Best Comic Trades of 2009

I do my best to review all of the comics I read each month. But what I never write about, unless they end up on some list, are the comics I read in trade. So, I thought I’d recommend a few of the better ones. You care about my recommendations, right? Of course you do!

Asterios Ployp

Do you like David Mazzucchelli? Name doesn’t sound familiar? You read Batman: Year One and Daredevil: Born Again, right? Yeah, David drew those. Now, he’s flying solo, writing and drawing his masterpiece, Asterios Polyp. I don’t want to oversell it or anything, but you REALLY should give this book a chance. The art alone is worth the price of admission, and the book isn’t that cheap. Still, even if this is your first foray into the world of comics without spandex, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Ghost Rider: The Last Stand

Though it wasn’t quite the great, Grindhouse fun that comprised the first Aaron-penned Ghost Rider trade, there’s still plenty to enjoy here. It’s a bunch of guys with flaming skulls duking it out, and the fate of heaven it at stake! You’ll get that refreshing Aaron flavor too. His creative spark elevates this somewhat conventional material.

Northlanders: The Cross + The Hammer

The first Northlanders trade, Sven the Returned, made my top ten list last year, but the beauty and downfall of Brian Wood’s Northlanders is that it’s a series of stories, and just because one is good, doesn’t mean another will be. But Brian Wood is a good writer. So, it’s no surprise that this second story is excellent too. Like Sven’s tale, The Cross + The Hammer is deceptively simple. Think “Road to Perdition” meets “Baveheart” and you’ll have a good idea of what you’ll find. It’s the twist that comes near the end that really makes this arc something special.

 Parker: The Hunter

I’ve never read Richard Stark’s books. I’m illiterate. Heh. That joke never gets old. Anyway, I’m here for Darwyn Cooke, and you should be too. It’s not Marvel or DC; so it may not have come up on your radar. If you need more than Darwyn Cooke to buy a book, rest assured, this is a good Darwyn Cooke comic. I don’t have to tell you that it looks amazing, but Cooke also has an ear for noir; real noir, not the crap that Hollywood tries to pass off as noir. We’re not really sure if we like any of the characters, even by the end. Still, Cooke delivers the goods, and a sequel is scheduled for next year.

 

Seaguy: Slaves of Mickey Eye

This hasn’t been released in trade yet. I’m not sure if it ever will. Sales were embarrassingly low, especially considering Morrison’s name was attached at a time when Final Crisis and Batman: RIP were selling like hotcakes. Morrison fans, you’ll like this too! Yes, it’s weird, but it’s not as esoteric as Final Crisis or Batman: RIP. Morrison and Stewart are on the top of their game. This sequel is every bit as great as the first installment, and that was pretty great! So, please, just buy the floppies. Give Vertigo a reason to print the third part and complete the trilogy!

For more comic goodness, go here.

Review: Ghost Rider #28

ghost-rider-28-cover

Jason Aaron’s Ghost Rider knows exactly what it is: a love letter to the 90’s and the convoluted plots and characters of Howard Mackie, albeit a better written letter than the source material it’s based on. And you know what? That suits me just fine. I’ve got a lot of fond memories of that era, so Jason? Bring it on, dude!

(And sorry I ever doubted you.)

Also, Tan Eng Huat has come a long way:

ghost-rider-got-his-own

Thanks for all the pretty pictures, dude!

Foilball’s Review Roundup #34 – THE GOODERS!

And now, The Gooders. These books were the cream of the crop, or as close to it as this bunch got.

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.

Foilball’s Review Roundup #26

All-Star Superman #11 (*****)

I love you, Superman. And I love Superman’s best friend, the Sun-Eater. NO! Solaris killed him! Poor Solaris, you should not have done that to Superman’s friend. Now you must meet his fists. Oh, and then Luthor shows up. And he’s got all the powers of Superman. Whoa.

Seriously, who isn’t reading this? You, sir, are dumb.

Batman #677 (***1/2)

I just don’t like Tony Daniel. He reminds of all the forgettable art from the mid-nineties. He’s not a solid artist and I don’t get why people like him. I feel like I’m reading some shitty image comic. Enough bitching, let’s talk about—WTF! His arm exploded! Damn, Batman is getting rough with this shit! Okay, how about these villains? Am I the only one that thinks they look utterly ridiculous, even for Morrison creations? Although, they do look pretty bad-ass beating the shit out of Alfred. HAH.

Ghost Rider #23 (****)

This book is so hit or miss. This issue? Hits big time! SCRUNCH! This entire page is ass-kicking goodness! This is all I want from my Ghost Rider comic. That’s it! EXTREME VIOLENCE! PENANCE STARES! JUSTICE SERVED! Is it too much to ask for every issue to be this action-packed?

Justice Society of America #15 (****1/2)

Well, the entire book is one big beat down. Not gonna show ya’. Go buy or download it for that. What I will show you, because I find it too fucking hilarious not to, is the full two-page spread that portrays the real Gog’s first full appearance… “I come in peace.”

Quick Hits:
Amazing Spider-Man #560 (*****): I would give the book six stars if I could… EFF it, I can – (******). Marcos Martin is a God. His Dr. Strange and Batgirl stuff was most excellent, but his work on this arc has truly been transcendent. Oh, and the story’s pretty fun too.
Birds of Prey #118 (***1/2): For a Tony Bedard comic, this one is decent. Even as a fill-in and Final Crisis tie-in, the book still adheres to recent BOP continuity. And the Scott’s art is consistently fine.
Daredevil #107 (****): Someone finally stands up to Matt and it just happens to he the feisty AND sexy, Dakota North. Luke Cage makes an appearance too, but we already knew how sexy and feisty he was. Greg Rucka just might be the mo-fo to turn this book around.
Dreamwar #2 (***): Still don’t know what’s going on… no, I have some ideas: Silver Age DC character that may not actually be the real deal? Are these the “dreams”? Green Arrow dies and they don’t seem too broken up about it, what does that mean? Who the hell is “Chimera”? My biggest problem with this book is its intended purpose. Why this story and why now. Is it just an old-fashioned crossover? It’s okay if it is. We have enough of the other kind already.
G.I. Joe #35 (**1/2): The Devil’s Due swansong. The plot: Cobra Commander wants to blow up the world. Why? Huh? I was enjoying this final arc till Commander got all crazy with it. Oh well, just one issue to go.
Ultimate Spider-Man #122 (****): Thought this one would be funnier. It was in reality quite violent. Disturbing even… the way Shocker tortured Peter with Peter not uttering a single word for more than half the issue. Chills. Bendis took the long-standing joke that is the Shocker and flipped it on its head. Nice one, dude.
X-Factor #31 (*): It’s finally over. Good riddance shitty Arcade story.
X-Men: Divided We Stand #2 (****): Well, not as good as the first issue. The Moonstar story dragged and the Magik one left me feeling “meh”, but I enjoyed the heck out of the other three stories.

Review: Ghost Rider #20

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Ghost Rider, the little engine that could, hit twenty issues this month and to celebrate we get a brand new creative team: Jason Aaron and Roland Boschi. Aaron’s claim to fame is a little known Vertigo title named Scalped. Now, I don’t read Scalped, but after this issue of GR, I may have to pick it up in trades. Boschi reminds me of a looser Eduardo Risso (100 Bullets) and while some of the art was kind of scattered for my taste, once I got into the story’s flow I was able to put it out of my mind and enjoy the ride.

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