Worst to First: 6/27/07

I called last week a great one for comics. Let’s just say, this week makes last week look like a bunch of Rob Liefeld pap from 1996. This week is quite possibly the most enjoyable week in comics ever for me, at least. It was simply unprecedented to see so many huge occurences happen all at once, and to have such an amazingly consistent theme. That theme is the return of the super-villains. Pretty much every book through the week sees a mega baddie do something decidedly sinister. This was The Empire Strikes Back. This was the part of Lone Wolf McQuade when David Carradine buries Chuck Norris in the desert and steals his girlfriend and daughter.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketWorst: She-Hulk #19

It’s completely unfair to call anything the worst book of the week, especially this one. But, amid some very stiff competition, my first foray into She-Hulk lands at the bottom of the pile. The super-villain here is The Leader, and Jen’s competitor in the attorney biz is defending him with a very clever gameplan. This book was just ball’s-out fun (as Fin Fang Doom has been saying) and is really only held back by the stupid breaking-fourth-wall moments. It distracted from an otherwise amazing balance of whimsy and deep examination of the costs of gamma radiation.

Treading water: Hellboy: Darkness Calls #3

Duncan Fegredo’s imitation of Mike Mignola continues to go over better than expected and we finally see Hellboy do something more than mope around. In fact, he fights an army of skeletons. So how did this not do better? Beyond the aforementioned abundance of awesomeness this week, this series is struggling in my mind because it hasn’t approached the hype. The book’s editor boasted in some early PR that Darkness Calls would take Hellboy to an epic level that he’s never been to before. Yet, three issues in and this series seems less ambitious than its predecessors, with the only big difference being that it’s more removed from humanity than ever.

Finish him: The Immortal Iron Fist #6

Maybe I’m just a bit slow, or maybe I need to re-read this series, but I didn’t really get the intro to this book. Luckily, it didn’t distract from the slam-bang-kapow zip-line ride through the rest of the issue. David Aja’s art hits a new level with this issue. He’s sharp in every panel and gets special kudos for his downright awesome depiction of Heroes for Hire.

This issue is a bit of a tease, one of those typical ones where the big expected fight really doesn’t happen in full, but it’s all in service of changing the direction of the book to something like a much cooler Mortal Kombat (at least, that’s what I’m expecting). And if that is the case, Danny pretty much has to be Johnny, right? One last thought: the writers do a comic book death in a non-tragic and therefore wonderfully delivered way here. Hold the schmaltz, it’s fighting time.

Hold the guns: Daredevil #96

Anybody know the story behind the “guns kill people” icon at the bottom right of the cover of this issue? That aside, this was just another strong mid-arc story from Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark, which pretty much guarantees a decent spot in the weekly roundup. However, I had a few hangups.

First, the Milla rescue just didn’t come across as dramatically as I would’ve expected. It seemed run of the mill, which isn’t surprising, since that exact scene is so old hat in comics. As for the plot, I’m starting to wonder if it’s much deeper than “bad smack on the street.” Granted, the creative team can take about anything and make a good story, but for the first time in a long time Daredevil doesn’t feel universe-shaking. High standards, I know. Lastly, Stefano Gaudiano’s art sticks out compared to Michael Lark’s, in a bad way.

Black and white: X-Men #200

I don’t think I’ve ever alternately loved and hated a comic book as much as this one. Mike Carey’s writing is really, really good, with a perfect interweaving of plot points and a fun sabotage setup that seems really obvious until a double cross that seems completely expected and totally out of the blue all at once. It’s a “come to a head” moment for the main X-Men introduced in the 1980s and 1990s. Heck, even Gambit seems enjoyable as a villain. Who’d a thunk?

But every comic book is a mix of two elements, story and art. Usually that’s why I love comics. In this case, Chris Bachalo and Humberto Ramos do their darndest to make sure I can’t enjoy Carey’s handiwork. These guys are just terrible. I really, really hate their style. There are so many great moments here that just lose wind from shoddy or cartoony art. So, why’s this book so high on the list? Well, the writing’s just that good.

As for the Endangered Species backup, all I have is a shoulder shrug. Seems pretty implausible, and there’s way too much recap.

Gaining steam: Countdown #44

Another return of a classic villain, this time presented on the cover (nice surprise, DC!), is Monarch. That alone is enough to make this a worthy read. I still think this story is missing the interconnectivity of 52, but it finally looks like it’s headed somewhere (having the Flash death buildup out of the way helps). We’ve got a few big events under our belt, so now there’s plenty of fallout to watch, as well as the ongoing mystery of Jimmy and his mysterious powers.

Not to steal Jim Doom’s thunder, because I’m sure he’ll mention this, but we’ve been discussing how ridiculous the treatment of Mary Marvel was in this issue. She’s a teenager and is basically gone from a fairly conservative character to teasing Billy Batson with upskirt shots. Why doesn’t she just get it over with and appear on Girls Gone Wild?

Stuff happens: X-Factor #20

As always, Peter David brings a classic pop culture reference, a ton of funny dialogue, a few good Layla Miller moments and the most nuanced fallout from M Day. I’m glad the Marvel editors felt it fitting to put the comeuppance of Quicksilver in his old book. And, boy, what a comeuppance it is. I didn’t read that Son of M mularkey but I still can tell that he’s in bad shape. Youch.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketFirst: Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps #1

You want to know why this was awesome? Come back Saturday, my friends, for this is our Book of Doom!