Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Book and Pulp reviews

The Shadow of Reichenbach Falls by John R. King: A young vagabond Thomas Carnacki goes on a picnic with a woman he just met, the beautiful Anna who claims her father had died there a year before. Suddenly, they witness a struggle up above and a body goes plummeting over the side. Rushing to the river, they fish out a still-living amnesiac and find themselves pursued by his assailant. Thus the ever rational Thomas Carnacki finds himself in a battle between Moriarty and a Sherlock Holmes not in full mental capacity. The case quickly starts taking on elements of the supernatural and he must decide who he can trust and how to counter demonic possession.

A fun book that looks at the years of "the great hiatus", the period of time when Sherlock Holmes let Watson and the world think he is dead. There is a great exploration of what set Moriarty on a life of crime and his connection with Jack the Ripper. It also serves as exploration of how Carnacki would become the rational occult detective of the William Hope Hodgson and create the electric pentacle.

If the book has any flaws it is that the narrative which starts off switching from 1st person points of view between Carnacki and Holmes (along with an extended section of memoirs by Moriarty) to limited 3rd person but never giving Anna her own narrative voice. Switching to the 3rd Person just highlights a writer unable to tell the whole story in the narrative style that he originally chose. It weakens it. Although, it is interesting to note that while this book gives 1st person narratives to Carnacki and Holmes, the original stories of the two had narrators to chronicle their adventures.

Another weakness is the supernatural/horror angle never really gels that well. Compared to the Hodgson stories or even some of Doyle's supernatural tales, the sense of terror and gothic dread is more akin to horror found in television's Buffy or Angel. Likewise, the transition of the rational Carnacki to one embracing supernatural happenings and methods to combat them just sort of happens. There's not much evolution to the character, he easily accepts the occult angle of things with minimal research and exposure. Whereas, Holmes' denial of the supernatural at the end of the book seems odd after all he had experienced by that point.

The book serves as a wonderful example of how to do something not as a pastiche. Most Holmes stories fall in the pastiche category, working hard to recreate the Doyle experience and style. Failing that, Watson is usually sidelined and substituted with the writer's own character to allow an easy out for where it doesn't quite match up with the Doyle/Victorian style. Here is a book that does not attempt that, but to tell a story that fits in the Doyle canon using Holmes (and Watson and Carnacki) as characters. The book follows its own beat and style and a fun read from beginning to end.

Doc Savage: Hex/The Running Skeletons. I picked this up because "The Running Skeletons" turned out to be one of the few Doc stories I didn't have. Sadly, it doesn't really live up to its expectations or promise. It starts off strong with a sense of dread and menace, but it takes too long to get to its title and cover. By the time it does, the story is at the slam-bang climax.

"Hex" is more fun as members of Doc's crew come under the spell of a witch and Doc must unravel this supernatural menace. A tight, strong tale.

Of interest, the editorial compares "Hex" to "The Hooded Circle" in the Halloween volume of the Shadow. But, other than a seeming supernatural menace (here it's a druid cult), there is nothing that suggests any real comparison or link. The stories deal with different types of crime, different type of menace, and the story flows and rhythms are unique to their characters and writers.

What is further interesting is that a scene from "The Hooded Circle" does appear in another pulp, but it's not Doc Savage. It's in "Murder on the Loose" starring the Black Bat reprinted recently in High Adventure. A plot that the crooks use halfway through "The Hooded Circle", to con victims into placing their valuables in an armored car that is actually manned by the crooks is the climactic action packed finale to the Black Bat story. The story is otherwise notable with an interesting and physically capable second in command of the crooks, a master of judo that easily manhandles the Black Bat strongman Butch. Sadly, the lieutenant gets sidelined rather quickly.

The lead Black Bat story in the reprint volume, "Blind Man's Bluff" has the Black Bat having to contend with a mysterious blind man who has returned to friends and family who had long thought him dead. Both stories are enjoyable mystery adventures of the early superhero.

"The Notes of Doom" has the Phantom Detective tracking a killer going after a group of men, already on the verge of bankruptcy and ruin, leaving behind old bank notes where each had signed his life over to death. The whole case suggests a man killed on the battlefields of WWI enacting long delayed vengeance. "The Dancing Doll Murders" has a murder predicting the deaths of different members of the heirs to a fortune through dolls done up with the face of the victim and signs of the way they are to die. The master villain also has a unique and eerie way of communicating with his lieutenant, rising out of a dank pool in the basement of an abandoned house via a diving suit and underground waterway.

The Phantom Detective had not been a favorite pulp hero of mine, but these stories and the character are much better than average. The villains and plot are more than the pedestrian menaces he usually is pitted against. Likewise, he comes across not as generic but a powerful superhero in his own right. It's interesting these tales also do not feature a romantic interest, the usual Muriel Havens is not even mentioned. Bits of his background and training are peppered through the stories, making the character seem even more like Batman complete with samurai training in the Far East and his own crime lab.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Good Old-Fashioned Comics

Avengers-Invaders #8: Well, cannot complain about this issue's cover being too dark. The art by the two teams are stronger this go around as well, although the switch between the two is haphazard. I really do enjoy Sadowski's rendering of Namor.

The two plotlines are apparently resolved but seem to raise more questions than answers. Ultron is behind the LMD uprising, that somehow his possession of them and their drinking of what passes for Hammond's blood will give him life. What also doesn't make sense is how he took control of the LMD's, how he knew Hammond had returned from the past and ultimately he already knows Hammond's body inside and out, he used it to create the Vision.

Likewise, the revelation that D'Spayre was only using the cube (as I had surmised) and wasn't responsible for it bringing the Invaders to the present, it means that the cube had pretty much just zeroed in on one random person's desires to make a reality. Huh? Imagine a world where a random nutso anywhere could cause an atomic bomb go off just by wishing it and increase the danger exponentially. If the cubes were that easily taken control of, Marvel U. would have reality constantly shaping and reshaping itself. The inclusion of the GA Vision is a nice nod, but it doesn't really make much sense or add anything to the story.

Amazing Spider-Girl #29: The penultimate issue before the series cancellation and it will continue for awhile in Spider-man Family. For how long though? DeFalco has recently mentioned on one of the news sites that he thinks his time at Marvel may be nearing an end as calls go unanswered and there's no new work coming in. Not a surprise though. His style isn't really in keeping with the books Marvel writes these days. They are too straight-forward without having a self-deprecating self-mocking tone such as Slott writes, and not cynical enough of heroes and superheroes as the rest of the Marvel faire. It has been a great ride though.

Not normally a fan of Kevin Nowlan's artwork, but this is a wonderful eerie and fantastical cover. I often complain about the modern colorists and coloring in books. Yet, take a look at BPRD or Hellboy or the work by Tom Smith. The coloring works with the art, it doesn't overpower it. Your attention isn't grabbed by photoshop effects. Here the artwork supports the story, the scenes in the snow are colored subtly with cool colors as opposed to the moody and dark colors of the interior temple. It all works together and upholds Guy Davis' pencils.

Captain Britain and MI13:
Then here we get where stuff is over-colored, colors are too intense. In some places it works, such a the scenes on the moon. But the pub scenes, everything is too saturated, all of the faces look as if they are glowing as the artist tries to give everyone a 3-D painted look in the coloring. It doesn't work, it's too much. I like the idea of Dracula having an army and him becoming a major bad guy/super-villain. It works in the context of the Marvel U. He'd make a good player among the arch-villains. The book continues to suffer from uneven writing, stuff included because it comes across as being cool but that ultimately doesn't work, text claiming one thing but actions and subtexts something else. Such as what is this book really about. The title says Captain Britain, but he's hardly in the book at all, a figurehead at best, constantly upstaged by whatever other character he's playing off of.

However, I read the discussion with Doom several times and frankly, the conversation doesn't flow well or make much sense such as Doom accusing Dracula of racism. What did he say that was actually racist? His parting comment to Doom was more of a challenge, that would make more sense if he was playing on Doom's undying need to prove his superiority than if he was trying to broker a treaty with him. And, then I got to thinking about the whole conversation and Dracula on the moon. I can understand Doom walking around on the moon and I like the scenes of him exploring the lunar module. But, how are they talking? Specifically, Dracula. Sure, he's magical and already dead and doesn't need air to breathe, but talking does require certain physical laws to be operating. And, then I started thinking about the moon in general and how it doesn't work that Dracula would have a base there. See, on the side of the moon they are on, it's daytime 24-7. It is getting unfiltered sunlight, it just doesn't have that glow because there's no atmosphere. Dracula being on the moon is the exact opposite than what one would first think if you give it five minutes of thought. We end up with a kewl scene that is not well played and completely ludicrous as you linger over it.

The pub scenes. Funny, but despite the central character being called Captain Britain, he's hardly the coolest or central character to the book. Constantly being upstaged by Peter Wisdom, a character I still don't have a handle on. Just as this version of Spitfire remains a mystery to me she really doesn't seem like any version from before just as no version before ever had her being part vampiric. There doesn't really seem to be any reason for this character to BE the Spitfire of old in terms of characterization. It's almost the Geoff Johns style of characterization, write the character as you need it to be to serve the plotlines and not letting the character itself suggest storlines.

I had given up reading Black Panther some time ago, but this issue does reconcile the fact that Hudlin had a completely different Black Knight with an ebony blade running around. And, simply done as well. I like that. However, the conversationg between Dane and Faiza in the plane, again there seems to be a subtext to it that isn't coming across. What was Faiza hoping for as being a steward from Dane, a romance? She starts off complaining that being a steward seems to cast her in being a subserviant role and ends up by suggesting that there's more to their relationship.

Ok, we see what happens to Dane's plane, but what causes Captain Britain's car explode?

Doc Savage: The Lost Radio Scripts of Lester Dent. A nice hefty book. Cover by Bob Larkin who did some of the later covers as well as some painted covers for Marvel in the 80s. There are some wonderful interior illustrations by a pulp fan and artist ironically named Tom Roberts. I wonder if these were originally in color or in color in the hardback edition.

I'm a bit of a nut over copyrights and copyright law. Old Time Radio was/is an interesting loophole. Back in the day of the original broadcasts, your general public had no way of copying shows and no one really thought there'd be interest in them after initial broadcasts, so radio broadcasts were not covered (a state of affairs that remained true until about the time that tape recorders became commercial commodities). The only way to copyright a radio show was to actually copyright the script, not something always done. The Shadow often had further copyright protection in that some of the radio broadcasts were worked into the novels or vice-versa. It's part of the reason why the Shadow pulp was created, his radio show was so popular that people were asking for it on the stands and anyone could have come out with a Shadow magazine if Street & Smith didn't do so first.

So, getting the book, one of the first things I checked was the copyright information. So, it's curious that they are actually copyrighted in 2009 by the Estate of Norma Dent. I'm not sure how that works legally. These things were written over 70 years ago, it doesn't seem right that they can copyright them NOW. And, then there's the whole matter that they were written as "work for hire" and thus would first be the property of Conde Nast. Even if uncopyrighted, the fact that they were actually used in the broadcasts would mean that the scripts were already paid for.

Green Arrow & Black Canary #17: A well done story following on the heels of last month's, so we see more of Merlin, the new crazy villain on the block (although she seems a little too much in the vein of Joker crazy or the demented villains that Gail Simone writes so well). The backup gives some ominous foreshadowing for the happy couple and hinges a little too much on implying that Black Canary is not really in control of her powers as there's a new villain in the works an innocent by-stander of her using more power than the situation demanded. Bad superhero writing there, one of the conceits that make superheroes work is that there are no innocent bystander victims due to the direct action or mis-use of power by the superheroes. Gwen Stacey dies because she's thrown from the roof by the villain, not because Spider-man accidentally knocks her off while fighting the villain. The writer has set up a huge task for himself, this is the leader of the Justice League directly responsible for a crippling injury, there has to be more ramifications than just giving motivation for a new supervillain. This is more than Lex Luthor losing his hair while Superboy saves his life.

Hellboy: The Wild Hunt
#3: See above about the use of color and storytelling. Duncan Fegredo is a natural substitution for Mignola on the art chores of Hellboy, a lot of the same feel but not as abstract. And, we have the wonderful Guy Davis on the back-up story. I would love to see these guys tackle some of Robert E. Howard's stuff. Or characters like Carnacki and Jules de Grandin. I have been tempted to just get these in trades, to have the whole stories in single volumes. Might still do that to weed out the comic boxes.

Masquerade #1. Best of Dynamite's Superpowers books, looking at the character formerly known as Miss Masque as well appearances by Black Terror, Fighting Yank, Green Lama, and Pyroman. This mini chronicles the events and her career leading up to her imprisonment in the urn, BEFORE she got the lame disguise powers and was still known as Miss Masque. Nice character bits that define her as a woman that would become a mystery woman. A few mis-steps along the way, a twelve year old girl is able to completely bite off a man's thumb in one bite? The Black Terror is portrayed in a less than sympathetic light as he is completely dismissive of Miss Masque without her guns and Tim suggests they are all glory-hounds, and the little cutesy ending.

I opted for the Cho cover on this one. One thing about Alex Ross, his women tend to look very man-ish, like Kathleen Turner on testosterone or steroids. The interiors - well this is a good example of much of Dynamite's line it seems, the painted colors overwhelm what is otherwise solid artwork. On-line glimpses showed this to be the strongest of the Superpower books art-wise, but this style of coloring just muddies everything up from the pencils to the layouts so that you have to study each panel just to understand what's going on.

Men of Mystery Ahh, the first casualty of Diamond's new policies and there's a notice inside the book explaining it all. A few titles being canceled. Bigger page count, but a hefty price increase too. This issue features reprints of several Fawcett characters: Spy Smasher, Minute Man, Bulletman as well as non-Fawcett heroes Man O'Metal and Music Master (if there ever was a truly bizarro lame GA hero, this one takes the cake).

The Phantom #0. A thin retelling of the Phantom's origin, serving as a relaunch of the series. Why? No idea.

The Spirit #26. Found this to be a marked improvement writing wise over recent issues. Artwork while a bit cartoony in places at least doesn't feel bound parody Eisner's caricaturistic style. A good, done in one story. And a wonderful Brian Bolland cover.

Vixen #5. This has been a great read, refocusing the character and her heritage. You get a story that works for the character and refines her. It seemed a bit strange to have this mini doing pretty much the same thing that McDuffie was doing in the Justice League, recentering the character. But, where his story was making her into something cosmic, a pawn of some god while fixing her powers, this story was more personal focusing more on her as a character. This melds the plot and story more fully. The only sad part of this mini is if you didn't read McDuffie's tale, the last page probably makes no sense as it doesn't really tie into anything revealed in these pages. It should have been left out, let Vixen have an uncompromised victory.

The painted style here works, giving the book a lush and open feel while letting the power of the artwork stand through.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Looking ahead and backwards

The Marvel Project: Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting will be doing a GA project for Marvel, an eight issue mini-series chronicling the early adventures and stories of the Timely characters. On the surface, it sounds good. Epting has really grown as an artist. It will be weaving in real world history around little to never seen characters. The GA Angel will be a narrator. But, it will also reveal "the true origins of the Marvel Universe". You know, like how Simon & Kirby got everything wrong about Bucky and his true origin is that he was a trained assassin to do the dirty jobs that Cap couldn't and was foisted upon him as a partner by the government? I plan on checking it out, but I just don't have much faith in Bru as a writer or the editors at Marvel these days to keep the characters "true" to their concepts.

Final Crisis: I haven't read this, I gave up on Morrison a while back. However, it has been funny to read the various reviews and critics and watch the die-hard Morrison apologists bend over backwards trying to show why it is actually good and the rest of the readers are just too dense to get it. Steven Grant in his weekly column gives about the most even-handed view and even claims to liking it, or rather liking his interpretation of it. Much like my review of the play "Almost Blue", what he likes is what he is able to bring to it, there's too little substance actually there to go one way or the other with what is intended. One reviewer says the comic is ham-stringed by it being just too big to be able to be contained in a comic Another columnist brought in literary criticism and theory to shore up the interpretation of the comic and Morrison's writing in general. There's interesting stuff in there, but much of it really misses the mark and the point, even if you don't toss out the writer he cites on his ear as being just plain full of BS which he is.

Morrison isn't writing a novel or even a comic featuring his own characters and concepts. He's writing a shared universe title with characters created by others. If he cannot get his story contained in the comic, that's a flaw, not a strength. He's the one that chose the story, medium and characters. As he is writing a comic story featuring known characters and a shared universe and prominent parts of it and not just a little corner of a little seen and known character as in Animal Man, there are expectations and those are justifiable. It's not the readers fault for expecting a story that is supposed to be a crossover mega-event of a superhero universe to conform to basic conceits of the genre, to make story-telling sense, to not require being familiar with much of the writer's ego and opus. Morrison may be the James Joyce, Thomas Pynchon of comics but there are times and places for that. Watchmen was great in part because it was not set against the DCU and using the original characters. Even Miller's Dark Knight Returns achieved a greatness by removing it from those constraints. In a sense, the All-Star line allows that kind of fan-boy egotistical writer wanking. When you start writing an actual shared universe title, then your self-importance and ego has to be checked at the door somewhat. While you may be the shaper of this particular story, you have entered into a contract with the creators and readers that came before and that will come after. It's not just about your vision.

Daredevil redux? Looks like the GA Daredevil will be popping up in an upcoming issue of The Savage Dragon. I'm not a huge Erik Larsen fan, abhorred his art until he started doing his own title and stopped reading a while back, it just got too confusing for me with all the earth hopping he was doing. But, I will give him credit for trying new things such as the current issue where each panel of the comic covers a period of time, allowing him to catch up on his "real time" of the book. He recently brought in all those public domain GA heroes into his title's continuity and it's cool to see that's not been forgotten, that he's keen on playing with them some. I don't expect very deep characterization, but I don't expect a hatchet job either. Be worth checking out.


Agents of Atlas #1: I didn't get this title. I leafed through it at the store, looking for something that would make me optimistic after the way the mini had left off. But, it's just more of the same. Somehow, they are believed to be heroes or believe themselves to be despite being traitors to their government, heading a terrorist organization that was responsible for murdering people to just draw them in. Their chief ally? A dragon that eats helpless prisoners that they are basically feeding to it and don't bat an eye when he eats one right in front of them. This is a superhero team?

Avengers-Invaders #7: This title still continues along its schizophrenic way, heightened this month by bringing in a second artist. There's no real rhyme or reason as to which pages that artist does and which Sadowski does, the two have completely different inking styles so the switches are quite jarring. Sadowski has some nice touches, especially with the scenes with D'Spayre, but then the final page doesn't look good at all. The cover by Ross is way too dark... is it his painting or the printing as colors and covers in general have been a little off the mark over the course of this title? The interior colors are at least normal this month.

The story seems to be a bit of all over the place with more changes coming up. We have the Human Torch realizing what he should have to begin with, the reveal of a villain that doesn't really fly with what we know so far and is so over used anyways, the result is more "him again?" D'Spayre is an interesting choice at the least and fits in with what we know, though how he got the cube and whether he's truly behind it or just a side effect, drawn in by the circumstances are mysteries. The same with the villain behind the LMD uprising. There is a feeling that these are all side effects to the central story, but that central story is lost somewhere in all of this. The diversions have diverted not just the heroes but the writer as well. Maybe it's because at the core of the comic is the conceit that there are two teams of Avengers who cannot even work together when they agree on their mission and are after the exact same thing: bringing in the Invaders and returning them to their own time. So, much of the story has to exist to keep the teams fractured and at odds with each other and becomes a subplot in its own right, detracting from the main story.

Toro and Bucky just need to get a room already.

War of Kings - Darkhawk #1: The cover sums up almost the whole book. Why is it a "War of Kings" book? Who knows. Colorful, but almost too much so, the color and photoshopping overwhelms the central figure who is not really doing anything beyond posing for a generic cover. Inside. Artwork overwhelmed by all the gradients and cool glowing effects. The story has to recap much of The Losers, excuse me The Loners, a concept that really didn't make any sense unless you buy being a superhero is like an addiction and that every character under 20 but Franklin Richards has aged over the last 8 years in almost real time. So, Chris Powell, who was a high school student, is now a 20-something chief of security(!) of a top secret superhuman research facility, has anger issues, and seems to still be generally clueless about the nature of his powers and where it all comes from Project Pegasus must really be hurting or having sliding standards. At least when Quasar was head of security he was SHIELD trained and extremely powerful. What's really sad is they reprint the first issue of his original series. It's hard to see why Cebulski has a fondness for the character when the character he writes has almost zero in common with the character in the back. In fact, it's more as if he's just peeved he has to write Darkhawk and not Nova so he's turning Darkhawk into Nova. And, while Manley's art is cruder, it's easier to follow and read with the flatter but no less colorful coloring.

Final Crisis - Legion of Three Worlds #3: The sole reason to get this book is seeing George Perez drawing a ton of superheroes in highly detailed super-heroic action. Plot, don't really care that much. I don't know where this Emo sleeve challenged version of the Legion really fits in with the more standard 1980's version that we saw in "The Lightning Saga" or how do we reconcile how that team was deconstructed with several of its members dying in Giffen's adult Legion series that followed it yet who are hale and hearty here. I liked several of the Zero Hour Legionaires though, and I hope a compromise can be reached that will combine various teams and leave us with a full membership. I also wonder for a threat that calls for calling in Legions from alternate Earths, what about the other heroes of the 30th Century such as the Legion of Substitute Heroes, the Wanderers, etc. Not really sure if pulling Bart Allen/Impulse/Kid Flash is really that big of a deal. It's more of a "huh?" moment than anything else. Such as Superboy's over-reaction. I could see him reacting that way if it was Connor Trent or the Earth-2 Superman they were bringing back. But, Bart Allen? Seriously? Nor is it that big of a surprise. C'mon, wouldn't you have been more surprised if it was Johnny Quick? The Jonah Hex from the sci-fi comic of Hex? Kirby's Omac? Ultra, the Multi-Alien? Ted Kord? Pre-Crisis Supergirl (which would have made some odd sense given the involvement of Brainiac 5)?

Guardians of the Galaxy
#9: Nice painted cover, has the Video Game cover feel. Regular artist gone on the interiors and subbed by two different pencilers, both of whom do an admirable job with the switches not being jarring. Other than Cosmo looks more like he's been visited by a taxidermist, but forgiveable. These aren't the days when comic artists are asked to draw dogs very often. Observation, even when cussing is done in all symbols, it's still jarring when every character seems to do it. Gorilla Man of the Headmen is an odd character, but he's still supposed to be a genius, don't get any of that here. He is played off as a thug. This and Darkhawk does make me wonder a bit what War of Kings is supposed to be about as these two titles really don't have the feel that they are tying into anything larger than their own stories. Which is actually a good thing.

JSA #23: A Faces of Evil issue, about Black Adam. This storyline does center about him, but the comic isn't just about him thankfully. This issue highlights everything that is wrong about Geoff Johns and his writing of the JSA. 1) Hawkman throws a tantrum when he's thrown off the team, because of his divisive actions with Magog. In a nutshell, as shown here it really underscores how incompatible this Conan the Barbarian incarnation of Hawkman is with the character that is supposed to have been the most steadfast member and longest serving chairman of this team as well as a dependable member of the JLA. 2) Felix Faust is a loser. And a rapist. And Isis castrates him (really, it's impossible to read those scenes any other way). And, this is the writer people see as being an old school writer? 3) members debating who stays and who goes because of the bad choices they made when the whole reason this team exists as set forth by Johns is to serve as a place to guide young legacy heroes to a better path. The ones they seem to want to keep are the ones that need them the least. And, they are debating all of this WITHOUT their chairperson. If they have a problem with the leadership of the team, maybe that's what they really should be addressing. Because, even Johns cannot keep his characters straight. 4) Billy as wizard is just written badly. If he really has moved on to become the wizard at the Rock of Eternity, he really shouldn't be written as still being young Billy Batson bored, there should be some kind of evolving of the character, his mindset and personality. Otherwise, what's the point of him just hanging out on the Rock when he cannot even keep track of Mary and the rest? It just shows how pointless the changing of his and the rest of the Marvel Family really was.

The one good point, from the Ross cover to the Ordway interior art, it all looks very good, especially the scenes between Black Adam, Isis and Billy Marvel.

Secret Six
#6: A wonderful book. We find out who is pulling the strings. Maybe. A member betrays the rest and with a team of self-interest motivated cut-throats, it's completely in character. And, we get a nice nasty little origin for Jeanette who is NOT a vampire. If there's a mis-step it's extemely minor, the photoshopped night sky at the rest stop, but everything else is pitch perfect.

The War that Time Forgot #9: A wonderful cover by Ladronn, going for lushness and almost fairy tale/pastoral in its style and use of colors while illustrating a couple running for their lives from a pair of tyrannasaurs. The covers alone deserve collecting.

I hate Scott Kolins art, at least what it had evolved to around the time he was doing the Flash, Chuck Austen's run on The Avengers, etc. One of the few artists whose work would actually prompt a gag reflex on seeing it and thus I have an interesting hole in a She Hulk run because he was the guest artist.

I say all of that because he is the artist here and he's changed his style again. Maybe to make it fit a little more into the style that preceeded him on this limited series.There's line variation, weight and fine detail depending on the demands of the panel. Some of it's a little stiff and klunky, but it works overall in capturing the milieu of the book and characters.

As the title enters into its last quarter of issues, more of the whys are getting explained, but the dinosaurs and the war with people from all lands seem to be taking a back seat. While we do get to see vikings this issue, the established DC characters from other times do little. Somehow, we are to expect that a modern pilot is better at breaking a pterodactyl for a flying mount than someone like Enemy Ace who flew very primitive and open air aircraft? Or someone that might actually have experience breaking horses such as Tomahawk or Firehair?