Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Week of January 5 in Review

The first week of a new year and it is artificial starting point in some ways and a new beginning that is real in other ways. A celebration that the earth made it around the sun one more time and all the passengers made it through another cycle. One of the things that jumped out at me was DC setting a firm bar that comics will be $3 with two less pages, but adding a letters page. As the average cost per comic was creeping up to $3.75 from my best guesstimate of my personal purchases I have to say this made me a happier camper. Also the return of the letters page is a great thing. Indies and Marvel have been doing letter pages for awhile and I’m glad to see DC join in. The reason why I love the letters page is because it is a sense of community for the individual title. My real world job has been busy as heck and my home life has lots of stuff going on and I have other interests besides comics. What this all means is that I do not have the time to read all the great interviews and articles on various websites about what is going on in all the comics. Oh I try and scan the headlines and skim read a few articles but I may miss some news about my favorite book. Or perhaps my favorite book does not garner enough interest for the “news” sites to cover it, so a letters page lets me into the community of that comic. With the advent of the internet the letters page died as it had to learn how to readjust to today and now we often get to have conversations on the letters page about the last issue with a creator or editor about the book I’m reading. I can be lazy and just enjoy being part of that community without hoping to run into an article about the book. Hopefully the page will explain why lateness may have hit the title, why 14 artists had to ink it, or answer a question that I wanted to know. It is a little thing, but I have to say I like the return of the letters page and the line DC has drawn to start 2011. Now just deliver a great book, because that is what it is truly about.

Sweet Tooth #17 – Writer/Artist Jeff Lemire

What I Liked – Jeff is a great story teller. By that I mean he knows how to lay out all the pieces of a story and then tell us the story. He is not wrapped up in gimmicks, he tells us a story. This issue we learn who Sheppard’s child is and what Sheppard has to decide to try and save Gus. It also brings to a conclusion Gus’ imprisonment and sets up the next arc in this story. I love where this book is going and feel like we have hit the quarter post for this story. I hope Lemire has a clear end in mind and I believe that he does.

What I Didn’t Like – Nothing, it was another solid entry in what is the strongest line in comics – Vertigo.

Walking Dead #80 – Writer Robert Kirkman, Art Charles Adlard

What I Liked – The sense of menace and ultimate doom building around the enclave. The citizens inside may not feel it, but having read this series for 80 issues I can see what is coming and it is a scary feeling. The town is surrounded by walls but the amount of Zombies shambling their way to the town will probably be unbelievable. It will be a challenge for the group to maintain against the undead hoard. I find I’m looking forward to the challenges that are obviously ahead. I also love the bit with Carl and Ron, the son of the man Rick killed. It was chilling when Ron says “Your Dad killed my Dad” and Carl replies “So. My Dad’s killed a lot of people and so have I.” Great stuff and just shows incredible depth of character into what Carl has become. The ending with Ron’s Mom trying to climb into Rick’s bed does not bode well for things.

What I Didn’t Like – Nada, another excellent comic this week.

Thanos Imperative : Devastation (One Shot) – Writer Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, Art Miguel Sepulveda

What I Liked – I was worried the cosmic side of Marvel was no longer going to get any attention and this book quelled those fears. It appears instead of multiple series we will get about one book a month. This book was a great bridge to take us from Guardians of the Galaxy to the Annihilators. Cosmo the dog is fulfilling Peter Quill’s last wish to pull together a true team of heavy hitters to defend the Galaxy when needed. Cosmo gets Quasar, Silver Surfer, Beta Ray Bill, Gladiator and Ronan to join in the group. This issue leads into a four issue mini-series where the Annihilators face off against the Dire Wraiths and we will get the adventures of Rocket Raccoon and Groot to boot. Plus a Space Knight shows up, could a Rom series reprint be far behind?

What I Didn’t Like – Three for three, another good book this week.

Echo #27 – Writer/ Artist Terry Moore

What I Liked – Annie finally reveals herself to Dillon. The feelings they share for each other feels very real and it was nice to see them have a reunion of sorts. At the other end of the spectrum I’m worried about whether Julie makes it out alive from this adventure as she was a true innocent in the whole scenario. I can only hope that she does. It is hard to believe this book is coming to a conclusion in just three issues as it feels like there are tons of unresolved questions that need to be wrapped up. Perhaps issue #30 ends the story of stopping the collider and a book two will cover other stuff that is still open. I have also mention to how effective the assassination was this issue, cold and calculated. It is surprising how much passion Moore puts into all of his characters and I’m almost always shocked when he has characters killed so brutally. On one hand we have the heartfelt moments and on the next the cold blooded killer. That is what makes this series a gem.

What I Didn’t Like – Are you kidding nothing, so far this week this category is not needed.

Doom Patrol #18 – Writer Keith Giffen, Pencils Matt Clark and Ron Randall, Inks John Livesay

What I Liked – How fast this adventure wrapped up. We had a great battle between the Doom Patrol and the Aristocrats as the DP saved President Cale. The overall bizarre nature of the book remained firmly in place but the story is giving what length it needed and is not being written to fit a perfect trade format.

What I Didn’t Like – I’m not sure I ever quite got who and what the Aristocrats truly were, but I’m not sure it matters and I have a feeling the DP will see them again.

Steel : (One Shot) Reign of Doomsday Part 1 – Writer Steve Lyons, Art Ed Benes

What I Liked – We got a book about Steel again. I was never a big fan initially of this character, but I have grown to like him. It was an interesting opening gambit in making Doomsday into something new and creating a major league menace of him again.

What I Didn’t Like – Oh you knew it could last forever and the mild dislike for one element in DP was just a warm up. First off why give us a one shot of Steel with the cliché ending showing the character to be dead. Okay Doomsday carriers him off at the end so it was not a definitive thing, but the hammer flying with part of his cape was an inference. Second the book tried to do too much; it was trying to be a reintroduction of the character and crafting the beginning of a mysterious menace of what Doomsday has evolved into. Also it used the annoying (almost standard) story telling device of starting at the end and then jumping around in time. I mean we jumped from the end to the beginning of Steel’s career to fifteen minutes ago and round and round. COULD SOMEONE WRITE A BOOK WITHOUT DOING THE TIME JUMP CRAP ON OCCASION! Finally a one shot should not just be a prelude to a story in another series. If this is part of Outsiders make it an issue of Outsiders. It is unfair to the fans of Outsiders that events impacting that title are in a one shot they may not care about.

Starman/Congorilla #1 – Writer James Robinson, Pencils Brett Booth, Inks Norm Rapmund

What I Liked – Decent art by Booth and Rapmund and it included Congorilla and Rex the Wonder Dog. Hard for me to totally hate a book with Congorilla and Rex, love the bizarre “Z” list characters of the DCU.

What I Didn’t Like – Is this the same James Robinson who wrote Starman? I picked up Starman Omnibus #1 and flipped through it and realized it is the same writer, my taste and appreciation of the art form has changed. What Robinson did back then was decent, but not as good as I remembered and Starman was severely overwritten. What it had then was it was different from what we were reading at the time. It was an exposition book with pictures. So Robinson has just not adjusted to the times, except to do the annoying time jump crap which was not needed for this story. The book is overwritten and told in a manner that was not needed for the story. Time jumps and other story telling devices are tools that should be dictated by the story being told, not as an overused device to start every story. It should have been done in a linear format with less text and it could have worked.

iZombie #9 – Writer Chris Roberson, Art Mike Allred

What I Liked – Gwen’s date with Horatio was a blast. The entire dynamic between the two is fascinating as we are anticipating the scene down the road when he realizes one day she is a Zombie. The entire foundation for this book is great and we have a lot of moving parts in play now. Allred’s quirky, yet somewhat realistic style is a perfect fit for this series.

What I Didn’t Like – We have a large cast of characters and some plots need to be brought to a resolution point and the series needs to try and keep its net a little tighter. I’m worried this book will go off the rails because Chris has so many stories he is trying to tell all at once. It is a fun series but needs a tighter focus.

That is a wrap for this week. While I didn’t review a lot of books, what I did hit I enjoyed for the most part. What I find interesting is that as I play at being an editor after the fact that most stories and comics have many of the elements needed to be very good or great books, but the effort either on the writer or editor seems to be missing at times. In a production environment it is hard to hit a home run every time and deadlines lead to short cuts, but still a tweak here and there on some books and it all works out better.


  1. Disagree with your dislike of Starman/Congorilla. Yes it was bad.

    The difference is that in Robinson's original Starman series he narration served to show that Jack Knight's thought process as a hero was all over the place. He'd be fighting a villain and thinking about something or another he'd rather be doing. It was quaint. Even when it was not Jack narrating and just quirky narration for the city of Opal it worked because it was fun and almost whimsical.

    Starman/Congorilla fails because 1) It's a horrible jump on point for people that didn't read their previous exploits. And 2) nothing in the issue connects you to either character. I could handle being a bit lost in the narrative if I CARED AT ALL.

    The single Starman issue featuring The Shade last Feb. was awesome. Supposedly Robinson is doing a Shade mini.

    If you read his Golden Age mini-series (awesome JSA stuff. Seriously.), his original Starman, and countless other books they succeed because he makes the characters real, flawed, and easy to relate to on a human level.

    His current JLA work and this one shot fails because he is trying to right lighthearted, fun superhero stories. Not everything has to be dark, I agree, but you still have to connect the characters to the readers. The Shade in that Starman one-shot did it. This one does not. He came close in his Mon-El Action Comics run but did not quite make it.

    He's going to be doing a Hawkman series soon. I'm hoping he makes it back with that one.

  2. Shawn - Maybe I was a little harsh in my critique of Starman and on a true re-read maybe it will hold up but it still looks like it is over written as is Starman/Congorilla. Golden Age was great, but he needs a current book that hits it out of the park for me to consider Robinson as a writer I want to follow again.