Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The Week of July 28 In Review

So this week I read everything before writing up this column. I have a feeling this will lead to a shorter column, but as I start this I have no clue. Normally the books dictate what I write and sometimes time constraints.

My favorite book this week was American Vampire #5. I wrote a detailed review here, but essentially what I think has been done in the span of five issues is the book has provided a strong foundation for a series that is truly an ongoing and unlimited book. We have Pearl, Skinner, Book’s daughter, the old Vampires and the new vampires and the ability to generate new characters with every vampire that is created. You can have a story about Pearl and Henry as Henry grows old and Pearl does not. Book’s daughter born of an American Vampire and a human, what is she like and what powers does she have. You can have Skinner recruiting the new vampires in a war against the old vampires. Introduce the generation before the European vampires if you want. The book is rife with potential stories and looks like it could be a long running success.

Action Comics #891 starts with a great David Finch cover and ends with Lex Luthor kicking Mr. Mind off the rooftop, another good issue. I’m glad that JMS forced DC into making this a Lex Luthor series and that we ended up with Paul Cornell as the writer. Sometimes things just work out for the best. Paul has crafted a Luthor who is not a good guy, but he is not a simple minded villain. The best villains are usually people who think that are the good guy. Mr. Mind trying to manipulate Luthor’s mind and then Luthor winning the battle was a good turn of events.

Fear Agent #28, starting the final arc for our put upon hero Heath Huston finally hit the stands. I enjoyed the issue as it was the usual Fear Agent madness but I was lost because it has been a very long time between issues. This was certainly not a jumping on point for readers. Glad to see we are getting this final chapter and that Remender even states this was how he plotted out the story of Heath.

I’m enjoying the new series Thor The Mighty Avenger and the second issue was as good as the first. Chris Samnee’s art has a nice clean line to it and it works well with this book. Roger Langridge’s story is about a Thor who is on Earth and is trying to find his place here and has limited recall on how he got here or why. The menace of Mr. Hyde was well done, the relationship with Jane Foster is shaping up nicely and the book just has the feel of one of those gems that comes in under the radar. I can live with this being the only Thor book that I follow.

Wonder Woman #601 started off the new Wonder Woman in great style. We firmly establish that someone has done this to Wonder Woman and changed her past. This means that ultimately she will resolve this crisis and we will see Wonder Woman back to herself, but I’m guessing with changes to her that may be permanent (as anything can be in comics). It was a little heavy on set-up, but I don’t see any way around it unless you jump into the middle of the action and explain as you go along. There are arguments to be made for both sides of how to start a re-set. All in all I’m looking forward to seeing Diana as the protector of the Amazons and her finding out the enemy that changed her life and how she can fix it.

Bullet to the Head #2 was last week, but I got the book this week. A lot is going on with this series and it definitely has the feel of a European style of story. What I mean is that it is very heavy with a lot of exposition dialogue and has a large cast. I’m enjoying it, but I can see why American comic fans would walk away from the series. It appears from the small print this is an original US production and not a translation of a previous work for Matz. I find that interesting because I’m unsure if you can sell the US audience on this style of book enough to make it a success. I’m guessing it will be collected and published in French later on. The book is good enough that I want to get the trade once it is completed.

Green Arrow #2 also hit the stands. I’m barely hanging onto this series. Inside this book we see Ollie has built a cave with a series of rooms and has the whole forest gimmicked with traps. It would have taken him a few months at least to build all of that, but of course it is a magical forest. The battle between the bad guys and GA and GL was well done, but the book itself is full of illogic and odd things that are not working for me. The ending is insane as GA gets an arrow to his head and we know he can’t be dead, but we just went through the whole thing with Blackest Night where Hal said dead is dead; I guess the magical white lantern forest will be an exception. I hate when a company makes a big deal out of something and then goes against it within a few months. I guess Ryan (The Atom) Choi can come back now.

The worst book of the week goes to Justice League of America #47. James Robinson is writing a horrible book and it ties up JSA for a couple of months now. I think Robinson’s strength is not with a group book. He uses caption boxes in replacement of the old thought balloons and slows the story down with every character having something to say. I also hate to say it but Bagley’s art while technically is very good comes off as generic super hero art. Some of the best of that class around, but I have grown increasing tired of that type of art. I think after issue #50 the JLA will have to be kicked to the curb.

Madame Xanadu #25 came out and I really, really miss Amy Reeder’s art and I miss Madame Xanadu being in her own book. I have heard rumors of the books demise and while I’m sadden by the news at least we had a great run of a couple of years with some wonderful art. If only DC can put this out as a hard cover. This issue was a good one as a man is going insane due to hearing voices in his head. It was sort of a mini homage to Mad Men as the main character for this story is an Ad executive and the story is set in the sixties. The problem is that it is not about Madame Xanadu enough at this point in the story line to keep me happy.

Green Lantern #56 and Green Lantern Corps #50 both hit the stands this week. DC should spread these books out by a week as the GL side has become the spine for the DCU. Both of these titles were well done with good stories and excellent art. Hal is dealing with Larfleeze and trying to get him to tell how he captured his entity in his lantern. Hector Hammond is released by a mysterious guy who has been floating around in the background of a couple of books. Hammond eats the orange lantern and next issue we should have quite a battle. The GL Corps story is also well done. Tony Bedard has taken over from Tomasi and has done such a great job as there has been no let down of the quality of the stories. This story has Kyle and Ganthet against the Cyborg Superman with John Stewart and a planet population in the balance.

While I ignored the new X-Men / Vampire thing I did try out Uncanny X-Men #526, the epilogue to Second Coming and it was a good issue. It appears Hope will be an activator for the new mutants that are now springing up all over the world. I like the tone of the book as it feels like the X-Men in this series have a direction and a goal again. Heck I got X-Men Legacy #238 and even enjoyed that side story about some mutant going back home to India with Rogue and Magneto tagging along. I won’t put these books back on my official list yet, but I will be checking out the next issues of each one.

Batman The Return of Bruce Wayne #4 (of 6) came out. It was a decent issue, but I’m missing the overall point of this series by Grant Morrison. My friend Rusty said he rather read any Grant Morrison book because whether he understands all of it or not, it is always interesting and entertaining. I have to agree, but I want more out of this story then I’m getting.
Secret Avengers #3 was a good issue. I’m glad to have this as my only Avengers book as this is the only one that reads like a classic Avengers type of story. There is a menace and the group is out there fighting the menace. It is an oddball group and maybe down the line it will feel more covert, but right now this is the Avengers book for me.

First Wave #3 (of 6) was also on the stands. I continue to enjoy this series and continued to be wowed by Rags Morales work on the book. The slow publishing schedule has taken some of the steam out of any momentum that had been built, but I think DC needs to take a long term approach on this Earth and give it a chance to work.

Still a rather longish column, but I think if I had commented as I read it would have been another 500 words at least. I remember in school (years ago) it was often difficult to write a page long enough for what was required, I think I have that knocked now.

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