Rusty's World

Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Saga #10

February 24, 2013
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It is the second week in a row where I wasn’t really blown away by the quality. Two books that I buy, Wonder Woman and Fables, were damaged in transit so I won’t get them until next week.

Starting at the weakest…

CAPTAIN MARVEL #10 (DeConnick / Andrade / Bellaire) Marvel

It is hard to explain but last issue, with the new artist, I was happy with the change. This issue it looks ugly and messy. That may just be me… my changing moods. The storyline doesn’t excite me either.

AVENGERS #6 (Jonathan Hickman / Adam Kubert / Frank Martin) Marvel

When I finished this book, I turned to Ruthanne and said, “Where do you rank a book that pretty much sucked all the way through and then has something really cool right at the end?
Apparently the answer is right here.

Do you know what I really liked back in the 80s? The New Universe. I really liked DP7. I quite liked Psi-Force. Star Brand was decent. Not Nightmask, unfortunately, but hey.

SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #4 (Dan Slott / Giuseppe Camuncoli / Edgar Delgado) Marvel

I just… hmmm. Why didn’t I love this comic? It was just too bloody. This isn’t Punisher, it is Spider-Man. Slaughtering people left and right just doesn’t sit right with me. It doesn’t feel right.

THIEF OF THIEVES #12 (Kirkman / Asmus / Martinbrough / Serrano) Image

I have been enjoying the Asmus story but all of a sudden in seemed muddled. I have had no problem following before but now things seemed a little… all over the place. This may be one of those issues that works better when read WITH the surrounding issues.

BATWOMAN #17 (J.H. Williams III / W.Haden Blackman) DC

Positives: Williams actually tried to draw a comic this issue instead of just some cool big paintings. The end bit with BW and Maggie. The end-end bit with Alice and Bones.

Negatives: That’s it? This big convoluted story ends with beating Medusa in the most obvious, cliched way and then taking down the big bad with a short chat? Then the BW / Maggie scene… as great as the IDEA is, it was a little sloppy. Kind of out-of-nowhere, no?

REVIVAL #7 (Tim Seeley / Mike Norton) Image

Anders is messed up… kind of.

I always say that character is more important than plot to me… but I really hope this book starts going somewhere concrete.

DAREDEVIL #23 (Waid / Samnee / Rodriguez) Marvel

I keep hearing how good this comic is and I finally decided to give it a try. I am a big Chris Samnee fan so it feels like it was about time.

And it was. This is a really good book. The looming villainy of the DD experiment looks interesting, but this was all about the final scene with Matt and Foggy. Really… REALLY well done.

SAGA #10 (Brian K. Vaughan / Fiona Staples) Image

Secret Book Club! Upside-down faces! A glowing gorilla with an attitude! Izabel!

That planet was REALLY an egg? Holy smoke! That thing hatching is really, REALLY big. Firing that missile was incredibly stupid and now… LYING CAT?!?!?!! NO!!!!!!!!!!!


Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Fantastic Four #4

February 17, 2013
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This was an odd week. It wasn’t a bad read, overall, but nothing really jumped out as amazing.

I do have a note about what is going on over at Marvel and how it affected my buying choices this week.

I am an Avengers guy. I have literally every (core) Avengers book ever… all the way back to 1963. I used to collect the ancillary Avengers titles… but they starting putting out too many. The bloody awful Chaykin mini is what finally broke that and it got me to just stop buying the bad ones.

I am NOT a X-Men guy. There have been good runs, but the level of interest with me hasn’t been high since… Claremont, really. (Though, I used to enjoy Peter David’s X-Factor.)

Then Bendis went from the Avengers to X-Men and Hickman took over Avengers.

So far, the Avengers books under Hickman are a mess. Meanwhile, All-New X-Men by Bendis has been one of the best new books I have read… at least among superhero stuff… and not counting Hawkeye… o’kay, let’s just say it is good.

Why? Characterization. Hickman does not consider that a priority. He writes the Avengers more like the JLA. THey are power sets, not characters. Bendis is ALL about characterization.

So, this week there was a new Secret Avengers book. I stopped buying the old one, but it was still Avengers so I considered giving it a try. The premise is that the members of the team get mind-wiped after every mission so they don’t even know they are on the team.

Does that sound like the basis for good character development?

Uncanny X-Men was also out. I was NOT planning on picking it up, initially. I am very firmly NOT in the Cyclops was right camp. But still… Bendis…Bachalo…

So, I bought Uncanny and not Secret. And I also bought WOlverine & the X-Men for the first time.

Bendis has made me switch sides…

Starting at the weakest…

BEFORE WATCHMEN: COMEDIAN #5 (Brian Azzarello / J.G. Jones) DC

It is possible to write a comic where the lead character is interesting despite being completely unlikeable. This is no that comic. This is a generic Vietnam is hell comic led by a scumbag.

Just not very enjoyable.

AVENGERS ASSEMBLE #12 (DeConnick / Woods / Hanna / Beredo) Marvel

This book continues to read like… it doesn’t matter. It reads like fill-in arcs despite having a permanent writer. Those fill-in arcs are okay, but in the end, if I don’t feel like the stories mean anything, I will lose interest.

WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN #25 (Aaron / Perez / Martin) Marvel

So, I decided to pick this up. It looked like a ‘jumping on’ book… and I guess it is. My only problem here is that there are so many characters that I don’t know that it is hard getting a handle on them. Aaron does a good job making sure there is character across the board, though, but there is a lot of back story I am missing. What is the deal with Kid Apocolypse / Genesis? Etc.

How will this tie in with All-New X-Men?

It was certainly good enough to buy #26.

AMERICA’S GOT POWERS #5 (Jonathan Ross / Bryan Hitch) Image

I think this will read better as a trade. I also wonder of Sarah Palin knows that she is a villain in a comic and whether she is okay with that. 🙂

Don’t believe the cover. This is no longer a 6 issue mini. It has been stretched to 7. I hope the extra issue is more story and not just more explosions and chaos.

UNCANNY X-MEN #1 (Bendis / Bachalo / Townsend) Marvel

I wasn’t going to get this, as I mentioned above, because it is completely populated with characters I didn’t like. Cyclops, Emma, Magneto, Magik… none of them appeal to me. What does appeal to me is what Bendis is doing with the X-universe. I find it interesting that he ramped the powers down in Cyclops, Magneto etc. and then created a new character that is probably more powerful that all the rest of them put together. That creates an interesting dynamic potential.

So does the last page reveal. I won’t give it away, but it could be interesting.

SAUCER COUNTRY #12 (Paul Cornell / Ryan Kelly) Vertigo

Sometimes the best thing for a comic is for it to be cancelled. Since it was announced they put out the best stand-alone issue (last issue) and now the story seems to actually been progressing towards a resolution (of sorts, at least), when the weakness of the book was that it was meandering.

AVENGERS ARENA #4 (Hopeless / Vitti / Martin) Marvel

First off, ignore the cover. It has absolutely nothing to do with the contents of the book.

I have not been sold on this book at all… and then this issue happened. Maybe it was because it spotlights character I actually care about. Either way, it is the first issue that makes me feel emotion or empathy towards the characters in it. And the last page… holy crap. Is that going to stick? If so, if they ever revive Runaways, that will change that book… a lot.

FANTASTIC FOUR #4 (Matt Fraction / Mark Bagley / Mark Farmer / Paul Mounts) Marvel

What did I say above… characterization. This book has it in spades. Reed’s inner monologue was brilliant. Maybe it is because I can relate to it… being married 20 years to someone who owns my heart utterly.

I don’t know. I will just say that the book moved me.


Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Scarlet #6

February 10, 2013
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Starting at the weakest. A pretty big week. Bendis got the TOP THREE spots this week. Holy crap.

 

ANIMAL MAN #17 (Jeff Lemire / Scott Snyder / Steve Pugh / Timothy Green II / Joseph Silver) DC

I finished this book and tried to remember what it was that I liked about it in previous issues. The further into Rotworld we get, the less I care for it. It is just a book monster fight. The end is supposed to have emotional impact but it doesn’t because I, as reader, am fully aware that there will be a bog re-set button at the end of the story. There is just no buy-in from me.

 

FAIREST #12 (Lauren Beukes / Inaki Miranda) Vertigo

The thing I can’t understand is why Fairst is getting such great reviews out in internet-land. The story is not very interesting and the art is muddy and generally sub-par. Mostly, the story is just too long. I keep hoping it is going to be over so we can get back to better stuff.

Fables is getting back on track int he main book. Hopefully Fairest can do the same.

 

SWAMP THING #17 (Scott Snyder / Jeff Lemire / Andrew Belanger) DC

Read the Animal Man review above. The same goes here. The only thing that makes this book rank a little higher is the Parliament of Rot scene. That has some promise.

 

NEW AVENGERS #3 (Hickman / Epting / Magyar / D’Armata) Marvel

Question: what are they arguing about? I was able to figure it out, but they never actually say. They also act as if Cap did what he did on purpose with nobody actually saying it or any evidence to support it… until he doesn’t deny it… kind of. It is hard to deny something that nobody ever says… or even implies.

This is kind of a mess, really.

 

SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #3 (Dan Slott / Ryan Stegman / Edgar Delgado) Marvel

One of the interesting things about this storyline is how much smarter Otto is than Peter. If it wasn’t for his moral code, he would actually BE a better Spider-Man than Peter. The sudden backstory about being abused so having a soft spot for kids felt a little contrived. If Otto is going to need an excuse to beat a villain every time, that will start to wear a little thin.

 

GREAT PACIFIC #4 (Joe Harris / Martin Morazzo) Image

Nice idea. Good plot. Everything good except for the pacing. It is glacial. Four issues in and he is still just looking around. If he continues just as some rich kid wandering around on garbage, this series is going to lose my interest quickly.

Side note, couldn’t he use that invention of his to destroy the entire ‘country’, making the world a better place, in general?

 

DIAL H #9 (China Mieville / Alberto Ponticelli / Dan Green) DC

This book was always inventive but it used to lag on plot a bit. That has changed. I find myself interested every issue now. And it is still inventive. The Glimpse was great. What’s with the bug-head dude? Don’t know, but I am along for the ride. (Oh, and the portrayal of Canadians was funny. Not over the top, but funny.)

 

AVENGERS #5 (Jonathan Hickman / Adam Kubert / Frank Martin) Marvel

The Hyperion spotlight issue didn’t appeal to me because I don’t really like Hyperion. This Smasher issue was much better. Her interaction with the Hulk was great. (‘Smash’) Her origin was simple but interesting to follow. I liked it.

 

SNAPSHOT #1 (Andy Diggle / Jock) Image

Movie-style crime mystery. Interesting hook, leading you along but not giving you enough to figure it out. Nice Jock art. Black & white, which is rare these days. Nce package. Looking forward to the rest of the mini.

 

AVENGERS ASSEMBLE ANNUAL #1 (Christos Gage / Tomm Coker) Marvel

Man, this was a good Avengers comic! This was better than any I have read of the Marvel Now push. I want to see Gage on an Avengers book… or even a Vision book. Good story. Emotional impact while tying it in to the on-going story. Continuity flavoured without getting bogged down. And I quite liked the art, too!

 

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #20 (Bendis / Pichelli / Ponsor) Marvel

You have a fight scene against a superior opponent, sure. But what makes this book really good is the characters. Miles and Ganke are great, as always. It is Jefferson that really draws my attention, despite having so little in the way of lines. Why did he attack Venom? Doe she know who Spidey is? The on-goign story of his reaction to fighting Hydra is really great. I want more!

 

ALL-NEW X-MEN #7 (Bendis / Marquez / Gracia) Marvel

Cyclops and Mystique. The one thing I would say is that if you want Cyclops to not immediately recognize you as a villain, maybe you DON’T wear all those skulls as part of your costume. Just sayin’.

The way she led him down the path was perfect. She gave away enough of herself that he won’t immediately dismiss her when he finds out that she is a ‘villain’. The wedge she put between him and Wolverine was masterfully done.

 

SCARLET #6 (Bendis / Maleev) Icon

Before Saga, Scarlet was the best book on the market. But then issue #5 came out and it was a year before #6. Normally than will kill a book for me, but this one feels so real and such an answer to the chaos in the real world. I can see why they wanted to take a break, because it is hard to reflect the real world while also seeming like you are endorsing vigilantism. Still… comics need to be dramatic and extreme to work. I am not endorsing murder, but at the same time if there were more people who refused to accept the bullshit that surrounds us, maybe we WOUDL get some actual change.

In the meantime, this comic is incredibly well written and some of the most beautiful art on the market.


Rusty’s Comic of the Week: The Unwritten #45

February 3, 2013
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Starting at the weakest…

 

BEFORE WATCHMEN: DOLLAR BILL #1 (Len Wein / Steve Rude) DC

Coming in, I would have said that THIS is what Before Watchmen SHOULD be. Comics giving story to characters who don’t have it. Let’s hear more about this character who had such a minor role in the original series.

Too bad the comic wasn’t very good.

Starting with the art… I love me some Steve Rude, but this looked mailed in. Then, the story… there was a good plot here, but the constant homophobia and the stupid cliched lawyers and then the ‘let’s fire through his super-hero phase just to get to the end… poor execution.

 

BEFORE WATCHMEN: OZYMANDIAS #5 (Len Wein / Jae Lee) DC

The idea that Before Watchmen would be an attack on Alan Moore has always been ludicrous to me. It is a compliment to the strength of his original story and the depth of the characters.

Until now. I understand that when Len Wein was the editor on Watchmen, he thought that the ending sounded like a rip-off to a TV show called Outer Limits. Now that he gets to write his own Watchmen comic, Wein came out and SAID it was a rip-off of Outer Limits.

Not cool.

 

ALL-STAR WESTERN #16 (Gray / Palmiotti / Moritat / Winslade) DC

The good: Jonah Hex recuperating. The interplay between him and the nurse… him and the old woman… him and Jane Eyre.

The bad: Mr. Hyde. It doesn’t work in the context of the comic. Get back to telling westerns and stop trying to turn it into League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or Batman prequels.

The ugly: The Tomahawk back-up is an absolute mess.

 

AVENGERS #4 (Jonathan Hickman / Adam Kubert / Frank D’Armata) Marvel

I really don’t like Hyperion on the team for the same reason I didn’t like Sentry on the team. This isn’t the Justice League, it is the Avengers, and an over-powered Superman knock-off just doesn’t work in this context (or in the Marvel Universe at all). I like A.I.M. here and the spin-off threat from the previous mini-arc.

As I have documented, I really don’t like Hickman’s style of storytelling. Jerky. Convoluted when there is nothing to be gained from being convoluted. He forgets that the purpose of storytelling is to tell a story, not bits and pieces of a story that will eventually makes sense… maybe.

 

SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #2 (Dan Slott / Ryan Stegman / Edgar Delgado) Marvel

Well, that was dealt with… badly, but what are you going to do? Otto changing his mind doesn’t make a whole lot of sense… but if he didn’t, this comic would quickly become unreadable. I know that if ‘Spidey’ and MJ had gone through with having sex, I would have dropped this book. There are places for levels of story. A Spider-man comic is not the place to have a rapist leading the book.

Now, that is NOT what happened, and the story was told well, but the end was a cop-out that left a little to be desired, logically. Oh well. Could have been worse.

 

BATMAN INCORPORATED #7 (Grant Morrison / Chris Burnham) DC

Morrison is another ‘jerky’ writer, but this book is really starting to come together. THe biggest addition to the Batman mythos Morrison has pulled off is that he has suddenly made Damian likeable. The little punk, with the addition of a few animals, has shown a side that makes his tough-guy side… better. I mean LOOK at the scene where he is playing with that kitten. Damian!

Well done.

 

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #16 (Jeff Lemire / Ray Fawkes / Mikel Janin) DC

This new world that Lemire and Fawkes have created has made a good book even better. Constantine alone is worth the cost of this book. The ‘I’ll distract you while Orchid sneaks up behind you’ bit was awesome.

I wasn’t going to buy the new Constantine book (I consider the cancellation of Hellblazer for the introduction of a New 52 book to be somewhat of an abomination) but with Lemire and Fawkes writing it… I think I am going to have to get on board.

 

HAWKEYE #7 (Fraction / Lieber / Hamm / Hollingsworth) Marvel

A well written, two-story, book set during Hurricane Sandy. The first story would have made this book, comic of the week, easily, if it had been full length. The second story would have put this book close to the BOTTOM of the list. One very good story and one really lousy story (in story and art)… but the first story is REALLY good, so overall, a good comic.

 

THE UNWRITTEN #45 (Mike Carey / Peter Gross) Vertigo

The Hawkeye backstory left room for a different top dog this week and Unwritten gets the nod. This story of Savoy and a troubled child and zombies is the sort of mix that makes Unwritten so good when it is on… and it is on.