Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Best to Worst of Last Week

This was a relatively quite week in comics for me. Nothing absolutely blew me away and the bad were mainly due to what I consider some price gouging by Marvel. I had been ignoring the price points of most comics, because if I read a book and like it then 9 times out of ten the bang was worth the buck. As economic times are getting harder and things do not look like they will improve anytime soon I have grown more sensitive to the price points of items and I’m now watching the prices closer then before. The indies are fine at $4 as there print runs are smaller and have different economics to deal with, but even there many of the companies are holding at $3 or just going to $3.50, so the $4 line is one that I watch now with the big two.

Madame Xanadu #5 – Writer Matt Wagner, Pencils Amy Reeder Hadley, Inks Richard Friend, Colors Guy Majors. I’m enjoying how Matt Wagner is skipping through time. We pick up Madame Xandu’s life during the French revolution as she is a seer to Marie Antoinette. It is the first time she is actually called Madame Xanadu during this series. Since she can forecast the future so she knows what is to come and takes her leave. A few years later guilt overwhelms her better judgment and she goes to visit the Queen as she awaits execution and is herself taken prisoner. The art (as always) is just flat out beautiful.

Final Crisis Rage of the Red Lanterns #1 – Writer Geoff Johns, Pencils Shane Davis, Inks Sandra Hope, Colors Nei Ruffino. I have no clue how this fits in with Final Crisis as it is really setting up more of what is going on with GL in 2009. This issue gives us the birth of the Red Lanterns and when they accept the red ring for rage their blood is purged out of their bodies in a rather gruesome manner, but fits the tone of the people who would become Red Lanterns. The first Red Lantern is a survivor of the massacre of sector 666, Atrocitus. He gathers a core together and attacks the Green Lanterns taking Sinestro to be executed on his home world. The Green Lanterns are being beaten back and Hal’s ring is running out of power when his ring starts to power up over 100% and it appears that a Blue Lantern has shown up to charge his ring. The Green Lantern series is going to be the big series for DC is 2009 and this issue is the launching point.

Superman #681 – Writer James Robinson, Pencils Renato Guedes, Inks Wilson Magalhaes, Colors David Curiel. Part 2 of the New Krypton story line and a return of the old triangles that the Superman comics used before when they were all tied together tightly. This issue really laid the ground work for what a dramatic shift having 100,000 super people would mean for the world. We see reactions at the Daily Planet, from the other super-heroes and the President of the US. We also get a great scene with Martha Kent that speaks to her new loneliness and I loved the visitor who came by to stay with her. The ending with Doomsday showing up was unexpected and this story line is looking to be another winning arc in the Superman books which have really stepped up their game.

Sword #12 – Story, Illustrations, Book Design Jonathans Luna, Story, Script, Layouts Joshua Luna. What a great battle. The Luna brothers continue to exceed any expectations I have about this book and deliver a terrific finale of the fight between Dara and the Zarkos. We see Dara have to put her legs back on her body and use the sword’s healing powers. We see her just continue unrelenting against Zarkos. The flashback to Dara and her sister gives us the framework for what is driving her as Zarkos killed her sister. Now the brother and sister are wondering if they are next.

Legion of Super Heroes #47 – Writer Jim Shooter, Pencils Rick Leonardi, Inks Dan Green, Colors JD Smith. I almost hate this type of issue where we allow a character to find happiness, but then taint it with an underlying tragedy. Brainiac 5 via a medium manages to go out of a date with Dream Girl (who is dead, but resides insides Brainy’s sleeping mind). Princess Projectra who is plotting against the Legion and the UP sees Dream Girl as a threat. While Brainy proposes to her, the Princess (unbeknownst to Brainy) attacks her with people sent into the dream realm and causes her to lose her second sight. While their love remains, Brainy thinks it was demons released from his mind that attacked Dream Girl.
Battlefields Night Witches #1 (of 3) – Writer Garth Ennis, Art Russ Braun, Colors Tony Avina. Garth must be one heck of a war historian and he always finds the greatest little true stories to tell us about wars. This mini-series is about the Night Witches, a group of female fighter pilots that was part of the Russian defense during WWII. Instead of true fighter planes they had biplanes to be used to fly missions at night to harass the invading German army. This issue we see there first mission and the realization that this old planes are going to be the death of all of the squadron. I really enjoy Ennis work on war comics; he is the best at this genre.

No Hero #2 (of 7) – Writer Warren Ellis, Art Juan Jose Ryp, Color Digikore Studios. This series is playing out very well and is Ellis at his best. The first issue was to find a new member to become a super hero as two members have been killed. This issue was to take the journey with Joshua as he starts the process from being normal to becoming a super human. The drug that does this is constantly referred to as a psychedelic and we see the results of that after Joshua takes the pill. The other part of the story is whether Carrick (the head of the Front Line) is pushing Joshua too fast as other people keep raising concerns that Joshua may not be ready. Carrick is determined as the Front Line is not at top strength and they have an unknown enemy.

Nova #18 – Writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, Pencils Wellington Alves & Geraldo Burges, Inks Scott Hanna, Colors Guru eFx. This is one of Marvel’s best series and does what a good continuing series should do and that is advanced the plotline every issue. This issue Nova and Darkhawk with a newly revived energy version of the Wendell Vaughn Quasar fight off the skrulls. The Nova Worldmind is back online and no longer inside Richard Ryder. A Skrull space ship is about to take out Project Pegasus when a group saves them. The shock ending it is a group of Nova Corpsmen calling Richard Nova Prime. The question is where they came from, so you have to be back next issue.

Hellboy in the Chapel of Moloch One Shot – By Mike Mignola. – It was just flat out wonderful to see Mignola as the artist as well as the writer. It was a short little tale about an artist who is taken over by darker forces. Hellboy comes in and saves the day, much to the chagrin of the artist who was feeling inspired by the demons.

Immortal Iron Fist #19 – Writer Duane Swiercynski, Art Travis Foreman & Russ Heath (pages 1-3), Colors Matt Milla. Since all Iron Fist are set to die at 33, the book needs to change its title and in fact this arc is called Mortal Iron Fist. Danny and Zhou Cheng have round 2, where Zhou has Danny’s young students as hostages and has taken over their minds. Danny has to surrender to save their lives, but he called in Luke and the other Immortal weapons to fight Zhou off yet again. Danny finds out Randall used heroin to mask his chi that Zhou uses to track the Iron Fist, which is not a road Danny is willing to travel. This issue ends with a betrayal and Danny being poisoned and Zhou standing over him about to rip out his heart. This has been a very enjoyable arc and has succeeded in keeping me on this book when I was seriously worried that once Brubaker and Fraction left I would also.

Resurrection Annual #1 – Writer Marc Guggenheim, Art Douglas Dabbs. I had dropped this series after the last issue, but heard this Annual was a final issue. Marc Guggenheim gave us some text on the back story and explained that the series will be re-launched, be monthly and will be in color. I’m back on this book. The pace of this type of story demands a monthly schedule and I like the concept so much I want to hang onto this series, so when it re-launches I will try it out again. Also I have to say that I like the new artist better then the original artist whose work seemed to suffer as the series went on. The concept is the aliens invaded Earth and won, ten years later they leave and how do we put together our world again.

Beyond Wonderland #3 (of 6) – Writer Raven Gregory, Art Daniel Leister, Colors Nei Ruffino. Callie is trying her best to remain positive, but with her brother (now the Mad Hatter) killing people around her it has not been easy. Especially as Callie is unaware that her boyfriend was killed and did not leave her and she has no idea her brother is back from Wonderland and killed her friend. You see the forces from Wonderland starting to surround her, but you still hope Callie can prevail.

Savage #1 (of 4) – Co-Plotted by Jeff Frank & Steve Niles, Script by Jeff Frank & Dan Wickline, Art Mike Mayhew, Colors Frank Bravo. Right now we have an apparent maniac who is compelled to kill certain people. The first person we see him kill is a woman who appears to be a vampire or something. He gets to a small town and is targeting a young man who is apparently going to be given the job of stopping the evil. The killer sees evil throughout the town and is unable to contain himself and brutally slays a person who lives in the town. This time we have no indication if the person is evil or not. Who is this killer? Why does our everyman seem to be his target or unwitting protégé? Is the killer crazy or is there something that needs killing? These are questions I hoped are answered in the next three issues. This was a good start to this mini-series and certainly has me looking for issue #2.

Streets of Glory #6 (of 6) – Writer Garth Ennis, Art Mike Wolfer, Colors Andrew Dalhouse. This was a solid ending to a blood and guts western by Garth Ennis. I liked this story as the bad guy tells Colonel Dunn everything he has done and why he did it (to clear out this town and buy the land as the railroad needs the property). Colonel Dunn backs down and goes to see his ex-wife and finds she will not reconcile. One of his few friends commits suicide rather then slowly die from an illness. Dunn realizes nothing is left, so he goes after the bad guy. He fights through his body guards and takes a few hits himself before killing the bad guy himself. He rides out of town, only to die a few miles away from all the bullets he took.

Solomon Kane #2 (of 5) – Writer Scott Allie, Artist Mario Guevara, Colors Dave Stewart. This series is a nice addition to the Howard inspired line that Dark Horse is developing. I enjoy how stand offish Solomon comes across and also how pious as you would expect someone like him to be. It appears that the simple murders he was trying to prevent are tied into some larger dark forces that have yet to be revealed.
Ferryman #2 (of 5) – Writer Marc Andreyko, Art Jonathan Wayshak, Colors Gabe Eltaeb. This issue we find out who the Ferryman is and the Devil has one last person he wants retrieved before he releases Gideon. We also find out Gideon’s tragic past that he was a cop whose wife was killed by a “Son of Sam” type and when Gideon killed him in court he was killed in return. So as Gideon goes after his last job before being released by the devil, the devil has called up the man who he killed. No deal with the devil ever goes well. The artwork really fits this book well, both realistic and exaggerated at different times, dark but readable, great job and a dead on perfect fit for the story.

Proof #13 – Proof Segment Writer Alex Grecian, Art Riley Rossmo, Colors Adam Guzowski & Kelly Tindall. This was another fun issue from the Proof creators. Proof is still feverish and out in the woods somewhere and is constantly hallucinating. Ginger is still in the sewers searching for the Golem and was first joined by an old police friend and now her ex-boy friend and Elvis are in the sewer with her. We also got two nice little back features and I especially enjoyed the Screamland feature.

Superman Batman #53 – Story Michael Green and Mike Johnson, Dialogue Mike Johnson, Pencils Rags Morales, Inks John Dell, Colors Nei Ruffino. I have decided that this series is its own continuity and that what happens here is just for this book. This issue Superman and Batman have a run in with the Silver Banshee and somehow they start to switch powers. What I liked is it did not happen all at once and Superman lost his power of flight while he was in the air. How will each deal with being the other and what caused it, is what the rest of the arc will explore. This was a good opening to this arc and I always enjoy Rags Morales art, although I think Michael Bair is a better inker for Rags.

Superman Batman Vs Vampires Werewolves #2(of 6) – Writer Kevin NvanHook, Art Tom Mandrake, Colors Nathan Eyring. This is turning into more of a gothic horror story with some Lovecraft over tones versus super heroes. While the clash of those genres is not something I would recommend so far it is working. The focus is on Batman and Nightwing this issue as they capture both a Vampire and Werewolf. Batman tracks down the “mad scientist” who is connected to this and finds a rather bizarre monster manifesting itself out of the scientist. After defeating that monster with help from a Vampire they run up to the roof and see a gigantic monster that Superman is flying in to take on. Tom Mandrake is doing a great job on this book and his style fits this tale like a glove.

Astounding Wolf-Man #9 – Writer Robert Kirkman, Art Jason Howard, Colors Jason Howard & FCO Plascencia. Gary (Wolf-Man) Hampton has found the Elder Werewolf who turned him and is now looking for help to learn how to use his powers better so he can take out the Vampire who killed his wife. The Elder is training him in a very harsh manner and appears to have killed Gary at the end of this issue. Of course Gary’s daughter still thinks he killed his wife and she has hired some demonic looking person to track down her Dad. This series is reading better and better and the faster pace in publishing is helping a lot.

Northlanders #11 – Writer Brian Wood, Art Ryan Kelly, Colors Dave McCaig. This arc is dealing with an Irishman and his daughter who is being hunted down by the King’s men. My history is a little fuzzy but a quick internet search shows that apparently Ireland was under the rule of Denmark and the Vikings were in charge of Ireland at that time. So we have the Vikings trying to capture this Irishman who is killing the King’s man. This arc has a little bit of a Braveheart feel to it. As always Brain Wood has written an excellent story and Ryan Kelly’s art works much better with this then I thought it would.

Captain America Theatre of War – Operation Zero Point – Writers Daniel & Charles Knauf, Art Mitch Breitweiser, Colors Elizabeth Breitweiser. I’m a little conflicted on this story of Captain America in WWII. On one hand it was a great adventure with Cap being dropped behind enemy lines to try and get a scientist who wants to defect away from the Nazis. Lots of action and some great fights, a tragic ending for the doctor, but Cap shuts down the operation and frees Jewish prisoners from this camp. The other side was seeing Cap shoot first and ask questions later. I do not recall ever seeing Cap take out a gun and mow the enemy down before. I accepted Bucky using a gun in WWII because he was a regular person, but I thought we had established Cap as not using a weapon. Also he is fighting this huge Nazi with a prosthetic eye and Cap rips it out of him. As he is on the ground screaming in pain and saying he can’t see Cap kicks him. As I said, I’m very conflicted on this book. Another point in this books favor was it was an extra length story for the extra $1 they charged me.

Teen Titans #64 – Writer Sean McKeever, Pencils Fernando Dagnino, Inks Raul Fernandez, Colors Rod Reis. This was a decent issue of this series as we resolve the Bombshell storyline and move the Wonder Girl story line forward. Bombshell was never really a bad guy; she was actually caught up in a military scheme and was following orders. After talking with her Dad, the Titans decide to take in Bombshell. Wonder Girl is pulled from the action by Zeus who explains to her that her half brother is taking her power by killing people that are close to her. She needs to defeat him, when her powers are at their lowest ebb. It appears that the showdown should be next issue.

Trinity #22 – Back Story Writer Kurt Busiek, Pencils Mark Bagley, Inks Art Thibert, Colors Pete Pantazis, Front Story Writers Kurt Busiek & Fabian Nicieza, Art Scott McDaniel & Andy Owens, Colors Allen Passalaqua – This book is starting to loss me a little bit and a comment by a friend Ken that when asked about Trinity he said he wants to see more Astro City rings very true. Astro City is a better book then this and I rather read that by Busiek then this. This issue the back-up crew got the front half of the book and the back half was the current storyline. In the past we find Hawkman (as an Egyptian prince) realize the world is wrong and writes a scroll telling what needs to be done or exactly what is wrong. In the present day storyline certain heroes are disappearing and being replaced or are changing. Why this is happening is unclear. Trinity is still an enjoyable read it has just gone into a slow pace again and is now starting to feel stretched to hit 52 issues.

Ultimate Spider-Man Annual #3 – Writer Brian Bendis, Art David Lafuente, Colors John Rauch. So Marvel advertises this book as MJ and Peter taking it all the way. No they never said it directly, but hinted at it. At the end MJ and Peter profess their love for each other and are going to wait. I’m a little confused as Peter is still 15 and I thought we had at least made him 16 in the Ultimate Universe. That maybe the thing that drives me off this book as nothing can ever really happen if after 10 years the character can’t even age one year. This issue also introduced the Ultimate Mysterio, who Spider-Man and the police foiled his operations but failed to capture him. The one problem I had with this book was the art. The artist made Spider-Man look like he was 10 years old half the time and look like he was four foot tall. In trying to portray him as young he went too far and made him look like a child and that often that pulled me out of the story.

Jack of Fables #27 – Writer Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges, Pencils Russ Braun, Inks Jose Marzan Jr. Colors Daniel Vozzo. Another good issue, this time highlighting the third Paige sister, Hillary. She was the one who always wanted to be a Fable. This issue we see one Paige sister get shot, another help someone escape Golden Boughs and go off to Fabletown and a third (Hillary) rescue Jack from a Humpty Dumpty gone mad. I’m not sure why, but this series is losing its resonance with me. Still I’m looking forward to the wrap up of the Bookburner story and want to see if they have an idea for where to take this series.
Wolverine Origins #29 – Writer Daniel Way, Art Mike Deodato, Colors Rain Beredo. This is part 3 of the Original Sin story line and at least here we learn that the “Original Sin” is that Professor X invites Wolverine to join the X-Men and knows he has been sent to kill him. He can’t fix Wolverine’s broken memories, but he can make him over into being an X-Man, as Professor X says he wants a weapon. The rest is a story about the Hellfire Club and Shaw bidding for power and misdirecting Wolverine to cut down some of his competition. I don’t like this retro-con. First (and I’m going on my memory) this does not fit with the way the comics were written when the X-Men re-launched at all. A good retro-con is something that you say, oh yeah that was there all along, but it was just never brought to light. Also how much further can you tarnish Professor X, he has gone from being a good guy to a manipulative bastard who could re-write “The Prince” and give him some extra pointers. The entire rewrite of the X-Men past is destroying what I ever loved about the characters.

Reign in Hell #4 (of 8) – Main Story Writer Keith Giffen, Pencils Tom Derenick, Inks Bill Sienkiewicz, Colors Mike Atiyeh, Back-Up Story Writer Keith Giffen, Pencils Justiniano, Inks Walden Wong, Colors Tom Chu. The hell story would most likely read better as a trade. We have all sorts of magical characters floating around and getting in fights. This issue the new Dr. Fate shows up and he has to be out of his league (based on his mini-series). Then Demon and Blue Devil are battling and fall into some pit that could destroy either one of them and it explodes and Lobo shows up. I’m totally lost. The back-up with Dr. Occult trying to find Rose is also just a twisted convoluted story. I’m following this because I’m this deep into this mini-series, but right now I feel like I could have skipped this series and not really missed anything too important.

Rann Thanagar Holy War #6 (of 8) – Writer Jim Starlin, Pencils Jim Starlin & Ron Lim, Inks Rob Hunter & Al Milgrom, Colors John Kalisz. Okay this series is officially making my head hurt. This issue we get an origin of Synnar, who we find out is the architect of the Universe and used to be God’s right hand man. After trying to take over and being defeated, he has spent millenniums rebuilding his power base. We hardly have anything happening with our erstwhile band of heroes and I feel like the whole thing is setting up another mini-series anyway. This issue was way too much exposition and not enough happening.

Sheena Dark Rising #1 (of 4 ?) – Plot Steven de Souza, Writers Todd Livingston & Steven de Souza, Art Lee Ferguson, Colors Felix Serrano. This is one of those comics that I get and enjoy, but have no rationale reason for why I like it. The stories are pretty predictable, the artwork is only okay, but something about the Jungle Girl Sheena just appeals to me. The part I didn’t like at all is the bad guys are revealed to be old Nazis that I guess have lived in the jungles of South America forever. I’m tired of that cliché.

X-Men First Class Giant Size Special #1 – Story 1 The Thing - Writer Jeff Parker, Art Dean Haspiel, Colors Michael Cavallaro; Story 2 Invasion of the Bobby Snatchers – Writer Jeff Parker, Art Nick Kilislian, Colors Chris Sotomayor; Story 3 – The Day the Earth Would Not Stand Still – Writer Jeff Parker, Art Michael Cho. Okay this had three fun little adventures all tied around one theme and even had a fun twist giving a nod to Secret Invasion. I normally love X-Men First Class, but I was turned off as this was a regular size issue in regards to new story and art, but I was charged an extra buck while Marvel threw in a totally random reprint. Marvel has convinced me to stay away from their $4 books when I can, unless I can determine that have addition pages of story and art.

Astonishing X-Men Ghost Boxes #1 (of 2) – Story 1 Writer Warren Ellis, Pencils Alan Davis, Inks Mark Farmer, Colors Rob Schwager, Story 2 Writer Warren Ellis, Art Adi Granov. The 16 pages of story and art were okay and they actually told a more straight forward story of who Agent-13 was, but the absolute rip-off price had me cancel a two issue series after one issue. See my full commentary here. $4 for 16 pages, that is beyond the pale and just in poor taste. Canceled.

Justice League of America #26 – Writer Dwayne McDuffie, Art Ed Benes, Colros Pete Pantazis. This book should have been called Vixen, c-starting the JLA. The whole story fell apart in my opinion as Vixen finds the new versions of the JLA in this refashioned world and then needs the “real” JLA to fight them and get back to the real world again. It really was a poorly constructed story and we never even saw Animal Man again.

Checkmate #31 – Writer Bruce Jones, Art Manuel Garcia, Colors Santiago Arcas. This series comes to a merciful conclusion as Chimera and the Global Guardians stop the beasts of myth from destroying the world. This story would have been better if done separately to try and introduce a new hero into the DCU, but taking Checkmate and turning it into a super hero adventure was a bad idea. I hope DC can revive Checkmate down the road and keep a little truer to Greg Rucka’s vision of the concept.

Well that wraps up another week. I have to say that I also enjoyed the new Joker HC and Roadkill form The Fillbach Brothers. If I get time I may do full reviews but we will see.


  1. I ran into Ken the other week and at the time he mentioned he wasn't even reading Trinity anymore. So, don't let him sway you away. I've read one or two Astro City trades and while I enjoyed them, I enjoy Kurt's regular super-hero work more (Untold Tales of Spider-Man, Power Company, Avengers, Superman [not Aquaman however]). I've found the last two backstory issues to be very interesting. I like how the series is a continuation of JLA/Avengers and Kurt's JLA run. Besides, I would think Trinity is doing much better for DC than another Astro City book that comes out so irregularly.

    When you cut your list down to almost nothing, you get really passionate about the books you have left.

    I think it's going to be close election today and we won't have a clear winner right away. Here's hoping for a McCain/Palin victory! Last night's SNL Presidential show was hilarious and it seemed to contain a lot of new skits. (You may be able to watch them on-line). The best one was "Bill Clinton" on the news.

    After I vote I may go to the Geppi museum (It's half-off day). Ken gave a nice report on it a while back on CCC. I understand it needs our support, so see it soon if you can.

  2. FYI, the demon detective, Damien Darkblood, in Astounding Wolf-Man is the same guy who was investigating the deaths of the Guardians of the Globe in Invincible. He was something of a joke in that story because he was so focused on his investigation he didn't notice that the mystery had already been solved by the fight between Invincible and Omni-Man. Also, he talks a lot like Rorschach from Watchmen.

  3. I totally agree on X-Men First Class. Also, of the three new stories presented I was turned off by the artwork on all but one. The second story about the pod people had terrible artwork =/ I also didn't care for the Prof X story *shrug* I miss the regular issues of X-Men First Class and could have cared less about the random reprint in the back.