The Top 10 Ongoing Comics of 2012

Well, it’s that time of the year: the time when every obsessive with an Internet connection (and some obsessives, like me, without one) make lists.  Best Album of 2012 leads into Worst Album of 2012 and culminates in Best Comeback Performance in 2012 Of An Artist Who Started His Career in the 1980s But Suffered Setbacks In The 90s.

We here at read/RANT like to keep things pretty simple.  We talk about what we know: comics.  Also, sometimes, TV and movies.  We’re Renaissance Men, capable of being interested in many things at once.  But, admittedly, it’s mostly comics.

Last year, there was just a single list: The 10 Best Graphic Novels of 2011.  This year, I’m splitting my Top 10 into two separate lists: Top 10 Ongoings – what you are reading now – and an upcoming book on the Top 10 Graphic Novels.  There are some books that may be thrilling as ongoings, but only very good as collections – or books that had a fantastic year, but don’t yet have a collection released!

So I’m hoping this will help bring a little diversity to the lists.  We’ll see.  Anyway, click through for the first list: The Top 10 Ongoing Comics of 2012, then chime in down in the comments and let me know what your favorite books were this year!

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This Week In Comics: 8/15/12

This week in comics, Saga #5 finally exists just in time for Saga #6 to come out, I completely forget to pick up Avengers Vs. X-Men, and Rorschach gets the impossibly bland mini-series you always hoped he’d have.

This cover, though lovely, has absolutely nothing to do with what’s in the issue? And what, you ask, is in it? Azzarello’s best 20 pages on the title to date.

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This Week in Comics: 7/18/12

This week in comics, Saga and Justice League are sold out at my shop so I don’t get to read them, Carol Danvers returns to the spotlight in Captain Marvel #1, and Mark Waid completely rocks.

Decent book. Terrible cover.

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Review: The New 52 Wonder Woman (Issues 1-9)

A year-and-a-half ago I stopped reading comic books. I was in the middle of landing a new job in a new city. Reading comics fell by the way side.  When, finally, I was comfortably situated in my new surroundings I dropped by my local comic book store only to discover that pretty much everything I used to read was either canceled or renumbered. They were also all refashioned with this queer “New 52” logo. I get the attention of one of the employees so I can ask what the f happened.

Flashpoint. Geoff Johns. Co-Publisher  Dan Didio.

Being a DC Man, and Vertigo practically a husk of its former self, I dejectedly left the store empty-handed, cursing under my breath the dastardly shadow G-off Johns once again casted on my life.

Flash forward a year or so in the future. Its my day off and all of my favorite television shows have had their season wrap-ups. Sure I could work on all those writing/design project I keep meaning to finish but why the hell would I want to do that. On a whim I decide to head back to the comic book store. Once there I decide that I am going to buy the corporate spin and see this as an opportunity to start reading books that I would otherwise never read due to sprawling cumbersome mythology.

Wonder Woman. Check.

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This Week In Comics: 4/18/2012

This week in comics, Wonder Woman #8 takes us to the underworld, the Avengers and the X-Men hit each other some more, and

It's important to point out that this is the greatest cover in the history of comics. Basically.

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Review: Wonder Woman #5

Wonder Woman #5, cover by Cliff Chiang

Wonder Woman is too many things to too many people.  Inevitably, any attempt to do a bold declaration of “This is what Wonder Woman stands for” turns out to be fairly divisive.  She is an ambassador of peace, but she is also a great warrior and military strategist.  She is chosen by the goddess of love, but no love interest will ever be worthy of her in the eyes of her fans. The contradictions continue, and help explain (I believe) why there is no one definitive Wonder Woman story for her fans.  Perhaps my favorite part about Brian Azzarello’s current run on Wonder Woman is that he doesn’t delve deep into Diana’s character and lose himself in that particular hall of mirrors.  No, under Azzarello’s pen, Wonder Woman is a supremely confident action heroine fighting massive, horrific enemies who see humans more as ants than people, a superhero trying to beat back the tide of a horror film.  It probably shouldn’t work.  It so does.

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Review: Wonder Woman #2

Wonder Woman #2, cover by Cliff Chiang

By this point, it’s almost become trite to point out how difficult writing Wonder Woman is.  The Amazon hero is one of the world’s most recognizable fictional creations, but DC has had a hard time capitalizing on that fact these past few years.  From the disastrous Amazons Attack through the ill-conceived ‘relaunch’ marred by delays and poor storytelling choices into the final months of JMS’s haphazard alternate universe Wonder Woman story, Diana has not fared well these past few months.  Which is why I’m so happy to say that, after a rock-solid debut by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang, Wonder Woman #2 continues to stand-out as one of the creative successes of the New 52.

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Retrospective: Teen Titans vol 3 (part 7)

Looking into issue 50-54.  Issue 50 is a collaboration between McKeever, Johns, Wolfman, and Dezago.  This is also Johns’ last work on Teen Titans and after this issue, McKeever takes over by himself for a while.

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Retrospective: Teen Titans vol 3 (part 3)


I’m continuing my Retrospective for the Teen Titans with the Teens Titans/Legion of Superheroes crossover and issues 16-19 (collected in trade as The Future is Now).  Handling a lot with these issues, so I’ll try to keep it from being too long.  I do want to state though that these issues are some of my favorites of this Teen Titans group and Johns is joined by writer Mark Waid for the Legion cross over.

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Retrospective: Teen Titans vol 3 (part 1)

I’m a fan of the Teen Titans, especially the latest incarnation that went from 2003-2011 and as this relaunch makes it seem their entire history may be erased, I wanted to give them a farewell starting with issues 1-7 (also collected in trade form as “A Kid’s Game” or the soon to be released Teen Titans Omnibus 1).  Like usual, beware of spoilers.

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Review: Flashpoint: Wonder Woman and the Furies #1 (of 3)

I feel weird saying this, but here goes: Flashpoint: Wonder Woman and the Furies #1 is good.  It’s very good.  It’s more than just the best spin-off to Flashpoint; it is better than Flashpoint itself.  Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning successfully turn one of the most hilariously out-of-place characters in Flashpoint into one of the title’s most interesting in the first issue of their three issue mini.

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Top 5 Best Comics of April 2010

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I read 25 comics this month, and these were the best.

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Review: Wonder Woman #40 & Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #3 (of 3)

Wonder Woman #40

Simone and Lopresti start their new arc, “The Crows”, with #40.  Featuring the Amazonian children fathered by Ares, Simone does a fine job setting up a new and fascinating conflict for Diana.  Much like all the best issues of Rucka’s run, Simone presents the heroine with a new kind of challenge: public relations.  Of course, there it was because Wonder Woman released a particularly incendiary book, while here, it’s the Crows’ supernatural influence to spread the seeds of war, but the fundamentals remain the same.

Lopresti remains an impressive talent, and he’s given the Crows a suitably creepy feel.  For a character so dedicated to spreading hope, love and tolerance as Wonder Woman, the Crows are a natural enemy, and one I hope Simone does not abandon lightly.  Coming fresh of the heels of a few excellent arcs, however, I think it’s safe to say that she’s earned our trust on the book.  The set-up here is more exciting than some of her recent arcs on the book, and it combines Simone’s excellent characterization with a quicker pace and some fun new enemies.  Definitely a winner.

Grade: B+

Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #3 (of 3)

Ah, Blackest Night: Wonder Woman.  You started so strong, a stellar display of a fine heroine confronting her past in a sensible, exciting manner.  But the more ties you had to the main Blackest Night mini… well, here you end.  Blackest Night: Wonder Woman is less a story than a series of three largely unconnected one-shots intended to fill in the questions the main mini never touched on.  If you very, very desperately need to know what Wonder Woman is doing between the panels of Blackest Night (the answer: fighting Black Lanterns), the mini is for you.  Otherwise, however, it largely squanders a pair of great talents on a middling-at-best issue with no real reason to exist.

Scott still turns in exciting, gorgeous work, though even she has trouble making Wonder Woman’s Star Sapphire costume look right.  Despite Scott’s work and Rucka’s talent, however, Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #3 remains a mundane, unnecessary tie-in, too bound by continuity to explore anything particularly fascinating but not nearly important enough to matter to the main narrative.

Grade: D+

– Cal Cleary

Read/RANT

Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #2

Review: Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #2

Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #1 was an exciting, well-written dive into Wonder Woman’s character.  There were some clunky moments as Rucka tried to shoehorn in the fact that Diana very clearly would become a Star Sapphire in the near future, but otherwise, it was one of the event’s few true bright spots.  Comparatively, Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #2 is a fairly confused mess of an issue.

Beginning after Wonder Woman became a Black Lantern in an incomprehensible scene in Blackest Night #5, BN:WW#1 doesn’t even attempt to fill its readers in of this fact, confident that everyone alive is reading Blackest Night.  This gives it more a feeling of the second one-shot in a series of three than any sort of ongoing narrative.  Rucka manages to give Wonder Woman more of a personality than we’ve seen any Black Lantern thus far display, which manages sidesteps the idea that they are peresonalitiless husks being worn by the black rings.  It also means that most of the issue’s genuine conflict is taking place beneath the surface of the fairly placid Black Lantern Wonder Woman exterior, which Rucka and Scott never quite get to work as well as it could.  A late game twist makes sense for the character and the mythology, but takes away any sense of consequence for the issue, while also reintroducing one of the character’s most boring romances.

Scott’s work remains utterly gorgeous (though not even she could save the hideous WW Star Sapphire costume).  Her crisp rendering of Black Lantern Diana, the BL insignia now etched into her tiara and ax, is a lovely sight to behold, and her action scenes are smooth, exciting and, at times, surprisingly brutal.  Her work, and Rucka’s ability to write a powerful, intriguing Diana save the issue from hitting the depths it otherwise may have, but make no mistake: Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #2 is utterly trivial.

Grade: C+

– Cal Cleary

Read/RANT

Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #1

Review: Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #1

Much like Blackest Night: The Flash #1, Wonder Woman #1 is set entirely in the build-up to Blackest Night #5.  And much like Blackest Night: The Flash #1, Wonder Woman #1 offers a fair bit of continuity reminders, though it never stops the story completely to give them and they’re never unnecessary.  Unlike the week’s other Blackest Night mini, however, Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #1 also offers a fairly interesting look at one of comics’ hardest heroes to write, and it does so with very, very few flaws.

Narrated to mimic Simone’s current run, Rucka makes a good impression right off the bat.  It continues throughout, as he combines a narrative that cuts to the character’s core with plenty of enjoyable banter.  Few writers have grasped Diana quite the way Rucka has, and even working off of Simone’s recent model of the character, there’s little doubt in this single issue what she stands for.  An enemy that would give most heroes a great deal of pause for angst is instead dealt with in a logical, strangely mature manner here as Wonder Woman displays that she’s more than come to terms with killing Maxwell Lord, and Rucka leaves me genuinely curious as to how he’ll deal with Black Lantern Diana next month.

Nicola Scott does absolutely lovely work here, as she always does.  Her action segments are smooth and clear without ever seeming static, her characters are all distinct.  Brief sigh gags, like Lord meditating, head on backwards, introduce brief moments of levity, but Rucka mostly uses the issue as a character study of Diana, and Scott is game to provide all the drama and emotion he wants underlying the large scenes of mayhem and carnage.

With “Life is much more than seven simple colors,” Rucka cuts closer to the heart of Blackest Night and the War of Light than any writer thus far.  Wonder Woman is a complex character, and Rucka smartly acknowledges that completely independently of where she exists on the emotional spectrum.  Wonder Woman cares, and that in no way hampers her ability to fight the Black Lanterns.  Rucka and Scott do more with Wonder Woman in this one issue than the last three events combined have managed.  I can’t wait to see what they do next.

Grade: A-

Cal Cleary

Read/RANT

Review: Wonder Woman #36

WW36

After the slight, fun “Birds of Paradise” arc, the Wonder Woman master-plot is back, though the issue takes the longest route possible in getting there.  After a brief confrontation, Wonder Woman and Giganta sit down for some major girl-talk.  Simone manages to wrap up a number of the more troubling aspects of Diana’s relationship with Tom Tresser in this issue, and while I can’t imagine that we’ve seen the last of him, his arc is finally at a place that jives more fully with Diana’s character.

Of course, far more than that is going on.  Giganta and Diana together face down the Olympian’s army, while the Olympian himself has made a few powerful bids for more total control of Paradise Island.  While just about every aspect of the issue is well-handled, and Giganta is always welcome (especially as a not-entirely-bad-guy), it’s a rather loosely-strung-together segment to happen in such an important arc, and it takes up a great deal of the issue.

Lopresti continues to make Wonder Woman one of the best looking titles on the shelves.  Whether it’s Wonder Woman and the Olympian throwing down on the field of battle or a Polynesian Goddess growing out of the sand, furious, Lopresti seems to have a clear handle on everything Simone is throwing down.  While I still hold that he was not the best choice to illustrate the brawls with Genocide, the quicker, more civil fights with the Olympians and his army, as well as Diana’s scenes with Giganta and Nemesis, display his skill to far greater effect.

Wonder Woman #36 was a promising, if slow, start to the book’s latest big arc.  Simone has become adept at zagging when we all expect a zig, so the brief scenes giving character to the Diana’s current enemy, the Olympian, are surprisingly tender and awkward, suggesting an essentially likable guy who is merely keeping the faith that she broke.  The issue introduces a number of potential conflicts and trials, most of which are extremely promising, suggesting that, post-“Rise of the Olympian”, the book has no interest in slowing down.  While many of Simone’s earlier arcs on the title were meandering and unfulfilling, she seems to have stepped up her game in the last year and made Wonder Woman one of DC’s most delightfully readable current books.

Grade: B+

– Cal Cleary

Read/RANT