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Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Batwoman #14

December 1, 2012
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Big week. You know what happens on weeks that are too big? Drops!

 

Starting from the weakest…

 

CAPTAIN AMERICA #1 (Rick Remender / John Romita / Klaus Jansen / Dean White) Marvel

No more Brubaker, hey? No problem! We will just sign up… Rick Remender? Remender is one of the ‘hot’ writers that I just don’t like. (see J.Hickman) This issues reminds me why.

Marriage? That was out of absolutely nowhere. Hey,mystery subway car with no explanation whatsoever? Hey, why don’t you get on it by yourself just because some guy said so, with no explanation whatsoever? Why doesn’t SHIELD, including your maybe new fiancee just say, ‘hey you go ahead and climb on the mystery subway. We’re good.’ with no explanation whatsoever. Why doesn’t Cap walk into an unknown situation unprepared while daydreaming about… whatever… so he get punked, with no explanation whatsoever.

Note to Remender: having Cap say ‘wow, doing this sure is stupid’ doesn’t give you carte blanche to have him act like an idiot.

Oh, and the art is not very good.

I will not be getting issue #2.

 

 

IT GIRL & THE ATOMICS #4 (Rich / Norton / Passalaqua) Image

I have been disappointed since the first issue when I thought that Mike Allred was doing the book. It hasn’t improved.

Dropped.

 

 

CAPTAIN MARVEL #7 (DeConnick / Sebela / Soy) Marvel

I considered dropping this book, but I think I will let it have another chance. The scene between Carol and Monica sold it for me. I am disappointed that the art is back to Soy. I was hoping Rios would find her feet here.

 

AVENGERS #34 (Bendis / Peterson / Mayhew / Keith) Marvel

Wow, is that cover ever terrible. Who drew that? Brandon Peterson? With all the great artists in the book, that is what you chose? This issue was not terrible but the big stupid fight scene just to get a bunch of artists in the book was… well, stupid. The attempt to fix Wonder Man was interesting, considering he still behaved in a selfish and stupid manner.

Like Captain America, here is another book that sounds like it is going to suffer greatly due to the Marvel NOW initiative.

 

REVIVAL #5 (Tim Seeley / Mike Norton) Image

I am liking this book less and less. It is still interesting at the core, but this ghost(?) stuff is going in a direction that doesn’t work for me. I would rather this book be more ‘this just happened’ and explore the fall-out alone. We’ll see.

 

COMEBACK #1 (Brisson / Walsh / Bellaire) Image

This book is getting a lot of praise and I just don’t see it. Not that I don’t think it is good… I do. I just don’t think this issue gives you enough to have any idea where this book is going. We have no plot here, just setting. Another wait and see book.

 

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #698 (Slott / Elson / Fabela) Marvel

An otherwise poor comic saved by a huge and interesting twist. I can’t say this book was good, but I CAN say I am looking forward to issue 699 and on…

 

FABLES #123 (Willingham / Ha / McManus) Vertigo

Eh. Not bad, just not great. How fallen is Fables, no? I’m not even buying the new hardcover because the preview looks so boring.

I think Bigby is part of the problem right now. He is Wolverine… a character that was so awesome when he first appeared that now seems a little tired. I really hope this book gets back to the greatness it once had.

 

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #17 (Bendis / Larraz / Ponsor) Marvel

Big battle scenes do not thrill me. Bendis’ characterization of Miles, however, really does. Once this book gets out from under the Ultimates cross-over, I expect it to be right back near the top of this list.

 

ROCKETEER: CARGO OF DOOM #4 (Waid / Samnee) IDW

So… a cliffhanger ending to a one-off miniseries? Does this mean there will be ANOTHER Waid / Samnee Rocketeer series? If so, sign me up!

 

WONDER WOMAN #14 (Brian Azzarello / Tony Akins / Dan Green) DC

Wonder Woman winning using love and compassion. Recruiting family through shared heartbreak and familial betrayal.

This is good stuff. Really good stuff. WW is best when she isn’t playing the She-Hulk role and this issue is a good example of that.

This isn’t the best comic with Wonder Woman in it this week, though.

 

HAWKEYE #4 (Fraction / Pulido / Hollingsworth) Marvel

This is Marvel’s best comic these days. I LIKE the version of the world that says Hawkeye has some shame over killing someone. (I prefer a world where he DOESN’T do that, but that ship has sailed.) The idea that this tape getting out would harm his rep and the rep of the Avengers makes me happy. I read a review that said that people today wouldn’t care. In our world, you are right. A world filled with superheroes, though… gets held to a higher standard, thankfully.

The only flaw this issue was the last issue reveal. The fact that I had doubts about who that was supposed to be is bad. (I know who it is… but my first reaction was Mockingbird.)

 

THE UNWRITTEN #43 (Mike Carey / Peter Gross) Vertigo

As Vertigo seems to be crumbling to dust, isn’t it nice that they still have this book? This animal world as a twisted version of literary world-buildign works for me. The characters here are top-notch and I love the motivation behind this one. A rescue… from? Non-existence maybe?

 

BATWOMAN #14 (J.H. Williams III / W. Haden Blackman) DC

That the art is beautiful is no surprise. That the book is written as well as it is, is. I have given Williams a lot of flack for his poor writing chops, but this issue redeems him somewhat. The scenes with Pegasus are heavy, deep, shocking, painful… just very well done. Wonder Woman is good in here, though I wouldn’t want Williams writing a WW book. Her willingness to take his head is perfectly acceptable. Her threat to leave him there to rot, not so much. The 20 pages felt very short this tim eout. Lots of splash pages that were still FILLED with story. Best Batwoman issue in quite a while.

 


Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Ultimate Spider-Man 16.1

November 4, 2012
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Starting at the weakest, as always…

 

WINTER SOLDIER #12 (Brubaker / Guice / Thies / Breitweiser) Marvel

What went right in this comic: the mood is perfect, as always. You really get that underground espionage race against time back against the wall feeling.

What went wrong: WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON? He implanted a mission into his own head? What the hell? That is just about the stupidest thing I have heard this week…

Oooh drama! Wait, it makes no bloody sense…

 

AvsX: CONSEQUENCES #4 (Gillen / Brooks / Charalampois) Marvel

Okay… last issue or so there was a thing were Cyclops was using some sort of dust to get a message from somebody. First off, that makes no sense. This prison would let him have this little package of dust? Uh no. Let’s forget that, though. It isn’t important. What IS important is that they don’t tell you who he is talking to. If ¬†you realized that the dust was actually metal you would guess it was Magneto, but they didn’t tell you that. (I figured it was him, but you never know.)

That leads to a big cool reveal on the last page.

A big reveal that was spoiled on the recap page. Well done, editorial staff. Well done.

Or not.

 

ROCKETEER: CARGO OF DOOM #3 (Waid / Samnee) IDW

I have rally enjoyed this series. I still liked this issue but I had a little problem with how it unfolded. I am glad the villain died the way he did because it made it seem more ‘real’. But then to have him act in an uncharacteristic manner, SO uncharacteristic that Waid felt the need to try and explain it through another character (didn’t work), just so the rest of the story could work… not so good.

Then it looks like they are just going to wantonly kill all the dinosaurs. Hmmmph.

 

SWAMP THING ANNUAL #1 (Scott Snyder / Scott Tuft / Becky Cloonan) DC

There are two kinds of annuals. The kind that are integral to the main story and those that are cool side projects. This one tries to be both, making a story that could fit between two panels in the main book, shoehorning in a backstory. Eh. That is kind of the worst type.

The actual story was good, though. Well written and nice art. The readers of the main book that miss it, however, will have missed nothing, really.

 

AVENGING SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #1 (no cover credits, but it is Williams / Walker / Livesay) Marvel

Avenging isn

‘t so caught up in on-going stories, so this is just a bigger than usual issue. What it really is, is fun. Entertaining story, witty dialogue, great art. What’s not to like?

 

CAPTAIN MARVEL #6 (DeConnick / Rios / Bellaire) Marvel

Yes! Finally an explanation! Kind of…

Wait. She explained who was behind it, but do they ever explain the how? Did she just DECIDE to make her plane into a time machine? Did I miss that part?

I hope the new version of Captain Marvel is still out there somewhere. She isn’t a villain per se, but it could be interesting.

 

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK ANNUAL #1 (Jeff Lemire / Mikel Janin) DC

This is the kind of annual that is right in thick with the main story. Miss this an you are screwed… and what a great story it is! Great massive climax, good vs bad and all that. THe new team si kind of pulled together (while also advertising the other ‘magic’ books out there from DC). Nice art as always.

Is it me, or does it feel like the Books of Magic are going to tie in with something going on over in Wonder Woman? I expected to here a BOOM when the portal opened.

 

THE NEW DEADWARDIANS #8 (Dan Abnett / I.N.J. Culbard) Vertigo

This is the final issue and it is exactly what the series needed. It put a nice bow on the whole thing. I would now heartily recommend the sure to be coming trade. In fact, it seems to me that this should be optioned for a movie. It has that feel to it.

 

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #16.1 (Bendis / Marquez / Ponsor) Marvel

Great, great issue. This comic is always good but the Betty story was perfect. I would have been unhappy if JJJ had printed the story, but I also would have preferred if he had bought it anyway, just to try and bury it. The surprise final page was… well too bad on one hand and great on the other. This isn’t a character I am a big fan of, but the reveal makes me more interested.

USM is one of the consistently best comics going.


Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom #2

September 18, 2012
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This is one of those weeks that doesn’t have anything that really blew me away but neither did it have anything that was really bad.

 

Starting at the weakest…

 

IT GIRL AND THE ATOMICS #2 (Rich / Norton / Passalaqua) Image

After getting sucked in by the Mike Allred swerve I was ready to cut bait and run but Ruthanne said she enjoyed the book. After altering my expectations, so did I. Still, there isn’t a lot of meat on this. If it is going to ride on ‘fun’, it needs to be quite good. It is kind of borderline.

 

AVENGERS ASSEMBLE #7 (Bendis / Bagley / Miki / Mounts) Marvel

The weakest Avengers book as it still doesn’t feel like it has a reason to exist, other than pairing Bendis and Bagley. And even that is running its course soon. I am not a big fan of space stuff. We’ll see.

 

SAUCER COUNTRY #7 (Paul Cornell / NOT Ryan Kelly) Vertigo

Right off the bat, the cover says Ryan Kelly. It is not Ryan Kelly. It is David Lapham. That is fine (though Ruthanne disagrees – she thinks the art is awful), but it IS false advertising.

I liked when this book took a break to lay groundwork for the world as far as aliens goes. Now they have done it again and it is only issue 7. When I review The Massive I talk about how great the world-building is in that book. This book, not as great. The first sidebar issue was good. This one is pushing it. Get back to the characters. This is a good, but not great book. Don’t squander it.

 

WINTER SOLDIER #10 (Brubaker / Guice / Breitweiser) Marvel

I am not a fan of brainwashing stories, though with a book starring Bucky and Black Widow, you are pretty much going there. My problem with it is that when it is all said and done, Natasha is going to be fine, as if nothing happened. The number of times her brain has been scrubbed should really end in major brian trauma. Having said that, the story and art lend themselves to just the right atmosphere and tension. Hey did they kill Sitwell? Has he been killed before? How many times?

 

CAPTAIN AMERICA #17 (Brubaker / Bunn / Eaton / Magyar / Guru-eFx) Marvel

How do you get me to not care so much that the villains are kind of lame? Don’t put them in the book and instead throw in some Zemo! Yeah, that works. Too bad it looks like the Discordians are back next issue.

One thing… why can’t they just stop broadcasting that tv signal? Am I missing something?

 

BEFORE WATCHMEN: COMEDIAN #3 (Brian Azzarello / J.G. Jones) DC

What an all-around unlikeable tool. Kin said in his review that this mini makes him wish Comedian didn’t die at the start of Watchmen. It makes me glad he did. This issue was better than the previous because it didn’t read like the comic version of Forrest Gump. Also, I don’t need to like a character for them to be interesting, but I wonder how much ‘Natural Born Killers’ style response are they getting. “He is bad-ass!” No. The point is that he is despicable and evil. He isn’t a loveable jerk like Guy Gardner. He is just a rapist scumbag.

 

AVENGING SPIDER-MAN #12 (Kevin Shinick / Aaron Kuder / Matt Hollingsworth) Marvel

This book assumes a lot. It assumes you have seen Inception. Luckily I have. It also seems to assume you are reading Deadpool’s book. I am not. I have no idea why he wants someone to kill him. (It also assumes you know what Breakfast Club is, but I am 44. No problems here.) All that aside, this was a fun read. Deadpool out-wackys Spidey and the romp through Spidey’s dreamscape is pretty fun. And the Hypno Hustler next issue? I am in!

 

AVENGERS VS X-MEN #11 (Bendis / Coipel / Morales / Martin) Marvel

Strong, high-energy comic that moves the story right where it needs to be (and exactly where I predicted). I have to take issue with Coipel’s story telling skills, however. Have you heard the news? Have you heard the spoilers? I won’t break it hear, but let me just say… if I HADN’T heard the news, I still wouldn’t know it had happened. How does it look any different than anyone else he has been beaten and just gets up to fight again? This happened when they ‘killed’ Bucky too. You shouldn’t have to read spoiler sot understand what happened in a comic you just read.

 

NEW AVENGERS #30 (Bendis / Deodato / Beredo) Marvel

You know when there is a big crossover and it has little side issues that are expressly designed to NOT move the plot along so that people won’t miss anything if they don’t read it? You know how that makes the comics pretty lame?

Bendis knows how to NOT do that. From the prison break issue to this one, he gives you reasons to CARE about what is going on. In this issue he reminds us that in the aftermath of AVX, there should be increased anti-mutant hatred and paranoia. He also gets a character to make a decision that makes sense for his development. (Not that I agree with his logic…but that doesn’t make it out of character.)

Just a good story.

 

THE MASSIVE #4 (Brian Wood / Garry Brown / Dave Stewart) Dark Horse

New artist… yet it doesn’t really look very different. I would have to go back an compare the two, but the feeling of the book is still the same. This issue take a step back from world-building and switches to character-building. Good. I like both but it was time for an issue like this. I am quite enjoying the Massive and I really hope, like Saga, that it can stick to the principles of pacifism while also being realistic about it. So far so good.

 

ROCKETEER: CARGO OF DOOM #2 (Waid / Samnee) IDW

This is just fun. Dinosaurs with jetpacks? Really? Awesome! I like the addition of Earl Garland. I read elsewhere that he is anachronistic, but I don’t think a comic like this is required to portray systematic racism in a realistic context. Instead give us a strong (in every sense of the word) black character he acts as an equal to the others without anyone making a thing about it. I wouldn’t even have mentioned it if I didn’t read someone complaining about it.

Fun comic.


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.