Thursday, January 12, 2017

2016 Comics in Review - Part 4

I keep track of how many pages are being drawn by the different artists in the comics I read. I set 110 and 154 pages as benchmarks, for reasons I no longer recall. I mean, I remember those equal 5 and 7 22-page comics, but why those number of comics were the lines I drew escapes me. This year, James Silvani (132), Chris Samnee (120), and Scott Wegener (132) all reached 110 pages. Deadpool had three different artists reach 110 pages, with Mike Hawthorne, Scott Koblish, and Matteo Lolli. I guess it balances out Ms. Marvel getting zero artists that far.

Ultimately, three artists reached 154 pages: Kristen Gudsnuk, Erica Henderson, and Brittney L. Williams. I do wonder about including Gudsnuk, since Henchgirl was a webcomic originally, that she published one page at a time over months some time ago, but if we're going to start making those kinds of corrections, the blog legislature will have to form a committee to inspect the issue, then draft a bill, there'll be arguments. Or they'll adopt the Baseball Hall of Fame approach and leave it vague and up to the personal code of the voters, meaning me.

At any rate, Williams narrowly edges out Henderson, because Unbeatable Squirrel Girl occasionally let other artists draw one-page flashbacks or dream sequences, so congratulations to Brittney L. Williams. As I prize artists who can consistently produce quality work on a monthly schedule, this is actually sincere, even if it will not help her in any way.

Roche Limit - Monadic #1-4: Michael Moreci, Kyle Charles, and Matt Battaglia brought the Roche Limit story to a close with most of the cast from the first two mini-series trapped inside some kind of simulation the aliens were using to understand human individuality, so that they could copy it. Minus the capacity for self-sacrifice. Then they were defeated (maybe) by human capacity for self-sacrifice.

High Point: Matt Battaglia's colors continued to be the most vivid and eye-catching part of the series. The combinations of purple and black when outside, versus the sickly brown and green inside the house inside the city, versus the relatively normal color scheme where Sasha was. There's still a possibility reading all three mini-series back-to-back-to-back will help.

Low Point: The story felt a lot like Dark City. The previous mini-series strongly suggested the aliens were already back on Earth, so does blowing up their larger fleet in space really make much difference? Considering there's no indication anyone on Earth knows there's anything to be worried about? In every issue, there would be several pages where Charles' artwork got rushed and characters would be indistinguishable from one another, or you couldn't even tell what the heck was supposed to be going on.

Suicide Squad - War Crimes: One-shot by John Ostrander, with art by Gus Vazquez and Carlos Rodriguez. The Squad tries to retrieve a former member of the U.S. government who was abducted by a mercenary super-group to be brought before an international tribunal. The Squad has its usual issues with things not going smoothly, exacerbated by their typical backstabbing. A solid one-off story, though it's hamstrung by some issues with panel-to-panel continuity and proportions.

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #4-15: Ryan North and Erica Henderson, plus Rico Renzi as colorist. Jacob Chabot drew one issue, and several other artists did one or two pages here and there. Squirrel kept a Dr. Doom of the early 2000s from conquering the 1960s, had that team-up with Howard the Duck I mentioned, fended off the amorous advances of Mole Man (not to mention the boneheaded truther nonsense of friggin' Brad). Nightmare tried attacking her in her dreams, she and Koi Boi defeated the Swarm (if you chose correctly), and then she and Ant-Man kept Enigmo from taking over the world.

High Point: The trading cards are always good. North has a good grasp on Doctor Doom. Taskmaster got a better showing than I expected. I'm still hoping friggin' Brad becomes a recurring nuisance. Erica Henderson draws some comedy bits extremely well, and some of her fight scenes are pretty great too, although she doesn't get as much opportunity to show that off. There are just a lot of bits and pieces, even in what I'd call the weaker issues, that I really liked.

Low Point: Eh, I didn't love the Howard the Duck crossover. There were certain elements I enjoyed, but overall, I could take over leave it. The issue all about computer science got too bogged down in teaching us computer science.

Wynonna Earp #1-8: Beau Smith was back writing Wynonna for comics, with Lora Innes and Chris Evenhuis as the artists, and Jay Fotos as colorist. There was a demon cartel that harvests organs, a guy who infected a mall to show off his weaponized zombie plague, a confrontation with the Clantons (and taking on a family heirloom), protecting a werewolf and his family in witness protection, and a brief vacation with Valdez.

High Point: There are times I think Smith tries to get too clever with his dialogue, and it becomes clumsy. Mostly he walks on the right side of that line. I really like Valdez as a character, reminds me a lot of Cassandra Cain. Innes gives Wynonna a certain cheekiness, a playful smirk in body language, even when it isn't visible on her face, that really seems to fit the character.

Low Point: I didn't really care for Agent Dolls. Partially my general distaste for authority figures, partially that the constraints he put on Wynonna seemed contradictory, like he was trying to break her, but Smith wasn't really presenting it as such, because he didn't want us to outright hate Dolls. I got a little more used to him in later issues, so this is a lukewarm low point. But the book was generally solid.

And that's it for that part. Tomorrow, I wrap this up with arbitrarily ranking titles and creators to suit myself.

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