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Hitman: Ace of Killers (1997-98)

Having read Garth Ennis for so long, I can get a sense of his structure. He’s traditionally too rushed in three-issue arcs, much more comfortable with four or more. Hitman: Ace of Killers collects a six-issue arc and then two done-in-ones. The main story is a siege story, too, with the heroes getting pinned down at the end of the second issue. It’s pretty awesome plotting; like, it’s real impressive given all the character development […]

Hitman: Local Heroes (1996-97)

Local Heroes collects two story arcs; the first is the Local Heroes one, about metahuman hitman Tommy having to team up with Kyle Rayner Green Lantern to take on the C.I.A. The C.I.A. wants to start controlling the supes, and suddenly it's like The Boys in here. I hadn't realized writer Garth Ennis worked through ideas over such a long term; Ennis has got his themes—like drunk Irish men—but if I've ever recognized echoes throughout […]

Hitman: Ten Thousand Bullets (1996-97)

So when I said I was going to keep going with Hitman after reading the first volume last June, I meant it. I did not go back and reread it (though I’ve perused since finishing this second collection) and was able to mostly follow the story so Hitman can withstand a sixteen-and-a-half-month break, which is impressive. I also didn’t read the introduction by Kevin Smith. It’s a little bit too effusive about Hitman writer Garth […]

Superman ’78 (2021) #3

If Superman ’78 weren’t written for eight-year-old fans of Superman: The Movie—ones who don’t have home video technology yet because otherwise you’d just rent the movie instead of reading this terribly written comic—I’d say this issue were the best. Even with the retconning for fan service’s sake and the pointless stunt cameos. Writer Robert Venditti, faced with the limitless budget of comic book action, goes the Canon Quest for Peace route and chickens out on […]

Batman ’89 (2021) #3

Did the Michelle Pfeiffer/Tim Burton Catwoman movie never get made because she refused to wear the new outfit from Batman ’89? Or are the costume designs on the comic just going to be wanting overall. Robin seems inevitable, and I’m concerned. But the banter between Batman and Catwoman—Michael Keaton and Pfeiffer—is kind of exactly what I’d always wished it would be. Their rooftop rendezvous is half-great, then a quarter hints at a reveal, and the […]

Superman ’78 (2021) #2

I think this issue may actually be worse than the last one. Because this time, it’s not just Robert Venditti who disappoints with the writing—and, wow, does he disappoint; it’s a terrible script. Like if he were writing Mad Magazine’s Superman II (literally, since it repeats many story beats). But also Wilfredo Torres’s art. Oh, Torres has some excellent moments, and when he’s doing Christopher Reeve expressions, it’s incredible. But the “big” battle scene? It’s […]

Manchette’s Fatale (2014)

I wanted to read Manchette’s Fatale because Jacques Tardi never finished his and Jean-Patrick Manchette’s adaptation of Manchette’s novel. They only did a few pages, and I got curious about where the story was going. And while the novel’s been translated to English… well, I mean, I don’t read read anymore. Come on. So I figured another completed comic adaptation. I maybe should’ve gone with the prose. There’s nothing wrong with Doug Headline and Max […]

Batman ’89 (2021) #2

So it’s not Batman ‘89, it’s Batman ’93? As in, set after Batman Returns… is it just Sam Hamm’s Batman Forever? If so, it’s still okay. I just wasn’t expecting the returning character at the end of the issue. I also wasn’t expecting Hamm to do a deep cut to the original script—and the Craig Shaw Gardner novelization—of Batman. At one point, Bruce Wayne needs to costume up, and he doesn’t have his Batsuit, so […]

Superman ’78 (2021) #1

Superman ‘78 starts with a dedication page to Richard Donner, which would feel better if the comic were better. But, instead, entire sequences are just lifted from… Superman: The Movie? I mean, there are a couple continuity-building nods to Superman II (Lois Lane likes Metropolis hot dogs, not just Niagara Falls ones). However, you’d think everyone would remember in II when Superman gets thrown through the Daily Planet, the exact same thing happened once before. […]

Rowlf (1971)

Rowlf is the story of a very good dog named Rowlf who does not play the piano but is devoted to his owner, the fair maiden Maryara. Maryana’s sort of royalty, just of an impoverished land. So her best suitor ends up being a twerp who wants to assume command and lead the land to a more prosperous future. It’s never clear how, but it involves a similarly twerpy wizard, Sortrum. The suitor, Raymon, is […]

Black Star (2021)

The cynic in me can’t help thinking Black Star started as a movie screenplay. Writer Eric Anthony Glover has a bunch of narrative devices to exposition dump—there aren’t just flashbacks, there are talking omnipotent computers who playback the flashbacks. Nintendo Power Gloves with screens built-in. The computer, “Guardian” not “Mother,” tells the characters where to walk and how fast, so there’s never any concern about getting lost exactly, and they can always make the timed […]

Four-Fisted Tales: Animals in Combat (2021)

Creator Ben Towles toes (no pun) a very tight line with Four-Fisted Tales: Animals in Combat. How do you do a graphic novel about war animals in 2021? If I had to guess the target audience—like professionally, which is an odd flex for me but Animals is excellent for reluctant readers—but the target audience it’s ten-year-old boys who think both dogs, bugs, and war is cool. They’re not sure about books yet. Towles does twelve […]

Batman ’89 (2021) #1

I haven’t read any of the previous DC comics sequels to their TV or movie properties—I think it’s just been TV properties, right (“Batman” and “Wonder Woman”)—but I’m certainly sympathetic to the proposition. I did, after all, read the ostensible canon IDW Star Trek: The JJ Abrams Years series for a while. But Batman ’89… I’m actually unsure how to unpack all the nostalgia and fan service. It’s not just “another” Michael Keaton (more on […]

Red Room (2021) #1

Red Room is a revolting revelation. Intentionally. Both my alliteration and creator Ed Piskor’s infusing every page of the comic with something deeply disturbing. There’s a single character in the comic who isn’t in some way vile. Everyone else is in some way or another gross, including the preacher throwing shade about a thin funeral payment. See, Red Room is about snuff live streams, the gorier the better. Piskor expressly avoids anything particularly sexual this […]

Fear Case (2021) #3

Wait, Fear Case only runs four issues? I thought it ran five. Unfortunately, having one less issue and doing a double-decker bridge issue with the penultimate one is even worse than doing a double-decker bridge issue in the middle of a five issue series. There’s some fine art. Tyler Jenkins gets to do… well, he gets to do some apartment buildings, a bar, some desert. A warehouse. Nothing particularly exciting or heavy lifting, but it’s […]

Fear Case (2021) #2

I must’ve missed the modern technology in the first issue; Fear Case doesn’t take place in the seventies, they just drive a seventies car and artist Tyler Jenkins has a timeless (well, seventies-ish) style. The issue opens with a quick recap of the soft cliffhanger—one benefit to writer Matt Kindt’s verbose expository dialogue is quick recaps fit naturally—with our heroes investigating the next recipient of the titular Fear Case. Turns out they’re a little too […]

Fear Case (2021) #1

Fear Case is high concept supernatural police procedural, with some asterisks. It’s not exactly police—they’re Secret Service agents—and the supernatural aspects may end up constrained. It’s too soon to tell whether they’re going to go atomic glow, Gwyneth Paltrow’s head, or full Alan Moore’s The Courtyard in the eventual reveal (or if there will be a reveal at all), but writer Matt Kindt does work in some foreshadowing in the second half of the issue. […]

Run Like Crazy, Run Like Hell (2011)

Run Like Crazy, Run Like Hell is a divinely unromantic crime thriller. It’s got all sorts of romanticized parts and pieces, but creator Jacques Tardi (adapting a Jean-Patrick Manchette) always finds a different angle to present. There are four main characters and four supporting ones, then some supporting supporting ones, but the principals are Julie, a young woman recently released from a mental health institution now working as a governess, her charge, Peter, his uncle, […]

Future State: Swamp Thing (2021) #2

It’s an all-action issue, minus the epilogue, with Swamp Thing and his ragtag army of plant people and humans fighting against the evil humans and their ringleader. The ringleader’s who I thought it’d be. Ram V knows his Swamp Thing, knows the appropriate, historical supporting cast member to bring in to guest star for effect. No, not Arcane. There’s more good art from Mike Perkins, though after a while—fairly early on—it’s unclear why V needed […]

Future State: Swamp Thing (2021) #1

It never occurred to me Mike Perkins would be such a great Swamp Thing artist. There are a handful of ways to really nail Swamp Thing, with Perkins doing the passive movement thing—Swamp Thing’s branches sway in the wind (and he has branches to sway). Perkins’s art is excellent overall, but his take on Swamp Thing is very nice. Classical and very nice. Similarly, writer Ram V goes for a wordy but concise Swamp Thing. […]

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