Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Best to Worst of Last Week

Nothing to do with comics or this column per say, but have you ever tried to dust off a lamp that you touch to turn on. We have two such lamps that have three different light settings. Yes I know I can unplug the lamp to clean it, but I always start to just dust it off and then as you do the lamp goes from low to medium to high and then off, on and on and on as you are dusting it. At times it is both amusing and maddening to me at the same time. And in answer to that question from Lee, yes I do housework and no, I will not do your housework.

On the political front it has been amusing to see both parties have no clue what to do about the implosion of our economy. The government propping up all the financial institutions is not the solution either. Essentially we have been spending like a drunken sailor for generations and it is time to pay the piper. If you think this crisis has passed think again.

On that cheerful note onto the best to worst:

All Star Superman #12 – Writer Grant Morrison, Pencils Frank Quitely, Digitally Inked and Colored by Jamie Grant. This was an absolutely amazing end to the best Superman story of all time. It was an emotional ride as Superman comes back to life to save the world only to die again. Grant Morrison has a fair number of stories that could be called seminal runs, but this will be hard to top. It shows what a creator matched with a great artist can do when allowed to tell a story their own way without worries over continuity or anything else. Put my name down for the Absolute as these 12 issues need to be collected in a top format and be on my bookcase. Beautiful!

Action Comics #869 – Writer Geoff Johns, Pencils Gary Frank , Inks Jon Sibal, Colors Brad Anderson. – Johns and Frank on Action comics are a perfect team and the stories they are telling are really re-establishing Superman’s life and background. What was really insane to me this issue was the additional iteration of Supergirl’s origin. Her story is so convoluted and now Johns has added in the Argo City floating around idea also. The ending was a great cliff hanger as Brainiac fires a missile to sent Earth’s sun into a super nova to destroy Earth now that he gathered Metropolis into his collection.

Scalped #21 – Writer Jason Aaron, Art RM Guera, Colors Glulia Brussco. Welcome back RM Guerra, whose art fits this book like a glove and is a superior artist to the fill-in artist of the last two issues. Dash is not even in this book as it is all about Red Crow. First he is trying to deal with some people who have supplied him with the money to build his casino, and then he is given the burden of watching over Gina Bad Horse’s soul bundle. The person who watches it must lead a harmonious life and avoid conflict for a year. Since the book opened with Red Crow apologizing to the soul bundle before walking into a bar with a gun, you know no good can came of him trying to protect that soul. Scalped is a great series.

DC Wildstorm Dreamwar #6 (of 6) –Writer Keith Giffen, Art Lee Garbett and Trevor Scott, Colors Gabe Eltaeb. This was a terrific ending to a great little mini-series. Lee Garbett and Trevor Scott’s art was stunning. The actual story was a lot of fun as Giffen came up with a great villain and premise that allowed the WU and DCU to at first fight each other and then ultimately team-up to win the day. If you skipped this mini-series, get the trade and treat yourself to an excellent universe collides type sage.

Echo #6 – by Terry Moore. This series just continues to excel. Every issue builds on the last and the people are so real you feel like you could turn around a corner and meet them. Julie and Dillon are trying to unravel what has happened and are getting to know each other and Julie is learning about Annie. At the same time Ivy is searching Julie’s place and finding out things about her that makes Ivy oddly happy (and we are not privy to what she has found at this point).


Sword #11 – Story, Script, Layouts Joshua Luna, Story and Illustrations Jonathan Luna. The Luna Brothers managed to keep me on my toes and did not disappoint with this issue. I thought that they had to either have Dara win or the fight be a draw otherwise how can the book go on. Instead they have Dara winning the fight and then Zakros counters with a vicious attack separating Dara from the sword and her legs from her body. Now that is a frelling cliff hanger.

Trinity #16 – Front Story Writer Kurt Busiek, Pencils Mark Bagley, Inks Art Thibert, Colors Pete Pantazis; Back Story Writers Kurt Busiek & Fabian Nicieza, Art Mike Norton & Jerry Ordway, Colors Allen Passalaqua. This issue the sh*t hits the fan. The Trinity are fighting Morgana, Enigma & Despero and seem to be winning as their merging has made them all more coordinated as a team. Also they discover Enigma is the anti-matter Riddler and they wonder shouldn’t he be a … and never finish the thought that he should be a hero. Right at the end they realize Despero is not who he appears to be and Batman gets branded and the world falls apart. The back-up has Gangbuster and Hawkman freeing Tarot just in tine for everything to fall apart. It looks like the bad guys have replaced the Trinity.

Moon Knight #22 – Writer Mike Benson, Art Mark Texeira, Layouts Javier Saltares, Colors Dan Brown. This book is hitting all the right buttons for me right now. I was turned off during the first six issues, but I’m enjoying this book a lot right now as Marc Spector is totally on his own and now fighting the Thunderbolts. What makes this a good battle is Mark is beating people with super powers, when he really has none. Also since the Thunderbolts are not exactly good guys and Moon Knight is more of a good guy it makes for an interesting dichotomy. Of course Marc is getting the snot beat out of him and his chances of surviving this are slim.

Walking Dead #52 – Writer Robert Kirkman, Art Charles Adlard, Gray Tones Cliff Rathburn. This series has been in a good groove for quite some time and this issue is no exception. Rick and Carl are on the road trying to find a safe haven and run into Michonne. Michonne can see that Rick has lost his nerve and confidence and she basically tells him to get his act together. Rick is trying to find his way back to the farm that his group left long ago. I really don’t see Rick surviving much longer. Any person can only take so much and Rick seems to have reached his limit.

Guardians of the Galaxy #5 – Writers Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, Pencils Paul Pelletier, Inks Rick Magyar, Colors Guru eFX. Aaarghh, I hate that this series is bogged down in the damn Secret Invasion stuff. I know it may spike the sales, but this book is just developing and needs to be its own thing before being interrupted with a cross-over or thematic tie-in. Still the writers are making it work as best as they can. Drax is roaming around nowhere and has planted synaptic disruptor charges almost everywhere. His idea is to kill everyone and find out who is a skrull. I have to assume these devices will “temporarily” kill everyone. Still you have to admire Drax’s direct method for resolving a problem.

Hellblazer #247 – Writer Andy Diggle, Art Leonardo Manco, Colors Lee Loughridge. John is going after Mako. Mako is accruing more and more power and seems way more powerful then John. At the same time Lord Burnham (who has allied himself with Mako) is apparently making plan for his afterlife to be one hell of a setup. This issue is all set-up to set the stage for John’s final confrontation with Burnham and Mako and you have to wonder how many other people will be f**ked during their battle.

Astounding Wolf-Man #8 – Writer Robert Kirkman, Art Jason Howard, Colors Jason Howard and FCO Plascencia. I enjoyed the way this issue just jumped right into the story and let us catch up. After the shock ending of last issue I was expecting to almost start from where we left off, but this was better. Gary is now wanted for the murder of his wife and is on the run heading west for reasons unknown. His daughter is back at their home and obviously hates her father as she had to bury her mother alone. At the end of this issue Gary has sought out the Werewolf that changed him looking for advice on how to kill a vampire.

Atomic Robo Dogs of War #2 (of 5) – Writer Brian Clevinger, Art Scott Wegner, Colors Rhonda Patterson. This book just always rocks. This issue Robo goes head to head against the walking Nazi tanks. With help from some of the ground troops Robo manages to knock out five of them while taking his lumps at the same time. The Nazi’s retreat, but Robo is going after the rest of them. Atomic Robo continues to be a great series.

Mighty Avengers #18 – Writer Brian Bendis, Art Stefano Caselli, Colors Daniele Rudoni. This was a solid issue as we see Nick Fury training his new young team of super powered commandoes. Nick is in a precarious position and what I like best is his training methods are harsh and borderline cruel, but is what is necessary from his perspective. Nick Fury is a tough as nails leader and this shows Nick being Nick. It also gave us a chance to know some of these new characters a little better. I would love to see Marvel do a Nick Fury series.

Stormwatch PHD #14 – Writer Ian Edginton, Pencils Leandro Fernandez, Inks Francisco Paronzini, Colors Carrie Strachan. This was a very good issue of this series. Stormwatch finds three super powered Korean heroes who have to eat people to keep up their strength. They first go toe to toe with them and have them beaten when the people rise up and save them, even giving their lives willingly to keep them strong. Next Stormwatch appeals to their intellect and tells them they could help find another source for their needs to keep them from eating people. They decide against that and attack and Stormwatch teleports them into space to die.

Ghost Rider #27 – Writer Jason Aaron, Art Tan Eng Huat, Colors Jose Villarrubia. When you are away from a character for awhile things change, I never knew Johnny Blaze and Danny Ketch were brothers, I assume half-brothers. This issue we see a new Caretaker created and Johnny has to pursue Danny to find the angel Zadriel. The nasty part of this book was to see the old Caretaker die and then go to heaven and still have to suffer having his soul torn apart, even dieing doesn’t get you out of trouble in this book. All of this is set-up for the next arc which promises to resolve the fate of Heaven and have Johnny and Danny go up against each other.

Robin #178 – Writer Fabian Nicieza, Art Freddie Williams II, Colors Guy Major. Given the sudden shift in writers Robin has held together very well, of course my love for the character helps and Freddie Williams II is back as the artists. This story is post RIP and the sense that things are falling about without Batman is starting to become palatable feeling in Gotham. The gang war, Jason Bard, Ragman, Spoiler and the return of a character I barely remember the General who has grown up; are all used very effectively. The book has a real direction and the series has recovered from losing Chuck Dixon already.

Zombie Tales #5 – Writers Willima Messner-Loebs, Brian Augustyn and Ian Brill, Artists Matt Cossin, Leno Carvalho (excellent work) and Jason Ho. This was a good issue of this anthology series. The first story was about love and faith overcoming even a Zombie plague. The second was about someone who had no faith finding enough to at least question her lack of faith. The third was a nice little twist on how to find back against the Zombie hoards.

X-Men First Class #16 – Writer Jeff Parker, Pencils Patrick Scherberger, Inks Craig Yeung, Colors Val Staples. The first thing I read as I open the book that this is the last issue of this series as a monthly. Next up is a Giant-Sized issue and then it will be a mini-series in February. Worse I could not find an article on what the heck happened to this series, which is my favorite X-Men series. I guess a lighter hearted tone book does not fit in a darker and grimmer world that comics have become, especially in a post 9/11 world. This was a fun issue with Bobby Drake (Iceman) and Johnny Storm (the Human Torch) getting upset with their teams and becoming a new dynamic duo in New York.

Birds of Prey #122 – Writer Tony Bedard, Pencils Michael O’Hare, Inks John Floyd, Colors Hi-Fi. This issue Manhunter gets her memories back. The Joker and Visionary begin a plan to smoke out Oracle. The issue ends with Babs trying to cover the Birds tracks by talking to what she assumed was a police officer at their door, but it is the Joker. In other words an issue of set-up so we can have a confrontation between the Joker and Oracle.

Rann Thanagar Holy War #5 (of 8) – Writer Jim Starlin, Pencils Ron Lim, Inks Rob Hunter, Colors Jeromy Cox. Adam Strange screwed up and cost Starman his homeworld. Hawkman and Adam Strange prevent the Rann fleet from being destroyed by the Thanagar fleet. Lady Styx is coming back to join the fray. Synnar is destroyed and reborn as Lord Synnar who is a godlike being called the Nameless. So much is going on with this book that Starfire and Animal Man were off camera almost the entire book. I’m enjoying this series, but it will read better as a trade.

Batman and the Outsiders #11 – Writer Frank Tieri, Pencils Ryan Benjamin, Inks Saleem Crawford, Colors Tom Chu. So it seems to be apparent that the whole RIP story line has to be why Chuck Dixon is no longer with DC as when both books he was writing hit their RIP points he is off those books. This book is such a convoluted mess as this issue revolves around the Outsiders wondering what to do without Batman. What I find amusing is after 10 issues what have the Outsiders done anyway. At the end of the issue a tape of Batman starts to play to the Outsiders telling them he needs their help. While it does not work to advance the group at all, it does keep me interested in the actual RIP storyline and I’m impatient for the main series to come out again.

Tangent Superman’s Reign #7 (of 12) – Writer Dan Jurgens, Pencils Wes Craig, Inks Dan Davis, Colors Kanilla Tripp, Back-Up Writer Ron Marz, Pencils Andie Tong, Inks Mark McKenna, Colors Dom Regan. This issue the Tangent Superman ends up on the normal DCU world and at the end we see Superman and Superman meeting each other. Back on the Tangent world our Batman and some of the Tangent heroes managed to get to where the Tangent Superman has been holding a lot of the good guys as prisoners. This is a fun series, but it gets so confused trying to talk about multiple characters with the same names. Also once you are this deep into a 12 part series you are either committed to the end or have dropped it.

Conan the Cimmerian #3 – Writer Time Truman, Artists Tomas Giorello (Conan) & Richard Corben (Connacht), Colors Jose Villarrubia. This book is so damn frustrating. I enjoy reading a good Conan adventure and this issue it looked like we were going to get one, and then halfway into the issue we got the beginning of another story about Conan’s grandfather. At least it was a relatively short interlude, but the book is called Conan! I read that this arc last till issue #7 with continual stories about Conan’s grandfather. What a huge mistake in starting up the title with a new #1 to downplay the main character. The actual Conan story was interesting where he ends up fighting some former friends helping a Cimmerian woman he knew from when he was younger. Next issue the Conan portion looks good, but I hate the constant apparently pointless flashbacks of Connacht.

Gravel #5 – Story & Script Warren Ellis, Script Mike Wolfer, Art Oscar Jimenez, Colors Juanmar. I’m hanging in on this series until for the end of this arc, where Gravel is going around fighting and killing the rest of the minor seven. The problem I’m having with this book is the sameness of each issue to the last one. Gravel is roaming around, gets to the next one of the minor seven and fights them and kills them. What is the overall point to the story and is there a larger story at play?

Titans #5 – Writer Judd Winick, Pencils Julian Lopez, Inks Prentis Rollins & Bit with Rodney Ramos, Colors Edgar Delgado. I was ready to can this series, but this issue stayed the ax. The art was much better, the relationship between Nightwing and Starfire was resolved to my satisfaction (they are just friends) and the main story was decent. This issue Gar goes to Raven to see how she is doing after all that has happened with her “family”. She confesses that she is worried that her “dark side” is the real her and not just an aspect of her character. Her brothers show up and she reverts to her family form and leaves with them.


Flash #244 – Writer Alan Burnett, Pencils Paco Diaz Inks Drew Geraci & Rebecca Buchman, Colors Tanya and Richard Horie. This book is really hitting the skids. This issue Flash all of a sudden is de-powered back to the time when he could not run faster then the speed of sound. When he gets home after fighting some insect based villain it looks like he has aged due to using his powers at a higher rate then he should have. It appears that he now has the problem his kids just got cured of. The Flash is on his third writer and this series is not finding any sort of rhythm. To make matter worse the book is now on its third artist also. I don’t get what DC is doing to some of their best characters. I’m now starting to look forward to this book being put on hiatus while Geoff Johns does a series about the Return of Barry Allen into the DCU.

Casey Blue Beyond Tomorrow #5 (of 6) – Writer B. Clay Moore, Pencils Carlo Barberi, Inks Jacob Eguren, Colors Strachan, Eltaeb & Royer. So Casey Blue is being trained by someone from the future, to stop that future from occurring, but some other guys are back from the future trying to stop her (sounds like the Terminator plotline). Of course Casey doesn’t understand any better then I do and everyone seems to have a hidden agenda. The best part was during a field trip Casey has to off two guys trying to kill her. The art is carrying this book, because the plotline is why too contrived and all time traveler plots are extremely difficult to execute.

Tales of Penance Trial of the Century #2 (of 4) – Story Sean Wise & Paul Gilligan, Script Ryan Foley, Art GOOF. The second issue felt like there was too much trying to be explained. I felt like the book was demanding to be a little longer. GOOF is sill learning as an artist, but manages to convey all the needed details, but the book was too text heavy and was bogged down in trying to fill in too many blanks.

Checkmate #30 – Writer Bruce Jones, Art Manuel Garcia, Colors Santiago Arcas. You can just feel this series winding down and for me that is a shame. I was enjoying Rucka’s take on Checkmate and once he left it feels like this is a story about a new character Chimera and Checkmate barely plays a role in the story. The other bad part about it, is the Chimera character is interesting as is his story, but why is it being done as a Checkmate story. Oh well, this series ends with the next issue.

Batgirl #3 (of 6) – Writer Adam Beechen, Pencils Jim Calafiore, Inks Mark McKenna, Colors Nathan Eyring. This is becoming the daughters of Deathstroke and David Cain book. We have Batgirl, Ravager and now Marque all teaming up to take down another group of young women being trained by Cain and/or Deathstroke. I know the end game is for Cassie to prove that she belongs as part of the Bat-family again, but the actual plot is a little convoluted and connecting things that don’t seem to fit.

Brave and Bold #17 – Writer Marv Wolfman, Art Phil Winslade, Colors Chris Chuckry. This was a lame story and to me shows why Marv Wolfman has lost it as a strong comic book writer. The interpretations of Supergirl and Raven both seem dated and yet they are based on current continuity. Still we have moved past Supergirl’s convoluted past for the most part, but Marv draws on that as a main story point. Raven is this goth high school girl who seems to be very much in control which directly counters what is happening in Titans. I know this book is not continuity bound, but the portrait of both of these characters feels out of synch. As such I’m thankful this is only two issues long and therefore can deal with one more issue of this story and look forward to the next writer David Hine.

Air #2 – In its own way this is an okay story and probably would have worked for me as a graphic novel. The artwork is solid, but the story is a little too odd for me to really get into. Canceled.

War Heroes #2 (of 6) - This book just leaves me a little cold. The story is a little all over the place and the premise has too many logic flaws. The art is solid, but the story is ot keeping me with this book. Canceled.

Greatest Hits #1 (of 6) – I came into this book with a negative attitude and while the artwork was excellent, the story jumped all over the place in time. Also this story is taking the story of the Beatles and the Fantastic Four and tossing it into a blender with some sort of mocumentary twist to it. Canceled.

I have to say that All Star Superman was the best Superman story ever produced. Grant Morrison, Frank Quietly and Jamie Grant have the greatest story ever done about Superman. What is especially fantastic about the story is that it was built on all that had been done before and took the best of that material and made it into something stunning. This was a true modern masterpiece of comics’ art.

Surprising week for cancellations as I had three books bite the dust, this is big number as lately I have cut very few books. I think each one of the titles suffered a false sense of the story being more then it was.


  1. Moon Knight a good guy? You are totally missing the point of the series if you think he is a good guy.

    Let's see, lately he's been beating criminal's within an inch of their life, permanently scarring them with a moon symbol, and barely holding back from killing them outright.

    Oh yeah, and he's taken to wearing the Bushmaster skin (think back the first issue).

    He's a total psychotic barely better than Venom.

    A great series though.

  2. Okay I'll give you that, but it is fun because the T-Bolts are bad guys being good guys and Moon Knight is a good guy who has gone over the edge, buy still barely on the good guy side who is now a bad guy per the government. Good and evil is all in how things are portrayed.