My recommendation of the week – Guerilla from Image Comics by Brahm Revel. The next issue is not due out until February, so you have plenty of time to order it. Think of this as a 500 pages graphic novel being issued in chapters. Each book is $6, but contains about 50 pages or more each issue (all in B&W). This is a great story about war, man and our relationship with animals. A story that has realistic characters, mixed in with an absurd premise (they becomes less absurd the more you read it), humor and action. To see a 20 plus page preview of the first issue go here. Then go and get the first three issue at your local story.
Wonder Woman #27 - Writer Gail Simone, Pencils Aaron Lopresti, Inks Matt Ryan, Colors Brad Anderson. Wonder Woman has just gotten very intense. Although Wonder Woman is basically barely hanging onto life this issue a ton of things is going on. Paradise Island is being repopulated as the Amazons all come home. Zeus makes a vow to Athena to look out for them and comes to tell Hippolyta that he will give them the peace of the grave. The being Genocide has Wonder Woman lasso wrapped around its spine and uses it to take down Green Lantern. Wonder Woman pleads to be taken back to the JLA to help them as they have no idea what the lasso can do. A great issue of Wonder Woman and Gail has really nailed it with this issue. I have no clue what exactly is going on with all that is happening, but I love how much is happening.
Gigantic #2 (of 5) – Writer Rick Remender, Art Eric Nguyen, Colors Matthew Wilson. This book rocks and if it wasn’t so late in the year it would be one of 2008’s better mini-series. Last issue we learned Earth was made for a reality TV show, this issue we learn Gigantic is originally from Earth and he is trying to save it from destruction and have the rest of the universe leave us alone. Unfortunately one of the people he accidentally killed was a niece and his brother is looking to kill Gigantic while he is sleeping to end the issue. This series has so much going on for it, a good story, laced with some great humor and art that is perfect for this type of story.
Farscape #1 – Story Rockne O’Bannon, Script Keith R.A. Decandido, Art Tommy Patterson, Colors Andrew Dalhouse. What a great frelling issue. This picked up right where the show left off and just continues like it was the next episode. It has been a few years but it all felt just like it should have with John, Aeryn, Chiana and all the rest. This was the best comic of a TV show ever done and it will certainly be a series I pick up every time they do an arc. Having one of the shows main people being the writer is a great help as all the sarcasm and misadventures and characterizations are like the show never stopped. If I can’t have more TV episodes this is the next best thing. I’m very happy to have this series!
Vigilante #1 – Writer Marv Wolfman, Pencils Rick Leonardi, Inks John Stanisci, Colors David Baron. I was prepared to dislike this book as nothing that Marv Wolfman has written recently has read that well to me, but this series started out very well. The artwork by Leonardi was dynamic and he sold the action scenes. Vigilante’s face is apparently revealed but we still have no idea who he is and we see JJ is the gadget guy for this Vigilante as he was for Adrian Chase. It ties into a mob war and apparently has a connection back to the “Decisions” mini-series I skipped, but it was a great first issue.
Guerilla #3 (of 9) – by Brahm Revel This was a terrific issue as we learn the origins of the chimpanzee troop and why they attacked the men who were testing them. We also see how the hierarchy of the organization works and see that our point of view character is the lowest on the totem pole. It is wild to see them actually go into combat and you have to think that if trained correctly chimps would be better warriors then humans, especially in a war like Viet Nam. I also enjoy that the man with the apes is Private John Clayton, but he is certainly no Tarzan of the Apes at this point and in fact Goliath (the ape’s leader) is not real happy with the boy at this point.
Batman #683 – Writer Grant Morrison, Pencils Lee Garbett, Inks Trevor Scott, Colors Guy Major. The concluding chapter to Grant Morrison’s run on Batman and it leads up to Final Crisis #6. I need to one day re-read this entire run (and I know he has more coming), but the impression Grant leaves me with is the Bruce is one hell of a hero. In this issue he manages to turn the tide against someone picking his brain and trying to control him and turns it back against his captors. Grant has shown us that mentally and physically Bruce is the best a human being can be and he is a dynamic and unique individual. I do agree that as individual issues, many of Grant’s stories are so obtuse as to be impossible to understand, but underlying all of that, he has crafted a Batman that in my circle is being talked about a lot more then he has been talked about before.
Umbrella Academy Dallas #2 (of 6) – Writer Gerard Way, Art Gabriel Ba, Colors Dave Stewart. I find myself enjoying this series even more the second time around. I still do not have a handle on the characters, with the FF and JLA I know the characters so well I think I could write them, but the Academy members I’m still learning. The cover this issue was so funny and vaguely disturbing at the same time. I mean a chimp in a blonde wig, blue eye shadow and red lip stick is just funny and odd. Then when we see the chimp is performing as Marilyn Monroe for Number Five as she did at JFK’s birthday, you just have to shake you head and wonder how the writer comes up with this stuff. The mystery around number five is the central plot this arc and I’m enjoying the heck out of this book.
City of Dust #3 (of 5) – Writer Steve Niles, Artists Brandon Chng, Zid & Garrie Gastonny, Colors Buddy Jiang, Leos Ng & Sixth Creation. – This is the best series by Radical Comics so far and will be the first one that I will want to pick up in a collected edition. Steve Niles continues to change things up and just when I thought it was one story it is even more complex. This issue we find out Khrome’s boss is a robot, whose job it is to watch out for him. Why is Khrome so important and what the heck is going on is still to be revealed.
Necronomicon #4 (of 4) – Writer William Messner-Loebs, Art Andrew Ritchie. Henry Said faces done his horror and does what he believes to be is the right thing and manages to survive his encounter with an Elder God and actually comes out a hero of sorts. This was an excellent mini-series and if you enjoy horror that is more on the creepy side of things, you can’t miss with this series. The writer’s use of letter’s to home was a wonderful juxtaposition of what was happening versus how the son portrayed what was happening to his father. Also the art was a perfect fit for the series as the art was realistic, yet off just enough to keep the tone of the book spot on.
Top Ten Season Two #3 (of 4) – Script & Layouts Zander Cannon with Kevin Cannon, Art Gene Ha, Colors Sinclair & Avina. This story has so many things going on that I cannot believe it will all wrap up in just one more issue. I love the Top Ten world and writer Cannon has captured the essence of it very well and Gene Ha is the best artist for this series. I think my only problem with this series is that it is too short.
Batman Gotham After Midnight #8 (of 12) - Writer Steve Niles, Art Kelley Jones, Colors Michelle Madsen. This series is very good and I will have to buy the collected edition and sit down and re-read it in one sitting. In some ways Niles is doing what Loeb has done before by doing a rogues gallery thing and he is adding in holidays. But in other ways by adding Midnite and Batman growing obsession with Detective Clarkson the whole series has a different tone. Add in Kelly Jones over the top art and you have one heck of a good story. This issue Midnite kills Detective Clarkson in front of Batman as the issue ends.
Invincible #57 – Writer Robert Kirkman, Pencils Ryan Ottley, Inks Cliff Rathburn, Colors FCO Plascencia. This was Part 1 of the two part cross over with Astounding Wolf Man. Kirkman does a good job of starting this issue where last issue left off and gave us a good reason for why these two characters would meet. No big fight scene as Invincible sees Wolf-Man fighting a bad guy trying to save people and the two talk to each other and make their own judgments. They try to do the right thing, but Cecil instead tries to trap them and it leads into Astounding Wolf-Man.
Astounding Wolf-Man #11 – Writer Robert Kirkman, Pencils Jason Howard, Inks Cliff Rathburn, Colors FCO & Ivan Plascencia. This is the second part of the Invincible / Wolf-Man cross-over. It was so seamless you would swear they were written by the same guy (oh that’s right it was). Anyway this issue Invincible and Wolf-Man escape Cecil and the Guardians and Wolf-Man goes back to the woods to continue to learn from the Elder Wolf-Man. It was a nice team-up as they parted friends and Invincible realized he could not solve all of Gary’s problems. We also find out that Cecil is tracking him and may have plans for him in the future.
Beyond Wonderland #4 (of 6) – Writer Raven Gregory, Art Dan Leister, Colors Nei Ruffino & Others. While GFT fails to impress, this series has some added depth and pathos that makes it a much more compelling read. This issue is all about how Callie’s brother has become the new Mad Hatter. The kid was pretty messed up anyway and the trip to Wonderland just made it worse. I think another thing that makes this series is that we have someone to root for as we continue to hope that Callie will make it out of all of this madness or at least be able to win her battles against the people of Wonderland.
Fall of Cthulhu Apocalypse #1 (of 4) – Writer Michael Alan Nelson, Art Mateus Santolouco, Colors Eduardo Medeiros. This was a good issue of this series. BOOM maybe breaking it into 4 issue mini-series, but it has been one long story and this issue it all hits the fan. The dreaming world is coming into the waking world and all the players are showing their true colors. We learn what the sheriff gave up (his memories of his late wife) and see Lucifer tear off after a book which could tell them how to sink the city again. This was a fast paced and fantastic issue which was needed after the nothing issue last week.
Mister X Condemned #1 (of 4) – by Dean Motter. I barely remember any of this material, but I have a vague recollection of Dean’s Terminal City. To me it was a great opening as we learn the city and it architecture has driven every one in the city to have some sort of madness. The city fathers are tearing down sections of the city to try and solve the problem. Other story elements are dropped in and Mister X does not appear into the end of the story. It has that great pseudo future fell to it and a nice sense of weirdness, while being a well told and relatively straight forward story. I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.
Wildcats #6 – Writer Christos Gage, Art Neil Googe, Colors Jonny Rench. This was another good issue of the Wildcats as we moved forward the characterizations and we also had some great action scenes. I’m curious to see where we go with the whole post apocalypse world scenario, but at least for this reader I’m happy to let it develop slowly. The Daemonites are back and Nemesis has been taken over by one of them. Finally a quick note on the art by Googe, his work is very strong and his layouts and action scenes are excellent.
Remnant #1 (of 4) – Story Stephen Baldwin & Andrew Crosby, Script Caleb Monroe, Art Justin Totino Tedesco, Colors Andres Lozano. I was prepared to give up on this series. The idea of Stephen Baldwin being a main creator was a turn off and the opening being someone apparently drowning in the streets of New Orleans after Katrina was too much of a cliché for a Hollywood actor, but I kept reading and I was hooked. The story is about an FBI agent (who apparently has some ties high up and did some super secret work before) is knocked out as a building he works in blows up. His new young hot wife is a suspect and he is trying to figure out what is going on. At the same time this guy who was either dead or revived or whatever from New Orleans is in the background stalking him and occasionally fighting him. The issue has a lot of mysteries and with solid art and a strong script it has hooked me so far.
Unknown Soldier #3 – Writer Joshua Dysart, Art Alberto Ponticelli, Colors Oscar Celestini. This is an interesting tale as I have so little information on what Uganda is like, that the events are unfolding as new information to me. Dysart even added a text piece about the ongoing war, there, but it emphasized that this area has been unstable for over 100 years. What we are seeing is a progression of a good man and a doctor being turned into a warrior. This is a good series, that gets better the deeper we get into it, but I’m not sure it is an unlimited series.
Brave and Bold #20 – Writer David Hine, Pencils Doug Braithwaite, Inks Bill Reinhold, Colors Art Lyon. – This continues to be a good story arc as we see both GL and the Phantom Stranger appears to be taken out by this destroyer of worlds. The Guardians are perplexed and the strange girl from Earth is still broadcasting messages about the danger. How the girl and this alien destroyer all tie together is unknown, but the story is holding my attention.
Ferryman #4 (of 5) – Writer Marc Andreyko, Art Jonathan Wayshak, Colors Gabe Eltaeb. – The very cool art style is part of what makes this mini-series so enjoyable. I would probably enjoy it even more if I had ever had to go to bible school as a child as I’m sure I missing many biblical references. Still poor Gideon is now faced with what appears to be his wife, but we now the devil has this all as a set-up to hold onto to Gideon as a Ferryman forever.
Savage #3 (of 4) – Story Jeff Frank & Steve Niles, Script Jeff Frank & Dan Wickline, Art Mike Mayhew, Colors Frank Bravo. This series is very cool, but it is feeling way too much like a typical Shadowline series. By that I mean we are given a great concept and the start of a story and then it ends and we are left wondering if the series will ever see the light of day again. I like that some guy turns into a big monster and goes around killing werewolves. I like that we are seeing the next generation who will have to be the monster. I like the big corporation being after the monster guy and wonder what is that all about, but this will not all be resolved in one more issue. After this series I have decided to not ever try another Shadowline book. They have some great ideas and concepts, but no will to actually publish a series far enough to let us see the whole story. I know economics may have made they try this path, but I will have to pass in the future.
Rann Thanagar Holy War #8 (of 8) – Writer Jim Starlin, Pencils Ron Lim, Inks Rob Hunter, Colors John Kalisz. Jim Starlin is just continuing to craft a larger and larger plan and it all ties into work he did years ago for DC. I hope DC decides to publish all of Starlin’s work together one day as this material is turning into another one of Starlin’s great cosmic odysseys with Synnar taking the place of Thanos and is really more of a being intent on being god. I like how Rann blew itself up and teleported to Starman’s home world to escape Thanagar. I also enjoyed that Synarr’s plan apparently went awry and we now have a merged Synnar/Weird. DC has already solicited the next chapter in this epoch from Starlin and I’m signed up for that chapter also. While not always great stuff in each chapter, it is, as whole, very entertaining and solid comics.
Nova #20 – Writer Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, Pencils Wellington Alves & Geraldo Burges, Inks Scott Hanna, Nelson Pereira & Anderson Silva, Colors GuruFx. – This was a cool issue of Nova as he finds some old team mates and talks about what is happening to him with the world mind working behind his back. We also see Richard’s little brother in action appearing to be a great rookie Nova. There is still an undercurrent that something is wrong with this whole thing and it feels odd that it is all happening on Earth. The last page cliff hanger was great with Ego the Living Planet showing up. Nova continues to be one of the fastest paced and better series that Marvel produces.
Thor #12 – Writer J. Michael Straczynski, Pencils Oliver Coipel, Inks Mark Morales, Colors Laura Martin. A very disappointing issue of Thor and it felt like a total trending the water issue. I had stopped calling this book Snore, but after the last couple of issues that is what the pace of this book has become. This issue was well written and all, but really was just an excuse to show the origin of Loki and let us know that he is using Sif’s as his body, which is confusing as I thought all the gods inhabited humans or something.
Atomic Robo Dogs of War #5 (of 5) – Writer Brian Clevinger, Art Scott Wegner, Colors Rhonda Patterson. It is extremely hard for me to be negative about this series, because I love the character so much and enjoy the work of both the writer and artist in the first series, but this time the mini-series left me cold. I thought doing a WWII story was wrong and the last issue felt disjointed. The Scottish accent of the main guest star being so think that you could not understand the character while meant to be funny was in fact a little annoying. I will be back for anything Atomic Robo series, because when done as well as the first series, it can be a great series.
Ultimate Spider-Man #129 – Writer Brian Bendis, Pencils Stuart Immonen, Inks Wade von Grawbadger, Colors Justin Ponsor. This book had an Ultimatum banner on it, which meant if you are following that event, this is a critical tie-in. If you are not following that event, warning your book is about to be interrupted by said major event. Since I only follow this book I was pleasantly surprised to find this book had nothing to do with Ultimatum and was instead a character building issue containing Peter, MJ, Gwen, Johnny Storm and Aunt May. Nothing of consequence happened, but it was still a good read. The odd thing was Johnny meeting and then thinking Spider-Woman would make a good girl friend as she is a female clone of Peter Parker. You know if he finds out he will be freaked out on some level.
Grimm Fairy Tales #33 – Writer Dan Wickerline, Pencils Jordan Gunerson, Colors Kieran Oats. So I picked up 1001 Nights because I thought it crossed over but it is the next issue of that comic. The bad news is I picked up that issue; the good news is the story did not need that issue to make any sense. This issue had the grace to at least be interesting enough in that a man tried to save his wife’s life, but instead created a monster.
New Avengers #48 – Writer Brian Bendis, Pencils Billy Tan, Inks Matt Banning, Colors Justin Ponsor. So the New Avengers are now being run by Bucky Cap and there was a full page spread showing the new loose knit group. It showed Bucky Cap’s outfit and it looks like garbage. I have never actually seen it done this way before but it looked horrible with all grey, red gloves and then only the shoulders, chest and head piece being like Cap’s uniform. Also this group is not even a group at this point and all we did was see Luke get upset and ask the Avengers and all the good guys in help to find his missing child. After they do that he immediately goes to Norman Osborne and says he will do anything if Norman finds his child. ARRGHHH! Come on, this is crap; Luke has been shown to be less naïve then that. One step away from canning this series.
Trinity #30 – 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. – This book is really starting to wear on me. Alfred and his gang are apparently on the world inside the “cosmic egg” and they are seeing what Kronus made this world and then what the DC Trinity did to change it. In the “real” world the heroes are fighting to put the right people in place as tarot cards to keep the bad guys from taking control. I don’t think I can hang on for 22 more issues.
Flash #247 – Writer Alan Burnett, Pencils Carlo Barberi, J. Califiore & Andre Coelho, Inks Jacob Eguren, Drew Garaci, & Andre Coelho, Colors Tanya & Richard Horie. So ends a very short run for the Flash as this series has only lasted a little over one year. The idea of Wally having a family wasn’t flawed; it was the stories that just did not hit it out of the park. Plus the reason for bringing Wally back never made any sense. I hope 2009 see a revival of the Flash done right and with Johns at the helm, I may even be amenable to seeing Barry back.
Immortal Iron Fist #21 – Writer Duane Swierczynski, Art Timothy Green, Colors Edward Bola. This was essentially a fill in issue about an Iron Fist a thousand plus years in the future. I guess it had its moments, but I personally have problems with a fill in issue that serves no real purpose to the main story. If a fill in is needed to keep the monthly book on the stand, that make it about some detail or a character piece that supports the main story line. This was a waste.
Grimm Fairy Tales Annual 2008 – Various Creators. Four stories that did not really tie together, but they did try and make it more about the origins of Sela and Belinda. I have continued to carry this series for no recognizable reason and even after efforts that are forgotten as soon as I read them I keep hanging onto this book. I do know the next purge of books that I do will knock this series off my list.
This was a nice way to end the year with a lot of strong and entertaining books. One thing I noticed when reviewing all of 2008 recently is that there are plenty of excellent books out there. My list of top books was over 20 and then I had to cut it down. Mini-series was another long list that I had to cut down. What was bad was a lot of the Countdown and ancillary tie-in books and all the Secret Invasion stuff, but that still left a wealth of terrific material.