Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Best to Worst of Last Week

The more I think about it, the more I think the “Battle for the Cowl” by DC is a huge mistake. It feels like an unnatural and editorially mandated way for someone to take over being Batman. I hope Grant Morrison does get back to Batman sometime soon and this is just some crazy Didio idea to get from point A to point B, but point B was Grant’s idea. To me however Grant ends RIP, the idea the Bruce walks away from it all makes sense to me. Also the fact that he may just leave also can work. I’d be happy for Dick to come in and take the role of Batman and then we also follow Bruce’s story as he rebuilds himself and then comes back to either being Batman or some new relationship develops where he fights crime in a different way. I’m just very worried that all of Grant’s plans may have been screwed up by editorial fiat. Didio reign is looking way too much like Bill Jemas’ run at Marvel. A lot of cool ideas, but way too many train wrecks undermining the great successes. It is almost like Didio needs to be a creative director and the right hand man of an executive editor.

Scalped #23 – Writer Jason Aaron, Art R.M. Guera, Colors Giulia Brusco. – Damn but if this is not the hardest edge book on the stands. The title of this arc is called “Gravel in your Guts” and this book continues to deliver issue after issue. We cut back to Dino in this chapter, who is a young man who has felt trapped by the reservation and wants out, but is now a high paid delivery boy and getting deeper and deeper into trouble. He gets kicked out of his Grandmother’s house and ends up facing off against the little Indian guy who has been killing people left and right the last few issues. Dash finally makes an appearance this issue scoring some heroin. A middle chapter in this story arc, but every issue is filled with raw and powerful emotions and these characters feel very real.

JSA Kingdom Come Special Magog – Main Story Writer Peter Tomasi, Pencils Fernando Pasarin, Inks Mick Gray, Colors Hi-Fi. Starman Back-Up Writer Geoff Johns, Art Scott Kolins, Colors Hi-Fi. The Kingdom Come story line has really taken way too long and been dragged out forever, especially since we added the Earth-2 storyline, but this month has been great. We have had two specials and two great stories, not only adding to the depth of Magog and the KC Superman, but actually advancing the storyline. Who has ever been the person orchestrating all of this should be DC’s Executive Editor. We get to learn who David (Magog) Reid is this issue and learn he is willing to kill his enemies if needed, which makes sense for a soldier. The back-up story was even better for a Legion fan such as me. Johns has been slowly rebuilding the original Legion of Super Heroes and Starman’s role in what is to come is something I’m eagerly anticipating.

Bad Planet #6 (of 6) – Writers Thomas Jane and Steve Niles, Art James Daly and Tim Bradstreet, Colors Grant Goleash. I just hope they do a nice trade or hard cover on this series someday as this was a very entertaining and well illustrated book. It was a bittersweet moment to see a cover by Dave Stevens’ cover as he has died and that means we will never see anymore of his stunning artwork. The story wrapped up well as our Alien hero sacrifices his life to save the world by using his weapon and body as a conduit to connect Tesla coils that emitted energy to kill the alien spiders that were destroying Earth. Had to encapsulate this book, but it was a great sci-fi “B” movie from the fifties done in a wonderful style and reminiscent of the best of the EC and Creepy sci-fi horror material.

Invincible #55 – Writer Robert Kirkman, Art Ryan Ottley, Colors FCO Plascencia. With all the hype by Marvel around the Ultimate Spider-Man annual and will MJ and Peter “do it” or not, Kirkman shows why having a young hero who actually grows up over time works much better. This issue we see Mark and Eve consummate their relationship in a nice way that keeps the sex off camera. (Of course this goes back to Thomm’s column, gore is okay and sex is taboo because???) We switch over to Allen the Alien and Mark’s Dad and their escape from prison. The big reveal is a good one when we learn that the Viltrumites only have 50 pure blooded members left alive and their ability to maintain power is based on keeping that a secret.

Supergirl #35 – Writer Sterling Gates, Pencils Jamal Ingle, Inks Keith Champagne, Colors Nei Ruffino. – The New Krypton story line seamlessly fit into this issue and we still continued with Supergirl’s new secret identity thing. Managing to take last issues new status quo and add in another new status quo and make it work was not easy, but Sterling Gates pulled it off. We also finally cleared up all of Supergirl’s convoluted and totally frelled up origins by revealing she had severe kryptonite poisoning that made her delusional (and me confused as all heck). The nice “deus ex machine” explanation was conveniently diagnosed and cured by her parents this issue. A nice way to clean up one of the most convoluted backgrounds for a new character that has ever been created and make it all seem like it was supposed to make sense. Now Supergirl has to choose between her two worlds.
Pax Romana #4 (of 4) – By Jonathan Hickman. – This was a nice wrap up to a very interesting series. Jonathan gives us what the world would look like if a small group of dedicated military men went back in time and shaped history from the time of Rome. It did wrap up a little too neatly, but the last page was amusing and a good surprise.

Hellblazer #249 – Writer Andy Diggle, Art Leonardo Manco, Colors Lee Loughridge. – What a great ending to Andy Diggle’s terrific run on this book. The thing that John has been fighting for all this time is his unborn twin brother. I guess I was not reading this series when this element of John’s life was introduced, but I loved the story. The twin is trying to come back to life and into the real world by taking over John’s body. He tries to convince John that he just needs to let go. John realizes that the twin has been hiding in his mind and creating many of John’s problems and basically tells his brother to f**k off and cuts him out of his mind. Wonderful stuff and Andy left the book off at a great place for the next writer.

Brave and Bold #19 – Writer David Hine, Pencils Doug Braithwaite, Inks Bill Reinhold, Colors Brian Reber. Okay sign David Hine to an exclusive and get him writing Vertigo books and DCU books because I have loved everything he has done from Strange Embrace to Silent War from other publishers to this story. Hine captures the essence of both Green Lantern and the Phantom Stranger very well and does a very creepy story all at the same time. I can’t think of a tougher thing to do then combine these characters in a story and make it work. Obviously Doug Braithwaite and Bill Reinhold deserve tons of credit for making the art moody and creepy when needed and convincing super hero stuff when needed. The stench of the last two horrible issues has been erased.

Thunderbolts #126 – Writer Andy Diggle, Art Roberto De La Torre, Colors Frank Martin. Diggle does a good job getting these characters right from the jump. He is breaking up the team and is laying the groundwork to take out anyone on the team who is a good guy or at least has good tendencies. At the same time this adulation that is being seen for Norman Osbourne comes across as phony. Huge crowds do not gather just to cheer on someone anymore. Plus this seems to be after Secret Invasion and the MU seems back to status quo which is puzzling, will this match up with Secret Invasion #8 or not?

Batgirl #5 (of 6) - Writer Adam Beechen, Pencils Jim Calafiore, Inks Mark McKenna, Colors Nathan Eyring. I’ve been hot and cold on this series, but enjoyed this issue a lot. Batgirl steals one of the various planes from the cave and eludes both Nightwing and Batman to make it to Platinum Flats where she faces off against Marque. Then she confronts Cain as he is about to execute Oracle and we are left with the finale next issue where Cassandra finally gets to confront David Cain her father.

Goon #30 – By Eric Powell, Colors Dave Stewart. – The penultimate issue that leads up to a final showdown between Goon and everybody else. This issue we have snippets of all the major players that have inhabited the Goon story line during this year. I hope this gets collected as single hard cover as I think it will read even better then. The orphan kids dog is just hugely hilarious and this issue with him losing a leg is classic Goon.

Trinity #25 – Front Story Writer Kurt Busiek, Pencils Mark Bagley, Inks Art Thibert, Colors Pete Pantazis, Back-Up Writers Kurt Busiek & Fabian Nicieza, Art Mike Norton & Andre Parks, Colors Allen Passalaqua. – I have gone back and for on this book and that is because I was mistakenly thinking this was a story about Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. It is a DCU adventure that is giving us a reason why they are important to the DCU, but not staring them. DC did a poor job marketing this, because once you give up on the story having the big three staring in it, the actual book reads very well and is a very good super-hero story. In fact right now the alternative Earth story is a lot of fun and seeing Barry Allen form the JLA was a nice touch. The back-up stories always form an integral part of the overall story line and I think in hindsight we will see Busiek has told one heck of a good super-hero story.

Firebreather #3 – Writer Phil Hester, Art Andy Kuhn, Colors Bill Crabtree. I have been very iffy on this series, but this issue captured my attention. Duncan’s Dad (the Dragon) shows up at Duncan’s school in astral form and visible only to Duncan to ask for his help. He leads Duncan to an alien robot that is partially destroyed and in the process of repairing itself. Duncan, with direction from his Dad, destroys it and flies over the next mountain top and sees his father dying from an apparently earlier battle with the robot. It was a shock ending and shows a willingness to let the series go anywhere.

Dynamo #5 – Story Jay Faerber, Art Mahmud Asrar & Marcio Takara, Colors Ron Riley. The story starts as Scatterbrain collapse to his knees after getting Maddie out of a coma because Scrap and her new group are getting the crap beaten out of them and Scrap is calling for help. We flashback to what happened to Scrap and find out a group of bad guys has been pulled together to kill this group. Their leader is a purple hair woman who has helped to free these people to help her kill the new Dynamo 5. As this group attacks one member of Scrap’s group is revealed to be the mastermind behind the attack. Of course how can you not want to see next issue as the old group comes together and we get to learn more about whom is this woman playing both sides.

Ghost Rider #29 – Writer Jason Aaron, Art Tan Eng Huat, Colors Jose Villarrubia. Johnny Blaze versus Danny Ketch started out good. Of course we had the pre-requisite battle between the two of them this issue and each used the penance stare on the other. Johnny was not able to deal with his guilt as well as Danny and was willing to let Danny kill him. The new Caretaker saved him and was trying to nurse him to back to health when two other Ghost Riders show up at their doorstep. All the Ghost Riders are worried as Danny is killing them one by one.

Conan The Cimmerian #5 – Writer Tim Truman, Artist Tomas Giorello & Richard Corben (Flashbacks), Colors Jose Villarrubia. The damn flashback to Connacht feels so out of place, but was mercifully brief this issue. The main story of Conan and an old female friend and their fighting off foes in the cold of the northern lands has been enjoyable, but this arc is too long. I did like the werewolf coming to Conan’s rescue. Tomas Giorello’s artwork is just magnificent and fits Conan to a “T” and is a big plus for this series. While I’m anxious to end this arc that has taken way too long, at least the story is focusing more on just Conan again.

Stormwatch Phd #16 – Writer Ian Edginton, Pencils Leandro Fernandez, Inks Francisco Paronzini, Colors Carrie Strachan. – A nice little issue where we find out the Soviet’s had a last ditch weapon ready to take down the US if they got killed. Stormwatch at first tries to save the technology as it would have helped the world, but have to destroy it to save the planet from more devastation. Next issue Stormwatch and the Authority are going to be meeting and that could get very interesting.

Atomic Robo Dogs of War #4 (of 5) - Front Story Writer Brain Clevinger, Art Scott Wegmen, Colors Rhonda Patterson. Back-up Art & Story Joshua & Jonathan Ross, Words Brain Clevinger. Robo and Sparrow smash the Nazi’s operations up and the adventure actually seems to be over. I enjoy this book a lot, but not as much as the last mini-series as the focus on WWII should have been one issue and we could have instead seen Robo in different wars if they wanted to go that way, but I enjoy my Robo in the present. The Giant War Machine in Korea back-up was amusing and enjoyable also. Still an excellent comic book, the bar was so high from the first arc it was just hard to match the same level of excitement with a story set in the past.

Samurai Legend #3 (of 4) – Writer Jean-Fracois Di Giorgio, Art Frederic Genet, Colors Delphine Rieu. I’m still enjoying this comic, but I have to confess the cuts in the story from the Samurai to the other plot elements has left me at times a little lost. This is still a good strong story and art.

Robin #180 – Writer Fabian Nicieza, Art Freddie Williams II, Colors Guy Major. – Robin versus Red Robin and as I was reading the story it become apparent that it was the General in the costume. Then as all the rest of the chaos was going on having the villain behind the villain be Anarchy. This was a decent issue of Robin as we work our way to the “Battle for the Cowl” story line. The ending was too typical as Robin is caught in a massive explosion and we are given the idea he should be dead. In this type of series it won’t happen, so trying to make up believe is such a cliché I believe most writers should stay away from it.

Moon Knight #24 – Writer Mike Benson, Layouts Javier Saltares, Art Mark Texeira, Colors Dan Brown. I think Lee’s enthusiasm for this book was infectious, but so far this has been a good adventure as Moon Knight manages to escape by the skin of his teeth from the Thunderbolts. He knows he cannot do this alone and has rebuilt his team with Frenchie as his pilot and some other guy as his mechanic. This issue’s cover should have been next issue as Norman is going to release Bullseye to go after Moon Knight next issue. It is interesting to see how this writer can make Moon Knight fit into the post Civil War MU.

Uncanny X-Men #504 – Writer Matt Fraction, Pencils Terry Dodson, Inks Rachael Dodson, Colors Justin Ponsor. I occasionally can’t help but try out an x-book here and there. Plus now that Matt Fraction alone is writing this book it maybe better as I actually think X-Men was Brubaker’s worse work in comics ever. This issue was an excuse for Terry Dodson to draw a lot of very sexy woman, so it certainly was not a wasted issue. Fraction has laid some good ground work for a few storylines I could get into. One: Cyclops and the return of Madelyn Pryor. Two: Colossus and some heretofore unknown evil character from his Russian youth. Three: the reaction people will have to what happen back during Messiah Complex to the small town in Alaska that was destroyed because a mutant baby was born there. I’ll probably be back next issue.

Gauze #1- Writer Gerrin Tramis, Art Dave Hamann and Eve. – An interesting little horror tale as our serial killer (who is drawn from the likes of Halloween and Friday the 13th) tracks down this young woman and kills her no matter what the police try to do to save her. I believe this series will focus on the killer’s victims, but we need a little more explanation of why he targeted this girl. Still an intriguing opening and it certainly has me looking to come back for issue #2.

Rann-Thanagar Holy War #7 (of 8) – Writer Jim Starlin, Pencils Ron Lim, Inks Rob Hunter, Colors John Kalisz. The penultimate chapter to what has been a long and twisted journey as our erstwhile band of heroes faces off against a foe that was God’s architect for the universe and has rebuilt a power base for himself of unbelievable proportions. In fact Synnar has 200,000 satellites which each have 400,000,000 million people wired up as living power cells that is fueling his power. Starlin has succeeded in creating one of the most powerful people in the DCU and I cannot believe this group of heroes can win the day. Next issue is the finale, but I have a feeling it is setting up another chapter in the story Starlin is crafting.
Batman and the Outsiders #13 – Writer Frank Tieri, Pencils Fernado Dagnino, Inks Raul Fernandez, Colors Tom Chu. I know I cancelled this series, but then I saw the DC solicitation about Peter Tomasi coming in and taking over the series in two months and decided to play out the string on this book. This issue turned into a Batgirl story as she tries to rebuild a team based on Batman’s best traits since he is now longer around. The hints of what has happened with Batman just make me even more interested to see how Grant ends RIP. This story ends with Alfred telling Cassie she needs to talk to Nightwing about this and her not wanting to deal with Dick. Next issue Nightwing vs Batgirl.
X-Men Legacy #218 – Writer Mike Carey, Pencils Scot Eaton, Inks Andrew Hennessy, Colors Jason Keith & Brian Reber. This story has little to do with past history and set-up a big fight between Wolverine and his son. Plus Ms. Sinister plays Charles like a violin. I know he is still putting is life together, but that should not make him so oblivious to being set-up. Unless this series picks up I will be done with this book soon.

Flash #246 – Writer Alan Burnett, Pencils Carlo Barberi, Inks Drew Geraci & Jacob Eguren, Colors The Hories. This all feels like déjà vu. We have de-powered Wally to the speed of sound and added another tragic element to his life with Linda dying and Wally petitioning the Spectre to save her. DC has no clue what they are doing with Wally and I have no clue why they brought him back for this series.

Tangent Superman’s Reign #9 (of 12) – Writer Dan Jurgens, Pencils Carlo Magno, Inks Julio Ferreira, Colors Kanila Tripp – This series is fading fast as the series comes down to the finish line. I believe strongly mixing the Tangent Universe and the DCU was the mistake and focusing on the dystopian Tangent Universe would have made a better story. Instead in the DCU we have Superman vs Superman and in the TU we have Batman looking up the TU Superman’s wife to help stop him.

Terra #2 (of 4) – Writers Justin Gray & jimmy Palmiotti, Art Amanda Connor, Colors Paul Mounts. Some of the weakest writing I have even seen from this writing team. Last issue seems to barely fit together with this issue and then we move over to Terra meeting up with Geo-Force. Also this book has one of those annoying things for anyone who reads as many DC books as I do the repeating minor villain syndrome. Silver Banshee was in Superman/Batman and is now in Terra all of a sudden. It cracks me up when this happens. The art By Amanda Conner is good and is a lighter more towards the cartoon side that works better with less ambitious stories. The problem is this series is trying to do way too much with Terra and needed to have a better focus for a four issue mini-series.

Ambush Bug Year None #4 (of 6) – Plot & Pencils Keith Giffen, Dialogue Robert Loren Fleming, Inks Al Milgrom, Colors Tom Smith. This issue has a few funny moments in it especially seeing Rip Hunter’s chalkboard with ways to fix DC’s shipping schedule. I think the book has flopped because it tried to have too much of a structure. I think it would have succeeded better if each issue was just parodying other stuff going on in comics. I’ll finish the series out, but this series has not lived up to even my limited expectations.

My recommended book that enough people are not reading is Scalped from Vertigo. Hands down this is one of the absolutely best books on the stands today. Each and every issue is an emotional, hard hitting, tough as nails and gritty tale of life on a reservation in the Dakotas. Not only does it work as a trade, but it works as individual issues and this book has gotten better and better as the series goes along. You do not even need to start at the beginning; you can pick this book up almost at any point and be able to figure it out.

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