Worst to First: 2/28/07

It was a relatively paltry week with only six titles. But all were quality books and a couple were exceedingly dense, so it felt like a much taller stack. Before I get into the reviews, I noticed a few things around the shop as I perused the aisles. First, the Jeff Smith Shazam book is selling really well. As for the Dark Tower book, I’m not sure if the shop just ordered a bajillion copies or if it’s not meeting expectations. We’ll see. But enough meandering. The reviews, as always, from worst to first…

Six: Justice #10

Not that this was a bad book, per se, but it sunk to the bottom against stiff competition. After what feels like two years of waiting and ten thick issues, it seems like this is turning into the series that wouldn’t die. I just want to see the finish line at this point. Maybe when I go back and read the issues in order it’ll seem much better and cohesive, but reading this issue, I could hardly recall what was going on.

Maybe the worst problem was the layout. Even in an extra-sized book, Alex Ross and Jim Krueger felt the need to jam every page with as many as eight panels. And such small panels really limit the impact of Ross’s always-amazing art.

Five: Daredevil #94

I liked most everything about this special love issue except that it should’ve come out on Valentine’s Day and it gets to be repetitive. It feels like instead of really getting into Milla’s thoughts about her relationship with Matt, Ed Brubaker instead just uses her as a narrator to do a recap of the past several arcs on the book. So, it’s not entirely effective as an entry point for new readers or as a full glimpse into Milla’s life. That’s not to say it’s bad stuff, just not as good as this book has been.

The art is a definite highlight. I love the John Romita cover (complete with the classic Marvel logo), and Marvel again shows how great it is at selecting fill-in artists. Lee Weeks and Stefano Gaudiano step in and if I hadn’t stumbled across their names I never would’ve realized that it wasn’t the main series artist.

Four: 52 #43

The past few weeks, 52 has largely changed from cramming little pieces of all the disparate plots into one issue into focusing almost entirely on a single plot per week and adding in little pieces of a second plot. It’s no coincidence that change has occurred at the same time the series has gone from decent to very good. Just like in NBC’s Heroes, which is always best in its most focused episodes, 52 was just too scattered at times. Now, we’re seeing lots of threads coming to an end all at once, instead of an inch at a time.

And as much as Doom DeLuise doesn’t like him, I was sad to see Osiris bite it. Sure, he was annoying. But the writers set him up nicely as a tragic character. And now the stage is set for the three other horsemen to arrive, and for Black Adam to kick some ass.

Three: Crossing Midnight #4

I’ve been very much on the fence about this series. Well, until now. Mike Carey’s horror/anime mashup seemed like it was headed in the right direction for the first three books, but it wasn’t until this issue that he really cut loose into this bizarre world of spiritual beings and myths and creepy Japanese kids and dragons and samurai and so on. Carey also finally makes the twin lead characters empathetic enough to make me invest in where the story is headed.

Two: Doctor Strange: The Oath #5

The bar has been set. For the rest of 2007, any mini-series that wants to win my vote as best of the year needs to beat out Brian K. Vaughn’s effort. And that’ll be a hell of a task. Vaughn took Strange (a great character who has suffered through some crappy series in recent years) and made a wonderfully retro series that was somehow still set in the contemporary. He proved that good, fun storytelling can work with today’s heroes (and with only the occasional insertion of tongue into cheek). This is just a perfect little story, with great art and a ton of great moments (Strange taking off the gloves, etc.). I can only hope that the series’ conclusion eventually is held more as the Strange canon than this Illuminati stuff.

One: ????

What’s the worst secret in the world? My pick of the week choice, of course. If you’ve read the site much before, you should be able to figure it out. If not, stick around and you’ll soon see.