Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Best to Worst of Last Week

This was a killer week for me. I set a time limit of Sunday to finish reading every thing as I mail out books to people on Monday (unless one of the 12 Monday holidays is happening). As my best to worst listing has grown from minor comments to mini-reviews, the process has slowed down even more. I usually write the reviews after reading two books (a max of five books). With well over 40 titles last week and a loaned book from the store, this is a massively long post.

All Star Batman & Robin the Boy Wonder #9 – Writer Frank Miller, Pencils Jim Lee, Inks Scott Williams, Colors Alex Sinclair – This series gets better and better. Batman and Green Lantern go toe to toe as Green Lantern is complaining bitterly about how Batman operates and Batman defends his position. Batman has the room totally painted in yellow and Robin and he are both in yellow. The dialogue and the action between Batman and Green Lantern is terrific. They play Hal as a na├»ve and almost dumb super jock type. Little touches are brilliant such as Robin is shown reading the yellow kid comic. Then Robin and GL go at it and Robin cuts loose and almost kills GL. Batman steps in and save GL, then takes Robin with him. Batman realizes the mistakes he has made with Robin and tries to start over with letting Robin grieve. We are starting to see the full picture of this version of Batman and there is more to him then the madman crime fighter they have shown. The art work is incredible. As strong as Jim Lee and Scott Williams are they are just getting better and better. The layouts, the action shots, the camera angles, the story telling is all genius. Top off with the always great coloring of Alex Sinclair and you have a superior book. If you bailed on this series early, you are now missing a fantastic vision of Batman and Robin.
Action Comics #862 – Writer Geoff Johns, Pencils Gary Frank, Inks Jon Sibal, Colors Dave McCaig and Hi-Fi. This has to be one of my favorite Legion stories in years. Johns has crafted a classic tale that still reads like a modern book. It is the newest chapter in the “Adult Legion”, which was a great silver age story. This issue Superman and the group of Legionnaires he is with call in the subs. The subs go into action against the Justice League. They are handled with both respect and humor, because Stone Boy is nothing if not a humorous character. We also get the mismatch of Superman with no powers versus Earth-Man who has charged up with all the powers of the Legion. Johns story is excellent and Gary Frank and Jon Sibal are an absolute top line art team. I’m looking forward to the finale next issue.
Hellblazer #241 – Writer Andy Diggle, Art Leonardo Manco, Color Lee Loughridge. This series is so rock solid under Andy Diggle’s pen, that each issue is a joy to read. Also I would swear that Manco, whose art is always perfect for this book, has stepped it up another notch and he is better then ever. The splash page with John waiting in the hospital was fantastic. This issue Mako, the war mage, who is after John is wrecking havoc, murder and destruction every where he goes trying to get Constantine. John figures out that the wooden stick he has been carrying is acting as a tracking device and sends it off to an enemy of his. This is a classic Hellblazer tactic, taking something that is going against him and using it to his advantage. Hellbalzer is now the best Vertigo book on the stands and that is saying something as the Vertigo club is heavy competition. Blue Beetle #24 – Writer John Rogers, Art Rafael Albuquerque, Colors Guy Major. The battle to defeat the Reach continues. Jamie’s friends save his family and defend them against the Reach warriors sent to kill them. Even powerless Jamie has absorbed enough knowledge from Peacekeeper to mount an attack against the Reach in their ship. Jamie has become a true hero and this book is absolutely one of the best super hero books on the market. At this point I believe this book is equal to Invincible and vying to surpass it. Next issue the conclusion to Jamie’s war on the Reach.
Mouse Guard Winter 1152 #3 (Of 6) – Writer and Illustrator David Petersen. This series just absolutely rocks. The tales of the Mouse Guard are a perfect fable being created today. This issue Black Axe reveals himself to Celanawe, while Saxon and his group battle there way through a cave of bats. Rich and detailed illustrations, solid writing and a book you can share with you kids. This is an all ages book, that is not talking down to anyone to be all ages. I look forward to each and every issue and then look forward to the hard cover.
Crime Bible Five Lessons of Blood #5 (of 5) – Writer Greg Rucka, Pencils Manuel Garcia, Inks Manuel Garcia & Jimmy Palmiotti, Colors Santi Arcas. – What a terrific ending and what a horrible way to leave us hanging. The Question has a showdown Brother Flay and is told if she wins she rules the cult and must guide them to even darker paths. She tries to avoid actually fighting but when forced to she wins and Flay is killed. The book ends with Rene (as the Question) with a cult of killers kneeling down to her. Totally unexpected ending, which is great, but now I want the next mini-series or unlimited series featuring the new Question!Wormwood Gentle Corpse #10 – Calamari Rising Part 2 of 4 – Writer/Artist – Ben Templesmith. - What other book has lines of dialogue like “Sounded like the bowels of an elephant after digesting half a ton of cabbage crossed with a meercat in heat” and “Powered, of course by the brainwaves of cloned necrotic Einstein fetuses.” nowhere else but Wormwood Gentleman Corpse. This book is an over the top LSD nightmare that is filled with so much sarcasm and humor that any description pales to what the book has to offer. Each and every issue is more crazed then the next and this issue’s fight between the Calamari and Wormwood and friends is no exception. Ben Templesmith is having more fun by himself then should be legal and allowing it to be put on public display.
Batman #674 – Writer Grant Morrison, Pencils Tony Daniel, Inks Sandu Florea, Colors Guy Major. We finally get the story behind the three Batmen and it is a good one that makes solid comic book sense. The military had a contingence plan in case Batman every dies and these three men were chosen. Batman escapes from the death trap in a classic Houdini manner and then tries to capture the Batman who took him down but is too beaten up to do so. Morrison has hit his stride with this arc and Batman has never been better. The whys & who is behind what is happening is creating a sense of menace that is rare in Batman. Tony Daniel has rocked to the top of the charts and is right now the second best artist drawing Batman (only behind Jim Lee). Morrison is close to crafting one hell of a definitive run on this book.
Thor #6 – Writer J. Michael Straczynski, Art Oliver Coipel, Inks Mark Morales, Colors Laura Martin. My stance on this book has soften somewhat. It maybe that JMS has won me back with “The Twelve” or that he has finally stopped being Marvel only, but Thor is a decent book. I still think it is moving a little slow and JMS can get too preachy on some issues, but this issue was a slow paced enjoyable issue. We saw how Asgard and the town are learning to co-exist, we see how Don Blake is actually an integral part of Thor and plays a role, and we see Thor struggle with whether Odin should return. Then Thor performs a very powerful and god like act to return whomever is left back into their true god forms. Thor drains his power and crashes to Earth. Oliver Copiel’s art is loaded with power and grace but it is a very clean and thin line. His backgrounds are detailed when needed and his story telling is top notch. Mark Morales inks work great with Copiel’s pencils. Still wish it moved faster, but a very good series.
Criminal 2 #1 – Writer Ed Brubaker, Art Sean Phillips, Colors Val Staples. Criminal is back in a new format. I assume the sales were a little low on this book and the reformat and re-launch is a way to generate interest. I thought the series slowed down a lot on the last arc, but this issue is a very well done book. Sean Phillips art really works well for this type of story. He has a strong sense of realism, but spots blacks well enough to keep that film noir feel this book is going for. The story is a nice one and done story that tells us the history of the character Jake “Gnarly” Brown. The story pulls you in from the first panel and never lets you go as you learn of a young black boy who grows up with the son of a white mob boss, then how the “brothers” lives split apart, then cross again and then come to a nasty end for Jake as he lies in a hospital bed with his kneecap and career as a boxer destroyed. I hope people pick this book up and I think this issue was a great re-start. One and done stories that are this good should build the audience so the longer stories can be told. It kills me that a book like Kick-Ass is ordered and sold with high numbers and this book languishes.
The Circle #4 – Writer Brian Reed, Art Ian Hosfeld, Colors Len O’Grady. I am back in love with this series. Issue #3 was a let down as almost nothing happened. This issue we see Ilona and Ulee escaping capture and bringing the fight to Agent Y. We also get some back story on the Circle and their first encounter with Y. It ends as the MI-6 is sending fighter jets to bomb the Goliath train, regardless of the fact the Ulee and Ilona are on it. Given they are not British citizens I can understand why they don’t care. We have a great action/adventure story with art by Ian Hosfeld who is fast becoming a favorite. He has a Jordi Benet quality to his work and a fluidness to it that makes this book have a fast pace. I am glad that issue 3 was the anomaly and not the new status quo.
Proof #5 – Writer Alexander Grecian, Art Riley Rossmo. This issue was the conclusion of the Goatsucker storyline where the two main characters are not really in the book. Proof is not in a single panel and Ginger has a walk on cameo. Instead the story focuses on new team member Elvis Chestnut. The goatsucker wears his mother’s skin, so it is natural that he would have some animosity towards the creature and we see the fight between the two of them. The director of the lodge, Leander had set-up the confrontation to help Elvis move past his mother’s death so he can be an effective team member. We also had the disgusting birth ritual of the little fairies, which was amusing. Another well done issue and now this leaves us with a three member team whose job it is to seek these Cryptids and bring them to the Lodge for a safe haven and study by the government.
Fables #71 – Writer Bill Willingham, Art Niko Henrichon, Colors Nico Henrichon and Lee Loughridge – A breather issue between the “Good Prince” story line and the “The War”. It was a great issue. First off the art by Niko Henrichon was very good and captured the feel of this series very well. This series always seems to find guest artists that know how to maintain the right type of look for this series. Second the story itself was very well done as we see Boy Blue get his heart stomped by Red Rose, see the animal fables mull over staying here or going to Haven and get a great prelude to the forthcoming war. Bill Willingham continues to actually deliver on his plot lines as opposed to leaving them as endless teases. When Snow White and the Big Bad Wolf left center stage people worried about the series, when the adversary was revealed people worried about the series, the “Good Prince” was nine parts long and now the war. The war maybe a very long story line, but I will give Bill a lot of rope to do what he wants as he has delivered big time. In seventy issues I have had one issue that I did not like (the answer to fans questions) and one that was just okay; the last issue of the “Good Prince” as I thought the main battle ended too abruptly. The count is 68 out of 70 issues have been good to great, heck of a record.
Neozoic #3 – Writer Paul Ens, Art J. Korim, Colors Jessie Lam. This series just continues to get better and better. This issue we have dinosaurs attacking the city and we get some terrific action as the PDL goes into full attack mode defending the city. This book moves with a great pace and fill sin the details as we go along. The city is saved as the dinosaurs are not eating people but all going to the temple where Lilli had taken the Taplid child. Neozoic is so much fun, as it was not just a premise of humans and dinosaurs existing it I a whole world that Ens seems to have created.
JSA Classified #35 – Writer – B. Clay Moore, Art – Ramon Perez, Colors Dave McCaig. This was a terrific opening. Wildcat is fighting Solomon Grundy and Alan Scott helps out on clean up. Alan questions Ted on why he is still running around in costume as it seems to him he has lost direction. Alan also tells Ted about a problem with the gyms that he used to own in Gotham. Ted ditches his Wildcat persona and goes to Gotham to check out what is going on. After walking into the gym and taking apart two young boxers, Ted walks out and gets the crap beat out of him by a large group of thugs. Catwoman shows standing over Ted’s unconscious body wondering what happened. All throughout the story we get Ted questioning and re-examining his life and a few flashbacks of Ted’s life in the “golden age”. Aaron Perez’s art is very clean and reminds me more of a Cliff Chiang type of style, but not as refined. Perez has strong layouts and knows how to tell a story. This is what the JSA Classified should be a good look at one member of the JLA and a story that does more they tell a random adventure of the character.
Many Adventures of Miranda Mercury #295 (of 300) - Writer Brandon Thomas, Pencils Lee Ferguson, Inks Mark Deering, Colors Felix Serrano – First off what a nice change of pace to start a book on issue #295, to give us the sense that we are joining a hero with a long history of adventures. Next what a great first issue. Brandon Thomas pulled off what he set up as an almost impossible task, which is to make up a series that we start deep into the characters history and yet make the book incredibly accessible. Brandon starts us off on the last chapter of Miranda’s latest adventure and brings that adventure to its conclusion in this issue, while deftly weaving in enough about her and her aide-de-camp Jack that you get a feel for these characters, without being hammered to death with exposition. Also the story was good, action packed, fun and dramatic with a touch of pathos as we learn Miranda is dying. The art was very good and had an animation type feel to it, but was a very clean line and told the story well. A very strong first effort and this book could teach a lot of writers about making a series accessible with never slowing down the story itself or filling it with tons of explanations of who is who and what is going on.
Legion of Super-Heroes #39 – Writer Jim Shooter, Pencils Francis Manapul, Inks Livesay, Colors Jo Smith. Jim Shooter is really doing a wonderful job with the Legion. This first arc has plenty of Legionaries, great character bits, mystery and an over riding story, all hallmarks of great Legion stories of the past. In this issue Princess Projectra learns that she is now homeless and penniless. We also see Colossal Boy and his team avert an infestation of some alien rats and someone who is on the inside is monitoring everyone’s activities. One thing about reading a writer over the years, you can often spot when they are ripping off themselves. In this case we have the underclass of 31st Century Earth had slang similar to the underclass of the future Earth from Magnus’ series at Valiant comics, also written by Shooter. It still worked; it just felt too familiar for me. The art felt a little rushed and it also seems like Legion has missed some deadlines. I assume we may see a fill-in artist soon.
Authority Prime #5 (of 6) – Writer Christos Gage, Art Darrick Robertson, Colors Tony Avina. This is what more series from Wildstorm should be about. In this issue Stormwatch and the Authority are searching the bunker and discover that Bendis had cloned himself and was giving his younger version super powers. The Bendis clone is almost ready to be “born” when they discover it and are about to dismantle it from coming to life. Rose Tattoo under Bendis’ control attacks the group and allows a super power Bendis to come alive. Plenty of character moments are mixed in with some solid action as the story moves forward. This is a good solid well written and well drawn entertaining comic.
JLA Classified #53 – Writer Roger Stern, Pencils John Byrne, Inks Mark Farmer, Colors Allen Passalaqua. This has been one of the best JLA Classified arcs produced. A tale then flashes between a newer and older version of the JLA facing off against a being called Titus, who is an alien with off the chart power. I enjoy books that have continuity but I not locked into every story being 100% part of the canon, sometimes I just like to read a good old fashioned super hero book where the heroes fight off against impossible odds and win. This looks to be that type of book. Well written, the best Byrne work in years and entertaining as all get out. This arc has set the bar for what JLA Classified stories need to be.
Dead Rider #2 (of 4) – Art, Story and Lettering by Kevin Ferrara – This guy can flat out draw and the Frazzetta / Wrightson comparisons are not over hyping the talent level evident in his work. In fact he is so good this issue was about three months late. Yep, he is that good that he already is producing extremely late work. In fairness he is doing everything. The actual story this issue involves the origin of the Dead Rider and we only find out that he needed a witches help to be invincible and of course there was a twist to it. This is a horror/western unlike others that we have seen, but still nothing highly original, just an idea from here and there. The selling point is the art is so good any lack in the writing quality is quickly ignored. Which is to not denigrate the story as it is entertaining and ultimately that is what I want out of a comic.
X-Men First Class #9 – Writer Jeff Parker, Artist Roger Cruz (1st and last page), Pencils Julia Bax, Inks Kris Justice, Colors Val Staples. This is always an entertaining series. It is a light hearted updating of the silver-age X-Men. This issue the Scarlet Witch is being recruited by Shield and we get a Marvel Girl, Black Widow & Scarlet Witch versus Hydra adventure. The dialogue is always clever and the art is pushed to a more towards a lighter tone also, not really a cartoon version, but also not Alex Ross realism. With so many books over doing the angst and darkness I appreciated this series even more.
Dan Dare #4 (of 7) –Writer Garth Ennis, Art Gary Erskine, Colors Parasuraman A. – This is a very good series. Each chapter builds on what has come before; the payoffs are great every issue and the heroic nature of the characters shine through. Mekon’s plans are coming together and his fleet is set to destroy Earth’s space force. Mekon’s sends a ship to kill Dan Dare and Dan’s friend Digby does a suicide run with an unarmed warship to by Dan and everyone else time to escape. An epic adventure with great art and a terrific story.
Daredevil #105 – Writer Ed Brubaker, Art Michael Lark, Paul Azaceta & Stefano Guardino, Colors Matt Hollingsworth. – This book finally delivered on the story line that has been going on forever. It was a great finish as Mr. Fear lets Daredevil catch him and beat the crap out of him, because he has already won. Mr. Fear tells Daredevil there is no cure and that Milla and Melvin Potter are forever infected with the madness from the Fear gas. Mr. Fear confesses and is put in jail, but now the power is part of him so that everyone in the jail does whatever he wants. Matt is left with guilt and an empty existence. The cost of being Daredevil appears to have been extraordinarily high. As always the art team does a good job telling the story. The problem is that Frank Miller has already done this type of story with Daredevil before and reduced him to a bum sleeping in the alleyway. The story is well done, but Miller did it better. If you are going to redo a similar theme story to a “classic” story, bring a new twist or change it up a little more, but beating Matt into the ground is getting redundant.
Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters #6 (of 8) – Writers Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray, Art Renato Arlem, Colors Alex Beyaert. I’m not sure if Neon the Unknown is a real golden age character or not, but damn if everybody and their kid sister have not fallen in love with doing golden age heroes or some connection to a golden age hero. This issue we get more of the fight with the Red Bee and it appears her humanity is totally gone and she is lost to them forever. On a different area scientist Emma tries to restore people back from Doll Man size and creates a creature that is a mass of people in one ugly monster form. Very much a middle chapter as we move forward to the conclusion in the next two issues. A solid mini-series.
Justice Society of America #13 – Story Geoff Johns and Alex Ross, Writer Geoff Johns, Pencils Fernado Pasarin, Inks Richard Friend, Colors Alex Sinclair. This book is moving way too slow. It feels like we have had issue after issue introducing a large cast of characters and now we are slowing building up the mystery of a possible “Kingdom Come” problem coming to the regular DCU. It is a good story and I’m enjoying it, but as a monthly comic I want a quicker pace. In this issue we saw people moving into the JSA headquarters, and Superman of Earth-22 goes to Superman and to ask him about Gog. One thing we did see was a battle with Hercules where it showed the Earth-22 Superman is stronger then the regular DCU Superman. The artist this issue was nowhere near as strong as Dale Eaglesham and therefore paled in comparison, but once I got used to his style I thought it was a really strong effort and well done.
Fallen Angel #24 – Writer – Peter David, Art J.K. Woodward – This series is so hard to describe in a few words. Peter David has built up a unique world with Bete Noire. The Fallen Angel’s son is now the magistrate of the city, but an outside force has come to take over control of the city. Gilles de Rais is the invader and almost every main character who has been introduced in the course of this book plays a role. It is a good story, but I believe almost impossible for any new person to pick up and enjoy. I would recommend reading the first trade to try out Fallen Angel, but this is not an entry point right now. J.K. Woodward’s style and heavy shadowing and coloring works for the mood of this book and he really almost owns the style of what I expect of Fallen Angel.
The Stranded #2 – Writer Mike Carey, Pencils Siddharth Kotian, Inks Siddharth Kotian & Jyotsna Domse, Colors Anand Ballisamy. This is a decent sci-fi story where we have an alien race that has essentially buried their identities and became humans to escape a mortal enemy who destroyed their world. Tamree is a member of that race who is called an Anchor as she can reawaken her people and I guess acts as a bridge to their true heritage. The enemy has found the “Stranded” and has sent an assassin to kill them. Tamree now fights to save her people and has to awaken then to do so.
Crossing Midnight #16 – Writer Mike Carey, Art J. H. Williams III page 4, Gabriel Hernandez Pages 8-12, Mateo Guerrero & Jose Villarrubia Pages 15-18, Jim Fern & Jose Villarrubia the rest. This series is really a wonderful horror/fantasy book that needs to be read from the beginning to enjoy the full breadth and depth of the story. As trades are now an option it is easy to catch up with this series and then jump into the monthly book. I have a feeling that this book is reaching such a narrow audience that it may not last more then a few years, so I hope Mike Carey has an ending in mind and DC gives him enough time to reach it. It was never announced as a limited series, but the twins’ journey to be reunited needs to have an ending to make this a good story. Too often writers forget the vast majority of great stories have a beginning, middle and an end.
Captain America #35 – Writer Ed Brubaker, Pencils Butch Guice, Inks Butch Guice & Mike Perkins, Colors Frank D’Armata. This book is entitled “The Death of Captain America, Act 2, The Burden of Dreams Part Five. Even the title makes it sound like this story is never going to end. I guess something happened Captain (Bucky) America confront a serpent squad breaking into Congress and Dr. Zola is about to help Sharon with her pregnancy. A few things about this book, first one long story of continuous continuity is a great thing, never having any real resolutions in any issues gets old. For my $3 entry fee I deserve an end point to a sub plot or some story point. Number two Sharon Carter was a strong female character who has been reduced to a quivering mass of helplessness and is shown strapped to a bed as Arin Zola is approaching the foot of her bed with some instrument. The suggestion of violence to a woman who is bound is disturbing on many levels, not the least of how typical of a comic book set-up. Last is the art is always strong (Butch is all of a sudden a prolific pencil artist again), but the coloring process takes away a lot of the look of the individual artist and makes it all look too similar. As a long story this is a good book, as individual issues this book is very uneven and this was a slow issue that left me hoping something happens next issue.
Thunderbolts International Incident – Writer Christos Gage, Art Ben Oliver, Colors Jose Villarrubia. It is now like the Thunderbolts have two different series going on. One by Gage and one by Ellis. Bottom line this was a good story and good adventure of the Thunderbolts as Swordsman and Radioactive Man allow the bad guy to escape for reasons of their own. What is annoying to me is that the continuity appears to have the same one for both books, but the series is losing its direction by indeterminable delays between issues. Ellis is writing a good series and Gage is writing good fill ins that come out more often then the actual series that I’m losing what is the focus of this series. Either give Gage the book and let him run with it or do Ellis’s version as a series of mini-series. A lot of Ellis’ books are plagued with delays.
Gravel #1 – Story/Script – Warren Ellis, Script Mike Wolfer. Art Raulo Caceres. Colors Greg Waller – This is an okay book, but the zero issue was really the first issue in the series and not a prelude. Apparently Gravel is gathering up this evil magical book the “minor seven” have obtained. He is doing so by being the Punisher of magicians. I’m enjoying this story for the most part, but can’t out and out recommend it as a book that you should be reading. The artwork is solid, a little heavy and too dark, but still well laid out and rendered. If you are a Warren Ellis fan, you should enjoy it.
Grimm Fairy Tales #22 – Story Ralph Tedesco & Joe Tyler, Written by Joe Tyler,Pencils Joe Dodd, Colors Nei Ruffino. The story focuses again on Sela and Belinda. This time Sela saves Timmy from becoming Belinda’s puppet for life, by turning him away from the dark side. This book falls back into the over sexed aspect of the series as Sela is dressed as some sort of medieval hooker and Belinda is the bikini clad Snow Queen. The tie in between what Belinda was doing to Timmy and the evil looking glass was weak. Still all in all this series is an easy read and is entertaining. If we discuss are comics literature this won’t make the grade, but some light entertainment and sometimes more, this fills the bill.
Lazarus #3 (of 3) – Writers Diego Cortes & Juan Ferreyra, Art Juan Ferreyra. This book is a decent series about a man who cannot die and the mysteries that surround him. The problem is this is not a three part mini-series, this was basically three issues into the series and then we stop. I have a real problem as a fan in trying to stick with a series when I never know what I’m getting. There are no comments or notes in this book to say the next chapter will be published in three months or if it will even continue. If sales do not warrant another mini-series I guess we will not see this book again, but they are working against themselves by not hyping what is going on in the book itself. Maybe the information is on their website, but again I don’t have the time to look for it, it should be self-evident.
X-Men Legacy #208 – Writer – Mike Carey, John Romita Jr. and Klaus Janson Mindscape Art, Scot Eaton and John Dell Reality Art, Colors Christina Strain & Frant D’Armata. My favorite thing is the credits, where the other half of the book is called reality. That idea just made me laugh calling any comic, especially super hero comics reality. I was all set to drop this book as the whole idea seems ludicrous. Professor X is shot, he is almost brain dead Exodus and company “save him” and Professor X is reliving point of history in his mind. At the end with have Exodus bringing in Magneto to try and help. The premise has to have more to it then that, especially if Carey is involved, so I will give it a couple more issues.
Fall of Cthulhu #10 – Writer Michael Alan Nelson, Art Pablo E. Quiligotti – The writing and production values made this book worth the price of entry. The story of Mr. Arkham building his group of four human looking monstrosities has been very well done and I look forward to the war between Cthulhu’s followers and the elder gods. What is hard to describe is how well the horror in this book is both overt and subtle and has a chilling effect because of it. What fell down this issue was the art. It was almost amateurish at times, but yet had some really nice moments and was strong in story telling and layouts. Still the lack of proper anatomy, perspective and almost cartoon like feel to it took some of the edge of a strong horror series.
Rogue Angel Teller of Tale Tales #1 – Writer Barbara Randall Kesel, Art Renae De Liz, Colors Ray Dillon. I’m not familiar with the source material of this series, but it is a series of novels from Gold Eagle written under a house name. I picked this up after reading a positive review of the book and found it to be enjoyable. The central character is a female archeologist who has a magic sword that gives her powers. Adam Strange and The Sword met. I wonder if The Sword drew any inspiration from the book series. Anyway a good script that gets right into the story and still lets us know who the main character is and does not bog us down with how she got this magical sword. It should be revealed soon, but a good first issue needs to know what to explain and what not to explain and this book did it right. The artwork was decent, but the style was almost a realistic cartoon look to it.
Ultimate Spider-Man #119 – Writer Brian Bendis, Pencils Stuart Immonen, Inks Wade Von Grawbadger, Colors Justin Ponsor. This is normally my favorite title by Bendis, but this arc of “Amazing Friends” has been a little weak. Also it feels like Immonen’s pencils are not as strong as they have been, it could be a function of my dislike for the story more then anything else. I believe what fails for me is Bendis’ teen-age conversations or what he imagines they are like, come off a little lame for me. What is interesting to note is that with the summary page in front of the book the actual comic just picks up exactly where it ended last issue without any title page or other normal thing we see in a comic. It should fit together seamlessly in a trade so that you never even know it was a different chapter. At the same time reading it monthly it never affected the book for me either. A nice piece of writing breaking a book into issues, but so far making it a complete novel with no changes needed when it is published as a trade.
Teen Titans #56 – Writer Sean McKeever, Pencils Eddy Barrow, Inks Jimmy Palmiotti w/Julio Ferrira, Colors Rod Reis. It is interesting is that Dan Didio has taken on the editor chores on this book and wants to make a big book for DC again. The actual issue itself was okay, as the loser of the group Kid Devil gets in what I guess is considered normal teen-ager trouble by having a group of fans come to Titans Tower and then he gets scolded by the other members. Then he is befriended by a fan who is actually Dreadbolt, the son of a villain. Clock King (with a new look) has gathered a teen-age villain group who are taking the Titans out one at a time and have started with Kid Devil. Eddy Barrows does a decent job on the pencils and is a solid artist, but does not have that star edge quite yet. The Titans as a series is good entertainment, but this book can never be the success DC wants it to be with a core group who show up on week-ends. When the Titans were one of DC’s best selling titles every member had the Titans as their only book. The core members who live at Titans Tower are not strong enough to take this book to the next level. The series needs to have more then being the week-end hang-out for teen heroes. A teen hang out is not a direction. A direction would be a group of teen heroes who have banded to together to tackle a menace only they know about or some other premise. Then if you want this back to get more notice put a name artist on the book or someone who has a dynamic style that is not the norm. While an entertaining series for the most part and an okay start to a new arc this time, this is not going to get the Titans back on anyone’s must read list.
Zombie Simon Garth #4 (of 4) – Writer/Artist Kyle Hotz , Colors Dan Brown – This read like a typical horror plaque story. The government wipes out their problem with a bomb and we see one last bit of the Zombie virus escapes. Simon Garth is apparently killed after saving the young wife and her child from her abusive husband. Kyle Hotz art makes the book worthwhile, but I have to say that after two mini-series of this material I have had enough. It was standard fare, with no original or really surprising plot twists.
House of M Avengers #5 (of 5)- Writer Christos Gage, Pencils Mike Perkins, Inks Andrew Hennessy, Colors Raul Trevino. This series was a harmless piece of fluff, that did not need to exist, but was certainly well written and competently drawn. This was the story of the Avengers versus the Brotherhood in the “House of M” world. Ultimately, this series was entertaining, but very passable. When you get down to the $15 could have gotten two six pack of Smithwick’s beer and been better spent. Still I believe it was commissioned for the bookstore market that wanted more House of “M” titles on the shelf and those of us who picked it up at the comic store help to underwrite the funding. What I really want to know is why Christos Gage isn’t getting a full time writing gig with Marvel or DC. This guy is a very good writer who has paid his dues by writing every fill in or gap type series for both companies. I worry that he has been type cast and that getting a monthly series or two is getting harder the longer he doesn’t get that type of assignment.
Jack of Fables #20 – Writers Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges, Pencils Russ Braun, Inks Andrew Pepoy & Steve Leialoha, Colors Daniel Vozzo. So Jack scores with the Page sister and states he sleep with her sisters also and gets kicked in the balls for it. He manages to get the goal into a magic briefcase and half his group tires to rob him. Maybe I’m reading this book too late in the night, but the series is starting to get too redundant and it feels like the same story over and over. I’ll hang in a little while, but this Fable spin-off needs more to be happening.
Countdown To Final Crisis #9 – Head Writer Paul Dini with Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, Story Consultant Keith Giffen, Pencils Tom Derenick, Inks Wayne Faucher, Colors Pete Pantazis – This issue all the heroes are in one group and are fighting an Omac and Brother Eye. Brother Eye takes the virus that Karate Kid is carrying and takes off; Pied Piper commits suicide by playing his flute with notes that apparently can blow Apokolips apart. It feels more and more like the deadlines are catching up to them as the art feels a little rushed. Tom Derenick has been getting better in my opinion and this was not as strong as some other recent efforts. Still at this point I just want this series to end. Even the exciting stuff doesn’t feel exciting.
Kick Ass #1 – Writer/Co-Creator Mark Millar, Pencils/Co-Creator John Romita Jr., Inks Tom Palmer, Colors Dean White – I thought this was going to be a mini-series, but looks like it will be an on-going. I read this as I do a radio show as well, so the store owner loaned me a copy as it is a “major release”. A kid with no powers is a comic book geek decides to be a super hero and gets the crap beaten out of him on day one. The story was full of pop cultures references that feel like they are pulled out of a newspaper and far removed from what a teen-age boy would use and the story was almost non-existent. John Romita Jr.’s (whose work I’m not a big fan of) art looked better then ever with Tom Palmer inking him, reducing the sketchy line work to a more eye-pleasing look then normal. I have nothing horrible to say about this book, but nothing good, it was just there. Also if this book had been written by Robert Jones and drawn by Mike Smith, no one would have cared about it and those who read it would have said it was pointless.
Secret History Book Five – Writer Jean Pierre-Pecau, Art Leo Pilipovic, Colors Carole Beau & Fabrys. This book is well written, but I have lost interest as it is too dense and way deeper into history then I am. Cancelled.
Project Superpowers #1 (of 6) – Plot, Covers and Art Direction – Alex Ross, Plot and Script Jim Krueger, Art Carlos Paul, Colors Debora Carita – Between Fantastic Comics #24 and The Twelve this type of material is being done and being done better. These public domain golden age characters are now fighting amongst themselves as they are being introduced book by book. It is over written and a weak premise so far. Perhaps as the series progresses it will become more interesting, but I will never make it there as this book is a drop. Cancelled.
Shark-Man #2 – Created and Story by Michael Town, David Elliott & Ronald Shusett, Script and Art Steve Pugh
- This book has some solid art, some wonky page layouts (that serve no purpose I can discern) and some odd coloring choices. It feels like there is a ton of stuff I should know but do not know. We are on issue #2 and I feel like I joined this series on issue #32 and have missed 2 ½ years of continuity. There was a character who is apparently a child the size of a huge man who talks with a dummy. I guess a “cool” idea but he serves no purpose for the story, especially one that has so many strange characters being introduced. This series has way too much happening and not enough explanation and almost zero Shark-Man. I brought Shark-Man not some commissioner on a gangster’s sub that brought the city and is taking his sub casino on its maiden voyage that is attacked by a pirate witch. Cancelled.
Urban Monsters #1 – Writers Will Wilson & Joanne Moore, Art one Rodriquez and Rick Ross, Colors Nei Ruffino
. Somewhere in the midst of this is a fun idea, but some ideas that sound good, do not always work. 100 years ago monsters started coming out of the woodwork and have been slowly trying to integrate into normal society. They are still the underclass and this is the story of four of them trying to get to Hollywood. The series was well drawn and the coloring was solid, but the story fell flat. It was maybe too serious or just not funny enough. Another problem was it was too worried about trying to explain what the premise was and who the characters are. Decent concept and premise, strong art and coloring, the story needed to be better.

A grand total of four books got the axe this week. So with my two pre-emptive cancellations I have managed to remove 12 titles off my list. Now that does not count the mini-series that have concluded, but with new series starting all the time it is probably a wash, so cancel a book is the best thing for me. Next week is not as massive a week so it this post will be a little more reasonable then.


  1. All-Star was YOUR #1 book?!?

    You are dead to me Jim.

    Dead like Disco.

  2. wow, I agree with Shawn... well kinda, mostly. You're not dead to me or anything...

    I obviously haven't read this issue, but I really dislike ASB&R. bleh.

  3. Visionaries are often hated and mocked. It's a burden we have to bear.