After a week away, I’m back with a fresh run-through of the comics I picked up and whether any were worth a darn. Notably absent from this list will be the first issue of The Killer, but that’s only because I wrote a separate review of it here.
Also, I’m combining the past two weeks, which gives me a heaping pile of 10 good books to get through. While I only pick up the things I actually want to read (so no Civil War bull flop), I still thought this was an especially good bunch. Can’t beat that for a late Christmas present. Now, on to the run down, from bottom to top:
10: Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters #6
This book has strong political undertones. Okay, I’m cool with that. What I’m not cool with is when it turns into an in-your-face postelizing like that Howard Chaykin reboot of Challengers of the Unknown. Even worse, the art on this issue wasn’t quite up to the normal excellence, the fight scenes were scattered and not nearly as epic as they should have been and the story isn’t progressing any more, just hopping from giant fight to giant fight.
On a good note, it had the line of the week. After new hero Invisible Hood joins the fight, the Ray comments that his name sounds like and extra sensitive condom. Hi-yo!
9: Justice League of America #5
Speaking of scattered, this book continues to not progress fast enough, almost entirely because there’s too much going on. I know a lot of comics fans bitched that they didn’t really care about Red Tornado (please, please can we ban the nickname “Reddy”?), but when his character was carrying the first few books, the story really moved along for me. Now that we’re into the full on Superhero Mystery Solvers part of the plot, the characters are falling to the side. There are nice bits of characterization, but not enough of a central pull.
Don’t want to sound like to much of a downer, though. This is a pretty natural resting/gathering spot in the storyline and the mystery just continues to deepen, so I’m expecting next issue will vault up the list.
However, I’m about ready to start mass-mail DC over these Michael Turner covers. My shop jacks the price up on the normal one, so I’m stuck with this crap. Freaking Michael Turner.
I really enjoyed the first issue of Mike Carey’s Japanese fantasy/thriller/horror book, but this issue was a bit of a step back. The dialogue (especially when the detectives are investigating the dog’s death) is just brutally bad and through much of the book the wheels just spin. Also, the art is so lifeless in places it looks like one of those airplane pamphlets that shows you how to put on an oxygen mask.
Luckily, there’s a good cliffhanger that’ll keep me on board another week.
7: Iron Fist #2
The art in the World War II segment bugged me. Really bugged me. Just wanted to get that out of the way. Otherwise, everything was pretty strong. I’m not sure that I like Danny as a total nincompoop, though. Didn’t he used to be a strong, silent type? Brubaker and Fraction’s incarnation strikes me as a blond Spider-Man, yakking through every tense moment.
A total aside: Didn’t David Aja once do a mini-series in which Spider-Man and Iron Fist teamed up against some giant robot villains? I think I have these issues buried somewhere at my parents’ house, and I remember that being the start of my Iron Fist love. Also, I remember that art being even better than what we’re seeing here. But it’s been awhile.
6: 52 #34
This goes up there with the Avengers in which Hawkeye bites it as one of the top moments where a minor hero that I really, really worship dies and I’m too bummed out to enjoy a really strong comic. I couldn’t even buy this one, just had to read it in the store. Great stuff, but I’m going to need a little time to grieve.
5: Justice #9
Did anybody else suddenly get the feeling that this series was just an elaborate setup to sell a bunch of fancy new toys? (File this one under Image I’m Too Lazy To Scan Of The Week)
This was a good book, and a nice satisfaction to what’s been a rollercoaster ride of build up. It probably would’ve been higher, but I missed out on the Daredevil run featuring the person who’s revealed as villain here. (Yes, I’m being nice and holding my spoilers) The prolonged nonviolent confrontation got redundant in places and, because of my lack of familiarity, felt almost like being stuck listen to a married couple I’ve never met before bicker about past trangressions.
What I love of the Brubaker era on this book is that he really, truly resolves things. Don’t get me wrong, Bendis still did a great job on the title. But Brubaker is infinitely better at actually concluding plot lines, instead of taking one premise and rolling it for all it’s worth.
3: Detective Comics #827
Tangent — I love how this book has such a high issue number. It gives me a warm feeling inside.
Not a tangent — Paul Dini continues to write the best Batman out there. Or does he…
2: Astonishing X-Men #19
Talk about hard to choose. On nine out of 10 weeks, this would be tops. Easy. After a bit of a lagger last month, Whedon and Cassady start this final arc perfectly, with a wonderfully terrible introduction to the Breakworld, better sci fi action than Uncanny X-Men, an amazing cliffhanger and the best characterization around.
High point is the Colossus joke. I don’t want to spoil. Just read the damn thing if you haven’t yet.
Low point is the cover. Not as good as some previous. Why? Well, without his visor, Scott looks like just another guy, not Cyclops. So it just looks like some random dude.
It takes a hell of a lot to beat Dini’s Batman. Matt Wagner does just that here. The art is pitch perfect throughout. Every little panel works perfectly. It’s not a grand story, just a simple one done really well. This series hadn’t been quite as strong on that front as Wagner’s previous Batman and the Monster Men effort, but this issue eclipses that series and makes me hope Wagner will stick with the caped crusader for another go round.