Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Best and Worst of Last Week

What an odd week for me. I mean Kid Colt as my number one book that is just bizarre. The actual number one book was Stuff of Legend, but I have covered that book and thought to keep things "fair" is should be left out of the equation. But if you missed it, you should not have.

I think Kid Colt made it because I had low expectations and the book was so well done that it was a pretty big surprise. After all these years I can usually get a sense of what a book will be like before I buy it. Usually when I’m wrong the book failed to be as good as I hoped. Here I was looking for some light entertainment and a generic tale of Kid Colt with a reprint thrown in. Instead we get an origin story, a nice twist with the “Kid” actually being a kid and some excellent art work by Rick Burchett. I always try to be fair and let the chips fall with they may, so if Kid Colt wants to be the best book, so be it.


Kid Colt (One-Shot)– Writer Tom DeFalco, Art Rick Burchett, Colors Allen Passalaqua. This has to be one of the biggest surprises in a while. I went in expecting a nice little western and a harkening back to the old days of Marvel Westerns from the Silver Age, when the characters were more akin to being super heroes then actual westerns. This issue appears to have been written as four chapters that were going to be spread out in some other book or something as it did not read as a cohesive whole since each first page of the chapter reiterated what had just happened. Maybe it was homage to how the book was done before instead, but that is a minor point. The point is this was well written, well drawn and extremely entertaining. Kid Colt is in fact a kid of about 16 years old and is drawn to look like he is sixteen. This was such a simple idea and it played so well as to make the story a joy. We get the Kid’s origin, we see him hook up with a guy named Hawk (shades of Pat Garrety and Billy the Kid) and we get a western full of action and gunplay as well as a great story. I’d sign up for a series with this team at the helm.

The Last Days of Animal Man #3 (of 6) – Writer Gerry Conway, Pencils Chris Batisa, Inks Dave Meikis, Colors Mike Atiyeh. Maybe it is because I’m older, but I’m finding this book to be a great examination of a hero towards the end of his time as a hero. Like sports starts a hero has a limited shelf life and with Buddy’s powers disappearing he is trying to deal with the end of his career. This issue it is confirmed that he is losing his powers, but Buddy comes up with the idea of using his kids DNA to try and fix his DNA. When he goes to talk to his kids he finds out that his wife feels like he has abandoned the family yet again, his daughter says he missed her childhood and his son is a workaholic like his Dad. He then discovers his kids DNA can’t fix him and it looks like he is about to fall into bed with Starfire since he feels so bad about everything else. Add to that he has some villains who have a vendetta against him that have just teamed up. Gerry Conway is showing that you can go home again and of all the 70’s writers that have come back into comics Gerry still has it. This is a well structured story and interesting. I want to know what happens next, how Buddy will deal with the villains with no powers, will he sleep with Starfire and answers to other questions. Marvel has done a series of “The End” books and maybe DC should explore the idea of doing more series like this one.

Blackest Night Tales of the Corps #3 (of 3) - Story 1 – Kilowog in New Blood, Writer Peter Tomasi, Art Chris Samnee, Colors John Kalisz; Story 2 Arisia in Daddy’s Girl, Writer Peter Tomasi, Art Mike Mayhew, Color Andy Troy;Story 3 Blackest Night Director’s Commentary, Commentary Writer Geoff Johns, Editor Eddie Berganza, Associate Editor Adam Schlagman, Art Ivan Reis. I rarely devote doing a full blown review to a series like this. This three part mini-series gave us some nice background on characters and some of the different corps that are running around in the Blackest Night event. For someone who wanted some back story or a taste of the GL Universe this mini-series was a nice little extra. If you wanted to skip the whole darn thing, you could have skipped it as well, but what made me want to give it a spotlight was the last feature in this book. The first two stories were stories that told us about Kilowog and Arisia’s beginning as Green Lanterns. Both are two of my favorite members of the GL Corps and both stories are written by Peter Tomasi, one of my favorite writers of late. Both stories had excellent art and I was enjoying this issue and thought it was perhaps the best of the three issues. Finally I don’t want to sell these two stories short as both were great origin stories of these characters and these were high quality productions that made this book an excellent value just with these two stories. See my full review here.

Northlanders #19 – Writer Brian Wood, Art Daniel Zezelj, Colors Dave McCaig. I would think this book is harder to writer then many comics as there is no central character and Brian is telling different stories about the Vikings. In addition he is writing for a different artist for ever arc so far. This two part story was another excellent story and perhaps my favorite so far. It did not hurt that Daniel Zezelj was the artist. His work can be so dark as to almost be impressionistic, but this time all the characters and elements were very clear and it almost look like he drew it in charcoal. The story of the shield maidens and there tactics to fight off the Saxons and eventually escape was also enjoyable. You would expect Viking women to be a little harder and more daunting then other women of the time and whether the story has any truth or not, it did not matter as it was well done.

Detective Comics #855 – Batwoman: Writer Greg Rucka, Art JH Williams III, Colors Dave Stewart. The Question: Writer Greg Rucka, Art Cully Hamner, Colors Laura Martin. The artwork is so good on the Batwoman story, that I almost don’t care whether the story itself is any good or not. JH Williams III is really knocking it out of the park with this first arc and I have to believe that after the first arc he will need a break as with pencils that have this much work in them can’t be produced at 20 pages a month. If I’m wrong great, if I’m right I’d rather have JH Williams III part time, then full time. Also and fortunately for us the actual story is also well done. The fight between Batwoman and Alice had some great scenes in it and the back and forth between them went well. Alice pulling a poisoned razor blade out of his mouth was unexpected and she took Batwoman by surprise also. The Question back up is also a solid part of this book. Since we have the same writer we have no fall off in quality there and Cully Hamner’s style is radically different, but good in its own way. Detective Comics is two for two with the re-launch.

Justice Society of America #29 - Writers Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges, Art Jesus Merino, Color Allan Passalaqua. For one of the books this week I choose Justice Society of America #29 as we have a new creative team taking the helm of the book. I have to say that I enjoyed this issue and it gives me hope for what is too come. There was no slow preamble like my review had, we jumped right into the mystery with a black egg shape object being found by Jay (Flash) Garrick. After some probing of the object we find out that it is Todd (Obsidian) who acts as the guardian of the JSA brownstone. He has been reduced to this state and the JSA have to figure out what happened and why. At the same time we are introduced to a couple more junior members of the JSA and this is where I have a problem. The whole generational thing is cool, but turning the JSA into a kids’ camp with guardians is a little bit of a stretch and the kid sidekick for Mr. America is a really lame character, but I will give the writers enough rope to hang themselves on that one. Next a rather “Z” list villain Tapeworm calls out Wildcat or else he will kill some hostages. See my full review here.


Final Crisis Aftermath Ink #3 (of 6) – I should drop this book, but it has enough of an edge to keep me reading it till the end. What I’m struggling with is I have no real knowledge of this character and the art appears to be shot from pencils and then the muddled coloring is making the whole book look pretty shabby. If it was a $4 I would drop it.

New Avengers #55 – New artist Stuart Immonen comes onto this book and does a decent job. Stuart has continued with the style he uses in Ultimate Spider-Man and I’m not sure it fits this book, but it was good. The book itself just always has an off feel to it, as Bendis continues to have some good ideas but executes against them poorly. Also his group dialogue comes off as strange and never natural. Since I avoid almost every other Dark Reign book I hang onto New and Dark Avengers to keep my hand in the MU.

Quick Hits

Complete Dracula #2 (of 5) – Guaranteed not to be everyone’s taste, but I’m enjoying it. Between this and Do Androids Dream of Electronic Sheep we are seeing different people trying to adapt novel to comics and both taking slightly different tacks. Both books are remaining true to the source material and therefore read more as novels with illustrations, but still enjoyable.

Fear Agent #27 - I Against I (Pt 6 of 6) – I like this book but the incredibly long delay between issues and the main story being only 16 pages is annoying. Plus we are only getting one more arc as Remender is focusing all his time on Marvel since he has an exclusive with them and I’m sure it pays better then Fear Agent does for him. I hope this series gets collected into a decent format someday.

Madame Xanadu #13 – Another good issue, the only thing keeping it from best of the week is it is a classic middle chapter of a story, where the plot moves forward and important things occur, but still just set-up.

Proof #22 – My love for this series has been waning as of late and the problem is two fold. One, and most important, is the Julia story has been too long by three issues at least. This story has caused a book that had pace and momentum to come to a screaming halt. The second issue is the dialogue between creators and the readers of the book has been cut out this issue and we continue to get the useless Archie Snow serial. The next arc needs to get this book back on track or this book could lose too much of its audience and fade away, which would be a shame as there is still a ton of great stories waiting to be told with what this book has developed.

Secret Warriors #6 – First off I have always loved Nick Fury and this book is bringing him back into the limelight in a big way. I’m enjoying that he has built a super hero team and building his regular army at the same time. The twists and turns with this book continue and the ending this time was a game changer. Finally this book convinces me that Bendis needs to be a co-writer as of all the Bendis titles I read this is the best and he is co-writing it with Jonathan Hickman. I swear if I was running Marvel I’d let Bendis writer a Luke Cage series and give him another solo book, but then I would assign him the jump of providing general direction to the entire line. He has good ideas, his execution against them falls short.

Superman #690 – A little jumpy as we have the main showdown between Steel and Atlas, with Atlas winning and then we introduced a bunch of storylines that are to be continued in other books. The battle was good, but the two page introductions of these other stories felt choppy.

Wednesday Comics #4 (of 12) – I could put this in the best category every week, but with a couple of the strips I could put it in the worst category. I’m not sure if you call this an anthology or not as we are not getting complete stories, it really is the Sunday newspaper strips done with super heroes. Kamandi, Batman, Supergirl, Deadman, Adam Strange, Metamorpho, Sgt. Rock, Flash, Green Lantern and Hawkman are all glorious strips, with Kamandi and Flash being early favorites. Metal Men, Deadman, Demon & Catwoman are solid and enjoyable, Teen Titans is readable and Wonder Woman is a mess and unreadable.

Wildcats #13 – This feels like the build up to the story that will give us a magically fixed world. If they go down that road then I will have to reconsider dropping the Wildstorm Universe. Their hold on me is tenuous at best, but if they “fix” the world and invalidate everything that has happened for 12 months, then I will feel cheated.

Wolverine Noir #4 (of 4) – Because of the convoluted plot I believe this will read better as a trade, but I think the story relied too heavily on having a lot of knowledge of Wolverine’s background to make it enjoyable. I understand that recognizing those elements in a new setting is part of the fun, but I thought we went too deep into Wolverine’s origin.

Wonder Woman #34 – This issue was very enjoyable. Black Canary was a great idea as Diana goes in search of Dr. Psycho and Sarge Steel. It has taken some time but it seems that with the new status quo of Diana on her own without the gods and the Amazons that this book is starting to find its rhythm.

I haven’t cancelled much lately after my purge from recent times. What I have been doing is continuing to drop books after the first issue of a mini-series and I’m avoiding stuff before every starting it, Dark Reign mini-series being the number one thing I’m avoiding. My list is still a little too long, so it maybe time to start doing a little whittling as a bunch of new series are starting up soon.

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