Rusty's World

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

March 5, 2013
2 Comments

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.

Advertisements

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

February 17, 2013
Leave a Comment

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: Superior Spider-Man #1

January 13, 2013
Leave a Comment

A fairly light week, both in quantity and quality. No awesome books. No terrible books.

 

Starting at the weakest…

 

AVENGERS ARENA #3 (Dennis Hopeless / Kev Walker / Frank Martin) Marvel

So, they are doing a Marvel Hunger Games. They were already wearing that on their sleeves, but this cover is ridiculous. Now they are killing off characters with no drama whatsoever. Mettle’s death had a point. Red Raven’s did not. Destroying the Sentinel had none. Two issues in a row where we got a back story to try and force us to care about a character.

I like the idea of this book… but it has not been done very well thus far.

 

FAIREST #11 (Lauren Beukes / Inaki Miranda) DC

I wish this story would end. Stuff happens. It feels semi-random and incoherent. The way Rapunzel climbed out of the well made no sense at all. It all just seemed a set up for the (admittedly bad-ass) image on the last page.

 

FANTASTIC FOUR #3 (Matt Fraction / Mark Bagley / Mark Farmer / Paul Mounts) Marvel

Is this going to be one of the SF shows where they face a new weird planet every week? (So to speak.) Those went out with the first Star Trek. Hopefully this ha a little more substance than that.

 

ANIMAL MAN #16 (Jeff Lemire / Steve Pugh / Timothy Green II / Joseph Silver) DC

The Rotworld stuff isn’t as interesting as the Maxine horror story. Chilling. They made a big deal about the Green Lantern and then didn’t do anything with him. Maybe next issue.

 

SWAMP THING #16 (Scott Snyder / Yanick Paquette) DC

I was disappointed with the big robot. Why? Because before I turned the page, I said to myself, “Cool! It is going to be Chemo!” and was disappointed that it wasn’t. 🙂

The Batman stuff made this issue really need. I love that Batman is the one who figured out what to do even though he had lost the fight.

 

DIAL H #8 (China Mieville / Alberto Ponticelli / Dan Green) DC

Going to Canada! Solid book, but do you know what made it so great? Flame War and the rest of The Insult. (Though I don’t get the Wolf Ticket gag…)

The art is not to my taste, but it isn’t terrible.

 

SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #1 (Dan SLott / Ryan Stegman / Edgar Delgado) Marvel

Was this issue excellent? No, but it was solid, which is enough on a week like this. The new Sinister Six was enough to get it over. I mean, the Big Wheel! The Living Brain! Wicked!

If Otto becomes a rapist, though, I am going to have serious issues with this book. (The comment about her boobs was funny, I’ll admit…)


Rusty’s Comic of the Week(s): Saga #8

January 4, 2013
Leave a Comment

This is two weeks worth of comics since I was away for a bit. The real drama here, since it covers two weeks, is whether Hawkeye or Saga was going to be the better issue.

 

I guess I have spoiled that already.

 

Starting at the weakest.

 

BEFORE WATCHMEN: MOLOCH #2 (J.Michael Straczynski / Eduardo Risso) DC

When I read issue #1, right up until the last page I thought it was a one-shot. Now I wish it was.

The first issue gave a back story for Moloch. Something to make you care a little more about him. This issue just goes into unnecessary detail about stuff the happened in Watchmen that needed no extra explanation. In fact, this hurts the original story. Screw this issue. It just sucks.

 

FF #2 (Matt Fraction / Michael Allred / Laura Allred) Marvel

This comic was also unnecessary, but not in the actually damaging way that Moloch was. In this issue NOTHING HAPPENS. The Fantastic Four didn’t come back in four minutes. That’s it. I have high hopes for this comic and issue #1 did not let me down. Issue #2 did.

 

COMEBACK #2 (Brisson / Walsh / Bellaire) Image

This book isn’t bad, but it really doesn’t touch on anything new so far. If you were told the premise, you could probably come up with the story thus far. Hopefully that changes. I am not a big fan of the art, either.

 

CAPTAIN MARVEL #8 (DeConnick / Sebela / Soy / Gandini) Marvel

Was there supposed to be sexual undertones to the scene between Carol and Monica? If so, well done. If not, not so well done. What the last two issues reminded me is that I like Monica as Captain Marvel more than Carol.

Soy is leaving the book.

 

AMERICA’S GOT POWERS #4 (Jonathan Ross / Bryan Hitch) Image

What stops this issue from being higher on the list is that I am not going back and rereading the series every time a new issue comes out. If you can’t publish a comic with an ongoing story in some sort of timely fashion you should finish the whole book before soliciting any of it.

 

AVENGERS ARENA #2 (Hopeless / Walker / Martin) Marvel

I like the premise of the book and the feel of the book. What I didn’t like was side tracking the story for some back-exposition in the second issue. Killing a character is such on off hand way that we didn’t even know cheapens the whole thing as well.

 

WONDER WOMAN #15 (Brian Azzarello / Cliff Chiang) DC

Now we are getting into the better books. This issue is full of great characterization. Hera is the best example, but all of them – from the new brother to Hephaestus – are great. Orion still needs fleshing out, but that is to be expected.

 

FABLES #124 (Bill Willingham / Shawn McManus) Vertigo

This issue was well done… I suppose. The problem is that I haven’t liked the Bufkin story at all so getting a full issue of it doesn’t help (other than telling me it is over). It is better than the last two issues, but I am looking forward to getting back to the core of the book… and it looks like it is coming.

 

AVENGERS #2 (Jonathan Hickman / Jerome Opena / Dean White) Marvel

Good book in general, though it suffers from Hickman-itis. WHat I know about the new status quo I got from interviews and the diagram. It seems like that as Tony and Steve talk about the fact that they are changing things, that you might tactually TALK ABOUT HOW THEY ARE CHANGING THINGS. If you just went by the story you would assume the big change is that there are a bunch of reservists. Not a big change at all.

 

ALL-NEW X-MEN #4 (Brian Michael Bendis / Stuart Immonen / Wade von Grawbadger / Marte Gracia) Marvel

Nitpick: Going by the cover, it would seem that von Grawbadger has second billing. I know that i snot the intent but it is confusing.

Where Bendis works, and where this book works, is focusing on character. That works best here by focusing on the time lost heroes. This issue does that, to its benefit. Too much Cyclops and Magneto, except as villains, is a bad idea. (Side bit: Hank knowing… Beast’s password was a perfect touch – if not a bit inaccurate. Someone like Hank would change his password often.

 

THIEF OF THIEVES #20 (Kirkman / Asmus / Martinbrough / Serrano) Image

What can I say that I haven’t said yet? Basically, this comic is a good heist movie, in comic form.

 

BATWOMAN # 15 (J.H. Williams III / W.Haden Blackman / Trevor McCarthy) DC

Avengers Arena, listen up. THIS is how you do a side story to give added character to a supporting cast member. In one issue, without doing anything drastic, you have made the readers care more about Maggie Sawyer. It sure made me hope that she and Kate keep it together (and that Kate shares her secret).

 

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #700 (no cover credits, but Slott / Ramos / Olazaba / DeMatteis / Camuncoli / Buscema / Van Meter / Buscema) Marvel

The first Buscema is Sal. The second one is Stephanie.

Look, there is no shock about this comic. The only question is how long it will take and how will they revert to the status quo. In the meantime they have made me interested in the story, and that is enough.

The scenes with Mary-Jane, though, are really bloody creepy and they had better address that. Otherwise it is rape, pure and simple. (Assuming it goes that way.) We’ll see.

As for the back-ups, the deMatteis one is getting praise and I don’t understand why. It is routine and hardly original in its obvious pay-off. In addition, let’s all laugh and how old people lose their memory! Ha ha!

No thanks.

The Black Cat story was cute.

 

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #18 (Bendis / Marquez / Ponsor) Marvel

Remember what I said about Bendis on the X-Men book? This is where he proves it. The plot is not the point in USM. The story is not the point. The characters are the point. Miles is perfect. Jessica is perfect. The real star of this book, though, is Jefferson.He did the right thing, but he still killed people. That is not an easy thing.

Well done.

 

UNWRITTEN #44 (Mike Carey / Peter Gross) Vertigo

Forget the reveal. What I liked about this book is Tom’s new attitude. He is just going to keep going forward and will never assume that something can’t be done. It is the perfect evolution of his unbelieving wide-eyed wonderment from the start of the series.

And that reveal… looking forward to issue #45. 🙂

 

HAWKEYE #6 (Fraction / Aja / Hollingsworth) Marvel

Remember how good the first 5 issues of this book were?

This issue is better.

It is all about Hawkguy. Like the guy from M*A*S*H.

 

Saga #8 (Brian K. Vaughan / Fiona Staples) Image

How could a comic be better than the best issue of Hawkeye? By being Saga. In the last two issues they have made an already great character (Alana) a hundred times better by showing her when she is vulnerable. Marko was excellent, as always. His father showed the seeds of how Marko came to be. The ‘meet cute’. Gwendolyn.

I love this comic.