Rusty's World

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.

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Rusty’s Comic(s) of the Week: America’s Got Powers #1 & 2

June 3, 2012
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Really good week, despite being somewhat small. Of course, since it was small, and because of a reprint available, I tried a new book that was getting really good reviews…

 

Starting at the relative weakest book and moving up.

 

ANIMAL MAN ANNUAL #1 (Jeff Lemire / Timothy Green II / Joseph Silver) DC

I love the Animal Man book and it is often one of the top books in a given week. So, what is wrong with the Annual?

I have certain standards with an annual. It should be something different from the regular book. It needs to give us something special. They didn’t go that route with this one. Instead it reads just like any other issue of Animal Man… which would be okay except it is a regular issue but worse. It gives us a flashback to a prior version of Animal Man and Swamp Thing. It is a certain that is completely skippable as it adds nothing to the general story. Also, the art is way worse than the regular book.

This sounds harsher than I mean it to. The book was still worth reading, but it couldn’t compare to the better comics of the week.

 

RASL #14 (Jeff Smith) Cartoon Books

This is the penultimate issue of the run. I get the impression that RASL will read better as a whole than it does as individual issues, but it is still very good. I both look forward to seeing how it wraps up and seeing what Jeff Smith does next. Word is that RASL has been optioned for a movie. I think that could really work.

 

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #39 (Reed / Garbett / Lucas / Fabela) Marvel

Brian Reed is no Dan Slott as far as Spidey goes, but this is a solid book. This DOES fit into my criteria for an annual as it gives us a different writer, so a different take from the regular book. This one is sentimental in the right way, but suffers a bit for having no actual challenge for the heroes. When the only thing they have to do to defeat the ‘enemy’ is to go to where he is, it takes a little bit of the suspense away. Also, it seemed a little too easy for Spidey to accept the ultimate wrap up in the sotry. I think I would have preferred a little less time-hopping and a little more of Peter’s reactions to the situations he was faced with.

 

THE ULTIMATES #11 (Hickman / Humphries / Ross / Milla) Marvel

First off, the cover credits lie. There are many more artists involved. There must have been deadline issues and they got people to jump in. Add to that list (Guice / Kirk / Zircher / Aburtov). It didn’t distract too much.

It is funny how a book can turn around. Ultimates was sliding for me and was in danger of getting the axe. Since they blew up Washington, though, it has become a very interesting read. (I DO think it is odd that this can share a universe with Ultimate SPider-Man yet Miles never says anything about major cities being destroyed and Texas forming their own country. That is some pretty major stuff not to pay attention to.)

This is edge of the seat stuff and I look forward to each issue. (For the record, in my opinion, the cliffhanger is a trick.)

 

THE NEW DEADWARDIANS #3 (Dan Abnett / I.N.J. Culbard) Vertigo

Any of the last few books could have been my book of the week this time out, including this one, which was having a tough time clicking with me. This issue really worked as we got some great scenes with a zombie fence and a brothel. This is the characterization that had been absent thus far. The reason I put this one at the bottom of the top (so to speak) is while the characterization was perfect, how it advanced the plot wasn’t clear to me. We’ll see.

 

SUPER CROOKS #3 (Mark Millar / Leinil Yu) Icon

The plan starts to come together… and then starts to fall apart. This book is a little more gruesome than I prefer, but the gore is pretty effective. The way they get their info is pretty ingenious and risky, which shows in the end. This is a mini, right? It reads like one, but I don’t know how long it is set to run.

The one real complaint is that the book is the lack of female characters. The one they have is quite good, despite her tendency to lounge around in little bikinis. (For the record, I have no problem with a character that likes to lounge around in bikinis, but when she is the ONLY female character, it is… well…)

 

AMERICA’S GOT POWERS #1 & 2 (Jonathan Ross / Bryan Hitch) Image

I didn’t get this the first time around, but the reviews have been very positive. Certainly enough for me to take notice. When I was scanning the racks this week I saw issue #2 and also saw that Silver Snail had second printings of #1 (with a black & white cover, though. I didn’t really care for that), so I grabbed both.

Nice series! The set up in issue #1 was excellent and the expanded characterization in issue #2 worked very well! Maybe reading both made each better than if I had just read one, but that is okay. I understand that Ross is some BBC guy, but he has comic pacing down cold (maybe Hitch has helped him out a bit here).

In some ways this is like reading The Boys without feeling dirty afterwards. (Nothing wrong with feeling dirty sometimes…)


Rusty’s (Ruthanne’s) Comic of the Week: All-Star Western #8

May 1, 2012
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This week we switched things up a bit. I am still doing the mini-reviews, but the order is based on Ruthanne’s rankings. When they are substantially different than mine, I’ll let you know… and why, when possible.

 

Starting from the weakest book…

 

FURY OF FIRESTORM #8 (Ethan Van Sciver / Joe Harris) DC

Ruthanne pointed out that the bottom bunch could have gone in any order. None were books that she found actually bad. I likely would have had this book here as well. The problem with Firestorm is that it is all ‘concept’ and very little ‘story’. There are ‘Firestorms’ from lots of countries and they fight. I think you can tell Van Sciver’s politics by paying attention to which of them are ‘good guys’ and which are ‘bad guys’… but having said that, they made the new Firehawk French…

 

CAPTAIN AMERICA & BUCKY #629 (Bunn / Vitti / Tartaglia) Marvel

Forget what I said above… this was the worst book this week, in my opinion. By far. The characterization was actively bad. It is like the development of Hawkeye through the 80’s never happened. Ugh. The art makes the story look good, though. It was bad. In some ways it is worse even than those FF issues after Fantastic Four came back. You can’t even claim this was  a style choice. It looks very amateur.

Very disappointing. (I am very much looking forward to the Fraction / Aja Hawkeye book!)

 

SECRET AVENGERS #26 (Remender / Guedes / Breitweiser) Marvel

I liked this a lot more than Ruthanne did, I think. Solid, solid book. I love the way Remender is using Beast. He tells it like it is, and doesn’t pussyfoot around the feelings of the other heroes… when it is deserved. This book also makes me look forward to a future book. The new DeConnick Captain Marvel looks very promising.

The Guedes art is okay, but putting Alan Davis on the cover makes me really wish he was on the inside as well.

 

MOON KNIGHT #12 (Bendis / Maleev / Hollingsworth) Marvel

This is our first big divergence, as I thought this was a very good comic. However, I know what has left a sour taste in Ruthanne’s mouth, and she is absolutely right. Echo is nothing more than a ‘Girlfriend-in-a-refrigerator’. She was killed for no reason other than to make Moon Knight mad. Now I am not a big Echo fan, but this was a pretty shoddy end for her.

This may be the biggest reason I am looking forward to DeConnick’s Captain Marvel book. Female characters shouldn’t only exist as fodder for the make character’s adventures and emotions.

 

THE TWELVE #12 (J.Michael Straczynski / Chris Weston) Marvel

This is pure epilogue, but it is very well done, just like the rest of the series. (Though that little hint of a Rockman story seemed very sad…)

Anyone who fell off this series or didn’t give it a chance should read it collected. The publishing schedule on this was ridiculous but now that it is done, it is a very good book, deserving of a place on your bookshelf.

 

CAPTAIN AMERICA #10 (Brubaker / Davis / Farmer / Martin) Marvel

Every issue I say the same thing, but every issue it is true. Good, old style superhero fun. Villainous plots and superheroic efforts to save the day. Sharon’s method of defeating Machinesmith was great.

And the Alan Davis art! Yes!

 

THE ULTIMATES (Hickman / Ribic / White) Marvel

Here is a book that I would have quite a bit lower. Certainly below the Twelve, Secret Avengers, Captain America and DEFINITELY Moon Knight. Having said that, for a Hickman book, I found this pretty easy to follow. It was still way over the top, as his style. (How is all of this going on without there being an impact in Spider-man?)

I do really like the way Hickman is writing Reed and Hulk together. That is very well done.

 

NEW AVENGERS (Bendis / Deodato / Conrad / Beredo) Mavel

This issue made me dislike Deodato even more. ‘How could that be?’ you may ask. “This issue was really great!’ It is true. The art in this issue was absolutely stunning. So why does this make me like Deodato more?

Because he HAS great skill as an artist! So when he draws characters (ESPECIALLY female characters) as carbon copy cliche cutouts of one another, he is doing it on PURPOSE!

With that out of the way… yes, what a beautiful book. Tying Iron Fist to the Phoenix is the right kind of ‘retcon’ (as the term is often misused). It doesn’t ‘change’ anything. It just adds to it.

 

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

Here is a book where our tastes diverge in the other direction. Two issues in and this is NOT a very good comic. The story is barely moving. It is almost like Abnett said “hey, I have a great idea for a comic’ and stopped there. I also don’t like the art. Simple, I like. This is too simple. It looks like an issue of The Unwritten with the talent of the artist dialled quite a bit back.

The worst thing is that this is a miniseries, and it feels like we are still reading the prologue.

 

SUPER CROOKS #2 (Mark Millar / Leinil Yu) Icon

Ruthanne put this very high despite hating the cover. I don’t like it quite as much as she does. I liked it a lot but I felt the violence level was pretty gratuitous. Ruthanne though tit was fun.

Yeah, I can’t figure her out some times. 🙂

Solid comic. Well worth a read.

 

ALL-STAR WESTERN #8 (Palmiotti / Gray / Moritat / Scherberger / Green) DC

We agreed on what the best comic of the week was. All-Star Western is just good comics, week in and week out. I wish the infiltration had gone a little further so we could see what Hex was actually willing to do… also , I wonder how much longer he should be willing to put up with Arkham. I know that Ruthanne really likes Cinnamon too, and what’s not to like? A strong female character who looks good without showing as much skin as she possibly can and every opportunity? What is a shame is that it is so unusual.

I like the art in both stories. Moritat is a stylish choice, and in the back-up it reminds me of Art Adams, and there is nothing wrong with that!


Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Wonder Woman #7

March 24, 2012
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After a late week getting to my comics, this time I got them Thursday… but Thursday was my birthday and last night was Once Upon A Slam, so here I am!

 

From best to ‘least best’.

 

WONDER WOMAN #7 (Brian Azzarello / Cliff Chiang) DC

This book us going to ruffle the feathers of some long-standing WW fans… but I don’t care. It is just a well done comic. The changes in Paradise Island and the Amazons are very large, but they create a great story. The scenes with the Amazons hunting for… seed… were very well done. The scenes with Hephastus and the men were excellent. This is one of the best comics DC has going (at least when Cliff Chiang is on art duties) and this is the best issue of the run thus far.

 

FABLES #115 (Willingham / Buckingham / Leialoha / McManus) Vertigo

Fables is not the book it once was (for that, read Fairest right now), but it still has flashes of greatness, instead of just ‘goodness’. I don’t like the back-ups… not the story itself but getting it in such small doses… but the main story was very VERY good. The stuff with Spratt worked but it is Discardia that REALLY resonates. I guess that can’t call it the Island of the Misfit Toys, but Discardia is such a great name anyway. It is more a cross between Rudolph and Toy Story anyway. Good comic.

 

SUPER CROOKS #1 (Mark Millar / Leinil Yu) Icon

I feel that I should point Ruthanne’s legitimate gripe against this book. Eight characters on the cover and only one isn’t white (or is it two, hard to tell) but more than that, only one female. And guess what? She also happens to be someone’s girlfriend or something. Past that, this is a good read. It isn’t hugely ground-breaking but a strong story of career loser criminals looking for a new stomping grounds. The bit with Vegas and supers was nice.

I bought this on a whim but am going to continue.

 

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #682 (Slott / Caselli / Martin Jr.) Marvel

This kicks off Ends of the Earth (the big Spidey story of the season). Doc Ock is helping to save the world. Do you trust him? Spidey doesn’t. I really liked them showing the uses of Peter’s inventions and what a great place Horizon Labs is. I don’t like the latest costume, though. Apparently it is Sinister Six proof or something.

 

DOMINIQUE LAVEAU VOODOO CHILD #1 (Selwyn Seyfu Hinds / Denys Cowan / John Floyd) Vertigo

This book was pretty disappointing. Not enough to drop it yet, but the story was pretty disjointed and the scripting was, well, bad. Put this in the Night Force category of ‘I hope it gets better’.

 

THUNDERBOLTS #171 (Parker / Walker / Pallot / Martin ) Marvel

Thunderbolts has been pretty good lately and this is the regular creative team… so why was it so lousy? The villain was lame. The premise was weak. Parts of it were just icky for no reason. It SEEMS like the only reason this comic exists is to change Songbirds powers… I guess. It is unclear. This book is turning into Dark Avengers soon. We’ll see.

 

AVENGERS: X-SANCTION #4 (Jeph Loeb / Ed McGuiness / Dexter Vines / Morry Hollowell) Marvel

Not that you could tell the name of the book by the cover. You would assume this was just the Avengers book. Maybe that was the point.

So, in the end this book served a purpose, narratively. It brought back Cable and set the stage for AvX… but just. It didn’t suck as bad as it seemed like it was going to early on, but I still would not recommend it.