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Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Animal Man #20

May 8, 2013
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Decent week. A good pile of good comics.

Starting at the weakest…

DIAL H #12 (China Mieville / Alberto Ponticello / Dan Green) DC

The tricky bit when doing a comic this crazy is that sometimes you run the risk of straying over the line from wacky awesomeness to just pointlessly weird. This issue went the wrong way over that line. Open Window Man? really?

The pace was frenetic but it just became disorienting and the story suffered.

AGE OF ULTRON #7 (Bendis / Peterson / Pacheco / Martinez) Marvel

Oh my god! Everything has changed!

Well, duh. And that was the whole issue. It was fine but it was the sort of issue you have to get through to go from the last one to the next one, without having much to offer itself.And the art wasn’t great, either.

Where are the super-brood?

ALL-NEW X-MEN #11 (Brian Michael Bendis / Stuart Immonen / Wade von Grawbadger / Marte Gracia) Marvel

This comic was damaged by the messed up publishing schedule. The big reveal was already spoiled in Uncanny, as was the result of the big reveal. Since this issue was mostly just about that, it felt a little pointless. The bit with Jean and Kitty was good. And yes, Jean is scary.

SWAMP THING #20 (Charles Soule / Kano / Alvaro Lopez) DC

The effect of Scarecrow’s chemicals on Swampy was really well done. That is the perfect nightmare for someone who has become as powerful as he has.

Superman was a straight up dick, though. He clearly needs help and Supes just utters vague threats.

I don’t know where Soule is going to go with the book, but his introduction to it was solid.

SNAPSHOT #4 (Andy Diggle / Jock) Image

So, everything gets wrapped up with a nice, happy ending.

Or not.

Wow, was that depressing.

MISTER X: EVICTION #1 (Dean Motter) Dark Horse

In a book where style takes front seat over story, it is still a pretty solid story! Especially the back-up. The scene where Shrodinger starts directing traffic is great.

If you are fan of design in comics, as I am, do not hesitate to grab any of Motter’s Mr. X books.

THE MOVEMENT #1 (Gail Simone / Freddie Williams II) DC

Did we really need a watered-down, super-hero version of Scarlet?

Yes, actually. I know plenty of people – good people – that if they had super-powers this is exactly what they would do. SUper-heroes are very pro-establishment as it stands, so it is nice to see the other side. I have faith that Simone can do this grey area, after she handled the darker areas so well in Secret Six (a book which should still exist…)

FAIREST #15 (Sean E. Williams / Stephen Sadowski / Phil Jimenez) Vertigo

Bad cover. No wait, great cover, but bad choice for a cover. Giving away the final page reveal on the cover is kind o fa bad idea, no?

This was a very good comic, and I am happy with it, but if this becomes yet another arc where the man is the actual start… well, that would suck.

The first issue was absolutely top-notch, though, so hopefully not.

SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #9 (Slott / Stegman / Delgado) Marvel

I really enjoyed Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

This comic was good, too.

The funny thing is, if you look at things a certain way, Otto did nothing wrong. That wasn’t Peter. It was just the memory of Peter.

Still, there is much gnashing of teeth because people thought this was how Peter was going to come back.

Fret not, little ones. Peter will come back.

Just like Steve did. And Clark before him. And countless others.

HAWKEYE #10 (Fraction / Francavilla) Marvel

You really notice it was Aja isn’t here… but I still quite like Francavilla. This book is a little more surreal than it has been, but it takes you where you need to go and does it in style. It doesn’t take you where you might WANT to go, but that ship sailed last issue.

ANIMAL MAN #20 (Lemire / Leon / Green II / Silver) DC

I don’t really understand how this warrants its own story, but I don’t care. This is just a really good story. Trim off the Buddy stuff and just read about Red Thunder.

I want to see his movie. A much, much sadder version of Kick-Ass.

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Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Animal Man #19

April 7, 2013
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Normally when I start these columns, I start by complaining. “This is why I didn’t like this book.” “This is why I am thinking about dropping…”

Not so much this week. I actually liked every book I got.

Good week!

Starting at the (relatively) weakest…

DIAL H #11 (China Mieville / Alberto Ponticelli / Dan Green) DC

This was the first DC book I read with one of those “WTF” covers… and it wasn’t really because they had long ago spoiled that Nelson was going to dial up the Flash. I guess this crossed over with the Flash’s book, but I don’t buy that one.

Nelson was a bit of a jerk here. No wait, he was a HUGE jerk… but that doesn’t bother me because it came across as real. He freaked out.

The accusations of sexual assault, on the other hand, are kind of a big deal. It is downplayed a little bit due to the ‘gender-reversal’ but it still needs to be dealt with.

The ONLY thing that I didn’t really like is the reminder that this book is part of the main DC Universe. This is where DC’s insistence that none of these books can be Vertigo or whatever really hurts them.

SNAPSHOT #3 (Andy Diggle / Jock) Image

This almost seems like a completely different book than the first two issues, but I like where it went. If there was a supernatural element it would almost feel like an X-Files, but instead… this is pretty messed up but still based (loosely) in reality.

Would these people think that getting to that police car is going to help at this point? Wouldn’t the police have called this in? Won’t there be an investigation of the facility?

GREAT PACIFIC #6 (Joe Harris / Martin Morazzo) Image

Wait… how does that little rod thing work? I thought it turned garbage into water… not controlled garbage like some sort of waster management green lantern ring.

Here we finally see how this new country can exist. You have to be needed and he figured out a way to be needed.

I liked Chas’ reaction to the Navy’s confrontation of the octopus.

It feels like next issue wills tart the next phase of the book. I’m looking forward to it.

AGE OF ULTRON #4 (Bendis / Hitch / Neary / Mounts) Marvel

Wait, what?

That is a pretty awesome concept. Ultron is controlling the world from the future. I wonder if he teamed up with anyone, or if he came up with the technology on his own (which is possible, considering how many people have created it). I assume Doc Doom’s time square is going to come into play.

I LOVE that the answer once time travel comes into play ISN’T “let’s go to the future and fight him”, but rather “let’s go into the past and stop this from happening”.

Bendis has two current Marvel books dealing with time travel now. The other one is also out this week.

SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #7 (Dan Slott / Humberto Ramos / Victor Olazaba / Edgar Delgado) Marvel

Cardiac is pretty lame… always has been… but this issue was pretty good. I like that the Avengers have figured out that he isn’t really Spider-Man. I also like that Peter is learning from the way Otto handles things. Well, the non-over-the-top violent things.

Oh, and I love Ramos’ art.

Oh, and Slott is right. Otto Reply is a better letters page name than ‘Sup Spider-Man.

ALL-NEW X-MEN #10 (Bendis / Immonen / Von Grawbadger / Gracia) Marvel

So now we get Cyclops’ side of the argument. He is wrong, but that doesn’t mean he can’t have a side and it doesn’t mean he wouldn’t have people agreeing with him.

My pet peeve this issue is the last page. What a cheap ending. That is not how you get people to buy the next issue. SHOW the person and don’t give their reasoning until the next issue.

Oh well. I was buying it anyway because I think this book is great.

SWAMP THING #19 (Charles Soule / Kano) DC

Scott Snyder is off the book and replaced by Charles Soule, who I am completely unfamiliar with. Based on this issue, though, he is a good fit! This felt like a Swamp Thing book! A pre-Vertigo version, rather than post-Vertigo version. The WTF was not exactly a big deal (none of the three I got this week were), but the story itself was pretty solid. What happens when an elemental force gets scared?

I like Kano’s art on this. I like Yanick Paquette better, but this works too.

Good book. It is a big upgrade over the Rotworld story.

FAIREST #14 (Bill Willingham / Barry Kitson / Inaki Miranda) Vertigo

On paper, this would look pretty bad. Willingham doing a story on a female Fable and it is all about her trying to get a date? Told from the point of view of a male character (again)?

In practice, though, this was a really good comic. It was fun, while still having that dark underbelly at the end.

ANIMAL MAN #19 (Jeff Lemire / Steve Pugh) DC

Speaking of a comic improved by leaving Rotworld… Animal Man didn’t have a creative change, but the tone change is incredibly powerful. Now that they are no longer on the run, and with the impact of Cliff’s death, Ellen and Buddy can get back to normal.

Well, they can’t actually.

Ellen was incredibly well written in here. She is wrong, as we know, but there is not a single ounce of unbelievability here. She wants out of Buddy’s crazy world and is taking Maxine with her.

But she can’t. Things don’t work that way and that is what makes this even more tragic.

Meanwhile, much like in Swamp THing, Buddy is turned back into the old style of Animal Man. Animal powers instead of… red powers? Will those crazy vein marks be gone too?


Rusty’s Comic of the Week: All-New X-Men #8

March 10, 2013
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Starting at the weakest…

BEFORE WATCHMEN: RORSCHACH #4 (Brian Azzarello / Lee Bermejo) DC

In the end this mini was just generally unsatisfying. Rorschach didn’t even really defeat any of the villains. THey just kind of got beat on their own and on one case, he got vengeance. That’s it. Not one of the better BW books.

FAIREST #13 (Lauren Beukes / Inaki Miranda) Vertigo

The best thing about this book is that this Rapunzel story finally ends. I have read some on-line reviews about this story and I just don’t get it. It was a pointless mess of a story with some really crappy art. Look at the bottom left of page three. Why do so many of the characters look like blow-up sex toys?

I enjoy Fables, and I hope this book goes back to that level of quality. If it doesn’t, I may have to dump it.

GREAT PACIFIC #5 (Joe Harris / Martin Morazzo) Image

Ruthanne doesn’t like this book at all. I like it more, but I do hope it moves on in some way. I am still wondering why he would have a tool that could fix all of the garbage problems and not use it to just eliminate this big garbage patch.

SNAPSHOT #2 (Andy Diggle / Jock) Image

This is a movie in comic form. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if this were optioned. Interesting mystery. Interesting characters (once we got past the misogynistic bits in issue #1).

I’d watch it.

AGE OF ULTRON #1 (Bendis / Hitch / Neary / Mounts) Marvel

I really don’t like gimmick covers. Well, at least they didn’t charge extra. This book would have been $3.99 anyway.

This was a good kick-off to the story, but all it did was set the stage, so it wasn’t super-awesome on its own. Using Hawkeye and Spidey was a great idea. Cap at the end was chilling. I am looking forward to Bendis’ Avengers swan song.

SUPERIOR SPIDE-MAN #5 (Slott / Camuncoli / Dell / Delgado / Fabela) Marvel

Interesting turn. You had to see it coming when they used such a lame villain. That just changed Spider-man forever. Even when Peter comes back, having all those people SEE Spider-man pull the trigger HAS to change things.

ANIMAL MAN #18 (Jeff Lemire / Steve Pugh) DC

I am glad that Rotworld is over, but I am also glad that there were real consequences. The actual ‘execution’ was not super. It was kind of like the Damian offing where they ‘buried the lead’. Honestly, if it wasn’t for the cover, I would assume he was badly hurt as opposed to dead.

DIAL H #10 (China Mieville / Alberto Ponticelli / Dan Green) DC

Man, this has turned into a really good book! The secret of the new dial works on so many meta-levels. The ending was a big surprise and now I REALLY want to see where it goes from here. What other book would happily have the two leads be a women in her 60s (I am guessing) and an overweight couch potato… and then giving them a romance? Will it carry over to their ‘civilian’ guises? I’m not sure if I want it to. It would be gutsy but having a male/female partnership that ISN’T built on that is pretty cool too.

I have faith that whatever Mieville chooses, it will be interesting!

SWAMP THING #18 (Scott Snyder / Yanick Paquette) DC

Swamp Thing is Swamp Thing now! But Abby…no! I’ll admit that the mini-heartbreak was based on the OLD ST story, not the current one, because the current one hasn’t created that strong a connection. On the other hand, I don’t think Swampy would have done that in the old books, no matter what was saved.

AVENGERS #7 (Jonathan Hickman / Dustin Weaver / Justin Ponsor) Marvel

Damn, that was a good comic! I am no Hickman fan, and I have not been a big fan of his new Avengers run, but I have to give credit where it is due. THe intercut scenes were VERY well done. Bringing the New Unvierse into the Marvel Universe… yes! (Who is the Cipher, though?) Bring back DP7!

ALL-NEW X-MEN #8 (Bendis / Marquez / Gracia) Marvel

I have been enjoying this comic a lot, but what REALLY put it over the top this issue was Iceman and Kitty ‘translating’ the Captain America / Beast conversation. Oy my god, that was funny. Then when it cut to Cap and he is continuing that conversation at that exact spot. That was KILLER! Then Cap’s expression upon seeing Cyclops.

Great comic.


Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Scarlet #6

February 10, 2013
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Starting at the weakest. A pretty big week. Bendis got the TOP THREE spots this week. Holy crap.

 

ANIMAL MAN #17 (Jeff Lemire / Scott Snyder / Steve Pugh / Timothy Green II / Joseph Silver) DC

I finished this book and tried to remember what it was that I liked about it in previous issues. The further into Rotworld we get, the less I care for it. It is just a book monster fight. The end is supposed to have emotional impact but it doesn’t because I, as reader, am fully aware that there will be a bog re-set button at the end of the story. There is just no buy-in from me.

 

FAIREST #12 (Lauren Beukes / Inaki Miranda) Vertigo

The thing I can’t understand is why Fairst is getting such great reviews out in internet-land. The story is not very interesting and the art is muddy and generally sub-par. Mostly, the story is just too long. I keep hoping it is going to be over so we can get back to better stuff.

Fables is getting back on track int he main book. Hopefully Fairest can do the same.

 

SWAMP THING #17 (Scott Snyder / Jeff Lemire / Andrew Belanger) DC

Read the Animal Man review above. The same goes here. The only thing that makes this book rank a little higher is the Parliament of Rot scene. That has some promise.

 

NEW AVENGERS #3 (Hickman / Epting / Magyar / D’Armata) Marvel

Question: what are they arguing about? I was able to figure it out, but they never actually say. They also act as if Cap did what he did on purpose with nobody actually saying it or any evidence to support it… until he doesn’t deny it… kind of. It is hard to deny something that nobody ever says… or even implies.

This is kind of a mess, really.

 

SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #3 (Dan Slott / Ryan Stegman / Edgar Delgado) Marvel

One of the interesting things about this storyline is how much smarter Otto is than Peter. If it wasn’t for his moral code, he would actually BE a better Spider-Man than Peter. The sudden backstory about being abused so having a soft spot for kids felt a little contrived. If Otto is going to need an excuse to beat a villain every time, that will start to wear a little thin.

 

GREAT PACIFIC #4 (Joe Harris / Martin Morazzo) Image

Nice idea. Good plot. Everything good except for the pacing. It is glacial. Four issues in and he is still just looking around. If he continues just as some rich kid wandering around on garbage, this series is going to lose my interest quickly.

Side note, couldn’t he use that invention of his to destroy the entire ‘country’, making the world a better place, in general?

 

DIAL H #9 (China Mieville / Alberto Ponticelli / Dan Green) DC

This book was always inventive but it used to lag on plot a bit. That has changed. I find myself interested every issue now. And it is still inventive. The Glimpse was great. What’s with the bug-head dude? Don’t know, but I am along for the ride. (Oh, and the portrayal of Canadians was funny. Not over the top, but funny.)

 

AVENGERS #5 (Jonathan Hickman / Adam Kubert / Frank Martin) Marvel

The Hyperion spotlight issue didn’t appeal to me because I don’t really like Hyperion. This Smasher issue was much better. Her interaction with the Hulk was great. (‘Smash’) Her origin was simple but interesting to follow. I liked it.

 

SNAPSHOT #1 (Andy Diggle / Jock) Image

Movie-style crime mystery. Interesting hook, leading you along but not giving you enough to figure it out. Nice Jock art. Black & white, which is rare these days. Nce package. Looking forward to the rest of the mini.

 

AVENGERS ASSEMBLE ANNUAL #1 (Christos Gage / Tomm Coker) Marvel

Man, this was a good Avengers comic! This was better than any I have read of the Marvel Now push. I want to see Gage on an Avengers book… or even a Vision book. Good story. Emotional impact while tying it in to the on-going story. Continuity flavoured without getting bogged down. And I quite liked the art, too!

 

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #20 (Bendis / Pichelli / Ponsor) Marvel

You have a fight scene against a superior opponent, sure. But what makes this book really good is the characters. Miles and Ganke are great, as always. It is Jefferson that really draws my attention, despite having so little in the way of lines. Why did he attack Venom? Doe she know who Spidey is? The on-goign story of his reaction to fighting Hydra is really great. I want more!

 

ALL-NEW X-MEN #7 (Bendis / Marquez / Gracia) Marvel

Cyclops and Mystique. The one thing I would say is that if you want Cyclops to not immediately recognize you as a villain, maybe you DON’T wear all those skulls as part of your costume. Just sayin’.

The way she led him down the path was perfect. She gave away enough of herself that he won’t immediately dismiss her when he finds out that she is a ‘villain’. The wedge she put between him and Wolverine was masterfully done.

 

SCARLET #6 (Bendis / Maleev) Icon

Before Saga, Scarlet was the best book on the market. But then issue #5 came out and it was a year before #6. Normally than will kill a book for me, but this one feels so real and such an answer to the chaos in the real world. I can see why they wanted to take a break, because it is hard to reflect the real world while also seeming like you are endorsing vigilantism. Still… comics need to be dramatic and extreme to work. I am not endorsing murder, but at the same time if there were more people who refused to accept the bullshit that surrounds us, maybe we WOUDL get some actual change.

In the meantime, this comic is incredibly well written and some of the most beautiful art on the market.