Eye on Comics

Comics criticism and commentary from Don MacPherson

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (Fighting Evil)

Posted by Don MacPherson on April 20th, 2014

Lumberjanes #1
Writers: Noelle Stevenson & Grace Ellis
Artist: Brooke Allen
Colors: Maarta Laibo
Letters: Aubrey Aiese
Cover artists: Noelle Stevenson/Maddie Flores/Lauren Zuke
Editor: Dafina Pleban
Publisher: Boom! Studios/Boom! Box imprint
Price: $3.99 US

I’m far from the target audience for this book, but there was such a positive buzz around it, I opted to fork over my four bucks to give it a look. I figured if I didn’t dig it, I could probably flip it on eBay to get my money back. After reading it, I definitely get why it has struck a chord with readers. Lumberjanes, as its title suggests, is a playful adventure book featuring a cast made up entirely of strong, entertaining female characters. It’s appropriate for pre-teen readers up to adults, and I’d be amazed if Boom! wasn’t eyeing this property as something that could spin off into other media. That being said, I don’t think I’ll be following the series — not because I don’t think it’s a good comic book. It is a good comic. It’s just one that doesn’t really appeal to my sensibilities. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Reviews - Boom! Studios | No Comments »

Voice Lessons

Posted by Don MacPherson on April 14th, 2014

A Voice in the Dark #s 1 & 2
“Blood Makes Noise” parts 1 & 2
Writer/Artist: Larime Taylor
Editor: Dannty Donovan
Publisher: Image Comics/Top Cow Productions
Price: $3.99 US each

That’s right, I’m back after a long hiatus. The dormancy of Eye on Comics doesn’t stem from site issues, personal illness or some ’round-the-world excursion or anything. More pressing, everyday concerns seemed to trump my writing about comics, and honestly, I think I was a bit burnt out on it. But after writing yesterday’s review, I felt re-energized, and with the snow melting, I needn’t worry about snowblowing, wood-fetching or deck-clearing. What follows below is a review I had mostly written when the Big Break happened, so I’m behind a bit on the series. But don’t let that mislead you into thinking the comic book discussed here is one that should be overlooked.

I’ll be honest: the Top Cow brand isn’t one to which I pay much attention. Defined by its titles that represent the Kewl excesses of the 1990s (such as Cyberforce and The Darkness), Top Cow Productions has rarely offered a title that’s really held my interest (at least of the ones I’ve sampled over the past 20 years). So when I saw the promotional material in my Inbox for this particular Top Cow book, I didn’t expect much. Still, I decided to take a few minutes to “thumb through” a digital copy of the first issue. A few minutes turned into 30, as I drank in the first issue and then the second. And then I read a message from the writer/artist/creator in the back of the first issue. The broad concept cover blurb quote — describing A Voice in the Dark, as Dexter meets Strangers in Paradise — isn’t a bad description, but it really only scratches the surface of this powerful, character-driven sample of storytelling. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Reviews - Image | 2 Comments »

Eternal Torment

Posted by Don MacPherson on April 13th, 2014

Variant coverBatman Eternal #1
Writers: Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV
Consulting writers: Ray Fawkes, John Layman & Tim Seeley
Artist: Jason Fabok
Colors: Brad Anderson
Letters: Nick J. Napolitano
Cover artists: Jason Fabok (regular)/Andy Kubert & Jonathan Glapion (variant)
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

I wasn’t planning on picking up this weekly series, but a light week at the comic shop, an appreciation for weekly titles and a somewhat deluded sense that a $3 comic is a bargain in the 21st century all converged to get me to give it a shot. I was pleasantly surprised with what I found within — a story that focuses on supporting characters in Batman’s world rather than the title character himself. I was also expecting a simpler approach in the artwork, given the tight publishing timeline on which is series is set to unfold, but artist Jason Fabok has injected a meticulous level of detail into this inaugural issue. The comic definitely has its flaws, but it succeeds in the most important aspect for a weekly serial: it had me curious about what happens next. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Reviews - DC | 5 Comments »

The Doctor Is Quinn

Posted by Don MacPherson on December 6th, 2013

Variant coverHarley Quinn #0
“Picky Sicky”
Writers: Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti
Artists: Amanda Conner, Becky Cloonan, Tony S. Daniel & Sandu Florea, Stephane Roux, Dan Panosian, Walter Simonson, Jim Lee & Scott Williams, Bruce Timm, Charlie Adlard, Adam Hughes, Art Baltazar, Tradd Moore, Dave Johnson, Jeremy Roberts, Sam Keith, Darwyn Cooke and Chad Hardin
Colors: Paul Mounts, Tomeu Morey, John Kalisz, Lovern Kindzierski, Alex Sinclair, Lee Loughridge, Dave Stewart & Alex Sollazzo
Letters: John J. Hill
Cover artists: Amanda Conner (regular)/Stephane Roux (variant)
Editor: Katie Kubert
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

I’m a few weeks late writing about this recent release, but I had a number of thoughts about it and wanted to jot them down. First off, I must point out I thoroughly enjoyed this comic book, not because I have a particular interest in the title character, but moreso because I enjoy the work of the writers and many of the artists who contributed. That being said, while I found this comic entertaining, I’m not entirely sure it was a good idea. Sure, a Harley Quinn is definitely a marketable property with mainstream recognition, and Palmiotti and Conner’s sensibilities are a great fit for the character. But this zero issue of the series really isn’t about Harleen Quinzell. Instead, it’s about the mainstream comics industry itself and the friendships the writers have formed over the years. As someone with an interest in the industry, as well as the personalities behind the stories and art, I was quite taken with this fourth-wall-breaking jaunt through the craft of comics. But I question if that cachet will appeal to the wider audience DC is no doubt looking to hook. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Reviews - DC | 3 Comments »

Inmates Ruining the Asylum

Posted by Don MacPherson on November 24th, 2013

Doing Time original graphic novel
Writer: Brad Sullivan
Artist: Amilton Santos
Colors: Tiago Fernandes & Oracle
Letters: Fred C. Stresing & Adam Wollet
Publisher: Back Row Comics

Doing Time is the sort of genre story that clearly has its origins in the title itself. The writer has taken a phrase about a prison term and imposed a new, dual meaning on it, making the “time” part refer to time travel. At its heart, it’s a simple and even fun concept, and the good news is that writer Brady Sullivan’s plot and characters never take themselves or the premise too seriously. For an independent project, the production values here are pretty solid — professional-level lettering, fairly clear though standard comic-art art style — and there’s a sense of diversity in the cast of characters. There’s just one problem: those characters are pretty much all loathsome. I get that when the central plot is about a prison break (even one through time), the protagonists aren’t all going to be palatable, but even the one non-criminal in the bunch is unlikeable. Sullivan seems to have as his foundation here the punny premise and a clear ending he had in mind, and on that foundation, he piled hate, misogyny, stupidity, sex and as much gratuitous violence as he could fit in a graphic novella (which was clearly originally crafted as a three-issue limited series). There’s potential in the storytelling here, but the writer and artist could definitely have used some guidance and input to refine their efforts. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Reviews - Indy/Small Press | No Comments »

Pair Necessities

Posted by Don MacPherson on October 27th, 2013

Showcase Presents: DC Comics Presents – Superman Team-Ups Vol. 1 trade paperback
Writers: Mike Barr, Cary Bates, Paul Levitz, Dennis O’Neil, Jim Starlin, Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, Gerry Conway, Steve Englehart, David Michelinie & Martin Pasko
Pencils: Murphy Anderson, José Luis García-López, Jim Starlin, Joe Staton, Curt Swan, Rich Buckler & Dick Dillin
Inks: Dan Adkins, Murphy Anderson, Vince Colletta, José Luis García-López, Joe Giella, Steve Mitchell, Jack Abel, Dick Giordano, Frank McLaughlin & Frank Chiaramonte
Letters: Ben Oda, Clem Robins, Todd Klein & Milt Snapinn
Cover artist: José Luis García-López
Editor: Julius Schwartz (original)/Ben Joy (collected edition)
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $17.99 US/$22.99 CAN

I’ve amassed a small collection of DC’s Showcase reprint editions and some selections from Marvel’s Essential line, and I’ve only recently started really delving into them. I find I’m enjoying these phone-book-like collections of Silver and Bronze Age material as much as some of the better modern comics on my pull list today. Mind you, I’m definitely judging these books through a different filter, from a different perspective. These are not sophisticated comics, not by a long run. The writers take some ridiculous shortcuts to get the plots where they want them to go at times, and some of the stories definitely bite off more than they can chew for a one-off, standalone story. But they are incredibly fun, especially when they include such forgettable villains as Dr. Horus and the De-Volver. Perhaps the best thing this black-and-white reprint edition has going for it, though, is how it spotlights the incredible talent of artist José Luis García-López, arguably the best comics talent the Bronze Age ever produced. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Reviews - DC | No Comments »

Trading Burgers for Brains

Posted by Don MacPherson on October 20th, 2013

Afterlife With Archie #1
“This Is How the End of the World Begins…”
Writer: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Artist/Colors: Francesco Francavilla
Letters: Jack Morelli
Cover artists: Francesco Francavilla (regular)/Francavilla, Robert Hack, Andrew Pepoy & Tim Seeley (variants)
Publisher: Archie Comic Publications
Price: $2.99 US

Though I thumbed through the pages of Archie digests on the can when I was a kid (just like everyone else in the Western Hemisphere, I think), I’m not much of a reader of the publisher’s comics these days. Nevertheless, it succeeded in piquing my curiosity with this comic, despite its gimmicky nature and obvious effort to capitalize on one of the big pop-culture trends of the day. But Francesca Francavilla’s art should be more than enough to draw the attention of any modern enthusiast of the medium. On top of that, my local comic shop participated in the store-specific variant promotion, and I always like to show my support when it invests in such an item. Not surprisingly, the visuals are impressive throughout this first issue, but what took me aback is the strength of the writing. Though the broad concept is clearly something of a stunt designed to spark interest outside the publisher’s base audience, the storytelling doesn’t treat it like a gimmick at all. Instead, we get a much more grim, mature take on these characters. Honestly, the zombie-genre bits weren’t what held my attention, but rather the strong characterization writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa brought to bear here. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Reviews - Archie | 1 Comment »

Weird Webs

Posted by Don MacPherson on October 8th, 2013

Variant coverMarvel Knights: Spider-Man #1
“99 Problems… One of Five”
Writer: Matt Kindt
Artist: Marco Rudy
Colors: Val Staples
Letters: Virtual Calligraphy
Cover artists: Rudy (regular)/Carlo Barberi (variant)
Editor: Tom Brennan
Publisher: Marvel Entertainment
Price: $3.99 US

Marvel decision to revive its Marvel Knights brand is well timed, as it’s given the publisher an opportunity to publish a Spider-Man comic for Peter Parker purists who might prefer their Spideys amazing rather than superior. I’m also pleased to see the Marvel Knights label is being reserved for somewhat unconventional material and to emphasize the talent crafting the comics rather than the icons in the stories. Matt Kindt’s star is definitely on the rise, as is Marco Rudy’s — oddly enough, mainly for work they’ve done on DC titles. I found their take on Spider-Man to be unexpected, unusual and experimental, and I’m always pleased when I find something new in the world of a decades-old character and a genre that many could easily argue has seen it all. That being said, there are more than “99 Problems” in this story, as a couple in the plot and art kept me from connecting to the material as much as I wanted. Still, that Marvel and these creators took the chances they did with these characters is a welcome development that merits a look. Read the rest of this entry »

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Quick Critiques – Sept. 29, 2013

Posted by Don MacPherson on September 29th, 2013

Forever Evil #1 (DC Comics)
by Geoff Johns, David Finch & Richard Friend

I’m a sucker for big super-hero events that bring disparate and normally unconnected colorful characters together — or at least, I used to be. I’ve been cooling to the event book for years now, but I have to admit, Forever Evil had its moments. The four-page spread featuring the Crime Syndicate’s address to the world’s super-villains was fun and reminded me a great deal of Crisis on Infinite Earths #9, the villain-driven issue. I also appreciated the opening scene featuring Luthor as a ruthless businessman and the closing scene in which we see him both cast in the role of the hero and longing for his longtime enemy to arrive to save the day. That being said, Forever Evil is an inherently flawed concept that just doesn’t work. the villains tell the masses the Justice League is dead; the reader knows this to be untrue. There’s never a moment of real tension for the audience, but it knows How These Things Work. How the heroes will return or the day will be saved, we don’t know, but we do know those things will happen. Maybe writer Geoff Johns will take us on an interesting journey at arrive at that destination, but I fear it’s shaping up to be a long road trip during which many will keep asking, “Are we there yet?” Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Reviews - Quick Critiques | 1 Comment »

Good Golly, Miss Molly

Posted by Don MacPherson on September 8th, 2013

Molly Danger Book One hardcover graphic novel
Writer/Pencils/Cover artist: Jamal Igle
Inks: Juan Castro
Colors: Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Letters: Frank Cvetkovic
Editor: Adam P. Knave
Publisher: Action Lab Entertainment
Price: $19.99 US

Of all the comic-related Kickstarter projects I’ve seen promoted, none has had as high a profile in my corner of the Internet than Molly Danger. Writer/artist/creator Jamal Igle has been aggressive in his promotion of the graphic novel, but in a positive, non-obnoxious manner. I’m pleased he was successful in getting his property off the ground, and in finding a publishing partner in the form of Action Lab Entertainment. Igle’s ambition to publish this creator-owned vision is matched by the scope of his story. There’s a mystery or two hiding behind what at first seems like a conventional super-hero story, but the hinted-at history of the title character and emotional beats in the subplots are impressive in the apparent care Igle took in crafting them. While I found it to be solidly entertaining and charming, Molly Danger should prove to be particularly resonant with younger readers experiencing some sort of alienation, or isolation or major familial adjustment. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Reviews - Indy/Small Press | No Comments »

No Laughing Matter

Posted by Don MacPherson on September 4th, 2013

Batman #23.1
“Time to Monkey Shine”
Writer: Andy Kubert
Artist: Andy Clarke
Colors: Blond
Letters: Jared K. Fletcher
Cover artist: Jason Fabok
Editors: Katie Kubert & Mike Marts
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99 US

Yes, I bought one of DC’s 3D/lenticular gimmick Villains Month comics from DC. I honestly didn’t know what to expect from this comic book, but after seeing what these 3D covers are selling for on eBay this week, I figured I’d check it out and if I didn’t enjoy it, I could always unload it for a tidy profit. Given the popularity and high profile of the Joker thanks to the recent “Death of the Family” storyline from Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman, I thought the two Andys (Kubert and Clarke) might offer something in that vein. To my surprise, this story has absolutely no connection to the faceless Joker. Instead, we get something more akin to the Joker from The Killing Joke. Ultimately, what’s most interesting about this comic book isn’t the interpretation of the Joker, but rather how Andy Kubert fares as a writer rather than as an artist. It turns out, he’s got some chops, and I’ll definitely pay attention the next time he turns up as a writer on another DC title. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Reviews - DC | 4 Comments »

… And Beyond

Posted by Don MacPherson on August 14th, 2013


I can relate to the sentiment Iron Man expresses in the above image. It’s summer (well, summer’s almost over, actually), so it must be time for another Marvel crossover event. I haven’t had much interest in the publisher’s tentpole crossover titles in recent years and I’ve avoided plunking down my hard-earned cash for them as of late. But I shelled out five bucks (well, less, after discount and after I sold the included digital download code in this book) because I’m genuinely interested in writer Jonathan Hickman’s work. The good news: this is a crossover event for Hickman fans. The bad news: this is a crossover event for Hickman fans.

Variant coverInfinity #1
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Pencils: Jim Cheung
Inks: Mark Morales, John Livesay, David Meikis & Jim Cheung
Colors: Justin Ponsor
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos & Joe Caramagna
Cover artists: Adam Kubert (regular)/Arthur Adams, In-Hyuk Lee, Marko Djurdjevic, Skottie Young, Mark Brooks & Jerome Opena (variants)
Editors: Tom Brevoort & Lauren Sankovitch
Publisher: Marvel Entertainment
Price: $4.99 US

After reading this first issue, I was struck by a number of elements, both positive and negative. First of all, this is a pretty good value for $4.99; it’s an oversized comic that’s dense in its construction, both plot-wise and visually. That being said, some of the opening material reprints pages from Marvel’s Infinity offering from this year’s Free Comic Book Day. I also noted Marvel is finally capitalizing on the profile bump and interest in Thanos from the after-credits scene from the Marvel’s The Avengers movie from last year. That conscious decision to craft Thanos in the image of his big-screen counterpart includes the incorporation of the grotesque emissary/agent with whom Loki communicated in the flick. Infinity promises to be everything a big crossover event should be: universe-spanning, colorful and replete with a diverse array of super-hero characters. There’s just one element missing: accessibility. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Reviews - Marvel | 2 Comments »

Whatever Happened to “Whatever Happened To…?”

Posted by Don MacPherson on August 2nd, 2013

When I scanned this week’s list of new releases in comics shops, an item I hadn’t expected caught my eye. Among DC’s offerings this week was Showcase Presents: DC Comics Presents Superman Team-Ups Volume 2, a softcover, black-and-white reprint of a lengthy run of stories from DC Comics Presents from the Bronze Age of comics. As regular readers of Eye on Comics know, I’m a huge fan of the classic DC and Marvel team-up titles from that era, and while I own quite a few of those comics, I planned on adding Superman Team-Ups Vol. 2 to my library.

I was pleased to find a copy of the book for sale at my local comic-book shop, as I hadn’t pre-ordered it. But when I picked it up off the shelf and thumbed through the pages, there was something I didn’t find: the entirety of the contents of each issue included in the book.

Beginning in #25, DC Comics Presents featured regular backup stories entitled “Whatever Happened To…?”, explaining what became of Golden Age and Silver Age characters that hadn’t been seen for years. Now, this development started with the first volume of this particular edition of Showcase Presents, as it included #s 25 and 26, but I didn’t clue into the omission until this second volume hit stands this week. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Editorials | 9 Comments »

Quick Critiques – Aug. 2, 2013

Posted by Don MacPherson on August 2nd, 2013

Variant coverCollider #1 (DC Comics/Vertigo imprint)
by Simon Oliver & Robbi Rodriguez

When Vertigo founder and editor Karen Berger left DC Comics, many feared what it would mean for the publisher’s mature-readers imprint. Recent evidence would seem to indicate Vertigo is in good hands with longtime editor Shelly Bond, as recent releases have offered entertaining, intelligent and exciting creator-owned stories. Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy’s The Wake as proven to be a bonafide hit for the imprint, and people who enjoy that title ought to give Collider a look. Similar in tone to The Wake, Collider reads a lot like a Warren Ellis comic. It should also appeal to readers who are into Image’s Nowhere Men and The Manhattan Projects, with its realistic take on super-sciences and the smart people who create/deal with it. Oliver’s hero, Adam, is almost too perfect; he’s living an idyllic life full of action (both on the job and socially), but the writer humanizes him by rooting him in his connection to his late/missing father. Oliver’s move to blend manipulative politics into a world of physics gone haywire makes the impossible notions in the plot easier to connect with socially and intellectually. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Reviews - Quick Critiques | No Comments »

Father Blows It Best

Posted by Don MacPherson on August 2nd, 2013

A User’s Guide to Neglectful Parenting softcover graphic novel
Writer/Artist/Cover artist: Guy Delisle
Translation: Helge Dascher
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly
Price: $12.95 US/CAN

I’m almost ashamed to say this is my first exposure to Guy Delisle’s work. I’ve heard his name uttered in glowing terms often in recent years, and on top of that, he’s Canadian (though apparently now living in Europe). I wish I could say it was as a patriotic Canuck that I put my cash on the counter to buy this book, but in reality, it was the title alone that grabbed my attention. I can’t imagine there’s a parent of a baby, toddler or pre-teen that wouldn’t have his or her interest piqued at the title. Delisle’s sense of humor is thoroughly relatable, as are the scenarios he presents here of lazy or impatient parenting. I was entertained from start to finish when reading this book. My main problem with it, though, is how short-lived that entertainment was. As a father, I know real life offers no shortage of material on the subject of bumbling parenting, but this book struck me as surprisingly brief. I suppose in a way it’s a good thing. The book was fun enough that I didn’t want it to be over — they say always leaving them wanting more — but I was also left with the impression the digest didn’t merit the price on the back of the book. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Reviews - Drawn & Quarterly | No Comments »