Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Best and Worst of Last Week

Football season started! That means it is time for the Ravens to come out and play for real. It also means that my week-end schedule is even more crowded then before because I have to make time for at least one game and heck sometimes three games on Sunday. I have been happy with the progress of the Orioles, but it is nice to see a home team that is a legitimate playoff caliber team. The game against the Chiefs was a lot closer then the 38-24 score would imply, but it finally looks like the offense will be able to carry their share of the load. That is a good thing as I believe our defense is getting old in some key positions and after this year our defense could be in transition.


War of Kings Who Will Rule – Writers Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, Pencils Paul Pelletier, Inks Andrew Hennessy, Colors Guru eFx. – This epilogue to the War of Kings book was well done and was by the same creators who did War of Kings, so they could have called it issue #7. It is hard to say how much I’m enjoying this series and the offshoots from it. Ever since Marvel decided to shine a light on their space heroes and Giffen came in and did the Annihilation stuff we have seen a real renaissance in the space opera type sagas. It struck me recently that one of the reasons I enjoy it so much is because all of the books that are associated with this hold together as one story. Nothing is going to happen in War of Kings that affects the entire cosmos without Guardians and Nova being impacted. The fact that Abnett and Lanning are writing all of the books makes it work so seamlessly that it reminds of the very early years of Marvel comics when Stan Lee wrote or guided every title they published. If Thor was off in Asgard for some adventure he was not in Avengers. Bottom line this stuff rocks and this issue was no exception. I love how mature and smart they have made Crystal and she of all the Inhumans recognizes that the Kree and Shi’Ar need more then just being ruled with an iron or even a velvet glove. She manages to push Gladiator into being the new regent that will rule the Shi’Ar for the Inhumans even though he did not want it. Unfortunately we see that the Darkhawk involvement is not over in this story either. We have Magus, Medusa mad with grief, Gladiator, the Starjammers, the Inhumans all being used and given more life then they have had in ages. Instead of seeing the new spin offs and mini-series and dreading them, I’m looking forward to all of the material associated with Marvel’s cosmic side. Heck when it comes to Abnett and Lanning their comics have always been entertaining and well written, from Resurrection Man to Legion of Super Heroes to War of Kings.

Shield #1 - I was very curious to see how well DC would be able to continue with these characters after JMS got them all off to a decent start. Well Shield #1 was all set to be a home run, when suddenly Magog appeared on the last page. Well not to worry and I plowed ahead into the Inferno back-up, again all set up to be another hit, when the last panel Green Arrow shows up. Wow, two great stories mucked up with a forced guest star to prove we are in the DCU or something. These little editorial mandates really suck and took the edge off what is otherwise a very good opening issue for both characters, well worth my $4 entry fee.
Inferno: Writer Brandon Jerwa, Art Greg Scott, Colors Tanya & Richard Horie. I’m going to start with the back up story first. I’m going to give DC tons of credit for these back up series as everyone that I have read have been well done and the Inferno story continues that trend. The story picks up right where JMS left off with Inferno wandering away from the docks where he had a fight and not knowing who he is. The police are starting their investigation and are told they are off the case by a special FBI Unit. Inferno (in his civilian identity) is struggling to figure out who he is and checks into a small motel and gives his name which is somehow immediately flagged and the FBI is notified. Frank (Inferno) Verrano sees Inferno on TV and realizes that Inferno is a totally different person. See my full review here.

Dark Reign The List – Avengers - Writer Brian Bendis, Pencils Marko Djurdjevic, Inks Mark Morales, Colors Marte Garcia. The good part of this is seeing Hawkeye, I mean Ronin, finally having enough of Norman and decide that it is time to take him out. Now we have a few pages of the normal Bendis talking heads as the other Avengers try to talk Hawkeye, I mean Ronin, out of killing Norman, but it is done relatively well. Of course my expectations are for Bendis to have every character almost talk the exact same and the dialogue to be really off key and this time it was not nearly as bad as it has been before. Oh it still had those moments that bring the book to a halt and dialogue that could be coming out of anyone’s mouth, but it was a decent discussion about whether it is ever right to kill someone. Personally I say that if someone is responsible for mass murders and other heinous acts, killing them is okay, but the discussion was a valid moral argument. I also enjoy the interaction between Clint and Mockingbird. Bendis does a good job when handling a couple’s interactions and Bobbi supporting Clint regardless of how she feels was a nice piece. Correspondingly it was just as well done that Clint decided to do it on his own anyway. See my full review here.

Life and Times of Savior 28 #5 (of 5) - Writer JM DeMatteis, Artist Mike Cavallaro, Colors Andrew Covalt. I enjoyed this series and also did not enjoy it. I will have to go and buy the trade paperback one day, just to read the entire book in one sitting, but this book ended and left me very ambivalent about the entire story. I guess what really struck me this issue was that JM DeMatteis really felt a need to preach to his audience. Not that there has not always been that element in this series, it just became very heavy handed and so text heavy that the pictures were almost superfluous. Also it felt like a typical liberal message about community service. Personally if I want to do community or if my kids want to do it, that is fine, it is just that the government has slowly been making it mandatory via the school and judicial system. Forced service is not the same as giving of your time. In this story it feels like DeMatteis was saying community service was better then being a super hero. So saving a thousand lives from a tidal wave is less important then feeding a hot meal to a homeless person. That type of thinking just makes me gag. I guess what left me with that feeling was the last two pages of the story when we find out that Savior 28 is still alive. We find out he is not dead, that he did get regenerated but was left in a wheel chair. (I guess the stone only decided to fix him so far, which was left unexplained and just felt very dumb.) He now helps run a community shelter and we got to see a picture of Obama on TV placed behind him. Again it felt so heavy handed and felt like it made the whole story a lie, as we had “known” he was dead from issue #1. Especially since it ended before those two pages with his ex-partner blowing his brains out since he could not live with having killed Savior 28. See my full review here. This book makes the best because it was at the very least thought provoking.



Quick Hits

Adventure Comics #2 – A good follow up to the first issue. I’m curious if Johns is giving up Superboy to Levitz or just the Legion back up. Both stories are very slow in developing, so while I’m enjoying the book I wish it had a little faster pace, especially in the Legion stuff.

Blackest Night Batman #2 (of 3) – I continue to be impressed by the quality of these add-on series. They act as the perfect add-ons since they are not needed to enjoy the main event, but are enhancements that show you how other parts of the DCU are being impacted. It is really the best of both worlds, if you skip it, no harm, if you buy it you get your money’s worth.

Green Lantern Corps #40 – This book just jams in so much that it is almost impossible to take it all in. We have Kyle facing off with the Jade Black Lantern, the discovery that the Guardians may all be dead, a confrontation with the Alpha Lanterns, Guy vs Bzzzd, Arisa vs her family and more. Just an incredibly strong series that packs more into each page then most comics do in an issue.

Hellboy Wild Hunt #6 (of 8) – Hellboy is related to King Arthur. That was a revelation I was not expecting and makes Hellboy even more interesting. I wonder if Mike has an ultimate endpoint for this character.

Marvels Project #2 (of 8) - This series is building very well. It is the type of story that has to have a lot of different focal points and therefore is building in a slower manner then other types of comics, but still a lot happens in this issue. I like how it is working towards one obvious climax the creation of Captain America. If the rest of the book hangs together this well I see a hard cover in my future.

Nomad : Girl Without a World #1 (of 4) – I had a friend say this was a kid book and I knew what he meant in that it is about a high school girl and her trying to fit into this world. It is the kind of alienation we all feel in our lives at some time, but she is literally from a different world. Still I enjoyed Sean McKeever’s take on this type of story and thought the artist David Baldeon had a nice flowing type style. Therefore kid book or not I will hang on for another issue or three.

Red Robin #4 – So at least we waited until the fourth issue to kill the main character. I’m slowly started to like this book, but I think the writer Chris Yost is not very adept at telling a story from the middle as much as he would hope. The flashbacks don’t always fit in and the flashback story telling how Tim gets to be in Europe seeking Batman is still not making any sense. I have yet to see one thing that made Tim decide to search Europe or a reason for why he believes Bruce to be alive.

Secret Six #13 – Is there any book that is more fun on the stands then this book? Agents of Atlas maybe a close second, but they are all actually good guys, where this group actually has bad guys, who are just fascinating. I love the characters and the plot is merely a device to allow us to enjoy the character interaction. I hope DC starts to collect Gail’s work on this series into a decent hard cover collection – it’s that good.

Ultimate Comics Avengers #2 – Marvel is two for two with this book. It was a quick moving issue, gave us the origin of The Red Skull and how he is Steve Rogers son. Of course we don’t have a real rhyme or reason for why he is so evil, but it was still a strong second issue. I think with Millar he has a good feel for telling stories that as you are reading them are good, but the more you think about them the bigger the plot holes. In that way he is a perfect action picture Hollywood writer – logic be damned full speed ahead. Also it helps a lot that the artwork is so well done and Pacheo, Miki with a crew and Ponsor did a great job.

This was another enjoyable week of comic books. Realistically every week should be as I have struggled to drop books faster then ever, which means if I have a week I did not enjoy comics then it maybe time to move on to just reading my hard covers and trades. Still there were no real “super wow” books this week but tons of good stuff. I was really encouraged by the “The Shield” from DC as I think the Red Circle books could be those solid second tier books that have been missing from DC for so long. Also I could have move Dark Reign The List and Life and Times of Savior 28 to the Quick Hit slot, but thought both had merits to put them in the Best side.

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