Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Week of Dec 8 in Review

The five week month inevitably brings about some lighter weeks and often brings out a week where it appears on the surface we have nothing that is going to be a sure fire great book. Going in this week looks to be one of those weeks. Not that the books are bad, just nothing to get super jazzed about. Although I did order direct from IDW the Rip Kirby Volume One book and skimming that hard cover made me want to drop everything else and read it. It is a collection of Alex Raymond’s comic strip Rip Kirby and it is a great looking book and has wonderful reproduction. Alex Raymond was a photo realist who did brilliant work, a shame he died so young. Anyway onto the reviews, I will be sticking with the same format, but want to elaborate more on the likes and dislikes. At least by breaking it up this way people can focus on what books they want to hear my views on and skip other stiff.

Echo #26 – Story and Art Terry Moore

What I Liked – This series is an incredible book. I love it. Plain and simple Terry is writing a brilliant science fiction novel, but at the same time giving us characters that are so real I feel for them as the story unfolds. We are moving towards the final act as I believe the series ends on issue #30. This issue was a quiet one but made me feel sorry for Julie Martin as Annie Trotter is becoming ascendant as the suit and Annie takes over. Ivy is still her hard edged self, but now stuck in a teen-age body. I welcome each new issue and just enjoy the ride. At this point I can’t wait for a high end hard cover presentation of this series. I also hope that the series gets to the movies one day, although it was optioned who knows if it ever gets made.

What I Didn’t Like – Zilch, a true seminal work for a terrific creator.

Incredible Hulks #618 – Writer Greg Pak, Pencils Paul Pelletier, Inks Danny Miki – Hulk Story, Art Yacine Elghorri A-Bomb Story

What I Liked – I was severely disappointed when I saw the “ChaosWar” banner. I had avoided that event and was just getting back into this book. I was set to read this book in one fast skim read and check out Paul’s art when I slowed down and read it and was pleasantly surprised. Greg managed to keep up the continuity of the series and make this Chaos War cross-over painless for someone who is not getting the event. I don’t know if people buying the Chaos War are getting their full due, but it worked for me and did not take me out of the book. The A-Bomb back up gave us a nice history on Rick and explained how he became the A-Bomb and what his powers are, which helped me out as I just got back into this book. The art on both halves looked great.

What I Don’t Like – The Chaos War is still an interruption in a title that is just getting its bearings. Greg made it work, but the story and character building would have been better without the interruption.

BPRD Hell on Earth #5 (of 5) – Writers Mike Mignola and John Arcudi, Art guy Davis

What I Liked – This was one of the more straight forward stories arcs that I have seen in a long time. It was very clear what happened and the cast was narrowed down to Abe and Ben. I’m enjoying how Abe is almost a rogue agent at this point and is keeping things close to the vest and keeping lots of secrets from the organization. Nice to see Ben back and I hope we see him again in the future. He is a very interesting character and one I would like to see in a mini-series. Guy Davis does his usual top notch job telling a story. I think his work is underappreciated by the comic public at large because he does so much of the Mignolaverse work, but he is excellent in telling a story and making each page flow.

What I Don’t Like – The overall plot has always been a mystery to me at times. What is the BPRD doing? Is the fabric of reality breaking down and the group is fighting the symptoms and not the cause? The War of Frogs had an odd ending for me and I’m hoping the hard cover collections will pull it all together. It is such a rich history to this series, but I believe new readers could jump in at this arc or probably even the next as it feels more accessible then it did during the War on Frogs.

Hellblazer: City of Demons # 5 (of 5) – Writer Si Spencer, Art Sean Murphy

What I Liked – This was a good story about John Constantine. I’m not sure why it got published this way as opposed to being in John’s regular book. Maybe Peter Milligan is on Hellblazer for a really long run and this was too good to leave sitting in a desk drawer any longer. I liked the ending as it was especially brief and brutal the way John disposed of the two bad guys and then it did a good job and continuing the story and leaving me wondering what was going to happen next before drawing to its final conclusion. Two good climaxes in one issue and done with a nice flair. Sean Murphy’s artwork is great as his layouts, action sequences and expressions are all spot on.

What I Didn’t Like – Sean draws John’s nose way too big and triangular. It was often so jutting out there so much it made me noticed John’s nose first and the actual art second. Otherwise Sean’s work is something I hope will continue to be a staple in Vertigo books.

Halcyon #2 – Writer Marc Guggenheim & Tara Butters, Art Ryan Bodenheim

What I Liked – The art on this book is very well done. I’m learning a new cast of characters and already I’m started to be able to tell them apart. The panel to panel flow is also well done and it is a very easy book to read. In two issues I’m already getting to feel like I know at least half the group.

What I Didn’t Like – The lack of backgrounds in the art. While the artist does good work, outside the actual characters the backgrounds are sometimes very sparse. To be fair many scenes in this book did not need a lot of detail. The pace of the story is too slow. The first issue hooked me and this issue I felt like the hook was coming off my mouth and I might escape. I guess in for a penny in for a pound but I thought more than the group decided to retire needed to occur. It was a quite issue and I think issue #2 was too early for a quite issue.

Justice League Generation Lost #15 – Writer Judd Winick, Pencils Joe Bennett, Inks Jade Jadson & Ruy Jose

What I Liked – These old JLI characters are just ones that I love and I’m enjoying that we are getting a new generation with Blue Beetle and Rocket Red. Judd is telling a story that in spite of my misgivings on the concept, I’m enjoying. I love seeing Fire and Ice back together, Ice getting a retro-con and power upgrade, Booster manning up and more. I’m assuming Max can’t find Wonder Woman is due to what is going on in her book where her timeline has gone down some alternative timeline rabbit hole. It is interesting if that is the reason as I had no idea her new continuity was impacting her in the rest of the DCU. The last four pages were excellent art work and what I expect from Joe Bennett.

What I Didn’t Like – The story is still being dragged out way too long. I can’t help but feel that we needed to have some endings along the way and I don’t feel like we have gotten any. The art is at times way too generic and I’m confused as I have seen better work from Joe Bennett before (in this book). Maybe the schedule is too tight for him or something, but for the most part the art is super hero generic which is never a good thing.

Flash #7 – Writer Geoff Johns, Art Scott Kolins

What I Liked – The story read well and the art told the story.

What I Didn’t Like – The Barry Allen Flash is just getting re-established with just one arc so far. Yet, now we are already doing a full blown issue on Captain Boomerang. I know Johns is the all powerful Wizard of Oz at DC now days, but come on the pacing on this series is atrocious. I know Barry works back in a crime lab and Iris is his young again wife, but otherwise I have nothing. I barely know any supporting cast and we have barely gotten into Barry’s solving of cold cases. We switch over and get a history lesson on Captain Boomerang; almost the entire issue is devoted to him and not a word about his son, who was a cool update of the character. Boomerang frees the Reverse Flash for some lame reasons and that allows the Reverse Flash to take off and we will ramp up to a Flash event. Jumping head long into an event doesn’t give the Flash book a chance to develop at all. Onto the art side of the book, Scott Kolins is a fine artist and knows how to tell a story, but he is experimenting with his style and I’m a little tired of paying for him to relearn his craft. At times the work looks fine, other times it feels stilted and a little amateurish. I like that Kolins is playing but I don’t want to pay for why he learns to get it right.

Fables #100 – Writer Bill Willingham, Pencils Mark Buckingham, Inks Steve Leialoha and Andrew Pepoy

What I Liked – I loved this issue. It is a beautiful anniversary issue celebrating everything Fables is and should be in the future. We got the big battle between Bellflower and Mr. Dark, endings of a sort, unhappy and happy endings, a new status quo that was an awesome twist, but perfectly within the context of what was set up. Willingham and Buckingham are so in synch that the book, when at its best, just flows like a river. The series is telling stories that are worthy of being called a Fable in its own right. This issue contained lots of extras and was just a perfect celebration issue. Often overlooked because it is consistently a very good book and by now we have just come to expect it. This is a series that will stand the test of time and be enjoyed by generations to come.

What I Didn’t Like – That it didn’t come with 3-D glasses – joking, joking it was perfect the way it was.

Red Robin #18 – Writer Fabian Nicieza, Pencils Marcus To, Inks Ray McCarthy

What I Liked – Tim’s portrayal, even with the recent change in writers, has been very consistent. One of the things that it does for a comic is allow the readers to play along and either figure out what is coming next or at least anticipate how Tim will react to a situation because we know the character. The supporting cast has been well developed and continues to evolve as evidence by MoneySpider. Tam Fox has been developed into an excellent Gal Friday for Tim’s Red Robin. All in all each issue flows and the current arc starting this issue adds Red Star into the mix as Tim is working in Russia for this arc. The art work is decent, it sometimes almost hits generic level, but fights back against it with some great page designs and this issue a nice two page spread. (Side Note: I hope the rise of digital does not do away with two page spreads as their impact in digital is muted with e-readers only able to really give a full page panel the same impact as a printed book.) Month in and month out it is an entertaining series.

What I Didn’t Like – There is a certain je ne sais quoi that keeps this book from reaching the very good to great range. It maybe the art is missing an edge or the stories are not high enough stakes.

Superboy #2 – Writer Jeff Lemire, Art Pier Gallo

What I Liked – The art by Gallo is well done. He has a clean line and a fluid nature to his art. The level of detail is also well done as are his camera angles, expressions and page layouts. I’m not sure how much having a writer/artist helps in the page design or layouts but this book is a very easy read. Jamie Grant on colors never hurts as he is one of the top colorists in comics. His work always enhances a book and never detracts from the book. The story itself is great as we move from the Parasite, to Poison Ivy and her games to setting up a bigger plot at the same time. This book has caught my attention and one I’m already looking forward to on a monthly basis.

What I Didn’t Like – Nada, as an editor if this was the completed job I got to put my name on I would just smile and thank the guys for a job well done.

First Wave #5 (of 6) – Writer Brian Azzarello, Pencils Rags Morales, Inks Rick Bryant

What I Liked – The art. Rags is a wonderful artist who seems to have Alan Davis and Neal Adams mixed together to create a classic yet modern style that just jumps off the page. One day I will have to reach deep into my wallet and buy a page of his work. When Rags is on he is one of the best in the business. The action sequences in this book are great also. Azzarello has us jumping from plot to plot in a non-stop fashion.

What I Didn’t Like – Azzarello’s writing is often very dense. Maybe I’m just not smart enough to get his plots, but this and Doc Savage are interesting comics that I feel need to be read as a trade. In an episodic comic having something that may read great when completed and read as a whole is a failure to the monthly reader. This book is especially painful as a whole new world is being introduced and the publishing schedule has been abysmal. I think Brian has terrific ideas and many of his stories (100 Bullets) have been well done, but he needs to adjust his work to make a story being read in chapters over months stick with the reader better.

Side Note: I read where Morrison says he is challenging the readers or that we just don’t get it, but remember this is an entertainment medium and it is not “dumbing down” if you make each monthly issue readable. Heck, throw in a quick summary at the beginning to refresh a reader’s memory. I’m reading well over 100 books a month, so keeping an intricate plot in my head with gaps of two months or more gets tough.

Thunder Agents #2 – Writer Nick Spencer, Pencils Cafu and Bit Inker on Main Sequence, Art – Chriscross Lightning Sequence.

What I Liked – This book has hit the ground running. It manages to both move the main story forward and at the same time give us an origin story on Lightning. It will be interesting to see how we move forward as these characters are killing themselves while using their powers, so we have to be vested in them, but occasionally one needs to die so a writer can’t invest too much into one. I enjoyed the lesson about the Kenyan running history and how all boils down to one village. It also appears that the group behind the Thunder Agents set-up Lightning to ruin his career so he would accept the job of being Lightning. The whole selection process should be a great story. The art by Cafu and Chriscross was good, especially Cafu. I hope the use of Chriscross for the origin sequence was to give a distinct feel to both halves of the book and not due to Cafu’s inability to hit a monthly deadline.

What I Didn’t Like – The salesman and the field general characters I’m not sure I get. Why is the salesman running around while they are going into a field operation? The background on Thunder is still too undefined. The idea that Lightning is in the field and appears to be using his powers for the first time makes no sense. If this is to be a government organization or whatever, the logic needs to be in place to make things work. Lighting first using his powers at full tilt on a mission reads too much like a super hero dynamic and not like a planned operation no matter how quickly they pulled the team together.

REBELS #23 – Writer Tony Bedard, Pencils Claude St. Aubin, Inks Scott Hanna

What I Liked – The art. Claude’s pencils, layouts, expressions all work very well and if anyone wants to know why art needs an inker see this book. Scott Hanna is one of the top inking pros in the business. Any book that he works on looks sharp and crisp bringing out the pencil art to the best benefit of the artist. The story is great as Bedard has laid out each story and executed each one to nice end points while still giving us plenty of characterization. Seeing Viril Dox outwitted by the Green Lanterns was a nice touch.

What I Didn’t Like – The book was too focused on the Green Lanterns this arc. In fact it read more like a GL Corps story then a Rebels story. I don’t mind mixing in the Corps as it was a part of the story I just want more of the REBELS in a book called the REBELS.

Wow for a light week this column got really long. Still on occasion I like to throw in some books that are just great solid reads on a monthly basis but because I’m not overboard about them or loathe them I often pass on commenting on them.
I just noticed this post hits on my birthday. Wow I'm ...., getting older. I like my father's answer to getting older (he is 91, I'm the fifth of five so I'm not ancient yet) it is better then the alternative.


  1. Happy Birthday Jim!

    What does your wife get for the man who buys everything? A refund on some of his purchases! :)

    Have a great day!

  2. Geezer! Enjoy the day. You may get some snow for it.