Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Week of April 21 In Review

I find it interesting that Marvel has pushed the $4 comic to the point that it is fast becoming the norm. At the same time with the ipad the new digital price point is $2. It is only a matter of time before you can get the digital version the same time the print book hits the stands. At a $300 price point in the future it won’t take many comics to add up to enough savings to make the switch. Of course my hope would be we generate more comic fans then ever and even if print sales drop to miniscule numbers it should still be worth an additional income stream for the publishers. What I find interesting is that at $2 the publishers must be raking in huge profits. No retail cut, which is usually half of the book price, no brick and mortar distribution and I’m guessing a much cheaper cut for the digital distributor and no printing costs. I just hope the creators are making deals to make sure there cut from the digital side is fair. In other words royalties on digital sales should be higher at a $2 price point.


Brave and Bold #33 – Writer J. Michael Straczynski, Art Cliff Chiang, Colors Trish Mulvihill. JMS has been having a terrific run on this book and each one and done has been an excellent story. The stories have been on a more human level with sometimes going a little moralistic on us and sometimes just telling a great adventure tale. The series has been so strong that I have ordered the hardcover collection of the book so I can keep this run on my bookshelf. This story was one that will resonate with me for a long time. It works on multiple levels, but mostly it worked because it showed what friends try to do for each other. When you see the cover and see Wonder Woman, Zatanna and Batgirl on the cover you think this is going to be a pure good girl book where JMS uses the fact that he is telling stories out of continuity to put this group together with Babs as Batgirl. It starts off with Zatanna having a dream, and then we cut to Wonder Woman saving the day against a terrorist type bomber. It also gives us a quick prelude into how JMS views Wonder Woman whom he will be writing soon and I like his approach to Diana. She is swift and sure of her actions, confident and even shows a sense of humor. “Z” tells Wonder Woman she is putting together a special ladies night and convinces Diana to go out and they next proceed to round up Batgirl. Over Babs protests they convince her to go out. The rest of the book is about there girls going out on the town, clubbing, dancing and having a drink or two. Innocent fun, but the type of night they hardly ever get. Not long after that night Barbara Gordon is shot and paralyzed by the Joker and we learn that “Z” had a premonition about what was going to happen and wanted Barbara to have a night where she danced one last time. It was very sentimental, but hit me right in the heart. I love some of these characters and while it is all fantasy it was nice to see these characters looking out for each other. Cliff Chiang cleans line work, great layouts and storytelling ability was icing on the cake. Chiang is a premier artist and one of the reasons that I’m starting to think DC may have a stronger art team then Marvel.

American Vampire #2 – First Story – Morning Start - Writer Scott Snyder, Art Rafael Albuquerque, Colors Dave McCaig. Second Story - Deep Water - Writer Stephen King, Art Rafael Albuquerque, Colors Dave McCaig. One of the things I have become very conscious of when reading comics is how much of a unique marriage the art form is between words and pictures. The old adage is a picture is worth a thousand words. Still we need the words sometimes to learn just who the characters are in the drama we are engaged in and how they are feeling about what is happening. Knowing when to insert words and when not to add captions and dialogues has been something going on in comics for years. Read comics from the sixties, seventies and even till the nineties and you will see many writers have captions which are totally meaningless as they are just describing what the artist drew. I’m almost certain that with writers doing full scripts that someone thought it would be good to include almost every word that was written. Under the Marvel way I can read old Marvel comics and see where Stan was forcing a story into a book that had nothing to do with the art as he scripted it after the art was done. To make a comic truly work well the marriage has to be one of knowing when to step on the gas and when to let the art do the work. For a newcomer Scott Snyder has gotten it right apparently from the jump, especially with this book. The opening four pages is my evidence to support my view. Page one we open with Pearl’s friends coming into her room wondering what has happened to her. The pictures give us the setting and the words let us know her friends’ concern. It immediately made me recall that we ended last issue with Pearl being attacked by vampires and thrown into a ditch. Cut to page 2 and 3 side by side and we see Pearl torn up and staggering around in the desert obviously more dead than alive as her friends drive up in a car. The dialogue is at the bare minimum as Rafael’s pictures carry the drama and magnitude of what has happened to Pearl. Page 4 we are at the hospital and the doctor provides details as what is happening to Pearl and why she is dying. The dialogue is conveying needed information for the reader, but is conveyed in a natural way as to make it part of the story. See my full review here.

Other Books of Note

Avengers vs Atlas #4 (of 4) – This was another terrific issue in a great series. I consider this to just be part of the ongoing Atlas series which restarts next month. One of the things that appeals to me about this series is Jeff Parker is using obscure characters, that are essentially new characters, just already owned by Marvel. These are characters that can have growth and development and are not locked into some artificial time wrap that forces so many characters to remain unchanged by the corporate giants that own them.

Batman Streets of Gotham #11 – The lead story by Dini and Nguyen was very well done. I enjoy that this Batman and Robin are very unique. Dick Grayson is not Bruce Wayne and the few scenes he has in the book he is portrayed as an effective Batman, but somehow Dini allows a different persona to shine through the mask. Damian is a very different kind of Robin as his fight with Zsasz and his willingness to just use blood as a mask. He is the most dangerous Robin ever created and keeping him in check is a job that perhaps only Dick can do as Bruce would not have tolerated his actions. The Manhunter backup works and does not work. It has a strong story and very good art but the 10 pages feels like we just get going and then stop. I’m not sure if that is a failure of the writer or me as the reader who is now like Pavlov’s dog and expects a comic to be 22 pages.

Battlefields #5 (of 9) – Ennis does a wonderful joob with theese fooking characters. Of course typing the dialogue for the Scottish Sergeant must be a pain as I have to stop my spell check from trying to fix my typing when I pretending to type in the voice he uses for the Sergeant. This issue had an especially tough ending as the tank crew apparently shot up a German woman trying to gather firewood. Ennis never lets us forget how war is tragic and brutal.

Crossed Family Values #1 (of 6) – I was wondering how they could make the depraved and hopeless post apocalyptic world interesting again and David Lapham managed to show his twisted and sick side with this issue. It’s all so totally wrong, but Lapham has me pulled into this story and I want to see where it goes.

DV8 #1 (of 8) – I was on the fence on this book going in as I have no clue who these characters are, but Brian Wood was writing it and I thought I would give it a shot. I was all set to drop this book until we got to the end. The idea that these super power beings got shunted to some primitive world and they each have become a god to a different tribe made me decide to get the next issue.

Farscape #6 – This issue was exactly like I was watching the TV series. We are building on what has gone before and still building new mysteries. I have always had an interest in Pilot and getting back to his home planet and learning more about him is great.

Green Lantern #53 – It is nice to know that some things never change and Sinestro is still a bastard. Also this was a good issue that immediately built on what happened in Blackest Night and set up a whole host of story lines. It seems like Johns could be writing this book for many more years to come and has plenty of ideas for the book. I just hope Dough Mahnke stays at artist as he is a terrific artist and someone who can meet a monthly deadline.

Guardians of the Galaxy #25 and Nova #36 – Both books were decent issues with Guardians being the better of the two books, but I was very disappointed with the fact that apparently these are the last issues of the boosk and yet Marvel is saying nothing. Both books say the Thanos Imperative is next and we have word of that mini-series but no clue as to where the rest of the stories that have been started are going. We do know Nova will be a Secret Avenger which sucks as what Rich Ryder was doing rebuilding the corps was pretty darn cool and I think would be a full time job. All in all I have to say right now I’m a little disappointed as I like having some inkling of what the plan is and if it is to merge all the storylines into the Thanos Imperative for now why not tell the fans.

Justice League of America #44 - This book is struggling to be good. The roster consists of Batman, Donna Troy, Congorilla and Star Man (blue alien variety). I get that Robinson seems to be being crushed with editorial mandates and can’t ever say a thing about it, but this is a weak line up. Also Robinson is using captions as thought balloons and it is hurting the flow of the story. I understand he is trying to give us more depth of characterization but during the battle scene it just hurt the pacing of the book. I do like Congorilla Bill and hope that we can at least get a showcase edition of his stories, such an odd character.

Power Girl #11 – I already miss this creative team. Terra, Ultra-Humanite, Satanna all combined in one excellent Power Girl adventure. I should have made this a best book again, but it is killing me to see this book come to an end. Besides all the other great things this book does in the space of a one page opener the creative team brought up anyone up to speed as to what was happening and gave regular readers new information on how Ultra-Humanite was still causing grief for Power Girl. We only have one more issue and then the adjustment period to a new creative team, always awkward after this strong of a run on a book.

The Spirit #1 – This issue had a great story and wonderful art to start this series off. My enthusiasm is tempered as Mark Shultz (writer) is only on this book for three issues. I liked that this Spirit is playing in a dirtier city and that instead of playing it for humor it has a harder edge to it. I think this is the way to go with the Spirit, otherwise he loses relevancy in today’s market. Plus he is supposed to be a new Spirit in the First Wave Universe. The backup feature was also well done and a nice little almost classic Spirit story, whereby the Spirit is not the focus of the story.

X-Men Legacy #235 – Second Coming Chapter 4 – The linear storyline is what is making this series work so well for me. The fight between Cyclop’s troops and Bastion’s has been obviously plotted out very well and each book is hitting their plot points. It is perfect for a lapsed fan like me as I’m learning about the new status quo of different people as I go along. Rogue has obviously changed dramatically as she now can borrow other people’s powers and be a multiple powered super human. Of course I don’t know how long it lasts or if it somehow affects the person she is borrowing from, but I’m learning. I’m starting to get the feeling that Cable will not survive this adventure, which is a bummer as I’m growing to like him now.

X-Factor #204 – I like this book now, I used to love it. It is still good; it just has a plodding pace and at times seems to lack a cohesive direct. As far as calling it Revelations and making it relate to Second Coming, it was okay, but no revelations were to be found.

Well that wraps up another week of comic book goodness. As we wrap up the month of April I can only hope that the Orioles can start to pull their collective heads out of their, err, out of the sand and get going and start to win some games. I just watched us win game three as I’m typing this. I was not expecting playoffs this year, but this team is one that I think can be a lot of fun to watch as they have some good young talent at the core of this team.


  1. I could tell that B&B issue was going to be good, but I was thinking of waiting for the HC myself too.

    I hate the captions in JLA, especially Donna's, which seem totally out of character. Why does she need to fight all the time to feel alive? The characterization of Batman is the only one on target.

    I was talking with a mutual CCC compadre on Wednesday and he was telling me how he disliked JMS's B&B run, but he also mentioned how he just wanted a consistent team (consistently good of course) on a book to collect. This thought helped me NOT to drop JLA yet. Even if the creative team is struggling with editorial mandates, I like that they seem geared for the long haul.

    I miss the days of long story runs. The art is very exciting (although some of Bagley's two page spreads are difficult to follow as I drop to the bottom of the page when I should have crossed over to the second page)and it was nice to see Etrigan again.

    Funny how they're down to a paltry four members now. Here's hoping Firestorm joins the team.

  2. I can't believe there was no Supergirl mention - it was a great Legion issue and one of the better Sgirl issues to boot. It also implied that Kara is much closer to being the original Supergirl than she was first written to be. I'm curious to see where that goes.