This was a decent week, but nothing was an absolutely great best book, although a book I never got did make my the absolute bottom of my list. On weeks like this my opinion of what is the best book almost varies from time to time as I review the list. That makes the first week of June books what I have noticed historically and that is for whatever reason the first week of the month is usually the weakest of the month. What I did do this week is drop two maxi-series. Maxi-series (12 parts) are much easier for me to drop after a couple of issues. I’m unwilling to take a chance on them turning around down the road and dropping them saves $30 by not buying the next ten issues.
House of Mystery #2 – Main Story - Writer Matthew Sturges, Art Luca Rossi, Colors Lee Loughridge, Interior Story – Bill Willingham, Art Jill Thompson. This series is looking like it will be the next great Vertigo series. This issue we find out that Fig (the girl from last issue) is stuck in the House of Mystery. She says she is the architect who designed yet the house is very, very old. As the other trapped members of the house (that act as the staff) take her to her room and leave her off to bed she hears a voice saying “Hello Fig”. She replies “Hello, I was wondering when I would hear from you.” I’m totally pulled into this series, wanting answers for a ton of questions and wanting some of the mysteries to be revealed. The art by Luca Rossi is very well done and full of an amazing amount of detail. As guests at the House like to tell stories we also get a short story that gives us an unrelated tale. This issue we get the one about the world’s greatest process server who gets himself altered to deliver an undersea summons. This was a delightful and fanciful little fish story that was beautiful illustrated by Jill Thompson. The series is already a winner and joins the ranks as another terrific Vertigo series along with Fables, Scalped, Hellblazer and Northlanders. If Air and Madam Xandu are strong series also then Vertigo looks to be maintaining itself very well.
Jonah Hex #32 – Writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, Art Jordi Bernet, Colors Rob Schwager. I love this series and this issue was another excellent one. Jonah is in Mexico and a man wants to hire Hex to kill the Matador who stole his wife’s affections from him. Jonah refuses and the man captures Hex and leaves Jonah to be gored by a bull. The Matador saves Jonah and helps nurse him back to health. Jonah returns and kills the man who tried to hire him. It is a very straight forward story, but I love the characterization of Jonah. He will not be hired as an assassin, her turns down the Matador’s young sister who is trying to sleep with him, he refuses money from the Matador to kill the other man and after killing the bad guy, refuses the money from his abused wife. Jonah has a moral code and always sticks with it, he is a hard person, but he does have a code that he lives by. Jordi is a great artist and he brings Hex to life as the hard bitten anti-hero. Every issue with Bernet as artist we are guaranteed a great art job. Hex is the best western on the stands.
Noble Causes #34 – Writer Jay Faerber, Art Yildray, Colors Ryan Vera. This series is doing a terrific job of not only being accessible to a new reader jumping on when they said to jump on, but coming out monthly and delivering an interesting and compelling story, while still giving us plenty of action. It starts off with part of the Noble family fighting a giant Pharaoh in Egypt, jumps to the follow up to the almost death of Frost and some major family squabbling and ends on one hell of a note that Doc Noble’s wife only married him because his ex hired her to marry him. Of course having been divorced myself, I can see the whole hire someone to marry your ex idea not being as sinister as it seems on the surface. This book works as an action / adventure and as just a rock solid good soap opera. Call it what you will, but what Stan Lee gave to the super hero world was personality conflicts, love stories and convoluted relationship triangles or soap opera elements. They are the parts that make you get invested in the characters and Jay Faeber is a natural heir to that style of story telling. Noble Causes is part of the Faeberverse that includes Dynamo 5 and Gemini and each book is a very good read. Jay has captured the essence of the silver age of Marvel and has kept it fresh and modern.
Nightwing #145 - Writer Peter Tomasi, Pencils Rags Morales, Inks Michael Bair, Colors Nathan Eyring. Damn if this title is not working its way up into being one of DC’s top series. Peter Tomasi has crafted a supporting cast, created an excellent menace for Dick to fight, shown how interwoven the DC universe is and how close the Bat family can be and had great fights and acrobatics showing off why Nightwing is his own man. And he has done this in the space of six issues. Who needs re-launches and other stuff, just put a good team on a book with an idea of what they want to do and it can be terrific. Rags did a beautiful job this issue especially when Dick was fighting the winged bad guys. Dick was flipping from buildings, to his hang glider and flipping around like a true trapeze artist. We also had Dick sneak onto Talia’s ship and give her a taste of her own medicine after she threatened Dick’s girl friend. This was a fantastic issue and I’m looking forward to the conclusion of Tomasi’s first arc.
Detective Comics #845 – Writer Paul Dini, Pencils Dustin Nguyen, Inks Derek Dridols, Colors John Kaliz. Paul Dini does some great one and done issues. This issue he manages to give a nod to a lot of current continuity and still tell a great story about a new serial killer. Batman and Riddler are both investigating this crime and they both log onto a chat room full of amateur detectives. Among them is Detective Chimp. I love that Batman and DC go to a private chat room and joke about Edward Nigma being logged in and not knowing who they are, but they know who he is. We ultimately find out that the killer was setting Nigma up as he felt the Riddler was responsible for his wife’s death. In the midst of all of this we see Catwoman is back and we get an acknowledgement about her being trapped on the prison planet. The flashback scenes were done in very basic color and had the feeling of being almost painted with watercolors. Dustin is getting better and better over time and this book was an around great issue.
Abe Sapien the Drowning #5 (of 5) – Writer Mik emignola, Art Jason Shawn Alexander, Colors Dave Stewart. The art on this book just continues to blow me away. I’m not sure how Mike Mignola writes (full script or what), but this issue had many panels without words or captions and none were needed. Jason’s art work hass grown so much from his work on Queen and Country and it was good there. He really is an artist whose name should start to become more renowned. Abe fights against the evil that has invaded this island. He is unsure at almost every step and is never comfortable if he is doing the right thing. Ultimately at the end of the day between Abe’s actions and a witch the evil is vanquished but not with it costing the lives of about a third of the villagers who lived on the island. If you missed this series, pick up the trade as I’m sure it will read even better as a whole.
Justice Society of America #16 – Story Geoff Johns & Alex Ross, Writer Geoff Johns, Pencils Fernando Pasarin, Inks Rebecca Buchman, Colors Hi-Fi. First off I have to say that for a fill-in artist Fernando does a heck of a job keeping the quality of the art at a high level on this book. That is not an easy job as Dale Eaglesham is a premier super-hero artist at this point. I love how Johns tells a story and fits in characterization. This issue we get to understand Damage a lot more and find out that he is an angry young man, more concerned about himself then any super hero legacy. We also meet Gog who is a god from the Third World. Gog is a giant being who at this point appears to be a benevolent being as he cured a village of people who were sick due to poisonous water and repaired Damage’s mutilated face. The JSA is faced with an impossibly powerful being that seems to be a peaceful and loving being. Of course he is Gog and the Superman from the Kingdom Come world has bad memories about Magog. This has been a superior series since issue #1 and is really one long continuing story. One of my favorite series from DC.
Tor #2 (of 6) – By Joe Kubert with Pete Carlsson assisting on Colors. This was an excellent issue. We see Tor chase off the big four armed monster who was menacing these half human ape creatures. Then Tor goes off to hunt with the boy he saved twice tagging along without Tor’s permission. We see a terrific battle with a prehistoric Tiger creature and as Tor lies dieing from his wounds he remembers why his tribe threw him out. Tor was a thinker and he had different ideas and was going against the way the tribe did things. He scared them by being different and chased him away. The end of this issue the monster Tor chased away, has him in his arms. You get the feeling that Joe is making his points with his story and trying to not beat us over our heads with it. It appears that Joe is teaching us about what it means to be different and how we all make mistakes in our assumptions, but at the same time he is telling an awesome caveman story and it can be read as simply that. This issue features outstanding art, but one of the masters of the art form and has all the ads in the back of the book.
Nova #14 – Writers Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, Pencils Wellingotn Alves, Inks Scott Hanna, Colors Guru eFX – I love this series when it is just about Nova. It is a pleasant change of pace to see a hero be, well so heroic. Rich Ryder is a brave and noble young man and each adventure solidifies that more and more. If he ever comes back to Earth (and personally I don’t want to see that) he should be on par with all of Marvel’s big guns at this point. This issue starts out with Nova fighting the Silver Surfer. The Surfer is winning the battle as his power is overwhelming against Nova. Nova manages to get him planet side and the Surfer finally listens to what Nova was seeking, which was more time for the people to shield their engines from the EM forces generated by Galactus. The Silver uses his cosmic power to solve the issue and tells Nova to get off the planet. It looks like it will all work out except Nova finds out a psychic entity that he thought he had captured has escaped. In order to save the last ark and stop this killing entity Harrow from escaping Rich fights against it as the last ship leaves the planet. Unfortunately it appears Nova is now trapped on the planet and will be consumed by Galactus. Nova does the right thing no matter what the cost to himself. He will not take the easy choice and he is truly a hero and that is rarer in comics today. The art by Wellington is laid out well and provides the cosmic feeling when necessary and the chaos of a mass evacuation when needed. It does not hurt that he is aided and abetted by one of the best inkers in the business, Scott Hanna.
Atom #24 – Writer Rick Remender, Pencils Pat Olliffe, Inks John Stansi, Colors Alex Bleyart. The penultimate issue of this series and it was a heck of a roller coaster ride. We have Lady Chronos grabbing Ryan Choi out of the past and taking him to the future. We hear that Chronos has been setting Ryan up from the beginning and that Ray Palmer and Ryan never really corresponded, it was Chronos sending the letters. We see Booster Gold come in and save Atom from Lady Chronos. The end scene is Ray Palmer shows up and asks Ryan if he can use some help. So the last issue will hopefully give us some answers to all the madness and we will get the first team-up between the Silver Age Atom and the new Atom. It is a shame that I feel like Remender was brought in to wrap this series up and it never had a real chance to catch fire again as this is a good series. In the super hero world these things are cyclical and I’m hopeful we will get some sort of revival of this Atom in the future. It seems like DC has been clearing the decks lately with all of their lines. With all the titles they had going, streamlining may not be a bad idea.
Rann / Thanagar Holy War #2 (of 8) - Writer Jim Starlin, Pencils Ron Lim, Inks Rob Hunter, Colors John Kalisz. I love it when I pick up a mini-series with hesitancy and it turns out to be so entertaining. Rann/Thanagar is doing just that. I’m still adjusting to Comet as a slacker who since being deaged wants nothing to do with being a hero anymore, I thin I love his talking dog most of all. There were scene were Adam Strange’s daughter is with the dog and she is treating it like a regular pet and the dog is almost rolling his eyes in disgust, very funny. The growing mystery and dangers that are occurring are also drawing my attention. This issue we added the Weird into the cast and given it was Starlin I should not have been surprised. How the cosmic Starman and Bizzaro will play into this story is anyone’s guess, but it is very entertaining and well written story. Ron Lim’s art looks great and he does a great dinosaur like creature and a wonderful scene with how it was killed. All in all I have to say this is a great mini-series so far.
Criminal #3 – Writer Ed Brubaker, Art Sean Phillips, Colrs Val Staples. This was another good one and done issue. Each one of the first three Criminal stories have been giving us background on a little love triangle that consisted of a black boxer, his white "brother" (who is a mobster) and the girl that came between them. This issue is Danica’s story. Her tale is a nasty one of forced drug addiction, back alley abortions, exotic dancing, and hustling men for money. Basically this is about a messed up life. I’m never sure if I feel sorry for her or just feel like she never took any responsibility for her life. Criminal is a very good series, but it occasionally feels like it is trying to hard to be noir, as opposed to just being noir. I have this complaint because I hold this book to a higher standard then I do many other books. So don’t take my criticism as anything other then a minor complaint, it is still a well done book.
Manhunter #31 – Writer Marc Andreyko, Art Michael Gaydos, Colors Jose Villarrubia. This was a very good issue to welcome back this series to the land of the living again. It starts off with a nice 2 page summary of Kate’s life to date and then jumps right in with an action sequence where Kate takes down the Atomic Skull. Her internal monologue worked really well as she was fighting the Atomic Skull. It gave you the feeling of how analytic she must be and that makes sense for a lawyer. We then got a sequence involving her home life and a glimpse of her heroic legacy. I especially like that her grandfather is Iron Monroe, who was a made up character retro-conned years ago. Then Kate is told about a large group of poor and mainly Mexicans who have gone missing or killed in this small border town. Kate goes to investigate and runs into the Blue Beetle. I was not sure if Michael Gaydos more noir style would work on Manhunter, but after just one issue, this art maybe just the ticket to put a distinguishing touch on this series and help it stand out from the crowd. This was a good jumping on point and I hope the lack of a new #1 re-launch does not prevent new readers from checking it out.
Trinity#1 - Writer Kurt Busiek, Pencils Mark Bagley, Inks Art Thibert, Colors Pete Pantazis. Back-up Story Kurt Busiek and Fabine Miceza, Script Fabien Nicieza, Artists Scott McDaniel and Andy Owen, Colors Allen Passalaqua. What a nice opening to this newest weekly series from DC. All my bad feelings about Countdown are forgotten and I’m looking forward to next week’s installment already. First off I want to give kudos to DC for giving us 30 pages of story and art for $3 instead of $22. I know that going forward that is not the status quo, but it was a nice little bonus and gave the front and back stories 15 pages each. We open with a cosmic scene showing a face in space screaming “Let me out”. We then cut to Bruce, Clark and Diana all meeting in Keystone City. Busiek establishes his view of each character and does it effortlessly but intermixing it with the natural dialogue between the waitress and each one of the Trinity. We are in Keystone for a specific reason as each one has had the dream and Bruce found out that no one else he could contact has had a dream other then Clark and Diana and Flash was last on his list. Bruce also wanted to gage Clark and Diana’s feelings about the dream by seeing them face to face. Only these three had a dream about someone trying to escape and each saw in such a way as to have more meaning to them. They promise to exam the issue and split up. Each one then starts to hear something and have a disaster start to occur near them. Bagley’s art looks great and his Wonder Woman was especially well done. Bagley will be a treat to have each and every issue. The back up story was also interesting as we see an evil trinity coming together with Morgan Le Fey, some guy I do not know or recognize (Enigma) and they are going to recruit Despero to be their third. This issue did what needed to be done by giving us an excellent set-up and immediately getting our attention.
Robin / Spoiler Special – Writer Chuck Dixon on both stories. Art Rafael Albuquerque, Colors Cris Peter First Story, Art Victor Ibanez Second story. I was never that concerned about Spoiler and found the hue and cry over her death to be much ado about nothing. This book gives us a front story and how Stephanie is reintegrating herself back into Tim’s life. It was a well done story and shows that while Tim is keeping his distance a little, he has already started to think of them as a team. Only time will tell how this will play out. In my mind I believe that Tim would enjoy having a girl who can share all parts of his life. The second story was background on what Stephanie was doing with Dr. Tompkins when she disappeared. It was a somewhat absurd tale of how she donned some bizarre costume to fight bad guys in an African village. Both artists did a great job and I have become a bigger fan of Rafael with his art in Blue Beetle and now hear. Victor I can not remember seeing before, but he did a rock solid job and a great job drawing a toddler, which I see many artists struggle with.
Infinity Inc. #10 – Writer Peter Milligan, Art Pete Woods, Colors David Baron. I’m enjoying this series more and more and like the idea that these kids are trying to track down and help the victims of the everyman project from the 52 series. We have the mysterious Dr. Fogel who seems intent on dissecting the everymen and Infinity Inc. trying to help each and every one of them to cope with their power. Peter Milligan puts some damn strange and interesting twist on everyone’s powers and Pete Woods delivers his clean and very well laid out artwork. Pete Woods is an under rated talent because his art is not in that heavy photo realistic school or the George Perez super heroic art, but Woods is an excellent draftsman. I was a little shocked that Mercy pulled out of the group after she was added so recently, but she may just be off looking to get Lex Luthor.
Young X-Men – Writer Marc Guggenheim, Pencils Yanick Paquette, Inks Ray Snyder and Kris Justice Color Rob Schwager. I’m starting to read this book like it exists in its own little world. Cyclops is so alien in this book compared to any other portrayal of him, that I’m guessing he has to be skrull. In spite of myself I’m starting to enjoy Rockslide, Blindfold, Dust, Wolf Cub and the traitor Ink. I also want to know what is going on with the Hellfire club who appears to be the original New Mutants. On many levels the book makes no sense as to how it ties into X-continuity or why Cyclops wants everyone to kill people now days or why these kids are so willing to go along, but it has me hooked for the first arc at least.
Ultimate Origins #1 (of 5) – Writer Brian Bendis, Art Butch Guice, Colors Justin Ponsor. From a pure art standpoint Jackson (of course he used Butch for this book) Guice does great work. He has a nice realistic style; great page design and does an all around terrific job on the art. The story is hitting one of my pet peeves in comics, that heroes are no longer heroes. Not only are our heroes given feet of clay, but half the time they are either bad guys or morally ambivalent. I may come across like an old guy ranting against the youngsters, but the writer is no spring chicken. I want my heroes to be something to aspire to be, not to be so far down that I have the moral high ground from the jump. In this issue we see the beginning of the Ultimate Universe when the army captures three soldiers in WWII trying to steal stuff out of a safe. One is Nick Fury who is subjected to the super soldier formula, survives and breaks away from the army. Another is James Howlett (Wolverine) who has experiments performed on him on by the Canadians. Their experiments produce his powers via a new mutant gene and he is declared to be “Mutant Zero”. Finally the third is Fisk, who goes on to be the Kingpin, but nothing was revealed about his rise to power at this point. This issue had a lot of set-up and as I said good art and a disappointing look at who is the beginning of the Ultimate Universe.
H.P. Lovecraft’s Haunt of Horror #1 (of 3) – Adapted by Richard Corben – I have only breezed through any of Lovecraft’s books and that was years ago. BOOM studios has done some great work using Lovecraft as an inspiration and Locke & Key pays homage to his work as the family leaves in Lovecraft , Massachusetts. Richard Corben in these three black and white short stories captures the essence of the horror of Lovecraft from my perspective. The horror is mental as well as physical. Corben’s art is well suited to this material and he brings bleakness to this work like no one else can. I think the essence of Lovecraftian horror, is the bleakness, helplessness that the characters feel. The things they experience are horrific, but they can never be sure they were real or if they are crazy. Not for the faint of heart, as Corben’s work is for a mature audience, but from a subject matter standpoint more then anything else. It was a well done book and one that stays with you and leaves you a little emptier yourself.
Brit #6 – Writer Bruce Brown, Pencils, Inks and Colors Cliff Rathburn, Breakdowns Andy Kuhn. This is just a very quirky and offbeat series. This issue Brit with the help of his faithful sidekick robot friend Donald beats off alien spiders, hops through a dimension, takes out some robots and saves his sister from being dissected by the bad guy. This week in an odd coincidence we have had more then one villain evilly dissection someone. Brit has been gone for a year and was replaced by a duplicate and no one really noticed. The long delays between issues have really killed the flow of this story, but a new artist is coming on who is supposed getting the book onto a monthly track. This series is not a top of the chart book for me, but it has an oddball sense to it that is a nice change of pace.
Midnighter #20 – Writer Keith Giffen, Artists Lee Garbett and Rick Burchett, Colors Gabe Eltaeb. This is the final issue of the series and Giffen makes this about as harsh as you can. Midnighter is shown cutting off limbs from Assassin 8 and keeping him alive until he tells Midnighter who hired him. To make it worse, not only is Midnighter cutting Assassin 8 up, but he is cooking the body parts on a fire. Personally I think the gay community may want to ask for Midnighter to switch teams as I don’t believe anyone wants these actions to be part of their group. Finally Midnighter agrees to kill him if Midnighter is given a name. Midnighter gets a name and then cuts out Assassin 8’s eyes and leaves him alive anyway and throws his torso into a hospital. I get that Midnighter was pissed that this guy came after Midnighter’s daughter, but this was way over the line in my view. When does shock value become pointless? Once you have done ever vile think you can think of, what is left? Are we aspiring to see who can think of the vilest thing? I think it fits in the Punisher Max title at times, I’m not sure it fits with Midnighter. I get that the Authority are a different take on hero groups, but there is nothing heroic in these actions. Midnighter then kills the guy who hired Assassin 8, but we never find out who was behind the whole thing. Lee Garbett has rapidly risen to the top of my charts and his art was outstanding in this book also. By getting a series to 20 issues, Wildstorm has to count this book as a success.
Grimm Fairy Tales #27 – Writer Dan Wickline, Art Dean Juliette, Colors Kieran Oats. This was a simple one and done issue and the pattern has fallen back more into what this book was before the war between Belinda and Sela. As Belinda has won, it is a series that tells the gruesome Grimm fairy tale and juxtaposes it with a modern version. The Three Blind Mice were eaten by a snake and the modern tale an old woman blinds three men who were trying to rip her off. The art was okay and the story was also just okay. Not a highpoint in this series.
Secret Invasion #3 (of 8) - Writer Brian Bendis, Pencils Lenil Yu, Inks Mark Morales, Colors Laura Martin. Yes, I posted a longer version last Wednesday, but I had to get it off my chest. Bottom line, Secret Invasion has turned into a farce and I will give credit to Marvel where credit is due, they are raping each and every one of their fans in new and more imaginative ways. I’m not getting all the tie-ins and I will hang out to this and the Avengers books so I can continue my critic of this mess and see it they can turn it around, but for fans with less disposable income go buy Zombie Tales from Boom, Echo from Abstract Studios, Invincible from Image, Hercules from Radical, Locke and Key from IDW or some other book instead of this. See my full review here.
Tales from Wonderland the Mad Hatter – Writer Ralph Tedesco, Art Joe Dodd, Colors Nei Ruffino. I thought the first issue that gave us the Queen of Hearts origin was a better story then this one. The Mad Hatter’s story was just a crazy mixed up jumble of a story with relatively weak art that is only saved at all by the coloring and strong production values of the book. I know that calling it crazy and he is the Mad Hatter sounds like they hit the mark with making him Mad, but they didn’t. First off the story was told in a non-linear fashion which added to the weakness of the overall story as the starting point was almost random. Then the character who becomes the Mad Hatter is a hero Fireman, with a great looking wife, yet his secret is he is a pedophile and he is doing his nephew. So his father knocks him into the mirror and Wonderland and he is turned into the Mad Hatter. The character did not mesh at all, why he becomes the Mad Hatter made no sense to me either. I’m also not sure how this family lines up with the guy who accidentally found the gateway to Wonderland, which is the back up story. The back-up story is The Experiment – Chapter Two – Story Raven Gregory, Joe Brusha & Ralph Tedsco, Writer Raven Gregory, Art Daniel Lester, Colors Nei Ruffino. A continuation about how the Wonderland gateway was opened by this man’s experiments in his basement. Its better then the opening story, but still just okay. After Return to Wonderland and the Queen of Hearts special, this issue was a disappointment.
Supergirl #30 – Writer Will Pfeifer, Art Ron Randall Colors Shannon Blanchard. What the heck happened here? In the middle of what I thought was a decent story line in Supergirl we get a random fill-in issue. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy the writer and the artist, but no editorial blurb to say “the current story line is interrupted to give us another issue of Supergirl bemoaning everything”. This was a waste of an issue, by some decent talent. DC owed fans some explanation as this was a real miss and now I wonder what happened to the regular story line. I should not have to haunt boards or the internet to understand what is going on in the comic I am reading. Of course I’m in a very small minority enjoying the current arc on Supergirl. I really need to drop this book.
Avengers Invaders #2 (0f 12) – Cancelled. Issue #1 they fight the Thunderbolts, issue #2 the Mighty Avengers, issue #3 is a set up for them to fight the New Avengers. We are getting almost zero story out of this whole thing, The Twelve is doing time lost heroes much better, this appears meaningless. If I hear it was a great story later on I’ll buy the hard cover, but I’ll save my bucks on this maxi-series also.
War that Time Forgot #2 (of 12) – Cancelled. The covers were the best thing in this series. The actual story in two issues managed to go absolutely nowhere and was a series of cameos showing us old DC characters that most people had forgotten. I liked the premise, but if a 12 issue series does grab me in two issues, I’ll wait to hear if it is good later on and save $30 instead of buying 10 more issues.
That is a wrap for this week and I just saved $60 in cover prices of books. Of course if either one gets really good, then I could buy the trade down the road.