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Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Astro City #2

July 17, 2013
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astro-city-2013-2-cover

This was an EXCELLENT week for comics! FOUR books that easily could have been comic of the week!

Let’s start with the less awesome…

SUICIDE SQUAD #22 (Ales Kot / Patrick Zircher) DC

There was a time when Suicide Squad was one of my favourite books. Back then John Ostrander was writing it. Every time it comes back, I TRY to like it. This time I had heard that this hot indy writer named Ales Kot was taking over so I decided to give it another try.

This is a mess. Dropped.

AMERICA’S GOT POWERS #6 (Jonathan Ross / Bryan HItch) Image

I honestly thought this was over. This mini started very strongly but I think it needs an end-to-end read now. Coming out this slowly just ruins a book.

GREAT PACIFIC #8 (Joe Harris / Martin Morazzo) Image

The story was decent, if transitional. The art continues to look good if you don’t look too closely. Morazzo does great drawings of ‘things’ but his people are not to my taste. A solid if unspectacular read.

BATMAN #22 (Scott Snyder / Greg Capullo / Danny Miki) DC

The first half of the book wasn’t great. The storytelling didn’t flow well. Choppy. The petty fighting between Bruce and Alfred neither worked for me as characterization or as a logical story progression.

The second half made up for it. The Bruce / Nigma stuff was great, both as story and as design. Snyder and Capullo hit one out of the park there. I also liked Bruce’s public outing. Good stuff.

SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #13 (Slott / Camuncoli / Dell / Pallot / Fabela) Marvel

This comic continues to have my brain at odds. I read it, enjoy it, and think how well Slott is doing at showing the difference between an actual hero (Peter) and someone who will do whatever it takes to win (Otto).

Then I go on-line and see reviewers talking about how much better at being a hero Otto is than Peter.

Am I the one who is missing the point here? I hope not, because anyone who thinks that what Otto is doing is heroic… well, let us just say that I disagree.

UNCANNY X-MEN #8 (Bendis / Bachalo / Townsend) Marvel

Nothing is that easy, Fabio. We got to see a ‘recruiting a new mutant’ bit, which used to be all the rage and looks like it is back. We also got to see Dazzler, acting all official-like. Plus, an incredibly powerful team… that really needs some basic training.

HAWKEYE #12 (Fraction / Francavilla) Marvel

The first of the four potential CotWs. The only thing that holds this book back is that Francavilla (while talented) is no David Aja. I think the ‘tell the same story from four different perspectives’ would work better if it was the same artist each time. It would make the parallels more clear.

This time we got Barney – showing how far he has fallen and the spark that is still within him when pushed. I could see him being a nice addition to the cast.

YOUNG AVENGERS #7 (Gillen / McKelvie / Wilson) Marvel

The king of comic design among active artists used to be J.H. Williams III, but these days it is between Jamie McKelvie and David Aja. The way this book was laid out made what was really just a series of montages into something better. Fraction needs full credit here as well as the different characters really shone through.

And, the story was advanced!

PLEASE keep Prodigy in this book! SPeed is okay, but Prodigy is amazing.

DAREDEVIL #28 (Waid / Rodriguez / Lopez) Marvel

At first I was disappointed when the sharp Chris Samnee cover did not open to reveal Samnee interior’s, but Javier Rodriguez was perfect for this take of mixed flashbacks and the dichotomy between childhood trauma and adult responsibilities. Why does Matt dislike this guy so much? Those wounds run deep. Why did he need to help him? Because, as unlikeable as he was, he was not guilty.

Now we get Matt vs the Sons of the Serpent which couldn’t feel more timely as a different courtcase in the real world showed the difference between law and justice.

ASTRO CITY #2 (Busiek / Anderson / Ross / Sinclair / Comicraft) Vertigo

The life of super-hero support staff.

This was an excellent comic, from end-to-end. “She tried to tell me. But I sent social workers.”

Wow.

You know what? Just go read it. Not just this comic but all of Astro City… but especially this one.

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Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Batman #21

June 16, 2013
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batman-21-cover

This was not a great week. A small number of books and nothing that was really awesome.

That isn’t to say there wasn’t anything to read…

Starting at the weakest…

SUICIDE SQUAD #21 (Ales Kot / Patrick Zircher) DC

I’m not sure about this book. I added it back because I heard good things about the new writer, but he seems to be one of those writers that has everything very frenetic. I prefer things a little more linear… for this kind of book. Still worth reading further…

AVENGERS ASSEMBLE #16 (DeConnick / Buffagni / Bellaire) Marvel

This is not really Avengers Assemble. It is really Captain Marvel. First off, the cover is terrible. They should have let the interior artist do the cover because what they got is ugly.

If you like Captain Marvel, you will like this. I am borderline on both.

GREAT PACIFIC #7 (Joe Harris / Martin Morazzo) Image

My biggest complaint about this book was that it wasn’t moving forward. That changed this issue. It is no longer just some guy hanging out on a garbage pile. There is a settlement… with people… and the U.N…. and a terrorist… and a … tyrant in the making? Maybe?

Well worth reading.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #3 (Bendis / McNiven / Pichelli / Dell / Ponsor) Marvel

GROOT! Forget the cover, the star of this book is the Racoon’s plant-like pal. Space politics and a big escape. Iron Man seems so out of place in this book… but he makes it have the one piece of familiarity that gives you a look into the new universe… or should I say Galaxy, around us. He makes the book feel a little more accessible.

BATMAN #21 (Scott Snyder / Greg Capullo / Danny Miki) DC

I have been hearing many good things about Snyder’s Batman, but I resisted because they seemed to always be in some big multi-book crossover and I wanted to try one of the books, not all of them.

Well, I decided to pick it up… and it was god! Not awesomely amazing, but good enough to be the best book this week. It is the start of Year Zero, which is a new 52 version of the early days of Batman. Good story, good art, good comic. So far, I recommend it.


Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror #4

May 12, 2013
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The-Rocketeer_Hollywood-Horror_4-195x300

This was a small, and not great, week. The comic of the week wasn’t even great. Good reads, but nothing exciting.

Starting at the weakest…

AVENGERS ASSEMBLE #15 AU (Ewing / Guice / Palmer / D’Armata) Marvel

This comic was… pretty stupid and fairly pointless. Starting from having the Ultrons pretend to be Daleks right through to a super-powered soccer player… really?

I am guessing this book may have been interesting for people who read the Captain Britain and M.I.6 book. THat is just a guess because the comic acted like we would already know and care about this characters.

SUICIDE SQUAD #20 (Ales Kot / Patrick Zircher) DC

I loved the old Suicide Squad but when this run started, it just wasn’t very good, so I stopped buying it. With this new writer, I had heard that better things were expected so I decided to give it a try.

So far so… we’ll see. It is very violent, but it seems to be purposely violent. Are they just torturing these characters for fun? Killing people as a motivational tool? My biggest complaint seemed to be reversed int he same issue as they implied that their expendable characters couldn”t actually die… but then they seemed to take that back, which is good.

We’ll see.

UNCANNY AVENGERS (Rick Remender / Daniel Acuna) Marvel

Interesting. The arrogance of Sunfire was well done as it was obvious that he was doing it to mask his fear. (That line with Thor offering him a hug was terrible, though. It was like Remender had a line he wanted to put in and there was nobody suitable to say it and he just made Thor say it anyway.)

I also fine that Wasp has been acting WAY out of character. It is a point of view he wanted in the book, so he gave it to someone, even though it doesn’t fit well. I suppose that is the problem with characters with long histories. They were much more heroic in past eras and now we need them to be more… gritty.

AVENGERS #11 (Hickman / Deodato / Martin) Marvel

Speaking of odd characters choices… Black Widow is written differently from book to book. Does anyone recall that she used to lead the Avengers? Casually suggesting that torture and killing are the best way to handle things?
Now people will argue that it IS in character and they are not wrong. She is just very inconsistent.

Shang Chi is awesome in this issue. Sam and Bobby are pretty fun, too. That poker scene is sloppy and awful, but you can’t win them all.

ROCKETEER: HOLLYWOOD HORROR #4 (Roger Langridge / J. Bone) IDW

This is a fun issue. That’s about it. That makes it the best book of the week.

One note… I will often speak out against sexism in comics, even when there can be excuses for it.

Do you know how to get away with it? Adam Hughes knows. So do the Dodsons.

Do it with style.


Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Batwoman #5

January 15, 2012
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There was a lot of fighting this week… and some of it was pretty well done! Cutting another book this week… sadly. You will see.

BATWOMAN #5 (J.H. Williams III / W. Haden Blackman) DC

Williams is simply amazing. Every page is a work of art and all of it is DESIGNED rather than just drawn. He shows that some artists are not functioning to the level that they could be. It is beautiful stuff. Williams is subbing out for Amy Reeder Hadley next, I believe, but she is a great artist too! It will be interesting to see what she does while under the shadow of Williams.

The story is good too, but honestly, the art is almost TOO good to pay much attention to the story. 🙂 I like Bones so Batwoman’s new associates are very welcome.

THE UNWRITTEN #33 (Carey / Gross / Perker) Vertigo

As I said, a lot of fighting this week. Even The Unwritten involves a full frontal assault (albeit Dragoon-aided). Things are starting to be spelled out here and the ideas that come out of the workings of the Unwritten world work towards their ultimate conclusions… almost. The question is… why don’t they ‘write him out’?

BRILLIANT #2 (Bendis / Bagley) Icon

The quality of Scarlet got me to give Brilliant a try. It is very different but still well worth a read. The Bagley art and Bendis dialogue makes it feel like Peter Parker is going to wonder in any some point. The characters are strong and while the plot is unfolding slowly it is still keeping me hooked.

NEW AVENGERS #20 (Bendis / Deodato / Beredo) Marvel

So an issue that is just one long fight scene and drawn by Mike Deodato. Sounds like something I would slag, right? Well, I would have thought so, but this was a really entertaining comic! Deodato was nowhere near as bad as he normally is. The different characters were actually different and not cut-outs of each other! The only real thing I didn’t like came on the last page because I hate being reminded that such a stupid character exists.

ULTIMATE X-MEN #6 (Spencer / Medina / Barberi / Vlasco / Lokus) Marvel

First off, what is with that cover? When was the last time Kitty looked ANYTHING like that, it either world? Leaving that, Rogue redeemed herself as a character SOMEWHAT, but still has a ways to go. The surprise ending was something I projected before it happened, though I didn’t think they would admit it yet. I didn’t read Ultimate X-Men before the relaunch… so I don’t know how big a surprise that was.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #7 (Brubaker / Davis / Farmer / Martin) Marvel

The only thing I don’t like about this story is the seen-it-before syndrome. Cap losing his serum powers is a story I feel like I have read a few times already. It is working okay so far, and I quite like the Serpent Squad (though I would like to see the return of the Serpent Society). The new Cap book reads a bit like the old Mark Gruenwald issues and that is a very good thing. I think the Davis art really helps that feeling.

SECRET AVENGERS #21 (Ellis / Immonen / Von Grawbadger / Sotomayor) Marvel

Sigh. The best thing about this issue is the knowledge that it is Ellis’ last. I don’t dislike Ellis and I have liked SOME of his run (last issue was REALLY good) but his apparent dislike of Steve Rogers is really a problem for me. I tried to look at this issue two ways: once as is and once with a mental substitution of Nick Fury in for Steve Rogers. With that chane, the book was actually quite good. Fury was ruthless. Beast was his conscience. Rhodey was good. Natasha was good. Valkyrie was good.

But it wasn’t Fury. It was Rogers.

Look, I am NOT getting into a debate about torture. My problem is not about whether it is okay to torture someone or to casually discuss killing your own team without first trying to find a better way. My problem is that Steve Rogers WOULD NOT do those things. Beast was saying things that Rogers should have been saying.

Looking forward to Remender.

BATGIRL #5 (Gail SImone / Adrian Syaf / Vicente Cifuentes) DC

Neural implant surgery? In a tossed off line? You need to do better than that.

EXPLAIN WHY SHE IS WALKING. EXPLAIN WHY SHE CAN DO THINGS THAT NOBODY SHOUDL BE ABLE TO DO.

If you don’t do that, Gail, and soon, I am dumping this book. You are making those who complained about taking her out of the chair right.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #677 (Waid / Rios / J.Rod) Marvel

This is part one of a cross-over with Daredevil and it is written my Mark Waid, the DD writer, instead of Dan Slott. It feels like a fill-in. Quite disappointing. Also, I liked Rios’ art on the Osborne series but it doesn’t feel right here. The dialogue is light and playful and the art is dark and ominous. There is a disconnect.

SUICIDE SQUAD #5 (Adam Glass / Federico Dallocchio) DC

Someone tell me when this gets better. I’m not waiting anymore. (Bring back Ostrander! Or maybe Simone!)

Dropped.

AVENGERS SOLO #3 (Van Meter / Barrionuevo / McCann / Henry) Marvel

The back-up is good. The lead is not. I’ll run this out because I like the Avengers Academy story but I really wish it was McCann on the lead story.


Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Batwoman #4

December 18, 2011
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This was a very solid week! In fact, the decision to make Batwoman the comic of the week was far from a sure thing due to the strong showings by a few other books!

BATWOMAN #4 (J.H. Williams III / W. Haden Blackman) DC

The dichotomy of the Flamebird fight and the Kate / Maggie (ahem) tussle was really well done. The art was just beautiful, as always.

One thing I found interesting about this issue centres around gender. If this had been BATMAN, and the Flamebird incident had happened, people would be calling it Woman-in-the-refrigerator syndrome. Is it not so because Kate is a woman? Why should that matter?

I happen to thing the syndrome is overblown. Are women portrayed well in comics. Often, no. That doesn’t mean that you can handcuff a writer by not allowing any bad things to happen to female characters. If it is done well, it is done well. If it is done badly…well…

CotW was a close call, though…

AVENGERS ACADEMY #23 (Gage / Raney / Hanna / Sotomayor) Marvel

Yes! This whole book was elevated by one scene.  I am not worrying about spoilers here because Axel Alonso had already blown it, but it turns out that Striker thinks he is gay. That alone is just a story point but the conversation between him and Lightspeed is very well done. His uncertainty compared with Lightspeed… well it just works. Some are complaining that his history of sexual abuse makes this a cliche, but the hell with that. Children are sexually abused. They even address the fact that this did NOT ‘turn him gay’.

The rest of the comic was fine, but it is that one scene that nearly made in CotW.

Oh, Tom Grummett takes over on art next issue! Excellent!

THE UNWRITTEN #32 (Carey / Gross / Perker) Vertigo

Another close one! This wasn’t as good as issue 31.5, but that’s okay. The struggle in the cold stayed interesting as did the meeting of the cabal. I hope that isn’t the last we will see of Frankie for a while.

BATGIRL #4 (Gail Simone / Ardian Syaf / Vicente Cifuentes) DC

I WANT to put this lower on the list, but I just can’t. It was too good an issue. So why do I want to put it lower? It is the way Simone is toying with the readers by not telling them why Gordon is walking again. It is coming off as cheap. Actually, it almost seems like she is stalling while she comes up with a good story.

All that aside. Good issue. Good characterization. Good art. Just good comics.

ULTIMATE X-MEN #4 (Spencer / Medina / Vlasco / Gracia) Marvel

After I read this I thought it would be higher… but the week was just too good. The characterization of Kitty was really strong here. I don’t believe for a second that Rogue is a traitor… but I would almost rather she was instead of being the god-squadder that was implied recently. We’ll see.

NEW AVENGERS (Bendis / Deodato / Bereto) Marvel

No, I don’t like Deodato, but that is not why the book got a weak rating from me. No, it is just one of those transition episodes where nothing much happens but it is needed to get from one plot point to the next. No great criticism, but neither am I going to say it is a great issue. The scene between Squirrel Girl and Daredevil was funny, though.

SUICIDE SQUAD #4 (Adam Glass / Federico Dallocchio) DC

Hey, Suicide Squad isn’t last! Woo-hoo! The story is better, in general, but it doesn’t really flow well. It his some good beats, though the betrayal of Boomer was too sudden with no build up. Dropping us right in was a bad move this time out. The set-up for the next issue would have been interesting with…yes… a bit more set up. Glass is trying to be Grant Morrison… and I don’t really like the jerky style even when Morrison does it.

AVENGERS: X-SANCTION #1 (Jeph Loeb / Ed McGuinness / Dexter Vines / Morry Hollowell) Marvel

Wow. Bad story. Crappy art. At this point I am just hoping they get it together somehow. Does this lead into Avengers vs X-Men?

Leave Cable dead. He is a boring character that should have stayed in the 90’s.


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

November 12, 2011
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So here is my first week of comics for the new blog…. are you excited yet? Ready?

Every week, as I read the comics I rank them, so Ruthanne can save the best for last. So here are the books I bought, from best to worst… (though if I really thought something was going to be bad, I wouldn’t have bought it…

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #4 (Bendis/Pichelli/Ponsor) Marvel

Man, do I love this comic. Since the relaunch it has been my favourite book being published… probably since Joe the Barbarian (a Grant Morrison Vertigo book which I absolutely loved).

The characterization of Miles Morales is excellent. There are a lot of people who could take lessons from Brian Bendis on how to write youth. I LOVE that the new Spidey is non-white and I love that it isn’t the only thing that makes him who he is. He is as well-rounded a character as you can find after only four issues.

I really like the art as well, but I understand Chris Samnee will be doing some issues and that is something I can really get behind. I am a big fan.

This issue finally starts to create a connection between Morales and Peter Parker. Guilt is an amazing motivator…

BATWOMAN #3 (J.H. Williams III, W. Haden Blackman) DC

I am normally a ‘story-first’ guy, but it is the art the makes this book special. Williams doesn’t blow me away as a writer but this is the best designed comic on the shelves. Every page is beautiful.

The story has not been as strong since Rucka left, but it gets by on the strength of so many great characters. Kate Kane, Flamebird, Maggie Sawyer, Chase… good stuff.

AVENGING SPIDER-MAN #1 (Zeb Wells, Joe Madureira, Ferran Daniel) Marvel

Spider-man has always been one the best characters in comics, but he has been horribly written at times. Right now is an embarrassment of riches for a Spider-man fan. Ultimate is one of the best books on the rack. Amazing is in the midst of a great run by Dan Slott, and now this. I am not a huge Madureira fan normally, but this art is pretty solid. Even Rulk, who I am not a fan of, works.

This cook is basically the return of Marvel Team-Up with an Avengers reference in the title to make it sell.

I’m sold.

(I dislike that it comes in a bag, though. I know why, but its still wasteful packaging…)

BATGIRL #3 (Gail Simone, Adrian Syaf, Vicente Cifuentes) DC

A great character. A great writer. A great art team. An interesting new villain and intriguing co-star. What’s not to like?

Well, to start with, three issues in without an explanation as to how she got out of the wheelchair. Oracle was one of the most original characters in comics, and Babs is the only good Batgirl, in my opinion, but we need to understand how she got out of the chair. This is a really big deal and the longer Simone draws it out, the tougher a sell it will be.

It had better be something ‘comic-booky’. Magic hopefully. If she claims that she just has good recuperative powers or whatever it will be a pretty big insult to people who really suffer from severe injuries of that nature. I’m still on board to find out…

THE UNWRITTEN #31 (Carey/Gross/Perker) Vertigo

This has been Vertigo’s top book of late, but it seems to have lost some steam. I don’t know what it is, but now that Tom has a magic wand and can cast his Potter… I mean, Taylor spells… well, let’s just say I hope the book won’t keep meandering as it has been.

It used to be that this would be higher on this list. Hopefully it can get back there. Still worth reading.

THE NEW AVENGERS #18 (Bendis/Deodato/Beredo) Marvel

Other than Avengers 1959 (yeah, yeah) I still collect all the Avengers books, but even if I didn’t, I would get the Bendis ones. His grasp on the team is solid, and his Norman Osborne is excellent. The new Dark Avengers he assembled has me a little worried, since most of the characters he brought together are from books I didn’t care for. The big exception are the ones from the Osborne mini, and the magic shape changing Spider-dude was a bit of a stretch.

Still, I want to know what happens next.

But, MAN do I dislike Mike Deodato’s art! It is a good thing the new team has women with different hair colours, otherwise I couldn’t tell them apart. Also, I assume that is Gorgon pretending to be Wolverine, but how could you tell except by process of elimination?

AVENGERS ORIGINS: VISION (Higgins/Siegel/Perger) Marvel

After the pleasant surprise of how good the Ant-Man & Wasp issue was, my hopes for this rose. I am a big Vision fan (his first appearance was my first ‘important’ back issue that I bought when I was putting together my Avengers collection as a teenager), but this issue didn’t really add anything to the origin we already knew. Rather than dealing with the convoluted pre-Ultron part of his backstory, it just gave as the standard intro. The art was really good for all the parts that had no people in it, but not as strong when it wasn’t just Ultron and Vision.

SUICIDE SQUAD #3 (Adam Glass, Cliff Richards) DC

I really want this book to be better. I LOVED Suicide Squad. Back in the day, it was second only to the Avengers as a book that I followed slavishly. Can only John Ostrander write it properly? It is starting to seem so. I’m still not dropping it… but I really hope it turns around.

The art isn’t any great shakes either.

Ruthanne also picked up a big book called Drawing Down the Moon: The Art of Charles Vess. I haven’t looked at it yet, so I will leave that to her to comment on.

So that is what I bought this week… anybody else pick up anything good that they want to talk about? Bring it on!