Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Best to Worst of Last Week

This was a slow week for comics. One thing that slowed it down for me is the first book that I read ended up being the book of the week. While this makes the start of my stack of books great, it leaves less and less to anticipate. What I really enjoy about this hobby is even a week that is more towards the average side has a lot of entertainment value.

Final Crisis Legion of Three Worlds #1 (of 5) – Writer Geoff Johns, Pencils George Perez, Inks Scott Koblish, Colors Hi-Fi. You can see my entire review here. What I can also say is that it is nice to see the Legion can such a high profile project during their 50th Anniversary. Jim Shooter is doing a wonderful job on the current title and this series looks like it will be a great addition to all the great Legion stories that have come out over the years. If you are a fan of the Legion at all and not getting this series, you are missing out. See my full review here.

Killer #8 (of 10) – Writer Matz, Illustrator Luc Jacamon, translated by Matz and Edward Gauvin. This is such an excellent series. This issue the danger and problems surrounding our killer get deeper and deeper. He does get the chance to take out the men who hurt his girl friend and torched his house and instead of his dispassionate self; he takes out a knife and tears them apart. With Mariano he goes out on a job hoping to find out who ordered those men to go after him, it is a trap and Mariano and he barely escape with their lives. The cop, who has become the killer’s friend, has figured out most of what is going on, but is not turning him in. We have only two more issues to go and I can’t believe it will be over. What a well drawn and well written portrait of this character. One of the most compelling reads on the stands.

Brave and Bold #16 – Writer Mark Waid, Art Scott Kolins, Colors Rob Schwager. LOL – What a wonderful and fun story. From the opening shot of Superman answering the Bat signal to the closing panel of Superman zapping the clayface water this was a great read and really well done art. Scott Kolins style has changed over the years and I’m enjoying this version of his work a lot. He had some many wonderful camera angles and shots in this book that it was a joy to look at. Mark Waid on his swan song on this title was also at the top of his game, playing this for some light hearted laughs and telling a solid story bringing Catwoman and Superman together. A wonderful one and done story and a lesson for how to tell a great super hero team up story.

Fear Agent #23 I against I (Part 2 of 6) – Writer Rick Remender, Art Tony Moore, Colors Lee Loughridge. Back-up Writer Rick Spears, Art James Callahan. The story ultimately appears as if it will be Heath versus some other version of Heath, but before we get there Heath escapes from his captors and goes to Heaven. That is the town of Heaven and he is mended back to health by Charlotte who followed him to the other side of perhaps another Universe, but arrived two years before Heath. I know it makes my head hurt t0o. Fear Agent is a well written often “tongue in cheek”, often pure comedy and often real drama set against a space opera type setting. It is a book that I enjoy a lot, but I have a complaint, the main story was only sixteen pages and while the eight page back up was amusing, I wanted more of the main story.

DC Wildstorm Dreamwar #5 (of 6) – Writer Keith Giffen, Art Lee Garbett and Trevor Scott, Colors Gabe Eltaeb & Randy Mayor. This issue we see that the manifested heroes of the DCU have asserted their heroism and essentially escaped the control of Chimera who dreamed them into existence. So he dreams the villains from the DCU into the WU and now the heroes from both sides have their hands full keeping all the villains in check. The Doctor can’t find Chimera to shut him down and Chimera is apparently sending the moon into the Earth. This is one of the most entertaining mini-series in a long time. It takes the fan fiction type story of DCU versus WU and gives it an excellent story and has terrific artwork. I’m looking for to see how this series concludes.

Birds of Prey #121 – Writer Tony Bedard, Pencils Michael O’Hare, Inks John Floyd, Colors Hi-Fi. This series just continues to roll along in great fashion. In this issue we see Infinity (a new character) is apparently being added to the cast. The Joker is joining up with the villains group that Oracle is trying to take down. Misfit is being forced to go to school and Black Alice makes a surprise appearance as she is also going to school as a new student. We have adult and teen super heroes, plot development and a little teen-age drama and angst all working together. I think DC needs to put more effort into this series and start doing some mini-series on these characters as this is a great book and Tony Bedard has done a great job taking over as the full time writer.

Superman Batman #51 – Writers Michael Green & Mike Johnson, Pencils Rafael Albuquerque, Colors Cris Peter. This issue is so much fun. We have the Lil’ Justice League showing up in the “real” DCU. Batman and Superman are trying to figure out what the heck is going on as the Lil’ League is just still trying to be the heroes they are. The origins of the Lil’ League Batman and Superman are hilarious and the entire book is a real treat. To give you an example Lil’ Batman was created when his parents were both shoved to the ground. This is just a wonderful farce and I’m looking forward to next issue.

Trinity #12 – Front Story Writer Kurt Busiek, Pencils Mark Bagley, Inks Art Thibert, Colors Pete Pantazis. Back Story Writers Kurt Busiek & Fabian Nicieza, Pnecils Mike Norton, Inks karl Kesel, Colors Allen Passalaqua. The front and back of this book are telling two different stories, but the stories seem to seamlessly work together, with the back story filling in gaps and lying hints of things to come. The front story this issue is about the JLA versus the CSA. While the bulk of the group is following the now hot headed Superman, GL, Firestorm and Red Tornado go to the CSA headquarters. GL morphs into some sort of robotic gun machine and has lost control of his body maybe to some techno-organic virus. Between the front and back stories very strong hints are laid out that the character Enigma is in fact the Riddler from the CSA world, which means he could be a good guy. Trinity is moving up the charts as it continues. This is just a very good book that is a good read and has rock solid art work.

X-Men First Class #15 – Writer Jeff parker, Pencils Karl Kesel, Inks Val Staples, Colors Nathan Cosby. This book is really such a fun well written and executed book, that I under stand why Marvel is trying to copy its success with calling other x-books “First Class”, but the other books make no sense calling them that as you can only have one first. This issue Medusa is escaping the Frightful Four and runs into the X-Men. They think she could be a mutant, but are not sure. Professor X can’t unlock her memories. The Wizard shows up and attacks the X-Men and sends Bobby, Marvel Girl and Beast into the air via anti-gravity discs. Cyclops and Professor X arrive back to save the day and find a mind control device on the back of Medusa and she runs off back into sixties FF continuity. The Angel returns and allows his friends to rip off the anti-gravity pods and not drop to Earth. If you want to read a comic that echoes older times, but still is a modern book, this is it.


Scalped #20 –Writer Jason Aaron, Davide Furno, Colors Giulia Brusco. I was close to making this one of the top candidates for best of the week and then I talked to a friend of mine about the issue and it will not be my number one book or even in the running. This two issues arc is about Dash and his f**k buddy Carol. Carol is Red Horse’s daughter and she smokes heroin to try and live with what has happened to her in her life. She was pregnant when she was shot by her father’s men who were unaware she was in the car they were chasing. Her husband had stolen drugs from Red Crow and was going to use that as a stake to get off the reservation. Carol lost the child and her husband died. Dash meanwhile is confronted by the Aunt of the young boy he tried to help during the “Dead Mothers” arc. She accuses Dash of being responsible for his death. Dash drinks, goes home, almost shoots himself and then goes to see Carol. After sex he is looking for a beer and since she has none decides to join in her drug of choice. The artwork is weaker then the regular artist and that is one strike against this issue. The other was pointed out to me that Dash was far enough down, making him into a drug addict maybe going too far. In retrospect I have to agree and hope that in addition to everything else Dash is not a drug addict. Drinking to excess on occasion is one thing a drug addict is another. Still Scalped is a hard book and a very dark book. I look forward to this book more then many, many series, but this issue may have gone too far, let’s see what happens next.

Captain America #41- Writer Ed Brubaker, Pencils Steve Epting, Inks Rick Magyar & Steve Epting, Colors Frank D’Armata. This issue the story line really made some steps forward. Captain (Bucky) America and Shield join forces to take down the Red Skull and also foil his plan to make his Presidential candidate a hero. The Red Skull is planning to make a new body for himself so he no longer has to share Lukin’s body. What did not make sense was the whole reason any of this worked out was Dr. Faustus has apparently betrayed the Red Skull and set him up. Where did that betrayal come from? A minor point I just noticed the Black Widow is being called Natalia and not Natasha and I read somewhere this is some sort of retro-con and the entire history and the Black Widow has been altered. PLEASE STOP THIS! Just make a new version of the character and leave the old one alone. Every character does not have to constantly change. It makes it impossible to not be occasionally taken out of a story because what you thought was familiar is not. Finally this story is just taking so long, that even decent chapters feel dragged out because you want a resolution of a plot line, any plot line, even a small sub-plot resolution would be welcomed.

Stormwatch PHD #13 – Writer Ian Edginton, Pencils Leandro Ferandez, Inks Francisco Paronzini, Colors Carrie Strachan. Back Up Writer Christos Gage, Art Trevor Hairsine, Colors Jonny Rench. This was another good re-launch of the Wildstorm Universe, only Gen 13 failed to utilize this opportunity to its fullest. Stormwatch is now in an orbiting platform above the Earth. Jackson King is the Weatherman and he has a full beard and seems older. He sends a team down to Earth to help out some survivors who are being used as slave labor by another group of survivors. A nice little surprise is Deathblow is now part of his team. This issue establishes the new status quo right away, gives us a quick mission and has you looking forward to the next issue. The back-up story is moving along well, but I still would prefer this as a separate mini-series or what ever as opposed to marketing device trying to hold the four WU books together.

Rann Thanagar Holy War #4 (of 8) – Writer Jim Starlin, Pencils Ron Lim. Starlin is packing a lot into each of every issue. This issue we see Synnar be revived from the dead and as he is an alpha class villain this group is over matched. On the bad guy side we have Lady Styx, Synnar, The Eternal Light Corporation, the Deacon and Adam’s crazed father in law Sardath. On the good guy side we have Adam Strange, Comet, Bizzaro, Starman, Hawkman, Starfire, The Weird and Animal Man. A lot of moving parts and we have multiple planets we are on and yet Starlin is making it work. Bottom line is the series is worth the effort to keep up with everything and is a nice solid adventure that is its own corner of the DCU.

Ghost Rider #26 - Writer Jason Aaron, Art Tan Eng Huat, Colors Jose Villarrubia. This issue was okay, but I’m not a fan of Tan Eng Huat’s art. He makes some very strange choices for camera angles and switched our perspective from panel to panel with no real story telling need to do so. Also his Danny Ketch is far away from any resemblance to the character I once knew. This issue sees the return of Danny Ketch into the Ghost Rider book and it feels like it is very heavy with past continuity. Since I have not followed Ghost Rider for years it could have been a problem, but I was okay with the back story material and the way it was explained. Johnny Blaze was hardly in this book. The issue itself was all to set-up the next story line.

Flash #243 – Writer Tom Peyer, Art Freddie Williams II, Colors Tanya and Richard Horie. Tom Peyer’s too short run on this book was a little uneven, but pulled together by a wonderful ending. Wally figures out what is wrong with Jai and Iris and pulls them into the speed force. He pulls out some metaphysical dark force out of their bodies and it appears that the kids while not de-aged, will be safe from anymore rapid aging. Next issue another new creative team. DC is putting out some strong books and also putting out some books that are constantly being re-tooled and the Flash was the hero that re-launched the silver age. This book needs to be gotten back on track again (pun intended). I thought Tom Peyer was getting there, but one arc and done will not get a book set in any real direction.

X-Factor Special Layla Miller – Writer Peter David, Pencils Valentine De Landro, Finishes Andrew Hennessy, Inks Craig Yeung, Colors Jeromy Cox. When the Layla Miller character was introduced I really thought she was lame, but Peter David ahs turned her into one of my favorite characters. She is stuck in the future of Bishop. Since she knows things she stands in the perfect spot to not be hit by a falling satellite and escapes prison. She eventually meets up with Cyclops and his daughter (another child by this guy) called Ruby. Layla helps her to start a revolt against the fascist government that the US is, err has become in the future. At the end Layla is still stuck in the future and I’m now stuck waiting for her story line to continue somewhere.

Tangent Superman’s Reign #6 (of 12) – Writer Dan Jurgens, Pencils Jamal Igle, Inks Robin Riggs, Colors Kanilla Tripp. Back Up Story – Writer Ron Marz, Pencils Fernando Pasarin, Inks Mark McKenna, Colors Dom Regan. The good part of this series is that we are continuing to build up what is going on and moving the plot line forward. The bad news is that the amount of information you need is so dense that I think it is impossible to jump on this series in the middle of it. Also by having our Earth’s heroes and the Tangent heroes both being featured we have too many characters with the same name. If I had been editing this series I would have limited to one or two of our Earth’s guest starts. This issue we learn more about how Superman became Earth’s ruler and we also see more of the underground looking to bring Superman down.

Moon Knight #21 – Writer Mike Benson, Art Mark Texeira, Layouts Javier Saltares, Colors Dan Brown. Okay so Mike Deodato was just on as artist for one issue to suck in people like me to try Moon Knight again, good job, it worked. This issue we start the “Death of Marc Spector” arc and since Moon Knight has always had multiple identities I’m not sure how much that matters. What we do have is Shield and Tony Stark is after him and since they have failed, now the Thunderbolts are being brought in to bring him in. While I feel like I have missed a little about why Moon Knight is where he is, I’m curious to see if this is a true deconstruction of the main character (which was how this series started) or is this just the loose cannon anti-hero fighting the loose cannon villains that are supposedly heroes. I’m hoping for the latter.

Justice League of America #24 – Writer Dwayne McDuffie, Pencils Allan Goldman, Inks Prentis Rollins, Rodney Ramos & Derek Fridolfs, Colors Pete Pantazis. This issue we wrapped up the battle against Amazo and then moved on to our next story line without taking a breath. I enjoyed the way Amazo was beaten and find it amusing that no matter how much Black Canary is in charge Batman really runs things. I did not like the characterization that Black Canary just delegated to Batman the grunt job of fixing their headquarters, totally out of character (and Batman would not have accepted). Red Tornado’s resurrection seem to get short shrift as we jumped into the next storyline head first as Vixen and Animal Man are both dealing with how their powers work. For a fill-in artist I think Allan Goldman did a decent job, my complaint would be if they know Ed Benes needs to be spelled, let him have the end chapter and spell him in the middle chapter of the story line.

Robin #177 – Writer Fabian Nicieza, Art Freddie Williams II, Colors Guy Major. This issue is rather interesting as it is no longer counted as a RIP tie in and it appears that this time line is now after Batman is gone. Jason Todd is back and he is taking over the gangs of Gotham. Tim and Stephanie’s relationship seems to be at an end. We see Tim and Jason have a confrontation. Tim assumed Jason had bad intent, but in fact he says he was consolidating the gangs and was going to use them to help Gotham by pitting two sides of bad guys against each other. In the background there is someone roaming around in the Red Robin costume. Who is in that costume is not even hinted at in this issue. At the end we see Spoiler hiring an assassin to kill Robin. Since I’m not obsessively following every comic I read the reveal of who Spoiler is hiring is lost on me as the assassin states she has killed one Robin already (and it obviously didn’t take per Spoiler). All in all this was an interesting issue as we see they seem to be dancing around RIP and still try to lay out a new story line for Robin.

Guardians of the Galaxy #4 – Writers Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, Pencils Paul Pelletier, Inks Rick Magyar, Colors Guru EFX. I hate these forced cross-overs. GOTG was doing fine without shoving a “Secret Invasion” mandate down its throat. Instead of having another off world adventure all the intrigue takes place on Nowhere as the central cortex is blown up. All signs are pointing to Drax as he maybe a skrull. The main plot line and the story about the original GOTG has slowed to a crawl. I know sales may jump for these issues, but as a fan of the series it causes me to rethink staying on long term or not. I feel like I’m being forced to follow the book through these cross-overs and waste my money.

Batgirl #2 (of 6) - Writer – Adam Beechen, Pencils Jim Califore, Inks Jack Purcell, Colors Nathan Eyring. I think my favorite part of this series is Jim Califore’s art. He has a nice clean style that works well with the Bat books. So often people get exclusives and you never see much work from them, Jim’s work has been out there consistently. The story is okay as we expand the background on Batgirl, give her a “sister” and have them facing off against Deathstroke and David Cain. This seems to be an okay mini-series, but when this type of series is green lighted it should have a purpose for it as a far as character development. I’m guessing this is re-establishing Batgirl as part of the Bat-family. What happened to the new Batwoman?


Casey Blue Beyond Tomorrow #4 (of 6) – Writer B. Clay Moore, Pencils Carlo Barberi, Inks Jacob Eguren, Colors Carrie Stracham & Darlene Royer. So this series is getting stranger and stranger and I know that they want us to feel like what the frell is going on just like Casey, but still. Angela is trying to train Casey and tells her to let go and her abilities will just come to her. Angela also says she comes from the future and she is here to help Casey through her early days and Casey will save the world. The bad guys are looking to stop Casey. Casey is having waking dreams about some weird futuristic type of place. That is only half of what is going on and we only have two issues left to pull this together and have it make some sense. The ending will make or break this series. I’m following this one to the end, but my expectations are not that high.

Conan the Cimmerian #2 – Writer Timothy Truman, Artists Tomas Giorelloe & Richard Corben, Colors Jose Villarrubia. This was an okay story, but Conan was a framing device to tell a story about his grand father and that story could have been anyone. The actual story about his grand father was interesting, but nothing to really do with the Conan story and a horrible way to re-launch Conan as he moves to the next phase of his life. I have no clue why Dark Horse did this, but I think it killed any chance of grabbing new readers to be interested in Conan and may have pissed off some regular readers who spend six bucks and have yet to get a new Conan story.

Air #1 – Writer G. Willow Wilson, Art M. K. Perker, Colors Chris Chuckry. This was an interesting launch of a new Vertigo book. Of the last four new series I dropped Young Liars immediately, love House of Mystery and love Madam Xanadu. Air is a work in progress. The issue starts towards the end of the opening story for two pages, then jumps to current time for two pages, then flashes back to how the story started works back to where the comic started, goes a little further in the opening story and jumps back to the current time frame. All of this is done with no real device to tell us that we are jumping all around in the main character’s (Blythe) story. The entire story appears to have taken place within about a week. Blythe is an airline stewardess who is afraid of flying or as she puts it afraid of falling. We have a sort of terrorist threat and a hero type who is extremely mysterious as to who he is and who he works for. I’m definitely back for next issue, but I’m not sold 100% on this series yet. I think it would have benefited from a more straightforward story to start and sacrificed the dramatic opening page.

Batman and the Outsiders #10 – Writer Chuck Dixon, Pencils Ryan Benjamin, Inks Saleem Crawford, Colors Tom Chu. – So this series is very weird. Chuck Dixon is one of the cleanest and most concise writers in the business and his stories always make sense. This book is all over the map and I have no clue what is going on from issue to issue. We have had rotating cast members and it seems like we never get one mission completed and something else is going on. I know that editorial mandates have constantly created problems for this book and it has obviously affected the ability to write this comic. It just seems to be a poor decision to continue publishing a book that has no direction. I will hang out until RIP has impacted this book and then if it is not going anywhere this book gets kicked to the curb.

Iron Man Director of Shield #32 – Writer Stuart Moore, Pnecils Carlo Pagulayan & Steve Kurth, Inks Jeffrey Huet & Andrew Hennessy Colors Joel Seguin. This was a well written and well executed story line that also was a totally forgettable story. After reading it I did not get around to starting writing a mini-review of the book until two days later and had totally forgotten how it ended. This book is now on an official death watch. Next issue has to be decent for me to want to hang on. Big plus on the art was finding the Steve Kurth tilted head pages.

Young X-Men #5 – Writer Marc Guggenheim, Pencils Yanick Paquette, Inks Ray Snyder, Colors Rob Schwager. Another book that is an easy cancellation and one I really hung onto for too long. The art felt rushed and the story was all over the place. When the death scene occurred I still didn’t care enough about the character for it to have an impact. Let’s see I have dropped X-Factor, Uncanny and now this. That leaves Astonishing which is close to being dropped, Wolverine during the Old Man Logan story which is failing to impress, Legacy which I like and X-Men 1st Class which I love. Cancelled.

Squadron Supreme 2 #2 – Writer Howard Chaykin, Art Marco Turini, Colors Guru eFx. Well this book was an easy drop. They are recreating another Fantastic Four and the old Squadron is gone for all intents and purposes. I wanted the Squadron Supreme and instead I’m getting a bunch of new characters. Plus I get Chaykin doing a little moralizing in the beginning of this book and his world view if full of crap. Cancelled.

As I said at the beginning this is an average week for comics but still a lot of entertainment. My number 2 book for the week is Killer and I hope that Archaia Studios does a hard cover collection all ten issues.


  1. I can't say I'm sad to see Young X-Men go - what a weird book

  2. Hey Jim.

    Of the books you reviewed that I read:

    JLA -- I didn't find Canary's delegation to Batman out of character at all. In fact, I found it the best she's been since BoP. Batman smarts off at her, trying to control things? She turned it around on him in a witty way, letting him feel like he had control, but getting him to do the grunt work. Awesome! It reminded me of how she was handled in the early Giffen/McGuire JL series, and was better than she's been handled in every issue of GA/BC that I read before I bailed on that book. What was weird was that the cover had almost nothing to do with this issue. It seemed more like a cover for next issue considering it gave away who was manipulating their powers before the book itself has.

    S/B: First time I've picked up this book since issue 12, and I have to say it was a nice one. Great art, cute story, looking forward to next issue. (And yeah, lil' Bats and lil' Supes origins were a hoot!)

    Legion of 3 worlds: It was great to see Perez artwork, but the story had SOOOO much exposition about Superboy Prime (who I hate) that it didn't feel like it really got started until two pages from the end. It felt like a swan song for my time with the legion, reminding me that there's very little I care about in either of the current 2 versions of the Legion (I find Johns' take on Brainy particularly grating). For many years Legion was at the top of my read pile, but I think those days are so far gone that, sadly, I can't come home again.

  3. bjooks - where have you have been man - we miss your comments. One day you should do a guest post for us.

    Legion is one of those books that I will always go back and re-read (what I have in Archives). I will never love the current versions as much, but I have to say this is one of those books I follow for the characters as much as anything else.