Worst to First: 3/21/07

If you’re wondering why reviews weren’t up yesterday, all I can say is blame Ohio State. I was too busy watching the Buckeyes ruin my bracket (anybody else go with Xavier for the upset and have Tennessee in the Final Four?) and I just didn’t get it done. Luckily, I have no monetary reason to continue watching the tournament, so here come the reviews!

A whopping eight books this week, including Aquaman #50, which is our Book of Doom this week, so I’m saving my thoughts on it until Saturday. Including that book, DC dominated my take, with a ridiculous seven of eight books. This seems unfathomable, given how much of a long-time Marvel loyalist I was, but things change. At the very least, Marvel still publishes my favorite book, X-Factor. Could it claim the top spot yet again? We’ll see.

Seven: Birds of Prey #104

I finally gave this a try back with issue 100, and right away I felt like an idiot for waiting so long to jump into Gail Simone’s series. Now? I don’t know exactly what the problem is, but Babs and pals are quickly heading toward the drop list. This latest has an Alias-esque adventure that never ramps up and a romance sub plot that isn’t given the proper time or attention.

What’s wrong? Too many characters, too little familiarity on my part and some annoying story structuring mishaps. Namely, Simone fractures the chronology at the beginning. But the only purpose is to toss in a “cool” scene (that doesn’t even pay off later). There’s a word for those kinds of things when they don’t serve the story: gimmicks.

Six: Detective Comics #830

I opted to give this a try, even though I really only read Detective for Dini. Surprise, surprise, this Stuart Moore fellow comes through with a nearly-as-good tale. For filler, it’ll work, but I’m still eager for the man to return. A drawback was Andy Clarke’s art, which is hyper-crisp in the vein of Steve McNiven. And though I’m no big fan of McNiven’s, at least he’s really good at his style. Clarke isn’t in that league.

Five: The Brave and the Bold #2

This will never be one of my favorite books, but for what it is (an old school teamup) there isn’t anything out there that’s better. Of course, Mark Waid and George Perez could probably slap a great classic-style story together at the nursing home craft hour. I’m still not sure what to make of Supergirl’s Hal-hungry antics (though Hal’s responses were funny), but everything else flowed nicely.

For any aspiring artist out there, check out the pages where Perez jimmies in nine or ten panels. Ridiculous stuff.

Four: 52 #46

I can’t say much more than Doom DeLuise already did.

Three: Army@Love #1

For detailed thoughts, check out my interview with Rick Veitch and the accompanying preview. I will say, the color edition works lots better than the black and white preview I was going off of. Good work to Jose Villarrubia.

Two: The Spirit #4

Last month’s issue just didn’t do it for me. This one picks right back up, though, with the expected combo of great banter, smooth art, twisty plot and strained cultural references. If that’s not enough, the splash page is probably the best yet and the “female guest star” is named Silk Satin (and is a major Jodie Foster ripoff).

One: X-Factor #17

I’m sure there are those who’ll say I just have a man-crush on Peter David and I automatically set X-Factor at the head of the stack. I’d argue that it’s really the opposite. Whenever a new issue comes out, I bring in the highest expectations, and every issue David has to up the ante that much more to keep me impressed. And, somehow, he’s managed to do it. Beyond the brilliant cover, the issue continues the trend of the past several issues in deepening the mystery around who or what Jaime Madrox really is.

There are many great moments, but nothing tops another tense exchange between Jaime and the latest duplicate he’s out to absorb (this one a top-rate detective). It all builds to a splash page of the dupe being shot in a flurry of police fire that more than makes up for an otherwise pedestrian artistic effort by guest penciller Khoi Pham. If that’s not enough, the Superhuman Registration Assholes rear their helmeted heads, Pietro continues being a dick, a new mutant terrorist group pops up AND David flings out three classic lines that reference the Lone Ranger, Heroes and Batman. There’s just nothing better right now than this book.