Monday, September 24, 2012

The Week of September 19 in Review

This week I decided to read a stack of books at a time and then to write down my reviews of each book. I continued to believe that one day I can find a consistent approach on how to do the week in review, yet I have never truly found one.

Out of what I read so far the surprise of the week is Sword of Sorcery #0. It has two stories in it and I was prepared to read it and drop the book immediately. Why I was ready to drop it before reading it comes down to first the almost cartoon like cover and second the lead character is Amethyst. I’m not sure if I have ever read much about the character before but the Princess of Gemworld did not sound like something in my wheel house. Well Christy Marks and Aaron Lopresti changed that in one issue. The story is about a young girl who is turning seventeen. She has been promised by her mother that she gets to finally go home. Only she finds out home is Gemworld and everything she knew has been changed in a second. It was a great set-up that now puts Amy and her Mom in the middle of a war with Amy’s Aunt for the control of Gemworld. Amy has no clue about what is going on as her mother never did anything but train her how to fight. The second feature was Beowulf, having just read the poem a little while ago and then reading the Beowulf series from many years again I was less than thrilled with the prospect of a Beowulf story. Again Tony Bedard and Jesus Saiz surprised me with a pretty faithful adaptation of the story in some ways and yet setting it in a post apocalyptic future. Two for two with this book and I’m signed up for the series.

Fables #121 by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham brought the over long “Cubs in Toyland” to its conclusion. It was a bitter sweet story about Therese finally making her way home, the death of Dare and the shocking little twist that Therese is grown older as time passes differently in Toyland. In hindsight I think it was a good story, but as a monthly comic it was way too long. Still I continue to love Fables.

Before Watchmen Nite Owl #3 (of 4) was a solid issue. J. Michael Straczynski and Andy Kubert delivered a good story that is also about Rorschach. We are seeing both characters got drawn into situations that are over their heads.  The bittersweet side of this book is that this issue is inked by Joe Kubert and Bill Sienkiewicz. I hate that Joe died and it is a real shame that he did not get to finish this project with his son. Kudos to Bill Sienkiewicz who did a fantastic effort on keeping a consistent style to the inking, I often could not tell where it was Bill versus Joe. It was a tribute to Joe and pretty cool of Bill to make that work.

Nightwing #0 was okay, but I’m tired of the constant retro-conning of the DCU. I know it was all changed after Flashpoint, but you can feel that the plan was not a well thought out plan and that they are changing stuff on the fly. Hell I read where Teen Titans has been changed already in the reprint to pretend that things said in issue #1 were never said. DC makes it hard to follow the books when even as you become vested in the new DCU. It is like quicksand under you feet. I will continue to enjoy the books that stay on their own island the most.

Walking Dead #102 was another fine issue by Robert Kirkman and Charles Adlard. I love how Rick set everyone’s expectations one way and then on the last page it all changes. It is a trick Kirkman has used time and time again, but it was still effective as hell.

Another surprise for me this week was Batwoman #0 by W. Haden Blackman and JH Williams III (co-writer and artist). It was a very talky book as we read Kate’s letter to her Dad giving us her entire history. What was so surprising is that it was well done. It gave a lot of insight into the character and has held me on a book I was ready to drop.

Legion of Super Heroes #0 by Paul Levitz and Scott Kolins was just okay. I love the LOSH so much that just having a taste of the group is enough for me to give the book another try out. I helped my daughter build an almost complete collection of the LOSH (counting the Archives) and I expect to re-read the entire saga again, including the much maligned Keith Giffen as writer era. Still this current incarnation is not cutting it for me. I used to think it was Levitz’s writing was off or my tastes had changed, but I love his World’s Finest book so that isn’t it. This secret shame of Brainiac 5 was poorly done. We find out that he released a danger on his own planet, but there was no rationale for why he did it.

Wonder Woman #0 by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang was just another fantastic issue in one of my favorite DC series. It is amazing to me to think that I barely read any Superman books from DC, but look forward to Wonder Woman. Instead of an origin story, the creators did a flashback that aped the old fifties and sixties style stories giving us a glimpse of a young Diana. I loved that the story originally appeared in “All-Girl Adventure Tales for Men #41”. That title is hilarious. The story itself is about Diana making choices of who she will be and learning what is right and wrong. Another great issue in what has been the best super hero revamp to come out of the new DCU.

Justice League #0 by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank bring us the origin of the new Captain Marvel. It is interesting to give us a Billy Batson who has a good heart, but has been warped by the world into learning to take what you can get whenever you can get it. Frank’s artwork is stellar and certainly carries the story. I have turned so hard on Johns lately that I’m hesitant to say that I like anything he does, but this was interesting. The problem is he still looks like the big red cheese and what they do to get rid of that image and move this character into the modern day will be interesting to watch. I was not a fan of Batman Earth-1 and the crap changes done to the Batman story there, but the Billy Batson stuff is a good opening. This story is also mixing together with a bunch of other stuff I see running in the DCU.

Daredevil #18 by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee was excellent. Waid appears to have found a great groove with this character. He tossed off the ever present yoke of darkness that Frank Miller had stamped on the book and moved the narrative in a different direction. Now he is free to explore some darker themes and not be just being doing a remake of the Miller era. This issue Milla his ex-wife who is in an insane asylum, shows up at his apartment. Unfortunately she is still in the insane asylum. Who is driving Matt crazy or is Matt just losing control? Slowly this is becoming a seminal type run on a character akin to what Mark did with Wally West. Mark has continued to be a top notch creator for decades now, just a talent that can’t be denied.

Birds of Prey #0 by Duane Swierczynski & Romano Molenarr was enjoyable. As the new DCU starts to explore the history of this universe I find that it is easy to get into this version of the characters. I guess I need to know the characters before I invest in them. Here we see Black Canary get her name as she is now a freelance operative trying to stop Basiliski (some meta bad guy group). The Team 7 history plays heavily into the arc, we learn Starling is not BC’s friend and all in all, the book just got 10 times more interesting to me.

Revival #3 by Tim Seeley and Mike Norton is on the edge for me. I like the concept of the dead coming back to life in small town America. I’m enjoying the two sisters, one a cop and one a reviver, but often the characters look too much alike and the month long gap makes it difficult for me to remember all the various plot elements being thrown around. I’m guessing this book will read better as a trade.

Ghost #0 by Kelly Sue Deconnick and the very busy Phil Noto was a nice opening as it is collecting the Dark Horse Presents stuff and setting up the new mini-series. I enjoyed the mystery of Ghost at this point. We don’t know who she is, what she is or why this machine which caused her to appear is so valuable. I also like that the two buddies who have been thrown into this mystery are down on their luck types who are now pulled into a mystery that is way over their heads. One minor problem was when two guys attacked them Ghost ripped out the heart of one guy and the second guy was never mentioned again. We can assume he ran off, but it took me out of the story for a couple of pages. Bottom line is I’m signed up for this mini-series.

Dark Avengers #181 by Jeff Parker and Neil Edwards was okay, but my god will this story every end.! I thought it was coming to a conclusion, but it is not. This type of characters does not need a magnum opus.

Cobra #17 by Mike Costa and Werther Dell’Edera was a very good issue as we got the origin and Major Bludd. The way he lost his eye was very personal. I always wish the art had more to it, but it is a top notch series.

Godzilla Half Century War #2 (of 5) by James Stokoe is brilliant. It is over the top monster madness and fun. The fight scene between Godzilla and some giant armadillo type monster was great. Stokoe is making the story fun, action packed and giving up a plot to surround the entire package. Fun, fun, fun!

Hellblazer #295 by Peter Milligan and Giuseppe Camuncoli rolls on. The Milligan run has been a great one. John and his wife are a great team and the story of John tracking down his nephew has been well done. Some books fly under the radar and Hellblazer is one of those books. The series is about to hit 300 issues and it has to be considered the foundation of the Vertigo line.

Lobster Johnson Caput Mortuum by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi and Tonci Zonjic was great. The Lobster Johnson series continues to grow on me and I appreciate a nice one and done adventure. The art by Zonjic is perfect for this book.

The last book for this week is The Shadow #5 by Garth Ennis and Aaron Campbell. It is bloody, violent and all things that this type of character can evoke. I’m enjoying this first arc and hope that the next creative team can keep up the quality. It is funny as this is set pre-WWII as is Lobster Johnson, a little bit of a time warp to end the week.

That puts a wrap on this week. I was pushed for time and only had around 20 books to try and review. I can guarantee that next week I will not even try to judge everything as I will not have it all read within the time a have.

I call this the week in review, but basically give my thoughts and impressions of each book. If I was to rate the week itself, it would get a B. A few surprises, a few very good books, a lot of good books, nothing earth shattering, but the bang for the buck was there.


  1. I'm curious to see how Revival ends. Mostly because I just ordered the trade.

    It's hard to write for both monthly and trade editions. Sounds like the monthly is suffering because of it in this case.

  2. And... if the cover is any indication, I will not happy with the new Amethyst. My problem is I have girls who have read, and loved the original series.

    This appears to have removed all the elements that would appeal to younger girls and amped it up for teenage boys.

    Maybe it's good for teenage girls too... but my girls aren't there yet.

  3. Hard to say if your girls would like it, I think so as it is still very girl centric.

    Revivial will be fine as a trade, the monthly think is a problem for me because I follow so many series.

  4. Forget Daredevil. Mark has a great take on Foggy Nelson! He finally grew a backbone. I totally agree with your thoughts on both DD and Godzilla Half-Century.