Green Arrow 16 (DC)
Good-bye Kevin Smith, hello quality plots and characters with depth, thanks to Brad Meltzer. While there are small continuity missteps (Oracle referring to Superman as “Clark”), but overall, yes this is a much higher quality story than what Smith provided. The opening scene between Ollie and Clark/Superman scene alone, while a little too humorous for a character like Superman, was just too funny not to enjoy it (and not as juvenile as Smith’s comedy). The bit of dialogue in which Ollie ranked on Roy for carrying a compound bow (and Roy’s reply which implies this has been an ongoing debate) was a small detail (among many) that boosted the overall quality. I agree with Ron, this is my pick of the week as well.
Spider-Girl 51 (Marvel)
A unique filler issue in that rather than being told from the perspective of May Parker, it’s told from the perspective of a freshman boy who is secretly in love with May. The issue focuses on his writing of a letter to her, which she is to read after he and his family move away. The story works and I hope this is a tryout for McKeever and Jones at Marvel, which results in a long-term assignment on some existing book for both of them. It also makes me want to go check out more of their respective work (McKeever on Slave Labor Graphics’ A WAITING PLACE and Jones on an upcoming BIRDS OF PREY arc written by Gilbert Hernandez).
New X-Men 131 (Marvel)
So this whole issue focuses on two things Emma Frost, telepathic marriage counselor/flirt treating Scott Summers, and Angel conducting some convoluted flying lesson to many of the flying students. Neither story made a bit of sense to me and to make matters worse, I fear Morrison is not writing a story, but rather is following Marvel editorial Hollywood mandates. The major exception to this theory would be the whole Hank/Beast is evolving into a homosexual cat, which just strikes me as incredibly lame. If Morrison wanted a gay character in the book, he had a number of choices without messing with an already complicated and interesting enough character as the Beast. Dialogue-wise, I was amazed at how he made Warren “Angel” Worthington sound like an infomercial host, and that’s not a compliment.
The Mighty Thor, Lord of Asgard 54 (Marvel)
While a long time fan of Jurgens, I am astounded at the immense quality of this writing. He’s taken a longstanding character and setting and suddenly turned it into an exploration of spirituality, morality and free will without being preachy. In recent months, Busiek tried to the same thing with Thor in Avengers and in The Order, but I’m pleased to say Jurgens has pulled it off more effectively. This issue genuinely surprised me.
Uncanny X-Men 412
What I like most about Austen’s take on these most overanalyzed of heroes, is that they’re stable. He’s really making his mark on the characters (namely Angel) and while the issue got a bit complicated (I never even had seen the hero who played a major role in this arc BEFORE this arc). That being said, as much as I love Austen’s approach, I think folks are getting used to a walking Xavier a bit much. There is a scene where Juggernaut throws Wolverine and Professor X catches him. Sure he can walk, but Charles is no superhuman, he has a super-MIND. Writers would do well to remember that.
The Victorian 15 [of 25] (Penny Farthing)
Wein (Writing script for a Houghton story)/St. Aubin/Moussa/Chuckry
Whether you realize it or not, a lot of what appealed in terms of good comics in the 1970s and part of the 1980s at Marvel and DC was written by Len Wein. A lot of the great characters (including Wolverine) that have are popular today have a touch of Wein in them. That’s why I so enjoy this story, sure it’s only Wein on scripts, but still this tale of a fellow from another time trying to “combat the ultimate evil now walking the streets of New Orleans.” It’s a tale that spans several generations and in a non-clichéd manner touches upon the assassination of JFK. And to top it all off, the lettering by Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jason Levine incorporates some really unique fonts.
Sigil 27 (CrossGen)
OK, what with the invasion of the Saurian homeworld of Tcharun going on at the same time Sam is trying to save Gaia (the central world of the human race), I think it’s safe to say there’s a bit too much going on this issue. And yet when Sam travels to about 10 different CG worlds in a minute, I found myself having fun reading the issue. You can’t ask for a story to do much more.
Negation 9 (CrossGen)
The way the last issue ended with a giant hole being blown in Javi’s chest, I didn’t imagine it could get much worse. I was wrong. Unlike many of the CG’s titles where no one seems to die (despite being killed mind you), Bedard actually kills some folks. Not many, mind you, and there appears to be some indestructible lead characters in this book as well. Nonetheless, the team of Bedard and Pelletier are giving folks a fun read.
Detective Comics 774 (DC)
Rucka/Lieber/McKenna; The Hunt: Moore, Gaudiano & Hoberg
I’m really sorry that Lieber had been given more interesting Bat tales to draw than this post-Bruce Wayne: Fugitive junk. Batman doubts that Sasha died, now we have to find out with him if his hunch is right and what that annoying Checkmate group has to do with it. Yawn. Thankfully the back up tale with new mystery hero/hunter by John Francis Moore almost makes up in eight pages for the main story I wish I hadn’t read.
Ultimate Spider-Man 26
I’ve got a nickname for the Ultimate universe: “The Not So NEW UNIVERSE.” With this issue, it’s official they’ve actually made a worse line of products than the Jim Shooter miscalculation of years ago. In actuality I can find more nice things to say about the old Marvel New Universe than I can say about this junk. And would somebody please explain to me if Bagley subconsciously thinks bald people signify cool, because it seems shaved bald cool guys abound in his books (this issue it’s the cab driver). Other versions of Spider-Man, when he gets mad he has the upper hand. This version of Spider-Man gets mad and then talks too much.
Sojourn 14 (CrossGen)
A lot of the love for CG’s RUSE results from the banter between the lead characters. The advantage that Waid had in doing the banter was that the lead characters were longtime associates. In SOJOURN, the two leads had just met, so it stands to reason there would be minimal banter in the early issues. With this issue, Marz feels quite comfortable with the characters and provides some great dialogue. I have no idea if he hopes to launch a series set in the world of Ankhara (a race of winged warriors), but it is so beautiful and interesting I would be amenable to such a possibility.
The Craptacular B-Sides 1 [of 3] (Marvel)
Unfortunately, given that this is a merely a three-issue miniseries, the reader is thrown into a slew of characters and powers we know nothing about. A lot of heroes come from New York, but have any heroes hailed from New Jersey? Not until now, and it’s a slew of high school students. Imagine Peter Parker, but with a high level of self confidence and you have this team. There are two stories, of the two, I prefer Weldele, who reminds me of a young Bill Sienkiewicz. Add to the mixture the fact that Sam Kieth is doing the covers, plus the characters were designed by Evan Dorkin and you have a really unique series.
Exiles 17 (Marvel)
Imagine a world where Curt Conners turns into the Lizard and then takes the wife and the rest of the block with him into Lizardland. From there breeding commences and the Lizards take over the Left Coast. That’s where the Exiles have to travel to change the timeline. The mood of Mimic has worsened and it’s starting to be noticeable to other team members. Winick may not like me saying this, but I enjoy this series immensely more than his Green Lantern over at DC.
Justice League Adventures 11 (DC)
I have no idea if this story starring the villain Chronos was written with 9/11 in mind, but as I read it it’s all I could think of to be honest. Instead of trying to commit a crime, Chronos is trying to prevent a tragedy, and it’s up to Atom and Flash to show him the error of his ways. Forget the whole hunt for Aquaman hook, you know how that’ll turn out. This is the JLA book that everyone should be reading.
Superman 186 (DC)
In a Pavlovian fashion, if I see a story written by Geoff Johns I instantly snag it for a purchase. Next time Il do this I’ll double check to make sure this is not part of some eight-part multiple title crossover (like this issue). When writing for one book, Johns is tops, when writing by crossover committee, like any other creator, Johns is working at a disadvantage. And in this story it shows. (Though I did love when Johns had Superman paraphrasing the old Jim Croce line: “Don’t tug on Superman’s cape.)
The Punisher 15 (Marvel)
This is the first issue of three in which Darick Robertson fills in for regular artist Steve Dillon. Ennis uncovers a popular Daily Bugle reporter—who has never been mentioned in the Marvel universe (a lame moment for me, if you want to have an unethical brand new journalist, isn’t it possible he works for a competitor to the Bugle)—who kidnaps Lieutenant Soap to force Punisher to allow him to cover Punisher for a night. You can imagine how it ends. Someone needs to tell Ennis that the first time he did a speech impediment character (sometime around Vertigo’s PREACHER) it was funny, but recycling the gag at this point seems a tad too formulaic.
Hawkman 7 (DC)
Where do I start? When Robinson developed the Times Past concept back in his STARMAN days, soon those stories became the one I looked forward to most. Given the reincarnation past and future of the Hawk duo, it would stand to reason that Robinson would evolve the concept with this first “Lives Past” issue. Well this past life focuses on the Western era of St. Roch and the lives gunslingers Nighthawk and Cinnamon. To really make this Western worth your while, consider it is inked by Tim (SCOUT and WILDERNESS) Truman, one of the best reasons Westerns are still of interest at present.
Zendra 3 [of 6] (Penny Farthing Press)
There’s not enough good science fiction comics out there these days. That’s why I want this series to succeed. That being said, while I enjoy the journey to the center of the plant Zendra, as on the surface tension and confusion continues to escalate, I’ve got a major problem. Moore is trying to write some strong female characters (and some great dialogue, particularly the comedy of the two women discussing their love lives loudly [shouting over the loud land borerer which is digging to the planet’s center). I respect that, but I wish the artists would get over the erect nipple concept on the female lead character. I wonder if they realize how many potential readers they discourage with this needless pinup art. That being said, I wholeheartedly endorse the text heavy mini-stories with illustrations that are done in the back of the book. It’s a good idea and is well executed.
Route 666 #3 (CrossGen)
Given the nature of the book, unlike other CrossGen books (as noted earlier) where no one dies, it appears the key to advancing this book is to have everyone dies! But seriously, things heat up as Cassie takes her leave of the asylum. Horror is a genre sorely unattended to in the industry, and I hope this is the project that reinvigorates a languishing but very valuable aspect of the industry.
The Path 6 (CrossGen)
I think it’s partially because I loved Simonson as a fill in artist last month, but I’m really not enjoying Sears’ work on this title. It’s not for lack of effort on his part, he’s technically dead on, but the dynamics of the issue leave me flat. (To be quite honest, the pencil and ink pinup of Wolf by Pennington toward the back engaged me more.)
Meridian 27 (CrossGen)
I am a stuck record, but here is my plea. Forget the exclusive CG contracts and sign folks like June Brigman for permanent titles. Forget this filler junk. Normally the bureaucratic nature of some issues (expected when half the titles in essence deal with affairs of the state, in addition to affairs of the heart and the heat of battle) bore me out of my skull. But in Brigman’s hands, Sephie’s political maneuvering to become Minister of Calador is absolutely engaging.
Ruse 11 (CrossGen)
Waid (Co-Plot) & Beatty (Dialogue)/Ryan/Perkins/Staples
In no way shape or form is this the standard art team for the book. So it is with amazement that I don’t even recognize Paul Ryan’s style in this issue, it looks just like Guice and company at their respective best. And the story (the origin of Simon, in essence) makes the story hard to put down.