I read 20 comics in February, and these were the best.
I read 20 comics in February, and these were the best.
I’m actually getting this thing out on time? It’s a Kwanzaa miracle! This is my list for the top ten stories of 2010! Woo hoo! Now, before we get to all the fun of me voicing my opinions and you disagreeing with them, I have to get a few rules out of the way.
1. These are the top ten stories/arcs/whatever. Not comic in general, not trade, but best stories (What can I say, I’m trying to be somewhat unique).
2. These are stories that ended in 2010. They could begin at any time, but as long as they concluded in 2010, they’re eligible.
3. I tried to keep the list as diverse and reader-friendly as possible. I love certain writers, but it would be boring if it was three Morrison books, two Ennis books, etc. So, a writer/artist will only appear once on the list. I tried to spread the love evenly. You will see Marvel, DC, and even Indies on this list.
Wow, with all those rules, how did I come up with a great top ten? Well, I hope I did. Anyway, let’s begin the fun!
I read 19 comics in December, and these were the best.
Damn it. I’m late again. I read 27 comics in August, and these were the best.
Twenty-two pages fills up fast. There’s no denying that. Action sequences often eat up huge chunks of a book, and you can only fit so much dialogue on the page before it becomes cluttered, not to mention how much of the probably excellent art you’ll be covering up by doing so. So, understandably, most writers will have their stories run in arcs, often using well over 100 pages to let it unfold. It’s not hard to see why, but the tendency to keep expanding the story is part of what makes it so rewarding when you come across a single issue that manages to not only exemplify what it is you so love about that particular book, or even comics in general, but that manages to do so with an impressive economy of storytelling. One Shot is meant to take a close look at why those issues work as well as they do, the way they do.
Still incredibly late, but I will catch up soon. I read 30 comics in June, and these were the best.
So incredibly late on these, but I will catch up soon. Never fear! I read 27 comics in May, and these were the best.
“Ultimatum”, “Dark Heart”, “Wake the Dead”
Better late than never, eh? This is my list for the top ten stories of 2009! Woo hoo! Now, before we get to all the fun of me voicing my opinions and you disagreeing with them, I have to get a few rules out of the way.
1. These are the top ten stories/arcs/whatever. Not comic in general, not trade, but best stories (What can I say, I’m trying to be somewhat unique).
2. These are stories that ended in 2009. They could begin at any time, but as long as they concluded in 2009, they’re eligible.
3. I tried to keep the list as diverse and reader-friendly as possible. I love certain writers, but it would be boring if it was three Morrison books, two Kirkman books, etc. So, a writer/artist will only appear once on the list. I tried to spread the love evenly. You will see Marvel, DC, and even indies on this list.
Wow, with all those rules, how did I come up with a great top ten? Well, I hope I did. Anyway, let’s begin the fun!
I read 20 comics in December, and these were the best.
5. Hellboy: Bride of Hell
Another classic Hellboy one-shot. Richard Corben, showing the whippersnappers how terrible they are, produces wonderful work that surpasses his Eisner-winning accomplishment on Hellboy: The Crooked Man. That alone makes this comic special. But, Mignola’s there too, providing a riveting, tragic tale.
4. Captain America: Reborn #5
This might as well be the conclusion of Reborn. We all know how it’s going to end. Even before Marvel ruined it, we knew. I’d rather have it end here. Sharon Carter in the hands of Red Skull. Sin destroying Vision with an Arnim Zola contraption. Crossbones, and his army of robotic killing machines, shooting the heroes. Red Skull, in the body of Steve Rogers, battling Bucky on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, while the Red Skull duels Steve in his own brain. This, rendered by Bryan Hitch and written by Ed Brubaker, is good stuff.
3. Astonishing X-Men #33
Ellis & Jimenez make larger-than-life superheroics look easy, when few books actually do it well. Fraction may be writing a great, diplomatic Cyclops over in Uncanny X-Men, but Ellis’ Cyclops is a bitter, war-forged mutant with the power of a nuke in his eyeballs. He cuts through a Brood-fused Krakoa like butter. Ellis provides humor, entertainment, and enough X-history to make the fanboys squeal, and Jimenez makes it all look pretty.
2. Irredeemable #9
Nine issues in and Waid continues to keep things fresh. This is extremism at its finest. Demons crawling out of mouths, villains hiding in friends, and “upgrading” used for torture, are just a few of this issue’s memorable moments. If Waid’s not commenting on Internet trolls, he’s commenting on the corruption of power. But, have no fear, there’s plenty of entertainment to be found. The subtext is just the icing on the cake.
1. Detective Comics #860
The final part of Kate’s origin feels more than a little Year One-esque, and Williams continues to give his best rendition of Mazzucchelli. We see the natural progression of Kate’s vigilantism evolving into so much more. Kate and the Colonel bond over the experience, which makes the issue’s Shakespearean conclusion all the more painful. Of course, Williams and Stewart, the best art team around, are the stars of the show, but Rucka pulls his weight and then some. With Batwoman at the helm, Detective Comics is, once again, the best comic of the month.
Welcome! As the decade comes to a close, just about everyone under the sun begins to bust out their BEST OF THE DECADE lists. Best books, best TV shows, best movies… well, we here at Read/RANT are nothing if not trend-followers-setters! So, with that in mind, and with a few weeks left in 2009, we bring you the first of three BEST OFs.
This decade was undeniably good to comics. Besides seeing old favorites like Grant Morrison, Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore return in some drastically new capacities, we also saw an awful lot of breakout talents. Masterpieces were produced. Internet outrage was shouted from the rafters over everything from implied rape in a Spider-Man comic to Final Crisis being strange. Both Hal Jordan AND Barry Allen came back to life, while both Batman and Superman left the planet. Marvel’s ULTIMATE line grew, flourished, weakened, literally drowned, and was reborn only months ago. Captain America became a vital character. It was, all things considered, a busy, crazy, wonderful decade of comics.
Who are our Top 10 writers this decade? Well, read on…
10. Gail Simone
Gail Simone is certainly one of the decade’s breakout creators. While her name doesn’t pull in the same numbers as a few other creators on (and even off) our list, her creative output still stands up to scrutiny. Simone’s stories tend to be a little quieter, a little smaller in scale, than many of her counterparts on the list, focusing instead on a bizarre, character-driven combination of humor – sometimes incredibly dark humor – and action. Books like Birds of Prey, Agent X and Secret Six perfectly exemplify these trends, attracting loyal cult fan bases and critical praise. At her best, Simone is capable of switching from laugh-out-loud to heartbreak without any warning, and without detracting from either. Despite an uneven run on Wonder Woman – and even that is leagues above most folks’ handling of Diana – Simone has improved a great deal over the course of the decade. While a number of her books ended earlier than they deserved (The All-New Atom and Welcome to Tranquility, to name two of the strongest examples), none of them have been anything less than a pleasure to read. In an era dominated by high-concept, big-action blockbusters, Simone’s quiet humor and obvious love for the craft have been an oasis.
9. Greg Rucka
Greg Rucka, it’s safe to say, has a ‘type’, a fact that quickly became evident this decade. Filling your books with savvy, ass-kicking female heroes is a surefire way to flop in today’s market, but Rucka has proved time and again an exception to this rule. Whether it’s writing one of the strongest runs Wonder Woman has ever seen or trusting fans to understand Renee Montoya’s progression from a cop in Gotham Central to P.I. in the excellent 52 on through her new superheroic identity in two or three more books, Rucka spent the years finding increasingly fresh ways to help his heroines grow, change and find an audience. Meanwhile, over the course of the decade, Rucka also wrote nearly 40 issues of the excellent Queen and Country with Oni Press, netting him an Eisner and a dedicated fan base. His increased profile is evident from his latest assignment: he’s the first writer ever to simultaneously write DC’s flagship titles, Action Comics and Detective Comics. Astonishingly prolific, timely and with a gift for espionage and crime comics, Rucka has been a defining voice for the decade’s heroines, as well as a damnably fun writer to read.
8. Matt Fraction
Only writing in the latter half of the decade, Fraction has already proved himself as a cut above the rest. His breakout work, Immortal Iron Fist, ended up becoming one of those great, character redefining runs that only come around every five years, if that. Besides making Danny Rand cool, Fraction successfully reintroduced Frank Castle into the Marel U proper. Realizing that the Punisher’s not meant for such a zany world, Fraction avoided the grim & gritty. Instead, Frank fought absurdly stupid villains, with hilarious results. Immediately following those successes, Fraction took the Uncanny X-Men reigns, producing the finest work that title has seen in over a decade. And, last but not least, Fraction helmed Invincible Iron Man, following the wildly popular movie. He managed to easily match the quality fans expected after seeing Favreau’s film. So much so, in fact, that Jon Favreau actually consulted with Matt Fraction for Iron Man 2. As if all that wasn’t enough, Fraction’s independent comic, Casanova, is one of the finest works of the decade. Fraction has a fresh, powerful voice, unafraid of filling his comics with women and, most importantly, fun.
7. Garth Ennis
In the beginning of the decade, Garth concluded his magnum opus, Preacher. Most creators take a break after completing something so brilliant. Not Ennis. He just keeps on writing, immediately moving onto another great project. I’m talking about Garth’s Punisher run, of course. Frank Castle’s been around and loved since the 70’s, but nobody’s left a mark on him like Ennis. Hell, both Punisher movies and a video game were inspired by Ennis’ work. Writing around 100 issues with the character, Ennis took Frank to dark, humorous places, creating one of the most reliable comics of the decade. Never missing a beat, when Ennis stopped writing Punisher comics, he already had a start on his next popular series, The Boys. Ennis’ writing is well-known for its intense, human drama, so it’s only natural that Garth’s passion, War Stories, would be so damn good. Utilizing extensive research, Ennis always writes fabulous recreations of often-unknown battles. There are several worthwhile pojects I haven’t even mentioned. Garth Ennis is a true professional, writing great comics month after month.
6. Brian Michael Bendis
Easily one of the most influential writers of the decade, Bendis IS Marvel, and it all happened in the 00’s. Exploding at the start of the millennium, Bendis wrote several great works that will be remembered: Alias, Daredevil, Powers, and Ultimate Spider-Man. Bendis’ Daredevil is the best work Murdock’s seen since Miller in the 80’s. Ultimate Spider-Man broke the Lee/Kirby longevity record, and it gave Spider-Man fans a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Sadly, Bendis’ work in the latter half of the decade is hated by many, and rightly so. But even if the poor characterizations and decompression are bringing you down, Bendis can still be admired for his wonderful ideas. There’s a reason why he’s been behind nearly every Marvel event this decade. His high concepts are exciting and ambitious. With Bendis’ return to Powers, Ultimate Spider-Man surviving Ultimatum, and that Daredevil project on the horizon, Bendis may have another great decade ahead of him.
5. Robert Kirkman
Breaking onto the comics scene at the birth of the new millennium, Kirkman took the world by storm with Battle Pope! Ok, maybe not, but a couple people at Image liked it, and after a few years, Kirkman was given the chance to write two ongoing books for the company in 2003. Invincible, an amalgam of every superhero trope in the benday dot covered book, and Walking Dead, a George Romero-inspired zombie epic, eventually became two of the most successful Indie books ever. Then, like all fresh-faced comic writers, Kirkman spent some time at Marvel, penning books like Marvel Team-Up and the insanely popular Marvel Zombies. Also like many writers, Kirkman grew tired of Marvel. However, few leave in such intriguing fashion. Along with that startling video came the news that Kirkman was made a partner at the company he loved so much. That was only a year ago, and already Kirkman’s been instrumental in making Image cool again. Teaming up with Todd McFarlane to create the monstrously successful Haunt, and reuniting all the Image founders on Image United, Kirkman’s like the young D’Artagnan, inspiring the old Musketeers.
4. Brian K. Vaughan
Brian K. Vaughan was a relative unknown at the start of the decade, having penned a few single issues here and there. In the early 2000s, he was still working on a string of small arcs, jumping from book to book, though the profile of the books – Wonder Woman, JLA, X-Men, Batman, Detective Comics – had risen significantly. Still, it wasn’t until 2002 that he really broke out. With the release of Y: the Last Man, Vaughan proved himself. 60 issues later, one of the defining comics of the decade came to a conclusion with a few of the most heartbreaking moments we’ve seen. If Y were all he achieved this decade, it would still be a rock solid body of work, but Vaughan also created Ex Machina over at Wildstorm, an impressive post-9/11 political superhero story, and the powerful Pride of Baghdad. He also had a successful time over at Marvel Comics with the enjoyable (if ultimately unsuccessful) Dr. Strange: The Oath and Logan, and the vastly more successful The Hood. Finally, he did something that has become nearly impossible in today’s stagnant modern environment: he created a successful new franchise for Marvel in Runaways. Vaughan’s work has run the gamut from teenage rebellion to the end of life as we know it, and throughout, he’s kept it honest, emotional and fun.
3. Ed Brubaker
Ed Brubaker’s pre-2000 work largely consisted of a string of mostly unknown independent single issues. In the late 90s, however, a few small Vertigo projects apparently got him enough attention to net him a few small issues on Batman, Robin and Detective Comics, and it wasn’t long before Brubaker took off from there. An impressive array of noir-influenced crime superheroics followed, from his surprisingly successful and critically acclaimed relaunch of Catwoman to his collaboration with Greg Rucka on the stellar Gotham Central. Meanwhile, over in Wildstorm, Brubaker began to push things in a different direction. Ideas like Point Blank and the following Sleeper began to take a more active interest in meshing the superhero genre with the pulp criminal underbelly. There, he could push things further and do what he needed to do to his brilliant cast of dark characters and he managed to shape the Wildstorm Universe for a good few years. His move to Marvel seemed at the time to be a strange fit, but no one can deny that his relaunch of Captain America has been the single most successful take on the character in years, and he proved an inspired choice to follow Brian Michael Bendis on the surprise hit Daredevil. Working with Matt Fraction, he turned The Immortal Iron Fist into a successful franchise that lasted beyond the creative team’s departure. And, finally, he reunited with the gifted Sean Phillips to lend some much-needed gravitas to Marvel’s ICON imprint with two books: the pulp supervillain story Incognito and the superior critical darling Criminal. Following a loosely-connected group of crooks in exciting, heartbreaking standalone arcs, it is almost hard to believe that Criminal has gone on as long as it has, but it remains an impressive accomplishment, and one of the decade’s most enjoyable books.
2. Warren Ellis
Warren Ellis came out of the last decade on an impressive high note: halfway through his stellar Transmetropolitan and having just completed his brief, game-changing run on The Authority. Transmet was a near immediate success, being taught in Political Science courses, a rare mainstream success for comics, and it would have surprised no one if he’d channelled that success into more high profile, mainstream work at the Big 2. Instead, he used his new pull to launch a string of relaunches and creator-owned projects that ranged from good to absolutely stellar. Nextwave was a gloriously fun satire on the genre. Global Frequency was a brilliant combination of sci-fi and horror, and if the premise didn’t entirely make sense, the execution more than made up for it. His creation of The Authority in 1999 and run that lasted well into 2000 quite nearly defined how mainstream action comics would work. Meanwhile, he repeatedly launched increasingly impressive array of books with Avatar Press, from the gritty supernatural Gravel books through the dark examination of super-heroics in Black Summer and No Hero and on into glorious sci-fi worldbuilding books like Doktor Sleepless and Anna Mercury. Very few writers have displayed the sheer versatility that Warren Ellis has, and the decade saw him gather an impressive array of titles under his belt. It’s my humble opinion that he could’ve made the list off of nothing but Transmetropolitan and Planetary, but Ellis is hardly the type to rest on his laurels.
1. Grant Morrison
I don’t think it’s a secret that we’re all big Morrison fans. We could produce a “Top Ten” list using Morrison’s work alone, and that list would have more quality than half the lists you’ll find on the Interwebs. Kicking off the decade with the most radical X-Men run ever produced, breaking away from the dusty, old Claremont mold and replacing it with a new shadow for the franchise. Many fans prefer the safe, crowd-pleasing Whedon run, which is amusing, since Whedon’s run couldn’t really exist without Morrison’s. Before leaving Marvel, Morrison wrote Marvel Boy, a wonderful Marvel love letter, while maintaining that Morrison freshness. Many people have forgotten it, especially since Noh-Varr has recently been bastardized, but Marvel Boy is a great example of what Marvel’s Ultimate Comics line should’ve been. Returning to his beloved DC, Morrison produced the experimental Seven Soldiers, a bold comic introducing several great, new characters. Moving into the latter half of the decade, Morrison began his run on Batman, pitting Bruce Wayne against madness, Satan, and his bastard son, Damian. Morrison also helmed his first major company event, Final Crisis. It’s a summation of nearly every Morrison work to date, and it was too earth-shattering for many to handle, but it’s one of the finest events ever produced. Though Morrison’s known for being odd and extreme, few could complain about All Star Superman, a work so tender and pure. Not only is it Superman’s finest adventure, it somehow enriches every other Superman comic. So much accomplished, and I haven’t even gotten to Morrison’s fabulous Vertigo work, which includes We3, The Filth, and Seaguy. Morrison remains one of the strongest, boldest voices in the medium, and his enormous amount of successful output makes him a perfect candidate for best writer of the decade.
… and there you have it! Our TOP 10 list has what I’m sure many people will consider to be some significant omissions. Like any Best Of, it’s limited by what we read, how we assessed it, the context in which is was read. It was limited by the consistency with which they produce their best material, and how much we keep talking about it, months or even years later.
So, anyone who’s interested: what’s your Best Of list look like? Who were comics’ strongest writers, this decade, and why?
Join us next week as we bring you our Top 10 Artists of the decade, and have yourselves a happy holiday season!
I read 19 comics in November, and these were the best.
5. Astonishing X-Men #32
Yeah, that’s a badass sentinel, a badass, brood-shooting-from-fingertips sentinel, the bastardization of Beast’s theoretical research. It’s Ellis being Ellis, writing pitch-perfect X-Men. Each issue is episodic, building a plot as it goes. This chapter involves the aforementioned sentinel, with lines like, “We don’t need weapons. We have science!” It’s glorious fun.
4. Fantastic Four #573
Hickman’s Fantastic Four is even better than his Secret Warriors? How’d that happen? But it’s true, even when Dale Eaglesham takes a break, and we’re left with a “filler” issue. Neil Edwards fills Dale’s shoes, and it’s a fine fit, with Edwards’ post-Bryan Hitch style and Paul Mounts’ colors, you’ll hardly notice the difference. But Hickman’s distinguished voice is the star here, penning a done-in-one adventure that could’ve easily sustained a four-issue arc. Hickman plays with, and adds to, Millar’s toys, exploring a black hole-ravaged Nu-World. This is a dense, grand adventure, and the new letters page, hosted by Franklin and Val? Absolutely adorable.
3. Invincible #68
The regular art team is back with a vengeance, allowed the opportunity to create Kirkman’s zany, new Dinosaur villain. This is about as playful and unique as villain dialogue gets. Kirkman then continues to show off his dialogue skills when he gives Atom Eve’s father the scariest monologue Mark could ever imagine, concluding with one hell of a funny sight gag. The issue concludes with a few classic Kirkman twists. All in all, this is one hell of an Invincible issue.
2. Hellboy: The Wild Hunt #8
Another Hellboy chapter concludes, and Alice sums it up best, “Well, I didn’t see that coming.” Mignola embraces Hellboy’s entire mythology here, Alice herself being the baby from the beloved “Hellboy: The Corpse.” What occurs within these pages has been a long time coming, and it unfolds unpredictably, yet resolves with the doomed conclusion we all knew was coming. Every major Hellboy player progresses, even poor Gruagach, who’s almost as tragic a character as “Big Red” himself. A stunning effort from Mignola and Fegredo.
1. Detective Comics #859
Since Rucka & Williams’ run began, almost every issue of Detective Comics has made my “Best of the Month” list. This issue is the best of the run, so it’s only natural that Detective finally tops my list. We’re still taking a trip down Kate’s memory lane, this issue containing another episode of her life. We learn of Kate’s rise and fall at West Point, her utter loss of purpose, how that leads to trouble with the love of her life, and what finally makes Kate’s life whole again. And there, making it all epic poetry, is Williams and Stewart. And as you can see in the above scan, when Kate’s Mazzucchelli-styled life clashes with Batman’s rich, painted aura, it’s beautiful and profound.
Detective Comics #856
Greg Rucka’s story in Detective Comics isn’t particular deep. It’s a relatively simple story, in fact: Batwoman learns that the new leader of the Religion of Crime is coming to Gotham, goes, confronts her. It’s a pretty standard adventure comic, with Rucka’s usual capable plotting and dialogue. In fact, the more concise, fun Question back-up in the book features slightly sharper writing thus far… but no one will confuse that for the better read. Hamner continues to turn in clean, dynamic work on the Question back-up, while J.H. Williams III’s work on the main feature remains stellar. The book is gorgeous and well-written, and consistently worth your time.
Wonder Woman #35
Gail Simone finishes up this brief arc with a few revelations and a lot of aftermath left over from “Rise of the Olympian”, including some dark promises and new powers. All of it sets up the next big story, but it’s done in one of the book’s most engaging, fun arcs Simone’s run has produced. She goes a way too heavy on the fan-worship of Black Canary in a number of awkward, uncomfortable internal monologues from Wonder Woman, but the arc otherwise offers action with gorgeous, fluid art from Lopresti paired with a simple story setting up another major new chapter in Diana’s life.
Final Crisis Aftermath: Ink #4
Ink continues to be a pleasant surprise for me. Fiorentino’s art, while occasionally muddy, is improving, and he’s demonstrated himself to be an apt choice to illustrate just how formidable the Tattooed Man can be. Wallace’s story, meanwhile, generally maintains its pleasant mix of urban crime drama and superheroics, though the more action-oriented approach to this issue meant that it sacrificed a little bit of the drama in favor of the superheroics. A late game plot twist took that shift a little too far, however, and the issue ends somewhere between the ridiculous and the parodic.
Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance #4
Dance finally pulls itself out of the slump the mini had been in and starts moving forward. Though the last issue was of a high quality, the mini really wasn’t going much of anywhere. With the team broken up, however, and the media blitz that had blinded them for the first few issues fading, Most Excellent Superbat finally has time to check up on his home country. Not all is right in Japan, however, and he’s forced to get the team back together again. Casey’s writing of these new teen heroes remains relatively sharp, while Chriscross’ cartoony art more than keeps up with the book’s humor and energy. If only DC’s other teen heroes were even half so interesting right now…
Brubaker and Phillips complete the first arc with the strongest, most exciting issue yet. We learn even more about the origins of the Overkill brothers, learn about why Yuri was created, and see a massive showdown between Zack and his old allies. All the action is well-illustrated by Sean Phillips in some of his most exciting fights yet. The book is undeniably over the top, but it loves living up its pulp roots. Though it’ll be quite some time before we get the next issue, the news isn’t all bad – the reason for the long delay is because Brubaker and Phillips will be returning to do a new arc on Criminal.
Immonen was responsible for last year’s manic, excellent Patsy Walker: Hellcat. Unfortunately her Runaways, which finds her teamed with Sara Pichelli, lacks both the momentum and the cleverness of her debut work. Pichelli’s art is clean and cartoonish, giving the book a sense of energy, but it isn’t enough. It isn’t enough, however. After subpar runs from Whedon and Moore, Immonen and Pichelli needed to start their run off with a bang. Unless the end of the arc offers up some pretty massive surprises, it’s safe to say that she’s failed to do so.
Doktor Sleepless #13
After a lengthy delay, the good Doktor returns. Things are heating up in Heavenside, mostly according to the Doktor’s plans. The issue reads like a montage of the city going to hell, and while it isn’t the most creative or compelling issue Ellis has turned in thus far, it is nonetheless immensely satisfying to see everything come to a head like this. Rodriguez continues to improve as his design becomes more confident and his figures become less stiff.
– Cal Cleary
It’s that time again! Boy, June went quick. We’re halfway through 2009? Wow. Anyway, I read 19 comics in June, and these were the best.
5. Invincible #63
I hate putting this at number five, but this comic is hindered in a monthly format. There is no good jumping-on point. You have to read the whole thing, and rating one issue is like judging twenty minutes of a movie. That said, this is an emotional issue. I’m sure it’s no secret by now that a major character dies. Hell, it was already pretty obvious if you looked at the cover of Invincible #64, but even so, this is one of the best Invincible issues. And that’s saying something.
4. Detective Comics #854
Even if this issue would’ve been terrible, I would’ve forced my brain to like it. Thankfully, to preserve what little respect I have as a comic critic, this actually is a great issue. Greg Rucka finally gets a chance to define his Batwoman, and he doesn’t waste a panel. We’re not going to get the official origin until the next arc, but even after one issue, I know a good deal about what makes Kate tic. But what really makes this comic special is the pure brilliance of Williams’ art. The co-feature is the icing on the cake.
3. Batman and Robin #1
June was a great month for comics. Want proof? The new Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely comic wasn’t the best of the month. How the hell did that happen? Ok, I do wish this comic had more depth and weight, like Morrison’s earlier Batman work, but other than that, this issue is near-flawless.
2. Astonishing X-Men #30
Ellis’ first Astonishing X-Men arc finally concludes. Was it good? You bet your ass it was. I can almost guarantee you I’ll think of it in January, when I post the best stories of the year list. Ellis, in just one arc, has already done a few things. First and foremost, he’s provided possibly the greatest characterization of the X-Men ever. They’re all real characters. They all have their own unique voice. Second, Ellis has taken the X-Men to the perfect genre, sci-fi. I want my X-Men to occupy the realm of science, instead of the done-to-death, political commentary genre. And this first arc was not only sci-fi, it was a mystery too!
1. Uncanny X-Men #512
This issue is a done-in-one. So, yes, it does have an advantage in this format, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t deserve this spot. This issue is a done-in-one, time-travel adventure, filled with science, mutant history, originality, and humor. It’s also wonderfully rendered by the great Yanick Paquette. Is that not enough? Well, then I’ll also mention that this is one of the few comics that nearly brought me to tears. It’s good readin’.
So there it is! Agree? Disagree? Please, let me know!
“This comic never comes out! The editors are forcing Ellis to change things!” These are the cries of fellow comic fans. The former is certainly true. Simone Bianchi takes 4-7 weeks to complete an issue. Yeah, that’s slow, but this is a team book, and besides, Bianchi’s art is really pretty. Check out the preview. Besides being beautiful and unique, Bianchi also provides interesting page layouts. In fact, for my money, although this is coming from someone who has read all of Bianchi’s American comics, I would buy this book on Bianchi’s art alone.
As for editors compromising Ellis’ vision, it could be true. I notice that what the solicit promises and what is actually included is a bit different. Anyway, let’s just analyze what’s been printed, shall we? I think the best think about Ellis’ run is that the X-Men sound like actual people. I believe that they have their own personalities, and that they’ve spent too much time with each other, for better or for worse. I know everyone loves Whedon’s characters, but really, they’re all the same: witty, witty, witty! Everyone’s witty! Though I did enjoy Whedon’s run, on a character level, it was ALL about Kitty. With Ellis, I’m not reading a team-book about tough guy, smart guy and leader guy. I’m reading about Logan, Hank, and Scott. Another thing that I’ve enjoyed about Ellis’ first arc is that I actually feel like I’m part of the X-Men. No, I’m not twelve. It’s just that Ellis puts us in the middle of this mystery. We know nothing more than what the X-Men know. In fact, they might even know more.
Both of those Ellis virtues, and of course Bianchi’s art, are still present here. So I was quite happy with this installment. Yes, it is the penultimate chapter. Nothing is resolved, and it’s exposition-heavy. I was still left satisfied, ready to patiently wait another two months for the conclusion. Oh, and Ellis provides another low-key cliffhanger. I’ve been enjoying those as well.
Better late than never, eh? This is my list for the top ten stories of 2008! Woo hoo! Now, before we get to all the fun of me voicing my opinions and you disagreeing with them, I have to get a few rules out of the way.
1. These are the top ten stories/arcs/whatever. Not comic in general, not trade, but best stories (What can I say, I’m trying to be somewhat unique).
2. These are stories that ended in 2008. They could begin at any time, but as long as they concluded in 2008, they’re eligible.
3. I tried to keep the list as diverse and reader-friendly as possible. I love certain writers, but it would be boring if it was three Morrison books, two Fraction books, etc. So a writer/artist will only appear once on the list. Same thing goes for characters. I’m not going to have a list made up of a bunch of X-Men comics or in the case of 2008, Superman books. Lastly (Sorry, #3 is a long rule), I tried to spread the love even when it came to companies. You will see Marvel, DC, and even indies on this list.
Wow, with all those rules, how did I come up with a great list? Well, I hope I did. Anyway, let us begin the fun!
10. Hellboy: The Crooked Man (Hellboy: The Crooked Man #1-3)
Written by Mike Mignola
Illustrated by Richard Corben
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
I sound like a broken record. I’ve written for this site for about seven months now. In that time I have reviewed nearly every Hellboy comic. And over and over again I have to point out how wonderful Mike Mignola really is. It’s not just his art. He’s a terrific artist. What fascinates me more are his words. Though Mignola’s obsessed with the past, his comics constantly evolve. 2008 was a fantastic year for Big Red. A new movie that not only didn’t disappoint, it was better than its predecessor. A new comic actually drawn by Mignola himself, the start of the longest Hellboy journey yet and of course this little gem that I’m here to talk about. The Crooked Man, like most Hellboy stories, is deceptively simple. It’s difficult to express one’s love for Hellboy comics because they all have similar beats. Hellboy goes to some marvelous landscape. He encounters a mystical problem. He then beats the crap out of everybody until they fall down. But unlike most Hellboy yarns, The Crooked Man doesn’t take place in some faraway land. It’s set in deep Deliverance hick hell. It’s not about old artifacts or odd Guillermo Del Torro creatures. This is about the classic struggle between man and the devil. It’s about facing your fears and temptations. Hellboy is almost a supporting character for God’s sake! And of course who better to bring this horrifying masterpiece to life than Richard Corben. He’s a perfect fit for this book. The man is 68 years old and he’s still pouring his soul into his projects. This Hellboy tale is not to be missed.
9. Joker (Original GN)
Written by Brian Azzarello
Illustrated by Lee Bermejo
Publisher: DC Comics
Available here. Do you want to see the bloodiest and most brutal Joker story ever? This is it. Joker is a gritty crime graphic novel that’s all about the titular character through the lens of sanity, Jonny Frost. Lee Bermejo spent two years working on this project. This book looks perfect. And in a Joker comic that means the book looks like hell. Bermejo and Mick Gray share the inking duties. Gray has a softer look while Bermejo has a terrifying painted effect. I began to dread Bermejo’s inks as it meant something gruesome was ahead. Azzarello throws us into a mad dark world with realistic versions of classic Batman rogues. The Dark Knight does appear but he only says three words. This is a fascinating yarn and the fact that Bermejo’s Joker mirrors Ledger’s makes it all the more creepy.
8. The Walking Dead: Made to Suffer (The Walking Dead Forty-Three through Forty-Eight)
Written by Robert Kirkman
Illustrated by Charlie Adlard
Publisher: Image Comics
Collected here. The Walking Dead is a comic that suffers in this format. In fact, I even feel uneasy putting it here because it doesn’t really have arcs. Walking Dead is one giant story, but it deserves to be on this list. For several years it’s been one of my favorite comics for its character exploration in a brutal and harsh situation. Though this story does contain one of this series’ few blunders (The return of the character you see on that cover), it was undeniably excellent. Testing these poor characters once again, Kirkman created the most suspenseful story of the year. The amount of hell inflicted on these men, women, and children was unsettling and powerful. Clearly, this is a landmark in a fantastic monthly book.
7. Northlanders: Sven the Returned (Northlanders One through Eight)
Written by Brian Wood
Illustrated by Davide Gianfelice
Collected here. On the back of the trade (That’s only ten dollars! Eight issues for ten bucks is so awesome) there are quotes comparing this tale to Conan and 300. If that’s what you need to hear then I’ll agree with that comparison and even throw Braveheart into the mix. But really, this is the classic tale of the man born in the wrong time. It’s more than the modern language (You like the F-word right?) and evil uncle (That brings Hamlet to mind). Sven is a modern man trapped in a society based on dying with honor. Would you charge an army of one thousand if you were alone? I don’t think so. Yes, on the surface this is an enthralling adventure with Vikings, boobs and blood by the barrel full. But beneath the flare is a classic tale with a fantastic and unexpected conclusion.
6. Scalped: Dead Mothers (Scalped #13-17)
Written by Jason Aaron
Illustrated by R.M. Guera
Collected here. Dash Bad Horse and Chief Red Crow are incredibly intriguing characters even though they don’t have a lot to say. That’s one of Aaron’s strengths as a writer, he knows when to shut up and let his artist shine. Guera provides the usual rough style of art you’re used to seeing in these types of comics, but with a twist. It’s hard to put into words. You’ll just have to see it for yourself. Scalped, like Walking Dead, is an ongoing epic that’s hard to judge from arc to arc. But Dead Mothers is particularly amazing. And by amazing I mean heartbreaking. It’s hard not to spoil things, but Dead Mothers is about well, what do you think? Two people have lost their mothers and their murderers need to be brought to justice. But it’s so much more than that. Scalped is a crime western history epic filled with shocking twists and turns.
Written by Warren Ellis
Illustrated by Juan Jose Ryp
Publisher: Avatar Press
Collected here. I dare everyone to read issue #0 (It’s one freaking dollar) of this series and not pick up the trade. It will pique your interest. Heck, you may have even seen this comic on the news if your town is small enough. Though it may be deemed by some to be liberal propaganda, you must remember this is written by Warren Ellis. It’s much more complex than that. This series is also enriched by the amazing and detailed visuals of Juan Jose Ryp. Though the story may devolve into a big action blockbuster (It does have summer in the title after all), I doubt you’ll find another blockbuster more thought provoking than this.
4. Criminal: Bad Night (Criminal Vol 2 #4-7)
Written by Ed Brubaker
Illustrated by Sean Phillips
Collected here. I got into this book late, very late. I wouldn’t have believed it, but Criminal really is Brubaker and Phillips’ best work. I’m sure you’ve heard of this book’s general accomplishments, so that gives me the opportunity to talk about Bad Night specifically. The first volume (Coward and Lawless) offered crime stories that seemed familiar but were told well. Brubaker provided lovable baddies and established the mood and tone wonderfully. And as for Sean Phillips, there’s a difference between pretty art and art that belongs. One can be replaced and one can’t. Phillips belongs in the latter category. I can’t imagine anyone else on this book. Phillips’ quality continued in the second volume, but Brubaker stepped it up a notch. He began to tell more unconventional crime stories. Bad Night was his most experimental and his best to date. He demonstrated true noir. I’m not talking about the watered down crap you’ve seen in the last few decades. I’m talking about the gritty old-school, where every character is scummy. Bad Night is about lust, creativity, and obsession. Its finale packs quite a punch.
3. Punisher: Long Cold Dark (Punisher #50-54)
Written by Garth Ennis
Illustrated by Goran Parlov, Howard Chaykin
Publisher: MAX Comics
Collected here. This is the year that made all Punisher fans (And anyone who appreciates great comics) cry. Garth Ennis left the big scary skull dude. But still, even in the winter of Ennis’ Punisher years, he managed to produce some damn fine comics. In fact, Long Cold Dark and Valley Forge, Valley Forge are two of his best. Now, Valley may be a better story for those who read the whole series, but Long Cold is for everyone (Except maybe children, old people and the squeamish). The first issue is drawn by the legendary Howard Chaykin and the rest of the arc is cinematically rendered by Goran Parlov. This is fun, twisted, and full of no holds barred action. And I really do mean that. Barracuda (The big black guy, not the Heart song) returns and has a piece of Frank’s past with him. I won’t spoil anything, but it’s a hell of a plot device. Possibly the Punisher’s best villain finds a way to get under Frank’s skin. It’s a terrific and bloody ride.
2. All Star Superman (All Star Superman #1-12)
Written by Grant Morrison
Illustrated by Frank Quitely
Publisher: DC Comics
Collected here and here. Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely are phenomenal. These two Scots collaborate again and again and every time they produce pure magic. All Star Superman is the best Superman story. Some would say that this is the only Superman comic one would ever need. To me, every Superman tale actually improves because of this. All Star Superman breathes new life into a seventy year old character. But this is more than nostalgia or a Silver Age throwback. It’s a unique and fascinating tale that’s extraordinarily memorable. Superman and Lois kissing on the moon. A man playing cosmic fetch with his dog. Superman saving that kid from suicide. Earth Q, the world without Superman. It’s all so beautiful. So if this is my #2, what the heck is my #1?
1. Casanova: Gula (Casanova #8-14)
Written by Matt Fraction
Illustrated by Fabio Moon
Publisher: Image Comics
Casanova, that’s what. I do not put Casanova ahead of Morrison’s Superman lightly. I put much thought into this decision and in the end, Casanova’s (Or is it Zephyr’s?) charm won me over. This book is purely transcendent. From its cost of two dollars to the fact that every issue is packed with more information, emotion, etc. than most mainstream six-issue arcs (And I’m just talking about Gula. The first arc, Luxuria, was even denser). Casanova is genuinely groundbreaking. It won’t be as easy to recreate as something like The Dark Knight Returns which is why it will probably never receive the credit it deserves. And speaking of the Dark Knight, what sets Casanova apart from its genre defining (Or redefining) counterparts is its undeniable sense of fun. Casanova, on top of everything else, is funny! So please, each issue is only two bucks if you want the floppies (Which you probably should since each issue is filled with wonderful back matter from Fraction himself) and the first trade is a little more than ten dollars. Casanova is worth your time.
Incredible Hercules: Sacred Invasion (Incredible Hercules #117-120)
This was the best thing to come out of Secret Invasion. Well, it wasn’t a great new series, that was Captain Britain. But it was the best story with the words “Secret Invasion” on the cover. Incredible Hercules is a fun, humorous and refreshing comic. Sacred Invasion features the awesome God Squad! It also contains the most shocking Skrull reveal ever (That was ruined on the cover of the trade)!
Superman: Brainiac (Action Comics #866-870)
Superman had a fantastic year. Along with All Star Superman, Geoff Johns wrote three wonderful Superman tales. Superman: Brainiac was my favorite. Gary Frank’s art is worth the price alone. He captures all the sci-fi, horror, and emotion perfectly. Superman’s ensemble cast also shines here. And those last few pages are heartbreaking. It’s too bad I couldn’t get Geoff Johns on the list this year, but with Blackest Night coming up, it’s a safe bet he’ll make the list for 2009.
Thor: Ages of Thunder (Thor: Ages of Thunder, Thor: Circle of Blood, Thor: Man of War)
The best Thor story in years, it explores the Thunder God’s early years. Fraction delivers some giant-slaying fun. If you’re looking for a good time with Gods, Monsters, and lascivious Odin, this book is for you!
Thunderbolts: Caged Angels (Thunderbolts #116-121)
I love this run so much. Why did I put Black Summer on my list instead of this? Black Summer isn’t well-known, Caged Angels is only half of the story, and Black Summer has complete creative freedom.
X-Force: Angels & Demons (X-Force #1-6)
This was on my list for so long. I do love it and isn’t that cover awesome? I figured I could only use one for the honorable mentions and that is by far the best. This is the dark and bloody version of the X-Men. X-Force also gives us a few continuity surprises. Clayton Crain renders some stunning images.
So there it is. That took a lot of time, so much so that we’re already in the second month of the new year (Time flies). I think it’s a pretty good list. I’m sorry Marvel fans. There aren’t any traditional Marvel comics on my main list (Though Punisher and Criminal kind of count), but at least you have my honorable mentions. Other than that, I think I spread the love, right? 2008 wasn’t that great for the real world (In fact, it was pretty horrible), but at least the comics were good.
This is part four of Ellis’ first Astonishing arc, Ghost Box. It may appear that not much has happened yet, but I assure you it has. The story has progressed so naturally that you barely noticed. A mutant (Triploid) was murdered by another mutant (13). Those names are given because of all that fascinating Ellis science. The 13 was trying to open a Ghost Box (A gateway to another world). Why? Something to do with an annex (Big city word for Invasion. Wow, I would’ve loved it if Secret Invasion had been called Surreptitious Annex, wouldn’t you?) of course. The 13 committed suicide before he could be interrogated unfortunately. The X-Men then discovered that it all led to Tian, a five-mile dead zone located in China. Who was there? Chinese X-Men, what else? Yeah, that’s a lot of stuff and that was only in the first three issues. In addition, Ellis has been laying the groundwork for possibly his entire run while making us laugh hysterically along the way. Yeah, this book is good.
Ellis’ PIC is relatively newcomer, Simone Bianchi. Bianchi has only done interior work for three (Green Lantern, Shining Knight, and Wolverine) other comics I believe. I’ve read all of them and I’m impressed. This is his first team book and if you’ve seen his detailed work, I don’t have to tell you how difficult this task is. I’ve read about how it’s killing him. Sadly, this makes for a slightly uneven book. There are times when facial expressions can look a bit awkward and the lack of backgrounds can hinder the storytelling. Still, Bianchi remains one of the freshest pencils working today. His art is truly unique and when he does hit his mark, the result is staggering. I’m pleased that Marvel let a “Young Gun” on one of their flagship titles. As he’s proved, they made a good decision.
I haven’t talked much about this issue specifically yet, but that’s because it’s a continuation of quality and I don’t want to spoil anything. If you aren’t reading this book, you should start. If you are, you can look forward to a lot more action. There’s also a reveal of sorts on the last page that proves Ellis knows the X-Men. I read his scripts in those filler issues. He may be a foreign lunatic, but the man knows his X-Men.
So, onward in my review of the single issues I’ve read, this week and last. Right this second?
Doktor Sleepless #11
Book 1 of Doktor Sleepless contained issues 1-8. Despite a slow middle ground, the end of Book 1 had a pretty big pay-off, with surprising possible revelations about the past, present and future of the series. So when Book 2 opened up without the Doktor in sight, I was perplexed and perhaps a bit worried. The quality off the dialogue and storytelling was still strong, but it felt a little like filler.
Now, three issues into Book 2, I’m content to admit to being wrong. While the Doktor still hasn’t made an appearance since #8, Book 2 has been building up a strong supporting cast, and has taken an interesting tact – what effect have the actions of the Doktor had on the city? While current books like Batman pretend to give serious thought to these issues, mostly they’re still about the punching and the kicking, but we’ve had some interesting insights into the highs and lows of Heavenside since the Doktor arrived, and now’s no different.
Issue #11 continues the quality writing, and artist Ivan Rodriguez continues to improve. Heavenside, and the world as a whole, continue to be fleshed out in impressive, interesting ways. With hope, Doktor Sleepless can continue to be released at a regular pace. While the story is moving forward only microscopically, it is nonetheless doing so in interesting ways.
I did this last year (obviously before the blog existed), and even though I’ve got a pretty durned big DCBS box coming next week (25 books. Yay!), I don’t necessarily expect them to crack this top ten, so I’m just going to jump the gun and publish my list now. Ha ha! It begins…
Going to skip putting the cover images on here because I am lazy and it takes up too much space.
10. Fables #75
Writer: Bill Willingham
Penciller: Mark Buckingham
DC’s Vertigo Imprint
Ah, Fables. If there’s one thing you do well (and believe me, it’s a lot more than one thing), it’s big milestone anniversary issues. You could argue that this book had a lot to live up to considering the quality of issue 50 and its positioning as the climax of the War and Pieces arc. I love the way Willingham and Buckingham depict war (the March of the Wooden Soldiers trade pretty much assured that I’d be reading this book until it ends), and this issue caps off the arc while giving us a window into what else we get to look forward to.
9. Kick-Ass #3
Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: John Romita Jr.
Marvel’s Icon Imprint
Is it late as hell? Yup. Is Millar more interested in the movie than the comic? Probably. Doesn’t change my opinion of this issue. This book revels in being over the top, and does not pull any punches in the violence and blood department. There’s more to it than that crazy final battle sequence, but we shouldn’t exactly be looking for a lot of depth in a book like this. Review is here.
8. Thunderbolts #121
Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Mike Deodato, Jr.
Ah, watching the Green Goblin go nuts. Who hasn’t seen that before? Well, me, honestly. Never really read much Spider-Man, mostly due to lack of time. This issue is the last of Ellis’ run, and it delivers on what we’ve been wanting to see since he started writing the book post Civil War. And that’s not all of course. You’ve got Bullseye with one of the best lines of the year, and the rest of the inmates attempting to run the asylum while Norman flies all over the place and just throws pumpkin bombs indiscriminately. Fantastic stuff.
7. Terry Moore’s Echo #3
Writer: Terry Moore
Artist: Terry Moore
Most of the awesome in this issue came from the last page reveal, which is that kind of true holy crap moment that gives you a little glimpse of what could be coming over the months as this series continued. We have a new character introduced out of the blue, all kinds of craziness and over the top dialogue. It forces you to pause and try to cope with what you just read, and the only words you can think of are “Damn. Didn’t see that coming.” Contrast that with a crushing interaction between the main character and her sister, and you have a wonderful issue of a wonderful book. Review is here.
6. Nova #15
Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Penciller: Wellington Alves
Yes, I love Galactus. Yes, this was one of the better Galactus stories I’ve read in recent history. Any of the three issues of the story arc could have been on this list, but I think the way that the Harrow B plot was resolved was a great moment. Wellington Alves did a great job with the big G, and the way he was used as this disinterested party hovering in the background of panels was excellent. Review is here.
5. Superman/Batman #51
Writers: Michael Green and Mike Johnson
Artist: Rafael Albuquerque
You can only read so many depressing ass comics (and considering my top four could all easily fit in that category except Iron Fist) before you need a break. And what works better as a break than the madcap fun of the two issue “Little Leaguers” arc from Superman/Batman? Not much at all, really. Super fun silliness that just makes you feel good inside. Sure, either issue could have been put here, but I went for the first because I flipped a coin. These things need to happen sometimes. Review can be found here.
4. The Twelve #6
Writer: J Michael Straczynski
Artist: Chris Weston
This is probably the best issue of this series so far (and this is pound for pound the best mini series that has come out this year, despite delays), mostly because JMS really poured on the despair in a way we hadn’t seen yet or since. That’s really what this series is about: despair. It’s another very quiet book similar in style and scope to Thor (and really, this is where JMS seems to be most at home). This issue features the actual fate of Rockman, and dear lord is it heart-wrenching. Check out my previous review for some more insight.
3. Thor #11
Writer: J Michael Straczynski
Penciller: Olivier Coipel
More JMS love here. This is a recent one (and oddly enough, takes the same place on the list as Thor #3 last year), and I might be high on this one because it’s fresh in my mind, but the quality is there nonetheless. I LOVE what JMS is doing with this book. It is nothing like what someone would necessarily expect from a character like Thor, but it perfectly fits into his world. Gods with flaws as an interesting literary device dates back to the tragic plays of Ancient Greece to me, and that’s the same kind of feel that I get from this Thor run. It’s such a quiet, slow burn. This issue is similar to that third chapter that I loved so much, in this case we’ve got Thor getting some closure concerning the death of Steve Rogers. He wasn’t around when it happened, so in this book he manages to contact Steve’s spirit and just talk to him for a bit. Coipel’s art in these pages is gorgeous, and he really makes such a simple story device sing. You’ve also got the continuation of Loki’s manipulation of Balder, as well as a callback to the fate of Lady Sif. Fantastic storytelling in every way.
2. The Immortal Iron Fist: Orson Randall and the Death Queen of California (One-Shot)
Writer: Duane Swierczynski
Artist: Guiseppe Camuncoli
This to me was just a beautiful throwback to the 1920’s noir style starring a character I’ve enjoyed quite immensely since his creation by Fraction and Brubaker. Swierczynski had written some Iron Fist work prior to this, but I think this issue is what really made me believe that he would be a worthy replacement for the original creative team. I think this ended up being better than Fraction’s Green Mist of Death one shot simply due to the layered references to Pygmalion and Metropolis, as well as the general feel of the book being more akin to what I look for in an Orson Randall tale. Here’s the review.
1. Casanova #14
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Fabio Moon
If anyone read my ridiculously over the top review gushing like crazy about this book back when it came out, it shouldn’t be a surprise that this is my top choice of the year. I’ve gone back and read it probably 15 to 20 times, and it never ceases being absolutely and totally incredible in every possible way. It’s the perfect ending to a story arc. It’s the perfect twist that completely changes (without being cheap) everything that came before it. I think I wrote enough in my review to justify my feelings, so I’ll just point you there. This book is covered in the combined souls of Matt Fraction and Fabio Moon. Gorgeous. Beautiful. Transcendent.
Thunderbolts #126 (****)
Wow! Cool cover, right? I don’t know who Francesco Mattina is, but I’m sure we’ll see plenty more from him in the future. Ok, so I loved Ellis’ Thunderbolts run. It’s only two damn trades! Pick them up if you haven’t already. I’m happy to see that the new writer, Andy Diggle, doesn’t try to screw with what Ellis did. He writes the characters the same, but he does have to shake things up. This is Diggle’s first issue, so it won’t be his best. The book is a little humorous, but not as much as it was. There’s also a scene between Radioactive Man and Songbird that seems off. Other than those minor faults, Diggle writes a pretty damn good book. Torre tries to keep the artistic style of Ellis’ run as well. His work is similar to Deodato’s without copying him. It looks pretty cool. Congratulations guys! I’m eager to find out what happens next!
Astonishing X-Men: Ghost Boxes #2 (***1/2)
Damn you Bianchi and your blank covers! Don’t draw this. Spend your time on the main title please. Clayton Crain or Kaare Andrews or even someone else could have done the cover. Anyway, it’s official, this was filler. I doubt these two issues really meant anything. But there’s a big difference between regular filler and Ellis filler. This issue was so sad! Last issue was about the different Subject X’s. This issue is about the different results the Ghost Boxes could have had and they are dark. Really really really dark, I need a hug. This issue also includes Ellis’ script. You definitely have to read the script. I read the script and then looked at what the artist drew and let me tell you, Ellis tells a much better story. The artist either ignores things or in Crain’s case, you can’t notice the details that Ellis wrote. But the art is still pretty. I like Clayton Crain and Kaare Andrews and I don’t see their art often. If you can get past the 4 dollar price tag and the fact that this is just a What If, give this a try.
Final Crisis: Revelations #4 (****)
How can this book feel so epic and so self-contained at the same time? Brilliant writing that’s how. And I still love Tan’s art. Sure it looks a little 90’s at times, but he captures all the emotion and the biblical tone perfectly. I think this is pretty much what I’ve said on the other three reviews of this series. It’s more interesting to write negative reviews, isn’t it? The only thing that bugged me was the ending. This can’t affect Final Crisis, right? Oh well, I’m eager to see how this ends. What will happen to Crispus Allen? I know Montoya will be presented with something big and I wonder what it is. What will happen to Vandal Savage? And of course, will God finally show up?