I could have almost gone without a best book because it was such a big week and I started to get lazy in how much I wanted to write up, but Echo and Stumptown are just superior comic books. Echo is amazing in that we are 21 issues into this story and it keeps getting better. Stumptown is also a terrific series and I should contact Matt Southworth and see if he would do an e-mail interview, his back matter material was great this issue. Matt has that great noir feel to his work that is making Rucka’s scripts come to life. I hate that Greg has left DC for the time being but boy if we get more of Stumptown and Queen and Country type of material I’m all for it.
Echo #21– By Terry Moore. This issue just continues what is one of the best stories being told on the stands today. I have no idea how many issues we have to go before we hit the finish line but this issue marks a major turning point as it appears Annie has taken control of Julie via the suit. Of course this opens up all sorts of questions as what happens to Julie Martin if Annie is the mind in charge. What was Annie’s plan for the suit? Terry Moore has built about five to six characters who have a lot depth and where these characters end up at the conclusion of this story is a mystery. How will the power of this suit be destroyed or ensured to be used in peaceful ways is an open question. I also have to wonder if the suit is so powerful how was Annie able to be killed by her employers. The art, the dialogue, the pacing, it is all spot on. The situation is unreal, but the people are very real.
Stumptown #3 – Writer Greg Rucka, Art Matt Southworth, Colors Rico Renzi. It was a long time between issues, but I fell right back into the story. Dex is trying to figure out exactly who is out to get Charlotte and why and getting little cooperation from Isabel (Charlotte’s friend). It is a lot of people to get to know in a few issues and every once in awhile I forget who is who, but the story moves along at a great pace and has plenty of characterization and action. My favorite scene this issue was Dex going to shoot out some tires so the bad guys would not follow her and the girls and she is out of bullets. The girls take off and the thug laughs at Dex’s luck. Dex is always getting beaten up, but true to the genre she is never out of the game. Greg and Matt are knocking it out of the park with this series that leaves you just begging to see what happens next.
OTHER BOOKS OF NOTE
GI Joe Cobra #4 – This was supposed to be the end of this mini-series and it appears obvious that the end was modified a little to make it a cliff hanger and not more of an open ended thing. This book has a very cool feel to it and the crosses and double crosses are all well done. It is more of a spy book then a GI Joe thing from my viewpoint.
Justice Society of America #38 – This story has grown on me. I was not big on doing a Nazi story, but having Mr. Terrific as the central character in this mellow drama is making it work. I always like characters who are trying to outthink their situation as that is power we can all have. Now how he gets out of being shot in the head is another story. Somehow they need to do an Adam Strange Mr. Terrific story one day.
Madame Xanadu #22 – This could easily be in the best category, but it is a middle chapter and that makes the story have less of an impact at times. Amy Reeder Hadley and Richard Friend turn in another stellar art job. I’m enjoying having J’onn J’onzz around a lot. His guest starring role works on many levels, not the least that Nimue can’t figure out how he does the things he does without magic. The story is building as we see Morgana is trying to restore her son Modred back to life.
Mighty Avengers #36 & New Avengers #64 – I know companies have to make decisions with certain books and releasing them or not when they tie into an event, but this is the second time that the event books is late and major beats are revealed before the issue hits the stands. Siege #4 should have been out and these books are giving away a bunch of stuff making the ending of Siege ho-hum. Dark Reign at least is over and I find I was very tired of it.
Scalped #37 – Certain books could always be a best book and Scalped is one of those series. Shunka gets played and made to look a fool. It was another great character piece and Jason Aaron weaves in these back stories while the main artist works on the main plot of the book. This makes the main story a lot better as many players are fully developed and gives the series a richer feel to it.
Walking Dead #71 – I love the left turns that Kirkman makes at the end of his books and in hindsight they are almost always perfectly within character. This issue we are learning about the compound they have moved into and Carl and Andrea both remark how everything seems fake and they are worried that this is no longer the way to live. At the end Rick says “If they ever try to make us leave well just take the place from them and make it ours.” We have been seeing Rick going nuts with talking to his dead wife on the phone; this is just confirmation that no matter how normal we think Rick is, he is not. This world has impacted everyone. The artist Charles Adlard continues to do a great job and I need to buy one of his pages of art for my collection one day.
War of the Superman #0 – The free comic book day entry for this year from DC is a great prelude to the Superman event in May. It was well done and set-up everything perfectly. From a marketing perspective I think this might have been their only good option. There is no event on the horizon for 2010 that would work like Blackest Night, so this story goes right into what is a weekly four part series about Superman and then into JMS taking over the book, so it is a good way to bring back lapsed Superman fans. I have to assume Superman sales have been depressed with the storylines of the last year.
X-Force #26 – Second Coming Chapter 5 – I continue to be impressed with this story. Oh there are some odd plot holes here and there inherent to almost any super hero comic, but this is such a wonderful job of each writer telling the next chapter in a linear story. The apparent death of Nightcrawler worked very well and the sacrifice felt like something Kurt would have done. I’m still a little confused as how Rogue’s powers work, but someone may explain that down the road. The one panel at the end was suppose to be dramatic when Wolverine pop his claws, but I found it incredibly laughable that Logan’s reaction to a teammate’s death is to pop his claws. Minor quibbles in a story that is holding my interest from week to week and building an exciting entry for a new character to be part of the MU. It seems apparent Hope will be the new wielder of the Phoenix force, but as long as they don’t make her too powerful it could work.
BOOKS THAT MISSED AND WHY
Iron Man #25 – The new start for Iron Man in the Heroic Age and boy as much as this is a good looking book and the story has a plot it is so dumb that even comic book logic fails to help it make sense. This of course is an example of why having Tony Stark as Iron Man forever is the death of all character growth. There are multiple things that I can’t believe even in the context of a comic, such as James Rhodes looking like he is 25 if he is a day and Pepper Potts has graduated from a supporting character to being a master corporate guru and at times action hero (she has been turned into the female Tony Stark, way too quickly). Before I go on, I would actually enjoy it if Pepper became the new Iron Woman and took over the role as opposed to Tony Stark yet again. Here is the big problem Tony now has holes in his memory because he uploaded an old version of his brain from a year or so ago. Tony admits to Reed it was a big mistake and he should have made updated copies. What about the fact that Tony erased his frigging brain for no good reason. One of the smartest guys in the world could have taken lesser steps to protect the information in his brain from Osborne. Oh and if he did have updated copies wouldn’t Osborne have found those. The whole idea of what Tony did is stupid and reeks of some sort of thing that allows him to have a clean slate. I’m not that vested in Iron Man and I know right now with the next movie coming out he is Marvel’s shining star but I’m done with Iron Man for awhile.
Outsiders #29 – I’m within a hair’s breadth of dropping this book. Since Dan Didio has taken over the direction this book has taken makes little sense. Geo-Force aligns with the Eradicator and sends most of the team packing. The characters are acting out of character and the dramatic shift in direction from being an ancillary part of Batman’s world is gone. Then we get this issue with Looker all of a sudden front and center running around as a vampire. I missed her being turned into a vampire, but this issue was like we jumped into the middle of a long running plot line with Looker that apparently I have missed. Then it ends with some character being given a horn to be some other character’s herald and the words “the end for now”. I thought perhaps the series was cancelled, but I checked and more issues are coming out. If it was not for my fondness for some of the characters and solid artwork by Don Kramer and Philip Tan I would drop it. I may have to soon anyway as this book has no clue what it is doing or where it is going. Of course how can an editor tell the co-publisher his writing needs to be more cohesive and tighter and needs to get to the story faster? Answer – he can’t, it never works critiquing your boss’ work no matter how much he says it is okay.
I found that I had more to say about the books that missed than I did about the great books this week. One reason, it is difficult to constantly praise something as I sound redundant. How many ways can I say it was great? When something goes wrong there are tons of things to look at and try to determine where it all went wrong. I also noticed I’m way too easy on not cancelling DC books. Partly because I like the characters more and partly as I know Marvel doesn’t care about the single fan like I believe DC does.