Top Ten Best Comics of 2009

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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!

Continue reading

Bruce Castle’s Mini-Reviews

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.

Grade: C+

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.

Grade: B-

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.

Grade: B+

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!

Grade: A-

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.

Grade: B

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.

Grade: B

For more comic goodness, go here.

Review: The Boys #32

Writing: Ennis continues to split the screen time between The Boys and Annie. The Boys deal with the Female’s injury, and the fact that something may be very wrong, which leads to the goriest fight since the first arc. “The Self-Preservation Society” looks like it’s going to be one of the most action-heavy arcs of the series. While The Boys are kicking the crap out of the supes, Annie is faced with a horrible re-imagining, complete with a new origin and a dreadful new costume. The Annie moments were poignant, and a good commentary on the dark side of today’s superhero comics.

Art: As much as I sometimes hate to admit it, the art in a comic really does hinder the story at times. Though his attempts to keep Robertson’s style is admirable, Carlos Ezquerra is no Darick Robertson. This comic, particularly the action, looks very sloppy. He handles the Annie scenes well enough, but, as I mentioned earlier, this issue has a lot of action.

Final Word: The satire is sharp and thought-provoking, but, sadly, the art does bring the quality down. This is not one of the weaker issues of the series because of Ennis. I hope Ezquerra can move to a project that better suits his talent and I hope that Robertson comes back soon.

Grade: B-

For more comic goodness, go here.

Review: The Boys #31

The second half of The Boys begins now! But, this is Ennis, so, being that this is the start of a new arc, it’s probably a bit slow, right? Wrong! In fact, this issue features a few shocks that I sure as hell wasn’t expecting. I wonder: “Will this issue’s death be permanent?” Probably not, since we’ve been promised an “Origins” arc for these characters. Still, the twist was fun.

This is a more-than-solid issue of The Boys. It contains all of the usual humor and lovely characterizations, but with lots of fighting to keep my brain entertained. I’m still utterly fascinated to watch these characters, and the story, progress. The only unimpressive element of this issue was, sadly, the art.

Yes, Robertson has taken another brief leave of absence. Filling his big shoes is Carlos Ezquerra, and his renderings were a bit inconsistent. Some moments worked fine, like Hughie’s dazed look after committing some terrible acts. Ezquerra is certainly a capable artist, but damn it, some panels were just sloppy. But hey, this is his first issue, so let’s all hope that he gets more comfortable. With Herogasm’s humorous opening and now this, it’s a good time to be a fan of The Boys.

Grade: B

For more comic goodness, go here.

Review: The Boys: Herogasm #1

Boys Herogasm #1 (of 6)

Ah, look at that Robertson cover. I love it, but apparently a lot of people don’t. I wonder if any poor comic owners will be attacked? Anyway, the supes in this book, if you haven’t heard, are absolutely deplorable, or are they? There’s certainly a case to be made that they’re just normal humans, given infinite powers. Sorry, I’ve been reading too much Thomas Hobbes, lately.

Well, pretty much everything you can expect from that cover happens in this issue. There’s a new crossover event! “The Battelite of the Marith’rai is now confirmed as having entered our solar system.” Ennis even ties the recent G-Men business into this in a brilliant move. So, all of the heroes, villains, and loners get together to fight the alien threat! Only, there is no threat. All of the supes just go to an island to…um…have a party. Expect splash-pages of orgies, a lot of comic book nudity, and plenty of coke!

John McCrea, a longtime Ennis collaborator, is a perfect fit on this series. Like John Higgins, he captures a similar style and tone to Robertson’s work. His style is a lot more cartoony than Robertson’s, so he handles the sex and comedy a little better. But don’t worry, I have a feeling he’ll handle the gore well, too.

Ennis, as he usually does in his opening chapters, takes a moment to set things up. He puts his jokes and commentary right up front for all to enjoy. However, I highly doubt that this series will be useless. That is, after all, what Ennis is parodying. Especially with the last page, we are already starting to see the tensions build. I have no doubt that by the end of this spin-off, something big will occur. Untin then, enjoy the Herogasm!

Grade: B

For more comic goodness, go here.

Review: The Boys #30

Boys #30

(****)

I often forget about how dark this book is. I think this series is often thought of as a gore fest with dick and fart jokes. It’s not. This series is all about the characters. However, these characters do live in a dark, dark world. This is the “We Gotta Go Now” prologue. “We Gotta Go Now” contained a lot of jokes, but the last issue was full of terror and surprises. We get one last terrifying surprise in this issue. Just a warning, it is unsettling.

Other than that, there’s nothing in this issue that even resembles action. This issue is anything but boring, though. Why? Because the characters are fascinating. The Frenchman and The Female have a nice moment. I’m eager to find out more about them. Hughie and Annie share some pain together. And as for Butcher? Well, he’s become quite scary.

Speaking of Butcher being scary, that brings be to Darick Robertson. A sign of a great artist is versatility, and Robertson has that in spades. Robertson can render a lot more than gore, Butcher’s mannerisms for one. Butcher has this smile that keeps appearing, and it’s one hell of an unsettling smile. That man has done some bad things, and we see some of them in this issue.

We’re only halfway through The Boys, and I’m already a bit sad. I love all of these characters, no matter how horrible they are, and I’m going to miss them when this series ends. Until then, let’s all enjoy the ride.

For more comic goodness, go here.

Top 5 Best Comics of April 2009!

This is a new feature. Let me know what you guys think. I read 26 comics in April, and these were the best.

But first, let’s kick things off with the worst book of the month:

Batman: Battle for the Cowl #2 (of 3)

Batman: Battle for the Cowl #2

Written by Tony Daniel

Illustrated by Tony Daniel

Published by DC Comics

No, this wasn’t actually the worst book of the month, but it was the worst I read. And the fact that it’s so high-profile, gives me all the more reason to bash it. But, to be fair, this isn’t a terrible comic. In fact, I wish it were a terrible comic, because then, at least, it’d be a bit interesting. What we have here, is forgettable, generic hogwash. I suppose, if you were a huge fan of Tony Daniel, you might have a bit of a good time. I’m not that fan. Again, Tony Daniel isn’t terrible. In fact, if we were ranking mediocre 90’s, Post-Jim Lee artists, Daniel is near the top of the list. However, that’s still not nearly enough to keep me entertained while reading a story completely written for the art. Why the hell did DC let Daniel write this? “Hmm, what writer should we get to follow Grant Morrison? I know! Tony Daniel!” I could write more, but I’ve bashed this comic more than enough. This book isn’t even that fun to hate.

Secret Warriors #3 (Wolverine Art Variant)

5. Secret Warriors #3

Written by Jonathan Hickman & Brian Michael Bendis

Illustrated by Stefano Caselli

Published by Marvel Comics

Wow! Who knew I was craving a book like this? Oh wait, I did! I’m awesome! Only three issues in, and Secret Warriors is arguably the best comic that Marvel is currently publishing. It’s definitely the most exciting. First, we got that kick in the pants about Hydra. Then, we got the return of the freakin’ Gorgon. This issue’s Dum Dum reveal really wasn’t that exciting, but who knew that some of Phobos’ prophecies from the second issue would already come to pass? Oh, and Gorgon said something like, “Someday, I will kill a god.” Yeah, whenever a badass talks about killing gods, it’s always pretty cool.

Boys #29 (Cover B)

4. The Boys #29

Written by Garth Ennis

Illustrated by Darick Robertson

Published by Dynamite Entertainment

This was the conclusion of “We Gotta Go Now,” an arc that spent a little too much time on masturbation jokes. But man, did this issue blow the damn doors down. First, we get the chilling truth about the G-Men. Then, Hughie gets his badass moment. And…well, the shit pretty much hits the fan after that.

Walking Dead #60

3. The Walking Dead #60

Written by Robert Kirkman

Illustrated by Charlie Adlard

Published by Image Comics

It’s always hard to rate The Walking Dead on an issue to issue basis. That’s probably the reason why most people read it in trade. However, with this issue featuring  the conclusion of that horde business, the ever-growing madness of Morgan, and the feeling that Dale may finally turn on Rick, this was a terrific installment.

Read my full review here.

Secret Six #8

2. Secret Six #8

Written by Gail Simone

Illustrated by Carlos Rodriguez

Published by DC Comics

Ah, Secret Six, a title that never fails to put a big, stupid grin on my face. Actually, I wasn’t too impressed with the last issue. It wasn’t bad, but for the conclusion of the first arc, which was pretty awesome, it just wasn’t completely satisfying. This issue, however, was sweet and charming, while still managing to provide all that sick, twisted humor that the book continues to deliver. Oh, and Tiny Secret Six? Classic.

Detective Comics #853

1. Detective Comics #853

Written by Neil Gaiman

Illustrated by Andy Kubert

Published by DC Comics

So, I guess this arc wasn’t nearly as well-recieved as people hoped, huh? Then again, a lot of people don’t care for Morrison’s run, either. So what the hell do people know? Gaiman managed to pack everything he could about Batman into just two issues. He does a good job expressing the appeal of Batman, touching on everything from his love to his mortality. However, the undisputed star here is Andy Kubert. He produces possibly the best work of his career. Well, I don’t know if it’s better than Batman #666. I love that issue.

Read my full review here.

Pretty even between Marvel, DC, and Indies, but DC did snag the top two. Then again, DC was also responsible for the worst book of the month. Overall, I’d say that April was a pretty good month for comics. All five of these books were a hell of a read.

Review: The Boys #26

Boys #26

(***1/2)

Aren’t those Darick Robertson covers awesome? They’ve had a guest artist do a variant on every issue of this arc, but I haven’t picked up any because Robertson draws such hilarious covers. But what’s sad is that for the first time, Darick Robertson’s art is absent on the interiors. What’s up with that? I don’t know, but what I am sure of is that John Higgins is a perfect substitute.

Wow, John Higgins, you may know that name from some Alan Moore comics. He did the colors on Watchmen and The Killing Joke. And now I see his art in The Boys, how cool? Anyway, if Robertson has the bubonic plague or something, Higgins should definitely take over. He keeps the same artistic tone so well that I didn’t even notice Robertson’s absence until I began writing this review. That should tell you something.

This is the longest Boys arc yet and so far it’s sadly been the worst. The series has kind of reached the superhero-bashing fart joke mediocrity that many think this book is without even reading it. That’s incredibly tragic. But we do have an improvement here. Sure it’s more making fun of the X-Men, but it’s also making fun of the way Marvel treats those characters. Comments on the ridiculous excess of teams and more like that make this issue succeed at least comedically.

Another thing that makes this issue special is the further exploration of Hughie and Annie’s relationship. Ennis has made them one of the most interesting couples mostly because of their secret identities. Annie gives a hint this issue and though these romantic moments are beautiful, there’s also the looming shadow of the terrible thing that will happen if the secret gets out. This makes the last page terrifying.

Garth Ennis is one of my favorite writers. I always want a title where I can get my monthly dose of Ennis goodness. Though The Boys may never be as good as something like Punisher, it is certainly very well done. It’s almost always a great read and I hope this arc ends with a bang. Ennis, I know you have it in you.

Bruce Castle Presents: Anita Blake Likes Boys

Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Laughing Corpse #3 (of 5)

Anita Blake: The Laughing Corpse #3 (****)

Am I the only one reading this comic? Go read it if you haven’t read the books. I’m illiterate, but I like the the pretty pictures. And what pretty pictures they are. I love Ron Lim. He’s been drawing comics for how long? And yet his work still looks great. He captures Anita perfectly. I love her character. Hamilton is a talented writer. She should write more comics. Poor Anita! Everyone hates her in this story. Way to stand up for your principles girlfriend!

Large Cover of The Boys #25

Boys #25 (***)

This arc should be called “great covers with a mediocre story”. Seriously, doesn’t Darick Robertson draw awesome covers? I love the Wolverine hammer hands already, but now he has to hold that drink with them? Does anyone else get that “Xorn looking at the burger” feeling? Which is probably one of the best covers of all time and I hope you know that. It’s sad though. The last Boys arc was four issues and it was the best yet. This one is supposed to be super important, it’s six issues long, and it’s shaping up to be the worst Boys tale ever! C’mon, Ennis! You are better than this! Robertson, keep up the stellar work man!

Foilball’s Review Roundup #61 – Tons of Mini-Reviews, Because Honestly, If I Didn’t Do It This Way, I Wouldn’t Be Doing It At All!*

1985 #6 (**): What. A. Let down. Nice Last Action Hero ending, Millar. You hack.

Amazing spider-Man #574 (****): I liked it. I liked that it wasn’t pro-war, just pro-soldier. Good stuff. But, the ending makes me wonder… how long til some super scientist makes Flash a pair of Forge style legs?

Amazing spider-Man #575 (*****): Um, WOW! Joe Kelly was BORN to write Spidey… this is—I never thought I’d say this, but this is better than anything Slott has written for Spidey since BND started. WOW. Very, very excited about Joe Kelly and Spider-Man. WOOOO!!!!

Secret Invasion: Amazing Spider-Man #3 (***): This was okay…

Amazing Spider-Man Annual #35 (**): …but this was almost complete garabge. The art was nice, which nets this book it’s two stars, but MY GOD, way to screw the readers BND brain trust. You guys stink.

New Avengers #46 (****1/2): One of my favorite tie-ins. The Hood gets cooler and cooler every time he shows up, which makes me want to scream for more, Bendis! MORE!

Avengers: The Initiative #18 (****): Yeah, this arc is the best in the series… but that’s not to say I’d like a Skrull Kill Krew ongoing. Um, no thanks. I’m tired of the Skrulls. For now.

The Boys #24 (***): Worst issue in the book’s two year history.

Criminal #6 (****): Brubaker, I don’t know how you do it, but you make me care about the biggest scumbags in the world and I love it. thanks, dude.

Daredevil #112 (****1/2): Lady Bullseye is HAWT. This arc is HAWTER.

Final Crisis: Submit #1 (****): Wonderful. Simple, yet wonderful. And hey, I didn’t completely hate Black Lightning… you know, like I usually do.

Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns #1 (***1/2): Um, this kind of sucked, what I mean is, it kind of sucked when compared with the ASTONISHING Sinestro Corps Special from last year. By itself, it was decent, but if you’re not already reading GL, I don’t think this special was going to do it for you. So, overall, MEH.

G.I. Joe #0 (****): OMFG, am I getting sucked back into G.I. Joe? Yet, again!!!!

Incredible Hercules #122 (****): Heh, this is one of the books where I had a longer review planned, with scans and such, but alas, no time! Anyway, great stuff as usual.

Hulk #7 (***1/2): I like it. The art is amazing, the dialogue is only okay and the story isn’t really moving in any particular direction, but I like it. Loeb “gets it” in an old school Stan Lee kind of way, and I’m fine with that.

Invincible #54 (****): Oh, where did this come from? It’s like, all of a sudden, Kirkman learned how to tell super-compressed stories! Great. About time. Hey, anyone remember, long time ago, when all of the Liefeld books at Image skipped a month and did these “Images of Tomorrow” stories where they jumped a year into the future of the series? This issue of Invincible totally reminded me of that, only less gimmicky.

Jack of Fables #27 (*****): Marry me, Jack. Just say “yes”.

Ms. Marvel #32 (***): Dude, Brian Reed… I know you read the recent Secret Origins arc over in GL, cus like, who isn’t reading Johns, so let me ask you a question: am I supposed to get that you’re just totally aping it?

No Hero #2 (***1/2): Better than the first issue, but I’m still wondering why I should care.

Nova #18 (***): This arc may force me to drop this book.

Runaways #3 (***1/2): Um, ditto for what I said about Nova, also, why is there a Howard Stern character in this series? When was the last time Stern was relevant? 5 years ago? 10?

Skaar: Son of Hulk #4 (***1/2): TOOOOOO… SLOOOOOOOOOOW…

Superman: New Krypton Special #1 (***1/2): Like Bruce Castle said, the non-Robinson stuff was great…

Superman #682 (**1/2): Robinson… what the ####?

Superman/Batman #53 (****): Oh man, I love these guys. They get it. They’re pulling off this totally retro WF thing and it’s so much fun. If you’re not reading this, you are stupid. Simple.

Thor #11 (****): I’m a Cap whore, so obviously I loved this.

Secret Invasion: Thor #3 (***): Didn’t I say this was shit? TOLD YOU SO.

Thunderbolts #125 (****): Gage has managed to successfully build on what Ellis started, and in the end, he may even surpass it… if he stays on the book long enough. And yeah, Desiato is dead on the money. Norman is definitely becoming Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. at the end of the Secret Invasion. Good call.

Ultimate Captain America Annual #1 (*): Um, why?

Ultimate Spider-Man #127 (****): Um, awesome?

Ultimate Spider-Man Annual #3 (**): Um, hype?

Wildcats #4 (**): …and I’m done. Thanks for playing.

Wolverine: Origins #29 (***1/2): This book is never going to end. There is no end. It’s not even planned. #### this book.

X-Force #8 (****1/2): These guys are putting out the best X-Men book currently, hands ####ing down. It’s not even close. So embarrassing.

X-Men: Legacy #217 (***): GAWD!!! Enough already! Someone shoot Prof X in the head again please.

Secret Invasion: X-Men #3 (****1/2): This was really, really FACKING GOOD. Some may disagree, but I totally see Hank doing what he did, especially in the manner with which it was written. And I love the last line about genocide. Perfect. Man, if only SI was this good… sigh.

*yeah, i know i said i wouldn’t do it like this anymore, but i just didn’t have the time this week to do them right. actually, no, that’s wrong, i did, i just chose to spend that time on other things. i’m not going to go into the reasons why here, i figure if you really care all that much you could just read my LJ. anyway, i’ll try to get back on track soon. i still love writing for this blog, so i don’t plan to completely disappear anytime soon. okay? okay.

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.

Bruce Castle Presents: F-Bombs In Comics? No!

Anita Blake: The Laughing Corpse #1 (****)

I was wondering what that “Mature Content” thing was about. There’s an F-word word in here. Is it just me, or is that pretty unusual for a Marvel book? Not a MAX book or an Icon book, but a regular Marvel book, that isn’t something you see often, is it? It’s not even that necessary. So, why did they put that in? Or if it’ll be imperative later, why isn’t it a MAX book or something? Oh well, I still love this stuff and I’m happy it got another series. No, I haven’t read the original Anita Blake books. Why would I want to read something without pictures? Especially if those pictures are provided by the talented Ron Lim (or Bret Booth on the first series), are you crazy? This stuff is thoroughly entertaining. Although I do have another complaint, why is this book 4 bucks? It has the usual 22 pages, so why do I have to spend an extra dollar? Boo Marvel!

Boys #23 (Cover B - Casaday)

Boys #23 (****1/2)

So, we’re done with the heavy political arc. What does Ennis have for us now? Comedy! Oh, and story too. Romance! Gruesome death! Sex in a public restroom! And did I mention the laughs?! I love this series! Ennis and Robertson are at the top of their game here. The series keeps getting better and better. I know that’s hard to believe because last arc was so awesome, but this has a good chance. Big stuff is supposed to happen soon, which explains the cool Cassaday variant. Seriously folks, you will laugh out loud when you read this issue!

Bruce Castle Presents: Screw Superheroes!

The Boys & Darick Robertson - With Exclusive Preview

The Boys #22 (****)

After a lot of political stuff, we get back to the basics. This is the conclusion of the I Tell You No Lie, G.I. arc. The Boys just keeps getting better and better. The last issue was the highlight of this arc (the entire series actually), but this is still a really solid read. A little more background is revealed, but we’re mainly getting back to all those loveable characters. Readers who felt a little conflicted about Ennis’ political agenda will feel more at ease in this issue. I’m still sad about Ennis departing Punisher, but readers should have no fear. The Boys is starting to become as consistently great as Punisher was.

Secret Six #1 (*****)

I love the Secret Six. I found both Villains United and that miniseries to be incredibly enjoyable. Why does Gail Simone write villains so well? I don’t know, but she does. Also, why doesn’t Nicola Scott draw more? Her art is gorgeous! As much as I admire Dale Eaglesham’s (Brad Walker did a good job too) art, this is the best the Six has ever looked. I don’t think I have to tell you that first issue’s are mostly set-up, but this comic is filled with humor, emotionality, action, and a creepy intriguing villain.

Foilball’s Review Roundup #48

100 Bullets #94 (****)

It’s so difficult to review a comic that’s part 94 of 100, so I’m not even going to try. The reason I’m spotlighting this baby is simple: Lono vs. Dizzy… FIGHT!!! This is like, 70 issues in the making and we don’t even get to see who wins??? You’re killing me! My money’s on Dizzy. She’s too hot to lose! Too cold to hold!

The Boys #21 (*****)

This could be the best issue in the series and The Boys aren’t even in it. We finally get the scoop about this world’s 9/11 and SHIT, it’s a doozy, folks. So, the Legend reveals that the Seven are a bunch of super cluster####s who in the process of saving the day killed a whole bunch of people on a plane. And then, out government covered it up. Oh, also, someone close to Butcher was killed in the tragedy. Man, no wonder he hates these bastards. The thing I like so much about this series, despite the heavy-handed political messaging, is how honest Ennis is with his characters, and by extension, his readers. Ennis’ super folk are just like us. The things they do to the normal people in this book are the type of things normal people would do if they were suddenly granted super powers. These guys are human first, heroes second. This makes them not just noble, but petty, cruel and most importantly, weak. I don’t read this as Ennis’ disdain for the human race as a whole, but only for that corrupt minority that makes like miserable for the reasonably good-natured majority. So, in conclusion: I love this book. I love it because it plays fair. It’s the type of comic I wish I could write, but I’m glad someone more talented than me is actually pulling it off.

Criminal #4 (*****)

New story! So there’s this dude, used to be a counterfeiter, among other things, and then one day he gets caught up with this sultry little number, who steals his entire pathetic little stash, but that’s okay, because at least it was fun, but she ain’t through with him yet, because, out of the blue, after a few weeks, her boyfriend shows up to kick his teeth in, only, not really, the dude overreacts which kind of forces this pissed off boyfriend thug type to beat on him, into unconsciousness, and when he wakes, brother, the girl is back and she’s been telling tales, because thug boyfriend wants this dude to hook a hiim up with some fake FBI badges… oh snap, just another Criminal tale!

The Walking Dead #51 (****1/2)

No, that rating ain’t no mistake. Issue #51 was solid from start to finish. Kirkman really surprised me with this one. The phone thing caught me completely off guard. I was expecting it to be the missing prison people, but no, I was totally bamboozled. And then the end, that little bit where Rick goes back for the phone? That was heartbreak. I wanted to cry, but then I remembered that I’m a dude, and dudes don’t cry. So instead, I gave a little grunt and a sigh.

Young Liars #6 (*****)

HOLY SHIT, SADIE KILLS A ROOM FULL OF BAD GUYS AND THEN DANNY TRIES TO KILL HIMSELF?!!? How does this book keep topping itself? I was worried there for a minute, since before we hit those last few pages, the story seemed to be winding down. And then… bam-bam-bam-bam! EXPLOSION OF AWESOME!!! To save money, I should definitely switch over to trades, but I love the idea that each of these issues is like a single off a record. Owning the floppies feels mandatory.

Quick Hits:
• Buffy The Vampire Slayer #17 (***): Uh, who are all these characters? I’M SO LOST!!! I shouldn’t have to read or reread the Fray series, Joss! Introduce your fracking characters! Oh, and O-B-V the dark and mysterious chick is Willow… DUH!!! This surprises no one, Mr. Whedon. BE BETTER, damn it.
• Eternals #3 (***1/2): The story takes a slight dip as we slow down to get a dose of Celestials back-story, but most of it is interesting so I’ll give them a pass. Plus, I’m not stupid enough to think it’s unnecessary. Stuff’s gonna git ‘uge, fellars! We gots to be prepare’d with the learnings and the bed timey stories.
• Green Lantern Cops #27 (***): Why does the art feel so dated? I like Luke Ross. Why does this suck? The story was fine. Boring, but fine. And then we get eyeball rain. WOOO!
• Iron Man: Viva Las Vegas #2 (**): Late books! Not gonna lie, this comic stinks.
• Jack of Fables #24 (**): This will probably be remembered as the worst issue of Jack in the entire run. It was boring, I was bored. The climax was the epitome of anti-climax. About the only thing I did like was the part where the kid gets his fingers bitten off. Other than that, it felt like the story went one issue too long, as if Bill and Matthew were as bored with it as I was. Still, good art, a nice Bolland cover and a page of Babe at the end, so I can’t complain too much.
• Spawn #181 (***): This was just weird, or oddly paced. The story definitely feels rushed here. Oh, I wonder why. McFarlane is returning to the book. Yay.
• The Twelve #7 (****): Yes! Phantom Reporter guy might actually do something about all the evil shit going down! Good for you, dude. Took you long enough. Also, the parallels JMS draws between Captain America and Captain Wonder where very cool, especially the stuff pertaining to their respective sidekicks… although, I doubt Bucky would off himself if faced with the same situation as Tim. Bucky’s too cool to commit suicide.
• Wonder Woman #23 (**1/2): Maybe this issue redeems this arc, maybe it doesn’t. Honestly? I could give a shit at this juncture. Bring on the next arc!

NOTE: The scanner works! Scans will return next week! Rejoice!

Bruce Castle Presents: Garth Ennis Gets Political!

The Boys #21 (****1/2): The Boys just keeps getting better. I originally picked this book up because of Ennis. I stayed on board because it was a fun anti-superhero book with some laughs, entertainment, and some good character drama. During the last arc of The Boys, everything improved and we actually got some genuine romance from this cynical book. With this arc, Ennis shows that he is indeed a great writer. The laughs and the character development take a bit of a backseat in this arc. Though both of those elements are still present, they are pushed into the background to showcase the book’s political objective. I’m sure quite a few people dislike the new direction, but thankfully I’m not one of those people. I think it’s great that the story is getting more epic and I can enjoy some politics in my comics. This issue is probably the best issue of The Boys so far. It covers a single event in great detail brilliantly. Bravo Garth.

Crossed #0 (****): There are many stories that would be horrendous if placed in the wrong hands. Just look at that startling cover and I think you’ll know what I’m talking about. Thankfully, I think Garth Ennis will have the skills necessary to keep this away from the typical gore fest realm. With America’s economy in the currently atrocious state that it’s in and the ever climbing gas prices, I’m always thankful when I can get my money’s worth. This issue is only one dollar and for that you get 11 pages of actual story. This isn’t a preview. This is the beginning of the tale. This is the “outbreak” if you will, where everything goes to hell. This was advertised as the most deplorable Ennis book ever and I suppose it does deliver. Although honestly I was expecting something a bit more gruesome, but we’re only 11 pages into the story and I’m pretty desensitized to violence. My main complaint with this issue was that it was advertised as a different kind of zombie story with normal humans as the zombies instead of the undead. At this point I can’t really tell the difference. But I’m more than willing to overlook that because again, it’s only 11 pages and I thoroughly enjoyed the social commentary mixed in with the gore. For those of you who enjoy George Romero’s zombie films or comics such as Walking Dead, you should definitely through down the dollar to give this a try.