I'm going to try something new today. The first Sunday of each month I'm going to list what I've bought in the preceding month, in order of best to worst. I'll throw in some commentary where appropriate.
1. Northlanders #21 - A new story arc, The Plague Widow, kicks off. Brian Wood really knows his Medieval North Atlantic. There's no good reason to avoid purchasing this one, unless you're totally broke and can't buy any comics. Each story arc is a complete story unto itself. The various arcs take place in different locales around the North Atlantic and involve the people who lived there during very trying times.
2. Scalped #32 - This is part 3 of 5 in The Gwawing arc. Jason Aaron's best work. R.M. Guera's art is integral to the feel of this series, too. A noir telling of life on the large Sioux reservation in South Dakota. No strategic drawing of implied nudity here. Male or female, it is what it is.
3. Fables #89 - Another new arc in Willingham and Buckingham's masterpiece. Willingham's telling better stories with the various fables than they even had in their original creation. This looks to be a big moment in the history of Fables and should resolve some ongoing questions that have been around from the beginning. Frau Totenkinder is getting a much deserved central role, too. From a peripheral character to essential element, she's made quite a journey.
4. Detective Comics #858 and Annual #11 - The annual actually drags this down the list a little. Rucka's work in the ongoing series that features Batwoman is far better than the Batman story in the annual, even though the Question has more "face" time in the annual than as a backup in the ongoiong. The anual was written by Fabian Nicieza and is part two of a story that started in another annual. Since it doesn't say anywhere in this annual, I don't know what annual has the first part. There are a couple of short back up stories in the annual, one of which is also part 2 of an ongoing story involving Looker and Oracle. I had no idea what was going on with that one. The fact that Azrael is featured in the annual doesn't help it, either. I neither know the character particularly, nor do I care to.
5. Madame Xanadu #16 - The arc entitled Broken House of Cards starts with this one. New arcs appear to be a bit of a trend at the moment. The book is now in 1957 NYC and is having a go at some of the role stereotypes of the era, along with its usual mystical elements. Matt Wagner's on the ball, and it's good to see Amy Reeder Hadley back on the pencils. Definitely a good jumping on point for a new reader.
6. The Unknown Soldier #13 - The beginning of a 2 issue story called The Way Home, Joshua Dysart is focusing on one of the many child soldiers in the Ugandan civil war in 2002. The artist for these 2 issues is Pat Masioni, who's originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a neighbor of Uganda. His intimate perspective on the region informs the work, but really, Dysart has done such a fantastic job in capturing the chaos and the difficulties facing even the best intentioned people that I didn't notice the new artist until I got to the credits and a page that gave Masioni's story. It's historical fiction at its finest in this book. Another one at a good point for a new reader to get on board.
7. Invincible #67 - The second of a 2 part arc, Preparations for War, this issue doesn't include any appearance of Invincible, or anyone on Earth, for that matter. Allen the Alien and Omni-Man continue their quest to gather weapons that can defeat the remaining Vitruvians. Consisitently one of the best comics, and certainly one of the best superhero comics, on the market.
8. The Walking Dead #66 - A bit of the aftermath of Rick and his team killing off the cannibal hunters who had stalked their group. More than that, we have the death of Dale, and Carl confessing to Rick that he killed Ben. I can believe it when Kirkman says he has story elements roughed out for a good ten years on this one.
9. The Astounding Wolf-Man #19 - Who knew that's what Stonehenge was for? I love the sort of homage to the ridiculousness of comics of days gone by that's emodied by Gorgg. Great name, too. Another of Kirkman's fine works.
10. Batman and Robin #5 - Grant Morrison has a nice study going on here. Robin and Scarlet are both young and mentally unstable, but Robin has Batman to guide him while Scarlet is following the equally unbalanced Red Hood. How far is too far for a vigilante? Not the first time that question has been posed, but it will be interesting to see where Morrison goes with the it, and the influence of mentors. Philip Tan's art is right up there with Gary Frank on capturing realism.
11. The Unwritten #6 - Things are more interesting now that the lead character is in prison awaiting trial on multiple counts of murder. I like the Swiss judge's outright relief that the French courts wanted to take the case, media circus that it is. Mike Carey and Peter Gross are bringing the story along nicely.
12. Secret Six #14 - An ending to a story arc. You have to wonder how many times Deadshot can be brought back into the fold after actually or appearing to have betrayed some or all of his teammates. Still working so far, though.
13. Proof #24 - A one off story of a young blue fairy's search for his father. A lot of references to things that have gone before, so not a good place for a new reader to jump in.
14. Adventure Comics #3 - I've never much cared for Connor Kent, but this series by Geoff Johns is drawing my interest. Hell, I even like the appearance of Red Robin in this issue, and I haven't followed him at all. The back up with The Legion of Super-heroes is alright, but I don't remember what's going on in it from one issue to the next.
15. Thor #603 - Straczynski is slow as hell, but unlike the above mentioned Legion stories, I do remember what's going on between issues. I'd just like it if we got where we were going a little more timely.
16. Blue Beetle #1-12 - This is a result of the Baltimore ComiCon. I got all of the first 12 issues for $8. I had skipped it when it came out, but Pops raved about it for quite awhile. Between that and the price, who's to resist? I must agree, too. I found this version of Blue Beetle much more interesting that the previous incarnations. More than his heroics, the look into the family life of an American Hispanic teen is not something found often in comics and was well developed. Stereotypes of Latins in America are avoided, yet still addressed. A neat trick, indeed.
17. Dynamo 5 #25 - Who knows when we'll see another issue of Dynamo 5? Jay Faerber states in the letters column that the series, as a regular ongoing series, is ending with this issue. Now, it's a great story and takes the team in a very new direction, but damn, it's disappointing that it's not going to be out regularly. Not that it was regular to begin with. Twenty-five issues in 3 years is missing the montly quite a bit. Faerber more or less blames it on his artist, but he's had the same problems in Noble Causes and Gemini, so I'd have to say at least some delay issues are on his shoulders.
18. Superman: Secret Origin #2 - Another Geoff Johns work. I have no idea if this is supposed to be in the greater DCU continuity. I don't really care, either. I like the story and love the Gary Frank art. Clark Kent really looks like the young Christopher Reeve.
19. Action Comics #882 - Like Detective Comics no longer featuring Batman, I think Action Comics has improved without Superman. What's odd is that I'm not buying into any of the other Superman books that are intertwined with the Event going on for Superman, but I still followed what was happening and enjoyed the story. Greg Rucka pulls that off well.
20. Streets of Gotham #5 - I've been buying this because Paul Dini was writing. This issue it was Chris Yost. I found it a bit more confusing than it was when Dini was writing, so we'll see if I stick with this one. The back up story of Manhunter is rolling along nicely.
21. Outsiders #23 - I like this story line of the team gathering back all the escapees from Arkham. And The Creeper is perfect for a team book. Like Ragdoll in Secret Six, he's the odd man, king of the non sequiturs, source of both mirth and insight. Besides, what's not to like about a story with Killer Croc?
22. Gotham City Sirens #5 - Another one I'm buying for Paul Dini's writing. Three of Batman's hottest and most interesting foes. Who could ask for more?
23. Teen Titans: Titans Around the World - Another ComiCon purchase, this trade collects issues 34-41, which took place in the One Year Later time period following 52. Another enjoyable Geoff Johns work.
24. Hellboy: The Wild Hunt #7 - The penultimate issue of this series, I'm going to have to go back to re-read the entire run once issue 8 comes out. I like it, but I think I'm losing some info I should have retained between issues.
25. Invincible presents Atom Eve & Rex Splode #1 - The same team that did the two issue Atom Eve origin story, this one so far is looking at Rex Splode's origin but is going to look into the relationship between Eve and Rex in the remaining 2 issues. Solid work, but nothing spectacular.
26. Jersey Gods #8 - I love the premise of this book and the Kirbyesque art, but I'm starting to wonder where it's going.
27. The Mighty #9 - One of two Superman as Sadist books I'm reading, this one seems to be reaching a point of conflict that will have to resolve whether The Mighty can retain the world's perception of him as a hero.
28. Irredeemable #7 - The other Superman as Sadist book, this one's not in the grey of whether the super dude is good or bad, he's all bad. We're getting into why he's bad, now. Good thing, since it didn't look like anyone could stop him up to this point, and the origins of his decent might give some hint in that direction. I'm sure Mark Waid has it all worked out.
29. Air #14 - G. Willow Wilson's story of an air sick flight attendant with something akin to telportational ability has a tendency to drop into soap opera a bit much. I have trouble believing the motivations of the characters too often. I do like the look into the internal conflicts within Islam, though.
30. Atomic Robo: Shadow From Beyond Time #5 - This ended this arc. As with all time travel stories, it gave me something of a headache. Re-reading it in one sitting might help.
31. Ghost Rider Heaven's on Fire #3 - My other Jason Aaron following. There's more self pity in this book than I care for. Blaze and Ketch are both kind of whiny. Now, a possessed piece of heavy equipment, that's fun.
32. The Warlord #7 - I mentioned recently that the first arc on this revival was a bit forced, but this issue is more loose and fitting with the Travis Morgan character. The ridiculously contrived renderings of a partially naked female was distracting, though. If you aren't going to draw a nipple on a boob, then don't unclothe the character. Don't have unrealistic placements of torn garments, rocks or limbs.
33. House of Mystery #18 and Annual #1 - The annual was a nice collection of unrelated stories. Kind of what an annual should be, having no effect on the ongoing story and bringing in a lot of guest writers and artists. As far as the ongoing series, I've lost track of who's who and what's going on. I don't think this one's going to last much longer.
34. Justice Society of America #32 - The fact that we've seen Mister Terrific alive in events that occur after this story line kind of detracts from any suspense over his fate, if there ever was any such suspense, given the propensity of superheroes to return from the dead. I like the whole villains out to collect bounty's aspect of the story, but I'm a bit tired of Magog. He was better when he was the reluctant soldier. Now he's sort of the Guy Garnder loose cannon with delusions of tactical superiority.
35. Green Lantern The Sinestro Corps War volume #1 - I bought volume 2 a few months ago, not noticing that it was the second of 2, so I bought this on sale at the ComiCon. Great work.
36. Haunt #1 - Bought solely due to Kirkman being the writer. I'll see how it goes.
37. Blackest Night #4 - Really, this is in conjunction with 38. Green Lantern #47, given how much overlap there is between the two. I think there's too much going on in too many places to keep it all straight, but we'll see how it goes.
39. The Darkness #80 - This was a freebie at my comics shop. Why am I supposed to like this character? I don't and I won't be getting any more issues.
Any one of the top six on the list could easily be #1. The bottom 4 include one that's already a drop and 2 that will end, for me, when the Event ends. Haunt's too early to say how it's going to go.