Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Best and Worst of Last Week

This week was an odd one because after reading Stumptown no other book could equate to being a best of the week. I’m not sure if it would have been any different if I read stuff in a different order, but you never know.


Stumptown #1- Writer Greg Rucka, Artist Matthew Southworth, Colors Lee Loughridge. What a great frelling book. From the moment I saw the cover on the stands I thought this book had a chance to be something special. Greg Rucka is one hell of a writer and has done some beautiful work for DC. Still when you read Queen and Country or the two Whiteout adventures you can tell there is something extra with these books as Greg works best grounded in the real world. I think that is why the Question and Batwoman work well for him as they are non-powered heroes and also female leads. With all the great work that Greg has done this book was a grand slam with the first issue and has the feeling of being something extra special from Mr. Rucka’s pen. So many writers start there stories at the end or middle and then go backwards to get to the opening and then wrap it up. It has been done so often by so many writers that it is a cliché. No one can work up to a climax, so why bother, start with one and then explain it. It sounds like a great idea but some writers don’t know how to do it or over work the gimmick. Greg does it perfect. The first five pages grab you by your shirt collar and drag you right into to the book. Once you hit page six there is no turning back, you are reading the entire issue and will be ignoring phone calls and even the urgent pleading of your dog to come back inside, everything else can wait. With page six we jump back 27 hours and then work back to the beginning of the book. We then go a few steps further to get to a solid ending that has you checking your calendar and circling the Wednesday four weeks from now when you hope issue #2 will be hitting the stands. Hell this book is one that I want to buy more copies of and give them to other people to show them how good comic books can be and how to tell a great modern private eye story. See my full review here.


Captain America Reborn #4 (of 6) – This series has fallen off the rails for me. The writing is good and the art is very good, but the pacing of this story is horrible. We are 4 issues into a five issue series that has been extended into six issues and a follow up special called “Who Will Wield the Shield.” A side note, rhyming titles should be outlawed. First this should have been part of Cap’s regular book. Second this feels like a series that was conceived more as a marketing plan then being 100% story driven. By that I mean that this feels like it will be a nice evergreen collection sitting in a book store so to fill it out we made it almost four issues of it a Captain America retrospective. Three, have they really explained what the deal was with Cap’s body and how they revived it? Maybe they did and I was just bored and missed it. For the $16 this series has cost us so far I would mark this book as a rip-off to fans. Not a total failure but wasting a lot of page count to move the story forward only incrementally.

Deathlok #1 (of 7) – What an unmitigated and unreadable failure, I can’t believe Marvel even published this book. We only have a seven issue series and we never even got to see Deathlok in this issue as he has not been created yet. We are in some future world where war has become a blood sport of sorts and armies are run by corporations and broadcast with commentary replete with a play by play announcer and color commentators. There was so much text on half the pages that added nothing to the story that I could not being myself to even read most of it. This was unimaginative writing that never got me into the story and I could not wait to get to the end to see if there was any hook or hope to hold me in and there was none. This was not only the absolute worst book of the week, but one of the worst I have read in a long time. Cancelled.

Haunt #2 – The second issue still felt very derivative of trying to make this character a cross between Spawn and Spider-Man. The “cleaner” was a stupid movie cliché that was way over the top and too unbelievable for even comics. Way too many good strong titles that have just started to waste time and money waiting for this to get better. Cancelled.


Absolution #3 (of 6) – Christos Gage is doing a great job with this character. Each issue does us down this road of the hero crossing lines that the hero knows he should not cross, but things are always taking nice little twists and turns to keep this series fresh. It is nice to see a talented writer like Gage be given more then clean up assignments from Marvel or under the radar stuff from Wildstorm.

Assault on New Olympus – This book is a solid prologue to the story line that will be the focus for Incredible Hercules. It is the same animal as Hercules, with strong story telling, fast paced, humor, light hearted, but not light weight. The magnitude of this event could easily make this book too serious, but they managed to balance the book very well. The Agents of Atlas back-up is melding into this story as Venus is actually a siren and the real Venus is a little ticked off about this Venus trying to steal her role. I’m a little confused as to why the special was spun out of the regular title as I don’t believe this book will be crossing over into others, maybe just a marketing ploy to try and garner more attention for Hercules.

The Authority #16 – I liked the ending of this arc because it made sense and made for a great battle. Jack Hawksmoor bonds with the city of Gamorra and kicks Kaizen’s tail. It was just a well thought out plot and moved the storyline forward by leaps and bounds.

Cinderella From Fabletown with Love #1 (of 6) – Almost a best book of the week. A highly enjoyable story, but it spent a lot of time setting up the story and explaining Cindy’s place in Fables. As an editor I would have suggested cutting back on explaining her back story as Fable readers would know it and the rest can be filled in on the run. It is interesting as I notice myself critiquing story structure as much as anything else. It was still a fun, smart and enjoyable beginning to Cindy’s latest spy adventure as she searches for who is taking magical fable items and using them in the mundy world. Chris Roberson (writer), Shawn McManus (artist) and Lee Loughridge (colors) have me looking forward to the rest of this series.

Doctor Voodoo #2 – This was a strong second issue after an uneven start to this series. Nightmare manipulates Jericho into getting a free pass into our dimension. This book has a good feel to it and is the magic type book I have been missing for years. It is not the Dr. Strange book I was waiting for, but this works.

Doom Patrol #4 – So the first three issues have been okay, with Metal Men being the better part of the book and it is the back-up series, but this issue the book takes off. I was worried about Blackest Night taking over so many regular series, but the first traditional cross-over of an event book was nothing short of brilliant and made me really enjoy this newest version of the Doom Patrol. Having the second Doom Patrol Arani, Negative Woman and Tempest as Black Lanterns was great. The cliff-hanger (pun intended) was Robotman’s human body (Cliff Steele) as a Black Lantern attacking him. The Metal Men back-up was it normal wonderful light hearted crazy self.

Immortal Weapons #4 (of 5) – I wish the rest of this series had been as good as this issue. The story of Tiger’s Daughter was great. Essentially she is the Queen of a matriarchic race of people. I was so looking forward to this series and the first three issues really missed the mark and the long delay between issues has destroyed any momentum they may have been left after that, but this issue redeemed the series a little. I wonder if Iron Fist is getting his own series again after this.

Jonah Hex #49 – This was way too “comic booky” of an ending. Instead of shooting Turnbull Jonah gets up close and personal and then is almost beaten by him. As Jonah is about to finally kill him so guy Santos comes and arrests him and Turnbull gets to live to torment Jonah another day. The Jonah I like to read about after shooting Turnbull's horse would have just rode up and shot him.

The Mighty #10 – This book only has till issue #12 to get to the finish line and this issue feels like they are wrapping up everything in a hurry. Loved Alpha One’s origin this issue and I think this book might have had better sales numbers if they were not playing it so close to vest about what Alpha One is or what is going on. It was too slow of a reveal for this type of book; Irredeemable is facing similar issues, but with other super powered beings around it gives them more time to play. Plus under Boom’s banner Irredeemable gets tons of attention and a big marketing push, The Mighty is left on its own under the DC banner. Still this book has been a solid read and looks to remain that way all the way to the finish line.

Secret Six #15 - This was a great solo story about Deadshot. John Ostrander (writer) and Jim Calafiore (artist) told a nice one and done story that gave us a lot of back story on Lawton and shows just how much of menace he can be. Ostrander needs to be back on a regular title in the DCU.

Sweet Tooth #3 – This series continues to impress. This issue we get to meet Becky, who appears to have bunny ears. Of course in this book they could be real and not just a headband. Wonder if she like to f*** like a rabbit too? Just kidding, but not about how good this series is, it is a quick and easy read with lots of content and subtext.

X-Men vs Agents of Atlas #2 (of 2) – This book was really a continuation of the Agents of Atlas series and dragged the X-Men into to boost sales I guess. All in all I’m enjoying it because I love the Agents of Atlas and want to follow their adventures. Marvel is showing that numbering and series mean nothing to them as they are willing to do any sort of convolution to jack up sales. So far it seems to be working for them, but I wonder long term if it will work as being able to just follow a series is something many fans like to do.

I can’t emphasis how much I loved Stumptown this week. It was a perfect first issue. I hate starting things at the end and then flashing back, but Rucka showed why people started doing that writing trick and showed how it can work well. Cliché become clichés because people overuse them and don’t know how to make it work. Finally I may have been harsh putting Captain America Reborn in the worst category, but I expect better of that creative team.


  1. Whether Stumptown starts at the end depends on how you look at it. It's starting at close to the end of the story in the first issue, though not entirely at the end, but it's not starting at the end of the Stumptown story. There's a lot more story to come in future issues. If you've seen the movie 16 Blocks with Bruce Willis it employs a similar device to good end, as it starts at a point that looks like it would be a Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid sort of climax, but once it jumps back and builds to that point, it keeps going for awhile beyond that with more story.

    Now if Stumptown started at what would eventually be the end of a limited series story, then you would have a more cliched device.

  2. Hey, thanks for the kind words about Cinderella!

  3. So, explain to me why you have cancelled Cap'n A: Reborn again?

    Every month you complain about the waste of money but still buy it.

    Nothing wrong with you ranting every month. Just trying to see if I have two more months of listening to it.

  4. I still buy it because I'm hoping the overall result will be better then what we have seen to date.

  5. Oh come on now! You're just feeding the machine at this point.

    You've been saying "I hope next issue is better" for 4 issues. Not only has it not gotten better, there's an arguement to be made it's gotten worse.

    I bet you could skip issue #5, get issue #6 and not miss a thing.

  6. Maybe, but then I would miss complaining about it.

    Your actual point is well taken, in that when a series goes off the rails it should be abandoned. If it has solid creators monitor it from a quick glance at the store and if the story is picking up again, try it out again. I sometimes get sucked into the machine and ride out stuff that I should drop and come back to later.

    I have dropped X-Factor and then jumped back in when it got better in my view and I did not miss what I never picked up.