Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Best to Worst of Last Week

This was another week where nothing absolutely grabbed me by the throat to declare itself the best book of the week, but a good week nevertheless. The amount of books out there were pretty much across the board and I actually picked up a couple of books not on my official list and regretted both of them.

Dominion #3 (of 5) - It has been forever between issues yet I was almost immediately right back into the story and what a story it is. Chicago has a possible alien virus giving people super powers and they are going nuts and intentionally and unintentionally killing people. The entire city is in chaos, the federal government is trying to quarantine the city and if the problem can’t be resolved the city will be nuked. In the midst of this Officer Urbanski is taking down some of the victims by killing them and it is taking a toll on him as he knows they are not responsible for their actions. Ai, a research doctor, is with him as she searches for answers. A great reading, an exciting book and the art by Tim Hamilton is fantastic. The writer is Michael Alan Nelson and is based on concepts of Keith Giffen and Ross Richie.
Inifinite Horizon #1 (of 6) - This was a beautiful begging to this re-imagining of the Odyssey. The love that the Captain and his wife Penelope feel for each other across the miles was palatable. The sense of the “rule of law” in the world falling apart gave you a true feeling of danger in everyone’s life. It also felt like it could be our world tomorrow if a few things went wrong. Gerry Duggan and Phil Noto have opened with a truly epic feeling story that is intensely personal as the Captain tries to find his way home.
Black Summer #4 (of 7) - Juan Jose Ryp’s artwork is so well done. He has so much detail and puts so much into each page that I would put him in the George Perez “school” for ability to draw a lot in one page. The actual drawing style has a little Corben, a little Perez and it is all Ryp. The story by Warren Ellis is so cool. On one level it is everyone fighting and killing everyone, a “Warren Ellis” special. On another level it is an examination of what it means to be a hero and how big government operates, especially when under duress.
Justice League of America #15 - McDuffie and Ed Benes turn in a stellar ending to this arc as the JLA finally takes down the Injustice League. An issue full of great action and wonderful quips between the characters. A great JLA tale.
Dynamo 5 #9 – The group takes on Brains and Brawn, Scatterbrain learns about another aspect of his power, Visionary’s Mom finds out what is going on with her son being a hero and the character development continues. Jay Faerber (writer) and Mahmud Asrar as co-creators and writer and artist respectively are producing a very good bordering on great series. It is almost an heir to the Fantastic Four type of group book.
Atomic Robo #3 (of 6) - Another good issue. This starts off fast and then never lets up. The basics are a pyramid is roaming the desert and Robo and his crew are called in to stop in. The story had great dialogue and a fun ending as he blows the top of the pyramid off. THIS BOOK IS FUN!
Justice Society of America #11 - The “Thy Kingdom Come” story is moving slowly and going in unexpected directions as we are seeing another group of heroes starting to show up. I’m enjoying this story, but was expecting a faster pace. Dale Eaglesham’s artwork is in my opinion the top tier of super-hero artists. I hope DC has signed him to a long term exclusive. Probably rated higher then it deserved as I love the JSA.
Northlanders #1 - I enjoyed that we focused on Sven who will apparently be our central character. It keeps the story personal and keeps us from getting lost as we are introduced to the setting for this historical drama. Sven is a man coming back to reclaim his rightful inheritance from an Uncle who has laid claim to it. A terrific action sequence to start off the book also made the slow pace of the rest of the book work better. Brain Wood as creator and writer has started off this series in fine fashion. David Gianfelice has a really nice style that has realism and a fine line that looks great.
Resurrection #1 - Another post apocalyptic world book. This one starts off very well. The aliens have left after taking over the world and apparently destroyed much of it for 10 years and now humans are coming back up out of their hiding. A lot of characters were introduced and we get our feet wet with many elements. The book already feels like it has a plan and it has a grand scale feeling to it and I hope the writer/creater (Marc Guggenheim can pull it off. David Dumeer is an unfamiliar name to me and his art was competent, but I believe he is a young artist and should get better. It could be compared to the Walking Dead, but instead of focusing on a small group of people we are focusing on various groups and should get a wider view of what happened to the world.
Exterminators #24 - This was a one and done issue set back a year in time. It was really a great issue. Tony Moore’s artwork looked great as always, filled with tons of various characters and John Lucas’s inks bring out the best in each artist he works on. John’s work is impressive in that he inks various artists and leaves their work in tack while doing a nice job of making it all very clean. Simon Oliver’s tale of butterflies that lay eggs in animals and then the caterpillars crawl into your brain to feed and burst out of your head as the next generation of butterflies was wildly bizarre and well done. Oh and the setting was a degenerate cruise ship. So much in a “one and done” it was amazing.
Lazarus #2 (of 3) - Okay Shadowline studios are doing three issue mini-series as chapters in longer stories as three issues will never cover enough about this storyline. Conspiracy’s and mysteries abound as the central character learns death is just a brief interruption of his life, except he cannot remember most of his life. Written by Diego Cortes & Juan Ferreyra with art by Juan Ferreyra the story is top notch and the art is competent, but has room to improve.
Invincible #47 – This was a good issue, but right now a lot of what is happening is set-up. Kirkman has carte blanche with me on Invincible because even quite issues are laying the ground work for what promises to be some exciting times to come.
Jonah Hex #26 - The story was entitled “Four Little Pigs A Grindhouse Western” and boy they did not cut back on the gore in this issue. Jonah runs into two women who are killing men slowly, but cutting off limbs and then slowly torturing them. Hex turns the tables on them and gives them a fate they deserve. A surprisingly gruesome tale, still told well.
Robin #169 - Robin is mulling over Ras’ offer to bring back his parents. While on one level you might think he would reject this out of hand on another level you can understand why he would consider it. In the midst of this Damien tries to go and help Batman, Talia, Robin and I-Ching fight off Ra’s’ ninjas. Meanwhile Batman and Ra’s face down Sensei’s assassins. All in all another solid chapter in the “Resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul” story.
Atom #18 - The dialogue with Ryan and Wonder Woman was so funny and it is the way I imagine most guys would feel in her presence. The overall storyline was good and I’m really enjoying the madness of Ivy Town.
Annihilation Conquest #2 (of 6) - This issue was markedly better then issue #1 and it appears that Quasar and Adam Warlock are to be the stars of this series. Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning always deliver sharp dialogue and great action (although they did not do as well as Giffen did with Star Lord). Tom Raney and Scott Hanna are doing a bang up job on the artwork. All in all this should be a decent mini-series.
30 Days of Night Beyond Barrow #2 (of 3) – Every time I pick up a Sienkiewicz drawn comic it takes awhile to get back into his style. It is almost impressionistic and at times so impressionistic as I am unable to tell what is happening, Other times he can do a facial close up and paint the prettiest eye you ever saw. Steve Niles is cooking up a tale that something has been around Barrow long before the vampires of the first 30 Days story appeared and they are not a good thing.
Vinyl Underground #3 – This book is slowly moving up the charts in my opinion. Simon Gane’s art is reminiscent of Becky Cloonan and Ryan Kelly, but with Cameron Stewart inking his work it has the beautiful clean and heavier lines that Cameron brings to his own pencils. The overall story by Si Spence is engaging and I’m starting to get to know the characters better.
Two Guns #4 (of 5) - I’m sorry there was a lag between issue, but this is an out and out great “buddy” movie. Our two guns are partners by need, not desire as they face crosses and double crosses and desperately try to find a way out alive of the mess their lives have become. Smart dialogue, terrific and complex plot and a nice clean art style.
Uncanny X-Men #493 – This issue had a nice battle sequence with the sentinels that guard the X-Men and apparently are finally out of the X-Men lives now. Still the other storylines got short shift and the launching of X-Force was bad.
Countdown To Final Crisis #21 - The Challengers story was well done and the Piper / Trickster situation got a lot worse. The pace of this book has really moved up a few notches and we are getting longer glimpses of some of the stories and letting certain characters be out of an issue all together.
Lobster Johnson Iron Prometheus #4 (of 5) - A great pulp fiction story, filled with supernatural menaces and the Nazi of the late 30’s. Lobster Johnson and his crew are out trying to save the world and Mike Mignola (writer) and Jason Armstrong (artist) are binging us the adventure. A modern story telling approach that really has a vibe of a pulp fiction story.
Suburban Glamour #2 (of 4) – If I was rating this book for art alone, I would rate at the top of the chart. If I rated it for stories about teens in school it also worked, but the main focus of the story was that Astrid is a princess from a Faerie world and it felt derivative and unimaginative. I can’t help but enjoy this book because of the art by writer/artist Jamie McKelvie, but Jamie’s writing needs to improve.
Midnighter #14 - The whole Anthem story line is almost a blur to me, but finding out that Jenny Quark has apparently had Midnighter’s real life from before he was Midnighter destroyed, that got my attention. I really want to see how that story plays out.
Infinity Inc. #4 - Not really sure about this series. It has its moments, but the art appears rushed as the backgrounds are limited and the story seems to be meandering around. It is not really about any super hero type material, but just about the kids from Infinity Inc. That in and of itself is okay, but I think they need to make this a Vertigo title.
Countdown Arena #1 (of 4) - Scott McDaniel and Andy Owen turned in a decent art job, with Scott’s pencils being a little looser then normal, but still full of energy and power. The story really comes across as just plain dumb. Not that the writing is bad, but the idea that Monarch on one hand has Forerunner gathering heroes across the multi-verse for his army and on the other hand is having some inane contest to see who is the most powerful to add to his army. Still the fights were “fun” but ultimately I think it is a good thing it is a weekly 4 part series or people would have too much time to think about it and cancel it.
House of “M” Avengers #2 (of 5) - An innocuous little series that is entertaining as any What If book is. Well written by Gage and illustrated by Mike Perkins. Gets a little too cute at times and it is very predicable in other ways, but an easy read.
Supergirl #24 - Okay the writing on this book is confusing. Last issue was some space adventure, this issue Superman with the help of the Green Lantern’s look back on Krypton’s past and we get a Supergirl origin that was pretty generic, except she was older then Kal on Krypton. The last two pages totally confused me as Superman is picking up something from the floor and looks up to Kara and says “what “. Then the next page is Kara up a tree in old Krypton. Is Kelley Puckett (writer) being deliberately obtuse or is this on purpose. Net, net I’m confused.
Overman #1 (of 5) – The first three or four pages were interesting and really had my attention and then we moved on into “WTF” land. The artwork was decent and the premise that we started with was good, the whacked out man in a cage was just perverted and twisted for no rhyme or reason. Still I’ll hang out for another issue to see if there is more of a point to this story.
World War Hulk Aftersmash – This was not on my official list at the store and it should have stayed off of it. A $4 waste of paper setting up mini-series that I do not care about,
Ultimates 3 #1 (of 5) – Also not on my list was this unmitigated crap. Wow did this book just go right off the rails. My first complaint and the one that ruined any of Joe Mad’s artwork was the coloring. If this was a movie we would say the lighting was bad, but it was really atrocious. I have no clue what the hell this story was all about and since I have yet to read Ultimates 2 maybe it will be clearer, but I doubt it. The whole Quicksilver / Scarlet Witch incestuous love is just plain too disgusting for words, I know Millar was playing it out, but this was just out and out that they are a couple. Jeph Loeb has had so many misses in the last few years that I never understand why his name helps to sell a book. For me it is a stay away sign and it used to be great story here sign.

This week the Independents really moved to the top of the list. I have often had smaller press books in the top, but this is the first time I can remember both #1 and #2 being from the independent publishers.

Bonus Commentary:
I would like to talk about DC and about what so many are saying. One that Countdown has been a failure and second that Didio's has to go. I think both are valid thoughts, but I also think that just trashing something without context does not make sense.

Countdown has not worked as well as 52 as the entire series is leading up to one end point and you have one writer driving the process. 52 had different writer's championing their characters and doing so well that their stories took over the original intent of the project. Each story had end points and then continued on. Black Adam creates Isis, gets married, has a "child", loses his family and goes mad. End points within the story. In 52 Mary Marvel gets Black Adams powers and has been just bouncing from here to there and playing with her bad side. No real end points. The series has had some good issues, but one long prelude to a main story has not worked.

Didio has to go. People have said that he has ruined DC, but while his failures have been spectacular he has shaken up the status quo in DC like no one has for years and years. A friend said he was like Bill Jemas at Marvel, he shook things up and made some crazy changes but gave new life to the line. At Marvel they saw that the shake up needed was over now have Dan Buckley coming in to replace Jemas. Then they have taken the successes and moved on and left the bad behind. Bottom line Jemas made a positive impact in moving the company forward. Dan Didio has made DC more of an unsure place again and that is exciting, but after Final Crisis or maybe during his time has ended. The failures are mounting as they did for Jemas and it is time to take what Dan has given DC and move to a new leader. Bottom line Didio has moved DC forward and that is very important and a huge positive.

Every thing has its season and when running such a massive operation the company needs to assess what has gone before and change when the time is right. Didio's time with DC needs to conclude and for Marvel Joe Quesada's time has also come.


  1. Totally agree with your commentart about Countdown. You could see endings coming in 52, not so much here. But I also think it is getting much better as well. Stayed away from Arena tho.

    As for DiDio, while I don't share the rabid hatred that Shawn does, I also think it's time to go. He has dome some very good things. I mean, how many of us thought that 52 was going to be as good as it was? That said, his WWIII disaster almost derailed the thing. And at least his tinkering with the iconic characters did not totally destroy their heratage, unlike some other publishers.

  2. I liked Justice League of America as well. Reading other reactions to the issue, one would get the impression that every single page had nothing but women in thongs. So it is nice to see a review that didn't even mention that.