Bruce Castle Presents: 15 Comic Reviews! I Have No Time!

Ugh! I feel like Billy! I had hoped it wouldn’t come to this but sadly it has. I’ve been really busy saving civilization lately. Hopefully the aliens and super ninjas will stay away long enough for me to write some proper reviews soon. I have to at least write long reviews for Final Crisis and Secret Invasion. Anyway, enjoy my negligence!

Mighty Avengers #19 (***1/2) That’s two good MA issues in a row Bendis! You have one more left to go. Make it count!

Conan #4 (****) Always a solid read and hey the Corben stuff is making sense now. This book looks pretty as well.

Grant Morrison Doctor Who #1 (****) I’m not a Who fan, but this is still usual Morrison excellence. It’s very entertaining forgettable fun!

Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #2 (****) A bit worse than last issue but this is still epic stuff. Plus, Perez’s art has never looked so good!

Final Crisis: Rogue’s Revenge #3 (****1/2) What a fun series! I’m so in the mood for that new Flash comic. Go villain books!

Green Lantern #35 (****) Yeah it was too long but that won’t matter much in trade. How many origin stories have been better? Oh, and how awesome is Reis?

Secret Invasion: Inhumans #3 (***1/2) More forgettable fun! Pretty art too!

Justice Society Of America #19 (****1/2) One of the most consistently great books out there right now. I like all the Eaglesham art but I don’t like waiting!

Punisher #63 (***1/2) That forgettable entertainment that looks pretty theme continues!

Secret Six #2 (****1/2) Fun! Fun! Fun! But not as great as last issue. Catman vs. Batman!

Amazing Spider-Man #573 (*****) Go JRJR go! Hooray for awesome comics! Stephen Colbert fans must pick this up!

Ultimate Origins #5 (***) Meh. I’ve forgotten it already. Weak last page!

Uncanny X-Men #503 (***) Write better Fracker! You slightly improved here, how about an extreme improvement next time?!

Astonishing X-Men #27 (****1/2) To hell with the haters! This book is awesome! I laugh so much!

Young Liars #8 (****1/2) Very interesting issue! Not as fun, but still fantastic! This is the best book you have never heard of!

Again, I’m so sorry about this crap. Hopefully I can remedy this problem and have awesome new reviews soon. Please comment if you want me to further explain my zany opinions. Sadly, I can’t show all the covers but I will give you this one!

Marvel Reveals Amazing Spider-Man's Colbert Cover

Top Ten: Comics That Work Best As Monthlies

Recently in the comments section of this post, I brazenly asserted that Batman, by Grant Morrison & Tony Daniel, fails as a monthly comic reading experience. Basically, I feel the plot is too convoluted or complex for easy monthly digestion, although I’m sure it’ll go down very easy in trade.

So, what makes a good monthly comic? A couple of things:

Comics that put “character” first!

Comics that tend to focus more on character than plot are inherently more readable as monthlies. When jumping into the middle of a six issue arc, its character that pulls you in and fills in the holes. With the exception of Fantastic Four, every comic on my list stars a single character.

“Done-in-One (or two)” Stories!

There’s no need to wait for the trade if each arc is only 1-2 issues long, right? Again, this type of story goes well with character writing. Since the plot isn’t required to sustain itself for 3-6 issues, it can be pared down and used primarily as a vehicle to reveal the titular hero’s character. Batman and Zatanna team up to stop the Joker!?! Reading that story you find that it’s not really about catching the Joker as much as it’s  about developing Bruce and Zatanna’s relationship. Also, without really sacrificing the overall plot, these “done-in-one” stories can be framed like TV episodes that when viewed over an entire season combine to reveal a hidden master plot. Think Buffy, Heroes, etc… As many of us know, it can be very intimidating for a new reader to jump onto a book with a long running story, so hiding the plot in this manner is a great way to eliminate that intimidation factor. It also allows the writer to integrate sub-plots with clearly defined conflicts into the background that can be slowly developed and brought to the forefront at a later date, as Mark Millar does in Fantastic Four.

Cliffhangers that punch you in the face!

I mean, does this one really need explanation? There are quite a few comics (many on this list) that use the “final page splash” to great effect in almost every single issue. The rush you get from experiencing these in a floppy is much different than when experiencing them in a trade. Actually, it doesn’t even come close.

Getting that “OMG I can’t wait for next month!” Soap Opera feeling!

Of the four I’ve listed here, I think this last one is probably the most important (although it is very closely related to the Cliffhanger thing). For me, it’s the most important factor in deciding whether or not to wait for the trade. I ask myself, as many of you probably do, “Can I go more than a month without reading about BLANK?!?” If you answer “NO!”, then you obviously have a great monthly in your hands!

With the pretentious explanations out of the way I present to you, in no particular order, my “Top Ten Comics That Work Best as Monthlies”:

ACTION COMICS by Geoff Johns & Gary Frank

I could NEVER read this comic in trade; I just love the characters too much! And the cliffhangers are the epitome of punch you in the face. There haven’t been many done-in-ones in the Johns run, but that’s okay, since at least half the comics on this list barely utilize that comic book storytelling device. But Johns does love the sub-plots, wherein he writes some of the best (or, THE best) character moments in comics. CONS: More done-in-ones would be nice.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN by “The Spidey Brain Trust”

With the exception of the current arc, “New Ways To Die”, Brand New Day has been nothing but 1-, 2-, and 3-issue arcs filled with character, character, character… the Soap Opera mojo has been strong. Because of the weekly shipping schedule, the Spidey team has been using the last page splash to great effect. CONS: Actually, maybe there are too many characters? Sometimes it gets confusing.

CAPTAIN AMERICA by Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting & Luke Ross

All of the above? Without all the little Bucky character stuff, I would not be enjoying this book as much as I am. It’s funny, but to me, most issues of Captain America feel like single issue stories set in an epic tapestry whose true significance won’t be seen ‘til Brubaker ends his run. It’s one long, ongoing story that excites me month in and month out.

DEADPOOL by Daniel Way & Paco Medina

We’re two issues in and I’m in love. For now. Plot? What plot? If you’re looking for a story, you’re in the wrong place, duder. This is all about Deadpool. That’s it. Do you need to read issue one to understand issue two? Hell no! Enjoy the funny!

DETECTIVE COMICS by Paul Dini & Dustin Nguyen

Current master of the 1- or 2-part story (yeah, yeah, I know the RIP tie-in breaks the rules). Reading Detective for the last two years I remember more about Bruce sex life (obv lack thereof) than I do the details of any of the stories. And to me, that’s awesome writing. Dini has made Bruce likable. This is new, folks. Bruce Wayne as an actual character in comics? Not since pre-DKR, I would think, have we seen the identity of Bruce Wayne written as a real character. Ah no, I disagree with you, Morrison’s Wayne is a flimsy piece of cardboard. Maybe he had something at the beginning of his run, but fleshing out Batman’s alter ego took a back seat to RIP setup long ago, maybe around the time Adam Kubert left the book. Anyway, yes, Dini isn’t writing Batman, he’s writing Bruce Wayne as Batman. And there is a difference, and that difference is quite refreshing.

FANTASTIC FOUR by Mark Millar & Bryan Hitch

The character stuff is lacking, but the sub-plots, cliffhangers and OMG moments make this a top of the stack must-read. Here’s a recent review that reads more negative than it actually is.

GRAVEL by Warren Ellis, Mike Wolfer & Raulo Caceres

The way the current arc is framed, it works wonderfully as a series of single issue stories filled with scenes exploring the character of William Gravel. Oh, you know what? Thank God Ellis finally got around to fleshing this guy out. Gravel started life as a boringly hollow SAS thug who starred in a series of idea-driven minis. In those minis, there was never anything particularly exciting or compelling about the Gravel character and the fact of the matter is, I probably only read them because they were written by Ellis. Now, under the watchful eye of Mike Wolfer, I really grown to like this guy and each month I can’t wait to read Gravel’s next adventure. Shocking. That’s good stuff, brother.

HULK by Jeph Loeb & Ed McGuinness

Heh. I really do love this book. Honest. HA!

INVINCIBLE by Robert Kirkman & Cory Walker

Ever since the #51 reboot, this book has been one of the most anticipated monthlies in my stack. LOVING IT… happy now, Bruce?

JACK OF FABLES by Matthew Sturges & Bill Willingham

Awesome title character? CHECK!
Outstanding sub-plots? CHECK!
Cliffhangers? CHECK!
SOAP OPERA?!? TRIPLE CHECK!!!

Foilball’s Review Roundup #56 – Previously Reviewed by read/RANTERS!

Action Comics #869 (*****): Another solid chapter in the reinvention of Brainiac arc.

Bruce Castle (*****)
DC Lebeau (Liked it!)

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.

Seventh Soldier (A+)
Bruce Castle (*****)

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.

Bruce Castle (****)
DC Lebeau (Liked it!)

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?

Desiato (***)

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!)

Superman #680 (***): OH. MY, GOD. Could Superman be a bigger @$$hole? I do not like this book, but it’s not awful. Not yet.

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)

Bruce Castle Presents: The Amazing X-Men!

Amazing Spider-Man #572 (Cover B Variant Edition)

Amazing Spider-Man #572 (****1/2)

Only one more issue left in this arc. I wouldn’t have guessed it when this story began, but I’m actually sad that I can’t read the conclusion until next month. New Ways to Die is topnotch entertainment drawn beautifully by JRJR. It’s so great to see John Romita Jr. back on Spidey. He gets to invent some new characters too which is always cool. Dan Slott also deserves praise. Slott writes Spidey extremely well, but he handles every character with care. Who the heck if this Freak character? Was he always this creepy and crazy or is this more of Romita’s brilliance? We get a cool Bullseye fight, Anti-Venom is further developed, and crazy old stormin’ Norman has some fun too. There may even be some more pleasant surprises, but I don’t want to spoil anything. Go read the issue yourself. This arc gets better and better.

Uncanny X-Men #502 (**)

Uneven would be the word to describe this issue and maybe even the arc. Fraction and Brubaker have worked well together before but something is wrong. They seem to have conflicting opinions. Half of this issue is light hearted and the other half is disturbing. There’s more pointless S&M and even an unnecessary torture scene. Surely Scott knows Emma’s powers right? So, I guess this is just more sadism? Speaking of Emma Frost, apparently she has a tertiary mutation now. The power to turn into Lolo Ferrari (You kiddies at home can turn to page ten in your comic and then Google Lolo Ferrari)! While we’re on the subject of large knockers, Dazzler seems to have quite a pair in this issue as well. This leads to my critique of Land’s art. I’ve always enjoyed his work, but this is the first time I’ve felt dirty while viewing it. A big part of that is the subject matter (Who knows? Cup size may be in the script!), but he should share the blame with Fracker (The best combination of Fraction and Brubaker yet!). I really want to like this comic, but Fracker (I had to say it again) make it hard.

Foilball’s Review Roundup #53 – I Probably Read Too Much Marvel

The Amazing Spider-Man #570-571 (****): Menace is a good guy. Osborn is still a douche. Anti-Venom can take away powers. Mr. Negative has no idea he’s actually Mr. Negative. JRJR still knows how to draw the best Spidey comics anywhere. About the only glaring hole in this entire shebang occurs when Norman finds Parker’s webbed up digital camera. Like, the first thing that popped into my head when Norman made this discovery was “Hey, this is how Osborn figures out Spidey’s secret identity! It’s so obvious!” But, no. What is obvious to almost every single Amazing reader is not as obvious to the malignantly brilliant Osborn. C’mon Norman, grab a clue! Why would Spidey need to cut a deal with some random to sell his photos to the papers? Why couldn’t he just sell them straight up in his civilian identity and cut out the middle man? Norman Osborn, and by extension Dan Slott, equals FAIL.

Eternals #4 (**): Still expertly written, but the low star rating is my personal protest against COVERS THAT LIE! Iron Man does NOT fight Ikaris. Doesn’t happen, people. He just shows up and acts like a jerk. Wow. Big surprise. I expected more from the Knaufs… they did just finish one of the best runs on Iron Man ever, right? BLAH.

Foolkiller: White Angels #2 (***1/2): I liked it, but gosh I wish I’d waited for the trade.

Ghost Rider #26 (****): How does Jason Aaron do it? He brings back four of the lamest villains in comics (straight from the 90’s!) and manages to make me laugh from cover to cover. “I didn’t get to be called Death Ninja by being cautious.” RIGHT!?! It’s stuff like this that keeps me coming back. I want to break up with you so bad Ghost Rider, but Aaron is making it kind of impossible. Damn.

Ghost Rider Annual #2 (***): A nice, forgettable one-shot. I don’t think I’ll be getting these annuals anymore.

House of M: Civil War #1 (**): This blew. I was gonna wait for the trade, now I’m just gonna toss this and forget I read it.

The Invincible Iron Man #5 (****): Out of continuity Iron Man FTW!

Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. #32 (***1/2): And so, this series of Iron Man comes to a close. Sure we got another War Machine centric SI arc to slog through before the series officially ends, but the star of the show is gone so we might as well call it like we see it. Stuart Moore did an exceptional job filling in for the Knaufs in this final Iron Man tale about doomsday weapons and revenge. It was probably one issue too long, but I really enjoyed it.

Moon Knight #21 (***): Another book I wish I could break up with. I don’t even like this version of Moon Knight anymore, I’m just sticking around for the Thunderbolts. See, if the Thunderbolts’ book had more hero-hunting stories, then I wouldn’t need to read crappy books like Moon Knight to get my fix. UGH.

Ms. Marvel Annual #1 (****1/2): This was very, very, very surprising. Brian Reed can not only write Spider-Man, but write him well. So well in fact, that this felt more like a Spidey annual than a Ms. Marvel one. Ms. Marvel is barely in it and when she does speak it’s only in response to something funny that Spider-Man just said! He totally steals the show. True Believers! I hold this comic up as further evidence that Brian Reed’s Ms. Marvel is boring! BUT! Brian Reed is still a good writer! SO! We must make our voices heard! PLEASE! Marvel, cancel Ms. Marvel and put Reed on Amazing! MAKE IT SO!

The Punisher #61 (**): Oh, God. Reading this is like that feeling you get when you’re at a party and it’s way past midnight and the host/hostess totally wants you to leave, but you’re too much of an idiot or too wasted to pick up the signals and then it gets awkward until finally he/she asks you to leave and then you can no longer be friends because you know that they think you’re an asshole, and…

Punisher War Journal #23 (*): There so many things wrong with this issue that if I actually started to list them out, one-by-one, I’d go insane with rage and tear the damn thing up instead of tossing it in the donation pile. Soooooo… don’t ask.

Runaways #1 (***1/2): NEW READER FRIENDLY JUMPING ON POINT ALERT!!! This book is T-H-I-C-K. It takes a while to read because there’s just so much ####ing dialogue, which I think is fine. All the characters get stuff to talk about and say and no one gets left out. My only complaint is that although I still enjoy Ramos’ art, his latest style choices make the comic hard to read at times. He’s putting extra effort into the backgrounds and I think that’s at least part of the problem. It’s too confusing; too much stuff to focus on. The mall scenes are especially busy. Be that as it may, Terry Moore’s first issue was still miles better than Whedon’s. I’ll be sticking around for at least the first arc, then, I may switch to trade.

Skaar: Son of Hulk #3 (****): Why is this book so late? At least it’s really good, otherwise…

Ultimate Origins #4 (**): Too little, too late. Also, ULTIMATUM = CELESTIALS!

Ultimate X-Men #97 (***): I’ve been enjoying this arc, but this issue had too much emo.

Ultimate X-Men/Ultimate Fantastic Four Annual #1 (****): This was really fun! But, I can see why some people would hate it. The ideas are a bit tired…

Uncanny X-Men #501 (*): Seriously, Marvel? Rated “T+”? I gotta call bullshit here. Like, what’s with all the X-Men sex scenes? Yeah, yeah, w/e Frac-Baker… your story justifications don’t hold water when you got Greg Land, Super Perv, as one of your regular pencillers. Did Emma Frost really need to stroll around nude for three pages? How is that necessary to the plot? Or are we still trying too hard to be “cutting edge”? GARBAGE.

Wolverine #68 (****): Alright, I’ve bitched enough about this story. This issue? I liked it. I’m ready to be entertained now.

X-Factor: Layla Miller #1 (****1/2): Reading this was bittersweet. It reminded me of the old days, when X-Factor was fun. When XF was good. *sigh* If we could just skip past all the current XF sub-plots and get to the part where Layla Miller returns, that would be swell. Thanks, Peter!

X-Men: Legacy #215 (**): How many times are the X-Men writers going to subject us to this infinitely repeating scene? X-Man “X” is mad at Xavier. HO HO!! Stop the presses! Can’t wait to read that story! No. I can wait. I can wait forever.

X-Men: Manifest Destiny #1 (**1/2): BLAH. Nothing impressive here. The Boom-Boom story was amusing (that word is sooo condescending… LOVE IT!), but the Iceman/Mystique story seems to serve no purpose other than to once again illustrate how stupid Bobby Drake is and how much of an evil #### Mystique is. No thanks.

Bruce Castle Presents: Spider-Man & Invincible Together Again!

Large Cover of Amazing Spider-Man #571

Amazing Spider-Man #571 (****)

If you like John Romita Jr.’s art and you’re looking for a good time (without alcohol or working girls), then you should probably pick this up. New Ways To Die isn’t changing anything or blowing any minds, but it’s still enjoyable. Of course there’s nothing wrong with that. We who read funny books over the age of 13 always want adult material and hard-hitting stories. We must remember that these are still comics. Real law enforcement has little to do with spandex-clad individuals and pumpkin bombs, but this is the norm when it comes to the realm of comics. So please, immerse yourself in a world full of wonderfully drawn Thunderbolts, symbiotes, and goblins.

Invincible #52 (*****)

The new costume bodes well for Invincible. Just like the last one, this issue is marvelous. There are changes, but it’s an easy transition. The most visually noticeable difference, besides the aforementioned new costume, is FCO Plascencia’s colors. Bill Crabtree was on the book for 50 issues, but as of issue #51 he was replaced by Plascencia. Though I still enjoyed Crabtree’s work, to be frank, he’s easily forgotten. The art looks remarkable! Ryan Ottely is the main attraction of course, but Plascencia has noticeably changed the book’s look for the better. This issue appears to be more violent as well. There are two moments in particular that got a holy this and Jesus that from me. And I handle violence extremely well. So, the book looks great and it’s going in an intriguing direction. As always, I hope the next issue comes out quicker.

Marvel Team-Up #14 inspired my title. Go read this, it’s funny.

Foilball’s Review Roundup #49

Air #1 (-)

I can’t really review this book… I have no idea what happened!!! Somebody, anybody… please to explain!!!

The Amazing Spider-Man #568-569 (*****)

“New Ways To Be Awesome” is more like it! Dan Slott, what took you so long to land this gig? Your Spidey rocks! These first two parts did not disappoint, the Mark Waid Venom story in the back did, but that doesn’t detract in the least from the overall story. You could just not read it, or if you’re like me, immediately foget you did. DCBS was thoughtful enough to send me the variant covers for these issues, and usually I could care less, but I like this story so much if they don’t follow through on the variants for parts 3-6 I’m gonna be mighty sore!

Jack of Fables #25 (*****)

,

Yes, indeed, my good friend Prof Dresser… the funny is back! Although, I don’t think I buy Robin Page falling for Jack. It’s funny, but seems way out of left field, even with the labored 5-page explanation. However, I do like Priscilla Page finally growing her metaphorical balls. That was cool. The Book Burner? Kind of “meh” on that guy. But still, Jack’s final word balloon of the issue totally made up for it. Heh.

Superman/Batman #51 (****)

I just really loved the art. I loved the 5th dimensional impiness of the Lil’ Leaguers. This is another one of those books that works so well (now that Green and Johnson have taken over) BECAUSE it’s out of continuity… for the most part. It may not have the prestige of Action Comics, but it makes up for it with “Super Funtime Stories”. Isn’t that what comics should be?Yes, I think so.

Quick Hits:
• Action Comics #868 (*****): Another solid issue in the Gary Frank run. Brainic is frightening and cool. Finally.
• Daredevil #110 (*****): It’s hard to believe how mediocre this book used to be. Will the quality change survive Rucka’s departure? Never can tell.
• DC Universe: Last Will and Testament #1 (*): A complete and utter waste of time. I wouldn’t have minded it if the story was even remotely cool or interesting. It wasn’t, so I did mind its terribleness. I minded it very much.
• Doktor Sleepless #8 (****): The quality of this story has steadily been on the rise. My favorite scene in this issue was when DS basically told his ex-gf that he was, in point of fact, not sane. I kept waiting for some hint that the good Doktor was still just playing the part of “Cartoon Mad Scientist”, but no such hints were forthcoming. Great choice, Ellis. I’m finally on board for the duration.
• Final Crisis: Rogue’s Revenge #2 (*****): WOW. Best. Comic villains take note, this is how you villain it up, dudes. I love this mini, but I’m glad it’s only three issues. Thanks, Johns.
• Gravel #4 (****1/2): Gravel continues to be the best title Ellis is writing and at the same time not writing.
• Justice League of America #24 (*): As of a month from now, this title is dropped. DO. NOT. CARE.
• Justice Society of America #18 (****):
This, on the other hand, could not be better. KUDOS.
• Robin #177 (***): I like the writing, but color me confused? RIP is still running, isn’t it? Red Robin isn’t Tim or Jason? Methinks lame.
• Superman #679 (***): The less “super” of the two Superman books. James Robinson, why do you suck? Is it a style choice? I just can’t get into this book, it feels like it’s trying to hard. The Lois/Clark conversation/pseudo spat and the “…avenger me!” line were ludicrous. Although, I did really like the final page, and I’m not even a dog-lover!
• Ultimate Spider-Man #125 (***): Bendis continues with this tale I could give two tugs of a… right, I didn’t play the game, but still, that doesn’t mean the comic has to be boring. Am I right?!?
• X-Force #6 (****): Everything we expected to happen happened… and then something unexpected happened to boot. Um, Rhane EATING her dad? There’s no way anyone expected that. If you disagree with me, you are made of lies.

Bruce Castle Presents: The Amazing Iron Man!

Large Cover of The Invincible Iron Man #5 (50/50 Meinerding)

Invincible Iron Man #5 (****1/2)

Ezekiel Stane wears a shirt that portrays Captain America’s skull and beneath it says “TONY WAS RIGHT”. That’s one of the many little extras that Fraction packs into each issue of his Iron Man run. It’s turning out to be a hell of a first arc. Fraction puts his own unique spin on each of the characters and even manages to prominently feature his own original creation, the aforementioned Ezekiel Stane. If you felt a little bored with all the talking last issue, you’ll be pleased that there’s a lot of fighting in this one. The armor clangs and the tough talk is believable. Last issue I complained about Larroca’s art, but I did say he could draw the armor well. So, because of the shiny combat included, the issue looks great. Fraction manages to create an amalgam of continuity wank and new reader friendly material that should please everyone. The finale is shocking and contains a bit of poetic justice. I don’t believe what appeared to happen on the last page is possible, but I certainly wasn’t expecting it. This series continues to impress.

Amazing Spider-Man #570 (****)

This arc is half over. It’s the point when you can usually tell how you’re going to like the story. I’ve enjoyed the previous two issues, but they weren’t very special. Romita’s art is gorgeous and I like Slott’s style. Both creators handle Spidey extremely well and the addition of the Thunderbolts is a plus. But it was nothing more than a slightly above average tale with some laughs and pretty art. That’s not such a bad thing, but villain copycats like the ridiculous Menace and the new Anti-Venom detracted from the stories’ quality. However, after reading this issue, I’m starting to think that New Ways To Die will be better than I once thought. Sure, we have copycat villains, but we have the originals as well. Slott creates fascinating encounters between these baddies which I’m sure will continue. The issue contains a lot of a quality action and an ending that leaves me wanting more. Thankfully, I’ll satisfy that want in only of couple days. This arc isn’t the most original nor is it required reading, but it’s fun, well-written, and did I mention the awesome John Romita Jr. art?

Bruce Castle Presents: Venom Is Popular?

I have to ask a question before we get down to the reviews. Why is Venom getting so much love right now? He isn’t in any newly released movies. He was in Spider-Man 3, but that was a while ago. I heard there will be a Venom movie coming out, but not anytime soon right? It’s not his anniversary. So why is he in Amazing and Ultimate Spider-Man, Thunderbolts, Moon Knight, and even that Venom Origins thing right now? Is there any reason for this?

Amazing Spider-Man #569 (***1/2)

This is the second part of New Ways to Die. It should probably be called New Ways to Make Money. This issue has already sold out according to Marvel. It has another superstar (Adi Granov) cover and it even has the first appearance of a new character. Like last issue, this contains some solid entertainment. We get some beautiful art from JRJR (Twice in one week!) and some impressive writing from Slott. It isn’t anything too spectacular yet, but this issue is produced well and it’s fairly enjoyable.

Ultimate Spider-Man #125 (***1/2)

After how bad last issue was, this is a breath of fresh air. I’m happy to report that USM seems to be back on track with the coolness. The plot seems to be moving along nicely now and there wasn’t any video game flashbacks. The Ultimate Beetle seems incredibly more interesting than last issue and he even has a humorous moment in here. I was a little surprised at the level of violence featured. Venom eats a few things including some people and a horse! I’m not usually too impressed with Immonen’s art, but he brings his A-game here. There’s also a nice Peter and MJ exchange and an intriguing ending. If the improvements continue, this still has the potential to be a pretty good arc.

Foilball’s Review Roundup #47 – A Thick Batch O’Marvel!

The Amazing Spider-Man #567 (***1/2)

I’m probably giving this book a higher rating than it deserves, since it did something I liked, but I’m pretty sure it was unintentional. You see, in order to explain away why it was that Peter’s friend Vin was mistaken for Spider-Man by the new Kraven, Peter (as Spidey) tells him, “To protect my identity, I’ve pegged some people as, well, decoys. Y’know, in case anybody gets too close to figuring out who I really am, I put them on the trail of, well… somebody else.” Now, this is a lie. Obviously, Peter Parker would never do something this foul or selfish. I mean, hell, this is the type of thing to get innocent people hurt or worse, horribly tortured and murdered by some super villain. I assume most fans hated this and called shenanigans. I would too, if I didn’t like how douchey it makes Peter. I like a little dark side with my web-slinging. Ah, but, this was probably one of those ill-conceived ideas… so, I guess maybe this really is just bad writing? Regardless, the rest of the issue was fun and resolved satisfactorily, and the art continues to impress.

Cable #6 (****)

This was definitely the best issue of Cable yet, and Cable was barely in the damn thing. Swierczynski tackles a bunch of continuity issues and manages to make it less of the mess that it is. For instance: do the X-Men kill now? Does Emma know about X-Force? If not, how can she not, she reads minds, y/y? Is Forge still pissed about what happened to his lab? Is sex the only true remedy to insomnia? And, my favorite, just how shark jumpingly smart is Beast? We spend the entire issue in Cyclops’ head, one of the most boring X-heads of all-time, and yet… by the end I was sad to get kicked out. If only Swierczynski could bring this type of depth to the titular character.

Halo: Uprising #3 (***1/2)

OMG, there’s an actual story here? Thought that needed to be pointed out. I like it. I don’t like Halo, but I like this. I like the Bendis/Maleev team. Anyone else reading this? Is the brother of the main character civilian dude, is he Master Chief?

King-Size Spider-Man #1 (*****)

What a surprisingly fun book! Unlike Spider-Man Family (SEE below), every story in this collection was neat and entertaining. I especially liked the very first page, the one with the warning—that I would show you but, SCANNER NO WORK!!! All the stories were exactly what out-of-continuity stories should be. Namely, fun. OH! And then there’s a preview of the new Mini Marvels Digest in the back and I liked it so much I pre-ordered it on Amazon. YAY!

Punisher: War Journal #22 (**)

More action packed—well, cooler action at least—than last ish, but it’s still shit. Like, it’s just bullshit. The content is crap. Reading this, after reading Ennis’ final issue (or any Ennis Punisher comic) where you see that the writer has a grasp on the character and his motivations, and a delicate handling that no other writer will ever match, and then you read the Fraction/Remender penned GW Bridge speech and it makes you want to vomit. Amazing Spider-Man Family style vomit. I’m losing words. Words are fail work describing hate this the Punisher. UGH.

Quick Hits:
• The Amazing Spider-Man Family #1 (**): Vomit. Which, of the many forgettable stories did I like… oh, the reprint of issue 300 was awesome!
• Astonishing X-Men #26 (**1/2): Still bad, but not terrible. In terms of quality, this is the exact opposite of his run on Thunderbolts.
• Avengers/Invaders #4 (****): This issue was tons of good with limited engagements of suck, the suckiest being the panel where Cap winks at Bucky. That was just creepy. Like child molester creepy. CHILLS! Down my spine!
• The Last Defenders #6 (***1/2): I don’t think this book ever reached its full potential, and I’m confident it is a story that could have been told in three less issues. Will I pick up a monthly Defenders book by Joe Casey based on the strength of this mini? Probably not.
• Fantastic Four #559 (***1/2): More of the same, but it definitely feels like a midpoint. So, that’s cool. Like everyone else, I found the two-page splash exciting… and that was about it.
The Invincible Iron Man #4 (****): Tony Stark does not beat Mr. Fantastic at chess. No. Wrong. Fail. Other than that, another solid read. I especially love Fraction’s take on Pepper Potts. She’s becoming a very strong female lead under his guidance, but Mr. Fraction, please, please, PLEASE do NOT make her a superhero. Please?
• The Punisher #60 (*****): The perfect end to a perfect run. Gosh, I hope Marvel puts out that last Punisher MAX hardcover (volume 5). I don’t want to start all over again with the stupid omnibuses. Don’t screw me, Marvel!
• Ultimate Origins #3 (**1/2): Know what? Whatever. I don’t even care anymore. This is a story that needed to be told three years ago. Whatever. Like, is Ultimatum just some Celestial story? Maybe that would be cool, if we didn’t already have an Eternals ongoing over in the 616. Whatever!

Review: Amazing Spider-Man #568

Amazing Spider-Man #568 (***1/2)

I don’t know many people that read this book. Why? Because OMD was terrible. Not only was it terrible, but it also offended many readers. Let’s have Spider-Man, a beloved child icon, make a deal with the devil! Sorry, I had to say it. So a lot of readers like me haven’t even given this title a shot. Recently, Billy put this book on his top ten stating “if you’re not reading BND because of OMD, you’re only hurting yourself, brother” (Who does he think he is, Hulk Hogan?). Thanks to Billy, I finally gave this book a shot. Well, Billy and the fact that Marvel really really really wants you to buy this issue.

Think about it: Dan Slott is writing (I’ve heard he’s the best BND writer), John Romita Jr. returns to Spidey (I’m in the “I love his art” crowd. Oh and does this mean Millar is the reason why Kick-Ass is late?), Mark Waid (insert unfunny quip here) writing a 10 page back-up, Adi Granov (This is obvious I suppose, but I guess this means Favrau is why Viva Las Vegas is late?) drawing that back-up, and look at that Alex Ross (Um, I like Alex Ross?) cover!

First off, I have a few questions. Why are these BND villains so crappy? They all look like a bunch of z-level villains. Also, I thought no one knew Spidey’s identity, but it seems from this issue’s conclusion that someone does. As I said earlier, I haven’t read any of these BND issues, so I expected to be a little confused. I wasn’t though. This is fantastic given this title’s intended audience, new readers and kids. I’m glad this issue accomplishes its objectives. It’s nice to see a good book that kids can enjoy as well. 

I don’t know too much about Dan Slott, but his writing is excellent here. He writes Spider-Man incredibly well. His Spider-Man is actually funny and made me laugh out loud a few times. This is hard to accomplish in comics, but Spider-Man should be able to make you laugh. This is the first issue of the arc so this issue is mostly set-up, but it seems like Slott is building a story that shows a lot of potential.

Of course, Slott has a little help from his friends. I love Romita’s work and I’m pleased to say that his work is quite impressive here. Of course it’s no secret he draws Spidey well, but his interpretation of the new Thunderbolts are truly impressive. Also, those aforementioned crappy BND villains look better than they should. 

The disappointment in this issue lies in the 10 page back-up. This issue is a dollar more than usual because of this tale and it’s unneeded. Mark Waid brings us a story that contains impressive gimmicks and at a first glance it appears to be quite cool. But sadly, this just covers up what I’ve heard called “writer masturbation”. This back-up could have been summed up in a sentence. And really, all the important information is pretty much included in the main story. I would have preferred Waid had written something original, rather than try to unnecessarily add to the main attraction. However, I always enjoy seeing Granov’s art.

Overall, I’m glad I picked this up. It’s well written and it looks great. It’s produced by some fine creators and I get to find out in one week what happens next. It’s okay people, reading BND will not burn your face off.

Billy Z’s Top 10 Monthlies!

Hey, Bruce Castle came up with a good idea! Let’s steal it… but, with a slight modification. Whereas his list was culled from everything he’s currently reading I’m going to limit mine by spotlighting only those that fall under the heading of “ongoing series”. So, that means no minis (Final Crisis, Secret Invasion) or maxis (The Twelve, All-Star Superman). With that in mind, let’s move into the list… the Top 10 ongoings I can’t wait to read each month!

#10 – X-FORCE by Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost & Clayton Crain

“FUN! FUN! FUN!” That is exactly what this book is to me. It’s old school X-Men (to me, “old school” means late 80’s/early 90’s) with a modern edge. I don’t remember my X-Men having so much blood and gore, but I like it! Now, I have to be honest, when I first heard mention of this series, I was not at all impressed. The “bloody” variants reminded me painfully of that X-Force clone from the mid-nineties “Bloodstrike” (by Rob Liefeld and Dan Fraga)… or maybe it was “Bloodstryke” with a “y”? Anyway, by issue 2, I was all in, baby! As I said, the book is just fun, and with every issue the plot gets more and more interesting. Surprise, Bastion! Nimrod! Archangel! Every X-Villain Ever! Purifier Civil War! It’s a throwback without being regressive. Sure the old villains are back, but they’re fricking techno-organic zombies! Yes, Archangel is back, but it’s not because we or the writers missed him, it fits the story. It SERVES the story and not the fanboys. And that, I guess, makes all the difference. Maybe…

You can check out a review of this book here

#9 – ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN by Brian Micheal Bendis & Stuart Immonen

This has been in my mental Top Ten since it first came out, and it’ll probably stay there for as long as Bendis remains on the book… which could easily be for another hundred issues. There’s not much to say as to why I love this book so much, it’s just a solid, thoroughly enjoyable read every month. It’s Spider-Man at his purest, unencumbered by 50 years of continuity (although, at the rate at which Bendis is reintroducing 616 ideas, we’re getting there). I like that when someone asks me about super hero comics I can grab a copy of the first volume of this series, hand it to them, and let Bendis’ Spider-Man seduce them into out world. More than any other title in the Marvel catalogue, this book is completely new reader friendly. And, it’s infinitely relatable. It’s got drama (High School!!!) and it’s got action (best Spidey action in comics thanks to Bagley and Immonen), and it’s got heart. I love Ultimate Peter Parker and I love Ultimate Mary Jane. In fact, I love the entire “Bendis” Ultimate universe! I kind of wish Ultimate Spider-Man could be its own separate thing, like if the editors could somehow cut it away from the rest of the Ultimate books that would be amazing! Maybe that’s what the Ultimatum event is all about? Or, if we just replaced the 616 title with the Ultimate one? Wait, hold that thought—

#8 – THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN by “The Spidey Brain Trust”

It took me a while to warm up to it, but eventually, I got there. This book is good. Damn good. So good, it may finally live up to its hype as THE Marvel flagship title. So, the book survived One More Day. Actually, it not only survived it, it’s downright thriving. Why? How can this be despite all the haters? Because it’s damn good comic book writing, that’s why. I’m tired of the whining. I’m tired of the complaints. OMD is over, dudes. Move on. I did, so can you. If you’re not reading BND because of OMD, then you’re only hurting yourself, brother. The party train has left the station and all you OMD whiners can suck it!

You can check out a review of this book here

#7 –DETECTIVE COMICS by Paul Dini & Dustin Nguyen

Yes, Paul Dini’s underrated run on Detective is in my Top Ten. Surprised? If you’ve been reading my Round-Ups, you shouldn’t be. I don’t think I’ve ever given this book less than three stars. I love it! It’s fun, damnit! It feels like the old Batman cartoon! Yay for fun! It’s filled with crazy shit like: “Celebrity Detective” Riddler, Zatanna/Catwoman/Batman love triangles and wacky adventure after wacky adventure! And last year’s Joker/Robin story was one of the best Joker/Robin tales I’ve ever read, and Dini did it all in one fricking issue! I know Countdown sucked… BOO HOO! But this book is INSANE NUTS AWESOME!! While what Morrison is doing over on “Batman” may turn out to be the greatest run of all-time, I’m content to read Dini’s one and two issue arcs ‘til the end of time.

You can check out a review of this book here

#6 – THOR by J. Michael Straczynski & Oliver Copiel

Recently, Desiato articulated all the reasons he loves Thor in this post. I totally agree with him. Go read that post.

#5 – JACK OF FABLES by Bill Willingham & Matthew Sturges

Fables can suck my hairy sack… Jack is where it’s at, man! It’s just funnier. I pick up a Jack comic and I know I’m going to laugh. I pick up a Fables comic and I know there’s an outside chance I may lose consciousness. I still like Fables, but it’s been on the “phoning it in” train for well over a year, while Jack just keeps getting better. I’ve been saying that a lot, but I guess that’s what all these books have in common. They’re well-plotted. But the thing about Jack is you never know quite what to expect from the title character or where the story is headed. Jack is the ultimate suspenseful character. He’s just as likely to befriend or betray someone. I also love that the writers aren’t telling his story in chronological order. Every few arcs, we jump back into his fabled past and we get to see one of his many adventures re-imagined in such a way that almost always makes Jack look like a total asshole. And we love it. We love to hate this moron.

You can check out a review of this book here

#4 – YOUNG LIARS by David Lapham

Young Liars would describe my life if an angry midget cut my dick off and threw it in the ocean. I know these characters. I’ve met them. They are real. I pre-ordered the first issue not really knowing what to expect, only knowing that I really liked David Lapham’s stuff, he of “Stray Bullets” fame. Once I finally got my hands on it, and read it, I couldn’t believe how fucking good it was. And then I read issue 2 and I got that same feeling, but more. And then issue 3. Again, same feeling, but more. And now, whenever I read it, I’m always left with the question, “How can this book keep on this way? It’s too good!” I don’t really know how well this book is doing, if it’s breaking even, selling gangbusters or close to cancellation. If I had to guess, I’d say the latter, and that’s a shame. We need to get the word out on this book… don’t wait for the trade! The series could be gone by then, and that would be a damn shame.

You can check out a review of this book here

#3 – THE INCREDIBLE HERCULES by Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente & Khoi Pham

One of those rare books that gets better with age. I’m constantly surprised at how exciting and well-written this comic is each and every month. Its brilliant mix of mythology and modern day hijinks is what keeps me coming back every month. Hmm, it’s kind of like Jack of Fables in that way. Actually, I’d never drawn that parallel before, but The Incredible Hercules and Jack of Fables are exactly the same book! Cool. The odd couple of Hercules (super strong) and Amadeus Cho (super smart) is what really makes this engine hum. Their interplay is brilliant and hilarious.

You can check out a review of this book here

#2 – ACTION COMICS by Geoff Johns & Gary Frank

I wasn’t “all in” ‘til Gary Frank joined the book. Johns had been rubbing me the wrong way for years, and with the lateness that plagued the start of his run I almost considered dropping the title. Boy am I glad I didn’t! The Legion arc was satisfyingly epic and the currently running Brainiac arc promises to outdo it. The art is phenomenal in its simplicity. Frank’s expressive faces and realistic style combine with Johns’ nostalgic flair to give us a decidedly modern take on Superman that isn’t afraid to indulge in sentimentality once in a while. I know we’ve been talking about the annoyingly regressive nature of this current generation of “fan-boy writers”, but here… in THIS book… it kind of works for me. Action Comics is the exception to the rule.

You can check out a review of this book here

#1 – CAPTAIN AMERICA (OBV!) by Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting & Luke Ross

It’s the only monthly I buy from my local comic shop because I can’t wait the two weeks for DCBS to deliver it to my door. That’s how ####ing excited I get the day this comic comes out. I make a special trip just to buy it! And then I go home and scan the hell out of it and toss up a spoiler-riddled review on the blog. Not because anyone really cares anymore, no, because after reading it I become insane from JOY! Oh, how I love you Captain America… don’t ever change, guy.

You can check out reviews of this book here

So, that’s my list. Disagree much? Let me know. Let’s fight!! WOOOOOO!!!

Now that we took care of that, I want to quickly list off the runner-ups in alphabetical order:

Buffy: The Vampire Slayer: I want to love this book, I want to love it every month, but it too often lets me down. We had two great arcs in a row (Vaughn and Goddard) and then Whedon returns to fuck it all up with fan-favorite Fray in tow. Ugh. Close, but not close enough.

Captain Britain and MI13: Although I loved all the Secret Invasion issues, this book hasn’t been out long enough to earn its place in the Top 10… and, I’m not sure what the drop off in quality is going to be after SI concludes. For now, it gets to hover around the 11th place spot.

DMZ: I’m sure that if I wasn’t reading this in trade, I’d be on the list… and very near the top.

Green Lantern: Action Comics is just an order of magnitude better than this book. Period. I love GL, I love the new direction, but I can’t in good conscience put two Geoff Johns titles in my Top Ten. Sorry.

Invincible Iron Man: It’s too soon to tell, and as much shit as I give Fraction, he was born to write this book. As I related in my review of issue #4, Fraction’s take on the character is thrilling! Now, if Fraction would only stop writing anything other than Iron Man, Thor and Casanova I’d be a happy man.

Justice Society of America: What I said about Green Lantern goes double for JSA.

The Punisher: This book fell out of the Top Ten this month. Sad times. 😦

Foilball’s Review Roundup #32 – THE GROANERS!

“Ah, I’m so lazy this week.” – Billy Zonos

Instead of doing the usual coverage of my twice-monthly DCBS shipment, I thought I’d split my remaining reviews into separate Roundups divided by overall quality: The Groaners, The Mediocres and The Gooders. This, obviously, is The Groaners. For those that have read the following books, yes, I feel your pain. For those that have not, yes, you dodged a bullet and your wallet thanks you.

Anna Mercury #2 (**): OH MY GOD. This one is awful. Forget every nice thing I said about the first issue. This series reads likes it’s based on an idea that’s 10 years old. You got me, Ellis. Oh, you bastard.

Dreamwar #3 (**1/2): Things are not looking up. Finally, we get some kind of explanation… well, no. We get Superman crying after Batman is killed, “Hal… Ollie’s dead. Why didn’t it matter to us? What are we doing?” Yeah, I’d love the answer to that one too. Please? Thanks. Oh, wait… Zealot killed Batman:

Justice League of America #22 (*): One. I hate the Amazo story from the opening arc. Two. I still hate it. Three. Why does every woman that Benes draws look like a total whore? Four. Black Canary serves it up fresh. Wait, that was awesome! Five. Red Tornado… don’t care!!!

The Programme #12 (-): To be honest, I skimmed it and then read the end. Of what I read, I have no idea what this book was supposed to be about and I don’t really care to ever know.

Runaways #30 (*1/2): It could have been worse. If you skip the first 15 or 16 pages, the wrap-up is kind of nice. My favorite/best part of this travesty? Finding out just how fucked up Nico has become.

Amazing Spider-Man #563 (**1/2): Note to Bob Gale – Stop telling cheesy jokes. This has been a message from your readership.

Superman #677 (*): Um, is this supposed to be in continuity? Superman talks like a fucking idiot! Misogyny? Check. Naiveté? Check. I mean, shit. The guy talks about his dog like a 7-year old would. How lame is this? I thought Robinson was this huge talent? And who the heck is this lame-ass Atlas character? GAH! I didn’t think it could get worse than the Busiek Superman run, but this one has shown me the error of my ways.

Superman/Batman #49 (**1/2): I’m surprised how bad this was as compared to the other 5 parts of this story. The end just didn’t work for me. I don’t buy Lana Lang trying to poison the earth with Kryptonite in order to force Supes to leave, never mind the fact that she has been behind this plot the whole time. This is just ludicrous to me. This story is definitely out of continuity. I don’t see Johns or Robinson paying much attention to this particular change in the Clark/Lana dynamic. Oh, but I did like that final page (with Batman inside that vault filled with all types of Kryptonite): Yep, Bats is a douchebag.

Trinity #3-4 (**): This book is boring. And ugly. Bagley doing DC characters just doesn’t look right. As much as I hate doing it, I’m dropping this book. Maybe if the plot picks up later, I’ll jump back in. For now, I’m just gonna ignore it. Sit it out like my pal, Superman.

The Ultimates #4 (*): I don’t know what bugs me more? The awful plot or the “ripped straight from cheesy movie” dialogue? “Come with me if you want to live.” Really? REALLY?!?!

Uncanny X-Men #499 (**1/2): I loved the first 4 parts… this was a jumbled mess. The A and B plot did not sync up well, every cutaway was painful, and the revelation that the mysterious hippie woman was Mastermind’s daughter was actually a non-event. Meanwhile, back in Russia… their faces: priceless.

Wolverine #66 (*): MOST OVER-RATED BOOK OF THE YEAR. Everyone is literally jacking off into each other’s mouths over this one… I just don’t see it. This book is atrocious. So atrocious, someone needs to give it a red power ring. DING. I mean, BIG DEAL, Millar is adapting “Unforgiven” and using Wolverine to play the role of William Muny. I don’t care! Why!?!? Why is this a good idea? (And I like westerns…)

X-Men: Legacy #213 (**): Are we ready for some super-retcons? So, let me break this one down: Mr. Sinister has a machine that in the event of his death will transfer his essence into the body of Professor X? 

And on that note… I’ll post The Mediocres tomorrow, maybe. Hey, it’s the Fourth of July, I may be busy. Like, drinking and stuff.