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Superman for All Seasons (1998) #2

Writer Jeph Loeb pushes a little too hard with the soft cliffhanger setting up next issue; it’s two pages plus a panel, but it feels longer because it ties into the final action sequence. It’s Lex Luthor machinating against Superman stuff, which is inevitable but also one-note. Loeb doesn’t give Luthor any depth; he’s caricature. It’s also pretty much the only thing wrong with the comic. And when Superman’s around to treat Luthor like a […]

Dracula Lives (1973) #4

I’m getting to be such a Mike Ploog snob. Seeing him ink his own pencils, then seeing others ink his pencils… the latter always seems to come with qualifications, asterisks, and compromises. Ploog pencils this issue’s first story, written by Marv Wolfman, with Ernie Chan inking him. Chan keeps much of the detail, even much of the personality, but not the energy. The story’s about one Louis Belski, Dracula actor. I thought Wolfman was doing […]

Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes (1977) #246

It’s half an excellent issue. The first story is a big success, an And Then There Were None type mystery set at a research hospital on Mercury. It’s the done-in-one feature. The second story’s a little shorter, but with the cliffhanger. Unfortunately, it’s also kind of bad. The writing’s not terrible, but the art falls apart during the big fight scene, and the story can’t recover. The pacing’s all off. What’s strange is both stories […]

Tomb of Dracula (1972) #14

There are two ways to read this comic. I mean, there are many other ways, but in terms of the vampire hunters—either writer Marv Wolfman and editor Roy Thomas are missing some obvious plot points, or the vampire hunters are just a little dopey. The "little dopey" fits more. Like, when they've killed Dracula and check for a pulse—they're not establishing themselves as very knowledgable. So after the brainwashed villagers take Dracula's corpse and go […]

Detective Comics (1937) #469

Why does Steve Englehart’s writing sound like he’s doing a spec script for “Batman: The TV Show” cliffhanger narration? I can’t decide if it’d be better if he’s serious and thinks it’s good writing to treat your readers as infantile or if he’s doing it because he’s being condescending to the material. Either way… lousy start. Especially since I only started reading this era of Detective for an Englehart run. Yikes. From the first page, […]

A Walk Through Hell (2018) #7

When I started this profoundly underwhelming Walk Through Hell, I observed sometimes writer Garth Ennis makes a radical save after some lackluster first issues. He doesn’t make any such save in Hell, but he does turn out to have a vaguely interesting twist, which comes way too late in the comic. We’re just over halfway through, and he’s introducing end of issue one material. He’s revealing the genre of horror, which first seems like he’s […]

Werewolf by Night (1972) #10

I know people buy Marvel superhero comics in Marvel comics. Still, when a kid’s floppies get knocked from his hands during Sarnak the evil sound engineer’s attack on Century City, and the kid wishes Spider-Man or Thor were here… it feels like he’s talking about his comic book heroes. Otherwise, wouldn’t someone just be whining about how L.A. doesn’t have any good superheroes? It’s a pretty good issue. Tom Sutton’s art is slightly better this […]

Kill or Be Killed (2016) #13

This issue opens with more of writer Ed Brubaker’s “is it condescending or doesn’t he know how to do this” narration for protagonist Dylan. We’re almost caught up to the first issue’s framing device (the whole comic’s in past tense), but there’s one more story to tell first. And… there’s actually a story to tell? Brubaker’s been most successful with Kill or Be Killed when doing an issue unlike any others—introducing new characters (who don’t […]

Superman for All Seasons (1998) #1

The incredible thing about Superman For All Seasons is it never feels too precious. It ought to feel too precious as gentle, reserved giant Clark Kent ambles through his last spring in Smallville. Pa Kent narrates All Seasons, but Clark’s the protagonist. There’s a scene for Ma and Pa to talk about how Clark’s just getting so strong they don’t know what to do, but he can hear them, so it’s still his scene. The […]

Dracula Lives (1973) #3

There aren’t any pages of the Dracula movie stills with new dialogue. There are still some movie stills with accompanying text, but it’s not for laughs. It’s a welcome change to Dracula Lives, though the pages instead seem to be going to somewhat middling text material. But first, the comics. Writer Marv Wolfman contributes another part of Dracula’s Marvel origin. After becoming a vampire, killing his captors, and dropping his infant son off with some […]

Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes (1977) #245

Maybe I need to be more invested in the big villain reveal—it’s Mordru, who’s some kind of space wizard who the Legion always foils. He talks a lot and has no weaknesses other than being buried underground. Only four Legionnaires are left to take him on—Superboy, Karate Kid, Lightning Lad, and Saturn Girl. Last issue, I thought Saturn Girl was the science police officer who’d been trying to warn everyone; nope. That officer never comes […]

Tomb of Dracula (1972) #13

It’s only taken a dozen issues, but Tomb of Dracula finally lets the vampire hunters get the upper hand. They get there the same way Dracula usually does—the writer surprising both the reader and the targets. The move isn’t quite a twist—it comes as a hard cliffhanger—and it’s nice to see writer Marv Wolfman mixing things up a bit. Not sure how many times he’ll be able to do it before it’s a trope, but […]

Detective Comics (1937) #468

At least the art’s better. I can’t imagine how this issue would read without it. Marshall Rogers is still way too design-focused, with most of the action taking place against blank backgrounds, but when there is scenery, it’s excellent. And Terry Austin’s thin, dark inks are perfect, particularly on the Batman pages. But the writing’s even worse than I was expecting, and I wasn’t expecting much. This issue concludes writer Bob Rozakis’s Calculator story, which […]

Luba (1998) #10

@#$%& Beto! I very deliberately emotionally steeled myself for Luba #10. Creator Beto Hernandez ended the last issue on such a one-two punch of cliffhangers (no pun), I knew I needed to be ready. Lots of stories were about to come to a head, lots of emotions. And they do. Lots of stories do come to a head—Beto’s finishing business he started back in Love and Rockets, including Luba and Ofelia’s origin story arc, Poison […]

A Walk Through Hell (2018) #6

Either writer Garth Ennis or editor Mike Marts doesn’t know corpses don’t grow hair. At least Ennis ought to know corpses don’t grow hair. Google’s free, people. I’ll bet it’s even on Bing. The issue opens with McGregor noticing he’s got facial hair, which would’ve taken a few weeks to grow, meaning they’re still alive somehow. Only Shaw hasn’t had her period, so time’s not passing; corpses just grow hair. I suppose they could be […]

Werewolf by Night (1972) #9

For a while, I thought artist Tom Sutton would be Werewolf by Night’s return to art form. Or at least getting closer to it than it’s been since they started putting consecutively worse inkers on Mike Ploog, then lost Ploog altogether. Sutton’s probably the most successful since then, but he’s not good. The first sequence has Wolfman Jack running through rainy Los Angeles while some scary-looking guy in a scarecrow outfit chases him in the […]

Kill or Be Killed (2016) #12

So. I'm not sure how seriously one can take this issue with even the briefest historical context. There's a lengthy section of Dylan's narration where he talks about how he's not just some alpha who protected his woman from the wolves. Given Kira's Harry Potter costume, if it were written these days, it would feel like writer Ed Brubaker wanted to in-virtue signal. But then there's the The Edge thing. The Edge is an Alec […]

Dracula Lives (1973) #2

There’s a thirteen-page Neal Adams warlord Dracula comic this issue, and I don’t understand why it’s not a bigger deal. Like, it’s gorgeous. Of course, the other stories have good art, too… well, the Gene Colan and Dick Giordano one, but the Adams one is kind of an immediate classic. I started reading Dracula Lives because the Tomb of Dracula editors’ notes promised it’d fill in the backstory. Given Tomb’s unsteady continuity, I got curious; […]

Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes (1977) #244

There’s no messing around here: writer Paul Levitz is doing a future sci-fi superhero war comic, which is one heck of a flex. He’s even doing it with Joes Staton and Giella art. The art’s nowhere near as bad as I thought it’d be when I saw Staton’s name; the layouts are fine. At their best, Staton and Giella’s faces look like bland teenagers from an Archie comic. Well, except the girls. Sometimes they put […]

Tomb of Dracula (1972) #12

You know, maybe I’m overthinking the writing on Frank Drake. Maybe he’s just a shitty racist who doesn’t Taj for being Indian. It sure seems like it. Especially after he has a “quaking in his boots” moment before Blade shows up and saves his ass. Tom Palmer’s back inking Gene Colan this issue, which is good, but it’d be better if the story weren’t just about Dracula messing with the vampire slayers. Though they’re not […]

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