This week’s column has a slight difference in the quality of the books we are reviewing…
Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time #1
Written by: Scott and David Tipton
Art by: Simon Fraser
Colored by: Gary Caldwell
Lettered by: Tom B. Long
Published by: IDW
Cover Price: $3.99
Maillaro Unless you have a preference, I am gonna start with Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time. I really have to start with the art of this book.
OH MY GOD, THIS WAS ONE OF THE UGLIEST COMICS I’VE EVER SEEN! The characters all look like blobs…and not even consistent blobs from panels to panel.
I really hope Simon Fraser is not doing this entire series, because even my love of Doctor Who couldn’t sit through 12 issues of this. I’ve seen pretty much every possible serial available for the first four Doctors, and all of current Doctor Who, and I could barely recognize the pictures of the companions shown in the beginning of the comic.
I almost feel like IDW realized the artist wasn’t up to the task of this book, which is why there are so many pulled back long shots throughout this issue.
I loved that in Doctor Who/Star Trek, the artist took the time to make the characters look like the actors. But does this even remotely look like Vicki is drawn in this issue??
I bet that Vicki’s headache was caused by having to look at the art of this issue. I am genuinely offended by the art of this comic!!
Weaver: I have a preference. That preference is to never look at art this bad again. It’s strange because a few design elements, notably the locomotive, look good…but human beings (and Time Lords) look awful. I could draw better than this. I recognized a few Doctors by their clothing more than their faces, occasionally their haircuts but even that was hit or miss. Like I recently said elsewhere about Age of Ultron promo art, you don’t want to stick a poor artist in a position where you’re requiring him to do exciting montages like the beginning of this book could have had.
I’m reminded of Jim Lee’s pin-ups for X-Men #1 and how good some of those were…I still find people I didn’t notice in the villains one. And I know you’re not going to be able to hire on Jim Lee for a project like this, but at least get someone who understands how to do montages like that. I’m not a huge Who fan, and this art didn’t make me want to be a bigger one. I saw the Companion Montage and instantly said, “I guess that’s Amy and Rory, okay, moving right along.” Alright, the penguin made me a little curious. But I didn’t even try to look for any of the others I knew, since given how poor Amy and Rory were, there was no way I was figuring that out.
I hate to give anyone this low of a mark, but this art I give a “Dear God, I don’t even feel like giving it ONE point” 1/5. I’ll give the locomotive panels a 2/5 so I don’t feel like I’m being too mean.
Maillaro: My only thought is that because of the tight timeline of trying to get this series done by the 50th Anniversary in November, the art was a rush job. But that really isn’t a good excuse. How many shows can say they are celebrating 50 years? This is a huge milestone and will likely be drawing a lot of attention. You can’t just get away with a hastily drawn tie-in comic, especially since it is only the second one that features all the Doctors at once. Doctor Who: The Forgotten was a far better drawn and written comic that this (and Matt Smith hadn’t debuted yet, so that was just ten Doctors). I am hesitant to give any professional work a score this low, but at the end of the day, it just didn’t feel all that professional. 1/5 for the art.
Also, from a design standpoint I do think it would have been cool if the first doctor story was in black and white, but that is personal preference.
BTW, the penguin is a companion from the comic strips. I don’t know much about him or her to be honest. You can find him on Wiki if you so choose Frobisher.
Sadly, the writing (while better than the art), wasn’t really up to the task here either. The story about some mysterious force kidnapping companions to make the Doctor be alone was fine, though a lot of the dialogue was gimmicky. To annoy his companion Ian Chesterton, the First Doctor would often call him by different names like Chesterfield. That joke is used three times here to no real effect. Most people might just have thought it was bad editing. The issue could also have used a little more of Ian and Barbara’s banter. Ian actually is my wife’s favorite companion , and she’s gonna be pretty disappointed that he had such a poor showing in this issue. And if you have the chance to write a first doctor story, how can you possibly not use Susan, the Doctor’s granddaughter? I barely even remember Vicki with Barbara and Ian.
Weaver: Was it only three? It felt like 8 million. And yeah, some black and white or even sepia might have been nice. I also noticed that the setting wasn’t particularly accurate, “Mind the Gap” came into use in the 60’s and wouldn’t have been in the early proto-underground.
Perhaps this was partly injured by the fact that not many people have affection for the First Doctor. It may have been hard to get a team willing to work him. I can only hope that the “rock star” doctors like Tom Baker and David Tennant get better teams.
I’m going to give the writing a 2/5, if only to make it canonically better than the art. With an aside that there were quite a few things going on that required some kind of insider knowledge of Dr. Who which we weren’t really given which annoyed me after they went on and on to establish Darwin’s Bulldog. And at least Ian got to be in panels with the real art prodigy of the issue, Locomotive Panels.
Maillaro: Just checked the solicits. Issue 2, 3, and 4 do have different artists, but the same writers. To be fair, the Tiptons have done some other things from IDW that I have enjoyed like Star Trek/Legion. It just didn’t feel like this issue ever came together very well. I will go with a 2.5/5 for the writing. I did think the Darwin’s Bulldog aspects of the story were kind of fun and the story really did have a first doctor feel to it with the sc- fi impinging on historical stories.
So, from the Time Vortex to Brooklyn, New York. I started on Doctor Who, so you get to start with our Hawkeyes.
Written by: Matt Fraction
Art by: Steve Lieber & Jesse Hamm
Colored by: Matt Hollingsworth
Lettered by: Chris Eliopoulos
Published by: Marvel
Cover Price: $2.99
Weaver: I think that your love of Dr. Who elevates the writing a bit for you…I honestly felt there was a bit too much insiderness.
This brings us to Hawkeye. I can’t think of Hawkeye’s solo title without thinking of an abortive Fabian Nicieza Hawkeye title that wouldn’t be impacted by Avengers unless Clint lost an arm or something. ANYWAY.
This issue takes place during Hurricane Sandy and features neither Hawkeye actually firing a bow (although Kate does draw one). It’s two parallel human interest stories that give us some insight in how the Hawkeyes react when not in uniform. This book is really interesting. It’s one of those things that I can’t tell what kind of comic it is…at times, it feels like a rambling Vertigo-style journey comic, and then it reverts at times to psuedo-heroic, and even veering into straight up social commentary. Once I stopped trying to pigeonhole it, I recognized it for what it was: something awesome.
The ever present rain at the front end annoyed me a bit, until I understood that it being significant was the point of it. Some of the art choices in Kate’s side of the story were a little too esoteric for me, but in general, this is one of those things where they stick everything in the pot, mix it together, and it comes out as a delicious stew. There’s something in here for everyone.
Unless you’re from New Jersey. Jersey sucks.
Maillaro: I absolutely loved the Jersey vs Brooklyn scenes with Clint and Kate. Especially when we got into the surreal discussion comparing Bruce Springsteen with Bruce Kulick of KISS. Regular readers of this column know I am a huge KISS fan, though I prefer Ace over Kulick any day of the week.
I did think the two bigger stories about Clint helping a neighbor and his family deal with the flood, and Kate trying to gather supplies for a group of socialities she was trapped with were great.But to me, the best part of this book was the two page Clint and Kate scene in the middle showing how they got to these situations. These two characters just have a perfect rapport under Matt Fraction’s writing. I also liked they he called her his ward, and then realized he had no idea what that even meant (and she definitely isn’t…hell, she’s not even really his sidekick, they are just two people who happen to share a code name).
This issue really hit home for me. I am from Jersey, and after Sandy, our house had no power for several days. Thankfully, my in laws had power so we were able to stay there, but I had a lot of friends and family who were without power for weeks. And at least two people I know lost their homes entirely. When I realized what this issue was about, I was really afraid it would be kind of lame, but as always, Fraction never lets me down. It captured the emotional impact of Sandy perfectly, while still keeping the humor and characterization that makes Hawkeye so great.
What is particularly impressive about this issue is that it had to be thrown together very quickly. The solicits and even the description on Comixology are for a completely different story “Cherry’s got a gun. And she looks good in it. Also, Hawkeye gets distracted.” I had commented earlier that the quality of Doctor Who might have suffered because of a rushed timeline…but this comic really had to be done in a time press, and it was terrific.
Weaver: Did he not know what “ward” meant, or was he just being a jerk? The issue establishes that Clint does that on occasion, feign ignorance for comedic effect. It was a nice Batman reference joke, anyway (or Green Arrow, if you prefer…especially considering Kate heading out for drugs).
The other neat thing about the Brooklyn vs. Jersey debate is taking a moment to think about the settings beyond that. The Jersey part is in a super upscale hotel, and the Brooklyn part in a dumpy old house. Kind of the opposite of how each gets represented in Clint’s smack talk.
I wasn’t impacted by Sandy, but I’ve been through a number of traumatic storms. A tornado once went within a few hundred feet of our house, for instance, and I’ve dealt with a few hurricanes because I just have awful luck traveling which apparently transferred over to my wife. I thought it captured the feel really well, and Kate’s scenes had a very Titanic-esque feel at the beginning. It’s hard for me to separate this into art and writing, the two really meshed a lot which made it surprising to me that the artists were people they dug up for just this one issue. I’m going to give it a 4/5 on the art, due to a few style moments I didn’t care for, but it’s great all in all.
Maillaro: Yeah, it is often hard to tell when Clint is just dim or when he’s pretending to be…kind of like dealing with you on a weekly basis…
One of my biggest gripes with Hawkeye is that in only 7 issues, we’ve already had three issues that weren’t drawn by series artist David Aja. It’s not like Hawkeye comes out nine times a month like some Marvel books, and I think Aja is an even better fit for this book than Hamm and Lieber. That said, the art on this book was solid all the way through. I think 4/5 is a very fair score.
I would probably go 4.5/5 for the writing, though I am very tempted to give it a 5…but I don’t want that Fraction guy to get a swollen head. Bad enough he is doing my favorite Marvel Now! books (Fantastic Four and FF), but he also is doing my favorite superhero comic over all (which happens to be this one).
Yeah, this really was the week for “best comic we’ve reviewed” and “worst comic we’ve reviewed.” Gun to your head, which did you prefer, this or Morbius?
Weaver: First, let me handle the gun and say hands down Morbius because I liked the flow of it better overall, but then let me say “Don’t make me pick between my babies.” Hawkeye was great, and I think a 4.5 bordering on a 5 is a great score for the writing. It’s a really good small picture superhero book, and we haven’t had a lot of those lately in this event driven universe.
Maillaro: For me, I would lean towards Hawkeye. I love stand alone stories, and Hawkeye seems to excel at them. But yeah, it’s like picking between sex and a BJ. I enjoy them both and really don’t think I would want to live in a world where there was only one without the other.
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Earthbound by Bryan Q. Miller and Marcio Takara
Maillaro: One last thing before we go. Over on Kickstarter, Bryan Q. Miller (who’s work I love on Batgirl and Smallville) and Marcio Takara are looking to raise $30,000 to fund a new all-ages project called Earthward. I have always been a fan of GOOD comics for all ages (for a while, an interview I did about this very issue with JM Dematteis about Abadazad was a reference on the wiki page for “comic books”), so I wanted to help promote this book!
“ANCIENT EARTH” is a FAIRY TALE.
No human alive… no human for at least the last 500 years, has seen the fabled “Earth” in person. It was taken from us, stolen by “THE HIDDEN” – a deadly race from beyond the galaxy who “moved the stars themselves” to hide our home.
Or so… that’s how the story goes…
SIX FRIENDS, against the UNIVERSE.
FROM BRYAN: Earthward began life as a script for a different medium – a project steeped in and dedicated to the child-centric adventure yarns I grew up on. “Goonies in Space” has and continues to be the easiest way to encapsulate all the feels that went into the writing. But there’s more in its DNA than Bran on a space-bicycle – there are nods to and inspiration drawn from all over the Sci-Fi map, from “Last Starfighter”, to “Explorers” to [the vastly overlooked] “Titan: A.E.”
FROM MARCIO: In my relatively short comic book career, I’ve been fortunate enough to be approached out of nowhere by some big names in the industry, like Bryan. Not only did he find me, but he also offered me an amazing opportunity to create an entire new world from scratch.
I could not be happier to part of “Earthward”. I love the fact it’s a sci-fi adventure; the fact there’s a group of fun characters to draw; the fact it’s accessible to everyone; the fact it’s open for a sequence; the fact it’s a long story; the fact there are aliens; the fact there are robots; the fact there are space ships; and the fact I’m drawing the whole thing. I just can’t wait to show to the world what we are cooking here.
AT THE END OF THE DAY…
The goal is to create a piece of Graphic fiction that can be enjoyed by both children AND adults, while pandering to neither – a line that is rarely ridden in the current climate.
That said, while trying to make this as all-ages as possible, there is still some danger and space violence (explosions, blasters, etc.) present that may be uncomfortable for a reader younger than age 7. “Earthward” definitely wanders into the “PG”-range of the media spectrum.
The secondary goal, of course, is to have this be the first in a yearly series of adventures for the Mercury Six.
At press time, they were only about $4,000 short of funding this project, so head over and support it! Click here
Next week, we will be looking at Fearless Defenders, and Image has a book called Son of Merlin which is only a buck for the first issue, so I think we’ll be giving that one a shot, too. See you then!