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Rusty’s Comic of the Week: New Avengers #28

July 17, 2012
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Sorry this is so late. I was away in Toronto acting as Slammaster for SLAMtario. That was a lot of fun.

A good week, with a surprise as top pick… but also a couple drops.

DEFENDERS #8 (Fraction / McKelvie / Aymara) Marvel

I was ready to cancel this a couple of issues ago, but getting the Dodsons to draw Black Cat is a way to get a reprieve. 🙂 No such luck any more. The story is scattered and aimless. Most importantly, though, is the terrible characterization. The crazy thing is, the characters that are treated the worst or those from the Iron Fist center of influence… and it is written by Matt Fraction. I don’t get it. This has been a disappointing run and I am dropping it.

DARK AVENGERS #177 (Parker / Shalvey / Walker / Martin) Marvel

Drop #2. I really liked Thunderbolts. I like the parts of this comic that are still Thunderbolts. But I am not going to pay $3 every issue for ‘some’ of a good comic, because the Dark Avengers stuff is just awful. When Bendis remade the Dark Avengers he completely misunderstood what made them interesting in the first place. These were big name villains with strong track records that were taking the places of heroes. Even the original Thunderbolts didn’t make up villains to have them masquerade as heroes. They were well established. Here was get a bunch of d-listers that only existed to give Norman Osborne fodder in his mini. They are not interesting in their own guises… at least yet. Switching them to new guises does not make them interesting. The only one that showed ANY character in this comic was Barney… who is still a pale imitation of the original Trickshot.

Somebody let me know when they bring the real Thunderbolts book back.

AVENGERS ASSEMBLE #5 (Bendis / Baley / Miki /  Mounts) Marvel

Not dropped but on thin ice. This book appears to have no CREATIVE reason to exist. It takes up space as a marketing movie tie-in (which I never buy) masquerading as a ‘legitimate’ comic. The line-up matches the movie. The villain matches the movie’s reveal. Suddenly Black Widow and Hawkeye are kissing… because that matches the movie. The Guardians of the Galaxy appear… what movie was officially announced at ComicCon?

When does Ant-Man join the cast?

I give Avengers books a lot of leeway, but this book is so much a pure advertising vehicle that they should be giving it away, not charging $4.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #14 (Brubaker / Zircher / Deodato / Mounts) Marvel

I didn’t notice Deodato art when I read it. He merged it with Zircher pretty well. I liked this book over all and I like the cold war aspect of a battle with Bravo. I am not quite so taken with Bru’s willingness to kill long-standing characters off, but this was a Scourge story and that is what they are based on. It is worth noting that Mark Gruenwald said later that he was wrong to use Scourge to ‘clear the decks’. Killing characters should never be done lightly as everybody is somebody’s favourite.

SAUCER COUNTRY #5 (Paul Cornell / Ryan Kelly) Vertigo

This has ben a good read so far, but I feel it has been sidetracked a little by the hypnotist thread. It seems that they just now have their ducks in a row and we are going to move forward on the main plot. I am looking forward to it.

AVENGING SPIDER-MAN #9 (DeConnick / T.Dodson / R.Dodson / Delgado) Marvel

If this is what the Captain Marvel book is going to be like, I am sold. You will likely never see it at the top of my list, but a good solid, entertaining super-hero romp is nothing to turn your nose up at. DeConnick is a very good writer and I am glad she is on board. The Dodsons are always great, but they will not be the artists on the Captain Marvel book. I wish they had delayed this book so it came out in the right order, but oh well.

 

SPIDER-MEN #3 (Bendis / Pichelli / Ponsor) Marvel

Not as awesome as issue #2, but still a very good read. ‘Both’ Mysterios are now cooler than they were and the scene at the end… well, let me just say that meeting between Peter and Miles was epic, wait until the meeting of Peter and Aunt May and GWEN STACY.

 

BEFORE WATCHMEN: MINUTEMEN #2 (Darwyn Cooke) DC

Excellent comic. I enjoyed this a lot. Cooke really sets the mood and tone for the time period. The scene where the team decides to NOT go after the child molester is horrific, but it is balanced out by the great Silhouette, Nite Owl, Moth Man mission. Having Sil lead the foray worked on many levels. This book also makes me wish Cooke was doing the Nite Owl book. He got his tone very well. Moth Man breaking down in tears was spot on.

Here is the part that bugs me if I think about it too hard. This is what stops the book from being higher. The parallels between the homosexual relationship in the book and the children being molested was a little too… there. Cutting back and forth between a consensual act that was frowned upon at the time and brutal sexual assault son children is implying something that I TRULY hope was unintentional. If I thought for a second that Cooke was trying to say these have ANY sort of equivalency, I would never buy one of his books again. I HOPE that he was being more subtle and trying to show how ridiculous it is that Larry was worrying about dealing with the ‘gay issue’ while thinking child molesters was beneath their notice.

I hope.

 

THE MASSIVE #2 (Brian Wood / Kristian Donaldson / Dave Stewart) Dark Horse

Note to writers like Hickman and sometimes Morrison: this is how you can do quick jump cuts while not losing the flow of the story. The new Hong Kong in this story is artfully crafted. I am not sure how strong this book is on plot so far but as world-building goes, it is brilliant. I want to know more about this world and see what has happened in every part of it. More, more, MORE!

 

REVIVAL #1 (Tim Seeley, Mike Norton) Image

Speaking of more… what an amazing take on the (somewhat overdone) zombie genre! These aren’t zombies, they are something else entirely. The bit with the teeth was incredibly creepy and the final page reveal promises much more. Seeley came up with a motherlode idea and I guarantee that this will be optioned as a movie or tv show… if it hasn’t already.

 

SWAMP THING #11 (Scott Snyder / Marco Rudy) DC

Don’t let the ugly cover throw you off… this is a very good comic. Arcane. Alec. Abby. The mini parliament of trees. The art was beautifully moody and evocative of the edge of horror that was being called for by Snyder. It seems that the not-quite-crossover is becoming an actual crossover. I will have to remember to pick up the appropriate Frankenstein issue to go along with the two books I already get (Swamp Thing and Animal Man).

 

NEW AVENGERS #28 (Bendis / Deodato / Beredo) Marvel

Before reading the books I NEVER would have guessed this would come out on top. A simple story about three Avengers breaking out of the X-Men’s jail.

Wow.

This was incredibly well done.

I don’t know what else to say. Just read it. Does it ‘matter’ (other than reminding us that the X-Men are very much the villains of this story)? Not really. A good story doesn’t need to ‘matter’.

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Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Fables #118

June 25, 2012
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Big week. Lots of good books.

 

Unfortunately, it is a week that leads to a bit of trimming as well.

Starting with the weakest book as usual.

 

SECRET AVENGERS #28 (Remender / Guedes / Wilson) Marvel

This comic is awful. I mean absolutely awful.

Let’s start with the art. I really don’t like what Guedes has done here. It is sketchy and not dynamic in any way. The colours on it are very ‘crayon-like’.

Then the story. Let’s start with the fact that it makes absolutely zero sense when put in with AvX and the other Avengers AvX books. That wouldn’t be the end of the world except this is an AvX cross over. Were the editors sleeping? They should be pretty embarrassed about this mess.

Now ignore all that and try to judge this comic on its own.

Nope. Still terrible. They brought Captain Marvel back for no reason, only to kill him off again. I suppose this is meant to inspire Carol… but only if the editors get it together with the new book by DeConnick and after the mess the last couple of months, I seriously doubt it. Betrayal! Oh wait, just kidding! Oh wait, we need a sacrifice! Hands up anyone who thought he was surviving this issue anyway?

I came VERY close to cancelling this book from my file… and anyone who knows my addiction to Avengers comics knows what a big deal that would be.  In the end I decided to ride it out a bit for two reasons. 1. after this issue it is no longer an AvX cross-over. Maybe letting Remender go back to the story he WANTED to tell will help. and 2. Guedes is off the book.

We’ll see. Another mess like this and it is snipped

 

DOMINIQUE LEVEAU: VOODOO CHILD #4 (Selwyn Seyfu Hinds / Denys Cowan / John Floyd) Vertigo

To Selwyn, who has read my reviews the last couple of times DL has come out… sorry. I am a writer. Poetry mostly but I also used to write for Legend of the Five Rings and I know how much it sucks to read people talking about not liking your baby.

The book is cancelled now… as of issue #7. We won’t be getting the rest. I’ll just leave it there.

 

AVENGING SPIDER-MAN #8 (Slott / Templeton / Clark / Parsons / Quintana) Marvel

(Why does Slott get top billing on the cover? He didn’t write the comic…)

A book of this nature will also be a hit-and-miss prospect… and this one kind of missed. Story epilogues in comics are rarely good. If the story was worth telling, it should have been part of the main story.

The real problem here is that we basically have a flashback inventory-style story masquerading as an important plot point. The problem is two-fold: the nobody actually believes that Silver Sable is dead (and the narrative is making this abundantly clear) and… who really cares? It isn’t like she is an important character. Killing off D-list heroes is not exactly newsworthy, no matter how hard they try. The real story is that Spidey is upset that he ‘let her die’, but that story rolls along fine without this fill-in stuff being needed in it anyway.

 

BATWOMAN #10 (Williams III / Blackman / McCarthy) DC

Here they are starting to get better. McCarthy is no Williams III and Williams III is no Rucka. The jump cuts are an interesting conceit but they are also a bit conufsing. I feel like I need to go back and reference earlier issues and a reader should NEVER have to do that. I feel like he is writing for the trade and the story will work better once collected.

 

WINTER SOLDIER #7 (Brubaker / Lark / Thies / Gaudiano / Breitweiser) DC

This comic works very hard at feeling like a movie… and they do a pretty good job. I am wearying of the Russian connection behind every villain, but that is okay. The action was solid (except the firefight in the van. I am not sure why Bucky and Natasha aren’t dead. That is a pretty confined space for multiple people with machine guns to miss while spraying bullets around… they must have Stormtrooper disease.

The way the readers were led on the same way the heroes were led on was well done.

 

AVENGERS VS X-MEN #6 (Hickman / Coipel / Morales / Martin) Marvel

When I read people taking the side of the X-Men I kind of laugh. Those people must not have been reading comics for very long. This story has been done many, many times. I even just re-read a DC mini where they main heroes crossed over with a another universe full of different characters with the same names (I think the universe was called ‘Tangent’). Superman had done the ‘obvious’ thing and taken over the world to the betterment of everybody.

But what about free will?

Exactly. That is the story. I must have read that story in different places ten times… likely more.

Besides… Cyclops is a villain. The sooner everyone realizes that, the better.

At least stuff is HAPPENING in the series now. Also, this one of the few comics where I don’t find Hickman getting in the way of the story he is telling.

 

ASTONISHING X-MEN #51 (Liu / Perkins / Troy) Marvel

I don’t buy any of the X-Men titles normally. I bought this one. It is important.

They did a good job, mostly. Anyone who complains about them doing this marriage, whether do to homophobia, ‘sanctity of whatever’ or claims of pandering and whatever can feel free not to let the door hit you on the way out.

This is important.

And unlike the ‘coming out’ issue back in the 90’s, the book doesn’t suck.

I am not going to start buying the title though.

 

DARK AVENGERS #176 (Parker / Walker / Pallot / Martin) Marvel

Dark Avengers? Sure looks like the Thunderbolts to me.

Good issue… though I am not sold on the new version of Man Thing. The time travel who joins them is a welcome addition. I woudl say I am looking forward to the next issue but the next issue will probably be back to the pretty lame Dark Avengers. Are they splitting the art the same way? If so, that works because the better story gets the better artist.

 

AVENGERS ACADEMY #32 (Gage / Green / Huet / Sotomayor) Marvel

This is the AvX story properly turned into an interesting narrative that plays out as an actual story rather than just the idea of a story. How can a forced crossover turn to questions like ‘what is life?’ ‘what defines someone as a person?’

The X-23 bits are a little heavy handed, but that is normal for the character, She is about as subtle as a brick. Juston is great, though. Pym works as a foil well enough… though he IS acting kind of stupid.

The art is not great. Can’t Tom Grummet handle the workload? Why do they keep subbing in inferior artists?

 

BEFORE WATCHMEN: COMEDIAN #1 (Brian Azzarello / J.G. Jones) DC

This is the weakest of the BW books so far, but it is still pretty good. Dropping Comedian into the Kennedy family is a bit too Forrest Gump for me, but the end with Moloch is worth the pay off. I have read some commenters that say that Eddie’s turn to necrophilia is a bit much, but if THAT is what you think happened in that scene… well, your mind goes different places than mine does. I’m glad mine doesn’t. That isn’t a very nice place to live.

Now, there are some real problems with continuity here. Breaking continuity like the Avengers folks did is one thing. Breaking continuity between a prequel and the book you are homaging is a whole different thing. Here is hoping Azzarello explains the discrepancy later.

Or… wait… am I mixing up the actual Watchmen with the movie? That would be embarrassing…

 

WONDER WOMAN #10 (Azzarello / Akins / Kano / Green) DC

Two Azzarello books in a row! This one is REALLY good… storywise, but it is marred by sub-standard art. It is really too bad that Cliff Chiang wasn’t on this one, because the story is excellent. Diana’s excuse for beating his truth-lassoed question is what makes this book special.

In fact, all the characters in this issue were excellent. I LOVE how it ended and I especially love that Azzarello didn’t feel the need to EXPLAIN what was going on there.

Love thyself.

 

NEW AVENGERS #27 (Bendis / Deodato / Beredo) Marvel

I have never liked Deodato and I have made no secret of that. This current storyline though… Deodato should be drawing Iron Fist stories set in K’un-L’un full time. It is beautiful. It helps that the two female characters in the book are SUPPOSED to look alike so the fact that ALL of his female characters look alike isn’t a problem.

 

What MAKES this issue is the Hope and Spider-man scene at the end. Perfect use of the line that basically acts as the moral tagline for the entire Marvel line of comics.

Very well done.

 

THE UNWITTEN #38 (Mike Carey / Peter Gross) Vertigo

A world without stories? I was wondering where Carey was going to take the book after the first mega-arc was over. This is a good direction. A VERY good direction. I don’t quite understand why that person is made of wood, but I DO get why she is turning back into flesh and blood. It shows what could happen to a world with magic in it without stories.

I am so happy that this great book looks like it can continue being great.

 

SAGA #4 (Brian K. Vaughan / Fiona Staples) Image

Remember the people claiming the breast-feeding panels in the first issue were gratuitous? They are going to lose their shit after reading this issue. 🙂

I don’t want to give anything away but the scene where the space pimp opens the door?

Yeah.

Yeah.

Add to that the conversation between our leads and the new nanny.

This is just good comics.

It was one of the first comics I read this week and I KNEW there wasn’t go to be a better comic in the pile.

 

Except then there was…

 

FABLES #118 (Willingham / Buckingham / Leialoha / Pepoy / McManus) Vertigo

The secret of the broken toys is… well, I don’t want to spoil that. But it is chilling. REALLY chilling. This book was already treading on scary ground, but that has been ratcheted up a whole bunch of notches. That would be enough to make this a great comic, but add to that the fight between a tiger and a damaged (in many ways) stuffed bear and… wow.

The Oz story is still not grabbing me. It is just too short.

 

If you bought Fables, Saga and the Unwritten this week, well… that would be a good week of comics right there.


Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Swamp Thing #10

June 10, 2012
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Remember how last week was a relatively small week?

Making up for it this week!

 

Starting from the weakest and moving up, as usual.

 

WORLD’S FINEST #2 (Paul Levitz / George Perez / Kevin Maguire / Scott Koblish) DC

Perez and Maguire? What’s not to like? Well, a badly written story, boring characters and a terrible villain are a start.

I love supporting female led books and I love the artists. That may not be enough. I don’t think I will be getting issue 3.

 

DARK AVENGERS #175 (Parker / Shalvey / Martin) Marvel

Ouch. I was quite enjoying Thunderbolts, but this is… not so good. I cannot stress how much I hate Ragnarok. At lest give him a different costume so we are not constantly reminded what a dumb character he is. In fact, I don’t really like any of this crop of Dark Avengers (as opposed to the first crop). The Osborne mini was very good, but that didn’t make the villains introduced automatically matter.

I would drop this too, but I am hoping we will get more actual Thunderbolts in the title soon, despite the name change.

Oh, Shalvey’s art is getting better each issue, though!

 

DIAL H #2 (China Mieville / Mateus Santolouco) DC

This book gets by on pure creative inventiveness. Here is hoping the plot starts to catch up soon.

 

ANIMAL MAN #10 (Jeff Lemire / Steve Pugh) DC

Some issues of this book, I love. Other issues I am luke warm on. I try to figure out what the difference is, and I can’t find it. Maybe it is my mood when I am reading it. It is well worth a read, but between this and Swamp Thing, AM has a ways to go.

 

iZOMBIE #26 (Chris Roberson / Michael Allred ) Vertigo

Sometimes I complain about a book not having enough plot. iZombie has too much. The characters are excellent but as the book trundles on to its untimely demise, there are too many plotlines that need to be crammed in and brought together. The book is suffering for it. Overall I still recommend the series. Buy the trades.

 

DEFENDERS #7 (Fraction / Dodson / Dodson / Oback) Marvel

I thought this book might be on the bubble down with World’s Finest, but the Dodsons drawing Black Cat? I am still not sold on the main Defenders storyline, but now I want to see a Fraction / Dodsons Black Cat book.

 

WINTER SOLDIER #6 (Brubaker / Lark / Gaudino / Breitweiser) Marvel

Michael Lark is pure atmosphere. This issue is all backstory, but it is on point! Fred Davis is the Bucky in a refrigerator, and I am not sure it was necessary, but the whole story of the sleeper for the past dozen years works well. Tying it in to Bucky’s story worked. (I do think they could go to the ‘Bucky’s past’ well too often, but they are not there yet.)

 

AVENGERS VS X-MEN #5 (Fraction / Romita / Hanna / Martin) Marvel

Something finally happens! I mean for real! Welcome the Phoenix Five!

One thing… when this is all over, Cyclops will be in prison, right? RIGHT???!

He should be.

 

AVENGERS ACADEMY #31 (Gage / Grummett / Hamscher / Sotomayor) Marvel

Does anyone write young adults as well as Christos Gage? The plot is the plot… whatever. It is the characters that really shine… and now there is a new addition to the cast! I wouldn’t have minded if that was a trade for X-27, or whatever her name is… you know… Wolvie-Girl. Still, I like what they did with Shaw, and the Loa / Mettle / Hazmat situation will be interesting to watch. Personally, I hope they avoid the whole triangle cliche and instead turn into a really strong friendship like was implied last issue.

 

FAIREST #4 (Willingham / Jimenez / Lanning / Farmer) Vertigo

One more time: WHY IS A BOOK THAT IS SUPPOSED TO BE ABOUT FEMALE FABLES STARRING ALI BABA?

Having said that, this was a good issue. The storytelling conceit has been good and having the Snow Queen be an addict to them works on many levels. Having her drugged into working for Gepetto strengthens her character a lot. Not much Briar Rose here, but the addition of Hadeon could be very interesting.

 

THIEF OF THIEVES #5 (Kirkman / Spencer / Martinbrough / Serrano) Image

Does the gathering of the team reming anyone of Super Crooks? Oh well, it is a standard ‘heist picture’ set-up. It was well done, but once again… the only female of the group is a stripper? Really? WTF!

This books glides on the characters and the design… but those are both things I like a very great deal.

 

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #11 (Bendis / Marquez / Ponsor) Marvel

Spidey kicking ass! The first time you are punched int he face has to be a bit of a shocker. Being used to the Peter version, I was surprised he got hit so often, but at the same time, none of it seemed to phase him. Apparently his powers include being able to take a beating without even a bruise.

One of the best books on the market, month-in and month-out. BUY THIS BOOK! Anyone… everyone.

 

BEFORE WATCHMEN: MINUTEMEN #1 (Darwyn Cooke) DC

The baggage involved is immense. Here is my take…

Alan Moore got a little bit screwed by DC’s ‘it is yours once it goes out of print’. I say a ‘little bit’ because DC KEEPING it in print in order to keep the rights has probably done more for Moore’s career and reputation than anything else he has ever written. (And that is saying something.)

Moore thinks it is some sort of creative crime to use someone else’s characters.  This is the writer of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Oh, and let’s not forget that the Watchmen characters were all based on the old Charlton characters and only changed when DC wouldn’t let him use them. At least that is how the story goes… (and it seems pretty likely. The analogues are clear.)

Now… when Before Watchmen was announced, my reaction was ‘uh, no thanks’. Then they announced the creative teams. Wow. So now, my attitude is, ‘don’t buy them because they are Watchmen related. Buy them if they are good.’

The first one is good. REALLY good. Anybody who enjoyed the opening credits sequence of the movie (and most people I talked to liked it, even the ones who didn’t really like the movie as a whole) should like this. Darwyn Cooke is incredibly talented and he does a great ob here (despite some small continuity problems with the main story).

Even the Crimson Corsair back-up was solid. It is dense, as it should be, so the 2-pages didn’t seem too light and the density wasn’t overwhelming.

So far so good.

 

SWAMP THING #10 (Scott Snyder / Francesco Francavilla) DC

Normally this book takes a big drop when Yanick Paquette isn’t on it, but Francavilla is PERFECT for the mood of the return of Arcane.

ARCANE! BAD ASS! I wish he wasn’t tied so tightly to the Rot, as he was excellent without it. I guess they don’t want to tie so strongly to hell any more.

Regardless, excellent book (but a bump as I am already a fan of the Swamp Thing / Anton Arcane struggles).