It is a little bit like I have come full circle with my reviews as I want to do a more or less regular reviews of the books I choose to comment on for the week. I hope that in my attempts to attack the format of my reviews I have deconstructed them and now hope to that I can remember my own lessons as I rebuild the reviews. The big issue is to try and find the right words to convey what I like or dislike. If I find I like something it has to be for a reason and it is my role to express that reason. Second when I dislike something I have to find a way to explain my feeling in the hopes that if any creator ever reads the post that can walk away with a criticism that has a logic basis to it. Therefore they can agree and try to change or disagree, but at least respect why I feel a certain way. Of course I will often switch up my formats depending on the book as some books lend themselves to certain types of reviews.
I enjoyed Batman and Robin #22, by Peter Tomasi (writer), Patrick Gleason (pencils), Mick Gray (inks) and Alex Sinclair (colors). At the same time my joy in reading this issue is tempered by the fact that they are off this book for the next arc as Judd Winick comes in do more on Jason Todd. This series is consistently losing momentum as we no longer have a consistent creative team. Even worse this arc was a follow up after some of the Grant Morrison issues slipped on their publishing schedules. This issue the White Knight is defeated. We find out that he was traumatized as child when his father was killed by Hugo Strange during an Arkham Asylum riot. The White Knight decided that all of the inmates and their families should pay. In Peter’s first arc he establishes a new rogue and makes it Dick’s enemy. The interchange between Dick and Damian continues to show growth in both characters. Gleason and Gray’s work just absolutely shines in this issue. Gleason’s page design is great and Gray and Sinclair make it one of the best looking cape and cowl books on the shelves. Sales of regular comics are struggling at this point and certainly $4 a gallon gas is not helping but neither does a shifting creative team. For someone like me it is not a big of a deal, but for someone with a tighter budget, when they drop something off their list they may not be coming back.
Perhaps the strongest book this week was Punishermax #12 by Jason Aaron (writer), Steve Dillon (art) and Matt Hollingsworth (color). This book went from being one I was going to drop to one that I can’t wait to see the next issue. The series was flawed with Dillon still drawing Frank as almost a younger man and Jason doing some over the top shock value things, but once they got back from the hiatus Jason’s overall story is shining through and the art is spot on. Jason is giving us a further examination of what Frank is all about. Essentially Frank was so changed by Viet Nam that he no longer fit into the real world. Which leads us to the conclusion that Frank might have been able to save his family or at the very least having his family killed gave Frank the excuse to going back to what he does best, kill people. It gives us a more chilling look at the Punisher and while we can still root for the fact that he kills the bad guys, we have to wonder if we run out of bad guys what will Frank do next? The Max Punisher is a much darker character then the MU version, although the lines will blur at times, and Jason is building on Garth’s portrayal and giving it a deeper and more personal touch. As with Scalped the characters are all well defined and their motivations are more complex and less black and white.
A few quick notes on Amazing Spider-Man #658, it read more like a Saturday morning cartoon version of the character. It was half a step away from being purely silly and interrupted the current storyline, while being written by the same writer. We had just gotten into what it means for Spider-Man to lose his Spider sense and this issue we give into following his adventures now that he is a member of the Fantastic Four. Plus Slott fell back way too much on Peter as class clown and not the thinking and daring hero Slott had been portraying. This was a real disappointment for me as I have just recently gotten back into reading ASM.
Hellboy Buster Oakley Get His Wish by Mike Mignola (writer) and Kevin Nowlan (art) was a lot of fun. Hellboy has such a long span of time to explore that these one shots are a great way to do some one and done stories that showcase artwork from creators who would not have the time to do even a mini-series. Kevin Nowlan kills on this story of witches, warlocks, aliens, anal probes and stealing of cows. If it sounds insane, well that is only because it is insane. Buster Oakley is a teen-ager trying to summon demons and succeeds in being captured and changed by aliens into…well you need to read the issue. Even if you not a regular Hellboy fan, this issue was just a great one and done issue that anyone could enjoy.
I have mixed felling on Thunder Agents #6 by Nick Spencer (writer) and Cafu (artist). First off I love the characters and this has been an interesting take on the characters. One problem is that too often the story telling style has been less then direct. Nick has some good ideas and indirect story telling can be a valid way of telling a story, but it has to work. Nick strays too close to writing the next episode of the TV series Lost which only works for so long. The art by Cafu is well done and he has some fluidity and a realistic bent that I like. The book itself certainly flows well. Where this issue fell down is why Colleen is covering for Toby and no explanation is given in this issue. Even worse is since Nick Spencer is now exclusive with Marvel I’m guessing his scripts run out soon on this book and I hope the next writer can keep up the my interest level on the title.
The last book I want to discuss this week is Unwritten #24 by Mike Carey (writer), Peter Gross (layouts) and Al Davison (finishes). Since I feel off this title, I have no idea where the hell all these funny animals come from and no clue who Pauly the Rabbit is. I can only guess that Pauly was someone who got messed up by Tom Taylor and found himself stuck in this odd stairway of funny animals. At the end when Pauly has a hat pull a rabbit in it, I was still lost of to what all of this meant to the larger series. With all of that as a preamble, you may believe I thought the book was a waste of my time, but I enjoyed this issue. The interchange between Pauly and the other animals was amusing in a harsh sense of humor way. The artwork was well done, able to make the animals cute at times and then make them dark when the story called for it. The narrative flow of the book was great and the page design made this issue an easy read. Unwritten is a series that has succeeded in drawing me back in even without me understanding all of the ins and outs of the overall story.
That wraps up another week. All in all I thought it was only an okay week. In other weeks one or two of the above may not have even made the cut for me to even comment on, but not a bad week.