Into the longbox

Badger Saves The World #2, Baron and Caron. Better, but not great. I don’t know if Badger’s changed more or I have. Plenty of old Badger tropes are in play, but I just don’t feel as much enjoyment out of the whole thing. Maybe because I’ve seen much of this before and it was fresher then. Maybe Baron’s getting crankier in his old age. I just don’t feel the sparkle here, which is a shame.

Will Eisner’s The Spirit #13, Gold & Risso, O’Neil & Templeton, Simone & Hester & Parks. A fill-in issue with short stories by the various groups above. The Glen David Gold and Eduardo Risso story is visually interesting, but ultimately muddled. When you’re trying to do a visual twist story, you need a deceptively clear artist – say David Gibbons. While I think Risso’s art is stylish, I just don’t like his storytelling. I’d buy a set of single page pin-ups from him, but his sequences require so much work out of me to follow that it breaks me out of the story.

Templeton and O’Neil’s story is, on the other hand crisp and clear. It’s just not very innovative. The writing’s perfectly clear and appropriate for the Spirit, and Templeton’s art and layouts charm, but again, there’s no spark of the new. It’s the kind of story that’s worth study rather than enjoyment; the technique’s excellent.

Of the three I liked the Simone story best. Simone’s telling a story without dialog, just icons, and the art is extra lively and expressive to make up for it. Where I found the work decoding Risso’s art distratcing, I easily tripped along with Simone’s tale. As for Hester & Parks art, even the panels where nothing in particular is happening are dynamic – almost electric. The story just rips along and, while it won’t move anyone to tears, is a thoroughly good time. In 8 pages we meet a new villain, watch dastardly deeds, watch our hero struggle, meet new allies, and see justice in the end, all while the writer and artist stretch their abilities and the medium. I think Eisner would applaud.

Captain America #34, Brubaker, Epting, Guice, D’Armata. Bucky takes up Captain America’s mantle and the Red Skull makes his move. A splash page of an issue, that’s honestly well executed, but not what I come for. We have to have this kind of issue to underscore the “return” of Cap, and sell a few extra copies to the gullible, but I’m waiting to get back to Brubaker’s pace again next issue.

Black Summer #5, Ellis and Ryp. This series is going to read better in the trades. This is all paced to be read in one breathless sitting, and reviewing discrete chunks of it is pretty unfair. Things continue to be trying for the Guns, who are surprised by Blacksmith’s team this issue. There are more revelations about Tom that will be no surprise to anyone who’s grokked that character, and Ellis holds forth some on Iraq. Honestly, the only depressing thing about the issue is the art, and there, really the coloring. Much of the issue is a fight between black-garbed antagonists in the dark. Simultaneously maintaining the dark atmosphere and letting the reader follow the action is difficult. Mark Sweeny’s the colorist here, and he could take a few cues from Captain America’s D’Armata. They’re up to similar things in these two issues, but I followed Bucky’s night fight the first time to the point where I could enjoy the visual jokes, while I had to retrace the Guns’ battle to follow the basic action. Still solid stuff, though.

Doktor Sleepless #5, Ellis and Rodriguez. I continue to enjoy this, and things are moving along at a good clip now. Having spent 4 issues introducing his world, Ellis begins to reveal some of the mysteries. An interesting, fun issue with in-world revelations (Reinhardt’s not omniscient), plot development, and another thought provoking Ellis/Sleepless rant on authenticity. Rodriguez’s art continues to be clean and tel the story beautifully. This will certainly read better in collection as well (I’m already benefiting from rereading), but I won’t be able to wait that long to see it come out.

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