green Arrow remains our viewpoint character for much of this issue, as he usually has in this series, we get to spend more time with the rest of our cast. Superman and Batman each get more “screentime,” Green Arrow pays a visit to an old friend, and we get more about the strange home life of Captain Boomerang. That’s probably the most telling scene in the issue – you’d have to be a dunce not to expect Boomerang to become vitally important by the time this series ends, because there’s simply no other explanation for spending so much time on him.

Perhaps the most effective scene is a simple interrogation where Ollie and Wonder Woman pay a visit to a b-list villain who may have answers. What makes it so effective, though, is that Diana is never fully seen in the issue – just bits and pieces of her. It makes her more imposing, more threatening, and that’s what she needs to be here.

Whether that’s a writer’s decision or an artistic choice I don’t know, but either way it works big time, as does the rest of Rags Morales’s art. My only real complaint earlier is Morales’s portrayal of Superman. It’s still uneven, but some scenes are quite good.

I suspect, as relatively quiet as this issue is, it will probe to be the most important to unraveling the secret of this mystery. The story goes everywhere and a real ton of information is imparted – plus it sheds light on many, many members of our cast. And the kicker is the last page, another shocker which may not be as immediate as the last few issues, but nevertheless sends the stakes much, much higher.

At seven issues, this issue marks the halfway point of this crossover. And I’m already prepared to call it the best crossover DC has done since the original Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Rating: 8/10

Enginehead #1

July 6, 2011 Leave a comment

April 11, 2004

Quick Rating: Fair
Title: First Gear

A group of high-tech brains from across the DC Universe are brought together… but for what purpose?

Writer: Joe Kelly
Art: Ted McKeever
Colors: Chris Chuckry
Letters: Ken Lopez
Editor: Michael Wright
Cover Art: Ted McKeever
Publisher: DC Comics

The new high-tech adventure begins as a group of mechanically-minded geniuses – some familiar, some not – are gathered together from across the DC Universe. Although the book features such big brains as Superman’s old tech guy Emil Hamilton, the focus is on the relatively obscure (in fact, I can’t swear that this isn’t his first appearance) crook named Jackhammer. Each of these brains, and in our protagonist’s case that applies only to his mechanical aptitude, is being brought together to help with some massive project, the true nature of which isn’t even partially revealed until the end of the issue, and even then we are left with far more questions than answers.

Joe Kelly seems to be going for a sort of modern steampunk tone, a sort of grimy, low-tech science fiction series, and while we do start to get into the head of Jackhammer, we aren’t really feeling for him as much as we need to by the time the project begins and the end of the issue comes. This book isn’t a particular grabber.

Ted McKeever is a much bigger draw – he’s done great sci-fi comics from his own Metropol to things like Superman’s Metropolis, and this book keeps the tone he had his earlier projects. He and Kelly are the co-creators of this book, and McKeever’s contributions are evident and welcome.

This isn’t a bad book, but this first issue didn’t do enough to grab me. On the other hand, other recent DC projects like Hard Time took a few issues before they built up enough momentum to get in to, so it’s possible that a few months from now I’ll be looking forward to this title.

Rating: 6/10

Super Mario Bros. (1990 Series) #2

June 23, 2011 Leave a comment

June 11, 2011

Magic Carpet Madness: John Walker, John Costanza, P. Zorito, Jade, The Gradiations
Museum of Plumbing:
John Walker, Gina Going, Jacqueline Roettcher, Jade, Karen Merbaum
The Kingdom Enquirer:
Bill Vallely, Mark McClellan, John Costanza, P. Zorito, Pat Brosseau, Andrea Brooks, The Gradiations
Koopa’s High School Yearbook:
Bill Vallely, Mark McClellan, Kelly Jarvis, Rich Maurizio, Ken Lopez, Karen Merbaum
Publisher:
Valiant Comics

Here’s a blast from the past for you. I recently stumbled across this classic in the cheap box at a comic convention. It’s easy to forget that there was a time these old Super Mario Bros. comics were hot collectibles, because they were in fact the first comics published by the once-hot Valiant Comics. Now you can get ‘em in a quarter bin, along with most other Valiant books, except those other Valiant titles would usually be much more worth your reading time.

At the beginning we see the first thing I hate about early Valiant – the way they lump all the credits together off to the side without actually telling us who did what. But past that, “Magic Carpet Madness” is a weak story. The king tracks mud through the palace, which leads to scrubbing the carpets, which leads to unearthing a flying carpet, which somehow turns Princess Toadstool into a punk rocker. I am not making this up.

“Museum of Plumbing” is a bit better. It’s a one-page gag featuring Luigi showing off… well, the Museum of Plumbing, which leads to a cheesy last-panel punchline, but at least it’s a joke that makes sense.

“The Kingdom Enquirer” is the best story in the book, which isn’t necessarily to say that it’s good, just better than the others. Toad decides he’s going to start up a palace newspaper, but his attempts at journalism quickly devolve into putting together a trashy gossip rag. The conclusion here is actually clever, and it’s that which raises this story up above the rest of them.

The comic ends with another one-pager “Koopa’s High School Yearbook,” which is just four panels in a yearbook format and a few gags thrown in. I’ll say this for the comic – the artwork is quite good. It’s very cartoonish and lively, and suits the Mario cartoons of the era. But it’s a good thing Valiant EIC Jim Shooter had the foresight to license the Gold Key heroes to start his own superhero universe, or else Valiant today would be even more of a footnote than it is.

Rating: 5/10

The Light Brigade #1

April 25, 2011 Leave a comment

February 23, 2004

Quick Rating: Very Good

An American regiment in World War II finds itself battling a far greater evil than they have ever known.

Writer: Peter Tomasi
Art: Peter Snejbjerg
Colors: Bjarne Hansen
Letters: Ken Lopez
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Cover Art: Peter Snejbjerg
Publisher: DC Comics

I knew nothing about this title before I looked at this week’s advance review comics, which makes me extremely grateful that DC slipped it into the batch. This is a very good, gripping horror/fantasy/war epic, and it’s one I’m anxious to see the next installment of.

Since the dawn of time there has been war between Heaven and Hell, with the blood of innocents as the currency that paid for the conflict. During World War II, a time where more innocents were dying than any point in history, that war spills out to the battlefields of Germany where a tattered unit of American soldiers is called upon to fight on the side of the light. We get real characters in this issue – a faithless soldier whose wife has died and taken his hope with it, an excitable young man whose love of comic books (specifically the Justice Society) compels him to fight on even in the face of real terror… each of these characters has a real reason to be in the story, and with three issues left, one can only imagine how much more Peter Tomasi is planning to do with them.

Peter Snejbjerg does a wonderful job with the artwork in this issue. From the snowblown battlefield of the real war to the celestial war that serves as the high concept for this series, everything looks perfect. Stark and realistic sometimes, bright and fantastic at others. There’s a scene where a regiment of deathless German soldiers advance on our heroes that’s truly terrifying.

If there’s any downside to this book, it would probably have to be that it would read better as a collected edition. This first issue has a good ending point, but it’s not a story that is entirely suited to the serial format. It may work better in one gulp. But fans of horror, war stories or religious fantasy have got to pick up this issue. Tomasi and Snejbjerg nail this one.

Rating: 8/10