Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Best to Worst of Last Week

There were a ton of longer then normal books this week. Most comics are 20 plus pages, but annuals, the two 2 feature books and Secret History were all extra pages. I only mention this because in trying to play cards, watch some football it was a push to get everything read by Sunday night as I ship out books every Monday. Onto this week’s Best to Worst.

Action Comics #858 – I almost had a tear in my eye seeing the original Legion of Super Heroes come back into the limelight. I love Gary Frank’s artwork, but damn if some of his facial expressions weren’t a little off in some ways, occasionally scary. Also the whole way Clark was shown acting and no Lois around was a little confusing. Still even with those flaws it was a compelling story and it was the real Legion, so it wins.
Crime Bible The Five Lessons of Blood #1 (of 5) – Great opening issue and set the entire five issue arc up. The Question is supposed to be, according to the Crime Bible prophecies, one of the bad guys. This issue she learns deceit. This book read really well and the art just flowed perfectly.
Killer #5 & #6 – The first person narrative of a hit man telling his story is just so well done. The story is a film noir story done to almost perfection, but the art has clean lines and lighter coloring.
Death of the New Gods #2 (of 8) – Why this book does not have a big a** Countdown tie-in label on it is beyond me, but thematically it is a direct tie-in to Countdown and definitely building to Final Crisis. Starlin is doing a great job and Matt Banning is doing a bang up job on inks, Starlin as artist/writer has never looked better.
Justice Society of America #10 – This book just really hits home with the theme that this group is more then a group it is family. The startling revelation of another Superman floors the group and they are all trying to determine what is going on as the reader has more insight because we know he came from the Kingdom Come universe. Well written and beautiful art.
Crossing Midnight #12 – Damn, but this series is just so wonderful. This issue ends a story arc as the brother saves the Japanese high school “hookers” and his sister is set-up to unwittingly attack her brother to regain her memories. I can not do this book justice with three to four sentences, but know this is Mike Carey’s best work and you should be reading it.
Batman #670 – The prelude to the return of Ras As Ghul and while it was a little convoluted in how much story they were trying to cover, ultimately it set up the beginning of the story line very well and Tony Daniel did a great job on the art in this book.
Mouse Guard Winter 1152 #2 (of 6) – The characters look like mice and the story feels epic, let very personal. I wish this comic had been around when my children were younger as we would have had a blast reading this comic as a bedtime story.
American Virgin #20 – Shame this is the last arc and I will be lamenting this book being cancelled again and again all the way through till the last issue (#23). Adam got married, but has not consummated the relationship and his mother wants it annulled. Buy the trades and read it, just a superior book.
52 Aftermath The Four Horsemen #3 (of 6) – This book just continues to be a surprising good series. This issue we get the revelation that Snapper Carr works as a Checkmate operative keeping an eye on the super heroes. The whole Four Horsemen story is good, but the character bits are what is making this book a hit.
Countdown to Mystery #2 (of 8) – I know Dr. Fate was supposed to be in his own book, so the two stories are unrelated but as both the Fate and Eclipso material is good, I will not complain. The Dr. Fate story is the best as we really get this feeling that the new Dr. Fate is in way over his head. The Eclipso part of the book is also good and has both the Spectre and a corrupted Plastic Man in it. A very good series to date.
Countdown Lord Havok and The Extremists #1 (of 6) – This book had a great opening showing that this was the Marvel world after the Civil War. The Extremists are a group of freedom fighters / terrorists fighting against the power that run the world. We have moved backwards in time for issue #1, but this book looks very interesting and ends just before Final Crisis begins.
Tales of the Fear Agent 12 Steps in One – Have you ever been down and out and wanted to end it all and you just get drunk and fly out in a rocket ship for a few years. And then you decide to save some space orphans from a corporation eating a sun’s energy. Well if the answer is no then you are not Heath Hudson. Fun as a barrel of space hookers strung out on crack.
Trials of Shazam #9 (of 12) – I thought the artist Howard Porter has really dramatically improved his style and then saw it was a different artist, but the painted coloring was the same. Really want this story to move to its end and to give Freddy a series as the new Shazam. I’m really enjoying them making a new nemesis for Freddy as he earns his powers. This could be the serious version utilizing the Captain Marvel concept that DC has been looking for.
Wasteland #13 – Just when I was ready to can this book and switch to trades because it has so much going on and some many characters that I could no longer follow it, it draws me back in. This issue Abi and Michael escape the city and are heading for the mysterious place and Michael reveals he has been there before. This streamlines the story and allows a focus on the main characters which keeps me on the book.
Iron Man #23 – Butch Guice on art pushed this book up a few places, plus I enjoyed how Tony’s own registration act blew back into his face and how he still does not give a damn and is trying to figure out who is behind the killings.
Dynamo 5 #8 – The best new group book in years and I’m really already vested in the core group. This issue was a nice one and done book, with some additional character building. I have yet to develop a favorite team member, but Scrape might be taking the lead.
Countdown to Adventure #3 (of 8) – This is half 52 following up and half Countdown material. The Starfire, Animal Man and Adam Strange story is well done and entertaining. The Forerunner stuff is also entertaining and giving us background on her changing views and glimpses into the other 52 worlds.
Robin Annual #7 – Two good stories. One focusing on Tim Drake and creating a new rogues “Scary Mary”. The second a small pre-prelude to the Ras As story line focusing on Damian.
Daredevil Annual #1 – Really a launching or pilot episode for the Tarantula, an ex-bad guy searching for redemption. I did enjoy the story and it was obvious DD was a device to tell the Tarantula’s story, but it worked and I would not mind a mini-series about him.
Supergirl and The Legion of Super Heroes #35 – The quest for Cosmic Boy continues as we focus on Atom Girl’s group and the introduction of Wildfire for this Legion. Bedard does not write a bad comic book. I have yet to read a bad issue by Bedard and this book is no exception. This version of the Legion has been well worth following.
Sub-Mariner #5 (of 6) - Not bad, just curious to see if the series has a point to it, like setting a new status quo for Subby. Two things, the covers are all with him in his trunks and the interiors are all in his armor. Second, the artist light boxed an old Byrne panel and did the right thing by saying after Byrne.
Bonds #2 (of 3) – If this book was longer then 3 issues it would be too long, but the overall story has good pacing and an interesting, a little too new age feel, story line.
Anita Blake Vampire Hunter First Death #1 (of 2) – The art was weak, but this back story on Anita Blake has really brought me up to speed on who the character is and has brought me further into her world.
Superman Confidential #8 – Good story recounting Superman’s first encounter with the New Gods. Great moment when Superman faces Darksied and he is swatted away like a fly.
JSA Classified #31 – This arc has gotten progressively better the further we get into the story. The art and story are really working well together as the story of J’onn J’onzz versus the telepathic remnants of his brother continues.
Countdown to Final Crisis #26 – Now I really enjoyed this issue of Countdown. I thought it was an effective summation of what had happened and moved each story incrementally further along. What is also pointed out was how little we have learned about what is really happening. Still a real step up for this book.
Secret History Book Three – A very dense book that ascribes to telling us the reason for various events in history. A good read, but my history is lacking so I’m sure I’m missing some key elements in what is going on with the actual history being portrayed.
X-Men Messiah Complex One Shot – A so-so book and a crappy start to a major event. Silvestri’s art looked really bad, whether it was the colorist or him, it just was not that good. The story was too cute with flashing back and forward, just give us the story and build to the end of the first chapter. Finally 24 pages of story for $3.99, that is just greed,
Annihilation Conquest Quasar #4 (of 4) – The series just fell flat as it progressed. I like the new Quasar, but her lesbian lover turning into a dragon and then finding Adam Warlock as the savior, but he is half loopy just felt blah. Still we shall see how the character fails in the main event.
Jack of Fables #16 – The story about how Jack was the Jack o’ Lantern for awhile. The art was good and I like this book a lot normally, but it just did not click this issue. Sub-par for a book that is usually a birdie.
DC Infinite Halloween Special #1 –We have Countdown and 52 books, so I guess this is an Infinite Crisis sort of tie-in. Actually it added Infinite to the title for no reason. A bunch of short stories, some good, some okay, mostly forgettable. The one story that sticks was Waid’s story about the Flash.
Ultimate Power #8 (of 9) – Pretty pictures. My entire opinion of the series was summed up by a snippet of dialogue between Cyclops and Storm. Cyclops “Do you have nay idea what is going on here?” Storm – “None”. Neither do I Storm, neither do I.

The DCU is really building up to Final Crisis and while I shudder at the prospect of another major company wide cross-over I have to say that Marvel changed the status quo with Civil War. I have not enjoyed what Marvel did, but applaud that they tried. I have tried a lot of the new titles that sprung out from that effort, but have not really enjoyed any of them. Still they had a change, which meant the “event” meant something. I beleive Marvel hedged their bets as except for Captain Ameirca all the same exact people are still in place. I’m enjoying a lot of what is going on at DC and can feel the energy building (oddly enough the core book has been the least exciting), but to be a success, Final Crisis has to effect real and substantial change.

All in all (or net net) this was a great week for a lot of books. DC had some great efforts in many regular series books, a decent new launch, and Jim Starlin added himself as a New God (see the two page spread and the anagram he did of his name). Add to that a double does of Killer, Mouse Guard, Fear Agent and Dynamo 5 and you have a heck of a good week.


  1. my feeling: if the writing of a book comes off good, then the art must have been effective. it'd be niceif you tried to discuss the art somewhat for each book.

  2. Rusty gave me the Ultimate Power book to read for the show. I have read the thing twice and can't figure out why he would even bring this up.

  3. I don't know if I agree with your statment Mr. ?. Writing and art need to work together to produce good or great books but if either is off then the whole suffers. I have read good books with some really bad art. The B&W craze of the 80's is a fine example of this.

    And, in Jim's defense, for the amount of books he reads, just to get a quick -good- or -bad- is alot.

  4. I have read good books with some really bad art. "

    with all due respect, that's impossible. if the "story" is good, then the storytelling, on some level, has been effective, even if some aspect (or aspects) of the art bother you.

    but regardless, that wasn't my point. my point is that the reviewer has discussed books positvely, but has limited his comments to the story. some discussion of the art, good or bad, would seem appropriate, since these aren't prose stories, but comics.

  5. odd, just by scrolling up to the very last book commented on I found a comment on the art. oh! and another two books up there's a comment on the art. am I missing something here?

  6. I have to say, I've read several stories where I found the writing to be enjoyable but the art to be terrible. It just made me wish for a better artist. Honestly there's been many books that I've only read because I had been assured that the story was good despite the bad artwork *as I had originally been turned off the story because of seeing the art*.

    Also, to anonymous... I think you're being unfair, I found 13 comments about art - I was curious and counted.

  7. Thanks simonsay and Gwen, but anonymous comments don't really have any input into I have I would do a post, because it is anonymous.

  8. Correction - Thanks simonsay and Gwen, but anonymous comments don't really have any input into what I would do a post, because it is anonymous.

  9. Correction - Thanks simonsay and Gwen, but anonymous comments don't really have any input into what I would do on a post, because it is anonymous.

    Sheesh - I think I got it right, if I wasn't at work I would just delete the first two - oh well.

  10. Mr. A-

    We might have to agree to disagree on this point. I see your point, if a story is “good” then yes the art was effective. But, comics are such a visual medium that I want art that is “good” too and not just effective. Personally, I consider “effective” art bad. If the art is only effective then the artist hasn’t added anything to the overall package. Is that a really strong comment? Sure is, but I am an art guy so, at times, the art is more important, than the story.

    Example #1: Sheldon Meyer’s Scribby (circa 1940). This is pure golden age silliness and the story marginally holds up today. BUT, the art is so good that it becomes readable and enjoyable to this day. My point, strong art will help weak story.

    Example #2: Omega the Unknown (circa 1975). A revered cult classic that, in actuality isn’t all that good. The story is interesting. The story is even intriguing. But, I don’t feel that Jim Mooney did all that good a job on the art. Was it effective? Yeah, but I can’t reread the series because I can’t get past the art. No matter how good the story/premise was the visuals in the book make my eyes bleed and I can’t take it. My point, weak art can hamper a good story.

    Does this mean the art was effective? Sure, the art adequately conveyed the story. But, I won’t go back and reread it because I really don’t like the art. If that’s the case, then no matter how good the panel layout the art wasn’t effective.

    This almost leads to the classic question, who is more important to the comic book, the artist or the writer? Stan Lee or Jack Kirby? That’s a personal question and until you answer that you can’t address the argument.

    Personally, I am a Kirby guy. Mr. A, I could be wrong but you sound like a Stan guy.


    (Posted for Lee as he could not post from his location)