Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Best to Worst of Last Week

This was a great week for comics. I had strong opinions on a lot of books and dropped a few titles, added a book that I tired on a whim and a favorite character got a new creative team. When you realize that amount of different type of material comics can bring you and for around $25 bucks a week you can get eight books a week. This week also saw the first solicitation for an archive edition of Creepy Magazine from Dark Horse collecting the old Warren Books publication. The last thing I need is another archive collection to be growing but some of that material was truly classic and some was forgettable, but a lot of creative people saw some of there first published work in those books.

Spirit #12 - Darwyn Cooke final issue is a winner. This is the story of Denny Colt’s one great love Sand Saref and why they will never be together. This is an adaptation of two old Spirit stories by Will Eisner and I remember reading them, but Cooke actually melds them into a more coherent and better love story. A fantastic story and art, loved the last panel with the Spirit walking in a torrential down pour.
Infinite Horizon #2 (of 6) - I know it is a re-telling and modernization of Homer’s Odyssey, so the fact that it has an Epic feel to it is a tribute to how well they are telling the story. Kudos to Gerry Dugan (writer) and Phil Noto (artist). The Captain’s journey home was fated to never be easy, but we feel his pain when he realizes the ship essentially trapped him and the sacrifices he makes to get back to land are tragic and emotionally taxing. His wife’s battle to maintain their land is put to the test when her son is captured. She tells kidnapper he has until tomorrow to bring her son back or when the Captain returns he will visit her misery and pain tenfold upon him and his men. Then she tells the kidnapper she will stop any water from going to his ranch until her son is returned. The quite strength and power she showed was only matched by her faith that the Captain will return. I already want to buy the trade or hard cover.

Green Arrow / Black Canary #4 - This was a really emotional and compelling read. The desperation and concern that Ollie was feeling was palatable. I hope they find some way to make Connor better, because the story ends with him brain dead and in a coma. Cliff Chiang does a fantastic job with the art; it is very clean and powerful. This was a hard issue for an artist because it was all about conveying emotions on characters faces and Cliff did a great job. Judd Winick continues to keep each issue fast paced and a smooth read.
Scalped #13 - This book is a must read for any fan of crime or just pure drama. This issue Chief Red Crow finds out Gina (Dash’s mother Crow’s ex-lover) is dead and eventually tells Dash, at the same time Dash is telling five kids that their Mom is dead. Dash was involved with handling a drug bust of a whore house, where the dead women and her children were found. Powerful, compelling, dark, edgy, emotional, provocative and a beautifully rendered book, with coloring that enhances the mood without muting the pencils. Jason Aaron (writer) R.M. Gueraa (artist) and Giula Brusco (colors) are producing one of the best series.
Foundation #1 (of 5) - A terrific start to this mini-series. For the full low down see the in-depth review
Simon Dark #4 - This series has an almost surreal fairy tale quality about it. Scott Hampton brings a classic illustrator’s style with some wonderfully photoshopped backgrounds that gives this comic a unique look. Steve Niles is slowly building his cast as they are revolving around the mystery that is Simon Dark. I found the dialogue a little stilted this issue, but just love the feel of this book.
Goon #20 - Eric Powell is back to a lighter and mover over the top Goon as compared to the recent hardcover. This issue is strictly Powell’s great renditions of his boy the Goon fighting supernatural dangers and harassing Frankie. Dave Stewart is now on doing colors and the book has never looked better. A great series and Powell is trying to do this as a monthly book this year.
Suicide Squad : Raise the Flag #5 (of 8) - I thought this book was up to current continuity, but we are still not there. Rick Flagg Jr. is not Rick Flagg and is still under Shaggy (General Eiling) Man’s control and the General is plotting to get his freedom. Amanda’s mission looks like it will all blow up as the General is sabotaging it. This mini-series shows that Ostrander can still write the Squad and make it work and I hope DC green lights an ongoing series.
Bat Lash #2 - John Severin’s artwork is what makes this series a great book. I enjoy Westerns and also like to see less well known characters. The actual story is standard western fare, but done well.
Green Lantern Corps #20 - Peter Tomasi has stepped from editor to writer and is doing a terrific job, first on Black Adam and now on GL Corps. I liked seeing Kyle and Guy decide to move to OA and the build up of Mongul as a menace. The art was a little inconsistent but it listed two artists, so I’m assuming the pages were split up and the two do not have similar styles.
The Twelve #1 (of 12) - I was hesitant to even try this series out as JMS tells stories so slowly, but Chris Weston has great art and my list was not overwhelming so I tried issue #1. It was a strong start and I signed up for the series. The Twelve are forgotten golden age heroes frozen at the end of the war and awakened in 2008. The story is told via “The Phantom Reporter”’s narration and it is a compelling story to date. The story is set in the “real” Marvel Universe of today.
Exterminators #25 - I ‘heard” a nasty rumor that this book is going away after issue #30 – damn (if true) as I enjoy this series. The improbable resurrection of “AJ” was explained in this issue. Also we are seeing the overall story come together. As long as Simon Oliver gets to wrap up the Ocran story line I can live with this book being cancelled.
Countdown to Final Crisis #16 – This was another strong issue. The war between the Monitors and Monarch is in full force, Earth 51 is being crushed by the onslaught of being in the middle of the war. We saw this Earth’s Batman save Jason from one of the Extremist only to be leveling a gun at his head because he already buried Jason and wants to know who is impersonating him. I’m enjoying the fast pace and a solid writing.
Nova #10 – A good story with Nova staying true to his character and Gamora remaining true to her character. This is a fun series and they are managing to keep Nova out of Annihilation Conquest proper and still keep it tied to the storyline.
Grimm Fairy Tales Retunr to Wonderland #5 (of 6) - The penultimate chapter of this mini-series. The interest level is building very well as Alice apparently saves Calie from Wonderland. Calie gets home and doesn’t have a clue as to what has happened. Her mother is essentially a zoned out zombie and not the vibrant woman she saw in Wonderland. The issue ends with Alice hanging herself.
Teen Titans The Lost Annual - Zany, groovy and an out and out a madcap psychedelic trip back into sixties. This Bob Haney story is so wacky, that it is fun. It involves kidnapping of JFK by aliens and more insanity then you would believe. The Nick Cardy cover and sketch book in the last pages are a treat as well as the Jay Stephens and Mike Allerd artwork for the story itself. If you are looking for a modern comic, stay away, but if you want a weird and zany story that is a throwback to simpler times and have a few smiles, check this book out.
Superman #672 - Good story with both Superman being beaten by the Insect Queen and Chris Kent having some health issues that are causing him to have strange changes. Busiek is doing a nice job of telling solid Superman stories. I’m looking forward to Part 3 of the Insect Queen.
Nightwing #140 - This was a decent start for the new creative team, but I’m an easy sell as Nightwing is a favorite character and Rags Morales is one of my favorite artists. Add to that mix Peter Tomasi who is fast becoming a writer I look for and you had a lot of positives going into this issue. That being said it was a lot of set-up and re-establishing who Nightwing is and little else. I have high hopes as the potential is there, but I would have wanted them to start with a higher powered issue.
JLA Classified #50 - Roger Stern is a solid comic writer and this arc of the JLA starts off well as a villain who remembers the JLA shows up and takes them apart. Except for the Martian Manhunter no one else remembers this bad guy. John Bryne with the solid inks of Mark Farmer looked very good on the art side. This was a solid opening chapter for this arc.
52 Aftermath The Four Horsemen #6 (of 6) - A good ending to a decent mini-series. I enjoyed Giffen’s portrayal of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman and thought Pat Olliffe did a solid job with the art. This was not one for the ages, but it was a well done and entertaining mini-series.
Sheena #4 - Pleasant artwork with a hot girl in a leopard cloth. This book is standard fare as far as the writing goes and is only good as far as art goes, but with high production values. Still it is an easy read and a fun change of pace.
X-Factor #27 - This is totally the Messiah Complex and I could not tell that it was an X-Factor issue without checking the title of the book. The Messiah Complex is losing my interest and the whole time travel stuff is always problematic. One future the baby kills a million humans and per Cable he saves the world from being worse then it would have been. Mr. Sinister is apparently dead and Gambit and Mystique have the baby and Layla is stuck in the future. The art work felt rushed and having three inkers listed usually denotes a problem. Looking forward to X-Factor being X-Factor again soon.
Fall of Cthulhu #9 - Arkham continues his gathering of a host of creatures that are foul and vile as we are building to a war of some sorts. This series is a highly under rated and under purchased horror series.
Mighty Avengers #7 - The overall story we already knew what was going to happen since New Avengers is months ahead of this book in continuity. I read that they are using the thought balloons to give clues as to who is a skrull. Personally I think Wonder Man is based on his dialogue (internal and external) but with how poorly Bendis does “voices” who the heck knows. The real shock was to see Mark Bagley’s art work. It could have been the inker, but Bagley’s art was the best it has ever been, I really enjoyed the additional gravitas his art had this issue.
Salvation Run #3 (of 7) - Matt Sturges takes over as writer. As he is Willingham’s co-writer on Jack of Fables it makes sense that if Willingham can not continue or overworked Matt is a natural choice to take over. Whether this series is a good or mediocre one depends 100% on how it ends. The little twist this issue is that the Martian Manhunter is spying on the villains, which confused me as wouldn’t he know this was the wrong planet?
Hulk #1 - A weak start to the Red Hulk saga. We never actually see the Red Hulk and have a pointless fight scene between Iron Man, She-Hulk and Dr. Samson vs. some Russian heroes and see Bruce in a glass cage (ala Ultimates Volume 2). Ed McGuiness does a lot of big panels and double page spreads for no story reason. So we stopped what was a good story with Bruce and turn his book into Incredible Hercules and let Loeb and McGuiness have their own unlimited series with this stuff!? Why???
Infinity Inc. #5 - This series is weak and barely enough to keep me intrigued. I hear a new artist is coming onboard and we have concluded the first arc, so I will ride hang on a little longer, but we need more direction or sense of what this book is about.

Killing Pickman #2 (of 6) - A long time between issues and I’m lost as to who is who, mainly due to the art work. The premise is compelling, the execution has lost me. Cancelled. Now having said all of that I may still go back and pick up the trade because the premise was so strong and I find that I can appreciate an artist whose style I have problems with seeing more of their work in one sitting.
Amazing Spider-Man #546 - Lame is the best description I can give this book. Instead of moving forward we have this weird amalgamation of a character that feels younger then he used to be. This Peter is now penniless, living with his Aunt May and hanging out with a multi-millionaire Harry Osborne. For more of my views on this book go
here. Cancelled.
Snakewoman Tales of the Snake Charmer #6 - This book lost it for me. I loved the first arc on the book, but this mini-series was too esoteric and got too deep into the mysticism element. Also the art work appears to be weaker then ever. Cancelled.

The best books were so strong that I could have made an argument for any one of the first five to be the best book of the week. On a different note I have just caught up with the TV show Lost via watching Season 3 on DVD. If this show ends well it could be one of the best all time TV series ever. The writer’s strike is unfortunately still going on and I have to say regardless of what it is doing to any entertainment that I maybe missing I’m with the writer’s 100%. I mention that as Lost only had 8 new episodes done and I hope they just do some editing and show the old stuff in chronological order while we hope the strike gets settled.


  1. you said (regarding Countdown): "I’m enjoying the fast pace and a solid writing."

    Seriously? Maybe it's me, but two issues of chaotic "doesn't make sense given previous issues" action featuring characters I assume I'm supposed to have picked up "Arena" to understand... two issues which were preceeded by approximately 44 issues of slowness and whatever editorial wanted them to throw in the book that week... that does not make for fast pace or solid writing. Maybe it's *finally* speeding up as their get ohsoclose to the end, but I still can't get past the way the story played fast and loose with (among other things) the "Bob and Solomon are in cahoots" plot; it just doesn't make sense given anything we've been shown, and if the major plot points aren't foreshadowed or are, worse, directly contradicted by the previous issues, it's a problem. They'll have to pull one hell of a rabbit out of their hats to shake the stink off of this one.

  2. bjooks - Nice to see you back commenting. I'm hard pressed to defend my own comments with CD. The book has been so bad and my expectations beaten down that when anything happens I'm happy, so I probably overstated the case. You did not need (or want) to read Arena as that was just a confused mess. The whole Monarch vs. Monitors stuff has been poorly planned and/or explained. Hell the whole Monarch thing makes no sense.

  3. I understand... I read the last two issues and also proclaimed "finally, after 8+ months, something actually happened!"

    But then, after thinking about it, my thoughts turned to, "...yeah, but it still makes no friggin' sense!" (I'm often of two minds that way :-)

    At least the art is improving.

  4. Jim, totally agre with you about the Hulk.

    I think Marvel saw the success that Captain America had without its main character and thought "who else could we do this to?".

    But they forgot that throwing a charcter into a book with no thought about it is stupid. That, and the fact that Brubaker can write so much better than Loeb.