Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Best and The Rest

DC has the Brightest Day starting soon and Marvel has the Heroic Age, we here at Comics And… are starting the Sunshine and Optimism Age of Comics And. As a new dawn comes into comic book land no more cynicism or snarky remarks, no more ripping apart of the comic companies and their stupid moves, no more making fun of silly a** covers and excessive blood and gore. Kick Ass is great, we love Frenchie and Johns can slice and dice anyone he wants. Yes everything and everyone is lovely and brilliant. Nah, just kidding want the heck is the point in that. Remember if it wasn’t for stupid and ugly people you could never be smart and great looking!


Battlefields #3 (of 9) – Happy Valley Part 3 (of 3) – Writer Garth Ennis, Artist P.J. Holden, Colors Tony Avina. Maybe it is just the way it ends, maybe its understanding what somebody is willing to do or maybe I’m just constantly surprised how good Garth Ennis is when it comes to war stories, but damn this was a great issue. First I like to talk about the artwork. PJ Holden is not a name I was not familiar with and his art he has more of a cartoon type style to it in some ways along the lines of a Darwyn Cooke. I was not sure it would work with this book, but the work is especially strong and works well with the aerial bombing runs (see the scans of two pages). The work is very dramatic and with some great coloring work and strong story telling ability of the artist any fears I had were proven unjustifiable. The art works great. The story is also heartfelt. You expect some brutal endings from Garth because he is telling war stories and stories need an ending, but Garth still surprises me. In this issue the main character our young and heroic pilot is the one who dies. He does not die in a huge blast or by kicking out the crew and driving the bomber and its bombs into a target, but he dies because of exposure as he did what he had to do to get his crew home. It was the crew’s last operation before being sent home. For the young pilot Ken Harding he was just starting his tour of duty and he was a special pilot, not only did his mates lose a new friend, but a young man who had possible greatness stamped on him was lost. Garth shows us again and again the various tolls that war takes on us. Garth both celebrates the heroics of the people involved and shows us the human cost the war takes on the individual. For all the reasons and even when they maybe the right reasons that nations go to war, it is the people who suffer for the pride of these nations. This is amazing work by Garth, PJ and Tony, just amazing.

Joe The Barbarian #2 (of 8) – Writer Grant Morrison, Artist Sean Murphy, Colors Dave Stewart. – It seems to me that even great writers on occasion find stories that show us why they are great writers and what makes them a cut above the ordinary. The last time I was this impressed with Grant’s work was All Star Superman and that only went down as the all time best Superman story and this book impresses me in how much I feel like I’m seeing the world with the same eyes as young Joe. I hope it holds up for all eight issues and if it does we will have what I would consider another seminal moment in Grant’s career. Sean Murphy is doing fantastic work in both representing the fantasy aspect of Joe’s world and cutting back to the “real” world every once in awhile. I have to mention Dave Stewart on colors. Almost anytime I see his name on a book I know that it is probably a high quality project. Regardless of the talent of the artist a great coloring job makes it better and even a book with artistic mistakes or gaffs can often be corrected by a great colorist. Stewart is one of the industry’s best. The trip across his room with his friend Jack the Rat at his side flashes from the fantastical battle that is probably in his mind, to the actual need Joes has to get insulin to avoid falling into what could be a fatal diabetic coma. A riveting story that is both cool and fantastic in the battles being fought by Jack and Joe against the toys come to life and at the same time is tragic and worrisome as you fear for Joe from falling prey to his illness.

Other Books I Wanted To Mention

Atomic Robo#1 (of 4) – Just a joy to see this series back for its fourth mini-series. Atomic Robo always brings a smile to my face. This adventure we start with a character named Bernard being interviewed for a job with Action Scientists. He and another candidate are talking to Robo when his competition is killed by invading vampires from another dimension. Action ensures and Bernard saves the day and gets the job. Great stuff, Clevinger, Wegener and Pattison know how to make comics and make them fun.

Authority the Lost Year #6 (of 12) – This book reminds me of why I enjoyed the Authority so much years ago, but the regular series is a sad travesty of what it had been, I think I’m dropping the regular series as well to join with Wildcats, but I will give it one more try. Back to the Lost Year, this issue we are in a reality where the Authority ruled the world, but ultimately fought over which way to go either science with the Engineer or magic with the Doctor, our Authority is in the middle.

Avengers vs Agents of Atlas #2 (of 4) – One of the best battles the original Avengers ever had and the Agents gave us good as they got. This series is put together very well and is just a blast to read. Jeff Parker is writing his a** off and Gabriel Hardman is doing a beautiful job on the art work. This is one of my top series and by that I mean all of the Agents of Atlas appearances. Even the backup story by another creative team was a lot of fun.

Blackest Night The Flash #3 (of 3) – I’m a sucker for a happy ending from time to time and this one was exactly that as Bart is saved from being consumed by the Black Lantern ring and the Flashes run off to face the enemy. The juxtaposition with the Rogues side of it was also well done. I have some hope that Johns can make me accept that Barry will be the main Flash in the DCU.

Devil #1 (of 4)– I was very hesitant to try this book out because I have never been a huge Manga fans, there are exception with Ranma ½ and Battle Angel as examples. As I was first reading this it felt familiar and nothing new was coming out of it, but I stuck with it and I’m looking forward to issue #2. Two main characters have been successfully introduced, the menace of the vampire virus is well established and some level of mystery that surrounds our two characters was hinted at well enough to have me intrigued.

Doctor Voodoo #5 – Apparently the last issue. While I’d rather see Dr. Strange be the Sorcerer Supreme, I’m still a little bummed this series crashed and burned so fast. I think the series was started a little too fast for a “D” list character being promoted to the “A” list and hoping fans would just flock to it. At this point Dr. Voodoo will have to build a following by guest staring in other books and work back to a solo series. Hindsight is 20/20 but it was easy to foresee this series failing. Take an old character mostly forgotten, then given prominence and a new role in a high profile book (Avengers) and after one adventure given a series. Add from the talent pool a medium known to under the radar writer and a no name artist without an inker. What was the draw?

Farscape #4 – This is a great series for any fan of the TV show as it carries on the continuity from the show and moves the story forward. It is well written and feels like the TV show and has strong covers, the interior art is passable but weak. It will hold the fans of the show, but I do not see it expanding its base because comics are a visual medium and the art is not a drawing card. Regardless if you watched Farscape you should be buying this comic.

GI Joe Cobra II #2 (of 4) – This book continues to make left turns when you least expect them. We were all set up to assume Chuckles was broken and beaten, but when Chameleon comes to save him we find Chuckles is still looking to bring Cobra down with his own plan. This is an excellent spy story and action thriller with tight plotting and solid art work. This series is moving up into being one that you will want to have on your shelf for a long time.

Green Lantern #50 & Green Lantern Corps #45 – We are one week from Blackest Night #7, which is the penultimate issue of the series, and these two issues have pumped me up for the battle to come. I have to really take my hat off the Johns and DC (especially Peter Tomasi) as this event against all odds continues to hold my interest. Even with knowing a fair amount about what is coming out down the road I still have no clue as to the ultimate ending of the book.

Incredible Hercules #141 – If you pay attention to solicitations and other news of what is coming, Hercules’ death was not a surprise ending. What I liked was how the Agents of Atlas back-up tied into the front story and how the front story seems like it is what this series has been building up to for the entire run of the book. It not only has me looking forward to the memorial issues and the new mini-series featuring Amadeus Cho, but now I want to get the trades of what I skipped.

Justice League of America #42 – What an odd grouping of characters. It was almost like the names were put into a hat and drawn out. Also we are past Blackest Night and Hal seems none the worse for the wear, plus we are reintroducing the “New Gods” as new versions of the old characters. It takes time for a group to come together, but even with all these disparate elements impacting the book I enjoyed it. Mark Bagley is having every DC character in the world being thrown at him and he is doing a bang up job. Robinson is dancing around elements yet getting his story started and it should be off and running soon. These “New Gods” are roaming around trying to gather objects and not caring who they run over to get them. The League is out to stop them and find out what is going on. It looks like the JLA maybe finally getting on track.

Rasl #6 – A friend of mine sends me this book otherwise I would have skipped this series as I never read Bone (I know heresy). This series draws me in more and more each issue and this one had tons of stuff about Nicholas Telsa, who is probably the least well known and one of the most important people of the 20th century. I just wish the publishing schedule was a little more coherent.

Once again the other category is ruling the roost with me. I was talking about writers in comics today with one person and about who has the better books Marvel or DC and I realized all the best stuff right now is Vertigo and all the other small publishers. That is not to say DC and Marvel have crap books, what it means is great books are everywhere right now. In some ways these are the best times in comics ever.

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