Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Best and The Rest

DC is dropping the backup series in most of their titles and dropping the price point back to $3 from $4. For the most part this is a good move. Why would Booster Gold fans care about Blue Beetle, why is Captain Atom in Action comics and the list can go on and on. If the stories are worthwhile then do a mini-series or re-launch the series with some heavy marketing behind it. The caveat I have to this is with The Shield, JSA All Stars and maybe one or two other titles the backups work as an integral part of the book or gives room for related characters to get the time in the spotlight. I think DC was too ambitious in adding the backups, but by dropping all of them (if they do), you could be throwing the baby out with the bathwater.


Daytripper #3 (of 10) – Story & Art Fabio Moon & Gabriel Ba, Colors Dave Stewart. – This series just speaks to me in ways that very few books ever do. It is a wonderful read that ends with Bras’ death every issue. This issue we catch up with Bras and his girl friend who we met last issue. It opens with her saying that Bras is a “piece of sh*t” and we cut to the future where Bras is a lonely man with no direction. His friend tries to get him out and meet other people which is too no avail. We intermittently cut back to the entire breakup and hear all the harsh words that are often exchanged by one party to the other who has grown tired of the relationship (see Thomm’s Sunday post for more on this subject). We make one more time jump and move a year ahead. Bras has a chance encounter with a girl where an exchange of glances is made and yet the hint of something more hangs in the air. Bras lets it pass and leaves. As he is walking he realizes he should take a chance and goes running back to the store only to be hit by a car and killed. I keep wondering the purpose of the death at the end of each issue. I’m going to have to go with one theory. The deaths are metaphors for points in Bras life where he chooses a path that gave him a new life. It is the old idea of hitting a turning point in a road taking one path over another (see Matt’s Saturday post for more on this subject). The other ideas I had about what they represent don’t fit the way the story is unfolding. Another thing that I’m enjoying is that I believe you could read individual issues of this series and it would not impact your enjoyment of each story. It is a situation where it appears the whole will be greater than the sum of its parts. Which leads me to another idea that just came to me; maybe it is just a device to end each chapter with an exclamation point. The bottom line is this is a series that I’m enjoying immensely and I see at least a trade in my future for this series.

Choker #1 (of 6) – Story Ben McCool, Art Ben Templesmith. – Seriously all you have to say is Ben Templesmith and I will try out issue #1, obviously I’m coming back for issues #2 - #6. The art is fantastic as always. Templesmith has developed a style that is edgy and dark and full of fun and wonderful details. The backup information on the book was a great explanation of just how he produces his artwork. Templesmith’s story telling ability and page design just keeps improving as the flow of the story was spot it and works in concert with the captions and dialogue. Each character has his own unique design and the expressions and body language conveyed all the right notes, a beautiful art job. The story by Mr. McCool (is that his real name?) was just as strong. Johnny Jackson is a PI, who used to be part of the police force. He works in a town called Shotgun City. This is not a real world place; it is a dystopian future with people who are enhanced and half mechanical and all sorts of other nasty bits. It is part Blade Runner by way of Judge Dredd and many other influences. What we get is a noir story set in a very strange place. Our hero is pulled back into the trying to get his old job back by trying to recapture Hunt Cassidy who Johnny had arrested some time ago. It is Ben & Ben doing a great job and I can’t wait for part 2.

PunisherMax #4 – Writer Jason Aaron, Art Steve Dillon, Colors Matt Hollingsworth. – This issue was great. It was very Godfather like as Wilson Fisk is having all the dons being killed at the same time by his man. At the same time Fisk’s boss Don Rigoletto has hired the Mennonite to kill Frank. Frank is going after Wilson Fisk at the same time. Just as Wilson is going to kill Don Rigoletto himself and take over as the Kingpin Frank finds him. Fisk looks like he was about to sh*t himself when he sees the Mennonite bearing down on Frank. Frank and the Mennonite beat the crap out of each other. The Mennonite is using a sledgehammer since he will only use Mennonite tools now and Frank’s hands are crushed. Frank has shot and stabbed the Mennonite in both legs and his genitals. Frank at the end feels he is losing and starts to run. Fisk meanwhile goes over to Don Rigoletto and kills his men as the Don is learning that Fisk has betrayed him and is coming to kill him. Brutal, harsh, violent, bloody and gory, but all appropriate within the context of this story and what you have come to expect in a Punisher book from the Max line.

Other Books I Wanted To Mention

Batgirl #7 – This series has done a great job of making Stephanie into the new Batgirl. I’m hoping she stays around for many years in this role. In fact I’m enjoying the new Bat family of books more then I have in years. They were good before; now most of the books are very good to great. One gripe, the thoughts of Barbara saying she needs to move forward and forget her relationship with Dick Grayson – NO she doesn’t. Why does DC hate that relationship?

Batman and Robin #8 – I’m starting to fall into the camp that perhaps this arc is going a little too far. Dick’s loss of confidence after Damian getting shot is logical, but how did the clone of Bruce Wayne end up in the Batcave? I guess Darkseid planted the body for Superman to find. All in all this is my least favorite issue in a series that I still love flaws and all.

Green Arrow & Black Canary #29 – Next issue everything changes from what all the hype is saying but I wanted to jump back in before the book goes back to being just Green Arrow. I’m glad I did the whole Cupid storyline was not working in the beginning but the deeper we got into the storyline the better it got. Kreisberg is a good writer and with Sienkiewicz doing the finishes over Mike Norton’s layouts the book had the right feel to it. Norton doing full pencils is good for certain types of books, but it did not fit the story the way this artistic combo did. I hope Kreisberg comes back with another Cupid storyline she is a cool character and has great potential to be great nemesis for either GA or BC solo or together.

Hit Monkey #1 (One Shot) – I did not realize this had been a digital comic on Marvel’s website first, but it doesn’t matter as this book read like a complete comic and not a series of chapters like some of the other digital books that have gone to print. Hit Monkey is an interesting character and used appropriately could be an interesting addition to MU. Still very hard for this character to be more than an occasionally one-shot type book or a mini-series.

Human Target #1 (of 6) – It was not a bad book and it felt just like the TV show, but that was the problem. The TV show is okay and I may watch an episode or I may just delete what I have saved on my DVR. Therefore while there was nothing seriously wrong with the book it is not worth my continuing.

JSA All Stars #3 – At first I was wondering if splitting up the JSA would work and I’m still not 100% sure that the reasoning behind makes anything other than comic book sense, but I’m enjoying this series and the JSA a lot. There are so many great character and plot points floating around that trying to contain it in one series was really impossible. This book is giving us the space to flesh out some of the characters. I know DC is dropping the backup series and that is good news from a price point, but this series giving over 10 pages to focus on individual members makes sense and I will miss it when it is dropped with this book.

Marvel Boy The Uranian #2 (of 3) – Jeff Parker is brilliant with the Agents of Atlas characters and I’m really enjoying the updating we are getting of this character. This series is essentially the origin story and it takes what was done in the fifties and remains true to the spirit of the stories from that time, but updates it and gives us the “truth” about what was really going on. The book appears to being colored directly from the pencils by Felix Ruiz and it gives it a scratchy indie type quality to the art that works for this story. Add into that two back-up reprints from the fifties of Marvel Boy with great Bill Everett artwork and you have a package that is well worth the entry price.

Secret Six #18 – This is just a really good series and having John Ostrander co-write this book and guest star the Suicide Squad just makes me miss that series all the more. I really hope DC can reprint the original run one day, although I did pick it up on E-bay not that long ago and re-read it.

The Shield #6 – This is a very good book but I think Eric Trautmann and Marcos Rudy are almost putting too much information into every page. Eric has so many great ideas that it appears he can’t contain himself as he is giving us tons of information about how the suit works and how The Shield operates with the military. We get schematics, heads up displays, great techno jargon and plenty of action, but it feels too crammed. Marcos Rudy is a terrific artist, but I also think his panel layouts can be confusing at time, especially with so much text being used. Don’t get me wrong I think this is a very good series, but too dense at times and a little hard to follow. I’m worried that too many people could drop off the book. Another good point is how the Jaguar was introduced into the DCU, we were just given a glimpse of the character and left with wanting to know more. The back-up series also wrapped up their first arc nicely as I want to know more about Inferno and we got to see the Comet for the first time. While the Web book is in need of serious overall, this corner of the Red Circle books is doing well and only in need of a little tighter editing (IMO).

A very enjoyable week of comics and again I noticed that my Best list does not have any standard books from the regular DCU or MU. Not that those books were bad, just not chart toppers for me.

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