Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Best and Worst of Last Week

Before we get into the best and worst I want to just point out a sneaky little thing that Marvel is doing as they consistently up their comic price to $4 and that is the new trend of not canceling a book, but moving it into a mini-series and I guess re-launching it later. Ghost Rider, Iron Fist, Captain America and Moon Knight have all either been unofficially cancelled and/or are being replaced with $4 mini-series that continue the story that could just have easily been in their own book. At least one of the books (Immortal Weapons) is advertised at 40 as opposed to 32 pages, so that bodes well for more material for the money. There are a few things that are just devious, disingenuous or flat out wrong in my view with this tactic. One it is a pure masking of the price increase by trying to say you never raised the price of Ghost Rider as it was cancelled. Oh by the way the story we had planned for the next arc is now a “special” mini-series and the price is a dollar more. After that series wraps up and when Marvel starts up Ghost Rider again, I would bet money it will be a $4 comic. The second issue is: How the casual fan can follow this crap? I want to collect Captain America, the comic is not cancelled, just not solicited and I’m told to follow Reborn. Finally another issue is from the retailer perspective, how do you order these books and when it restarts how do you order it. A book with history suddenly has no history. It should also be noted these stunts are unnecessary as Batman proved when Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee made it the best selling book on the market smack dab in the middle of its regular run. If you build it, they will come.


Batman Streets of Gotham #1 - Streets of Gotham:Writer Paul Dini, Pencils Dustin Nguyen, Inks Derek Fridolfs, Colors John Kalisz Manhunter: Writer Marc Andreyko, Pencils George Jeanty, Inks Karl Story, Colors Nick Filardi. This book was a great surprise. I was expecting more of a Gotham Central type of book and got what is more of a mixture between a Batman series and a series about the cops of Gotham. Not what I was expecting but a great start to a new series. Paul Dini is picking up from his Detective comic work and has seamless inserted the new Batman and Robin into the mix of everything he has going on in this book. …….
Then joy of joys we got the second feature in the book and it was Manhunter. Now Marc Andreyko got a little preachy with Kate last time out, but boy she fits perfectly into Gotham and preachyness gave way to a good story. We got to see how Kate has become the emergency DA for the city and see her start out her first case. George Jeanty’s pencils were a godsend for Manhunter. He is the perfect artist to make it both a super hero book and maintain a noir quality to the story. Also Marc did a great job in giving us the back story, setting up the character and getting the story started in just 10 pages. See my full review here.
See my full review here.

Invincible #63 - Writer Robert Kirkman, Pencils Ryan Ottley, Inks Cliff Rathburn, Colors FCO Plascencia. These are the types of issues that Kirkman writes that make me love Invincible. Not just because of the death of Atom Eve, but because Kirkman pushes his characters and makes them live in a world that has consequences. In most super-hero worlds something happens and you are reading the comic a few months later and it didn’t matter at all to the character. This is a game changer, Mark is beyond hurt, Mark is beyond pissed Mark is ready to kill Conquest, but you still have to wonder – how can he kill Conquest? For an issue that was essentially nothing more then one long fight scene, the book still managed to advance the characters and show emotional depth. Samantha (Atom Eve) wakes up in a hospital to the news of the fight between Conquest and Mark. She immediately calls for Cecil and wants to go help Mark. See my full review here.


Tales from Wonderland the Cheshire Cat – This was the worst book of the week, but it was not a horrible book, it was just the worst of this week. I’m not sure it even belongs in this category and I was within a hair’s breadth of leaving this section blank.

Quick Hits

GI Joe Cobra #4 – This was maddening. I got hooked into what I thought was an ongoing series and it was over in four issues. Well it was left open ended enough that we could see Chuckles come back again. It was a good story about what going undercover can do to you.

Action Comics Annual #12 – Greg Rucka has taken characters that by his account were not really fully developed and has made them into a nice little romantic couple that has some mysticism tie-ins too. I think Nightwing and Flamebird are a good addition to what is going on with the Superman comics and this origin story was a good idea. I especially glad to see the annuals format be used to its best advantage. I like annuals that provide back story or develop a supporting player. This way the main story line’s pace is not slowed down and the reader can buy in more as they learn more about a character.

Power Girl #2 – The story is great. We have the Ultra-Humanite (with a new updated origin –
which was a bad idea in my book, but works) trying to take over Power Girl’s body so he can live forever. We have the JSA trying to save Manhattan from the Ultra-Humanite’s scheme and we have a nice cliff hanger as it looks like he could succeed and put his brain into her body. What is not working still for me is Amanda Conner’s artwork. She is a very good artist, but her style is just too “Johnny DC” for my taste on a straight super hero book.

Superman Batman #61 – This series has been a lot of fun since Michael Green and Mike Johnson have been the writers. The Dr. Destiny two part story is another example of just good solid tales of Superman and Batman. I appreciate it when it is a good story and told well with some terrific art by Francis Manapul (who has stepped up his art a few notches). I don’t care if it is in continuity or not.

Captain America #600 – All the hype and huge push Marvel but behind this
and it was really a rather tame issue of Captain America. It was the one year anniversary of Cap being shot and it revealed that Sharon Carter has shot Steve with a special gun containing some unknown substance. At the end she tells Bucky they can still save Cap and we are told to buy Reborn. Raising expectations that high was insane and also it wasn’t even the beginning of Cap’s rebirth. The story had a stupid line in it by Norman Osborne, that will make me sound like a broken record, but bare with me a moment. Norman gets on the stage of a huge memorial for Cap in Central Park and says “I’m sure the left wants you to think I did not respect Captain America and what he stood for…but it’s simply not true.” Oh please the implication that Norman is to the right and he is bad as is the right. One no way one side let’s the other side keep a huge job when administrations change. Secondly the right is no more the evil side then the left. Both are only interesting in power and very few politicians have any morals or values (Ron Paul my number one exception). I’m tired of the people who identify themselves as the left thinking they hold the moral high ground, we need to start a third option for real change in this country.

Dark Reign Fantastic Four #4 (of 5) – Okay this is a decent book and has me jazzed about Hickman writing the regular series, but how old are Franklin and Valeria anyway? I’m just asking as they were extremely sophisticated kids and Norman Osborne was shooting at them? Thius was all very over the top, but entertaining comics.

Punisher #6 – Okay Tan Huat is a jarring change from Jerome Opena. I know they need a rotating artist crew to make this book monthly, but Huat’s style is a radical departure. I like Huat’s style, but I have to adjust to it. I like that we have a bunch of villains who were killed by a guy called the Scourge back 20 years ago and the Hood is telling them Castle was the Scourge. He also tells them he will only renew the spell that is good for 30 days if they do what he wants. I get the feeling they all die in 30 days anyway. Very little Frank Castle in this issue and it was a $4 book with 22 pages of art and story with some crap filler of index pages for the villains. I get tired of these tricks. I really don’t like paying $4 for 22 pages of story and art.

Thor Trial of Thor – These one shots are great. They are like the old Tales of Asgard back-up
stories that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby did in the back of Thor. Cary Nord’s art just fits the barbaric type story telling like a glove and Milligan turned in an excellent story about a scheme to discredit Thor by the trolls. Sometimes it is just a joy to read a good story about a character that you like.

Young Allies Comics #1 70th Anniversary Special – This was another well done celebration book. The Young Allies met again, this time the two remaining members are a lot older then Bucky Cap, but they reminisce and we get to see one final adventure they had towards the end of the war. They even address the way the kids were portrayed in the comics from that era, including what has to be a racist portrayal of the black character. I guess the fact that had a black member at all is progress, but he was drawn to look more like a person in a minstrel show then anything else. Looking backwards it seems crazy that they did that type of stuff. All in all these anniversary specials have been respectful of what came before, but provides a modern style story set in the golden age.

After what I felt was a malaise that I had felt had hit comics, the overall quality of the comics has picked back up. I mean a week with essential no worst book has to be a good thing doesn’t it. Also the recent purging of my list continues to keep my list free of crap as I’m not suffering fools lightly anymore.


  1. One, Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense under Bush, still Secretary of Defense under Obama. Kind of a major position in either administration.

    Two, please. Who's holier than thou now? Politicians have no morals or ethics, except the one guy whose positions I like? Yeah, that's not preachy. You can disagree with Obama or Bush or whoever all you like, but that doesn't mean they have no ethics. I vehemently disagree with just about everything Bush stood for, but he certainly had ethics. Misguided, in my opinion, but ethics all the same.

  2. Thomm - One exception is not the norm, one can always find an exception.

    I beleive very, very few politicians have any ethics as I was taught them in college. Misguided ethics - are not ethics. Things are right or wrong, ethical or not ethical. While morality can be situational (i.e. killing to save your wife is okay, becuase they took your parking space is wrong) things are right or wrong. My view I feel is supported and validated by the actions of people like Bush/Clinton/Bush II and Obama.

    Finally and most importantly stuff like that takes me out of the comic.

  3. You didn't allow for exceptions. You said there's no way someone will keep a major position going from one administration to another, particularly, by implication, when the party changes with the administration change. One exception was all I needed to show your statement was incorrect. Now, I'll buy that it's not too common, but why should it be? Why did the voters elect someone from another party if the new guy's just going to keep all the old guys? Kind of defeats the purpose.

    As far as the second part, you're giving me a headache. How can things be absolutely right or wrong, but then there's situational ethics? You can't adhere to both views. They're contradictory. Ok, you can adhere to both views, but you wuold seem to be at war with yourself. Are you arguing there are absolutes of right and wrong for governmental policy but not for your personal life? How's that jibe? Why should you get a pass from absolutism but the elected don't? Besides, Bush's problem was his absolutism, not his situational ethics. He wanted to apply his religious beliefs and values to every situation, regardless of the facts on the ground. It wasn't until half way through his second term that situational thinking prevailed and started to make things better, especially in Iraq.

    As far as taking you out of the comic, I'm in 100% agreement on that. It's not a part of the story and feels artificial.

  4. I think you are proving my point, but I was not making my statement for debate team, so one exception does not win.

    You can have right or wrong. Something can be wrong, but it is applied to the situation. It is wrong to kill someone who took your parking space.

    OMG we agree on something. Statiscally speaking it had to happen.

  5. Since when is a conversation with me not a debate?

  6. Short answer - never.

    But normally not a formal debate with score keeping as I use to do as a debate judge for Jamie's High School Debates.