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Posts Tagged ‘Will Dennis’

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

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

Swamp Thing (2004 Series) #2

February 23, 2012 Leave a comment

April 10, 2004

Quick Rating: Fair
Title: Bad Seed Part Two

Tefé finds help in strange places, while the Swamp Thing declares his separation from humanity.

Writer: Andy Diggle
Art: Enrique Breccia
Colors: Martin Breccia
Letters: Phil Balsman
Editor: Will Dennis
Cover Art: Enrique Breccia
Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo

As Tefé’s body literally gets up and walks out of the morgue, Swamp Thing and Abby share a tender little moment where he announces his disdain for humanity.

While I do enjoy this title more than Andy Diggle’s work on Losers, I have a similarly blasé reaction to it. There doesn’t seem to be anything exciting, anything that pops and makes me want to keep reading. The elemental who hates humankind scheme has been done and done and done some more, and Tefé’s plotline is just plain confusing. I do, however, give Diggle credit for bringing back an old character that was pretty well forgotten – that’s something I’m always in favor of.

Enrique Breccia’s artwork has both its high and low points. He does a fine job with the otherworldly elements like Swamp Thing himself or the reanimated corpse of Alex Hammond. His human characters don’t work as well, though, including a few police with blank faces that look like they were peeled right out of an old John Severin Mad comic book.

This is a book that will mostly appeal to old Swamp Thing fans, and while most people will find something or other to like, the casual reader probably won’t find enough to come back month after month, not necessarily because there’s anything wrong, but because there’s a lot of other stuff out there that’s a lot better.

Rating: 6/10

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

Hellblazer #194

October 14, 2011 Leave a comment

March 30, 2004

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Ward 24

An amnesiac John Constantine wanders into a hospital where treatment takes a back seat to torture.

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

As uneven and inaccessible as I’ve generally found Mike Carey’s work on Lucifer to be, I get the exact opposite reaction from his Hellblazer series. This is a book I’ve found very easy to jump in and out of, with a well-identified and defined protagonist and clever storytelling. After the cataclysmic events of last issue, Constantine is wandering around wounded and bereft of his memory. He encounters a young, injured girl trying to fish with gummy worms and, in an act of kindness, takes her to a hospital to get help. His own wounds and memory loss land him a bed as well, and he finds himself at the tender mercies of a man who seems to know every dark secret about everyone, and is upset that he can’t read the blank slate Constantine represents.

This issue really sums up what makes Hellblazer work – dark fantasy just this side of outright horror, some mystery elements and a dash of black comedy to keep everything from going completely off the deep end. Carey does a very good job with this character, and hopefully has plans to stick around for some time.

I’d like to say the same for our guest artist, Leonardo Manco. He draws a great Constantine and his entire issue had a good look to it – not totally grim and gritty, but not lighthearted superhero fare either. Drawing Hellblazer is as delicate a balancing act as writing it, and Manco does it better than most I have seen.

People already reading this title will enjoy this issue. People who haven’t been reading it may find it an odd place to jump on, but I think with a little effort and imagination even a non-reader who knows a little about Constantine will be able to fill in the blanks and enjoy this issue… even if our hero can’t.

Rating: 8/10

Y: The Last Man #20

September 20, 2011 Leave a comment

February 28, 2004

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Safeword Conclusion

Yorick is at Agent 711’s mercy. So what will she do with him?

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

I knew there was more to it.

Over the last two issues our hero Yorick Brown, has been drugged and restrained by Agent 711 the woman charged with keeping him safe as his friends left him for a time. She teased him with threats of (and equipment for) some kinky S&M games, but instead she just wound up making him relive some of the most painful memories of his life. This issue we see what Agent 711’s real agenda was, and it’s something completely unexpected, totally logical and incredibly satisfying. In other words, it’s a textbook example of what makes this such a great comic book month after month.

In addition to shedding more light on Yorick’s past, we also get a new mystery thrown at us (in a book that’s already loaded with them). Yorick makes a discovery this issue, but we don’t get to see what that discovery is… I suspect it’s going to be a McGuffin in this series for some time to come. It’s the sort of thing that will drive a character, and will keep the reader coming back to find out what’s going on.

We get a lot of insight into Yorick in this issue, even moreso than in the first two issues of the story arc, and we even go back to the two-part “Comedy and Tragedy” storyline that preceded this one. It seemed a bit of an unnecessary side-trip at the time, but it comes to fruition here at least in a small way, helping to establish Yorick, a character who has been well-established from day one, but who keeps proving he has more layers than the reader even knew.

Pia Guerra is as solid an artist as she has ever been. We get chilling flashback sequences, disturbing water battles and even a few quiet moments in this issue, and she handles them all cleanly and with great talent. This title has been pretty good at getting solid guest artists whenever Guerra takes a little time off, but she owns this book as much as writer Brian Vaughan, and things never seem quite right until she comes back.

This is one of the best sci-fi titles in comics now, and it’s a fantastic mystery as well. There’s no mystery why it’s one of Vertigo’s top sellers every month.

Rating: 8/10