Monday, January 17, 2011

The Week of January 12 in Review

You know it is funny as I have stayed away from politics and outside commentary for awhile, but that stuff will generate more comments then almost anything anyone of us says about comic books. I guess when we are reviewing comics that people like to read the opinions we have to see if someone agrees or disagrees with what they think. Heck I do it all the time and seldom feel the need to comment on a reviewer’s viewpoint.

At this point I’m about halfway through the week and all in all it has been a quiet week. It has had a few dogs and a few decent books, but nothing that is slapping me in the face for attention at this point.

Halcyon #3 – Writers Marc Guggenheim & Tara Butters, Art Ryan Bodenheim

What I Liked – The story kicked into a higher gear as we got to learn a little bit about why the world has become so peaceful. I loved the dialogue when the Flash character said “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth” and the Batman character said “You look in the horse, you find out there’s an army inside.” It was a terrific exchange. Devlin (the Batman like character) is trying to find out the answers and he has discovered that he believes it to be a telepathic team member who did it. With Superwoman’s (whatever her name is) help he finds out she was working for an organization. With Superwoman’s help (whatever her name is) they find her and apparently they have cut out her brain. The surprising ending was well done with a mystery that the Superwoman character can’t fly, when she has been flying all along in the series. The art by Ryan is very good and I appreciate that this book has been coming out on a regular basis. All in all Image has another series on my list of top series.

What I Didn’t Like – I know it is only three issues in, but I wish we could get the names of the characters in the super hero group on the inside front cover so I could start to eventually remember who is who. I do not want captions (save me from Fraction captions) every issue when we see them for the first time, just their names on the inside front cover.

Superman #707 – Plot J. Michael Straczynski, Script Chris Roberson, Pencils Allan Goldman, Inks Eber Ferreira.

What I Liked – The $3 price tag.

What I Didn’t Like – Everything else. This book is a mess and a shame that DC is allowing it to flounder along. The art is passable and on a title such as Booster Gold on Green Arrow it would be fine, but it is not the best that there is and Superman deserves an Ivan Reis or Jesus Saiz or some other top flight talent. The story is horrible. Not only is Superman a pedestrian the stories are also. Superman gets conflicted when he can’t decide between low level pollution and letting people keep their jobs. He is Superman, couldn’t he clean it up and then tell the plant to keep it that way. Superman solving “real world” problems doesn’t work because Superman does not fit in the real world. It is a chore to read this book and I’m only hanging on because the cliff hanger ending was so odd I want to see one more issue, but I could very well drop this book.

Batgirl #17 – Writer Bryan Q. Miller, Art Pere Perez

What I Liked – The characterization and the building brother sister relationship between Batgirl and Robin. Stephanie is a terrific big sister to the little brat “brother” Damian. I know they took down a group of bad guys but the back and forth between these two characters was a joy to read and out and out the most fun comic I have read in awhile. This is what super hero comics should strive to be, solid and entertaining with spot on character building. The art by Pere was well done with excellent expressions and solid story telling.

What I Didn’t Like – Grant Morrison in Batman the Return mentions sending Batgirl to finishing school or something like that and it is totally ignored in this series. Isn’t the entire Bat line under one editor? I’m not saying change anything, as this series is continues to entertain me, but consistency within the books would be nice.

Infinite Vacation #1 - Writer Nick Spencer, Art and Co-plotter Christian Ward

What I Liked – It was a fresh twist on a concept and an interesting start to a new series. The art by Ward had a great feel to it, like a psychedelic trip into the sixties but had its own unique feel to it.

What I Didn’t Like – The concept is fun, but squishy. What I mean is that if you press down with any strength the book’s logic falls apart. The concept of buying into a different life of one of your infinite doppelgangers is interesting but how does the loser you afford to switch out. I guess if I’m accepting the infinite realities and the ability to float in and out of them I should not push logic to hard. Still the internal logic falls apart easily if you try to think at all about the concepts and what is happening in the book. I’m wondering if Nick is not getting spread too thin and is rushing some of his work. Some of our raising starts often start to do too much and then the potential they have can burn out too fast. Still I’m a fan of what Nick is doing in some books and will be back for issue #2.

BPRD Hell on Earth Gods #1 (of 3) – Writers Mike Mignola and John Arcudi, Art Guy Davis

What I Liked – This is actually issue #74 in the series. The consistent quality of this book outstrips many other comics. Hardly any issue is a bad one, the only problem maybe that it is a little dense for a new reader. This issue we meet a young girl who can foresee where monsters will show up. She has developed a small cult following but seems to be paying for her gift with a fever she can’t shake. For the entire issue you are wondering if anyone will show up that we know and it takes till the very end for Abe to make an appearance. As far as a jumping on point this issue is as good as any because until the final panel I did not know a single character. Mignola & Arcudi are a wonderful team and Guy Davis continues his great art.

What I Didn’t Like – Nada.

Daredevil Reborn #1 (of 4) – Writer Andy Diggle, Art David Gianfelice

What I Liked - The feeling that Matt is lost and trying to put together his life again. Frank Miller tore who down to nothing, but this is different as Matt is walking away from his life and trying to figure out who he is again.

What I Didn’t Like – His neatly groomed beard. It sound silly, but he was shown like he doesn’t care about his appearance but shaved his upper lip. A small point, but it took me out of the story. It went into him being a hero too fast. In the first issue he is drawn into a mystery and fighting criminals in a small town. I wanted more of him wandering a looking inward. The price is $4 for 22 pages, which sucks.

Thor The Mighty Avenger #8 – Writer Roger Langridge, Art Chris Samnee

What I Liked – The almost lyrical nature of this book. I know it sounds corny and stupid but this series had a unique quality to it that made me smile as I read it. It had a flow and a melody that made the book one of almost pure joy. It evoked comics of the silver age, but was still as fresh and new as any book I have read. This issue we meet the Iron Man of this reality and I could see where Langridge was building towards his own version of the Avengers. I’m sadden by this being the last issue and I’m typing this the Sunday after the Ravens lost to the Steelers and the crush of seeing mighty Casey strike out adds to my sadness. Often a book is cancelled and I can just be happy about the issues of the book I got, but this book is almost a crime that Marvel can’t go back and prop it up with a new #1 and some sort of splashy marketing campaign. It deserves better than this fate and will unfortunately become a little know memory. I will have to go and buy the trades as I fear a hard cover will never be made. Still I hope against hope that somehow, somewhere someone in Marvel tries to get this series back on the stands so we can capture the elusive lighting in a bottle again.

What I Didn’t Like – That they freeling canceled this series. Sometimes a thing deserves life regardless of sales.

Thunder Agents #3 – Writer Nick Spencer, Pencils Cafu, Inks Santiago Arcas main story sequences, Howard Chaykin NoMan Sequence.

What I Liked – The updated NoMan. First off it ties the book into the original series and second it is a brilliant update of the character and makes such great sense that you read it and say “of course this is what would happen”. It is akin to the simple twist that Alan Moore gave to Swamp Thing; it made sense and changed everything at the same time. In some ways this is better as it invalidates nothing of the character from before, but makes him unique for today. I even enjoyed Chaykin’s art which is sometimes so locked in time as to be passé, but worked well mixed into the current day story. Cafu’s art is just getting better and adding an inker is helping make it look even better than his work in the Vixen series. This feels like a book that could be a slow building hit.

What I Didn’t Like – The pace of the today story line needs to move faster. I understand that we are giving back stories on our characters, but the balance needs to be pushed to make the main story move ahead faster. In three issues the main story has yet to take root in my mind and it needs to for the long term viability of this series.

Black Panther The Man Without Fear #514 – Writer David Liss, Art Francesco Francavilla

What I Liked – I love Francesco’s art. I know it is a little on the static side of things, but he sets the mood so well and his characters are so distinctive from each other that it is an easy read because of his work. The story itself is starting to take shape and it is interesting to watch the Black Panther have to learn who he is again.

What I Didn’t Like – Liss appears to be a very smart and logical writer, but he is getting trapped in slowing down his story but trying to explain too many things. This issue we are asked to plow through a sequence with Luke Cage which is trying to explain why no one is involved in keeping Hell’s Kitchen clean but the Black Panther. In a comic book world this type of logical explanation is not needed. Just as we accept Wolverine being in the X-Men, X-Force, Avengers, New Avengers and his own book we accept that each book can be its own world unless forced into a cross-over. The logical person in me applauds what Liss has being doing to explain stuff, the fan editor in me thinks we can ignore it and explain what we need to know as the story progresses.

Who is Jake Ellis #1 (of 5) – Writer Nathan Edmondson, Art Tonci Zonjic

What I Liked – The art, the story and the pace. A good spy book is hard to do as a comic and with the added twist of our POV character having his own personal Harvey; it is a great opening chapter. Once you start this book it is hard to put it down. I know this was last week, but after hearing some rave reviews I picked it up this week. They were right. Tonic’s minimalistic style and panel layouts kept the pace of this book fast and made it an easy read. The ghost like adviser to our POV character was a lot of fun and raised tons of questions which make you want to come back for more.

What I Didn’t Like – Nothing really, a strong first issue which will rise and fall on the ultimate reveal of “Who is Jake Ellis”.

Green Lantern Emerald Warriors #6 – Writer Peter Tomasi, Pencils Fernando Pasarin, Inks Cam Smith

What I Liked – The art on this book is top notch. I think Pasarin is a rising star in the business and DC should promote the hell out of his work. Marvel does a better job of promoting their talent.

What I Didn’t Like – Too many plates are being spun on this book. The multiple plot lines and the mystery behind what Guy was doing have created a book with too many directions. The story is a slave to the “War of Green Lanterns” event as opposed to the story driving the bus to become an event. Too often DC has gotten caught up in an idea that is made into an event and then made the books subservient to the goal of getting to the event. It is a backwards way of storytelling and ends up hurting the overall narrative of series.

Side Note – Somehow the evil Bleeze having a garter to hold up her leggings on the cover seemed funny and out of place given the character.

That is a wrap for this week, with my favorite books being the last issue of Thor the Mighty and a book from last week, “Who is Jake Ellis”. I read that a lot of people loved Batgirl as the best book of the week, but while it was very good, it was just that very good. Now off to watch more football and be reduced to rooting for the Patriot (who lost).

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