Eye on Comics

Comics criticism and commentary from Don MacPherson

Archive for the 'Reviews – IDW' Category

Iron Curtain Call

Posted by Don MacPherson on 7th November 2011

Cold War #1
“The Damocles Contract, Part One: The Minds That Matter”
Writer/Artist/Cover artist: John Byrne
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Neil Uyetake
Editor: Chris Ryall
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Price: $3.99 US

John Byrne’s been quietly but consistently working away under the IDW Publishing banner for a couple of years now, and as a fan of much of his past work, I’ve been waiting for something new from him to try out. I didn’t really follow his Next Men when he was first working on it through Dark Horse Comics, and I’m not really a Trekkie and had little interest in his new Star Trek storytelling. So when I spied Cold War on the shelves of my local comic shop, I thumbed through the first few pages. I liked what I saw, so I decided to give it a try. Obviously, the most famous foray into the espionage genre is James Bond, but I’ve never cared for those flicks or read any of the Ian Fleming books. It was my hope Byrne’s take on the spy genre wouldn’t feature a similarly glamorous depiction. While the exciting introductory segment fulfilled that promise, the same can’t be said for the latter part of the book. Byrne hooked me with the opening scene, but the fishing line broke as he tried to reel me in. Read the rest of this entry »

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Back to the Future

Posted by Don MacPherson on 21st October 2011

Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes #1
Writer: Chris Roberson
Pencils: Jeffrey Moy
Inks: Phil Moy
Colors: Romula Fajardo Jr.
Letters: Robbie Robbins
Cover artists: Phil Jimenez/Keith Giffen/Gabriel Rodriguez (variants)
Editor: Chris Ryall
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Price: $3.99 US

Now this is more like it. Both of DC’s New 52 titles featuring the Legion of Super-Heroes have proven to be disappointments, which came as a surprise and a letdown to this longtime Legion fan. But the good news is writer Chris Roberson got the Legion right for this crossover limited series from IDW Publishing. He and his artists embrace the inherent fun and adventure of the traditional Legion and the original incarnation of Star Trek to arrive at a light, entertaining result. Mind you, not much happens in this inaugural issue, as Roberson’s script is understandably divided between two casts of characters dealing with the same problem from opposite ends, so I suspect the series will read better as a collected edition. But I was nevertheless tickled by the campy, nostalgic approach to these two properties and look forward to the second issue. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sicks, Dregs and Rock ‘n’ Roll

Posted by Don MacPherson on 5th October 2009

Angora Napkin original hardcover graphic novel
Writer/Artist: Troy Little
Editor: Carol Little
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Price: $19.99 US

I always make a point of checking out creator Troy Little’s latest comic-book endeavors, not only because he hails from the same home province as your friendly neighborhood reviewer but because his storytelling on Chiaroscuro (originally self-published and later collected by IDW) was so compelling. Little offers up something quite different, both in concept and visually, with this latest project, and his experiences in the world of animation really show through in this oddball comedy about a raunchy girl band and its adventures in the realms of the supernatural.

Angora Napkin is really a study in contrasts. The main characters are in many ways charming innocents, but they’re also crude and depraved in their own way. The cartoony look of the character designs and the action initially suggests that the property was developed with younger readers in mind, but the humor and some of the dialogue demonstrate clearly that’s not the case. You never really know what to expect from Little and Angora Napkin and therein lies its strength and appeal. Read the rest of this entry »

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South of the Horror

Posted by Don MacPherson on 19th July 2009

The Last Resort #1
Writers: Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray
Artist/Colors: Giancarlo Caracuzzo
Letters: Chris Mowry
Cover artists: Amanda Conner/Darwyn Cooke
Editor: Scott Dunbier
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Price: $3.99 US

The punny title and what seems like a proliferation of existing zombie comics (which there isn’t, if one considers the truly dominant genre in comics) made me somewhat wary of adding another $3.99 title to the already expensive array of comics I read on a regular basis. However, a glimpse of some interior art piqued my interest enough to get me to thumb through the comic at the shop, and that was enough to convince me to give it a try. I’m glad I did. Palmiotti and Gray certainly don’t reinvent the rotting, undead wheel with The Last Resort, but they do deliver a raunchy, fun take on the genre that acknowledges how cheesy and entertaining it can be. Giancarlo Caracuzzo’s art is rich in detail but isn’t realistic either, and it maintains the high levels of energy and personality in the script. Read the rest of this entry »

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Stark Raging Bad

Posted by Don MacPherson on 18th June 2009

The Hunter hardcover graphic novel
Writer: Donald Westlake
Artist/Adaptation/Cover artist: Darwyn Cooke
Editor: Scott Dunbier
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Price: $24.99 US

One of the most anticipated announcements at Comic-Con International San Diego 2008 (and one of the most professionally run and applauded announcements) was that involving artist Darwyn Cooke’s next project, to be released by IDW Publishing. It’s fitting that on July 22, the first night of Comic-Con International San Diego 2009, marks the official release of that project. The Hunter is an adaptation of the novel of the same name penned by the late Donald Westlake under his Richard Stark nom de plume. I’ve not read any of Westlake’s work (though I have seen the movie Payback, which is based on The Hunter), but I am a big fan of Cooke’s work. I recently got the chance to peruse an advance reader’s copy of the graphic-novel adaptation, and I must confess I was incredibly excited about it. Mind you, I worried a bit that I might be venturing into one of those situations in which the anticipation and expectations for a project might eclipse the actual experience. Fortunately, this isn’t one of those occasions. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Uncanny FX-Man

Posted by Don MacPherson on 13th April 2008

FX #s 1 & 2
“Monkey Business” & “Things That Go… Crash… in the Night”
Writer: Wayne Osborne
Artist/Cover artist: John Byrne
Colors: Greg Cordier
Letters: John Workman
Editor: Tom Waltz
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Price: $3.99 US each

There’s been a trend in some super-hero comics toward lighter, brighter, more fun action/adventure stories, harkening back to the Silver Age of the genre. Some have argued that it’s a good development, as super-heroes have grown so dark since the 1980s, perhaps alienating younger readers. Others put forth the notion that the shift is a step backwards, that it’s nothing more than a fad of nostalgia, pleasing the already insular audience and no one else. I think both arguments have some validity, but it’s a more complex cultural issue. Wayne Osborne and John Byrne’s FX is certainly in keeping with the afore-mentioned trend, but it bucks one of the problems that sometimes accompany the more traditional approach. With DC and Marvel comics, the retro approach can also bring with it a lot of continuity references, to the delight of longtime fans but the confusion of newer readers. With FX, the creators don’t have that issue to contend with, as it’s brand new, unattached to any shared universe. Read the rest of this entry »

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Big Little Book

Posted by Don MacPherson on 23rd January 2008

Chiaroscuro: Patchwork Book 1 hardcover graphic novel
Writer/Artist/Cover artist: Troy Little
Publisher: IDW Publishing/Meanwhile Studios
Price: $24.99 US

When it was announced that IDW would publish Troy Little’s slightly surreal, slice-of-life comic, I was surprised but also elated. As someone who got on the Chiaroscuro train early on, I was eager to revisit the characters and story and to see how it progressed beyond the few individual episodes Little had self-published in the past. It had been quite some time since I delved into this odd story of urban ennui and angst, and everything felt new again as I thumbed through the pages. Little’s storytelling boasts a universal appeal, even in light of the eerie, tense moments in the plot. It’s easy for one to relate to the self-destructive protagonist’s frustration and depression. We’ve all experienced that horrendous mood when one wants to collapse in on oneself and hide from the world. The most interesting and challenging aspect of the story stems from the conflict, and it’s an internal one. The hero of the story is also the villain. Steven Patch is his own worst enemy, and while he’s not always the most likeable character, he is one with which the reader can empathize and identify. Little’s cartoony artwork exhibits a variety of eclectic influences, and while there’s an exaggerated tone to his figures, it’ his adept use of shadow and dead space that firmly establishes a strong, mature tone and an often palpably tense atmosphere as well. Read the rest of this entry »

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Zip Discussion

Posted by Don MacPherson on 14th November 2007

Zipper #1
Writer: Tom Waltz
Pencils: Casey Maloney
Inks: Stacie Ponder
Colors: Dusty Yee
Letters: Neil Uyetake
Cover artist: Adriano Loyola
Editor: Andrew Steven Harris
Publisher: IDW Publishing/Simmons Comics Group
Price: $3.99 US

My girlfriend and I are fans of A&E’s Gene Simmons Family Jewels, so I have to admit to some mild curiosity about the Simmons Comics Group line of titles from IDW, but this is the first one I’ve thumbed through. Simmons is credited with creating the core concept, and it’s a rather familiar one. We’ve seen the seemingly innocent alien becoming a hero before, but this time, there’s an intensity to the manifestation of his abilities and methods. That edgier side of the property is clearly a part of an effort to bring a Simmons, rock-’n'-roll element to the story, but it doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the premise. Still, the artwork is effective and eye-catching across the board, and I have to admit I was generally entertained from start to finish. I think what I most appreciated about the comic was the chance to sample the work of some new creators… or at least some creators who are new to me. Read the rest of this entry »

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