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Rusty’s Comic of the Week: The Unwritten #46

March 5, 2013
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This was a huge week, made bigger because of a couple delayed books from last week. When I get a week like this it makes me look long and hard at what I am getting and there were some books that were found very wanting.

The cutting scissors are out!

Starting at the weakest…

ALL-STAR WESTERN #17 (Palmiotti / Gray / Moritat / Johnson) DC

I feel like no book was destroyed by the New 52 relaunch like Jonah Hex was. Jonah Hex was a very solid book, and the early issues of ASW held up to that standard, but it has been getting worse and worse. The constant Batman references were annoying enough, and then Jonah vs Mr. Hyde was pretty ridiculous. Now he is fighting… Vandal Savage?!?! Making this book part of the DC Universe is just silly. Do you remember ‘Hex’, the comic that sent Jonah into outer space? This isn’t that bad, but it is along those lines. It was made even worse by making the ‘classic DC character back-up’ Stormwatch. Uh what?

Dropped.

BATMAN INCORPORATED #8 (Grant Morrison / Chris Burnham / Jason Masters) DC

Uh, spoilers, I guess… but who hasn’t heard?

I am not one of those people who gets mad when they kill a character. The story comes first and if you can make a good story by killing a character, go for it. I am also not one of those people who gets upset about them bringing characters back. If it makes a good story, go for it.

Take when Marvel killed Captain America. It was a good story, but we always knew they would bring him back. (In fact, they took too long because Bucky was a terrible Cap.) The same thing with Peter Parker. Hands up anyone who doesn’t think he is coming back. No one? Good.

The problem here is that Batman Inc. hasn’t been a very good comic and the only thing that made it better was Damian. Now he is dead and it was done so in a really sloppy fashion that MINIMIZED the impact of his death. The sequential storytelling in this book has been very bad and it really destroyed any build up to Damian’s death.

Are they going to bring him back? Some people say yes. I am not so sure. I think Grant Morrison is taking his ball and going home and Damian will stay dead as long as Morrison needs appeasing. (Do you think there would have been those Before Watchmen books if Alan Moore was working for DC?)

More importantly, I am not sure I care.

Dropped.

AVENGERS ARENA #5 (Hopeless / Walker / Martin) Marvel

What DC did to Jonah Hex, Marvel did to Avengers Academy. They took a very good book and ruined it.

Now, like Batman Inc., don’t assume you know why. I am not one of the internet folk who hate the concept of the book. What did I say about killing characters in the previous review? The problem here is the writing. There is no plot. There is only a concept, and it is poorly executed. Let’s randomly kill characters, or make it seem like we are killing characters (because I am not convinced it is all legit), for no reason. Why? Because Arcade is suddenly the Beyonder in a bad mood.

Remember? They have done this story already. It was just in a less bloodthirsty time. The Beyonder took a bunch of heroes and a bunch of villains and set them against each other. With lots of exclamation marks.

Nobody would call Secret Wars high art, but I would rather reread that than this. (Having a BOYfriend in a refrigerator was a twist. Not that it makes it good writing…)

Dropped.

COMEBACK #4 (Brisson / Walsh / Bellaire) Image

Another book that is all concept and no execution. Some people (hi Kin!) hate time travel. I don’t. If it is written well it isn’t confusing at all.
Guess what this book isn’t and what it is.

I WOULD drop this book, but this is issue #4 and it is a 5 issues series. I’ll hold out to finish it.

WONDER WOMAN #17 (Azzarello / Akins / Green / Pinna) DC

Wonder Woman relaunched with a cool new feel, solid writing, good art. What happened?
Well, that opening story arc never ended. We are 17 issues in and are still telling the same story from issue #1 with no end in sight. This book isn’t about Wonder Woman, who happens to be trying to save Zola’s baby. This book is about Wonder Woman trying to save Zola’s baby. There is nothing else. It almost feels like that old Prison Break show where they just keep throwing up obstacle after obstacle because if they ever win, the show is over. Plus they keep subbing in Tony Akins on art and he is nowhere near as good as Cliff Chiang.

I woud consider dropping this, but it is one of Ruthanne’s favourites and very few of the books we get are ‘for’ her. This one stays.

ROCKETEER: HOLLYWOOD HORROR #1 (Roger Langridge / J. Bone) IDW

I bought the previous Rocketeer mini because of Chris Samnee. I enjoyed it, and I have good things about Langridge and I like J.Bone, so I decided I would give this a try. It isn’t as good as Waid and Samnee, but it is still okay. We talked about cutting this and decided against it. If I cut this one, it would just be to keep my budget in line, not because it was bad.

YOUNG AVENGERS #2 (Gillen / McKelvie / Norton / Wilson) Marvel

So far I still like the old YA better, and the story here that basically comes down to ‘the adults are either evil or under the sway of the bad guy so it up to the youngins to save the day’ is interesting enough. The whole ‘trapping them in comic panels’ thing is kind of cute.

THE MASSIVE #9 (Brian Wood / Garry Brown / Dave Stewart) Dark Horse

This book confused me a little bit but I think I was distracted by the cancer thing… as were the people involved, I would say.

So the ‘fleet’ got a little bigger? Yet they still don’t have the ship that the comic is named after?

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #17 (jeff Lemire / Ray Fawkes / Mikel Janin) DC

The big bust ’em up, throw down issue. Kind of… there appears to be more next issue. I really enjoy this comic and I am not sure why. Constantine is awesome is this other dimension. Frankenstein is kind of awesome in any dimension. It makes me wish I had read his book. (Side note: I ordered the new Constantine comic, but the preview running in the back of DC books this month doesn’t look very good…)

FABLES #126 (Willingham / Buckingham / Pepoy / Leialoha) Vertigo

Sometimes when something is supposed to be unsavoury it hurts the book even though it is doing what it means to do. This ex-husband of Snow White… ick. He is the most disgusting character that I can recall reading. Way worse than Comedian, and he is pretty bad. Now, he is supposed to be, but this rings worse. I think it may be because I know that Bill Willingham runs way on the right side of the political spectrum and this feels like an exaggerated version of what my lefty brain thinks that he thinks like. That is completely and totally unfair, but there it is.

BEFORE WATCHMEN: DR.MANHATTAN #4 (J.Michael Straczynski / Adam Hughes) DC

This book can be filed along with Silk Spectre and Minutemen to show how good the Before Watchmen concept CAN be. (Just don’t read Nite Owl or the Comedian unless you want to see the other end of the spectrum.)

This book was not as satisfying, storywise, as the previous three issues, because I don’t like it when they rehash what we have already seen (this is the same reason the otherwise good Ozymandias is sliding and why Moloch was one issue good and one issue terrible.)

And Adam Hughes is simply amazing. There are some artists who manage to take a tendency towards T&A but do it so well that it is beautiful rather than anything negative. Hughes exemplifies that. I mean, LOOK at that cover. Incredible.

As a whole mini this would rank higher, but this issue was relatively weak (and the flipped pages thing was just a novelty).

UNCANNY AVENGERS #4 (Rick Remender / John Cassaday / Laura Martin) Marvel

This is the best of the new crop of Avengers books… but as I have clearly said here and there, I am not a big fan of Hickman, so that isn’t hard. Still, this issue had a really good fight sequence against an ‘unbeatable’ foe, who lived to fight another day. It had a couple of really solid one-on-one scenes between Scarlet Witch and Rogue as well as Thor and Wolverine. I didn’t care for the tease, as I don’t look back at Onslaught with fond memories.

Also… what is the deal with the art? People rave about John Cassaday and I don’t know why. This just wasn’t that good.

UNCANNY X-MEN #2 (Bendis / Bachalo / Townsend) Marvel

First, I want to talk about the set. What is it about Bachalo’s art that makes the ridiculous costumes on the women seem so innocuous? Look at Emma on the first couple of pages. She has this weird cutout down the entire front of her shirt, yet it doesn’t seem to me to be overly sexualized. I think it is just the nature of his art. Those don’t look like melons hiding under her shirt… they are almost just well developed pecs. It waters down the effect, in a good way.

But then flip the page to the full page side shot of Emma’s face. That is some very pretty art. Well designed and well executed. Kudos.

Then there is the story. What does Bendis do well? Characters, characters, characters. These fell like real people. Real, interesting people. So far I like All-New better, but this is some solid work.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #0.1 (Brian Michael Bendis / Steve McNiven / John Dell / Justin Ponsor) Marvel

Here is Bendis again! I only bought this book because of his name in the credits because I normally don’t like the space stuff.

This was a very, very good comic. However, it wasn’t the space stuff that is coming, so it remains to be seen whether my enjoyment of Bendis’ writing can counter by normal dislike of the spacey aspects.

Even if the comic wasn’t good overall, which it was, the look on Peter’s mother’s face when she heard why he got in trouble for fighting was perfection.

FF #4 (Matt Fraction / Michael Allred / Laura Allred) Marvel

This was just an all-around sweet comic. The hijinks of (the equivalent to) young boys with a crush that ‘turn awry’ making Jen and Wyatt’s date better and better was just so well done. When Kin criticized Fantastic Four in his reviews (which I didn’t agree with, but that’s okay) he said, why can Fraction write Hawkeye so well and this so badly?

This book is Hawkeye brought to the FF.

Speaking of…

HAWKEYE #8 (Fraction / Aja / Wu / Hollingsworth) Marvel

First, what a great cover. Amazing. The art inside was a lot of fun too, both Aja’s normally brilliant work and the special Wu ‘covers’ scattered throughout. Hawkeye is one of my favourite comics being published and I certainly enjoy it more than the Unwritten normally, but this week it slipped a bit because I had a bit of a problem with the story. So, she comes in, Jessica sees her, but there is no explanation about who she is or where she fits into Clint’s past? I would be okay with that if he WASN’T hooked up with Jessica, but since he is, that didn’t feel right. It needed an explanation.

Not enough to ruin the comic for me, but enough to knock it out of the top spot.

THE UNWRITTEN #46 (Carey / Gross / Ormston) Vertigo

Zombies, Vampires, the chilling menace of IMAGINING death and… oh my god… did she just do what I think she just did? OMG, she did! The ending of that book was super chilling. The puppet lady who you can talk to in your dreams was super scary enough already but now she can imagine things and make them real? Holy crap. This is Freddy ramped up to the freakiest. Well done.


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.

 


Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Ultimate Spider-Man #19

January 6, 2013
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A fairly light week, but some good comics, as always.

 

Starting with the weakest.

 

ALL-STAR WESTERN #15 (Palmiotti / Gray / Moritat / Winslade) DC

This is a book that has been found as comic of the week. NOw it is at the bottom of the pile. Why?

It used to be a gritty western book which was fairly unique on the shelves. Bit by bit they have been turning it into a book for Batman readers to look at and chuckle as they slide in references to the Bruce Wayne / Gotham City mythos. That was bad enough. Now they are trying to be League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Jonah Hex fighting Mr. Hyde, powered by Eclipso!

No thanks. Turn this back into a western. Please. Next thing you know we will be getting the old HEX comic back as Jonah goes into the future…

 

NEW AVENGERS #1 (Jonathan Hickman / Steve Epting / Rick Magyar / Frank D’Armata) Marvel

The ‘Hickman-ization’ of the Avengers continues. New Avengers is now about the Illuminati… I guess. This comic was about Black Panther and some new world beating villain that is fairly indistinguishable from the new world beating villain in the Avengers, other than it is a solo villain instead of a group. (Without going back to check, is there a character named Manifold in both books? What is the Aborigine hero in Avengers called?)

There were references to the Illuminati and I have read that this is that book.

I sure hope it gets better.

 

BATMAN INCORPORATED #6 (Grant Morrison / Chris Burnham) DC

This book is hit and miss but this issue was pretty good. The challenge facing Batman was pretty simple except… what was the threat to Damian? When Talia says that Bruce has to choose between saving one or the other, that is a pretty standard trope, but there needs to be a threat to both. What was the threat to Damian?

On the other hand, Damian gets a kitten!

 

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #15 (Jeff Lemire / Ray Fawkes / Mikel Janin) DC

This new world is interesting. It is bursting at the seams with magic, but magic is outlawed. Is that why? People aren’t using the magic so it is building up? Neat premise.

The best part of the book is when Constantine is forced to tell the truth… which is a problem for him as he lies every time he opens his mouth. I hope Lemire uses this to force him to explain some things to his teammates.

Could you picture having to tell everything you were thinking at all times? Shudder.

 

GREAT PACIFIC #3 (Joe Harris / Martin Morazzo) Image

Previously introduced but I hadn’t though of it until now… this new machine can turn sludge into water? Wouldn’t that DESTROY New Texas?

 

ALL-NEW X-MEN #5 (Brian Michael Bendis / Stuart Immonen / Wade von Grawbadger / Marte Gracia) Marvel

A lot of great stuff in this issue! We get to see the way Beast imagines himself… and that is looking like the vastly superior ‘ape’ version. Unfortunately Bendis had the opportunity to turn him back into that form but chose not to. Jean Grey gets to see… everything. We get the excuse for keeping them in the present. Solid book that is all about the characterization.

Iceman met Iceman. Beast met Beast. Cyclops met Cyclops. Jean Grey got to see her fate. When will Angel meet Archangel?

 

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #19 (Bendis / Pichelli / Ponsor) Marvel

As much as I love Miles and Ganke and the rest, right now, it is Jefferson that makes this book amazing. This line MADE the book: “I don’t think it feels that way to him.”

Seriously. Buy Ultimate Spider-Man.


Rusty’s Comic of the Week: All-New X-Men #2

December 2, 2012
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I actually had time to read my comics on the day I got them! Woot!

Starting at the weakest…

ULTIMATE IRON MAN #2 (Edmondson / Buffagni / Troy) Marvel

Tony Stark can be a charming asshole. You know the type… the guy that acts in horrible ways towards women but gets away with it because he does it with style.

In real life, regular guys HATE those guys.

In here, Edmondson has taken that charming asshole and made him not charming. What does that leave?

An unlikable protagonist and a pretty crappy comic.

ALL-STAR WESTERN #14 (Gray / Palmiotti / Moritat / Windslade) DC

Not the best outing for this book in either writing or art. Neither are BAD, but neither do they shine. Barbary Ghost needs to put on some bloody clothes. I’m not a fan of adding Mr. Hyde to the Hex mythos, nor I am a fan of adding Eclipso (I assume…)

The insistence on including modern DC elements into this book is the biggest weakness it has. Do you remember how good Jonah Hex was BEFORE the new 52?

BEFORE WATCHMEN: OZYMANDIAS #4 (Len Wein / Jae Lee) DC

In the previous issues a somewhat pedestrian plot was overcome by beautiful art. Not this time. The art is nowhere near so creative and in spots (Page 3) in looks… awkward. The comic itself continues to read less like a story than a too-long What-Has-Gone-Before synopsis.

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #14 (Jeff Lemire / Graham Nolan / Victor Drujiniu) DC

This book was a pretty fun way to get a look at 3 lesser shown characters on the team – including 2 that are new and have their own books (though 1 is now cancelled.) A fin spotlight on Black Orchid, Amethyst and Frankenstein as they wander through the House of Mystery. Not a good idea.

I am enjoying this comic more than I would have thought. Lemire is a good writer.

BEFORE WATCHMEN: SILK SPECTRE #4 (Darwyn Cooke / Amanda Conner) DC

This mini wraps up with the weakest of its four issues. Still wonderful art and great characterization, but there are a few weak storytelling parts and that bit where Laurie impales that dude with her stiletto didn’t work for me at all.  Overall a very good mini… the best of all of the BW books.

UNCANNY AVENGERS #2 (Rick Remender / John Cassaday / Laura Martin) Marvel

So Red Skull is now Sylar. (Any fans of Heroes in the house?) Good book. Skull recruiting Scarlet Witch makes perfect sense, and Wolverine’s take on Havok leading the team echoes mine. Last week in Captain America, Remender tried to sweep questions about motivation under the rug by mentioning them and then moving on. He kind of does that again here, but to better effect.

After last week, I am really glad to read a Remender book that I enjoy.

FF #1 (Matt Fraction / Michael Allred / Laura Allred) Marvel

Yay! More Allreds! This book is going to be fun, you can just tell. Ms. Thing isn’t in the book yet (well, she is, but not as Ms. Thing), and that is going to be weird. How will She-Hulk take to her? I don’t get why people like Medusa, but that is a small thing.

Speaking of small things, it is nice to get a real Ant-Man back after that O’Grady business was dealt with over in Secret Avengers. (Black Ant? Really?)

This is just good comics.

BATMAN INCORPORATED #5 (Grant Morrison / Chris Burnham) DC

This look into a possible future doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it was so well done that I didn’t care. Damian as Batman is a frightening possibility anyway and this book just confirms that. The emotion on Damian’s face when Bruce tells him he can’t be Robin is just perfect… but I think everyone hopes that it isn’t true.

NEW AVENGERS #34 (Bendis / Deodato / Beredo) Marvel

As disappointed I was in Bendis’ last Avengers issue – this book makes up for it. Is it a great comic? Not really. The Dr. Strange fight scenes as an excuse to put in a bunch of jarring art (not bad – just wrong. Tell me that was jarring to turn to that Red Hulk page…) were not good. But the Luke Cage stuff more than made up for it. Some people have criticized Bendis for using Cage as his pov character, but this issue did it to great effect. Watching Bendis say goodbye to the Avengers as Luke Cage was sweet.

Plus, a hint at a new Cage / Jessica led Heroes for Hire book? Written by Bendis? I would buy the shit out of that book!

ALL-NEW X-MEN #2 (Brian Michael Bendis / Stuart Immonen / Wade von Grawbadger / Marte Gracia) Marvel

Two Bendis books top this week’s list! Out with the old and in with the new… which is the old. This comic works just based on the Iceman seeing Iceman panel. I’m not sure which of them looks goofier.  This book hits all the right notes. The shocked nature of the original five. Beast’s desperation. The stupidity of the plan. Wolverine realizing that Jean was alive. (One minor nitpick – Jean suddenly getting her ‘new’ powers was a little too convenient in her timing. I think before it was implied that it happened through intensive training, no?)

I am so looking forward to watching this book unfold… and I’m not even a very big X-Men fan.


Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Avengers #32

October 28, 2012
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Is The Avengers #32 the actual best comic this week?

 

Of course not… but it is for me. I’ll explain when I get there, but sufficed to say that it has more to do with my history with the title than anything else.

 

Starting at the weakest…

 

SECRET AVENGERS #33 (Remender / Kuhn / Wilson) Marvel

This is the last issue for me. The story doesn’t interest me and the art is absolutely horrible. I considered holding on for the next creative team, but the hell with it. The only good thing in this issue is the destruction of Max Fury. I mean, Black Ant? Emperor Doombot? Really?

Pass.

 

ULTIMATES #17 (Humphries / Ross / Milla) Marvel

This book took a backslide this issue. In fact, if this was the normal level of enjoyment I got out of the book, I would also be dropping it. With the big surprise being that it is Modi not Loki pulling the strings, maybe you shouldn’t write him as if he were Loki. The Ultimates and SHIELD apparently charged into battle without a plan at all, as they fell apart immediately. Plus the art was pretty sloppy. Hopefully this book gets better again as it has been an interesting read.

 

AvsX: CONSEQUENCES #3 (Gillen / Eaton / Hennessy / Charalampois) Marvel

Better than the last issue. Cyclops is starting to show signs that he could be an interesting villain. The “I am a political prisoner” bit shows him to still be delusional, which totally works. I just hope nobody tries to redeem him. That would be a big cop-out.

 

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #696 (Slott / Gage / Camuncoli / Green / Fabela) Marvel

Interesting story, but not much of it. I mean, what really advanced here? Two Hobgoblins fighting, but what is our stake in it? What makes either any different than one another in practical terms?

I guess we won’t know until that goblin key opens its hidden lock. I picture quite a villain reunion in issue #700. Green Goblin and Dr. Octopus should be back right about them.

 

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #13 (Jeff Lemire / Mikel Janin / Victor Drujiniu) DC

String issue. The villains are interesting and the struggles the ‘heroes’ face are challenging yet brief. It feels right for magical struggles. It ties in with the zero issue last month, which is nice. I am not sure how I feel about Nick Necro, but the rest of the characters are spot on. House Fight!

 

BATMAN INC. #4 (Grant Morrison / Chris Burnham) DC

A well-staged assault that really shows the advantages of working with a team. I don’t read the other Bat-books so I don’t know why the reveal is a big deal. The end is a swerve, guaranteed. IF ti isn’t, Batman is WAY out of character… but it is, so he isn’t.

 

CAPTAIN AMERICA #19 (Brubaker / Epting / D’Armata) Marvel

Final issue! Until the next one! Final Brubaker issue, though, and it is a good one. Bru shows that he is a fan of the history of ALL the Captain Americas (which was already pretty clear in the book). He also ties up a nice loose end before he puts up the chairs and turns out the light.

The Cap relaunch… well, I am going to give it a go, but neither Remender nor Romita are very high on my list of go-to creators. We’ll see.

 

ALL-STAR WESTERN #13 (Palmiotti / Gray / Moritat / Winslade) DC

This book waffles between ridiculous Batman references and good Batman references. This issue is more the latter. The circus didn’t have to be called that etc. but it didn’t distract from the story which is (not) a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen cross-over. This book is just a good, solid comic.

 

REVIVAL #4 (Tim Seeley / Mike Norton) Image

All I want to say here is PLEASEDON’TBEALIENS, PLEASEDON’TBEALIENS! That would really suck a lot of the cool factor out of this book. They ‘why’ is not the thrust of the book. Keep it that way.

 

FABLES #122 (Willingham / Ha / McManus) Vertigo

Fables’ best days are behind, but they still put out consistently good stories. I found the art to be a little hit and miss, but I really liked the story I hope it isn’t JUST a flashback and what happens in this story has a bearing on the modern stories.

I do want to mention the preview in the back.  If you are going to put out a hardcover graphic novel… couldn’t you get at least as good an artist as the regular book normally has? The art isn’t awful or anything, but it sure doesn’t seem ‘special’. For HC money, it should be ‘special’.

 

THE UNWRITTEN #42 (Mike Carey / Peter Gross) Vertigo

It feels like I am reading the old Unwritten again. Stories within stories and characters following journeys into the unknown with a surprise around each corner… or page turn. Yes!

 

NATIONAL COMICS: MADAME X #1 (Rob Williams / Trevor Hairsine) DC

An interesting take on Madame Xanadu, good plot, good execution, art that looks like it is channeling good Neal Adams… what’s not to like?

Well, the fact that they left a cliffhanger in a one-shot, for one. They did the same thing in the Kid Eternity book.

Why are the National Comics books consistently better than the new 52 books?

 

AVENGERS #32 (Bendis / Mayhew / Peterson / Keith) Marvel

Spoilers, I guess, but if you didn’t see this coming…

Wasp is back! The scene where she meets the big 3 and Hank, reuniting the real founding Avengers (functionally… I know it was the Hulk and Cap took a few issues, but for all intents and purposes, these are the five).

I loved this. I have been reading Avengers for 28 years and I have collected the entire run and scenes like this are the pay off. Is the book actually awesome? No. It is good, but not the best of the week.

But it touched my little geek-filled heart.

 


Rusty’s Comic of the Week: All-Star Western #0

October 3, 2012
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Sorry these are late. Next week’s will be even later as I will be in Saskatoon for the week. Chances are I will do two weeks at once next time.

Short even by my standards…

Working up…

 

WINTER SOLDIER #11 (Brubaker / Guice / Thies / Breitweiser) Marvel

This is wearing really thin. One of the good things about this book is the strong presence of Black Widow. Now she is all in-need-of-rescue and it is dragging out way too long. As I said last issue, her brain should be completely broken by now.

 

CAPTAIN MARVEL #4 (DeConnick / Soy / Barrionuevo / Quintana) Marvel

I like this book. Quite a bit, actually. I just don’t like that such an important plot point as WHY DID SHE SUDDENLY GO THROUGH TIME is being left as if it is a minor thing. At least mention it!

The next couple of issues are going to be drawn by Emma Rios! Sweet!

 

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #694 (Slott / Ramos / Olazaba / Delgado) Marvel

I graded this one too harshly. Ruthanne pointed out after that the airplane scene was pretty awesome. Which it was. I initially put it here because the wrap-up to the very uninteresting Alpha story was a very uninteresting and uncreative conclusion. That’s it? Really?

Please be better next issue, like the book normally is.

 

SECRET AVENGERS #31 (Remender / Scalera / Wilson) Marvel

Ruthanne doesn’t like this book. I think this issue is better than it has been. Good characterization and good fights. Neither great, but good.

 

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #0 (Jeff Lemire / Lee Garbett / Cam Smith) DC

Young Constantine! Young Zatanna! This was just a good read. The characters were interesting. The story was solid, if a little predictable, but that is okay. JLD is SO much better under Lemire than it was under Milligan.

 

BATMAN INCORPORATED #0 (Grant Morrison / Chris Burnham / Frazer Irving) DC

Ruthanne has a legitimate bone to pick with this book. All these new characters (or fairly new characters within a relatively short time frame) and the only female hero is a sidekick? There is more than one kind of diversity, Grant.

Having said that, I quite enjoyed this book. A nice reminder of what Batman Inc. is supposed to be (and isn’t really in the regular book). Hopefully this is a sign that that real Batman Inc. is coming back. This is the only Batman book I read and if it remains just a ‘regular’ Bat book, I may stop.

 

BEFORE WATCHMEN: OZYMANDIAS #3 (Len Wein / Jae Lee) DC

Comedian is well written here. Some of the writers seem to forget that he is a BAD GUY. He is not a hero. In any way.

Great at, as always from Jae Lee. My only real complaint here is that Len Wein doesn’t know how to pronounce Ozymandias. The way he has him sound it out is just wrong. It is an existing name, from long before Watchmen. Changing the pronunciation because you think it sounds cooler is just dumb.

 

NEW DEADWARDIANS #7 (Dan Abnett / I.N.J. Culbard) Vertigo

I LOVE that the reversal on the big twist was in the same issue AS the big twist. Dragging it out would have been cheap. It sure doesn’t feel like this book is almost over. This issue was a HIT for me.

 

ULTIMATES #16 (Humphries / Ross / Milla) Marvel

President Cap kicks ass. He had so many great scenes and great lines. Too bad the art was so poor.

 

ALL-STAR WESTERN #0 (Gray / Palmiotti / Moritat) DC

I kind of liked that Jonah didn’t really have an origin. I would have said it was a bad idea to give him one.

I would have… before I read this issue.

This is a great, bloody comic.  I would be happy to hand this to someone who thought the comics can only be about superheroes. (Though one of the things that made it good was the lack of Batman references that are all over the book normally.)


Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Before Watchmen: Dr.Manhattan

August 29, 2012
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This was a big, but really good, week. There was only one really disappointing book and a number of very good ones.

 

Starting at the weakest…

 

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #692 (Slott / Ramos / Alazaba / Delgado / more) Marvel

Here is the disappointing book. I really enjoy Slott’s Spidey, but this book doesn’t hold up. First off t falls under the spell of the BIG ANNIVERSARY ISSUE, which means padded with extra cliche stories that just retread the same stuff we have seen hundreds of times before. It is the main story that was the disappointment, though. It introduces Alpha as Peter without Uncle Ben (and WAY more powerful) if that makes sense. It doesn’t work. If he wasn’t so powerful you might think it is a new character that could learn and grow, but he is too powerful. As it is, the best we could hope for is Sentry… and that is pretty bad.

Let’s see: unlikeable character with no long term prospects… uh, why is this a big deal again?

Disappointing.

 

SECRET AVENGERS #30 (Remender / Scalera / Wilson) Marvel

This almost fell below ASM, but for the great twist. LMDs are not people, no matter how much they want to be. I guess Ant-Man can’t get a new hat either. Remender also failed Taskmaster 101 (that’s okay, MANY writers make the same mistake): he CAN’T copy the style of Spider-Men because Spider-man does things that are physically impossible for someone who doesn’t have his abilities… which Taskmaster doesn’t. If he wants to beat Venom, he needs to do it as Captain America and Iron Fist etc. NOT Spidey.

 

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #12 (Jeff Lemire / Mikel Janin) DC

The backstory for Dr. Mist was nice, as was the plan to divert the heroes. Question: dos the death of Zatara scene mean that the whole Alan Moore Swamp Thing story is in continuity in the new 52? So, who is the main bad guy? Should I recognize him? I am familiar with Blackbriar Thorn but not Black Boris.

 

FABLES #120 (Willingham / Buckingham / Leialoha / McManus) Vertigo

This is the worst issue of Fables in quite some time, which doesn’t make it awful, but well below it;s usual standard of excellence. So the kid goes crazy, sees visions, and kills himself in order to save his sister… which of course will turn out to be the right thing to do which may or may not leave him dead or whatever… you know what? Reading this issue alone, I don’t care. There is no suspense here, just a rambling mess of a character. Maybe it will work when read WITH the preceding issues.

 

THE ULTIMATES #14 (Humphries / Tan / Green / Pallot / Noor) Marvel

Now things are hitting the fan. They got Texas but lost the west coast and Wyoming. There is no longer a ruling body in the U.S. and somebody (ahem Loki ahem) is stirring up trouble everywhere he can. Great story. Too bad the art is fairly subpar.

 

ROCKETEER: CARGO OF DOOM #1 (Waid / Samnee) IDW

I don’t normally get Rocketeer but when I heard Chris Samnee was drawing a mini written by Mark Waid, I thought he would be a natural for it. I was wrong, kind of. Don’t get me wrong, he is great and the comic is really good and I don’t regret buying it at all and I will get the rest… but he isn’t as perfect as Ithought. Basically, he isn’t Dave Stevens. Nobody is, but when Betty showed up, well, nobody does Betty like Stevens. R.I.P.

Good, fun comic though. Give it a try.

 

BATMAN INCORPORATED #3 (Grant Morrison / Chris Burnham) DC

Are we sure that this is Morrison? It seemed a lot more… linear that I am used to from him. The story lays out in a pretty orderly fashion, with everything you need to know explained well and the characters moving forward in a fully comprehensible manner. Well done. (Though I would like to say, “Hey Batman… it is a trap, duh!”)

 

THE UNWRITTEN #40 (Mike Carey / Peter Gross) Vertigo

Speaking of things being a little clearer, the new Unwritten arc joins the old one right here. Everything worked: the unicorn, the new power couple Tom Taylor (isn’t he writing the new Rose and Thorn comic)… but especially the bopmb. That was just awesome.

 

AMERICA’S GOT POWERS #3 (Jonathan Ross / Bryan Hitch) Image

Ouch. So Zero gives other people powers – I think we knew that. But he can’t control it or who the powers go to? Or can he? Was Quarterback going to kill him on live TV? That seems like a bit of a stretch. I like this book… it is very character driven, which is the best way to go if you want me on board.

 

ALL-STAR WESTERN #12 (Palmiotti / Gray / Moritat / Kolins) DC

Tallulah kicks ass. She just beat them all, single handedly. That includes the ninja woman he beat the tar out of Jonah Hex and Tallulah handled her like she was nothing. One story wrapped up and another is starting. I thought this was going to get Hex away from the lame Batman references, but it looks like Arkham is along for the ride. That’s okay. He isn’t as cheesy as Mayor Cobblepot and the Court of Owls refs.

 

BRILLIANT #4 (Bendis / Bagley) Icon

Do you know what comics don’t do very well? Setting superpowers in the ‘real’ world. Brilliant is giving it a go and so far, so good. Overpowered kid with crazy energy abilities that is taking down loads of cops? Shoot him in the head. The interrogation panels is a well Bendis goes to too often, but it worked here. It properly set off the scared and scattered nature of the kids. Good book thus far.

 

SUPER CROOKS #4 (Mark Millar / Leinil Yu) Icon

RIght up until the last book I read, it looked like Super Crooks was going to be the book of the week. This issue made the whole series better. The way they pulled off the heist was a cool twist of the genre. The extra twist about the costumes made it even better. Read the trade. It is a bit gratuitous at times but I nice, self-contained story in all.

 

BEFORE WATCHMEN: DR. MANHATTAN #1 (J.Michael Straczynski / Adam Hughes) DC

Wow. This is a very, very good comic. The stream of consciousness (from a consciousness that is anything but routine) combined with the amazing AH! artwork makes the best comic of the week. The whole comic is Schroedinger’s Cat writ large. It is no coincidence that the first time they show this concept it involves a cat in a box. Has he just changed time? Has he erased himself from existence or did he witness a parallel world?

And, of course, Adam Hughes drawing Silk Spectre in such a way that you believe completely that ‘Jon’ would be drawn to her. This also makes you wonder, what would have happened if he DIDN’T change those names? Would Nite Owl and Silk Spectre have been together all along? What sort of influence would Rorschach have had on Dr. Manhattan?

Great comic.


Rusty’s Comic of the Week: All-Star Western #11

July 31, 2012
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Kind of an odd week. I can’t really rave about any books, but neither was there any that I had a real problem with. I went to the Jays game in Toronto yesterday and paid for it with a nasty burn and a bit of heat stroke. These are going to be even briefer than usual because of that.

 

Starting from the weakest.

 

SECRET AVENGERS #29 (Remender / Scalera / Wilson) Marvel

Decent story but the art is really not my cup of tea. I also don’t like the inconsistency in the portrayal of Taskmaster. Still worth reading.

 

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #690 (Slott / Camuncoli / Janson / Green / D’Armata) Marvel

I really like Slott’s run… a lot actually. But every multi-part story seems to have an issue where t feels like nothing really moves forward. This is that one.

 

CAPTAIN AMERICA #15 (Brubaker / Bunn / Eaton / Magyar / Guru eFX) Marvel

The only thing that holds this one back is the buy-in on the villains. I dont’ mean the masterminds, but rather the guys he actually fights. Who are they? Why do we care other than that they are wrecking stuff?

 

THE ULTIMATES #13 (Humphries / Tan / Pallot / Milla) Marvel

I quite liked this issue. The feeling of large scale disaster really is working. It reminds me of when they kicked the old New Universe into overdrive. I hope this Divided We Fall story doesn’t lean too much on the X-Men because I don’t read that book.

 

WINTER SOLDIER #8 (Brubaker / Lark / Thies / Guadino / Breitweiser) Marvel

Making the characters seem like they are really worried about Natasha is a trick when we aren’t at all, but they are pulling it off. Lots of tension and in a book like this, tension is key.

 

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #11 (Jeff Lemire / Mikel Janin) DC

How do they make such an interesting comic while doing things that I do NOT approve of when I see them described. Timothy Hunter? Seriously? But it keeps working!

 

AVENGERS #28 (Bendis / Simonson / Hanna / Keith) Marvel

What a neat, innovative way to tell the story! Not as good as New Avengers was, but Bendis is really giving it his all to round out his run.

 

THE NEW DEADWARDIANS #5 (Dan Abnett / I.N.J. Culbard) Vertigo

This book was not one of my favourite Vertigo books but it is getting better and better. The undead suffragette stuff is awesome! The mystery turn has got me interested inTHAT part of the comic for the first time!

 

ALL-STAR WESTERN #11 (Gray / Palmiotti / Moritat / Kolins) DC

WIthout a stand-out book, what puts this at the top of the list is Tallulah. She doesn’t need to hang around and wait for Jonah to rescue HER! No sir!


Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Spider-Men #2

July 2, 2012
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Compared to some recent weeks, this one was not great. A bunch of decent books, but not the onslaught of awesome we get sometimes.

Starting from the weakest.

THE NEW DEADWARDIANS #4 (Dan Abnett / I.N.J. Culbard) Vertigo

My problem with this book is that it is so weak on plot. We are four issues in and very little has happened. Everything is setting up character, with little regard for story. Sometimes that works (see earlier issues of iZombie). It started to work in issue 3, but I am back to finding myself not really caring about what is going on. I don’t care for the art much either.

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #10 (Jeff Lemire / Mikel Janin) DC

The book isn’t bad, but the little touches that Lemire throws in (Constantine hangs out in the ‘House of Mystery’ while they hunt for the ‘Books of Magic’) make this feel like a parody book. “What if the Vertigo books were superhero books?” I need to ignore all that to get to the fact that this is a decent read. This is not the Hellblazer Constantine. Deal with it. One doesn’t affect the other and that is a good thing.

I like the idea of a return of Abnegazer, Rath and Ghast but I don’t really like their new designs.

BEFORE WATCHMEN: NITE OWL #1 (J.Michael Straczynski / Andy Kubert / Joe Kubert) DC

Updated BW rankings: 1. Silk Spectre, 2. Minutemen, 3. Comedian, 4. Nite Owl

Maybe the upcoming titles will make me feel better about this issue, but the characterization of Rorschach and Dr. Manhattan were really… off. Rorschach told a sex joke about Nite Owl’s costume being too tight after he talked to Silk Spectre. Really? It was VERY out of place. The Crimebusters meeting was a lot better back when things like Manhattan noticing Silk Spectre were subtle.

I liked Dan, but all of the trappings of the book were off. It is like JMS was given the Nite Owl assignment but really wanted to write all of them… but not well.

ALL-STAR WESTERN #10 (Palmiotti / Gray / Moritat / Garcia-Lopez) DC

I like Tallulah, but the forced inclusion of Batman elements is really annoying me. This Court of Owls nonsense has no place in a Jonah Hex comic. They just look ridiculous in the owl masks… overall, the sooner Hex gets away from Gotham, the better it will be.

The Bat Lash back-up was great. It was funny and the Garcia-Lopez art even outshone Moritat, who I normally quite love but this issue had some spots that felt… rushed. Next… Dr. Thirteen? I didn’t know there was a western version…

BATMAN INCORPORATED #2 (Grant Morrison / Chris Burnham) DC

This is the story of Talia and it works very well. In a DC line that has done everything it can to invalidate and erase past continuity, Morrison wrote an issue to ensure the backstory that he needs still exists in this post-post-crisis universe. Talia is a character the vacillates between characiture and a-level villain and it looks like Morrison has her firmly in the latter camp. Her betrayal of he father at the end of the book sets up the coming issues weel. The cover is a little odd. Is that an Az-Bats helmet? What are El Gaucho and the others doing there? Who is the guy with Azrael and Batwing?

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #688 (Slott / Camuncoli / Janson / D’Armata) Marvel

Slott makes ASM one of the best books of the old style. It isn’t all events and bombast. (Even when there is is an ‘event’ like the previous Doc Ock story, what made it so is marketing. It continued to be a regular book where one issue came after the next without five cross-overs etc…)

It is all about Peter. Without saying it, this issue shows that his idea of responsibility is changing. It doesn’t just mean, don’t let that mugger run past you. It means doing what you can to help, all the time.

Also, I LOVE the science side of this book now. Horizon Labs is the best thing to happen to the ASM book since… I can’t even remember. Certainly well before the JMS run.

ULTIMATES #12 (Hickman / Humphries / Ross / Garney / Milla) Marvel

Wow, did this book get good all of a sudden! This was a low, teetering book earlier in the run. What is the difference? I think it is Sam Humphries. I am not sure because Hickman’s name is still on the cover, but I think Humphries’ storytelling style is a lot clearer than Hickman’s is.

The defeat of Reed Richards was inventive and exciting… as long as you don’t say it out loud. When you try to explain that Tony convinced his tumour to convince the city to stop supporting Reed… well, that just sounds crazy.

Great, though.

Side note: I want to see the West Coast Avengers that they teased a few issues back.

SPIDER-MEN #2 (Bendis / Pichelli / Ponsor) Marvel

Here is the book that they fell short on delivering in issue #1. The fight between Peter and Miles was great in that it really boosted up Miles, without making Peter look weak. Everything unfolded the way it should, including the addition of Nick Fury. THe talk between Peter and Nick was excellent. In one massive word ballon Bendis showed that ‘decompressed’ storytelling is not all he can do. 🙂

After the first issue there was a debate about which Mysterio that was. Both??!?! They are the same guy?

Awesome.


Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Batman Incorporated #1

May 27, 2012
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Not as exciting a week as the last, and a surprise in at #1… in a week that includes previous award winners Fables, Unwritten and All-Star Western.

 

Starting from the weakest and working up.

 

THE FURY OF FIRESTORM #9 (Van Sciver / Harris / Cinar / Rapmund / Alquiza) DC

Another issue of a bunch of nuclear people fighting indiscriminately amongst themsevles. This time they add the JLI… which I neither read nor care about. I gave this a big chance as Like Jason and Ronnie… but this isn’t Firestorm anyway.

Dropped.

 

SECRET AVENGERS #27 (Remender / Guedes / Breitweiser) Marvel

I have liked the new iteration of Secret Avengers, but this issue… not so much. The art is just horrible. I said Guedes was ‘okay’ last issue… I am downgrading that. This was pretty darned bad. Look how dynamic the Marvels look on the Davis cover. Now look at them inside. No comparison. Plus the story isn’t working for me. We already know that the story has moved PAST this point in AVX. This is just a killing time story.

If the book continues like this it will join Firestorm.

 

DOMINIQUE LAVEAU, VOODOO CHILD #3 (Selwyn Seyfu Hinds / Denys Cowan / John Floyd) Vertigo

I am biased because Selwyn came and commented on my blog? I don’t know, but I will say that this issue was better than the first two. The simple a to b part of the plot is falling into place. There actual ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’, rather than just flashbacks of ominous doom. Cowan isn’t one of my favourite artists, but I appreciate what he does. I’m less of a fan of Grampa’s cover, but it is okay.

 

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #9 (Jeff Lemire / Mikel Janin) DC

I bought JLD when it launched but dropped it as it didn’t seem to be finding its feet. Lemire has done better in one issue than I saw in 3 by Milligan. I don’t read I.Vampire, so that guy doesn’t click with me, but the rest are excellent. I am hoping this joins Swamp Thing and Animal Man as a little corner of strong DC books.

 

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #686 (Slott / Caselli / Martin Jr.) Marvel

I have been enjoying the Ends of the Earth story, but it is starting to feel a little stretched. The first Mysterio ‘twist’ was pretty obvious (the second was good, though), but the way the story hinged on irrational behaviour by Chameleon and Dr. Octopus didn’t sit right with me. Best news? The words ‘To Be Concluded’. As I said t0 the story has been good, but it has run its course.

 

ALL-STAR WESTERN #9 (Gray / Palmiotti / Moritat / Scherberger / Green) DC

I have really enjoyed ASW and it has been near or at the best book of the week many times. So why is it so low this time? The ‘real’ story was too short, as it had to make room for a RIDICULOUS ‘cross-over’ and then a set-up for the next issue while STILL having a back-up.

Tying Jonah Hex in with Batman is walking a tightrope. Some references are great. Too many is not. An out of left field, pointless Court of Owls appearance was just stupid.

Please, no more. (The rest of the book was good, though!)

 

CAPTAIN AMERICA #12 (Brubaker / Zircher / Mounts) Marvel

Scourge! Gyrich! The big reveal that I am not going to spoil!

Scourge worked better for me here. Last issue it seemed like he was working FOR the villains, and I didn’t care for that. Now it makes better sense. I know some people hate when they do anything with… the revealed character… that doesn’t involve him being the most awesome…whatever. He was a pretty lame character when created. Anything that makes him interesting s good. (Though I would have liked them to follow Bendis’ thread with him.)

 

THE UNWRITTEN #37 (Mike Carey / Peter Gross) Vertigo

(Aside: Jesse Chavez struck out the side! Woot!)

This comic was a good read, but it is hard to say to much . It feels like we are reading The Unwritten Volume 2, #1… a sequel or something. It will really take more than one issue to see how that goes.

 

FABLES #117 (Willingham / Buckingham / Leialoha / McManus) Vertigo

The lead story is still too short, but things leap forward this issue. Therese putting her foot down was nice. The charge of Mountbatten was VERY well done. The new Fabletown is intriguing. The back-up continues to be… well, in the way, really.

 

BATMAN INCORPORATED #1 (Grant Morrison / Chris Burnham) DC

Nice! A good mix of chuckles and action. (Batcow!) People were raving about the Batgirl issue that got me to drop the book – talking about the insight into one of the villains.

THIS book does that WAY better than Batgirl did. It helps that I don’t care at all about the Owls (not their fault – I just don’t read the mainstream Batbooks), while Goatboy was interesting all on his own, right off the bat (pun intended).

I hope the book stays at this level and doesn’t descend into madness, as Morrison books sometimes do.

 


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