Monday, October 08, 2012

The Week of October 3 in Review

This week has to be considered a great week because the Orioles made the playoffs and won the wild card game. It is a tough damn thing that MLB added this year to start the playoff round with a one and done for four teams. Oh wait this is suppose to be about comics…..

The week in comics was not as good. I would give the week a B. There were way too many okay books and books that were entertaining and only a few “A” list type books. To be fair I have left five books to be read that are not included.

I think it we should take it category by category.

The top books for me were Detective Comics #13, Before Watchmen Rorschach #2, Fatale #8 and Animal Man #13.

Detective Comics #13 by John Layman and Jason Fabok was the best book of the week. I was anticipating John’s work on this book and had high hopes going in. The cover featuring the Penguin made me pause as I’m not a Penguin fan, but John delivered and made the book great. Jason Fabok’s artwork was well done and the book was not only highly entertaining but a good looking book as well. The backup story by Layman and artist Andy Clark was also a nice end piece. John has set the Penguin up as a man looking to recapture the glory that his family had in building Gotham. The Wayne family is his nature enemy. This is all building off the rich back story and history Scott Snyder has built for Batman. There is a part of me that dislikes all of this added history, there is another part that says since DC has taken all the legacy of most characters away, so it is nice to have one character with a significant back story. Layman has proven himself to be a great writer from Chew, to a great Godzilla mini-series and to Mars Attacks. John laces his stories with humor and fun. He keeps the humor contextually correct for the book and in this Batman story he lays out the plot by Penguin to kill Bruce Wayne. The story has Bruce, Batman, Alfred and Nightwing are involved in the story. It also has all the fighting and high tech gadgets you could want, opens up a great story arc and sets up a dangerous situation that the hero will have to overcome in the next issue or two. It is all done without being too dense and the book is easily the best of the week. Layman has become a great writer and I see his star rising fast at DC. I just hope he does not take on too much work and is able to keep everything he does at such a high level.

The other three books all had different things going for them. Fatale #8 by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillps keeps getting better and better. I swear Sean Phillips gets better as an artist all the time. From Sleeper, to Criminal, to Incognito to Fatale his work impresses me all the time. Each time I think he has gotten to be the best he can be, it ticks up a notch or maybe I just appreciated his work all the more. The story itself becomes better as we get deeper into the story. The story of Nick and Jo is becoming more interwoven. The richness of both the noir and horror angles gets better as each chapter resonates with the chapters before. I can’t remember if Ed has said it, but I have to assume this story may take 60 or more issues, but it has to have an endpoint. One gripe I have had with Ed is that his super hero work would drag at times and appear overlong and drawn out. In this type of story that same type of story telling works perfectly. Next up is Before Watchmen Rorschach #2 (of 4) by Azzarello and Bermejo. The book just hits the right notes about a character who is obsessed, crazed, horribly violent and yet sympathetic and tragic. Animal Man #13 by Lemire, Pugh and Green II finally got the story started. It was way too long in coming, but now I’m very interested in what is going on. The story has Animal Man being thrown a year into the future and the Rot has won the war.

The second group of books were all entertaining but just did not quite hit the “A” level for various reasons. Uncanny X-Force #32 is a middle chapter and for me Phil Noto’s style was incompatible with the story. Age of Apocalypse #8 saved the book from cancellation as the ending was a great twist. This book is more of a careful read as I’m still learning the characters and the art is often tough to follow as it is so darkly colored. Non-Human #1 almost lost me in the first few pages as it was jumping right into the character without any set up; by the end of the book I was sold. Glen (Jersey Gods) Brunswick and Whilce Portacio have given us a new Blade Runner type setting that is very cool. It has toys coming to life and we are in the year 2041. Fariest #8 is Rapunzel’s story and set before the beginning of the Fables series. All set up, but makes you want to come back next issue. Sweet Tooth #38 maybe should be in the top category as Jeff Lemire’s story comes to a close, I think I’m just disappointed the story is ending so soon. Avengers vs X-Men #6 (of 6) (the fight book) was actually well done and had some very funny one page type things in it. Almost a jam book where everyone just had fun with what they are doing. Finally Swamp Thing #13 was the green side of the Rotworld story and was a good opening and also actually started the story that has been hinted at for over a year. It was just not as good as the Animal Man opening.

The bottom group was either an opening chapter that was too much set up and not enough story (Amazing Spider-Man #695 and Green Lantern #13), a middle chapter of a story that was confusing or too soft (Danger Club #4 and Earth 2 #5) or a place marker trying to be a nice one and done and missed (Action Comics #13 and World’s Finest #5) . There is also a special circle of hell for books like Avengers vs X-Men #12 (of 12), but I talked about that book enough on Friday.

After Beating The Rangers Oct 5, 2012
The books I have failed to read yet are not judged, just timing becomes a problem with a large list and writing this post on Saturday as we have football Sunday (go Ravens) and surprisingly we have postseason baseball (GO ORIOLES). I loved the Orioles for years and that love had been dashed into ruins over the last 14 years. Now, since Buck, hope for a renewed love had lit a spark and this season has turned it into a flame. Yeah, yeah, too flowery or sappy, but damn it is nice to root for them again. Oh the books I have yet to read Thief of Thieves #9, Guardians of the Globe #2, Harvest #3, Dial H #5 and Planet of the Apes Cataclysm #2.

This format work out well in that I managed to at least mention almost every book and kept the post to a more reasonable size, we may try this again next week.

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