Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Best and Worst of Last Week

I always feel a need to change things around on occasion. We live in an ADD world and I knew familiarity can be a comfort, but I think it also breeds boredom with many. So in an effort to make this post less labor intensive and to give it a lighter feels (as some of the columns were over 5,000 words) I’m changing the format.

I just change one little word from “to” to “and”. By that minor word change I will only focus on the books I liked and some that I did not like. I mainly want to focus on what I thought was the best with mini-reviews on each one of those and then talk about books that I cancelled and why and occasionally just rake something over the coals that I hated. Hopefully this will keep the column briefer and more upbeat and not just a recital of every book I read.


The Mighty #1 – Writers Peter Tomasi & Keith Champagne, Art Peter Snejberg, Colors John Kalisz. It is funny that I was reading this book and also listening to Mark Waid talk about Irredeemable about the greatest super hero becoming the greatest super villain as the Mighty has some of those darker elements in this series. Not that they are the same, but thematically the dark side of power is being explored. The Mighty is Alpha One a Superman level hero is apparently the only super powered being in this world. We get a quick origin and jump ahead to today (as the origin was in the 50’s) and see that an organization has been created that supports Alpha One. After saving a train from wrecking this team comes in to help the survivors and assess the damage. We are given a subtle clue that something is not all on the up and up as four passengers are found to be totally missing after the train accident. Our point of view character is the second in command of this organization and he gets a chance to be in command after his boss shows up dying at his doorstep. The Captain is pointing to his hand to tell Lt. Cole that it was Alpha One who did this to him, but Cole assumes he means for Cole to summon Alpha via a gadget that is in the palm of his hand. The artwork by Peter Snejberg is great, wonderful clean lines, great expressions, page designs and layouts are all top notch. The color work is also excellent as it really enhances the story and goes from a muted pallet to a colorful pallet as the story dictates. An excellent start to this series.

Agents of Atlas #1 – Writer Jeff Parker, Pencils Carol Pagulayan, Inks Jason Paz, Colors Jana Schirmer. This was almost a guaranteed that I would like it as I feel in love with these characters with the first mini-series. Jeff Parker has crafted a great oddball group of characters and Marvel has done a great job in provided a platform to generate more readership for this book. Add into the mix a great art job and you have another winning launch for Marvel tying into Dark Reign. Of course the ever present Norman Osborne is almost as grating as the ever present Tony Stark was after Civil War, but he is the lynchpin for this timeframe of Marvel and his involvement in the beginning was inevitable. Jimmy Woo and his group now have an alliance with Norman to provide him with stuff that he wants off book in exchange for leaving Jimmy’s operations free and clear. Of course Jimmy is walking a tightrope as his own organization (especially the dragon Lao) has doubts that Jimmy is actually trying to gain world domination. So we have a group of good guys running a bad guy organization, trying to pretend to be bad guys to both Norman and the dragon Lao. Great stuff. Best scene in the book was the dragon eating Man Mountain Marko.

Secret Warriors #1 – Writers Brian Bendis & Jonathan Hickman, Pencils Stefano Caselli, Colors Danielle Rudoni. Love the subtitle Nick Fury: Agent of Nothing. Marvel has another winning book coming out of what I thought was a horrible concept, Secret Invasion. The premise of Dark Reign allows for the good guys to have to be underground again and back to being true vigilantes fighting injustice even if it is the government (shades of Black Summer). The actual warriors are not characters I care about yet, but we are moving towards making me care about them. Nick was great this issue and I love how Bendis and Hickman are making him the master strategist and the reveal at the end of this issue was truly mind blowing; SHIELD was an arm of Hydra. I want to know has this always been true or did they take it over later on? An excellent start and the first time out for Hickman and Bendis was a winner.

Dynamo 5 # 19 – Writer Jay Faerber, Art Mahmud A. Asrar, Colors Ron Riley. I get very nervous when a book like this is delayed because this series needs to continue for a long time. I’m guessing both the writer and artist have other projects and timing became a problem. If this book becomes a 10 times a year series that is okay, but if it drops to bi-monthly then I think too many fans who do not do pull list may forget this book. This was another excellent issue as the original team pulls together and comes to the rescue of Scrap and the team she has pulled together. It was a great all out action issue with some great bits in the battle. What sets this fight scene apart was the true sense of strategy being used by the good guys as opposed to just everyone just hitting each other. The reveal of the bad guy behind all that has been going on was also excellent as you are left wondering did he do it to get promoted at FLAG or is he really a classic villain.

Jersey Gods #1 – Writer Glen Brunswick, Art Dan McDaid, Colors Rachelle Rosenberg. Out and out fun. This book reminds me of another great title Proof in the energy and passion these creators bring to this series just oozes out of the book in a good way. I loved it so much I did a full review and you can see that here.

Secret Six #6 – Writer Gail Simone, Pencils Nicola Scott & Javi Pina, Inks Doug Hazelwood and Javi Pina, Colors Jason Wright. As I was reading this I did not think it would make the cut for my new Best and Worst list until I hit the end of the main story. Deadshot appears to betray everyone, shots the Duchess (or whatever her name is), caps Scandal, runs over Ragdoll and Catman and takes off with the get out of Hell card. Since Mad Hatter was in the back story telling the Secret Six’s origin, we can guess he maybe under mind control, but you can never tell with this group and that is what make this book so great issue after issue, you don’t know what’s coming next.

I Am Legion #1 (of 6) – Writer Fabien Nury, Art John Cassady, Colors Laura Martin. I enjoyed the opening chapter of this series, but it is hard to not like a book drawn by John Cassady. There are so many great artists in the business today, but Cassady still stands out of one of the best of the best. This series is still developing but we have learned one thing that blood is the key to everything. We have one person who drains out their blood and uses it to take over another body. We have a little girl who uses a drop of her blood to allow her to control and use her cat that drank the drop of blood. We also see the cat’s bones later on, which denotes a high penalty for the creature that is possessed. So it is easy to see how one person can become a legion. The cuts back and forth with no captions to let us know who is who was a little confusing and I’m not sure how all the players line up yet, but this issue was all set up. The setting itself is WWII which I will judge later as often the whole Nazi thing gets tiring. I guess they are the only bogeymen allowed anymore. I believe this was originally developed for the European market and may have been released as a graphic novel which maybe causing some issues with breaking the book into artificial chapters.

Justice Society of America #23 – Writer Geoff Johns & Jerry Ordway, Pencils Jerry Ordway, Inks Bob Wiacek, Colors Hi-Fi. Black Adam maybe the best super villain in comics right now and the fact that he does not see himself as a villain per say makes it even better. This issue we see Isis reborn and after suffering at the hands of Felix Faust and what happened to her brother she is also no longer willing to be a positive person, so we now have a super powered couple who are willing to take revenge on the world. At the same time the JSA is dealing with the repercussions of the whole Gog saga when they get a call from Captain Marvel and find a de-powered Billy Batson instead, who has been kicked out of his role by Adam and Isis. The one thing that scares me is seeing Jerry Ordway as the writer I think he wants Billy being Captain Marvel again and that would just suck as DC has never even tried to integrate Freddie as the new CM yet.

Punisher #2 – Writer Rick Remender, Art Jerome Opena, Colors Dan Brown. This issue we find out the guy who saved the Punisher is no one that we knew, just a computer type guy who sees what is wrong with the world and wants to help stop it. The Punisher now has Henry as his new aide de camp supplying him with intel and helping the Punisher find weapons to help him stop meta-human bad guys. Henry maybe in over his head, but it looks like we have a new “Microchip”. What made this book is the omnipresent Norman Osborne is out telling everyone how crime is down thanks to HAMMER and Frank and Henry expose the lie. This causes Norman to send the Hood after Frank.


Dead Irons #1 – Writer James Kuhoric, Art Jason Shawn Alexander. This book almost got cut, so while I’m continuing with the series I will put this as a worst of the week. One reason is my disappointment with the art. Jason Shawn Alexander is a very good artist and I loved his Abe Sapien mini-series work, but this was way too dark and almost impressionistic. It was extremely difficult to tell which characters were which. The writing did not help as it seems all writers want to jump around in time and space. Every damn book does not need to be Lost and a straight forward storyline does not mean you are an idiot. Furthermore jumping around without captions and dark artwork just confuse the reader, we are not all Grant Morrison level genius that can follow all the great ideas that you have inferred. I was very close to canning this series, but I want to give it one more issue to see if they can get better or if two issues combined will help it make more sense. Finally Jae Lee is created with character design, so what when the art is so dark I cannot even discern any design or character from each other.

Soul Kiss #1 (of 5) – Another new Image title then I am canning with the first issue. This would maybe have worked as an OGN as the payoff for this story maybe good, but when something does not grab me with the first issue I’m usually jumping ship. The artwork was good, but is a style that I’m sure many super hero comic fans would not like as it has a storyboard type of quality to it, meaning it is often is few lines just enough to let us know what is happening, but no depth or detail. The story was simplistic and not enough to make me come back for four more issue. A girl gets in trouble, the devil shows up and makes a deal with her and now she apparently kills men with a kiss and is trying to get out of the contract. This was a borderline cancel, but again it felt like it needed to be released as an OGN for me to enjoy it. If the series succeeds it could be a book I get as a trade. Cancelled.

Bad Dog #1 – This book did not make the grade for me and #1 will be my only issue. The artwork was good and the writer is good, but the story missed. It was trying to be too many things at once. A lot of books mash genres and if done right it can be great, but when you try that route and it doesn’t work the book feels unfocused. Cancelled.

War of Kings Darkhawk #1 (of 2) – No tie-in whatsoever this issue to War of
Kings (which I have been enjoying the other lead in series) and now we have another Darkhawk, I guess we will have a Darkhawk Corps or something. Add to it my least favorite thing, a 22 page comic with new art and story and a crap reprint and charge me an extra dollar for the package. Cancelled.

So that is how it shaped up this week and as I continue with this format I’m sure I would try to refine over the coming weeks. This was a huge week for first issues and they dominated both half of the equation.


  1. If you're going to have writer and artist credits on the Best, you should do the same with the Worst. Alerts for quality performers are no more important to the reader than alerts for low performers.

  2. I disagree - if I'm cancelling a book I'm not necessarily making a comment about the writer or artist, so I feel no need to mention them all the time.

  3. Read Soul Kiss last night. I agree the art was loose. I liked the theme of the story, and felt it was more setup than anything else. Don't blame you for dropping but you might have wanted to wait one more issue to see the hook really emerge. It's not for the generic superhero fan, that's for sure.

  4. Lee - Soul Kiss was a borderline cancel - but I will give it another look if it makes it to a trade. I think it should have been released as a graphic novel directly.