Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Best and Worst of Last Week

This has been a very long week for me. When my real world job gets to be busy it is a mental drain on me. That means when I come home instead of sitting down and doing some reading I often find myself watching TV and that has meant following the Orioles. Now I know we have lost a lot of games since the All Star break, but we have been playing a heck of a lot better then years gone by and I’m actually encouraged by this team. Does that mean next year we are a contender? I would say not quite yet, but next year we should be solid and the year after we could be a very good team. We have an outfield that every other major league team would die, a good young catcher, solid second basemen and a very young pitching staff that could be as special as the outfield. For the first time in years I’m content to be an Orioles fan.


War of Kings #6 (of 6) – Writers Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, Pencils Paul Pelletier, Inks Rick Maygar & Andrew Hennessy, Colors Wil Quintana. Often events die out because the ending does not have the same pizzazz that the beginning did. Or the fact that it is an event and the prerequisite is to make so much other stuff tie into it, that the series gets bogged down and just comes to a fizzle at the end. Secret Invasion was like that in my view, I mean the Wasp dying, not a major event. This book delivered from beginning to the end. It worked as a stand alone series, the cross-over books were good, but not essential to what was happening and it had an impact that will have repercussions down the line. I don’t think Black Bolt or Vulcan are dead by a long shot and the epilogue that has been added on for September I’m sure will address some of those issues, by the Kree Empire won. I also know some of the reasons this all worked. Number one Abnett and Lanning were the main writers on almost every book connected with War of Kings. This is why the early Marvel universe worked well as Stan Lee was involved in almost every title (it seemed at times like Kirby draw 75% of those books every month). Second it is the cosmic side of the Marvel Universe so allowing real changes is okay and when you look at it hard, nothing was changed could not be changed again if someone felt like it, but still they allowed us to have a winner. The art by Pelletier and Magyar was a great choice. Paul’s style has a nice fluid feel to it and he has the dynamic almost Kirby type feel with his super hero work. All in all I have to say that War of Kings was a smashing success and if Marvel does a nice hard cover of it, I may have to buy that baby.

Chew #3 – Writer John Layman, Art Rob Guillory. This continues to be an excellent series. The made up powers that different people have are so funny and amazing and yet work so well within the context of the story. The artwork is fun and has a looney tunes quality to it, yet conveys the full range of emotions. Nice to see that this book is defying all expectations and being considered such a hit. Now of course a hit in indy terms might mean only 8,000 copies or so are being sold, but it is nice to see this type of book get some notice. This issue we see Tony telling the story and how he lost and found his love to his friend who is wrapped up like a mummy in a hospital bed. It is too much to be into a plot summary, but needless to say Tony ends up meeting and losing the love of his life during this issue. What was so funny is finding out at that end he poured his heart out to a total stranger as he had the wrong room. This is a book that everyone is talking about and it is because it has it all, cool powers, interesting characters, humor, well written, well drawn, comics done right!

Red Circle The Hangman - Writer J. Michael Straczynski, Pencils Tom Derenick, Inks Bill Sienkiewicz, Colors Guy Major. Mr. Straczynski has been on a roll in my mind with The Twelve and Thor standing as evidence that his work is at the top of the charts. Still we are talking about the Archie heroes and a rather generic hero called the Hangman. To say that it is a challenge to bring a character into the DCU and to make them more then just a grade “C” add on, is an understatement. JMS did it and if he was writing the character on an ongoing basis I would be happy to continue to read his adventures. I’m not saying this guy will replace the Batman or even the Spectre (who he most closely resembles) but he is certainly worthy of at least a look at this one shot. I will even follow up with the new series to see what the next writer does with the foundation that has been laid. The Hangman is a doctor for the Union Army in the Civil War. The Robert Dickering, the doctor, is portrayed as a good man who is questioning where God is amidst all of the death. Through a series of circumstances he falls behind enemy lines and is captured by the Confederate Army. At this point in the war any suspected spy is put to death. The noose is around his neck and he is on top of his horse, just as his death sentence is about to be carried out he crosses over into a mystical realm. There he makes a deal with either the devil or an angel, we don’t know which and he is given a mission to save those who should be saved and take vengeance on those who deserve to have justice meted out to them. See my full review here.

Ghost Riders Heavens on Fire #1(of 6) - Writer Jason Aaron, Art Roland Boschi, Colors Dan Brown. Jason Aaron does the best Ghost Rider that has ever been done. Now I have not read every version of Ghost Rider over the years, but the fact that Ghost Rider is a character that a lot of people even mention or care about at all anymore is due to Jason Aaron. This is his final arc on the character and most likely my swan song on reading the character also. To do it up right Marvel cancelled the Ghost Rider series and re-launched it after a couple month hiatus as a mini-series. To give Marvel and Aaron credit I believe you could jump into the story easily at this point and just continue on for the ride. Both art and story made this a solid read. Now before I get into some of the particulars of the story let me get into the thing that make me just go ballistic from Marvel and takes away from my enjoyment of the project and that is the $4 price tag for 22 pages of story and art. Oh they added a lame a** reprint of Ghost Rider #1, but not even the full issue, just 9 pages of it as they are stretching the reprint over a few issues. I guess they can tell us it was more bang for the buck, but at least DC gave me a 10 page co-feature like Metal Men for their new launch and not this crap. Over the course of six issues that is $6 extra dollars for crap and it does not make me happy. See my full review here.

Doom Patrol #1 - Doom Patrol, Writer Keith Giffen, Pencils Matthew Clark, Inks Livesay, Colors Guy Major. Metal Men, Writers Keith Giffen and JM DeMatteis Art Kevin Maguire, Colors Guy Major. We open in the middle of a mission with the original three members Robotman, Elasti-Girl and Negative Man along with Nudge, Grunt and their pilot on a mission to stop some mad scientist alien bee creature from making monsters. The mission goes badly and a fight ensures. The DP is fighting the alien bee thing and her creatures. What the battle does for us is to give us a good baseline on what Robotman, Negative Man and Elasti-Girl can do. As they are escaping from that situation they run into attack helicopters as they are escaping in their own copter. Nudge gets unceremoniously killed and Grunt runs off into the jungle. We see the DP take out the attacking copters and get a great shoot of Rita using her powers to take out the last copter that is after them. This scene eliminates that last trace of the Byrne run and also establishes that the DP is not the “will not kill” type of group. …..
The real treat in this book was the back up. Metal Men was a whole lot of fun and shows the potential to perhaps outshine the Doom Patrol. The old JLA team of Giffen, DeMatteis and Maguire are together again, so you know the humor is going to be a strong part of this feature. In many ways the Metal Men concept was almost built for this type of story telling. Kevin Maguire’s art was outstanding.
See my full review here.


Captain America Reborn #2 (of 5) - Writer Ed Brubaker, Art Bryan Hitch and Butch Guice, Colors Paul Mounts. So what the heck happened? I should be enjoying this series, we have Ed Brubaker writing, Bryan Hitch and Butch Guice on art and we are seeing the story of how Captain America is returning from the dead. Brubaker has been killer on this series and made the Captain America book into a series that you wanted to talk about. It has not been perfect, but it has been interesting. Steve Epting with others has been doing a very good on the art and after Cap was killed we have been enjoying the evolution of Bucky going from kid sidekick, to cold war assassin, to taking over the reigns of being Captain America. In fact if anything the comic has been more about Bucky’s journey than about Steve Rogers. Still we have had enough about Steve and knew that he would be coming back at some point, so the story should be smooth sailing. The built in comeback is easy when you have the super solider formula running through your veins. So much was going right for this book and instead of this being a high point of the run it has turned into a convoluted conglomeration of an amalgamation of crap. See my full review here.

Warlord #5 Cancelled. I can’t stand a series that takes forever to get anywhere and seems to be standing still at the same time. I enjoyed Warlord years ago when it was something a little different, but comics have progressed and gotten better and this book seems to have stood still. The art is a little generic, the story seems to almost lack focus and I found myself trying to like it. I’m not going to live off nostalgia.

Greek Street #2 – I understand that this book is suppose to reflect all the Greek tragedies and modernize and update them for today, but what I got after two issues was a ton of characters going every which direction and no one to root for. Even in a book that has bad guys you have a central character you car about and Eddie was not filling that bill for me. Maybe this will get better over time, but it is time I’m unwilling to give this series. Cancelled.

Quick Hits

Absolution #1 (of 6) – A good start to this series as we see the main character slowly start to cross the line as to what is legally right and perhaps what is morally correct. I’m unfamiliar with the artist and he does a decent job, but this book deserved a higher profile artist. This is sill a nice chance for Christos Gage to show off his writing.

Echo #14 – I wasn’t going to say anything about Echo, because it was just a chapter that continued to move the story forward and was missing any “big” thing happening, but this is just a great book and is enjoyed by anyone that I have gotten to read it. Echo is one of the strongest stories being told right now.

Luke Cage Noir #1 (of 4) – This was a good start to this noir series and of course having Shawn Martinbrough as the artist is a big plus. Shawn’s style is a perfect fit for a noir book. It appears that Luke has the same powers as he does today, which is annoying as I prefer keeping the characters more human for this exercise. The street language in this book was unfamiliar to me and I wonder if any of it is stuff that was really used or created out of whole cloth. Either way this is a series I will follow.

Secret Six #12– This continues to be a great series. When a series is solidly good issue after issue, I tend to sometimes not mention it as much. While it does not make the best often on a weekly basis if I was ranking just ongoing series this book would be in an elite group.

So after last week when I noticed I have not cancelled many series lately I managed to cut out two ongoing books. In the grand scheme of things cutting out an ongoing title serves more of a purpose then shutting down a mini-series. Just a quick FYI, have you noticed that Marvel is now doing a lot of three issue mini-series. I find it amusing that in the span of a three issue series at $4 a crack Marvel gets $12, when before you would get 4 issues for $3. I still can get over the $4 price tag for 32 page comics.

1 comment:

  1. Chew rocks. Just gets better and better.