Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Best to Worst of Last Week

This is the first week since I have being doing this post where I did not have any best book candidates coming into writing this post. Nothing jumped out as being the best book this week, but since Gwen thought my best book choice was wrong last week, I guess it doesn’t really matter. This is the culmination of what has been to me a three week lull in comics. I’m not saying that the books have been bad, just missing that absolute winner like the last issue of All Star Superman or other books have been this year. On the flip side I find that this week had very few poor books also.

Proof #7 – Writer Alexander Grecian, Art Riley Rossmo, Colors Fiona Staples. The best issue of the series so far and I have really enjoyed this series (although it is a little derivative of Perhapanauts). This issue Elvis, Ginger, Proof and Autumn arrive in the Congo. Autumn is in charge of getting everything coordinated and Proof, Elvis and Ginger head for the hotel. They are immediately ambushed and they have to split up. They are confused as to how they are found so fast and we find out Autumn is a traitor. Ginger and Elvis find the dinosaur and Proof is captured and is to be the main course at dinner. This issue moved at a breakneck pace, yet still managed to move the characters forward. Of special interest was to see Proof lose it after being shot and just how savage he can be. The writer Alex was defending criticism of his artist in the back material and stated how much work the artist puts into it, yet some people have called it sloppy. I like the art as the layouts and story telling are well done, but it does seem like there is a group of artists who like to either leave their initial line work on the paper or add the scraggily lines as an effect. Personally that usually does not work for and it can detract from an otherwise fine art job. The bottom line on this book is the creators are doing a great job with it and the book feels like a winner.
Crawl Space #4 Xxxombies (Part 4 of 4) – Writer Rick Remender, Art Kieron Dwyer, Story Rick Remender, Tony Moore & Kieron Dwyer, Colors Lee Loughridge. This book was true to its spirit from beginning to end, by mixing a Zombie plague and porn starts with a revenge movie thrown in just for good measure. It is pointless to talk about the plot because while there is a story it really doesn’t matter, this book is about to see how over the top and gross out they can be and they succeed on a level that justifies the “XXX” status of this book. You can just imagine a group of guys in full “guy” mode giving in to the worse clich├ęs possible and anything that involves sex goes. One thing they should do is put a mature readers label on this book to provide protection from some store owner getting sued if “little Johnny or Susie” open up this book and saw any of the material. All in all a funny book in a gross-out over the top way. I can’t wait to see the next arc, which is called “Army of Frankenstein.”
Legion of Super Heroes #41 – Writer Jim Shooter, Pencils Aaron Lopresti, Inks Matt Ryan, Colors Jo Smith. This issue a lot happened and yet nothing happened, it was a very good issue. I know that statement may not make sense but Shooter has so many moving parts going on and he is making it all work and look easy. We learned more about the menace of the Destroyers and the fact that they are being sent to destroy all life. We find out Rimbor is being menaced by them. Invisible Kid is caught spying for Brainiac as the UP is trying to dissect a Destroyer. The UP is forming their own group as an obvious counter to the Legion; Princess Projector is having major problems, Saturn Girl’s mother shows up and gives her information on what is happening with the UP and more and more bits. Large group books are very hard to do, but Shooter is doing it right and the Legion is a book that is on the rise. The plot moves forward, lots of character bits, but nothing major really happens. One of the best middle chapters I have read in a long time.
Hercules : The Thracian Wars #1 (of 5) – Writer Steve Moore, Art Admira Wijaya, Colors Imaginary Friends Studio. My review of this book can be seen
here. Usually after reading a PDF review file, when I get the actual book I page through it and enjoy the artwork as I have already read the story. This comic I actually sat down and gave it a second reading and probably read it a little slower. First off the actual book is done in the prestige format, so the comic has a real spine to it. Everything about how this company speaks quality. The re-read of the book made me like it even more. Hercules is a mythic figure and we are seeing him as he “really was” during his life. At least that is the take I’m getting from reading it, Hercules as he may have existed and who the stories grew up around him. The writing is well done, the art has that a realistic barbarian quality and the coloring is appropriately dark and moody. This is a great first issue and I’m looking forward to the next four issues.
JSA Classified #37 –Writer B. Clay Moore, Art Ramon Perez, Colors Dave McCaig. I really enjoyed this Wildcat story. This issue Ted and Selina break up a ring of thugs who were being trained in Ted’s old gym. Ted comes to the realization that there is still a need for Wildcat with or without the JSA as Wildcat looks after even low level street crime that is really beneath the notice of the JSA when they are saving the world. I realize how much I enjoy Ted Grant and would like to see a maxi-series explore his life. I have also liked Batman because he is human, but with all his money and gadgets he is removed from us, Ted is an ex-heavy weight champ, but he is nothing but a regular guy doing what he can do.
Teen Titans #58 – Writer Sean McKeever, Pencils Carlos Rodriquez, Inks Bit, Rebecca Buchman, Jimmy Palmiotti, Colors Rod Reis. This series has picked up a lot since the “Terror Titans” story line has started. One of the problems with the Titans is the three members who I did not know were never given enough of a spotlight, so I did not have a handle these characters and therefore had no vested interest in them. The first three issues of this story arc have resolved that problem by focusing on Kid Devil, then Ravager and now Ms. Martian. I now have a better felling about each one of these characters and therefore can be actually upset to see what has happened to Eddie (Kid Devil) and now Megan Morse (Ms. Martian). This issue we see Ms. Martian wrestling with her future self who has basically become a split personality of Megan’s. Then we see Disruptor (a Terror Titan member) attack Megan and wreck the new life she had just started to establish. She is captured and then Eddie appears and Eddie looks like crap, he looks like he is dangerous and will possible hurt Megan. The Teen Titans is moving up the charts for me and this last arc with Dan Didio as editor has been very good. Seeing this book and the plans DC has for 08 and 09 I may have to just assume it took Dan Didio a little time to get it right and now seems to have DC going in some exciting directions on many fronts.
Helen Killer #1 (of 4) – Writer Andrew Kreisberg, Art Matthew JLD Rice. See our review of this book
here. I very seldom do second reads of comics due to time constraints, but this was not a big week, so I had the chance to re-read Helen Killer and I think it is even better then second time around. I have read some criticisms of the book because the reviewer thought it is not the best idea to take Helen Keller and turn her into a super-hero. What strikes me is odd how can anyone who reads super-hero books make that statement. Any super-hero concept by definition could be called dumb or whatever, but when we suspend our disbelief and enter into a fictional world does it work with inside of that premise? Here the answer is YES! The first issue starts off what looks to be a very good mini-series and if your store did not order it, make them put in a re-order for you.
Immortal Iron Fist #14 – Writers Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker, Pencils Tonci Zonjic, Clay Mann, Kano, Inks Stefano Gaudiano, Colors Matt Hollingsworth. The Seven Capital Cities of Heaven story line comes to a close. It all felt wrapped up a little quick with all the story lines and plot points being tied up faster then a kung-fu kick. I also missed Aja’s art work, but the main pencil artist had a light line and was similar enough in style as to not be off-putting. My favorite scene and most improbable was Danny attacking the train loaded with “enough raw explosives to make Hiroshima look like a sparkler”. He basically activates the “Iron Fist” and punches the train that explodes in a massive ball of flame, but Danny is okay. Needless to say, Danny and the other weapons save the day, the evil ruler of K’un-LUn is disposed and Lei Kung takes over as ruler, Davos does a mea culpa and all the weapons stay on Earth. All in all a decent story, just that after the actual story was way too long and convoluted, the actual ending was almost rushed.
Noble Causes #33 – Writer Jay Faeber, Art Yildiray Cinar, Colors Ryan Vera. I can’t tell you how great it is to get the next issue of this book so quickly after the last issue. It helps to solidify who these characters are and to keep me into the story line. Not that I’m 100% vested, but they weren’t kidding when they said 32 was a good jumping on point for new readers. This issue we see that Frost, while accepted as a family member is still under suspicion by many of the family members. No matter how much good he does his past still lingers and creates an undercurrent of distrust with others of the family. So when Surge’s new girl friend (who is a plant by some enemy) gets rejected as she tries to come onto Frost to, she just rips off her blouse and screams rape. Surge burst into the room and accepts that Frost would do this and starts to battle him. During the battle the “girl friend” grabs a weapon and apparently kills Frost. As I said I’m really starting to get into this series and hope to take some time and read the early adventures in trade.
New Avengers #40 – Writer Brian Bendis, Pencils Jim Cheung, Inks John Dell, Colors Justin Ponsor. This was another good issue in the Secret Invasion saga. Bendis is doing a great job in filling in back story for the invasion using both Avenger books. The books have nothing to do with the Avengers, but so far I could care less. This issue we learn when the Skrulls started to put this plan together and why. We then see years past by and watch as they experiment on how to make a perfect replicate to place on Earth. We also learn that there is a religious element to why they want to conquer. Finally we learn that Spider Woman is a skrull. Of course everything is fast and loose on specific timeframes, so who knows what exactly happened when but it is an entertaining read and some very strong art work from Jim Cheung. If the rest of this event is as entertaining I would enjoy an Omnibus size book collection of the Avengers, New Avengers and Secret Invasion mini-series. I think this story is going to be a lot of fun, but I also have a major concern that it could screw up some characters long term continuity and if done wrong (see Amazing Spider-Man) it could make a character or title radioactive for me (which can last anywhere from six months to five years before I try that character again). As a summer blockbuster popcorn movie, the opening 15 minutes has been very entertaining. The one bad point the art on the two Avengers books outstrips the art on Secret Invasion.
Local #11 (of 12) – Writer Brian Wood, Art Ryan Kelly. This is another solid issue in this series. This issue we are in Toronto and we find Megan working for a publisher. A young co-worker steals objects from Megan and uses them in an avant-garde art show. For us it serves as a reminder of past issues of the events in Megan’s life that we have shared. It also allows us to see how much Megan has grown and that she is now more of an adult. This is an interesting series and hard to describe because it is such a quick and easy read, but it belays the impact the book has on you from an emotional level. I find that I really root for Megan and look forward to the final issue and hope Megan can finally put down roots and a build a life. Since I moved around a lot for a few years I have a feel for her vagabond existence, but mine came with my job at the time and I was older then Megan. Ryan Kelly’s story telling does nothing but improve and his artwork has grown over the couple of years this book has been coming out.
Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters #8 (of 8) – Writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, Art Renato Arlem, Colors Alex Bleyaert. A good ending for this series as the Freedom Fighters take out the hive ships in a nice battle. What was surprising was that was only the first half of the book. The rest of the book was showing us how the group has all gone onto their lives and we end with Sam and Black Condor talking. Uncle Sam says he knows everyone needs to have a life and when the need arises they will come back together again. I would still like to see an ongoing series with this group as they introduced or revamped more characters in eight issues then most books die to five years.
Black Summer #6 (of 7) – Writer Warren Ellis, Art Juan Jose Ryp, Colors Mark Sweeney and Greg Waller. This issue was late and once you open it up and read through it you now why, Juan Jose Ryp puts an insane amount of detail in his work and the book looks great. The fight scenes are outrageous and the quieter scenes are done just as well, This issue we see the back story that John Horus had been working in secret for additional enhancements and would not share the information with anyone else. In real time John sees that his plan is not going the way he hoped it would and this issue ends with the new “guns” created by Frank coming to attack John. I’m enjoying this series a lot and will get the trade or hard cover if one is offered, but I wish it got more into the politics of this situation and not as much on the battles.
Jack of Fables #22 – Writers Matthew Sturges and Bill Willingham, Pencils Tony Akins, Inks Andrew Pepoy. This was a terrific issue of Jack of Fables. It jumps back into time when Jack is the head of a gang in the Old West and he is robbing and murdering people. No one can stop this gang, until what appears to be an out of place man from the East arrives in town named Bigby. Bigby rides out with a talking Fabletown house and tracks Jack and his gang down and is immediately shot down in cold blood. Of course we know that Bigby did not die and he will be ticked off now and should be hunting Jack down in wolf form next issue. I was fast losing interest in this book and this tale of Jack’s past was a perfect way to revive my interest in the book and guest starting Bigby never hurts.
Abyss #4 (of 4) – Writer Kevin Rubio, Pencils Lucas Marangon, Inks Nick Schley, Colors Andrew Dalhouse. Out of Red 5’s first three books, this was the one I was iffy on with issue #1, but as we draw to a close on what I hope is just the first mini-series, I now find myself wanting to read a lot more about this character. It is tongue in cheek and is making fun of all the super hero conventions (used with both meanings this issue) and yet is dramatic enough to make you care about the characters. That is one hell of a tightrope to walk and this series has done it. After the entire story around who is Eric’s father (he was the Abyss) this issue we are left with who the heck is his mother. I HOPE WE ARE GETTING A SECOND MINI-SERIES. I’m screaming so Paul Ens and company can here my request.
Green Lantern #30 – Writer Geoff Johns, Pencils Ivan Reis, Inks Oclair Albert, Colors Ranov Major. This issue is Part 2 of the updated Green Lantern origin and we get a little political correctness going on as Hal defends Tom Kalmaku from being called Pieface. In all fairness this was a good change as “Pieface” in hindsight and with today’s sensibilities was a racial slur. This issue we see Hal get the ring, and we see Carol Ferris show up to buy the airplane company where Hal is working as a mechanic. Ivan Reis just gets better and better, there was a great one page panel where Carol shows up and a great two page spread when Hal is brought to a dying Abin Sur. Green Lantern is one of DC top series now and Johns is having a definitive run on this book.
Daredevil Blood of the Tarantula – Writer Ed Brubaker & Andre Parks, Script Andre Parks Art Chris Samnee, Colors Matt Hollingsworth. Why doesn’t Marvel just launch a Tarantula mini-series? Trying to keep this series tied into Daredevil really makes no sense to me, the story is about Tarantula. It was a good issue, especially since I have no clue who this character is or what type of background he has. This issue we learn that his family and gang from Argentina will never leave him alone and he will have to be watchful forever. Daredevil’s role in the story was superfluous and almost detracted from the story of Carlos and what is happening in his life. One thing that I was surprised at is the healing level this character apparently has, it appears to be only a notch below Wolverine and if he is that powerful why was he a “D” class villain? A minor quibble as any revamp or attempt to make a minor player into a stand alone character involves some fast and loose work on a writer’s part. Chris Samnee’s art has a Michael Lark look to it and with the coloring it is almost a house style that is used on Brubaker’s street level books. All in all a very good story and I now want the Tarantula mini-series or ongoing series with Ed Bru at the helm of the book.
Caliber #1 (of 5) – See my full review
here. I did not get a chance to re-read this issue before this post had to be concluded, but needless to say this is another excellent book. I think first books from a publisher are very important in establishing what type of company you are going to be and Radical has shown that quality is going to be a big element in their company. From the actual presentation of the product (prestige format) to the stories they have chosen and the art work on their books.
Action Comics #864 – Writer Geoff Johns, Pencils Joe Prado, Inks Jon Sibal, Colors David Curiel. I’m really enjoying this second Legion of Super Heroes book. Sarcasm aside I thought this issue was where Superman starts to get back to more of a real life, but instead it was a nice little epilogue to the last Legion story and a prelude to the Legion of Three Worlds story line coming up. There is a part of me that gets irked by the pick and choose nature of how they use prior continuity, but a bigger part just enjoys it as long as they did a solid and entertaining story. The basics of the story were the unknown (until the last page) narrator talking about Superman as Batman comes to see Superman about two dead Legion members in his city. When Batman arrives Lighting Lad (?) is with Superman. The dead members are Karate Kid and Duo Damsel, the narrator is Time Trapper. The menace lays hanging in the air. Joes Prado did a nice job as a fill in artist for this issue and as a bridge between the two Legion stories it filled the bill. Of course the continuity part of me is still confused as this Legion’s Karate Kid died in a battle with Nemesis Kid.
DC Universe Zero – Writers Grant Morrison and Geoff Johns, Pencils George Perez, Doug Mahnke, Tony Daniel, Ivan Reis, Aaron Lopresti, Philip Tan, Ed Benes, Carlos Pacheo, JG Jones, Inks Scott Koblish, Christian Alamay, Tony Daniel, Oclair Albert, Matt Ryan, Jeff De Los Santos, Ed Benes, Jesus Merino, JG Jones, Colors Alex Sinclair, Tom Smith, David Baron. The online reaction has been unreal, some people complaining about the book being nothing but an ad, people going nuts over the return of Barry Allen (who does not actually officially show up in this book) and many others loving the book. I read someone talked about the free Secret Invasion book and said DC should have made this free. The problem with a totally free book (and at 50 cents it is almost free) is that some fans (me) ignore it and I missed out on the Marvel book. Charging 50 cents makes you decide to at least pay attention to it. Was this a trailer for all the plans that DC has going on – yes, was it worth 50 cents – HECK YES! After pay $3 a week for Countdown and for other comics where a middle chapter of a mega story arc nothing happens (Captain America) this books was an exciting taste of what is to come. I’m totally jazzed for the rest of the year from DC, Final Crisis, the Legion tie-in, Black Night Prelude, Batman RIP, Revelations and even Wonder Woman’s story “Whom the Gods Forsake” looks good. I’m a big DC fan so going in I was predisposed to like it, but DC has plan for almost ever major character and the story lines will remain within those comics. Yes Final Crisis has two or three mini-series, but you can pass on those, the other stories stay within their own books and Trinity is its own animal. I love a lot of the independents, but still enjoy the super hero stuff and DC looks to finally have a winning plan after thrashing around for the last couple of years and being hit or miss. As for Barry Allen coming back, hints have been thrown around for years and who says he is back for good, let’s see what the story is and judge it on its own merits. If Barry comes back and moves into Central City and every thing is just status quo then no that would be crap, but I don’t think Morrison would have that as his idea and with Johns involved I doubt it also. NOTE: This book is almost impossible to place at it really served a different purpose.
X-Men Legacy #210 – Writer Mike Carey, Pencils Scot Eaton and Greg Land, Inks John Dell , Andrew Hennessy and Jay Leister, Colros Frank D’Armata & Brian Reber. After really wondering what this story was going to be, I enjoyed how this issue went and think Mike Carey has done a good job. Professor X and Exodus have a battle in the mindscape and Exodus reminds Professor X of all his failures. In the end Professor X prevails and tells Exodus to stand down or he will permanently remove his powers. Exodus surprises Professor X with asking him to lead the Acolytes as he hopes Professor X now understands what must be done to protect the mutant population. Professor X leaves. After leaving with Sentinel and Magneto he tells Sentinel that the old Professor X has died and he goes off searching for others who knew him to fill in the gaps in his memories. Then we get two epilogues, one teasing a Rogue story and one showing us the new Hellfire Club. The funny thing is I’m still not sure where all this is going. Plus I get the feeling that we are supposed to be following more X-Books then I’m following and I’m not going to buy X-Force and Cable. If I have to buy those plus X-Men, Uncanny and Young X-Men to understand what is going on I’ll drop all of them. I don’t mind buying Secret Invasion and both Avengers books to get the whole of a major event, but it seems like to get the full gist of the X-Men stories Marvel wants you to buy all of the titles and I’m only committed to X-Men, Uncanny, Astonishing and Young and that should be enough.
Atlantis Rising #5 (of 5) – Writer Scott O. Brown, Art Time Irwin, Colors Andrew Elder. One of the things that I repeat about mini-series and mega events is that the ending usually makes or breaks it. It this case the ending saved the book. Atlantis is attacking Earth and it appears to be going badly for the USA where the attack is occurring. We hear the Russians have given bombs to our enemies and they will be launching these massive bombs soon. The Russians were playing the Atlantians and the bombs are rigged and they explode in Atlantis and destroy the city. Since almost all the stories of Atlantis that I have read over the years always makes Atlantis to be one large city state, you think game over. The book continues for two pages and the captions read “Atlantis is not a city, it is not a country, it is over two dozen countries and you dropped a bomb on one capital. We are billions and now we are united.” That sold the concept to me. Also the writing on the book is decent. The dialogue is solid and it was an easy read. The problem with this series is the art. I know art is in the eye of the beholder, but I read a lot of comics and the art played against this story. Often I could not tell what was happening, I could not distinguish characters at times and the story telling ability was weak. I know I can’t draw, but Tim Irwin needs more time to develop his style before it is ready for publishing. Still I see potential in his work; it just needs a lot of work.
Grimm Fairy Tales the Piper #2 (of 4) – Writers Mike Kalvoda, Joe Brusha & Ralph Tedsco, Pencils Axel Medellin Machain, Colors Ann-Christin Pogoda and Nei Ruffino. The boy Sean had called for the Piper and the Piper is willing to grant his request for revenge against those who have done wrong in Sean’s mind. We then see the people who are responsible for Sean’s girl friend being in critical conditions being killed one by one in gruesome manner by the Piper. Sean’s parents also get him mad and he thinks they are being unfair and you can see that next issue must be where the Piper will go after them. Plus there is a price for the Piper’s services and we have yet to learn what that price maybe. Better then the opening issue and a good macabre twist on the Pied Piper.
Ultimate Human #4 (of 4) – Writer Warren Ellis, Art Cary Nord, Colors Dave Stewart An okay ending, but it felt rather ordinary and I expect more from Ellis and Nord. Stark and Banner are trapped, Stark sends a signal to Banner’s nanomachines that allows him to turn into the Hulk again. The Hulk is huge and just a bizarre muscle mass of a creature, who beats up a bunch of soldiers then beats the Leader to a pulp. A plane crashes on the Hulk and the Leader and the Hulk bounces off into the sunset. Cary’s art has been better and Ellis’ writing has been better. The book felt rushed and done just to get it done.
Glamourpuss #1 – Artist and Writer Dave Sim –This book was part satire, part self indulgence, part humor, part art history, part mad magazine and essentially a book that has no real identity. What I liked about it was the art history lesson I got about Al Williamson, it was somewhat over my head as Dave referred to specific techniques that an artist would be familiar with but I could only discern so much from what he was saying. It was very text heavy with small fonts, which caused me to skim read large portions of the book. Some of his humor was funny, but since he has a reputation as a misogynist I’m sure it will not be taken well by a segment of the comic population, but in fairness it was making fun of how some woman act and nothing else. The problem is I don’t think Sim knew what he wanted to do with this book and it appears he is trying to make a few bucks to indulge his whim for learning how to draw in a photo realistic manner. The art is good, the art history is fun, the rest is okay, and it just does not make a cohesive comic. I’m not sure it needs to, but it is something different to me and I have to decide if I want to continue on or drop it. I’ll be back for issue #2.
Teen Titans Year One #4 (of 6) – Writer Amy Wolfram, Pencils Karl Kerschl, Inks Serge Lapointe, Colors John Rauch. This issue read almost like I imagine a Johnny DC book would read. It read very young and I was done in no time at all. The story is the Teen Titans are asked to be on a TV show and Robin does not show. A bad guy attacks and takes out Wonder Girl, Aqua Lad and Kid Flash and Robin comes in and saves the day. Still a in the midst of all the angst and drama and many super hero titles, this book is okay for at least two more issues. If nothing else the artwork and portrayal of Aqua Lad as almost being a fish is too funny to pass up. I would call this a great all ages book and certainly should be a nice trade down the road.
Blue Beetle #26 – Writer Jai Nitz, Pencils Mike Norton, Inks Trevor Scott, Colors Guy Major. This issue was exactly what I expected it to be; a total waste of money for me as the issue was almost 100% done in Spanish. What the frell is the point of this stunt? I have heard it was so we could feel like Traci when she meets Jamie’s family, but I paid $3.50 and had to try and read it by flipping to the translation in the back pages and I had to pay 50 cents extra for the privileged to be robbed of a comic that I usually enjoy. This smacks of political correctness taken to the nth degree. Next we can have Martian Manhunter speak just Martian from now on and Superman just speaks his native tongue. Totally and unadulterated crap! Shame on DC for doing this, if you want to print this book in English and Spanish to reach out to the Hispanic population as a marketing tool, then fine, but don’t foster what feels like political correctness gone amok down my throat and then have the audacity to charge an extra 50 cents for a comic I can not read. Never again, next book that says Spanish Language Issue it stays on the rack at the comic store.

So Proof ended up as my number one book of the week, followed by Crawl Space. It was a surprise to me as I just went through my list and placed them as I saw it in reviewing everything I read this week. If I had Included Spark #1 that would have been high up on my list and given that I have read the first three issues it would have been pushing for the top. I’m really enjoying this book and you should bug your store to order it for you.

The flip side to my dilemma for what is Worst was also more of a fight then usually, but Blue Beetle filled the bill this week, not for story, but for political correctness gone amok.

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