Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Best to Worst of Last Week

I was going to do a full blown review of Strangers in Paradise (Pocket Book #1), but over 340 pages of work by Terry Moore included so many things that I did not think I could do it justice. Still the complex love triangle of Francine, Katchoo and David is one hell of a good story. The involved background of Katchoo was a surprise to me and this book is never 100% what you expect it to be. Also it is a totally different book then Echo, but it is still well written and great art. Moore seemed to be a different artist back then, with heavy use of inks and a lot more use of blacks. Finally Echo feels like a story that is already completed with a beginning, middle and end. Strangers in Paradise feels like more of it is being created on the fly. I have now picked up Volume 2 and I highly recommend Volume 1.

Superman New Krypton Special #1 – Writes Geoff Johns, James Robinson & Sterling Gates, Pencils Gary Frank, Pete Woods & Renato Guedes, Inks Jon Sibal, Pete Woods & Wilson Magahaes, Colors Hi-Fi. What a great issue of Superman setting up this current story line. With Geoff Johns and James Robinson at the helm of the two Superman titles we appear to be in a renaissance period. This story picks up with the death of Jonathan Kent and the funeral. The touching scene of Clark on the floor of the barn obviously distraught while going through the things he and his father had put aside was highly emotional. This issue also incorporated the Jimmy Olsen special, showed that Brainiac is still a menace to contend with and showed just how dangerous having 100,000 super people will be for the world. It was sometimes subtle and other times overt, but it appears to me that there is some question as to the mental status of these Kryptonians and they have a definite sense of superiority. The conflict with Lois and her sister Lucy was also nicely done. We also get the shock ending that Lois’ Dad is alive and behind a unit that was tasked with killing Superman or at least being ready for it. Add to that Lex being recruited by General Lane and you have the beginning for one hell of a great arc in the Superman titles over the next couple of months.

Final Crisis #4 (of 7) - Writer Grant Morrison, Art JG Jones, Carlos Pacheco & Jesus Merino, Colors Alex Sinclair. This was a very cool issue. The Earth has fallen like never before and is being turned into Apokolips. The main story is being narrated by Detective Turpin who we discover is being possessed and/or turned into Darkseid. This was a powerful issue as we see the anti-life equation has taken over most of the planet. We find that heroes have gathered at six Watchtowers around the world trying to hold back the evil that is taking over the planet. We see Barry and Wally have a touching if brief reunion, we see Black Canary have to say good bye to Green Arrow as he covers her and others escape. We see Iris Allen taken over by the anti-life equation only to be freed by a kiss from Barry Allen. At the end we see Detective Turpin lose his battle and become Darkseid. DC could have easily let this take over their entire line of books and allowed all the rest of the DCU come to a crashing halt. It was a bold move to not do so and how this book is ultimately incorporated into the DCU will be interesting to see. Still despite the art woes and other headaches this series has had the internet all buzzing about, so far this stands as a very well done series that will be one I want to read again.

Scalped #22 – Writer Jason Aaron, Art R.M. Guera, Colors Giulla Brusco. This issue again focuses on Red Crow and we flashback to 35 years ago when he lead a group of activists. Red Crow discovers evidence that leads him to believe that they have an FBI informant inside of his group. Red Crow determines who it is and kills the man with his bare hands. In the present day story line Red Crow is trying to live a better life to help Gina Bad Horse soul cross-over as he has been entrusted with her soul bag. He also is given information that his organization may have an FBI spy planted in is organization (and we know that is Dash Bad-Horse). The story flashes back and forth and shows some of the repercussions of what Red Crow did then to what life is like today. This is an incredibly powerful series and really deserves to be collected in a hard cover format. This is Jason Aaron’s best work.

Daredevil #112 – Writer Ed Brubaker, Art Michael Lark & Stefano Gaudiano, Colors Matt Hollingsworth. This issue was very strong and read very fast, yet conveyed a ton of information and moved the plot forward at a good clip. Dakota wakes in Matt’s bedroom and instantly regrets last night’s decision. As she looks for Matt she sees he is being arrested. She ultimately gets to the police station and provides Matt with an alibi for the murders he was framed for with that occurred last night. Of course that means admitting to or at least insinuating they slept together. Lady Bullseyes’ plan is being slowly revealed as we see she is testing Tarantula and Iron Fist. The issue ends with an odd man showing up at Matt’s townhouse asking for Matt’s help in destroying the hand. Ed has done a good job on Daredevil for the most part, but has now moved up his game up on this book to very good or even great lately.

Criminal #6 – Writer Ed Brubaker, Art Sean Phillips, Colors Val Staples. “Bad Night” has been my favorite story so far in this series (including volume 1). This issue Iris and Jacob dump the dead body of Iris’ boy-friend and clean up everything as well as they can. Iris and Jacob decide to split up for awhile until things die down. Jacob gets a knock on his door from a police Detective who could never prove Jacob killed his wife. He has evidence that is linking Jacob to a dead FBI agent. Jacob gets worried and tracks down Iris, only to find she is in cahoots with the Detective and the whole score was planned to be a cross and a double cross.
Samurai Legend #2 (of 4) – Writer Jean-Francois Di Giorgio, Art Frederic Genet, Colors Delphine Rieu. This book is what you would expect from a Samurai story or at least what I expect. A solo trek across the country turns into a mission to save a young girl. That girl turns into a key to a mystery that could take down an Empire. It also contains lots of sword fights and plenty of action and some great characterization. Add in some terrific artwork and you have an excellent comic.

Final Crisis Submit – Writer Grant Morrison, Pencils Matthew Clark, Inks Norm Rapmund, Rob Hunter and Don Ho, Colors Tanya and Richard Horie. I read this after Final Crisis #4, which is out of order, but it did not hurt the story. Grant gives us a great little spotlight by showing us the Earth as it exist since Darkseid has won. He does this by focusing on one hero Black Lighting who is apparently acting as news carrier as the printed word is the only way to keep the free people informed. Black Lighting ends up helping to save Tattoo Man and his family. Tattoo Man realizes that there is no good guy versus bad guy anymore; it is humanity fighting for its existence. So while Black Lighting is captured and turned into a justifier, the Tattoo Man carries on the message Black Lighting was delivering. The art was good, but they drew Black Lighting way too young given he has two grown daughters. This story was another one to put in the plus column for Final Crisis.

Challenger Deep #3 (of 4) – Story Andrew Cosby & Andy Schmidt, Script Andy Schmidt, Art Chee, Colors Andrew Dalhouse. This is just a great action/adventure story. This issue they get to the sub and just as time runs out he deactivates the missiles and saves the day. Unfortunately turmoil inside the sub sends the sub over the side of an oversea cliff and the missile timer resets to 12 hours. This is a very enjoyable tightly plotted and fast paced adventure.

Hellblazer #248 – Writer Andy Diggle, Art Leonardo Manco, Colors Lee Loughridge. This issue sets up the finale of Andy Diggle’s run. John takes out Mako and Lord Burnham and sets them up in a trap for all eternity. Afterwards John is musing things are going along way too smoothly and looks up Chas to go out drinking with. He has an epiphany and comes back to her hotel room and yells at the mirror saying that he is onto him. I have no clue who that is, but next issue should be good.

Echo #7 – By Terry Moore. This issue as this was more of a character building chapter of the story and a slow paced one at that. Oddly enough that does not bother me with this book as I’m not looking at this to be an action/adventure type pace, but more of a drama or a novel type pace. We do get some good scenes showing Ivy Raven tracking Julie down and a funny scene with a guard monkey. Also the man who has another part of the suit is out roaming the highways and maybe coming after Julie to get more of the suit.

Batman Gotham After Midnight #6 (of 12) – Writer Steve Niles, Art Kelley Jones, Colors Michelle Madsen. This was a wild tale of the Joker and Midnight teaming up to try and take down Batman. Instead once they have succeeded they argue amongst themselves and leave Batman an opening to take them down and save the day. This series reminds me a little of the Longest Halloween and Steve Niles is taking us on a tour of Batman’s rogues gallery and letting Kelly Jones just cut loose.

Captain America #43 – Writer Ed Brubaker, Pencils Luke Ross, Inks Fabio Laguna, Colors Frank D’Armata. A good issue of Captain America and one that has starting to like Bucky as Captain America. It was recently I said that Ed had not hooked me onto Bucky being Cap and this issue delivered a story that is starting to make me hope that Steve Rogers is as dead as any comic book character can be. It was done as a flashback of a WWII adventure and the current time story where Bucky stumbles onto a robbery by Batroc and fails to stop him from stealing some data. The bad guys discover the new Cap is the former Winter Soldier and I get the sense the WWII story and Bucky’s Winter Soldier years and his new identity as Cap are all going to collide in this story. Luke Ross is the artist on this arc and while his art is decent, it is a step down from Epting and Guice.

Rest #1 – Writer Mark Powers, Illustrated by Shawn McManus & Lizzy John. The zero issue was all set-up and a little background, but this issue served the exact same purpose, which I guess is okay, but it felt a little redundant. I’m still waiting to go into the deeper part of what this story will be about. The idea of a drug that can make you stay awake 24/7 is crazy enough, but it apparently it increases your stamina and makes you better in other ways. You know there has to be a downside and we are shown two pages of a crazed killer who may have been another guinea pig for the drug. This was still a very good start and lots of intrigue and plenty of mysteries to get the series off to a good start. The crux of the story is John’s (the central character) old college friend and roommate recruits him to be another volunteer to take Rest. What was very impressive is how they made this story so current by having the radio having a news story playing about the $700 billion bailout plan. I’m guessing that gimmick will be used again, but it is a very cool idea to make the comic set firmly in today.

Invincible #54 – Writer Robert Kirkman, Pencils Ryan Ottley, Inks Cliff Rathburn, Colors FCO Plascencia. I enjoyed this issue a lot. Invincible has his first real date with Atom Eve. Right as the date begins a glowing portal opens up next to them and Mark is taken into the future. He is taken to a future where Immortal has gone crazy after being alone all these years running Earth for Mark’s Empire. Mark stops Immortal and tells the guys from the future how to keep him from coming back to life. Mark is upset over what he learns about what he may become. Thanks to the magic of time travel he comes back right when he left and after a little soul searching with Eve their date resumes and ends with each professing love for the other. I like the occasional happy ending. Invincible has been an excellent series again, after the slight malaise that hit this book.

Unknown Soldier #1 – Writer Joshua Dysart, Art Alberto Ponticelli, Colors Oscar Celestini. A good beginning to this new Vertigo series. It did not knock my socks off like Madam Xandu, but it has definitely grabbed my interest. The central character is a Dr. Lwanga Moses, whose family fled from Uganda and then raised Lwanga in the USA. He becomes a Harvard trained medical doctor and has gone back to Uganda and has a beautiful wife Sera who is also a doctor from Uganda. The timeframe is 2002 and the violence in Northern Uganda and the amount of displaced persons is extraordinarily high. Many of the details of the story are based on facts, once we get into what ever is happening to Lwanga is obviously not based on fact. It appears the soul of the Unknown Soldier possesses him. This possession is causing nightmares and Dr. Moses to be able to take decisive and violent action in order to save his life. It is also causing Lwanga Moses to question his sanity.
Fear Agent #24 I Against I (PT 3 of 6) – Main Feature Writer Rick Remender, Pencils Tony Moore, Inks John Lucas, Colors Lee Loughridge. I felt cheated by this book as the book is late and the main story has been cut down to just being the lead feature and was only 14 pages long. The 14 pages were good and we get to see Heath’s father now show up after Heath and Charlotte have reconciled, but you also have this feeling none of this world is real The back up feature was worthless and boring, it was not a good Fear Agent story at all.

Aethheric Mechanics GN – Writer Earren Ellis, Pencils Gianluca Pagliarani, Inks Chris Dreier. A good read, but essentially a single idea that wrapped up way too quickly. The idea is that a bunch of different books were made into what this scientists assumed is now the real world. In that world Sherlock Holmes (called a different name for copyright rules) figures out what is going on and he is told he is not real and is a fictional character. His ego can’t stand the idea so he kills the scientist who was going to set things right. It should be pointed out that England was being destroyed by an invading force and this scientist would have saved England from that fate. The ending was so quick, that it left me feeling Ellis had this idea, but did not want to take it that far and ended it the way Ellis ends many books with killing someone.

Birds of Prey #123 - Writer Tony Bedard, Pencils Michael O’Hare, Inks John Floyd, Colors Hi-Fi. This is still a good read, but I really do not like Platinum Flats as their headquarters. The confrontation with the Joker did not really occur as the Joker thought of Babs as a tech in a wheelchair and did not realize she was Gordon’s daughter until later. The Birds pick up the calculator and are going to use him as bait to draw out the bad guys, but the calculator is using them to set up a trap. As he springs his trap, the Joker realizes who Babs is and turns around to go after her. A good set-up up for what should be the concluding chapter next issue.

Ultimate Spider-Man #127 – Writer Brian Bendis, Pencils Stuart Immonen, Inks Wade Von Grawbadger, Colors Justin Ponsor. The one problem I have with this book is keeping Peter Parker so young, but the book itself is usually a quick and entertaining read. Of course the series has been blessed with having only two artists and both have been excellent for this book. In this issue we see Carnage (who takes the form of Gwen Stacy) escaping from custody. She ends up at Peter’s house and now he has to deal with her. At the same time Eddie is threatening to expose Peter if he doesn’t get him the Venom suit again.

Noble Causes #37 – Writer Jay Faerber, Art Yildiray Cinar, Colors Jacob Baake. I can’t believe this series is ending in three more issue as I have really been enjoying it. If Jay Faerber is being straight that the series is ending as he has nothing else to say about the characters, then I can live with that. But if the sales are good enough, he should hire a writer to take it over. The main story this issue was the fight between Invincible and Slate. The question was Slate fighting Invincible over jealousy about his wife liking Invincible or to help his sister escape from Invincible.

Trinity #21 – 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 Owens, Colors Allen Passalaqua. This issue we get to see what happened to the “new” trinity and we find out that it did not work out like they had planned as Despero was really Kanjar Ro. This causes Morgana and Enigma to be very powerful, but not connected to the source of power like they had planned to be. A nice unexpected twist and the front story gave us a quick origin of Morgana and Enigma. The back-up has Firestorm going to John Stewart for help in trying to set things right and we find out John has some techno organic thing in him that takes most of his will power to hold in.

Blue Beetle #32 – Writer Matthew Sturges, Art Andre Coelho, Color Guy Major. Blue Beetle, his Dad and Traci hunt down some of the guys who were used by Intergang as human test for a drug that gives someone powers and then kills them. The current Dr. Polaris goes off on a long diatribe while recruiting two henchmen that gives us his origin. A decent issue but still the overall plot to this arc is being dragged out too much. Also the political view being espoused about why the illegal immigrants are just poor people trying to find work was a little preachy. At least it makes sense given Jamie is of Hispanic descent and lives in El Paso, Texas that this issue would be front and center.

Zombie Tales #6 – Writers Monte Cook, Ian Brill and Pierluigi Cothran, Art Jeremy Rock, Toby Cypress & Todd Herman. Another three short Zombie Tales. Headshot was cute, but I say the ending coming a mile away. I Don’t Like Henry Crave was very enjoyable and a nice unique take on using a zombie. Devil Dogs was a really odd tribute band. This was a solid read and a good anthology book.
Wildcats #4 – Writer Christos Gage, Art Neil Googe, Colors Carrie Strachan. Back-UP Writer Christos Gage, Art Pete Woods, Colors Carrie Strachan. This issue we find out that some character named Tumbleweed is behind the forest being grown in the middle of nowhere. He can only do that trick around where he is and if he leaves the forest would die. Looking back over this two issue arc it was a wasted story as the overall plot was not advanced at all. I found the back-up to be meaningless also as I have no clue who Cybernary is and could care that she is confronting her father in a duel to the death.

X-Men Legacy #217 – Original Sin Part 2 – Writer Mike Carey, Pencils Scot Eaton, Inks Andrew Hennessy, Colors Jason Keith with Nathan Eyring and Rain Beredo. Instead of getting anywhere with what “really happened” between Wolverine and Professor X when Wolverine first joined the X-Men, we get a lot of Draken. Also we see Ms. Sinister acting very feminine and I believe Mr. Sinister was just reborn as a woman. The Hellfire Club and Shaw’s machinations to retake power seem to be the main story line at this point. The whole story is not working and a promising prologue has fallen flat.

Wolverine Manifest Destiny #1 (of 4) – Writer Jason Aaron, Art Stephen Segovia, Colors John Rauch. Jason Aaron is one of my favorite writers and for that alone I tried this mini-series. I find I amusing from a marketing standpoint that Marvel labels almost everything something, so I have no idea what “Manifest Destiny” is supposed to be about in all the X-books, but it appears this should be a stand alone story. It opens as pretty much as a standard fare story with Wolverine lately. Now that he has his memories he goes back to stuff to set things right, but it is still all cloaked in mystery to us. The set-up Wolverine goes into Chinatown in San Fran gets in a big fight and some girl he hung with from 50 years ago shows up with a big gun pointed at Wolverine. She of course is older, while Wolverine is not. Nothing really new or different here.

Secret Invasion #7 (of 8) - Writer Brian Bendis, Pencil Lenil Yu, Inks Mark Morales, Colors Laura Martin & Emily Warren. The entire book was one massive fight scene. It had a few nice moments such as Clint Barton picked up a bow and arrow and apparently shoots and kills the Skrull Queen. But essentially one massive fight scene where it was often difficult to tell who was who. What this issue showed me is the power of George Perez and his pencils. Lenil Yu’s massive fight scenes did not look good and Perez would have made this a killer book. I’m now convinced that Yu was the wrong choice for the artist on this book. It ended with whatever was given to the Wasp being activated by the Skrulls and she is now radiating some force that is causing pain to all the good guys. As always these event books live and die or how it ends.

Tangent Superman’s Reign #8 (OF 12) – Main Story Writer: Dan Jurgens, Pencils Wes Craig, Inks Dan Davis, Colors Kanila Tripp. Back-Up Writer Ron Marz, Pencils Andy Tong, Inks Mark McKenna, Colors Dom Regan. This series is falling apart a little in my opinion. First off the strong art team has been replaced by talent I have never heard of before and while they are competent, they are not as strong as the art was in the beginning. The Tangent Superman shows up on “New Earth” (I prefer Earth-1) and fights the New Earth Superman. The Tangent Superman destroys the White House and then moves on from there. We have the heroes from both Earths trying to figure out how to stop the Tangent Superman and in the back up story we see an underground organization trying to overthrow the Tangent Government. This series would have been better just being about the Tangent Universe and maybe one or two guest starts from New Earth. This series seems obsessed with showing us the same named heroes side by side so we can see how different the TU is.

Ghost Rider Danny Ketch #1 (of 5) – Writer Simon Spurrier, Pencils Javier Saltares, Inks Tom Palmer, Colors Dan Brown. This issue is all set-up and begins with Danny Ketch roaming around being a drunken and a brawler. Apparently since the curse was exorcised from Danny he has been lost and he wants to be the Ghost Rider again. I’m not sure how this plays into the regular Ghost Rider book except as a prelude. I’ll hand out for one more issue and then may drop it.

New Avengers #46 – Writer Brian Bendis, Pencils Billy Tan, Inks Matt Banning, Colors Justin Ponsor. The Hood and his band of super villains discover skrulls in Shield. They are not sure how to use this information and the Hood goes off to contemplate what to do. He confronts a mirror and asks the source of his power to reveal who it is. We find out it is Dormammu the Dr. Strange villain. This shock just bored me to tears, as certain villains belong with certain characters and Dormammu works best as a straight up Dr. Strange bad guy. This also feels let a set up for future stories and so far is limited in how it ties to Secret Invasion.

Thunderbolts #125 - Writer Christos Gage, Art Fernando Blanco, Color Frank Martin. Mercifully this cross-over is over. It does have the odd happenstance of having almost the same pages from Secret Invasion #7 being drawn in this book so I guess we see the villain perspective. Thunderbolts went from a very good to a very mediocre book very fast. If Andy Diggle was not coming on as writer next issue I would have canceled this book.

I’m really thinking about dropping the two new Marvel mini-series I started this week, as Marvel has decided to price all their mini-series at $3.99 per issue and not $2.99. So dropping the Wolverine and Ghost Rider book saves me $28 in cover price. If Marvel wants to up the price point to $3.99 then the mini-series needs to be extra special and neither of these two really fit that description. Hell I just talked myself into it. GHOST RIDER DANNY KETCH AND WOLVERINE MANIFEST DESTINY CANCELLED!

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