This has nothing at all to do with Best to Worst of the week, just a minor political rant that I want to get off my chest. Obama is a horrible candidate to be President of the United States. The man has nothing to say; when you listen to his speeches he has no actual ideas. The way the major media fawns over this guy makes me sick to my stomach. The problem I have is who the hell do I vote for in this election. Sure Obama sucks, but is John McCain any better? If someone held a gun to my head and forced me to vote for one or the other I would vote for McCain, but like last election I’m opting for none of the above. Ron Paul is the only candidate since Ronald Regan I have ever wanted to vote for. If this is the best America has to offer for President it is a sad, sad state of affairs.
Justice Society of America Annual #1 – Writer Geoff Johns, Pencils Jerry Ordway, Inks Bob Wiacek, Colors Hi-Fi. I have to say right from the top this book is a sentimental favorite. I loved Infinity Inc. and when the 1985 Crisis came and basically destroyed Earth 2, I was sad about losing that world. It was funny because I think DC came about ten years too late to the conclusion that having both Earth was too confusing. Currently characters have all sorts of multiple continuities going on and no one is as concerned as the publishers realize we have a more sophisticated audience. I know this was a set-up for Power Girl as Gog cannot be a good guy and when they remade the multi-verse Earth-2 was recreated, but it was not Kara’s Earth-2. The story is Kara is sent to this Earth by Gog and the JSI (Justice Society Infinity) thinks it is their Kara and she is confused as everything is very similar to her world. See starts to think she maybe home when that world’s Power Girl shows up and attacks her. Now Power Girl is on the run trying to get home to New Earth and she is being chased by the JSI. If all of that was not good enough we also had Jerry Ordway back doing the pencils on this book, which harkened back to the beginning of Infinity Inc. This was a great book and an emotional one for New Earth’s Power Girl who is a stranger in a strange land no matter where she is. Geoff Johns has gotten into such a zone lately that every book the man touches is solid gold. The last writer who was in a zone like this was Warren Ellis and while he had a few misses here and there, his work is also always worth trying out.
Green Lantern #33 – Writer Geoff Johns, Pencils Ivan Reis, Inks Oclair Albert, Colors Ranov Mayor. I have to say that when the regular comic was interrupted for a six part Origin of Green Lantern, it seemed like a waste as this story has been told over and over again. Johns has modernized it and updated the story and done some excellent and relatively subtle retro-cons to make this not only a wonderful origin story, but a great prelude to his plans for the GL corps and Darkest Night story line. Also Ivan Reis as the main artist on this book should have a long tern exclusive with DC (I hope). I can see that he has moved more and more into the photo-realism school, but he makes it his own and it looks great. The overall story has the newly changed Hector Hammond taking down Hal when Sinestro shows up and makes short work of him by taking the oxygen out of his lungs. Afterwards we see Hal and Sinestro go to Abin Sur’s grave. Hal’s ring (Sur’s old ring) gives off a pre-recorded message. We find out that when the Manhunter’s programming decided that for order to work life needed to end. They killed an entire sector of sentient life. The five survives are hell bent on taking down the guardians. There is so much more in this book and it just continues to be a seminal run for Johns. Geoff’s run will be the standard to try and achieve for years and years to come. DC needs to be doing some serious hard cover collections of this run.
Thor #10 – Writer J. Michael Straczynski, Pencils Oliver Copiel, Inks Mark Morales, Crimelab Studios, Allen Martinez and Victor Olazaba, Colors Laura Martin. In this issue we find out the origin of Balder the Brave and find out that he is a son of Odin and a true Prince of the realm. The reason behind his origins being kept secret is revealed. We also learn the mythological reason for why vampires are on the Earth and that it is Odin’s fault. This series is so good and has been a truly excellent series to read since around issue #5 forward (the first few issues were way too slow moving). The best part of the series is how Loki (now female) is trying to convince people that she has changed and it now only a speaker of the truth. It is so well done that even as we know she is still being deceptive, the subtle nature of her deception is so well done; you could understand why someone might believe her. JMS is actually making Loki a believable menace again and not one where you would say “Why does anyone believe him”. The change to female allows for people to believe there maybe other changes. We know it is not true, but we are privy to the fact that she has trapped Sif. Oliver Copiel has really hit a high water mark on his art with this series as he captures both the more mundane side of things as well as the god like panoramic scenes.
Locke & Key #6 (of 6) – Writer Joe Hill Art Gabriel Rodriquez, Colors Jay Fotos. I was so happy when I read at the end that this story will continue in Winter of 2008 as Locke & Key Head Games. One of the best written comic books on the market, I did not want to see this series end after this one six issue story. Bode, Kinsey and Ty and their Mom are all great characters. Even the killer Sam and the witch from the well, who is now a boy named Zack, are well done. This issue we see the Locke family manage to save each other from Sam, but the witch has been released and she is now a boy named Zack and has befriended the Locke family. The immediate horror is over, but the killer Sam’s body was hidden by Zack and you know there are more horrors to come. This is one of the top series on the shelves.
Northlanders #8 – - Writer Brian Wood, Art Davide Gianfelice, Colors Dave McCaig. I loved the ending of this arc. We did not see the final resolution of the battle between the Vikings and the Saxons, because our viewpoint character was Sven and he left. Sven surrenders to the Saxon and works out a deal and then tells Hakkar about it. He then abdicates any claim he had on the land and tells Hakkar he is now the leader and Lord of the Vikings. He tells him others ways of fighting a war and lets Hakkar decide what he is going to do. He goes and gets Enna and asks her to leave with him and she does. They find an island and years later we see Sven and Enna with a baby boy. It was an excellent story of Sven and now the will begin a new tale of another Northlander. I like that Brain Wood is giving us tales of the Vikings and not worried about just telling us the life story of one character.
Pilot Season : The Core – Writer Jonathan Hickman, Art Kenneth Rocafort, Colors Dave McCaig & Nathan Fairbairn. Hickman’s stories have always been intriguing for me. He packs a lot into his stories and this one is no exception. The Earth has become part of a larger galactic group who appears to be in a cold war with another galactic group. Our main character is an Earthman who has won a spot on one of the covert operations teams and during a mission proves himself in heroic fashion to the skeptical members of his group. We find out his father is a high up political leader and tells the Dahiba Federation that he never wanted his son in physical harm. As the Dahiba member leaves we see the Earth leader is negotiating with the other group also. Political intrigue, galactic empires, space missions, aliens of all sorts and a rookie hero, a good start to this series. If I get to vote for two series it will be Twilight Guardian and The Core.
Beyond Wonderland #1 (of 6) – Writer Raven Gregory, Story Raven Gregory, Joe Brusha & Ralph Tedesco, Art Dan Leister, Colors Nei Ruffino. This is what I was hoping for. Zenoscope’s Fairy Tale line is very uneven, but Return to Wonderland was so good I got the hard cover. I was worried the Beyond Wonderland may miss the mark, but the first issue was excellent. Calie is trying to hide from Wonderland and has taken a different name to conceal her identity. The dreams are slowly driving her over the edge and her boy-friend and father of her baby is having a hard time believing her. In fact he was having such a hard time that he wrote a letter telling her why he had to leave. Before he decides to go, Calie and he reconcile and he realizes he needs to stay because he loves her and she is carrying their child. Unfortunately the Mad Hatter captures him and leaves Brandon’s letter for Calie. This was a very good start to this next chapter in Calie’s life.
Reign in Hell #1 (of 8) – Writer Keith Giffen, Pencils Tom Dernick, Inks Bill Sienkiewicz, Colors Mike Atiyeh. Back-up Story – Writer Keith Giffen, Art Stephen Jorge Segovia, Colors Dan Brown. This is an ambitious book and a book that looks great. Giffen I’m sure he still does thumbnail layouts for is artist and then Tom Dernick did the pencil and Bill Sienkiewicz did the inks and the mix is a job well done. It has all of Tom’s strength’s still in it and Bill makes Tom have a darker gritter feel which is great for a war in hell. Lord Satanus and Lady Blaze have left purgatory and are starting a campaign of hope and wants to overthrow Neron’s rule of hell. The war is already concerning Neron so he has Lillith call her children back to hell and this causes massive repercussions with magical beings in the real world. We also get a backup feature telling a tale of Dr. Occult and we see that he will have a role to play in this war as well. I was wondering if Giffen could draw me into this story as the premise sounded weak, but he has and now I’m looking forward to this series.
Hercules #4 (of 5) – Writer Steve Moore, Art Admira Wijaya, Colors Imaginary Friends Studios & Sixth Creation. I’m really enjoying this book. It has an epic quality and feel to it. Hercules learns that King Cotys plans to attack the Greeks. The King finds out he knows and offers them a chance to help him. After Hercules refuses they are held prisoner. Hercules tries to engineer their escape and is captured and tortured. When he escapes he shows why he is Hercules as he pulls out the chains from the wall. Then a great fight scene as they escape from the King’s men. Hercules though is turning around and attacking the King instead of running away. This series is giving us a Hercules who might have been and someone worthy of the myth they may have grown up around him.
Newuniversal 1959 – Writer Kieron Gillen, Art Greg Scott, Kody Chamberlain (pages 8-10), Colors Val Staples. This was an excellent issue and was actually more enjoyable then the regular series. It has been hinted in the regular series about a previous white event and how the government went about handling that problem. This book tells the back story. We get the story of Phillip Voight and how he becomes the head of the Spitfire Project. The premise is easy enough to tell, the US government notices that some people since the white event possess extraordinary abilities and are essentially super humans. One such person is Tony Stark who goes from being a slacker to a super genius. The story opens with Phillip and his partner visiting Tony after he has built his Iron Man armor to escape form Viet Nam. Phillip shoots him in the head. The government has decided (pushed by Phillip) that the best way to keep super humans from being a problem is to kill them. While you are reading the story, you can understand why they would believe that. It is an excellent read and is well illustrated by Greg Scott. In fact this is a great single issue story and/or an introduction into the revamped New Universe.
Superman Batman #50 – Writers Michael Green & Mike Johnson, Pencils Ed Benes, Matthew Clark, Allan Goldman and Ian Churchill, Inks Matt Banning, Norm Papmund, Marlo Alquiza and Rob Hunter, Colors John Rauch. What I’m enjoying about Michael Green’s run as one of the writers on this book is that he is maintaining his own internal logic and continuity. Whether or not that continuity is true in any other book, who the frell cares, as these are entertaining and great tales of Superman and Batman. In this issue we find out that Thomas Wayne and Jor-el meet before Bruce or Clark were born. We find out the hopes and aspirations that both men have for their sons and we see Bruce and Clark admit to themselves that they feel like the other is a brother to them. There are references to the Batman Confidential Joker story by Green and the kryptonite being destroyed story, which is what I mean by an internal continuity. Green is telling really good stories and it is not important if they are part of the “real DCU” or not to me.
Trinity #9 – Main Story Writer Kurt Busiek, Pencils Mark Bagley, Inks Art Thibert, Colors Pete Pantazis Back-Up Story Writers Kurt Busiek & Fabian Nicieza, Art Scott McDaniel and Andy Owen, Colors Allen Passalaqua. This is a good series. I think it took a few issue for me to be convinced because I was expecting something else and I’m not even sure what that is. Each issue is a good read and has Mark Bagley’s great work on the front of the book. The back-up stories really help fill in some of the spaces in-between and the book works. This issue we see that Batman and Superman are both feeling off-kilter, a new bad guy is bouncing around (The Swashbuckler) and the Crime Syndicate has shown up. Busiek has hit a great rhythm with this book as he deftly weaves new sub-plots into the main plot. The back-up story this issue showed Swashbuckler and another new character the TVM going after elements that are almost each character’s totem. Commissioner Gordon had his pipe stolen and the Joker had his laugh stolen.
Catwoman #81 – Writer Will Pfeifer, Pencils David Lopez, Inks Alvaro Lopez, Colors Jeromy Cox. This was an interesting issue. We see Catwoman basically on a crime spree. Pfeifer really has made Catwoman more of a real person then anyone else and I’m glad he is being given enough time to wrap this series up the right way. Selina goes on a tear and then decides to do a job for Calculator. Once again he set her up and she manages to turn the tables and beat Calculator at his own game. This issue ends with Batman telling Selina to stop as this is no longer who she is. She reflects on what has happened to her recently and tells Batman that whatever their relationship is, it all changes tonight. She grabs him around the neck and pulls him off the roof with her. We know of course that Batman can save them and Selina could save herself, it is her making a statement. Next issue is the finale of this series and I have to say that month in and month out the creative team on this book has produced one of the most consistently high quality books on the market. One last issue to go, but kudos to Will Pfeifer, David Lopez, Alvaro Lopez and Jeromy Cox for one hell of a great series.
Dynamo #15 – Writer Jay Faerber, Art Mahmud Asrar, Colors Ron Riley. This was another strong issue for this series. Scrap is back in Tower City and she helps Vigil knock back some bad guys. As the night wears on the duel continue to take out bad guy after bad guy. It is clear Tower City missed having Dynamo 5 around. We also see a shadowed figure whose intent is to eliminate all super heroes from Tower City. The book ends with Scrap trying to put together a new Dynamo 5 on her own. This is a great series and is reminiscent of the early years of the Fantastic Four.
X-Men First Class #14 – Writer Jeff Parker, Art Roger Cruz, Colors Val Staples. This book is always such a joy to read. The reason is that in a world of grim and grimmer super hero books, this depiction of the early X-Men as they never were is a good light and fun read. It has all the classic touches of a silver age book, but the setting has been moved forward forty years and Jeff Parker writes a very modern comic. In other words we get the best of both worlds. This issue is the conclusion of the Machine Man arc and it was sprocking great (I have been reading a lot of LOSH lately). Machine Man goes nuts as he loses his humanity and the X-Men are only able to save part of his brain. This allows his inventor to make the next iteration of Machine Man a little better. Of course that is the one that is running around in the MU today.
Frank Frazetta’s Creatures (One Shot) – Writer Rick Remender, Art Peter Bergting. This issue was just out and out fun. Remender decided that Teddy Roosevelt was not only head of the Rough Riders and our President; he also protected us from all the things that are unexplained. One of his main Dark Riders was a man named Edgar Rice Burroughs. It is over the top madness and just out and out fun as Teddy slays demons and stops little men from Mars from taking over the world. ERB is given inspiration for a series of adventure novels that will fictionalize these “true” events. As an ERB fan, this book made me smile.
Wildcats #1 – Wildcats – Writer Christos Gage, Art Neil Googe, Colors Carrie Strachan. Lynch Story – Writer Christos Gage, Art Trevor Hairsine, Colors Jonny Rench. So while I passed on the Number of the Beast and dropped out during Wildstorm Revelations, it was still pretty easy walking into this series. The Earth is basically a mess, the Wildcats are doing what they can to help re-build the world and Majestic shows up and is apparently more of a bad guy at this point. The back-up story is about Lynch and how he managed to survive the end of the word. He decides that he will go and kill Tao. I was never a Wildcats or WU fanatic, but I have followed enough of their stories to know the base players and I enjoyed the opening issue of this new series. What was surprising was how muddied the art looked, as WU books are almost always very sharp. Maybe it was intentionally since we are on the other side of the world ending. The bottom line is this series is a keeper at this point.
Contract #1 (of 3) – The best thing about this book is that it is fun. It is a high octane adventure and contains both a main story and a back-up that gives us more background on our central characters. It reminded me a lot of the Fifth Element, a great adventure that has crazy elements, but ultimately rock solid enjoyment. See my full review here. Well worth the price of entry.
Caliber #4 (of 5) – Writer Sam Sarkar, Art Garrie Gastonny, Colors Imaginary Friends Studio. The story line has not been as straight forward on this book as I would like, but the art (while obviously heavily photo referenced) and actual production values of this book overcome any weakness and just continues to captivate me. I can not over emphasis enough how well Radical Publishing has done in what they produce. I hope they keep their line of comics relatively small and do not expand too quickly as some publishers who are well financed have often done. This beginning tale of the Arthurian legend being reborn in the old west is a rollicking good adventure. The art is cinematic in the way it is done and has some pages that just blow you away. I’m really looking forward to the concluding chapter of this story and will be awaiting the next mini-series of this saga.
Wolverine #67 – Writer Mark Millar, Pencils Steve McNiven, Inks Dexter Vines, Colors Morry Hollowell with Christina Strain. I’m glad I’m picking this book up as single issues as I would be madder if I wasted my money all at one time. Steve McNiven’s art is the main thing holding me on this story. Millar is using Marvel characters in this futuristic setting without rhyme or reason. We are fifty years after the villains won in this version of the MU and Hawkeye is still running around and they are driving the Spider-Mobile. A motorcycle gang of “Ghost Riders” show up and Logan won’t touch them because he has sworn never to hurt anyone again as the bad guys broke him. Hawkeye’s third wife is one of Peter Parker’s kids (apparently Peter married a black woman as his daughter is black) and their daughter is being held by the Kingpin. Thor’s hammer is a holy place where people come to pray. Ultron 8 is a Star Wars C3PO type character. It is just nothing a bunch of stuff that makes no sense and things that Millar must just think is cool. I have sworn off Jeph Loeb as much as I possibly can and Millar is fast becoming that type of writer. Remember just because something sells and is popular does not automatically make it good.
Blue Beetle #29 – Writer Matthew Sturges, Art Rafael Albuquerque, Colors Guy Major. A good start for the new writer. Matt Sturges has all of the characters down pat so far and we have continuity with the same artist. Blue Beetle runs into a “Title Fight” were two bad guys are fighting it out for the name “Hell Hound”. A unique idea and a nice way to have Beetle have a little action to start off the issue. The main plot revolves around some illegal immigrants who injected themselves with what they were trying to smuggle over the border. They end up with magnetic powers and threaten a girl who Blue Beetle saves; turns out she is spying for her Dad who is a bad guy. A fair amount of set-up for this arc, but all well done and it looks as if Blue Beetle is in capable hands.
Teen Titans #61 – Writer Sean McKeever, Pencils Carlos Rodriquez, Inks Mark McKenna, Coors Rod Reis. This was a good issue spotlighting Blue Beetle and Kid Devil. The two are paired off and we see the Kid Devil does not like the Blue Beetle. Kid Devil is trying to redeem himself by stopping Shockwave and ends up teaming up with Blue Beetle to stop him. The lack of teamwork causes a lot of problems and it plainly rest with Eddie’s not liking Blue Beetle. Ultimately it resolves and Kid Devil beats Shockwave and together they finish him off. The story ends with Blue Beetle finally being made a Teen Titan (I hated that provisional status stuff) and Kid Devil is renamed Red Devil and we get the echo of the future Titans story. This is a decent series and entertaining, but it still has not become an upper echelon book.
Ultimate Spider-Man #124 – Writer Brian Bendis, Pencils Stuart Immonen, Inks Wade von Grawbadger, Colors Justin Ponsor. This issue was all flashback and I’m not 100% sure why we needed it. It appears to be setting up a few story elements for the “Symbiote War” story line, but it was really minor. I feel like I could have missed this issue and it would not have made a difference to the overall story line. After having Eddie reintroduced last issue, this issue felt disjointed to the current arc. It was well done, but it just felt like a wasted issue.
1001 Arabian Nights Adventures of Sinbad #2 – Writer Dan Wickerline, Art Paolo Pantalena, Colors Kieran Oats. This book is starting a little on the slow side and I wonder if this series is always meant to be about Sinbad or will we explore other stories from the Arabian Nights. Sinbad thinks he is seducing this Queen and the Witch Queen thinks after giving Sinbad a night of pleasure that she has sent him to his death. I’m not sure if there is anyone we are really suppose to like in this story and when I have no rooting interest the book itself usually does little to hold its sway over me. Zenoscope’s fairy tale line of books are often weaker books full of good girl artwork and this book fits that mold. Still they are usually amusing and light reads that I continue to get regardless of my better judgment.
Zombie Tales #3 – Last Call in Devil’s Bend – Writer Karl Kesel, Art Jon Reed. I enjoy anthologies and this time instead of talking about all three stories I will just highlight my favorite story. A biker gal is riding around looking for a drink. She enjoys killing off the Zombies, but really is looking for another bar to feed her addition. Surrounded by Zombies she makes an incredible leap to safety where she sees another non-Zombie. The guy is more of a geek and not her type from before, now she is happy with anyone. He turns away and as she follows we learn she is a vampire. This was a great little story all told in just eight pages.
HP Lovecraft’s Haunt of Horror #2 (of 3) – Story and Art Richard Corben. I’m really getting this for the art by Richard Corben, but what I have appreciated is the text piece that inspired the story being included with the work. Richard Corben is a real rarity whose style is uniquely his own and has never really been copied that I am aware of. His work has been appearing in a lot of published comic work lately and I’m happy to see it again. This work has the appropriately creepy vibe to it that you would want out of Corben and Lovecraft. Finally a big round of applause to Marvel who used to be so entrenched in just super hero comics for really branching out into Classic Illustrated, Stephen King, European comics and this type of project.
Grimm Fairy Tales #29 – Writers Raven Gregory & Ralph Tedesco, Pencils Mauro, Colors Kieran Oats. So last issue ended oddly and this issue did as well. I have the feeling we are working on an overall story line that is in the background right now and will eventually become the main story of the book. This issue we had the Midas Touch fairy tale, but the modern story was a thin connection to the old story. The modern story introduces us to a Mercy Dante who kills the daughter of the man who killed her parents. I’ll give them credit that I was ready to drop this series and the build up is keeping me hanging on.
Black Panther #39 – Writer Jason Aaron, Art Jefte Palo, Colors Lee Loughridge. So I heard that this was a great issue of the book and I decided to check it out. The artwork was decent and that was about it. It was well written, but ill conceived. I have not followed this book for a while, but I do know the current depiction of T’Challa is so over the top as to be insane. He is an uber-genius level hero, king and great champion. T’Challa was better when he wasn’t all that in my opinion. The crux of the story is the skrulls have come to take over Wakanda. No super skrull types at first, no just a few space cruisers. They find out their skrull spies who have deceived everyone else on the planet were not deceived by T’Challa and he decapitates them and puts their heads on spikes. This is the true mark of a great civilized king isn’t it? It degenerates further from there. The logic of this story fails on points of how the skrulls attacked to how T’Challa is defending his country and more points in-between. I’ll try out part two, just to see if it gets better as Jason Aaron is a good writer, but all these editorially mandated stories can make any writer look like an idiot.
Joker’s Asylum Two Face – Writer David Hine, Art Andy Clarke. This little series of one shots about Batman’s rogue gallery ended on an up note. David Hine crafted a great little tale about Two-Face and just how much of an evil bastard he can be. A firefighter who had half of his face destroyed visits Two-Face in hopes of making Harvey understand there is a chance for a normal life. Harvey escapes and captures the man’s wife and puts the man in an impossible situation to kill someone of save his wife’s face. His hesitation causes his wife to end up with a small scar on her face. Batman stops Two-Face but we are left with two endings to choose from, did their marriage survive or did the fireman kill himself. A well written and well drawn great little one shot.
Pigeons from Hell #4 (of 4) – Writer Joe R. Lansdale, Art Nathan Fox, Colors Dave Stewart. Almost everyone dies. The two sisters who inherited the house manage to destroy the ghost that was haunting the mansion, but almost everyone else dies. I enjoyed this series, but the ending was not as good as the beginning. I think it will read better as a trade as some of the plot elements were lost for me over the intervening months. I also believe the trade will keep the immediacy of the horror better. The entire story took place over the course of maybe two days, but the monthly hiatus took away the impact of what had happened in the issues before.
Skarr Son of Hulk #2 – Cancelled. Realistically I was ready to drop this book after issue #1, but gave issue #2 a half hearted try and was not impressed. The book is very derivative and is a mixture of a bunch of different genres and comes across poorly to me. It is about a bunch of character and people that I don’t care about and Skarr has not been made compelling enough for me to want to continue. Add to that that the actual story of Skarr was only half the book and some filler masking as back story filled out the rest of the comic. An easy drop.
That wraps up another week of comic books and since I try and save what I think will be ten of the better books for the bottom of my pile to read I’m almost always left with a positive impression for the week.