Sunday, January 03, 2010

The List - December '09

I waited until late in the week to get the last comics of December for the List, but with only Blackst Night #6 coming out, it wasn't really worth waiting. Ah, well. Off we go.

1. Northlanders #23 - Same as every month. Superb writing. Excellent art. With no ongoing characters and story arcs that can range from a single issue to about 8, Brian Wood presents almost textbook lessons in how to write short stories.

2. Scalped #33 - You know, you would have thought there was more than enough pathology on the Res with Red Crow, Bad Horse and the FBI, but throwing in peeved Hmong gangsters and you reach whole new levels of psychosis. Jason Aaron's finest.

3. Madame Xanadu #18 - Much lighter in tenor than the previous two, yet still a serious work. Wagner and Hadley have put together art and story that are almost perfectly symbiotic. MX is going to have to dig deep to confront her batshit crazy sister, Morgana.

4. Fables #91 - Aside from the Great Fables Crossover fiasco, I could easily make this the #1 book every month. Still, even with the first thing I see being full frontal male and female nudity, a bold choice, I think the three titles above are a bit superior this month. It may be that this is part 5 of 5 in the Witches arc but doesn't feel like the last part of an arc at all. Too many missing parts. Not that I don't think they'll be addressed shortly. It just doesn't fell like the arc should be ending here.

5. Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love #2 - And now Ala Al-Din, aka Aladdin. D'jinn, Ghors, chador wearing femme fatals? What's not to like. The tense relationship between Cinderella and Aladdin, both sexual and operational, looks to have a lot of potential. The side story of Cinderella's store assistant making a deal with the little green guys who make shoes is almost sufficient to carry a title of its own.

6. Detective Comics #860 - Rucka's finest super hero work. Williams's art doesn't hurt, either. The most innovative layouts around, or at least since the end of Alan Moore's Promethea. I particularly like the tactic of generating a solid interest in the Batwoman character before getting into her back story. Her father's involvement in her origin and hand in creating the Batwoman persona are nice touches. I'm a little curious about the secret about Batwoman's sister, though. The internal logic isn't quite working on that one, but maybe it'll get better in the future.

7. Secret Six #16 - Bad guys. Not bad guys acting as good guys or good guys protending to be bad guys. These are really bad guys. That they're worried about adding Black Alice to their team is telling about how dangerous she is. She's all new to me and looks really interesting. Simone's really got a great thing going here. The cover this issue is particularly arresting, too.

8. Invincible #69 - On time in '09 has been great. Not because the books are on time. Because the more Kirkman at his best that I can get in a given year, the better. Now we have a new threat coming in at the same time as the ever popular Sequid threat. Throw in some pregnancy related (most likely) powers problems for Atom Eve, and we're in kick ass mode. Our new threat reminds me of classic Marvel space queen threats. Only hotter, which is a neat trick for someone who's a sort puke yellow color skin tone. Ottley, Rathburn and Plascencia somehow make jaundice sexy. That's some skills.

9. Invincible presents Atom Eve & Rex Splode #2 - Now, I've never been much of a Rex Splode fan, and Kirkman isn't even writing this, but this mini-series is shaping up very well. I'd say it's better than its predecessor, Invincible presents Atom Eve, which had some weak moments. I'm not overly wild about Bellegarde's art at times, his propensity for somehow making Eve unattractive at times being an ill advised choice or simply an inability to draw a grimace that doesn't make Eve outright ugly.

10. Gotham City Sirens #7 - Easily the best Christmas special of the season, and it wasn't even pushed as such. Harley Quinn's family visits and Poison Ivy's trek to the Amazon were great stories. The somewhat cameo appearance of Batman and Robin, the latter at his psychotic finest, was nicely tied in, almost offhandedly, with their appearance in Batman Streets of Gotham. Dini has a great feel for the characters in the Bat world. Even the trite ending of family being what we make of it came across nicely.

11. Batman Streets of Gotham #7 - See above, to some extent. Another Christmas related tale, but not so light. Really, kind of the opposite side of the coin, as this involves the depressing discovery of a knife fighting ring that pits kids against one another. Even the hard core Robin is disturbed by the dead kids found floating in a river. Dini shows how to write two vastly different Christmas stories in one month of publications. The Manhunter backup is good, too, but I haven't yet gotten into that character.

12. daytripper #1 - This has the potential to move up the list very quickly. It appeals to my usual like of stories set in other cultures, this time in Brazil. I've seen someone else write that our featured character isn't dead and will be in future stories, but I'm damned if I can figure out how. This isn't super heroes and he's stated straight out to be dead at the end, so I don't see how that'll happen. Anyway, Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon have a great concept that I'm really looking forward to watching develop.

13.The Unwritten #8 - Carey and Gross continue a fascinating tale of where fantasy ends and reality begins. They take a look at what the stories mean to the readers, particularly kids, in this issue.

14. Action Comics #884 - Some say this is boring for not having Superman in it. Me, I think it's much more interesting. Rucka has a fine pair of leads with the Kryptonian Firebird and Nightwing. Their story of hunting down sleeper Kryptonians while hiding from US military persecution and overcoming health and romance issues is great. The travails of Lois Lane and the Daily Planet during this near dictatorial moment in US history is appealing to me, particularly while we're in the midst of Dick Cheney's rants that anyone who doesn't support his view of a US free of the encumberances of civil liberties is a traitor. I wouldn't be surprised to see Cheney show up as a character in this story. He so embraces a Darth Vader persona, he's already a cartoon. A leap to comic book villain isn't much of a stretch.

15. Unknown Soldier #15 - This new arc is shifting gears. At least it seems to be. Less war on the Lords Resistance Army. More detective hunt. A much more dangerious mileu for an African detective than Mma Ramotswe in Botswana. Like Alexander McCall Smith, Joshua Dysart really knows the environment of which he writes. Maybe our lead can actually survive, but I still have my doubts.

16. The Walking Dead #68 - Kirkman's second best work. We're heading into Maryland and DC on the trek to find a secure location, my own back yard. Our cast of survivors is much disillusioned after the recent disclosure that the basis of the quest was all a fraud, so strangers holding out a helping hand are getting a harsh welcome. Carl is developing into one kick ass kid, and no one does character exposition better than Kirkman. Few comics writers can have characters just sitting around talking and keep the story interesting. Kirkman does.

17. Irredeemable #9 - This has to be reaching an end, and I'm looking forward to how it's resolved. Charybdis's dismay at the press reaction to his announcement that he's going to save everyone from the Plutonian was perfect.

18. The Mighty #11 - This one definitely is reaching its end. Our other dystopian Superman is now in a knock down, drag out with his former government liason, who's now as powerful as he is. We're hanging amid battle at the end of this one.

19. The Astounding Wolf-Man#20 - It's too bad this one's coming to an end. Not as strong as Invincible, Wolf-Man is still excellent Kirkman writing. It's reassuring to his partners at Image, I'm sure, that Kirkman is clear eyed enough to call an end to one of his own when it's not selling well. I'm going to miss the machinations of Zechariah, though. His motives and goals have never been clear, so he's a great cypher.

20. Blackst Night #6, Green Lantern #49, Green Lantern Corps #43, Adventure Comics #5 (508), and Outsiders #25 - I lump these all together, again, because they're all part and parcel of the same story. I think I'll have to move these up soon, because Johns really has the main story in the first three titles coming together. The latter two are stand alone and have really nothing to do with the Johns story, but I enjoy them all the same.

21. Incorruptible #1 - A spin off of Waid's Irredeemable, it's too early to say how good this one is. As much as I like Secret Six, I figure I'm bound to like a bad guy gone good. Kind of reminds me of the O'Neil Question stories, but I'm not sure it's going to be that good. An underage girlfriend with superpowers, who's named Jailbait, is about as funny a villain name as I've seen in awhile. Considering that Max Damage was supposed to be an unrepentant killer prior to seeing the Plutonian doing the same thing on a larger scale, I can't buy into the Plutonian's change being the impetus for Damage's change. I'll give it a few issues to see if it gets past that.

22. The Warlord #9 - I'd have to call this one the booty issues. Every single major character, at least on the hero side, is getting laid in this issue. That's mostly what's going on. This one's all Mike Grell, on both writing and art, so it looks great and flows well, but it doesn't advance the story. Actually, I'm not sure what the story is, but it looks like Archer has revived Deimos, so we'll not be seeing any happy sexual escapades for awhile.

23. The Great Ten #2 - The Chinese government is still the heavy, but we're moving into better things with the back story of Celestial Archer, his ties to the old Chinese gods and his guilt for having gone to work for the Politburo rather than to revive interest in the old gods. The government's rather futile attempts to prevent the populace from finding out about the presence of the old gods is spot on to Chinese government behavior.

24. Haunt #3 - Kirkman is billed as the writer, but McFarlane, who's doing the inks, has top billing over Kirkman on the cover credits. Hopefully Kirkman's putting more direction into this than McFarlane. It's an engaging story, and we have a nice new turn with a mole in the agency for which the dead half of Haunt used to work, as well as a revelation that's devestating to the living half of Haunt.

25. Justice Society of America #34 - I'm a little disappointed with this series right now. The split off of half the team to JSA All-Stars isn't what I had hoped for. That being said, the ongoing gag of everyone thinking Liberty Belle and Hourman have called it quits on their marriage because they're on different teams is amusing. I can see this one heading in a good direction.
26. The Brave and The Bold #30 - I tried this again because Straczynski's writing it, but I don't think I'll stick with it. It's a nice story. Touching, even. I'm just not sure it's worth my $3 to continue with the book.

27. JSA All-Stars #1 - Only because I'm reading JSA. I don't think I'll keep going, though. There are just too many characters in this team that I don't like. Magog is a tool. King Chimera is all holier than thou attitude. Citizen Steel is just boring. Cyclone is annoying. Power Girl is all tits and thighs. Granted, that last is appealing, but there's not much personality to go with it. Really, I like Hourman, Judomaster and Damage, and one of them doesn't really speak much or have any personality. Wildcat II still whines too much about his relationship with his namesake father. Really, Magog alone is enough for me to call it quits on this.

28. House of Mystery #20 - Oh, how the mighty have fallen. I liked this for a good while, but now, it's on the death spiral. It seems to have reached an end point I can live with, so that's it for this one.

29. Air #16 - This, too, has reached what I consider an end point and is to be no more for me. Not surprisingly, our fickle heroine is all better now that she's back with the guy she pined for.

30. Image United #2 - This just sucks. I don't know squat about who anyone is or what's going on. Kirkman is shackled by the creators who are his partners so that all these characters have to maintain whatever their creators gave them. I don't know most of them at all, so I'm largely in the dark. There are so many characters that each one gets nearly a nano-second of face time. But for buying the issues with Witchblade's oddly nippleless tits prominently featured, there'd be no redeeming value whatsoever to these two issues. DOA. No mas. I suppose this explains why I didn't read any Image titles until learning about Kirkman's original work.
This month's publisher count (something new): Boom 2, DC 16, Image 6, and Vertigo 10. DC's a little artificially inflated with the three main Blackest Night titles I wouldn't normally get.


  1. I'm curious, why the crash & burn on House of Mystery? That started so strong.

  2. And another question... where's the passable line and where's the crap line. What's the over-under man????