Top 5 Best Comics of January 2010

I read 17 comics in January, and these were the best.

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Review: Kick-Ass #6

Kick Ass #6

(***1/2)

I like this comic. I know it’s gotten a lot of flak, most of that is probably due to Millar’s hype. Oh, and it’s already becoming a movie, which is also lame. Now, whenever Big Daddy talks, I can’t get Nicholas Cage’s voice out of my head, and that’s a bad thing. Still, I actually do care about the characters. Yes, it’s not high-brow entertainment, but it is entertainment. It brings out the fifteen-year-old in me. The part that wants to bitch about movies and comics (What adult would do that?). The part that can relate to doing anything to get a cute girl. The part that wants to go out, dressed in all black and wearing a hockey mask, and beat the shit out of some assholes.

As you can tell from the cover, this issue features the origin of Big Daddy and Hit-Girl. It’s all pretty standard stuff, with Millar himself admitting as much through his character: “This guy was Frank fucking Castle.” Millar also makes this gruesome duo extreme conservatives, spouting lines like: “The dictionary definition of a Democrat? A fucked-up prick who will march for the right to murder babies, but hold candlelight vigils for serial killers.” This issue also contains a classic Millar cliffhanger. It’s a bit predictable if you’ve been paying attention to solicitations, but still appreciated. So, I’m a fan of Millar. I enjoy the fact that he points out his own unoriginality. I enjoy the pop culture references and the realistic touches. Hell, I even enjoy little things, such as Hit-Girl setting up name tags for Kick-Ass and Red Mist. And don’t forget, folks. John Romita Jr. kicks ass!

Bruce Castle Presents: Millar vs. Johns!

Wolverine #70

Wolverine #70 (*****)

Okay, this story isn’t going to change the medium. This issue features a “twist” that I saw coming and you probably will too. But that doesn’t stop this from being one hell of a good time. This book rarely comes out (We get the next one in March I believe), but every time it does it’s on the top of my stack. This thing isn’t even in continuity! I should be waiting for the trade! But I don’t care. I experience so much joy whenever I see that “Old Man Logan” tag. Who knew the elderly could be so pleasing? As I said, the Shyamalan twist isn’t that great, but Millar executes it brilliantly. Better yet, he doesn’t dwell on it. The story progresses and we even get a cool last-page-reveal. Of course, as I’m sure even Millar knows, this book wouldn’t be anywhere near what it is without the art team. Steve McNiven, Dexter Vines, Morry Hollowell, I salute you. I’m sure you fine people are responsible for this book’s delays but take your time. I’d rather have Wolverine out twice a year than a rush job. If you aren’t reading this book now, you’re missing out on some wonderful euphoria. Oh well, you guys can still enjoy the trade that comes out next year. Oh, and I love the chosen puppet master behind this issue’s scheme.

Kick Ass #5

Kick-Ass #5 (****)

So, do we all agree that the name, Mark Millar, is synonymous with lateness now? Good God, it’s been like five months since the last issue, right? I had to reread the previous four to get up to speed. Oh well, I can’t really hate this book too much. Although I will say that the bit Millar wrote about the comic coming before the movie is bullshite. This issue’s delay is supposedly due to JRJR’s involvement with drawing the animated movie sequence, but I suspect that isn’t the only thing this new movie has influenced. So, last issue we were introduced to Big Daddy, the character Nicholas Cage is playing. Now we’re introduced to the Red Mist, the character McLovin is playing. It seems like the Red Mist gets a lot more screen time than he was supposed to. Anyway, let’s just say I’m really annoyed that the movie and the comic are being produced at the same time. As for the actual issue, there’s not much to say. If you have loved this book like me, then you’ll probably enjoy this. Millar provides some interesting and funny stuff and JRJR makes things pretty. Can we have the next issue a little quicker this time?

Green Lantern #36

Green Lantern #36 (****)

Must I talk about the lateness in every damn review?! Is this the price I pay for quality? I guess, but what happened here DC? Wasn’t Shane Davis supposed to draw this? Then Doug Mahnke was shown as the artist on the DC website. And now that we actually get it, Ivan Reis is the on the book. WTF!? Shouldn’t Reis be working on Blackest Night? Oh well, Reis, as always, brings the goods. Seriously, I don’t care what you think of Johns, the pictures alone should do it for you. And boy does Reis get to show off this issue. We get to see the Red Lantern world, the Blue Lantern world and the birth of a Pink Lantern. And Reis isn’t the only one who deserves praise. Nei Ruffino, the colorist, also shines as you can imagine. Green, red, blue, he’ll have you wondering if you’ve picked up a Hulk comic by mistake. Hell, even the letterer, Rob Leigh, gets to have fun. That’s right, even the word balloons are outlined in green, blue, and red. This book looks fantastic and Johns continues to build his wonderful cosmic epic.

Justice Society Of America #21 (Variant Cover Edition)

Justice Society of America #22 (***1/2)

And so Johns and Ross’ incredibly long epic concludes. Seriously, this has been about a year and a half in the making. Is it as good as it should be? No, but it’s an entertaining conclusion to a story with limitless potential. I think the main reason for my disappointment is the fact that I failed to realize who was writing my comic. This is Alex Ross and Geoff Johns, these guys live in the past. They, Ross especially, try to tell the same stories they loved as a child. This method is fantastic for kids, but will inevitably leave the rest of us wanting. This is our traditional battle finale. We’ve gotten all that sappy emotion out of the way which makes room for some big combat between the Gods and the men. The fighting ends after some humorous banter and demise of the JSA’s foe. Now we have to get rid of all that Kingdom Come nonsense. Again, KC Superman’s potential seems a bit wasted. Sure he punched a lightning bolt and all that jazz, but for so long he just seemed to blend into the background. Although I will say that Ross, who actually did draw some pages, did give the hero a fitting farewell. I think this review makes it seem like I disliked this issue, but I really did enjoy it. I liked the arc itself even more. Still, as I explained, I can’t help but feel a little sad.

Spoiler Review: Kick-Ass #4

Like last time, this review is gonna be filled to the ass with spoilers, so… click links at your own risk!

First, a recap… (it has been, like—two months since the last one?!?)

Okay, so when we last left our hero, little Davey was about to—SLAYAGE!!!

The mask, the pre-pubescent body, the swords, the blood, the ###ING Masterlock securing the cape—this chick is creepy as ####!!! Dudes, the killing goes on for FOURSOLIDPAGES. If I saw this girl massacre a roomful of dealers and prostitutes, I’d barely manage to keep my undies clean (and I would probably fail at that), much less have the presence of mind to string words into thoughts like little Davey here.

Alright, I know I just said how much this “Hit-Girl” creeps me out, but L@@K! Look how pretty JRJR makes this page! That’s comic book mastery, folks. I’m convinced, as much sadistic fun as this has been—and it has been tons of fun, obviously—it would not play half as awesome without John Romita Jr. on the art chores. No doubt in my mind about that. Millar, you lucky ####er.

And now, a list of cool shit—flavor, if you will—conventions flipped on their heads, if I may:

+Kick-Ass inspires the masses.
+Kick-Ass also loves the “gay drama”.*
+In Mob towns, real super heroes are not famous.
+The “good guys” don’t let you go after you spill the beans
+…they ####ing KILL YOU!
+…and then LAUGH about it!!

So, there you have it, yet another exciting issue of blood and mayhem. Based on the scans I’ve shown here, you might be under the mistaken impression that issue #4 is all filler, and no killer. You’re wrong, douche! It’s nothing but killer, blind bastards! Oh, you’re asking about the plot. Well, the plot moves, it surely does… slowly… like an iceberg… but it does move. What we get instead (GORE! VIOLENCE! SHOCK!), it’s well worth it in my opinion. Seriously, #### the plot. Seeing JRJR illustrate this shit is the real treat.**

*If you have to ask why this is on the list, no explanation will convince you.
**The same could be said about that much maligned Hulk series, one would think…

Bruce Castle Quickies 2

4 stars = Stop reading review and go buy now!!!!
3 and a half stars = Great issue and make room on your trade shelf someday soon
3 stars = Recommended and maybe even trade worthy
2 and a half stars = Recommended
2 stars= Not the best, not the worst, not recommended
1 and a half star = Terrible issue and vocalize your disgust at your next social event
1 star = Awful awful awful and you may want to consider dropping this title
0 stars = Next con you attend where the writer and/or artist are present you should throw this issue in their face

 

Kick-Ass #3– I’m pretty sure this book isn’t for everyone, but man do I love it! It’s intriguing that for a book that references pop culture so much and seems to almost be an autobiography for Millar (only you know, without the gore), the book seems so fresh and original! There is lots of good stuff in this issue, including a cool and bloody twist. I’ve always been a big JR JR fan, these images please as well. It’s nice to see his art in a new environment. Lots of gore and even some boobs in this issue! 4 stars

Punisher War Journal #20-Fraction said that this was the arc he was most proud of in his work on this book. It’s also supposed to be his last. It isn’t as good in my opinion as his earlier work on this book. I’m still not enjoying Chaykin’s art. It’s not even close to as good as Ennis’ current run on Punisher Max. It’s still an entertaining book though. There are some cool action sequences for sure. I just wish it was as good as the first 12 issues or so. Fraction started co-writing this with Rick Remender a few issues back, I think that combined with the crappy art is what’s  dragging the book down. A reluctant 2 stars

Secret Invasion #3-This is probably the best issue in the series so far. The story progressed nicely, we got some nice Bendis dialogue and a cool last page reveal. It seemed to be too quick of a read which is surprising considering it’s a Bendis book. I’m still under the impression that this is another example of a great idea mishandled. It doesn’t seem to be as great as it should be. Oh well, still 5 issues to go, I’ll pass judgment at the end of the series. 3 stars

 The Boys #19-Another solid issue from this series. This is the start of a new arc and in typical Ennis fashion there isn’t a lot of action but it is still an interesting story and some good art from Robertson. If you like conspiracy theories this issue is for you. 3 stars

Brit #6-This has been a decent book. It reads like Kirkman, it looks like the art featured in Kirkman books, it features a Kirkman character, but brother it aint Kirkman. Basically, if you like Kirkman books like Invincible, Astounding Wolf-Man, and Tech Jacket (they make a brief appearance in this issue), then this book is probably for you. If you don’t like those books well….. 2 stars

Invincible Iron Man #2-This is another good issue. Fraction gives Iron Man a fun, snappy and intelligent narrative laced throughout the book. There is some action, some laughs and some good art from Larroca. This book features a new take on an old villain, a guest appearance by Thor(handled much better here than in Thor#3 in my opinion) and some more Stane! If you’re looking for a book that has the feel of the movie, this is as close as you can get. Much better than Viva Las Vegas for sure. 3 stars

Spoiler Review: Kick-Ass #3

Wait, doesn’t this come out tomorrow? Well, Mark Millar and Michael Horwitz, over at Marvel, were kind enough to provide PDF previews of Kick-Ass #3 to any review blogs that asked. Obviously, your man Billy Z. was all over that shit. Also, this book is apparently two months late? I don’t normally pay attention to releases schedules, since I pre-order from DCBS everything is late to me. Late or no, I’ll let the book stand on its own merits and judge it in that loose way you’ve come to expect.

This review is going to be filled with spoilers, so… click the links at your own risk!

10,000-ish views is a bit low, yeah?

Bad-ass version of the Star Wars kid? That pretty much describes anyone who isn’t the Star Wars kid. Poor bastard.

YES! Where are they?!?

Honestly, I did not see this coming. The bit right before this, where the girl of his dreams is nice to him all of a sudden was ten tons of conventional dreck. I’m glad Millar did something interesting with it.

A little peek into Millar’s early life?

This seems a little too “real”, but I’m willing to let it slide. I’m sure this is all part of the set-up for when, you know, Kick-Ass gets arrested and sent to County where some big bruiser of a man-queen pops his cherry.

See, I keep asking myself this same question. The answer is: “Get my ass kicked times infinity, unless…”

Kick-Ass gets his ass-kicked… times infinity.

WAS NOT EXPECTING THIS! Well, I was expecting that level of violence, the permanent kind, but not in that way! This is the only answer to the question that was raised earlier. This is the only way the plot will escalate.

WHAT THE FU–!!!

WHO THE FU–!!!

Well, that was definitely worth the wait. This series continues to impress and surprise me. The specter of cliché looms large, but every time it appears as though Millar is about to lose that battle, he zigs instead of zagging and all is saved. If you can’t tell, yes, I love this book!

Thanks again to Millar and Horwitz for making this possible.

Foilball’s Review Roundup #2

Rating System:

5 Stars: WARNING: May Cause Head Explosion.
4 Stars: A first read!
3 Stars: Read it when you can.
2 Stars: Give it away when you’re done.
1 Star: BURN IT!

Gravel #1 (***1/2)

Gravel01 

Gravel is the story of William Gravel, Combat Magician. His previous exploits can be found in the various Strange Kiss/Killings trades by Warren Ellis and Mike Wolfer. The basic premise of the character and the ongoing series is this: There are 7 Major Magicians in England and there are 7 Minor Magician Detectives. Gravel is one of the Minor ones. Believing Gravel to be dead, a new magician was promoted to the Minor 7. Now, a rogue element within this fraternity is causing all kinds of havoc and conjuring up some nasty shit, like this. Is that a lizard penis? Anyway, I wanted to do a full review of this issue, but it’s basically just a lot of set-up and new reader stuff. This is fine. I’ve always loved the Gravel character, but hated what Ellis has done with him previously. Hated is a strong word, I guess I was disappointed that he hasn’t come up with anything more interesting than zombies and deep throat alien women. Okay, the body orchard idea was pretty cool. Anyway again, I’m super excited that we’re finally getting an ongoing Gravel book and Mike Wolfer isn’t doing the art (apologies to Wolfer). The first issue holds a ton of promise and I love the new artist. If you like SAS badasses mixed with magic, or you’re just an Ellis whore like me, Gravel may be right up your alley. Continue reading