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I’m going to do something a bit different again. Last week I gave you a run down of each book I read, this week I am going to give you my worst then my best, but there is a catch. There was one major release, which dwarfed all others, and that is my pick for worst of the week. If you haven’t guessed what my worst pick is, well frankly, I’m shocked. Before you read, just note that this review/blog gives some major spoilers.
Worst of the Week
Fantastic Four #587: This issue featured the death of the Human Torch, Johnny Storm, and it was a let down and actually made me mad, and not just because of the death. About five or six months ago, Marvel announced that one of the Fantastic Four would die, and then had a count down to that very issue. Then about three months ago it was announced that this book would be polybagged to keep secret who would die. The last time I can remember a polybag being used for the death of character was for the Death of Superman. That book was a big deal. I remember getting two copies of this book, one polybag to collect, which cost my dad $60, and a copy I could read, which I read. A lot. With the announcement that this issue would be polybagged, Marvel was saying that this death was on par with the death of Superman. First I have a problem with that. the Death of Superman was a big deal because Superman is the first superhero, the one who inspired the rest. The Fantastic Four, while the first big book to come out of Marvel in the 1960’s and would set up the direction of the company for the next several decades, is important, but they are no Superman. The second problem I have polybagging this book is that it uses a method of marketing that was highly used in the 90’s, a time in comics that is often made fun of. There is nothing wrong with marketing for an event such as the death of one of Marvel’s biggest heroes, but to use a method that people joke about? I don’t get it. With the industry trying to get new readership, to be more than funny books, they go back instead of forward? I don’t want to say this, but I will. It was dumb.
Now the issues keep coming out when last week, Marvel announces that, due to the new early shipping schedule Diamond has (Tuesdays instead of Wednesdays), Local Comic Book Shops can sell this issue, and this issue only, one day early. Why do they do this? Well it makes the wait that much shorter, but also, when Marvel makes their next move they can take advantage of this early day release. Tuesday the 25th comes, the day of FF #587’s release, and Marvel sends out a press release to the media, which not only include comic book websites, but all major media outlets. What’s in the title of the press release? You guessed it, the character who dies. Can you guess what happens next? that’s right, the whole world (hyperbole, I know) finds out. I decided that I would be spoiled, that I would read one of the many articles being written on the death of Johnny Storm. I would not allow Marvel to dictate how I spent my day online, because I knew that someone on Twitter or a forum, or hell a text message would tell me before I read it. And yes, I saw a tweet that spoiled it. So now I’m not only mad because Marvel decided to make the death not a surprise by announcing that a character will die, and not only because they decided to keep the character a secret by pollybagging the issue, thus reverting to a marketing method that hadn’t been seen in over a decade, but what do they do, they spoil the death themselves so people will rush into a comic book store, buy this historic issue a day before regular release, forgoing the number of sales competitors could get from new readers coming in to buy this ONE issue, but also forgoing any extra sales they could have gotten from their own books. What the fuck was Marvel thinking?!
Today on CBR, I read retailer reactions to this “milestone” issue. A common theme between them was that they saw a lot of people they had never seen before, and a few they haven’t seen in awhile. People were hearing the news of the Human Torch’s death and coming into to get in on the action; after all, this issue could be worth something someday (my LCS sells the Death of Superman, pollybagged, for $25, a book that was released almost 20 years ago). Marvel then has created a hot commodity, a collectors item to be kept for a long time. The problem is though, new comics aren’t collectors items anymore; not like the used to be. Why? Because not only do they release a lot of copies, but we now live in the digital age where these copies can be reprinted however many times, or they can be released digitally, and read on a computer, any smart phone or iPad. That’s right, for those of you who bought this comic thinking it will be worth something, I’m sorry to say, but it won’t be. And what did Marvel accomplish by this bait and switch style manoeuvre? They made some money. Sure they had an influx of regular readers buy this issue, some who will probably continue reading this series, and yea they made some extra money off of people off the street coming in to buy the book because it’s on the news. But what about guys like DC, Image, Dark Horse, Boom! or any other small press publisher? I guarantee you they didn’t get an influx of sales because of this issue; the majority of new people coming into buy it came in a day early.
As for the issue itself; it was alright. I gave it a three out of five on iFanboy.com. This entire arc, which has been separating each member of the four and putting them in a do or die scenario, has been plotted for this particular issue. In the Reed and Sue plot lines, each member figure a way out of their problem in quick and efficient, bordering on deus-ex machina, manner, but it becomes evident very quickly that Ben and Johnny and the Future Foundation are in real trouble with tens of thousands of alien bugs descending on their broken gateway to Earth, and the only way out is the cliched someone must stay behind to close the portal. What would you know, the Thing, who two issues earlier was reverted back to his human form for 24 hours, volunteers his life away. But wait, at the very last second, Johnny decides that he will be the one to stay behind and throws Ben through the portal, sealing himself behind. With thier uncle about to face his death, both Franklin and Valeria barely protest what’s about to happen, they don’t even say good bye. The odd part is this; Valeria, the super smart, almost smarter than her Father, Mr Fantastic, genius, is the one who suggests someone staying behind like it’s nothing. For a girl under 10, she doesn’t seem to worked up about one of her uncles or friends staying behind to be slaughtered by monsters. Franklin has just gotten his reality altering powers back; yup, reality altering. When Johnny seals himself behind, Val suggests Franklin create more time. He can do that you ask? As soon as he received his powers back, he created a universe in the palms of his hands. So ya, he can do that, but Ben says no. You think with a character who has the power to alter reality, he could fix the broken portal, but he doesn’t. Well, what happens next is the death we’ve all been waiting for. As the portal begins to close down, Johnny flames on one more time, ready to take on the bugs, but he gets knocked out. The portal finishes closing as Ben, who in his great upheaval of emotion has turned back into the Thing, then we see him hugging the children. What I missed something you say. Where’s the death? Well, we don’t see it. All we see is the door closing, then a panel of it closed, and that’s it. No last breath, no eye closing, no body, but turn the page and we get the title of this issue, The Last Stand of Johnny Storm. The question arises, did he actually die? I don’t know, but what I do know is, that this is a superhero comic, and in superhero comics, deaths don’t tend to last long. So we get all this build up for a scene where we aren’t sure if a character dies, a character who will probably be back (there are only 12 issues to the 600th issue). All of that, for this? I’m sorry, that is not cool, that is not cool at all.
I could go on a bit more about the issue itself, how the plot was rushed and forced, but I’ve touched on that. I could say that while Steve Epting is a great artist, he isn’t great for this book, well I guess I just did. I will say though that this series will be ending with the next issue #588 (with a year to go to 600 they are cancelling the series?), then a new, different fantastic four series (sans Johnny of course) begins in a couple months. It’s called FF. I’m sorry to say Marvel, I won’t be picking it up, and the Fantastic Four are one of my favourite groups of superheroes, if not my most. Some readers of Hickman’s run may say, Kyle, stick around, this is all part of a bigger story. I know it is. I love Hickman’s SHIELD comic; it has all kinds of crazy ideas floating around, but that’s not why I am dropping this book, and if you haven’t been able to tell, it’s because the way Marvel treated this book, as a side show. I understand that it’s trying to make money, and as a publicly traded company it should be, but when you use ulterior motives to sell your books to people who will only buy this comic, and you do it in such a way that you highlight a marketing tool that is considered a joke in the larger comic community, you are not only telling your audience that you don’t care to push your medium forward, but you re-enforce the publics stereotypical views on comic books and those who read it.
I realize how angry this has made me, and yes it is just a book, but it’s also a book and a medium that I care deeply about, so I am sad this is what makes me stop reading about a family I love. Something funny happened today though. As I was going over this post in my head, plotting it out, waiting in anticipation until I could get my rantings on page (and this has been very cathartic), I heard about this great quote from writer Steve Niles that Robot 6, a blog on CBR posted, and it goes like this: “Can I say something I’ve wanted to say for a long time? If you like something, tell your friends. If you love it, tell the world. But if you hate something, just throw it away, don’t buy it again and move on. We spend way too much time tearing shit down. I just want to try the other direction for a while.” Up until I read this, I was wavering on dropping some books that were alright, but weren’t really doing it for me (two of them I read last night, not including this issue of Fantastic Four). So thank you Steve, I will be dropping several books in the comings months (I will wait for the arcs to be finished, it’s only fair to the story), and apologies Marvel, I think most of them will be yours.
Best of the Week
My Pick of the week for best comic goes to Detective Comics #873, simply because this a great Batman book, but it’s also a Batman book that moves the character and the mythos forward through a form of evolution that seems natural. This arc reminds me a lot of the post Jeph Loeb/ Jim Lee run on Batman done by Brian Azzerello and Eduardo Risso titled Broken City. Scott Snyder and Jock create a gritty and horrifying Gotham and still make Dick feel like he is Batman and not pretending to be him. I read this book last (and read Fantastic Four first) and I am happy I did.
I had four comics this week; hardly enough to give an accurate idea of what the best and worst comics are.
Since I started picking this book up in November, Amazing Spider-Man has been very close, or has been, my pick of the week. This week is no different. With the second of this book’s two rotating artists, Ramos and Caselli, Caselli has a similar style but unique take on the wall crawler. There are some great action beats that are drawing very well, character moments that are true to those characters, but at the same time it moves them forward. This current arc is about Spider Slayer Alistar Smythe who is back to ruin the life of the beloved J. Jonah Jameson. Naturally JJJ has some moments that highlight his hate for Spider-Man, but also his realization that Spider-Man isn’t the nuisance he makes him out to be. It’s similar to Barney Stinson for How I Met Your Mother, who we all know is a jack ass, but shows moments of sincerity. Slott has been writing some cliffhangers that feel much like a comic book should. He leaves the story at a spot that is logical and makes you want to read the next issue. With a book that is bi-weekly, I don’t have to wait long.
My pick for worst of the week is Thor #619, a book that has been here lately. I am almost done with this book, a book that hardly has any structure, a story that is trying to get back to its former status quo and a book that makes brow raising choices that make you shake your head. The only reason i keep buying this book is Pasquel Ferry. This guy can draw some great fantasy characters and draws Asgardians that look both fantastical and science fictional at the same time. For those who know Thor, know that this is how they character should be drawn. With Marvel changing Thor back to the title characters original book, Journey into Mystery and starting a new Thor series, The Might Thor, written by Fraction and drawn by former Thor artist Oliver Copiel, I may be done with this character for now. Gillen will be writing Journey, and he is a writer I can’t get into, and I haven’t liked what Fraction has done with Thor so far. Sorry Marvel, I am sure you will get lots of new readers with this maneuver, but I probably won’t be one of them.
I also picked up Invincible Iron Man #500. Marvel has decided to amalgamate all the volumes of Iron Man into one and go back to its original numbering, and to celebrate created a huge anniversary issue with three different artists telling two stories: one present and one future. The story was alright; jumping back and forth between the two time periods. However, the art was too wildly inconsistent, especially in the future story where I had no idea what was going on in some panels. Not sure if it was the colouring or the inking, but is seemed rushed and sloppy. The style is meant to be gritty, but this wasn’t pulled off well.
Finally, the last book was my only DC book this week, Brightest Day #18, and I am going to give spoiler warnings here. This issue focuses on the Hawks, Hawkman and Hawkgirl, and their involvement in this series up until this point has highlighted the continuity mess that these two characters share. It would take too long to explain it all, so I will take the easy way out and point to a Wikipedia article on Hawkman . Brightest Day #18 finally gets the Hawks to a place where they can finally shed all that past continuity and start fresh, but Johns and Tomsai say that isn’t enough and kill off the characters for good. This May be the first real deaths of DC’s dead is dead that was pronounced by Hal Jordan back in Brightest Day #8. This may also be a way to create a new Hawkman or Hawkgirl that cannot be added to the continuity of the former. Brightest Day is almost over; there are seven issues left and this is book is bi-weekly, so that’s about three months worth of story to go and there is a lot that can happen.
The holiday season is an awful time to blog, unless your blogging is about Christmas or the holiday’s. This season can also be a difficult one for picking up and reading your comics every Wednesday, but there is good news. The holiday’s are over; mine were great, how were yours? I have also caught up on all my comic book reading.
I read some pretty great comics over the past month. Most of my weeks have been fairly big with the exception of this week, which was just two comics. Instead of doing a best and worst of each week I have missed, I’ll just be doing the best from each week. However, I’ll add some comments about other comics too.
December 22, 2010:
My pick for this week went to a series I just began to pick up in issues after reading the first three trades. Chew #16 opens up with some background on the chicken prohibition: where and when it began, but we still don’t know the what and the why. We also get a new type of, what I am going to call, food power. We get a character who actually gets smarter when he eats. Layman uses this issue though to demonstrate to his readers how one of these food powers can cause problems for it’s user. The story, as always, is a crazy ride where you’re not sure what’s going to happen, and this is one of the things I love about this book and another series I gave my pick to, and will talk about later. What we often see in a story can be predictable, which most times is a result of the genre it is placed it, as it follows certain beats and formulas; think CSI. Chew is a book that uses a number of genres and formulas, but uses them to it’s advantage, not only by using one formula instead of another or turning a genre staple on its head, but by also having a very different premises gives way to an unpredictability. I can’t forget to talk about the art and story telling of Rob Guillory. This man packs so much into his panel that forces you to read this book in a few ways. You can read it through fast or slow, or multiple times, and each time you will notice something different. A great example of this is the first couple pages of this issue where we see the progress of Mother Cluckers chicken from opening day to it’s eventual closing. Each panel offers lots of easter eggs, but more importantly tells a story about the declining mom and pop operations and the rise of the corporate world. these were pages I kept going back too. This series is one of my favourites right now, because it’s different, and it’s not super heroes, a genre I am slowly getting sick of, save for a few books.
December 29, 2010:
This week’s pick for best comic goes to SHIELD #5, a Marvel book set in the world of superheroes but isn’t about superheroes. What’ so inventive about this book is that actual historical figures such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Nostradamus and a few surprising others are responsible for the creation and maintaining of SHIELD, the world’s defence against anything that threatens it. More so, it re writes the histories of some Marvel characters, most predominately Howard Stark and Nathan Richards, the fathers of Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic respectively. This issue had some Kirby like flavour to it, lots of technologies introduced that seem far beyond the time period of the 60s, but presented, and drawn by Dustin Weaver, in fantastic ways, much like Kirby did in the 60s and 70s with books like the Fantastic Four and his creation of the New Gods. This tech is very different from Kirby’s, but its extravagance is very similar; this is a great way of making the technology used look fresh, but dated not only to today, but the time period it’s presented in. Also the big reveal and cliffhanger demonstrates the lengths and the thought put into the ideas of Jonathan Hickman, who, as with his other boo, the Fantastic Four, is creating a larger story, but re-building a part of the Marvel Universe. The only downfall of this book, and it is not much of a down fall at all, is that tis book is bi monthly, and we won’t see it until late February. The wait at this point has been well worth it.
I’d also like to point out quickly the final issue of Mark Millar and Steve McNiven‘s mini series Nemesis. I picked up this book on its concept, what if Batman became the Joker, and while this is an interesting one, a guy as smart as Batman, who plans for everything, have the mind of the Joker; it’s a scary thought. This book however was terrible, with unnecessary acts of violence, inappropriate twists and an ending that made a mockery of its self. I really love some of Millar’s work because he really does look at the larger aspects of society and how we are shaped by them, but this was just useless action and a reason to bring up some dumb ideas.
January 5, 2011:
Until this week I was collecting three Avengers titles: Secret, Young and Prime. This week I picked up two of these books, my favourite, Young Avengers: Children’s Crusade and my least favourite, and the book that ended this week: Avengers Prime. These two books had similar beats, which included a big action scene, and were beautifully drawn by a guy who has been around for awhile (Alan Davis on Prime) and a guy who’s been around for a few years (Jimmy Cheung on Young). The characterization and story however were opposite ends of the good/bad spectrum. Avengers Prime was to be the book that reconciled Thor, Steve Rogers and Tony Stark after so many years apart. It was also be the story that transitioned from Siege to Heroic Age. Unfortunately, due to timing and an emphasis and humour, Avengers Prime did not do its job well. The series started out very strong, but once it started ignoring continuity in other books, conversations about who slept with who, and Steve Roger turning into Captain Kirk, the book became less about the reconciliation of these three friends (which does occur but in an unsatisfying manner) and more about, well I’m not sure really. On the other hand, Alan Hienberg (yes of OC fame) crafts a story full of characterization, fantastic dialogue, an intriguing twist and a great surprise. for me, this has been the most Avengers-like book I have read. This issue does answer some questions about the whereabouts of the Wanda Maximoff, but it also leaves some to be answered later, and with five issues to go, it’s hard to say where this book is going to go, and that’s a good thing. The only weak characterization in this book so far has been Wolverine. This issue was his best so far, but ultimately he is being used for a particular purpose, which I don’t mind since he is in a dozen other books. I made Young Avengers my pick of the week because it was able to give you a lot without overcrowding the characters or the story, and the cliffhanger was great. These books are bi monthly as well; it hurt Prime, but Young’s quality is benefitted from this scheduling. I can;t wait to see what ramifications this book will have on the rest of the Marvel Universe.
Side note, Superboy #3 came out this week, and because I picked up this weeks comics a week later, I missed out on it, which was okay for me, because after two issues I decided a superman in high school story is not what I wanted. Sorry Jeff Lemire, I loved you Essex County, but your Superboy is not for me.
January 12, 2011:
After this paragraph, I will be caught up on my picks. This week was small; one DC book and one Marvel book. the problem is, I loved both of these books, so it was very hard to choose. Ultimately I went with THUNDER Agents #3 because it is paced, characterized, drawn and plotted unlike most of the books I read. Now I realize I have given this book my PoW for best book every time I read it, but it really is something different, and lately, different has been winning out for me. With this issue we are introduced to N0Man, a Dr. Manhattan type hero, who was one of the original THUNDER Agents, who gets called back to duty. What we also get is a little more history of the older THUNDER Agents, and this is provided by the love him or hate him artist Howard Chakyin. His past NoMan pages really emphasizes two things: the past, which is important to this story, it almost seems like Chakyin is used to represent a story that was told in another book, almost like using older footage from a TV show in a later season. the other emphasis Chakyin gives the reader is the deterioration of NoMan’s ability to feel. He becomes emotionless, and is really brought out in the darken sockets of NoMans eyes, all while surrounded by slightly cartoonish figures. This is a great way to visually show the readers so they do not have to be specifically told. Kudos to who ever’s idea this was.
The other book I picked up was Amazing Spider-Man #651. Dan Slott has really re-invented Peter Parker. Not only does the finally to hist first arc Big Time have some modern silver age lining, it lets Peter has a life he has wanted to live without feeling to forced. You know that Peter will always get the short end of the stick, but this time when it comes, I think he will tackle this challenge in a completely different way then he used to. Slott also has this great way of making old ideas seem new, but natural at the same time. The next arc is a different, but similar artist, which has me excited to read it, plus very happy that I can read a Spider-Man books again.
I hope to get back to some articles this week or next. I am currently working on the second part of my “Can Superman be Modern” series, which is yielding some interesting thoughts on Superman’s future.
Yes, I did not do a pull-list post this week; I’m sorry. It’s been a busy few weeks, but it got me thinking, I think I’ll start joining my pull-list and picks of the week post. That’s fewer posts for me to write and you to read, but you get a better quality post.
This week was another small week for me; two DC books, Brightest Day #16 and Green Lantern #60 and one from Marvel Amazing Spider-Man #650. I was most looking forward to Brightest Day #16, the origin of Aqualad. DC has been weird with their solicitations with this book lately. I thought this book was supposed to come out two weeks ago but it wasn’t, and this weeks preview had a Firestorm cover. Needless to say this was in fact the origin issue for Aqualad. I was also looking forward to Amazing Spider-Man #650 because it has been a quality book with great writing and art.
So my pick of the week for best comic was in fact Brightest Day #16. I wasn’t going to make this my pick because it wasn’t a stand out in writing or art, though the Ivan Reis pages are always great to look at. I picked this as my best of the week because DC is doing one of the things I suggested they do to make Aquaman a big time player in the DCU. Not only does this issue give an origin to Aqualad and give him a connection to the Aquaman universe that makes sense, it creates new places that can enhance and grow the Aquaverse. This issue seems to go back to the silver age origin oh Arthur, who is the son of a lighthouse keeper, but there seems to be a twist. In the Adventure Comics #260, Aquaman tells a sub captain that he is half man, half atlantean, and tells of his father and mother and how, as a child, he learnt about his powers. This issue of Brightest Day though tells its readers that Arthur’s father was human and that Arthur believed he was human until the age of 13 when Atlantean terrorists came from him. This does not specifically say that the lighthouse keeper is biological father, but the fact that Arthur was raised as a human apparently never sat well with other Atlantean. The modern age origin of Aruthr being the son on Queen Atlanna and the wizard Atlan could still be enact, but I don’t think it is. Regardless, Johns and Tomasi are setting up Arthur and Jackson, the new Aqualad with the status quo of not belonging to either world. We also see a bit of an upcoming story line and that is the Aquawar, which I believe will take place in Brightest Day. I keep reading this issue because it looks like it’s going to be a great re-entry for Aquaman in the DCU by building a new community for him to participate in.
My pick of the week for worst comic was almost my pick of the week for best. Green lantern #60 opens up to this amazing two page splash of a Parallax infused Flash fighting Hal Jordan. Artist Doug Mahnke creates a panel that moves, has a lot of expression and really highlights the Flash’s powers, which can be hard to get right. These two pages alone almost made this book my pick of the week for best comic. The rest of the issue is really well done, and the art stays very strong. We get some good Hal Jordan moments and lots of great action, and we also get a big reveal at the end of this issue, and this is where my pick turns from best to worst. Since Blackest Night has ended, we have witnessed this small figure capturing the different emotional entities, such as Parallax. It has been safe to assume that this figure is a Guardian by his size and ability to use the green light of will, and at the end of the issue we found out it is in fact a disgraced Guardian Krona, who everyone thought he was dead. I don’t know who this character is; I’ve only been reading Green Lantern for a short time, so this big reveal was really lost on me, plus the fact that another guardian gone bad made the reveal feel stale. I am sure if I knew more about the Green Lantern mythos I would have liked the end of this issue a lot more than I did.
Yes, I know its Sunday and not Thursday, but I’ve had a busy, tiring week. So without further a due, here are my Picks of the Week. As you may know from my pull list, it was a lightish week for me; just 4 books (3 of which were from DC)’ Let’s say I loved the books from one company and not the other.
THUNDER Agents #2 – THUNDER Agents is my pick for Best of the Week because it’s a much different comic than the first issue, but it has a lot of the great twists and turns that the first issue had. This issue primarily focuses on the new heroes, and one hero in particular, Lightning. The characterization that Spencer doles out really gets to the heart of what a character wants so when it comes time to making a choice, to be a hero whose powers will kill him, it seems logical. the next few issues I am sure will be a spotlight on a particular character, while this mission is underway. What I like about this is that it allows Spencer to show how his world works, but makes us care at the same time. and the art of Chafu and Bat do not disappoint here. There is a two page splash of lightning running with his new powers for the first time and it’s in your face, it’s detailed and it convey’s a lot of the emotion that these guys want you to feel about these characters. This book is really a different kind of superhero book, and at a point when I read a lot of superhero books, this one stands out because it’s different and not generic, like some of the books I read. Thank DC.
Thor #618 – This book is really starting to get on my nerves. The first issue posed these great cosmological ideas, and the art was so good I gave Fraction and Ferry a PoW for that issue. Each subsequent issue has been a bit of a let down. While the art has been great, the stories are lacking structure, things just seem to happen. It feels like Fraction is building his arcs to work better in a trade, which he does often enough, but in books like Invincible Iron Man each issue still has a story to tell. So far in this series, we have seen the resurrection of two characters, Loki, and in this past issue Odin, and they were such simple resurrections that they really lack any emotion. Thor seems to be able to do whatever; he’s that powerful. The art however is still really strong and I might just stay for that, but we will see. I will give this book another issue or two and see what happens.
I’m going to do something a little different for this week’s picks. Because they were two comics that I couldn’t choose for my best pick, I decided that I would have two best picks no worst pick. Now I picked these comics as the best more because of what they represent to their respected series and place within their company’s line up. So here we go:
Detective Comics #871 – This is the first issue with the new creative team of writer Scott Snyder (American Vampire) and artists Jock (The Losers) and Francesco Francavilla, and if you read my pull list post for this week you’ll know I was very excited for this book. I wasn’t disappointed at all with this book, or the Commissioner Gordon back up (Francavilla). Detective Comics now follows the Batman of Gotham City, former Robin and Nightwing, Dick Grayson as he looks into the theft of supervillian items that are being used by a new big bad. The issue follows Dick and his new relationship with Gordon and is old school Batman detective style. This is the Batman that I favour the most, and Snyder and Jock nail down the tone with this comic. When you read a Batman book no matter if you are looking at Batman or Bruce Wayne, you always see Batman, but with this issue, you see Batman and you see Dick; the two coexisting as one. This is something I didn’t see during Morrison’s Batman and Robin, which was Dick in a batman suit. Snyder gets the Batman mythos, and he gets Dick Grayson. There were times when I was reading Batman’s dialogue to Gordon about various medical drugs, and he wrung them off like a season pro, and for a second I thought, this isn’t Dick, but then I realized that Dick has been around a long time, has been solo, has been a cop, he’s no amateur, he’s been tought by the world’s greatest detective, there is no way he wouldn’t know any of this stuff. What helps make Dick and Batman co-exist is Jock’s art; he draws a true to form Batman, and with Snyder’s writing it just works. Jock also has some stunning panels and he can really tell a story within the story; he’s pretty damned good. The back up, which I tend not to read, is also great and works on its own and within the main story itself, and add Francavilla’s ability to draw a realistic down trodden but never give up hope Commissioner Gordon, and this book is going somewhere special. This definitly goes to the top of my pile.
Amazing Spider-Man #649 – This is the second issue of new permanent Spider writer Dan Slott, and this was a better issue than last for the sole purpose of being ready to tell a story, a new Spider-Man story. The first issue was merely set up for this issue, which opens up with a bang, well a lot of bangs, and then throws in a surprise. I’m not going to give it away, but suffice to say it’s shocking. This issue is filled with a great Aunt May and Peter scene, which has a Ditko panel thrown in for good measure, that really demonstrates this book’s new direction, one that seem’s logical, but a direction that’s never really been travelled before. We finally get to see how Peter’s new job is going to create some great new, but classic styled, Spider stories. Let’s not forget the art though; Humberto Ramos has a very cartoonish style that really works for a Spider-Man book, which is evident in the action scenes of Spidey and the Black Cat mixing it up some two bit hoodlums. Ramos does a lot of little things in his panels that make them move or give them something to take in before you move to the next. While Peter is still Spider-Man, this book feels like something new when in reality it isn’t. I also love that this book comes out bi-weekly!
I chose these two issues because they both made classic books feels new without losing any of their classicness. Furthermore, these books pushed their respected characters forward without losing that classicness, and that is a rare thing to see with new creative teams on older properties. The fact that it happened twice this week, well you can see why I choose them as my best picks. If you do want a worst pick, I would give it to Captain America. It was a pretty humdrum story that I wasn’t too interested in, but that’s okay, these two picks certainly made up for it.
It was a DC week for me, as many of you know; there were lots of Batman in these books, including one, Batman: the Return, that I didn’t put in my list but got anyway because it lead into the first issue of Batman Inc, which proved to be a wise menouver. So let’s get into it shall we.
Batman Inc #1: Surprise, surprise, I know. But man, this book is a ton of fun! It’s equal parts serious, action packed, funny, sexy, silver age and post modern. It’s superbly writen and drawn, and as much as I inittaly thought that I wasn’t going to pick up this title, I am sure as hell glad I did. I even tried to convince myself not to make this my best pick of the week, but I couldn’t do it. I hope that the quality keeps up on this book, because this new status quo is going to be something that hasn’t been seen in a long time, and possibly at all.
Batman: The Return One Shot: This seems counter-intuitive to everything I just said, but i do have a reason, and it comes down to art. Every book i picked up this week was beautiful drawn, and this book was no exception, but i found it was terribly coloured. there were a lot of pages that were really dark, and they featured these great Batman and Robin type Iron Man suits, and a fight with this crazy looking baddy that i couldn’t really make out. And this was a shame, cause this book sets up Batman Inc really well and ultimately makes that book so much better. As Connor Kilpatrick in his review at iFanboy.com that this book does all the heavy lifting, and for that it is good, but the colouring brings this book down too many notches for me.
So I had seven books this week, and choosing the best was really hard. Three books vied for the top spot, while only one book could be the pick for the low spot on the pile. But before I get to the picks, there will be a slight change in format from last week. Picks of the Week posts will now come on Thursday and will include a brief review. Okay, that’s over, now time for my picks.
Best of the Week
T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #1: I knew nothing about this book until earlier this week when I checked out the preview, which I did because I’ve heard good things about Nick Spencer. Why I picked this book is that it’s a beautifully drawn book; artist Cafu has a great Gary Frank vibe and really sells facial expressions. Spencer’s story is about a special UN superhero squad that is called when they really hairy shit hits the fan. While we see the THUNDER Agents, this issue is not about them, it’s about those who run the superhero program and what happens when something happens that no one planned for. There are lots of twists and turns, and the story is paced really well, with action, exposition and some great character work. This beat out Amazing Spider-Man #648 for two reasons. THUNDER Agents really surprised me and took a story I’ve read before and made it feel fresh. Reason two is that Amazing Spider-Man seemed to force one of Peters character traits on the reader to move the plot to its conclusion, but it was still a great book with a very strong story and great art. That being said, I’m very happy I picked up this book and look forward to the next issue.
Worst of the Week
Avengers Prime #4: At one point I looked at the cover to see if this was the final issue of this mini-series; alas it was not. This book is still taking place right after the fall of Asgard, and while the coming together of the Avengers big three: Cap, Iron Man and Thor, was important after Seige, this bi-weekly title is still telling this story months and months after Seige has ended while the rest of the Marvel Universe has been involved in the Heroic age. I’m not a fan of Bendis’ Avengers story, his characterization doesn’t seem to always fit; case in point the guy bond at one point in this issue about getting into a former Avengers pants. These guys have some serious trust issues, especially with Tony and this series was supposed to look at tackling that, but talking about what girls they’ve laid, not cool. Which is a shame too because Alan Davis is drawing this book, and these characters look great and the story telling Davis provides is really well done. There is one more issue left and I’ll get it because I am pot committed, and once this is done, Avengers The Children’s Crusade will be the only title that i read, and once that’s done, I don’t think i will be reading the any avengers titles, which sucks cause there seemed to be a lot of potential with this franchise.
It’s time for my first set of Picks of the Week. Normally I just choose the book I feel is the best from those that I pull that week. Sometimes I have ten books, others just two. I am trying something new, instead of picking just one book, I’m going to pick two. One will be for the book I feel is the best and the other for the book I feel is the worst. So without further ado…
Best of the Week
Superboy #1 by Jeff Lemire and Pier Gallo. Good introduction issue with strong art.
Brightest Day #13 byJohns, Tomasi, Reis Syaf, Prado. This my pick of the worst comic really because I could care less about Hawkman and Hawkgirl.
Check back tomorrow for my reviews on these books.