Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Best and Worst of Last Week

What a difference a week can make. Last week it was tough to scrape up any book to even make the list and this week I had so many great books I felt compelled to do four spotlight reviews of what I read. These are the weeks that as a comic book fan I live for, an abundance of good things and across the board in different types of stories. I’m so happy with the comics this week that it might be the best week of the year for comics. I hope this is just a portent of things to come.


Batman and Robin #1 - Writer Grant Morrison, Art Frank Quietly, Colors Alex Sinclair. WOW. What a great comic book. You know when I said it looked like Irredeemable had won best new series of 2009 already, well if you count this as a new series this book started off with a bang and could be the series of 2009. I have campaigned for Dick Grayson to be Batman for years. Not because I don’t like Bruce as Batman, but because the only way to really being in some life to a character is to let someone else be the character. A flying Batmobile, sky diving from a hovering Batmobile, moving the operations back into the city, a Robin more cocksure of himself, a Batman whose has suffered lose but also was raised with love; can’t be Bruce and Tim, but it can be Dick and Damian.

This book has me excited for the Bat universe like I have not been since Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams reshaped the Bat. Back in the sixties due to the success of the Batman TV show Batman and Robin were turned into a campy echo of that show. Denny and Neal turned Batman back into a detective and a creature of the night. Those stories have essentially set the tone for what Batman has been for the last 30 plus years. Soft reboots aside no one has really done anything new with Batman since (maybe Batman Year by Miller, but that was not a radical change). Now with Bruce out of the way it all feels new again and yet it is still Batman and Robin.
See my full review here.

Scalped #29 - Writer Jason Aaron, Artist RM Guerra, Colors Giulia Brusco. This issue is the conclusion of the “High Lonesome” story arc, which was really a two part story, with some great background material put into the middle three chapters. Also after months and months of Dash Bad Horse being a minor player in the book where he appeared to be the central character, he gets a ton of “screen time” in this issue. We open with Dash coming back to his girl friend Carol’s house blood all over him, cuffs on one hand and obviously freaked out to the nth degree, we then go backwards and learned what has happened to Dash. A plot summary would not do this book any justice, you need to go out and read the issue itself. One line I have to remark on is the splash page with the title box. It is a picture of Dash high on heroin and drinking whiskey and obviously about to fall over. Above the title it says “Rock Bottom Population 1”. Truer words have not been spoken. Dash is obviously the resident of a town that many of us believe we have visited, but I think he is really there. I think you could read this issue on its own and get enough out of it to be convinced how strong of a read this book is and how strong of an the regular artist RM Guera is. See my full review here.

Chew #1 - Writer/Letter: John Layman, Artist Rob Guillory. The book starts off with telling us immediately about Tony Chu. Given where the book goes this was a great choice and done in three panels. Tony Chu receives psychic impressions from anything he eats except beets. From what tree an apple comes from to what happen to the cow to what you have been doing if he happens to consume part of you.
Next we join with Tony and his partner. They are police detectives on a stakeout watching a place that you think is a drug dealing operation, but in fact it is a Chicken Speak Easy as the government has outlawed chicken and all fowls due to bird flu. Just as they are about to bust someone the FDA steps in and tell them to back off as they have a major player in the case. As a consolation to the two detectives he tells them to go into the restaurant and have a chicken dinner on the Feds. Inside the restaurant Tony gets chicken soup that a sous-chef had cut his finger preparing. The psychic impression he gets about the guy is not good and the craziness starts from there. At the end of the day the FDA wants Tony to work for them as a special agent and it looks like Tony’s life has just taken a radical turn where his abilities are going to be put into use.
See my full review here.

Irredeemable #3 – Writer Mark Waid, Art Peter Krause, Colors Andrew Dalhouse. Irredeemable #3 was another excellent issue and continues to slowly shine a light on what the heck is going on with the Plutonian. All in all a good issue, but perhaps a more subtle issue then the first two. Instead of finding out more about what turned him into such a total bastard, we find out that he still is yearning for some form of acceptance and companionship. Mark is still laying the foundation of this book and I’m more then willing to give him a “quite” issue of the series, I was just still looking for the lust and I find that already it is becoming love.
This book is reading like a template in how to write, design and illustrate a comic book series. I love BOOM and would hate to see Mark Waid leave, but if I was DC I would hire him as EIC and give him a five year contract at least and let him work his magic across the entire line. Mark not only talks a good game, he not only still has it, he is still looking to get better and he is. Mark’s best work is often his latest work.
See my full review here.

Jersey Gods #5 – Writer Glen Brunswick, Art Dan McDaid, Colors Rachelle Rosenburg. This continues to be a terrific series. This issue Barock hears Zoe’s thoughts across space and he gets to earth to save her from the bad guys. Barock proposes to the girl and the wedding, I guess, will be next. This is one of the comics that renew my faith in comic books as it just shines. From the fantastic New Gods type battles to the morning after bedroom scene, this improbable marriage of Kirby super heroics and romance comics is a gem. What is even better is I get the impression that the best is yet to come. Many comics seem to not know what to do after the couple gets together I think that the rest of the story is going to be better then how we got here. This comic is having fun and I ‘m having a blast reading it.


Dark Avengers #5 – What a boring episode of Dark Avengers. This book is working to make me drop it. The art by Deodato is great, but a whole issue of Norman doing spin on TV why even though he was a murderous lunatic it is okay for him to be running so much stuff. This was almost like Bendis was trying to answer fan questions on the absurdity of Norman Osborne being in charge of so much.

New Mutants #2 – This book was going to be a hard sell for me as I was not immersed in these characters lives, even when I read the original series, but this book misses the mark. The artwork was generic and lacked any true spark. It told the story, but nothing more. Also as I have been away from these characters for years having a book with Legion in the first two issues is insane. I have hardly gotten to get reacquainted with the core team they are trying to establish and we have a character who has multiple identities and swapping places with people or something. Add in the generic art and I could hardly tell who is who and after awhile I didn’t care. Cancelled.


Agents of Atlas #6 – I love this book. The “D” list (to be generous) characters that make up the team have become some of my favorites. While it ties-in to the Dark Reign I think it also stands on its own very well. Plus this issue actually advanced Namor’s story fairly well also and gave us a new undersea kingdom. The whole what is going with Atlantis stuff has been confusing as it is scattered around in various books, but the explanation was good enough in this book. A fun read and great characters, one of my favorite Marvel titles.

Atomic Robo Shadow From Beyond Time #2 (of 5) – The second arc was fun, but not as good as the first arc, but the series is back to top form again this issue. This book is wall to wall fun and just fun to read. Atomic Robo is a breath of fresh air.

Authority #11 – The Wildstorm Universe has been a consistently entertaining read since they blew up the world. It was pointed out to me that they have not even gotten into doing trades on this material yet and that is a mistake as trades let people catch up easily. Stormwatch PHD, Wildcats and The Authority have all been really well done. Wildcats and The Authority have really come together as the storylines are building on what has come before. In this issue Angie (the Engineer) is fighting her on and off again powers as they have found a carrier door that opens into a very dangerous place. On another front we find out Apollo has been taken over by the Warhol virus and it looks like Apollo could actually die. These books now have the feeling that anything can happen and to me that makes for exciting super hero books.

Dead Run #1 (of 4) – This comes off as pretty damn generic. We have Judge Dredd future, where our hero is forced to do an impossible task, but taking a bad guys package from their city (Las Vegas) to San Francisco, the “Dead Run”. He is stuck with a young girl who is supposed to know how to make the run as her Dad was the last one to do it. They take off in their Mad Max car to deliver the package and run into a road that ends at a cliff. It feels like a Judge Dredd type of story or at least that future, but it was enjoyable enough to want to read the rest of it. Every book does not have to be the newest idea if done well even familiar stories can be fun.

Farscape Strange Detractors #3 (of 4) – I love this book. It really feels like the TV series is back. The first arc showed the writer had the voices of the character and this issue is more of the same. With one of the main TV writers providing the stories, this is a great book for any Farscape fan. I just wish the art was better. The first arc the artist was okay, but this artist is much weaker and the book deserves better.

Final Crisis Aftermath Run #2 (of 6) – I was ready to drop this book if it did not gel with the second issue and it has. I love this band of bad guys the Human Flame has ended up with and even recognize a few of them. Now the Human Flame has been remade with his powers built into him. He need an upgrade to be a better character and could be a good villain if he can survive this oddball band of bad guys. Instead of thinking of stopping this book, I’m now looking forward to it.

Jonah Hex #44 – The beginning of the first multi-part story for Jonah Hex and it started off with a bang. Already we have Jonah, Bat Lash, Tallulah and Lazarus Lane in the book. Jonah has been shot, beaten and buried alive and that is just for part 1. This book is consistently a good read and one of the few long term genre books that have lasted.

The Mighty #5 – This series is building very well, I just hope it has an actual ending in mine. Alpha One is appropriately creepy enough and as we are learning the histories of the various captains. Captain Cole is starting to become suspicious of what is going on and Alpha One seems to have a human experimentation project going on. A great exploration of what great power might cause one to become.

Mighty Avengers #25 – Slott is making me like this absurd grouping of characters and the oddball stories he is telling. It is falling into the category of Agent of Atlas and Secret Six, great characterization carrying a book. The book maybe worth it for the character Ban-Luck and her impossible boobs and the heart shape spot being cut into the middle of her costumes’ chest, has Power Girl’s costume beat.

Ultimate Spider-Man #133 – The last issue of the run and since it is being re-launched and ties into what I hear is a crap book called Ultimatum by a writer I avoid (Jeph Loeb) it is also a very easy spot to jump off the book. If the truth be told Spider-Man as the forever teen-ager was getting old (pun not intended). A solid and enjoyable book for the most part and certainly one that provided some solid entertainment, but a book that was never going to be able to advance and therefore had run its course for me. I know these events allow sales to be increased short term, but I have started to use these events as jumping off points for books and for now I’m done with the Ultimate MU.

War of Kings #4 (of 6) – A middle chapter to be sure, but still solid entertainment and a fun read, with some good twist and turns and a nice little shock ending (hopefully they will let the ending be real and the character is dead). I’m critical of events and stunts, but War of Kings is almost completely written by one writing team (DnA) and it makes the story work very well. A true bright spot for Marvel of a good fast paced adventure story.

Werewolves on the Moon versus Vampires #1 (of 3) – As Atomic Robo, this book is just out and out fun. People go missing on the moon base, werewolves show up, vampires have a hidden moon headquarters and have been stealing people; everyone loves Maggie Pilgrim the law on the moon. It reads fast and again is fun. I like it when a comic just makes me laugh and still tells a story.

See I was so giddy this week that my “Quick Hit” segment was pretty darn long also, which means I had a ton of books that made me feel like saying something about them and usually that is a good thing. The order of quick hits is in no way anything but an alphabetical listing.

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