Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Best to Worst of Last Week

I’m trying to change my reviews of each book. I often get bogged down in too many details. If I’m doing a spotlight review, details are a good thing. In tackling 25 or more books every week details are a bad thing. I’m often tempted to throw out the credits, but I think it is important that I recognize as many of the creators on a comic as possible. I always like to try and tweak and change things to try and make it better or at least different and if it doesn’t work I can always go back.

Criminal #5 – Writer Ed Brubaker, Art Sean Phillips, Colors Val Staples. In intentionally trying to write a certain style I think that Brubaker often tried to hard and some of the issues of Criminal felt a little forced. The “Bad Night” arc is “pitch perfect” in my opinion. A really good film noir piece in my mind is about characters who are all a little f**ked up, yet you can still have someone to root for and in this arc we are rooting for Jacob. Trapped in his own home by Danny and Iris and forced back into counterfeiting, Jacob is creating an FBI identity badge for Danny. Iris continues to confuse Jacob as she seduces him and tries to get him to kill Danny. It ends with Danny dead, Jacob wounded and Iris and him are in a world of sh*t. Sean Phillips’ art sells this story and the seduction scene was first rate. This book should be on everyone’s pull list.

Dead She Said #3 (of 3) – Writer Steve Niles, Art Bernie Wrightson, Colors Grant Goleash. Okay I’m a huge Bernie Wrightson art fan and this issue had a double page spread inside a lab that was just beautiful. We have giant ants, a monster that is a huge mass of many people’s body parts slammed together and a dead central character trying to save the day. This is Bernie at his best support by a wonderful mad and macabre story that must have been written with the artist in mind. I sure to heck hope we get another series out of this.

Welcome to Hoxford #2 – Everything Ben Templesmith. Ben Templesmith has created a wild and insane Werewolf tale. The doctor of Raymond Delgado (the central character) is upset that she lost Raymond to Hoxford and forces the Warden to give her a tour and answer her questions. Finally exasperated he locks her in his office. That night is a full moon and the people running Hoxford are the werewolves. They leave a few prisoners in a special area for their monthly hunt. This issue ends with a werewolf outside Raymond’s cell and Raymond is ready to get it on with the wolf, because Raymond is one really f**ked in the head crazy person.

I Kill Giants #2 (of 7) – Writer Joe Kelly, Art JM Ken Niimura. What I really love about this book is Barbara sarcasm and absolutely unwavering demeanor against the rest of the world. When a school bully asks for money and she puts out her hand Barbara spits in it. Later when the bully is about to smash her face in the girl says to Barbara “you are going to pee your pants.” Barbara replies “Why? You want them to match your underwear.” Of course she gets clobbered, but if you are going down, might as well do it in style. You have to fall in love with this character and wonder if the fantasies she has are in anyway real or just an escape from reality that has left her to be raised by her sister. This is a heartfelt, funny, touching and wonderful series so far. This is the best work I have read by Joe Kelly and JM Ken’s art is a perfect match for it.

BPRD The Warning #3 (of 5) – Story Mike Mignola & John Arcudi, Art Guy Davis, Colors Dave Stewart. You can almost feel the clock ticking as it feels like the end of the world is coming. The BPRD team continues to find more and more mysteries. The frogs appear to be tied to everything. This issue in Germany they discover some other creatures who before did not seem that advanced, but are now building giant robots that are attacking a city. Once you are immersed in the Mignolverse, you realize he ties in everything and this arc is really upping the ante as to the menace that is to come.

Invincible #52 – Writer Robert Kirkman, Pencils Ryan Ottley, Inks Cliff Rathburn, Colors FCO Plascencia. Kid Omni-Man is a lot more like his Dad then Invincible. You can see that it looks like there will be a showdown between Invincible and his brother, but his brother maybe more powerful. This issue Invincible rushes off to save the day and Kid Omni-Man comes in to help without Mark’s permission. The Mauler Twins launch a missile and Invincible goes to stop it, while he is doing that Kid Omni-Man kills the Mauler twins because he does not know his own strength. Invincible is back in the zone now and once again is an excellent book.

Pax Romana #3 (of 4) – All by Jonathan Hickman. I liked to say I following every bit of this story, but I’m not. It is so text heavy and dense in concepts that the gaps between issues are a little bit of a killer. The basic concept of a group of soldiers going back in time to change the world is interesting. Especially since these men are trained and knowledgeable of the past and can try and manipulate things the way they thing they should be. Of course as they admit themselves the further along they get the more difficult it is to be able to see what reactions their actions will cause. This is a fascinating read and just a flat out excellent book. I will be getting the trade down the road so I can re-read it as a single story over one or two nights as opposed to three to four months.

Final Crisis Revelations #2 (of 5) – Writer Greg Rucka, Pencils Phillip Tan, Inks Jonathan Glapion & Jeff de los Santos, Colors Nei Ruffino w/Ian Hannin. Granted it is called revelations, but I needed to be more up on my Christian mythology to catch all the references in this book. The Spectre goes to kill the Question for being the leader of the Order of Stone. The Spirit of Mercy intercedes and stays the Spectre’s hand. At the same time the Order of the Stone has killed Vandal Savage with the Spear of Destiny and that awakens Cain. Cain is looking for revenge against the Spectre who had marked him. This was an excellent and compelling read, highlighted by the interaction between Renee and Crispus who were detective partners in another life and are now the Question and the Spectre. Phillip Tan is doing an excellent job and his super hero realistic style works well with this story.

Batman Confidential #21 - Writer Fabian Nicieza, Art Kevin Maguire, Colors I.L.L. A great ending to what was a fun story about Batgirl (Babs) and Catwoman’s first meeting. In order for Batgirl to get back her Dad’s diary she was forced to run a gauntlet at Arkham Asylum. She fought through Catman, Cavalier, Signal Man, Clayface, Two-Face, Blockbuster and tip toed past the Joker all to get to the Riddler. When she finally gets there Catwoman had taken him out, but gives her the book. If you missed this arc, pick up the trade for a well written and drawn book that is very entertaining.

Simon Dark #12 – Writer Steve Niles, Art Scott Hampton, Colors Daniel Vozzo. – A solid wrap up to the first story line. There was a lot going on, but this book was part Frankenstein’s monster, part Edward Scissorhands and part gothic horror. While Niles is a fantastic horror writer he is much more then just a one note writer. You become enamored with Simon and are hoping so some positive resolution in this bizarre thing that he calls a life. I hope DC does a oversized hard cover of the first 12 issues as the art is as good as the story.

Goon #28 – by Eric Powell, Colors Dave Stewart. I love how Goon this issue is going around and beating up people because he heard they were paying tribute to Labrazzio. At the end of the story Frankie asks Goon how he knew those guys are working for Labrazzio. Goon says he doesn’t know, but he is making a point. The Zombie priest is now under Buzzard’s control and a plan is formulating to take down Labrizzo, but the Zombie priest cat will apparently rat out Buzzard and Goon. Goon is always a great looking book with Eric’s art and while the story has more continuity then usual it is still an easy book to pick up and enjoy for all the absurd moments in it.

Straw Men #2 (of 12) – Adapted by Joe Brusha, Art Brett Weldele. This issue and the first issue are all set-up and mood. The sketchy minimalist style and the dark muted colors add to the overall effect of the darkness of this tale. I’m not sure if there will be a supernatural element to this tale, but the set-up is very compelling. The Straw Men are still a big unknown, but you know at least that they capture and kill young woman. The creepy vibe around these people continues to grow and at this point the story has a good scary edge because the Straw Men feel like they could be real. The biggest compliment I can pay this book is that it makes me want to read the source material.

Criminal Macabre Cell Block 666 #1 (of 4) – Writer Steve Niles, Art Nick Stakal, Colors Michelle Marsden. This book is one of those series that once you get into it, you enjoy it. Describing this book is difficult as Cal McDonald is a homeless private eye whose best friend is a dead guy, who acts as his second. This issue we start off with Cal being wanted by the police. For reasons unknown Cal is set up to be captured by them. This book is film noir private eye meets every horror film character you can think off, with loads of sarcasm coming out of Cal. I can’t do it justice but it is a very good read.

Dynamo 5 #16 – Writer Jay Faerber, Art Mahmud Asrar, Colors Ron Riley. Scrap has pulled a new team together and they shut down a rogue operation of Flag. At the same time we check in on a couple other team members who have returned to civilian life. Then Scrap receives word about Maddie and she goes to get Scatterbrain, their telepath as she needs help only he can provide. This is a wonderful series and one of the best group books on the stands.

Trinity #15 – Front Half - Writer Kurt Busiek, Pencil Mark Bagley, Inks Art Thibert, Colors Pete Pantazis Back Half – Writers Kurt Busiek & Fabian Nicieza, Art Scott McDaniels and Andy Ownes, Colors Allen Passalaqua. This was my favorite issue to date. The Trinity shows up at the evil Trinity’s headquarters. The evil Trinity is surprised, but feels confident they are ready to defeat them. Batman lets them know they had been there for an hour and has already rigged the whole area. Still confident they are ready to fight them with their minions and themselves. Again Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman brought almost the entire DCU as back-up. The back-up story gets into the battle of everyone else versus the all the bad guys. Also in the back up Gangbuster and Hawkman go to look for Tarot. Well written and continuing to build on itself in a flawless manner and the great art by Bagley seals the deal.

Neozoic #6 – Writer Paul Ens, Art J. Korim, Colors Jessie Lam. One of the true bright spots in comics that I fear is being killed by its bi-monthly schedule. I no longer believe that a continuing series can survive in this market for any significant length of time as bi-monthly. This book needs to be monthly and the color palate needs to be lightened up a little. The overall story is wonderful and rich with some many elements of world building that I love reading this book when it comes out. I’m just worried that due to the complex nature of the story that our ADD culture may drop this book since it is only a six time a year event.

Green Lantern Corps #28 – Writer Peter Tomasi, Pencils Luke Ross, Inks Fabio Laguna, Colors Nei Ruffino. This was a terrific issue. We have a quick resolution to who was targeting the family of new Green Lantern trainees. We have more development of Lantern Saarek who can commune with the dead; we got a surprise appearance by Ice to see Guy (the oddest couple ever) and some solid characterization of the trainees. Finally we get a great lead in to the “Darkest Night” storyline when Saarek is requested by a Guardian who has some marking/scarring on his face to find and commune with the corpse of the Anti-Monitor.

Epilogue #1 – Writer Steve Niles, Art Kyle Holtz, Colors Tom Smith. This was a nice beginning to this tale of a vampire who is now a vigilante crime fighter. Not only are we seeing part of his crime fighting career we are also learning of his tragic origin. Kyle Holtz dark and heavy black style fits this story very well. He looks like he could be a real scourge of the underworld, but things are foreshadowed that it appears some people would not want a vampire playing the role of a hero.
Ultimate Origins #4 (of 5) – Writer Brian Bendis, Art Butch Guice, Colors Justin Ponsor. Butch Guice’s art is always a welcome experience. His realistic style makes the surreal seem natural. The story was well done as we find out the present day group trying to create the super soldier formula was Reed Richards, Richard Parker, Hank Pym and Bruce Banner. Reed is pulled into the Baxter building project and Bruce experiments on himself and becomes the Hulk. In his first destructive act he kills the Parkers by accident leaving young Peter Parker an orphan. Retro-con or planned all along it worked well.

WonderWoman #24 – Writer Gail Simone, Art Bernard Chang, Colors Brad Anderson. The whole romance between Diana and Tom is not working for me at all. The bizzaro ceremony this issue as Tom’s meets Mom was also very strange and again it is not ringing true. Then the Wonder Woman movie thing came out of the blue and while the big white super intelligent apes as Diana’s entourage were funny, it also seemed out of character. I did like the surprise guest villain being the Queen of Fables. I can almost feel Gail struggling to get this book right and as the book has gotten better in spots I can see a light at the end of this tunnel and will hang on for a while longer. On a plus note I feel Bernard Chang’s second attempt as being part of the WW art duo went much better.

Booster Gold #12 – Writer Chuck Dixon, Pencils Dan Jurgens, Finished Art Norm Rapmund, Colors Hi-Fi. This was another fun issue of this book. Booster’s sister is playing Batgirl, Booster is playing Elvis, Booster has to fight himself, Booster steals the Batmobile and on and on. The time travel stuff always gets a little whacky but this story holds together as an entertaining tale.

Grimm Fairy Tales #30 – Writer Raven Gregory, Pencils Vic Drujiniu, Colors Garry Henderson. This was a better issue of this book then the last few have been. I did not realize how much I was missing Sela and Belinda’s battle. This issue gave us a lot of background on Sela and we see that she is not dead after all. Essentially Sela and Belinda represent the unending war of good vs. evil. This book still depends way too much on the good girl art and often the body positions the artists use are a little unnatural. I classify this as a light read and a guilty pleasure.

Secret Invasion #6 (of 8) – Writer Brain Bendis, Lenil Francis Yu, Inks Mark Morales, Colors Laura Martin & Emily Warren. The Skrulls tell the world they are here to help and we should embrace change. All the heroes gather in New York, a fight ensures, the issues ends. From the official hype “The final double-page spread of this issue will send chills down your spine, and that is a promise!!” This was another promise broken as this was a massive fight scene that we have seen hundreds of times before. I’m still stunned – a tour de farce.

Green Arrow Black Canary #12 – Writer Judd Winick, Pencils Mike Norton, Inks Wayne Faucher, Colors David Baron. An unsatisfying conclusion to the entire Connor saga as everything wraps up rather quickly and the explanations are weak. The motivations behind Shado’s actions did not ring true. The big fight and wrap up was way too fast, I’m not sure why Dr. Sivana had a grudge against Green Arrow and at the end Connor seems to be making a great recovery for no apparent reason. Since they aged Green Arrow’s other son a little bit we now essentially have Ollie having three sons and a daughter (Roy, Connor, Robert & Speedy). This book has slipped from a favorite to one that I debate how long I will stay with it now.

Gen 13 #22 – Unreadable. Canceled. Even worse the back up story hints the whole thing can be re-set. That means the Wildstorm Universe’s destruction could get fixed and all the progress in making it interesting goes out the window.

1001 Arabian Nights Adventures of Sinbad #3 – This series was just not cutting it for me. Canceled.

Still think I can try and refine the short review better, but this will be an evolving thing over time.


  1. Jim-

    Shorter reviews worked well.

    BUT, I don't understand how Booster Gold ended at the bottom of the pile. You had nothing bad to say about it but the blue (to me) indicates to junk.

    What's up?

  2. Lee - Should have added, good but forgettable.

  3. I'm excited to read I Kill Giants #2