Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Best to Worst of Last Week

This week I started adding the credits for each book that is included on my list. I’m not 100% sure if I will continue to do that, but it struck me that this are the talented people producing the books and to not give them credit is short changing them. Of course that continues to add length to this weekly post, which started out as a few sentences on each book and has grown to almost mini-reviews on every title I read. It also is an enormous amount of time that goes into this post and it is why it is never completed under Sunday night. I know whine, whine, whine, but hey it is true.

Twelve #2 (of 12) Writer J. Michael Straczynski, Chris Weston Pencils, Garry Leach Inker, Colors Chirs Chuckry. I have complained constantly about JMS’ pacing when it comes to many of his comics. Squadron Supreme and Thor were two books that I thought just took forever to have anything happen. This book the pace is still slower then some, but it has a great rhythm and feel to it. The Phantom Reporter is our point of view character and as he has no super powers we can relate to him easily. We open several months after the Twelve was revived after 60 years in suspended animation, the Blue Blade is dead. We step back to the beginning of their new lives and then go forward from there. The losses some have suffered, the darkness that surrounds other and the reactions one would have after missing 60 years is all there and told well. Weston and Leach very detailed style gives this book a flavor of being old, even though we are in the modern world. So far I’m enjoying this series a lot.
Scalped #14Jason Aaron Writer, R.M. Guera Artist, Giulia Brusco Colors. Damn, if this book doesn’t just get better and better as it continues to build and grow. This issue is part 2 of the “Dead Mothers” arc as Bad Horse looks for the killer of a mother of six kids and also is dealing with the aftermath of his own mother’s murder. When Bad Horse talks to his boss in the FBI and is told the killer of the children’s mother is also an agent and is told hands off, his reaction is as intense as the book itself is. The emotions are raw, the art is excellent and the coloring is spot on. This is a story and work that should stand the test of time. My only concern is that the story has to have an end point to really have an impact.
Crawl Space: xxXombies #3 (of 4)Story by Rick Remender, Tony Moore and Kieron Dwyer, Written by Rick Remender, Art Kieron Dwyer, Color Lee Loughridge. This book is outrageous fun. The porn stars, the Zombies, the father coming back to save his little girl from being in porn movie, sleazy film producers, mob guys all mixed together in an insane story. This issue we see a zombie reduce someone’s manhood, zombie babies, the US Army quarantine LA (should have been done a long time ago) and more craziness. This is a comic book that you could see being made into a great movie by Robert Rodriquez. If you are an adult and have a sense of humor and the absurd, do yourself a favor and read this comic and I dare you not to laugh. Crawl Space is supposed to be a series of stories and xxXombies is the first arc, it will be hard to match this book next time out.
Northlanders #3 – Brian Wood Writer, David Gainfelice Artist, Dave McCaig Colors. This is already a very strong series. The story of Sven and how he plans to win back his inheritance and rightful place as ruler of this village is a good one. His opening gambit is to play havoc with his Uncle’s superstitions. The sex scenes and the battle scenes are both well done. Brian Wood appears to be building a winning book. The art is also well done. David Gainfelice has a solid realistic style that goes well with this story. His layouts and story telling ability are self evident.
Nightwing #141 Writer Peter Tomasi, Pencils Rags Morales, Inks Machael Bair, Colors Nathan Eyring. This issue was a ton of set-up as we see Nightwing building his base of operations with help from other heroes, Dick going out on a date with a new love interest and him reconnecting with Wally. It was almost all set-up as we are establishing who Dick is and how he will operate and then go forward with the story about grave robbing of dead super people. Normally I would say this was boring, but it read really well and Rags is a great artist, so it looked nice. All in all a great issue as Peter is building a real life for Dick that has been missing since Chuck Dixon left the book. All of this set-up allows the story to move forward not that we have a foundation.
Abe Sapien The Drowning #1 (of 5)Writer Mike Mignola, Art Jason Shawn Alexander, Colors Dave Stewart. The first ten pages in this book are absolutely gorgeous. Very little text is used as we get a scene of a man boarding a ship from the late 19th century, fighting some sort of demons and ultimately winning only to drown as the ship cracks up and sinks. The art work and coloring are so well done that you are immediately drawn into the story and forget it is supposed to be about Abe Sapien. As a writer Mike Mignola knows when to let the art tell the story and step out of the way, not all artists who also are writers know when to do this. Then we jump ahead almost 100 years and find out that Abe will be exploring this wreckage for the BPRD as his first mission with Hellboy. A well done opening chapter in this mini-series.
Space Doubles #1 (of 5) Created by Scott Closter. Story #1 : Red Rain Writer Mike Raicht, Artist Alecia Rodriquez, Grayscaler David Barkman; Story #2: Project Obeah Writers Leah Moore & John Reppion Artist Jeremy Dale, Inker Jason Roth, Grayscaler Steve Talaba. We were fortunate at the blog to get a preview copy and did a review of this issue
here. I think the review by Gwen, Lee and I do a good job talking about the book, I just want the rest of the world to try it out. On a second reading and reading an actual comic and not a PDF file, it actually reads a lot better. Both stories have that great sci-fi/horror feeling that you got from the late fifties and early sixties classics like “The Thing” and “The Blob”. A few great elements with this series are the flip book format, the two covers that we get and the art being in black and white. I know black and white may have been a price consideration, but I actually find that it enhanced the fell of it being an old sci-fi/horror film. Congratulation to Scott Closter and Th3rd World Studios for giving us a unique genre that has been missing too long from the comic racks.
Exterminators #26Writer Simon Oliver, Ty Templeton Artist, Brain Buccellato Colors. This issue we get to see what appears to be the end of Henry’s ex-girl friend Laura. The end game is being set-up as Laura finds out the bugs are using her and they in turn take her out by putting her into some sort of medical coma. The scene where Laura stumbles into a roomful of Mayan hissers and the bugs excrete some fluid on her makes your skin crawl. Simon Oliver has built a really complex story and done it slowly as he also has developed a great cast. This arc that we are heading to should be the biggest story line yet.
Atom #20 – Writer Gail Simone, Pencils Mike Norton, Inks Trevor Scott Colors Alex Blevaert. This issue ends Gail Simone’s run on the Atom and I think it was a very successful run. Ryan Choi is now the Atom in my mind in the DCU. The ending was terrific as we found out all the craziness surrounding Ivy Town was the result of Ray’s old enemy Chronos. Ryan manages to defeat and save the day and end the madness that has been Ivy Town. All in all a nice wrap up and hand off to the next creative team. Gail did a terrific job is showing us a young man who became the Atom almost by accident and then watching him grow from scientific explorer to reluctant hero. Mike Norton’s artwork on this book was also very well done and delivered a solid super hero art that complimented Gail’s script. The final plus is we go from a very good writer in Gail Simone to another very good writer in Rick Remender starting next issue.
Batman Confidential #12Michael Green Writer, Denys Cowan & John Floyd art, I.L.L. Color. The conclusion of the Punch Line, which is another version of how the Joker came into being and his first battle with Batman. Denys Cowan’s art looked great. I had not seen him doing any comic book work for awhile and he has the same style, but if anything his work is better then it ever was. Great layouts and design, powerful, edgy and a sketchy feel to it. Michael Green is a good writer, it is just his version of this story does not fit in with Batman canon and Batman himself feels like a different character. It should have been stamped as the Earth 46 Batman. I enjoyed it for a good story; I just cannot accept it as part of the canon for this character.
North Wind #2 (of 5)Dave DiGilio writer, Alex Cal artist and Renato Faccini color. I enjoyed the first issue, but had the feeling this story was going to move a little slowly and then issue #2 comes out and was a shocker. The village where the boy Pak comes from is destroyed by the city people and he is the only survivor and is raised by the Skinrunner and taught all of his ways. The Skinrunner dies and leaves Pak (now a man) as the new Skinrunner. It is apparent he will seek some level of revenge for what happened to his mother and the village, but you also get the sense Pak did not just become Batman for a new world. Dave DiGilio is crafting a nice story and setting up Pak as our main character and I can see many adventures with this setting. A good job on outstripping expectations and making this post apocalyptic future fast paced.
Justice Society of America #12 – Story by Alex Ross and Geoff Johns, Writer Geoff Johns, Pencils Dale Eaglesham, Inks Ruy Jose, Colors Alex Sinclair. We are still in the midst of the Kingdom Come storyline and this issue we meet a host of new characters that may or may not become JSA members. The overall story line did not move forward from my perspective, but the new recruits were interesting, but I feel like the JSA has so many great characters now, that adding another four to five is too much. Johns needs to have an ancillary title so we can get more of the stories on these characters as none of them have their own comic. As always the art by Eaglesham and Jose was fantastic and any book Alex Sinclair colors is done well.
Fables #69Bill Willingham Writer, Mark Buckingham Pencils, Steve Leialoha & Andrew Pepoy inks, Lee Loughridge Colors. The conclusion of the Good Prince story. I enjoyed this arc a lot, but the final battle was over in the first five pages and the rest of the book was an epilogue. I think the epilogue should have been shorter, but I liked that we got a “Happily Ever After” type ending for many of the people who have been the focus of this arc.
Wasteland #14Writer Anthony Johnston, Artist Joe Infurnari. This issue contains a flashback about Michael and is labeled as being 55 years after the big wet. The more you read this series the better the payoff. I really enjoyed getting more back story on Michael as we get to see that who and what he is, appears to be a deeper mystery then we knew. Michael is un-aged going back 45 years and stared down wolves and willing cuts his own neck to cut the shoelace being used to strangle him. If claws pop out of his hands, I may have to cancel the book. The artist for the flash back did a good job, although it was at first a jarring change in style from the regular artist.
Vinyl Underground #5Writer Si Spencer, Penciller Simon Gane, Inker Cameron Stewart, Colors Guy Major. This issue focuses on Morrison, as the main character goes off to find his mother whom he thought was dead. He is assisted by his five year old self. This issue threw me off as I did not know who the heck the kid was at the beginning. It was an interesting writing tool and a nice gimmick to allow Morrison some internal dialogue. Still not 100% sure on this book, but I want to know the characters better, so I’ll keep coming back for more.
Doktor Sleepless #5Warren Ellis writer and Ivan Rodriquez artist, Greg Waller color. This series is slowly growing on me. I was happy when I read that the first arc is eight issues long and that it is all taking place in the span of a few days. Ellis wrote in the back matter that he is doing a serialized novel and knowing that makes my approach in reading it different, it also makes me want to switch to trades. Thje story itself progressed well and we are getting into the crux of what is really going on. The artwork is very appralling and I’m surprised that DC or Marvel have not made a run at trying to sign him to an exclusive. On a side note Warren has created various internet presences related to this and other books and he waxes on about how much fun it is to see all the activity and questions people have about the book. I have two thoughts, one get a life people and two sometimes I think it would be nice to have a more obsessive focus.
Detective Comics #841Paul Dini Writer, Dustin Nguyen Pencils, Derek Fridolfs Inker, John Laiz Colors. Another one and done story, that had the Mad Hatter committing a series of crimes and actually staying one step ahead of Batman as the hatter was not following his normal pattern of crime. We find out Tweedledee & Tweedledum were actually behind the crimes and had the Mad Hatter under their control. A rock solid and entertaining issue. Dustin Nguyen’s art seemed less powerful then it had recently looked, but still a good job.
Teen Titans Year One #2 (of 6)Writer Amy Wolfram, Art Karl Kerschl, Serge Lapointe & Steph Peru. This is a younger reader book or at better yet, this is a solid all ages book. The story is simply the adults are acting crazy and Robin, Kid Flash, Aqualad & Speedy are getting together to figure out what is going on and then Wonder Girl shows up. It reads really fast and the artwork has an animated feel to it. The Titans are depicted to look like middle school age kids. A light read that is a definite change of pace. One big issue I have is how Aqualad is being drawn. His paleness and really strange looking face is rather off-putting. He looks unwell.
Annihilation Conquest #4 (of 6)Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning Writers, Tom Raney Penciler, Scott Hana Inker and Frank D’Armata Colors. A brief recap of the players has Ultron torturing Star Lord, Ronan having a cache of Sentry and Adam Warlock and Quasar being betrayed by the High Evolutionary. This series has not really delivered the way Annihilation itself did. Also, Nova should be a part of this story and right now it appears as Nova and this book are both involved, but the stories do not overlap. Tom Raney with Scott Hana are top notch artists and can draw anything asked, but the color is so dark as to mute the strength of their work. As with any mini-series the ending is ultimately how the book will be judged, but right now this is an average book.
Uncanny X-Men #495Ed Brubaker Writer, Mick Choi Artist & Sandra Oback Color. My first impression on this book was how cold the art left me feeling. Not that the actual artwork itself is poorly done, the finishing process left it flat and cold. The actually story itself is almost boring. Scott meets up with Iron Man, tells him the X-Men are done and leave them alone. Scott and Emma go to the Savage Land for a vacation as other X-Men are roaming around doing their own thing. What struck me as odd is that no real hint of what is happening with Xavier (as that is being saved for another book). I know continuity does not have to be that tight, but I keep thinking how is this all going to play out with Warren Ellis’ run on Astonishing X-Men. At least Cyclops is being shown as the leader of the X-Men and as he has been one of my favorite X-Men, it is good to see him in this light. All in all this is a better issue then the whole Messiah Complex morass.
Midnighter #16Writer Keith Giffen, Penciller Lee Garbett, Inker Rick Burchett, Mavor w/Rover Colors. What a difference an artist can make. Normally I like Giffen’s writing but his ideas for Midnighter have left me cold as the Anthem group he has added to the mix. I was ready to drop this book, but the story line improved as an Assassin is killing friends of the Authority and has Midnighter as his next target. But the art is what really shone. Lee Garbett is a terrific artist, with a clean and detailed style that is sharp and smooth all at the same time. Add Rick Burchett (who is a good artist in his own right) as his inker and the art on this book is great.
Jonah Hex #28Written by Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti, Art John Higgins. This issue was probably my least favorite of the entire Jonah Hex run. The story was a message issue and about how people who are considered different had problems with outlaw “justice” in the old west. It showed how issues that we might consider to be just current day have probably existed for all of human existence. The artwork was very strong and John Higgins has an illustrator’s touch that is a very refined and strong. But, the issue did not ring true as a Jonah Hex tale and I do not pick up the tough hard as nails gritty western book of a true anti-hero to hear a sermon.
Countdown to Final Crisis #12Paul Dini writer with Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti, Keith Giffen story consultant, Pencils Jesus Saiz and Tom Derenick, inks Jimmy Palmiotti, Tom Chu Color. After all the action of the last few issues, this issue is definitely a breather issue and remains true to the cover title of “Convergence”. Kyle, Donna, Red Robin, Ray Palmer, Jimmy Olsen, Forager, Mary Marvel, Holly, Harley, Granny Goodness, Karate Kid, Uno , Brother Eye and Piper are heading or have arrived at Apokolips. Solomon (a monitor) and Darkseid are playing their cosmic chess game still and we can feel the end game coming together. All set-up to get to the last 11 issues.
Metal Men #6 (of 8) – Duncan Rouleau writer and artist, Peter Pantzis colors. The convoluted plot, the multiple time lines and the overly dark palate all continue to plague this book as a monthly comic. The art itself is fantastic and Duncan has some great looking designs and has a load of fun drawling the Metal Men. I’ll stick with my earlier assessment that the book is over written and will read better as a trade. Also as deeply flawed I believe this to be as a month mini-series, I may buy the trade as it is so great to look at. If the color was a little lighter, I think the art would be perfect for the Metal Men.
Infinity Inc. #6Peter Milligan writer, Matt Camp artist, Dom Regan colorist. We are six issues into this series and I at least have a handle on the three main characters and the book seems to have a solid direction. It appears that all the kids of the Everyman Project are having a reaction to the program. Even though their powers were turned off, they have manifested new and strange powers. Some members have become psychotic and are killing people. Natasha and her group are going to try and track them down. It is a true group /non-group book and no one is wearing spandex. An off beat look at super powers.
Wildstorm Revelations #3 (of 6)Writers Scott Beatty with Christos Gage, Artist Wes Craig, Color Johnny Rench. This book is an unbelievable and boring drag that I am barely hanging on to see if any “revelation” actually happens. These endless tours of the Wildstorm Universe have done nothing to endear the WU to me. The art is the most appealing part of the book, although the finishing process gave some odd looking shadowing effects that looked off. It could be my basic unfamiliarity with these characters is turning me off, as the shocking reveals mean nothing to me.
Supergirl #26Kelley Puckett writer, Drew Johnson & Lee Ferguson pencillers, Ray Snyder & Mark Deering inkers, Brad Anderson colors. This series is still just meandering around and going nowhere. Since our new writer took over we had another view of her days on Krypton, an adventure in space and now fighting Reactron and now she is going to try and save a boy’s life that has brain cancer (that is in about five issue or less). She needs to have a secret identity so we can see her in real life. She needs a supporting cast; she needs to be developed into a real character.
Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Guilty Pleasures #8 (of 12) Writer Laura Hamilton, Adatation Jess Ruffner, Artist Ron Lim, Colors June Chung. The long delays between the issues and the fact that I had never been able to vest in these characters has caused me to drop this book after eight issues. I have been sending this book off to Gwen, but she has read the novels and will have to either buy the last four issues or live without them. I have the feeling the comic works better if you read the book itself, which in my opinion means the comic failed. Comics, prose, TV, movies, cartoons or plays can all be from the same source material, but each medium has different demands and you must use the material in such a way that maintains the strength of that source, yet respect the medium you are working in. On a different note, Ron Lim’s art was so strong that it almost made me hang in for another issue or two, but this book lost my interest. Cancelled.
Overman #3 (of 5) – Scott Reed Writer and Shane White Artist. Maybe I read too many titles or maybe this book is trying to be too much, but either way I have become lost and disinterested. I like science fiction and stories of dystopian futures, but the wandering story line and multiple main characters and multiple plot lines is just way too much. I no longer care who is who is how the story ends. My opinion is the story line needed to be simplified. The writer was trying to do too much. The art work is solid and with all the odd elements and setting being requested by the story, the artist did a solid and professional job. Cancelled.

This was an interesting week as I cancelled two books relatively deep into their respective mini-series. Even though I try to decide on issue #1, I have no hard and fast rules as to when I cancel or add any book. All in all in reviewing my own list I was tough on what went under the line for the third tier in best to worst, but only Jonah Hex and Countdown were possibilities to move to the next category.

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