Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Best and Worst of Last Week

The Ravens were off this week so I did not watch as much football as I normally would but what I did notice was the NFL has a problem. This year there is a huge separation between good teams and bad teams. There were at least 6 games that were not even a contest. The big thing about the NFL is the parity that had been achieved and you believed the axiom of any team on any given Sunday could win. This week-end is showing that may no longer be true and if the games between teams that are not your team is not interesting even fantasy football will not help the NFL. I know this maybe jumping the gun, but there are some really bad teams this year and for the NFL to be at its best they need to find a way to push ownership to try and fix those teams.


Stuff of Legend #2 (of 2) - Writers Mike Raicht & Brian Smith, Illustrated By Charles Paul Wilson III, Design & Color Jon Conlling & Mike DeVito. I was very effusive with my praise of the first issue of this book and you worry if something that knocks your socks off will hold up the second time around, this book did not disappoint. I want to find the right words that explain how I feel about this book but too many trite clichés that I personally don’t like come to mind like an instant classic or a seminal piece of work. This book is all that and more. It is like watching an old Disney Classic like Pinocchio again; it has both the fairy tale aspect, but the true sense of menace and danger that every great classic tale needs to have. The one thing that you can’t help but notice is the art by Charles Paul Wilson. He is somewhere between Hal Foster and Neal Adams, but really he is his own man. He has a realistic illustrator’s style, but he is drawing toys that have come to life on the other side of the darkness of a closet. He has made each one of the toys come to life and be realistic extrapolations of what you would expect each toy to become, but he still keeps elements that remind us they were just toys in our world. Charles puts a ton of detail into each and every panel and knows how to rotate his camera angle and develop his shots for maximum dramatic effect. Without interviewing the creators I never know how much is the writer’s direction and how much is the artist, but Charles Paul Wilson is already one of the top illustrators in an industry rife with talented people. His work stands out as an example of the finest the industry has to offer. He has the artistic ability of a portrait artist, the detailed eye of a bird watcher artist, the story telling ability of a Jack Kirby and the stylistic flair that makes each page his own. The quality of his work can’t be overstated and what amazes me even more that I had never seen his work prior to the last issue. See my full review here.

Cowboy Ninja Viking #1 - Writer AJ Lieberman, Art and Tones by Riley Rossmo. I had no real clue going in what to expect, but I have been a fan of Riley Rossmo with his work on his co-creation Proof. This book was a lot of craziness and a lot of fun. I find that I use the word fun to describe certain books, but I need to elaborate a little more on what makes a book fun. In this case the book is about an absurd idea of a multiple personality disorder person who is trained to be an assassin. We also have the super secret organization and the absurd lifestyle of the man who runs it, plus the director of that organization and the other triplet (multi-personality disorder) assassin. So many elements that are just off the wall and often skirt the edge of being over the top, but manage to walk that tightrope of keeping it fun without being stupid. Duncan is our star and he houses the Cowboy, Ninja and Viking personalities inside him and his mental illness has been honed and trained to be a weapon. The background organization behind this is an apparently a filthy rich person who has women at his beck and call. This is a secret organization that changes directors every two years. Each director went on to bigger and better things (although in googling some of the names, I’m not sure what they held in common) and the current director gets caught up in the situation with CNV right before she is too leave. See my full review here.

Chew #5 – Writer John Layman, Art Rob Guillory. This end of the first arc was terrific. While Chew had been an enjoyable book we did not have an over riding plot as to what the book was about. This issue we find that Chew’s partner Mason Savoy is trying to find out why 23 million people died in the US and 116 million worldwide. He is not buying the government’s story it was Avian Flu that did everyone in. In his efforts to uncover what happened he was willing to kill to determine what happened. Tony Chu is a good cop and he tries to arrest Savoy, who summarily beats up Tony and then disappears with Tony’s ear and a vow to find out everyone who Tony cares about and make them suffer if Tony comes after Mason (as he is a ciboparth also). So now we know there is much more to our world then Tony being a cibopath and that the canvas for telling the stories gets got a lot bigger. This has to be one of the best new series to come out of 2009.


Azrael #1 – I’m making this a worst book. The problem I have with the book is it is about a character I don’t care about and they killed him off at the end (theoretically). This is not the original Azrael who took over for Batman, I don’t think this is even the second one and at the end of the issue he is supposedly dead. In addition the jumping in time story telling device apparently has become de rigueur for writers. Cancelled.

Justice League of America #38 – Bagley’s art made this a good looking book, but it really feels like we are still treading water with the “Loser JLA” team. I guess we have to wait until we are deeper into Blackest Night or something, but I was hoping for a lot more from this issue. I was very disappointed with this jumping on point. As a company you can’t promote the crap out of the “new” creative team and ask people to jump back in and give them this “Detroit JLA” crap. I’m confident this book will get better with Robinson and Bagley, but this book was a clean miss.


Blackest Night Superman #3 (of 3) – Both this and the Batman mini-series have been great add on mini-series to Blackest Night. Krypto was a major hero saving Martha Kent, Connor found a way to shut down a couple Black Lanterns and New Krypton saved themselves at the price of being cut off from the rest of the universe, a bottled city again. Blackest Night and all it’s offshoots continue to provide quality entertainment.

Brave and Bold #28 – Can Jesus Saiz draw or what. Wow DC has Ivan Reiz, Marcos Rudy and Jesus Saiz doing some terrific artwork for them. Ivan is becoming a big name, but these other guys are doing great stuff also. JMS delivers another well told story about the Flash and the Blackhawks that was entertaining and a very nice tribute to WWII veterans. It would have been a terrific book to release on Veterans Day. A few friends of mine dogged this book, but I think it is a generational thing as they are all younger.

Dark Avengers #10 – I have been getting this book because it is critical to the core MU, but until this issue I never enjoyed an issue that much. The interaction by the villains is working well and Bendis seems to have their voices better then he does the good guys. In this issue the Dark Avengers are forced to be very Avenger like and the mysterious bad guys looks to more powerful then Norman and his crew. Add to that Norman starting to lose it and Venom on such heavy meds that he is acting very meek and mild.

Dark Reign The List : The Hulk – The actual story was done well enough, but this book is nothing more then a series of marketing stunts designed to highlight various other series. So far no story has had a real impact on the series itself or nothing that can’t be added to the main book by one or two lines. Add to that the $4 price tag and a useless reprint and I feel like I was hoodwinked so to speak.

Escape From Wonderland #2 (of 6) – I will play out the string and follow this for Callie’s story but it has lost the energy that it had from Return to Wonderland. Also Zenoscope in general has such sameness to it that after awhile it all runs together and becomes more about well endowed woman in scanty costumes than it does about the story. While the drawings of the women are enjoyable in some respects, you have to tell a compelling enough story to make me want to hang around long term. This is the only Zensocope book I get anymore and will probably be my last once this series ends.

Farscape Gone & Back #4 (of 4) – I absolutely love this book. I guess I’m as close to a Scaper (is that the right term) as you can get without going to a convention or whatever, but having John and Aeryn’s adventures continue has been just an absolute blast. If you enjoyed Farscape you will love this series, which now become an ongoing. Hellblazer #260 – Another very good issue and Simon Bisley’s art gives this issue an extra edge to it. Milligan has crafted a very good run on this book to date and Hellblazer continues to enjoy being not only a longer run series, but a consistently well done book.

Invincible Iron Man #19 – Tony Stark is beaten by Osborn and is brain dead. It took twelve issues to tell this story. We end with a phone call to Dr. Don Blake who is apparently Tony’s guardian under his living will. I will hang in for a little longer, but what is the point of taking a character down to just immediately restore him? This book is not “wow”ing me, but I have stayed on the book.

Mighty Avengers #30 – Hank Pym becomes Scientist Supreme after Eternity kicks his ass. Hank’s only been the Wasp for a little while, this guy changes titles faster then many change socks. This book is close to jumping the shark. Still a group of people are pulled together to fight the Unspoken and this book looks like it is taking over as the core Avenger’s title from New Avengers. As tight as Marvel has their continuity the inconsistencies are starting to show a lot. In too many books the same characters are involved in too many things.

Robotika for a Few Rubles More Doubled-Sized #3 & #4 – A strong ending for this book and I hope that we get to see more of Niko in the future. Looking at Alex Sheikman’s art I’m surprised DC and Marvel are not knocking on this guy’s door. After a long delay I was very glad that this book got published.

Spider-Woman #2 - A good issue and I love the mood of this book. Hard to not like Maleev’s work although I know a lot of it is more computer effects, but it looks good. Then I went out to hulu.com and watch the motion comic for episode #2. The animation on this thing sucks, the voice cast is ok, but the story goes a lot further then the comic. In fact watching this horrid animation (see Sparks on Itunes for a good animation of a comic) made me like the book less. Hearing the lines actually spoken made me realize just how trite and cliché it was. “People only talk like that in comics” has become a saying for a reason.

The independent books ruled this week and have had one heck of a big year. It is nice to see that some of the independent books are not only getting good reviews, but often their sales numbers are decent. I read with some sadness that Proof is biting the dust, but it made it till 28 issues which is a decent run and no reason it can’t be revived someday down the road.

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