Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Best to Worst of Last Week

This was a funny week in that I liked a fair amount of material, but instead of a bunch of books vying for my best of the week attention I had only a couple that made the cut and any could have been beaten out by my a book three to five spots down last week. The competition is the key in the week to week analysis and it is always hard to knock some books down, but also it is sometimes hard to push a book higher up. Still favorite series and favorite characters with a good story can always reach the top.

Blue Beetle #23 – Jamie is a full fledged hero in this issue as he decides to try and take the Reach down by himself. This book continues to show how a young man continues to grow up into a man and a hero all at the same time. I love that he realistically includes his friends and family in helping him deal with being Blue Beetle.
Crime Bible the Five Lessons of Blood #4 (of 5) – Greg Rucka and this chapter’s artist Diego Olmos continue their exploration of the new Question and her fight against the dark faith. This issue I do not believe the dark faith succeeded in corrupting her with the lesson of murder, but the overall story about Renee and her talking up the role of the Question has been well done. This book shows why it is better to move on to a new character under the mask, they just tell the same stories over and over again. Renee is a blank slate as the Question and her actions are not dictated but what has gone before.
Legion of Super Heroes #38 – Jim Shooter has really pulled it off as a writer returning home, but to a different Legion. He is remaining true to this version and at the same time infusing personality, politics and action into his story. This is a book that has me jazzed about the Legion like I have not been in years. I hope his run is a long one and that artist Francis Manapul stays on the series as he is a quality artist.
Frank Frazetta’s Death Dealer #6 (of 6) – Just a great ending to a wonderful series. This creative team took their inspiration from a Frazetta painting and then ran with it. Joshua Ortega told a great sword and sorcery type sage and Nat Jones’ art work brought it to glorious life. I enjoyed the entire series and would have considered the hard cover collection, but not at the solicited $50 price tag.
Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters #5 (of 8) – First off Renato Arlem’s art work is outstanding, his women are sexy without being bimbos, strong backgrounds and his facial expressions convey emotions well. The story by Palmiotti and Gray continues to be a strong story. The Red Bee is crazed and is trying to absorb people into the hive mind, we get the Human Bomb’s origin and Miss America apparently is killed. I really would love to see DC make this an ongoing series.
Hellbalzer #240 – Part One of the Laughing Magician story line by Andy Diggle and Leonardo Manco. This looks to be a big story for Diggle’s run on the book as John is being forced into fighting a war mage who is hunting John for reasons that are not clear at this time. Diggle’s run has brought this book back into top form.
JLA Classified #51 – Another solid issue. If Roger Stern, John Byrne and Mark Farmer want to do another arc or two on this book I’d let them. This issue we go back in time and met the villain who is beating up the current JLA as he did the original JLA.
X-Men First Class #8 – The best X-series has another winning issue. Jeff Parker (writer) has the X-Men meet the Man-Thing and three of them see “alternative versions” of themselves. The Beast is almost feral, Jean is Dark Phoenix and Bobby is a Frost Giant. Not sure is Jeff is showing how bad these “possible” futures are or is sad that two are the “real” futures for these characters. Eric Nguyen was the penciller and he does a fine job, but his versions of these characters are not as youthful as Roger Cruz’s work.
Gotham Underground #4 (of 9) – I have to give Frank Tieri (writer) credit for crafting a good story with multiple moving parts. We have almost all the Bat family involved and all sorts of stuff going in the criminal underworld. Kudos to Jim Califore for doing a nice job with the art. This is becoming a very good mini-series.
Dan Dare #3 (of 7) – Garth Ennis is telling such a great story about this old English comic character that I never knew about it makes me want to read his old adventures. Garth Ennis is a strong writer and this book is really coming to together well. The danger of Mekon controlling things in the background, Dan Dare and a group of soldiers about to be the next light brigade and learning the history of the alien Treen’s all in one issue. Also I have now become reacquainted with Gary Erskine’s art style and I’m enjoying it. I find with many artist that if their style is a departure from the norm it sometimes takes a little while to appreciated their strengths. Gary’s style is less fluid and more static, but is rich in detail.
Wonder Woman #16 – Okay I’m starting to get into Gail’s Wonder Woman. The Nazi’s, what is what with her Mom and how this fits into current DCU continuity – I don’t know and I just stopped caring. The actual battle scene was fun, especially with the Gorilla Army at her back, her warrior ways, mixed with compassion was also fantastic. Took three issues, but I’m now enjoying this book.
Authority Prime #4 (of 6) – This series has been a lot of fun. Not only do we get great battle scenes between the Authority and Stormwatch, but we have the team-up battling doppelganger menaces from Bendix. Christos Gage and Darrick Robertson are crafting one of the few Wildstorm projects worth reading.
Countdown to Final Crisis #14 – This book has actually been good lately. I enjoyed yet another issue of this book as we continue to have a focus only on the battle for Earth 51 between the Monitors and Monarch. Batman of Earth-51, turns Jason into Red Robin and they join the fray, Donna takes out a main bad guy and takes over an insect army and joins the fight. Monarch is about to go in and kick-a**, when Superman Prime shows up ready to level Monarch. The pure logic of everything is fast and loose, but Countdown is worth reading again.
Scream #3 (of 4) – Danny (The Scream) and Sian (a reporter) should make a good team in concluding this story. I have grown to enjoy this comic so much that I hate to see it end on issue #4. Danny is going after a killer of a girl whom he knows from the post office. The psychiatric hospital administrator is pursuing Danny as he is responsible for the Scream being created. Peter David has created a new kind of “Hulk”. Bart Sears’ art works for this kind of story, but I still not a fan of his style.
Teen Titans #55 – So Wonder Girl breaks up with Robin and possibly leaves the team, Supergirl quits over a fight with WG and Blue Beetle is a non-member recurring cast member. All in all it was a decent issue to establish a status quo and set-up the next big thing. As long as we are past the Connor stuff as the ramifications of his death have lingered in this book for way too long. Jamal Igle’s art looks great on this issue and he needs a regular title to be working on.
Superman / Batman #45 – Michael Green writes some strong stories for DC, but it seems his knowledge of the characters is either dated or just slightly askew (see Batman Confidential for his Joker story). I would think the editor would help out on that stuff, but I think the “talent” has a lot of power at companies lately. Still the story of gathering all the kryptonite is a good one and Shane Davis’ art is outstanding. The fight with Aquaman was nice. Faker #6 (of 6) – A good ending to this mini-series. The idea that your memories come to life with this liquid technology was interesting. Carey and Jock told a solid story that should read even better as a trade.
Countdown Lord Havok and the Extremists #4 (of 6) – This is really a good mini-series. The tie-in to Countdown is just an element of the comic, but not the central part of the story. Frank Tieri (writer) is crafting interesting backgrounds of characters on this DC version of the Marvel “U”. Liam Sharp provides good graphics.
Iron Man #25 – What a blatant rip off. For my full tirade see
here. The actual story was good. The Mandarin’s ultimate plan to remake humanity while killing 97% of the population has a Ras As Ghul feel to it, but he is willing to die himself as he knows he will die from releasing the extremis virus. Iron Man shows up on the last panel and the confrontation finally should be here next issue. I do not think the Knauf brothers (writers) are going to give us a cookie cutter ending.
Afterburn #1 (of 4) – Another good comic from Red 5. On the second reading I liked the story a little more. The artwork is well done and the story was a good read. I loved the fast set-up of how we got to this post apocalyptic world and then into the story of our main character being part of a group who will do treasure robbing from the scorched side of Earth or take any jobs requiring their skills. This can easily be a series of mini-series.
New World Order #1 - This was an interesting first issue. We learn that a character Max is part of the “Lonely Ones” a group who stands between good and evil. Max is also the head of a group called “The Third Army” who is fighting against the current world order. This book will need time to flesh out the concepts, but it has enough going for it for me to continue reading. A lot of secret society and conspiracy theory stuff is probably going to be the core of this book. The art work is competent. A fair number of artists seem to have a certain style that is good enough to convey a story and with high production values and coloring looks okay, just not knock your socks off talent at this point in their careers. This book was written by Gustavo Higuera and drawn by Giuseppe De Luca.
After The Cape II #3 (of 3) - A little bit of a disappointment as it is obvious that we are at the middle point of a story and not the end. Gravity’s wife dies as his old team mates are killed by the bad guys. Ethan (Gravity) checks into AA as he knows he has to kick the habit to take care of his kids, now that his wife is dead. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed these issues, it is just not really broken up in story arcs.
Countdown to Mystery #5 (of 8) – The Dr. Fate series is a good one by Steve Gerber (writer) and by multiple artists in this segment. Kent V. Nelson never wanted to be a hero and has to try and redeem himself in order to be able to learn how to be a hero. The Eclipso series took an unexpected turn as Bruce Gordon is again tied to Eclipso, but seems to have stronger control in trying to keep him in check. I’m curious to see how the whole Eclipso, Spectre and other elements play out.
Superman Confidential #11- The long awaited conclusion to issues #1- #5, wrapping up Darwyn Cooke’s and Tim Sale’s story of Superman’s first encounter with Kryptonite. The long delay has hurt the story for me, as while I still enjoyed the art, the story seemed to fall flat. A Watcher type character was trapped in the piece of Kryptonite and he imparts memories of Krypton to Superman in exchange for Superman freeing him from the kryptonite meteorite.
X-Men #207 - So the ending has Professor X shot in the head by Bishop. Then Cyclops gives the baby to Cable who can apparently jump around in time and he leaves. Rogue wakes up and absorbs Mystique not realizing the baby had cleaned the slate and she now has just her and Mystique in her head and she leaves. I guess we have to see how each book plays out. Still having Professor X being dead or brain dead or whatever is nothing that will not be cured in about two to three years. We have no clue what the baby is or what powers it has, powers seemed to be ill defined in today’s books. We have nothing that really feels that different yet. I will check out next month’s books, but have the feeling not much will make the cut for the long haul.
Grimm Fairy Tales #20 – This is a funny series as it has gone from being a series of one and done stories that reflect the Fairy Tales story against a modern day story to being a war between Sela (the good witch?) versus Belinda (the bad witch?) who use the stories as sources of inspiration. This issue the “Little Boy Who Cries Wolf” causes his foster parents to kill someone he said hurt him, then they realize that is all the boy will say is “the bad man hurt me”. We find out Belinda is his mentor in causing people this level of pain and the “fairy tale” had a parallel story.
Astonishing X-Men #24 – The long delays between issue causes me to forgot who the heck is who and what is the point of this long drawn out story. Added to that is the fact that we know have to wait for a Giant Sized Astonishing X-Men #1 and we have no clue when the story will end. John Cassady always does well with the art, but I rather see Planetary #27.
Atlantis Rising #3 (of 5) – The overall story is clear enough as Atlantis fights the surface world, it is the ancillary stories that I have gotten lost in what is happening and why they are important to the overall arc. The artwork is inconsistent. At times it is good at conveying some really big battle scenes and at times the characters are out of proportion and the art is over rendered at times.
Testament #22 – Last issue and it was a rush to get to the crux of what they wanted to tell in this comic. Overall an okay comic, but I was ready for it to end. I think this would have been better structured as a limited series.
Ghosting #4 (of 5) – This is still a so-so story. The delays between issues have felt long and with the amount I read I have only a slight remembrance of who is who. Still I want to see the end game to Ghosting and how they stop the ghost from killing more people.
Ultimates 3 #2 (of 5) – So all of these is building to “The Ultimatum”, Loeb’s big idea to blow up the Ultimate Universe. The art looked much better this issue. The actual issue we get seven pages of Hawkeye versus Spider-Man for essentially no reason, then the Brotherhood (Magneto and company) attacks the mansion and the story ends as Pietro takes the Scarlet Witch’s body and pulls everyone out of the mansion and apparently rejoins the Brotherhood. Wolverine shows up with an ominous announcement. Final score art better, story still a “what the heck is going on”.

Hopefully we should have our Marvel and DC Preview review up for the April listings this week and if you get the catalogue from the store we should almost be in synch with your own reviews of what you might get. Thoughts of April are nice as I sit in Baltimore and we go through the heart of winter.


  1. The dialogue in ULTIMATES 3 #2 reads like a 12 year old wrote it.

    I've given up on Jeph Loeb for now. He is not allowed to do that arc on BUFFY either. I refuse to let it happen.

    The ULTIMATE universe will blow something with him behind it alright.

    Oh, and I'm an equal-opportunity hater. I love me some Joss Whedon. Even so however, he should have stopped writing ASTONISHING with issue #18.

    Know that long wait for this horrible arc? Ellis says that John will start PLANETARY #27 sometime soon...

    That's right.

    He hasn't started yet.


  2. The art on Atlantis Rising kills me. It's like the artist is screwing himself over. I want to take and eraser and get rid of all the extra useless line work because I suspect there's decent art underneath. Maybe it's just me but I don't want to read a comic book where the characters look as horrible as they do in this book =/ It's too bad to, because the story seems decent.