Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Best and Worst of Last Week

This new format is working better for me as it saves me a lot of time in dealing with writing a mini-review on each and every book. It hopefully means that maybe more people will actually read more of the post as in an ADD world getting past the first paragraph is often a chore.

This week I would like to press all of you to check out Evil Twin Comics. The Action Philosophers series was terrific and can be purchased at their website or via your local comic store (maybe who knows with Diamond), but these are books that are fun and educational. The current series Comic Book Comics should be required reading for any comic fan.


Scalped #25 – Writer Jason Aaron, Art R.M. Guerra, Colors Giulia Brusco. How the heck Jason Aaron is producing winning issue after winning issue after winning issue with this book is beyond me. I absolutely love this series and constantly can’t wait for the next issue. This issue focuses on a new character, who is a hustler and card shark and down on his luck. Via his inner monologue we learn that he use to run with a gang and now he is trying to make one last score. This issue is as nasty as they come with the use of language and the murder of the hooker he was using while in town, but it all plays to the noir quality of this book. It is a compelling story of yet another not too nice character that populates this series. I was wondering where it was going, when this guy does a double take on the casino floor when someone walks by. He makes a few calls, cleans up behind himself (including killing the hooker) and confronts Dash at the end of the series telling him that he will blow his cover to Red Crow unless he helps him rob the casino that night. See Dash busted this guy three years ago and the hustler claims he can prove Dash is still with the FBI. As always great artwork and superb coloring that keeps the mood dark, but does not obscure the art.

Thor #600 – Main Story Writer J. Michael Straczynski, Pencils Art Olivier Copiel & Marko
Djurdjevic(and did his own inks) Inks Mark Morales, Colors Laura Martin with Paul Mounts and Christina Strain. Back Up Writer Stan Lee, Art David Aja, Colors Matt Hollingsworth. I complained that it was back to Snore and then this issue hits and just blows me away. Loki revives Bor (Odin’s father) and casts a spell on him so he is seeing everything as evil. Since he is tearing up New York Thor has to show up to stop him. Thor has no idea who Bor is and Thor is battling for his life. Ultimately Thor wins by killing Bor and then finds out Bor is his grandfather. Asgardian law forces Balder to banish Thor forever as one cannot kill royalty and Loki’s scheme succeeds. A simple enough tale in the short version but it was so well written and some many dramatic battle scenes, that you felt Thor to be god like. This was an extra long tale and highlighted the terrific art of Olivier Copiel and Marko Djurdjevic. I really loved this issue and hope that Marvel collects this run of Thor as a deluxe hard cover with 12 issues per collection. The added tale by Stan Lee just shows that Stan is not really much of a writer anymore, but it did not matter as David Aja’s art carried the story and it was just a joy to look at.

Batman #686 – Writer Neil Gaimna, Pencils Andy Kubert, Inks Scott Williams, Colors Alex Sinclair. This was a wonderful start to the two part story by Neil Gaiman. The concept is homage to all the various versions of Batman and his foes over the years. We have the setting of a funeral where Batman is laid out in a casket and we have a series of stories being told by the mourners. The two stories we see this issue is Catwoman’s story and Alfred’s story as each laments how they killed him. Neither of the stores are true histories of the characters and I’m sure more literate readers will catch references that I’m missing, but each story gives us elements of the myth of Batman. It is both a celebration of Batman and an examination of Batman. Andy Kubert has turned in possibly his finest effort ever and Scott Williams on inks and Alex Sinclair on colors makes the book as sharp as any on the shelves. Kubert’s use of varying versions of the characters to give a nod to various eras is great. The cars bringing people to the funeral are even terrific. It is definitively a two part story, as while an excellent start it needs the second part to complete it. The extra pages giving us Andy’s sketchbook was a hell of a treat. I’m now envisioning a deluxe version of this book filled with sketchbook pages and annotations or just the entire script as back material to round out the hard cover, which I will be buying if done right.

Batman and The Outsiders Special #1 – Writer Peter Tomasi, Pencils Adam Kubert, Inks John
Dell & Sandu Florea, Colors Chris Chuckry. Would someone at DC please hand the keys to the Batman franchise over to Peter Tomasi and let him run with it. Or give Peter any DC character he wants, after years in the editor’s chair the man knows how to writer great comics and is proving it on every book he touches. The Outsides went from lame to “wow can’t wait for the next issue” just like that. It starts with a great personal piece that finally pays tribute to what Alfred has been and the tribute is given by Bruce via a message to be played on his death. Alfred is given the task of gathering the Outsiders together and this issue, while all set up as the cast is introduced is nothing short of brilliant as each character is defined and presented in such a way to give us a solid starting point. It is an oddball cast and befits the Outsider name while still being true to the original Outsiders. The cast is Geo-Force, Katana, Creeper, Halo, Metamorpho, Black Ligthning and Owl Man (who is Roy Raymond Jr. – brilliant). Where we go from here I do not know, but I can’t wait and luckily the next chapter is coming out tomorrow. The art work was also excellent on this book as it was drawn by Adam Kubert. I do not know why the Kubert brothers have produced what seems to be a limited amount of work for DC, but I wish their output was more prodigious as I enjoy their work.

Rebels #1 – Writer Tony Bedard, Art Andy Clarke, Colors Jose Villarrubia. This was a great start to a new series. I was wondering why do we need this series and after reading the first issue I wondering where has this series been. Tony starts off the book with a bang and never lets us go. Vril Dox (Brainiac 2) is on the run and comes to earth. His organization has been taken over and he is essentially Public Enemy #1 for Legion. A group of bounty hunter is after Dox and he essentially recruits Supergirl to help him. At the same time the Omega Men are on the run from Legion as they just discovered that Legion is no longer a police force for worlds but a conquering army. At the end with the bounty hunters on Dox’s tail we find out Brainiac 5 has used Supergirl to send his relative a message. It is out and out action with a great story and sets up one hell of a great premise. I’m jazzed about this series. Also the art was great. Andy Clarke does a beautiful job and I hope he can maintain at least a 10 issue a year schedule and that DC locks this guy into an exclusive. The layouts, design and camera angles made this book just flow from page to page. It is all topped off with one of the best colorists in the business Jose Villarrubia. A great start to a new series, maybe 2009 is DC’s year to put their act back together.

Comic Book Comics #3 - Written and Researched by Fred Van Lente, Illustrated and designed
by Ryan Dunlavey. If you read comics and have any desire to learn the history of comics, this is the book for you. I know a fair amount of comic history but I’m learning new stuff and at the same time laughing as I re-read about what I already know as the way the information is presented is so damn entertaining. The best part of this book was the background they gave on Frederick Wertham the author of “The Seduction of the Innocent”, who is almost universally blamed for the making comics into the sanitized material it was first turned into after all the Congressional investigations into how comics were ruining America’s youth. Without that timeframe American Comics may have well become as much of a part of mainstream America as Japanese comics and as well respected as many European comics. I think comics have finally made their mark but much later then they would have without what happened at that time. GO BUY THIS BOOK AND READ IT. Informative and entertaining.

Fables #81 – Writer Bill Willingham, Pencils Mark Buckingham, Inks Andrew Pepoy, Colors Lee Loughridge. The death of Boy Blue brought home how much the war has cost the Fables. I know we saw Fabletown in ruins and Master Dark (or whatever his name is suppose to be) now setting up his base there and is free as a result of the war, but Boy Blue dying was very sad. His good-bye to Rose Red was harsh, but when you are dying it is the last chance you have to be honest and the bitter pain he felt over her betrayal spilled out. Bill has set up a new status quo that now has the Fables with their backs to the wall and after all the build up to defeat the Emperor, it has all unraveled and it was better the devil they knew. There feels like there is no safe haven and it truly is the beginning of the Dark Ages in more ways then one.


Green Arrow Black Canary #17 - Writer Andrew Kreisberg, Pencils Mike Norton, Inks Josef Rubinstein, Colors David Baron. What happened to Andrew Kreisberg. I loved his Helen Killer book and thought the Joker story he did in Batman Confidential was very well done, but this book is tanking and a hair’s breadth away from being cancelled. I’m still trying to understand why DC announced him as the writer for World of Krypton and then stated it will be Rucka and Robinson. There are a few problems with this book. The first is the story has been bland and boring. The couple’s personal life is gone and they are just two costumed crime fighters. I expect more out of a comic today. Next is Black Canary has been turned into a supporting character as opposed to a hero in her own right. She is supposed to be one of the best fighters in the business and she has been shown to be more of a sidekick then anything else. Finally the other problem is the art. I hate to criticize artists as I can’t draw at all, but this artwork reminds me of the glory days of the seventies when serviceable artwork for super hero comics was all that was required and many artist cranked out a lot of material. It is a professional job, but it has no pizzazz to it and leaves me a little cold.

A shocking week for me as only one book hit the bottom rung and we had a lot of great books. This is the type of week that makes comic such a rich source of entertainment. From Batman to Scalped to Thor to Comic Book Comics, we had a wide variety of the type of entertainment comics can produce. Also with only one book hitting the worst of the week it made the entire pile of books a pleasure to read.

1 comment:

  1. I'd have thought you'd mention the cover on your worst selection. Those boobs are ridiculously proportioned. It's like she's carrying around volleyballs.