I read 21 comics in April, and these were the best.
I read 21 comics in April, and these were the best.
I read 20 comics in February, and these were the best.
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.
The end of the year is coming fast! I read 17 comics in October, and these were the best.
5. Detective Comics #858
JH Williams III, arguably the best artist in the biz, and Dave Stewart, arguably the best colorist in the biz, grace Detective Comics’ interiors. Those two are literally a dream team. Yes, Rucka can’t quite produce a script that can match their ability, but who can? Morrison can’t write everything. This issue dips a toe into Kate’s origin, building off of last arc’s twist. Kate’s story is simple and adorable, which spirals into terrible tragedy. Rucka’s writing is strong, reminiscent of his Queen & Country days, but it’s the aforementioned dream team that really gives this issue an emotional punch.
4. Hellboy: The Wild Hunt #7
After last issue’s startling revelations, The Wild Hunt is steamrolling towards its conclusion. This series has indeed changed Hellboy. Hopefully, this doesn’t mean the series is ending. Fegredo’s Hellboy is strong, as always. He’s with Mignola every step of the way, as this issue brilliantly illustrates the core nature of Hellboy’s character. He’s always trapped in a cyclone of destiny, fighting with every breath to do good.
3. Invincible Iron Man #19
As the solicitation reads, “Everything ends.” At last, Fraction’s year-long epic concludes. Unfortunately, Larroca is still around. So, this issue doesn’t look great, but only someone like Larroca could render a “year-long epic” in less than a year. With this oversized culmination, Tony’s heroism shines bright. He spends most of the issue lumbering around like the Hulk, with even less brainpower. And when he utters his last words of the story, we cheer.
2. The Walking Dead #66
The Walking Dead doesn’t have many two-page splashes, but when they’re used, they make for some of this great series’ best moments. Besides the general awe of Adlard’s work, and Rick’s terrifying words, “Hold him down.” What makes the image so effective is the shading of Rick’s left eye. Remember this guy? He’s the dark mirror of Rick. So, whenever Rick’s a bit of a bastard, I suspect we’ll see his left eye shaded a bit. Besides all that, this issue concludes the “Fear the Hunters” arc, Carl confesses, and another character dies. That all makes for one of the strongest Walking Dead issues of the year, if not the best.
1. Dark Reign: The List – Wolverine
Yeah, done-in-one stories rule this format, especially when they’re produced by Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic. Aaron, who channels the humorous, kickass writing you can see in his Ghost Rider. And Ribic, who abandons his usual, painted style in favor of kinetic linework, which captures the insane energy of this story perfectly. Aaron loves Grant Morrison. So, when handling his characters, Fantomex and Noh-Varr, it’s a labor of love. Aaron insisted that he wasn’t attempting to write like Morrison, but this is the best treatment these characters have received, since Morrison first wrote them. This comic is tons of fun!
I’m down, but not out!
Blackest Night #2
I was right there with Lebeau on the first issue, and you can find a bigger, better review of this issue from him. Johns definitely decreased the needless exposition this time around, but it’s not enough. This event is still moving at a dead snail’s pace. He spends too much time relishing in ghastly, deceased heroes terrorizing live ones. However, you can still find scenes to enjoy here, especially if you’re already fond of Johns’ particular brand of fun. Nightmarish sharks devouring Atlanteans here, a two-page, vertical splash of a resurrected Spectre there. The most impressive element of Blackest Night so far has been the images rendered by Ivan Reis. He’s officially a superstar.
The Boys #33
Why is John McCrea drawing this? Shouldn’t he be drawing Herogasm? I’m not complaining. Carlos Ezquerra’s art has been sloppy the last few issues, and while McCrea is no Darick Robertson, his work here, and especially on Herogasm, is more than satisfying. Although, he’s still not the right artist for the job. This is a dark, violent arc of The Boys, and McCrea’s images are too cartoony. Ennis’ writing, however, is still top-notch. This issue was a blast. Watching Butcher systematically take down the Boys-filtered Avengers was very entertaining. The fact that this arc is so action-heavy makes it all the more upsetting that Robertson is absent.
Hellboy: The Wild Hunt #5
It’s nice to have Hellboy back. The reason for the delay was Duncan Fegredo’s, and the wait paid off. I re-read the previous four installments before this one, and Fegredo’s work is simply stunning. The Wild Hunt has featured a fight in just about every issue. It makes each chapter stand on its own as an episodic action series. Fegredo draws the hell out of the battle scenes, while Mignola crafts a menacing threat for Hellboy in the background.
Ultimate Comics: Avengers #1
Off the heels of the biggest event in the Ultimate Universe’s history, at the start of a brand new status quo, is this issue exposition-heavy? @*&# NO!!! In true, Millar style, he kicks this series off in summer blockbuster fashion, featuring an extended fight scene, and a last-page shock to punch you in the face! As I mentioned with The Boys, if a comic is action-heavy, you have to provide pretty pictures. Well, Carlos Pacheco, in his glorious return to Marvel interiors, is just the man to provide such pictures. He handles all of the action, including some tricky helicopter scenes, with professional ease. Looking for pure, pop bliss? You got it!
The Walking Dead #64
Dale’s situation provides a wickedly funny beginning. Then we get a typical and sentimental revelation from Dale’s lover, Andrea. I say typical because we’ve seen a lot of it in The Walking Dead, but it is a natural reaction to grief, and we’ve sure seen plenty of that in this series. The rest of the issue is mostly spent planting seeds for future events that culminate in a tremendously badass moment for Rick. Another enjoyable issue, for sure, but this is mid-arc. So, it does suffer from the necessary plot-building.
Uncanny X-Men #514
We’re two issues away from this crossover’s conclusion, and I don’t think it’s the event anyone was really expecting. This isn’t mindless Dark Avenger-on-X-Men action. No, with Matt Fraction at the helm, we’re getting a highly developed and well thought-out story that presents realistic situations for these characters to deal with. The downside to all that is that we’ve had more set-up than payoff, but with an oversized, Mike Deodato-drawn conclusion in the near future, I’m sure we’ll get the carnage that we crave soon enough.
Ultimate Fantastic Four #59 (***)
It’s depressing to read this book and write about it. This should’ve ended after Millar left. The story is average and the art is average. But I don’t blame the creative team much. This is another Ultimatum tie-in, but again you don’t have to read it. The only important thing that MIGHT happen next issue is that Johnny comes back. But who didn’t see that coming? This series is just wandering around waiting to die. The trigger is pulled next issue and sadly, I’ll be there.
Conan the Cimmerian #6 (***1/2)
Wow! Not much happened, that’s a first for this book. This is one of those middle of the arc issues and for some reason, it’s taking place in the penultimate chapter. I don’t know why. It was still fine enough. Conan is back home. He sees his mom again. He spends some quality time with the girl he lost his virginity to. The stage is set for next issue. Even the Connacht story is mostly uneventful. Oh well, the writing and art is handled well enough that this didn’t bother me. And if I was reading this in trade, the fact that not much happened wouldn’t have even crossed my mind.
Walking Dead #56 (****) SPOILERS!
Has it really been five years? Good job, Kirkman! Anyway, I called it. Maggie is alive, baby! I’m a little bumbed, but Kirkman made it work. That’s what this issue is about. What happens when people think Maggie is dead? Tensions rise between the new and old groups and we continue to explore Abraham’s character. The big reveal is something we pretty much guessed already. This issue isn’t bad of course, but I have to tell you something, right? Here, I’ll end on a positive note. The last issue came out three weeks ago! Keep the less than monthly schedule coming, Kirkman!
Batman #682 (****1/2)
So how do you know if you’ll like this issue? One question. Do you like Morrison’s previous Batman issues? Once you answer that, you’ll have a pretty good idea of how much you’ll enjoy this tie-in. And it is, as you can see in that creepy cover, a Final Crisis tie-in. Is it an important tie-in? It’s hard to say. I don’t think we’ll know until Final Crisis #6, the “Final Fate of the Dark Knight”. It definitely references Final Crisis. In the most non spoilery way, what happened to Batman in Final Crisis? If you know that, you can guess what this issue is about. Wow, I asked you a lot of questions, didn’t I? I really enjoyed this issue. It’s another zany tale involving symbolism and Morrison’s retelling of some classic Batman stories. The opening page is darkness followed by a close up of Bruce’s face and it is scarred. He’s in a military uniform as well. Isn’t that a cool first image after RIP? Alfred picks up the classic bat that flew in through the window when it’s small. By the time he throws it in the trash, it is huge. That’s Bob Kane’s Batman transforming into Frank Miller’s Batman in three panels. I don’t want to spoil anything, but hopefully you have enough information to decide to buy this or not. That’s what I’m here for.
Hellboy: The Wild Hunt #1 (****1/2)
This is the beginning of the longest Hellboy story ever. Well, maybe not. I just found out that the next few issues (Maybe all of them except this one) will contain back-up stories that will shorten the length of the main story. A bit of a bummer, but oh well. 2008 was (That’s right, it’s over) a great year for Hellboy. A new movie (I really enjoyed it, didn’t you?), a new three issue series, a new Mignola drawn one-shot, and the start of an eight issue series. I’m a happy man. This was a fantastic start. I should probably rate it higher, oh well. Unlike this year’s earlier Hellboy tale, The Crooked Man, Wild Hunt should move Hellboy’s journey forward. This is a first issue, so we get kind of a crash course on Hellboy’s history and that’s fine. The conclusion was the best part. A premise is established and then things turn upside down. I want to know where this is going. I have no idea and that’s a very good thing.
JSA Kingdom Come Special: Magog (****1/2)
Ah villain comics, how I love you. This is the cool part too, before they become a villain. In fact, I’m pretty sure we witness Magog’s transformation here. “Once the course of a river’s changed, it’ll never be the same”, sounds like it, right? I think Tomasi is a pretty good writer. His heroes are mediocre but his villains are fantastic. He’s in his element here and he really delivers. Both of these Kingdom Come specials have punched me in the gut and I hope Johns can continue that next week.
Invincible #55 (*****)
This issue opens with Mark and Eve having sex and so of course that means we check up on Allen the Alien. Am I the only one who wants Invincible to get laid more? First off, that expression on the bottom of the first page was hilarious when Eve warped off their clothes. Second, Allen the Alien is awesome! This issue’s events have been in the motion for a looong time, but I couldn’t be happier with the turnout. Actually, I’m glad that this took so long because now we have FCO (Yes I’m bringing it up again!) on board to really make things pretty. This is a prison breakout baby! A lot of fighting and awesomeness hooray! Oh and Battle Beast returned! Do people still remember him?
Conan the Cimmerian #5 (****)
The enjoyment continues! “The Wolf’s Promise” is an apt title. This issue is all about promises. Truman not only provides entertainment, he also has me intrigued. Will Caollan join Conan’s adventures? That’d be awesome. I do love a badass chick, but what about the baby? Will Conan meet up with Connacht soon? See, it’s interesting. Oh and of course the art has to be good with all that action right? Well, Giorello and Corben definitely deliver. Man, this has been a great year for Corben. He did a fantastic Hellboy mini and some Conan interiors, how cool? Oh and I usually forget to mention it but these Frank Cho covers rock. How can you not read this book?
Ah, Halloween. A time when comic fans reread Batman: The Long Halloween. Or maybe the entire trilogy! Read my reviews for those books here, here and here. No I’m not Jeph Loeb, but I am going as Jeph Loeb for Halloween. Hey, his writing is terrifying. Terrifyingly terrible! See, I praise them and then I make fun of them. That’s how I role. Anyway, instead of going out and being social at parties (Who wants to do that?), why don’t you kick back and get your scare on comics style!
“EEEK! Red Lanterns!” Final Crisis: Rage Of The Red Lanterns (*****)
So many awesome covers this week! But I don’t think this one is my favorite (More on that in another post. Stay Tuned!). Yes, the art is a big part of this issue. I was originally going to praise Shane Davis, but I don’t think he’s the artistic star. Sure his character designs for the RL’s (Including one of the funniest most awesome lanterns ever!) are amazing and he does help make this comic epic, but I think his inker (Sandra Hope, the sexiest inker in the biz) and his colorist (Nei Ruffing) save his ass. Davis’ art is just a bit too inconsistent. The awkward faces don’t help either. Still, due to the aforementioned ass savers, this book still looks fantastic. Johns brings the goods as expected, but I have to criticize (as I must in all of Johns’ Final Crisis tie-ins) him for this issues’ lack of relevance to Final Crisis. But besides that, this comic is creepy, funny, bloody (So much red!) and entertaining!
“What The Hell Is That!?” Hellboy: In The Chapel Of Moloch (****1/2)
Ah, the good old days. A Done-In-One Hellboy story written and drawn by Mike Mignola. Yeah, I said “drawn by Mike Mignola”. What’s it been? Three years since he’s done interiors? I’d pretty much love this just for that even if the writing was terrible, but it’s not. I’m talking 24 pages of advertisement-free Hellboy awesomeness. All the classic Hellboy elements are present. This means it’s not quite as unique as this years Hellboy: The Crooked Man, but it’s just as fun. Throw the Mignola art into the mix and you definitely have a winner.
“AAAHHH! Wolf-Man!” Astounding Wolf-Man #9 (****)
This comic isn’t usually scary and…I guess this issue isn’t any different, but it’s definitely shocking! I’ve written about it a lot in my recent Invincible reviews, but I don’t think I’ve covered it in my Wolf-Man posts. FCO Plascencia is the man! Sure, Jason Howard does do a great job, but FCO makes it magic with his spectacular colors. I’ve noticed lately that Invincible has been more violent and FCO achieves that here as well. Kirkman is great at reveals, but never before have the reveals been so devastating or plentiful. There are like 4 times in here when I yelled “Whoa!” or “Jebus!” or whatever popped into my shocked brain. After the slow pace in last issue, things seem to be moving at lightning speed. This book is worth reading!
“Oh My God! It’s The…” Joker (*****)
To hell with Scarecrow! The Joker is Batman’s scariest villain. This is the highly anticipated graphic novel by Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo. Most people are excited about this because of the new Batman movie and because this Joker looks so similar to Heath Ledger’s version. Take a look.
Just in case you haven’t heard it elsewhere, THIS IS NOT A SEQUEL TO THE DARK KNIGHT! Azzarello and Bermejo have been working on this for years. Bermejo talks about it here. Apparently, Bermejo has been working on this for two years (Wow!) which was before Ledger was even cast. The similarities are purely coincidental which is perfect for this book. Everyone will be thinking of Ledger and hear his voice when they read this. It sort of adds an element of madness, eh?
Madness is the name of the game here. This is a character study of the Joker and a new henchman, Johnny Frost. This graphic novel is heavily influenced by noir and everything is more realistic, or is it? What is reality when you deal with the Joker? But what I meant was there are very few costumes in here. Sure Harley, Croc, Penguin and Two-Face are included, but they have a different look. This isn’t what’s most unique about the comic though. I’ll get to that later.
I haven’t seen much of Bermejo’s art, but it’s very impressive in these pages. Especially considering the two years he put into this, if you’re a Bermejo fan, you need to pick this up because of the art alone. Besides looking pretty, the book’s look serves another purpose. There are two different styles in here. One is when Bermejo inks himself that adds a painted look in addition to being featured in the “important” scenes. The second look is when Mike Gray inks. This has a much more traditional feel to it. The original reason was to speed up the artistic process (Two years wasn’t enough) and to supposedly control the speed of the reader’s eyes. The idea was to have people slow down and look at the glorious Bermejo inked pages. Whatever the reason, this worked in favor of Joker. It adds another level of insanity and obscurity.
My main criticism of Bermejo’s art and probably of the entire book is the inability or choice to censor certain things while pushing almost too far in other areas. I’m sure you can guess what I’m referring too. The violence is very hard core and the language, nudity and even a damn middle finger is played down. Bermejo, in that aforementioned interview, takes the blame for it, but it could have very easily been DC’s decision. Though this “decision” isn’t too off-putting, nor does it detract from the overall quality of the book, it’s still annoying. If I didn’t see it all the time in comics (I just brought this up in a recent Daredevil review) I probably wouldn’t be as bothered.
Anyway, what impressed me the most about this book was its tone and dialogue. It’s so incredibly intriguing. This is one of those stories you can read over and over again. You’ll notice new things or react differently making each read something special. I hate to make assumptions, but I think the people who will dislike this story will be those who don’t absorb the subtleties. This isn’t a straightforward book. It’s bizarre, it’s realistic, it’s disturbingly humorous and disturbingly violent. I knew there was a reason why this book was called Joker.
Whew! That was exhausting! Oh well, it only comes once a year. I hope you all enjoyed reading this stuff and I’m sure you’re all scared now. I’m off to continue my horror movie marathon, up next? The Shinning!
Yeah it’s not comic related, so what? You enjoy your Blade while I enjoy my favorite horror film. Happy Halloween!
I’ve listened to and appreciated The Black Parade and I happen to be of the opinion that Gerard Way is a talented writer. That said…
I find The Umbrella Academy to be severely overrated. There are plenty of wonderful little ideas and flourishes throughout this work, but it definitely feels rushed and thematically insubstantial. Frankly, I don’t think Way put enough thought into it nor do I think it contains much in the way of “purpose”. And it certainly borrows too much from the works of Grant Morrison (no wonder he loves it so much), Mike Mignola and others.
The art? No complaints in that department. Ba does a wonderful job with these characters and concepts.
Although disappointed, I’m hopeful about Way’s next project. The guy can write, that much is clear. Now, he just needs to develop his voice.
Hulk #6 (*****)
Isn’t it funny that all of the “late books with great art that are hated by everyone” comics came out in the same week? Yes, I’m reading all of them. Again, this book is sooo fun and it’s sad that only me, Billy and like 10 other people know it. Last issue wasn’t quite as cool as usual but this one more than makes up for it. Like every issue of Hulk there’s humor, action, and gorgeous art! Oh, and all you fanboys who cried “Whaahhh! Rulk can’t beat Thor (even though I don’t know Rulk’s power level)”, you should be happy now. The art is beautiful. There are a lot of awesome guest appearances and sea monsters and they’re all drawn wonderfully. We even get the classic “duh duh duuuuuuuh (music)” ending. Did I mention Ed McGuinness rules? Hulk is entertainment, laugh-out-loud moments, and McGuinness drawing the hell out of this book. This is the series Ed was meant to draw and I hope he’ll come back on issue #10. Until then we can enjoy Art Adams and Frank Cho and they’re fantastic artists too. If you haven’t tried this series yet, pick this issue up. If you dislike it, don’t read it anymore. If you like it, join in on the marvelously drawn fun!
Hellboy: The Crooked Man #3 (*****)
Why is Mike Mignola so awesome? Hellboy has been around for over 15 years and he still manages to surprise me. Do you think of Hellboy adventures as European fetishistic tales about ancient legends or mysterious artifacts? How about a Hillbilly Gothic story that takes place in the Appalachian Mountains? Not only is this new territory for Hellboy, but the lovable demon is almost a supporting character. This is about willpower. It’s about corruption and the relationship between man, God, and Satan. Richard Corben has been around for a long time but he’s still producing marvelous work. If you think Hellboy can only be properly drawn by Mignola, this may change your mind. Corben manages to stay true to his own style as well as Mignola’s which creates a fantastic mixture. Have I mentioned this is the scariest Hellboy series yet? I have in my other reviews and I will now. It’s Deliverance with creepy religious undertones that will make your skin crawl. I love Hellboy and this is another example that explains why.
New Avengers #45 (***)
I read House of M, but it’s been a long time. It’d be hard to remember anyway, but it doesn’t help that I didn’t like House of M very much. Does this issue add to the SI story? Yes, but I wish it would’ve been more than it is. Bendis uses Cheung well and poorly at the same time. There are several wordless panels which look beautiful, but I wish there was more meat when it comes to a story this dense. There are questions that remain unanswered and the Skrulls are again portrayed as incredibly powerful. The green meanies winning seems to be almost a foregone conclusion at this point. If that is the case, am I the only one who wishes Marvel would have made it less predictable? All of these Embrace Change advertisements shoved brutally down our throats is not appreciated. I guess Bendis is trying to show why they can conquer us which is cool. But now, whether the Skrulls win or lose I won’t be surprised. How crazy would it have been if out of the blue the Skrulls won? It’d be like Cap dying at the end of Civil War. I don’t know if this an editorial decision or Bendis’, but considering how much power Bendis seems to have at Marvel, I’d guess the latter. Anyway, this issue isn’t bad. In fact, it’s more than passable. Cheung’s art is impressive and I’m sure if you’ve enjoyed the previous SI Avengers tie-ins, you’ll like this. I just can’t help letting my overall disappointment of this event seep into my opinions of these issues. Plus, there are a few things in this issue that I didn’t like.
Conan the Cimmerian #3 (****)
Conan is Conan. Unless Grant Morrison or Alan Moore is writing the character, you have a general idea of what you’re getting in our favorite Cimmerian’s comic. But what kind of quality can you expect from this Conan book? It’s only the third issue, but I think this will be a great run. I’m already entertained which is a necessity in a Conan series, but I also think Truman is building to something. We get less of Connacht in this issue, but he’s still included. There has to be a reason for these stories right? I love the done in one tales as much as the next person, but I’d love to see an epic Conan story. As much as I enjoy Richard Corben’s style, it was nice to see more of Giorello’s art in this issue. It’s interesting, it’s fun, it’s bloody, it’s Conan!
Punisher #62 (****)
I’m going to get through this whole review without mentioning Ennis. Damn it! Ok, so this is still Ennis’ book. Maybe even Ennis’ character, but that doesn’t mean Greg Hurwitz is doing a bad job, far from it actually. After only two issues, Hurwitz has created an intriguing Punisher. He’s kind of a detective and seems more violent, or at least has a greater love of torture. As far as emotions go, he’s not nearly as human as Fraction’s version. He’s more like Ennis’ in that respect. He may even be less cold, but it’s hard to tell given the subject matter. We’re still close to the thirtieth anniversary of the death of Frank’s family. Last issue it seemed Hurwitz had a very generic take on the subject, but that’s changed. Campbell’s art still impresses. His style fits the story like a glove and I love the widescreen view. I’m glad this series is still running smoothly. Oh, and be prepared for the ending, it’s a doozy!
(Be advised, the following “Feature Review” space reserved for fanboyish fanboying.)
Buffy The Vampire Slayer #18 (*)
This cover is absurd. That is all.
Detective Comics #848 (*****)
Paul Dini, you monster. You took out her heart? OMFG!!!
Secret Six #1 (*****)
OH! I missed you girls so much!
• 100 Bullets #95 (*****): Heh. Irony. How ironic? (I mean, what can I say? Besides me and like five other guys, who else is still reading this bloated self-indulgent masterpiece?)
• Anna Mercury #3 (***): This book feels like half a comic, or a web comic. For $3.99 it feels lazy.
• The Authority #2 (***): Relaunch! Even with DnA, I’m still a lot o’ bit bored. I like the whole “World’s End” idea, but some of these titles are just BLAH! Where’s my Nemesis ongoing?
• The Boys #18 (****): The thrilling conclusion to “I Tell You No Lie, G.I.”… thrilling really isn’t the word. The near-rape scene was disturbing and the park stuff was sweet… I don’t know, The Boys is complicated and so are my feelings about it… stop asking personal questions!
• Criminal #5 (****): Dude, she is totally playing you! And! I’m hoping she isn’t, because if she is, then Brubaker is getting a tiny bit predictable.
• Dreamwar #4 (***): This needed to be over already because I just don’t care anymore.
• Final Crisis: Revelations #2 (***): OH! Emotions! Upheavals! Duty! Revenge! Mercy! …cliché? There was just too much hand-holding and feeling-sharing. BLAH! Spectre needs to kill more bad guys. Soonish.
• Green Arrow and Black Canary #12 (*): IT’S OVER… my involvement!
• Green Lantern #34 (***1/2): Mind wipes, all around!
• I Kill Giants #2 (***): The art is interesting and the characters are… interesting, but I hope the hook for this series isn’t just “crazy girl makes friends”. Show me something, Joe Kelly, show me anything and I’ll love you forever.
• Invincible #52 (****1/2): Bruce is right, this book rocks! It’s been rocking for two issues now, and it better keep rocking or I’m gonna have to start bashing Kirkman again!
• Nightwing #148 (*): I’m no expert on bullet related injuries, but the logic in this issue just feels WRONG. Dick gets shot twice, loses two bodies worth of blood and within 24-hours is up and around like nothing happened?
• Savage Dragon #137 (*): Why do I still support this book? It’s sooooooo Terry-Bull.
• Wonder Woman #24 (****): Queen of Fables? BLAH. Dude, but those white gorillas are funny as ####! What a great addition to the supporting cast they’re turning out to be. Simone is a genius.
• Young Liars #7 (****1/2): Even with the fever dreams, not as crazy as usual. But yes, this “Amy Racecar” stuff is cool and I’m looking forward to more.
Captain America #41 (****1/2)
I’m happy to report that this issue delivers the same excellence I’ve come to expect from Brubaker’s Captain America. As you may know if you visit this site often, my fellow reviewer Billy really loves this book. He already wrote a review of this issue complete with cool scans the day it came out. So, I don’t have too much to offer. All I’ll say is that I really enjoyed this issue. If you aren’t reading this series, you owe it to yourself to pick up the first trade. Be prepared, you may get hooked.
Conan #2 (****)
It’s a little funny that the first story from this new Conan series isn’t about Conan. It’s about Conan’s grandfather, Connacht. You may remember him from Conan Vol. 0: Born on the Battlefield. If not, then I recommend you read it. Not to understand this issue, but because I liked that story. In addition to Conan, the regular artist, Tomas Giorello, takes a backseat to give Richard Corben a moment to shine. If you’re familiar with Heavy Metal at all, you may know Corben’s work. Corben’s simplistic and gory style fits the tale of Connocht incredibly well. This issue was very good and it’s nice to read about Conan’s relatives. It looks like Corben will be involved with the next three Conan issues at least. Are they building to something? Will Conan meet the present Connacht? I don’t know, but I’m eager to find out!
Punisher #61 (***1/2)
No more Tim Bradstreet covers. I forgot to mention that in my review of the last issue. Bradstreet’s covers were the unsung hero of Ennis’ run. Trying to move on was the definite theme in my feelings for this issue. I tried very hard not to compare this issue to Ennis’ work. I tried to keep an open mind, but it was hard. Still, even with that hindrance, I enjoyed this issue. The art in this series was always overshadowed by the writing, but it really was quite good. This issue’s artist, Laurence Campbell, continues to give the book that cinematic feeling. His widescreen panels were very impressive. That, coupled with Hurwitz’ western styled story, made me feel like I was watching a Clint Eastwood movie. My main complaint is that Hurwitz doesn’t seem to know how to handle Frank yet. Punisher’s narrative seemed a bit off. Hurwitz is still new to the character though. I’m confident that in time, he may write some great Punisher stories. It looks like the future of this series won’t be as bleak as I once thought.
Hellboy The Crooked Man #2 (****1/2)
I’m not easily scared. I can count the movies that have frightened me on one hand (Though I do have six fingers on that hand. Is that cheating?). I mentioned in my review of the first issue that this is the first Hellboy story that actually scared me. The terror factor continues in this issue to my surprise. Maybe it’s because Mignola’s art has such a sense of wonderment to it so the horror is deterred. This is drawn by Richard Corben and apparently he can draw some creepy stuff! Besides the terror, The Crooked Man is an incredibly entertaining tale. If the horror is the ketchup, Hellboy is the cheese, and the entertainment is the hamburger, Hellboy The Crooked Man is one tasty burger!
The Walking Dead #51 (*****)
Okay, things have finally calmed down. Kirkman is now free to take the book anywhere he wants to. His first act of freedom is to kind of take us back to the zombie basics. One of my favorite things about zombie tales is getting to see modern humans go caveman. They have to forage for food, find shelter, and deal with a world without the luxury of electricity. But the cast in The Walking Dead have been cooped up in that prison for so long that they haven’t had to do that in about 40 issues. So I’m pleased to see that we get to see a bit of the primitive man stuff in this issue. The event that takes place dealing with what’s occurring on the cover is handled well. So I was enjoying the top notch zombie style that I’ve come to expect from The Walking Dead when Kirkman throws a curve ball at me. Thankfully, it’s not as absurd as the issue #42 reveal, but it’s still something that caught me off guard. It was definitely unexpected and doesn’t go too well with the realistic feel of the book, but it did surprise me and overall I enjoyed it. Due to the superbly executed twist and some of the best zombie storytelling, I loved this issue.
Conan at times can be a hard character to write. You don’t want another mindless book of decapitations and naked women. There’s that side of Conan sure, but you also need some substance along with your flash. This book is phenomenal! It looks great and the story is great.
We get the lust, action, and blood along with a heart pumping, gut wrenching and roller coaster ride of a story. Conan hasn’t looked this good in years. Cary Nord’s art fits the barbarian perfectly. It’s not often that an old character feels fresh but Busiek accomplishes that here. Man even the chapter break art is done by Joseph Michael Linsner! What’s not to love about this! I don’t want to oversell it but if you’re looking for this type of book, buy this one and have a blast!
This is a great example of how a book can be much better in trade than in single issues. I have always loved Conan as a character and I was very excited when I heard about the new Dark Horse book. I stayed on the book for quite a while, but I bailed near the end of the series. It was just too annoying for my brain to have to keep up with all these different stories. This was one of them. This trade collects issues 0, 8, 15, 23, 32, 45, and 46. I just can’t remember what happened in a story I read a year ago can you? Recently though, after reading issue 0 of the new Conan series, I was Conan inspired again. I picked up all the trades of the series and am having a blast!
This story comes to you from the brilliance of Kurt Busiek and Greg Ruth. I loved this story! I recently read Greg Pak’s Skaar Son of Hulk. I complained because there was a young Skaar introduced, and then by the end of the issue he was an adult. I thought Pak missed out on a lot of good storytelling opportunities like what is included in this book for example! This book presents the early days of Conan. From being a child to being a teenager.
This covers certain important early events in the barbarian’s life which are entertaining and at times emotional. I’m not usually a big coming of age fan, but I guess it’s awesome when it’s Conan style! Greg Ruth’s art is very stylized and I could see some people disliking it for its obscurity. But I thought it was an interesting look at Conan. I guess he usually draws horror stories which makes a lot of sense when you see it, but I thought he drew a fine Conan. And let’s not forget the masterful writing of Busiek. Who makes us love and hate characters we are barely familiar with. This book provided so many emotional ties and action scenes for the perfect blend that should be tasted when reading any sword and sandal type book. Man I loved this!
Well, we’re finally at the end of our Hellboy journey. I pledged to have all the Hellboy trades read and reviewed before the movie and I have. It got me thinking a bit about the changes in Hellboy. This story continues Hellboy’s post-B.P.R.D. adventures and a lot has changed. No more Nazi machinations or Lovecraftian monsters, Hellboy has now become Mignola’s meditations on his intersts. This book focuses on folklore. Also, there was a time when everything Hellboy was drawn by Mignola. Sure he’d let other people pencil B.P.R.D., but never his demonic baby. That is no longer true. This tale is drawn by Duncan Fegredo and Richard Corben is doing the art on The Crooked Man.
In a way it’s sad to not see the lovable red demon pictured differently. But I suppose in another way it is liberating for Mignola and also gives us a chance to see Hellboy look pretty much the same but altered only slightly. Fegredo does the art in this book and his art is quite fitting because there are a few pages in this collection that call for a more dynamic touch than Mignola’s work might be comfortable or even capable of rendering.
Yes, this tale draws heavily on folklore and actually seems a bit more entertaining than the usual continuity progressing Hellboy story. Certainly more than the Island at least. This story again illustrates the point that Hellboy can be surrounded by all these monumental events and remain a regular guy who is genuinly pissed off at having to deal with all this crap. It is in that concept that this demon seems so utterly human.
So, as I pointed out earlier, a lot has changed since Hellboy’s inception, but thankfully Mignola has made sure the most important stuff doesn’t. This is still a tale rich with folklore, mystical creatures, old menacing villains, and a it is still a wild and great adventure with plenty of things for Hellboy to beat the snott out of. It’s been a pleasure reviewing these things for you and I hope we all enjoy the movie.
• 1985 #2 (****): I’m really liking where this is headed. See, you can’t call me a Millar hater! Some of his stuff is utter garbage, and some of it, when he puts the research and thought in, turns out quite fantastic. Here’s hoping I’m right about this one.
• Conan the Cimmerian #0 (****): Bruce Castle’s review of this was spot on. It was a very, very, VERY good sword and sandal read. Unfortunately, I think I’m done with Conan for now… or, I may pick up the first issue when it ships! I just don’t know!
• Daredevil #108 (****): It just keeps getting better! Dear Greg Rucka, please never leave. No more brooding! No more Mila! No more Emo!
• Fantastic Four #558 (****1/2): This was really good. Really, really good. I can see clearly now what Millar is doing and I love it. The interweaving of the subplots over multiple 4-part story arcs is finally starting to pay off. I haven’t been this excited about reading Fantastic Four since JMS first took over the book. I know I was harsh on the first couple of these, but now that the engine is revving up toward max RPMs, I couldn’t be happier. I just hope he doesn’t blow his load too soon. But, I still think the Galactus suit was a lame idea. OH! Almost forgot, little Val is a genius!
• Ghost Rider # 24 (****): Love the new artist. Love the new direction. If this is what we can expect from the rest of Aaron’s Ghost Rider run, I think I can finally put myself safely in the “on board” column. It was touch and go there for a while with a couple of stinkers mixed in with the gooders, but this issue has restored my faith… for now! Ha-Hah, you just never know! Next month I could be bashing it again! Help, I’m in an abusive relationship and I can’t get out!*
• Iron Fist #16 (*****): Terrific series finale, bravo to all involved, especially Matt Fraction. I can’t wait for the “Heroes For Hire” relaunch this fall… wait, what? Not cancelled? New creative team? Get OUT of here!
• Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. #30 (****): Still not the Knaufs, but adequate. Actually, more than adequate. This Moore guys is doing a bang-up fill-in! Overkill Mind! Star Squad! Paladin messing up Iron Man’s fascist face! YES! YES! YES!
• The Punisher #58 (*****): Every month I get a little sad. New Punisher issue only serves to remind me of its imminent cancellation. Well, pretty much, right? I like the new guy, his Foolkiller was good, but no one’s ever going to top Garth Ennis. Oh, I should say something about this issue. It was really good, as usual. They always are. Sad face.
• Thunderbolts #121 (*****): OH GOOD GOD! This was epic. And now it’s over. Forever. I don’t care that this book shipped once a quarter, it was totally worth it. But, I don’t think Ellis is leaving because of lateness, I think he’s just done. Is that true? Does anybody know? I’m seriously asking a serious question here…
• X-Factor #32 (****1/2): In this issue, Madrox tells Cooper to get stuffed and finally takes responsibility as the father of Theressa’s baby… and just like that, *POOF*, X-Factor is a 4-5 Star book again. Why? Because we’re back to focusing on the drama, baby, and not the action. Yay! Thank you, Peter David. I don’t know what happened to you or why you had to phone the past 6 months in, but I’m glad you’re back. Now, if only I could say the same thing about She-Hulk. UGH!
• Young Avengers Presents: Hawkeye #6 (****): This was easily the best of the series. Fraction is just on fire this month (although his Punisher still sucks ass). I loved how much of a dick Clint is when he makes Kate cry. Ha-Ha! But then, it was just Clint teaching her a lesson all along! Oh snap! Shit, I wish Clint had his own team book or something. He works well as mentor/father figure… FUCK, why isn’t he leading the New Avengers? He’s got the attitude, the skill and the experience. Maybe that’s one of the changes Bendis has lined up for after Secret Invasion? I hope so. I’ve always loved me some Hawkeye. Oh, and when the hell is Young Avengers Volume 2 coming out? These characters are way cooler than the Titans and those shitters have two books, both equally shitty!
Hmm, got surly there at the end. Ah, well. Tomorrow, Planetary Series Review (honest) and on Wednesday, maybe a Spoiler Re view… if something cool comes out.
*That one was for VsRealms.
This is the seventh collection of Hellboy and again, it features some of those lovable short stories. I’m in a lazy mood, so I don’t feel like running through each one this time. I’ll just mention that these stories seemed even more esoteric than their predecessors. However, it was still a joy to read these because usually when you read a trade, it’s all old material, but to me, most of this stuff was new. There was only one truly new yarn, but a lot of these stories were collected in Dark Horse’s Book of… series. I didn’t even know there were Hellboy stories in those so I didn’t pick them up. Thankfully they’re all collected here.
The extras in this volume include an introduction by Walter Simonson and Mike Mignola personally introduces each story which is extremely cool. It helps give some history about these stories because a lot of these stories are taken from unique folklore that I’ve never heard of. We also get a few sketches as well. This volume is still beautifully drawn by Mike Mignola with the exception of two stories. One is drawn by P. Craig Russel and the other by Richard Corben. They both do a good enough job especially the latter who is also doing the latest Hellboy story that came out this week. No one can beat Mignola when it comes to Hellboy, but Corben is a fine substitute. This isn’t the best Hellboy trade, but its stories (especially Makoma) are still great.