DC and Marvel have been struggling lately to crack the Best side of the equation. That is not to say that they have not had some decent books here and there over the last few weeks, it is just to say that outside the main two Universes have been doing a lot better. In some ways it is poetic justice that this is happening after the screws have been put to the small press guys to up their sales or get out. I think that we are seeing the beginning of the end of the direct market. As I have said numerous times until people who read me are bored of it, but anytime one business model dies a new one rises to take its place.
The Unwritten #1 - Writer Mike Carey, Art Peter Gross, Colors Chris Chucky. I have no basis for this opinion, but it feels like The Unwritten is Mike’s most ambitious comic project to date and I want this to be a long ride, so I hope the rest of you try this book out also. The story is about Tom Taylor, who is a young man trying to make a career from living off the idea that he was the basis for the Tommy Taylor character in his father’s book. Tommy Taylor is an obvious homage to the Harry Potter character and by using that as a launching point I’m sure Harry Potter fans will get more out of this story then I will. I have seen the movies, but never read the books. By using that as a starting point Mike is able to build on the concept quickly without having to explain too much. Tom Taylor’s father disappeared a few years back and his estate is tied up in various legal matters, leaving his son to sign his father’s books and attend conventions as the public figure behind Tommy Taylor. At one such convention a young girl starts to ask questions about who is “Tom Taylor” as she has proof that he is not the son of the author Wilson Taylor. From there things go south rapidly as people are outraged about the fraud, Tom’s agent seems to know about what is going on, the police are starting to wonder more about Tom and his Dad’s disappearance, a character from one of the books shows up to capture Tom and the girl who started the whole thing saves Tom from the bad guy. (Whew). See my entire review here.
BPRD Black Goddess #5 (of 5) – Writers Mike Mignola & John Arrcudi, Art Guy Davis, Colors Dave Stewart. The Mignolverse is so rich and has so much happening that the more you read the more you are rewarded for your efforts. The inside front cover gives a true numbering calling this issue #56 in a series. I really thing BPRD is more interesting then the Hellboy material and one day will be recognized for being one of the best overall long term graphic novels ever done. This issue Liz breaks free from Gilfryd and appears to kill him. These types of shocks are so typical of BPRD and just make each issue a great read. This is a consistently high quality book that has built a wonderful foundation over the years and using it to its best benefit. While I think it is difficult to jump into this book in the middle every single mini-series is in a collected edition and can be easily order from you local comic store or online.
Guerillas #4 (of 8) – by Brahm Revel. I can’t recommend this book too highly. Please go out and buy this book. Check out issue #1 for free and then run to your store to buy this book. Brahm is making a comic that is fun, amusing, moving, interesting, thought provoking and is 50 pages long for just $5.99. The chimp unit is still on the prowl in Viet Nam and our boy John Clayton is trying to grow up as he is accidentally attached to this outfit of the US government. Granted the chimps were never meant to be an outfit or out and about like this, but they are and John has to deal with it. At the same time our chimp unit is taking out VCs we have the scientist who started the whole thing trying to catch up with them. The GI unit stuck with the Doctor are having second and third thoughts about the whole thing, especially since a baboon is attached as the tracker. Not only is the story great by Brahm’s art is very impressive. His work has a little Alex Toth feel to it at times, but it is a loose feeling style with an amazing amount of detail. It is deceptively simple in looking at it which makes it read so well, but when you stop and examine his art it shows an amazing level of skill that he displays from layouts to differentiation of the characters.
Echo #12 – by Terry Moore. The characters in this book are so richly developed that you feel that you know each and ever person in the book. Julie Martin is our normal person who has a life that is full of complexities as anyone’s life is. She is getting divorced, has a sister who has suffered and nervous breakdown and Julie is a photographer trying to make a living. She gets caught up in a fantastic situation where she is wearing a suit that gives her incredible powers and apparently has the “echo” of the woman who died in it. Dillon and Ivy are also great characters and we are learning more and more about them as time goes on. To comment about individual issues is sometimes redundant as the book is a novel in progress, but one that is well worth your time and money. A fantastic story that is science fiction at its best yet set in the here and now.
Storming Paradise #5 (of 6) – Writer Chuck Dixon, Pencils Rick Burchett, Inks Butch Guice, Colors Darlene Royer. I enjoy well written war comics and I like well done Elseworlds stories, so this combination has been a winner. I was worried when the series disappeared after issue #4, but now we have issue #5 and hopefully #6 will come soon (solicited for June 10). This story of a United States that was unable to drop an atomic bomb and has to win the war against Japan in a conventional way has been brutal and uncompromising. The tone of the book is respectful in my mind to both sides and shows what may have happened. It feels well researched, as if this is based on alternative plans the US had and what Japan was planning as its final defense. In reading all the war comics I have over the years I can never understand how we think that war can solve anything, but I also understand you have to stand and fight for what is right at times also. This may need to be a collected edition for my bookshelf. Finally the artwork remains amazing. Even though Butch Guice apparently was unable to do the pencils, he did the inks and over Rick Burchett pencils and it maintains a consistent look and dynamic.
The Unknown #1 (OF 4) - Writer Mark Waid, Art Minck Oosterveer, Colors Fellipe Martins The pace on this book is relentless as we start out with our main character Catherine (Cat) Allingham waking up in her bedroom and seeing what almost appears to be Frankenstein’s monster or some guy who looks like a fresh corpse and obviously dead. Cat is called into a crime scene and quickly solves what appears to be a suicide and points out the killer in short order. After that she meets a person she hires as an aide to camp to help her on a new case that involves locked rooms and quantum physics and the measuring of souls. Along the way we find out she is dying from an inoperable tumor that is causing what appears to be her hallucination of the dead man. In summarizing the plot points I’m not doing it justice because the book flows like a white water rapid and you are just hanging on for the ride. The art work is excellent and I’m unfamiliar with the “international superstar” Minck Oosterveer, but the man knows how to draw a comic and do it well. He has wonderful page layouts with some great angles and unique shots that did not impact the flow of the comic. I have heard that hands are one the hardest things to draw (as proven by the Luna brothers) by Minck can draw hands and uses that ability to great effect. I would love to see him draw Dr. Strange as only Ditko ever brought the flair to Dr. Strange’s hands and Minck could do it. See my full review here.
Green Lantern Corps #36 – Writer Peter Tomasi, Pencils Patrick Gleason, Inks Rebecca Buchman with Prentis Rollins, Colors Randy Mayor. This book is just as strong and sometimes stronger then the lead series Green Lantern. Peter Tomasi is building up some great characters, giving us plenty of action and excitement and juggling multiple plots. Each issue seems to read better then the last and I think the build up to Blackest Night was great in this issue. First we learn that Soranik is Sinestro’s daughter, a little retro-conning to be sure, but so deftly done that I could almost believe that this was intended from the time she was introduced. The science cell break out is in full force and the chaos on Oan is palatable as it appears the GL corps will have a hard time stemming that tide. On Daxam we see Sodam Yat make what appears to be the ultimate sacrifice in order to access the Ion power. We also learn that the Guardian Scar, who is behind the Black Lanterns, is part of the problem in Yat’s ability to access the Ion power. I have never been so engaged as I am in this book right now. The artwork by Patrick Gleason is great and I think he continues to improve issue after issue. Gleason is a very good super hero artist and is a major reason this book has always been a solid book.
Rebels #4 – Writer Tony Bedard, Pencils Claude St. Aubin, Inks Scott Hanna, Colors Jose Villarrubia. I wonder how far out Tony has plotted this book. I say that because the book reads like a novel. We are only on issue #4, but I have the feeling the first story arc goes on for a long time. Having said that each chapter is rewarding and delivers as opposed to the stretched plots we see in some comics. In this issue the bounty hunters left on Earth are picked up by what appeared to be a Khund warship, but was in fact a ship being run by a Durlan. Why she is after Dox is an open question, but it is unquestioned she wants Dox and not in a good way. Dox is still trying to put together his own LOSH and recruits Strata back into the ranks. The Omega Men are stuck on Maltus that has been overrun by a new type of Starro and the Psions are showing up looking to work with the Omega Men. There are so many things going on and Tony is using a lot of history from the DCU which I’m enjoying. I don’t remember all of the history, but it has not hurt my enjoyment of the series at all. The art by St. Aubin with Scott Hanna (a top tier inker) maintains the high quality that Andy Clarke had started the book with and if these two artists can rotate in and out, the book will never be hurting for great art. This issue moves the plots forward, is action packed, builds characterization, introduces new elements and is worth the entry fee. Rebels gets better and better every issue.
Dark Reign Hawkeye #2 (of 5) – Cancelled. This book was not going to go anywhere and for $4 a book I decided to let it die. The big problem is that it is a pointless mini-series and nothing of consequence can happen in it. The other problem is that Marvel is flooding the market with so many of this mini-series that even just trying out the first issue or two is too damn expensive. Dark Reign is a good concept but the depth and scope of it is already making it an event whose time is passing and it looks like it is going to last way too long.
Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers #1 (of 4) – Almost made it. It was cute, but only lightly amusing and I was looking for more humor to make me want to sign up for all four issues. Coming during my great comic purge cost this book as it was a close call to drop it or not, but drop It I will. I think the book was too straight forward and the writer was too worried about actually having a cohesive plot in a book that should have been played more for laughs. Cancelled.
Wolverine #73 – Cancelled. I will finish Old Man Logan (or as I call it “Logan’s Run”), but I’m done with this book also. The first parts of the two stories were meaningless and Adam Kubert’s work looks weak for him. Jason Aaron’s story made a parody out of all the appearances that Wolverine makes in the Marvel Universe. We all know it is ridiculous, but by pointing it out and making like it was real it turned it into a joke as opposed to giving us why he could be having a nervous breakdown. The second story was pointless. Also in a couple of issues the book is being taken over by Daken so I’m cutting and running early. I’m going to try holding onto Wolverine Weapon X as a Wolverine book I can read.
Great Line of the Week
Secret Warriors #4 – Does not make the Best or Worst, but certainly has a great line in it that just nails making Nick Fury a hard core warrior. Nick and Gabe (an old agent of Sheild) are talking about how some of Nick’s agents stayed on with Hammer. Nick feels they are disloyal and Gabe feels many did not have a choice as they have families to take care of. The war between Nick and Hammer & Hydra is about to begin. Gabe says “What are you going to feel when you put a bullet in one of those men, Nick?” Nick answers “Recoil.”. That’s cold and tough.
Until I actually pulled this post together I did not realize how many best books I had picked for the week, but all in all it was a very good week of books, just not for the big two. Heck Marvel did not crack the list at all. This is going to be a very interesting year as comics were always thought to be recession proof and since we are really in a depression and it is all new territory it will be interesting to see how it all plays out. Remember the print world was in a severe decline anyway, add into a 33% price increase when disposable income is being squeezed and I think everyone starts to drop books. Who will survive, who will find the digital market place first. By the way, I actually believe if comics can get out into the digital market place they may find their fan base will grow and maybe sales can increase by getting that larger market place to read comics.