Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The Week of Dec 2 in Review

The format from last week continues as I got a positive review from one person. It is funny because this blog normally never sees a lot of commenting other than the other bloggers but I know we have a decent readership. When Lee caused a storm of controversy a few years back boy did we get comments then, but normally very little. Of course I’m guilty of the same thing as I may read a post here and there on other blogs and yet seldom take the time to give some feedback or just say I liked something. Over the years I have grown used to the silence. Now all of this is a preamble to the fact that I’m starting off on a negative note. Hopefully the creators we all know and love want feedback and more than just the sycophantic ravings. Also it is much easier to sit back here and react to something then to create a story.

Shadowland #5 (of 5) – Writer Andy Diggle, Pencils Billy Tan, Inks Victor Olazaba

What I LikedThat the series is over.

What I Didn’t LikeThe art work had a generic quality to it and lacks that noir quality I look for in what has to be called a Daredevil book. The fact that this book became the main series when Daredevil has his own comic, I prefer that the main series host the event involving the character. Iron Fist hitting the possessed Daredevil to heal Matt Murdock buried within the Demon who has possessed Daredevil. The dialogue included Iron Fist saying “wakey, wakey, Matt.” The whole long drawn out scene where Matt has an internal dialogue crying about all of his fears and he uses a samurai sword to kill his inner self and those destroy the Demon. I mean, really is the best that can be done? Finally Typhoid Mary is a double agent working for the Kingpin who was unaware that she was a double agent. Which leads us to this piece of dialogue as the Kingpin says “Thanks to the initiative implanting her with a three word trigger phrase that unlocks her secret fourth personality.” I was waiting for someone else to pop up and say a secret four word code that unlocks yet a super secret fifth personality. Cringe worthy dialogue, sixties style resolutions and just an overall atrocity that will go down in the annals of one of the worst DD stories of all time. This was a very bad series and only my love for the character and morbid curiosity kept me on for the whole ride.

Daredevil #512 – Writer Andy Diggle & Anthony Johnston Art Marco Checchetto

What I Liked It was a decent epilogue to Shadowland and set up the new series with the Black Panther in Hell’s Kitchen. Matt Hollingsworth on colors, he saves the artist many times over and gives the book the wonderful atmospheric touch of noir.

What I Didn’t LikeIt took until this epilogue for them to explain why Daredevil has any culpability in the entire chain of events. Of course it is all conjecture on Daredevil’s part that since he decided to kill Bullseye that allowed the demon to possess him. Blechh, I just threw up in my mouth. What is a shame is the story had great potential about a good man trying to run the Hand and what he may or may not have to do in order to make it work. Instead of writing out a thoughtful storyline they turned it into a mini-event and the potential was lost. Matt Murdock was a perfect chance to do an examination of elements of what is and what is not heroic and instead we got a comic book.

Heroes for Hire #1 – Writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, Pencils Brad Walker, Inks Andrew Hennessy

What I LikedA nice bizarre set of characters all pulled together via Misty Knight playing Oracle in the Marvel Universe, except she has her own Charlie (of Charlie’s Angels) feeding her the crime tips. The nice added twist that Misty is in some sort of virtual reality with the Puppet Master pulling all the strings was a great surprise ending. It has me curious where the book is going so I will hang around for the next issue.

What I Didn’t LikeIt felt so derivative of Birds of Prey at first and if the Puppet Master is continuing running things this way it may get old. In fact by adding the Puppet Master into the story line we sort of know that the first arc is the heroes finding out a bad guy is behind it and then the heroes will decide to keep doing good work anyway. It could become contrite very fast, but DnA are smarter than that and I will give them a lot of rope passed on their terrific track record. . The art work is borderline generic which is a huge turn off for me.

Brightest Day # 15 – Writers Geoff Johns & Peter Tomasi, Pencils Patrick Gleason & Scott Clark, Inkers – A group of 8.

What I Liked J’onn Jozz being given center stage and beating the bad guy.

What I Didn’t LikeWe are treading water. All of the Brightest Day stuff (that still has the banner) feels like it is a story waiting for a climax or is just building to the next event. Johns’ work feels like he is phoning it in more and more and I feel like his new role of Chief Creative Officer is making it harder for him to be the creator I used to love.

Bullet to the Head #6 (of 6) – Writer Matz, Art Colin Wilson

What I LikedBasically due to Killer I will try anything by Matz as the writer. I enjoyed how the series ended in general.

What I Didn’t Like The book read as a graphic novel and due to the complexity of the story and large cast I got lost over the course of the story. Bits and pieces stayed with me, but in general I was lost as to the impact of the whole thing. I like Matz and the art enough that I will buy the trade and give this a second chance when I read it as a whole.

Bring the Thunder #1 – Plot/Concept Alex Ross, Plot Script Jai Nitz, Art – Wilson Tortosa

What I LikedIt has some interesting story ideas and I’m intrigued enough to come back for issue #2. I enjoyed the story laying out what a para-rescue jumper does.

What I Didn’t LikeThe story had a narrative at odds with the actual pictures which often cause a disjointed read of the book. For this story it came close to working but still failed. On top of that the starting with a future point in the story then back to the past, then to the present adds to the disjointed nature of the story telling. Writers need to trust that the story is good enough to keep us involved and not rely on stunts uncalled for in a story. The artwork borders on less then professional and a little generic, but it does succeed in telling the story.

Edge of Doom #2 – Writer Steve Niles, Art Kelly Jones

What I LikedWhat a great story that harkens back to the EC days or Outer Limits type stories. It has a space theme, with some little horror twists and then a great physiological twist ending. The art by Kelly Jones was some of his best work ever. Kelly can go over the top at times, but this work was lush, more on the realistic side of the coin for Kelly and done to perfection.

What I Didn’t LikeThat Axl died. It was sad.

Killer Modus Vivendi #6 (of 6) – Writer Matz, Art – Luc Jacamon

What I LikedThe story is so political and refers to different countries and their competing national objectives, it is fascinating stuff to read and makes me rethink what I thought I knew. I’m also enjoying that we are getting into the head of the Killer and learning what he believes in or not believes in. The story itself is also fascinating although it will read better as a whole. Finally I appreciated that we still have some strong action scenes as it keeps the book from being too much of a talking head book.

What I Didn’t LikeIt did not really end here and appears that like the first story is really a 12 issue series when broken down into a monthly comic book format. I’m okay as long as it gets published in English, but I still wish the publisher would be honest about the length when printing the series.

American Vampire #9 – Writer Scott Snyder, Art Rafael Albuerque

What I Liked I’m enjoying this series, Scott is successfully telling us stories of individuals and making us feel for these characters and at the same time telling us a greater story about Skinner. It works so well that it is amazing. This type of complexity allows each arc to be its own thing while still building to a greater whole. It is deceptive simple in Scott’s hands but the planning to get it right has to takes an enormous effort. The story of Cashel and how he ended up with the burden that is his son concludes this issue, but you know we will see them later on. Rafael’s art work continues to grow and just like when he was drawing Blue Beetle he continues to evolve as an artist. His work has more gravitas now and his layouts and expression get better and better. I know we lose him for a few issues, but I can see why he needs a breather to get back ahead of the deadlines as he is pouring his heart and soul into this book. This series is one of the top ten books of 2010

What I Didn’t LikeNothing really, it is a series that I can try and learn from and maybe in my dotage I will try and write comics myself using this type of work as an example of how to do it right. I hope the next trade or hardcover contains some of Scott’s scripts.

Jonah Hex #62 - Writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, Art Eduardo Risso

What I LikedRisso on Jonah Hex, wow, what a great cover and as always stellar interior artwork. I love Eduardo’s style and his work is always a thing of beauty. His layouts, line work and ability to spot blacks are second to none. He is a true master of comic art. The story was fun also. Gray and Palmiotti continue to do a great job of one and done stories for Jonah and weave in tons of great artists. This is a severely overlooked series and I’m glad DC supports the book.

What I Didn’t LikeIt ended and the comic book was over, I wanted more!

Action Comics Annual #13 – Writer Paul Cornell, Art Marco Rudy on Darkseid, Ed Benes on Ras As Ghul

What I LikedThe depiction of a young Lex Luthor. Paul is creating a Lex Luthor that is interesting and as multi-dimensional as any other villain. Lex has always been fascinating now he is layered. The Darksied story was especially good as we see Lex in full arrogance believing he can outdo anyone and yet expresses anxiety and doubt as he yells at Perry White. The Ras story had some nice moments, especially when Lex was abandoned by Ras after betraying his trust.

What I Didn’t Like The poetic narrative used to tell the Ras story, it was a clever idea, but didn’t work. Marco Rudy’s page designs. Marco is a good artist but he tries to be J. H. Williams III sometimes with his elaborate page designs and ends up creating problems in trying to read the story.

Adventure Comics #521 – Writer Paul Levitz (Legion) Jeff Lemire (Atom). Geraldo Borges & Marlo Alquiza (Legion) Mahmud Asrar (Atom)

What I LikeThe Legion of Super Heroes. The Atom story was entertaining even though I have missed at least half of it.

What I Didn’t LikeI came back to this book as it is now part of the current Legion continuity. I’m still very confused about this Legion as I’m not 100% sure what version I’m following. It feels like it is the original Legion picked up after Levitz left it 20 years ago, but it feels like it is its own thing also. It is very confusing for a long time fan of all the incarnations of the group. Paul’s stories are disjointed at this point and from story to story I’m not getting any real cohesion from this book. In this issue Mon’el is talking about his last stay in the Phantom Zone, I’m so confused by this continuity mixing in with the Superman stuff. The new Green Lantern is, well I’m won’t spoil the surprise, but the person was a great hero without the ring. The artwork is very generic and is not a plus for the book.

Freedom Fighters #4 – Writers Justin Gray & Jimmy Pamiotti, Pencils Travis Moore, Inks Trevor Scott

What I LikedI love the characters and I have always enjoyed seeing some “C” or even “D” list characters get spotlight time. The art work in this book is very strong in the more realistic side of things but with great line work and tons of detail. I almost feel bad for the artist as the list of characters that had to draw must have had them dreaming about the chance to just do a Batman book. If I was Travis Moore I might have asked the writers if they thought I was George Perez.

What I Didn’t LikeThis plot line in the first arc is so complex and has so many moving parts that I can’t begin to remember who is who and what is happening to whom and why. I love the characters and trust the writers enough to hang in there, but I worry they may have chased away pat of what was probably a small audience. This is where having a strong editorial staff comes in and they have to say we need to streamline the story or break it down differently or start with a different story to draw in an audience and keep it.

Doom Patrol #17 – Writer Keith Giffen, Pencils Matthew Clark & Ron Randall, Inks John Livesay

What I LikedThe cover was great with the DP in a blood splattered photo of them in Victorian era garb. I don’t think covers sell many comics anymore, but this one stands out and may grab a new reader here or there. The story continues to be fantastic; Giffen is channeling his inner Arnold Drake / Grant Morrison and crafting the best DP in many moons. I love how the book has a Vertigo type vibe with classic super hero art work. The actual villains of this arc the Aristocrats are just marvelously bizarre and appear to be some sort of blood feeding family. Negative Man’s lines continue to crack me up and yet the story maintains a strong narrative flow that is easy to follow. Finally I loved the “Dick and Jane” style primer as the opening page bringing new readers up to date.

What I Didn’t LikeThat DC is not putting a big push behind this book. One of the more unique books on the stands.

IZombie #8 – Writer Chris Roberson, Art Mike Allred

What I Liked Our Zombie girl Gwen going out on her first date since becoming a dead person. Of course it took almost the whole book to get there, but it was a fun ride. I love the whole cast of characters and the wonderful bizarreness and yet almost light hearted nature of the book. While there is some interesting over and under soul stuff that I probably should pay more attention too, I just read this book and marvel at how great it is. We have Gwen the Zombie girl, her ghost girl-friend, a were-terrier friend, monster hunters, vampires, a chimp inhabited by a cast member’s grandfather and it all just flows from issue to issue.

What I Didn’t LikeAmon is a cast member who has a lot going on and I will either need a story summary or something to help keep me up to date on what is going on with him. All the other story elements seem to flow easily. Amon’s story is complex and it feels like it is at odds with the rest of the book.

Sweet Tooth #16 – Writer and Artist Jeff Lemire

What I Liked – The pacing of this story is perfect at this point. In 16 issues Jeff has laid the ground work for his stories and given us enough answers to balance out the ongoing mysteries. The revelation on the last page as Sheppard is beating the crap out of the main bad guy was appropriately an “oh crap” moment.

What I Didn’t LikeNothing. In this case the editor just needs to stand out of the way and offer encouragement.

With five week months the companies just spread out what we would get anyway over five weeks instead of four and with my hard cover list getting smaller and smaller that makes for some cheap weeks in what I spend. The reduced dollar amount makes the reward of a strong week of some excellent books even sweeter.


  1. This format continues to rock! Some of the one-liner comments were priceless, especially the first one for Shadowland. That cover with Ghost Rider and DD is pretty awesome though.

    I think if a writer wants to take a good guy character and turn him bad, then he just needs to create a new one (like Mark Waid did). Having Hal Jordan go crazy or even having a non-demon possessed DD succumb to evil just ruins everything that went before.

    I'm reminded of Detective Bayliss in the Homicide series conclusion. He murdered someone -- it was a bad guy, but he went over the line. While it may have been interesting to watch his decline, you can't look at the older shows and NOT think about what's coming. You're remembered on how you finish (definitely if you finish badly), not on what you did before.

    I know Batman killed the Joker in Dark Knight, but if he did that in the regular book and just started going Scourge on all his villains, wouldn't that really ruin the character for you? There are some stories that shouldn't be told.

  2. Thanks Matthew. I agree the DD story was a mistake.

  3. I disagree about Homicide and Bayliss. From the very first arc they'd laid the ground work that Bayliss was on the edge. He didn't cross the line until the very end, but it didn't come out of the blue and revoke what had gone before.

  4. I thought he was just a Rookie Detective in the first arc. It's been so long since I saw it. I probably missed the last few seasons before seeing the final movies. For me it was a jolt and because I had liked his character initially, I didn't like the conclusion. Although, Frank ruled as always.

    Another example would be Adrian Chase (The Vigilante), he was always shown as borderline unstable and then takes his own life at the series conclusion.

  5. After the last few years of writing from Bendis to Brubaker, DD going over the line seemed inevitable. Hell he's been pushed since he lost Karen Page when Kevin Smith wrote it.

    The problem is they chickened out at the last minute and brought in a second rate Dr. Strange possession plot.(New Avengers anyone?)

    Heroes should not all go bad but you can see where the story was already built up and there ready to be used.

    Horrible execution.

  6. I suppose if they had made DD go bad, then we could all read our Born Again issues/trades/HCs and pretend that everything that came afterwords was another reality.

  7. Brand New Day, the DD version?

  8. Or maybe Daredevil Forever by Brubaker and Lark in about 10 years...