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Posts Tagged ‘Vertigo’

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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Sandman Presents Thessaly, Witch For Hire #4

July 12, 2012 Leave a comment

May 4, 2004

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: The Last Full Measure (or What Are All These Dead Guys Doing in My Living Room?)

The Tharmic Null is getting closer, and Thessaly’s only chance for survival is the lovelorn ghost named Fetch.

Writer: Bill Willingham
Art: Shawn McManus
Colors: Pamela Rambo
Letters: Phil Balsman
Editor: Mariah Huehner
Cover Art: Tara McPherson
Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo

As much as the third issue in this miniseries was a tour of Thessaly’s world, we still have new things to explore in this final chapter. She goes off to set free various creatures in her captivity or servitude in anticipation of her battle with the unstoppable Tharmic Null, then enters a battle armed with nothing but a clever twist on some pre-existing information. Surprisingly, there’s almost no action in this issue – the battle with the Null is pretty well glossed over, but there’s no sense of dissatisfaction either. Every character does exactly what you would expect him or her (or it) to do, even while throwing some surprises at you.

Having Thessaly release the monsters she’s captured, for example, is a brilliant piece of characterization on Willingham’s part. Believing she could die, this supposedly cold, stoic witch has a big enough heart not to want to leave these creatures to starvation, and at the same time, is sensible enough to protect the world from them once they’re loose. Fetch continues to be a charming scoundrel with a fair amount of courage as well, all fueled by his inexplicable love for Thessaly (if you were a composite ghost made up of the souls of hundreds of people all killed by the same woman, would you fall in love with her?). Willingham also uses a unique device to show the effects of the Null’s passing, how each world he touches on his path is beset by some tragedy.

The ending of the miniseries is somewhat bittersweet – bitter because it’s over and sweet because there’s a clear set-up for a third miniseries starring this character, one you can bet I’ll pull for because nobody has done as good a job with these Sandman spin-offs as Willingham has.

Shawn McManus has been with Thessaly since her introduction in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series, and he continues to do fine work here. Riding the border between a horror comic and a cartoonish comedy, his art style compliments the story perfectly, and the cover painting of Tara McPherson is a perfect example of what a comic book cover should be. It gives us a glimpse of the story without giving too much away, and once you’re done reading you can look at it and think, “Ah, so that’s what she was getting at.”

I genuinely hate to see this miniseries come to a close, although at least I can still get a double dose of Willingham with Fables and Robin every month. In the meantime, I think I’m going to read this from the beginning and wait for the third series to be announced.

Rating: 8/10

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

Lucifer #49

June 14, 2012 Leave a comment

April 21, 2004

Quick Rating: Fair
Title: The Widow (Wire, Briar Limber Lock Part Two)

Lucifer returns, and explains why reality is falling apart!

Writer: Mike Carey
Art: Peter Gross & Ryan Kelly
Colors: Daniel Vozzo
Letters: Jared Fletcher
Editor: Shelly Bond
Cover Art: Christopher Moeller
Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo

Finally. After reading this issue for five months (of which this is only the second time Lucifer has actually shown up in his own title) I feel like I’m starting to get a grasp of what’s going on here. As the immortals are driven out of Lucifer’s new universe, the fallen angel himself has uncovered a flaw in reality that threatens to destroy the universe. This being a comic book, flaws that threaten to destroy the universe are a dime a dozen, but this one is a pretty clever one that suits the pseudo-religious nature of this title.

While this book still suffers from major accessibility problems, the stuff that’s starting to become recognizable is interesting. The book features an entertaining (if not entirely unexpected) meeting with the incarnation of nature in Lucifer’s universe, several inventive monsters and other clever bits like a waterfall of swords that show the amount of imagination that Mike Carey and the art team have put into the issue.

There are a lot of interesting things here. The problem, as it has been since I started reading this book with issue #45, has been one of putting the elements together in an understandable manner. Too much in this book doesn’t seem to relate to anything else, and that’s a problem. The result is a book that, in general, I want to like much more than I actually do.

Gross and Kelly come back to form in this issue, which looks better than the last few have. Images like Angels in flight, a horse being created from clay, the aforementioned incarnation of nature and the odd gateway that bears Yahweh’s name all have a fantastic look to them, like illustrations out of a classic fantasy novel. Lucifer seems to walk the line between fantasy and horror – this issue is more firmly on the fantasy side, and the artwork reflects that.

I’m still not exactly a fan of this comic book, but I’m warming up to it. With issue 50 coming next month and a rather good cliffhanger in this issue, Carey has the tools to grab people in the very near future if he plays it right.

Rating: 6/10

My Faith in Frankie #4

June 7, 2012 Leave a comment

April 10, 2004

Review by: Blake M. Petit Blake@comixtreme.com
Quick Rating: Good

Frankie and Kay have to save the mortal form of the god Jeriven – even if it means going to Hell to get him out.

Writer: Mike Carey
Pencils: Sonny Liew
Inks: Marc Hempel
Colors: Hi-Fi Design
Letters: John Costanza
Editor: Shelly Bond
Cover Art: Marc Hempel
Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo

After Dean stole Frankie’s faith in Jeriven, his power was drained, leaving him the fodder for a demon. This issue Frankie and Kay set out to save him. I have to admit, I didn’t enjoy this issue as much as I have the previous issues in this miniseries. At the beginning the story was much more a quirky romantic comedy with elements of fantasy. By this finale, it has metamorphed into more of an adventure story, and while there’s nothing wrong with that, it has lost some of the elements that made it stand out and made me love it so much in the first place.

There’s still a lot of good in this issue, though. Frankie Moxon is one of the best female protagonists in recent comics, and she steals the show in this issue, helping to set up a real slam-bang finale. In fact, the finale may be a little too slam-bang, because it ties up the stories of our three heroes very neatly and doesn’t leave much room for a sequel. I know, I know, not every story needs a sequel, but I’ve grown to really love these characters over the past for months, and it’s a shame that their tale is over while tired concepts like The Authority keep grinding out issues month after month.

Sonny Liew and Marc Hempel finish this miniseries with as much style and flair as they began it. The artwork is beautiful and distinct, unlike most comic books in any genre, although there are traces of Terry Moore and Sam Kieth throughout. They leap from comedic to horrific aspects and handle them both with skill and style. This art team could do anything from a slapstick comedy to a gory horror story, and they could handle it all well.

Even if this is the end of Frankie and Jeriven, I hope it’s not the end of the Mike Carey/Sonny Liew team. These guys made four issues of a great comic book together and they’re bound to have many more. As for My Faith in Frankie, it’s all done except for the hoping for a trade paperback collection where, if there’s any justice in the comic book world, it will find the audience it deserves.

Rating: 7/10

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

Fables #113

March 29, 2012 Leave a comment

March 4, 2012

Title: In Those Days

Writer: Bill Willingham
Art (Prologue):
Rick Leonardi & Ron Randall
Art (A Delicate Balance):
P. Craig Russell & Lovern Kindzierski
Art (A Magic Life):
Zander Cannon & Jim Fern
Art (The Way of the World):
Ramon Bachs & Ron Randall
Art (Porky Pining):
Adam Hughes
Letters:
Todd Klein
Colors:
Lee Loughridge
Cover Art:
Joao Roas
Editor:
Shelly Bond
Publisher:
DC Comics/Vertigo

One of the best things about Fables is that, even after all these years, Bill Willingham keeps finding ways to mix up the formula of the book. In-between longer stories, he often does one-off issues that may set the seeds for future storylines, or tie off past storylines, or maybe just stand on their own. This issue feels like it does at least two of those at once, as we see a magical travelling performer weave several short stories about Fables both new and familiar.

Among the stories, we see a tale of a faithless queen and the punishment she brings upon her kingdom, a sorcerer whose downfall led us to the background of our more prominent Fables, a sailing clan unaware of the true nature of their world, and a hysterical story of a porcupine with an inventive curse. Of the four, it’s the longest (Cannon and Fern’s “A Magic Life”) that seems least complete in and of itself, ending up as it does off to the sidelines of our regular cast. The text itself implies that this story may not be over yet as well, but it stops far short of promising a return. “A Delicate Balance” and “The Way of the World” are tied together in an interesting way and create a world I’d like to see the title return to one of these days. And “Porky Pining”… well, it’s just funny as anything, and it’s got some rare, gorgeous interior art by Adam Hughes.

It’s an offbeat issue, but it’s exactly the sort of thing that Fables needs once in a while. I’m glad that the title has the freedom to do things like this when the creators see fit.

Rating: 8/10