Rusty's World

Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Saga #3

May 20, 2012
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A GREAT week for comics! Even the comic I have as the weakest of the bunch wasn’t all that bad! The fight for the top spots was tooth and nail!

 

As always, I start with the weakest and work my way up.

 

AVENGERS VS X-MEN #4 (Hickman / Romita / Hanna / Martin) Marvel

There are some real problems with this book. The biggest of which is that it feels like it is just a series of recaps about crossover books, after claiming you don’t need to read those books.  The actual meat of the story is told elsewhere (and it sounds like the best of it is in X-Men books, which I don’t read.)

Still, I like the direction the story is going. Wolverine is starting to act in a more rational manner, which is nice. I expect the Phoenix force is going to fly right past them there on the moon, but we will see.

 

WINTER SOLDIER #5 (Brubaker / Guice / Gaudino / Palmer / Breitweiser) Marvel

This is a nice wrap-up for the story (though it seems like there will be an epilogue or sequel to come). It is an interesting fight and the bit between W.S. and Red Ghost was pretty cool and the arrogance of Doom was spot on. WInter Soldier is not a ‘great’ book, but it is solidly a ‘good’ book.

 

AVENGERS #26 (Bendis / Simonson / Hanna / Keith) Marvel

Man, Walt Simonson is awesome. Just look at some of those pages! Look at the MOVEMENT in them. This is a master at work (and less of the ‘misses’ found in the previous issue). The stuff with Noh and Annie was great and I really hope that this ‘betryal’ works out okay and we get to see more of them. I don’t care about Protector normally, but adding her makes him way more interesting. (Yes, we have seen her before, despite what the guy from The Buy Pile says.)

This is an example of where the crossover stories are better than the main AVX book.

 

BATWOMAN #9 (J.H.Williams III / W.Haden Blackman / Trevor McCarthy) DC

I have written in the past about how much I love Amy Reeder’s work on Madame Xanadu and how bad it was on Batwoman. Trevor McCarthy is a nice change. He goes in for the design vibe of Williams (while not being AS good, but who is?). The lay-outs and execution are interesting. I like the switch between the different ‘worlds’ of the characters.

Characters are everything here, because the plot is kind of a mess. The characters ar strong enough to overcome it though.

 

THUNDERBOLTS #174 (Parker / Shalvey / Martin) Marvel

Surprised to see this book this high on the list of such a good week? Me too, yet here it is. The story is interesting! Following through on the problems with time travel, it messes with our heads and ties everything in a knot… not neat and tidy but firm enough to stop it from unravelling. I miss Techno.

I have been very critical of Declan Shalvey’s work (and some sleuthing tells me it is POSSIBLE that he has read what I had to say), however, a lot of the problems I have had are not apparent this issue. It feels a lot stronger, artwise.

This is the last issue before it switches to Dark Avengers. A name change doesn’t bother me. Adding such a terrible character as Clor or Ragnarok or whatever they are calling him… that bothers me. We’ll see.

 

AVENGERS ACADEMY #30 (Gage / Grummett / Hamscher / Sotomayor) Marvel

Is Christos Gage the best writer going for pure, honest characterization right now? If not, he is up there. Look how believable they ALL are in this book. Every time I see any of the characters talking about ANYTHING, I want to know what they think, because they seem REAL. In the letters page somebody complained about a lack of action. I find the action gets int eh way in this book. Make it pure soap opera and you really have something. In fact, the only scenes I didn’t like were the ones with Shaw in them. I just don’t care about him as he seems to only be there to be the villain.

 

SAUCER COUNTRY #3 (Paul Cornell / Ryan Kelly) Vertigo

This book suddenly got better. The scene with the obviously leading hypnotherapist was great. The bunnies. The argument that there are no facts, just mythology… even if it is real… is a head rush. Wherever this story is going, it isn’t predictable. I like that feeling.

 

WONDER WOMAN #9 (Brian Azzarello / Tony Akins / Dan Green) DC

I’ll start with a criticism: think of how god this book COULD have been, if the art was better. If only Cliff Chiang could draw EVERY issue…

Some people criticize WW because of what it is doing to such a classic character and her mythology. I honestly couldn’t care less. Say this isn’t WW at all and pretend this is a new Vertigo book if you want… I just know that this is the most interesting version of the greek gods I have EVER read. Ares is brilliant. In fact, I liked everything about this issue except the art. Akins isn’t terrible, but he isn’t good enough for the story being told here.

 

SAGA #3 (Brian K. Vaughan / Fiona Staples) Image

Great yet again. The story – the characters – everything.

What I really want to address is the letter that follows I review I read that says that the male lead is ‘weak’. Bullshit. He doesn’t act like your typical, testosterone laden leading man? GOOD. It is called character. Not everybody should act the same way!

Too ANYONE who says that Marko is (these are actual quotes from the mouth breather who wrote in) ‘a testosterone-free girl-man who is mind-numbingly “sensitive”‘ and ‘feeble and effeminate’ I just want to say, grow up. Even past the sexist crap you are layering in here, I am sure glad I don’t know you. Stick to the monster truck races and leave books with actual well-rounded, non stereotypical characters to people who can handle it.

In this context, do you know what ‘sensitive’ means? Not an asshole.

 

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Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Wonder Woman #8

April 25, 2012
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Some really solid books this week!  Plus the load was a manageable size…. I get a little carried away sometimes. 🙂

 

Starting from the weakest book and moving up.

 

DOMINIQUE LAVEAU: VOODOO CHILD #2 (Hinds / Cowan / Floyd) Vertigo

This is kind of a mess. I mean, what is going on? I really want to like the book – and I DO like the Denys Cowan art – but the story is very erratic. I am going to keep with it, but it is danger of being dropped from the list. Too bad. (Ruthanne likes the book more than I do, apparently.)

 

DEFENDERS #5 (Fraction / Breitweiser / Breitweiser) Marvel

Captain Nemo is Namor’s father? Really? That is just dumb. This is the worst issue of the run, but what can you do with a Namor lead? Who is just not that interesting a character. There are some apparent continuity problems with Namor, but I don’t read the X-Men books, so I don’t really care. The art is… okay, I guess. It isn’t bad but it isn’t exciting.

It looks like next issue switches to being an Iron Fist focused story, which should be a big improvement. (Though I wish they would decided if they want Danny with Misty or not…)

 

AVENGERS VS X-MEN #2 (Aaron / Romita / Hanna / Martin) Marvel

There has been a lot of hype around this book. A LOT of hype. I have been looking forward to it quite a bit.

And THIS is what we get.

Page after page of people punching each other. That’s it? Where is the, you know, STORY?

Plus I am not a Romita Jr. fan. He isn’t terrible, but not enough to save this book.

However, my rant is not about the writing or art. It is about THOSE BLOODY AWFUL AR CODES STUCK IN ALL OVER! Whose ridiculously stupid idea was that? Certainly not the artist or the writer since they make the comic much worse.

MESSAGE TO MARVEL: STOP PUTTING AN AD FOR YOUR DIGITAL SERVICE ON THE PANELS OF THE COMIC. PERIOD.

 

AVENGERS #25 (Bendis / Simonson / Hanna / Keith) Marvel

Don’t buy into the AVX hype… but buy this book anyway. It is worth a read… for the art alone. The story is very disappointing. It is clearly a fill-in, marking time until the AVX story is in place. The art, though… is WALT SIMONSON! Woot! Before I get too carried away, I need to be honest. There are some panels here that are just plain bad. Not too many , though, and Simonson draws action as good or better than anyone. This is LIGHT YEARS better than Deodato over on New Avengers.

But, as I said, the story is weak. The good news is that Simonson appears to be here for the time being, so hopefully he will get better scripts to draw in the coming months.

 

THUNDERBOLTS #173 (Parker / Shalvey / Martin) Marvel

Thunderbolts continues to be the dirty little secret of Marvel. It has one of the best on-going stories of any Marvel book… paired with really sub-standard art that makes it look like a run of the mill, garbage book from yesterday.

Of course the yesterday bit seems a little apropos as the T’Bolts take on the 90’s version of the team. The whole book is worth it for the character interplay and contrast between Fixer and Techno.

That’s what I said. Fixer and Techno.

 

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #684 (Slott / Ramos / Olazaba / Delgado) Marvel

Dan Slott continues to do a great job on Spidey.The story is intriguing. The art is excellent. The only thing wrong with it is that ugly costume that he is currently sporting.

Oh, and the way they beat Sandman was kind of lame… but the book is generally so written that I can let that slide. (Oh, who did the cover? Caselli? Zip up that shirt, Caselli.)

 

CASTLE WAITING #16 (Linda Medley) Fantagraphics

Castle Waiting is back! Apparently it is only going to run to issue #18, but seeing how it has been three years since issue 15, I’m not complaining.

This book is wonderful. It would be higher on this list, except it’s strength really isn’y in single issues. (Though the issue with the baby Lion and the one with the little gremlins taking care of the baby would be top of the week.)

I don’t advise anyone to run out and buy this issue if you haven’t been reading the book. Instead what I advise is that you run out and buy the first volume of Castle Waiting in hardcover. DO IT.

 

FABLES #116 (Willingham / Buckingham / Leialoha / McManus) Vertigo

The whole Discardia story is coming along nicely. The art is beautiful as always. Seeing another side to Lord Mountbatten was nice. The kids are rapidly becoming the best characters in Fables… and Fables is a book that is teeming with great characters.

As usual, I don’t like the format for the back-up… but this time it was pretty good! The rope was awesome, but it is still too small a slice to get a proper feel. I would WAY rather the issues of the book alternate between the two stories instead of short-changing both.

 

WONDER WOMAN #8 (Brian Azzarello / Cliff Chiang) DC

Some issues of Wonder Woman make me think it is the best book DC has going. Other issues make me think that Azzarello is letting the ideas in his head spill onto the page a little too muddled and clear only to him. Then there is the whole destruction of tradition angle.

This issue, is easily the best of the run, in my opinion. The rest of the stuff with the Amazons etc. is put to he side to give us a straight ahead journey into hell, and all that entails. Hades, the dead, Haphaestus, Cupid, Hermes, Zola… all are just right in here.

Here is the deal: the complaints about Azzarello destroying the best example of female strength in comics… well, maybe. I get that. I see why this would be something people wouldn’t like. But this is a damned good comic. Let him kill the sacred cows… it will just be his responsibility to create new ones.

Here’s hoping he does.


Rusty’s Comic of the (two) Week(s): The Unwritten #36

April 15, 2012
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I would go and try to figure out which was my top book from each week, but I don’t feel like trying to find out which books came out in which week.

 

And who cares, really?

 

Trying something new this week. I always list the books from the best to the worst. Ruthanne thinks it would read better if I go from the worst to the best.

I think that is just because that is the order she reads them. Regardless, if you have a preference, o loyal reading public, let me know.

 

BATWOMAN # 8 (J.H. Williams III / W.Haden Blackman / Amy Reeder / Rob Hunter) DC

From best to worst in such a short time. This may be a little repetitive from earlier reviews, but here goes. Amy Reeder is a great artist. Her work on Madame Xanadu was stellar. When it was announced that she would be the ‘alt’ artist on Batwoman, I was thrilled. It would be very different from Williams, but I thought it would be a great contrast.

Those at DC thought differently. They brought her in and then tried to get her to draw like Williams. Since Williams as now the writer, my guess is that he uses full script and told Reeder how the pages should look. The end result is just awful. Instead of getting great Williams art or great Reeder art we get this absolute mess. The cover was nice. That’s about it.

On top of that, the writing is not good. Williams is not a very good writer. His phenomenal art has hid this… but now it is out there for all to see. (This sounds like the early days of Image, no?)

So why I am not cancelling this? Reeder is out (and she made no bones about how much she disliked working on the book). Trevor McCarthy is taking over and I am told that his esthetic is much like Williams’ anyway, so it should jell better. We’ll give it a try.

 

NIGHT FORCE #2 (Marv Wolfman / Tom Mandrake) DC

I was so excited when they announced this book. I love the IDEA of Night Force, with Baron Winter and his magic house. The first issue was a mess, however. It was confusing and did not do anything to keep me interested. In the interest of HOPING the book would get better, I stuck around for issue #2. It DID get better… but not enough. It reads like a book summary, if that makes sense.

Dropped.

 

AVENGING SPIDER-MAN #6 (Rucka / Waid / Checchetto / Hollingswoth) Marvel

I nearly dropped this one but Ruthanne tells me that she enjoys it. This book crosses over with Daredevil and Punisher. Guess which two books I don’t buy? Shayne endorses both, so do I let this suck me in and buy them?

The real thing that gets me to consider dropping the book is that for the most part these stories feel like they don’t matter. I straight ahead superhero book in isolation isn’t enough for me. I have read thousands of those. I like the on-going stores that move from one to the other… and for Spider-Man, I quite enjoy Slott’s book. This one… well, just doesn’t have that.

Oh well. Sticking around for now.

 

THUNDERBOLTS #172 (Parker / Shalvey / Bellaire / Sotomayor) Marvel

Ruthanne would prefer I cancel this one, but I am sticking it out. So this is the big 15 year anniversary, with art by… Declan Shalvey? Really? I enjoy the story, which is good because the art is pretty awful. Good thing they got the anniversary celebration sin before the book is cancelled (and relaunched as Dark Avengers). I have a newsflash for Marvel… the book doesn’t sell poorly because it doesn’t say Avengers on the cover. It sells poorly because you don’t give it a decent artist to push it with.

(As an aside, I have been given the impression that none other than Declan himself has read one of my reviews where I slam his work. I am truly sorry about that. I am a creator as well and when I read reviews that rip me apart it hurts. But I don’t think I should lie about what I think of the book for that reason… so I am sorry. I wished I liked it more, but I don’t.)

 

iZOMBIE #24 (Chris Roberson / Jim Rugg) Vertigo

A non-Allred issue. When the fill-in was J.Bone, that was pretty cool. This issue… not so much. The art is fine, but it just makes me wish it was still Allred instead of being a nice change of pace.  This feels like a ‘marking time’ issue, which is odd as they race towards the finale in a few months (Vertigo has cancelled the book due to poor sales). I normally quite like iZombie, but this issue just didn’t wow me. Still good, just not great.

 

AVENGERS ASSEMBLE #2 (Bendis / Bagley / Miki / Mounts) Marvel

The Avengers book that just ‘happens’ to match the cast of the upcoming movie. Based on that, I wouldn’t buy it, but it is still Bendis and Bagley. It is a pretty fun read. It is one of those ‘old-school’ superhero books that I enjoy. I think it is Bagley that make sit feel that way. That and the Zodiac.

Not much to say. A fun book in the old Marvel style.

 

SECRET AVENGERS #25 (Remender / Hardma / Breitweiser) Marvel

A solid read. The only thing that bothered me is that the fast little teleport out seems like it could have been used last issue to avoid the beatings they kept taking. Venom gets to prove his worth to Hawkeye, which is important for the book going forward. Ant-Man did as well, with a hearty ‘BUT…’ to follow. New villains turn into a ‘thing’ rather than just a one-off. A nice teaser at the end.

What’s not to like?

 

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #683 (Slott / Caselli / Martin Jr.) Marvel

This book is WAY better than the Avenging version. The story here is really top notch. (As long as the world doesn’t KEEP buying into DocOck’s lies. He pretty clear acts villainous in front of the world leaders.)  The fight with the Avengers and the Sinister Six was exciting, and the way Spidey held his own was well thought on (by Peter and Dan).

My only real problem is that fugly costume Spidey is wearing as part of the story. I am looking forward to that being done with. You know those times when you read old comics and discover little blips where Cap or Thor or whoever are wearing some ridiculous ‘new’ costume that vanishes quickly after? This storyline will be THAT one day.

 

Note to Dan Slott. Forget Bendis. This book ‘matters’.

 

WINTER SOLDIER #4 (Brubaker / Guice / Gaudino / Breitweiser) Marvel

I am enjoying this book. The spy stuff is cool, but we are also reminded that the conceit that the world thinks Bucky is dead will stretch credibility if they continue it too long. Any book with Red Ghost and his super-apes has got to be good, and duelling Doctor Dooms is fun. (Though I am not quite down with Bru’s take on Doom’s dialogue. He comes across as delusional rather than insufferably confident.)

 

AVENGERS VS X-MEN #1 (Benids / Romita / Hanna / Martin) Marvel

Quick question… what is with that AR that appears on a bunch of pages? It is really distracting.

Well, this was a LOT better than that pretty bad issue #0. It sets the stage pretty nicely. I expected to take the side of the X-Men (I much prefer the Avengers books, but the way this story was laying out, thy are a little too ‘establishment’), but it didn’t go that way at all. Cyclops is an asshole. Everything that happens here on out is because his first reaction was to shoot rather than talk.

Good work by Romita. Better than we have seen from him in quite some time.

 

FAIREST #2 (Willingham / Jimenez / Lanning) Vertigo

I loved issue #1, so why has #2 dropped so far? The art is still beautiful and the story is still interesting…. but that imp has gotten REALLY annoying. Willingham is using him as a way to explain things that doesn’t read like it is to the characters. It is to the reader. Sloppy. (Plus, that long diatribe against the physical capabilities of women in a book meant to spotlight women? Really out of place. Not quite to the level of Fables #50 when Willingham turned the book into an anti-Palestine rant that was pretty darned offensive, but it follows that path…)

 

BATGIRL #8 (Simone / Syaf / Martinez / Cifuentes) DC

From nearly cancelled to flying up the list in one issue! Finally Simone deals with the shooting in a way that doesn’t insult the intelligence of the reader. She still doesn’t adequately explain how you can go from wheelchair bound to superheroics, but the story of how she was saved from bleeding to death on the floor really worked for me. After the terrible characterization of the Batgirl/ Black Canary meeting, this issue made me actually care about he characters. Well done.

 

SWAMP THING #8 (Scott Snyder / Yanick Paquette / Marco Rudy) DC

From a book moving up to a book sliding down.  I am sure this is just an aberration, because most of the reason this book isn’t as high as normal is that it reads like a transition. Look, Alec is Swamp Thing now! He is really strong and tough! He could beat the rotting animals in a fistfight! But how will he deal with Abby?

When I read this I remember thinking that by the end Paquette was really rushed. I double-checked the credits and saw that it was really because it wasn’t Paquette. Rudy is just not as good. (Not terrible or anything, but Paquette’s art is one of the things that makes ST so great usually). Normally I think Swamp Thing is better than Animal Man (its sister title). Not this month.

 

BRILLIANT #3 (Bendis / Bagley) Icon

It is really hitting the fan now.The ‘you-have-to-give-the-money-back’ was a little bit of over-the-top moralizing, but other than that, it read well. I liked the way it was the challenge that really inspired Albert. Good read. Not much else to say here.

 

SAUCER COUNTRY #2 (Paul Cornell / Ryan Kelly) Vertigo

I liked this issue better than the first, in some ways. THe discussions about anal rape, didn’t thrill me, but they were not done in an exploitative manner. The characters worked a lot better for me this issue, but the rape stuff just makes it a little harder to say I ‘enjoyed’ the comic. We’ll see how it plays out.

 

THIEF OF THIEVES #3 (Kirkman / Spencer / Martinbrough / Serrano) Image

I really like the style of this book. Ruthanne had complained that only female characters are only there in relation to the male, but he IS the main character. I think she’ll like the cop in this book. She is pretty solid. Apparently AMC has optioned this nook. I guess the Kirkman name is a selling point now. I think I like i tmore due to Spencer and Martinbrough.

 

THE NEW AVENGERS #24 (Bendis / Deodato / Conrad / Beredo) Marvel

Let’s get this out of the way: that cover is terrible. I am not a big Deodato fan at the best of times but this is bad even for him. The story, however, it really strong. This is an AvX tie-in, but the real strength and meat of the book is the Cage / Jones / Danielle storyline. It just reads so real. There is a lot of hate for Jessica Jones on the internet, but in my opinion that is mostly from people who don’t like when women in comics actually act like people instead of fantasy archetypes. The story is believable in every aspect of it.

Forget the AvX stuff (though it works in this book), just read a damn good comic.

 

ANIMAL MAN #8 (Jeff Lemire / Steve Pugh / Travel Foreman / Jeff Huet) DC

This is the issue where Steve Pugh takes over for Travel Foreman. I approve. Mostly, though, it is the story that makes this one so good. The feeling of fear, terror. and generally disturbing unease FILLS this book. The scenes will Maxine (both ‘before’ and ‘after’) were chilling. Is this the best book that DC is putting out? I would have said no a month or so ago, but this issue was REALLY well done. Two thumbs up.

 

AVENGERS ACADEMY #28 (Gage / Moline / Fern / Sotomayor) Marvel

It is hard to talk about this book too much without giving everything away, but the scene where the characters get to see INTO the other characters was very powerful. EVERY character seems better now than they did before. I love the new interaction between AA and the Runaways as long as they continue it and this isn’t just lip service. The post-revelation reactions were very moving.

Just a good comic. (The art could be better, but what can I say…)

 

SAGA #2 (Brian K. Vaughan / Fiona Staples) Image

I loved the first issue. I love the second issue. BUY THIS BOOK. The last page alone makes me anxious for issue #3!

 

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #9 (Benids / Marquez / Ponsor) Marvel

What do you do with this book when Pichelli is not on it? If you answer Chris Samnee (as it has been in the past), well that is a very good answer, But if you say David Marquez, that may be even better! This book was great from end to end, story, art, everything. The scene with Miles and the cop were great. The scene with Prowler and Scorpion were great. The scene with Miles and his roommates were VERY great.

If you aren’t buying Ultimate Spider-Man, but only question is….why?

 

THE UNWRITTEN #36 (Carey / Gross / Dayglo) Vertigo

A week (or two) with Sage and an excellent issue of Ultimate Spider-man yet the Unwritten makes it to the top? You bet! The best issues of this book, easily, have been the ‘stairway’ issues and this one is no exception. Pauly and the Tinker are excellent characters and they work well together. The end reminds me of the old Sandman arc, Game of You, and that is high praise… yet it isn’t over! I can’t wait for issue #37!!!

 

 

What a great batch of comics.

So, which format do you like better? Best first or best last?


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.


Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Fables #114

February 19, 2012
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Interesting week. Nothing really blew me away, but there were some solid reads. Disappointing art in a lot of books… including one bad enough that I may drop it.

 

FABLES #114 (Willinham / Buckingham / Leialoha / McManus) Vertigo

Q: How many storylines were advanced in this comic? A: A lot.

From Winter to Spratt. From Oz to an interesting talking boat. nice McManus art in the back-up. I a, looking forward to the next issue ! (And to Fairest.)

 

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #679.1 (Yost / Slott / Clark / Palmer) Marvel

The secret is out… but Morbius leads to another classic Spidey foe (just in time for the movie…) The big strength in this issue was all about the scipting. There were some very funny bis and Uatu was a treat. Dan Slott has made a wonderful supporting cast and Chris Yost was a seamless addition to the team.

 

THUNDERBOLTS #170 (Parker / Walker / Pallot / Martin) Marvel

I still have some issues with the art… Troll’s costume is ridiculous and Moonstone does not look very… natural. The story, though, is very strong. Merlin is great in here. Ghost rejoining the squad… Boomerang’s ‘creative’ thinking. The best moment was Troll taming herself a dragon. Any chance it joined them in their tower? Now THAT would have been something…

 

AVENGING SPIDER-MAN #4 (Zeb Wells / Greg Land / Jay Leister / Wil Quintana) Marvel

Land seemed a lot less… bad tracing job this issue. Keeping him away from female characters might be a good thing. The little insight into Hawkeye’s character seemed more like answering to stupid comic readers that think that power is everything rather than actually reflecting the character. but the story worked. Next is SPidey and Cap.

 

NEW AVENGERS #21 (Bendis / Deodato / Mounts) Marvel

New is the better of the two main Avengers books right now, despite the Deodato art. I enjoyed this book despite DESPISING the character of Ragnarok. I am enjoying ht return of Osborne story but if this gets anywhere near actually havign the governemnt consider reinstating him… well, that is just too stupid for words.

 

WINTER SOLDIER #2 (Brubaker / Guice / Breitweiser) Marvel

The marvel espionage book. It even had some Fury in it. I do wish they woudl change the name, though. A: He is NOT Winter Soldier, and B: this is a TEAM book. A team of Bucky and Natasha. Name it something to fit.

 

AVENGERS #22 (Bendis / Guedes / Magalhaes / Keith) Marvel

The story isn’t bad but the art is really sloppy. What is with the cover? This book reads almost like Under Seige but the art really distracts.

 

WONDER WOMAN #6 (Brian Azzarello / Tony Akins / Dan Green) DC

Speaking of art being a distraction, I am sure looking forward to Cliff Chiang returning to this book. The story is falling into place, but Akins is too ‘straight-forward’ for this quirky take on WW and the gods.

 

ULTIMATE X-MEN #7 (Spencer / Barberi / Wong / Gracia) Marvel

This may be the last issue I get of this. The story wasn’t interesting. The ‘twists’ did not excite me. The art was SO bad. Look at the Wanda reveal. Wow. I mean holy crap. That art is embarrassing in it s awfulness. Is it 1993 again and I didn’t notice.

Yuck.


Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Moon Knight #9

January 22, 2012
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This was a REALLY good week. A lot of top comics and even some strong showings from weaker books. Only one clunker (though I may have some smaller complaints about bits along the way.)

Starting at my favourite comic of the week and working back.

MOON KNIGHT #9 (Bendis / Maleev / Hollingsworth) Marvel

This has been a solid book from issue 1 but it really hits its stride here. It is a fight issue, but it is interspersed with flashbacks between MK and Buck to show where he got his new toys to outfit his delusional mind state. It also shows that Buck is on to him. The fight was beautiful, as was all the art. The cover deserves special recognition. Maleev is extremely talented.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #678 (Slott / Ramos / Olazaba / Delgado) Marvel

After a ‘less good’ issue, this book is right back on its game! The premise, with Peter getting a little look into the future and seeing the destruction caused by that look was really interesting (and of course the reason why that particular device will be destroyed at the end of the story, I am sure). How he is going to try and fix it is also interesting. I can’t wait for the second part and THAT is the sign of a great story!

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #6 (Bendis / Samnee / Ponsor) Marvel

Third Marvel book in a row. Second Spider-man book (though they are very different characters). Second Bendis book.

I was really looking forward to Chris Samnee joining this book. I have nothing against Sara Pichelli, but Samnee is a favourite of mine. This issue was an interesting mixed bag, though. The Mexico scenes were excellent… but the actual Spider-man scenes were less so. Having an artist draw Spider-man who isn’t great at drawing Spider-man may be a problem. Luckily this book does not lean on the ‘in-costume’ antics a whole lot.

THUNDERBOLTS #169 (Parker / Walker / Pallot / Martin) Marvel

If you are surprised to see T-Bolts this high on such a strong list, well so was I. This is the best issue in a while. Walker seems to really like the Camelot setting. His Merlin in particular is really well done. The story is strong and really hinges on the fact that these are not heroes.

There is a ‘but’ here. A big one. The Black Knight artfully carves off Troll’s clothes so now she is a little hottie underneath wearing a loincloth. Give me a break. That is stupid on SO many levels.

FABLES #113 (Willingham / Leonardi / Randall / Russell / Cannon / Fern / Bachs / Hughes) Vertigo

My partner in comic reading (and life) Ruthanne disagrees with my assessment of this issue (and the last). She would put Fables first, I think (and would drop T-Bolts a lot farther on the handling of Troll). Don’t get me wrong. The Fables book is really good. This is just a week of a LOT of really good books. My problem is that despite some really great artists (Adam Hughes and P.Craig Russell to name two) this still reads like a fill-in. In addition, in a book that trades heavily in fable (duh) Willingham seems to create a new one (as far as I know) and swipe heavily from native mythology (Turtle Island). If you wanted a Turtle Island story, why not make one instead of creating something that uses the story but makes it European? (If I am wrong and this is a case of parallel world stories then sorry to Bill.

WONDER WOMAN #5 (Brian Azzarello / Tony Akins) DC

WW has been at the top of this list recently. The change in artists stings, though it is the regular artist who has to take credit for the cover. Put that one under ‘poses you would never see male heroes doing’. The tentacle wrapped around the leg makes it a little icky.

It was still a good read but it lost some of that wow factor.

AVENGING SPIDER-MAN (Zeb Wells / Joe Madureira / Ferran Daniel) Marvel

Third Spidey book this week and I think that hurts this issue by comparison. The way Spidey wins is kind of silly, and the fact like the other heroes are acting like it is a big deal kind of seems dishonest to me. “Congrats, you accidentally beat the bad guy!”

AVENGERS #21 (Bendis / Guedes / Megalhaes / Keith) Marvel

A third Bendis book, but one I wouldn’t be especially proud of is I was him. (Aside: Ruthanne referred to Storm’s outfit as a ‘stripper costume’. I am not sure I agree with that – or that had ever crossed my mind – but I sure miss the punk rock / mohawk bad-ass Storm. She was way cooler then.) The art was not to my liking, in general. I have seen worse, but it didn’t make me hope to see more by the artist, that is for sure.

Overall, a very good week. Even the clunker is nowhere close to being on the chopping block for me. (And seeing how I have the entire run of Avengers back from 1963 – though not all the ancillary books any more – it is pretty unlikely I am cancelling this one anyway.)


Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Avengers Annual #1

January 9, 2012
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Good week for comics! Not to big… a nice amount of good reads. Even the clunkers seemed to be improvements on what had gone before.

Let’s start from the best and work back, as always.

AVENGERS ANNUAL #1 (Bendis / Dell’otto / Svorcina) Marvel

This is a really good book! The voice of the people versus the voice of authority sang through this book. This was an interesting parallel to Bendis’ book ‘Scarlet’. (Great book, by the way).

I used to be a Wonder Man fan but he hasn’t be interesting in quite a while. This changes that. I heard people complaining about D-Man, of all characters. D-Man was a one-note character that was never interesting. Now they are claiming that he is crazy. What I want is for him to be telling the truth (AND a little crazy). But that I don’t really like the people on other comic forums… so screw them! 🙂

If you let it, this is a comic that actually makes you think. Rare for superheroes (let’s be honest here…)

SWAMP THING #5 (Scott Snyder / Yanick Paquette) DC

I go back and forth about what is the best of the new DC books. Is it All-Star Western? Is it Wonder Woman? Right now I am leaning towards Swamp Thing. This might not be quite Alan Moore, but it stands on its own. The Rot is a really cool villain and Abby is one of the best supporting characters going (along with the Baker family over in Animal Man).

The Paquette art is brilliant. The panel layouts were very well done (other than a single somewhat confusing double-page spread).

DC may not be great at superheroes, but they are great at the periphery books.

iZOMBIE #21 (Chris Roberson / J.Bone) Vertigo

Right up until I read the last two books in my pile, I thought iZombie was a shoe-in for comic of the week. As much as I have a big man-crush on Mike Allred, J.Bone is a wonderful change of pace. Don’t let the cartoony nature of his work fool you, this is some pretty deep work.

My only complaint was that I wanted to read the rest of the Dead Presidents origin.

ANIMAL MAN #5 (Lemire / Foreman / Huet / Pugh) DC

This is sort of a companion book to Swamp Thing. They share a villain and the books are going to cross soon. The only thing that knocks this book down is that Travel Foreman is no Yanick Paquette. Foreman is a very talented artist but the book is just so ugly. It is appropriate to the story but it makes it less enjoyable to read it.

I mean, just look at that cover. Ick. Not much of a selling point.

AVENGERS ACADEMY #24 (Gage / Grummett / Hamscher / Sotomayor) Marvel

This is a good read. The villain is not the most interesting and the Reptil from the future thing doesn’t ring my bell a whole lot… but the characters are just so wonderful. Tom Grummet is the perfect artist for this book. He is an upgrade without being a drastic change from what was going on. The cover was kind of misleading, but what the hell…

THUNDERBOLTS #168 (Parker / Southworth / Martin) Marvel

This issue was decent. I like getting back to the T-Bolts in the modern day, but I wasn’t really moved by the Mr. Fear story. The art was good but I didn’t think that the fact that Cage thought he killed that person was shown very well. Ghost is just plain awesome. I have a feeling one of two things will happen when this big time travel story is over. A: The new status quo will be very different OR B: the book will be cancelled. I hope it isn’t the latter.

ACTION COMICS #5 (Grant Morrison / Andy Kubert / Jesse Delperdang) DC

Action has been teetering for me. I have already cancelled Superman and I found this book was not holding my interest very well… until now. Strong storytelling here! I find that Morrison sometimes gets caught up in his ideas and doesn’t tell the story well, but not this time. Even the back-up was spot on.

Keep it going like this and Action will move up this list.

THE DEFENDERS #2 (Fraction / Dodson / Dodson / Oback) Marvel

Issue #1 was a big disappointment for me. This issue was quite a bit better. The scene between Dr. Strange and the red She-Hulk was worth the price of admission alone. Oddly enough, it is still Iron Fist that doesn’t feel right to me, and word is that Fraction loves the character.

AVENGERS: X-SANCTION #2 (Jeph Loeb / Ed McGuinness / Dexter Vines / Morry Hollowell) Marvel

Issue #1 was just terrible. Issue #2 was not exactly great, but it read better. I still can’t stand the art and the ‘Avenger of the Week’ thing doesn’t flow well. There was a little more characterization this time. Is it wrong that I just keep hoping that Cable will die again?


Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Fables #112

December 25, 2011
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So it is very early on Christmas morning (or very late on Christmas Eve… take your pick). We don’t celebrate Christmas much. Tonight was spent with homemade Nuts & Bolts and video rentals of Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Grey Garden. Both good.

 

New comics do not stay unread simply because of a holiday!

 

FABLES #112 (Willingham / Buckingham / Leialoha / Pepoy / Green) Vertigo

What a charming book this was this month! It is a Christmas themed issue but it is no side-story. Rose Red has to decide what aspect of hope she wishes to be. The story and art are classic Fables. The reindeer are worth the price of admission alone.

I think I know who the spirit is that Rose needs to help. Roses are red, violets are… 🙂

 

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #5 (Bendis / Pichelli / Messina / Ponsor) Marvel

Miles meets the Ultimates! It is good to see a negative reaction to Miles’ choice of code-names. It is also good to see that the understand why he would want to use it. Cool new costume. Was that a reveal about who his uncle is? I could go back and check but… Did he appear BEFORE Ultimate S-M #1?

 

WONDER WOMAN #4 (Brian Azzarello / Cliff Chiang) DC

I love the mood of this book. War is great (I can’t believe I just wrote that line…). Diana’ way of dealing with her recent revelation is pretty novel… and makes her seem more real. Cliff Chiang continues to be brilliant on this book. I can’t say enough… WW hasn’t been this good since Perez.

 

THE AVENGERS #20 (Bendis / Acuna) Marvel

Acuna is the absolutely right artist for this book. The way Osborne is one step ahead of Cap is great. Because, lets face it, if he doesn’t outsmart them, what does he have going for him? Protector actually said and did something? Will wonders never cease?

 

BATMAN INCORPORATED: LEVIATHAN STRIKES! #1 (Grant Morrison / Chris Burnham / Cameron Stewart) DC

I don’t normally buy $7 comics, but this is really two issues stuck together. This is Morrison wrapping up the Batman Inc. story he was doing before the New 52 came along. The Batgirl story was solid and the wrap -up story was a head trip. I can be critical of Morrison but the way he made that story make sense… while not making sense at all was amazing. I really appreciated the text pages letting you know how everything ties together so  I don’t have to go back and check.

 

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #676 (Slott / Ramos / Olzaba / Delgado) Marvel

I prefer my Spider-man comics to have Spider-man in them. This issue FEELS like a fill-in. I know it isn’t, but still. An o’kay read but that is it.

 

FANTASTIC FOUR #601 (Hickman / Epting / Magyar / Mounts) Marvel

So Johnny is back and that’s that?I think this story will read better collected. At least I hope so. Every issue I feel like I am asking myself what is going on.

 

THUNDERBOLTS #167 (Parker / Shalvey / Martin) Marvel

So an explanation for the Ripper stuff I suppose, but it is a fairly chaotic issue. This book continues to teeter.

 

X-FACTOR #229 (David / Lupacchino / Ortego / Milla) Marvel

Unlike this book, which I think has just fallen off. It just seems… random. I think this one is going to get the axe from my pull list.


Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Fables #111

December 4, 2011
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The week of comics was, well, weak. It was a ‘fifth week’, so none of the new DC books shipped… I only got six books and that is RARE for me. If the Silver Snail still had Spaceman #1 I would have used this small week to pick up #1 and 2… but, nope.

FABLES #111 (Willingham, Buckingham, Leialoha, McManus) Vertigo

So, what made this book so great? Nothing, actually. As I said, this was a light week and this book wouldn’t have won if there was stiffer competition.

It was good, though. The resolution of the new North Wind search was interesting, and surprised me. (I was CONVINCED I knew who the winner was. Wrong!) Bufkin’s lawyer was funny as well.

Not much more to add.

 

THUNDERBOLTS #166 (Parker, Shalvey, Martin) Marvel

Hmmm… some great bits in here, especially the ones dealing with Troll. Satana is getting very annoying. They had BETTER give a better reason behind Hyde’s actions than what was here, but the story isn’t done. Anyone hear the London, ON’s new baseball team is the London Rippers? Really.

The art is solid but I think I prefer the regular team. I hear that this book is in the danger zone as far as sales goes. Too bad. It is worth reading.

 

READ IT!

 

AVENGERS ORIGINS: THOR (Immonen, Barrionuevo, Lacombe, Milla, Tartaglia) Marvel

 

80% into this book I thought it just might get comic of the week honours. But then the ending was pretty poor. A great story sullied by cramming a bunch in to make it count as an ‘origin’. (Stone Men from Saturn!) Enjoy the Mjolnir story and ignore then ending.

 

THE ULTIMATES #4 (Hickman, Ribic, White) Marvel

So… this is both an important issue AND an issue where nothing really happens. An odd mix, to be sure. “All right, let’s all just agree to not fight.”

Huh.

 

FF #12 (Hickman, Bobillo, Sosa, Sotomayor) Marvel

 

Second straight Hickman book on this list. Based on his writing, this should be much higher. But the art… oh my god. It is horrible. I mean REALLY horrible. There are times when the only reason I can tell characters apart is that Hickman writes them distinctly. I showed a page to Ruthanne and asked if she could tell who was who. “Well, he has some grey hair, so he must be Reed…”

 

Terrible. If Bobillo stays on this book, I may not keep buying it.

 

HERC #10 (Pak, Van Lente, Hahn, Richardson, Aburtov) Marvel

I stayed with this book because I knew it was cancelled anyway. I shouldn’t have bothered. Remember when Incredible Hercules was one of the most entertaining comics on the racks? Those days are long gone. They took a great book and stripped out what made it special and left something just… ordinary.

This is the last issue, so I don’t need to cancel it.

 

Wow. What a lacklustre week. I’m sure there will be more great books next week.

 


Rusty’s Comic of the Week: The Avengers #19

November 20, 2011
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Does that headline surprise you? It did me.

This week’s reviews, from best to least…

THE AVENGERS #19 (Bendis, Acuna) Marvel

Now THIS is the Avengers that turned me into a comic fan! The Avengers was the first book I picked up back when I was 16 (issue #235). While I have enjoyed what Brian Michael Bendis has done with the franchise overall, it was still quite far from the book I had loved so much. Thie story has Cap trying to figure out who the team is going to be, complete with the public reveal at the end. Classic.

As for the new lineup, Storm is an interesting choice with lots of potential… but I don’t really like HOW she joined. Not terrible, but still. The Vision, on the other hand, was a GREAT reveal. It reminded me of issue #242 where the Vision came back from a long recuperation period. Great stuff. (Now, what about that OTHER Vision…)

While I don’t mind Spider-man and Wolverine being off the team (they are fine on New Avengers), but I don’t like HOW it happened. They deserve a little more respect than that.

Oh, and the art was GREAT. Daniel Acuna is PERFECT for this book. Even the back-up was kind of fun. All in all, a great read.

 

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #674 (Slott, Camuncoli, Janson, D’Armata) Marvel

The cover now reads ‘The World’s Greatest Super Hero!’ Works for me.

Dan Slott is knocking it out of the park with Spider-Man these days. A great story built around the Vulture (the old cool one, not the newer, creepy one). The Peter working with Carlie sub-plot works for me. The Mary-Jane and Glory Grant sub-plot partying works for me. I am a little less enthused about the Horizon Labs / Kingpin thing, but I am willing to ride it out.

The art wasn’t as good this issue. Not terrible, but also not much ‘value-added’.

 

AVENGERS ORIGINS: LUKE CAGE (Glass, Benson, Talajic, Beaulieu) Marvel

These Origins comics have been hit and miss so far, and this one is a hit. Luke Cage is a great character, despite his blacksploitation roots, but they manage to make him modern and noteworthy without shying away from those roots. The reminder of why he is important IN the comic is also a reminder why he is important AS a comic. (But ‘Hero for Hire High’? Really?)

Is this the same writer from Suicide Squad? This is better. I am not familiar with the name Dalibor Talajic, but it was good stuff.

 

CAPTAIN AMERICA #4 (Brubaker, McNiven, Leister, Ponsor) Marvel

Seems like Marvel’s week, doesn’t it? This is a solid comic, with a solid premise, but it reads a bit like it is just moving the story along – getting from point a to point b. Those issues have to happen, but work better when you read them together.

The art is very good, but with all due respect to Steve McNiven (his is great) I can’t wait for the Alan Davis issues to start. His Cap in Avengers Prime showed he could be one of the CLASSIC Cap artists.

 

WONDER WOMAN #3 (Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang) DC

First, a note. You may notice that sometimes I give first and last names on the credits while sometimes I just give last names. The names are the ones put on the covers of the comics. DC apparently likes first names more than Marvel does.

The first two issues of Wonder Woman garnered my comic of the week nods each time. Why has this one dropped so much?

It is her changed origin. It doesn’t sit right with me. It seems like a needless change that kind of… cheapens her as a character somewhat. Maybe Azzarello will change my mind, but right now, I don’t like it. Did this colour my view of the issue? Maybe, but it felt a lot more disjointed that the first two.

The art is still great, though.

 

iZOMBIE #19 (Chris Roberson, Mike Allred) Vertigo

Another book that I expected to be higher on the list. There were parts of the book I liked… loved, actually. Spot’s date was absolutely charming. I hate to say it, but it was the art that threw me… and I LOVE Mike Allred’s art normally. He is one of my favourites. This issue seemed a little more… muddy maybe? A little sloppy? Not up to his usual level of brilliance, that is for sure.

 

AVENGERS ACADEMY #22 (Gage, Chen, Hanna, Buchman, Cox) Marvel

I guess Quicksilver is part of the staff so having an issue focus on him isn’t actually out of place… but it sure seemed it. To me, the book is about the students, not the instructors. Yes, Finesse was an important part of the issue, but not in a way I really cared for. She seems a little hero-worshippy towards Quicksilver, who really has done nothing to deserve it. Let’s face it, Quicksilver has been pretty much a loser ever since he first appeared. Oh well.

 

THUNDERBOLTS #165 (Parker, Walker, Pallot, Soto) Marvel

Does Marvel WANT this book to fail? Why else would they put THAT cover on it? It is HORRIBLE! We were actually laughing about it. Kev Walker still does the interior art, so no problems there.

A solid book overall (once you get past the front cover). The Satana/Namor scene seemed a little gratuitous – besides, she isn’t his type. She isn’t blonde enough. It is tough to get too invested in a comic whose premise is that nothing can really happen (at the risk of changing history).

Both Avengers Academy and Thunderbolts are rumoured to be teetering close to the chopping block. I hope not. They are both good comics overall.

 

ULTIMATE COMICS X-MEN #3 (Spencer, Medina, Vlasco, Gracia) Marvel

Want to see a lame review? I don’t really know what about this book didn’t thrill me. I just read it and found that I didn’t care much about it. I didn’t read Ultimate X-Men before, but it is the Spidey connection that got me interested. We will see if it sticks or not.

 

X-FACTOR #227 (David, Kirk, Milla) Marvel

Of late I have been wondering if I just think I like X-Factor out of habit. It used to be great and it has earned some leeway because of it. This is also a Kirk issue, which means the art is not strong. Still buying it, but I hope it turns around or I may stop.

 

BLUE BEETLE #3 (Tony Bedard, Ig Guara, Ruy Jose, J.P. Mayer) DC

Here is a book that does not have a track record to save it. I wanted to support this book because I wanted to support DC’s publishing minority characters… but the comic just hasn’t been very good. When I read it, I can’t help but compare it to Ultimate Spider-Man, and it pales in comparison.

Maybe I just want Ted Kord back…

Regardless, Blue Beetle is off my pull list after this issue.

 

I also picked up Northlanders Volume 3: Blood in the Snow, but I haven’t read it yet. I liked the first two books. I’ll let you know.