Rusty's World

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

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

 

Starting from the weakest and working up.

 

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

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

Dropped.

 

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

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

If the book continues like this it will join Firestorm.

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 


Rusty’s (Ruthanne’s) Comic of the Week: All-Star Western #8

May 1, 2012
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This week we switched things up a bit. I am still doing the mini-reviews, but the order is based on Ruthanne’s rankings. When they are substantially different than mine, I’ll let you know… and why, when possible.

 

Starting from the weakest book…

 

FURY OF FIRESTORM #8 (Ethan Van Sciver / Joe Harris) DC

Ruthanne pointed out that the bottom bunch could have gone in any order. None were books that she found actually bad. I likely would have had this book here as well. The problem with Firestorm is that it is all ‘concept’ and very little ‘story’. There are ‘Firestorms’ from lots of countries and they fight. I think you can tell Van Sciver’s politics by paying attention to which of them are ‘good guys’ and which are ‘bad guys’… but having said that, they made the new Firehawk French…

 

CAPTAIN AMERICA & BUCKY #629 (Bunn / Vitti / Tartaglia) Marvel

Forget what I said above… this was the worst book this week, in my opinion. By far. The characterization was actively bad. It is like the development of Hawkeye through the 80’s never happened. Ugh. The art makes the story look good, though. It was bad. In some ways it is worse even than those FF issues after Fantastic Four came back. You can’t even claim this was  a style choice. It looks very amateur.

Very disappointing. (I am very much looking forward to the Fraction / Aja Hawkeye book!)

 

SECRET AVENGERS #26 (Remender / Guedes / Breitweiser) Marvel

I liked this a lot more than Ruthanne did, I think. Solid, solid book. I love the way Remender is using Beast. He tells it like it is, and doesn’t pussyfoot around the feelings of the other heroes… when it is deserved. This book also makes me look forward to a future book. The new DeConnick Captain Marvel looks very promising.

The Guedes art is okay, but putting Alan Davis on the cover makes me really wish he was on the inside as well.

 

MOON KNIGHT #12 (Bendis / Maleev / Hollingsworth) Marvel

This is our first big divergence, as I thought this was a very good comic. However, I know what has left a sour taste in Ruthanne’s mouth, and she is absolutely right. Echo is nothing more than a ‘Girlfriend-in-a-refrigerator’. She was killed for no reason other than to make Moon Knight mad. Now I am not a big Echo fan, but this was a pretty shoddy end for her.

This may be the biggest reason I am looking forward to DeConnick’s Captain Marvel book. Female characters shouldn’t only exist as fodder for the make character’s adventures and emotions.

 

THE TWELVE #12 (J.Michael Straczynski / Chris Weston) Marvel

This is pure epilogue, but it is very well done, just like the rest of the series. (Though that little hint of a Rockman story seemed very sad…)

Anyone who fell off this series or didn’t give it a chance should read it collected. The publishing schedule on this was ridiculous but now that it is done, it is a very good book, deserving of a place on your bookshelf.

 

CAPTAIN AMERICA #10 (Brubaker / Davis / Farmer / Martin) Marvel

Every issue I say the same thing, but every issue it is true. Good, old style superhero fun. Villainous plots and superheroic efforts to save the day. Sharon’s method of defeating Machinesmith was great.

And the Alan Davis art! Yes!

 

THE ULTIMATES (Hickman / Ribic / White) Marvel

Here is a book that I would have quite a bit lower. Certainly below the Twelve, Secret Avengers, Captain America and DEFINITELY Moon Knight. Having said that, for a Hickman book, I found this pretty easy to follow. It was still way over the top, as his style. (How is all of this going on without there being an impact in Spider-man?)

I do really like the way Hickman is writing Reed and Hulk together. That is very well done.

 

NEW AVENGERS (Bendis / Deodato / Conrad / Beredo) Mavel

This issue made me dislike Deodato even more. ‘How could that be?’ you may ask. “This issue was really great!’ It is true. The art in this issue was absolutely stunning. So why does this make me like Deodato more?

Because he HAS great skill as an artist! So when he draws characters (ESPECIALLY female characters) as carbon copy cliche cutouts of one another, he is doing it on PURPOSE!

With that out of the way… yes, what a beautiful book. Tying Iron Fist to the Phoenix is the right kind of ‘retcon’ (as the term is often misused). It doesn’t ‘change’ anything. It just adds to it.

 

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

Here is a book where our tastes diverge in the other direction. Two issues in and this is NOT a very good comic. The story is barely moving. It is almost like Abnett said “hey, I have a great idea for a comic’ and stopped there. I also don’t like the art. Simple, I like. This is too simple. It looks like an issue of The Unwritten with the talent of the artist dialled quite a bit back.

The worst thing is that this is a miniseries, and it feels like we are still reading the prologue.

 

SUPER CROOKS #2 (Mark Millar / Leinil Yu) Icon

Ruthanne put this very high despite hating the cover. I don’t like it quite as much as she does. I liked it a lot but I felt the violence level was pretty gratuitous. Ruthanne though tit was fun.

Yeah, I can’t figure her out some times. 🙂

Solid comic. Well worth a read.

 

ALL-STAR WESTERN #8 (Palmiotti / Gray / Moritat / Scherberger / Green) DC

We agreed on what the best comic of the week was. All-Star Western is just good comics, week in and week out. I wish the infiltration had gone a little further so we could see what Hex was actually willing to do… also , I wonder how much longer he should be willing to put up with Arkham. I know that Ruthanne really likes Cinnamon too, and what’s not to like? A strong female character who looks good without showing as much skin as she possibly can and every opportunity? What is a shame is that it is so unusual.

I like the art in both stories. Moritat is a stylish choice, and in the back-up it reminds me of Art Adams, and there is nothing wrong with that!


Rusty’s Comic of the Week: All-Star Western #7

April 2, 2012
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This week was overshadowed by a variety of much more important things (as can be seen on my other blogs and elsewhere) but I still managed to get this week’s comics read. A solid group over all, but another cancellation happened… though not of the worst comic I read this week.

As always, from best to worst….

 

ALL-STAR WESTERN #7 (Gray / Palmiotti / Moritat / Scherberger / Green / Austin) DC

Just when the bloom was coming off Hex in Gotham, off they go to New Orleans! The addition of Nighthawk and Cinnamon (especially Cinnamon) is just what this book needed! Ruthanne liked to point out how nice it was to have a strong female character, who actually wore clothes over all her parts…

Arkham continues to be a good foil for Hex. The art is beautiful as always and the Art Adams style in the back-up works as well, despite being very different from Moritat.

 

THE UNWRITTEN #35.5 (Carey / Gross / Walta) Vertigo

This must be the last .5 issue, no? If so, it is a good one to go out on. It gives us a story of the people (well, one of them) who work on the grid. It looks like this one is leading into the NEXT Unwritten arc, rather than just referencing back story of the current one.  The .5 issues worked for the most part, though there were some clunkers, but I am looking forward more to the next regular issue.

 

SECRET AVENGERS #24 (Remender / Hardman / Breitweiser) Marvel

This is how you do a team-is-facing-insurmountable-odds-before-they-overcome-them-next-issue issue. The surprise at the end wasn’t a big one, but the notes along the way worked very well. I like the robot council and the fighting spirit of the team. This is the best Avengers title right now… after coming off a run where it was the worst (Not counting Solo).

 

MOON KNIGHT #11 (Bendis / Maleev / Hollingsworth) Marvel

The thing I am most afraid of, as Moon Knight comes to a close, is that this run will just become a footnote. Bendis is leaving the Avengers and whoever takes over will bring in Moon Knight and ignore all that was done here to make him more interesting. He will go back to just being a cheap Batman impersonator with a twist. That would be a shame.

 

THE TWELVE #11 (J.Michael Straczynski / Chris Weston) Marvel

I hope when this is all done, people will realize how good a book this is, without all the innumerable delays. The main story wraps up here, though we still have one more issue. In a way this reminds me of the original Squadron Supreme mini where they covered some great concepts but in a way that minimized their effect. That was too bad and I can see that happening here.

 

AVENGERS 24.1 (Bendis / Peterson / Oback) Marvel

If you are an Avengers fan, skip the crappy AvX #0 and read this comic instead. It gives you the Vision / Wanda meeting from his perspective, but is just generally done better. The art is just okay, but the story is spot on. Vision’s reaction to Scarlet Witch and She-Hulk really sets the stage for what will follow (as long as new writers don’t screw it up… do NOT put them back together!)

 

THE NEW DEADWARDIANS #1 (Dan Abnett / I.N.J. Culbard) Vertigo

This was very disappointing. It wasn’t bad, but I expected so much more. The idea is great but the execution was fairly plodding and pedestrian. The art is not very compelling and… well, of the four new Vertigo launches, it wasn’t as good as Fairest or Saucer Country but it was better than Voodoo Child.

 

THE NEW AVENGERS #23 (Bendis / Deodato / Conrad / Beredo) Marvel

This one suffers due to the problems with the publishing schedule. Here we see the fight where Skaar switches sides and fights the Dark Avengers… which we have already seen the results of what, last week? The week before?

Decent little scrap, nut nothing to it, storywise. This is why I’m not buying AvX:Vs. It might have been okay if the books came out in order.

 

THE ULTIMATES #8 (Hickman / Ribic / White) Marvel

I am beginning to realize… I just don’t like Hickman’s style. His ideas a good, but he implements them in a vey jerky way. I prefer the narrative to be more straight forward, even when they ideas are not. I prefer to try and figure out WHY something is happening and not have to decipher WHAT is happening.

I liked the bit with Reed turning the Hulk, though.

 

AVENGING SPIDER-MAN #5 (Zeb Wells / Leinil Francis Yu / Gerry Alanguilan / Sunny Gho) Marvel

This story would have been okay if both Spidey and Cap acted AT ALL like they do in other books. The whole plot was based on faulty logic. First off, it showed Cap as a terrible artist from back when he was a kid. Uh, did Wells read the books in the 80’s where Cap actually WAS a comic artist? He sure doesn’t think much of the quality of the comics from the 80’s, I guess. And Spidey thinking that he and Cap could be pals because Cap used to draw and Spidery liked Science? Uh… what?

 

THE FURY OF FIRESTORM #7 (EthanVan Sciver / Joe Harris) DC

This book just keeps hanging on. The interplay with the two main characters is interesting but the rest is a little too chaotic. Van Sciver may have a bit of Hickman-disease… though it isn’t quite the same.

 

AVENGERS VS X-MEN #0 (Bendis / Aaron / Cho / Keith) Marvel

I have been looking forward to AvX, but this issue has taken some of the bloom off that rose. Both stories were not interesting. The Scarlet Witch story was really bad, with the reactions from Ms.Marvel and Spider-Woman being downright baffling. The art was AWFUL. I am never a big fan of Cho, but this was seriously crappy. He draws women VERY badly and his Modok was cartoonish. The callback to Avengers #58 was just cheesy.

The Hope story was a lot better… even with the art, despite still being Cho. The bit where she puffed up was funny without being silly. It gave some decent characterization without everything seeming oddly set. I am normally a Bendis fan, but in this one I have to give the only props to Aaron.

I hope the main mini is better than this.

 

FF #16 (Hickman / Dragotta / Epting) Marvel

Oh, by  the way, your daughter is an idiot. The big reveal at the end is completely predicated on that fact. Great.

Yet that still didn’t seem as stupid as Reed’s super-erector-set building. Plus the art was terrible, as usual. I cut Fantastic Four this month and now FF joins it. These were good briefly, but that time has come to an end.

 

CAPTAIN AMERICA & BUCKY #628 (Asmus / Brubaker / Francavilla) Marvel

This story ended. I found that I didn’t care about anything or anyone in it. Te shift away from WW2 (and Chris Samnee) has been the kiss of death for this book. The only reason it isn’t joining FF on the scrapheap is that it gets a new direction starting next issue. I am going to give it a try.


Rusty’s Comic of the Week: RASL #13

February 26, 2012
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A good comic week and a good saturday in general.

 

RASL #13 (Jeff Smith) Cartoon Books

I don’t buy much in the way of indy books. Heck, it was only recently that I added Image to my consideration list. (I still thought of Image as Spawn and Youngblood. Ick.) Many years ago I went to San Diego Comic Con. I was hanging out with a retailer from Calgary, Mike Moynihan, and through him I met Mike and Laura Allred (of Madman and now iZombie fame). We ended up spending most of the week together. It was nice. They are good people.

It was Mike (Allred, not Moynihan) who said he had just picked up the first four issues of this cool new comic. He recommended I give it a try. It was called ‘Bone’.

What a wonderful book. It is one of my ALL-TIME favourites.

(Aside… it may be time to contact Linda Medley. Over the years I have created a string of book books directly recommended to me. Mike Moyniham got me to try Madman. It was awesome. Then Mike Allred, the creator of Madman, got me to give Bone a go. It was Amazingly Awesome. So I then asked Jeff Smith, creator of Bone, for a recommendation. He suggested Castle Waiting. The trend continues…)

Anyway, when I heard Jeff Smith was doing a new book, I had to pick it up. Now, is Rasl as good as Bone was? No… but it is still pretty darned good. Dimensional travel. Art theft. Weird kid. Love. Nicola Tesla. What’s not to like?

Highly recommended.

 

SECRET AVENGERS #23 (Remender / Hardman / Breitweiser) Marvel

From one of my least favourite books to the top part of the list in just a couple months! The .1 issue by Remender showed promise but there was still something missing. The official first issue (last issue) was strong, but I still had some gripes. THIS issue, on the other hand, was excellent!  I am still not totally down with Hawkeye’s characterization, but I think it is going to change (Beast’s talk with him and the fact that it NEEDS to change to get Agent Venom on the team).

Two things really stole the show in this book. Beast laying the verbal smackdown on Hank Pym (I like Pym, but this attitude SHOULD exist towards him.) and Ant-Man. I have never really cared for the new Ant-Man but this issue changed that… of course it may be too late. 🙂

 

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #7 (Bendis / Samnee / Ponsor) Marvel

Did I talk about Chris Samnee on this book already or I am just repeating what I said abut Amy Reeder on Batwoman? Normally I LOVE Samnee’s art. He was PERFECT on Cap & Bucky and I really loved his work on the old Ultimate Spidey book he did.

This time? Not so much.

I don’t know what it is. It is still well crafted but it just doesn’t seem to ‘fit’.

Still a strong book. The scenes where Miles is testing out his powers were great. The bit with Prowler and the Tinkerer were also really strong.

 

ALL-STAR WESTERN #6 (Jimmy Palmiotti / Justin Gray / Moritat / Phil Winslade) DC

A good book but the Batman refs are starting to get tiring. That underground tribe of people was just weird… and it felt pointless. The gun battle was cool and the teaser for next issue looks awesome! I am looking forward to New Orleans and a couple more classic DC western characters!

The back-up… well, I’ll just say that I am glad it is over. Hopefully I’ll dig the next one more.

 

FANTASTIC FOUR #603 (Hickman / Kitson / Mounts) Marvel

The most shocking thing in this issue? That letters praising the Bobillo art from FF.

I am not normally a big cosmic fan but this one was good. Clearing out the Kree and Inhumans while ramping up the Celestial / Galactus scrap was a good call. Looking forward to what happens next… which is something that wasn’t happening with the two FF books for a while.

 

AVENGERS ACADEMY #26 (Gage / Grummett / Hamscher / Sotomayor) Marvel

Uh, what’s with the cover? Was it supposed to be for last issue? Jocasta is IN the book, but that is where the connection ends.

I enjoyed this. It was pretty talky but that works for me. I was kind of disappointed that at least one main character didn’t switch sides (either direction) just for drama value. I really hope they are wrong about the kid. I think having an organization like that which actually does those things and isn’t secretly evil would be awesome.

 

FURY OF FIRESTORM #6 (Ethan Van Sciver / Gail Simone / Yildiray Cinar / Norm Rapmund) DC

I have waffled on Firestorm, but I like the way it is going. The emotional wringer that they are going through (especially Ronnie) feels real. The cover reads ‘CONSEQUENCES’. I hope they follow through with that.

 

CAPTAIN AMERICA & BUCKY #627 (Asmus / Brubaker / Francavilla) Marvel

I couldn’t care less. Since they left WW2 behind the book has been uninteresting (and the art is pretty weak at times). I am looking forward to the next iteration of this book.

 

AVENGERS SOLO #5 (Van Meter / Robinson / McCann / Kesel) Marvel

The credits on the cover don’t include the two incredibly awful pages by Declan Shalvey. Wow, do they suck.

Why can’t they make a decent Hawkeye comic. I feel dumber for having read this. Avengers Solo is the worst book I have read over the past year (and that INCLUDES Avengers X-Sanction.)

 

 


Rusty’s Comic of the Week: The Unwritten #33.5

January 29, 2012
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After a week were just about every book was fighting for the top spots, this week was a lot more… sedate. Not bad comics, just not shining stars.

 

THE UNWRITTEN #33.5 (Carey / Gross / Locke) Vertigo

You want to hear effusive praise? It felt like I was reading an issue of Sandman.

What was most amazing about it is that everything was telegraphed but rather than that ruining the reveals it just me anticipate them more. I’ll admit that I don’t know how this issue ties in with the rest of the main story, but at the moment I don’t care. I am just enjoying the storytelling.

 

ALL-STAR WESTERN #5 (Justin Gray / Jimmy Palmiotti / Moritat / Phil Winslade) DC

Quite a disappointing issue for ASW, but the book is so good that it isn’t damning. The main story opened strong but there was very little suspense as the issue continued. The back up wasn’t stellar, but it made me want to read the next part, so that is saying something.

 

FANTASTIC FOUR #602 (Hickman / Kitson / Mounts) Marvel

This was a better read than I expected, but maybe it only seemed so good because I had just read FF. The story is continuing in a clearer fashion than usual. One question… why does Galactus have a big bowtie on his stomach?

I am not a big fan of the jerky / jump cut style of storytelling, but it didn’t bother me as much this time out.

 

SECRET AVENGERS #21.1 (Remender / Zircher / Troy) Marvel

This issue sets up Hawkeye as the new team lead and sets up the new Masters of Evil as the villains. I am looking forward to the new book, but this issue had some problems. Mostly, it gets the relationship between Captain America and Hawkeye a little backwards. This is what they were like towards each other a very long time ago, but they had moved well past it. They had become actual friends instead of this shadow-boxing semi-advesarial thing they have going on here. It didn’t read well.

I am REALLY looking forward to the new run… partially because Ellis is off the book and Rogers will be out of the book. (He was ALWAYS a bad fit here.)

 

CAPTAIN AMERICA & BUCKY #626 (Asmus / Brubaker / Francavilla) Marvel

This book has taken a slide since it left WW2 (and left Chris Samnee behind). The problem is I think that the Bill/Fred versions of Cap and Bucky were never that interesting. I am looking forward to the reworking of the book and Captain America & Hawkeye taking over.

 

THE ULTIMATES #6 (Hickman / Peterson / Ribic / Rauch / Delgado) Marvel

Some good character work here but this is more of that jerky style of writing that doesn’t suit my tastes. A perfect example is the scene at the very end of the book that is labelled as Black Widow (which is good because there is no other way to recognize her) with a little character piece that has no apparent relevance to the rest of the story. It feels tacked on.

 

THE FURY OF FIRESTORM #5 (Van Siver / Simone / Cinar / Rapmund) DC

I am almost surprised that I am still buying this book. There is just enough here to keep me interested… but I am getting kind of tired of there being so many Firestorms. The rapport between Jason and Ronnie is interesting and the terrorist Firestorm was disturbing. They get yet another issue out of me…

 

ALPHA FLIGHT #8 (Van Lente / Pak / Eaglesham / Aburtov) Marvel

And it ends again. Why can’t they make a really good AF comic? Check the line-up at the end. Notice anything?

 

FF #14 (Hickman / Bobillo / Sosa / Sotomayor) Marvel

What is Marvel thinking? Who thought they should keep having THIS calibre of art on the book? On ANY book? It is really awful and is making this book hard to read.

 

AVENGERS SOLO #4 (Van Meter / RObinson / McCann / Henry) Marvel

This book remind sme of the old Spotlight issues. They weren’t very good either.

The back-up is decent. That is the best I can say about this comic.

 


Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Secret Avengers #20

January 2, 2012
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This post is a little late because of New Year’s. Last night was spent NOT reading comics but enjoying a party held by our friends, Nadine and Phil. It involved me successfully defending my NYE Poker Championship! Then today also had some New Year’s festivities with those same friends, in the form of Chinese food.

I finally got down to reading comics this evening, and no it is time for reviews!

Big week.

SECRET AVENGERS #20 (Ellis / Maleev / Filardi) Marvel

When Warren Ellis took over Secret Avengers I absolutely hated it. His first issue was completely awful and the next issue was not a lot better. His third issue, on the other hand, was pretty good and now this one… which is great! A Black Widow story, which gets brownie points already, Alex Maleev art, not at his absolute best but still very strong, and a VERY well done time travel story. Everything worked here, including the newspaper strip homage. I have been looking forward to the end of the Ellis run and the start of Rick Remender’s and this doesn’t change that, but at least there was finally an issue worth the praise that has been heaped upon the Ellis run.

ALL-STAR WESTERN #4 (Justin Gray / Jimmy Palmiotti / Moritat / Phil Winslade) DC

It has not gone unnoticed by me that the best of the DC relaunch are the books that are not mainstream superhero books. Marvel does those better. Where DC shines is going outside of those bounds with books like Wonder Woman, Swamp Thing, Animal Man and this one.  ASW has been my favourite comic in some weeks and this one was pretty good. The Moritat art was not as great as it usually is, but it was still very solid. The back-up was also not stellar. The main story more than made up for it. I am looking forward to the further adventures of Hex and Arkham.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #5 & 6 (#5 – Brubaker / McNiven, Camuncoli / Leisten… #6 – Brubaker / Davis / Farmer / Martin) Marvel

Yes, two issues of Cap in the same week. (Even more, Cap & Bucky came out this week as well.) I have no idea why. Even more puzzling, this is a transitionary spot as one art team makes way for the next. #5 was the best issue of the new title so far. I especially liked it as it reminded me of early Flag Smasher, before that villain was ruined by bad writing. It is really interesting to read about a villain he is completely right but using unacceptable methods to fight for his cause. It is so reflective of so many things going on today. Then, #6 was even better! Bru’s writing style feels slightly different under the pencil of Alan Davis. I have no problem with McNiven but what a treat to switch to Alan Davis! I was so happy when he did that Avengers Prime mini and when I heard he was taking over Cap… well, his style is perfect for this book. People who really liked the dark and gritty stylings when this was a Bucky book might disagree. Too bad for them, I guess. 🙂

AVENGERS: THE CHILDREN’S CRUSADE #8 (Heinberg / Cheung / Morales / Ponsor) Marvel

I have enjoyed this mini… I just don’t like waiting two months between issues. I am not a huge fan of the way both the Avengers and X-Man are made out to look like d-bags, but that is kind of seeing it through the eyes of the next generation. Are we trading Cassie in for Scott? I’ll take that trade… and I don’t dislike Cassie.

ULTIMATE X-MAN #5 (Spencer / Medina / Vlasco / Curiel) Marvel

This is SO much better than the old Ultimate X-Men. It has a great cast. I hope they follow through and get rid of Rogue. It looks like it is Kitty’s time to shine. And what is Pietro up to?

All are reasons to keep reading, which was something I couldn’t find myself doing before the relaunch.

FURY OF FIRESTORM #4 (Ethan Van Sciver / Gail Simone / Yildiray Cinar) DC

Last month I felt close to cancelling this book. This month I enjoyed it a lot more. Adding the Russians was great. International intrigue that a couple of teenagers now have to deal with? Good call. I liked the juxtaposition of Ronnie being upset that Jason would think him stupid… followed by him apparently doing something very stupid.

CAPTAIN AMERICA  & BUCKY #625 (Asmus / Brubaker / Francavilla) Marvel

This book started to slide as soon as it left WW2 (and lost the Chris Samnee art), but it made some gains again this issue. Focusing on the second set of Cap & Bucky, while still making it a modern story, really works. I don’t see a long run before this book is cancelled (and then the other Cap book takes over the original numbering) but for now it is worth a read. At last this month.

FF #13 (Hickman / Bobillo / Sosa / Sotomayor) Marvel

Bobillo’s art is a lot better than last issue. And by a lot better, I mean that is merely really crappy instead of that mess from the previous book. Hickman’s story is solid but the bad art is very distracting, Hopefully that problem is corrected before this book gets the axe.

THE UNWRITTEN #32.5 (Carey / Gross / Ormston) Vertigo

The first .5 issue of The Unwritten was one of the best issues I have read of this title in quite a while. This issue was… boring. I found that I just didn’t care about it in any way. Hopefully further of these interlude issues will be more like the previous one than this one.

THE ULTIMATES #5 (Hickman / Peterson / Ribic / White) Marvel

Without going back and double-checking, I assume this is a different artist from the previous issues. I assume that because the previous issues were much better. That isn’t the big reason I rate this book so low, though. It is more because NOTHING HAPPENS. The interaction between Thor and his… relations were the only real saving grace this issue.

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #4 (Peter Milligan / Mikel Janin) DC

This is the last issue of this book I will be getting. Four issues in and there is still zero story other than ‘bad things are happening. Of some sort. Or something.’ Milligan can sometimes slip in incoherence in his writing and gets away with it by coasting on style. I bought this book for Zatanna, Madame Xanadu and Constantine. This isn’t Zatanna. This isn’t Madame Xanadu. Constantine… well, if it is just him, I could just buy Hellblazer. Which I don’t.

Dropped.

SUPERMAN #4 (George Perez / Jesus Merino) DC

If I am dropping JLD and this is rated lower, what does that tell you? This has been the weaker Superman book and this issue made no in-roads there. As a writer George Perez is a great artist (luckily he IS that…). Good writing is not just putting in more words. I would think an artist would understand that, but I guess not. I miss the 80’s version of George. (But hey, can’t we say the same thing about John Byrne, Chris Claremont, Walt Simonson…?)

Dropped

ALPHA FLIGHT #7 (Van Lente / Pak / Eaglesham / Aburtov) Marvel

Do you remember the last time there was a good AF comic? 1985? I had high hopes for the new series that started as a mini, was changed to an on-going, and now back to a mini. With only one issue left, I am not going to cut it, but if it were an on-going, I would have.

ANNIHILATORS: EARTHFALL #4 (Abnett / Lanning / Huat / Hennessy / Quintana) Marvel

People talk about how great the Marvel space stuff is. I have no idea why. This miniseries was awful in every way… except the Rocket Racoon and Groot back-ups. They were good but not  enough to save the series.

I picked up some trades after Christmas, which I will do a mini-review about sometime soon. They are Green Lantern: Rebirth, Iron Man: Demon in a Bottle, 100 Bullets Deluxe Vol. 1, Fantastic Four Vol. 1 Imaginauts and Age of Bronze Vol. 1 (and then Kevin Matthews has lent me Vol. 2 & 3)


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

November 27, 2011
2 Comments

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…)