Monday, January 21, 2008

What I’m Getting Wednesday

This post is always my toughest post to do because it is usually the most time consuming post I do every week. Still between this and my Best to Worst post it forces me to constantly evaluate what I’m buying and why. It feels like I being drawn more and more to the independent books as the “been there done that” is so bad with Marvel and DC, that I’m being driven away from the characters. The editorial mandates make you feel that the books do not write themselves as you see characters portrayed one way one day and then do an about face the next day. This week we get back to what maybe the norm for the year as the breakdown of the 35 items I’m getting is 19 (54%) DC, 10 (29%) independents and 6 (17%) Marvel. When you realize under DC I include Vertigo and Wildstorm titles, it is one reason they should remain the biggest number most weeks.

Blue Beetle #23 – The Blue Beetle’s fight against the Reach is heating up and it looks like we are heading for a showdown. I’m assuming that eventually Blue Beetle has to defeat the Reach and save the Earth from being overtaken by them. I get the feeling writers are often reluctant to end a major theme or menace for their character, but Blue Beetle has so much potential that I think this is just a natural progression. One of the best super hero books on the market.

Countdown: Lord Havok and The Extremists #4(of 6) – This issue we get the origin of Dreamslayer as Monarch continues to try and recruit this group to his cause. In spite of myself I’m enjoying learning about the Extremists. The actual plot is inane. Why would Monarch want any one group when he has a multi-verse to choose from and has such incredible power levels himself?

Countdown to Final Crisis #14 – My post from Saturday gives you my overall viewpoint on this series. That being said at least the action level and feeling that something/anything is happening has actually kicked in. I have hopes that after Final Crisis, DC will settle down into just building the overall franchises and work on making them the best they can be given whatever editorial/corporate limitations have been set. I believe Geoff Johns has shown the way with what he has done with Green Lantern.

Countdown to Mystery #5 (of 8) – All of the Countdown series this is the one I hate to see end, but maybe Dr. Fate can get his own series now that Steve Gerber has set the stage. I know Gerber has health issues, but a co-writer could be a huge benefit in making a new monthly series work. The second half of this book with Eclipso has been good and if one can feel bad for an imaginary character in comics, my heart goes out to Bruce Gordon who now has Eclipso as part of him yet again. It made story sense to have it happen, but sometimes you hope a character can go off into the sunset and live happily ever after.

Crime Bible: The Five Lessons of Blood #4(of 5) – This issue the Question learns the lesson of murder. The corruption of the Question (Renee Montoya) has been a good story so far. Greg Rucka is giving us an interesting examination of Renee as the Question. You are not sure if she will avoid being corrupted or not.

Showcase Presents: Aquaman Volume 2 – 528 pages of black and white excitement featuring the 60’s adventures of Aquaman. One day I will read all of this material again.

Gotham Underground #4 (of 9) – Damn, but in reviewing the top of the list it is amazing how much of DC’s output is focused on mini-series. For 2008 I wonder if DC is planning this trend or not. They certainly have enough characters to do it, but I like the idea of continuing series or at least ones they have no pre-defined end. Gotham Underground has been a fun series and shows that Frank Tieri (writer) can write in the Bat-verse and hold his own. Always nice to see Jim Califore’s artwork and glad to see him back doing more regular work.

JLA Classified #51 – Continuing Roger Stern's and John Byrne’s five issue arc on this book. The first issue was good and a solid JLA adventure with a mysterious villain and solid action. Byrne with Mark Farmer’s inks look good again. It is funny but it seems that solid, entertaining books in the super hero market get over looked for the flashier or “event” stuff. It seems counter-intuitive in some ways as what got most of us into comics is a good solid entertaining book. In other words we are all picking up more issues of Countdown to Final Crisis then JLA Classified by Stern and Byrne and the latter is the better book.

Legion of Super-Heroes #38 – I enjoyed the first issue with Jim Shooter back at the helm of LOSH. He is handling this new team well and has not forgotten how to tell a good story. Already we see Lighting Lad struggle with being the leader, his teams are ill-conceived to handle the missions they have been sent on and now Saturn Girl’s team is in danger of being killed. The artist Francis Manapul was unknown to me, but I think he has a nice clean style that fits the book. Although Gwen feels he draws some characters too old.

Superman Confidential #11 – This book I have been waiting for a long time. The final chapter of Darwyn Cooke’s and Tim Sale’s tale of Superman’s first experience with Kryptonite. I have really hated the long delays in many Superman stories such as “The Last Son” and “Camelot Falls”, but this one I could live with easily as it really did not impact anything else going on in the Superman continuity.

Superman/Batman #45 – This is a book that seems to be somewhat in continuity, but usually stands on its own as separate adventures. I mention this because this arc is about trying to collect all the kryptonite in the world. This issue Aquaman (I guess the new one) has issues with them taking it. So if they succeed this should impact the Superman books if nothing else. Side note this is the second time DC has gotten rid of kryptonite as I believe in the seventies it had gotten to the point where muggers had some and could fend off Superman.

Tangent Comics Volume 2 – Collecting more of the Tangent Comics that DC did as a fifth week event a few years back. With the impending mini-series I wonder if DC is making a push to try and really use these characters, either in the DCU or see if they work as solo series.

Teen Titans #55 – Who said they don’t do romance comics anymore. If this cover is not a classic romance cover I do not know what is. The passionate kiss and the two young lovers cry as they know it is a love that can never be. I’m starting to get teary eyed just typing the words. I hope that this “quiet” issue is one where new writer Sean McKeever starts to put a real direction in this book.

Uncle Sam and The Freedom Fighters #5 (of 8) – This has been a great series and even better then the first mini-series. I should pick these up as trades down the road. The Red Bee is still the focus and she seems to have taken over, but the Human Bomb is about to explode.

Wonder Woman #16 – Ever since Gail Simone took over this book she has been disappearing from the writing credits at DC. She is off Birds of Prey, Atom, Gen13 and Welcome to Tranquility was canned by DC. I hope that just means she is working on some big or new project for DC as Gail just once a month is not enough. We are on part 3 of her take on Wonder Woman and it is okay so far, but she has not hit a home run on this book yet, and this series desperately needs one.

Authority Prime #4 (of 6) – This has been a real bright spot in the otherwise dimming Wildstorm Universe. Christos (why is he not exclusive) Gage has produced a book that had a rationale for Authority and Stormwatch Prime to battle and now an old Bendix failsafe has doppelgangers of each member so we get everyone fighting themselves. Well written and terrific art by Darick Robertson.

Faker #6 (of 6) – Mike Carey's and Jock’s tale of four college students and liquid computers and memories all comes to a conclusion. If the conclusion is as good as the rest of the series I would recommend getting the trade if you haven’t been getting the series.

Testament #23 – The final issue of the series. I think that this book would have read better as a trade as it is a dense read, with multiple plotlines that only semi-inter-weave. The official hype “In the final issue of TESTAMENT, human beings, led by Jake and his father, rise to the level of their gods, exploiting the creative power of the nanos within them. But there's only room for one set of gods in this universe, and the Bible's deities will not go down without a fight. Finally, as a new reality emerges, a child waiting to be born, holds the key to humanity's next great story.” I get the feeling that the writer was trying to cram too much into this issue to get to where his story ended. I believe many Vertigo series should be planned to end and not have to be set-up as ongoing series. That being said we do not need to know how many issues it is going to have.

Hellblazer #240 – Wow, John Constantine series is 20 years old. What a testament to all of the writers who have worked on this book over the years. Jamie Delano, Garth Ennis, Brian Azzarello, Mike Carey and many others and now Andy Diggle. The book has not always been the strongest and some writers made him less then what I view him as, but I believe everyone brought their “A” game to this book. I also think having Leonard Manco being the main artist on this book for a few years is a huge plus. This arc is about an African war-mage who is looking for Constantine and not to say hi. Diggle has made this a great series again, as John is the uncompromising bastard that I believe he was meant to be.

After the Cape II #3 (of 3) – The second chapter in our “hero’s”(?) story comes to an end. I’m guessing that the market plan for this group is to have short arcs of a story and to market it as a series of mini-series. I believe they would be better off shooting for 5 to 6 part arcs to set-up for trades down the road. Dark Horse has cornered this approach and has done it right with BPRD and Fear Agent. Still it is interesting to see them deconstruct this hero and really take him so far down that you wonder is their any chance for true redemption.

Frank Frazettas’ Death Dealer #6 (of 6) – The conclusion to this mini-series where it is the Death Dealer vs. almost everyone. Joshua Ortega is writing a solid and entertaining sword & sorcery style book, but Nat Jones is absolutely hitting it out of the park with his art work.

New World Order #1 – Okay and unknown writer and artist team to me and a concept that is not really ratcheting up my interest level. The official hype “"DAWN OF A NEW DAY" Inspired by the research of occult master Jordan Maxwell - the man who exposed the Illuminati - New World Order is the untold story of the "Lonely Ones", the real-life truth seekers who are attempting to awaken the masses to a world that is torn between its own unlimited potential for greatness?and self-destruction!” Still I like to check out new series and see what is what, so this made my list for at least issue #1.

Scream #3 (of 4) – Peter David and Bart Sears little four part saga of a man who now has the power to manifest a raging beast to do what he cannot. A twist on the Hulk and who better then David to explore that type of character. Overall the series has been okay, but is certainly not “a can’t miss”.

Left on Mission Trade Paperback – Okay you screwed up and missed the best mini-series of 2007 and one of the best comics period in 2007. All is forgiven as the trade comes out this week and it even contains a quote from this blog on the back cover (Thanks Chip). Over hyping something gets old and I have probably been guilty of it, but only in trying to get everyone reading to try this book out. Chip Mosher and Francesco Francavilla did a great job on this story. The official hype “Former agent Eric Westfall has been called out of his perfect, complete-with-wife-and-kid suburban retirement to stop a rogue agent from auctioning a stolen hard-drive on the black market for $50 million. Eric's mission: Turn his target back into a loyal agent for the government, or kill her -- despite the fact that the two of them were once lovers! Winding its way through some of the world's most exotic locales, Left On Mission provides non-stop excitement and intrigue.” Pick it up and/or demand your store to order it. If you read it and don’t like it, then you apparently have poor taste in comics :)

Atlantis Rising #3 (of 5) – The war between Atlantis and Earth continues. This series has been fast paced and relatively well done. I still can not fully appreciate the artist style as it is over lined for lack of a better description.

Ghosting #4 (of 5) – This tale of college students hazing gone wrong and ghosts has been a book that I'm almost always ready to drop as it feels like a “B” slasher movie in some ways. Still I’m sticking it out to the end to see if the ending manages to have some originality.

Afterburn #1 (of 4) – A new number one from one of my favorite publishers (yes I like others besides BOOM Studios) Red 5 Comics. This one is a post apocalyptic tale and it is an easy read and well done. The disaster starts the story and the premise is set up so fast that you are immediately into the story. Scott Chitwood (creator), with Paul Ens as co-scripter and Wayne Nichols on pencils have produced a good read and sharp looking book for an issue #1. The disaster is a massive solar flare burns one half of the Earth. Our main character one year later is part of a crew that goes anywhere to “recover" artifacts from the ruined half of the world. After reading issue #1 (which I saw as a preview) I’m looking forward to issue #2.

Dan Dare #3 (of 7) – This book has been coming out on a regular basis like clockwork and it is a big benefit as I was unfamiliar with Dare and needed this book to be on time for it to not fall off my radar. If I remember correctly the sh*t is hitting the fan as Earth is also under attack as well as a fight in outer space as Dan’s old enemy is launching his attack on multiple fronts.

Grimm Fairy Tales #20 – I’m never waiting for the next issue as these are mostly one and done tales, so I’m always surprised to see another issue in what seems like a short time frame. Zenoscope has started to inject some overall story into these one and done tales. This book may yet turn into Sela’s story of why she has the book of fairy tales and seems destined to try and help people with these stories.

Astonishing X-Men #24 – I sincerely love the hype for this issue “Everything, from #1 to now, comes down to this. Things will change. One will not return. This is the end. Or is it?” Now I maybe wrong but hasn’t every single X-Men that went on this trip has returned already in Messiah Complex? Of course it does not say an X-Man won’t return. This book started with such promise, but Joss Whedon had some good character moments, but did not tell an interesting of a story and wasted the talents of John Cassady for over two years. Only the Giant-Sized book to wait for and then this quagmire will be over.

Hulk Visionaries: Peter David Volume 5 – I really enjoy this trade series as we get a high quality color reproduction of Peter David’s run on the Hulk. The end of David’s run was not that compelling, but this time frame (issues #364-372) was entertaining and worth re-reading one day.

Iron Man #25 – It is funny that I enjoy the actual Iron Man series, but I’m sick and tired of seeing Iron Man in almost every damn comic that I read from Marvel. This issue Tony has been cut off from most of his resources and has to still face off against the Mandarin. This is a classic problem that when you make a hero too powerful you either have to up the power level of his foes or reduce your hero’s power to make the fight have any drama.

Ultimates 3 #2 (of 5) – Okay if anyone is reading this and saying why is he buying this, you have every right to think that. I’m so embarrassed to be picking it up I almost did not list it. It is the early favorite to be worst book of next week. Yet I’m buying it because it is like the car wreck on the side of the road that you can’t take your eyes off. Also it is not like I have to knock a book off my list to still pick it up. If I felt budgeted restricted at all I would not get this book.

X-Men #207 – The end of “Messiah Complex”. This series has really slowed down and become overwhelmed by the weight of how many characters that have included in this cross-over. They have had too much going on to effectively wrap-up in one book. Personally I dropped out of X-Men for a few years and then got back into it with Grant Morrison, then left and I tried to get back into the books with Brubaker and Carey, it still is not working for me. I just hope X-Factor recovers from this cross-over.

X-Men First Class #8 – This is an enjoyable and lighter book that is reinventing and updating the adventures of the first X-Men Class. Always a good read by Jeff Parker and Roger Cruz.

This looks to be a decent week of comics. The overall month has been an easier month for me as I had very few hard covers and five weeks spreads out the volume of material I read.

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