Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Best to Worst of Last Week

A decent amount of books came out, but as I was reading nothing was causing me to type out Best Book Candidate when I was doing my mini-reviews of each title. The process I go through in producing this post is to read two comics at a time (sometimes up to four) and then type up my impressions. If something is especially impressive I will type out Best Book Candidate to highlight it. Then when I do this post I sort out what should be the top book of the week. This post takes from Wednesday to Sunday to produce. Often when I find a Best Book candidate it becomes harder to find another as once I choose you have to be at least as good as that book. I was very deep into my reading before giving that nod to a title and then no one else tied it, so the top book was done. It is the first time I have had that happen since doing this post.

Bad Planet #5 (of 6) – Writers Steve Niles and Thomas Jane, Art James Daly III and Tim Bradstreet on the framing sequence, Dave Kendall for the origin, Colors Grant Goleash. I believe this is a six issue mini-series and as the blurb for next issue says to be concluded I think six is it. The art on this book is just stellar. James Daly and Tim Bradstreet’s framing sequence around the origin of the Alien guy trying to save Earth was extremely well done, and add to that the painted sequence by Dave Kendall giving us the back story on the Alien and it was flat out a gorgeous book. The story itself was also well done as we find out this Alien is the last of his kind and he was duped into delivering the cargo of death spiders to his own planet. Once the spiders overran and destroyed his world it was labeled a “Bad Planet” by the rest of the galaxy. Earth is about to be next and that’s why he came here to find some redemption. I flat out love this series and don’t care how late it is. Waiting for material of this quality is not a problem. One more thing about the art, this cover is by Kaluta and next issue is by the late Dave Stevens. It is over the top science fiction / horror madness of the variety that reminds us of old movies, but they were never this good. While it is all that it is also a very well written story and makes you feel for the characters.
Infinite Horizon #3 (of 6) – By Gerry Dugan and Phil Noto. This issue was a little bit
late and it also felt like Phil Noto’s art was a little rushed or something. Not far off from the first two issues, just not as good. The Captain this issue is fighting a Cyclops as he battles his way back home. The Cyclops is an armored warrior whose helmet creates him to appear to have only one eye. Of the men left only the Captain is left standing and is almost beaten by the creature when through luck and determination the Captain takes him down and escapes this island in a plane. The Captain is exhausted and falls asleep as one of the men flies the plane and after an indeterminate amount of time he wakes to the plane crashing. His journey home is once again delayed. At the same time we see the Captain’s wife is taking a more proactive approach to getting her son back. This is a great series and plays on an emotional level as well as an action/adventure.
DC Wildstorm Dreamwar #1 (of 6) – Writer Keith Giffen, Art Lee Garbett and Trevor Scott, Colors Randy Mayor. I would never believe how much I enjoyed this issue. Keith Giffen has the Wildstorm Earth being hit by multiple trans-dimensional jumps. Those jumps bring an early version of the JLA, the early Wolfman/Perez Titans and the original Legion of Super Heroes show up. The artwork by Lee Garbett and Trevor Scott is fantastic. The first two page spread as the JLA Sanctuary shows up with the original JLA was pure gold. The Authority and others are looking into what this means and we get a great fight with Majestic and the Teen Titans. Another little touch that was perfect was Alan Scott, Jay Garrick and Ted Grant showing up in Tranquility. This first issue has a good story with a lot of mysteries to draw you in; excellent artwork to show off all the various super heroes and nice touches of Giffen’s trademarked humor.
Hellblazer #243 – Writer Andy Diggle, Pencils Giuseppe Camuncoli, Inks Stefano Landini, Colors Lee Loughridge. This series is just flat out one of the best right now. This issue we see John Constantine show up at the Vatican door step to help out a Priest who has gotten himself caught up in some very nasty and sinful stuff. This priest happens to be one of the “black librarians” of the Vatican and the thing that can help him is a very specific book. You could see going in the John was setting the guy up and that he wanted the book that only this Priest and a few others had access to, but it still worked out so far. Of course we have the second half of the story to see what goes wrong, because nothing works 100% the way John wants it to usually. The guest pencil artist was a surprise to me as I had seen in some super hero work and it looks so clean and sharp that I would not have guessed he could also work so well in this type of book. I believe he did a Jonah Hex book also. I have to appreciate an artist who can work in well in many types of books.
Fear Agent #20 Hatchet Job #4 (0f 5) – Writer Rick Remender, Pencils Kieron Dwyer, Finishes Jerome Opena, Colors Michelle Madsen. This book was running late and the notes said that Kieron Dwyer chipped in to help Jerome and boy did it work. It still looked like Jerome and I’m assuming it is faster to finish a book then do the layouts, pencils and inks (duh), great job by all involved in the art. Also Rick gave us the run down on how the series can be read in a linear format. Listen I’m enjoying this series so much that I want a hardcover edition and I want in the linear order. The story of Heath and Charlotte and Mara has been great. We have action/adventure/cliff hangers/humor/drama and all done well. If you are not reading Fear Agent you are making a mistake.
Ghost Rider #22 – Writer Jason Aaron, Art Roland Boschi, Colors Dan Brown. Once again Jason Aaron delivers another solid issue in this series. I’m enjoying Ghost Rider a lot and it takes a lot for me to pick up a series again after I have dropped it. This issue is all out action as the cannibalistic ghost of the highway get the boy away from Ghost Rider. We are treated to page after page of all out action as Ghost Rider is using his motorcycle, hell fire and anything else to take this group out. We also catch up with the deputy who has been taken captive and get the absurdist shot of his captor driving and eating the deputy’s hand at the same time. We also have a mysterious figure on the road side telling the nurses what they need to be doing and I get the feeling that it is the second Ghost Rider Danny Ketch (who I have no idea what happened to as I have not followed Ghost Rider for years). Roland Boschi is off this book after this arc, but I hope he comes back as his action and layouts are great. He has a thin line and a sketchy type style that looks great in this book.
Robin #173 – Writer Chuck Dixon, Pencils Chris Batista, inks Cam Smith with Rick Ketcham, Colors Guy Major. This was a very good issue of this series. We saw Tim (Drake) Wayne visit his friend and talk to him about the cancer problem he is dealing with. We find out his friend has lost his hair and the cancer is very treatable, but it is still scary to his friend. The conversation felt natural. We also get to see Robin in action and we see that the detectives he has been dealing with are not the good guys. I liked this element because if Gotham has always had a corrupt police force it would take even Jim Gordon a long time to clean up all of it. Remember Gotham and Metropolis are supposed to be New Your City size places in the DCU. Then we see Robin set-up by these guys in tracking down counterfeit bills. He runs into Violet and has an altercation with her and then Spoiler shows up. A very dramatic moment as Robin loses it over someone else (at least he thinks) is using Stephanie’s old garb. The art by Batista is well done and the writing was great. Sometimes when you are reading a comic, voices are not right or an event feels forced, this all felt very natural and it just flowed perfectly. Chuck Dixon owns this title.
Suicide Squad Raise the Flag #8 (of 8) – Writer John Ostrander, Pencils Javi Pina, Inks (and some pencils) Robin Riggs, Colors Jason Wright. In Captain Marvel this week we have a skrull who has been turned into Captain Marvel and given his memories. He decides that he is Captain Marvel and continues his life. This issue Rick Flag is given the chance to go back to his old life, but all he remembers is being Rick Flag and decides to stay Rick Flag. It is interesting to me that similar themes occasionally come up in different comics at the same time. It is no more then a coincidence, but still interesting. Two mega-events side by side are just cross marketing so the other guy doesn’t bury you (like Marvel did with Civil War versus DC). A long prelude to what was a good ending for a very good series. In typical squad fashion the mission is completed, but not without a lot of causalities. Deadshot taking out the board blind while being shot out was great and Rick outsmarting General Eling was also a nice touch. The inker Robin Riggs contributed five pages as a pencil artist also and I feel that hurt the book as Riggs is a great inker but not a strong pencil artist. I’m always confused about this, but I know DC has been pushing hard to keep things monthly and I assume that maybe the reason. My issue is that this series was not really impacting on anything else, so I would have let it be a month late if need be. One thing this series showed me is that the Squad needs their own unlimited series again and John Ostrander should be the writer. I have ordered the trade.
Brave and Bold #12 – Writer Mark Waid, Pencils Jerry Ordway, Inks Bob Wiacek, Colors Tom Smith. A solid ending to this tale. It is funny that the story turned out to really be more about the Challengers of the Unknown then anyone else. Jerry Ordway did an excellent job with the art, especially considering the number of characters he was being forced to draw. Megistus is apparently gathering all of these artifacts to effect a massive transmutation of the Earth. Superman, Ultra-Man, Green Lantern and the Challengers go out to fight Megistus, who is hiding inside the sun. A really great action issue and the hero at the end of the day is June, who is an unofficial Challenger as she has never cheated death. By using the Philosopher’s Stone she stops the menace of the cloud set to transform Earth and appears to die. She is given this chance as the rest of the heroes have been taking Megistus down. Mark Waid even throws in a little remark from Megistus that he was trying to stop a crisis. Anyway, the Challengers find out June has cheated death, but where she ended up no one knows. This book has been a throwback to simpler days and the whole series to date has been a very enjoyable read. Put all 12 in a hardcover and I will buy it.

Grendel Behold the Devil #6 (of 8) – By Matt Wagner. What an unbelievable
ending to this issue. As with every issue in this series it is a quick and enjoyable read. In this issue we get a terrific fight scene as Grendel attacks the Korean drug lord who tried to take him out. After a gruesome fight where Grendel wins, he then performs the mystic ritual to summon the demon that has been bedeviling him. The demon is an odd looking nasty little creature whose appearance is almost comical. I can’t wait to see where Matt is taking us with this story.
Iron Man #28 – Writers Daniel and Charles Knauf, Art Roberto de la Torre, Colors Dean White. This was a decent ending to the entire Mandarin story line that ALMOST makes up for the dragged out length of the story. I have read that the father/son writing team will be back after a four issue fill-in arc by Stuart Moore, so I will try Stuart’s first issue, because with a list as big as mine, I find it difficult to drop and an add a book all the time. Also Stuart Moore (if memory serves) is a decent writer. The story starts out with Tony being charged with a series of war crimes and is stripped of his directorship. Maria Hill uses her powers as Shield Director to give Tony time to escape and go after the Mandarin. He uses another old armor to go after the Mandarin. I guess if you are a huge Iron Man fan seeing the old suits is a big deal, but for me it is like seeing him wear a different shirt, in other words I don’t care. The showdown is done very well and Tony’s solution is dramatic and well played. Another nice touch is the ending where we find out the Mandarin is not dead. I liked that touch at the end as we all know he wasn’t dead but it was good to get it out of the way immediately. If it was not for the over exposure of Iron Man in the rest of the Marvel Universe I would enjoy this title a lot more. The art by De la Torre was very well done and the action which drove this book was excellent. Finally I appreciated the extra sized ending of a 36 page story and it only cost a $1 more.character.
Annihilation Conquest #6 (of 6) – Writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, Pencils Tom Raney Pages 5-33, Wellington Alves Pages 1-4, 34-36, Inks Scott Hanna, Colorist Frank D’Armata. This series was a little bit up and down, but it ended on the plus side. It opens with an Alien Armada outside the barrier surrounding Kree Space, when Nova and friends show up. Nova tells them to back off and then go through the barrier to take the fight to Ultron. Every group and member played a role. Starlord’s group knocked out the Babel Spiral to weaken the shield around Kree space which allowed Nova’s group to get in. Warlock forced Ultron to abandon Adam Warlock’s body. Quasar had Warlock’s soul in her quantum bands and put Adam Warlock back together. At the end everyone was used and it ended with Ultron and the Phalanx defeated. It also set up a status quo for the new series coming out Guardians of the Galaxy. Finally the book laid the groundwork of further problems that maybe coming down the road. Hopefully we will wait two years before the next cosmic event. Ultimately Marvel has done a nice job in building up their space heroes and we now have what looks to be two good series set out in space with Nova and the new GOTG. The artwork was solid and Tom Raney is a very good super hero artist and Scott Hanna is top of the line inker. Frank D’Armata is a heavy headed colorist and I think his work muddies a lot of good artwork.
Tangent Superman’s Reign #2 (of 12) - Writer Dan Jurgens, Pencils Jamal Ingle, Inks Robin Riggs, Colors Dom Regan. The second issue was almost as good as the first. This series has drawn me in without my even having caught up with the Tangent Universe reprints. This issue our Flash and Green Lantern are brought into the Tangent world with that world’s Flash. The Joker (in her civilian identity) is going through re-indoctrination so she can fit into society. The Tangent Superman realizes old “friends” are active again and realizes he will have to take steps to stop them. The fascist utopian society that Superman has formed will be challenged by the heroes of this Earth again and what role Wally West and John Stewart will play has yet to be explored. Great story so far of a super hero appointing himself master of the earth. The back-up (History Lesson by Writer Ron Marz, Pencils Ferando Pasarin, Inks Jesse Delperdang, Colors Dom Reagn) is doing a really nice job of filling us in on the Tangent Universe history as well as advancing a story line that I’m sure will play into the main story line down the road.
Pigeons from Hell #1 (of 4) – Writer Joe R. Lansdale, Art Nathan Fox, Colors Dave Stewart. This is the best title for a comic in a long time. It is so absurd that it is just funny. Still when you are near a lot of pigeons they are from Hell. This is an adaptation of a Robert E. Howard’s story. Not knowing the source material, all I can say is that it was an enjoyable beginning. Two black sisters have inherited and old plantation buried in the Louisiana forest/swamp. Apparently for reasons unknown their ancestor was a slave there and it was left to her in the will when the owner died. The two sisters and three friends go to visit the house and find a dilapidated place filled with dead pigeons, rotting stairs and just plain creepy. As they are exploring the house Bill (one of the friends) falls and breaks his leg with the bone coming through his skin. The group rushes to get him to a hospital and they hit a deer and lose control and the car goes in the swamp. As it is now dark they are forced to spend the night in the house as Bill is getting sicker. This chapter ends with ghosts surrounding the house. I was not familiar with Nathan Fox but he has a Becky Cloonan / Mike Mignola vibe to his work and it works very well for this type of story. This does what a first issue should do and that is having me looking forward to the next issue.
Sword #7- Story, Script and Layouts Joshua Luna, Story and Illustrations Jonathan Luna. This was the weakest issue in the series so far. This book has been on an incredible high for six issues, so while it was the weakest issue so far for this series it was still a decent book. This issue Dara starts her plan to find the three “gods” who killed her family and based on some information her and her friends head to the Bahamas. They hitch a ride on a boat, the people after some time recognize her and are afraid. Then pirates attack and Dara saves the day and earns the trust of this people. It was way, way too convenient, even for a comic. Another element was checking in on the “gods” as they have conference call going discussing why the sword has disappeared. Then it becomes just a call between the girl goddess and one brother who is in love with his sister (just really ewwww) and has been for thousands of years. She tells him to stop it and hangs up on him.
Noble Causes #32 – Writer Jay Faerber, Art Yildiray Cinar, Colors Ron Riley. This was a very good jumping on point. I have a very limited knowledge of this book and immediately was comfortable with the concept and the characters. We got an adventure with the group, saw their headquarters, learned that one member is being blackmailed and that what appeared to be a friend of the group is exactly someone who is looking to kill them. It is nice to see a comic have an objective and do it. For the new reader (me) I was hooked and wanted to see more. I’m curious to know if this was jarring for regular readers and if there are major changes in the status quo, but it read perfectly to get a new reader to sign on and I have.
War is Hell: First Flight of the Phantom Eagle #2 (of 5) – Writer Garth Ennis, Art Howard Chaykin, Colors Brian Reber. This is possibly the longest title in comic book history and an interesting book. First off Chaykin’s stylized art is still hard to take at times, but since the main character is American Flagg I can always identify him, but his plane and air battle stuff with the WWI bi-planes is gorgeous. This issue the mystery around Kaufman (never called the Phantom Eagle at this point) is learning how to be a pilot. We also see that he does not fit in yet and the other pilots are playing with his naiveté. The funny scene is where they push him into a room with a hooker and he had a great time and she is bored as they are doing it. She asks for money and he thinks it is a loan and goes skipping down the street singing that he is in love.
Flash #239 – Writer Tom Peyer, Art Freddie E. Williams II, Colors Tanya and Rcihard Horie. A good issue by Tom Peyer as he gets his feet on the ground so he can start running with this series (ouch bad puns abound). Seriously I enjoyed this issue as we see “Spin” is manipulating everyone into hating the Flash and even manages to get Jay Garrick to be against Wally. As a good Flash adventure it is good story, but this series needs a big story to really get it going again. I mean we brought Wally and Linda back from the dead (well missing) and they have children. We had a huge “Lighting Saga” story bringing Wally back, there needs to be a reason why it was so important to have him back. One thing this series has going for it big time is Freddie Williams II on the art side, he is getting better with every issue.
76 #3 (of 8) – Jackie Karma Writer B. Clay Moore, Art Ed Tadem. When I read this comic I can’t help but hear a sound track in my head, especially for the Jackie Karma story. I kept hearing Shaft this issue. When you read a lot of books a month and then you have a two feature book it is difficult to remember all the characters and story lines. I usually skip any introductions and did in this book, but I immediately picked up 90% of the story. Needless to say the Jackie Karma story is just a lot of fun. It is a period piece, kung-fu action, relationships and a story of recognizing the past is always a part of you. Cool Writer Seth Peck, Art Tigh Walker. Cool does not created a sound track in my head, but I have come to enjoy this story more as it develops. We have Cherry running around with the drug money trying to get out of town and everyone connected to the money chasing each other. Guns are being fired, people are running for their lives and you don’t know how it will all work out, but you are just grooving to the ride.
Salvation Run #6 (of 7) – Writer Matthew Sturges, Pencils Sean Chen, Inks Walden Wong, Colors John Kalisz. The penultimate issue sets the final stage before all hell breaks loose. We see the Martian Manhunter being held captive, we see Vandal Savage working to control his group and we see the Joker and Luthor go after each other in hand to hand combat. As a side note we see Cheetah comes back to Vandal Savage’s group and he asks what happens and she brushes it off, but if you read Catwoman you know what it was and the continuity between the two books was very tight, nice job! The ending is a series of Boom Tubes open up and parademons are coming down to kill everyone. I can’t wait to see how this wraps up.
Bat Lash #5 (of 6) – Writers Peter Brandvold and Sergio Aragones, Artist John Severin, Colors Steve Buccellato. This is just a really solid western. Essentially it down to Bat has two enemies. One is the Sheriff and one is the girl whom he loves father, Brubaker. Since the Sheriff has become a liability Brubaker is trying to have him killed. So after a series of events where Bat’s Comanche friends help him out we end the issue with Brubaker dead by his daughter’s hands and Bat riding off the have a final showdown with the Sheriff. John Severin’s art is absolutely perfect for western’s and war stories and this issue show John still can outdraw almost anybody. If you enjoy westerns you will enjoy this series.
Willow #1 (of 5) – Story Denny Williams, Josh Medors & Christian Beranek, Writers Denny Williams and Christian Beranek, Art Josh Medors. This is an interesting mini-series so far. It is very reminiscent of 30 Days of Night for a few reasons. First we are in Willow Creek which is very small community in the middle of nowhere. Second we are in the middle of winter. Next we have a supernatural menace killing people and only a local Sheriff and her new deputy to deal with it. Finally the artwork is very good, but stylistically is similar to Ben Templesmith. It is amazing that we see so many artists almost come from certain schools stylistically and Josh Medor could be a fill-in for Ben Templesmith. Having said all of that it is a good story and being told well. I want to know what this werewolf creature is, why are the Native American character acting like he knows what it is and why did the new deputy bring his wife and child to Willow Creek?
Catwoman #78 - Writer Will Pfeifer, Pencils David Lopez, Inks Alvaro Lopez, Colors Jeromy Cox. This series I have heard is being cancelled soon and that is a crying shame if true. I have consistently enjoyed this series under the helm of Ed Brubaker and Darwyn Cooke and under Will Pfeifer and David and Alvaro Lopez. I believe that covers the entire run. This issue we are still on the prison planet and Catwoman makes a deal with her old enemies Hammer and Sickle to help each other get off the planet. As they are spying on Luthor’s group Cheetah jumps her and a fight ensures that drops Catwoman smack dab in the middle of Luthor’s camp and a Boom Tube appears in the sky overhead. Meanwhile back on Earth Slam Bradley is trying to find Selina and gets information from a kid who can duplicate himself. That story ends with Slam walking into a room filled with this kid’s duplicates. The art work as always is fantastic and it is a very easy read. I enjoy catching up with Selina every month and will be sorry to see her series end for now.
X-Factor #30 – Writer Peter David, Pencils Valentine DeLandro, Inks Andrew Hennessy, Colors Jeromy Cox. This book is missing something and I think it is Layla. The lost of Wolfsbane hurt a little, but losing Layla out of the series has really hurt it. This issue Arcade’s plan does not take out X-Factor, but the failsafe plan has been set. The failsafe is a series of bombs designed to destroy mutant town once the purifier who hired Arcade dies. He has taken poison and dies with X-Factor standing around him. His hatred for them stems from his being kicked out of the purifiers as he sponsored Rictor, not knowing he was a spy. All in all a good story, but this series was something special and it has lost that special vibe that it had. I’m not sure if it is the Messiah Complex interruption, the rotating artists or the prospect that Longshot will be a part of the group, but it just has lost something.
Gotham Underground #7 (of 9) – Writer Frank Tieri, Pencils Jim Califiore, Inks Jack Purcell, Colors Brain Reber. This continues to be a solid series. This issue Riddler saves Nightwing and gets him to a hospital, Penguin beats Tobias Whale and then offers him a partnership to stop Intergang from taking over Gotham and Batman shows up and is shutting down the Vigilante. I love different types of story and within super hero comics I also enjoy different types of stories. In each one of the Batman books and this mini-series we have different types of stories and all are being done well. It is a good time to be a Batman family fan.
Perhapanauts #1 – Writer Todd DeZago, Art Craig Rousseau, Colors Rico Renzi. I’m struggling with liking this book. Still Bjooks (frequent commentator and one day maybe you will do a guest post for us) has it as one of his books that he buys so it must have some merit. I think that since I have fallen in love with Proof and that the books seem so close to each other that it is a little bothersome. Especially since this book was on the market first and that means Proof is borrowing liberally from Perhapanauts for ideas. Still as I read this issue the books achieved more of a level of separation in my mind and I was starting to really enjoy MG, Arisa and the other group members. A group of paranormals working to keep the world save from mysteries and the paranormal. Bottom line between the Annual and this issue I’m very close to being sold on this series.
Cthulhu Tales #1 – Anthology titles are so iffy in today’s market that I’m shocked when people but them out there. We have three short stories in this issue. The Eyes of Madness by Steve Niles and Chee. A fun little tale of either madness or people who can see evil. The Farm by Michael Alan Nelson and Sunder Raj. This tale revolves around some young boys breaking into a “body farm” that is supposedly used to train police and FBI agents in searching for dead bodies. The boys are scared by some creature and then is shot by a police man on the farm. The boys are told to be quiet and leave. Well done, but feels like a set-up for a longer story to be played out. Exactly the Right Word by Steve Niles and Chee. A quick little tale of superstition, baseball and the evil of Cthulhu. A fun short story that was cute and clever. BOOM takes chances and I appreciate that they do and this book is well worth you $$ if you enjoy horror tales.
Iron Man Legacy of Doom #1 (of 4)- Story and Script David Micheline, Pencils Ron Lim, Story and Inks Bob Layton, Colors Moose Baumann. This was a good start to this mini-series. I had not re-read the earlier story that this was based on, but the recap was good enough. Dr. Doom essentially tricks Iron Man into helping him stop a group of soldiers from attacking his castle and then brings Iron Man to hell supposedly to stop Mephisto from hastening the end of days. Of course Dr. Doom pulls a double cross and is actually exchanging Iron Man for some object. The artwork by Ron Lim and Bob Layton looks great. Bob Layton has always been a top flight inker and is such a strong artist that his inking influences the look of the pencil artist’s work. You have to leave your ego at the door I imagine to let Bob Layton ink your work, but he gives everything a really nice clean classic super hero finish. The story was very simple and straight forward and looks like it should be an entertaining series. Of course seeing Mephisto brings up those bad Spider-Man memories.

Captain America #37 – Writer Ed Brubaker, Art Steve Epting, Colors Frank D’Armata. This issue almost nothing happens. I read it in about 3 minutes and then realized that almost nothing happened. Steven Grant in his Permanent Damage
column has talked at length of the graphic novel versus the monthly comic. This issue read very much like a chapter you would read in a long novel. It did some character bits and moved the plot along an inch. Essentially what happened is Sam (Falcon) Wilson goes to Bucky and they decide they will rescue Sharon. Sharon finds the Steve Rogers creature and it is obviously some creation of Arin Zola. That’s was the extent of it for $3. Don’t get me wrong this has been a very good story. It is essentially one long story about the return of Bucky and what it means to be Captain America that has been going on for 37 issues so far. I just believe that with some editing the pace could be picked up and it would be a better book. Steve Epting delivers a very solid art job and then Frank D’Armata over colors the book.
Superman #675 – Writer Kurt Busiek, Pencils Renato Guedes and Jorge Correa Jr (pages 21-30), Inks Jose Wilson Magalhaes, Colors David Curiel. This was an okay issue, but one that was ultimately unsatisfying. I’m not even exactly sure why it missed the mark with me; perhaps Kurt’s ending to his time on this title was a little too esoteric. Superman resolves the potential that civilization will go into a dark age by creating a series of repositories of human knowledge. At the same time he deals with Paragon and a group of Daxamite priests. In writing the summary we have too much going on in this issue and Busiek is tying up some loose ends really fast as he hits the door. Also he throws in a teaser for his upcoming Trinity series. Finally the new artist Reanto Guedes is not my favorite choice for a Superman artist. His layouts and page design is fine, the thin line work gives Superman less of a dramatic quality then I would want, but the art is good, just not what I would choose for Superman.
Captain Marvel #5 (of 5)- Writer Brian Reed, Pencils Lee Weeks, Inks Jesse Delperdang, Colors Matt Milla. Okay so this series at least did nothing to invalidate Captain Marvel and what had happened with him in the past. It also played with some of the themes that Phillip K. Dick loved and were explored in Total Recall (I use the movie as name as a more widely recognized reference). Who we are is based on what we know. So if we were to be given new memories and could no longer remember our past lives, who are we? Phillip K. Dick explored that theme in so many ways and this book plays it on, because Captain Marvel is a skrull. He is a skrull who has been made into Captain Marvel and was given most if not all of Captain Marvel’s memories. He was also given a key picture to cause him to remember everything, but his programming was screwed up and now he knows who he is, but he is Captain Marvel. The other little bit was the skrulls were able to duplicate the nega-bands, but fortunately due to the scarcity of the material only once (comic book convenience). On one had they do not invalidate the prior Captain Marvel, on the other hand you have a hero who theoretically could go rogue anytime. Bottom line I don’t like it right now. Part of it is that it is the Spider-clone thing again Also in this way anybody can be brought back from the dead. Finally the whole idea that if who we are defined on memories only (and how reliable is that all the time) is a little unsettling.
Batman and the Outsiders #6 - Writer Chuck Dixon, Carlos Rodriguez, Inks Bit, Colors Marta Martinez. This book is aggravating as it still feels a little directionless. Also the stories have not been memorable enough for me to remember from issue to issue what the heck is going on. Still we have seen a core group come together and Batman and company are trying to resolve some mystery. The actual story is Metamorpho is stuck in a space station and contacts Batman and gives him his coordinates. Batman sends the group into China to take a rocket ship about to be launched into space to save Metamorpho. Now we have to assume that since they are “Outsiders” they have to rely on their own devices to get somewhere, otherwise the JLA has space capability. And that is where this book breaks down. When I read Nightwing it feels like the DCU is real as Nightwing asks Red Arrow for help on something or Dr. Midnight helps out on a medical issue, not here. I know it is a covert operation, but the mission is too big to really be covert. If Chuck Dixon was not writing this book I would cancel it. Even Chuck only has a few more issues before I may quit it.
Countdown to Final Crisis #2 - Head Writer Paul Dini with Sean McKeever, Story Consultant Keith Giffen, Art Scott Kolins, Colors Tom Chu. The actual issue itself was not bad. It was confusing as I not sure how we got back to Metropolis, but we see Giant Mutant Turtle Jimmy Olsen and Darkseid going toe-to toe. Darkseid is about to crush Jimmy when he all of a sudden returns to normal. Ray (Atom) Palmer jumps out and crushes some device which housed all the power of the dead gods. Orion shows up and kills Darkseid and so ends Countdown, apparently an issue early. On a first and quick read it was okay, after two minutes it was horrible. The things that were wrong are numerous. First the whole book never was leading up to this. Second the Death of the New Gods series had Orion die already so what is going on here? Third what happened to Mary Marvel? Fourth Superman shows up and just watches from the sideline? Fifth some little device holds all the power of the new gods and Ray Palmer can crush it with one hand? Sixth have you read anything about Final Crisis, I have and Darkseid appears to play a big role. The more you look at this book critically the more the whole series just disintegrates. I’m looking forward to the last part of Death of the New Gods and also I’m curious to see if this synchs up with Countdown at all. I can not express how disappointed I am in this series and DC in general for green lighting this poorly executed comic that was all promise and did not deliver anything that was worth this type of year long weekly series.
X-Men Divided We Stand #1 (of 2) – This book is an anthology spotlighting certain members of the extended X-family. Cannonball – Writer Mike Carey, Art Brandon Peterson, Colors Justin Ponsor. Cannonball was an odd little story. I have not religiously followed every x-title so I always feel confused about many of the characters. Cannonball comes home and gets in a bar fight and then flies away wondering why he ever bothered to come home. I have no handle on this character anymore as he never acts the same whenever he is featured in a title I did read. I feel this is a set-up to see why he goes to be part of the Hellfire Club. Nehzno – Writer Craig Kyle and Chris Yoost, Art Sana Takeda. I have no clue who the heck this guy is at all. As an introduction to the character it left me bored. If Nehzno never is seen again it is no lose based on this appearance. Victor Words and Art Skottie Young, Color Assist Jean-Francis Beaulieu. Again another character I have no clue who he is, but I really enjoyed this story. Skottie’s art work was just terrific on this story from nine panel grid to two page splash, he delivered a lot in a short story. Also the story was good and I understood why Victor feels the way he did towards going back to a normal life and why he resents the X-Men. This story alone is almost worth the price of entry. Hellion – Writer Chris Yost, Art David LaFuente, Colors GurueFx. By now I have figured out this is mainly about the young X-Men group that I never read and this story is a good reason as to why I missed nothing. After the story was over I really learned nothing about the character and again could care less about him. Nightcrawler – Writer Matt Fraction, Artist Jamie McKelvie, Color GurueFX. This story may have been about Scalphunter and not Nightcrawler, but since I do not know Scalphunter I list is a Nightcrawler. It was an okay story and that is dragging it out of me as I’m not a big Matt Fraction fan. But the art looked horrible for Jamie McKelvie, I love his work in Suburban Glamour, but all the charm and beauty of his work was gone from this story. It might be the Marvel coloring process that seems to smooth out everyone’s art and makes it more of a house style. I noticed Skottie Young did most of his own coloring. Bottom line a meaningless story. Oh I did learn about some crap food call Migas – joy, joy.
Grimm Fairy Tales #26 – Story Joe Tyler and Ralph Tedesco, Writers Linda Ly and Raven Gregory, Pencils Claudio Sepulveda,Colors Nei Ruffino. This issue was the second part and end of the Little Mermaid tale. In the fairy tale story the Little Mermaid after being dumped by the Prince is told if she kills him the deal with the witch is off. It is all convoluted and makes no sense, but ultimately she ends up as the witch is the sea cave. In the modern tale analogy it makes equally as little sense and she ends up pregnant and in jail. I get Belinda ruined some lives and was happy, but the story did not hold together. The art was inconsistent and at times felt very rushed. This was one of the weaker issues in this series.

After skim reading all the NYCC reports I think that I have extremely high hopes for Final Crisis and some of DC’s other plans for 2008/2009. The BOOM Studio news was just frelling awesome as the marriage of Farscape and BOOM sounds perfect. I also want to know what these webisodes of Farscape are all about. The other news that made me a happier camper was to hear Gail Simone is doing an ongoing Secret Six series.

With so many companies producing so many great stories I feel like this is a great time to be a comic book fan. Yet at the same time I see the market is at a precious spot, as I believe the financial impact of a bad economy could gut this market. Also I’m slowing starting to believe that the trend to full blown graphic novels being released without a monthly is the true wave of tomorrow. The distribution of these books can be direct downloads for people who do e-books and having multiple outlets to market your product makes more sense then being stuck with just Diamond. How that will impact the specialty comic store retailers is anyone’s guess.

The short concluding thought is that we are cursed to be living in interesting times. Of course Chaos is more exciting then Order.

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