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Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Fables #118

June 25, 2012
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Big week. Lots of good books.

 

Unfortunately, it is a week that leads to a bit of trimming as well.

Starting with the weakest book as usual.

 

SECRET AVENGERS #28 (Remender / Guedes / Wilson) Marvel

This comic is awful. I mean absolutely awful.

Let’s start with the art. I really don’t like what Guedes has done here. It is sketchy and not dynamic in any way. The colours on it are very ‘crayon-like’.

Then the story. Let’s start with the fact that it makes absolutely zero sense when put in with AvX and the other Avengers AvX books. That wouldn’t be the end of the world except this is an AvX cross over. Were the editors sleeping? They should be pretty embarrassed about this mess.

Now ignore all that and try to judge this comic on its own.

Nope. Still terrible. They brought Captain Marvel back for no reason, only to kill him off again. I suppose this is meant to inspire Carol… but only if the editors get it together with the new book by DeConnick and after the mess the last couple of months, I seriously doubt it. Betrayal! Oh wait, just kidding! Oh wait, we need a sacrifice! Hands up anyone who thought he was surviving this issue anyway?

I came VERY close to cancelling this book from my file… and anyone who knows my addiction to Avengers comics knows what a big deal that would be.  In the end I decided to ride it out a bit for two reasons. 1. after this issue it is no longer an AvX cross-over. Maybe letting Remender go back to the story he WANTED to tell will help. and 2. Guedes is off the book.

We’ll see. Another mess like this and it is snipped

 

DOMINIQUE LEVEAU: VOODOO CHILD #4 (Selwyn Seyfu Hinds / Denys Cowan / John Floyd) Vertigo

To Selwyn, who has read my reviews the last couple of times DL has come out… sorry. I am a writer. Poetry mostly but I also used to write for Legend of the Five Rings and I know how much it sucks to read people talking about not liking your baby.

The book is cancelled now… as of issue #7. We won’t be getting the rest. I’ll just leave it there.

 

AVENGING SPIDER-MAN #8 (Slott / Templeton / Clark / Parsons / Quintana) Marvel

(Why does Slott get top billing on the cover? He didn’t write the comic…)

A book of this nature will also be a hit-and-miss prospect… and this one kind of missed. Story epilogues in comics are rarely good. If the story was worth telling, it should have been part of the main story.

The real problem here is that we basically have a flashback inventory-style story masquerading as an important plot point. The problem is two-fold: the nobody actually believes that Silver Sable is dead (and the narrative is making this abundantly clear) and… who really cares? It isn’t like she is an important character. Killing off D-list heroes is not exactly newsworthy, no matter how hard they try. The real story is that Spidey is upset that he ‘let her die’, but that story rolls along fine without this fill-in stuff being needed in it anyway.

 

BATWOMAN #10 (Williams III / Blackman / McCarthy) DC

Here they are starting to get better. McCarthy is no Williams III and Williams III is no Rucka. The jump cuts are an interesting conceit but they are also a bit conufsing. I feel like I need to go back and reference earlier issues and a reader should NEVER have to do that. I feel like he is writing for the trade and the story will work better once collected.

 

WINTER SOLDIER #7 (Brubaker / Lark / Thies / Gaudiano / Breitweiser) DC

This comic works very hard at feeling like a movie… and they do a pretty good job. I am wearying of the Russian connection behind every villain, but that is okay. The action was solid (except the firefight in the van. I am not sure why Bucky and Natasha aren’t dead. That is a pretty confined space for multiple people with machine guns to miss while spraying bullets around… they must have Stormtrooper disease.

The way the readers were led on the same way the heroes were led on was well done.

 

AVENGERS VS X-MEN #6 (Hickman / Coipel / Morales / Martin) Marvel

When I read people taking the side of the X-Men I kind of laugh. Those people must not have been reading comics for very long. This story has been done many, many times. I even just re-read a DC mini where they main heroes crossed over with a another universe full of different characters with the same names (I think the universe was called ‘Tangent’). Superman had done the ‘obvious’ thing and taken over the world to the betterment of everybody.

But what about free will?

Exactly. That is the story. I must have read that story in different places ten times… likely more.

Besides… Cyclops is a villain. The sooner everyone realizes that, the better.

At least stuff is HAPPENING in the series now. Also, this one of the few comics where I don’t find Hickman getting in the way of the story he is telling.

 

ASTONISHING X-MEN #51 (Liu / Perkins / Troy) Marvel

I don’t buy any of the X-Men titles normally. I bought this one. It is important.

They did a good job, mostly. Anyone who complains about them doing this marriage, whether do to homophobia, ‘sanctity of whatever’ or claims of pandering and whatever can feel free not to let the door hit you on the way out.

This is important.

And unlike the ‘coming out’ issue back in the 90’s, the book doesn’t suck.

I am not going to start buying the title though.

 

DARK AVENGERS #176 (Parker / Walker / Pallot / Martin) Marvel

Dark Avengers? Sure looks like the Thunderbolts to me.

Good issue… though I am not sold on the new version of Man Thing. The time travel who joins them is a welcome addition. I woudl say I am looking forward to the next issue but the next issue will probably be back to the pretty lame Dark Avengers. Are they splitting the art the same way? If so, that works because the better story gets the better artist.

 

AVENGERS ACADEMY #32 (Gage / Green / Huet / Sotomayor) Marvel

This is the AvX story properly turned into an interesting narrative that plays out as an actual story rather than just the idea of a story. How can a forced crossover turn to questions like ‘what is life?’ ‘what defines someone as a person?’

The X-23 bits are a little heavy handed, but that is normal for the character, She is about as subtle as a brick. Juston is great, though. Pym works as a foil well enough… though he IS acting kind of stupid.

The art is not great. Can’t Tom Grummet handle the workload? Why do they keep subbing in inferior artists?

 

BEFORE WATCHMEN: COMEDIAN #1 (Brian Azzarello / J.G. Jones) DC

This is the weakest of the BW books so far, but it is still pretty good. Dropping Comedian into the Kennedy family is a bit too Forrest Gump for me, but the end with Moloch is worth the pay off. I have read some commenters that say that Eddie’s turn to necrophilia is a bit much, but if THAT is what you think happened in that scene… well, your mind goes different places than mine does. I’m glad mine doesn’t. That isn’t a very nice place to live.

Now, there are some real problems with continuity here. Breaking continuity like the Avengers folks did is one thing. Breaking continuity between a prequel and the book you are homaging is a whole different thing. Here is hoping Azzarello explains the discrepancy later.

Or… wait… am I mixing up the actual Watchmen with the movie? That would be embarrassing…

 

WONDER WOMAN #10 (Azzarello / Akins / Kano / Green) DC

Two Azzarello books in a row! This one is REALLY good… storywise, but it is marred by sub-standard art. It is really too bad that Cliff Chiang wasn’t on this one, because the story is excellent. Diana’s excuse for beating his truth-lassoed question is what makes this book special.

In fact, all the characters in this issue were excellent. I LOVE how it ended and I especially love that Azzarello didn’t feel the need to EXPLAIN what was going on there.

Love thyself.

 

NEW AVENGERS #27 (Bendis / Deodato / Beredo) Marvel

I have never liked Deodato and I have made no secret of that. This current storyline though… Deodato should be drawing Iron Fist stories set in K’un-L’un full time. It is beautiful. It helps that the two female characters in the book are SUPPOSED to look alike so the fact that ALL of his female characters look alike isn’t a problem.

 

What MAKES this issue is the Hope and Spider-man scene at the end. Perfect use of the line that basically acts as the moral tagline for the entire Marvel line of comics.

Very well done.

 

THE UNWITTEN #38 (Mike Carey / Peter Gross) Vertigo

A world without stories? I was wondering where Carey was going to take the book after the first mega-arc was over. This is a good direction. A VERY good direction. I don’t quite understand why that person is made of wood, but I DO get why she is turning back into flesh and blood. It shows what could happen to a world with magic in it without stories.

I am so happy that this great book looks like it can continue being great.

 

SAGA #4 (Brian K. Vaughan / Fiona Staples) Image

Remember the people claiming the breast-feeding panels in the first issue were gratuitous? They are going to lose their shit after reading this issue. 🙂

I don’t want to give anything away but the scene where the space pimp opens the door?

Yeah.

Yeah.

Add to that the conversation between our leads and the new nanny.

This is just good comics.

It was one of the first comics I read this week and I KNEW there wasn’t go to be a better comic in the pile.

 

Except then there was…

 

FABLES #118 (Willingham / Buckingham / Leialoha / Pepoy / McManus) Vertigo

The secret of the broken toys is… well, I don’t want to spoil that. But it is chilling. REALLY chilling. This book was already treading on scary ground, but that has been ratcheted up a whole bunch of notches. That would be enough to make this a great comic, but add to that the fight between a tiger and a damaged (in many ways) stuffed bear and… wow.

The Oz story is still not grabbing me. It is just too short.

 

If you bought Fables, Saga and the Unwritten this week, well… that would be a good week of comics right there.


Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Amazing Spider-Man #687

June 18, 2012
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Not a big week, but a decent one. I am a little behind because our slam finals were on Saturday and they took a lot of my time.

 

And they were awesome.

 

Starting at the weakest, as always.

 

AVENGERS ASSEMBLE #4 (Bendis / Bagley / Miki / Mounts) Marvel

Twice while reading the comic I flipped back to the credits page to see who the artist was. I am very familiar with Mark Bagley, but he is a much better artist than you what you see here. I mean, there were parts of the art that were actively bad. Other parts were just okay. WAAAAY below the normal standard you get with Bagley.

Then there was the story, which wasn’t bad, but neither was it much of anything. It just seemed to be a fight in a vacuum… almost like the early parts of Avengers vs X-Men.

 

AVENGERS #27 (Bendis / Simonson / Hanna / Keith) Marval

What… the… hell… is… going… on? So there is Protector, having betrayed the team. Right, I got that part. Then there is Ms.Marvel, with the rest of the betrayed Avengers… uh. wait. I thought Protector betrayed the Avengers WITH Ms.Marvel and the returned Captain Marvel? No?

Wait, so that was in SECRET Avengers so there are two DIFFERENT betrayal stories going on with the same characters in the same storyline that are completely different from each other? That have NOTHING to do with each other? Someone forgot what an editor’s job is…

 

I like Bendis but do you ever get the idea he has turned into George Lucas? I read a story in Wired a while back about a huge database that Lucasfilm keeps to keep all of the facts from the extended Star Wars universe straight. Nobody is allowed to do anything that conflicts with what is in there.

Unless it has a red star. A red star means ‘because George said so’.

Having said THAT, this issue is pretty clearly a set-up for the cosmic books that Bendis is supposedly doing after he leaves the Avengers. I am not a big fan of cosmic, but I do like the Noh/Annie thing Bendis has going on.

(The Avengers were awfully harsh, though…)

 

CAPTAIN AMERICA #13 (Brubaker / Zircher / Mounts) Marvel

I liked it… but I don’t know what to say about it. With Zircher on art it is starting to feel more like the old Bru Cap book, which is too bad. We already get that with Winter Soldier. I preferred the Bru/Davis style.

But it is still a good read. I wish D-Man would get a clear storyline though, and not change with every writer.

 

SAUCER COUNTRY #4 (Pul Cornell / Ryan Kelly) Vertigo

Solid story. I am glad the hypnotist stuff played on this way because it sure seemed sketchy when it happened. I like how Cornell is taking the whole UFO thing and eating the ridiculous  – cutting off avenues for criticism. I am really interested in seeing what is REALLY going on, and how can a comic ask more than that.

 

SPIDER-MEN #1 (Bendis / Pichelli / Ponsor) Marvel

If you are an Amazing fan, read this comic. See how awesome Miles is and become an Ultimate fan. As great as Slott is on ASM (scan down the page), Bendis is even better on USM.

Buy them both. Actually, by this one as well.

The only thing that keeps this as far down on the list as it is is other great books and the lack of Miles in this issue.

 

THE MASSIVE #1 (Brian Wood / Kristian Donaldson / Dave Stewart) Dark Horse

As far as world building goes, Wood has done a great job here. One question – were we supposed to realize that Mary couldn’t jsut drive the boat back? It is only in the extra material at the end of the book where I realized that.

The fact that the book is named after the MISSING ship tells you there is a big mystery to unfold here. Looking forward to it.

 

BEFORE WATCHMEN: SILK SPECTRE (Darwyn Cooke / Amanda Conner) DC

I was thrilled with the first BW book (Minutemen). This one was better.

Read page 3 and tell me that isn’t incredibly good comics.

Cooke has these characters down cold and the Conner art is as good as anything I have seen by her. I am iffy on the next BW book (Comedian) but they haven’t let me down yet.

 

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #687 (Slott / Caselli / Martin Jr.) Marvel

Wow. I was starting to tire of the Ends of the Earth storyline, but Slott wrapped it VERY well. The feeling of the clock ticking away while doom lurked around every next bend pervaded the book. It is hard to create suspense when you know it isn’t possible for the heroes to fail, yet they pulled it off.

And Spidey DID fail, in a very real way.

At least for now. I wonder…


Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Swamp Thing #10

June 10, 2012
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Remember how last week was a relatively small week?

Making up for it this week!

 

Starting from the weakest and moving up, as usual.

 

WORLD’S FINEST #2 (Paul Levitz / George Perez / Kevin Maguire / Scott Koblish) DC

Perez and Maguire? What’s not to like? Well, a badly written story, boring characters and a terrible villain are a start.

I love supporting female led books and I love the artists. That may not be enough. I don’t think I will be getting issue 3.

 

DARK AVENGERS #175 (Parker / Shalvey / Martin) Marvel

Ouch. I was quite enjoying Thunderbolts, but this is… not so good. I cannot stress how much I hate Ragnarok. At lest give him a different costume so we are not constantly reminded what a dumb character he is. In fact, I don’t really like any of this crop of Dark Avengers (as opposed to the first crop). The Osborne mini was very good, but that didn’t make the villains introduced automatically matter.

I would drop this too, but I am hoping we will get more actual Thunderbolts in the title soon, despite the name change.

Oh, Shalvey’s art is getting better each issue, though!

 

DIAL H #2 (China Mieville / Mateus Santolouco) DC

This book gets by on pure creative inventiveness. Here is hoping the plot starts to catch up soon.

 

ANIMAL MAN #10 (Jeff Lemire / Steve Pugh) DC

Some issues of this book, I love. Other issues I am luke warm on. I try to figure out what the difference is, and I can’t find it. Maybe it is my mood when I am reading it. It is well worth a read, but between this and Swamp Thing, AM has a ways to go.

 

iZOMBIE #26 (Chris Roberson / Michael Allred ) Vertigo

Sometimes I complain about a book not having enough plot. iZombie has too much. The characters are excellent but as the book trundles on to its untimely demise, there are too many plotlines that need to be crammed in and brought together. The book is suffering for it. Overall I still recommend the series. Buy the trades.

 

DEFENDERS #7 (Fraction / Dodson / Dodson / Oback) Marvel

I thought this book might be on the bubble down with World’s Finest, but the Dodsons drawing Black Cat? I am still not sold on the main Defenders storyline, but now I want to see a Fraction / Dodsons Black Cat book.

 

WINTER SOLDIER #6 (Brubaker / Lark / Gaudino / Breitweiser) Marvel

Michael Lark is pure atmosphere. This issue is all backstory, but it is on point! Fred Davis is the Bucky in a refrigerator, and I am not sure it was necessary, but the whole story of the sleeper for the past dozen years works well. Tying it in to Bucky’s story worked. (I do think they could go to the ‘Bucky’s past’ well too often, but they are not there yet.)

 

AVENGERS VS X-MEN #5 (Fraction / Romita / Hanna / Martin) Marvel

Something finally happens! I mean for real! Welcome the Phoenix Five!

One thing… when this is all over, Cyclops will be in prison, right? RIGHT???!

He should be.

 

AVENGERS ACADEMY #31 (Gage / Grummett / Hamscher / Sotomayor) Marvel

Does anyone write young adults as well as Christos Gage? The plot is the plot… whatever. It is the characters that really shine… and now there is a new addition to the cast! I wouldn’t have minded if that was a trade for X-27, or whatever her name is… you know… Wolvie-Girl. Still, I like what they did with Shaw, and the Loa / Mettle / Hazmat situation will be interesting to watch. Personally, I hope they avoid the whole triangle cliche and instead turn into a really strong friendship like was implied last issue.

 

FAIREST #4 (Willingham / Jimenez / Lanning / Farmer) Vertigo

One more time: WHY IS A BOOK THAT IS SUPPOSED TO BE ABOUT FEMALE FABLES STARRING ALI BABA?

Having said that, this was a good issue. The storytelling conceit has been good and having the Snow Queen be an addict to them works on many levels. Having her drugged into working for Gepetto strengthens her character a lot. Not much Briar Rose here, but the addition of Hadeon could be very interesting.

 

THIEF OF THIEVES #5 (Kirkman / Spencer / Martinbrough / Serrano) Image

Does the gathering of the team reming anyone of Super Crooks? Oh well, it is a standard ‘heist picture’ set-up. It was well done, but once again… the only female of the group is a stripper? Really? WTF!

This books glides on the characters and the design… but those are both things I like a very great deal.

 

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #11 (Bendis / Marquez / Ponsor) Marvel

Spidey kicking ass! The first time you are punched int he face has to be a bit of a shocker. Being used to the Peter version, I was surprised he got hit so often, but at the same time, none of it seemed to phase him. Apparently his powers include being able to take a beating without even a bruise.

One of the best books on the market, month-in and month-out. BUY THIS BOOK! Anyone… everyone.

 

BEFORE WATCHMEN: MINUTEMEN #1 (Darwyn Cooke) DC

The baggage involved is immense. Here is my take…

Alan Moore got a little bit screwed by DC’s ‘it is yours once it goes out of print’. I say a ‘little bit’ because DC KEEPING it in print in order to keep the rights has probably done more for Moore’s career and reputation than anything else he has ever written. (And that is saying something.)

Moore thinks it is some sort of creative crime to use someone else’s characters.  This is the writer of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Oh, and let’s not forget that the Watchmen characters were all based on the old Charlton characters and only changed when DC wouldn’t let him use them. At least that is how the story goes… (and it seems pretty likely. The analogues are clear.)

Now… when Before Watchmen was announced, my reaction was ‘uh, no thanks’. Then they announced the creative teams. Wow. So now, my attitude is, ‘don’t buy them because they are Watchmen related. Buy them if they are good.’

The first one is good. REALLY good. Anybody who enjoyed the opening credits sequence of the movie (and most people I talked to liked it, even the ones who didn’t really like the movie as a whole) should like this. Darwyn Cooke is incredibly talented and he does a great ob here (despite some small continuity problems with the main story).

Even the Crimson Corsair back-up was solid. It is dense, as it should be, so the 2-pages didn’t seem too light and the density wasn’t overwhelming.

So far so good.

 

SWAMP THING #10 (Scott Snyder / Francesco Francavilla) DC

Normally this book takes a big drop when Yanick Paquette isn’t on it, but Francavilla is PERFECT for the mood of the return of Arcane.

ARCANE! BAD ASS! I wish he wasn’t tied so tightly to the Rot, as he was excellent without it. I guess they don’t want to tie so strongly to hell any more.

Regardless, excellent book (but a bump as I am already a fan of the Swamp Thing / Anton Arcane struggles).


Rusty’s Comic(s) of the Week: America’s Got Powers #1 & 2

June 3, 2012
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Really good week, despite being somewhat small. Of course, since it was small, and because of a reprint available, I tried a new book that was getting really good reviews…

 

Starting at the relative weakest book and moving up.

 

ANIMAL MAN ANNUAL #1 (Jeff Lemire / Timothy Green II / Joseph Silver) DC

I love the Animal Man book and it is often one of the top books in a given week. So, what is wrong with the Annual?

I have certain standards with an annual. It should be something different from the regular book. It needs to give us something special. They didn’t go that route with this one. Instead it reads just like any other issue of Animal Man… which would be okay except it is a regular issue but worse. It gives us a flashback to a prior version of Animal Man and Swamp Thing. It is a certain that is completely skippable as it adds nothing to the general story. Also, the art is way worse than the regular book.

This sounds harsher than I mean it to. The book was still worth reading, but it couldn’t compare to the better comics of the week.

 

RASL #14 (Jeff Smith) Cartoon Books

This is the penultimate issue of the run. I get the impression that RASL will read better as a whole than it does as individual issues, but it is still very good. I both look forward to seeing how it wraps up and seeing what Jeff Smith does next. Word is that RASL has been optioned for a movie. I think that could really work.

 

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #39 (Reed / Garbett / Lucas / Fabela) Marvel

Brian Reed is no Dan Slott as far as Spidey goes, but this is a solid book. This DOES fit into my criteria for an annual as it gives us a different writer, so a different take from the regular book. This one is sentimental in the right way, but suffers a bit for having no actual challenge for the heroes. When the only thing they have to do to defeat the ‘enemy’ is to go to where he is, it takes a little bit of the suspense away. Also, it seemed a little too easy for Spidey to accept the ultimate wrap up in the sotry. I think I would have preferred a little less time-hopping and a little more of Peter’s reactions to the situations he was faced with.

 

THE ULTIMATES #11 (Hickman / Humphries / Ross / Milla) Marvel

First off, the cover credits lie. There are many more artists involved. There must have been deadline issues and they got people to jump in. Add to that list (Guice / Kirk / Zircher / Aburtov). It didn’t distract too much.

It is funny how a book can turn around. Ultimates was sliding for me and was in danger of getting the axe. Since they blew up Washington, though, it has become a very interesting read. (I DO think it is odd that this can share a universe with Ultimate SPider-Man yet Miles never says anything about major cities being destroyed and Texas forming their own country. That is some pretty major stuff not to pay attention to.)

This is edge of the seat stuff and I look forward to each issue. (For the record, in my opinion, the cliffhanger is a trick.)

 

THE NEW DEADWARDIANS #3 (Dan Abnett / I.N.J. Culbard) Vertigo

Any of the last few books could have been my book of the week this time out, including this one, which was having a tough time clicking with me. This issue really worked as we got some great scenes with a zombie fence and a brothel. This is the characterization that had been absent thus far. The reason I put this one at the bottom of the top (so to speak) is while the characterization was perfect, how it advanced the plot wasn’t clear to me. We’ll see.

 

SUPER CROOKS #3 (Mark Millar / Leinil Yu) Icon

The plan starts to come together… and then starts to fall apart. This book is a little more gruesome than I prefer, but the gore is pretty effective. The way they get their info is pretty ingenious and risky, which shows in the end. This is a mini, right? It reads like one, but I don’t know how long it is set to run.

The one real complaint is that the book is the lack of female characters. The one they have is quite good, despite her tendency to lounge around in little bikinis. (For the record, I have no problem with a character that likes to lounge around in bikinis, but when she is the ONLY female character, it is… well…)

 

AMERICA’S GOT POWERS #1 & 2 (Jonathan Ross / Bryan Hitch) Image

I didn’t get this the first time around, but the reviews have been very positive. Certainly enough for me to take notice. When I was scanning the racks this week I saw issue #2 and also saw that Silver Snail had second printings of #1 (with a black & white cover, though. I didn’t really care for that), so I grabbed both.

Nice series! The set up in issue #1 was excellent and the expanded characterization in issue #2 worked very well! Maybe reading both made each better than if I had just read one, but that is okay. I understand that Ross is some BBC guy, but he has comic pacing down cold (maybe Hitch has helped him out a bit here).

In some ways this is like reading The Boys without feeling dirty afterwards. (Nothing wrong with feeling dirty sometimes…)