Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Best to Worst of Last Week

My recommendation of the week is I Kill Giants. I know the series has ended, but this is a beautiful mini-series.

What first drew me to the book is the artwork by JM Ken Niimura. It has a simplistic quality to it and a deft use of line work that reminded me of Calvin and Hobbes in some ways. It also had a manga type feel to it in some small ways. The more you see of it, the more you realize how deceptive his work is, because while appearing simple, it is not. The layouts, the character designs, the story telling is all top notch and makes for an easy to look at and read comic, where you never mistake any character for anyone else.

What seals this as a great series is the writing. Joe Kelly has written what I would call a seminal work for his career. I define a seminal work further then Webster’s, not only is it creative and original, it is a defining moment in a person’s career. This book stands out as the best work I have ever read by Joe Kelly and it contains all the emotions, humor, tragedy and triumph that you could hope for in a book. At the same time it is all about a young girl whose Mother is dying of cancer and how she learns to deal with it.

Brilliant! Beautiful! A book to be read by anyone at any age and a book that should not be missed.

I Kill Giants #7 (of 7) – Writer Joe Kelly, Art JM Ken Niimura. This is a true classic. This is a story that tells about a young girl dealing with the impending death of her mother. It is done with humor, grace, intelligence and humanity. It touches on so many emotions from happy to sad and all the emotions in between. I would gladly buy the trade of this book and give it to anybody to read for themselves or to read to their children, an incredible piece of work and a seminal book for the creators. See my spotlight review here.

Final Crisis #6 (of 7) – Writer Grant Morrison, Art JG Jones, Carlos Pacheo, Dough Mahnke, Marco Rudy, Christain Alamy & Jesus Merino, Colors Alex Sinclair & Pete Pantazis. Wow. What can you say about the book that has Bruce Wayne use a gun and then get taken out by Darkseid in it. The homage to the Perez cover of Superman holding Supergirl from COIE was stunning (instead Superman is holding a dead Batman). Now the one kicker that was added to this is when Darkseid goes to kill Batman with his “Omega Sanction” he calls it “the death that is life”, which to me is a built in fallback to resurrect Bruce when needed. Still I hope Bruce is dead for awhile as it would be a great to see someone take the chance to move the Batman character forward. We can always do stories of the past when Bruce was Batman, but let’s move past the same person being under the mask.

Other then that you have Superman in the 30th Century with the Miracle Machine, Tattoo Man becoming a honorary JLA member, Captain Marvel finally stopping the raging and evil Mary Marvel, Tawny taking out Kalibak, Renee Montoya being asked to lead the global peace agency that will establish the remnants of this world on a new world, Luthor and Sivana rebelling against Libra, the Flashes taking off to save the world, Batman shooting Darkseid with a gun, Darkseid killing Batman, Metron, the return of Superman, the end of the world.

Morrison has so much happening in this issue and the others, then I can imagine if he fully developed everything he is doing this would be a 1,000 page story and certainly worthy of being a weekly comic. I thing this is an excellent story and it gets better with each issue. Morrison is not telling a straight forward story and how it ties to the rest of the DCU is frustrating, but bottom line this is a great story and a compelling read. I had to read this book first when I got home and now I can’t wait for the ending.

After reading the web sites the idea that Batman has been sent to alternative worlds with each being worse then the one before sounds like a great setting for Morrison and Quietly to really explore who Bruce is and have one heck of an odyssey for Bruce getting back home. I hope that is the plan.

Action Comics #873 – Writer Geoff Johns, Art Pete Woods, Renato Guedes & Wilson Magalhaes, Colors Brad Anderson & David Curiel. – This story had so much happening, yet again, that it is amazing. It is an adjustment from the slow developing stories that had become more of the norm, where this is going by like a silver age roller coaster. In one issue we had a New Krypton be created and take up an orbit directly opposite to Earth. (We now have a planet of super men and women only 186 million miles away.) There is a pitched battle with the heroes of the DCU and the magic powered heroes versus the Kryptonians. Then Supergirl abandons Earth and takes off with her Mom. Finally we see her Mom go to who she is taking orders from and it is General Zod. This is just terrific stuff and has me anxiously awaiting each new issue of the Superman titles.

Locke & Key Head Games #1 (of 6) – Writer Joe Hill, Art Gabriel Rodriguez, Colors Jay Fotos. This series picks up where the first series left off with the witch from the well now being a boy. This issue we find out the boy is the true form of the creature and he used to be Luke Caravaggio, who was best friends with Rendell Locke (the father who was killed in the first series). Something sinister and bad happened to him back in the sixties and he is now a ghost or something more then that. Luke (now going by Zack) is looking for his revenge and he needs what is under the Locke house. An old Professor recognizes who Zack really is and before he can expose him Zack kills him. What sets this book apart is that while delivering the back story on the main bad guy, we also get a wonderful character piece on the Professor. The story tell us who he is, how much he loved his wife and how much he misses her since she died a few years ago. In most books the Professor would have been a plot device, a cardboard cut out and a stand in to move the plot forward. In Locke & Key he is a fully developed character that when he dies you care about him and how he dies, in his mind at least, makes you smile a little as he is with his wife again. It is so deftly interwoven with the back story that instead of an issue of exposition explaining more of what is going on, we get another great issue of this series. It would be wrong of me not to mention Gabriel Rodriguez’s art and how well it conveys this story. Gabriel is a true talent in this field and conveys both a sense of realism, while exhibiting a unique art style.

Green Lantern Corps #32 – Writer Peter Tomasi, Pencils Patrick Gleason, Inks Rebecca Buchman, Colors Randy Mayor. Kryb is one bad a** villain. It takes a lot of Green Lanterns and one Star Sapphire to finally put her down. Of course one GL was delivering a baby; the husband GL was protecting her and the doctor GL was delivering the baby. After they take Kryb down she still escapes one last time and kills a GL. The Guardians write another new law forbidding physical relationships or love between Green Lanterns. The amount of rings that show up at Oa signifying how many lanterns resigned was a great scene. It is obvious the guardians are going too far and the GL corps is losing members now to resignation as well as death at the hands of the Sinestro Corps. This series stands on its own and adds to the richness of the overall GL universe perfectly.

BPRD Black Goddess #1 (of 5) – Writers Mike Mignola & John Arcudi, Art Guy Davis, Colors Dave Stewart. The BPRD team members continue their search for Liz. Kate Corrigan interviews an old team member of Lobster Johnson in hopes of finding out where Gilfryd is and ultimately is given a map. Abe, Johann and Devon search and old lair of Lobster Johnson is hopes of learning where Gilfryd maybe. There is a hint of something going on with Devon as he is off camera and states one more drawer to search and then says he found nothing. Too much space was given for that to be true. Finally Panya back at headquarters tells her nurse the Elizabeth is not coming book. BPRD is some amazing work and Dark Horse needs to start putting it into hard covers.

Fables #80 – Writer Bill Willingham, Pencils Mark Buckingham, Inks Pepoy, Colors Lee Loughridge. Fables is back into a great groove. The Frog Prince story line almost dragged and the battle against the adversary was almost too easy, but Willingham was just setting us up for what was coming next. Fabletown is in ruins and all the bad guys are coming after them as the bad magic has been released because Geppetto is no longer running things on all the other worlds. The Dark Rider is coming, Baba Yaga is awake and hungry and a djinn is on the loose. Everyone has headed out to the Farm. When they show up Boy Blue (who is dying or something) gets to learn Rose Red married Sinbad, your day can get much worse then that. Fables has gotten very dark all of a sudden, but it makes a lot of sense and I can see that this series has plenty of steam left in it. The back-up with art by Peter Gross has been very enjoyable also as Mowgli gathers intelligence on Gobs.

Simon Dark #16 – Writer Steve Niles, Art Scott Hampton, Colors Daniel Vozzo. The first long story arc was to set the stage for who Simon is and what he can do. Since then we have been learning about what he is and what he is learning to become. His creator is slowly revealing his origins and we see Simon is slowly learning to have a face. At the same time the failed experimental that came before Simon is not dead as his creator thought, but is actively looking to kill his creator. He also looks like Simon, but not exactly the same. I cannot recommend this series enough. Why it is in the DCU is unknown to me, but if it helps it sales by doing it this way then its okay with me.

Nightwing #152 – Writer Peter J. Tomasi, Pencils Don Kramer, Inks Jay Leisten, Colors Hi-Fi. Another strong issue of Nightwing, showing us yet again that Dick is the natural heir to the mantle of Batman. On one hand these issues are trending water till we get to the “Battle for the Cowl” on the other hand Peter Tomasi is giving us more and more character building us showing why Dick should be Batman. This issue we have a confrontation between Ras As Ghul and Nightwing and Ras agrees that he is the best replacement for Bruce Wayne.

No Hero #3 (of 7) – Writer Warren Ellis, Art Juan Jose Ryp, Colors Digikore Studios. I’m enjoying Ellis’ continued look at super heroes. He is playing with the same themes he played with in Authority and Black Summer and just putting different slants on it and having fun. This issue we see what it takes to become a super hero in this world and it is taking drugs and surviving a horrible acid trip. At the same time another member of the team is killed and they have no clue who is coming after them or why. Juan Jose Ryp is turning in another stellar art job and his style is working wonderfully with Ellis’ story.

Cleaners #2 (of 4) – Writers Mark Wheaton & Joshua Hale Fialkov, Art Rahsan Ekedal, Colors Jon Graef. The mystery as to why this crime scene had some many types of blood deepens and the police press our crew as to what they know about what is going on. They tell the police they think it is a “Harvester” a person who adds years to their life by consuming human tissue matter, in this case blood. Of course the police think they are lying and get mad. There is a lot more going on and an odd sex scene, but this series has a really cool vibe to it. Now I have read some complaints about the art, but I think that while not the best artist or most polished artist, we are seeing someone who is early in their career and what I see is a good art job (with some problems) but someone who has the potential to be a top notch artist.

Invincible #58 – Wrtier Robert Kirkman, Pencils Ryan Ottley, Inks Cliff Rathburn, Colors FCO Plascencia. The character developing arcs of Invincible are usually some of the best, but Kirkman does have to tread carefully to keep the excitement quotient high to avoid the rut this back feel into during the late 40’s of this book. This issue we see Eve and Mark enjoying their relationship, Eve building a business for her Mark so they can be independent and we see more of the monitoring devices. The shock reveal is Mark’s enemy Angstom Levy is gathering what appears to be a group of Invincibles from alternative realities as his own army.

Faces of Evil Prometheus #1 – Writer Sterling Gates, Art & Color Federico Dallocchio. So the original Prometheus is brought back and he is out for blood and looking to rebuild his reputation, as his protégé has been less then all inspiring. Prometheus was always created as the anti-Batman in some ways and I think the character has potential. The brutality on display here gives us the sense that this character has no limits as he is even willing to set fire to his failed protégé. As a re-introduction of the character and a rising of his menace level this issue did a fine job. My problem is DC has a recent history of doing some great one shot stories like this and then letting the idea lie fallow like a Chris Claremont sub plot.

Batman Confidential #25 – Writer Andrew Kreisberg, Pencisl Scott McDaniel, Inks Andy Owens, Colors I.L.L. This was a very good first Joker story. I have to laugh as there have been about ten or more first Joker stories as all writers want to give you their take on how the relationship between Batman and his arch-nemesis began. This story gave us the view that Batman had to learn that his job was to catch them and give them to the authorities what happened afterwards was something he could not control. We also saw the impact the Joker had from the standpoint of how he ruined one cop. We also see the Joker forced the city to create a new type of holding facility for someone like him and that was how Arkham Asylum was born in this story. I consider Batman Confidential almost myths of the Batman as nothing here is absolute cannon, just a place to tell a good Batman related story.

Fall of Cthulhu Apocalypse #2 (of 4) – Writer Michael Alan Nelson, Art & Colors Mateus Santolouco. I have enjoyed the fast pace of the Apocalypse arc as all the plot elements are moving together in rapid succession. Lucifer is tracking after the Necronicom and playing head games with the monster that has the book. Raymond saves Cy from the monster who looks like Cy’s girl friend to him. She takes the form of Ray’s wife to seduce Ray. The problem is the Harlot stole Ray’s memories of his wife and he kicks her off a bridge as he has no clue who she is supposed to be. At this point I’m wondering if this series is not in fact coming to a conclusion as once they sink the City again they should be safe for a little while.

Vixen Return of the Lion #4 (of 5) – Writer G. Willow Wilson, Art Cafu, Colors Santiago Arcas. This is a truly surprising well done mini-series that has raised my interest level in Vixen. I enjoyed that she now has her powers under control and her opening duel with a lion was really well done. Now she is uncovering what is actually happening and will have to go and save the JLA who came to save her. The artwork is also well done for Vixen, but did not work with the JLA. Still with the right book I hope we see more of Cafu’s work.

X-Infernus #2 (of 4) – Writer C.B. Cebulski, Pencils Giuseppe Camuncoli, Inks Jesse Delperdang & Craig Yeung, Colors Marte Garcia. This series is so well done. It had been years since I had paid attention to Colossus’ sister and some of the new people are foreign to me, but it is all working. Illyana regains the soul sword and returns to a more human look and goes back to Limbo. Colossus and a team of X-Men follow her into Limbo. Meanwhile, Illyana learns Belasco had a daughter and she is looking to kill Illyana. This series is one of the more enjoyable mini-series featuring the X-Men I have read in years.

Faces of Evil Grundy #1 – Writers Geoff Johns & Scott Kolins, Art Scott Kolins, Colors Hi-Fi. This is an odd one shot as it leads into a mini-series that starts in a month or two. Grundy has been used in different ways by different people and this issue tries to set the records straight about the different incarnations of Grundy. It also gives us a new incarnation of Grundy as he is more his old human self Cyrus Gold, then he is Grundy in this book. It is all a very confusing ride until the end when we find out that Grundy is being given a chance to break the curse and has seven days to do so. He will be helped by Alan Scott. The Phantom Stranger is the one telling Cyrus and Alan this as he states that Solomon Grundy should not be around for the blackest night that is coming. As a one shot, it was incomplete, as a prologue for the forthcoming series, it was a great job.

Booster Gold #16 – Writer/Artist Dan Jurgens, Finished Inks Norm Rapmund, Colors Hi-Fi. This book continues to be a pleasant surprise. This issue Booster is stuck in WWI and unwittingly helps to save the life of Maxwell Lord’s grandfather, who of course killed Blue (Ted Kord) Beetle. I was also pleasantly surprised to see how ell they managed to portray Enemy Ace properly as I was concerned as he was the “Face of Evil” for this issue’s cover. The whole “Faces of Evil” stuff when a book is in the middle of the arc is just a phony event. Still the Detective issue (where Batman is gone) and the actual one shot issues have been very good so far. Regardless of that, this was another solid issue of Booster Gold.

Titans #9 – Writer Judd Winick, Pencils Howard Porter & Jim Califiore, Inks Wayne Faucher & Jim Calafiore, Colors Edgar Delgado. This issue actually made the “Faces of Evil” thing work as we see the story from Jericho’s viewpoint. We also learn why Jericho has become evil after being a good guy and the explanation has the ring of “comic book truth” to it. All the people that Jericho has possessed over the years stay with him and they are taking him over and the bad guys are winning. This was a very plausible comic book explanation that makes a situation which seemed odd or not working and totally makes sense of it. I have to laugh as I constantly criticize DC for doing these one shots or mini-series and letting any good ideas lie fallow and now in Vigilante and the Titans things from the “Decision” mini-series that I passed on are playing into these books.


Solomon Kane #4 (of 5) – Writer Scott Allie, Art Mario Guevara, Colors Dave Stewart. This issue is extremely action packed as Solomon fights the werewolf like creature that the Baron becomes. We find out that his staff and wife knows about this and she is trying to escape from him. The battle between the creature and Solomon comprise the bulk of the book and it is very well done. Ultimately Solomon escapes to the woods and battles these strange flying monsters. We know next issue should be the final showdown. I have lost exactly why all of this is going, but the art is so well done, that my inability to remember all the details from issue to issue falls by the wayside.

Manhunter #38 – Writer Marc Andreyko, Art Michael Gaydos & Dennis Calero & Fernando Blanco, Colors Jose Villarrubia & Dennis Calero. The final issue of this series. I have enjoyed the series for the most part, but thought the re-launch was botched. From not making it a new number one, especially with using a strong artist, who is not a typical super hero type artist. I also think the jumping ahead a bunch of years to age your characters and show us how you expect them to end up is entertaining on one hand, but useless on another as you know no other writer is going to be bound by this stuff. All in all this was a decent series and I’ll be looking forward to seeing this Manhunter floating around in the DCU in the future.

Trinity #33 – 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. – I have had my say about this mini-series over and over again and I really have nothing new to add about how I feel about this series anymore. At this point I forget what happened almost as soon as I finish the book, which is a shame as the book is a very well written and artistically well done book, but one I have lost interest in.

Green Arrow Black Canary #16 – Writer Andrew Kreisberg, Pencils Mike Norton, Inks Josef Rubinstein, Colors David Baron. Having these “Faces of Evil” thing has really been dumb as while this issue featured Merlin it really did not give us Merlin’s viewpoint. Andrew Kreisberg who has been excellent on some other books is turning in some really generic super hero fare. Add into the mix that Mike Norton’s art is also competent, but uninspired and you have for a comic that is boring me at this point. The whacked out hero worshipping gal in this issue does show some promise for next issue. One last problem I’m having with this book is Canary is coming off like a side kick and I really do not like that as she is a viable character on her own and is more interesting then Ollie in many ways.

I look at the Buy Pile every week, but never read it in detail as he has often finished books way before I have had a chance to read anything and I don’t want my viewpoint impacted by another person’s viewpoint until I read a book. I can almost tell you what books will make the top of his list as his prejudices are clear, just as mine have become to anyone who reads this column. I only point this out because I can’t believe how differently we view this week, as he felt it was a bad week for books and I found very little to dislike and many, many excellent books this week. That’s the beauty of the internet, so many viewpoints and often too little time to read all the great work people are doing.


  1. Wow, that issue of Final Crisis sounds awesome. It makes me want to buy it right now. Of course, it maybe like Monty Python to me. When I was in high school my friends would rave about certain bits and they were hilarious. However, when I finally saw it myself it wasn't nearly as good. Perhaps, you make FC better than it really is.

    I'm convinced that you need to be running things over at DC.

    Oh, you should've said another "solid gold" issue of Booster Gold.

    I still like Trinity, but I don't like that it prevents me from getting three other books a month. I also didn't like how history repeated itself in the Cosmic Egg universe.

  2. Matthew - FC maybe Monty Python and the Holy Grail - which I always thought was funnier to talk about then actually see.

    Trinity is well written and drawn, just way too long. I still like my idea of Trinity as a seven issue series of 40 pages and FC as the weekly.

    Good point on Booster - I may have to steal that line in future columns.

  3. Python is hilarious, but is best seen in groups. Watching by yourself isn't half as much fun. In college we would get someone's VCR and set it up with the lobby TV to have a large chunk of the floor's residents watch. Not conducive for those wanting to study, but a good time for the rest of us.