Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Best to Worst of Last Week

I’m looking to do another commentary one day about the direct market. I’m convinced that the direct market is now a hindrance to this market and no longer the saving grace it once was. Also with the economic situation looking rather bleak this is a good time for the market to rethink how they can expand as I’m sure the direct market will be contraction. For the record I think that no bailout should be done. I think any intervention will just prolong the pain. I agree with a comment I heard of just give every taxpayer a million dollars, it will be cheaper then the bailout (is that true?) and everyone can afford their mortgage and consumer goods will fly off the shelf. Of course no one will be playing the lottery after that.

Madam Xandu #4 - Writer Matt Wagner, Pencils Amy Reeder Hadley, Inks Richard Friend, Colors Guy Major. This book is a beautiful book. The art by Amy Reeder Hadley is just captivating. The story is equally well done. The little bits that tie into the regular DCU are just so subtle and well played that as a long time fan I can’t help but to appreciate all the work that has gone into this series. This issue we see Madam Xanadu try to get a relationship going with the Phantom Stranger. She saves Khan’s fourth consort from being brutalized and killed, but not in time to stop the rape. She makes Marco Polo a hero and he is given a reward and chooses a green lantern (Alan Scott’s lantern) that has great mystical powers and reawakens a spark of Madam Xanadu’s old powers. A short review cannot do this book justice, but this is the best series coming out of Vertigo right now and has to be my favorite new series of 2008 (so far).

Samurai #1 (of 4) – Writer Jean Fracois Di Giorgio, Art Frederic Genet, Colors Delphine Rieu. I may have issues with Marvel comics and some of their plans, but I love that they are publishing some of Soleil’s books. Samurai is a beautifully illustrated book and a well told tale. We start off with a Warlord and a discovery that is said to be a threat to the empire. Then we flashback 16 years ago and catch up with a Samurai on a mission to find his brother and gets caught up in saving a young girl. The story is very well done and this is an excellent start to this series, I may have to get the hard cover.

I Kill Giants #3 (of 7) – Writer Joe Kelly, Art JM Ken Niimura. This is an excellent series and this issue we get a lot deeper into Barbara’s problems. It is not clear if any of her fantasies have any truth to them, but we do know that Barbara has a troubled life. She also has issues with her big sister, who seems to be doing all she knows how to do to help her. We see the school psychologist trying to help Barbara as best as she can and she seems to be making limited progress. At the same time the fantasy aspect of Barbara’s world has gotten a lot scarier and you still are not 100% if some of it is possibly real. This is a story that mixes so many things together, but manages to really make you feel for Barbara and hope for her to make it through this time in her life. The cartoon nature of the artwork manages to be both light hearted and convey the deep emotions that resonate in this story.

Dead Ahead #1 (of 3) – Writers Clark Castillo & Mel Smith, Additional Wordsmith Paul Birch, Illustrator Alex Nino, Colors Moose Bauman. I had no clue that Alex Nino was doing all of the art for this story. That alone is enough to make me buy the book. When I was younger Alex’s style was so different from what I had seen before I was not enamored with it. As I got older and started to appreciate different styles more and more I realized just how great of an artist Alex is. His work has not fallen off and looked terrific. The actual story itself is a good one as the Zombie plague hits while a fishing boat is out at sea. This group of mainly strangers has to learn how to survive in a world that has gone to hell. The one part of this book that hurt it for me was the lettering being put directly into the art. Between the small font, stylized lettering without text boxes it made it hard to actually read parts of the narration. I know they were trying to avoid impacting the beautiful art, but the solution left something to be desired.

Northlanders #10 – Writer Brian Wood, Art Dean Ormston. This is a very good series. This issue was the second part of Lindisfarne. Here we see the Vikings conclude their raid of a Saxon town and the boy watches as both his father and older brother die. As he pretty well hates them (with good reason) he has no problem seeing them die. He manages to draw first blood in a battle with a Viking he befriended in order to win his way into being taken back with them. We then cut to years later and we see he is now a Northlander and part of the raiding forces attacking his home country. This story had a lot of emotion and just a very cool and tough tale.


Fables #76 – Writer Bill Willingham, Art Michael Allred, Colors Laura Allred. Last issue we were promised a new status quo, so this breather issue was a little bit of a disappointment, but not the actual story itself. First off Mike Allred was the guest artist and his unique style worked fine with this issue, but Pinocchio did look so different as it took me a second to recognize him. The actual story of seeing how Geppetto is going to fit into Fabletown was well done as we see the nasty and still a true bastard Geppetto interact with Fabletown walking around the city. We also find out why this deal was struck and why King Cole and company think it is not a big deal. Fables continues to be a great series and looks like it could easily go on another 75 issues.

Daredevil #111- Writer Ed Brubaker, Pencils Clay Mann, Inks Stefano Gaudiano, Colors Matt Hollingsworth. This issue was the introduction of Lady Bullseye and I’m not really sure what to make of the character at this time. What was very interesting is seeing what happened with Matt and Dakota this issue. Matt and she fall into bed together and Matt immediately has a guilt trip. Matt’s personal life is more interesting than Daredevil’s adventures right now. Lady Bullseye is involved with the hand and they are looking to take out Danny Rand, the Tarantula, Wolverine and an unnamed old man. They specifically want DD to be kept out of their business and LB has apparently framed DD for murder. A very good start to this new arc and Clay Mann with help from the normal inker and colorist did a good job on maintaining the high quality of the artwork.

Solomon Kane #1 (of 5) – Writer Scott Allie, Artist Mario Guevara, Color Dave Stewart. This was a good start to this series. I’m not familiar with Solomon Kane so I needed to learn about whom this guy is and what he is about and this issue did exactly that. In this story he is a wanderer who goes about killing those he feels are evil men. He encounters thieves in the woods and takes them out and save a man from a hanging. Then he meets up with another traveler and decides he will check out the owner of the local castle to see if he is the one who is in need of killing. The artwork was great, the story was well told and I’m looking forward to issue #2.

Back to Brooklyn #1 (of 5) – Story Garth Ennis & Jimmy Palmiotti, Writer Garth Ennis, Art Mihailo Vukelic. The number two man in the Brooklyn crime family comes to the police to give everyone up. He first wants his family saved, but the head of the family already has them. Bob (the #2 guy) tells the police to leave him alone and he will go to Brooklyn and save his family and come back and give up the entire operation. Bob’s first actions are to find a safe house and kill everybody to try and find where his family is being held. This was a tough and violent opening for a very good story. The art is good, but has the feeling of being over photoshopped or something. The backgrounds and figures do not have the feeling of being one organic whole. Even with the art issues I have, this looks to be an excellent shoot’em up action/adventure.

All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder #10 - Writer Frank Miller, Pencils Jim Lee, Inks Scott Williams, Colors Alex Sinclair. I enjoyed this issue, in that it slowed down the story and gave us a ton of vignettes that featured Batgirl, Jim Gordon, Batman, Catwoman and Black Canary. Each character was given a little more depth and we learned quite a lot about each one. Jim Lee’s art is beautiful and Miller gives him tons of big pages and double page spreads to show off. The only problem I have with this series is it does not come out often enough.

Trinity #17 – Front Story Writer Kurt Busiek, Pencils Mark Bagley, Inks Art Thibert, Colors Pete Pantazis, Back-Up Writers Kurt Busiek & Fabian Nicieza, Art Scott McDaniel & Andy Owen, Colors Allen Passalaqua. The pacing of this story is just spot on. We are one third through the story and it looks like Morgana, Enigma and Despero have replaced Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. In the front part we see the spell is cast and the Kronos is apparently released from the Cosmic Egg. In the back-up we learn who Konvict is and we also see the reality wave pass through Earth and change everything. Trinity continues to get better and better and the pace and timing of how the story rolls out is done very well. A good series is getting better and better and starting to strive to become a book you don’t want to miss.

Legion of Super Heroes #46 –Writer Jim Shooter, Pencils Francis Manapul, Inks Livesay with Mark McKenna, Colors Jo Smith. Jim Shooter has this book firing on all cylinders for me. He has the overriding story of the Destroyers going on and at the same time continues to advance other sub plots and build characterization all at the same time. A large group book is one of the hardest things there is to do and Shooter still does it as well or better then almost anyone else writing today. I enjoyed the interplay with Saturn Girl, Lighting Lad and Ultra Boy as this romantic triangle develops. Of course being steeped in all versions of the Legion it is odd not seeing Ultra Boy and Tinya as a couple and it still takes a little getting used to.

Nova #17 – Writers Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, Pencils Wellington Alves with Geraldo Burges, Inks Scott Hanna, Colors Guru eFX. This issue worked out very well. It manages to be a legitimate Secret Invasion book and at the same time advances the Nova story line. Nova comes home, has to go see what is happening where his brother works and helps Darkhawk fight off skrulls attacking Project Pegasus. Also in an effort to use the Worldmind and re-boot it, it appears as the Wendell Vaughn Quasar is brought back to life. A lot more happens, but it was an issue that typifies when this series is at its best developing Nova and what may or may not ever be the restarting of the Nova corps.

Superman Batman #52 – Writers Michael Green & Mike Johnson, Art Rafael Albuquerque, Colors Cris Peter. This was an oddly endearing two part story featuring the Li’l Justice League. The overall story ends with a loss of innocence for the Li’l heroes and we see Bat-Mite and Mr. Mxyzptlk were behind the entire episode. The artist did a nice job of keeping the book lighter in tone, let letting the emotion of the death of Li’l Superman come though very well. I would never have imagined that I would have enjoyed such an odd premise, but it was really done very well. The story manages to be cute, funny and still tell a moving story.

Batman Gotham After Midnight #5 (of 12) – Writer Steve Niles, Art Kelly Jones, Colors Michelle Madsen. Kelly Jones art is almost impressionistic at times and it often seems almost a little sloppy, but the more you see his work the more you appreciate his line work. This issue the villain Midnite and Batman face off, but Midnite gains the upper hand and leaves a gruesome message to Gotham about their Batman. This creative team is delivering a very enjoyable and over the top story about Batman, his rogues gallery and exploring Bruce Wayne’s character a little bit. If you are skipping this book, you are missing a great maxi-series.

Superman #680 – Writer James Robinson, Pencils Renato Guedes, Inks Wilson Magalhaes, Colors Hi-Fi. This was a great issue of Superman. Krypto to the rescue. Super dog comes in and will not give up against Atlas. Atlas continues to try and get rid of Krypto but he keeps coming back and coming back. Superman figures out something is wrong and realizes Atlas has magic on his side. While Krypto continues to fight Superman gets a magic shield and comes back to kick Atlas a**. It all works due to Krypto giving Superman the time to do what he needed to do. Super dog is a really stupid and lame concept, but James Robinson made it work.

Hellboy The Crooked Man #3 (of 3) – Writer Mike Mignola, Art Richard Corben, Colors Dave Stewart. This little mini-series had a good ending. I enjoyed Corben’s work immensely on this series and his “Crooked Man” was especially well done. My favorite part of the book was after they defeated the devil, when they turned the witch at the heart of this trouble back into a horse.

Ultimate Spider-Man #126 – Writer Brian Bendis, Pencils Stuart Immonen, Inks Wade von Grawbadger, Colors Justin Ponsor. This was a good issue of this series. Peter has been absorbed by the symbiote and is Venom. As the Ultimates show up to fight him, we get to hear Peter crying out in horror in his mind as he cannot control Venom at all. Thor hits him with a lightning bolt and then Peter wakes up in bed, normal again. Peter finds out Nick Fury had taken care of everything and that the creature is in the government hands. It just was a great issue of what is a very solid series. It also shows why the Ulitmate Universe needs Nick Fury in it.

Cthulhu Tales #5 – The Doorman Writer Michael Alan Nelson, Art Mateus Santolouco; The Current Chaos Writer Todd Lepre Art Milton Sobreno. As much as I love anthology books sometimes I wonder about eight page stories and how much of the Lovecraft themed material I want to read. Then an issue comes along like this with just two stories that are both are extremely well done. The second story is about ambition funding a horror. The first is about a Doorman who protects the world from the horrors on the other side. The first story was especially well done.

Teen Titans #63 – Writer Sean McKeever, Pencils Eddy Barrows with Allan Goldman, Inks Ruy Joes and Julio Ferreira, Colors Rod Reis. Bombshell is the central menace this issue as I don’t even remember her being killed 20 issues ago, so her resurrection was not a big deal. Marvin (of Wendy and Marvin) is dead and we find out that Ares son was behind the attack. We also see that Wonder Girl’s powers are fluctuating and as she is the Teen Titans heavy hitter that is a big deal. This book is getting better as the multiple plot lines are being handled well and we got so good action going on with the Titans fighting Bombshell, who may not be a bad guy. Barrows’ artwork continues to improve and he is moving up in the quality of his work almost every issue.

Proof #12 –Writer Alex Grecian, Art Riley Rossmo, Colors Guzowski. This book is always a great read. This issue Proof is still fighting his fever which causes him to hallucinate. Also the leader of this religious cult takes Proof to a cave to see the “angel” they have been caring for. We also have Ginger in the sewers of New York looking for a golem. Finally we have a Chinese Ink Monkey and a fairy fighting it out inside the lodge. This is a great series were plot lines both big and small, tons of characterization and a great cast.

Black Panther #41 – Writer Jason Aaron, Art Jefte Palo. Ignoring the illogical factors associated with this story (such as the skrulls invasion force is repelled and killed by Wakanda way too easily) the feel of this book had a nice vibe to it. Jason Aaron gives you the emotional punch and you can’t help but root for the Black Panther and not cheer when his plan works out. The art is also well done, if not a little too muted in its coloring. The problem is when you step back from the book the internal logic inside the MU falls apart. The skrulls were too easily defeated, the Panther technology is ridiculously advanced and Storm killing people left and right leaves me a little cold. At the end it was still a good read and entertaining book.

Blue Beetle #31 – Writer Matthew Sturges, Art Andre Coelho, Colors Guy Major. This series just flat out rocks. This issue Blue Beetle gets unexpected help from Dr. Midnight who is trying to save the bad guys who were injected with a strange drug. Blue Beetle’s Mom helps out when bad guys invade the hospital she works at and we see Blue Beetle be set-up by a politician. I love seeing this hero in training continue to learn and grow within the super hero community and his own. This book continues to vie for best young super hero book on the market and is a very good series period.

New Avengers #45 – Writer Brian Bendis, Pencils Jim Cheung, Inks John Dell & Jay Leisten, Colors Justin Ponsor. This was an enjoyable little issue. I say little because little happened, but the art was great and the story of what happened to the embedded skrulls during the “House of M” event and the impact of the Annihilation wave played out well enough. We are seeing a good deal of effort being put into how much background Bendis has tried to establish and how much he has tried to think through the Skrull Invasion. The problem I have is the more logic you try to piece together the more you can see tons of holes in the story. I’m now curious to see how this will impact the MU.

Night & Fog #3 (of 6) – Writer Alex Leung & Matthew Bradford, Art Tomas Aira, Colors JM Ringuet. This book is doing a really good job with this horror story. We have the fog turning people into monsters. We have the hero trying to save the people inside the research facility and save his family. We have the wife trying to protect the kids hoping her husband (the hero) can save them. We also have the imminent threat of the US government annihilating the place to contain the threat and more sinister governmental secrets being exposed. This is a strong story that keeps you totally engaged. The art is competent and conveys the story but shows the artist still has room to improve.

Captain America #42 – Writer Ed Brubaker, Pencils Steve Epting & Luke Ross, Inkers Steve Epting, Rick Magyar & Fabio Laguna. Colors Frank D’Armata. Hurrah, yahoo, whoopee! This issue felt like we finally came to an end of a story arc. Captain (Bucky) America takes down Sin, saves the day and wins over the heart of America that is he is Captain America. The Red Skull gets defeated and survives, but only as a consciousness inside a robot like Zola. Sharon Carter is finally rescued, but is pretty well broken at this point. Cap and the Black Widow appear to be an item. Lots of plot threads were left dangling and many mysteries are still out and about, but it appears like we can now move past the Death of Captain America and maybe start Bucky’s career as the new Cap in earnest.

Wildcats #3 – Writer Christos Gage, Art Neil Googe, Colors Carrier Strachan, Back Up Writer Christos Gage, Pencils Mike McKone, Inks Andy Lanning, Colors Carrie Strachan. Since I’m not versed in all of the WU this issue had stuff in it that I’m sure was meant to have more impact then it did for me, but I thought it was a strong issue. The Wildcats are looking past their small enclave and run into a possible technological jungle in Nevada. They find out Paris (from Stormwatch PHD prior to Armagedon) has built a sanctuary for animals and these animals are super powered people who can shape shift. The back up was totally worthless as a have no familiarity with Team 7.

Station #3 (of 4) – Writer Johanna Stokes, Art Leno Carvalho, Colors Andrea Barreto. This issue has a great cover. The story is a classic locked room murder mystery and this issue two more crew members of the station are killed and you have to wonder if anyone will get out alive. The last panel makes you wonder what the endgame is as the Shuttle is jettisoned away from the Space Station, so if the idea was to kill everybody and yourself, why not blow up the Space Station? This is another well done and taunt thriller from BOOM.

Reign in Hell #3 (of 8) – Writer Keith Giffen, Pencils Tom Derenick, Inks Bill Sienkiewicz, Coors Mike Atiyeh. Dr. Occult Back Up Writer Keith Giffen, Pencils Justiniano, Inks Walden Wong, Colors Tom Chu. This series continues to intrigue me. It has not gotten me looking forward to each issue, but each issue is better then the last. This issue we see Zatanna paying a price for getting Blue Devil to hell and Blue Devil being used as cannon fodder to distract Etrigan. We catch up with Ragman, Nightshade and Enchantress as they bathe through hell and find out that the Creeper is tied into hell. Lots of great bits and good story telling going on and the back up with Dr. Occult is tying in nicely with the main story. A series that I almost skipped, but I’m happy I did not. The mix of Tom Derenick with Bill Sienkiewicz inking him is a great combination for this story.

Jack of Fables #26 – Writers Bill Willingham & Matt Sturges, Pencils Russ Braun, Inks Jose Marzan, Colors Daniel Vozzo. Okay we have the whole Bookburner story line going on and we are learning the history of the Paige sisters, but the end of this book was so great and is a perfect picture of what this book is about. At the end of this issue we get the cliff hanger of Humpty Dumpty flipping over the van Jack and friends are in and we see he has been put together again as a “deviled egg”. The book is both absurd and humorous and yet still manages to impart a sense of drama when needed. This is a good arc for this book.

Fall of Cthulhu Godwar #2 (of 4) –Writer Michael Alan Nelson, Art Mark Dos Santos, Color Renato Faccini. This issue we see the writer pulling everything he has been setting up together. While this is listed as a mini-series, he is pulling together elements that he set-up back in issue #1 when it was an ongoing series. I love it when a series can pay off like that for a reader and you can start to have those “a-ha” type moments. The problem I have with this issue is the artist. His work and skill set for telling a story is fine, his style is almost an animation style and comes across too clean and almost light hearted for such a dark story.
Contract #3 (OF 3) – Writer Garan Madeiros and Charles Shell, Art Ariel Padilla, Colors Danimation. This was all out fun. That is not to say the story did not conclude its adventure without adding some characterization and showing Jessie to be a good person, but it was fun. The mercenary team completed their contract with an issue involving a lot of action and showed both heart and then some humor in the last four pages.

X-Men Legacy #216 – Writer Mike Carey, Pencils Phi Briones, Inks Scott Hanna, Colors Brian Reber & Paul Trevino. I’m starting to come off of this book. At first it seemed to be an exploration of what is identity and Professor X was exploring his life via other memories. This issue it is all about Emma with Scott showing Professor X how horrible he has been for manipulating people with his telepathic powers. At least at the end he seems to have buried the hatchet with Scott, but the point of the series is starting to be lost on me.

Ambush Bug Year None #3 (of 6) – Plot & Pencils Keith Giffen, Dialogue Robert Loren Fleming, Inks Al Milgrom, Colors Guy Major. Not as bad as the last issue, but not even close to be as funny as the first issue. Outside of a great cover and a few occasional chuckles here and there I was less then impressed with this issue of Ambush Bug. There is so much material that is ripe for satire in comics and Ambush Bug is missing it since the first issue.

Thunderbolts #124- Writer Christos Gage, Art Fernando Blanco, Colors Frank Martin - I now wished I had skipped this arc altogether as the story is just not up to Gage’s normal standards. It feels almost disjointed as we see Norman Osbourne action as a field commander as the Thunderbolts fight the skrulls in Washington, DC. There as a few nice moments here and there, but the drama is lost due to the odd pacing of the book and the artwork being such a drop off from Mike Deodato.

Ultimates 3 #5 (of 5) – Writer Jeph Loeb, Art Joe Madiueira, Digital Paints Christian Lichtner. So not worth the wait. The story made a modicum of sense, but they added some crap about Dr. Doom at the end to make sure it was even more nonsense. The story left a bunch of mysteries floating around and they muddied the hell out of Joe Mad’s art. What a horrible series. Jeph Loeb has earned a pass from me on anything that has his name as writer.
Resurrection #6 – Too much time between issues and I have lost interest in what was a very promising comic. Canceled.

M-Theory #1 (of 3) – Too much of a cartoon and just too much going on. Missed being a pulp sci-fi tale and missed being a humor tale. Canceled.

When I cancel a book I have decided to not include the credits. My thought process is just because I did not like a comic it does not mean the creators did not do a good job, taste is subjective. Therefore I do not want anyone to think it is a critic of any creator.


  1. Just wanted to point out that Superman/Batman is an ideal read for kids. My 9-year-old and 13-year-old thought this storyline was a lot of fun! So did I. :)

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