Eye on Comics

Comics criticism and commentary from Don MacPherson

Quick Critiques – April 30, 2009

Posted by Don MacPherson on April 30th, 2009

Atomic Robo Vol. 3 #1 (Red 5 Comics)
by Brian Clevinger & Scott Wegener

Brian Clevenger and Wegener return with yet another glimpse into the life of Robo, Nikola Tesla’s greatest achievement, adventurer and student. This issue is quite unlike just about any other issue of Atomic Robo to come before it as the title character doesn’t punch, shoot or blow anything up in this comic book. That’s quite a shift for this book. The issue consists mostly of Robo’s 1926 encounter with two of his “father’s” former colleagues: Charles Fort and H.P. Lovecraft. The script consists mostly of talking heads. At first, it’s cute, reminiscent of a sci-fi version of an Abbott and Costello routine. Clevinger tries to stretch the banter and confusion out a little too long, and I suspect he was trying to hold back the physical conflict until the next issue. Just as it starts to become tedious and the reader wonders when the action is going to begin, Clevinger reveals the plot that will apparently drive this story well beyond the confines of this opening chapter. It’s a novel concept, a nice take on the Lovecraftian menace we’ve seen so many times in comics over the years.

Wegener’s exaggerated style certainly works well with the comedic tone that dominates the first half or two thirds of the issue. I love Robo as the befuddled straight man to the weird ramblings of Fort and Lovecraft. Wegener’s depiction of the two writers reminded me of the style of Cory (Invincible) Walker. The strongest visual, other than the surprisingly expressive Robo, is the monster that’s revealed toward the end of the issue. Wegener’s sharp, angular style works quite well when it comes to conveying the twisted, organic, flailing form of the antagonist. It’s creepy, cool and powerful in appearance all at once. 7/10

Variant coverGreen Lantern #40 (DC Comics)
by Geoff Johns, Philip Tan & Jonathan Glapion/Johns & Rafael Albuquerque

This second chapter of “Agent Orange” is much stronger than the first, mainly because it’s much clearer about how the Orange light works and who (or what) the members of the Orange Lantern Corps really are. Now that Johns has explained the concept, it’s really quite a lot of morbid fun. There’s only one orange ring-bearer, but all of his constructs and the constructs of the Orange Lantern are in the form of those who’ve been killed by the light and Larfleeze, its master. The backup story — “Tales of the Orange Lanterns: Weed Killer” — drives the point home even further and conveys the notion that these ghostly, artificial Orange Lanterns have some personality (or at least once did).

What’s hampered this story arc the most is the artwork. Philip Tan’s detailed linework certainly captures an exotic and imaginative array of alien forms, but it’s also difficult to discern movement and flow in the panels. The two-page spread depicted a platoon of Green Lanterns looks great, but some of the credit has to go to colorist Nei Ruffino, who adds so much energy with some brilliant colors. I love how the Orange Lanterns really pop as well. Rafael Albuquerque’s work on the backup story is fairly solid but doesn’t really boast that wow factor. 6/10

The Muppet Show #2 (Boom! Studios/Boom Kids imprint)
by Roger Langridge

While I personally thought Fozzie’s opening limburger-cheese joke was hilarious, the bear’s not feeling the love of the audience as of late. This second issue focuses on Fozzie’s efforts to retool his comedy act, and it’s quite amusing (and occasionally quite smart when it comes to cultural references). Roger Langridge’s second issue is almost as strong as the first, and that’s quite a compliment, given how great the inaugural episode of this series was. My favorite segment in this issue was the return of soap-opera send-up Veterinarian’s Hospital, into which Langridge has woven the string of Fozzie’s quest to be the king of comedy. Despite the lack of sound and motion, Langridge nevertheless captures the satire and hilarity of that recurring Muppet Show sketch (featuring Rowlf, Janice and Piggy), right down to the “actors'” reactions to the unseen narrator. The writer/artist’s faithful yet unique take on the Muppets is as entertaining and attractive as before. I love that while this medium allows the storyteller more freedom to take the Muppets anywhere and have them do anything, he opts to remain quite faithful to their roots. While he does venture out of the Muppet Theatre at times, he seems most comfortable recreating those old familiar sets and routines. I couldn’t be happier. 8/10