The Lone Ranger: Vindicated from Dynamite Comics
Writer: Justin Gray
Artist: Rey Villegas
Vindicated is listed as a standalone Lone Ranger adventure, or at least it lacks the number on the side of the trade paperback to indicate where it should fall in the reading order. I’ve read about all of the Dynamite line of this series, and I’d just recommend reading it after Vol. 8: The Long Road Home, which I believe is where it came out chronologically.
The story of Vindicated is that a small town bank has been robbed, and then the insurance money sent to the town is also robbed, and it’s possible that some of the higher ups in the town are all in on it. As far as originality, it’s fairly run of the mill and I have a feeling I’ll forget about it before I get around to reading the next Lone Ranger trade. The most memorable aspect of this volume is the attractive woman that takes an interest in our title character. The rest of the plot being go generic, the only place this book develops the characters in a meaningful way is showing how juvenile John is in his interactions with women. Even Tonto has to point out to him both when a woman is interested in him, and when he should beware of one.
Beyond those few scenes (which while funny, also have the negative result of making the hero seem less convincing as a credible threat to evil… maybe James Bond’s polyamory is on to something), the only parts of this book that really stood out were the fantastic art by Rey Villegas. Dynamite has always done a great job with the art on this book, and several pages reminded me of the great Cassaday covers from earlier in this series. There are some great pages in issue four involving a shooting display any a dramatic entry through a window that were as exciting visually as anything I’ve read this year. Unfortunately in the service of only a so-so story, it’s an overall forgettable installment.
Sam and Twitch: The Complete Collection, Vol. 2
Author: Brian Michael Bendis
Release Date: February 2012
This review is for the actual comic issues collected in this series.
I can only imagine that reading this series when it first came out would have been incredibly frustrating and one I would not have stuck with. The letters pages indicate that the book was always late, with a one year gap occurring between issues 24 and 25. For a mystery series (which is usually my least favorite genre in comics due to the long time between issues) that would have been a deal breaker.
On top of that, the series had a major creative change, going from Brian Michael Bendis and Angel Medina to Bendis and Alex Maleev, to finally writer Todd McFarlane and artist Paul Lee. The most jarring change in in the writing, which went from solid, very Bendis style dialogue to an overwritten McFarlane style that frequently used every available inch of panel space to cram in dialogue. On top of that, the editing appears to have slipped as well at the creative transition, as typos routinely slip through (I noticed a few “you’re” instead of “yours”) and lettering issues where spaces are missing and apostrophe’s dangle away from their words. I’ll probably draw ire for saying this, but I actually prefer the simpler Paul Lee art to either of the prior two guys, and think the best drawn segment of the entire series was the two detectives exploring the killer’s property in issue 26.
The two storylines collected in this volume include a bounty hunter storyline where Twitch’s girlfriend is shot in a random act of bad luck by a visiting bounty hunter and a serial killer who targets Sam and sends him videotapes of all his killings. The first story is fine, though it seemed like an excuse for Bendis to have his Jinx character crossover into this book. The concluding storyline not only completely brushes the ending of the previous arc under the rug and ignores exploring Twitch leaving the force, but then ends up feeling like so many police story cliches strung together. Besides enjoying the art in this final story, I did also appreciate that we finally get a sense of Sam as a human being outside of work. I enjoyed this series overall when read in a few sittings, though the quality was up then down in terms of writing and inconsistent in terms of art.
Hack/Slash: Son of Samhain
Author: Michael Moreci
Release Date: February 2015
The continuing adventures of Cassie Hack sputter a bit in this installment which features both inconsistent art as well as three replacement sidekicks that all fall short of Vlad. The premise is OK, with the son of Samhain being a cool idea but the bad guys are fairly generic with yet another end of the world scheme. The reappearance of Cat Curio and Pooch was my favorite part.
Author: Scott McCloud
Release Date: February 2015
An excellent example of the type of story the graphic medium is capable of excelling in. This story was about a sculptor who made a deal where he could create whatever he envisioned however he only had 200 days left to live.
Along the way the book becomes a love story. I can see how some might find Meg to be a “manic pixie dream girl” type character but within the story all the characters felt a bit over dramatic in a fun way. The art was consistently clear and added to the story; in particular a couple of collage pages full of memories near the end.
I’ll admit I got a bit choked up twice while reading this, once at near the end and again when the author shared a personal story about his family. Highly recommended.
Author: Gabriel Hardman
Release Date: 2014
I really enjoyed this story as it combined two of my favorite things: a character driven by obsession and dogs. I could see how it’s not for everybody, as the main character makes decisions throughout that no sane person would do. However, he’s held accountable for most of those which keeps the book grounded in reality (the main exception being the final page connection). Hardman’s art is always great; no current artist uses shadows better (never overdone, always present).
Invincible Vol. 20: Friends
Author: Robert Kirkman
Release Date: November 2014
** spoiler alert ** Along with Savage Dragon, this is the book where the status quo shifts the most every few issues. This volume featured the ascent of Robot, and the loss of a character that’s been around since issue one. Can’t wait to see where it goes from here.
Missile Mouse: The Star Crusher #1
Author: Jake Parker
Release Date: December 2009
A fun comic about a special agent in a science fiction mission. The art was bright and colorful, with the violence cartoony enough to make it all ages. The story was very predictable though, with lots of tropes of the genre throughout. More written for the kid than the parents reading it to him.