Top 5 Best Comics of October 2009

The end of the year is coming fast! I read 17 comics in October, and these were the best.

5. Detective Comics #858

JH Williams III, arguably the best artist in the biz, and Dave Stewart, arguably the best colorist in the biz, grace Detective Comics’ interiors. Those two are literally a dream team. Yes, Rucka can’t quite produce a script that can match their ability, but who can? Morrison can’t write everything. This issue dips a toe into Kate’s origin, building off of last arc’s twist. Kate’s story is simple and adorable, which spirals into terrible tragedy. Rucka’s writing is strong, reminiscent of his Queen & Country days, but it’s the aforementioned dream team that really gives this issue an emotional punch.

4. Hellboy: The Wild Hunt #7

After last issue’s startling revelations, The Wild Hunt is steamrolling towards its conclusion. This series has indeed changed Hellboy. Hopefully, this doesn’t mean the series is ending. Fegredo’s Hellboy is strong, as always. He’s with Mignola every step of the way, as this issue brilliantly illustrates the core nature of Hellboy’s character. He’s always trapped in a cyclone of destiny, fighting with every breath to do good.

3. Invincible Iron Man #19

As the solicitation reads, “Everything ends.” At last, Fraction’s year-long epic concludes. Unfortunately, Larroca is still around. So, this issue doesn’t look great, but only someone like Larroca could render a “year-long epic” in less than a year. With this oversized culmination, Tony’s heroism shines bright. He spends most of the issue lumbering around like the Hulk, with even less brainpower. And when he utters his last words of the story, we cheer.

2. The Walking Dead #66

The Walking Dead doesn’t have many two-page splashes, but when they’re used, they make for some of this great series’ best moments. Besides the general awe of Adlard’s work, and Rick’s terrifying words, “Hold him down.” What makes the image so effective is the shading of Rick’s left eye. Remember this guy? He’s the dark mirror of Rick. So, whenever Rick’s a bit of a bastard, I suspect we’ll see his left eye shaded a bit. Besides all that, this issue concludes the “Fear the Hunters” arc, Carl confesses, and another character dies. That all makes for one of the strongest Walking Dead issues of the year, if not the best.

1. Dark Reign: The List – Wolverine

Yeah, done-in-one stories rule this format, especially when they’re produced by Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic. Aaron, who channels the humorous, kickass writing you can see in his Ghost Rider. And Ribic, who abandons his usual, painted style in favor of kinetic linework, which captures the insane energy of this story perfectly. Aaron loves Grant Morrison. So, when handling his characters, Fantomex and Noh-Varr, it’s a labor of love. Aaron insisted that he wasn’t attempting to write like Morrison, but this is the best treatment these characters have received, since Morrison first wrote them. This comic is tons of fun!

For more comic goodness, go here.

Top 5 Best Comics of August 2009!

And the Summer’s over! Really? That…went fast. I had fun, though. Hope you all did, too. Back to school, kiddies! I read 20 comics in August, and these were the best.

 

5. Invincible Iron Man #16

Matt Fraction’s writing is absolutely top-notch. Yes, this story will read better as a whole, but our connection to Tony, Pepper, and Maria is so strong, it hardly matters. The only thing that brings this issue, and the entire series, down, is Salvador Larroca’s Greg Land-esque art.

My Review

4. Ultimate Comics: Avengers #1

Speaking of Summer, you like those blockbusters that accompany the season, right? Well then, this is the comic for you! Just some awesome-kickass, supercool fun! Mark Millar gives it to ya, and Carlos Pacheco makes it look pretty. This opening salvo features a bombastic helicopter fight and a terrifying new villain.

My Review

 

3. Secret Six #12

Like my previous selection, this too is filled with action and good times, only with more twisted villainy. But this comic also has character and soul, and that counts for a lot. This is Jeannette’s issue to shine, and I think she blinded me. Carlos Pacheco’s beautiful interiors certainly contribute to UCA’s placement, but you know what? I’d put Nicola Scott up against Carlos Pacheco any day. Yeah, you read that right.

DC Lebeau’s Review

 

2. Batman and Robin #3

Holy hell, Batman! This series just gets better and better! The first and second issue topped my list in their respective months, and it’s only by some Marvel miracle that this one didn’t. Since I don’t have a proper review of this issue, I want to go over a few things:

Professor Pyg’s “sexy disco hot.” Who else had this song in their head?

Any guesses on who was watching Alfred? Could it be the same person who spied on Bruce & Jezebel all those issues ago?

Awhile ago, DC said, “Scarlet isn’t who you think she is.” That was a damn lie, and I’m pretty sure Red Hood is who you think he is too.

Seventh Soldier’s Review

 DD_POSTER_graficos

1. Daredevil #500

A phenomenal conclusion to what turned out to be a great run. Brubaker did DD proud, and definitely cast away Bendis’ shadow. On top of that, you get a great short story and a reprint of possibly the best Daredevil comic ever! Yeah, I’m pretty sure that this isn’t just the best comic in August, it’s the best Marvel comic of the year.

My Review

For more comic goodness, go here.

Review: Invincible Iron Man #16

 

Writing: “World’s Most Wanted” Part 9. This issue is all about that Tony/Pepper/Whitney confrontation that started last issue. The Black Widow and Maria Hill get a bit of screen-time too, with Maria dealing with the trauma inflicted in an earlier issue and Natasha trying to figure out what’s going on. Now, since this is Part 9, you may get the feeling that this story is dragging on. I can assure you, it’s not. What Fraction has done with this arc, and it’ll be more apparent in its conclusion, is present three completely defined characters. We’re deeply invested in the future of Tony, Maria, and Pepper. Because of that, this issue has quite an emotional punch.

Art: Salvador Larroca is a lot like Greg Land, isn’t he? They both have a cold, computerized look. They both have a few celebrity faces in their character-designs. And they both render some stiff-but-pretty images. At least Larroca’s figures tend to be more anatomically correct. So, if you’re a fan of Greg Land, you’ll love Salvador Larroca. If you’re not, I don’t think Larroca’s art will ruin the book for you.

Final Word: I was amazed at how emotionally attached I was to this issue. There’s humor here, and quite a bit of tragedy. Fraction also managed to showcase another one of Iron Man’s classic villains. We might be a bit too deep in the story now, but you should definitely check out “World’s Most Wanted” in trade. It’s a story worth reading.

Grade: B+

For more comic goodness, go here.

Review: Invincible Iron Man #15

Writing: This is part 8 of “World’s Most Wanted,” and it continues to chug along nicely. Though that “part 8” can be daunting to new readers, this comic is still completely accessible. If you don’t know, Norman Osborn desires the juicy contents of Tony’s brain. No, he’s not Hannibal Lecter; it’s just that Tony’s brain holds sensitive information that could lead to the destruction of all his superhero pals. Tony’s solution? He’s slowly deleting his brain. Since we’re past the halfway mark, Tony is really struggling now, tugging at the heartstrings of everyone, including the fan that chanted for Iron Man’s death during Marvel’s Civil War.

Art: Larroca’s strongsuit is drawing all of the machinery that one usually sees in an Iron Man comic, but this issue doesn’t really have a single bit of that. Fraction continues to focus on the characters, and on this “Flowers for Algernon” reminiscent tearjerker, that means plenty of tender moments, that, frankly, Larroca just can’t handle. However, to my surprise, Larroca’s art didn’t bother me that much here. A backhanded compliment, for sure, but my point is, I hope Larroca can keep up the good work.

Final Word: Fraction continues to highlight the women of Iron Man’s life, while poor Tony is portrayed sympathetically. Could someone like Maria Hill or Pepper Potts ever take the place of Tony Stark? I don’t think Marvel or the fans would allow it, but Fraction is proving that both women are strong, heroic characters, worthy of putting on the suit. Fraction is telling a fantastic story here that’s completely accessible to fans, old and new.

Grade: B

For more comic goodness, go here.

Review: Invincible Iron Man #14

And we’re past the “World’s Most Wanted” halfway mark. That’s right. This arc is going to be twelve issues long. I can still remember it all, though, and that’s always a good thing. Fraction’s opening issues were used to tell a self-contained jumping-on point for new readers, riding high from the movie’s fumes. Since then, Fraction’s Iron Man has been knee-deep in Dark Reign, with a few continuity references as well. Thankfully, thanks to the talent of Matt Fraction, I don’t think new readers will be lost, and it’s one of the few Dark Reign tie-ins that is above-average.

In this arc alone, Fraction has turned Invincible Iron Man into an ensemble book, taking Maria Hill and Pepper Potts along for the ride. I’ve never really cared too much about those women before, but you can bet I do now. Pepper has become a superhero, and a true one at that, since the only thing she does is help people. Her armor doesn’t even have weapons. And Maria is practically a female James Bond.

So, each issue, we see the slow progression of the three characters’ journeys. Tony meets up with an old Russian pal, Maria finds one of the few friends she has left, and Pepper? Well, Pepper always does the right thing, even if it is a bit naive. The pacing runs along nicely, and we never feel too overcome with exposition. As for Larroca’s art, I’ve complained about it enough. I will say, though, that the one part of this book’s look that bothered me had nothing to do with Larroca. The lettering in this issue is bad. All of the captions, for all three characters, are too uniformed, and when you throw in a narrator as well? It’s just a complete mess.

Thanks to three main characters, we’re chugging along a bit slowly, but almost every issue features new players, laughs, and plenty of fun. This issue is no different. The last page is a nice cliffhanger, even though it does feel a bit forced.

Grade: B

For more comic goodness, go here.

Review: Invincible Iron Man #13

Invincible Iron Man #13

(***1/2)

I love Matt Fraction’s writing. I don’t love Salvador Larroca’s art. I just don’t like his style. Don’t get me wrong, he renders machines wonderfully. If this series was about the suits, Larroca would be fine, but Fraction is writing about the characters. This story is about Tony, Pepper, and Maria. Each of those characters has their own distinct voice, and it’s a lot of fun to read about their adventures. But just to be clear, no matter how good Fraction’s writing is, Larroca’s art hinders this book.

On the bright side, I still love this arc. We’re only about halfway through, which makes this one of the longest Iron Man stories, but it will probably be one of the best. Besides handling the characters brilliantly, Fraction’s also throwing every villain he can at poor Tony. No matter how great or obscure, just about everyone who’s tackled the “Golden Avenger” is making an appearance. Some of the more obscure villains are getting modern updates, like the Controller. It’s always nice to see lame villains cause fear.

Invincible Iron Man is one of the few books right now that’s using the new “Dark Reign” status quo effectively. The fact that Fraction is able to pull off a great Iron Man story while servicing Marvel’s current event is impressive. Don’t let the Larroca art repel you, stay for the great characters.

For more comic goodness, go here.

Review: Invincible Iron Man #10

Invincible Iron Man #10 (Variant Cover Edition)

(****1/2)

Invincible Iron Man is Fraction’s answer to Brubaker’s Captain America. I finally realized that while gleefully turning the pages of this comic. Both writers reinvigorated old characters. Captain America’s personality hasn’t changed much in sixty years and was deemed boring by some. Iron Man was actually called a villain by more than a few fans after Civil War. But now, both titular characters have gained some respect.

What’s refreshing is that these issues are so great without the need for gimmicks or other flashy crap of that sort. Sure, some people disliked Steve’s demise, but at least it was done right. The new Cap was established well and is even more interesting than Rogers to some. Just like with Invincible Iron Man, this series has been hijacked by Dark Reign, but the story seems like a natural fit for the series. Every month I expect great quality from both books, I am rarely disappointed.

Review: Invincible Iron Man #9

Invincible Iron Man #9

(****)

Fraction continues to write the hell out of this book. It’s freaking fantastic! He’s bringing the Golden Avenger back in a big way. If you liked the movie, if you thought he was a dick during Civil War, or even if you love good comics, you should read this book. But I think you already knew all that. I want to talk about what you might not know in this issue.

Like all Dark Reign books, Norman Osborn, the new Skrull (In the sense that I will have to type his name an annoyingly large amount of times in the coming months), is the villain here. What’s funny is that this issue makes Dark Reign look far more interesting than Bendis’ comics have. Osborn is so terrifying. We are left chilled to the bone because someone that insane has so much power. Fraction achieves this in one damn page. Part of that credit goes to Larroca, but I’ll talk about him later.

This comic is special. I love the fact that the H.A.M.M.E.R. uniforms are green and purple. I love how Tony tricks Maria. I love the way Norman fights Tony. I love that the only combat we get in an Iron Man book is from Maria Hill. I love that for some reason we get a free five-page preview of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (It has beautiful Skottie Young art). I love this series.

Ok, about Larroca’s art. I’ve consistently complained about his work in this book. However, I’ve finally warmed up to him. I recently read an interview from Matt Fraction about what he thought of the photo-reference technique. He doesn’t like it any more than I do. It’s refreshing to hear a writer actually criticize his artist, right? Anyway, I always knew that I dug Larroca’s sci-fi look. His futuristic buildings, his armors and his gadgets all look fantastic. But Fraction demands more in his Iron Man. I still don’t like Larroca’s faces, but just about everything else he does is fine. I finally realized that this issue. He makes Tony’s whacky brain gizmo look cool. His fight scene was dynamic and engaging. So Mr. Larroca, I’m cool with you now. Although, did you make a continuity error in this issue? Maria clearly does not have handcuffs on the bottom-right panel of page 15. However, she does have them on page 21. What’s up?

Fraction handles these characters perfectly. He provides a selfless and heroic, albeit flawed, Tony Stark. Fraction has proved he is a master of mainstream comics with little action. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Bruce Castle Presents: Matt Fraction Books Unite!

Large Cover of Uncanny X-Men #505 (Villain Variant)

Uncanny X-Men #505 (***)

Do we really want this man writing the X-Men?

I think it’s official, Brubaker has left the building. Did Fracker break up? I don’t know, but that picture is awesome. And Tony was right. Anyway, I feel sorry for this book. It’s become Marvel’s answer to JLA. One of the terrible things about the current JLA is that the book has to keep servicing other books. It spends too much time talking about events that it can’t tell its own stories. That’s exactly what Uncanny X-Men is. This issue spends so much time talking about X-Force, and M-Day, and Astonishing X-Men and now Dark Reign. Fraction only gets a few pages to tell the stories he wants to tell, but it has little impact. It barely makes sense! The Dodson’s continue to impress and the fact that this book isn’t terrible demonstrates Fraction’s ability as a writer. Please Marvel, give the man some freedom!

Large Cover of The Invincible Iron Man #8 (Villain Variant)

Invincible Iron Man #8 (****1/2)

Everything about this book is perfect. Except the art of course, Larroca can’t draw people. I know I know it’s Iron Man, but this book is about the characters. It’s not about the iron. Although the few panels involving technology do look sweet. It’s still amazing how Fraction manages to write this cast so well. Tony, Maria and Pepper are so lovable even though they’re definitely human and flawed. You know what else is in this issue? Comedy! I’ve said a thousand times but I’ll say it again, if you liked the movie you’ll enjoy this. Last thing, Osborn is the new Skrull. It’s only been two weeks and already I realize how much I’ll type the name Osborn in the coming months.

God-Sized

Thor: God-Sized #1 (****)

The writing is great. The art is great. There are four art teams working on this thing and yet they’re all pretty cool. I enjoyed the part three artist the most. It was very old-school, cartoony, and fun. So this is a quality issue, but I’m sure a lot of you will ask, “What’s the point?” It’s a tribute. Along with the 38 new pages, you’ll also receive a reprint of the classic Thor #362. Walt Simonson had one of the best runs on Thor ever. It easily rivals the Lee/Kirby era. But you know what? You can’t even get a trade that contains Thor #362. They were reprinted in trades but they’re sold out now. That’s why this issue is important. If you haven’t read Walt’s run, it’ll let you know what you’re missing. If you have read his run, you’ll quickly be reminded how great it was. The reason why I loved part three so much was because you got to see all the classic Simonson costumes, Balder in his armor, Thor with his beard, and so on. Of course this issue isn’t all about Simonson, it’s also about Skurge. He was a tragic and important part of the Thor mythos. I highly recommend this issue.

Bruce Castle Presents: Marvel’s Multiverse!

Ultimatum #1 (of 5)

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

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 Vampire Hunter Laughing Corpse #2 (of 5)

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.

Bruce Castle Presents: Screw Technology!

Invincible Iron Man #6

Invincible Iron Man #6 (****1/2)

After only the first arc, Fraction has proved himself to be a fantastic Iron Man writer. He has a great feel for the character. He shows just the right amount of love without detracting from a major part of Tony’s character, he is flawed. I’ve complained about Larroca’s art several times, but he does a fine job here. Just like last issue, there is a lot of fighting going on and so Larroca’s weaknesses are not as easily seen. This was a strong opening arc, so strong in fact that Fraction has already helped out with the Iron Man 2 film. If you’ve ever thought about reading Iron Man, now is the time. It looks like we’re in for a few fun issues and then Fraction supposedly has a big “Born Again” arc for us. I can’t wait.

Action Comics #870

Action Comics #870 (*****)

I think we all knew how this was going to end. The covers gave it away, the little moments with Ma and Pa gave it away and even the media gave it away, but that doesn’t detract from the arc’s power. This Brainiac story has been fantastic and this was a hell of an issue. You will experience such a wide range of emotions within these pages. I believe I’ve praised his work in every review but I’ll do it again, Gary Frank’s art is amazing. He hits all the right notes whether the scene calls for humor, fear, or sadness. Johns’ writing is fantastic as well, but he seems to get more love than Frank. I think one of my favorite things about this issue is what causes the death. Brainiac’s motivations are so human and primitive. Gary Frank won’t be on this new Krypton arc but I hope he comes back. With this and All-Star Superman, 2008 is a great year for Superman.

Bruce Castle Presents: The Amazing Iron Man!

Large Cover of The Invincible Iron Man #5 (50/50 Meinerding)

Invincible Iron Man #5 (****1/2)

Ezekiel Stane wears a shirt that portrays Captain America’s skull and beneath it says “TONY WAS RIGHT”. That’s one of the many little extras that Fraction packs into each issue of his Iron Man run. It’s turning out to be a hell of a first arc. Fraction puts his own unique spin on each of the characters and even manages to prominently feature his own original creation, the aforementioned Ezekiel Stane. If you felt a little bored with all the talking last issue, you’ll be pleased that there’s a lot of fighting in this one. The armor clangs and the tough talk is believable. Last issue I complained about Larroca’s art, but I did say he could draw the armor well. So, because of the shiny combat included, the issue looks great. Fraction manages to create an amalgam of continuity wank and new reader friendly material that should please everyone. The finale is shocking and contains a bit of poetic justice. I don’t believe what appeared to happen on the last page is possible, but I certainly wasn’t expecting it. This series continues to impress.

Amazing Spider-Man #570 (****)

This arc is half over. It’s the point when you can usually tell how you’re going to like the story. I’ve enjoyed the previous two issues, but they weren’t very special. Romita’s art is gorgeous and I like Slott’s style. Both creators handle Spidey extremely well and the addition of the Thunderbolts is a plus. But it was nothing more than a slightly above average tale with some laughs and pretty art. That’s not such a bad thing, but villain copycats like the ridiculous Menace and the new Anti-Venom detracted from the stories’ quality. However, after reading this issue, I’m starting to think that New Ways To Die will be better than I once thought. Sure, we have copycat villains, but we have the originals as well. Slott creates fascinating encounters between these baddies which I’m sure will continue. The issue contains a lot of a quality action and an ending that leaves me wanting more. Thankfully, I’ll satisfy that want in only of couple days. This arc isn’t the most original nor is it required reading, but it’s fun, well-written, and did I mention the awesome John Romita Jr. art?

Bruce Castle Presents: The Golden Avenger

 

Invincible Iron Man #4 (****1/2): I always love comics that prove that you can have an entire issue sans action and still walk away satisfied. It’s no easy task, but Fraction manages to pull it off with ease. Fraction definitely knows how to write an Iron Man comic. Sure he’s flawed, but he also does things like buy a multi-billion dollar soda empire just so he can distribute vaccines to third world countries. The issue is filled with lovely character moments and the scenes involving Tony and Reed Richards and Tony with Pepper Potts are particularly well done. The main complaint I have is with Larroca’s art. I think his Iron Man looks great, it’s very impressive. But he handles the characters incorrectly. His character’s fail to convey the necessary emotions. This flaw is highlighted in this issue because this one is all about the people. Fraction is definitely the main attraction here and he’s writing some of the best Iron Man issues I’ve ever read. If you liked the movie or if you’re an Iron Man fan, this is a must read series.

Iron Man: Viva Las Vegas #2 (**): I love putting these two books together to review. The aforementioned Invincible Iron Man book is very similar to the recent Iron Man movie which is a good thing. And then you have a book produced by the people that made the movie and it’s very different which is a bad thing. Lateness aside, I almost didn’t pick this book up because the first issue was so disappointing. It was more than disappointing, it was just plain bad. But I gave it another shot because I’m such a big fan of the creative team. I try to be a positive guy so let’s start with the good stuff first. Well, it’s better than the last issue. The dialogue is much better (No more “leaping lizards”!), and Foom is in the issue which is nice. Granov’s art still impresses me. Does everyone look too perfect? Yes, but it’s still pretty to look at. Okay now onto the bad stuff. Favreau’s writing strength is in his dialogue which, though much better than last issue, still seems a bit off especially when compared to the movie.  Something that fascinates me is that this comic follows the movie continuity less than Invincible Iron Man does! There is a scene when Tony has to buy a honeymoon suite (ha ha?) just to change into Iron Man. I think the next two issues will be better, but I’m off at this point. Invincible Iron Man and this book were released at the same time and Invincible has had four issues to Las Vegas’ two. Who knows when the fourth book will come out? Also, this comic has fewer pages than Invincible has and it’s a dollar more. But I love Iron Man, I love Foom, and I’m a fan of both Jon Favreu and Adi Granov, so I’ll probably buy the 20 dollar HC when it comes out but until then I’m out.

Foilball’s Review Roundup #41 – MARVEL! MARVEL! MARVEL!

1985 #3 (****1/2)

So far, of all the Millar projects, this one has me the most excited. It’s just really ####ing good. The real live people actually sound like real live people, unlike in say, War Heroes. I love the sinister way the villains of the 616 Marvel Universe are just killing people. M.O.D.O.K. fulfills his function as “killing machine” better than he ever has in regular continuity by forcing a whole mess of townsfolk to drown themselves. And the plot just keeps turning and turning, revealing new layers every issue. Like, obviously this has happened before right? Based on the dad character’s reaction to it. Perhaps his old comic buddy had (or has?) something to do with it? And this issue’s double page spread made me laugh out loud, but in that good comic book way. Dudes, forget Kick-Ass and War Zeroes and Old Man Eastwood and all that other shit, 1985 is DA STONES!

Foolkiller: White Angels #1 (****)

Two questions: Who is this Greg Hurwitz guy and why is he so awesome? I’ve really been enjoying his fresh take on the Foolkiller concept, and now that we got the origin story out of the way, Hurwitz opens up the world a bit more. Punisher next issue… continuity between the MAX books? Seems like a neat idea seeing as how Hurwitz is writing the first Punisher arc after Ennis leaves the book next month. The thing I most like about this new mini is how much it reminds me of what Brubaker is doing with Criminal. You know, jumping on the other side of things and giving us a peek at how the dysfunctional elements of society live. I’m going to switch to trade for the next mini, these seem to read best that way, but I’m going to enjoy the hell out of this violence-fest till then.

The Invincible Iron Man #3 (****1/2)

Iron Man, Thor and Casanova; these are the books that remind me how awesome Matt Fraction can be. Iron Man? New favorite, baby! Why? It’s simple. Matt Fraction is writing Iron Man to be Marvel’s Superman. SUPERMAN. Don’t believe me? Check out this sequence…

 

 

Take away the armor and replace it with invulnerability and super strength. Swap the boot jets for super speed. Lose the tracking gadgets and throw in some super hearing. Oh, and, Pepper Potts morphs into Lois Lane and what have you got… DING! Superman. And another thing, Fraction has so seamlessly blended movie and comic continuity, that it doesn’t even bother me that much (anymore) that the “Invincible” Stark is so different from the “Director of S.H.I.E.L.D.” Stark. Anyway, it’s awesome. ‘Nuff said.

Quick Hits:
Eternals #2 (*****): The Knaufs!!! Doing it again! These guys are sooooo good I want to sploodge all over myself after finishing one of their books. Ahh…
Guardians of the Galaxy #3 (***1/2): D&A have yet to WOW me with the book, but that’s not to say it’s poorly written. I can feel them building to something epic, but I’m just not sure what it is yet. Hmm, maybe that shocking final page is a clue? Magus, anyone? Oh, and enough with that damn debriefs. They’re funny, and I’m sure I’d be okay with them if they hadn’t been used so poorly in The Order. Bitter much? Just a little.
Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. #31 (***1/2): This fill-in continues to do an adequate job, but this is definitely not the quality we’ve come to expect from this title. From the hokey to the clumsy, the dialogue is easily the most obvious weakness. After this arc we get an SI tie-in starring War Machine and then hopefully, the Knaufs come back?
The Last Defenders #5 (***): I’ve been enjoying this book, till this issue that is. Color me ten shades of confused? I think Casey bites off more than he can chew with all these pseudo-science explanations.
Punisher War Journal #21 (*): Matt Fraction and Howard Chaykin? PLEASE LEAVE! When does Remender’s solo run start?
X-Factor #33 (-): Everyone else has bashed this enough. It’s bad.
Young X-Men #4 (*): Wow, great reveal, Guggenheim. Too bad I stopped caring two issues ago. Heh, bet you wish you’d actually written Cyclops as a Skrull imposter, aye?

Bruce Castle Presents: American Icons

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

Action Comics #867– This is part two of the Brainiac arc from Geoff Johns and Gary Frank. Frank is still knocking the artistic ball out of the park. We’re still getting that old school sci-fi feel to the book and he even gets to draw Supergirl this time. The emotion his characters convey is astounding! It still seems like a simple story to me, but it’s simple and sweet. Perhaps I’ve been reading too many books that feel like you’re standing at ground zero in some major disaster. I’m looking at you Final Crisis. It’s nice to get a simpler tale filled with seemingly real characters that emote and communicate while still having the time to unfold a story. We get a bit less humor in this issue and more action. It’s a fair trade, but I do admit I certainly do enjoy some humor in my comics. There are a few pages without dialogue, but the issue ends on a cliffhanger. The story is being told a bit slowly, and at first I contemplated whether the content was worth the price of admission. But after reviewing it I found more than enough moments that informed me, more than enough stunning panels, and more than enough enjoyment. I definitely enjoyed this book.

3 and a half stars

Captain America White #0

I’d like to first if I may, comment on this issue’s content and price. It’s a bit odd to see an issue 0 priced at 3 bucks. In fact, this book was originally supposed to be priced at 4 bucks with more packed in there. I currently hold in my hands an issue that contains 17 pages of story and 15 pages of an interview with Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale and some original sketches of the book’s covers for all 6 issues. We get about 5 or so pages less than a usual 3 buck comic and actually one page more than we get in the one dollar Conan issue 0. But we also get 15 pages of “extras”. So just to inform you guys, if you’re looking for story in here you may be a bit disappointed. If you like reading interviews and looking at sketches, then you’ll be all good. As far as the actual story in here, it was pretty standard stuff. It was a decent origin setup and actually covered a lot of time at least in what little pages there were. I thought that most of the series was going to be about this stuff. So it gives me hope that maybe we’ll get quite a lot of good stuff in a full-size issue. The very last page of this comic was a bit disappointing. It seems issue 1 isn’t coming out until winter. So why the heck are we getting this like 4 months or so ahead? That was a bit weird to me. Tim Sale’s art looked pretty good. It’s still his usual unique style, but it looks aged and fits well with this 40s yarn. Jeph Loeb’s writing isn’t as bad as people may expect either. It was a more than adequate book and I actually did enjoy the interview stuff. Still, it seems a bit too pricey.

2 stars

Invincible Iron Man #3– I think I’m really warming up to this now. The first issue was a bit shaky and the second issue was really good, but I think I’m really starting to love this stuff. The story is a bit weak. We’ve seen the AIM splinter groups quite a lot and the villains aren’t all that menacing, but there is still a lot to love. It really feels like a true Iron Man book. The dialogue is snappy and the characters are all handled with care. We may not agree with their actions or beliefs, but we understand them. I think Fraction is doing a great job grasping the tone of the highly successful Favreau movie, while still telling his own story in his own style. This is the perfect book for those who either love Iron Man or found yourself enjoying the movie and feel like stumbling into your local comic shop ready for some stories about the Golden Avenger.

3 and a half stars

Iron Man Legacy of Doom #4

And so ends the tale that was old-school, zany, well-written, well-drawn, and above all else fun! I loved the first two Doomquest arcs. They are probably two of the best Iron Man stories in my opinion. I feel that Iron Man and Dr. Doom are two of the best Marvel characters and it was fantastic to see them together involved in a great story. I was hoping that this story would live up to its predecessors and would be able to stand proudly adjacent to that Doomquest hardcover on my shelf. I think that mission was accomplished. The only complaint I have about this book was the somewhat goofy villain, but then I remembered that this is an old-school tale and we tend to forget there was a lot of zany villains in our superheroes’ past. He still serves as a device to get the two armor glad individuals to stand together and fight side by side against overwhelming odds. These two iconic characters are treated with the best of care and their most admirable qualities truly shine. We are reminded of Doom’s moral code and how at times he isn’t that bad of a guy. And it’s always awesome to see a bad ass fighting on the side of the angels. We also see Tony, a character who is at times morally compromised especially as of late, demonstrate an act of true nobility despite being doubted. I’m a big fan of Iron Man and it’s nice to see him act like a hero again.

4 stars

Foilball’s Review Roundup #22 – Iron Man Edition!

I haven’t been feeling right since the near flooding of my street last week, hence the no Origin Stories or Planetary Series Review (or if you follow my other blog, no new Invulnerable pages). Add to the not-rightness the fact that I waited till the last minute to complete a couple of work projects, means I’m stressed and more than a little tired. I don’t want your pity, I just thought it would be thoughtful of me to explain my laziness and the down and dirtiness that will soon follow this epic paragraph of the whine.

The Invincible Iron Man #1 (*)

Not a good couple weeks for Iron Man… in the comics at least. Obviously, the movie has been doing tremendous business at the box office. Well, Marvel was prepared this time. Released during the movie’s fist week at the B.O., The Invincible Iron Man is meant to hook new readers stumbling into their local comic store, high off their asses on movie adaptation. Good news for those folks, especially if they liked the movie, this comic has more in common, continuity-wise, with the movie than it does with the post-Civil War Marvel Universe. I don’t normally consider myself a continuity stickler (shit, I know a lot of stuff but that doesn’t mean I don’t welcome change, mo-fo!), but I hated this book. This book has nothing to do with the current depiction of Tony Stark in the pages of Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. or the Avengers books. Sure, sometimes it’s nice to have multiple POVs on a character, but in this instance its way too jarring. There seems to be a pattern forming here… Punisher War Journal is trash compared to the MAX Punisher as well. Isn’t Fraction writing that pile? Other stuffs that sucked:

1) Suicide bombers using Stark-Tech… this is not a new idea.
2) Tony Stark sleeping with hot chicks… not too bad, its way worse in “Viva”.
3) Tony Stark considers having a drink in his caption boxes… WHA?!?!
4) Dum-Dum is alive and not a Skrull… ok, ok. I can let this one go.
5) Yet another AIM splinter group… KILL ME NOW!
6) Jim Rhodes wearing the wrong armor… ARGH!!!!
7) Pepper Potts… too forced. Matt Fraction Ihateyoudie.
8] Matt Fraction, you are not Warren Ellis.

The only idea in this book that wasn’t stainy was Stane. Him, I like.

Iron Man: Legacy of Doom #2 (***)

Oh, God… what happened? The first issue was so much fun! Oh, that’s because Doom was actually in that one! WTF Michelinie?!? I don’t give a flying monkey shit about Iron Man fighting his lamely rendered demon father! I want witty/funny/entertaining/awesome Doom/Stark banter! Fix please! Less FAIL!

Iron Man: Viva Las Vegas #1 (**)

…which brings us to the disaster that is Viva Las Vegas. Wait, disaster is too harsh. The art is great, isn’t it? You know, the dark haired tattooed beauty on the cover reminds of a girl I know… maybe I’ll give the book to her and tell her Adi Granov used one of her pin-ups as photo reference. Heh. Anyway, we’re in Vegas and Tony has lots of sex. WOOO. And then some lizards attack and Pepper Potts is acting all lame and lo and behold, Fin Fang Foom is the villain of this piece. Don’t care. Hmm, now that I think about it (really, really hard I might add), Viva feels like Invincible’s issue 0. UGH. UGH, I said!

Marvel, why do you blow so hard? At least Viva is a mini, so I won’t have to put up with Favreau’s writing every month, but why oh why did you put Invincible in regular continuity? Why not simply publish that Ultimate Iron Man ongoing? God knows you’ve been dying to! I guess I could just stop buying it… nah.