Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Best and Worst of Last Week

The longer I do the listing this way, the better I like it. This week I still only had one book as the worst of the week and I think that with stopping ranking every single book it many more make the grade as okay. Also I did not have a single DC book make my best of the week. Outsiders was close, but was again more of a set-up issue which was a little disappointing as we got a lot of set-up in the special the week before. Still it already appears to be a much stronger series and the foundation that was laid will be needed work as long as they follow through with the ground work.

For my recommended book of the week I will go with Four Eyes from Image comics. It is another series by writer Joe (I Kill Giants) Kelly that has a child’s perspective and it is another winning series with great art.


X-Factor #40 – Writer Peter David, Pencils Valentine De Landro, Inks Pat Davidson and Valentine De Landro, Colors Jeromy Cox. After the last issue where Jamie absorbs the baby because it is a duplicate and Peter David was saying how issue #40 and #41 where going to be great shock ending, I was reading it and hearing blah, blah, blah, but he did it. As he has requested again we not talk about the ending I won’t but it was fantastic. The entire story is about Jamie now trying to deal with the repercussions of what has happened. While intellectually he understands the baby was not real, emotionally the impact is hitting him as though he accidentally killed his own child. He walks to see his dupe that he left alone to have a life John Madrox the priest to have a final talk before he shoots himself. The issue is full of Madrox’s crass cynicism and harsh edge humor as he recounts what has gone wrong with his life. It has a ring of truth to it in the way he might feel if this type of thing could have happened to anyone. The last page is a great shocker and is sure to make Jamie reconsider. The artwork is a big part of any book and while Valentine does not blow me away he does a very good job and telling the story and does an excellent job in expressing the characters emotions both in facial expressions and often body language.

Spider-Man Noir #3 (of 4) – Writers David Hine with Fabrice Sapolsky, Art Carmine Di Giandomenico. This has been a very enjoyable series. I’m sure part of it is my desire to still read Spider-Man adventures and I’m not ready to go back to Amazing Spider-Man as the One More Day thing killed that book for me. Spider-Man Noir was great fun this issue as Peter learns the Ben Urich had built a case against the Goblin and had notes on all the operations. After the Black Cat gives him the information Peter hits the Goblin as Spider-Man and starts to hurt him. We then get back to the beginning as Spider-Man is over a dead body of JJJ. Ultimately Spider-Man finds out JJJ was replaced by the Chameleon. Norman has captured JJJ, Black Cat and Aunt May and is trying to get Peter. Norman does not know who Spider-Man is, but captures people that were in Ben’s circle. Not only is this series telling a great story, but the logic is very tight, from how Peter would know in all of New York what places to hit and stop the Goblin’s crime, to how Peter got his powers back in this first great depression era. I’m looking forward to the next issue and would even like to see a second mini-series with this creative crew.

Four Eyes #2 – Writer Joe Kelly, Art Max Fiurmara, Colors Nestor Pereyra. I’ll level the bad news first and that is this book is not coming out fast enough. Joe Kelly is starting to remind me of Garth Ennis, in that he so captures stories told from a young person perspective, that as Ennis should be required to do a war comic, Joe should be forced to write comics that have a child’s perspective. This story of Dragons and the boy Enrico is captivating. Setting the time frame in the first Great Depression era makes it all feel more plausible. The confrontation this issue between Enrico and his father’s boss was terrific. The dragon fight was awesome, as we see the match between the two dragons end up as a fight to the death. Max Fiumara’s art is absolutely perfect for this story as he captures both dragon fights, portraying a child, pathos and menace with equal aplomb. This is a book that deserves your support and I recommend you run down to your nearest comics store and buy multiple copies of it, NOW.

The Great Unknown #1 (of 5) – Words and Art Duncan Rouleau. A rare Image book that makes the grade for me lately. I have not gotten past issue #1 of a bunch of Image books lately and this book was a pleasant surprise. I was very ambivalent about Metal Men from Duncan Rouleau and was a little apprehensive about going into this series as I did not have a handle on the premise. It is a very cool book. Our central character is Zach, a super genius inventor slacker and drunkard. We are introduced to Zach as a person who is the smartest man in the room, but does not care and has contempt for the rest of the world. His brother saves him from barroom brawls, his family tries to do an intervention and all his great inventions are apparently lost as someone always gets the idea to the patent office before him. The end of the first issue a strange man tells Zach that his mind has been compromised and his ideas stolen and he is not where he should be in his life. He leaves his card with Zach and leaves Zach just hanging, wondering what to do. Told with great humor and great art work and a limited color palette, this book is a winner. As a bonus we are given a one page cartoon “Salutes to History’s Unsung A**holes” as we find out that the great mathematical genius Archimedes was slain by an overzealous Roman guard because he did not respond to his request fast enough. So the world loses a great mind due to an idiot power happy Roman guard. Fun, intellectual, great art, laced with sarcasm, mysteries and great story telling – buy this book.

Shrapnel #2 (of 5) – Creators Mark Long & Nick Sagan, Writers M. Zachary Sherman, Artist Bagus Hutome, Colors Leos “Okita” Ng. This issue was another good issue of this series. The best part of the book is the story of Samantha who is dragged into the war and her obvious skills causes her to be noticed. She is not just noticed by the side she is working for, but in review of the video of the fight Earth Alliance commanders recognize that the person leading the Venus troops must be one of their marines. Her reveal of her past to her friends creates conflict also, as they now view her as an enemy regardless of what she did to save them. What caused her to just want to disappear is still being revealed, but it was her involvement in an operation gone wrong with heavy civilian casualties that made her question what she was doing. I’m still at odds with how dark the coloring is at times and the battle scenes are hard for me to follow. Last issue when the battle was just suppose to be chaotic I could live with it, but this issue we are suppose to be able to discern what Samantha did in the battlefield to deserve such recognition and it was still a blurred jumble to me. All in all this Solar System War of the Earth Alliance versus some independent colonies is an intriguing book that keeps you looking forward to the next issue.


Amber Atoms #1 – It’s sad that of the first few comics I have read this week a worst of the week comes shinning through. This was one of the easiest books I have had to drop in a long. The creator may one day be a solid creator, but this reads as a very amateur effort. The story was a confused jumble in the beginning and gave us no clue how it relates to the central character. The art was also poor, but got better as the book went on. All in all a book that I’m surprised Image would want their name on. Cancelled.

For me own amusement this format just focus what I’m reading down to core books and gives me a nice way to summarize which books I want to talk about when I’m doing Cosmic Comix Conversation.

A small footnote the review of “The Great Unknown” is a re-run from earlier as I enjoyed the book so much I wanted to give it a solo spotlight.

1 comment:

  1. Well, I was interested in picking up Amber Atoms after seeing the cover on your Monday blog. However, since it was an Image book I was concerned with the language content (I got burned on G0DLAND). I contacted Kelly and got a nice response, so I bought the first issue. I agree that there were some problems with the issue. The flesh coloring really detracted from the art and I wanted more story or background. I also had a list of questions about the story (timeline, etc.) that were confusing. I haven't gotten a response yet. Anyway, I'm planning on getting the next issue and maybe check out issue 3 to see if things improve. I think the concept is good and I like the design and panel layout. It's tough to try something new, because you bring your own preconceptions to it and they may not jive with the creator. That's another problem I had with G0DLAND, it just wasn't what I thought it should be. When I think of exciting Sci-Fi action, I usually judge it by the excellent Mantlo/Golden Micronauts.

    Speaking of language, I read the first volume of All-Star Batman from the library the week. I found I could filter it fairly well. If it was my own copy I'd have to take a marker to it (like they did in one issue). The volume ended on a good note, where you could really get a sense of where it was going. I can see why people jumped ship on the monthly (with the delays and not knowing the direction).