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Rusty’s Comic of the (two) Week(s): The Unwritten #36

April 15, 2012
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I would go and try to figure out which was my top book from each week, but I don’t feel like trying to find out which books came out in which week.

 

And who cares, really?

 

Trying something new this week. I always list the books from the best to the worst. Ruthanne thinks it would read better if I go from the worst to the best.

I think that is just because that is the order she reads them. Regardless, if you have a preference, o loyal reading public, let me know.

 

BATWOMAN # 8 (J.H. Williams III / W.Haden Blackman / Amy Reeder / Rob Hunter) DC

From best to worst in such a short time. This may be a little repetitive from earlier reviews, but here goes. Amy Reeder is a great artist. Her work on Madame Xanadu was stellar. When it was announced that she would be the ‘alt’ artist on Batwoman, I was thrilled. It would be very different from Williams, but I thought it would be a great contrast.

Those at DC thought differently. They brought her in and then tried to get her to draw like Williams. Since Williams as now the writer, my guess is that he uses full script and told Reeder how the pages should look. The end result is just awful. Instead of getting great Williams art or great Reeder art we get this absolute mess. The cover was nice. That’s about it.

On top of that, the writing is not good. Williams is not a very good writer. His phenomenal art has hid this… but now it is out there for all to see. (This sounds like the early days of Image, no?)

So why I am not cancelling this? Reeder is out (and she made no bones about how much she disliked working on the book). Trevor McCarthy is taking over and I am told that his esthetic is much like Williams’ anyway, so it should jell better. We’ll give it a try.

 

NIGHT FORCE #2 (Marv Wolfman / Tom Mandrake) DC

I was so excited when they announced this book. I love the IDEA of Night Force, with Baron Winter and his magic house. The first issue was a mess, however. It was confusing and did not do anything to keep me interested. In the interest of HOPING the book would get better, I stuck around for issue #2. It DID get better… but not enough. It reads like a book summary, if that makes sense.

Dropped.

 

AVENGING SPIDER-MAN #6 (Rucka / Waid / Checchetto / Hollingswoth) Marvel

I nearly dropped this one but Ruthanne tells me that she enjoys it. This book crosses over with Daredevil and Punisher. Guess which two books I don’t buy? Shayne endorses both, so do I let this suck me in and buy them?

The real thing that gets me to consider dropping the book is that for the most part these stories feel like they don’t matter. I straight ahead superhero book in isolation isn’t enough for me. I have read thousands of those. I like the on-going stores that move from one to the other… and for Spider-Man, I quite enjoy Slott’s book. This one… well, just doesn’t have that.

Oh well. Sticking around for now.

 

THUNDERBOLTS #172 (Parker / Shalvey / Bellaire / Sotomayor) Marvel

Ruthanne would prefer I cancel this one, but I am sticking it out. So this is the big 15 year anniversary, with art by… Declan Shalvey? Really? I enjoy the story, which is good because the art is pretty awful. Good thing they got the anniversary celebration sin before the book is cancelled (and relaunched as Dark Avengers). I have a newsflash for Marvel… the book doesn’t sell poorly because it doesn’t say Avengers on the cover. It sells poorly because you don’t give it a decent artist to push it with.

(As an aside, I have been given the impression that none other than Declan himself has read one of my reviews where I slam his work. I am truly sorry about that. I am a creator as well and when I read reviews that rip me apart it hurts. But I don’t think I should lie about what I think of the book for that reason… so I am sorry. I wished I liked it more, but I don’t.)

 

iZOMBIE #24 (Chris Roberson / Jim Rugg) Vertigo

A non-Allred issue. When the fill-in was J.Bone, that was pretty cool. This issue… not so much. The art is fine, but it just makes me wish it was still Allred instead of being a nice change of pace.  This feels like a ‘marking time’ issue, which is odd as they race towards the finale in a few months (Vertigo has cancelled the book due to poor sales). I normally quite like iZombie, but this issue just didn’t wow me. Still good, just not great.

 

AVENGERS ASSEMBLE #2 (Bendis / Bagley / Miki / Mounts) Marvel

The Avengers book that just ‘happens’ to match the cast of the upcoming movie. Based on that, I wouldn’t buy it, but it is still Bendis and Bagley. It is a pretty fun read. It is one of those ‘old-school’ superhero books that I enjoy. I think it is Bagley that make sit feel that way. That and the Zodiac.

Not much to say. A fun book in the old Marvel style.

 

SECRET AVENGERS #25 (Remender / Hardma / Breitweiser) Marvel

A solid read. The only thing that bothered me is that the fast little teleport out seems like it could have been used last issue to avoid the beatings they kept taking. Venom gets to prove his worth to Hawkeye, which is important for the book going forward. Ant-Man did as well, with a hearty ‘BUT…’ to follow. New villains turn into a ‘thing’ rather than just a one-off. A nice teaser at the end.

What’s not to like?

 

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #683 (Slott / Caselli / Martin Jr.) Marvel

This book is WAY better than the Avenging version. The story here is really top notch. (As long as the world doesn’t KEEP buying into DocOck’s lies. He pretty clear acts villainous in front of the world leaders.)  The fight with the Avengers and the Sinister Six was exciting, and the way Spidey held his own was well thought on (by Peter and Dan).

My only real problem is that fugly costume Spidey is wearing as part of the story. I am looking forward to that being done with. You know those times when you read old comics and discover little blips where Cap or Thor or whoever are wearing some ridiculous ‘new’ costume that vanishes quickly after? This storyline will be THAT one day.

 

Note to Dan Slott. Forget Bendis. This book ‘matters’.

 

WINTER SOLDIER #4 (Brubaker / Guice / Gaudino / Breitweiser) Marvel

I am enjoying this book. The spy stuff is cool, but we are also reminded that the conceit that the world thinks Bucky is dead will stretch credibility if they continue it too long. Any book with Red Ghost and his super-apes has got to be good, and duelling Doctor Dooms is fun. (Though I am not quite down with Bru’s take on Doom’s dialogue. He comes across as delusional rather than insufferably confident.)

 

AVENGERS VS X-MEN #1 (Benids / Romita / Hanna / Martin) Marvel

Quick question… what is with that AR that appears on a bunch of pages? It is really distracting.

Well, this was a LOT better than that pretty bad issue #0. It sets the stage pretty nicely. I expected to take the side of the X-Men (I much prefer the Avengers books, but the way this story was laying out, thy are a little too ‘establishment’), but it didn’t go that way at all. Cyclops is an asshole. Everything that happens here on out is because his first reaction was to shoot rather than talk.

Good work by Romita. Better than we have seen from him in quite some time.

 

FAIREST #2 (Willingham / Jimenez / Lanning) Vertigo

I loved issue #1, so why has #2 dropped so far? The art is still beautiful and the story is still interesting…. but that imp has gotten REALLY annoying. Willingham is using him as a way to explain things that doesn’t read like it is to the characters. It is to the reader. Sloppy. (Plus, that long diatribe against the physical capabilities of women in a book meant to spotlight women? Really out of place. Not quite to the level of Fables #50 when Willingham turned the book into an anti-Palestine rant that was pretty darned offensive, but it follows that path…)

 

BATGIRL #8 (Simone / Syaf / Martinez / Cifuentes) DC

From nearly cancelled to flying up the list in one issue! Finally Simone deals with the shooting in a way that doesn’t insult the intelligence of the reader. She still doesn’t adequately explain how you can go from wheelchair bound to superheroics, but the story of how she was saved from bleeding to death on the floor really worked for me. After the terrible characterization of the Batgirl/ Black Canary meeting, this issue made me actually care about he characters. Well done.

 

SWAMP THING #8 (Scott Snyder / Yanick Paquette / Marco Rudy) DC

From a book moving up to a book sliding down.  I am sure this is just an aberration, because most of the reason this book isn’t as high as normal is that it reads like a transition. Look, Alec is Swamp Thing now! He is really strong and tough! He could beat the rotting animals in a fistfight! But how will he deal with Abby?

When I read this I remember thinking that by the end Paquette was really rushed. I double-checked the credits and saw that it was really because it wasn’t Paquette. Rudy is just not as good. (Not terrible or anything, but Paquette’s art is one of the things that makes ST so great usually). Normally I think Swamp Thing is better than Animal Man (its sister title). Not this month.

 

BRILLIANT #3 (Bendis / Bagley) Icon

It is really hitting the fan now.The ‘you-have-to-give-the-money-back’ was a little bit of over-the-top moralizing, but other than that, it read well. I liked the way it was the challenge that really inspired Albert. Good read. Not much else to say here.

 

SAUCER COUNTRY #2 (Paul Cornell / Ryan Kelly) Vertigo

I liked this issue better than the first, in some ways. THe discussions about anal rape, didn’t thrill me, but they were not done in an exploitative manner. The characters worked a lot better for me this issue, but the rape stuff just makes it a little harder to say I ‘enjoyed’ the comic. We’ll see how it plays out.

 

THIEF OF THIEVES #3 (Kirkman / Spencer / Martinbrough / Serrano) Image

I really like the style of this book. Ruthanne had complained that only female characters are only there in relation to the male, but he IS the main character. I think she’ll like the cop in this book. She is pretty solid. Apparently AMC has optioned this nook. I guess the Kirkman name is a selling point now. I think I like i tmore due to Spencer and Martinbrough.

 

THE NEW AVENGERS #24 (Bendis / Deodato / Conrad / Beredo) Marvel

Let’s get this out of the way: that cover is terrible. I am not a big Deodato fan at the best of times but this is bad even for him. The story, however, it really strong. This is an AvX tie-in, but the real strength and meat of the book is the Cage / Jones / Danielle storyline. It just reads so real. There is a lot of hate for Jessica Jones on the internet, but in my opinion that is mostly from people who don’t like when women in comics actually act like people instead of fantasy archetypes. The story is believable in every aspect of it.

Forget the AvX stuff (though it works in this book), just read a damn good comic.

 

ANIMAL MAN #8 (Jeff Lemire / Steve Pugh / Travel Foreman / Jeff Huet) DC

This is the issue where Steve Pugh takes over for Travel Foreman. I approve. Mostly, though, it is the story that makes this one so good. The feeling of fear, terror. and generally disturbing unease FILLS this book. The scenes will Maxine (both ‘before’ and ‘after’) were chilling. Is this the best book that DC is putting out? I would have said no a month or so ago, but this issue was REALLY well done. Two thumbs up.

 

AVENGERS ACADEMY #28 (Gage / Moline / Fern / Sotomayor) Marvel

It is hard to talk about this book too much without giving everything away, but the scene where the characters get to see INTO the other characters was very powerful. EVERY character seems better now than they did before. I love the new interaction between AA and the Runaways as long as they continue it and this isn’t just lip service. The post-revelation reactions were very moving.

Just a good comic. (The art could be better, but what can I say…)

 

SAGA #2 (Brian K. Vaughan / Fiona Staples) Image

I loved the first issue. I love the second issue. BUY THIS BOOK. The last page alone makes me anxious for issue #3!

 

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #9 (Benids / Marquez / Ponsor) Marvel

What do you do with this book when Pichelli is not on it? If you answer Chris Samnee (as it has been in the past), well that is a very good answer, But if you say David Marquez, that may be even better! This book was great from end to end, story, art, everything. The scene with Miles and the cop were great. The scene with Prowler and Scorpion were great. The scene with Miles and his roommates were VERY great.

If you aren’t buying Ultimate Spider-Man, but only question is….why?

 

THE UNWRITTEN #36 (Carey / Gross / Dayglo) Vertigo

A week (or two) with Sage and an excellent issue of Ultimate Spider-man yet the Unwritten makes it to the top? You bet! The best issues of this book, easily, have been the ‘stairway’ issues and this one is no exception. Pauly and the Tinker are excellent characters and they work well together. The end reminds me of the old Sandman arc, Game of You, and that is high praise… yet it isn’t over! I can’t wait for issue #37!!!

 

 

What a great batch of comics.

So, which format do you like better? Best first or best last?

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Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Fairest #1

March 11, 2012
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What a great week for comics! It was a little big… enough that it was supposed to be a ‘cancellation’ week… but there is nothing deserving of cancellation! (Yet… see below.)

 

FAIREST #1 (Bill Willingham / Phil Jimenez / Andy Lanning) Vertigo

Right from the amazing Adam Hughes cover, this book was a treat. This is Fables back before it got bogged down in overarching plot. Fables is still good, but this book is better! Willingham has totally mastery of these characters, not that it is a surprise at this point. Phil Jimenez is at his best… evoking a little Neal Adams in much the way he used to evoke a little George Perez. It is a little odd that a book that is meant to represent the female Fables characters has a first issue where the star is clearly Ali Baba, but that just seems to be set-up for a certain Slumbering Siren…

Buy this book. You won’t be disappointed.

 

THE DEFENDERS #4 (Fraction / Lark / Gaudiano / Hollingsworth) Marvel

A book that was hovering near the bottom of my list has rocketed way up! Matt Fraction took what I thought of as a weakness (Dr. Strange’s casual playboy attitudes) and turned it into a strength by giving us a peek behind it. Did you imagine that Molly from issue #1 would be back? I sure didn’t… and neither did Strange, likely.

I am a fan of the Dodsons but Michael Lark’s fill-in was perfect for THIS story, where the super-heroic postures of the Dodsons may not have worked as well.

 

ANIMAL MAN #7 (Jeff Lemire / Steve Pugh / Travel Foreman / Jeff Huet) DC

As I have said before, I find Foreman’s work on Animal Man to be a little TOO effective, so I like the switch to Pugh, but that isn’t totally why the book is this high on the list. It is the writing. The scenes with Buddy and Cliff are excellent. Cliff is the often overlooked member of the Baker family, and Lemire knows it and is using it. Other touches, like the cat-shaped avatar of the red making its food preferences known. I am not so sure about the dream (?) sequence with ‘Animal Woman’, but I AM sure that everything is about to hit the fan.

 

SWAMP THING #7 (Scott Snyder / Yanick Paquette) DC

Beautiful cover. Beautiful art. Normally I have Swamp Thing ahead of Animal Man, but they are so tightly connected that it almost doesn’t matter.

This is it folks… this is where the book REALLY starts.

 

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

SPOILERS!
SPOILERS!

SPOILERS!

 

 

 

Still here?

 

 

Wow. I was SURE that when they brought Scott Lang back that he would be dead again before the series was over. Well, a Lang is dead, but it is Cassie. That truly surprised me. Killing Vision didn’t, because the new one is back. No more Patriot… Iron Lad on his way to being a villain (separate from Kang, I think). So now there aren’t two Visions, but there are still two Hawkeyes and now there are two Ant-Mans (Ant-Men?) as well.

Hmmm.

This book was hurt by the bi-monthly pace but the characterization is strong and the art is excellent.

Oh…are they engaged? For real? Well done. (as was the kiss.)

 

AVENGERS ACADEMY #27 (Gage / Moline / Fern / Sotomayor) Marvel

I love the Runaways and Gage did I good job capturing them. The art didn’t, but you can’t have everything. I hope that Tom Grummett is just taking an issue off. His addition to the book was a bog step up, I hope it wasn’t temporary.

The conversation between Pym and Tigra was terrible. I don’t mean the content, but the actual delivered lines only existed to make a damning sound bite. People don’t talk like that.

 

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #8 (Bendis / Pichelli / Ponsor) Marvel

Still a great comic, but the focus this time was a little more on plot than characterization. Other than the fact that Miles is bothered by his Uncle’s revelation, there wasn’t much there for him. Scorpion coming to the U.S. was interesting. (Who does he look like on the cover? The Rock maybe?)

 

iZOMBIE #23 (Chris Roberson / Michael Allred) Vertigo

I really like this book. The risk, though, when there are so many disparate plots, is that it starts to feel ‘crowded and chaotic. This is the same problem Hickman has a lot. Still well worth a read, even if just for the Allred art.

 

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (Slott / Yost / Camuncoli / Janson / D’Armata) Marvel

Good read. It is funny that a plot hole became a plot point, as Peter’s plan was ridiculous. Also, why didn’t Johnny bring one of those special ‘FF-space suits’ that lets him be the Torch without using up the oxygen (or lack thereof). By not having it, it made him pretty useless.

 

WINTER SOLDIER #3 (Brubaker / Guice / Gaudiano / Breitweiser) Marvel

Only this low because the week was so good. The Doombot stuff is nice. The story was a little jumpy, but it still works. I love how this reads like a spy thriller. Everytime Guice draws Black Widow it feels like this book is thirty years older than it is. That’s a good thing.

 

NIGHT FORCE #1 (Marv Wolfman / Tom Mandrake) DC

I only just this moment noticed that the cover says this is a miniseries. I loved the premise of the old Night Force from … what, the late 70’s? Early 80’s? This book is all set-up, though. Super jumpy and more hints at plot rather than actual plot.

I was really looking forward to this and I hope it gets better.


DC March Solicits

December 13, 2011
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The new solicits from DC have me adding books from them for the first time since the new 52 launched.

 

Night Force. I LOVED the old Night Force and this is IT! Marv Wolfman and Tom Mandrake sound like the PERFECT team for this.

 

Fairest. Yeah, I am a Fables guy. I’ll be getting this.