Love and Marriage, Astonishing X-Men Edition

Astonishing X-Men #51 (cover from Hero Complex)

Perhaps the best article I’ve read on the issue of Northstar’s impending nuptials belongs to Andrew Wheeler over at Comics Alliance.  Though he is himself a gay man who hopes to get married some day, he makes a number of solid points against the upcoming marriage – most notably, that comic book writers treat weddings as ‘endings’ – a view he himself shares, saying that “marriage shifts a character’s status quo in a way that is fundamentally reductive.”

While I personally disagree with that assessment, what I can’t deny is that comic book writers do not – and they’re the ones who will be in charge of charting the paths of Kyle and Jean-Paul after the wedding, not me.  Love and marriage have a pretty horrible history in comic book land, all things considered.

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Top 5 Best Comics of February 2011


I read 20 comics in February, and these were the best.

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Top Ten Best Comics of 2010


I’m actually getting this thing out on time? It’s a Kwanzaa miracle! This is my list for the top ten stories of 2010! Woo hoo! Now, before we get to all the fun of me voicing my opinions and you disagreeing with them, I have to get a few rules out of the way.

1. These are the top ten stories/arcs/whatever. Not comic in general, not trade, but best stories (What can I say, I’m trying to be somewhat unique).

2. These are stories that ended in 2010. They could begin at any time, but as long as they concluded in 2010, they’re eligible.

3. I tried to keep the list as diverse and reader-friendly as possible. I love certain writers, but it would be boring if it was three Morrison books, two Ennis books, etc. So, a writer/artist will only appear once on the list. I tried to spread the love evenly. You will see Marvel, DC, and even Indies on this list.

Wow, with all those rules, how did I come up with a great top ten? Well, I hope I did. Anyway, let’s begin the fun!

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Top 5 Best Comics of December 2010


I read 19 comics in December, and these were the best.

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Top 5 Comics of August 2010


Damn it. I’m late again. I read 27 comics in August, and these were the best.
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Top 5 Best Comics of June 2010


Still incredibly late, but I will catch up soon. I read 30 comics in June, and these were the best.

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Top 5 Best Comics of May 2010


So incredibly late on these, but I will catch up soon. Never fear! I read 27 comics in May, and these were the best.
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Top Ten Best Comics of 2009


Better late than never, eh? This is my list for the top ten stories of 2009! Woo hoo! Now, before we get to all the fun of me voicing my opinions and you disagreeing with them, I have to get a few rules out of the way.

1. These are the top ten stories/arcs/whatever. Not comic in general, not trade, but best stories (What can I say, I’m trying to be somewhat unique).

2. These are stories that ended in 2009. They could begin at any time, but as long as they concluded in 2009, they’re eligible.

3. I tried to keep the list as diverse and reader-friendly as possible. I love certain writers, but it would be boring if it was three Morrison books, two Kirkman books, etc. So, a writer/artist will only appear once on the list. I tried to spread the love evenly. You will see Marvel, DC, and even indies on this list.

Wow, with all those rules, how did I come up with a great top ten? Well, I hope I did. Anyway, let’s begin the fun!

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Top 5 Best Comics of December 2009

I read 20 comics in December, and these were the best.

5. Hellboy: Bride of Hell

Another classic Hellboy one-shot. Richard Corben, showing the whippersnappers how terrible they are, produces wonderful work that surpasses his Eisner-winning accomplishment on Hellboy: The Crooked Man. That alone makes this comic special. But, Mignola’s there too, providing a riveting, tragic tale.

4. Captain America: Reborn #5

This might as well be the conclusion of Reborn. We all know how it’s going to end. Even before Marvel ruined it, we knew. I’d rather have it end here. Sharon Carter in the hands of Red Skull. Sin destroying Vision with an Arnim Zola contraption. Crossbones, and his army of robotic killing machines, shooting the heroes. Red Skull, in the body of Steve Rogers, battling Bucky on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, while the Red Skull duels Steve in his own brain. This, rendered by Bryan Hitch and written by Ed Brubaker, is good stuff.

3. Astonishing X-Men #33

Ellis & Jimenez make larger-than-life superheroics look easy, when few books actually do it well. Fraction may be writing a great, diplomatic Cyclops over in Uncanny X-Men, but Ellis’ Cyclops is a bitter, war-forged mutant with the power of a nuke in his eyeballs. He cuts through a Brood-fused Krakoa like butter. Ellis provides humor, entertainment, and enough X-history to make the fanboys squeal, and Jimenez makes it all look pretty.

2. Irredeemable #9

Nine issues in and Waid continues to keep things fresh. This is extremism at its finest. Demons crawling out of mouths, villains hiding in friends, and “upgrading” used for torture, are just a few of this issue’s memorable moments. If Waid’s not commenting on Internet trolls, he’s commenting on the corruption of power. But, have no fear, there’s plenty of entertainment to be found. The subtext is just the icing on the cake.

1. Detective Comics #860

The final part of Kate’s origin feels more than a little Year One-esque, and Williams continues to give his best rendition of Mazzucchelli. We see the natural progression of Kate’s vigilantism evolving into so much more. Kate and the Colonel bond over the experience, which makes the issue’s Shakespearean conclusion all the more painful. Of course, Williams and Stewart, the best art team around, are the stars of the show, but Rucka pulls his weight and then some. With Batwoman at the helm, Detective Comics is, once again, the best comic of the month.

-Bruce Castle

Top 5 Best Comics of November 2009

I read 19 comics in November, and these were the best.

5. Astonishing X-Men #32

Yeah, that’s a badass sentinel, a badass, brood-shooting-from-fingertips sentinel, the bastardization of Beast’s theoretical research. It’s Ellis being Ellis, writing pitch-perfect X-Men. Each issue is episodic, building a plot as it goes. This chapter involves the aforementioned sentinel, with lines like, “We don’t need weapons. We have science!” It’s glorious fun.

4. Fantastic Four #573

Hickman’s Fantastic Four is even better than his Secret Warriors? How’d that happen? But it’s true, even when Dale Eaglesham takes a break, and we’re left with a “filler” issue. Neil Edwards fills Dale’s shoes, and it’s a fine fit, with Edwards’ post-Bryan Hitch style and Paul Mounts’ colors, you’ll hardly notice the difference. But Hickman’s distinguished voice is the star here, penning a done-in-one adventure that could’ve easily sustained a four-issue arc. Hickman plays with, and adds to, Millar’s toys, exploring a black hole-ravaged Nu-World. This is a dense, grand adventure, and the new letters page, hosted by Franklin and Val? Absolutely adorable.

3. Invincible #68

The regular art team is back with a vengeance, allowed the opportunity to create Kirkman’s zany, new Dinosaur villain. This is about as playful and unique as villain dialogue gets. Kirkman then continues to show off his dialogue skills when he gives Atom Eve’s father the scariest monologue Mark could ever imagine, concluding with one hell of a funny sight gag. The issue concludes with a few classic Kirkman twists. All in all, this is one hell of an Invincible issue.

2. Hellboy: The Wild Hunt #8

Another Hellboy chapter concludes, and Alice sums it up best, “Well, I didn’t see that coming.” Mignola embraces Hellboy’s entire mythology here, Alice herself being the baby from the beloved “Hellboy: The Corpse.” What occurs within these pages has been a long time coming, and it unfolds unpredictably, yet resolves with the doomed conclusion we all knew was coming. Every major Hellboy player progresses, even poor Gruagach, who’s almost as tragic a character as “Big Red” himself. A stunning effort from Mignola and Fegredo.

1. Detective Comics #859

Since Rucka & Williams’ run began, almost every issue of Detective Comics has made my “Best of the Month” list. This issue is the best of the run, so it’s only natural that Detective finally tops my list. We’re still taking a trip down Kate’s memory lane, this issue containing another episode of her life. We learn of Kate’s rise and fall at West Point, her utter loss of purpose, how that leads to trouble with the love of her life, and what finally makes Kate’s life whole again. And there, making it all epic poetry, is Williams and Stewart. And as you can see in the above scan, when Kate’s Mazzucchelli-styled life clashes with Batman’s rich, painted aura, it’s beautiful and profound.

-Bruce Castle

Top 5 Best Comics of June 2009!

It’s that time again! Boy, June went quick. We’re halfway through 2009? Wow. Anyway, I read 19 comics in June, and these were the best.

5. Invincible #63

I hate putting this at number five, but this comic is hindered in a monthly format. There is no good jumping-on point. You have to read the whole thing, and rating one issue is like judging twenty minutes of a movie. That said, this is an emotional issue. I’m sure it’s no secret by now that a major character dies. Hell, it was already pretty obvious if you looked at the cover of Invincible #64, but even so, this is one of the best Invincible issues. And that’s saying something.

My Review


4. Detective Comics #854

Even if this issue would’ve been terrible, I would’ve forced my brain to like it. Thankfully, to preserve what little respect I have as a comic critic, this actually is a great issue. Greg Rucka finally gets a chance to define his Batwoman, and he doesn’t waste a panel. We’re not going to get the official origin until the next arc, but even after one issue, I know a good deal about what makes Kate tic. But what really makes this comic special is the pure brilliance of Williams’ art. The co-feature is the icing on the cake.

Seventh Soldier’s Review



3. Batman and Robin #1

June was a great month for comics. Want proof? The new Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely comic wasn’t the best of the month. How the hell did that happen? Ok, I do wish this comic had more depth and weight, like Morrison’s earlier Batman work, but other than that, this issue is near-flawless.

Group Review


2. Astonishing X-Men #30

Ellis’ first Astonishing X-Men arc finally concludes. Was it good? You bet your ass it was. I can almost guarantee you I’ll think of it in January, when I post the best stories of the year list. Ellis, in just one arc, has already done a few things. First and foremost, he’s provided possibly the greatest characterization of the X-Men ever. They’re all real characters. They all have their own unique voice. Second, Ellis has taken the X-Men to the perfect genre, sci-fi. I want my X-Men to occupy the realm of science, instead of the done-to-death, political commentary genre. And this first arc was not only sci-fi, it was a mystery too!

DC Lebeau’s Review


1. Uncanny X-Men #512

This issue is a done-in-one. So, yes, it does have an advantage in this format, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t deserve this spot.  This issue is a done-in-one, time-travel adventure, filled with science, mutant history, originality, and humor. It’s also wonderfully rendered by the great Yanick Paquette. Is that not enough? Well, then I’ll also mention that this is one of the few comics that nearly brought me to tears. It’s good readin’.

My Review

So there it is! Agree? Disagree? Please, let me know!

May’s List

April’s List

For more comic goodness, go here.

Review: Astonishing X-Men #29

Astonishing X-Men #29


“This comic never comes out! The editors are forcing Ellis to change things!” These are the cries of fellow comic fans. The former is certainly true. Simone Bianchi takes 4-7 weeks to complete an issue. Yeah, that’s slow, but this is a team book, and besides, Bianchi’s art is really pretty. Check out the preview. Besides being beautiful and unique, Bianchi also provides interesting page layouts. In fact, for my money, although this is coming from someone who has read all of Bianchi’s American comics, I would buy this book on Bianchi’s art alone.

As for editors compromising Ellis’ vision, it could be true. I notice that what the solicit promises and what is actually included is a bit different. Anyway, let’s just analyze what’s been printed, shall we? I think the best think about Ellis’ run is that the X-Men sound like actual people. I believe that they have their own personalities, and that they’ve spent too much time with each other, for better or for worse. I know everyone loves Whedon’s characters, but really, they’re all the same: witty, witty, witty! Everyone’s witty! Though I did enjoy Whedon’s run, on a character level, it was ALL about Kitty. With Ellis, I’m not reading a team-book about tough guy, smart guy and leader guy. I’m reading about Logan, Hank, and Scott. Another thing that I’ve enjoyed about Ellis’ first arc is that I actually feel like I’m part of the X-Men. No, I’m not twelve. It’s just that Ellis puts us in the middle of this mystery. We know nothing more than what the X-Men know. In fact, they might even know more.

Both of those Ellis virtues, and of course Bianchi’s art, are still present here. So I was quite happy with this installment. Yes, it is the penultimate chapter. Nothing is resolved, and it’s exposition-heavy. I was still left satisfied, ready to patiently wait another two months for the conclusion. Oh, and Ellis provides another low-key cliffhanger. I’ve been enjoying those as well.

Review: Astonishing X-Men #28

Astonishing X-Men #28


This is part four of Ellis’ first Astonishing arc, Ghost Box. It may appear that not much has happened yet, but I assure you it has. The story has progressed so naturally that you barely noticed. A mutant (Triploid) was murdered by another mutant (13). Those names are given because of all that fascinating Ellis science. The 13 was trying to open a Ghost Box (A gateway to another world). Why? Something to do with an annex (Big city word for Invasion. Wow, I would’ve loved it if Secret Invasion had been called Surreptitious Annex, wouldn’t you?) of course. The 13 committed suicide before he could be interrogated unfortunately. The X-Men then discovered that it all led to Tian, a five-mile dead zone located in China. Who was there? Chinese X-Men, what else? Yeah, that’s a lot of stuff and that was only in the first three issues. In addition, Ellis has been laying the groundwork for possibly his entire run while making us laugh hysterically along the way. Yeah, this book is good.

Ellis’ PIC is relatively newcomer, Simone Bianchi. Bianchi has only done interior work for three (Green Lantern, Shining Knight, and Wolverine) other comics I believe. I’ve read all of them and I’m impressed. This is his first team book and if you’ve seen his detailed work, I don’t have to tell you how difficult this task is. I’ve read about how it’s killing him. Sadly, this makes for a slightly uneven book. There are times when facial expressions can look a bit awkward and the lack of backgrounds can hinder the storytelling. Still, Bianchi remains one of the freshest pencils working today. His art is truly unique and when he does hit his mark, the result is staggering. I’m pleased that Marvel let a “Young Gun” on one of their flagship titles. As he’s proved, they made a good decision.

I haven’t talked much about this issue specifically yet, but that’s because it’s a continuation of quality and I don’t want to spoil anything. If you aren’t reading this book, you should start. If you are, you can look forward to a lot more action. There’s also a reveal of sorts on the last page that proves Ellis knows the X-Men. I read his scripts in those filler issues. He may be a foreign lunatic, but the man knows his X-Men.

Bruce Castle Presents: Final Crisis For The T-Bolts And The X-Men!

Thunderbolts #126

Thunderbolts #126 (****)

Wow! Cool cover, right? I don’t know who Francesco Mattina is, but I’m sure we’ll see plenty more from him in the future. Ok, so I loved Ellis’ Thunderbolts run. It’s only two damn trades! Pick them up if you haven’t already. I’m happy to see that the new writer, Andy Diggle, doesn’t try to screw with what Ellis did. He writes the characters the same, but he does have to shake things up. This is Diggle’s first issue, so it won’t be his best. The book is a little humorous, but not as much as it was. There’s also a scene between Radioactive Man and Songbird that seems off. Other than those minor faults, Diggle writes a pretty damn good book. Torre tries to keep the artistic style of Ellis’ run as well. His work is similar to Deodato’s without copying him. It looks pretty cool. Congratulations guys! I’m eager to find out what happens next!

Astonishing X-Men Ghost Boxes #2 (of 2)

Astonishing X-Men: Ghost Boxes #2 (***1/2)

Damn you Bianchi and your blank covers! Don’t draw this. Spend your time on the main title please. Clayton Crain or Kaare Andrews or even someone else could have done the cover. Anyway, it’s official, this was filler. I doubt these two issues really meant anything. But there’s a big difference between regular filler and Ellis filler. This issue was so sad! Last issue was about the different Subject X’s. This issue is about the different results the Ghost Boxes could have had and they are dark. Really really really dark, I need a hug. This issue also includes Ellis’ script. You definitely have to read the script. I read the script and then looked at what the artist drew and let me tell you, Ellis tells a much better story. The artist either ignores things or in Crain’s case, you can’t notice the details that Ellis wrote. But the art is still pretty. I like Clayton Crain and Kaare Andrews and I don’t see their art often. If you can get past the 4 dollar price tag and the fact that this is just a What If, give this a try.

Final Crisis Revelations #4 (of 5) (Cover B)

Final Crisis: Revelations #4 (****)

How can this book feel so epic and so self-contained at the same time? Brilliant writing that’s how. And I still love Tan’s art. Sure it looks a little 90’s at times, but he captures all the emotion and the biblical tone perfectly. I think this is pretty much what I’ve said on the other three reviews of this series. It’s more interesting to write negative reviews, isn’t it? The only thing that bugged me was the ending. This can’t affect Final Crisis, right? Oh well, I’m eager to see how this ends. What will happen to Crispus Allen? I know Montoya will be presented with something big and I wonder what it is. What will happen to Vandal Savage? And of course, will God finally show up?

Bruce Castle Presents: Old Friends Fight Skrulls, Alternate Earths, and “Louie Louie”=Party Time!

Secret Invasion Thor #3 (of 3)

Secret Invasion: Thor #3 (***)

Misfire is a good word to describe this series. It was aimed correctly and it appeared to have the necessary ingredients to fire well, but could not. Fraction is an extremely capable writer and he’s proved himself with Thor in his fantastic one-shots released this year. But he just doesn’t deliver here. The series tries to be unique or exciting but it always seems to fail. Braithwaite is very capable as well. I was just reminded of that when I reread Justice. Sadly, I believe his art was hindered by Brian Reber’s colors. The book looks very muddled and at times it’s difficult to tell what’s going on and it seems to be because of the colors. This series is not terrible, but it’s not worth your money.

Astonishing X-Men Ghost Boxes #1 (of 2)

Astonishing X-Men: Ghost Boxes #1 (***1/2)

I wonder if this mini was planned or if this was a last minute development to deal with Bianchi’s delays. Judging by the incredibly small page count of 16, I’d say the latter. The lack of pages is the biggest problem here. The bright side is that Ellis’ entire script along with all the naked (Or penciled, I just like saying naked) pages of this issue are included. I don’t think I’ve ever read an Ellis script and the naked art comes from Alan Davis and Adi Granov so that was a treat. But if you don’t care about that stuff, this issue is a bit of a hard sell. This comic is written well and it looks great, but I’m not sure how important it is (The 4 bucks bothers me too). But I don’t know this could be imperative information.

Boys #24 (cover A)

Boys #24 (***1/2)

Talk about great covers, this one is amazing! The pic doesn’t do it justice, but you can still see all the detail Robertson put into this. If you like Animal House (If you don’t, what’s wrong with you?), you’ll appreciate all the visual references. That’s pretty much all this issue was, comedy. The plot moved along a bit, but it was overshadowed by all the laughs. So, I’d say this was a pretty average Boys issue. That’s good, but not great. Still, the cover alone may be worth the price of admission. But if you don’t like that cover (Again, what’s wrong with you?), you can still enjoy the fart, masturbation and X-Men jokes.

Review: Astonishing X-Men #27

So, to be honest: I hated the first couple issues of this book. They smelled off. “CSI: X-Men”? No thanks, bra. But then…

Whoa, right? Of course, sure, there were images like this in the last issue, but I guess they didn’t register with me like this one did, or maybe I hadn’t read enough of Brubaker/Fraction’s awful Uncanny run to fully appreciate Ellis and Bianchi’s version of the X-men. It’s so refreshing. It feels out of continuity and I think I can fall in love with this, given time.

You know what? It feels Sci-Fi in the way Morrison’s X-men felt Sci-Fi, cutting edge and all that jazz. Funny, now that I think about it, I’m sure Bru and Frac consider the garbage they’re spinning out every month “bleeding edge”… PFFT.

Anyway, it’s definitely Morrison, but that’s obviously just the starting point. Within the pages of Astonishing there exists all kinds of Ellis-isms. Like, all the pseudo science babble (which isn’t all that “pseudo” if you’ve been doing your homework):

This next one cracked me up. When was the last time you had characters in a mainstream title calculating flight times?

All the sciency stuff is cool, but without likable characters, it won’t amount to jack-all. If you recall, I believe I bashed Ellis’ characterizations of the X-Men in issue 25. But, damn, all of a sudden, I feel like he’s really got the hang of these guys. For instance:

Cyclops threatening murder? WTF! Who is this guy… wait, this is awesome!

Four panels so far, do we think he’s spent too much time on this joke? Not at all. If it had been any shorter, we may not have reached this particular punch line…

…which honestly made me laugh out loud. I’m easy like that.

Later, Bianchi shows off once again with the following two-spread page:

So far, this issue includes three full pages without dialogue and I don’t feel cheated one bit, not when we have someone as competent as Simone Bianchi on the art chores. More please. It’s all simply TOO wonderful.

And finally, almost, the idea that firmly hooked me into this book; the concept that utterly locked me up for the remainder of the run:

It’s not by accident that a non-American writer came up with this idea. Seriously, how arrogant is it for us to believe that American mutants would be the first to form a group of “X-Men”? And I love that these Chinese X-Men were all about dreaming and enlightenment whereas the American X-Men, despite appearances and tired rhetoric, are about just the opposite. Ah, Science Fiction, how I adore your socially conscious ways.

Of course, the comic wasn’t a complete home run. Inexplicably, the following panel made it, albeit awkwardly, into the comic:

This reminds me of that classic line from the movie “Doom” where a marine (the one into underage prostitutes) informs the Mars base security chief that he’s, and I quote, “…taking a shit, you ####ing gimp.”

I wonder if Warren Ellis has seen that film?

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

Bruce Castle Presents: Astonishing Revelations


Astonishing X-Men #26

Astonishing X-Men #26 (***1/2)

This is the second issue of Warren Ellis and SImone Bianchi’s new direction on this title. I know a lot of people disliked the first issue and most of that hate was toward Ellis. Criticisms such as the writing being messy and the feeling of a CSI copy that plagued the first issue hopefully won’t continue. The writing is top notch. The X-Men seem like they are real people. They’re all quite comfortable with each other. There are many jokes and quips that are friendly that thankfully don’t get tiring. Ellis is putting his own unique spin on the book that is quite refreshing. The weakness in this issue is in Bianchi’s art. It’s stiff, flat, and has already worn out its welcome. The art is also confusing and if it weren’t for the dialogue, there are times when I wouldn’t know what was going on. The lack of backgrounds completely hinders certain scenes. This is a bit funny because the artistic highlights in this issue are when Bianchi does render the backgrounds. This is supposed to be the flagship X-Men title and one of the creators isn’t performing well. Hopefully Bianchi’s art will improve like Ellis’ writing improved next issue.

Final Crisis: Revelations #1 (****1/2)

In Rucka’s interviews about this book, he has praised it incredibly. He said that this may be the best thing he has ever written and that it is one of the best looking books his name has ever been associated with. Thankfully, this series may actually deliver. This is very dark material. Philip Tan’s art fits the story perfectly. A lot happens in this book which is always a good thing. Ruckadoes a wonderful job providing the set-up while telling an incrediblyenthralling tale that also ties into Final Crisis. Like FC Rogue’s Revenge, this is a book you can read without reading Final Crisis, but this seems to be more important to the FC story than Rogue’s Revenge at this time. I was very impressed by this first issue.

Bruce Castle IS The Quickness

4 stars = Stop reading review and go buy now!!!!
3 and a half stars = Great issue and make room on your trade shelf someday 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




Punisher War Journal #21– I finally found out why this story has been bothering me so much. This has such a 90s feel to it which is a terrible awful thing. There is a reason why Ennis never messed with this stuff, why his first arc in the Max series ended with Punisher blowing Micro’s head off. I know it’s a bit unfair to compare this series to the Max run, especially when that run has been the best Punisher stuff ever, but unfortunately I just have to. But that’s what I finally realized while reading this issue, it has that awful 90s taste to it. It’s filled with scantily clad ninjas beating each other up with swords and blades. It’s got Jigsaw (actually Jigsaw wasn’t even in this issue which bothered me), who I know wasn’t created in the 90s, but he’s always had that kind of 90s feel to him in my mind. The issue also has Silver Sable, created in the 80s, but she still has that 90s feel as well. You’ve also got these three new ninja characters that seem like they could have been drawn by Liefeld himself. And speaking of, we also have Domino and G.W. Bridge in here that were created by Mr. 90s himself, Rob Liefeld. The 90s were a terrible decade for comics and Punisher himself was more unpopular than ever. Why in the hell would Fraction try to give a throwback to the worst time in the character’s history?! I suppose he maybe thought that they were interesting characters and concepts that were applied badly and he could do them better, I respect that and he does. But that doesn’t stop the fact that this story is the worst this book has ever been. There are still a few fun moments in here and look closely for a Colbert 08 poster. However, the horrible 90s feel and Chaykin art overshadow whatever good is in this comic. Not to mention the explanation of why Punisher hasn’t killed Jigsaw which seems unconvincing and even a bit trite. I hate not liking this comic.

1 and a half star

Walking Dead #50– It took two reads to finally appreciate this. When I first read it, I was majorly disappointed. I still am in a way, but then I realized a few things. I expected this to have the issue 50 feel to it, oversized with major events occurring inside. We don’t get that, but all the big stuff happened in 48. I also found this issue predictable at first, and in a way it is, but I finally realize what Kirkman was trying to say in this issue and he does do it well. Don’t expect an issue 50. Just expect another well written and well drawn Walking Dead adventure. One that continues the story of a father and son trapped in a post apocalyptic world with a terrible threat behind every corner. Oh and I love that variant and I’m glad I got my grubby hands on one.

4 stars

Astonishing X-Men #25– I read the first two trades of Astonishing X-Men but haven’t read the last two. I’m waiting for the hardcover. I was weary of reading this issue. It’s supposed to be a “jumping on point” for new readers, but they say that all the time and yet the story is still bogged down with continuity and the characters are reflecting on last arc’s events. There is none of that in this issue. About the only thing that tells you they’re in continuity is that M-Day still happened. Oh and the X-Men are in San Francisco now. That’s it, this has such a great first issue feel and is probably what all first issues should try to be. This has such an original and fresh feel to it. There are no glorious fight scenes with tough man dialogue, no last page reveal, just a lot of character study with a plot developing. I’m not a big fan of Bianchi’s art, but this is the best it’s ever looked. There are many genuinely hilarious moments, and though these are characters in the realm of fantasy, they seem real. This was a perfect first issue.

4 stars