Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Best to Worst of Last Week


Lately I have been focused more on what I have been dropping then what I’m getting. Comics go through cycles for me and lately I have been so busy with my real job and some other issues that the time I give to comics has been reduced and therefore made doing the blog a tighter and tighter deadline at times. My week-end posts have been a little light at times, but I refuse to just post you tubes or what not. I think we will look to drag another contributor to the blog this year and maybe give them a regular slot for Thursday or Sunday. Please send your request for consideration to… only half kidding. Anyway the point is that when the comics become a deadline some of the joy is squeezed out of the books and that maybe reflected a little in my commentaries.

Walking Dead #47 – Writer Robert Kirkman, Art Charles Adlard, Gray Tones Cliff Rathburn – It’s funny both Walking Dead and Invincible are moving towards issue #50 and Walking Dead is kicking in the door every issue and Invincible ahs been a slow build-up. This issue the war between Rick’s camp and the Governor is at full tilt. Another of Rick’s group dies, the Governor’s right hand man gets killed, Andrea comes back and then the Governor rams the tank right through the prison’s fence. Rick goes to find Lori and finds her with the baby and a gun to her head. What a cliffhanger and what a fantastic issue. Charles Adlard did a fantastic job with this issue, especially the double page spread of the tank hitting the fence. Walking Dead is really shaking up the status quo and paying off big time for all the slow build up we have had for the last few arcs.
Atomic Robo #6 (of 6) – Writer Brian Clevinger, Art Scott Wegner, Colors Ronda Pattison. - This book is just such pure unbridled joy that I smile whenever I pick it up. Atomic Robo is trapped with a roomful of Cyborgs and with his arch-enemy who is now just a brain in a robotic body. The fight ensures and what a great fight it is, with Robo getting the snot kicked out of him as he delivers sarcastic one-liners back to the villain. As Robo is about to be destroyed he is saved by one of his “action scientists” co-horts and then he mops the floor with the bad guy who is seemly destroyed forever. Cut to a secret lair where we see the bad guy had contingency plans to ensure his survival forever. Great dialogue, great art and great fun. This book proves you can still do a lot of what have become comic book clich├ęs, but when done right it is brilliant. Bravo to Red 5 for a great series and thankfully Volume Two is coming out later this year.
Cemetery Blues #2 – Story / Script Ryan Rubio, Story / Art Thomas Boatwright. The art is so wonderful on this book. Thomas has a cartoon like style, with a depth and shading of a more dramatic artist. The effect is al Thomas Boatwright and gives his work the ability to tell a story and be serious and insert whimsy and humor at the same time. On page one there is a panel of a squirrel that is priceless. The actual story is also well done as we have out erstwhile “heroes” leading the townspeople in a hunt for an evil spirit. The Huntsman shows up and proceeds to slaughter almost all the townspeople as out heroes escape by running away. Hard to mix humor, horror, whimsy, action and a well told story, but it is done here.
Batman Confidential #14 – Writer Tony Bedard, Pencils Rags Morales, Inks Mark Farmer, Colors I.L.L. This is great arc, bringing back the Wrath character, who was a one and done villain from an Annual a long time ago. Rags work is perfect for Batman as his Nightwing work proves. He draws the fight scenes very well and makes you believe people can do these things. Tony Bedard is building up a good mystery as we find out Gordon has a secret and it ties into the night of Batman’s parents being killed.
Suicide Squad Raise the Flag #7 (of 8) – Writer John Ostrander, Pencils Javier Pina w/Jesus Suiz on 2 pages, Inks Robin Riggs also pencils four pages, Colors Jason Wright. It is so much fun having the Suicide Squad back. I love how the missions always have major problems. Of course when most of your group is criminals what else would you expect. This issue Rick faces off against a new Rustam, Deadshot has to try and finish a mission blind, General Eiling begins his betrayal. Also Blackguard and Windfall both bite the dust. Just for good measure Cliff Carmichael is also shot and killed by Farraday. Action, intrigue, crosses and double crosses, characterization, this book really does a great job and makes me long for an unlimited Suicide Squad book again.
Abe Sapien The Drowning # 2 (of 5) – Writer Mike Mignola, Art Jason Shawn Alexander, Colors Dave Stewart. The art in this book is just absolutely drop dead gorgeous work. It has such a rich and detailed feel to it and it carries such weight that it is a joy to look at. Jason has a solid realistic style even while portraying very unrealistic images. The actual story is a good one and we see Abe faced with a menace that he is worried is beyond his ability to be able to handle. The “cameo” of Hellboy acting as Abe’s self-doubt was well done.
Locke & Key #2 – Writer Joe Hill, Art Gabriel Rodriquez, Colors Joe Fotos. I love this comic. The art work has a great look to it. Gabriel has a wonderful style that conveys age very well. The six year old Bode, who is the central character, looks like a six year old. We find out that the house has many doors and the one Bode uses is to turn into a ghost and he uses it to explore the house. Bode has also found a person living in a well and she is trapped there by magical forces. She is also in contact with the bad guy who lived after Bode’s Dad was killed and she is helping him escape from jail. This book draws you in and makes you really feel for the family and all then went through and you know it is not over yet.
BPRD 1946 #3 (of 5) – Writer Mike Mignola & Joshua Dysart, Art Paul Azaceta, Colors Nick Filarid. The Mignolverse has so much depth and richness to it, that I can’t help but to me continually amazed at how much he has mapped out with all of the BPRD material, Hellboy and ancillary mini-series. The rush to procure the remnants of Hitler’s exploration of the arcane continues and the BPRD team loses a few members. The little Russian girl (who is in reality a demon from hell) saves the Professor and they escape with the information about the Nazi experiments. Why she is saving the Professor is an unknown and what we will eventually learn as it ties into to today has also yet to be revealed. Paul Azaceta’s work is solid and I enjoy his style, but the heavy darkness of the colors mutes a lot of his work, perhaps on purpose and he is playing into it, but I would like to be able to discern more of his actual art at times.
Wolverine #63 – Writer Jason Aaron, Art Ron Garney, Color Jason Keith. One of the best things is to watch artists grow and change over time and Ron Garney has really been working on learning to get better or at least change his style a little bit. His pencil and ink work on this book is really top notch. So many artists hit a plateau and then coast, but it is enjoyable to watch some artist continue to try and learn. For Ron it is paying off and the style he is using suits this Wolverine adventure to a “T”. The actual story of Wolverine chasing Mystique is also a strong one. For me to continue following any Wolverine story anymore you know it has to be above average to say the least. I like how we are getting the back story of Wolverine relationship with Mystique at the same time he is chasing her down today. My favorite bit was when Mystique asks why are they intent on making her pay this time, when she has betrayed the X-Men before. This is a very valid question that goes to the heart of the matter that the X-Men should not be assassins.
Booster Gold #7 – Writer Geoff Johns & Jeff Katz, Pencils Dan Jurgens, Inks Norm Rapmund, Colors Hi-Fi. After Booster saves Ted we now see that the entire time stream has changed. Maxwell Lord has Superman in his control and has started to take control of the world. The inevitability that Ted has to die to make things right seems to be playing out in this book. Even if that is what happens, I think that would just cement Ted’s position of being a true hero. This book has so much else going on that it is a joy to read every month. So many comics have nothing happening for months and Booster is always moving and has great sub plots to go along with the main story.
Goon #22 – Art and Story by Eric Powell, Colors Dave Stewart. Eric walks a fine line with this book as he is building dramatic tension with the long story he is building, but he still manages to keep the humor in the book. For the most part the humor is left behind as we see a growing menace is coming together. The Zombie priest is now a punching bag and is serving to provide information to the new Priest who has come to down. Eric’s art continues to improve and has an unmistakable style that no one else in the business can match. This issue was great to look at, but was more set-up then anything else.
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Green Arrow / Black Canary # 6 – Writer Judd Winick , Art Cliff Chiang, Colors David Baron. This was the slowest issue of the series so far as Ollie and Dinah are tracking down leads on who has Connor and who shot him. Now a slow issue of this book has twice the content and actual plot movement of many other books. Then we have the chase scene where this specialized ship is after GA and Canary. They take the ship down and then go to grille the pilots for information on Conner and …. Well in case you haven’t read it I will not give it away, but another great cliff hanger ending.
X-Factor #29 – Writer Peter David, Pencil Valentine DeLandro, Inks Andrew Hennessy, Colors Jeremy Cox- First off, who the heck is this pencil artist? I read a lot of books and try to pay attention to the credits and I have missed this person. There art was excellent, especially for someone who I have never seen before. Still I wish X-Factor could keep one artist for at least a few months at a time. This issue the team continues to fall apart and at the same time Arcade attacks that at the behest of an unrevealed enemy. This was another solid issue in a series that has been consistently one of Marvel’s best books. The best part was the continuing efforts of Siryn trying to Jamie she is pregnant with his child.
Thunderbolts #199 – Writer Warren Ellis, Art Mike Deodato Jr., Colors Rain Berdo. Mike Deodato’s new style that he has used on Thunderbolts is really well done and has a highly realistic edge to it, with more gravitas then his older work. The actual story itself is interesting as a group of telepaths have allowed them selves to be captured as super villains and are taking over the base. Venom is in their control and Swordsman and the rest are also being influenced by them. The battle between Venom and Swordsman was well done and I’m sure Venom is not dead. The problem is the delays between issues are really slowing the pacing of this story and it is screaming to buy it as a trade.
The Foundation #3 (of 5)- Writer John Rozum, Art Chee, Colors Pablo Quiligotti. What I really enjoy about this book is that each issue takes you away from what you think was going to happen. It seems like it is a straight forward mission where The Foundation is going to stop someone from poisoning the water supply. More agents then normal are all over the place covering possible sites that would be poisoned. Instead of saving the day and foiling the plot the agents are being slaughter for reasons unknown. It appears it was all a ploy to get them out in the open. The main character Valentine is still alive as we end this issue. Chee’s art work is solid, the his ability to lay out and tell a story, but his actual drawing seems to be rushed a little as it does not appears as strong as some of Chee’s other efforts, still a solid job.
Screamland #1 (of 5) – Writer Harold Sipe, Art by Hector Casanova. This is a great beginning to what has the promise of being a very funny mini-series. The premise is Frankenstein’s monster is now a washed up ex-movie star with a drinking problem. His agent has procured a job offer for him Dracula, Wolf-Man and the Mummy to be the protagonists for a new movie based on a manga comic called Monsterhunter 3000. The art has that right light touch to it and the story has lots of humor with enough of a story to have you invest in the characters. Check this series out.
Countdown to Mystery #6 (of 8) – Eclipso – Writer Matthew Sturges, Art Stephen Jorge Segovia Color Lee Louhridge – I have to say that this two feature book is one of the best buys on the racks as you get 38 pages for only $4 and both features are good. In Eclipso you have Bruce Gordon back as Eclipso, Eclipso tainting a bunch of DC heroes, the Spectre working with Bruce to try and stop Eclipso and the ghost of the bad guy Will Hanson gathering other ghost to go after the Spectre. A lot of moving parts, but it has been done well and the status quo for a bunch of characters is being affected. Dr. Fate – Writer Steve Gerber, Pencils Justiniano, Inks Walden Wong, Colors Chris Chuckry. This has been such a nice series showing the evolution of a hero. It is especially cool because the hero is an adult who has hit rock bottom and now been thrust into a role and world he does not understand. Watching Kent Nelson try and cope with this has been great. At the end of this issue he quits again, which makes so much sense and is what almost anyone else would do if put in that situation. I’m very sorry that Steve Gerber will not be able to finish this series as he died before completing it.
Bat Lash #4 (of 6) – Writers Peter Brandvold & Sergio Aragones, Art John Severin, Colors Steve Buccellato – This was another very good issue of this mini-series. I cannot over emphasis how much John Severin’s art brings to this book. His realistic style has grittiness to it that suit western, war stories and other more realistic type genres. The faces of the characters show a great range of emotion and the characters stay who they are from any angle you know who you are looking at. The man is an artist’s artist. The story is a proto typical western, but told so well that it doesn’t matter. This issue Bat’s family gets killed and he is unable to save them, but escapes the bad guys, saves an Indian friend and swears vengeance at his parent’s grave.
Mighty Avengers #10 – Writer Brian Bendis, Art Maek Bagley, Inks Danny Miki & Crimelabs and Allen Martinez, Colors Justin Ponsor. The best issue of Mighty Avengers to date, which is faint praise, but it was fun. Sentry, Iron Man and Doctor Doom are all transported back in time. The comic itself was also transported back in time with the old four color dot coloring look, the madcap nicknames for creators and the one line of text advertising other Marvel books along the bottom of each page. All in needed was to use newsprint paper and the effect would have been complete. Iron Man and Doctor Doom realize they have to work together to get home and use Sentry to get to the time machine in the Baxter Building. Doom sends them back home, but only Iron Man and Sentry show back up in today’s time when a mega-explosion goes off. It appears Iron Man has been killed, which cracked me up as they just “killed him” in his book and you know this is one character who cannot die right now as he is in almost every damn Marvel book published.
Simon Dark #6 – Writer Steve Niles, Art Scott Hampton Colors Chris Chuckry. This book is getting way more complex then I ever thought it would be. We find out that Simon is a creature of science and magic. We also know that there are a lot of strange groups that are fighting each other and how Simon fits into the entire picture has not sunk in for me yet. The art is so well done and the look and feel that Scott has accomplished makes this book a unique one in the market place. While the book is set in the DCU there has been no indication of that in the actual series.
Salvation Run #5 (of 7) – Writer Matthew Sturges, Pencils Joe Bennett, Inks Belardino Brabo. Colors John Kaliz. Joe Bennett is one heck of pencil artist for super hero books and he also seems to be the pinch hit specialist as I see his name popping up on all sorts of DC books. This issue a lot of things come to a head as the Joker attacks Lex’s camp. Lex’s tries to set up Catwoman and she rats out J’onn J’onzz. The villains unite to kick J’onn’s butt and all is being watched by Desaad, who has a batch of new parademons he is now ready to test against the villains. This series has been uneven, but the last two issues and have been good and I’m now really looking forward to how this all concludes.
Gotham Underground #6 (of 9) – Writer Frank Tieri, Pencils Jim Califore, Inks Jack Purcell w/Mark McKenna, Colors Brian Reber. This was another good issue in what is a very solid mini-series. The White Shark got the crap kicked out of him by Bane. The White Shark was never used as the crime kingpin he was set up to be, but at least we see why it never happened. Bruce finally gets out of prison, Dick gets shot, the Penguin and Tobias Whale go to war. This was a well done middle chapter in this mini-series. I am very curious to see how this play out in the final three chapters.
Nova #11 – Writers Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, Pencils Paul Pelletier, Inker Rick Magyar, Colors Gure eFX. This issue we get a surprise (at least to me) guest star of Warlock from the New Mutants. This character was always a bizarre addition to the New Mutants, but is a logical addition to fighting a techno organic virus. At the end of this issue a mature Technarch has been summoned to the planet Rich and Warlock are on and that is a bad thing. At this point I have grown tired of Nova constantly fighting this virus and not making any headway. It feels like the entire Nova series has been put on hold as we await the end of Annihilation Conquest. Nova is the center piece of Marvel’s space books, to keep him out of Conquest and marginalize his own series has been a mistake in my opinion.
Annihilation Conquest # 5 (of 6) – Writers Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, Pencils Tom Raney, Inks Scott Hanna, Colors Frank D’Armata. This was a good issue. The entire Phalanx / Ultron thing was explained with great satisfaction. Ultron taking over Adam Warlock’s body, the High Evolutionary’s attitude, Star Lord’s crew attacking the Babel Spire, Ronan releasing the Sentry Army was all effectively done. The mini-series is working out very well, pulling together what appeared to be almost separate story lines and making it all tie together in a logical (comic logic) fashion.
JLA Classified #54 – Writer Roger Stern, Pencils John Byrne, Inks Mark Farmer, Colors Allen Passalaqua. The final issue of JLA Classified ends on a positive note. This arc by Stern/Byrne/Farmer has been very enjoyable. In this issue we get a two for one deal as we see how the JLA defeated Titus in years past and how a more recent team defeated him again. The one thing that was done which I am not a big fan of is that the two story lines were run with the older story as the top half of the page and the more current story on the bottom half of the page. I find it distracting to have to read both stories at essentially the same time. I understand that we are emphasizing how the battles parallel each other, but it is a technique I have seldom enjoyed. On one hand I hate to see this series end as most arcs have been very enjoyable, but on the other hand if an artist/writer team has a great JLA story to tell just run it as a mini-series.
Astounding Wolf-Man #5 – Writer Robert Kirkman, Art Jason Howard. This series is moving along at a snails pace. The bi-monthly schedule just absolutely slows the story to a crawl. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that most of Kirkman’s books need a few issues to really get you into the crux of what the series is going to be about. This issue we see Wolf-Man establish himself as one of the good guys and he is offered a job on the night shift by Capes. We also see that he wants to pursue the Elder who turned him into a werewolf to find out why he was chosen. Plus we see his daughter learn that once a month Dad cannot control the werewolf side and he has to remain locked down. (You think they would have let the girl know that so she didn’t have to discover that on her own.) As I said all very interesting and certainly giving us a lot to ponder, but when you read as much as I do that two month lag is a killer. Jason Howard’s style is growing on me and I also think he is becoming a better artist.
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Superman #674 – Writer Kurt Busiek, Pencils Renato Guedes, Inks Jose Wilson Magalhaes, Colors David Curiel. This issue was a little bit of everything. We see the new apartment for the Kents, we see Superman working on a cure for Mon-el and we see Paragon fight Superman. All in all a decent issue, but a lot of set-up, especially as this is Kurt’s second to last issue. The new art team was inconsistent. Renato Guedes has a non traditional super hero style that was at times extremely effective and at times a little inconsistent. Still it is his first issue and he has to have time to get familiar with the characters.
Wonder Woman #18 – Writer Gail Simone, Art Bernard Chang, Colors I.L.L. - I have not seen Bernard Chang’s art work in a long time and it looks a lot different from the “Second Life of Doctor Mirage”. It has more of a cartoon feel to it and has lost some of his realism, it was okay, and maybe I feel worse about it as my expectations were taken off guard. The same can be said for the story itself. Wonder Woman goes to Tom and starts courting him. The Khunds appear out of nowhere and take Wonder Woman away and have apparently set her up against a Green Lantern. The Khunds also brought Etta Candy along and she acts as WW’s sidekick. It was an okay issue, it is just that this book is not really hitting on all cylinders for me at this time. I have high expectations for Gail, so it makes it tougher going in.
Green Lantern Corps #22- Writer Sterling Gates, Pencils Nelson, Inks Nelson, Derek Friddles, Rob Hunter, Colors Guy Major. This was an interesting wrap up to the sage of Boodikka, who is now an Alpha Lantern. The Guardians are becoming a scary group of guys and it seems like it will be impossible for Hal to support them in whatever their ultimate end game will be.
Grimm Fairy Tales #24 – Created & Story by Joe Tyler and Ralph Tedesco, Writer Raven Gregory, Pencils Kris Carter, Colors Nei Ruffino, Gary Henderson & Ann Dogada. Well they wrapped up the entire Belinda/Sela sage by having Sela sacrifice herself to save the girl who Belinda had captured. Belinda then kills Sela and Samantha (the captive) is free to go back to the real world. A shocking ending to the whole sage and I’m curious as to what happens next. This issue the art really fell off the rails. The art is usually competent and survives by drawing sexy woman and high production values on the coloring side. This issue the art was very weak and inconsistent. Still in having said that, I have certainly seen art work of lesser quality. I still do not know why this book has become weekly, but another issue is on next week’s list.
Fantastic Four #555 – Writer Mark Millar, Pencils Bryan Hitch, Inks Bryan Hitch and Paul Neary, Colors Paul Mounts. I was hoping to really enjoy this issue, but it really fell apart almost right from the cover. The cover depicts everyone escaping to the nu-world being built, but that never happens. Instead we get a flashback that is a one page splash of Alyssa’s face (Reed’s old flame). Then we have an exchange where she tells why she and Reed cannot have a relationship. Cut to now and we see a huge close up of Reed’s face as he is excited over nu-world. Then we get to have a tour of the new planet as we hear Mark Miller’s leftist propaganda about no weapons, but graffiti was left on the streets. They have designed a ‘cap” to keep people from making armies or nuclear weapons, police will exist in a social support capacity (I’m gagging typing the words), a “world bank AI” is created the economy going great for a thousand years. This project is so vast and on such a grand scale and has such astronomical costs, that all this was going on without Reed knowing is inane. Also with all this super science they can’t fix the Earth’s problems because we have already ruined everything? It makes no sense even inside of a comic book story. This is Millar at his knee jerk left wing best. The Earth is doomed, but we can make a better world with no guns and everything will be just peachy-keen. Cut to the Human Torch who is all of a sudden wants to be a rock star and is filming his attempt to be one as a reality show. He oversleeps by two hours (I guess he must be about 22 in this comic) and on his way to the filming stops a robbery. The female super villain is this young sexy girl who all of a sudden stops fighting to start making out with Johnny because he is so great looking. Even Hitch’s art cannot save this book and I don’t like his redesign of Reed anyway. I’ll hang in a couple more issues, but I may be off this book real soon.
Gutsville #3 (of 6) – Writer Simon Spurrier, Art Frazer Irving. Wow the long, long gap between issues did nothing to help this book, which is a weird premise anyway. Still I like Frazer Irving’s unique art style, so I plowed back into this story and just read through it. I’m sure I have lost a good deal of the story, but the basics are two warring fractions are fighting it out for power. Will they escape the belly of the giant monster fish or will they remain hopeless trapped generation after generation. If you have skipped this book, it is hard for me to get back into it, so maybe wait for the trade.
Countdown to Final Crisis #7 – Head Writer Paul Dini with Adam Beechen, Story Consultant Keith Giffen, Pencils Thomas Derenicl, Inks Wayne Faucher, Colors Pete Pantazis – 6,5,4,3,2,1 – Yeah it is over. Happy New Year, oops wrong countdown. This issue our erstwhile group thinks they are home, but they are on a similar Earth, but not their world. Battles ensure with the JLA of that world and Karate Kid apparently finally dies. Yawn! The art feels rushed, the story is just treading water and no real resolutions. I’ll follow it to the bitter end, but for no real good reason.
The Last Defenders #1 (of 6) – Writer / Co-plotter Joe Casey, Breakdowns/Co-Ploy Keith Giffen, Pencils Jim Muniz, Inks Cam Smith, Colors Antonio Fabela – I guess the Nighthawk character as the leader gave it a connection to the Defenders, but this book did not work for me. I’m very tired of all the “Initiative” crap and hate the soft fascist country America has become in the Marvel Universe, possibly because it is too close to what has happen in the Fatherland err – I mean Homeland. With Giffen doing breakdowns, the book was laid out well land very dynamic, but the actual pencils were too blocky for my taste. The way the characters felt was off and the actual team was random as heck. Finally the story jumped all over and had way too many moving parts.
Cancelled.

The independent comics ruled the top of the charts this week and it is cool to see that happen on occasion. Of course I control what goes where, but I try to be as objective as possible and let whatever is good rise to the top.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for all the wonderful Atomic Robo reviews! I believe I met your daughter at MegaCon recently? That might have been the Geek of Doom guy though -I was a little overwhelmed by everyone. :)

    Anyway, we look forward to getting Vol.2 in your hands this summer. In the mean time don't forget to check out the FCBD book we are doing.

    -Scott

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  2. You did meet my daughter. She enjoyed meeting you.

    No problem on the reviews, this really is a great series and you guys deserve whatever kudos you receive.

    Looking forward to volume 2.

    ReplyDelete