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Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Ultimate Spider-Man #15

September 23, 2012
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Some very disappointing books this week. Comics that I normally like quite a bit that just didn’t deliver.

 

Starting at the weakest.

 

THE UNWRITTEN #41 (Mike Carey / Peter Gross) Vertigo

Surprised? Well, so was I when I started reading the book and realized I had no freaking idea what the hell was going on. I guess this is a flashback because it has no bearing at all on the last story arc. Taylor is a completely different character than he was when we saw him there. I am thinking that this is a flashback to the end of the PREVIOUS story, but that was not really clear. Throwing back to a story from MONTHS ago, without a reference is a BAD idea. I have never wanted a ‘What has going before’ page as much…

 

WONDER WOMAN #0 (Brian Azzarello / Cliff Chiang) DC

Continuing the trend of these zero issues being pretty bad. A story of Diana when he was a kid being trained by Ares. Ares was awful. The story was awful. The little pretend nods to old comics weren’t witty. Blah.

 

AVENGERS #30 (Bendis / Simonson / Hanna / Keith) Marvel

Ruthanne thought this comic was sexist. I just thought it was lousy. ‘Let’s hash out our relationship while we are fighting this pointless villains!’ The dialogue crossed that line into unrealistic that Bendis tends to skirt so well. The fight was pointless. hey tossed out a good Spider-Man villain like he was a chump. Set up by Hydra… this book was as lame as when they fight Hydra or A.I.M. or whatever. Avengers vs nameless scrubs is boring.

Very disappointing.

 

THE ULTIMATES #15 (Humphries / Tan / Pallot / Noor) Marvel

This may have been better of it hadn’t been spoiled. Even the actual reveal was not great with the random phone booth ringing thing. Also, really bad art. I like the story line, which puts it higher than the others, but it is still another disappointing book.

 

AVENGERS ACADEMY #37 (Gage / Grummett / Hamscher / Sotomayor) Marvel

The first book I straight up enjoyed. I like the characterization of the kids. I alway shave. It is very well done. Too bad this book is cancelled.

Finesse is awesome, by the way. I don’t normally like heroes killing but as she said, he said she is a hero?

 

SPIDER-MEN #5 (Bendis / Pichelli / Ponsor) Marvel

The strength of this series has been the characters and this was more of an action story, so it is a bit weaker. I still enjoyed reading it but what made it better than AA was the last page. Now I want the non-existant issue #6!

 

FABLES #121 (Willingham / Buckingham / Leialoha / McManus) Vertigo

I still don’t like last issue and this deals with that so it was starting in a bit of a hole. Overall a good issue, thought they cover too much ground too quickly. I REALLY like the way they get to earn their ‘wholeness’ back. The time shift was unexpected but it could be interesting. Looking forward to what’s next. (The Oz story continues to just be a waste of pages.)

 

BATWOMAN #0 (J.H.Williams III / W.Haden Blackman) DC

Now THAT is how you do a zero issue! This is the best written of the new run, probably because it leans so much as the Rucka stuff. This is the character that is so great. It isn’t the story that I dog so much, but the return of a: ย a clear narrative and b: the look into the thoughts of Kate. Good job.

 

REVIVAL #3 (Tim Seeley / Mike Norton) Image

This along with the Massive are my favourite new series… next to Saga. ๐Ÿ™‚ The whole thing is so creepy without being overt… until that old woman showed up. That’s pretty overt. ๐Ÿ™‚

That creature makes me a little nervous, but I have liked EVERYTHING about this book so I am willing to wait and see.

 

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #15 (Bendis / Marquez / Ponsor) Marvel

FINALLY! As great as this book is, the fact that it never referred to the crazy stuff going on across America was kind of annoying. This issue corrected that, and got rid of Miles’ guilt over the death of his uncle, which is good. The characterization continues to be excellent. Miles i sone of the best characters in comics and this is easily the best of the many books that Bendis writes. (When are we getting more Scarlet?)


Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Spider-Men #4

August 16, 2012
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Sorry this is so late. We are in the middle of home renovations and the idea of free time is pretty foreign. Today I am installing a new closet. Tomorrow is back to flooring.

 

From weakest to strongest, as usual.

 

IT GIRL AND THE ATOMICS #1 (Jamie S. Rich / Mike Norton / Allen Passalaqua / crank!) Image

Is it just me? Am I the only one who ordered ‘Michael Allred’s It Girl and the Atomics’ and expected it to be by Michael Allred? I doubt it. Very disappointing and bordering on false advertising. It DOES say on the cover that it is by the ‘creators of Spell Checkers and Battlepug’ but much less prominently than Allred’s name. Mike even does the cover.

Oh… I have never heard of either Spell Checkers or Battlepug.

So, that aside, is the comic any good?

It is okay. The opening bit nearly had me not finishing the comic, but that turned out to be a swerve. I’ll be getting #2. Maybe with different expectations I will enjoy it more.

 

BEFORE WATCHMEN: OZYMANDIAS #2 (Len Wein / Jae Lee) DC

Remember what I said about #1? That again.

The Lee art is beautiful. The two page spread with Ozy springing into action is amazing. The story, on the other hand, does not measure up. It is trite and predictable. It also covers too much ground in a single issue, but that seems to be a common problem with some of these BW minis. Still way better than Nite Owl. Probably better than Comedian as well.

 

AVENGERS ASSEMBLE #6 (Bendis / Bagley / Miki / Mounts) Marvel

Still the weakest of the Avengers book. (Did you hear? Avengers Academy is cancelled! It is a lot better than this book…) The ‘quip’ level seemed to be out of place here as they try to get a cosmic cube back from Thanos. They should be worried that he is going to blink the universe out of existence, but no… still with the bon mots. The Guardians of the Galaxy are supposedly the big selling point this issue… and they continue to be not very interesting. Keep Rocket Racoon, Groot and maybe Bug and toss the rest of them. The Iron Man / Hulk trick served no real purpose whatsoever. A fully armed and armoured Iron Man should be every bit as scary as Hulk, so what is the upgrade?

Not a great book.

 

CAPTAIN AMERICA #16 (Brubaker / Bunn / Eaton / Magyar / GURU eFX) Marvel

Still with villains I don’t care about. Also, the art is much weaker this issue. So what DID this book have going for it? The Sharon / Dum Dum team! I really like their parts of the book. Oh, and the panel with Falcon asking Dugan “Is that a human head?” is awesome.

If it wasn’t for the coming shift in creative teams, I would not feel confident in the continued existence of this book on my pull list. I am beginning to think the name Cullen Bunn ranks up there with Chuck Austen on the do-not-buy list.

 

NEW AVENGERS #29 (Bendis / Deodato / Beredo) Marvel

When is an all-talk book worth getting? Well, often, honestly. This book is supposed to be about Cap and Namor but what makes it good is the opportunity to see what the characters are thinking and why they are doing what they are doing. Everyone blaming Xavier and Richards reminding the Avengers what they are fighting against (and letting us see why the Ultimate version of Reed is not so far fetched.)

One question? What’s with the cover? I have been vocal about my dislike of Deodato’s work… though I am coming around on him… but why get a cover artist who is CLEARLY inferior to the interior artist. You are doing it wrong.

 

FAIREST #6 (Willingham / Jimenez / Lanning) Vertigo

This story would have been better if it ended last issue. They had a perfectly good method of defeating her, but no. THey had to switch it for an incredibly stupid twist just so Briar Rose could win the fight. THen we get a bunch of epilogue and that is it.

Still, I guess it was done alright. The art was great as always.

Wow. I am bring really negative this morning. Must be because I am tired. I really enjoyed this week’s comics and I am just slagging them.

 

THE MASSIVE #3 (Brian Wood / Kristian Donaldson / Dave Stewart) Dark Horse

I have seen reviews of this series that complain that they spend too much time world building. Poppycock! That is what makes this book so great! It isn’t plot driven, or character driven, it is world driven. It Gives it a really different feel from other books on the racks.

Oddly enough, the only thing about this book I didn’t like was someone else’s review. ๐Ÿ™‚ ย Kin of Silver Snail said he liked that this book is proving that you can’t be nonviolent in a violent world. Let’s just say, if that IS what this book ends up being about, I will like it a lot less.

I think it isn’t going to be about that, though. I think it is going to show that you CAN. (While keeping Mag around to provide the action for the readers.)

 

SPIDER-MEN #4 (Bendis / Pichelli / Ponsor) Marvel

Ignore the cover. Not only does nothing like that happen, but that is a good thing. This comic is ALL about Peter and May and Gwen and Mary Jane. I am not afraid to admit that this book get me a little weepy. The emotional yet never overbearing punch provided by Bendis and Pichelli is just amazing. The worst thing about this issue? That there is only one more.

Hey, is Miles going to have webshooters now?


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

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

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

DEFENDERS #8 (Fraction / McKelvie / Aymara) Marvel

I was ready to cancel this a couple of issues ago, but getting the Dodsons to draw Black Cat is a way to get a reprieve. ๐Ÿ™‚ No such luck any more. The story is scattered and aimless. Most importantly, though, is the terrible characterization. The crazy thing is, the characters that are treated the worst or those from the Iron Fist center of influence… and it is written by Matt Fraction. I don’t get it. This has been a disappointing run and I am dropping it.

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

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

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

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

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

When does Ant-Man join the cast?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

BEFORE WATCHMEN: MINUTEMEN #2 (Darwyn Cooke) DC

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

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

I hope.

 

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

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

 

REVIVAL #1 (Tim Seeley, Mike Norton) Image

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

Wow.

This was incredibly well done.

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


Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Spider-Men #2

July 2, 2012
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Compared to some recent weeks, this one was not great. A bunch of decent books, but not the onslaught of awesome we get sometimes.

Starting from the weakest.

THE NEW DEADWARDIANS #4 (Dan Abnett / I.N.J. Culbard) Vertigo

My problem with this book is that it is so weak on plot. We are four issues in and very little has happened. Everything is setting up character, with little regard for story. Sometimes that works (see earlier issues of iZombie). It started to work in issue 3, but I am back to finding myself not really caring about what is going on. I don’t care for the art much either.

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #10 (Jeff Lemire / Mikel Janin) DC

The book isn’t bad, but the little touches that Lemire throws in (Constantine hangs out in the ‘House of Mystery’ while they hunt for the ‘Books of Magic’) make this feel like a parody book. “What if the Vertigo books were superhero books?” I need to ignore all that to get to the fact that this is a decent read. This is not the Hellblazer Constantine. Deal with it. One doesn’t affect the other and that is a good thing.

I like the idea of a return of Abnegazer, Rath and Ghast but I don’t really like their new designs.

BEFORE WATCHMEN: NITE OWL #1 (J.Michael Straczynski / Andy Kubert / Joe Kubert) DC

Updated BW rankings: 1. Silk Spectre, 2. Minutemen, 3. Comedian, 4. Nite Owl

Maybe the upcoming titles will make me feel better about this issue, but the characterization of Rorschach and Dr. Manhattan were really… off. Rorschach told a sex joke about Nite Owl’s costume being too tight after he talked to Silk Spectre. Really? It was VERY out of place. The Crimebusters meeting was a lot better back when things like Manhattan noticing Silk Spectre were subtle.

I liked Dan, but all of the trappings of the book were off. It is like JMS was given the Nite Owl assignment but really wanted to write all of them… but not well.

ALL-STAR WESTERN #10 (Palmiotti / Gray / Moritat / Garcia-Lopez) DC

I like Tallulah, but the forced inclusion of Batman elements is really annoying me. This Court of Owls nonsense has no place in a Jonah Hex comic. They just look ridiculous in the owl masks… overall, the sooner Hex gets away from Gotham, the better it will be.

The Bat Lash back-up was great. It was funny and the Garcia-Lopez art even outshone Moritat, who I normally quite love but this issue had some spots that felt… rushed. Next… Dr. Thirteen? I didn’t know there was a western version…

BATMAN INCORPORATED #2 (Grant Morrison / Chris Burnham) DC

This is the story of Talia and it works very well. In a DC line that has done everything it can to invalidate and erase past continuity, Morrison wrote an issue to ensure the backstory that he needs still exists in this post-post-crisis universe. Talia is a character the vacillates between characiture and a-level villain and it looks like Morrison has her firmly in the latter camp. Her betrayal of he father at the end of the book sets up the coming issues weel. The cover is a little odd. Is that an Az-Bats helmet? What are El Gaucho and the others doing there? Who is the guy with Azrael and Batwing?

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #688 (Slott / Camuncoli / Janson / D’Armata) Marvel

Slott makes ASM one of the best books of the old style. It isn’t all events and bombast. (Even when there is is an ‘event’ like the previous Doc Ock story, what made it so is marketing. It continued to be a regular book where one issue came after the next without five cross-overs etc…)

It is all about Peter. Without saying it, this issue shows that his idea of responsibility is changing. It doesn’t just mean, don’t let that mugger run past you. It means doing what you can to help, all the time.

Also, I LOVE the science side of this book now. Horizon Labs is the best thing to happen to the ASM book since… I can’t even remember. Certainly well before the JMS run.

ULTIMATES #12 (Hickman / Humphries / Ross / Garney / Milla) Marvel

Wow, did this book get good all of a sudden! This was a low, teetering book earlier in the run. What is the difference? I think it is Sam Humphries. I am not sure because Hickman’s name is still on the cover, but I think Humphries’ storytelling style is a lot clearer than Hickman’s is.

The defeat of Reed Richards was inventive and exciting… as long as you don’t say it out loud. When you try to explain that Tony convinced his tumour to convince the city to stop supporting Reed… well, that just sounds crazy.

Great, though.

Side note: I want to see the West Coast Avengers that they teased a few issues back.

SPIDER-MEN #2 (Bendis / Pichelli / Ponsor) Marvel

Here is the book that they fell short on delivering in issue #1. The fight between Peter and Miles was great in that it really boosted up Miles, without making Peter look weak. Everything unfolded the way it should, including the addition of Nick Fury. THe talk between Peter and Nick was excellent. In one massive word ballon Bendis showed that ‘decompressed’ storytelling is not all he can do. ๐Ÿ™‚

After the first issue there was a debate about which Mysterio that was. Both??!?! They are the same guy?

Awesome.


Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Amazing Spider-Man #687

June 18, 2012
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Not a big week, but a decent one. I am a little behind because our slam finals were on Saturday and they took a lot of my time.

 

And they were awesome.

 

Starting at the weakest, as always.

 

AVENGERS ASSEMBLE #4 (Bendis / Bagley / Miki / Mounts) Marvel

Twice while reading the comic I flipped back to the credits page to see who the artist was. I am very familiar with Mark Bagley, but he is a much better artist than you what you see here. I mean, there were parts of the art that were actively bad. Other parts were just okay. WAAAAY below the normal standard you get with Bagley.

Then there was the story, which wasn’t bad, but neither was it much of anything. It just seemed to be a fight in a vacuum… almost like the early parts of Avengers vs X-Men.

 

AVENGERS #27 (Bendis / Simonson / Hanna / Keith) Marval

What… the… hell… is… going… on? So there is Protector, having betrayed the team. Right, I got that part. Then there is Ms.Marvel, with the rest of the betrayed Avengers… uh. wait. I thought Protector betrayed the Avengers WITH Ms.Marvel and the returned Captain Marvel? No?

Wait, so that was in SECRET Avengers so there are two DIFFERENT betrayal stories going on with the same characters in the same storyline that are completely different from each other? That have NOTHING to do with each other? Someone forgot what an editor’s job is…

 

I like Bendis but do you ever get the idea he has turned into George Lucas? I read a story in Wired a while back about a huge database that Lucasfilm keeps to keep all of the facts from the extended Star Wars universe straight. Nobody is allowed to do anything that conflicts with what is in there.

Unless it has a red star. A red star means ‘because George said so’.

Having said THAT, this issue is pretty clearly a set-up for the cosmic books that Bendis is supposedly doing after he leaves the Avengers. I am not a big fan of cosmic, but I do like the Noh/Annie thing Bendis has going on.

(The Avengers were awfully harsh, though…)

 

CAPTAIN AMERICA #13 (Brubaker / Zircher / Mounts) Marvel

I liked it… but I don’t know what to say about it. With Zircher on art it is starting to feel more like the old Bru Cap book, which is too bad. We already get that with Winter Soldier. I preferred the Bru/Davis style.

But it is still a good read. I wish D-Man would get a clear storyline though, and not change with every writer.

 

SAUCER COUNTRY #4 (Pul Cornell / Ryan Kelly) Vertigo

Solid story. I am glad the hypnotist stuff played on this way because it sure seemed sketchy when it happened. I like how Cornell is taking the whole UFO thing and eating the ridiculous ย – cutting off avenues for criticism. I am really interested in seeing what is REALLY going on, and how can a comic ask more than that.

 

SPIDER-MEN #1 (Bendis / Pichelli / Ponsor) Marvel

If you are an Amazing fan, read this comic. See how awesome Miles is and become an Ultimate fan. As great as Slott is on ASM (scan down the page), Bendis is even better on USM.

Buy them both. Actually, by this one as well.

The only thing that keeps this as far down on the list as it is is other great books and the lack of Miles in this issue.

 

THE MASSIVE #1 (Brian Wood / Kristian Donaldson / Dave Stewart) Dark Horse

As far as world building goes, Wood has done a great job here. One question – were we supposed to realize that Mary couldn’t jsut drive the boat back? It is only in the extra material at the end of the book where I realized that.

The fact that the book is named after the MISSING ship tells you there is a big mystery to unfold here. Looking forward to it.

 

BEFORE WATCHMEN: SILK SPECTRE (Darwyn Cooke / Amanda Conner) DC

I was thrilled with the first BW book (Minutemen). This one was better.

Read page 3 and tell me that isn’t incredibly good comics.

Cooke has these characters down cold and the Conner art is as good as anything I have seen by her. I am iffy on the next BW book (Comedian) but they haven’t let me down yet.

 

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #687 (Slott / Caselli / Martin Jr.) Marvel

Wow. I was starting to tire of the Ends of the Earth storyline, but Slott wrapped it VERY well. The feeling of the clock ticking away while doom lurked around every next bend pervaded the book. It is hard to create suspense when you know it isn’t possible for the heroes to fail, yet they pulled it off.

And Spidey DID fail, in a very real way.

At least for now. I wonder…