Joe The Barbarian #1 (of 8) – Writer Grant Morrsion, Art Sean Murphy, Colors Dave Stewart. This maybe the best book of the week. Grant Morrison and Sean Murphy have a great start to this series. Lately my passion has been turned to just stories. I’m not concerned if it contains the unreal or super power or not, what I find most intrigues me are good stories. Joe the Barbarian was one hell of a bargain for $1. In this issue we meet Joe who is a young man in high school who does not fit in with the rest of the crowd. He is a loner, his father died in a war, he is somewhat nerdish, he is picked on by the school bullies, he is an artist, he is often lost in a fantasy world and he is diabetic. This issue we see him taken to school by his Mom, go on a field trip, get picked on by the school thugs, has a girl who wants to befriend him, go home and look in on his pet rat and appears to be falling into a diabetic coma and falling in and out of a world where all his toys and action figures are alive and in danger. Is it a diabetic coma fantasy or is it “real”? Time will tell us, but I want to come back and see. I was not like Joe, but I can feel for Joe from page one and by the end of the story I’m hoping Joe is not dying and I also want to know what danger are the toys running from. Part Fables, part Stuff of Legend, part Essex County, all Grant Morrison telling a simply captivating tale of a young man and inviting us into this moment of his life. Sean Murphy’s art is stunning. He has a realistic style, but a wonderful sense of storytelling. His panel layouts are innovative, yet clean and simple to follow. Joe’s house and room of toys is a wonder to behold filled with details that make you linger over each page. His ability to convey emotions is excellent. This is a perfect marriage of words and images and looks to be another hit from Vertigo and one of Grant’s best stories.
Starman #81 – Writer James Robinson, layouts Fernando Dagino, Finishes Bill Sienkiewicz, Colors Matt Hollingsworth. James Robinson picked up this book like it never ended years ago. He took the Blackest Night element and had David Knight come back to Opal and attack the city and the O’Dare family. We got to see Shade and Hope and learn about where their relationship is now. Finally we got to see Shade act as a hero as he has found his lost humanity. While I think the Shade makes a very interesting hero, he was a heck of a good bad guy also. Another book that could have easily been a throw away story is a very strong book. DC seems to be getting their act together and is producing a lot of quality work.
Battlefields #2 (of 9) Happy Valley Part 2 (of 3) – Writer Garth Ennis, Art PJ Holden, Colors Tony Avina. First off the air war in WWII was always interesting to me. Not that I studied it or anything, but the old war movies about that stuff was always cool. Next my Dad is an aviation buff and we always had books about this stuff around the house, so I have a peripheral knowledge of it better than most people. Add to that Garth’s superb writing and you have one heck of a story. Happy Valley is the story of an Aussie bomber group running missions from England to bomb Germany. Their new pilot has pulled their a**es out of being shot down twice. The tactics he used seem so real that I sure Garth did some research and found out about two different incidents and put them together. In the span of two chapters these guys are very real to me already and I fear for the conclusion of this story. PJ Holden has less realistic style then most of the artist who have worked on this book, but it is very effective and is realistic enough to convey the impact and emotions this story evokes. Great stuff.
Cowboy Ninja Viking #3 – Writer AJ Lieberman, Art Riley Rossmo. Remember how I said that I more attracted to great stories lately, well this is an exception to that generality. CNV is a story that I’m not worried about following all the details with it because it is a convoluted crazy mess, but boy is this book fun. I mean with AJ’s dialogue; such as Duncan saying “and yes after shootin’ baddies, I like getting’ my dingle dangled”, well who doesn’t. Add into that we have more triplets introduced and the tragedy of San Cristobal will apparently be revealed next issue. The artwork is amazing as Riley uses the full canvas of the Golden Age format to it best purpose. The action is unbelievable, the art is great and the dialogue and characters are outrageous good fun. I’m sure there is a plot in here somewhere, but I’m not sitting here reading this book pondering some small plot point I just strap on my seatbelt and hit the gas and let AJ Lieberman and Riley Rossmo give me a thrill ride on their crazy highway.
Jersey Gods #10 – Writer Glen Brunswick, Art Dan McDaid, Colors Rachelle Rosenberg. Certain series are so vibrant and full of energy that it reading it is akin to having an energy drink. The excitement that the creators are having is channeled into you as you read it. This issue Zoe has a long strange trip getting back to home as Barock’s mother gives her an unintended tour or the universe. Helius loses his son that he just recently discovered which causes Barock to offer immortality to Zoe. Zoe thought he meant her and her parents, but Barock just meant Zoe. It sounds simple enough but this book is deceptive in how well the writer and artist match up to tell a seamless story that has drama, action and soap opera elements. Would love to see this series put together a hard cover collection of these first two arcs. Add in some interviews with Glen and Dan, top it off with some sketches and unpublished art and you would have a winner!
Other Books I Wanted To Mention
The Avengers Vs Atlas #1 (of 4) - Marvel apparently has the same addiction to the Agents of Atlas that I do. How else do you explain the fact that they have this mini-series going on, been in the last two issues of Thunderbolts and are the backup feature in Incredible Hercules. All you need to know about this book is that it is all out action and ends with the Agents facing off against the original Avengers. It probably deserves to be in the Best category, but it had very tough competition.
Dark Avengers #13 – This was a WTF type of book. We are geared up for The Siege and given all that is supposed to happened you figure some of the side books would be fleshing out the story. Dark Avengers would be core to that type of effort. Nope, it is another book about the Sentry. We have had more reveals about this character then you get at a strip club. We find out he was a drug addict who stole a formula that gives him his powers and apparently he needs to get additional fixes to keep going. Norman Osborn provides him with those fixes and the Sentry is Norman’s secret weapon. The Sentry decides to off himself and instead his void power is apparently attacking New York. It is so convoluted I have no idea what is going on with this story and if it plays into Siege or not. What I do know is I have always thought Marvel decided to try and use Paul Jenkins one shot character for a mini-series to try and replace the power void that occurred without Thor being in the MU. Hopefully this is just a way to kill off this character and make him so unpalatable that no one will ever use him again. If this was just a standalone story with the Sentry it would be an okay story, but I have no idea if this is consistent with all the other information we have been given about the Sentry over the last few years or not.
Green Lantern Corps #44 – The planet lantern Mogo shows up at OA and saves the day. Mogo purges the Black Lantern’s from OA and manages to destroy them by absorbing them into his core and will burn them for all eternity. Apparently the Guardians had given Mogo a Primacy Directive in case of such a dire emergency. Unfortunately Guy is still consumed by the red ring and Kyle and company are going to try and save him before Guy kills them. This book has great writing and great art, one of DC’s best series.
Power Girl #8 – Could be a best book, but I will just go with “Awesome”!
Superman Batman #68 – This is a “Our Worlds at War” aftermath story, which does not work for me as I never read the “Our Worlds at War” story and I would have appreciated a little explanation as to that story before I read this story. It was a decent story, but one or two paragraphs to give a little background would have been appreciated.
Captain America #602 – A friend of mine said I read too much into this, but I don’t think so. In a not so subtle manner Ed Brubaker trashed the “Tea Party” movement and was equating it to being a white supremacist agenda. Now personally I have not participated in any Tea Party and the Republican Party has been trying to claim it. Also this movement is now starting to become a little more organized, but what it reflects is voter dissatisfaction and started as a true grass roots movement. I get upset when people preach to me so blatantly and I know Ed Brubaker is in agreement with much of the far left; just leave it at the door, especially in Captain America. When someone disagrees with your viewpoint name calling is just a way to say you have no rationale argument to make against that viewpoint.
An excellent week for comics, not only did we have a decent quantity of books, but the quality was high also. Even my worst book was more of a commentary on my part and not so much a problem with the writing and the art. Hope next week is as good.