SeventhSoldier Presents: The Christmas Haul!

 

So, rather than save my Christmas money*, I did what any sensible person would do – I bought comics!  Sure, I can’t pay rent for February, but I got some quality reading done in the meantime, so all is good, at least in my head.  Without further embarrassing personal detail, onwards!

 

Northlanders: Sven the Returned

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While the adherence to modern slang and language might be off-putting, it soon becomes subsumed in the tale of a stubborn Viking who just wants people to quit fucking with him.  Entertaining and violent, with just a touch of the dramatic, the first trade nevertheless fails to surpass the standard Viking revenge tale.  Still, the hint of promise shown within make me hopeful for future offerings.

Grade: B-

Scalped: Indian Country

 

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The hype from Jason Aaron’s reservation-life Native American noir is heavy, and this opening trade fails to deliver.  Standard art combines with a story that barely serves as more than an introduction to make a disappointing first volume.  There’s promise to be found in the filth the book revels in, but it takes some digging to find.

Grade: C-

Scapled: Casino Boogie 

 

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Scalped: Casino Boogie

The second trade, however, delivers in all the ways the first one didn’t.  Introducing new twists to the story, the book does it in a creative and entertaining way, each issue taking place over the span of the same day, but from a different point of view.  Here we finally get in deep with the various players on the reservation, and here we finally have a reason to care.  Count me among the converted.

Grade: B+

Phonogram: Rue Britannia

 

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I have trouble explaining how much I enjoyed this from relative newcomer Kieron Gillen.  Ultra-masculine Brit hipster David Kohl is forced to search for a dead goddess of Brit Pop music and find out just what it going on in the ether that’s causing him to change in drastic (to him and no one else) ways.  Even given my relative unfamiliarity with the bands and trends being mentioned, I nonetheless could relate to the sheer power music has in the lives of these people.  An intriguing story and a fascinating setting just a little to the left of our own work together with simple (but clean and gifted) art to provide a book well-worth your money.  A story about reinforcing why you love what you love, about coming to terms with it and its influence on your past.

Grade: A-

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Wolves at the Gate

 

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The Whedonisms of the book are beginning to grate, and while it is still an undeniably enjoyable book, some of the particular thematic and writing tics of the book are wearing.  Nonetheless, the book continues to excel at humorous, heartwarming, heartbreaking relationships, and fans of the TV show will continue to enjoy the rapid-fire wit and excellent dialogue.

Grade: B-

Hellblazer: Joyride

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Andy Diggle, writer of The Losers and Green Arrow: Year One, seemed like an odd choice of writer to take over the Hellblazer writing chores after award-winning horror novelist Denise Mina, and Joyride is his first collection, a series of stories meant to bring John back from the brink where he’s been hovering through the last couple writers. The story is entertaining and suitably dark, a good set of arcs to set up what Diggle seems to hope to accomplish.  Expressive, dark art from Manco and strong ties to the recent Hellblazer run of Mike Carey combine to make a standard, but competent story.

Grade: B

Gotham Central: The Quick and the Dead

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The fourth trade in the Rucka/Brubaker masterpiece bringing a refreshing bit of realism to the gritty uber-epic Batman mythos, The Quick and the Dead might be the weakest trade in the series thus far… but given the strength of the characterization and dialogue, it still serves the series well, and shows time and again how Crispus Allen and Renee Montoya got where they are today.

Grade: B

Casanova: Luxuria

 

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Matt Fraction’s tiny little piece of insane pop action is well-introduced in this first volume.  While stylistic art takes a little adaptation to those of a more traditional bent, it nonetheless complements Fraction’s hyperkinetic action hero well. Fun fluff, well worth the shot for fans looking for a little something more from their action espionage comic books.

Grade: B

The Filth

 

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Yet another obscure entry from Grant Morrison, the Filth almost delights in being obtuse.  Filled with crazy, creative ideas, it boils down to a cranky old man who just wants to be alone with his cat in its dying days.  Weston had his work cut out for him, but he steps up to the task admirably and delivers on many of the absolutely horrifying concepts Morrison bandies about with creepy ease.  Absolutely not for everyone – not even for most people – the Filth nonetheless may offer some readers a glimpse into the darker side of Morrison’s work, that they might better understand where he’s coming from in the lighter works.

Grade: B

Young Liars: Daydream Believers

 

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The first disgusting trade of Young Liars is finally available, and well worth a gander.  Like Mike Carey’s so-so Faker, Liars focuses on disgust, betrayal and selfishness, but the refreshing blitz of Sadie, teamed with the self-loathing love of young Danny, make for far more compelling interactions.  The attitudes of the book may be a turn-off for many, and some bizarre stylistic choices in terms of background and dialogue can be confusing, but it is nonetheless worth a gander.

Grade: B+

Fables: War & Pieces

 

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Willingham’s epic seems to move in waves.  Alternating between stories with a great deal of creativity, heart and action all laced together with a healthy dollop of bastardized mythology and a series of stagnant set-up arcs with a lot of introduction and even more nothing-really.  So, it should be no surprise that after that strength of The Good Prince and Sons of Empire, War and Pieces reads as a perfunctory conclusion to the first major conflict in the Fables-verse.  An important book plot-wise with (as always) impressive art, War and Pieces is nonetheless another dry spot in the ongoing story.  Not bad, just not up to the standard the book set for itself.

Grade: B-

DMZ: On the Ground

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Brian Wood’s breakout hit about a the only on-location journalist at ground-zero of America’s second Civil War appears to be almost entirely a setting-building exercise that also happens to casually examine the horrors of war with which we are all pretty familiar.  Still, the excellent art provides a certain touch, and Wood’s story excels where many such stories fail in its compelling cast of supporting characters and slice-of-life stories, like the sniper romance.  Wood doesn’t let us revel in a single aspect of war atrocity on home soil, instead taking us through a series of small arcs to see the effect of the civil war and troop involvement in New York City itself.  Thanks to its easy familiarity with a cool cast, DMZ proves itself a consistently entertaining read with just a touch of the frighteningly familiar.

Grade: B+

 

 

 

*okay, admission time – it was actually just gift cards, so it wasn’t actually a waste, and some of these were bought before or after Christmas that I just never got around to reviewing.  I may begin to review some of my older trades as my pull list (and available cash) dwindles.

 

Bruce Castle Presents: 15 Comic Reviews! I Have No Time!

Ugh! I feel like Billy! I had hoped it wouldn’t come to this but sadly it has. I’ve been really busy saving civilization lately. Hopefully the aliens and super ninjas will stay away long enough for me to write some proper reviews soon. I have to at least write long reviews for Final Crisis and Secret Invasion. Anyway, enjoy my negligence!

Mighty Avengers #19 (***1/2) That’s two good MA issues in a row Bendis! You have one more left to go. Make it count!

Conan #4 (****) Always a solid read and hey the Corben stuff is making sense now. This book looks pretty as well.

Grant Morrison Doctor Who #1 (****) I’m not a Who fan, but this is still usual Morrison excellence. It’s very entertaining forgettable fun!

Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #2 (****) A bit worse than last issue but this is still epic stuff. Plus, Perez’s art has never looked so good!

Final Crisis: Rogue’s Revenge #3 (****1/2) What a fun series! I’m so in the mood for that new Flash comic. Go villain books!

Green Lantern #35 (****) Yeah it was too long but that won’t matter much in trade. How many origin stories have been better? Oh, and how awesome is Reis?

Secret Invasion: Inhumans #3 (***1/2) More forgettable fun! Pretty art too!

Justice Society Of America #19 (****1/2) One of the most consistently great books out there right now. I like all the Eaglesham art but I don’t like waiting!

Punisher #63 (***1/2) That forgettable entertainment that looks pretty theme continues!

Secret Six #2 (****1/2) Fun! Fun! Fun! But not as great as last issue. Catman vs. Batman!

Amazing Spider-Man #573 (*****) Go JRJR go! Hooray for awesome comics! Stephen Colbert fans must pick this up!

Ultimate Origins #5 (***) Meh. I’ve forgotten it already. Weak last page!

Uncanny X-Men #503 (***) Write better Fracker! You slightly improved here, how about an extreme improvement next time?!

Astonishing X-Men #27 (****1/2) To hell with the haters! This book is awesome! I laugh so much!

Young Liars #8 (****1/2) Very interesting issue! Not as fun, but still fantastic! This is the best book you have never heard of!

Again, I’m so sorry about this crap. Hopefully I can remedy this problem and have awesome new reviews soon. Please comment if you want me to further explain my zany opinions. Sadly, I can’t show all the covers but I will give you this one!

Marvel Reveals Amazing Spider-Man's Colbert Cover

Review: Young Liars #7

Young Liars #7

Young Liars #7 (*****)

This book is a real treat. Our story begins on Mars. Mommy is copulating on the dinner table. Little Sadie refuses to eat her fly. Ma’s lover, Bob, assures Sadie that “horseflies are full of essential micro-nutrients”. She responds “You’re not my dad”. Then stabs poor Bob in the eye with a straw and drinks up. Mom then cuts a hole in Bob’s groin and digs in. What would follow such a grotesque act? Little Sadie wins a radio contest to go with her favorite DJ, Danny Duoshade, to the Orpheum. But how’s a poor girl going to get there when she’s trapped on Mars?

Did you find that appalling? If so, then I guess Young Liars isn’t the comic for you. “One of the best series going, if you can handle it”, that’s a quote from the review on this cover. A true statement indeed. Young Liars is definitely a book that fascinates some and repels others. To say that the book is extreme is an understatement.

This is the start of a new arc and its origins stem from something Sadie said in an earlier issue. It seemed inconsequential at the time, but apparently it’s all real. It’s explored in excruciating detail within these pages. What seemed like a bizarre and overdone sci-fi concept reforms due to David Lapham’s newfangled writing. Freshness is a staple in Young Liars. Everything seems new even when it’s not. In an age of fourquels and Hollywood buying the rights to everything, this series is welcomed with open arms.

An ingredient that seems unobtrusive in Young Liars is Lapham’s art. It appears to be rather simple and undistinguished. But he has engendered some of the most repulsive and haunting images ever rendered. I’m always impressed by writer/artists because they give you a better sense of their world. The synergy between the words and the pretty pictures are near lyrical. I mention lyrics because that is another theme in this book.

There’s a reason for that awesome guitar gun on the cover. Every issue Danny Duoshade (You’ll find out who that is in this issue) recommends two songs. You can think of that as a soundtrack to the issue. Listen to the songs while reading if you wish. Lapham even provides a sort of “Where’s Waldo” of music. There’s an abundance of musical treats throughout that adds additional enjoyment and supplies a motivation to reread the issue. There are even songs playing within the book itself. Yes, the lyrics are printed on paper, but it’s almost as if you can hear the song even if you’re unfamiliar with it.

It’s a bit odd that I wrote an in-depth review about a Vertigo title. I usually reserve these reviews for big mainstream books like Secret Invasion or Final Crisis. This is the start of a new arc, but it’s nothing pivotal. I’d like to point out that even though this is a part 1, it doesn’t read that way. You can even enjoy this issue without reading any of the preceding six. You can kind of consider this my love letter to Young Liars. I spent a little too much time talking about the book in general than I did about issue #7. It’s just my little unsubtle way of telling those who had some time to buy this book. I’m not sure how this series is selling, but I have a feeling the numbers are low. You can even purchase that Vertigo double-shot that contains the first issues of Young Liars and House of Mystery. So please, give this book a try. And no, even though this a shameless endorsement, I am not David Lapham.

Foilball’s Review Roundup #48

100 Bullets #94 (****)

It’s so difficult to review a comic that’s part 94 of 100, so I’m not even going to try. The reason I’m spotlighting this baby is simple: Lono vs. Dizzy… FIGHT!!! This is like, 70 issues in the making and we don’t even get to see who wins??? You’re killing me! My money’s on Dizzy. She’s too hot to lose! Too cold to hold!

The Boys #21 (*****)

This could be the best issue in the series and The Boys aren’t even in it. We finally get the scoop about this world’s 9/11 and SHIT, it’s a doozy, folks. So, the Legend reveals that the Seven are a bunch of super cluster####s who in the process of saving the day killed a whole bunch of people on a plane. And then, out government covered it up. Oh, also, someone close to Butcher was killed in the tragedy. Man, no wonder he hates these bastards. The thing I like so much about this series, despite the heavy-handed political messaging, is how honest Ennis is with his characters, and by extension, his readers. Ennis’ super folk are just like us. The things they do to the normal people in this book are the type of things normal people would do if they were suddenly granted super powers. These guys are human first, heroes second. This makes them not just noble, but petty, cruel and most importantly, weak. I don’t read this as Ennis’ disdain for the human race as a whole, but only for that corrupt minority that makes like miserable for the reasonably good-natured majority. So, in conclusion: I love this book. I love it because it plays fair. It’s the type of comic I wish I could write, but I’m glad someone more talented than me is actually pulling it off.

Criminal #4 (*****)

New story! So there’s this dude, used to be a counterfeiter, among other things, and then one day he gets caught up with this sultry little number, who steals his entire pathetic little stash, but that’s okay, because at least it was fun, but she ain’t through with him yet, because, out of the blue, after a few weeks, her boyfriend shows up to kick his teeth in, only, not really, the dude overreacts which kind of forces this pissed off boyfriend thug type to beat on him, into unconsciousness, and when he wakes, brother, the girl is back and she’s been telling tales, because thug boyfriend wants this dude to hook a hiim up with some fake FBI badges… oh snap, just another Criminal tale!

The Walking Dead #51 (****1/2)

No, that rating ain’t no mistake. Issue #51 was solid from start to finish. Kirkman really surprised me with this one. The phone thing caught me completely off guard. I was expecting it to be the missing prison people, but no, I was totally bamboozled. And then the end, that little bit where Rick goes back for the phone? That was heartbreak. I wanted to cry, but then I remembered that I’m a dude, and dudes don’t cry. So instead, I gave a little grunt and a sigh.

Young Liars #6 (*****)

HOLY SHIT, SADIE KILLS A ROOM FULL OF BAD GUYS AND THEN DANNY TRIES TO KILL HIMSELF?!!? How does this book keep topping itself? I was worried there for a minute, since before we hit those last few pages, the story seemed to be winding down. And then… bam-bam-bam-bam! EXPLOSION OF AWESOME!!! To save money, I should definitely switch over to trades, but I love the idea that each of these issues is like a single off a record. Owning the floppies feels mandatory.

Quick Hits:
• Buffy The Vampire Slayer #17 (***): Uh, who are all these characters? I’M SO LOST!!! I shouldn’t have to read or reread the Fray series, Joss! Introduce your fracking characters! Oh, and O-B-V the dark and mysterious chick is Willow… DUH!!! This surprises no one, Mr. Whedon. BE BETTER, damn it.
• Eternals #3 (***1/2): The story takes a slight dip as we slow down to get a dose of Celestials back-story, but most of it is interesting so I’ll give them a pass. Plus, I’m not stupid enough to think it’s unnecessary. Stuff’s gonna git ‘uge, fellars! We gots to be prepare’d with the learnings and the bed timey stories.
• Green Lantern Cops #27 (***): Why does the art feel so dated? I like Luke Ross. Why does this suck? The story was fine. Boring, but fine. And then we get eyeball rain. WOOO!
• Iron Man: Viva Las Vegas #2 (**): Late books! Not gonna lie, this comic stinks.
• Jack of Fables #24 (**): This will probably be remembered as the worst issue of Jack in the entire run. It was boring, I was bored. The climax was the epitome of anti-climax. About the only thing I did like was the part where the kid gets his fingers bitten off. Other than that, it felt like the story went one issue too long, as if Bill and Matthew were as bored with it as I was. Still, good art, a nice Bolland cover and a page of Babe at the end, so I can’t complain too much.
• Spawn #181 (***): This was just weird, or oddly paced. The story definitely feels rushed here. Oh, I wonder why. McFarlane is returning to the book. Yay.
• The Twelve #7 (****): Yes! Phantom Reporter guy might actually do something about all the evil shit going down! Good for you, dude. Took you long enough. Also, the parallels JMS draws between Captain America and Captain Wonder where very cool, especially the stuff pertaining to their respective sidekicks… although, I doubt Bucky would off himself if faced with the same situation as Tim. Bucky’s too cool to commit suicide.
• Wonder Woman #23 (**1/2): Maybe this issue redeems this arc, maybe it doesn’t. Honestly? I could give a shit at this juncture. Bring on the next arc!

NOTE: The scanner works! Scans will return next week! Rejoice!

Bruce Castle Presents: Young Liars #1-6

Young Liars #1 (****)

I’ve seen movies like this first issue, but never a comic. It’s about music, violence, and character development. Do you like Tarantino movies? If so, you’ll want to pick this up. There is so much flash in this issue, but I was worried about the amount of substance I had received. After thinking about it, the substance is there too. David Lapham throws you into a bizarre world for sure, but there are characters there you feel you’ve met before. Sure they’re twisted, but you can’t help but like some of them. This is definitely a strong first issue and the last page hits you hard in a good way.

Young Liars #2 (*****)

Oh man and I thought the end of the last issue was crazy. Ok, I’m definitely on board now. This issue is truly amazing. It’s a flashback issue and we get to find out more about Danny and Sadie. Flashback issues have a tendency to be a bit boring because of all the information we’re getting, but this is about as far from boring as you can get. There’s so much flare in both this issue and the last, you’d think it would be hollow because of it. It’s not though. I don’t know if this is autobiographical for David Lapham, but you can tell he cares a lot about the characters and he gets you to care too.

Young Liars #3 (*****)

Wow, it’s amazing how much control David Lapham has over such a crazy book. He knows exactly what he’s doing. Everything is executed so well. Lapham will convince you that something is ludicrous and then a little while later he’ll convince you of the exact opposite. This book is all over the place, but it doesn’t feel sporadic at all. Oh, and on top of all that there was another big surprise ending.

Young Liars #4 (*****)

Yay! We’re back to all those cool character moments. In only four issues David Lapham has created some of the most unique and complex characters I’ve ever read about. They are so unusual and yet there is something endearing about them. This is such a dark series at times, but it can also be lighthearted at just the right moments. It’s also hilarious in a very warped way. I can understand how this book’s insanity could drive away certain readers, but everyone should at least pick up the first issue. If you’re brave enough to get on this roller coaster, it’s one hell of an experience.

Young Liars #5 (*****)

This series continues to blow me away. This contains more of that blend of present and past. Yes, we discover more crazy things from Danny and Sadie’s backgrounds. The twists and turns somehow continue. Just when you allow yourself to get comfortable, something smashes against your head. The last seven pages of this issue are a doozy. Within these pages, the punishment for cheating on a lover is so extreme it’s biblical. Think about the worst thing that could happen to a man and you may get the picture. Or you could just read the issue.

Young Liars #6 (*****)

If you’ve read any of this series, the title “LOW” is a bit perplexing. How could things get any lower? Well, at this point I’ve already learned that any attempt to predict anything in this book is futile. David Lapham has created such a marvelously chaotic world where no one is safe. I really mean that. NO ONE IS SAFE. Not even the main characters. Things spin out of control more than normal in this issue. But that’s the point, there is no normal. There’s no telling what will happen next, but I’ll definitely be there to find out.

Billy Z’s Top 10 Monthlies!

Hey, Bruce Castle came up with a good idea! Let’s steal it… but, with a slight modification. Whereas his list was culled from everything he’s currently reading I’m going to limit mine by spotlighting only those that fall under the heading of “ongoing series”. So, that means no minis (Final Crisis, Secret Invasion) or maxis (The Twelve, All-Star Superman). With that in mind, let’s move into the list… the Top 10 ongoings I can’t wait to read each month!

#10 – X-FORCE by Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost & Clayton Crain

“FUN! FUN! FUN!” That is exactly what this book is to me. It’s old school X-Men (to me, “old school” means late 80’s/early 90’s) with a modern edge. I don’t remember my X-Men having so much blood and gore, but I like it! Now, I have to be honest, when I first heard mention of this series, I was not at all impressed. The “bloody” variants reminded me painfully of that X-Force clone from the mid-nineties “Bloodstrike” (by Rob Liefeld and Dan Fraga)… or maybe it was “Bloodstryke” with a “y”? Anyway, by issue 2, I was all in, baby! As I said, the book is just fun, and with every issue the plot gets more and more interesting. Surprise, Bastion! Nimrod! Archangel! Every X-Villain Ever! Purifier Civil War! It’s a throwback without being regressive. Sure the old villains are back, but they’re fricking techno-organic zombies! Yes, Archangel is back, but it’s not because we or the writers missed him, it fits the story. It SERVES the story and not the fanboys. And that, I guess, makes all the difference. Maybe…

You can check out a review of this book here

#9 – ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN by Brian Micheal Bendis & Stuart Immonen

This has been in my mental Top Ten since it first came out, and it’ll probably stay there for as long as Bendis remains on the book… which could easily be for another hundred issues. There’s not much to say as to why I love this book so much, it’s just a solid, thoroughly enjoyable read every month. It’s Spider-Man at his purest, unencumbered by 50 years of continuity (although, at the rate at which Bendis is reintroducing 616 ideas, we’re getting there). I like that when someone asks me about super hero comics I can grab a copy of the first volume of this series, hand it to them, and let Bendis’ Spider-Man seduce them into out world. More than any other title in the Marvel catalogue, this book is completely new reader friendly. And, it’s infinitely relatable. It’s got drama (High School!!!) and it’s got action (best Spidey action in comics thanks to Bagley and Immonen), and it’s got heart. I love Ultimate Peter Parker and I love Ultimate Mary Jane. In fact, I love the entire “Bendis” Ultimate universe! I kind of wish Ultimate Spider-Man could be its own separate thing, like if the editors could somehow cut it away from the rest of the Ultimate books that would be amazing! Maybe that’s what the Ultimatum event is all about? Or, if we just replaced the 616 title with the Ultimate one? Wait, hold that thought—

#8 – THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN by “The Spidey Brain Trust”

It took me a while to warm up to it, but eventually, I got there. This book is good. Damn good. So good, it may finally live up to its hype as THE Marvel flagship title. So, the book survived One More Day. Actually, it not only survived it, it’s downright thriving. Why? How can this be despite all the haters? Because it’s damn good comic book writing, that’s why. I’m tired of the whining. I’m tired of the complaints. OMD is over, dudes. Move on. I did, so can you. If you’re not reading BND because of OMD, then you’re only hurting yourself, brother. The party train has left the station and all you OMD whiners can suck it!

You can check out a review of this book here

#7 –DETECTIVE COMICS by Paul Dini & Dustin Nguyen

Yes, Paul Dini’s underrated run on Detective is in my Top Ten. Surprised? If you’ve been reading my Round-Ups, you shouldn’t be. I don’t think I’ve ever given this book less than three stars. I love it! It’s fun, damnit! It feels like the old Batman cartoon! Yay for fun! It’s filled with crazy shit like: “Celebrity Detective” Riddler, Zatanna/Catwoman/Batman love triangles and wacky adventure after wacky adventure! And last year’s Joker/Robin story was one of the best Joker/Robin tales I’ve ever read, and Dini did it all in one fricking issue! I know Countdown sucked… BOO HOO! But this book is INSANE NUTS AWESOME!! While what Morrison is doing over on “Batman” may turn out to be the greatest run of all-time, I’m content to read Dini’s one and two issue arcs ‘til the end of time.

You can check out a review of this book here

#6 – THOR by J. Michael Straczynski & Oliver Copiel

Recently, Desiato articulated all the reasons he loves Thor in this post. I totally agree with him. Go read that post.

#5 – JACK OF FABLES by Bill Willingham & Matthew Sturges

Fables can suck my hairy sack… Jack is where it’s at, man! It’s just funnier. I pick up a Jack comic and I know I’m going to laugh. I pick up a Fables comic and I know there’s an outside chance I may lose consciousness. I still like Fables, but it’s been on the “phoning it in” train for well over a year, while Jack just keeps getting better. I’ve been saying that a lot, but I guess that’s what all these books have in common. They’re well-plotted. But the thing about Jack is you never know quite what to expect from the title character or where the story is headed. Jack is the ultimate suspenseful character. He’s just as likely to befriend or betray someone. I also love that the writers aren’t telling his story in chronological order. Every few arcs, we jump back into his fabled past and we get to see one of his many adventures re-imagined in such a way that almost always makes Jack look like a total asshole. And we love it. We love to hate this moron.

You can check out a review of this book here

#4 – YOUNG LIARS by David Lapham

Young Liars would describe my life if an angry midget cut my dick off and threw it in the ocean. I know these characters. I’ve met them. They are real. I pre-ordered the first issue not really knowing what to expect, only knowing that I really liked David Lapham’s stuff, he of “Stray Bullets” fame. Once I finally got my hands on it, and read it, I couldn’t believe how fucking good it was. And then I read issue 2 and I got that same feeling, but more. And then issue 3. Again, same feeling, but more. And now, whenever I read it, I’m always left with the question, “How can this book keep on this way? It’s too good!” I don’t really know how well this book is doing, if it’s breaking even, selling gangbusters or close to cancellation. If I had to guess, I’d say the latter, and that’s a shame. We need to get the word out on this book… don’t wait for the trade! The series could be gone by then, and that would be a damn shame.

You can check out a review of this book here

#3 – THE INCREDIBLE HERCULES by Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente & Khoi Pham

One of those rare books that gets better with age. I’m constantly surprised at how exciting and well-written this comic is each and every month. Its brilliant mix of mythology and modern day hijinks is what keeps me coming back every month. Hmm, it’s kind of like Jack of Fables in that way. Actually, I’d never drawn that parallel before, but The Incredible Hercules and Jack of Fables are exactly the same book! Cool. The odd couple of Hercules (super strong) and Amadeus Cho (super smart) is what really makes this engine hum. Their interplay is brilliant and hilarious.

You can check out a review of this book here

#2 – ACTION COMICS by Geoff Johns & Gary Frank

I wasn’t “all in” ‘til Gary Frank joined the book. Johns had been rubbing me the wrong way for years, and with the lateness that plagued the start of his run I almost considered dropping the title. Boy am I glad I didn’t! The Legion arc was satisfyingly epic and the currently running Brainiac arc promises to outdo it. The art is phenomenal in its simplicity. Frank’s expressive faces and realistic style combine with Johns’ nostalgic flair to give us a decidedly modern take on Superman that isn’t afraid to indulge in sentimentality once in a while. I know we’ve been talking about the annoyingly regressive nature of this current generation of “fan-boy writers”, but here… in THIS book… it kind of works for me. Action Comics is the exception to the rule.

You can check out a review of this book here

#1 – CAPTAIN AMERICA (OBV!) by Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting & Luke Ross

It’s the only monthly I buy from my local comic shop because I can’t wait the two weeks for DCBS to deliver it to my door. That’s how ####ing excited I get the day this comic comes out. I make a special trip just to buy it! And then I go home and scan the hell out of it and toss up a spoiler-riddled review on the blog. Not because anyone really cares anymore, no, because after reading it I become insane from JOY! Oh, how I love you Captain America… don’t ever change, guy.

You can check out reviews of this book here

So, that’s my list. Disagree much? Let me know. Let’s fight!! WOOOOOO!!!

Now that we took care of that, I want to quickly list off the runner-ups in alphabetical order:

Buffy: The Vampire Slayer: I want to love this book, I want to love it every month, but it too often lets me down. We had two great arcs in a row (Vaughn and Goddard) and then Whedon returns to fuck it all up with fan-favorite Fray in tow. Ugh. Close, but not close enough.

Captain Britain and MI13: Although I loved all the Secret Invasion issues, this book hasn’t been out long enough to earn its place in the Top 10… and, I’m not sure what the drop off in quality is going to be after SI concludes. For now, it gets to hover around the 11th place spot.

DMZ: I’m sure that if I wasn’t reading this in trade, I’d be on the list… and very near the top.

Green Lantern: Action Comics is just an order of magnitude better than this book. Period. I love GL, I love the new direction, but I can’t in good conscience put two Geoff Johns titles in my Top Ten. Sorry.

Invincible Iron Man: It’s too soon to tell, and as much shit as I give Fraction, he was born to write this book. As I related in my review of issue #4, Fraction’s take on the character is thrilling! Now, if Fraction would only stop writing anything other than Iron Man, Thor and Casanova I’d be a happy man.

Justice Society of America: What I said about Green Lantern goes double for JSA.

The Punisher: This book fell out of the Top Ten this month. Sad times. 😦

Bruce Castle’s 10 Books You Should Be Reading

Ok, I still have a lot more reviews to complete but I felt the urge to do this first. I picked up that second Ellis Thunderbolt HC this week and so I’ve been reading both of those in my spare time. I thought about how much I loved that run and that got me thinking about my favorite books on the shelves right now. So I thought I’d have some fun and put together this list. This is my top 10 current comics list. These are in alphabetical order.

All-Star Superman & Action Comics (tie)

I know I’m cheating already. Don’t worry. This is the only tie on the list. I only did this because All Star is ending in one issue and so after that finishes you can head on over to Action Comics. All Star Superman is one of the best Superman comics I’ve ever read. For those of you who think that Grant Morrison is too dark or too complicated or maybe even a bad writer, you really need to check this book out. It’s a silver age throwback, it’s creative, it’s funny, and it has a heart of gold. Action Comics also features some great Superman stories. Did you like the first two Christopher Reeve Superman movies? If so, you should really check this book out. It really does capture a lot of the fun and spirit of those movies. Much like All Star Superman, this book is just plain good storytelling that’s always a pleasure to read. Both of these books treat the man of steel the way he should be treated.

Captain America

I’m sure I don’t even have to mention this book. Everyone seems to love it and with good cause. It’s been a hell of a ride. You can definitely tell that this title is handled with care. Brubaker has a plan and he sticks to it. That’s what has been so fascinating is that everything has a purpose and a reason. He ties things together that occurred thirty issues before. Brubaker brought back a character that had been dead for 60 years and then killed a character that had been loved for 60 years and wasn’t hated for it. Now that is talent.

Final Crisis

This book floored me. To me, it usually seems that almost every major event disappoints, but in only three issues this one has blown me away. It’s intriguing that even with the most veteran of comic readers, their vision always seems hindered while reading a comic. There are a lot of people who will just flip through a comic, admire the art, and briefly scan the dialogue. Things that would be obvious if seen on a screen come off as much more subtle in a comic. I myself have been guilty of this on occasion, but with Final Crisis it feels like my eyes are wide open. I love to just read this book over and over and notice little things here or there or to analyze a certain panels meaning. I’m sure most of you have already had this feeling with a comic before, but this was my comic that made me see the medium in a new and better light. But besides my personal rapport with this comic, I just feel that it’s really good. This is, in my opinion, the way an event comic should be.

Green Lantern

I originally wrote a long Wikipedia type write up about why I love this series. But you can read about that stuff from someone who knows about it more than I do, plus it’s kind of boring. Hal Jordan was a mistreated character. Sure he was an original member of the JLA and had a cool ring, but who cares he had no personality. But Geoff Johns has taken Hal to new heights. He made Hal a character you could actually care about. On top of that, he made the GL mythos more interesting than ever by introducing a new creative concept about multi-colored lantern rings. That and the Sinestro Corps War was a hell of a great event. Now, thanks to Geoff Johns, Hal Jordan is a true A-list hero and this is a top tier book.

Invincible

This is a book that made Robert Kirkman one of my favorite writers and it’s still running strong. This is always an enjoyable read. It blends familiar superhero ingredients together into a fresh and entertaining comic. So if you’re looking for a fun comic, give this one a try.

Invincible Iron Man

This is still a fairly new book, but I’m putting it on the list anyway. I’ve always been a fan of Iron Man. Sadly, if you’ve been following the Marvel universe for the last few years, you may know the kind of crap I’ve had to deal with. Iron Man has been treated like a villain for what seems like an eternity. Thankfully, Iron Man fans caught a brake this year with the release of the new Iron Man movie. Finally, the golden avenger got some love. In addition to that, he got a new title written by the very talented Matt Fraction. Much like the aforementioned Action Comics captures the spirit of the Superman movies, Invincible Iron Man is definately the book that has the same feel as the Iron Man movie. This is a great Iron Man book and a great comic in general and I hope that continues.

Justice Society of America

Unless you’ve been reading this comic, you’re probably questioning my reasons for putting this on the list. Who cares about the JSA? But that’s the magic of Geoff Johns. Just like he did with Hal Jordan, he makes you care about the JSA. The roster is fairly large right now, and yet Johns makes sure that every character gets some time in each issue. He does this in such a way that it doesn’t seem needless. You can tell there is a purpose. Along with the old members, new characters are also introduced. Some of these characters would be disastrous if handled improperly. Geoff Johns makes everything work in this comic, it’s truly amazing.

Secret Invasion: Thor

This is a bit of an odd pick. Especially considering only one issue has been released, but there is method to my madness. I wanted to give some kind of recommendation to Marvel’s current event, but sadly I haven’t been too impressed with it. The best thing to come out of Secret Invasion is the tie-ins. Some other good SI tie-ins include: Captain Britain and MI13, SI Inhumans, and SI X-Men. Also, I’m a big Thor fan and Matt Fraction has done a fantastic job writing the character with both this series and the Ages of Thunder one-shots. So basically this is kind of a shout out pick, shameful I know. But I really did enjoy this first issue and it promises to be pretty great.

The Walking Dead

This would be the other book that made Robert Kirkman one of my favorite writers. It’s always impressive when a book can still be so good after over 50 issues. But that’s what this is supposed to be, the zombie movie that doesn’t end. If you loved those old George Romero zombie movies, this is a must read. What’s also fascinating though, is that you don’t even have to love zombies to like this book. There are times when the zombies are nothing more than background. It’s about people dealing with a really horrible situation. The first trade is only ten bucks. You really should give it a try.

Young Liars

This is another odd pick. Again it’s fairly new, but that isn’t a bad thing. Young Liars is about as close to a roller coaster ride in comics form as you can get. It’s just so wild and thrilling. It’s impossible to predict what’s going to happen next and something crazy happens in just about every issue. The only downside, and this is why I say it’s an odd pick, is because 6 issues have been released and already I’m amazed at how David Lapham can keep this pace up. I’m just worried he’ll make a false step, but until then I’m going to enjoy the incredible ride.

Wow! That took a lot longer than I thought and I wrote a lot more than I expected, but I love comics. I tried to keep a balance between Marvel, DC, and indie titles while still making sure these were books I love. Hopefully I’ll get someone to pick up one of these books. I also hope that I’ll inspire some people to give their own top lists. Thanks as always for reading!

Foilball’s Review Roundup #30 – EXTRA Long Edition!

The Boys #19 (****)

Finally! Answers! I, like many others, was beginning to wonder if Ennis had completely bamboozled us. Maybe The Boys wasn’t really about anything? Maybe it’s just about normal folks getting juiced up and beating on super folks, like in some twisted revenge fantasy? No, no, no… oh ye of little faith. Ennis, that bastard, had a plan all along; he just took his sweet old time getting to it. Like most of his books, this one is really about the corrupt military-industrial complex and their abuse of power. But, unlike in most of his books (of any of his books?), Ennis fucking spells out the entire scheme in this issue. No, not just the plot. He’s talking about the real world. He’s talking about America. He’s talking about us. This entire issue reads like a post on some “Aliens Killed JFK” blog. And I loved it (mostly because I agree with everything being said). Politics and spandex! I want more. Besides those bits, which take up the majority of this issue, we’re also treated to a scene where The Homelander and Butcher have a quiet little chat. The Homelander… what an asshole. Okay, so for all the haters… come back. This book is worth it.

Doktor Sleepless #7 (****)

I finally understand what this book is about: “Where’s my jetpack?” It really is that simple, and really that brilliant. Special thanks to this issue’s back matter. Without it, fumbling around on my own in the dark, I don’t think I would have ever discovered it. I’ve spent a great deal of time over the last three years researching new technologies and “futurism” that I became blinded by the obvious. Which is not to say AT ALL that I am a futurist, I just enjoy its study. Anyway, for months I couldn’t fathom what the hell it was Ellis was talking about, but not because I didn’t understand the technologies he was using in this book. I mean, usually the ideas he uses are so far ahead of the curve a reader literally assumes they’re pure science fiction. That is, unless… unless that reader has been doing the same kind of research. I had thought Ellis had lost his touch. I read about nanotech clouds and thought to myself, “Jeez, Ellis, this stuff isn’t bleeding edge anymore… you getting lazy?” But that’s the point. It’s not bleeding edge anymore. It’s not part of some far away future with beings barely recognizable as humans. It’s here. The future is here and we don’t even know it. We are the bleeding edge. “Where’s my jetpack?” could be summed up as the complaint of our generation, but it also serves to display our collective ignorance, or… is that arrogance? Where’s your fucking jetpack? It’s been on your back this whole time!

Number of the Beast #5 (****1/2)

I am really enjoying this book. This may be my guilty favorite of the three “WWII heroes frozen in time” events running right now. I love that it plays with dozens of strands of Wildstorm continuity and yet still manages to be daring enough to create a whole new world of characters and subplots that could stand on their own for readers that haven’t a clue about the almost 15 year history of the Wildstorm universe. And I love The High. I love that he’s feeling betrayed by his own people. Superman is one bad day away from being The High. You know what? Forget comparing this to Project Superpowers or The Twelve, this mini-series event is as good as or better than Secret Invasion or Final Crisis. I sincerely recommend this book. It’s 8 issues long and runs bi-weekly so it is quite an investment. But, the bi-weekly schedule means you don’t have to wait as long for your next fix. Maybe that’s why I find it so satisfying?

Young Liars #4 (*****)

The plot is so insane, it literally changes from issue to issue, that I have no clue where Lapham will take us next. Bravo, sir. So much shit happened in this issue:

Danny takes off his shirt.
Big C finds out the truth about her friendship with Sadie.
• Danny and Sadie have lots and lots of sex. And blood.
Sadie takes over a cruise liner at gunpoint… in the nude.
Lapham tops it all off with the best cliffhanger yet!

This is quickly becoming my favorite Vertigo title. Better even than Jack of Fables? Hmm…

Quick Hits:
Amazing Spider-Man #551 (*****): A million stars! Please, when this whole “brain trust” idea inevitably falls apart… please, please, PLEASE give Dan Slott his own Spidey title to work on.
Amazing Spider-Man #552 (****): This is closer to three stars, but the glow of the last issue has colored me biased. Oh, wells!
Angel: After the Fall #8 (***): These, I like these. Why didn’t they start with these? Also, Lynch isn’t as bad as I thought. It’s the artist that sucks. Why do they continue to employ this guy? His pencils are some of the worst I’ve ever seen.
Brit #6 (***1/2): There was a really fun issue in this first arc, and now the book has kind of leveled off. This last one was good enough to grant the stay of execution.
Cable #4 (**): Slowing dooooowwwwwnnnnn… inject plot developments ASAP!!!
Criminal 2 #3 (****): What a depressing story… my favorite kind!
Green Arrow/Black Canary #9 (***): It’s not bad. It’s not good. It’s just forgettable. Like the entire run.
Green Lantern Corps #25 (**): Tomasi’s writing is wearing thin. The issue wasn’t terrible, but then it took a turn for the cheesy once the Mother Mercy creature started spinning her life story. Lame. More Mongul, please? Oh, good. He’s back next issue.
The Invincible Iron Man #2 (****): Despite how annoyed I am at the forced movie continuity, Matt Fraction is writing a pretty decent Sci-Fi book. Now that I’ve read Casanova, it reminds me of that book. I’ll stick with it for now.
• Iron Man: Legacy of Doom #3 (****): Much better than the last issue. I like the giant interdimensional eye on the last page… so fruity!
• The Last Defenders #4 (***1/2): The reason I like this book: it appears to be the only Marvel book that is actually dealing with the political ramifications of the Superhero Registration Act and the Initiative. That’s cool.
Moon Knight #19 (*): Whatever. I’m canceling this shit.
New Universal: Shockfront #2 (***): This book is really, really slow. It feels like a relaunch and not the next chapter.
Nightwing # 145 (**): Enough with the stupid glider! It looks stupid! It’s a stupid idea! I don’t want to see it anymore! Stupid!
Punisher War Journal #20 (*): Can’t wait for Remender to take over solo.
Robin/Spoiler #1 (*): Huge, huge, HUGE disappointment. Nothing happened that I wanted to happen. Definitely a fumble. Second and inches turned into fourth and punt. UGH.
Spawn #179 (*****): I know hardly anyone is still reading this comic, and once McFarlane comes back actual anyone won’t be reading it, but David Hine is doing a superb job of fleshing out the Spawn mythology. This issue is really, really good. I thought about putting it in the spotlight, but what good would it do? Everyone has their preconceived notions about Spawn. Bah.
Titans #3 (-): Last issue for me. Thank God. I read a review where the reviewer said they really liked this book. They are a liar.
Trinity #1 (**): Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman sitting around in public talking about superhero stuffs… WTF? What worked as an epilogue for Kingdom Come does not work here. Not at all. And what the hell is Wonder Woman wearing? White on white on white? I’m blind! Yes, this is a setup issue, but what happens when the setup sucks? Also, the backup was terrible.
Trinity #2 (***): More of the same terrible from the first issue, with a slight improvement… the villain here is the lamest looking character since Busiek’s failed Power Company book. I give you two months Trinity… two months then I’m out.
• The Twelve #6 (*****): The plot is thickening quite a bit now, almost ready to serve. I feel like this is what Rising Stars should have been. We all know Thor is great, but The Twelve has single-handedly restored my faith in JMS.
Ultimate Origins #1 (***): Not the best idea ever, but I’ll go with it. Of course, I’m speaking of the “Wolverine is mutant zero” idea. I’m interested, that should be enough for now.
Wonder Woman #21 (***): I’m so confused. I feel like a missed an issue. This arc is just not doing it for me, I suppose.
Young X-Men #3 (*): I gave this book three issues and in three issues Guggenheim proved that he can’t write an X-Men book. So, I’m done.

Man, that’s a ton of Quick Hits. I’m in Ohio this week so I didn’t have time to split this up into separate posts. Sorry for the long read, and any and all spelling or grammatical errors.