Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Best to Worst of Last Week

This was a really big week in pure number of titles and it had a wide mix of really great books, good books and some mediocre books. As always for an individual title it is often the luck of the draw, if the week is filled with tons of great stuff, an individual title may look much worse in comparison. One really positive trend I want to point out from the big 2 is the way they have handled multi-part cross-overs. Both the Ras As Ghul story and the X-event have crossed over multiple titles to create a weekly story. The actual beats of the story have held up from book to book and have been an almost seamless read. Not sure if this is just better planning or what has driven it, but it is nice to see and makes these events more enjoyable.

Action Comics #859 - This is great. It is like an Adult Legion story only much better as the Legion is hunted on Earth and a powerless Superman is helping them fight back. Johns has captured the essence of a classic Legion story and made it modern. Anchored by Gary Frank’s superior artwork and you have a winning book.
Grendel Behold the Devil #1 (of 8) – Very tough call between this and Action. Maybe I’m nostalgic, but it is also based on Matt Wagner’s ability as an artist and a writer. The opening sequence of this book was fantastic and so simple yet so effective, Four pages of bloody white walls leading to a two page spread of Grendel alive in a roomful of dead people. The arrogance and power of Hunter Rose was apparent from that point and carried through. Great story telling and a wonderful start to this mini-series.
Left on Mission #5 (of 5) – I was thinking of making this best book of the week, but with my review and my declaring it the best mini-series of 2007 for me, I thought that as an individual issue, while well done, not the absolute best of the week.
Circle #1 - Really strong opening issue. We get introduced to a set of characters, get an adventure started and have a group of assassins try to take out the everyman character that is in over his head. This book is obviously a labor of love by Brian Reed (writer) and Ian Hosfeld (artist) as the background material reveals they have been playing with this concept off and on for a few years. The Circle is an underground worldwide network that is trying to reclaim their country from a military dictatorship. The smartest part of this book is using Wallace Christopher as a storytelling device to allow us to be drawn into the group as this adventure has drawn him in. The story is fun and action packed and I’m already hooked to find out more about the Circle’s leader Ulee and Ilona (who appears to be a second in command). The art is phenomenal, Ian Hosfeld’s work reminds me of Jordi Bernet, but has a more realistic edge to it. He has superb layouts and beautiful action shots. Bottom line this guy is one heck of an artist. The Circle looks to be a winner.
Countdown to Mystery #3 (of 8) – This is really a good mini-series. Both stories are excellent. The main feature about Dr. Fate and his path of learning about himself and his powers is well done. Especially as this is not about a young man learning to be a hero, but about an older adult learning about being a hero and rebuilding his own life. The Eclipso story has multiple story lines. Eclipso’s story, the corruption of Plastic Man, Specter and Cripus Allen separating and the return of Bruce Gordon. The art in Eclipso by Stephen Jorge Segovia is really well done and Matthew Struges story has me waiting or more.
Walking Dead #44 - This book is really moving now. I was forced to switch to the single issues, because so much is happening and I did not want to wait. Andrea gets shot and Rick is gut shot. Kirkman promised no one was safe and he is not kidding. The War with the Governor is going to be a pivotal moment in this series.
Brave and Bold #8 - Every issue of this book is a gem as Mark Waid and George Perez deliver great issue after great issue. This issue we get The Chief from the Doom Patrol trying to help the Flash with his kids. Humor, action and adventure as well as strong characterization is injected into this book along with flat out the best super hero art in the business, George Perez.
Detective Comics #838 - Another good chapter in the Resurrection of Ras As Ghul. This book is reading like one long story and this issue was especially good as the confrontation was directly with Ras. Ryan Benjamin did a beautiful job with the interior art and Dini’s script was well done as always.
Countdown to Final Crisis #23 – This book has really gotten back into a good rhythm. Superman Prime is the focus and we learn he looks older because he is bloated with power. The sense that he is getting even more out of control is very real. Thomas Derenick’s art has never looked better then it has in Countdown.
Catwoman #73 - Great issue, an unknown enemy is stripping everything away from Selina and he is doing a good job of it. We end with Catwoman trapped and drugged with her assailant gleefully watching her fall. This is one of the best series for 2007.
Hellblazer #238 - Andy Diggel has made Constamtine back into the ultimate bad ass character. This was a tough story as John plays the hero, but then has to sacrifice the girl he saved to a fate worse then death. Guest artist Daniel Zezelj does a good job, he has such a dark style and uses so much shadow that his work is almost impressionistic.
Spirit #11 - Great issue. The second part of the El Morte story was well done and it was nice to see Ellen saving the day with help fom a friend of hers. Darwyn Cooke has only one more issue left, not sure what happened to make him to leave the book, but it is hard not to look forward to Mike Ploog’s artwork. Still Cooke wrote and drew this book and it is hard to replace a great writer/artist.
Checkmate #20 - Great crosses and double crosses all resolving in Amanda Wall being taken down by the other royals. Greg Rucka is in his element writing this type of story. Joe Bennett is all over the DCU and he is such a solid super hero artist, that I hope they have him signed to a long term exclusive.
Suicide Squad Raise the Flag #3 (of 8) - Javier Pina’s art seems to be getting stronger with every issue. We finally wrap up the flashback of how Rick Flag survived and next issue we get the new Suicide Squad back in action. This needs to be an ongoing series.
Zero Killer #3 (of 6) - Good Issue. This series is getting better and better. We have set the premise and now Arvid Nelson (writer) is peeling away bits and pieces of the world as it is and slowly revealing who Zero is. Matt Camp’s artist style is very clean and strong rendered. It has a Gulacy smoothness to it, but also has a more realistic sense to it in some panels.
Strange Embrace #6 (of 8) - What an impossibly hard book to read. The level of depravity of the people involved in this book makes you almost feel dirty from reading it. Still the “Strange Embrace” will not let you go and you are compelled to follow the story further. Sarah’s story is so tragic and she is trapped by the rigors of the society of her time that you wish she would just run away and find a good life. Well done by David Hine as writer/artist and impossible to categorize.
Heroes for Hire #15 - Final issue, ended with a bang. Humbug dies, which was fitting within the story, but you had just turned him into something different and wasted it. Shang-Chi killing him was harsh, but Colleen’s words to end the book were nice “we should have just been heroes”.
Flash #234 - Another really good issue. Freddie Williams’ art really fits this book and it is coming out monthly again. Freddie has a more fluid style and some of his expressions for the kids are priceless. Mark Waid is making the return of Wally West a real family affair.
Invincible #46 - Another strong issue. Advancing both sub-plots and also giving us some insight into Mark’s personality. Also a nice surprise as Dupli-Kate saved herself by keeping one of her selves in a safe house. Even the building issues of Invincible are enjoyable.
Umbrella Academy Apocalypse Suite #3 (of 6) - This is just an odd book. It doesn’t lend itself to any true categorization. Gabriel Ba’s is more of a cartoonist then typical comic book artist and it fits well is this mad potpourri of Harry Potter, X-Men and madcap science fiction. A fun offbeat adventure and I’m just strapped in and enjoying the ride.
Penance Relentless #3 (of 5) - Very well done, this mini-series continues with the twist and turns and Robbie continues to outsmart everyone. This series is establishing Penance as one of the more powerful Marvel heroes and shows he has smarts to go along with it. Paul Jenkins and Paul Gulacy have a winning mini-series on their hands.
Fall of Cthulhu #8 - As the Black Pharaoh continues his gathering, each chapter continues to terrify. The “horror” in this book is more psychological then physical, but some of the physical is gruesome also. The art was uneven this issue, but certain pages really did a great job, especially when the “vessel” expelled his soul.
Captain America #32 - Still a good story, but damn if this isn’t one of the most dragged out stories in a long time. The book is moving at such a slow pace it makes me want to drop it and wait for the trade.
Shadowpact #19 - Good issue. I liked seeing Enchantress in charge of the smaller group of heroes. This offbeat group is a fun read and Matthew Sturges has taken over this title and keep it just as strong as Willingham’s run.
Conan #46 - Nice ending to the Conan “origin” story by Kurt Busiek and Greg Ruth. It will be a worthwhile trade when the entire arc is collected under one cover.
Drafted #3 - Why Earth is being drafted into an Alien War has not been revealed, but the story just keeps on building. This looks to be an epic story and so far each chapter is delivering an entertaining read. Mark Powers story is a good one so far. Artist Chris Lie does a good job, but is art still has a slightly less professional feel to it. It should be interesting to see him grow as the series progress.
Grimm Fairy Tales #18 - Sela’s crisis of fate seems to be resolved this issue with a good little tale showing how we can have a ripple effect on the world. You affect one person who affects five, who each affect five more , etc. etc. One of the better issue in this series and seems to signify a return to more stories structured around the actual Fairy Tales.
Iron Man Director of Shield Annual #1 - Fun issue. The story casts Tony Stark as James Bond taking down Madam Hydra in Mardipoor. Christos Gage is back in top form with this story and I really enjoyed Tony’s ultimate triumph. Harvey Talibao is an unknown artist to me, bad he did a really nice job.
Atlantis Rising #2 (of 5) - This story is on full speed, but due to an over lined artwork and some less then stellar panels I sometimes have a problem identifying who is who. I think Tim Irwin’s artwork shows potential but it is weak at times and has way too many lines and often appears to be unfinished work. Scott O. Brown has the story moving ahead full bore and it seems like we are going to have one hell of a collision when the s**t hits the fan.
Graveslinger #2 (of 4) - Last issue we were in the midst of deadmen running around the old west and Frank Timmons as the Graveslinger trying to put them down. This issue we get the background story on why Frank is a Zombie chaser in the old west. All in all a great supernatural western tale by writers Shannon Eric Denton and Jeff Mariotte. I want to like this issue more by the art was weak and appears that they used coloring to try and hide its weakness.
Thunderbolts Breaking Point - Decent story about Songbird and Moonstone and the battle between them, but all the excess material being published feels like fill in issues without actually making it a numbered issued of Thunderbolts. It was well written by Christos Gage and solid art by Brian Denham. Birds of Prey #112 – A story that really showed us a lot of heart and emotion. Tony Bedard’s final issue on Birds of Prey gave us Lady Blackhawk honoring her fallen comrade in arms Big Barda in her own unique fashion.
New X-Men #44 - Continuing the Messiah Complex. The book focuses on bringing the New X-Men into the fray and as I don’t follow their book; I’m not sure who is who. Still as I have said the book is almost seamless from chapter to chapter. The story itself has too many things happening for me to believe then can resolve all of it in eight more chapters.
Hunter’s Moon #4 (of 5) - Good issue. This story has grown on me. The father finally finds his son and is reunited with him against all odds. Now how will he and his son get out alive?
Incursion #1 (of 4) - Went into to this book with no real expectations. The story by Jay Busbee was well written. The story itself looks to be a war against some sort of demons. Alex Medelin Machain does a good job with the art. His work was a good effort for a young artist.
Batman Confidential #11 – This is a decent story and has great artwork by Denys Cowan, but Michael Green ahs taken this so far from a recognizable portrayal of Batman that I have to count this as an Elseworld story.
Scream #1 (of 4) - So I was all set to write this book off as I was really unsure of what was going on. Peter David’s story drew me in enough for me to come back. Danny is a postal worker who spent time in a sanatorium and apparently can manifest a bizarre monster. There are plenty of mysteries, a cast is introduced and my curiosity has been piqued, so all in all a decent start. Bart Sears artwork is okay, but his over rendered style is very inconsistent almost from panel to panel. Still it was reined in enough that his layouts and pacing carried the day.
Programme #5 (of 12) - A good story, but a long form story, meaning that the individual issues are decent, but it is more of a trade read. C.P. Smith’s art looks good, but is so muted by a dark palette that I feel like I missing half of his work.
She-Hulk #23 - Second Peter David issue and it is not cutting it for me. Jen Walters was a skrull, She-Hulk and the skrull show a casual disregard for the villains lives and cause mass destruction. Limited humor and appears to be no real direction. One more issue.
Testament #21 – As this is the second to last issue of the series my decision whether to switch to the trade route is now a mute point. I believe the book had some critical flaws in the way the story was being told. The juxtaposition of bible and near term future stories was interesting, but the 22 page monthly format was not conducive for this type of storytelling. The subject matter was also not going to draw a large audience as it mixed Judo/Christian beliefs with mysticism and sci-fi.
Countdown Search for Ray Palmer Gotham by Gaslight - A better issue in this series. Greg Tocchini’s art fit this world very well. What I enjoyed most about this issue is Jason’s Todd reaction that he felt at home here. I see this series becoming a story of Jason’s growth as much as anything else. The Victorian Blue Beetle was a nice touch.
Incredible Hulk #111 - This book has no real meaning. It has been background material since the mini-series and now will be renamed into the Incredible Hercules while the Red Hulk story line plays itself out. I’ll hang in for a couple of issues, but this is trying to be a book about Amadeus Cho and I’m not sure I really want to read a book about him.
Ultimate Vision #5 (of 5) - With publishing delays of this magnitude, especially on a little mini-series any buzz is killed. It was an okay ending, but again about something that I lost interest in.
Wetworks Armageddon - The stories are fine, but I have read three of these specials and I see nothing that really pulls it all together. It is obvious that the Wildstorm Universe just needs a total revamping or someone to come in and just tell good stories about these characters.
Snakewoman Tales of the Snake Charmer #5 - One more issue and I’m done with this book. What started out as an interesting and compelling book is now draped in what appears to be so much Indian mysticism, and I personally do not find that of any interest. Only because it appears to be coming to a conclusion will I follow it for one more issue. .
Wetworks #15 – This was the last issue and the series had lost its steam and was no longer really going anywhere.

I would have cancelled if they had not.One thing that I have noticed is that many of the independent books have some really good stories but also have a lot of younger artists who are probably just getting started. Some of the work is obviously aping some artist they admire and some art is trying to be saved with a heavy handed colorist and lots of photoshop work being done. I know that it may make it harder to read some of these stories, but there are still some good stories in all of this material, that doesn’t always look that great. Also some of these artist will grow into great comic artists. Net, net give some of this series and a try and be patient that even if it isn’t the absolute best, it still has something to say.

The real surprise for me is that this week had so many titles come out and I did not cancel a single book.


  1. Normally, I'm inclined to agree with you on most things. But Benjamin's art on Detective was really bad. Not Yu bad, but bad enough. Sorry.

  2. Oh, c'mon...how could you say, "I thought that as an individual issue, while well done,(LEFT ON MISSION #5) not the absolute best of the week." How could you even say that?! Who the heck are you...oh..uh..... you said it was the best mini of 2007? Oh...hell, then nevermind! :P



    In all seriousness - thanks for the support!!

  3. Hunter's Moon has kind of grown on me as well. I have a feeling it will be better as a trade as it took a bit to really get into the characters.

  4. Chip - Just no pleasing some people! - On the serious side - your welcome - it's fun to support something so damn good!

    Gwen - I agree.

  5. Hey, thanks for the good words on Incursion! Glad you enjoyed the first issue...plenty more good demon/military action coming in the next three!