Just about every issue of Morrison’s All-Star Superman would probably be a good fit for this column. With the exception of the Bizarro Earth two-parter and the two issue conclusion, every issue could stand alone as a fantastic single serving Superman story. There are two stories in the book’s 12-issue run, however, that deserve special attention in this regard: “Neverending” and “Funeral in Smallville”. For now, I’ll be focusing on All-Star Superman #10, “Neverending”, but believe me, I’ll come back for the other.
Hello again, read/RANT fans! Cal here. I know updates have been few and far between around here, but now that I FINALLY have a) an internet connection (well… kind of) and b) the ability to purchase comics, I hope to start posting a little more regularly.
I’m still working on a way to revamp The Unread Canon, to move the focus away from ongoing story-arcs and towards a more coherent look at some ‘classic’ books, but for now, I hope you folks enjoyed my One Shot colums (from the number of readers I got on the Astro City and Animal Man issues, I’d imagine you did). I’m going to ease back in, and the first part of that will involve starting up my looks at standalone issues of comics, some great, some merely okay, once again.
This, hopefully, is what my schedule will look like for One Shot this year…
6/12/11 – The Unwritten #5, “How the Whale Became”
7/10/11 – All-Star Superman #10, “Neverending”
8/14/11 – X-Factor #13, “Re-X-Aminations”
9/11/11 – Ex Machina #40, “Ruthless”
10/09/11 – Tales of the Slayers, “Righteous”
11/13/11 – Daytripper #8, “47″
As ever, any suggestions for future issues are more than welcome, and hopefully I’ll get more writing coming up soon!
I apologize that life has pulled so many of us away from the site, particularly given how exciting things have gotten with DC’s recent announcement – more on that later.
Glad to be back!
- Cal Cleary
Action Comics #869 (*****): Another solid chapter in the reinvention of Brainiac arc.
All-Star Superman #12 (*****): So much needs to be said about this book, and I plan to, just as soon as I get my copies of the rest of the series back from Mandy. Expect a Series Review of this masterpiece by the end of the month.
The Amazing Spider-Man #572 (****): On par with the rest of the arc, but not even close to the ultimate Bullseye vs Spider-Man fight that Slott promised us. Too much hype, dude.
Bruce Castle (****1/2)
Birds of Prey #122 (**): I didn’t read it so much as look at the pretty pictures… and vomit.
DC Lebeau (Hated it!)
Captain Britain and MI:13 #5 (****): Blade, you son of a bitch!
Seventh Soldier (B+)
Daredevil #111 (****): I like her. And I definitely liked this. Matt Murdock. What a bastard.
Fables #76 (***): Holy Lord, how much did I hate reading this issue of Fables? Sure, I know Willingham is a hardcore Republican, but some of the dialogue in this issue almost made my head explode. Really, Snow White? Is that how you justify all this death? And this cliché anti-tech speech? LAME. Also, no one talks like this on their cell phone. Can we stop writing crap like this? Please? Question: what does it say about me that I agree with Geppetto?
Hulk #6 (****1/2): AWESOME!!!
Bruce Castle (*****)
The Punisher #62 (***): Even without comparing this to Ennis’ take on the character, I would still hate it. And it’s not that I hate all other versions of the Punisher, because I think Fraction’s version is great (until the plot started to suck ass).
Bruce Castle (****)
Robin #178 (***1/2): Okay. Fine. Meh. BLAH. It wasn’t bad, how about that?
DC Lebeau (Liked it!)
DC Lebeau (Liked it!)
Ultimate Fantastic Four/Ultimate X-Men Annual #1 (**): Way worse than the last issue. UGH.
Bruce Castle (****)
Ultimate Spider-Man #126 (****): I liked it. Plus, it made me nostalgic for a time when Nick Fury ran S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Ultimates were badass.
Bruce Castle (***)
Uncanny X-Men #502 (**): STAB MY EYES!!!
Bruce Castle (**)
The Walking Dead #52 (***1/2): Okay, with a side of losing interest fast.
Bruce Castle (****)
War Heroes #2 (**): I thought about scanning the penis page… but that would be crude. Get it?
Bruce Castle (***1/2)
All Star Superman #12 (*****)
It’s hard to review this comic without gushing about it for several paragraphs. I think we all knew three years ago that Grant Morrison and Frank Quietely on a Superman series sans continuity would be good, but did anyone think it would be this good? This is the best Superman comic I’ve ever read. Everything that Superman is has been conveyed in this series. This is why I love Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly. No matter how good their previous work has been, they always raise the bar. It’s hard to believe that’s possible I know, but I think it’s true. This may be Morrison’s best comic. This is Quietly’s best comic. I can’t recommend this comic enough.
Action Comics #869 (*****)
Take a look at that cover. Superman and his father drinking beer while leaning on a gate. Superman’s wife and mother watching from the porch. America’s heartland in the background. How much more American can you get? But this isn’t the cover of the comic I’m holding. Something’s changed. The beer brand has been altered to a dismal label that reads “SODA POP”. Really?! I’ve talked about this enough, but I just wanted to let you all know that this comic was delayed a week because of this. I think the main reason why is because of All Star Batman and Robin’s faux pas, but I’ll talk more about that later. This was another great issue. I’ve always liked Supergirl. She’s one of the most poorly handled characters in comics, but she’s written brilliantly here. This issue is particularly remarkable because a few of our questions are answered. Why is Supergirl in this comic? Find out in this issue. Why have the Daily Planet employees been getting a lot of screen time lately? Find out in this issue. Why are there about to be a lot more Kryptonians running around? Find out in this issue. In addition to all of that, Geoff Johns and Gary Frank still bring their A-game. Johns’ writing is wonderful and Frank’s art is superb.
Yesterday, All-Star Superman – otherwise known as Grant Morrison’s ASS – came to an end, finally. With the stated objective of telling the definitive Superman story, Morrison and artist Frank Quitely set a rather high bar for themselves, setting up against such classics as Alan Moore’s Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? and Alan Moore’s For the Man Who Has Everything and…uhhh…just, really, Alan Moore. With the last issue on the stands, we can finally look back at the series and ask: Did All-Star Superman make a mistake by setting the bar so high?
It cleared it.
Morrison and Quitely made sure to touch on as many aspects of the Superman mythos as humanly possible in a twelve issue series, with an issue featuring Lex Luthor, an issue about Jimmy Olson, a trip to the Bizarro Cubed Earth, and more. Many comic fans who aren’t reading the series have derided All-Star Superman as a Silver Age throwback, completely missing the point – to provide a continuity-free retrospective on the history of Superman, be it Golden, Silver, or Modern.
The book isn’t flawless, of course. The Bizarro two-parter can drag on, which is a shame given that it’s the only two-parter in the series, the rest of the book composed of a series of one-shots tied together by the central conceit of ‘How would Superman react if he knew he was going to die soon?’ But, beyond that, the book hits a variety of emotional highs and lows, has insane, epic action, and just in general manages to succeed.
It isn’t flawless, but looking back on the series as a whole, this is the only mainstream comic work that I imagine stands a chance of being mentioned in the same breath, 10 years from now, as Watchmen or The Sandman.
Final Crisis: Revelations #2
Final Crisis: Revelations is a great many things. It’s spiritual sequel to both Infinite Crisis and 52. A direct sequel to The Five Books of Blood. A tie-in to Final Crisis. Under a lesser writer than Rucka, this might be too much material to work into a 5-issue series, but it does well.
This issue is the first that feels like a ‘traditional’ tie-in, in the sense that it takes a standard character – The Question – and uses the current event to shake up that character’s status quo, introduce a new enemy based on the major event, etc…. The issue feels very traditional in many ways, but it’s still good. The long-needed introduction of an element of balance to the Spectre occurs, a major reveal regarding one of DC’s older villains, and a reunion of sorts between Cris and Renee in their new roles all keep the action rolling, but it’s the emotional core of the issue that makes it great. This is Rucka revisiting his old toybox, and it seems like he’s having a good time doing so.
The revelations of this issue all felt natural and needed, the action was engaging, and emotions ran high. All around solid, but nothing spectacular. A competent tie-in, and a strong issue on its own.
Secret Six #1
Everyone’s already said most of what needs to be said, but Simone really nailed it, here. The twisted humor and uncomfortable camaraderie of the Six are perfect, and the new villain is intriguing. All-in-all, a solid start to this new series. Hopefully, it’ll be around for a good little while.
Captain Britain and MI:13 #5
For anyone wondering if the quality of Captain Britain would keep up once the Secret Invasion tie-in ended, the short answer is: “Hell Yes.” Cornell and crew are now using the book to look at a variety of British heroes, so this issue sees cameos from more than one, of all calibers – from nobodies like Captain Midlands to bigger characters some people might not know were British, like Blade. The issue is fun and engaging, but it’s still set-up, and it leaves off with a frankly ridiculous cliffhanger.
Oh, Blade. You aren’t a team player.
Ok, I still have a lot more reviews to complete but I felt the urge to do this first. I picked up that second Ellis Thunderbolt HC this week and so I’ve been reading both of those in my spare time. I thought about how much I loved that run and that got me thinking about my favorite books on the shelves right now. So I thought I’d have some fun and put together this list. This is my top 10 current comics list. These are in alphabetical order.
All-Star Superman & Action Comics (tie)
I know I’m cheating already. Don’t worry. This is the only tie on the list. I only did this because All Star is ending in one issue and so after that finishes you can head on over to Action Comics. All Star Superman is one of the best Superman comics I’ve ever read. For those of you who think that Grant Morrison is too dark or too complicated or maybe even a bad writer, you really need to check this book out. It’s a silver age throwback, it’s creative, it’s funny, and it has a heart of gold. Action Comics also features some great Superman stories. Did you like the first two Christopher Reeve Superman movies? If so, you should really check this book out. It really does capture a lot of the fun and spirit of those movies. Much like All Star Superman, this book is just plain good storytelling that’s always a pleasure to read. Both of these books treat the man of steel the way he should be treated.
I’m sure I don’t even have to mention this book. Everyone seems to love it and with good cause. It’s been a hell of a ride. You can definitely tell that this title is handled with care. Brubaker has a plan and he sticks to it. That’s what has been so fascinating is that everything has a purpose and a reason. He ties things together that occurred thirty issues before. Brubaker brought back a character that had been dead for 60 years and then killed a character that had been loved for 60 years and wasn’t hated for it. Now that is talent.
This book floored me. To me, it usually seems that almost every major event disappoints, but in only three issues this one has blown me away. It’s intriguing that even with the most veteran of comic readers, their vision always seems hindered while reading a comic. There are a lot of people who will just flip through a comic, admire the art, and briefly scan the dialogue. Things that would be obvious if seen on a screen come off as much more subtle in a comic. I myself have been guilty of this on occasion, but with Final Crisis it feels like my eyes are wide open. I love to just read this book over and over and notice little things here or there or to analyze a certain panels meaning. I’m sure most of you have already had this feeling with a comic before, but this was my comic that made me see the medium in a new and better light. But besides my personal rapport with this comic, I just feel that it’s really good. This is, in my opinion, the way an event comic should be.
I originally wrote a long Wikipedia type write up about why I love this series. But you can read about that stuff from someone who knows about it more than I do, plus it’s kind of boring. Hal Jordan was a mistreated character. Sure he was an original member of the JLA and had a cool ring, but who cares he had no personality. But Geoff Johns has taken Hal to new heights. He made Hal a character you could actually care about. On top of that, he made the GL mythos more interesting than ever by introducing a new creative concept about multi-colored lantern rings. That and the Sinestro Corps War was a hell of a great event. Now, thanks to Geoff Johns, Hal Jordan is a true A-list hero and this is a top tier book.
This is a book that made Robert Kirkman one of my favorite writers and it’s still running strong. This is always an enjoyable read. It blends familiar superhero ingredients together into a fresh and entertaining comic. So if you’re looking for a fun comic, give this one a try.
Invincible Iron Man
This is still a fairly new book, but I’m putting it on the list anyway. I’ve always been a fan of Iron Man. Sadly, if you’ve been following the Marvel universe for the last few years, you may know the kind of crap I’ve had to deal with. Iron Man has been treated like a villain for what seems like an eternity. Thankfully, Iron Man fans caught a brake this year with the release of the new Iron Man movie. Finally, the golden avenger got some love. In addition to that, he got a new title written by the very talented Matt Fraction. Much like the aforementioned Action Comics captures the spirit of the Superman movies, Invincible Iron Man is definately the book that has the same feel as the Iron Man movie. This is a great Iron Man book and a great comic in general and I hope that continues.
Justice Society of America
Unless you’ve been reading this comic, you’re probably questioning my reasons for putting this on the list. Who cares about the JSA? But that’s the magic of Geoff Johns. Just like he did with Hal Jordan, he makes you care about the JSA. The roster is fairly large right now, and yet Johns makes sure that every character gets some time in each issue. He does this in such a way that it doesn’t seem needless. You can tell there is a purpose. Along with the old members, new characters are also introduced. Some of these characters would be disastrous if handled improperly. Geoff Johns makes everything work in this comic, it’s truly amazing.
Secret Invasion: Thor
This is a bit of an odd pick. Especially considering only one issue has been released, but there is method to my madness. I wanted to give some kind of recommendation to Marvel’s current event, but sadly I haven’t been too impressed with it. The best thing to come out of Secret Invasion is the tie-ins. Some other good SI tie-ins include: Captain Britain and MI13, SI Inhumans, and SI X-Men. Also, I’m a big Thor fan and Matt Fraction has done a fantastic job writing the character with both this series and the Ages of Thunder one-shots. So basically this is kind of a shout out pick, shameful I know. But I really did enjoy this first issue and it promises to be pretty great.
The Walking Dead
This would be the other book that made Robert Kirkman one of my favorite writers. It’s always impressive when a book can still be so good after over 50 issues. But that’s what this is supposed to be, the zombie movie that doesn’t end. If you loved those old George Romero zombie movies, this is a must read. What’s also fascinating though, is that you don’t even have to love zombies to like this book. There are times when the zombies are nothing more than background. It’s about people dealing with a really horrible situation. The first trade is only ten bucks. You really should give it a try.
This is another odd pick. Again it’s fairly new, but that isn’t a bad thing. Young Liars is about as close to a roller coaster ride in comics form as you can get. It’s just so wild and thrilling. It’s impossible to predict what’s going to happen next and something crazy happens in just about every issue. The only downside, and this is why I say it’s an odd pick, is because 6 issues have been released and already I’m amazed at how David Lapham can keep this pace up. I’m just worried he’ll make a false step, but until then I’m going to enjoy the incredible ride.
Wow! That took a lot longer than I thought and I wrote a lot more than I expected, but I love comics. I tried to keep a balance between Marvel, DC, and indie titles while still making sure these were books I love. Hopefully I’ll get someone to pick up one of these books. I also hope that I’ll inspire some people to give their own top lists. Thanks as always for reading!
I love you, Superman. And I love Superman’s best friend, the Sun-Eater. NO! Solaris killed him! Poor Solaris, you should not have done that to Superman’s friend. Now you must meet his fists. Oh, and then Luthor shows up. And he’s got all the powers of Superman. Whoa.
Seriously, who isn’t reading this? You, sir, are dumb.
Batman #677 (***1/2)
I just don’t like Tony Daniel. He reminds of all the forgettable art from the mid-nineties. He’s not a solid artist and I don’t get why people like him. I feel like I’m reading some shitty image comic. Enough bitching, let’s talk about—WTF! His arm exploded! Damn, Batman is getting rough with this shit! Okay, how about these villains? Am I the only one that thinks they look utterly ridiculous, even for Morrison creations? Although, they do look pretty bad-ass beating the shit out of Alfred. HAH.
Ghost Rider #23 (****)
This book is so hit or miss. This issue? Hits big time! SCRUNCH! This entire page is ass-kicking goodness! This is all I want from my Ghost Rider comic. That’s it! EXTREME VIOLENCE! PENANCE STARES! JUSTICE SERVED! Is it too much to ask for every issue to be this action-packed?
Justice Society of America #15 (****1/2)
Well, the entire book is one big beat down. Not gonna show ya’. Go buy or download it for that. What I will show you, because I find it too fucking hilarious not to, is the full two-page spread that portrays the real Gog’s first full appearance… “I come in peace.”
• Amazing Spider-Man #560 (*****): I would give the book six stars if I could… EFF it, I can – (******). Marcos Martin is a God. His Dr. Strange and Batgirl stuff was most excellent, but his work on this arc has truly been transcendent. Oh, and the story’s pretty fun too.
• Birds of Prey #118 (***1/2): For a Tony Bedard comic, this one is decent. Even as a fill-in and Final Crisis tie-in, the book still adheres to recent BOP continuity. And the Scott’s art is consistently fine.
• Daredevil #107 (****): Someone finally stands up to Matt and it just happens to he the feisty AND sexy, Dakota North. Luke Cage makes an appearance too, but we already knew how sexy and feisty he was. Greg Rucka just might be the mo-fo to turn this book around.
• Dreamwar #2 (***): Still don’t know what’s going on… no, I have some ideas: Silver Age DC character that may not actually be the real deal? Are these the “dreams”? Green Arrow dies and they don’t seem too broken up about it, what does that mean? Who the hell is “Chimera”? My biggest problem with this book is its intended purpose. Why this story and why now. Is it just an old-fashioned crossover? It’s okay if it is. We have enough of the other kind already.
• G.I. Joe #35 (**1/2): The Devil’s Due swansong. The plot: Cobra Commander wants to blow up the world. Why? Huh? I was enjoying this final arc till Commander got all crazy with it. Oh well, just one issue to go.
• Ultimate Spider-Man #122 (****): Thought this one would be funnier. It was in reality quite violent. Disturbing even… the way Shocker tortured Peter with Peter not uttering a single word for more than half the issue. Chills. Bendis took the long-standing joke that is the Shocker and flipped it on its head. Nice one, dude.
• X-Factor #31 (*): It’s finally over. Good riddance shitty Arcade story.
• X-Men: Divided We Stand #2 (****): Well, not as good as the first issue. The Moonstar story dragged and the Magik one left me feeling “meh”, but I enjoyed the heck out of the other three stories.
4 stars = Stop reading review and go buy now!!!!
3 and a half stars = Great issue and make room on your trade shelf some day soon
3 stars = Recommended and maybe even trade worthy
2 and a half stars = Recommended
2 stars= Not the best, not the worst, not recommended
1 and a half star = Terrible issue and vocalize your disgust at your next social event
1 star = Awful awful awful and you may want to consider dropping this title
0 stars = Next con you attend where the writer and/or artist are present you should throw this issue in their face
Batman #677 – Still not as good as I know Grant Morrison has in him. Maybe my standards are too high. It is a 20 issue event after all. I’m hoping that even without Batman dying I guess, the book will end living up to its title and expectations. There were a few good moments, the art looks good (sorry Billy) and the end seems really intriguing. 2 and a half stars
Daredevil #107 - I haven’t been enjoying Brubaker’s run as much as I guess everyone has, especially following Bendis’ run which included some of the best Daredevil issues I have ever read. This is coming from someone who owns around 300 Daredevil comics for your information. This issue was ok. It didn’t have as much action as I would have liked, though seeing Luke Cage was cool. It wasn’t packed with that much story either. Seems like another lacking issue from Brubaker again. Why are you so good on Captain America and not on DD? 2 stars
Final Crisis #1 - I was going to write a full review on this issue, but I think enough has been said. I personally loved this issue. Loved the art, loved the writing, there was some comedy, it seemed to give you your money’s worth in regards to the amount of information you got. With the normal hindering factors of a first issue and an event issue I have to give the issue 4 stars.
King-Size Hulk #1- This title has gotten a lot of crap. The general consensus seems to be that the art is great and the writing is awful. I for one have found the writing, though it isn’t very good, to be fun. Just think of Hulk as a blockbuster movie. The issue featured 3 short stories with art by Arthur Adams, Frank Cho, and Herb Trimpe. The issue also contains reprints of Incredible Hulk #180 and #181 the first appearances of Wolverine and a good Wendigo story. The last reprint is of Avengers #83 which has nothing to do with Hulk but is still an enjoyable issue. Considering I enjoyed the 3 short stories and I had never read any of the reprinted issues, I liked this issue. However it does cost 5 dollars and the bulk of the material are reprints. So I have to give the issue 2 stars.
Immortal Iron Fist issue #15 – Another story of the Iron Fist. I really enjoyed this issue. Matt Fraction’s writing really shines here in his ability to introduce a book of completely new characters and make a fun fantastic roller coaster ride without getting lessened by too many details or explanations. 3 and a half stars
Ultimate Spider-Man #122 -For those who think that Bendis needs a complete arc to tell a story you should really check out the last few Ultimate Spider-Man issues. This is another done in one story that features Spidey’s joke villain Shocker. This is another solid issue from the Bendis/Immonen team. There is nothing spectacular here but it is still an enjoyable read. 3 stars.
All Star Superman #11-This issue is so damn good! It’s amazing to think that Batman #677 and this issue were written by the same person. This series is always worth the wait and I am sad to see it ending next issue. Please do yourself a favor folks and read this book! 4 stars
Uncanny X-Men #498 – This and Daredevil both prove that for whatever reason Brubaker is writing the hell out of Captain America but not his other titles. This issue isn’t bad, but it isn’t that good either. The hippy story line seems rather poor but at least we get the cool story in Russia. I won’t spoil the end but it at least seems the next issue will be cool and then hopefully when Fraction gets on this book it will be as good as Immortal Iron fist has been. It should be 2 stars but I’ll make it 2 and a half stars for a promising conclusion and that pretty Mike Choi art.