Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Best to Worst of Last Week

This was a really good week for comics. It typifies what I really like in comics when a lot of continuing series have solid issue after solid issue. In my opinion comics are at their best when the series itself is strong and is not relying of some sort of event. Also as we are about halfway into October I’m starting to decide what has been my favorite material for the year.

Action Comics #870 – Writer Geoff Johns, Pencils Gary Frank, Inks Jon Sibal & Bit, Colors Brad Anderson. This was another excellent issue and a very emotional issue in what has become a potential seminal run by Geoff Johns on Action Comics. I hope Frank is back after the next arc, because his pencils are doing justice to this comic. In one issue we get Brainiac being defeated, Supergirl acting as a hero in helping Superman save the Earth, the release of the bottle city of Kandor (whose repercussions will be explored in the next arc that encompasses Superman, Action and Supergirl) and the death of Jonathan Kent. It was funny (odd way) because we just had a great All Star Superman that examined Superman’s lose when his Dad died and now we see Superman having to deal with it again. The juxtaposition of his great joy of seeing his world coming back to life with Kandor occurring with his great sorrow at the loss of his father was very well done. My own father is going to be 89 in November and I know that he could die at anytime (not in bad health, but he is at that age), so this type of material strikes a real emotional chord for me. Geoff Johns has been on a roll with his work like Warren Ellis was a year or so ago, where everything they do is gold. Robert Kirkman wants everyone to write creator owned stuff, not me, Johns has respect for these characters and writes them so well he almost owns them. Also I’m sure he compensated very well by DC and why would he want to leave a good paying job that he obviously loves.

Green Lantern #35 – Writer Geoff Johns, Pencils Ivan Reis, Inks Oclair Albert, Colors Ranov
Mayor. This series is more proof that Johns is certainly a candidate for writer of the year. The seven part re-telling of Hal’s origin makes you want Johns to just start telling Hal’s entire history all over again. The confrontation between the Guardians, Hal and Sinestro was fantastic and I know Johns is doing retro-cons to make his various Lantern corps work and set-up Darkest Night, but it reads perfectly and does not feel like a retro-con. Some great character moments between Hal and his brother and Hal and Carol Ferris just add so much to this book and make it more then a super hero story. Ivan Reis and Oclair Albert continue to channel an almost Neal Adams vibe to their artwork. This was an all around great effort and Johns has pretty well sealed the deal as doing a seminal run on Green Lantern.

Twelve #8 (of 12) – Writer J. Michael Straczynski, Art Chris Weston, Colors Chris Chuckry. What a fantastic series. This book is just a great read each and every time and Chris Weston manages to make the book modern, yet evoke an older time. The Black Widow is sexy and deadly and her origin was a tragic tale of revenge in exchange for power and damnation. Blue Blade is now tied into Electro and has found out some secret that may ultimately lead back to his death that we are still working our way back to. We have four issues left, but I can safely say that unless the end of this series is a total bomb, I will be looking for a 12 issue collection of this book to sit on my book shelf. JMS and Chris Weston are producing a great series that is touching on many themes, but ultimately is a great character study.

I Kill Giants #4 (of 7) – Writer Joe Kelly, Art JM Ken Niimura. This issue was very emotional and almost hard to read. Barbara goes home and her sister Karen hits the roof as Barbara antics at school has the school calling Karen to ask her about Barbara. Karen hits the roof and we see Barbara later on actually cutting herself. The pain and hurt that Barbara feels seems to revolve around her Mother being gone (we have not been told that story) and her father is apparently missing in action. This issue the bullies in school take their revenge and ambush Barbara and really beat the crap out of her. Barbara’s fears and anger are mixed into her fantasy world and we see that world along with Barbara. The pain this child feels is palatable and as you laugh at her stories you also feel her anger and isolation. This is a wonderful story that is laced with humor, fantasy and growing up and apparently dealing with some tragedy. If you missing this book, you are missing a true gem.

Secret Six #2 – Writer Gail Simone, Pencils Nocoloa Scott, Inks Doug Hazelwood, Colors Jason Wright. Another good issue, Gail just has a great handle on how to write this book. This issue Catman and Batman are fighting verbally and physically with each other. Catman was fighting a delaying action while his group sprung Tarantula for a client. Of course the mysterious bad guy wants all of the Secret Six killed and Batman was actually trying to give them a warning. My favorite line as Catman walks away (as he has no actual charges against so Batman can’t stop him), he says he let Batman win. I like how Gail has turned Catman from a joke into a really strong character. Nicola Scott’s art work has stepped up another notch and he is an artist that appears to be on the rise lately.

Crossed #1 (of 9) – Writer Garth Ennis, Art Jacen Burrows, Color Juanmar. Do not read this book if you are depressed as it could push you over the edge. With the financial meltdown going on worldwide we may think “end of the world” but Crossed is showing a nasty end of the world scenario and there is little hope in this story right now. The Crossed are plague infected people who rip you to shreds and do unspeakable acts to you as they are killing you. This issue gives us a small intrepid band of survivors and then shows you what they are up against. The way this series has opened I’m wondering if the end is not just the end of humanity. This is Ennis at his strongest and most shocking. Jacen Burrows art does justice to the story and his art seems to be improving and it was already very good.

Invincible #53 – Writer Robert Kirkman, Pencils Ryan Ottley, Inks Cliff Rathburn, Colors FCO Plascencia. This series is back with a vengeance. The story of Mark’s brother continues to intensify. Oliver in a conversation with Mark tries to explain to Mark that he is not human at all. He also explains that he is not as young as his appearance makes him out to be. Still Oliver realizes this is not solving the issues and he tells Mark that he will try and be more like Mark if it makes him happy. As they are hugging the look on Oliver’s face let’s the reader know it is all a lie. I think Oliver and Mark will eventually be having a fight and it maybe to the death.

BPRD The Warning #4 (of 5) – Writers Mike Mignola & John Arcudi, Art Guy Davis, Colors Dave Stewart. This series is so unreal at this point. So much is happening so fast that you feel like the issue can’t contain the whole story. The feeling of impending and an overwhelming menace continues to build and build. As giant robots are destroying a town in Germany, Abe gathers his troops to shut down the engine behind these behemoths. The Mignolverse has never been more exciting. This material deserves the same treatment as Hellboy has gotten with the oversized hard covers.

Fallen Angel #30 – Writer Peter David, Art JK Woodward. This series has gotten so good and it has always been a decent series, but this story line has made it even better. Angel, Jude and Mariah are looking for the City of Life to find a way to take back Bete Noire. This issue they are lost at sea and a storm knocks them out of the water and a shark attacks Jude. After an escape and finding an island Jude follows his vision by jumping into a live volcano and Angel follows in true faith by turning off her invulnerability. If you have never gotten into this series, try it out now.

Green Lantern Corps #29 – Writer Peter Tomasi, Pencils Patrick Gleason, Inks Drew Garaci & Rebecca Buchman, Colors Randy Mayor & Gabe Eltaeb. Peter Tomasi is doing some excellent work as a writer for DC and this book is no exception. He is deftly giving us great characterization, building a large cast of Green Lanterns and laying a lot of ground work for what is to come next year. The scenes with Guy and Ice were great and they encapsulated everything about their relationship. Kyle working with a group of Lanterns trying to ensure no other dangers for the new GLs families was good as was the return of the Star Sapphires. A nice origin story for the newest Star Sapphire was woven into the issue. A lot of stories and a lot of plot and character building and yet it read very easily. A very good issue in what has become a very strong companion title to Green Lantern.

Walking Dead #53 – Writer Robert Kirkman, Art Charles Adlard, Gray Tones Cliff Rathburn. This issue we hear someone say they know what caused this mess and they have a hope of turning it around. While I understand on one hand we can just continue to follow Rick and Carl as they make their way in a post apocalyptic world, there is a bigger part of me that is dying to know more of the full story. Now whether this rag tag group who has invaded Glen’s farm is telling the truth or not is a different story. Still it feels like the pace of this book picked up again and that was needed.

Red Mass For Mars #2 (of 4) – Writer/Colors Jonathan Hickman, Art Ryan Bodenheim, Colors Assist Marty Shelley. The length between issues is way too long, but the book is worth the wait. In 2115 we are awaiting an invading force that will destroy Earth and hope seems faint. A handful of super heroes and villains have gathered to try and figure out how to stop this force. At the same time a “hero” (Mars) who has been around for over a thousand years is uninterested in helping to save Earth, but does have a son on Earth. Thematically I’m not sure were we are going, but the execution and writing are strong as is the art. The lags between issues make me want to get any Jonathan Hickman story in trade and skip the long wait.

Simon Dark #13 – Writer Steve Niles, Art Scott Hampton, Colors Daniel Vozzo. This issue we get the origin of Tom, the police detective who has been Simon’s partner during some of this madness. We find out Tom was killed and then brought back to life by a mysterious doctor. Tom tells all of this to Beth, whom he would like to have a relationship with. Beth is a little taken back by his “origin”, but it appears they will be a couple. Simon and Rachael are also becoming fast friends as Simon introduces Rachael to his monster friends. This was a nice breather issue after all the excitement and fast pace of the first 12 issues. This book is funny in how it is marketed as it could easily have been a Vertigo series.

Necronomicon #2 (of 4) – Writer William Messner-Loebs, Art Andrew Rithcie. This series is so well done and has such a great premise. Set in 1924 we are following a young Arab student in America who communicates with his father via letters and we read his letters and see what is also really happening. Last issue the letter left his father happy, although we saw some of the horrors young Henry Said is facing. This issue the letter is contains some more of the horror he is dealing with and his father is not as happy. It has that creepy vibe to it like that works very well as we hope for the best but watch as Henry is drawn deeper into the darkness and you just know it will not be a happy ending.

Batman Confidential #22 – Writer Andrew Kreisberg, Pencils Scott McDaniel, Inks Andy Owens, Colors ILL. The beginning of a new arc and this is why I enjoy this type of Batman book, I think almost every writer has a good Batman script in them. This issue we see Batman turn the Joker in the police for the first time. We see just how insane and nasty the Joker is as he manipulates a police officer’s wife into committing suicide. A great start to a story line that looks like it will examine both how the police and Batman have to realize that the Joker is an unrepentant killer.

High Rollers #3 (of 4) – Wrter Gary Phillips, Art Sergio Carrera, Colors Andrew Dalhouse. Cameron is now the boss of Trey’s gangs, but all is not going exactly to plan as the old people Trey dealt with and some of Trey’s lieutenants are not happy with just taking orders from Cameron. Cameron is also trying to create a high end market for is drugs through his sister who owes him for saving her husband from some loan sharks. A lot is going on and it is done very well. I do not see how this story can wrap up in four issues unless Cameron gets killed. I’m hoping it ends with him consolidating his power and another High Rollers mini-series is coming down the line in 2009.

Trinity #19 – Front Story Writer Kurt Busiek, Pencils Mark Bagley, Inks Art Thibert, Colors Pete Pantazis, Back-Up Writers Kurt Busiek & Fabian Nicieza, Art Mike Norton & John Floyd, Colors Allen Passalaqua. Almost a breather issue as we catch up with Tarot and Gangbuster after the change has occurred. Tarot remembers Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman and no one else seems to remember much. We catch up with what Alfred would have become without Batman and he helps Tarot on her new purpose in life, which is to unravel what has happened to our world. The back up story has us meet a character who also seems to remember the world before and will obviously have some role to play in trying to set things right.

Detective Comics #849 – Writer Paul Dini, Pencils Dustin Nguyen, Inks Derek Fridolfs, Colors John Kalisz. The penultimate chapter of the “Heart of Hush” story line comes to a classic ending with Hush capturing Batman and essentially putting him n a death trap. It all wraps up in a double sized anniversary issue next month. I enjoyed that Batman actually brought in some specialized super-hero help with Mister Terrific and Dr. Midnight. Dr. Midnight has gone from a minor character to a character called on by many heroes to help out in medical emergencies. Hush has captured Batman, has Selina’s heart and has made himself to look like Bruce Wayne so he can kill all of his associates and destroy his life. How this fits into “RIP” is unclear, but in both books Batman is having the worse times of his life.

Goon #29 – by Eric Powell, Colors Dave Stewart. This was a very fast read. The story is essentially the Goon beating the Wicker Man. There is the normal little humor bits and darkness floating around. A great bit about Goon getting a dog for the orphan kids, but it was a quick read. The art was fantastic as always and it was a very solid and highly entertaining issue of the Goon. I know Powell has devoted a lot of effort to this series this year, but the book at times almost has too much continuity.

Final Crisis Revelations #3 (of 5) – Writer Greg Rucka, Pencils Philip Tan, Inks Jonathan Glapion, Colors Nei Ruffino. The Anti-Life Equation has taken over a large percentage of people in Gotham City, including Batwoman. As Renee tries to fight her and is getting beaten the Spectre and the Spirit of Mercy stepped in to save her. At the same time Vandal Savage (now reborn as Cain) is coming to kill the Spectre with the “spear of destiny”. The spear has been around in the DCU forever and was the reason super-heroes could not get to Hitler (as he had it). The end of the story has Cain winning and putting the spear into the Spectre. The DCU is looking bleak at the moment and you can see evil is winning.

Ferryman #1 (OF 5) – Writer Marc Andreyko, Art Jonathan Wayshak, Colrs Carrie Strahan & Gabe Eltaeb. I was not sure what to expect with this, but it worked. Some corporate hotshot had apparently sold his soul to the devil and the Ferryman comes to collect. What follows is an insane chase scene in a building and out onto the streets until the Ferryman delivers the man to the devil. The artwork is a scratchy somewhat impressionist and yet still realistic style that fits the darkness that pervades this story. This was a very cool opening to a new mini-series.

End League #5 – Writer Rick Remender, Art Eric Cante, Colors Naomi Baker. It feels like a different book with the radical shift in the art style, but at least I feel like I’m starting to get a little better handle on this story. It is funny how many stories we are seeing about what happens after the villains win. Wanted had that theme, Final Crisis is exploring that theme and so is End League. Still I’m getting to know the characters better and getting an overall feel for where Remender is going and if they get on a monthly schedule it will help.
Corps #0 – Writer Rick Remender, Art Michael Penick, Colors Kevin Cross. A nice taste of what this book will be about. A group of covert mercenaries has been hired to save a man fighting the drug cartels. They break though his defenses and get to his office you think to save him, but then turn to try and kill him. One of the team members had not sold out so a battle ensues between her and the other operatives.

Cthulhu Tales #6 – I have decided to cancel this book and it is not for the quality of the book itself, but due to reaching a saturation point with certain material. I have enjoyed a lot of the Cthulhu themed material and this issue is no exception (especially Drew Rausch’s art in the first story – best work I have seen from him). Still I find how much of this material is I want is limited (as it is usually very dark) and with the Necrocomicon and Fall of Cthulhu material that is enough. Three books a month was too much for my taste and something had to give and I choose this book.

X-Men Original Sin #1 – Chapter 1: Writer Daniel Way, Art Mike Deodato, Colors Rain Beredo; Chapter 2: Writer Mike Carey, Pencils Scot Eaton, Inks Andrew Hennessy, Colors Jason Keith. For a cross-over, ones that are contained between two books are much easier and this one-shot to get the series under way certainly tied in perfectly from the last two issues of the books that they are tying together. The funny thing is the series is setting up Wolverine looking for Professor X to help his son and does not talk as much about the fact that Wolverine joined the X-Men on behalf as Romulus as much as the Wolverine Origins prelude issue did. Since the series is called original sin it would seem this retro-con would be the main crux of the series and something that should have been referred to in the introductory chapter. Still it was a good set-up and has quelled my hostility towards being forced back onto Wolverine Origins for two more issues. I could have done without the extra dollar price tag that they charged me for a reprint of an old story pulled from X-Men Classics. While I had never seen this expansion of the original “New X-Men” story, it was unnecessary for this story and felt like a way to charge $4 and tell the fans that got extra for their money.

Wonder Woman #25 - Writer Gail Simone, Art Bernard Chang, Colors Kanilla Tripp. This issue was just okay and I certainly could have missed it and felt like I missed nothing. Gail has been very uneven on this book and I do not think Bernard Chang’s style is a good fit on this book or he should have an inker. The Queen of Fables and her making a movie about Wonder Woman who she sees as Snow White left me flat after reading it. Next issue we begin the major arc that I have been waiting for and look forward to see what Gail can do with that story line.

13 Chambers (One Shot) – Writer/Creator Christopher Morrison, Art Denis Merdi, Colors Romina Denti. This was okay. I like westerns and mixing in a little phony history is usually fun, but the story was almost generic and the artwork while competent was uninspired. I’ll put it this way, it was alright, but it does not make me care about another 13 Chambers story if and when it gets produced. The first story should have been more about the history of the program and more on how these special guns came about as opposed to a generic adventure about the end of the program. Strong concept and idea, mediocre execution against said concept.

Green Arrow Black Canary #13 – Writer Judd Winick, Pencils Mike Norton, Inks Wayne
Faucher, Colors David Baron. This issue was okay, but I’m barely hanging on. The focus is on Speedy and Dodger as they are going out fighting crime and then on a date. Speedy tells him she is HIV positive and still in good health and Dodger kisses her and makes her know he does not care. A nice story and all of that, but isn’t this about Green Arrow and Black Canary. They are home trying to nurse Connor back to normalcy. Connor drops a knife in his foot and pulls it out and it heals. Connor is also still childlike, so we have this new mystery and problems with Connor. Read more like a soap opera and teen romance combination book than an action/adventure series. I’m happy that Winick is going off this book soon. He did a great job for a long time, but I’m ready for a new take on this book.

Every week will have a few books in the bottom portion and top portion, but this week the middle ground was unusually filled with well written and well done books. As I said at the start a good week of comics.

Late News Item:

DeFalco: Spider-Girl Ends with #30. - Matthew is in mourning - I hate when a favorite series dies so I know how you feel.

1 comment:

  1. There was a hint at this in issue 25 this week, but no real details. We've forestalled cancellation before, perhaps we can do it again. It's a real shame as this book was rocking lately.

    The only other Marvel books I get regularly are Captain America, Guardians of the Galaxy and New Exiles (which I haven't found time to read for 6 issues -- so it's already on the block). If Spider-girl goes, then nu-Marvel may go as well. At least I can read back issues and Omnibuses.

    The good news is we've just brought Matthew Jr home today!