Wednesday, January 13, 2016

2015 Year in Review - Part 3

I still make a point of tracking how many pages each artist draws in the comics I read. I started it out of some desire to see who could be counted on. I set 110 and 154 pages as the levels I was looking to see people hit. Takeshi Miyazawa and Adrian Alphona came close to the lower level, but no cigar (Alphona was half a page shy, thanks to splitting that one page with Miyazawa in the first issue of the current Ms. Marvel volume). Chris Samnee, Ramon Rosanas, Mike Hawthorne, Emmanuela Lupacchino, Kyle Charles all reached or surpassed the 110-page mark (listed from most pages to fewest). Dustin Nguyen and Salva Espin both exceeded 154 pages, but the top mark was posted by. . . Erica Henderson, at 220 pages!. Henderson joins Paco Medina (2009), J. Calafiore (2010), James Silvani (2011), Chris Samnee (2012 and 2014), and Kev Walker (2013) as a winner of this completely irrelevant award. Just know I really appreciate your ability to consistently turn in quality work on a schedule.

Klarion #4-6: There are times I forgot I had bought this early in 2015. I was, judging by both sales figures and general Internet reaction, the only person (except maybe Tim O'Neill? He had some complimentary things to say about her first couple of Green Arrow issues) who enjoyed Ann Nocenti's recent stint writing for DC. As is usual with Nocenti's work, there seemed to be a lot going on, some of it more subtle than others, but since the book was essentially dead on arrival, everything got rushed and smooshed together, and it's all kind of a blur in my mind. Fabrizio Fiorentino and Szyman Kudranski were both credited for the art, so I'm not sure who did what.

Marvel Zombies #1-4: This is the first of 3 Secret Wars-related mini-series I bought, and it's my favorite of the bunch. Si Spurrier and Kev Walker take essentially the version of Elsa Bloodstone most of us are familiar with (the one from NextWave), and throw her into a land of the undead, protecting a small child while being hounded by some immense monster and her own past.

High point: I love Kev Walker's artwork, and Frank D'Armata's coloring was excellent. I especially liked the scene of Elsa and the kid with their arms spread running into the wind on a grassy beach. The colors were so mild and pleasant, it was a lovely scene. Also, Spurrier wrote Elsa well, with plenty of sarcasm and frustration, but just that hint of compassion.

Low point: I was never quite sure about taking Ellis' idea of Elsa's horrible childhood of being given ridiculous, deadly tasks to complete by her monster-hunting, caveman father and handling it seriously, so maybe that's it. I thought Spurrier made it work for his story, it just seemed like one of those elements better left as a joke.

Master of Kung-Fu #1-4: Haden Blackman and Dalibor Talijac turn Shang-Chi into a drunken outcast in a city where the ruler is determined by the winner of a martial arts tournament. Shang is naturally forced to enter to protect some other outcasts, which ultimately pits him against the current ruler, his father.

High point: Talijac's artwork is that clean, smooth-lined style I tend to enjoy, and he's quite good at illustrating fight scenes. However, the scene where Shang-Chi details to the Outcasts precisely how his father would have trained them was effective in its bluntness, and for highlighting just why Shang-Chi may have ended up as he did.

Low point: When the series talked about a tournament, I envisioned something more like a shonen manga tournament, where we'd get a lot of cool fights. There wasn't really time for that, though, so somehow Shang-Chi wound up having to fight everyone. Which is an extremely poorly laid out tournament.

Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos #1-4: Duggan and Salva Espin do sort of a What If? Deadpool hadn't defeated Dracula on Shiklah's behalf? The result being she goes on a quest for a scepter than will enable her to take care of business herself, and gets stuck with Marvel's various monster characters as tagalongs. She finds the scepter, kills Dracula, then gets killed by a bunch of cops who are Thors. Kind of a disappointment overall.

High point: Frankenstein's Monster being afraid of the undead, and thinking Man-Thing was giving him a hug, right up to the point he bursts into flames. Also, Shiklah's constant disrespectful comments towards the Commandos. Both her attempts (one successful, one not) to use Medusa against the Commandos. Dracula getting paranoid about the Invisible Man lurking somewhere and randomly throwing punches at the air. Basically, there were several gags scattered throughout the series that were funny.

Low point: It sort of petered out. I wasn't clear why the Thors would care she killed Dracula. So he's a Baron. Far as I can tell, Doom's normal response to someone killing one of those is to make the killer the new Baron, because clearly the dead one doesn't have the moxie to hold onto the job. But, blah, blah, revenge will destroy you, blah, blah. Why am I not surprised the one that most uses the Battleworld concept was the weakest of the three?

Ms. Marvel #11-19: Kamala defeated the Inventor, survived Loki crashing prom, had her heart broken by some pretty boy scuzzwad, and teamed up with Carol Danvers to rescue her brother from the same scuzzwad. Then the world ended, right as she learned her mother knew she was Ms. Marvel all along. G. Willow Wilson wrote it, Takeshi Miyazawa drew the initial problems with Kamran, Elmo Bondoc drew the Loki issue, and Adrian Alphona drew everything else.

High point: Kamala taking it to Kamran when he not only abducts her, but tries to portray the whole thing as her fault, just like a scumbag would. The team-up with Carol Danvers went pretty well, all things considered. All the background details Alphona and Miyazawa put into their art. The odd characters and things are a lot of fun to pore over.

Low point: Even though it came right back, the cancelation was annoying.

Ms. Marvel #1, 2: As I said, it did come right back. Wilson is still writing it, and Miyazawa appears to have taken over as primary artist, with Alphona becoming the one who steps in for an arc to provide a breather. Kamala's an Avenger now, and struggling with the added visibility and responsibilities that brings. I have to give some of these books credit for at least trying to use the 8 month time skip to jump into new situations for their books.

Nightcrawler #10: I probably would have stuck with this book to its cancelation two issues later, if only Claremont hadn't felt compelled to use the Shadow King again. It's too bad. Mostly cheerful and swashbuckling Kurt is a favorite thing of mine, and this was the best Todd Nauck's art has ever looked to me.

Patsy Walker aka Hellcat #1: This came out about a month ago, and Kate Leth and Brittney L. Williams' take on Patsy seems promising. Upbeat, a little flighty, a bit of a mess, a lot of depressing backstory she can't quite shake. Williams seems to have a decent enough range to her art that not everything has to be in a silly or cute style if that isn't appropriate (though I imagine it usually will be).

Roche Limit #4, 5: The end of Michael Moreci and Vic Malhorta's first third of this group of mini-series. The people who were taking too much of the Recall drug, or had been sent through the Anomaly became agents of the Black Sun and either killed or drove off all the non-altered inhabitants of the colony. Leaving it a rapidly crumbling empty shell.

Tomorrow has a little of everything I tend to buy. Some more stuff from Image, a DC ongoing series, a couple of Marvel ongoings, most of which got canceled.


SallyP said...

Ms Marvel has consistently been one of my favorite books. And have to say that while Hellcat is brand new, it's a lot f fun so far.

CalvinPitt said...

I feel like those two are going to be running neck and neck for my favorite series of 2016. I hope so, anyway.