Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The Best and The Rest of Last Week's Comics

This was a great way to start the month. I was very impressed with a few books that I was just curious about trying the first issue and now I’m hooked (Nemesis and “N”). I also was pleased with the ending of both Crossed and Cry for Justice. Normally first weeks tend to be not as strong, but I have to say I liked my comics a lot this week.


First Wave #1 (of 6) - Writer Brian Azzarello, Art Rags Morales, Colors Nei Ruffino. Wow, what a great first issue of this new series. My biggest gripe that this is a mini-series as I already want more than six issues. I was a little worried about Brian Azzarello on this as super heroes are not his strong suit, but none of these guys are super. I was wondering how Rags art would look as the last regular gig he was working on was Nightwing and I thought it was very good but not his absolute best. This book was his absolute best. The story and art were spot on and we are off and racing to what looks to be an exciting adventure. It is only the second book I have read this week and I believe it will win best book. Starting with the art first. I want to go a little deeper into what is making this book be so highly regarded by this reviewer. I have always enjoyed Rags Morales artwork from Black Condor to Hourman, Identity Crisis and other projects. I have felt that at times he shows the world that he is one of the top comic book artists in the business. After Identity Crisis I thought he would be the main go to guy for DC. It didn’t happen and I read different things interfere, but wow this is his best work ever and he has done great work before. No one but Rags should ink Rags and I hope he was given enough lead time to do all six issues as the work is stunning. He is one of those rare artists who have a photo realist style and a fluid style that makes him half Neal Adams and half Alan Davis and yet it is all Rags. His work hits on all cylinders and Azz’s script calls for just about everything in this first issue. See my full review here.

Demo #2 (of 6) – Writer Brian Wood, Art Becky Cloonan. Okay very, very seldom can a book or a comic actually “creep me out”, but this one did. The story is about a person who has an addiction to being only able to eat a certain type of food and he does not turn it into soylent green first. Becky Cloonan absolutely knocked the art out of the park. The story is creepy enough about this guy and his eating problem, but Becky makes it all too damn real. The heavy use of darks and the dilapidated state of his apartment makes the story eerie from the start. The title page sets the tone (as shown here). Then the actual story, we see this guy is a loner at his job, but not apparently someone who people are scared of or anything, he is just someone who keeps to himself at work. Then he asks a girl out to dinner and he tries to eat normal food and that does not go well. In the name of love he attempts to take steps to resolve his problem and enjoys a meal of himself. Finally he gets himself together enough to ask to girl over to his house for dinner and we are left to wonder exactly what is meant by that. The book leaves me with a nasty feeling just typing it. For a comic to deliver that type of an emotional response, especially on a primal level is very rare. I would not want a study stream of this type of reading, but absolutely thought this was a brilliant piece of comic art.

Sweet Tooth #7 – Writer/Artist Jeff Lemire, Colors Jose Villarrubia. This book has been coming out with no delay which is important for this type of series. There is obviously a ton of story to tell and Jeff needs to build the foundation of the series. This issue starts where we left off last issue with Jeppard burying his wife. He feels he has done what he needed to get done and now he puts a gun into his mouth but can’t pull the trigger. It was a powerful scene and was a great way to start the book. From there we get back to Sweet Tooth and start to get glimpses of the lab that he has been left in. The cliff hanger is him being knocked out and taken into the lab. For Jeppard we see him wondering and having flashbacks of him and his wife learning how to survive after the apocalypse. At the end she is telling Jeppard she is pregnant. That leads back to Jeppard getting his wife’s dead body back from the lab and begs the question what happened to his offspring. A strong series that is getting better as it goes along.

Stephen King’s N #1 (of 4) – Writer Marc Guggenheim, Art Alex Maleev. – This is the week for scary books or books that just give you a creepy feeling. This is based on a short story by Stephen King and was originally done as a series of motion comics and then redone as a regular comic. The best part about that is various things were changed to make it into a comic. This is important because Spider-Woman which is also being done as a motion comic has issues with the way it reads at times because I don’t think the same level of care was given to that format switch as I felt this book had done. I never knew this was not a comic book first. The actual story by King is great, the adaptation is well done as is the art. The simple premise; Is a mental illness infectious? If it is, is it a mental illness? I rather not do a story summary because I just want you to read it and enjoy it for yourself. Just don’t read this and Demo back to back too closely as the eerie feeling may last too long.

The Authority #20 – I have never been a huge fan of the Wildstorm stuff but I was certainly enjoying the post apocalyptic version of the Authority and the Wildcats until this last event. This is a textbook example of the wrong way to do things. Both groups had manageable casts and I was starting to get a handle on the different characters that I did not know that well. The Authority I was most familiar with as I had been following them since Warren Ellis pulled the group together. The Wildcats I had followed on and off and Stormwatch I had followed here and there over the years. I even tried Gen 13 for about a year and enjoyed the odd series Tranquility during its run. All of this is to show I have a decent familiarity with these characters, but I’m not steeped in their histories and have not followed this universe enough to recognize the entire one off characters floating around. So what does Wildstorm do to shake up the status quo they pull every frigging character ever created together, shake them up and left half on Earth and send half off to space and call it Wildcats and The Authority. What I got out of it was confusion, a lack of direction and a cast that makes me long for the days of the Legion of Super Heroes and the simple cast of 25 to 30 characters. I dropped Wildcats and I’m dropping this book now. Maybe the hard core Wildstorm fan loves this, but I now have a book that is not about the group I know as The Authority and I’m not even sure what the purpose behind this book is other then utter confusion.

Other Books I Wanted To Mention

Adventure Comics #8 –This book was a lot of fun for a dyed in the wool Legion fan like me. Plus we got three stories instead of just one. What I like best about the whole set of stories is the Legion story is being moved forward and the Superman story line finally seems to be taking off. The first story was all about the LOSH in the future and featured arguably the most important Legionnaire of all time Brainiac 5. It set up a disaster that is occurring in the 31st Century that has its origins in the 21st Century. It also explains why Brainiac 5 is named after his hated ancestor Brainiac. The second story gives us some background on why a bunch of Legionnaires have been hanging out in the past and what they need Mon-el to do for them. Both stories lead into the Last Stand of New Krypton. The last story is about a Kryptonian who has infiltrated General Lang’s operation. I love stories about undercover agent’s as often the sacrifices they make in order to sell themselves to the enemy or to blend in are the hardest for anyone to do. Eric Trautmann did a brilliant job writing this story and he seems to be a rising star at DC.

Chew #9 – Always a blast, this book is well structured and constantly amazes me with the depth of the story telling.

Cinderella #5 (of 6) – Great ending for this issue! Loved it!

Crossed #9 (of 9) – Depravity and killing and scenes of violence that are horrendous on any scale and yet the ending work very well. Ennis is a funny guy, because just when you think that he has given us a book without any hope at all, he shaves off a small slice of it and lets a glimmer shine through. A really good and “realistic” portrayal of what a post apocalyptic world could be like. This sealed the deal on wanting the hardcover collection of this series.

Jonah Hex #53 – I just hope that DC keeps publishing this book. I love the one and done adventures and the various artists are a blast. Billy Tucci turned in a terrific art job and this was another good adventure with some great twists at the end. Gray and Palmiotto do the best tales of Jonah Hex.

Justice League Cry for Justice #7 (of 7) – This series has been hurt by many, many factors, yet the ending still had some punch to it and I think made its point, only time will tell. The negatives are the obvious editorial interference. It went from an unlimited series, to a mini-series, it had multiple artists to try and get this book finished and this last issue looked like a rushed art job. It changed direction during the course of the series and never really come together as a cohesive whole. The death of Roy (Red Arrow’s) daughter was done poorly as it becomes Green Arrow’s tragedy and Roy was not even present for it. Yet, with all of these flaws and failures the ending as Green Arrow tracks down Prometheus and kills him was a strong statement and within character for Ollie. I liked it because I have always wanted Batman to kill the Joker or any super hero to stop the totally insane and murderous bad guy as opposed to capturing him and letting him kill again. The bad guy killed 90,000 people in Star City alone and killed Ollie’s “grandchild”. In my world and in a world where you look for justice and not enforcing the law, the bad guy needs to die. Now we get to see the repercussions of this play out as no one knows Ollie has crossed that line. If done well this could make the Rise and Fall storyline one well worth reading as the issues it could touch on are seldom addressed in comics.

Nemesis The Imposters #1 (of 4) – Throws you right into the middle of the story and then never lets go. I’m not 100% sure what is going on or why, but the mystery has me intrigued. In fact it has me so hooked that I’m picking up the trade of the prior mini-series about Nemesis that I dropped before it ended because it was so confused. I may have been a little premature in kicking that series to the curb as this opening issue was very good.

Realm of Kings Son of Hulk #2 (of 4) – I’m not sure why but this book has made me want to learn more about this character then what I know now. It has way too many people in it and has way too much going on with people I have no clue who they are, but I’m now curious enough about this “Son of Hulk” to want to get the trade of his own book and follow this series to its conclusion.

Sparta #1 (of 6) – I’m dropping this book and not putting it in the Worst section because it was not a poorly done book, it just did not grab my interest enough to want me to invest another $15 in the story. I understand things have to be set-up in the first issue, but it just never drew me in enough to keep me around. Often I believe some stories are better served being released as an OGN and this maybe one of them. By releasing it as a mini-series I lose interest after one issue and never hang in to get the whole story, which may be good. I’m willing to take a flier on solid talent like Lapham and buy the OGN for $20 rather than hope the story pulls together down the road.

The Sword #22 (of 24) – The battle between Dara and Malia starts up with harsh words and some shocking revelations about Malia and Dara’s Dad. We then have a fight; Malia gets pissed off and tries to kill a bunch of people revealing her true self then flies off. For the most part I have enjoyed this series, but the more I read of the Luna Brothers work the more I realize that the work from both a story structure and art style is very simplistic. Since it only has two more issues I want to follow it to the end, but their next project would have to really have a big wow factor to draw me back into another series from these guys.

Warlord #12 – Nice to see Mike Grell as writer and artist again, but he killed Travis Morgan! That took me by surprise and now his son will carry on as The Warlord. Okay I was testing the waters on this book to see if I could get into the Warlord again and this has me hooked on the story again. I love seeing a second generation of a hero and it makes it more exciting knowing anything can happen.

No matter how I try to rework or shave down this weekly review posts they always end up too long. I guess this column just ends up being what it is, but at least I have avoided ranking every book and commenting on every comic, which could really get insanely long.

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