RANDOM REVIEWSDue to the WizardWorld convention this weekend and the vagaries of my own schedule, I have to prepare this column nearly a week in advance. Please pardon any weird time travel episodes you may have from funny tenses in this column. I'll be referring to the con in the future tense when it will have already happened by the time this column goes up.
Let's do some quick reviews from the past couple of weeks.
SUICIDE SQUAD #9 is an excellent exercise in storytelling. How can you spend an entire issue with two people sitting in an office and talking? How can you make it interesting? Keith Giffen shows us how this month. Giffen likes to surround himself with other scripters -- notably Erik Larsen on FREAK FORCE and J.M. DeMatteis on JLA -- but he has a gift for words himself. The dialogue is sharp and staggers nicely back and forth.
It's just too bad that the audience didn't show up for it. I like Paco Medina's art on this. I really do. I hope he lands somewhere nice when the series ends in a few short months.
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #40 is mostly set-up for the next set of issues, but it hints at great things to come. Most importantly, Mary Jane is starting to find her way back into the book and that's a very good thing. I can't wait for the issue where JMS sits the two of them down in a room and has them talk for page after page about what their relationship is.
There's more to this issue than just that, though. There's a really nice scene between Aunt May and J. Jonah Jameson, marred only by the funky printing in the copy of the book I got in which some panels seem muted in their colors. I wonder if the colorists were doing it on purpose; there are panels where the colors are held over the black lines. Look at the second panel on story page 6, or the guy on the elevator with Jameson a little later on the same page. Just odd.
I'm surprised by how much I'm enjoying POUNDED #2. The punk rock scene is not my thing. And I'm not terribly sure I fit in with the clique that normally surrounds a book like this. However, Brian Wood and Steve Rolston are combining beautifully for a book that shows great character. The story moves along nicely and while you can identify with something in each of the lead characters, you're still not entirely sure if you're supposed to root for either of them. Rolston's art works on a title like this better than it does on QUEEN AND COUNTRY. His slightly cartoony style matches the lighter tone of this book nicely, and the expressiveness of the characters is just what the book needs.
I'm enjoying the new CAPTAIN AMERICA series so far. John Cassaday's art is the main drive behind the series right now. Every panel is a beauty. John Ney Rieber's story hasn't held any greater truths for me just yet and seems geared towards a larger collection further down the road. His first issue was a poignant trip back to September 11th, but it merged into another story that continues in the second issue that's slightly more standard Cap fare. There's nothing wrong with that, mind you. It's all in the presentation. After two issues, however, the series has gone in two different directions and I'm not sure what it's supposed to be just yet. My recommendation: wait for the trade, but if you can't help yourself I wouldn't blame you.
THE ULTIMATES is another monthly book that looks written for a completely different format. The fourth issue starts to show signs of pulling all the threads together, though, so it looks like the fifth issue will have great potential. To say anything more would be to risk spoilers. Mark Millar writes some nice dialogue in this issue, including a conversation of the characters discussing who'd portray themselves in an ULTIMATES movie. It's funny stuff that also points up an aspect of Captain America's man-out-of-time character.
(The PowerPuff Girls show up on a sign in Times Square in the issue, whereas DC wouldn't even let Kevin Smith sneak them into a GREEN ARROW comic. I find that funny.)
My biggest concern with the first issue of DEADLINE was that Bill Rosemann wouldn't know where to go next with the story. The first issue was a heavily introspective issue for the lead character, Kat Farrell. It served as an intensive introduction to a generally likeable character. It was up to Rosemann to follow through on that with a second issue that moved along the overall story, while remaining in character and keeping things interesting. The newness factor wasn't going to last long. The good news is that the second issue delivers. Kat does some real footwork here in her role as journalist, while stumbling into a situation or two that maintains the high concept for the book. At the end, we're more interested in the overall story arc than we were in the beginning. I'd call that a success. And Guy Davis' art is just as pretty as ever.
SHIPPING THIS WEEKEvery week, message boards light up with a thread devoted to who's getting which of this week's comics. I've been thinking of ways to incorporate that into this column somehow. This week is a test run of the concept. If you'd like to see more like this, drop me an e-mail and let me know. The trick here is that the only list I have to work from is Diamond's list of expected releases for 15 May from late last week. This isn't a complete list, and some of it is liable to be wrong. Read at your own risk.
MAR020030 AMAZING SCREW ON HEAD $2.99
MAR020068 CANNON GOD EXAXXION #7 STAGE 1 (7 OF 8) (MR) $2.99
FEB020037 SERGIO ARAGONES ACTIONS SPEAK TP (C: 2) $13.95
FEB020073 SUPER MANGA BLAST #21 (MR) $5.99
MAR020023 SUPERMAN ALIENS II #1 (Of 4) $2.99
Mike Mignola's AMAZING SCREW ON HEAD is sure to get the most critical spotlight of all these titles. Who doesn't love HELLBOY? And seeing a creator play with something new is always interesting. It'll be interesting to see what Mignola comes up with for this kooky idea.
SUPERMAN/ALIENS II is written by Chuck Dixon and drawn by Jon Bogdanove with Kevin Nowlan. The first mini-series by Dan Jurgens and Nowlan will be tough to live up to. The story there was interesting, and the art was stunning. Jurgens is the type of artist whose art quality varies significantly with the artist. He's described himself in the past as being a "director" on a comic book. That's a pretty good way to explain it. He leaves lots of room for his inker and colorist to shine.
Dixon and Bogdanove will have to come up with something good here to match it. Nowlan's inks over Bogdanove's pencils is something I'll be very interested in seeing. They aren't two artists I would think to pair together.
ACTIONS SPEAK is the second trade of pantomime strips by Aragones. The first, LOUDER THAN WORDS, came out a while ago and is really funny. This is what "Nuff Said" month should be. Aragones is a master cartoonist for many reasons, and this book is a great way to show that off.
OCT010612 AUTHORITY #29 $2.50
Wow, really? Someone wake me up when it gets here.
Just kidding. The Gary Erskine art looks nice enough, but I'm half of the mind that it'll be nice to see an end put to this series misery.
MAR020372 BATMAN GOTHAM KNIGHTS #29 $2.50
MAR020386 DEADMAN #6 $2.50
MAR020416 ESTABLISHMENT #9 $2.50
DEADMAN is still alive? ESTABLISHMENT is still going? DC seems to be publishing the walking wounded here. It's amazing IMPULSE and SUICIDE SQUAD weren't delayed a week so it could be released this week, too.
MAR020420 GEN 13 #77 (Note Price) $3.50
MAR020378 HARLEY QUINN #20 $2.25
FEB020641 HELLBLAZER #173 (MR) $2.50
MAR020400 JIST WITH CHRIS BACHALO CREATING CATWOMAN $5.95
MAR020402 LAB RATS #2 $2.50
MAR020438 LUCIFER #26 (MR) $2.50
MAR020404 POWER COMPANY #4 $2.50
MAR020413 POWERPUFF GIRLS #27 $1.99
MAR020383 SUPERMAN THE MAN OF STEEL #126 $2.25
Yes, GEN13 is dead after the events of issues #74 - #76. Since when has that ever stopped a comics publisher?
Chris Bachalo bringing me back, kicking and screaming, to JIST. I'd wait for the trade, but DC has a bad habit of reprinting stories in trades on lesser paper. Besides, the prestige format books hold up pretty well over time.
(This month's PREVIEWS order form refers to the artist of JIST... CRISIS as 'Jordan Cassaday.')
I'd make a LAB RATS joke here, but sometimes it's too easy. I want to like it. I'll give it another couple of issues, but I'm wary of the whole thing.
FEB021554 MIDNIGHT NATION #11 (RES) $2.50
MAR021381 NOBLE CAUSES CHRIS CROSS CVR #3 $2.95
MAR021380 NOBLE CAUSES GLEASON CVR #3 $2.95
FEB021556 POWERS #20 (MR) $2.95
JAN021569 SAVAGE DRAGON #97 $2.95
Wow, I can't remember the last time I bought one of everything from Image. This is one of those weeks. SAVAGE DRAGON is on a roll now with the Savage World storyline wrapping up. POWERS is always an interesting read with the funniest letters column today.
MIDNIGHT NATION is slowly chugging to a close. I bet this one loses a lot of sales to the eventual trade paperback. (JMS recently said that a trade would come out in September to collect the series.) Nobody can remember the details of a story like this when it takes so long between issues. I'm sure plenty of people gave up on it a couple of issues ago and are just waiting for one thick volume to sit down and read it in.
Finally, NOBLE CAUSES is a bright light for new comics from the past year. Jay Faerber's storylines are a lot of fun, if only too short. I want more with each issue and I want each issue faster. Soap operas work so well, in part, because they're daily. The grab you and don't let you jump off easily. A bi-monthly comic loses some of that momentum.
MAR021644 BLACK WIDOW PALE LITTLE SPIDER #2 (MR) $2.99
MAR021677 DAREDEVIL #33 $2.99
Igor Kordey's art on the BLACK WIDOW book is top notch, and Greg Rucka rarely (if ever, come to think of it) goes wrong. I'm enjoying this mini-series.
I'm enjoying Bendis and Maleev on DAREDEVIL even more, though. I've never anxiously awaited each month's DAREDEVIL issue before this storyline. Can't wait to see where this goes next.
MAR021688 INCREDIBLE HULK #40 $2.25
MAR021681 IRON MAN #55 (#400 SPECIAL ISSUE) (Note Price) $3.50
JAN022029 MARVEL MASTERWORKS FANTASTIC FOUR #1-10 HC (STAR07263) $29.99
MAR021665 MUTIES #4 $2.50MAR021666 NEW X-MEN #126 $3.25MAR021676 PUNISHER #12 $2.99
The PUNISHER storyline by Tom Peyer and Manuel Gutierrez is not bad, but it's amazing how much it feels like we're all marking time until Ennis and Dillon return. Rarely does one creative team define a major corporate character in the moment as much as they do.
MAR021657 SPIDER-MAN PETER PARKER #44 $2.25
MAR021656 SPIDER-MAN QUALITY OF LIFE #1 (Of 4) $2.99
MAR021690 TASKMASTER #4 (Of 4) $2.99
MAR021697 THUNDERBOLTS #64 $2.25
MAR021655 ULTIMATE MARVEL TEAM UP #16 $2.25
MAR021667 ULTIMATE X-MEN #18 $2.25
FEB021905 X-FORCE #127 $2.25
That TEAM-UP is the second part of the story with Rick Mays and Andy Lee art. Mays' art showed up last week in the latest KABUKI hardcover, SCARABS. It's pretty stuff. I'm amazed he doesn't get more recognition than he does.
ULTIMATE X-MEN features art by Chris Bachalo. He's popping up everywhere all of a sudden. It's feast or famine with that guy.
QUALITY OF LIFE is Scott Sava's CGI creation. And "SPIDER-MAN PETER PARKER" is the first part of the new storyline by Paul Jenkins with Humberto Ramos art.
This listing reminds me: Marvel is doing something different with its PREVIEWS listings, starting this month. Note the way the title names are rearranged. "SPIDER-MAN, Tangled Web", "SPIDER-MAN, Amazing", and "SPIDER-MAN, Peter Parker." From an organization standpoint, this makes a lot of sense. They're all Spider-Man books, with different modifiers and outlooks. I'm just surprised we aren't seeing it with the X-MEN books yet. No "X-MEN, Uncanny" or "X-MEN, New."
The Marvel trade listings are also better organized. Titles include the volume number higher in the name. For example, July sees "EXILES Vol. 2: A WORLD APART" and "INCREDIBLE HULK Vol 1: RETURN OF THE MONSTER." If nothing else, this gives us hope that there will be further volumes of Bruce Jones' HULK collected.
WIZARD MAR021867 BEAUTIFUL KILLER LTD PREVIEW ED #1 $5.00
I think I got enough of a preview in the latest WIZARD MAGAZINE. It will have to hold me until the series comes out in July. Of course, if I see this book for sale at WizardWorld East this weekend, I'll probably snap it right up.
MAR022112 FORGE #2 $9.95
If you're new to CrossGen and want to see a few examples of what it has to offer in print, there's no better way than this. $10 may seem like a lot, but you're getting a lot of story for your money on this, and not in any diminished capacity.
MAR021894 STRANGERS IN PARADISE VOL III #50 $2.95
Happy Anniversary to Terry Moore.
MAR022289 VANISHERS GN $12.99
If I remember correctly, this is the graphic novel written by Chuck Dixon.
MAR022108 WAY OF THE RAT #1 $2.95
And this is his new CrossGen book... Add to that his scheduled hour and a half presentation on writing comics at WizardWorld this weekend and you've got yourself a pretty full platter of Dixon goodness.
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