I read 25 comics this month, and these were the best.
I read 25 comics this month, and these were the best.
I read 17 comics in March, and these were the best.
With March half over, I think now’s a good time for this list, yes? I read 17 comics in February, and these were the best.
Writing: Hulk has been one of the titles, like Captain America and Thor, that has operated within its own continuity. Well, that ends this issue with that “Dark Reign” tag slapped on the cover. Thankfully, it’s really not that intrusive. Norman Osborn has heard that the Hulk is truly gone, which is what occurred in Incredible Hulk #600. So, he sends Ares to get to the bottom of it. What follows is a done-in-one story that involves Banner’s revelation that the Hulk really is gone, Ares reporting back to Osborn, and the reconciliation between Banner and an old friend.
Art: Of course, there’s a bit of fighting involved, which is McGuinness’ specialty. You want vein-bulging, muscular people pounding on each other? He’s your man. However, there are a lot of quieter moments in this issue too, and McGuinness did a good job rendering those as well. Hulk is always a good-looking comic, and this issue is no different.
Final Word: Done-in-one stories are always refreshing in this comic climate. Did the overall story of Loeb’s run progress much? Not enough for my liking, but this is still a quick, gorgeous comic that’ll keep you entertained from start to finish.
June was a quick month, but July? July took forever, in a good way. Extremely eventful month for me. Hope you all had fun. Anyway, I read 22 comics in July, and these were the best. Oh, and, sorry, I haven’t written proper reviews for some of these because I was at Comic Con.
5. Secret Warriors #6
This ended a little more conventionally than I would’ve hoped, but it’s still a fitting conclusion to Hickman’s first arc. The characters are clearly defined, and, so, we actually care how this big battle plays out. Throughout this arc, this issue included, we’ve been treated to several twists & turns that really elevates this material. This is Hickman’s first foray into the world of super-heroics and he’s already delivered the Nick Fury series we’ve all been waiting for.
4. Detective Comics #855
Only two issues in and Rucka & Williams are collaborating brilliantly. The art services the story and vice versa. What we’re left with is one gorgeous, kick-ass comic! The only problem is that we still don’t have much connection with Kate, but, with this issue and the last, we’re getting glimpses of Kate’s origins. So, until that story is eventually told, we might as well enjoy the beautiful ride.
3. Invincible #64
Well, essentially, this was just a gory, knock-down-drag-out fight to the death. However, since we’ve had over sixty issues with Mark & friends, there was a large amount of emotion in this fight, both for the characters and the reader. And, credit to Kirkman, this was a pretty fun fight.
2. Ultimatum #5
I probably have a “Why Ultimatum Works” article in me somewhere, but I won’t write it. There’s no point. People are extremely prejudiced when it comes to Loeb’s recent work, and if I were to write such an article, it would be met with outcries about how stupid I am. Ultimatum was a necessary evil. The Ultimate Universe had grown too dull, too watered down, too similar to 616. If you aren’t going to give the Universe a proper reboot, presenting an Ultimate Universe in the style of Morrison’s Marvel Boy, isn’t this the next best thing? Oh, sure, it reminds us of the issue of Radioactive Man when he and Fallout Boy get killed on every page, but have we ever seen anything like this before? The tragedy is quick and brutal. The genuine shocks are plentiful. And, really, this comic is packed with the imaginative stunts that couldn’t be seen in a movie. Whether you love it or hate it, Ultimatum #5 one of the most memorable comics in years.
1. Batman and Robin #2
In two issues, Morrison has established a new Batman, a new Robin, new villains, even a new, more colorful Gotham, and he’s done so with professional ease. You’ll find no lengthy exposition here, just fresh and exciting adventure. And, of course, Morrison’s longtime collaborator, Frank Quitely, has helped tremendously in breathing new life into this franchise. His style is already radically different from what you saw in All Star Superman. It’s looser and more energetic, which has helped in rendering some incredible fight scenes in this second issue. This is one of the most likable comics on the stands, and the best comic in July.
That’s my list. What’s yours? Oh, and let’s keep that Ultimatum feedback to a minimum, shall we?
Why am I even reviewing this? You already know if you want to read this or not, right? Either you’re reading it and hopefully having fun, or you dropped it after the first issue, and then you took that first issue, lit it on fire, and threw it at someone you didn’t like. I didn’t get arrested for throwing a flaming comic; so that makes me one of the ones who is reading and enjoying this series.
Is it great? Hell no! In fact, there’s even a line in here that is borderline racist. Nick Fury actually talks about how much he loves Roscoe’s. Yeah. That’s a little messed up. But you better believe that this issue included more death, more shocks, and more of that lovely David Finch art that takes ever so long to produce. Although, to be fair, Finch just had a kid. So, maybe that is what’s slowing him down.
If you’re one of the few who is waiting for the trade, let me clue you in on what this series is. Something terrible has happened to the entire world. Absolutely devastating. And, quite literally, every issue is packed with the deaths of ultimate versions of the characters you love. I’ve even heard this comic compared to a snuff film. Now, does that mean Loeb doesn’t care about the heroes? Maybe. Or, did he have to discard these characters to further deviate the Ultimate U from 616? Quite possibly, as well. And, really, if you had to get rid of everything that came before, this is a fun and unexpected way to do it. It’s kind of like, “What if heroes faced logic?” Something happens to Angel in this issue and, considering Angel is just a human with wings, it’s completely realistic. So, enter at your own peril, trade-waiters. If you’re open-minded enough, looking for a good time, you should have it.
Oh, lord. This comic will upset people. It shouldn’t, but it will. As I’ve said several times, Loeb is writing a modern Stan Lee comic, full of bombastic action, corny lines, cool stunts, and fun. This is, as I’m sure Loeb will agree, fun fluff. It’s not hurting or helping anyone, just trying to entertain. As someone who reads about 20 books a month, I feel these types of comics are necessary. They’re a good, quick ice-breaker.
Something about that upsets people. I don’t know why. If you were upset when Rulk punched Uatu (Rulk even mentions that in this issue, a bit of a wink to the reader), you are going to be steaming after this. As you may or may not have known, Hulk died last issue. What? You didn’t hear about that in the news? No, because we’re dealing with a cosmic game of chess between gods. Anything can happen, and I do mean anything. Rulk pushes the limits of what he can achieve. Oh, it was also revealed that Rulk can absorb energy. That’s why he’s so powerful.
We’ve been promised the big Rulk reveal in the next installment, Incredible Hulk #600. I’ve thought for the longest time that Rulk is this guy. We get a lot of clues in this issue:
Rulk has known Hulk for a long time
Hulk left Rulk with a broken heart
Hulk made “us all suffer,” said Rulk
I haven’t read a lot of Hulk. Anyone want to piece that together? Anyway, get your fluff where you want to, but with the zany antics and the beautiful art, Hulk isn’t a bad place to get your fluff.
Perhaps this is your first time visiting read/Rant. If it is, please look around. Just hit that Frank Cho art at the top of the page. Even if you don’t care for my reviews, there are others who post their opinions. So if you have never read one of my Hulk reviews before, it may surprise you that I don’t hate the book. What’s that? This is Internet; why aren’t I bashing Jeph Loeb. I know. It’s shocking. But I have to tell you, for what this book is, it’s a lot of fun.
The last comic I read was Alan Moore’s From Hell. A much better comic than Hulk, but a much darker and dense read as well. What a breath of childish glee this comic is. Jeph Loeb, the worstest horrible icky man ever, according to the Internet, is channeling his inner Stan Lee in this new arc. It’s kind of a remake of Contest of Champions. We got the setup last issue, so naturally we get an all-action smash party here.
The Defenders have been plucked out of time, fighting for their loves, while the Offenders are a bunch of jerks. Basically, if you’re tired of all the darkness that now plagues our superhero titles (I’m looking at you, Dark Reign), this is the book for you. It’s jam-packed with splash pages, groin hitting, and twists that would make M. Night Shymanalan squeal. Oh, and did I mention that this is the book Ed McGuinness was born to draw? So if you’ll let it, Hulk can be a hell of a good time.
Ha! Hulk was the best comic that came out this week! Who would have thought? Now, Hulk, as I’m sure you already know, is not a book for everyone. It’s the real Silver Age throwback that everyone thought All Star Superman was. Hulk is very much a modern Stan Lee yarn. Lighthearted, goofy, and undeniably fun, Hulk proves that comics can still be entertaining without the need for darkness and nihilism. Instead of Jack Kirby, we’re treated to Ed McGuinness’ delightfully bombastic art. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, McGuinness is a perfect fit for this book! I’m happy to say that in this arc, it appears Loeb has made room for several splash pages. I think they’re trying to set a record. There are at least four two-page spreads in this issue alone.
Are you ready for the zany plot? It’s a cosmic duel to the death of course! The omnipotent Grandmaster and his devious brother are having a galactic chess game. The good Grandmaster selects Hulk as his champion. Hulk has his choice of teammates and he assembles the Defenders! How does that fit into continuity? Well, when the gods want to play, they can make anything happen. All of these champions are snatched at the very moment of their greatest tragedy. How’s that for motivation? The heroes are fighting for love, but what are the baddies fighting for? We don’t know yet, but we do know that it’s the villainous Offenders we’re supposed to boo. We don’t see much battle yet in this opening chapter, but don’t worry, the game is all set and the fists are ready to fly!
Wow, what the hell is it with Loeb? He inspires so much fanboy hate! I read this issue once and I had a blast. Then I talked to some friends and whah whah bitch bitch! So I read it again. The fiasco in question? Hulk got his ass handed to him by Power Princess. Okay, a little weak right? But think, Power Princess=Wonder Woman. Maybe even more powerful actually. Remember Ultimate Power? Squadron Supreme vs. Everybody! This Power Princess seems to at least be more vicious than our current Wonder Woman. So Wonder Woman sucker punches Hulk in the face. Hulk fights back and eventually gets cut on the arm (Wonder Woman has awesome axe and shield). Hulk smashes back on shield and does hurt Wonder Woman.Wonder Woman then punches Hulk in the balls and knocks him out with one last giant punch. Now c’mon, it’s a bit silly, but not very. This is comics people! Anyway, it didn’t bother me much.
Here are ten reasons to read this comic:
1. The Ed McGuinness art!
2. The Marko Djurdjevic art!
3. Hulk doesn’t have those stupid tattered pants!
4. Hulk naked (If you’re into that kind of thing)!
5. Naked Hulk has money somehow!
6. Hulk gets laid!
7. Hulk gets laid!
8. Hulk gets laid (Is that enough?)!
9. Hulk gets laid (Now it’s enough)!
10. This comic is tons of fun! Nuff Said!
New Avengers #48 (***1/2)
Ok, so if you’ve read my other reviews you’ll know that I didn’t like Secret Invasion. I disliked the New Avengers issues during that time and I liked that recent Dark Reign one-shot even less. But this issue was good. First off, Billy Tan has drastically improved, He’s soared above mediocrity and he assures you that he’s worthy of being featured in Marvel’s flagship title. The objective of this issue should have been to establish the new team, wrap up all the SI nonsense, present an intriguing future for our heroes and possibly a twist or two. Bendis accomplishes all of that, mostly. Yes there’s another damn Skrull (Can that be the last time I type that word please?) and I’m still not sure about my enthusiasm towards this book, but this issue was satisfying enough. Bendis uses “Talky Room” again (Description of that here) and he introduces his new team in a fun way. The new lineup is the five dudes on the cover (Big surprise) plus her, her, her and her. Jaw-dropping? No, it’s pretty much who’d you expect. And the big twist in this issue? Luke Cage sells out to you-know-who. So, it was a good issue, but will I stick around post-4 bucks? I don’t know.
Ultimate Spider-Man #129 (****)
This issue was great. It was an Ultimatum tie-in that was better than the main mini this week. But what did this have to do with Ultimatum? Business seems normal. There’s a bit of a big event in here though. It concludes with the cops with May wanting to talk about her relation to Spider-Man. That’s cool, but Ultimatum related? I don’t think so. Then again, Bendis did say that Spider-Man may not be Peter Parker after Ultimatum. Jessica Drew returns! The clone one not the Skrull (Damn it! Again!) one. Bendis loves him some Jessica Drew. Human Torch makes an appearance as well. The highlight of this issue of course is Bendis’ marvelous teenage dialogue. Well done again sir!
Ultimatum #2 (***1/2)
Say what you want about this book, but at least it delivers the goods. Well, it does in the death and WTF departments. The biggest problem here is the lack of emotional attachment. If you aren’t invested in these characters, you probably won’t care much. And if you do care, you may feel Loeb shows disrespect towards the beloved characters. The deaths in this issue? The Blob eats the wasp! Again, WTF! The last time I saw Blob (Other than possibly Ultimates 3. That series is a blur) was in Ultimate Spider-Man when it was revealed that he was Liz’s father. He was a sympathetic character, and now he’s chowing down on the Wasp and says “tastes like chicken”. Ok, that one I can’t explain, but I think I can with the next one. Magneto snaps Professor X’s neck! So that’s a WTF, but that makes sense in the Ultimate U. Magneto is much more evil there. He’s furious about the death of his children, but he’s also a vicious bastard. And remember, Prof did screw with Magneto’s mind earlier. So I kind of like this outcome. Both of them are willing to go to extreme lengths to fight each other. Oh there was one more death in this issue, but even I didn’t care much because it was Valkyrie. But we did get to see Ultimate Hela who’s an S&M nightmare (Must all the Ultimate Loeb characters be so “modern”). Thor went to Valhalla and Cap was there too?! Oh noes! Is Cap dead?! Oh and it was a bit annoying to see events I already know the outcome to because of those recent Fantastic Four issues. Why must Finch be so slow? Oh well, he did another great job here. But have the boobs on his women always been this BIG?
See? Was Finch always that…Cho? Anyway, Ultimatum continues to be a violent shocking cleansing of the Ultimate U. I just wish there was more substance to accompany all that flash.
Hulk #9 (****)
And speaking of Frank Cho, it’s his last issue of Hulk, for now. Reviewing this book is silly. Almost as silly as the book itself. You either love it or you hate it. And if you haven’t read it or even to those who hate it, this is basically a modern Stan Lee book. The comedy, the zany ideas, even the great art. It’s satirical people! Multiple Wendigos! Wendihulk! Sentry and Moon Knight talk about going to the same shrink! It’s a lot of big pretty dumb fun. Next issue? It’s Defenders vs. Offenders! Nuff said!
Hulk #8 (****)
I have so much fun reading this comic. Art Adams and Frank Cho kill this book. And Loeb’s writing is exactly what it’s supposed to be, enjoyable. I still think this is his way of poking fun at what he dislikes about comics. So the Red Hulk is called Rulk right? And so many haters including a friend of mind say “So is green Hulk Grulk?” Check out the recap of this issue, “Mr. Fixit (Fulk? Grulk?)”. C’mon guys the silliness is intentional.
Ms. Marvel punches Fixit and takes out the power!
Pretty Lady, Sheet Face, and S-Man fight green Hulk!
But what about the Wendigos?
“The Lady Liberators. For when you absolutely, positively have to liberate the @#$% outta something.”
Abe on Mount Rushmore is collateral damage!
Tigra, Spider-Woman, Storm, Black Widow, Invisible Woman, and Hellcat join the party! Cho draws more pretty women! Oh yeah!
Ultimate Spider-Man #128 (****)
Ok, this was pretty cool. I still think this arc was a little weak, but it ended nicely. So this issue begins the way the first one in the arc did. Cool. Aunt May has a giant Dirty Harry gun?! Really? Aunt May also has heart problems. Do I smell an Ultimate One More Day? We get more video game nonsense. Which is what this arc was really about I guess. That’s a big part of what’s crappy about this arc. So I guess Gwen Stacy is “alive” again? And this issue ends the same as the first one in the arc, but with a big twist. Will this be in Ultimatum or just the Spider-Man tie-ins?
Ultimate X-Men #98 (****)
An Ultimatum tie-in! And a bunch of stuff happens! In one issue, William Stryker is introduced, reluctant about fighting mutants, and by the end he kills one. Am I the only one who’s disappointed when Ultimate characters are the exact same as their 616 counterparts? I guess Kurt and Allison did “die”? So Rogue is kind of evil now? Don’t do drugs kids. The identity of Ultimate Vindicator is revealed! Ultimate Juggernaut is alive and it’s no big deal? Wasn’t he last seen as dead in that annual or am I forgetting something? Sabretooth and Juggie are not in the best strip club in the world. Those girls aren’t even topless! Oh but it does give an excuse to see Rogue half naked. Vindicator is already the Guardian? I told you a lot happened in this issue. Oh and again, Mark Brooks draws really pretty pictures.
Ultimatum #1 (***1/2)
Jeph Loeb’s name is synonymous with good art. David Finch handles the art chores here and it’s nice to see him on interiors again. It’s even sweeter to see Finch return to the Ultimate U. But the art isn’t ever the problem in a Loeb comic is it? Well, maybe in that Liefield one. What? Liefield sucks. Anyway, I actually enjoyed this. It’s the set-up issue and that requires a big bang and it has to leave me wanting more. Ultimatum #1 accomplishes both of those. The characters are handled well, better than you might expect, and there are even a few deaths, maybe? It’s that maybe that bugs me a little. See, when I first read this issue I enjoyed it quite a bit, but after flipping through to write this review I had a few questions. That’s not a bad thing since this is the first issue, but one of these days I want to read a Loeb comic where everything is just spelled out. Oh well, at least this isn’t a murder mystery.
Invincible Iron Man #7 (****1/2)
Ah, the fun before the storm. Matt Fraction mentioned something about the next arc being a “Born Again” story. So naturally, this is the entertaining breather between arcs. But Fraction makes it more than that and proves once again why this book is so awesome. Spidey and Iron Man team up again! But this is a post-Civil War team up, are you interested yet? How about the fact that this issue references an old New Avengers story? With humorous results of course. You might also be pleased because Fraction doesn’t treat Tony like some kind of God like other titles do to their heroes. Iron Man is a flawed character. Anyway, the point is, though this appears to be an overdone concept, this issue is unique. Fraction continues to write the hell out of this book.
Anita Blake: The Laughing Corpse #2 (****)
It’s a little hard reviewing an adaptation of a book, especially since I haven’t read the book. I can say that if you have ever thought about reading Hamilton’s series, but either you don’t want to deal with all those words or you want to look at pretty pictures, you should give this book a shot. It’s an interesting take on the whole monster world (Vampires, zombies, ghouls, etc.) and it seems to be one of the more “girly” books that I read. Anita Blake is a badass chick that is actually a really interesting character. I’m not a Buffy fan so it’s possible that some of this stuff might feel familiar. On the other hand, if you like Buffy, it’s very possible that you’ll enjoy this. Lastly, I’ve always been a fan of Ron Lim’s art and he provides some fantastic visuals.
Ultimate Spider-Man Annual #3 (*****)
This was the best issue of Ultimate Spider-Man in a long time. This series has been a bit disappointing lately with the new Venom arc, but this was a refreshing return to greatness. I’m sad that Mark Brooks wasn’t providing the art. I actually thought that Brooks would have made a better replacement for Bagley. Lafuente does a decent job though. He has a super cartoony style that mostly works well here due to the large quantity of laughs. That’s right folks! USM is hilarious again! That’s what was so great about this issue. It wasn’t the action or the new Ultimate character (It’s a villain. I won’t give away any more. It will remain a mystery until you read it), it was the high-dose of laughter and those oh so lovable teen moments. Peter and MJ talk about sex (There I spoiled something, happy?)! Hey! What did this have to do with Ultimatum? Unless that new villain is the reason, I have no idea why this was an Ultimatum tie-in. Oh and I loved that moment when the girl dressed as 616 Spider-Woman screams “Embrace change! Embrace change!” So awesome!
Ultimate Captain America Annual #1 (***1/2)
I don’t know, but I think Ultimatum might actually be pretty cool. First off, this is such an awesome teaser.
C’mon! How can you not be excited after seeing that!? Anyway, this wasn’t really a Captain America comic. It was really about Black Panther. It’s pretty much his origin and then it explains how he got to Ultimates 3 and such. I don’t know if Loeb just had to get his bearings or if it really was intentional that most of Ultimates 3 seemed so off. At first, it was like Loeb had never read an Ultimates book, but in the last installment of Ultimates 3 and again in this issue, you can tell the man knows his stuff. Continuity is thrown at us in a totally accessible way. I rarely get to see Marko Djurdjevic on interiors, but he provides some stunning work here. There is also a new Ultimate character and the usual Loeb humor (Fury uses a Hulk cutout shooting target. Ha!). This comic is mostly about explanation, but it does plant some seeds that I’m sure we’ll see pop up like daisies soon.
Hulk #7 (****1/2)
We get two stories!
What Happens in Vegas: Art Adams! Multiple Wendigo! Joe Fixit! Moon Knight! Ms. Marvel (hubba-hubba)! Sentry!
Hell Hath No Fury…: Frank Cho! She-Hulk! Valkyrie! Thundra! Maria Hill! Rulk!
Jeph Loeb still continues to write for his artists. What can Art Adams draw well? Monsters! So we get multiple Wendigo and Joe Fixit (Moon Knight, Ms. Marvel, and Sentry are a bonus)! What can Frank Cho draw well? Women! Particularly strong muscular women with tree trunk thighs and that’s exactly what we get. Oh, and of course there is a changing scene as well. So, this book looks amazing! It’s also funny and entertaining. That makes me happy.
Thor: The Truth of History (***)
There’s no school like the old school. This is written and drawn by Alan Davis. Davis has a very Silver Age style of both drawing and writing. If you’re looking for some classic Thor that’s new, this is it. Davis provides superb art and the story is fun enough. Oh, the Warriors Three are in here too. Something that did infuriate me is that in the description of this issue, Marvel promises that this will change things forever or some damn thing. Unless I missed something, I’m going to call BS on that. And that’s the main problem with this book, who cares? It doesn’t really matter and I’ll probably never read it again. It’s good, but at 4 bucks in this economy, you can probably pass.
Recently in the comments section of this post, I brazenly asserted that Batman, by Grant Morrison & Tony Daniel, fails as a monthly comic reading experience. Basically, I feel the plot is too convoluted or complex for easy monthly digestion, although I’m sure it’ll go down very easy in trade.
So, what makes a good monthly comic? A couple of things:
Comics that put “character” first!
Comics that tend to focus more on character than plot are inherently more readable as monthlies. When jumping into the middle of a six issue arc, its character that pulls you in and fills in the holes. With the exception of Fantastic Four, every comic on my list stars a single character.
“Done-in-One (or two)” Stories!
There’s no need to wait for the trade if each arc is only 1-2 issues long, right? Again, this type of story goes well with character writing. Since the plot isn’t required to sustain itself for 3-6 issues, it can be pared down and used primarily as a vehicle to reveal the titular hero’s character. Batman and Zatanna team up to stop the Joker!?! Reading that story you find that it’s not really about catching the Joker as much as it’s about developing Bruce and Zatanna’s relationship. Also, without really sacrificing the overall plot, these “done-in-one” stories can be framed like TV episodes that when viewed over an entire season combine to reveal a hidden master plot. Think Buffy, Heroes, etc… As many of us know, it can be very intimidating for a new reader to jump onto a book with a long running story, so hiding the plot in this manner is a great way to eliminate that intimidation factor. It also allows the writer to integrate sub-plots with clearly defined conflicts into the background that can be slowly developed and brought to the forefront at a later date, as Mark Millar does in Fantastic Four.
Cliffhangers that punch you in the face!
I mean, does this one really need explanation? There are quite a few comics (many on this list) that use the “final page splash” to great effect in almost every single issue. The rush you get from experiencing these in a floppy is much different than when experiencing them in a trade. Actually, it doesn’t even come close.
Getting that “OMG I can’t wait for next month!” Soap Opera feeling!
Of the four I’ve listed here, I think this last one is probably the most important (although it is very closely related to the Cliffhanger thing). For me, it’s the most important factor in deciding whether or not to wait for the trade. I ask myself, as many of you probably do, “Can I go more than a month without reading about BLANK?!?” If you answer “NO!”, then you obviously have a great monthly in your hands!
With the pretentious explanations out of the way I present to you, in no particular order, my “Top Ten Comics That Work Best as Monthlies”:
ACTION COMICS by Geoff Johns & Gary Frank
I could NEVER read this comic in trade; I just love the characters too much! And the cliffhangers are the epitome of punch you in the face. There haven’t been many done-in-ones in the Johns run, but that’s okay, since at least half the comics on this list barely utilize that comic book storytelling device. But Johns does love the sub-plots, wherein he writes some of the best (or, THE best) character moments in comics. CONS: More done-in-ones would be nice.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN by “The Spidey Brain Trust”
With the exception of the current arc, “New Ways To Die”, Brand New Day has been nothing but 1-, 2-, and 3-issue arcs filled with character, character, character… the Soap Opera mojo has been strong. Because of the weekly shipping schedule, the Spidey team has been using the last page splash to great effect. CONS: Actually, maybe there are too many characters? Sometimes it gets confusing.
CAPTAIN AMERICA by Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting & Luke Ross
All of the above? Without all the little Bucky character stuff, I would not be enjoying this book as much as I am. It’s funny, but to me, most issues of Captain America feel like single issue stories set in an epic tapestry whose true significance won’t be seen ‘til Brubaker ends his run. It’s one long, ongoing story that excites me month in and month out.
DEADPOOL by Daniel Way & Paco Medina
We’re two issues in and I’m in love. For now. Plot? What plot? If you’re looking for a story, you’re in the wrong place, duder. This is all about Deadpool. That’s it. Do you need to read issue one to understand issue two? Hell no! Enjoy the funny!
DETECTIVE COMICS by Paul Dini & Dustin Nguyen
Current master of the 1- or 2-part story (yeah, yeah, I know the RIP tie-in breaks the rules). Reading Detective for the last two years I remember more about Bruce sex life (obv lack thereof) than I do the details of any of the stories. And to me, that’s awesome writing. Dini has made Bruce likable. This is new, folks. Bruce Wayne as an actual character in comics? Not since pre-DKR, I would think, have we seen the identity of Bruce Wayne written as a real character. Ah no, I disagree with you, Morrison’s Wayne is a flimsy piece of cardboard. Maybe he had something at the beginning of his run, but fleshing out Batman’s alter ego took a back seat to RIP setup long ago, maybe around the time Adam Kubert left the book. Anyway, yes, Dini isn’t writing Batman, he’s writing Bruce Wayne as Batman. And there is a difference, and that difference is quite refreshing.
FANTASTIC FOUR by Mark Millar & Bryan Hitch
The character stuff is lacking, but the sub-plots, cliffhangers and OMG moments make this a top of the stack must-read. Here’s a recent review that reads more negative than it actually is.
GRAVEL by Warren Ellis, Mike Wolfer & Raulo Caceres
The way the current arc is framed, it works wonderfully as a series of single issue stories filled with scenes exploring the character of William Gravel. Oh, you know what? Thank God Ellis finally got around to fleshing this guy out. Gravel started life as a boringly hollow SAS thug who starred in a series of idea-driven minis. In those minis, there was never anything particularly exciting or compelling about the Gravel character and the fact of the matter is, I probably only read them because they were written by Ellis. Now, under the watchful eye of Mike Wolfer, I really grown to like this guy and each month I can’t wait to read Gravel’s next adventure. Shocking. That’s good stuff, brother.
HULK by Jeph Loeb & Ed McGuinness
INVINCIBLE by Robert Kirkman & Cory Walker
Ever since the #51 reboot, this book has been one of the most anticipated monthlies in my stack. LOVING IT… happy now, Bruce?
JACK OF FABLES by Matthew Sturges & Bill Willingham
Awesome title character? CHECK!
Outstanding sub-plots? CHECK!
SOAP OPERA?!? TRIPLE CHECK!!!
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.
This, despite the awfulness of the last four issues, was a fairly decent comic. In fact, without actually going back to reread the last four issues, I will tentatively say that issue #5 of the Ultimates 3 “mayhaps” redeems this mini-series, if not Jeph Loeb’s entire comic book writing career.
Whoa. Did you read that right? FYI, I also liked Hulk #6.
Ultimates 3 pays off story threads originally setup by Millar way back in Ultimates 1, namely the Ultron subplot. I love me some Ultron, perhaps that’s why I’m satisfied with the way this story ended… I just kind of wish he’d gotten to the point of it all 2-3 issues sooner. But, it’s a mystery and this is how these things go. Confusion follows confusion followed by more confusion and then BOOM! Startling revelations! I’ve been watching a ton of Thin Man lately. I know things.
To his credit, Loeb doesn’t make us wait until the end for the recap-revelations, he feeds it to us within the first couple of pages:
• Ultron replaced the Ultimates body snatcher style with android duplicates!
• The Scarlet Witch’s murder was a crime of passion… gross.
• The butler did it! (serious lol’ing right there folks.)
• Captain America was the Black Panther THE WHOLE TIME! (Well, this isn’t really explained but I’m sure Loeb’ll get to it in the forthcoming Ultimate Captain America Annual.)
• Dr. Doom was behind it all?!? (Does this mean Doom is involved in Ultimatum? I may have to revise my Celestial theory.)
• Somehow, The Wasp stopped being Asian!!!
Plain and simple, this was a fantastically enjoyable read. We got answers and they were satisfying. To me, at least. Oh, there’s War Machine! And Quicksilver dies! That was sweet. And Hank redeems himself! Okay, sort of. Cap still hates him but apparently the Wasp is ready to get remarried to the schizophrenic wife-beater. Crazy broad…
…why is Janet always written this way? Why can’t she be a real person? This sexist “ditzy dame” garbage just doesn’t cut it anymore, Marvel writers. Maybe you guys could learn a thing or two from the guys over at DC who know how to write female leads. Strong women are WAY sexier than damsels. Anyway…
How does this story sync up with Ultimatum? I don’t know, but all of a sudden I’m excited about it! Also, does anyone else think that the planned/cancelled/rescheduled Ultimates 4 is actually Ultimatum in disguise? Or was this announced somewhere already? Am I behind the curve?
Just about the only thing that still bugs me about this version of the Ultimates (my problem with Janet doesn’t count since she’s written that way in ALL versions of the Avengers) is the characterization of Hawkeye. LAME. I understand the guy has a death wish. Fine. But Loeb has him acting more like a spoiled brat than a man on the edge. Make him desperate, but not too desperate. Cut the melodrama, dude. It’s unnecessary.
Oh, and the art looks better. But the coloring still sucks. DCBS sent me the “Ultron Variant”, which I have to say as a fan of all things Sci-Fi/Horror kicks the crap out of the regular cover. “Terminator” Cap is the complete filth, do you not agree?
Ultimates 3 was lame and stupid most of the time, and in no way lives up to the epics that preceded it, but it was also fun. It was the “ultimate” funnybook. I think that above all else (including pretentious pretendering) shouldn’t comics be fun?
Ultimates 3 #5 (***1/2)
Yes, I liked this issue. I’m not so sure about the rest of this series since the first issue came out in December, but I think even the haters should give this a try. The March On Ultimatum tag has been on Ultimate books for a long time. Until recently, I didn’t have a clue what that event was going to be about. In this issue however, you can actually see what’s going down. If you were annoyed by all the Loeb mysteries, you’ll be pleased to know they’re all wrapped up nicely here. I can’t remember enough to tell if these twists were predictable or not, but I was entertained. I was even impressed when some of this stuff goes back to Ultimates 2. I was about to complain about how long it took for this series to finish, but I remembered a few things. Ultimates 2 took even longer to come out and this is Joe Mad we’re talking about, it’s a miracle the book took less than a year to finish. Speaking of Joe Mad, I like his art and it’s nice to see his work on some interiors. Everything resolves, the art is pretty, it’s entertaining, and the stage is set for Ultimatum.
Ultimate Fantastic Four Ultimate X-Men Annual #1 (****)
The fun continues. The art isn’t as pretty as the first part, but Nguyen and Peterson create passable work. It’s interesting how many people worked on just two issues. Two writers and four artists, seems a bit packed but that’s how the story is. This would easily be a six issue arc in the hands of less talented writers. The story is entertaining, but we’ve seen it many times before. So it works as only two issues long. It’ll be interesting to see if we’re looking at the post-Ultimatum Ultimate universe in this book. The story concludes leaving that a possibility, but probably not kind of thing. These annuals have proved to be entertaining What If type reads with some in-continuity growth of the characters, what’s better than that?
Ultimate Spider-Man #126 (***)
Please Bendis, write better. It’s very uncomfortable when USM isn’t good. Mediocrity may be as common as dirt in a lot of comics, but when you have a series where 80% of the issues are good-excellent things seem a bit off. The majority of this issue is the symbiote fighting people while Peter screams inside. It works as an attempt to make the fight scenes seem unique for a few pages, but after the fifth or sixth “HUUUNNNGGRRYYY!” and “No! Please!” I was bored. When you have an issue that relies so heavily on combat, the art needs to be great. I’m not a big fan of Immonen but he does produce good work here. Sadly, it’s not enough. However, the ending is intriguing and the fights are mildly enjoyable so I do recommend it. I just hope this book returns to the level of excellence that I know it’s capable of.
Sooooo, Hulk #5… let me first point out that when I’m wrong, I’m more than man enough to admit it, but this is not one of those times. The current Hulk series is still incredibly entertaining and magnificently drawn. These opening panels were cheesy fun, and fit well with the established tone of the series. I also loved the panel where Hulk kicks the helmet off Thor’s head. All said, the series has been great stuff so far.
The following RANT will have nothing to do with story direction or tone, and will not contain complaints about Jeph Loeb’s quote unquote talent. What I want to discuss is simple: LOGIC.
Does the idea introduced here by Mr. Loeb make sense to anyone? How about this one?
Pulling and Zero gravity? Do we buy this? C’mon! WHAT THE ####, MAN!?! This is some of the most asinine stuff I’ve ever read. Everybody knows how Thor’s hammer works, and BROTHER, it does not work like that! Pulling something, for all intents, is the same as picking it up. And the space thing? NO ####ING WAY. It’s a magic hammer, Loeb, it doesn’t follow the laws of physics!!! If the enchantment says that “none but those that are worthy may lift this hammer”, than that’s exactly what it means. No pulling! No Zero-G! And definitely no swinging it over your head and propelling yourself through space!!!
I can understand Loeb trying to be clever. That’s fine. It shows initiative. It shows that despite popular opinion, Loeb actually cares enough about this book to get creative. I like where his head’s at. But, #### dude, this was a dumb shit of an idea. Where was the editor on this one?
I lied, I do have a nit to pick (obviously, I don’t consider logic to be a nitpick). It’s dialogue related:
Thor refers to his hammer as “My Mjolnir”, and the problem with that is that Thor would never use the possessive. He would just say “Mjolnir” because there’s only one! It’s not a collectable with an edition size! They made one, and it belongs to Thor. The corrected word balloon should read: “What kind of beast are you that you do not fall before Mjolnir.”
Again, besides all that, I’m still loving this book. “Suck it”, haters!