Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Best to Worst of Last Week

This has been a very busy week as we had our massive annual cook-out on Saturday, Gwen was up visiting over the week-end and we did a taping off the Cosmic Comics Conversation. So doing both of my regular posts during this week was more of a push then usual.

Dead She Said #2 (of 3) – Writer Steve Niles, Art Bernie Wrightson, Colors Grant Goleash. – Bernie Wrightson doing pencils and inks is a god send to the industry. This artist is one of the top ten artists to every work in the business. He is an illustrator who really stands alone in how strong his realism is in horror books. He is a true master of his field. The story is also outstanding as Detective Coogan, who is dead is being interviewed by the police and as he is decaying he is stinking up the joint. Coogan is starting to piece together who killed him, but not the why. In order to survive long enough to solve his murder he has to visit an old friend to get embalmed. Macabre humor, breath taking artwork, fantastic story, and my biggest gripe is it is only three issues long.
Action Comics #867 – Writer Geoff Johns, Pencils Gary Frank,
Inks Gary Frank, Colors Brad Anderson. – This series is excellent. Johns and Frank have crafted a Superman that I want to read each and every month. The first few pages of this book gave us the best Supergirl since this version of the character has been created. He defined who she is and why she is not Superman in a few simple pages. Gary Frank draws her as an attractive younger woman, but not an oversexed and overly endowed little bimbo. That was not even the best part of this book, the best parts were Johns bringing more of Clark back into the story with great scenes with his parents and some wonderful work scenes with his wife and other co-workers. Then the actual Brainiac story itself is really well done. Superman catches up with him and Brainiac destroys a sun to knock Superman out and capture him. Superman has never been better in current continuity for as far back as I can remember. I know Johns has been writing the definite Green Lantern, but now he has added Superman to that list. If he can maintain this quality I would count this as another seminal run for Johns. Geoff Johns is the best current DC writer. He respects the characters and loves them, but still knows how to tell a great story. I don’t know how long they have signed him for, but they should make it longer. Green Lantern, JSA and Action comics are books that I look forward to reading each and every month.
Joker’s Asylum The Penquin – Writer Jason Aaron, Art Jason Pearson, Colors Dave McCaig. This was an excellent issue. Jason Aaron seems to be able to do no wrong on anything he writes. I assume this was done before he signed his exclusive with Marvel, but he should not worry about being exclusive and write for everybody. His insane Joker as the narrator was great and then the actual Penguin story was just frelling great. Oswald kills everyone who makes fun of him. He finds one person he can connect with and then she discovers what he is and she tries to leave. Oswald extracts his revenge on her, without killing her. This was a great portrait of an odd ugly duckling that has been trying extract his own form of justice every since he was berated as a child by almost everyone. It has made him an evil and vile little man. I have not seen artist Jason Pearson for awhile, but damn was his art great. It had more depth and gravitas then I remember it while still maintaining his great clean line work. It had a Darwyn Cooke meets Neal Adams vibe to it in some ways.
I Kill Giants #1 (OF 7) – Writer Joe Kelly, Art JM Ken Miimura. What a wonderful first part to a new mini-series. The art has a Calvin and Hobbes vibe to is, with wonderful expressions and body language used throughout the story. The story is about a fifth grade little girl who lives in her own world and is apparently a dungeon master in a role playing game. I assume that is how she kills giants. She is a sarcastic wit, who is getting in trouble at school all the time and apparently is being raised by her big sister, who tries who best to raise Barbara. Her encounter with the principal was funny as hell and the book was just a joy to read. The icing on the cake is a little one page strip showing how Joe and JM put this book together, it was priceless. You both feel bad for Barbara’s plight and at the same time laugh with her and understand why she might take to flights of fantasy at the drop of a hat. If you miss I Kill Giants, then you are missing out on a great new series. Frost Giants beware Barbara is here.
BPRD The Warning #1 (of 5) – Writer Mike Mignola and John Arcudi, Art Guy Davis, Colors Dave Stewart. – The Mignolverse just absolutely is incredible. I swear nothing is wasted in any of the books. When I read the Lobster Johnson mini-series I thought it was interesting and had a few nice things about it, but assumed it was a throw away idea. Oh no, it is not. In this issue we see they are communing with the dead Lobster Johnson and he is leading the BPRD team to clues about one of the bad guys. The more you read of this material, the better it gets. Elements from stories you don’t think of as important become key, little ideas scattered here and there become key elements down the road. Part A and B, eventually go together after Part E and F are introduced. It is a wonderful tapestry and I’m having a blast with it.
Justice Society of America #17 – Story Geoff Johns & Alex Ross, Writer Geoff Johns, Pencils Fernando Pasarin, Inks Prentis Rollins & John Stanisci, Colors Hi-Fi. – This is a very good story, but the slow pace of the build-up in this book is a problem. Seeing Gog walk around Africa curing the ills of the world, fixing Damage’s face, making Starman sane, and curing Pieter’s blindness you know is not right. There is something ominous in the Gog. It reminds me of a movie or some show, but I can’t remember what it is, but you have to know this can’t be good. I feel especially sorry for Power Girl as her being transported back to Earth 2 (which apparently happened) cannot work out like one would hope. The story is so expansive that Power Girl’s story is being split off into an Annual. I have to give high marks to the artwork in this book as Dale Eaglesham is one heck of a hard act to follow and Fernando Pasarin is a great co-artist for this book. While not the same level of Eaglesham, he is not a second class artist by any means. This version of JSA has been terrific, but the cast is almost LOSH size and the pace needs to be faster. It’s still a top flight series, but I think pacing is important and the story beats could be sped up.
Ultimate Origins #2 (of 5) – Writer Brian Bendis, Art Butch Guice, Colors Justin Ponsor. This was almost a verbatim re-telling of the regular Marvel Universe’s Captain America origin, but it was really well done and had great art by Butch Guice, so I really enjoyed it. I have read this story many, many times and it was little changed from the regular Cap’s story, so I was surprised at how much I enjoyed seeing it again. The extra element added in was this odd totem that showed up when Captain America was created and has now turned back on in the present day Ultimate Universe.
Wonder Woman #22 – Writer Gail Simone, Pencils Aaron Lopresti, Inks Matt Ryan, Colors Brad Anderson. It has been so much fun to read this book the last three issues. This is the best Wonder Woman has been since her re-launch. It should not take 20 issues to get good. The story of Diana as she is slowly losing her soul due to contact with the Stalker has been fascinating. I love how Gail has used three old DC sword & sorcery heroes and woven them into Wonder Woman. The artwork has been much better since Aaron Lopresti has come on this book and he appears to be able to produce a monthly book. Seeing Donna Troy show up to settle whatever Tom is doing at Diana’s apartment in the real world was also a nice touch. Gail has captured the essence of Wonder Woman and for me has defined her as a compassionate warrior. Wonder Woman is someone who would prefer to show mercy and kindness, but has the strength to be able to stop injustice with more then words. Her warrior soul has to be kept in check, by her rationale mind. A tough balance but Gail is striking all the right notes with this book.
Goon #26 – Story and Art Eric Powell, Colors Dave Stewart. – Eric Powell is really bringing home this story now as the battle between the Goon and Labraizo is coming to a head. We see one of the Mudd brothers get whacked in the head with an axe. One of Goon’s guys is found to be a rat and Goon tortures and then kills him. The orphan kids as spies were hilarious. In Eric’s word the violent and over the top humor mixes together without a problem. His art is getting better and better, Dave Stewart’s colors work flawlessly with the art and Eric is growing as a writer. Goon is a winning series and one of those rare gems that is improving as it continues on.
Guardians of the Galaxy #3 – Writer Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, Pencils Paul Pelletier, Inks Rick Magyar, Colors Nathan Fairbaird. – This continues to be a great start to a new series. The Guardians are fighting members of the Universal Church of Truth and at the same time Starhawk shows up and starts to fight with Vance Astro back at Knowwhere. Of course that fight wrecks the teleportation devices the Guardians use which creates immense grief on how they planned to stop the current space/time riff. The Guardians got beat up pretty badly this mission, but the book really works. I love the characters and added mysteries surrounding the original Guardians is a great addition to a book that already had a great premise and core group. I hope we see this creative team on this book for a few years. The surprise reveal at the end showed another cocoon that the church has and they think it has Adam Warlock in it just shows how many idea DnA have for this book.
Booster Gold #1000000 – Writers Geoff Johns and Jeff Katz, Pencils Dan Jurgens, Finishes Norm Rapmund, Colors Hi-Fi. I love a happy ending and for at least this issue Booster Gold gets his happy ending. I liked that the Blue Beetle’s ending we knew had to happen takes place off panel. Then we see Booster become disenchanted with his mission as he feels it is an impossible task and maybe he should be the self centered hero he started out to be. Batman summons Booster to his cave and tells him he knows what he is doing and tells him that if Michael ever needs to talk to him he will be there. Rip Hunter surprises Booster with having saved his sister. Booster and his sister go off to Paris to have dinner and after they vanish Rip calls Booster Dad. It ends with us learning that the Carter family are the guardians of time, but all of history will only remember Booster as a self centered jerk, while he really was out saving the time stream. The series could have ended here, but next we get a two part Chuck Dixon story and then a new permanent writer, who will have a hard job living up to the start of this series.
Batman Confidential #19 - Writer Fabian Nicieza, Art Kevin Maguire, Colors ILL. It is hard to not enjoy this arc with Batgirl and Catwoman fighting each other, the bad guys and their own feelings about each other. Kevin Maguire draws action and women very well and he has such wonderful facial expressions, that it makes any writer’s job that much easier. This issue Babs and Selina decide to work together to take out the bad guys and at the end are getting their**es handed to them. The last panel is Batman walking in the midst of smoke and fire seeing them both on the ground and saying “I’m sure it is a very interesting story, but I think I’m almost afraid to ask..”
Nova #15 – Writer Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, Pencils Wellington Alves & Geraldo Burges (pgs 6-10), Inks Scott Hanna, Colors GuruFX. – DnA continue to make this and GOTG two of Marvel’s better series and tapping that vein that Keith Giffen reinvigorated when he did Annihilation. This issue Nova escapes the destruction of the world Galactus is eating, finds Harrow (in the cone of silence – LOL – Get Smart eat your heart out) and exposes Harrow so that Galactus wipes him out. As a mercy Galactus sends Nova away. All in all it sounds like a happy ending, except that Richard in saving himself may have killed the worldmind. If that is holding true I assume Richard is less powerful and will have a limited chance to restart the corps.
Detective Comics #846 – Writer Paul Dini, Pencils Dustin Nguyen, Inks Derek Fridolfs, Colors John Kalisz. – This issue supposedly ties into Batman RIP, but is only marginally involved at this point. What we are getting is the return of Hush and I think writer Paul Dini does a great job of providing us with an origin story (which I’m not sure has been done so cleanly or ever before) and a reason why he is back. Batman and Catwoman are essentially a team this month as they are going after a new criminal who uses Aesop fable themes and animals to go after his enemies. As Batman and Catwoman are defeating him, Hush shows up and kills him and then takes off. It could have been a one and done, but it the start of an arc. This was a solid beginning and a more straight forward story then the uber-confusing Batman book. Although I’m hopeful Morrison can pull it off.
Pilot Season – Urban Myths – Writer Jay Faerber, Art Jorge Molina. – Jay Faeber is doing good work everywhere and this issue is no exception. If I get to vote for two books, then this is my second as Twilight Guardian is my first. I was surprised I liked this as the premise was similar to Urban Monsters that came out earlier this year from Image, which I did not enjoy. The world is populated with mythical creatures and they are essentially integrated into our society. Centaurs, Cyclopes and our main hero, the son of Medusa populate the book. Jack Medusa is a private eye and in this book he finds a little girl who went missing after her father’s died. It was well done and had a lot of heart to the story. Plus it was a one and done, but Jay laid the ground work for what could be coming with a simple line at the end. Jack is narrating and we read “It was a fantastic morning, the best I’d had in a long time. I just wish then how terrible things were about to become.” A strong entry in the Pilot Season series.
Hybrid #1 (of 4) – Writer Peter Kwong, Art Pablo Churin, Colors Shiping Lee Studio – I enjoy checking out different publishers and seeing what some of their ideas for what a good comic is would be and Studio 407 seems to be focusing on the horror element. Hybrid was a nice start to a good horror story. An accident happens and an oil spill goes into the ocean from a drilling station. We then cut to two young couples renting a boat to go out for sun and fun. They stumble upon an ocean that has turned black and a whaling ship sort of in the middle of nowhere. Of course some of the group takes a dingy to check out the horrible dank boat because they saw a little girl on it and leave the two girl friends and the first mate on their boat. It has a lot of the elements that you hate in this type of story as the three men immediately split up to search the scary dark dank boat on their own. Some sort of monster type human attacks one of them and that is how the story ends for issue #1. The art work is solid and the overall story has enough mysteries to keep you interested. The characterization is good enough to bring you back for issue #2. What I also liked was the writer saying how he loves Creature movies and understands they need to be more then a killing machine. He also states he hates the “torture porn” movies that have become popular which is another plus for me. I was probably on the edge of getting issue #2 and then reading this leads me to believe the writer will make the rest of the series payoff. I will be back for issue #2. Another nice touch, very little filler with ads and stuff and therefore the book is thinner by about 8 pages, but only cost $2.75.
Final Crisis Requiem #1 – Writer Peter Tomasi, Pencils Doug Mahnke, Inks Christian Alamy w/Rodney Ramos, Colors Nei Ruffino. This was a decent tribute issue to J’onn J’onzz and certainly allowed those of us who are fans of the character to see a fuller story of how he died and also gave a nice history to the character. I’m still a little stunned that this character was killed off so easily in some ways and it seems there was a bigger hue and cry over the Blue Beetle dying then the Martian Manhunter. He has always been a difficult character to write and has not had a successful series for years, so from a business perspective he was expendable. From a personal level I hope we see another Showcase of his early adventures as I want to see the material when he had the sidekick Zook. I have no idea why that character stuck with me, but I have always loved Zook and was hoping to see him snuck into this issue. Bottom line this book did what it should have done which is to give the Martian Manhunter a fitting eulogy. It was well written and had great art.
Green Arrow / Black Canary #10 – Writer Judd Winnck, Pencils, Mike Norton, Inks Wayne Faucher, Colors David Baron. – The bloom is off the rose for me with this book. Batman, Green Arrow, Black Canary, Plastic Man, Speedy and Dodger are all fighting the League of Assassins. The battle is a good one, with lots of action and some excellent turns and twists as to how the good guys win the day. The shock ending is Batman letting this League know that Ras says they are not even part of his League. What is wrong with this book is the whole storyline has been lost. Who shot Connor and why? Who stole Connor’s body? The underlying story line has been going on way too long, especially for a book that had a pace that was very fast prior to this part of the story.
Secret Invasion #4 (of 8) – Writer Brian Bendis, Pencils Lenil Yu, Inks Mark Morales, Colors Laura Martin and Emily Warren. They should keep this thing a secret as it is just all over the place in my read of it. First off I thought when the Space Station broke up Brand and company had just a short period of air and we still see them floating in space in issue #4. How long has it been since this series started an hour or two and that’s it! I guess that can work, but a major event taking place over the span of few hours or even a day is certainly fast. First impression is the cover, which has Nick Fury and the Young Avengers; unfortunately the Young Avengers were not in this issue. Next us is a huge fight scene with Nick Fury having the most ridiculous gun even drawn, it was more then over the top it was just stupid. Then we have all of these new “howling commandoes” who I can’t really remember from even the one issue origin we got of them. Then we see Tony with the Black Widow’s help does not fall for the Queen Skrull’s lie that he is a skrull. Then Thor and Captain (Bucky) America show up and issue #4 ends. The most telling part of this story is dialogue between Tony and Natasha. Tony says “they could have killed me. They didn’t.” Natasha says “They’re working you because there are five people on the planet that can stop them and you are one of them.” Then they get into a stupid, even for comic books, reason why they did not kill him. I’m sorry, you are committing all of your resources to taking over a planet and you won’t kill these five people that you know can stop you just so you can gloat. Hey, they may work when we have the one on one battles and it is a super hero convention, but when you set-up this type of scenario that is not working with me. Marvel prides themselves on making their books more “realistic” but this book is off the charts goofy.
Young X-Men #4 – Writer Marc Guggenheim, Pencils Yanic Paquette, Inks Ray Snyder, Colors Rob Schwager. I’ve pretty much decided that I’m canceling this book after the first arc is over. At least we find out that Cyclops is not Cyclops and is in fact Donald Pierce managing to disguise himself as Cyclops. From that standpoint the series now makes a lot more sense, but it is still missing the mark with me. Also the tattoo that Ink got to give him mental powers was incredible stupid, as he gets the tattoo idea from an old Marvel comic. The reason I’m hanging on until we wrap up the first arc is that if done right it could still make for an interesting premise, so I’m giving Guggenheim a little more rope as he is a decent writer.
Trinity #6 – Main Story – Writer Kurt Busiek, Pencils Mark Bagley, Inks Art Thibert, Colors Pete Pantazis. Back-up Story Writers Kurt Busiek & Fabian Nicieza, Artists Scott McDaniel & Andy Owens, Colors Allen Passalaqua. – This is a decent comic, but talk about issues where nothing happened and this issue was it. We have Tarot giving us her glimpses of who these main three characters are as they are sitting around and talking after last issue’s battle. This book has good writing, good art, a back-up story that supports the main story well, but it is not reading like an event book. It reads like a nice little entertaining all ages mini-series that should be over in 6 to 12 issues.
Wolfskin Annual #1 – Story Warren Ellis, Writer Mike Wolfer, Pencils Gianluca Pagliarani, Inks Chris Drier, Colors Juanmar. I’m not even sure why I bothered to pick this book up as I know it was going to be a blood and gore issue, but it was even worse then that because Wolfskin was being shown to almost be a hero type in this story. I know we only had one three issue series about this guy, but he did not strike me as the good guy type and him poking his nose into something that was not his business felt false. Also the modern cursing in a barbarian saga was very out of place. I enjoy the fake future and past curses and using current language almost feels lazy. I think that will have to be it for Wolfskin, I’ll keep Conan as my barbarian of choice.
Iron Man Legacy of Doom #4 (of 4) – Story David Micheline and Bob Layton, Writer David Micheline, Pencils Ron Lim, Inks Bob Layton, Colors Chris Sotomayor. This book really fell flat for me as the giant eyeball monster that Doom and Iron Man had to fight was too corny for words. This book was a flashback to the seventies or whenever, but it really was nothing to make you long for those days. I understand it was concluding some trilogy of days gone by, but the writers needed to update their style a little to fit better into today’s market place. Ultimately an enjoyable read, but nothing I would have missed if I never brought it.

I never intentionally make the bottom third the same as the top third. My process is to list all the books and then start from the bottom and draw a line over the books that I could have missed and never cared if I read them. Then I jump to the top and scan down and draw a line after the books that I would have missed out on something great by missing them. The middle is comprised of books that I enjoyed and I’m glad I read. More often then not the bottom and top equal each other, maybe it is some subconscious thing.

It will be interesting to see how quite the industry is for this week and next as everyone stills seems to hold some sort of major announcement for the San Diego Comic con which is only a week and half away.

1 comment:

  1. Totally agree with you on Dini's take on Hush. He's done a terrific job on Detective and it shows when he take a month off.

    Also, I think that we will learn that "totem" is the Watcher. I think that the press for the book promised the first appearence of him. Other than that, I was sort of disappointed in the retelling, though using Dugan as the officer who recruits him was cool.