Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Best and Worst of Last Week

So it was slim pickings last week as the best category was impossible to reach for mainstream Marvel or DC book. That is a pretty sad commentary on the state of the industry lately when it has been so hard for almost any “regular” Marvel or DC book to make that mark. I’m not sure why that is the case, but it is. The Dark Reign was an interesting idea and on paper and looked like a sure winner. I think the over use of Tony Stark being followed up by the overuse of Norman Osborne has run its course already and we still have months left with Dark Reign. DC on the other hand looks to be on the upswing with Blackest Night looking to be really good, the Bat franchise has been re-started, Superman while not hot is very good, Flash and Wonder Woman are also strong, the problem with DC take that away and their top line and they are done. DC needs Iron Fist, Ghost Rider type books to fill out their line and they really have nothing of that caliber at this time.


Four Eyes #3 – Writer Joe Kelly, Art Max Fiumara, Colors Nestor Pereyra. I have such a hard time with this series, because the frequency with its publication makes me fear for its life as I cannot believe it helps sales, but this is an excellent series. Joe Kelly seems to do his best work with younger characters (see Barbara in the award winning I Kill Giants TP, the award is Comics And’s Best Coming of Age Story in this Century – totally made up, but aren’t all awards. Also see I Kill Giants issue #1 here.) The art work by Max Fiumara is beautiful and I can not imagine anyone else drawing Enrico, our young boy who is now looking to hunt dragons as his late Father did. Set during the first Great Depression the book is grounded in reality, but has the fantasy nature of a world that includes underground dragon fighting (Mike Vick might have enjoyed this). Max’s work brings it all too glorious life. Max’s style is unique in that it is an exaggerated perspective on people, but close enough to realistic to not be impressionistic. Solid page and layout design make the book both visually exciting and easy to read. His nuanced work on facial expressions is very strong and can convey a range of emotions both subtle and forceful. The color work matches the book and provides the proper mood and tone for each scene and never takes away from the art. The story is touching as Enrico is trying to be a man in a world that does not tolerate failure with anything less then death. This issue Enrico has to face death at the hands of a dragon and the result was not what Enrico would have expected. This is a series that should not be missed and is one of my favorite books whenever it hits the stands.

Invincible #62 – Writer Robert Kirkman, Pencils Ryan Ottley, Inks Cliff Rathburn, Colors FCO Plascencia. Robert Kirkman promised to make this book exciting after the rather lackluster period the book went through before we got to issue #50 and boy has he delivered. Before I get to that I have to say that the artwork on this book is really stepping up to the plate. The two page spread on pages 2 and 3 was fantastic. Conquest and Invincible had met in a midair collision and the resulting force was like an explosion. We see the shockwave hitting worker’s trying to unbury a city that was recently destroyed during the Invincible War. The resulting blowback and the huge sound effect really made me “feel” the force like nothing else I have seen in a comic, great stuff. Kirkman has loaded this issue with action and moving the plot forward and added a nice twist. Often it seems as we get action or plot, but this issue we got both. Conquest is apparently testing Mark to see if he can be a true Viltrum and Mark is coming up short. I enjoyed the little twist at the end where we see Cecil is trying to resurrect some of the Invincibles who were killed in the war to be undead soldiers for the government. I was not even thinking that way so it was a good surprise and is exactly what Cecil would do to try and protect our world. I hate that we are working up to the death of Atom Eve as she is a favorite of mine, but her living in Invincible’s world would be dangerous.

Marvel Mystery Comics 70th Anniversary Special – Since so few comics made it to the best of category I thought I would give this book a sort of free pass into the best of category. Not that the book is not entertaining, it is, but not sure if it rises to what I need for a best book, but the concept and the execution of what Marvel is doing in general deserves a best book mention. Each issue of the 70th Anniversary books have been taking the old Timely Comic titles and doing a new 22 page story. Then is has been reprinting a golden age story, that sometimes lines up with the new story. There has been a definite effort to make the new stories have the same feel and stylistically the art has been more along the lines of the golden age artwork. The entire package has been the new standard price of $4, but you get a golden age reprint and a brand new story in each and every book. This is a great way to see some of comic book history without buying a high end hard cover. So let’s give credit where credit is due and Marvel deserves credit for putting together some fun stuff to celebrate their 70th year of existence.


Batman Battle for the Cowl #3 (of 3) - Okay we wait months and months for this book and at the end of the wait do we get the grand reveal that in fact Dick Grayson is the new Batman – NO we do not, the end leaves with an open question as to who is taking over the mantle of the Bat. What a crock of unmitigated sh*t. Yeah, I know you can read this book and say there is no question that it is Dick Grayson and I can point out spots in the FCBD Blackest Night that solidify Tim as Red Robin, but they never actually show Dick putting on the costume. This type of ending instead gives DC room to switch it up as to who is Batman if they want to before they actually make the reveal. So why I threaten to cancel the Bat-verse I have to hold off, but no matter what happens now a series that I dreaded has become a bitter disappointment. See my full review here. I know many people will thing this is an over reaction, but I’m telling you it is a cheat, they did not say Dick is Batman, this type of coy trick is crap and it has left a bad taste in my mouth for the way DC is doing things.

Brave and Bold #23 – Cancelled. Certainly a professionally done book, but it is missing that something extra that it had when Waid and Perez launched it. I may pick it up on occasion, but it is no longer on my pull list. As I constantly harp on with the switch to most books being $4, even three dollar books get a harder look. I do not mind good stories that are not in continuity, but this book seems to have no idea of what to do and the next few solicitations are showcasing the Milestone characters coming into the DCU proper. Those types of meaningless adventures of that type are unappealing.

Green Arrow / Black Canary #20Cancelled. This was a hard book for me to drop. After since right before the one year later jump and till the conclusion of the Green Arrow series and into this series I was enjoying this book. Also GA/BC are an integral part of the main DCU, which I tend to like more then the central MU. After this series started various things started to come apart on the book. First Cliff Chiang left doing the art and Mike Norton came on. Mike is a solid and professional artist, but I equate him to Sal Buscema from the old days, he does good work, but you will not sell the book based on his art. Then the story started to deteriorate. The whole thing about Connor was too dragged out and then the ending of changing him into a super human was horribly contrived. It appears under Dan Didio DC wants to remain in the past and therefore every younger version of their heroes is being pushed off to the sidelines. Kyle is now a character in GL Corps, Wally’s role is yet to be determined and poor Connor has lost the ability to shoot an arrow and is now some sort of poor man’s Wolverine without the claws. Way the JLA heroes are not allowed to be second generation and JSA’s are allowed is a mystery to me. The final straw was getting a new writer and Andrew Kreisberg who has done the excellent Helen Killer book and great work in Batman Confidential has come up short in this series. This issue opens with Green Arrow and Black Canary in costume going to marriage counseling. In comic book time this couple has only been married for five minutes and their history goes on for years, it wasn’t even cute. I have given this comic more rope then it deserves and may check in on it now and again, but for now it is off my list.

Vigilante #6Cancelled. Here we have a series that in six issues has yet to tell us the identity of the main character. The book has not been that strong to keep us on the edge of our seats. How can a new series hold me if I can’t get any handle on who the main character is and why he is doing what he is doing. Six issues is way too long to keep me guessing. Also it got dragged into a horrible cross-over with the Titans and Teen Titans using a character I never liked (Jericho) as a bad guy. On top of that Vigilante does not kill Jericho, instead rips his eyes out. This is a guy who will only kill and I guess maim bad guys. Finally Marv Wolfman’s writing has not kept up with the times 100% and it comes across as not old, but just missing that certain something for me.

Killapalooza #1 (of 6)Cancelled. I could not even finish reading this book. I guess I knew going in that the premise was one I did not like, but often I’m surprised, but this thing was boring to me. It is a shame as I enjoy Hairsine (the artist) work. The impression I got that it was trying to hard to do too many things, super powered sci-fi assassins that are a mega rock band.

I know a bunch of people who think I have been harsh about the ending of the Battle for the Cowl and everyone is saying of course it is Dick Grayson and the variant reprint of #1 shows Dick half as Batman and half as Nightwing, so why did I rate the book so harsh? In my opinion it is because DC was not playing it fair. You can read part 3 and still make Tim Batman. Plus the book was all about who becomes Batman and we did not get to witness Dick making the final decision to do what he had to do. I have also read criticism that the story was dumb because we all knew it was going to be Dick. Well so what, knowing where a story is going or how it ends is not always what the story is about, the journey is the story. Let’s face it we know in 95% of the comics we read the good guy will win, but how will he win, what will it cost him, what type of victory is it? Those are the questions we read it for, not because we expect shock endings all the time.

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