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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.

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Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan #2

October 20, 2012
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Still trying to catch up. I get new comics tomorrow.

Since my last report we have dropped World’s Finest. Not good enough to keep buying (though there is a way worse comic this week).

Starting at the worst… and it is bad.

AME-COMI GIRLS #1 (Palmiotti / Gray / Conner / Akins / Wong) DC

This looked like a can’t miss! The writers from Jonah Hex and the amazing artist most recently on Silk Spectre.

Wow.

This may be the worst comic I have read this year.

Who is this comic marketed towards? Poor boys trying to struggle through puberty? Wonder Woman hasn’t been drawn in this horribly sexist manner since the bad old days of Deodato’s 90s where every shot was of her crotch and her costume was a thong.

Just awful.

I will NOT be buying #2.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #18 (Brubaker / Bunn / Eaton / Magyar / Guru-eFX) Marvel

A super-hero comic relies on villains. The villains in this story arc are dull, dull, dull. The exception is the Zemo vs Carter parts, but they are side notes and can’t make up for the Discordians. Then there is a hint that they might come back. Oh goody.

It has been pointed out to me that the slide started when Bunn joined Bru on writing. He isn’t doing it after the relaunch is he?

SECRET AVENGERS #32 (Remender / Scalera / Wilson) Marvel

Ruthanne doesn’t like SW at all, but I do. I did feel a little burned that the cool looking front cover scene didn’t happen at all. I liked the inventiveness of how the Void was defeated, but the Black Ant? Really?

AVENGING SPIDER-MAN #13 (Kevin Schnick / Aaron Kuder / Matt Hollingsworth) Marvel

Sometimes comics can just be fun. I don’t really like Deadpool most of the time, but the Hypno-Hustler? Yes sir!

I wonder if the fact that Deadpool is left in jail at the end of this one will be reflected in his own book.

I wonder idly, because I don’t read it.

AvsX: CONSEQUENCES #1 (Gillen / Raney / Charalampiois) Marvel

All along I thought that Cyclops had to die for AvX to work. He is quite irredeemable. Instead it looks like they are setting him up to be Magneto, of a sorts. We’ll see where that goes. I’m glad it is in here because I don’t read any of the X-Men books.

AVENGERS #31 (Bendis / Mayhew / Peterson / Keith) Marvel

So, Bendis has some things to reverse before his run is up, does he? He is trying to give Wonder Man some character redemption and the mystery woman is pretty likely to be Wasp.

I’m okay with that.

I am surprised that it is the same artist inside and out because the art in the book isn’t bad but the cover is pretty ugly.

UNCANNY AVENGERS #1 (Rick Remender / John Cassaday) Marvel

Good premise. Good story. Good art. Nice surprise at the end. What’s not to like?

Well, I am not a big fan of Havoc, but that is a minor gripe. Let’s see where this goes. (Hey, didn’t he just join X-Factor again?)

HALLOWEEN EVE (Brandon Montclare / Amy Reeder) Image

After the mess that was Batwoman, it is so nice to see Amy Reeder drawing her own way again. The story is just okay, but every page is beautiful.

Do you know where she would be good? I would love to see her draw Young Avengers.

BEFORE WATCHMEN: DR. MANHATTAN #2 (J.Michael Straczynski / Adam Hughes) DC

What a great comic! This has become the top BW book me, even ahead of Silk Spectre and Ozymandias, becuase while it has art just as good as those books, it also has really inventive and interesting writing.

I read a review that called this book terrible because it goes again some minor plot point for the original mini. To that I say, get over it. If you let that ruin this comic for you, you may miss one of the best comics of the year (won’t know that until it is finished).


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.