Rusty's World

Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Fables #111

December 4, 2011
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The week of comics was, well, weak. It was a ‘fifth week’, so none of the new DC books shipped… I only got six books and that is RARE for me. If the Silver Snail still had Spaceman #1 I would have used this small week to pick up #1 and 2… but, nope.

FABLES #111 (Willingham, Buckingham, Leialoha, McManus) Vertigo

So, what made this book so great? Nothing, actually. As I said, this was a light week and this book wouldn’t have won if there was stiffer competition.

It was good, though. The resolution of the new North Wind search was interesting, and surprised me. (I was CONVINCED I knew who the winner was. Wrong!) Bufkin’s lawyer was funny as well.

Not much more to add.

 

THUNDERBOLTS #166 (Parker, Shalvey, Martin) Marvel

Hmmm… some great bits in here, especially the ones dealing with Troll. Satana is getting very annoying. They had BETTER give a better reason behind Hyde’s actions than what was here, but the story isn’t done. Anyone hear the London, ON’s new baseball team is the London Rippers? Really.

The art is solid but I think I prefer the regular team. I hear that this book is in the danger zone as far as sales goes. Too bad. It is worth reading.

 

READ IT!

 

AVENGERS ORIGINS: THOR (Immonen, Barrionuevo, Lacombe, Milla, Tartaglia) Marvel

 

80% into this book I thought it just might get comic of the week honours. But then the ending was pretty poor. A great story sullied by cramming a bunch in to make it count as an ‘origin’. (Stone Men from Saturn!) Enjoy the Mjolnir story and ignore then ending.

 

THE ULTIMATES #4 (Hickman, Ribic, White) Marvel

So… this is both an important issue AND an issue where nothing really happens. An odd mix, to be sure. “All right, let’s all just agree to not fight.”

Huh.

 

FF #12 (Hickman, Bobillo, Sosa, Sotomayor) Marvel

 

Second straight Hickman book on this list. Based on his writing, this should be much higher. But the art… oh my god. It is horrible. I mean REALLY horrible. There are times when the only reason I can tell characters apart is that Hickman writes them distinctly. I showed a page to Ruthanne and asked if she could tell who was who. “Well, he has some grey hair, so he must be Reed…”

 

Terrible. If Bobillo stays on this book, I may not keep buying it.

 

HERC #10 (Pak, Van Lente, Hahn, Richardson, Aburtov) Marvel

I stayed with this book because I knew it was cancelled anyway. I shouldn’t have bothered. Remember when Incredible Hercules was one of the most entertaining comics on the racks? Those days are long gone. They took a great book and stripped out what made it special and left something just… ordinary.

This is the last issue, so I don’t need to cancel it.

 

Wow. What a lacklustre week. I’m sure there will be more great books next week.

 

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Rusty’s Comic of the Week: The Unwritten #13.5

November 27, 2011
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To kick off this week’s reviews I just wanted to share something that has been bothering me. When you have one of these blogs you get quite a variety of statistics that go with them. One of the things that shows up is a list of search terms that have led people to your blog. Well, over at Rusty the Poet I had a long discussion/argument/whatever about a reference to rape in a comic. Now I get constant hits from people searching out the terms ‘rape’ and ‘comics’ together.

What are all these people asking for ‘rape comics’ looking for? I am afraid I do not want to know.

Anyway… on to better things…

COMIC OF THE WEEK

THE UNWRITTEN #13.5 (Carey / Gross / Kaluta / Geary / Talbot) Vertigo

Recently I was talking about how the Unwritten was still good, but had slipped a little in recent times. Wow, what a turn around here!

The reason it is a ‘.5’ issue is that they are running a background mini-series in parallel to the main series (just like the Venom run from the last Marvel Solicits). These issues are fleshing out the background of the world the comic is set in. The first one of these was amazing! The stories give a lot of the feeling behind the book more oomph, plus a Rick Geary story! Sweet! Not to mention all the other amazing artists… check out that list above. Talbot… Kaluta… and Gross, of course.

This comic has renewed my enthusiasm for The Unwritten and is certainly strong enough to pick up Comic of the Week.

As always, the rest are in descending order of awesomeness.

All-Star Western #3 (Justin Gray / Jimmy Palmiotti / Moritat / Jordi Bernet) DC

I was just talking about this book with Kin down at Silver Snail. He was marvelling over how popular All-Star Western is, when really it isn’t much different than Jonah Hex was, which didn’t sell well at all. The DC relaunch has really given people a chance to see things that they wouldn’t have tried before.

Having said that, there ARE differences. The first is the continuing nature of the storyline. It doesn’t look like too many ‘one-and-done’ stories are coming, which doesn’t bother me either way. However, the connections with the modern DC universe are in danger of slipping from ‘cute’ into ‘annoying’. The fact that they are in Gotham and the doc is named Arkham is fine. The ‘this city will need a special kind of lawman in the future’, well… not so good.

Not enough to ruin the book, though. Moritat continues to impress (though I think he was better on The Spirit than this) and it is nice to see Jordi Bernet back, even though the Diablo story has not been too exciting.

Fantastic Four #600 (Hickman / Epting / Magyar / Mounts / Di Giandomenico / Yu / Dalrymple / Doyle) Marvel

This issue is not only #600, but it is the 50th Anniversary of what basically kicked off the Marvel universe (along with Spider-Man).

First off – let’s talk about the price. $7.99 is a lot for a single issue, but what you get here is 100 pages of new material – none of it filler. As comics have shrunk to 20 pages, that is like buying five comics which will run you from $15 – $20.

Then let’s talk about the big surprise. (Spoiler free) First off, was it a big surprise? I don’t think so. It is what I expected. HOWEVER, it was done VERY well and has me very interested in the next issue. FF has been lagging a bit for me and now there will be two books. My only question is whether you will need to read both to get the full story, or if you can just buy one of the other. It LOOKS like Fantastic Four will be the place to get the main group and FF will give you the kids etc. We’ll see.

Highs and lows… I LOVED the Franklin and Leech story and I wasn’t thrilled about the Inhumans story. All in all, a very good comic.

CAPTAIN AMERICA & BUCKY #624 (Brubaker / Andreyko / Samnee / Breitweiser) Marvel

This book reads like a sneak peak at the new Winter Soldier comic, which is cool. The only thing wrong with this is that it is the last by this creative team. Chris Samnee is off the book and that is a shame because I am a big fan. (He has an arc coming up in Ultimate Spider-man, I believe).

Where is this comic going from here? I thought it was going to be set in WW2, but apparently that is no more. I expect it will end up being cancelled. If it does, I hope the main Captain America book gets its numbering back. Maybe in time for #650? #700?

SECRET AVENGERS #19 (Ellis / Lark / Gaudino) Marvel

This is the second decent Secret Avengers issue in a row, after some absolutely horrible issues. I still can’t wait for Ellis to be out and Remender to be in. This is the sort of line-up that suits the book but Ellis has zero idea how to write Steve Rogers. It is distracting. (Again, not NEARLY as bad as his first two issues… in fact, I enjoyed it.)

ALPHA FLIGHT #6 (Van Lente / Pak / Eaglesham / Oback) Marvel

Is it odd that I pretty much cheer whenever Northstar gets to kiss a man? It is getting less unusual, but for YEARS after Northstar came out as gay, Marvel wouldn’t show him kissing a man. It was ridiculous hypocrisy and I am glad it is done with.

I have to admit that the kiss probably moved the book higher on this list than it would have been.

Two more issues until AF returns to the comics limbo from whence it sprung.

SUPERMAN #3 (George Perez / Nicola Scott / Trevor Scott) DC

I had recently been considering dropping this book, but this issue redeems itself somewhat. Perez is still unnecessarily wordy but the straight supervillain-style fight, mixed with the on-going alien sub plot is quite interesting. If you can get past the the reams of backstory at the beginning of the comic, the book gets quite good. (Better than the latest issue of Grant Morrison’s Action, that is for sure…)

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #3 (Peter Milligan / Mikel Janin) DC

Are they ever going to come up with an excuse why it says Justice League on the cover other than marketing? Probably not.

Great characters but the storyline is shaky. I hope they tighten it up a little bit as this story continues, or moves on to the next one.

THE FURY OF FIRESTORM #3 (Ethan Van Sciver / Gail Simone / Yildray Cinar) DC

Another book that is wavering for me. It survives another issue on the strength of… I’m not sure. I want to see the new Killer Frost. Helix was disappointing.

ULTIMATE COMICS HAWKEYE #4 (Hickman / Sandoval / Tarragona / Anderson) Marvel

Was this always a miniseries? The whole thing was just a sideplot for the Ultimates? Disappointing. I would have preferred it if Hulk could have stayed with the Eternals. (Or was it the Celestials?)

RASL #12 (Jeff Smith) Cartoon Books

I like this series, but when he spends too much time giving Tesla back story it drags a bit. This was one of those issues. Did you know it has been optioned as a movie? If they make it, I bet they change the name.

ANNIHILATORS EARTHFALL #3 (abnett / Lanning / Huat / Hennessy / Quintana) Marvel

I am not one who has drunk the Cosmic Marvel kool-aid, but I decided to buy this due to the Avengers appearance. The story is picking up interest, but the art is ugly. I mean REALLY bad. It distracts from the story quite a bit.

AVENGERS SOLO #2 (Van Meter / Robinson / McCann / Henry) Marvel

I am a big Hawkeye fan which tells you that I mean it when I say that this comic is a mess. What is going on in the lead story? If you know, you are a better person than I am. Should I have gone back and reread the first issue? Who are the bad guys? Who are the good guys? I have compeltely lost track.

The Avengers Academy back-up was good.

AVENGERS ORIGINS: SCARLET WITCH & QUICKSILVER (McKeever / Pierfederici / Tartaglia) Marvel

These series of one-shots has been hit or miss, and this one was a very big miss. The story added nothing to the existing origin, other than modernizing the setting a bit. Adding that they had hints about their parentage was a big mistake that goes against the strength of the first Vision & Scarlet Witch mini. The art was not very strong. Overall, a weak comic. Hopefully the next one (Thor) will be better.

That’s it for this week. A big one, though not as strong as last week. (The Unwritten was sure great though…)


Rusty’s Comic of the Week: The Avengers #19

November 20, 2011
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Does that headline surprise you? It did me.

This week’s reviews, from best to least…

THE AVENGERS #19 (Bendis, Acuna) Marvel

Now THIS is the Avengers that turned me into a comic fan! The Avengers was the first book I picked up back when I was 16 (issue #235). While I have enjoyed what Brian Michael Bendis has done with the franchise overall, it was still quite far from the book I had loved so much. Thie story has Cap trying to figure out who the team is going to be, complete with the public reveal at the end. Classic.

As for the new lineup, Storm is an interesting choice with lots of potential… but I don’t really like HOW she joined. Not terrible, but still. The Vision, on the other hand, was a GREAT reveal. It reminded me of issue #242 where the Vision came back from a long recuperation period. Great stuff. (Now, what about that OTHER Vision…)

While I don’t mind Spider-man and Wolverine being off the team (they are fine on New Avengers), but I don’t like HOW it happened. They deserve a little more respect than that.

Oh, and the art was GREAT. Daniel Acuna is PERFECT for this book. Even the back-up was kind of fun. All in all, a great read.

 

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #674 (Slott, Camuncoli, Janson, D’Armata) Marvel

The cover now reads ‘The World’s Greatest Super Hero!’ Works for me.

Dan Slott is knocking it out of the park with Spider-Man these days. A great story built around the Vulture (the old cool one, not the newer, creepy one). The Peter working with Carlie sub-plot works for me. The Mary-Jane and Glory Grant sub-plot partying works for me. I am a little less enthused about the Horizon Labs / Kingpin thing, but I am willing to ride it out.

The art wasn’t as good this issue. Not terrible, but also not much ‘value-added’.

 

AVENGERS ORIGINS: LUKE CAGE (Glass, Benson, Talajic, Beaulieu) Marvel

These Origins comics have been hit and miss so far, and this one is a hit. Luke Cage is a great character, despite his blacksploitation roots, but they manage to make him modern and noteworthy without shying away from those roots. The reminder of why he is important IN the comic is also a reminder why he is important AS a comic. (But ‘Hero for Hire High’? Really?)

Is this the same writer from Suicide Squad? This is better. I am not familiar with the name Dalibor Talajic, but it was good stuff.

 

CAPTAIN AMERICA #4 (Brubaker, McNiven, Leister, Ponsor) Marvel

Seems like Marvel’s week, doesn’t it? This is a solid comic, with a solid premise, but it reads a bit like it is just moving the story along – getting from point a to point b. Those issues have to happen, but work better when you read them together.

The art is very good, but with all due respect to Steve McNiven (his is great) I can’t wait for the Alan Davis issues to start. His Cap in Avengers Prime showed he could be one of the CLASSIC Cap artists.

 

WONDER WOMAN #3 (Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang) DC

First, a note. You may notice that sometimes I give first and last names on the credits while sometimes I just give last names. The names are the ones put on the covers of the comics. DC apparently likes first names more than Marvel does.

The first two issues of Wonder Woman garnered my comic of the week nods each time. Why has this one dropped so much?

It is her changed origin. It doesn’t sit right with me. It seems like a needless change that kind of… cheapens her as a character somewhat. Maybe Azzarello will change my mind, but right now, I don’t like it. Did this colour my view of the issue? Maybe, but it felt a lot more disjointed that the first two.

The art is still great, though.

 

iZOMBIE #19 (Chris Roberson, Mike Allred) Vertigo

Another book that I expected to be higher on the list. There were parts of the book I liked… loved, actually. Spot’s date was absolutely charming. I hate to say it, but it was the art that threw me… and I LOVE Mike Allred’s art normally. He is one of my favourites. This issue seemed a little more… muddy maybe? A little sloppy? Not up to his usual level of brilliance, that is for sure.

 

AVENGERS ACADEMY #22 (Gage, Chen, Hanna, Buchman, Cox) Marvel

I guess Quicksilver is part of the staff so having an issue focus on him isn’t actually out of place… but it sure seemed it. To me, the book is about the students, not the instructors. Yes, Finesse was an important part of the issue, but not in a way I really cared for. She seems a little hero-worshippy towards Quicksilver, who really has done nothing to deserve it. Let’s face it, Quicksilver has been pretty much a loser ever since he first appeared. Oh well.

 

THUNDERBOLTS #165 (Parker, Walker, Pallot, Soto) Marvel

Does Marvel WANT this book to fail? Why else would they put THAT cover on it? It is HORRIBLE! We were actually laughing about it. Kev Walker still does the interior art, so no problems there.

A solid book overall (once you get past the front cover). The Satana/Namor scene seemed a little gratuitous – besides, she isn’t his type. She isn’t blonde enough. It is tough to get too invested in a comic whose premise is that nothing can really happen (at the risk of changing history).

Both Avengers Academy and Thunderbolts are rumoured to be teetering close to the chopping block. I hope not. They are both good comics overall.

 

ULTIMATE COMICS X-MEN #3 (Spencer, Medina, Vlasco, Gracia) Marvel

Want to see a lame review? I don’t really know what about this book didn’t thrill me. I just read it and found that I didn’t care much about it. I didn’t read Ultimate X-Men before, but it is the Spidey connection that got me interested. We will see if it sticks or not.

 

X-FACTOR #227 (David, Kirk, Milla) Marvel

Of late I have been wondering if I just think I like X-Factor out of habit. It used to be great and it has earned some leeway because of it. This is also a Kirk issue, which means the art is not strong. Still buying it, but I hope it turns around or I may stop.

 

BLUE BEETLE #3 (Tony Bedard, Ig Guara, Ruy Jose, J.P. Mayer) DC

Here is a book that does not have a track record to save it. I wanted to support this book because I wanted to support DC’s publishing minority characters… but the comic just hasn’t been very good. When I read it, I can’t help but compare it to Ultimate Spider-Man, and it pales in comparison.

Maybe I just want Ted Kord back…

Regardless, Blue Beetle is off my pull list after this issue.

 

I also picked up Northlanders Volume 3: Blood in the Snow, but I haven’t read it yet. I liked the first two books. I’ll let you know.


Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Ultimate Spider-Man #4

November 12, 2011
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So here is my first week of comics for the new blog…. are you excited yet? Ready?

Every week, as I read the comics I rank them, so Ruthanne can save the best for last. So here are the books I bought, from best to worst… (though if I really thought something was going to be bad, I wouldn’t have bought it…

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #4 (Bendis/Pichelli/Ponsor) Marvel

Man, do I love this comic. Since the relaunch it has been my favourite book being published… probably since Joe the Barbarian (a Grant Morrison Vertigo book which I absolutely loved).

The characterization of Miles Morales is excellent. There are a lot of people who could take lessons from Brian Bendis on how to write youth. I LOVE that the new Spidey is non-white and I love that it isn’t the only thing that makes him who he is. He is as well-rounded a character as you can find after only four issues.

I really like the art as well, but I understand Chris Samnee will be doing some issues and that is something I can really get behind. I am a big fan.

This issue finally starts to create a connection between Morales and Peter Parker. Guilt is an amazing motivator…

BATWOMAN #3 (J.H. Williams III, W. Haden Blackman) DC

I am normally a ‘story-first’ guy, but it is the art the makes this book special. Williams doesn’t blow me away as a writer but this is the best designed comic on the shelves. Every page is beautiful.

The story has not been as strong since Rucka left, but it gets by on the strength of so many great characters. Kate Kane, Flamebird, Maggie Sawyer, Chase… good stuff.

AVENGING SPIDER-MAN #1 (Zeb Wells, Joe Madureira, Ferran Daniel) Marvel

Spider-man has always been one the best characters in comics, but he has been horribly written at times. Right now is an embarrassment of riches for a Spider-man fan. Ultimate is one of the best books on the rack. Amazing is in the midst of a great run by Dan Slott, and now this. I am not a huge Madureira fan normally, but this art is pretty solid. Even Rulk, who I am not a fan of, works.

This cook is basically the return of Marvel Team-Up with an Avengers reference in the title to make it sell.

I’m sold.

(I dislike that it comes in a bag, though. I know why, but its still wasteful packaging…)

BATGIRL #3 (Gail Simone, Adrian Syaf, Vicente Cifuentes) DC

A great character. A great writer. A great art team. An interesting new villain and intriguing co-star. What’s not to like?

Well, to start with, three issues in without an explanation as to how she got out of the wheelchair. Oracle was one of the most original characters in comics, and Babs is the only good Batgirl, in my opinion, but we need to understand how she got out of the chair. This is a really big deal and the longer Simone draws it out, the tougher a sell it will be.

It had better be something ‘comic-booky’. Magic hopefully. If she claims that she just has good recuperative powers or whatever it will be a pretty big insult to people who really suffer from severe injuries of that nature. I’m still on board to find out…

THE UNWRITTEN #31 (Carey/Gross/Perker) Vertigo

This has been Vertigo’s top book of late, but it seems to have lost some steam. I don’t know what it is, but now that Tom has a magic wand and can cast his Potter… I mean, Taylor spells… well, let’s just say I hope the book won’t keep meandering as it has been.

It used to be that this would be higher on this list. Hopefully it can get back there. Still worth reading.

THE NEW AVENGERS #18 (Bendis/Deodato/Beredo) Marvel

Other than Avengers 1959 (yeah, yeah) I still collect all the Avengers books, but even if I didn’t, I would get the Bendis ones. His grasp on the team is solid, and his Norman Osborne is excellent. The new Dark Avengers he assembled has me a little worried, since most of the characters he brought together are from books I didn’t care for. The big exception are the ones from the Osborne mini, and the magic shape changing Spider-dude was a bit of a stretch.

Still, I want to know what happens next.

But, MAN do I dislike Mike Deodato’s art! It is a good thing the new team has women with different hair colours, otherwise I couldn’t tell them apart. Also, I assume that is Gorgon pretending to be Wolverine, but how could you tell except by process of elimination?

AVENGERS ORIGINS: VISION (Higgins/Siegel/Perger) Marvel

After the pleasant surprise of how good the Ant-Man & Wasp issue was, my hopes for this rose. I am a big Vision fan (his first appearance was my first ‘important’ back issue that I bought when I was putting together my Avengers collection as a teenager), but this issue didn’t really add anything to the origin we already knew. Rather than dealing with the convoluted pre-Ultron part of his backstory, it just gave as the standard intro. The art was really good for all the parts that had no people in it, but not as strong when it wasn’t just Ultron and Vision.

SUICIDE SQUAD #3 (Adam Glass, Cliff Richards) DC

I really want this book to be better. I LOVED Suicide Squad. Back in the day, it was second only to the Avengers as a book that I followed slavishly. Can only John Ostrander write it properly? It is starting to seem so. I’m still not dropping it… but I really hope it turns around.

The art isn’t any great shakes either.

Ruthanne also picked up a big book called Drawing Down the Moon: The Art of Charles Vess. I haven’t looked at it yet, so I will leave that to her to comment on.

So that is what I bought this week… anybody else pick up anything good that they want to talk about? Bring it on!