Category Archives: Runners up

Reviews of my second, third and fourth favourite comic books I read this week, 200 words each.

Runners up, week 28: Literary cock thunder, mutant gay mariage and AVX…

2. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Century 2009 (Top Shelf Productions) 
The art by Kevin O´Neill looked better than last issue. Actually, both the writing and art in this were very strong, however I’m just not feeling it. Perhaps I’m oblivious to 90 percent of all the metatextual subliminal messages and symbolism. But there’s also the point that I didn’t particularly like the original two volumes of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen; didn’t read the Black Dossier; and besides the League haven’t got the slightest idea about characters like Allan Quatermain or Orlando.  Good ending, to a good book, but I’m just not giddy about this. Also worth noting: Harry Potter shoots lightning from his cock.
Art: 8              Writing: 8       Overall: 8

3. Astonishing X-men #51 (Marvel comics)
I have a nostalgic soft spot for the X-men, and have fond memories of the wedding of Scott and Jean. So, despite all the hubbub surrounding Marvel’s mutant same sex marriage, I dove head first into Astonishing X-men, a series I haven’t read since Joss Whedon left. That being said I had no problem picking up the plot. This is a pretty good jumping on point, so congratulations on that go to Marvel and especially writer Margery Liu. If you’re a fan of weddings then this is for you, otherwise it’s just wrapping up the last story arc. It shows some hectic snippets of the wedding preparations, and of course the wedding of Canadian speedster North Star and lastly a cliffhanger that falls back on the last issue. Overall, I found this issue pretty mediocre: nothing good; nothing bad. Liu has the character voices down perfectly, but writing wise that’s all that stands out. I had high expectations of Mike Perkins on art, but this did not look like his work on Steven King’s The Stand adaptations. Frankly it looked a bit rushed (some of the faces look somewhat… …disfigured). But even rushed Perkins looks pretty good. Ending on a good note, I really liked the soft crayon-like colors.
Art:
7              Writing: 7.5    Overall: 7,3

4. Avengers VS X-men #6-7 (Marvel comics)
I was pretty much down with Marvel’s big summer block buster event… …until Matt Fraction got his hands on it. I’m loving the art by Olivier Coipel. It’s not his best work, but even on an off day, this guy is brilliant. Now Fraction though, that’s a whole other story. He seems to be ticking off all the same boxes he used on Fear Itself (remember Marvel’s last cluster fuck of an event?), alternative magical suits, bad characterizations, disjointed (and  too many) subplots… I can’t wait till the next writer takes over.
Art: 8.5           Writing: 6       Overall: 7.25

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Runners up of week 27: Captain Roffa, Nick Fury, Invincible

2. Captain Roffa#2 / SUPER comics #2434 (Windmill comics)
I recently stocked up on all titles published by Rotterdam-based Dutch comic publisher Windmill Comics, so expect to see some of their products popping up in the following weeks. First up, Captain Roffa number two. This series stars Rotterdam’s own superhero while also offering a tongue-in-cheek Shazam parody. As in the first issue (click here to read my review), the first thing to strike me is the art. In contrary to the first issue, this one is in color and it’s amazing to see the detail in the thick-lined, tight cartooning of artist Boykoesh. Every issue of this series contains two stories. While these eight page comedy-adventure stories aren’t really to my taste, I have to admit that they are executed very well by writer Johan de Neef. The first story tells of an encounter with the Night Vampire (who looks an awful lot like Rotterdam’s own Jules Deelder) and in the second Captain Roffa gets help from the Giant of Rotterdam (back in the 1940’s the tallest man in the Netherlands). The biggest weaknesses of this issue are the two pinups: personally, I think they are a big step down from regular series artist Boykoesh, and I would really have liked these pages to be filled with more enjoyable content, such as the OHOTMU-style character bios’ that separate the two stories. But that’s just nitpicking: this issue is all kinds of fun and I hope it finds the hands of as much young readers as possible. If this won’t hook them on comics, I don’t know what will!
Art: 8              Writing: 7       Overall: 7.5

3. Strange Tales 150-156 (Marvel Comics, 1966)
This nearly comprises the first half of the 2000 Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD trade paperback. I had always heard of the legend that is Jim Steranko, but other than his iconic covers was not familiar with his work. This trade paperback is basically a showcase of his first work in comics (besides these he had only done two Harvey Comics). The first three issues Steranko worked over layouts by Jack Kirby, with words by Stan Lee. Then there were two issues written by Roy Thomas and full art by Steranko and after that Steranko handled both writing and art. The first issue that was fully done by Steranko was a step backwards, he was still clearly getting his sea legs. But after that it Dyna-soars upward! Dynamic, cinematic action shown through groundbreaking sequential storytelling, makes this super spy caper a delight for the eye. On the writing side, things gradually get better from Stan Lee, to Roy Thomas, to finally Steranko unleashed. The first couple of installments clearly have more than enough word balloons obscuring the art in a manner that we have come to know from working the Marvel method. But still, if you take it for what it is –a fun throw back, over the top sci-fi, super spy series- you WILL be enjoying yourself
Art: 8              Writing: 7       Overall: 7.5

4. Invincible #92 (Image comics)
Many people have said it before, and most of the time I didn’t agree, but this issue really made me feel that Invincible has peaked and now is struggling along. I love the characters, the writing and the art –normally. But in this issue Robert Kirkman’s writing felt disjointed and the art was just not as good as I have become used to of Ryan Ottley. Sadly the same goes for the pages drawn by Cory Walker. While the overall plot is enjoyable and fun –Invincible is depowered and Robot and Monster Girl talk about what happened when they were in another dimension (for 700 years!), the subplots left me entirely cold and the one with ‘black Invincible’ even made me cringe…
Art: 7              Writing: 6       Overall: 6.5

Runner ups for week 41: Swamp Thing 2, The Rinse 2, Marvel universe vs Wolverine 3&4

2. Swamp Thing #2 (DC comics)
This isn´t a gay thing or something, but man am I hot for Scott. Comic writer Scott Snyder that is. For a relative newcomer he has a remarkable track record. I´ve read all but one of the series he has worked on and loved them all (American Vampire being the exception). This newest incarnation of Swamp Thing, continues this trend. The second issue of this series was wordy, very wordy. But not in a bad way. This issue explains whether or not Alec Holland ever really was Swamp Thing. It also explores a new take on the Swamp Thing saga, as we learn that the Swamp Thing is a legacy character. According to this, the swamp monster that we have grown to know and love is only the most recent incarnation of the living embodiment of ‘the green’. In this issue a representative of the parliament of trees offers Alec Holland the chance to become Swamp Thing, and as such to become their greatest knight and take the fight to the new bad guy Sethe. After his decision, he gets chased out of his motel by a mob of Sethe’s twisted walking corpses, only to be saved by the person he really didn’t want to meet. Really great art by Yanick Paquette once again, with things like birds and plants which actually look like the way they do in the real world. This is my surprise hit out of the 52 new books by DC, I had never read any Swamp Thing, but this offers the perfect jumping on point. Art:9                   Writing:8.5              Overall:8.7

3. The Rinse #2 (Boom studios)
I continue to be amazed at how exciting writer Gary Phillips has made this story about money laundering. This should be boring and dry, but instead it’s both intelligent and informative as well as raw and thrilling. Most of all though, this is one of those very original series, which we only get few and far between. That’s why I’ll savor this story. Sure there are crime comics, mostly they handle with fucked up people doing fucked up things. But this is something else entirely, the main character is a successful small time hustler who gets tied up in a very big case. Before he knows it he’s got both mobsters and police after him. Phillips has infused his characters with a great deal of humanity. All of them, no matter how small their role, have an extraordinary strong and realistic presence on the page. And to make this click even better, once again we are treated to a perfect cliffhanger. The art by Mark Laming seems a bit cleaner, compared to the first issue. It looks like Laming’s gotten confident enough to do his own thing and isn’t leaning as much on influences from Sean Phillips on Criminal. Now I’m wondering if publishing this review will get me followed by the anti-money laundering bot again…
Art:8               Writing:9                    Overall:8.5

4. Marvel Universe vs Wolverine #3-4 (Marvel comics)
This series follows the events of the world being overtaken by an airborne virus that turns people (including those with superpowers) into aggressive, base savages. In the end, it’s up to Wolverine, Captain America and the Punisher to take a stand against the infected (lead by the Hulk), while Marvel’s top scientist try to fix things. Great covers, beautiful art and everything that would make a die-hard marvel reader excited: unexpected team-ups; graphic violence (the Hulk bites Wolverine’s arm off); characters that have never interacted with each other, driven to do so out of sheer despair; plus some dramatic action scenes featuring a virtual who’s-who of the Marvel universe, all rendered in really intense, dark art. The art by Laurence Campbell and Lee Loughridge reminds me a little of Sean Philips. Which talking of whom, this series reminds me a bit too much of the original Marvel Zombies by Philips and Robert Kirkman. I think that this reads much better, because it’s not intended as jokey/mondo/exploitative as Marvel Zombies was. Also, I don’t understand why the ‘zombies’ are still cognizant but seem to have devolved a couple of thousand years. They know no science, but only magic, and both Hulk and The Thing have kind of donned a shamanistic wardrobe. This series was really well written by Jonathan Mayberry, one of the most underrated writers at the big two. I would really like to see him write Marvel´s next big summer event. Ultimately though, I have to say I was disappointed by the ending of the series. There’s no real resolution, just a two year later epilogue that leaves a lot of stuff open. Still that doesn´t take away from this being one hell of a romp through the darkest corners of the Marvel universe.

#3 Art:8.5                   Writing:8.5                 Overall:8.5
#4 Art:8.5                   Writing:7.8                 Overall:8.2

Runner ups for week 40: Sweet Tooth 26, Wolverine Debt of Death, Red Wing 3

I only got around to reading four comics this week. So no quick shots, only the runner ups and tomorrow my book of the week: Mystery Men 5, from Marvel.

2. Sweet Tooth #26 (Vertigo)
Just to show what a cruel man Jeff Lemire is, he starts off a new three issue storyline which leaves last issue’s cliffhanger flapping in the wind for another three months. In some respects it sometimes feels like Sweet Tooth was partly inspired by the television show Lost and with this new storyline it looks like Lemire has taken another page from the Lost writers as he takes us back to 1911 to the search for an Alaskan Christian mission that seemingly has nothing to do with the present-day storyline. I am sure though, that these three issues will explore the cause of the plague that has hit the world, killing hundreds of millions as we have seen earlier in the series. The art is brought to you by none other than indie comic luminary Matt Kindt. Kindt is the perfect addition to the small stable of artists to have replaced Lemire himself on this book. While having a very unique look of himself, it’s so much reminiscent of Lemire’s work you wouldn’t notice it’s not Lemire when you don’t look at the credits. This issue’s beautiful watercolours and limited coulour pallet work wonderfully to accentuate the mood and time of the story.
Art:9               Writing:8.5                 Overall: 8.7

3. Wolverine. Debt of Death (Marvel comics)
A fun little one shot about Wolverine in Japan (in the seventies?) getting tangled up in a high tec, noirish, yakuza crime conspiracy involving SHIELD. One of his old buddies ends up dead and when he gets on the trail of this guy’s missing kids, he soon finds out things aren’t what they seem. Oh, and there are super deadly giant killer robots from World War Two. This is a very nice one and done, stand-alone story. Especially the art is well worth your money. Both colors (Bettie Breitweiser) and pencils (David Aya) are beautiful. Also, I was pleasantly surprised to find out this was written by David Lapham. The writer that brought us the foulness that is Crossed. Psychopath still has the chops to bring a story that doesn’t make you want to vomit (I AM a fan by the way). If you are looking for a Wolverine story that is not connected to the X-men, Avengers, Daken, Schism or Fear Itself you should really get your claws on this little gem.
Art: 9.5           Writing: 7.5                Overall: 8.5

4. The Red Wing #3 (Image comics)
Can a series be too original? Can a title be so unique that readers don’t have enough reference to place it in? That may just be the case in the third issue of The Red Wing. I love how scribe Jonathan Hickman is taking the well-worn science fiction trope of time travel for a spin. And I love the way that artist Nick Paterra visualizes time travel and chrono disintegration. But man, this issue just made me scratch my head. It has action, and human drama, both plot and character development but where is the overall story going? I haven’t got a clue and am curious to find out, but this may read better in trade when all the big concepts and mysteries can be enjoyed (and presumably understood) in one sitting. In this issue, we see the present being attacked by the future, the father of the main character being abducted and tortured by a future version of the main character, and the main character’s friend following their attackers to the future (seemingly only to disintegrate). The art is good, but a bit inconsistent, the facial features and linework looks like a blend of Frank Quitely and Jeff Darrow, but Paterra’s real knack is for drawing exciting space fights between a bunch of different space(and time)crafts.
 Art:8              Writing:8.5                 Overall:8.2

Runners up for week 39: Batwoman 1, Sweet Tooth 25, X-men Schism 4

2. Batwoman #1 (DC comics)                    
A flawless continuation of the Batwoman story by Greg Rucka an JH Williams III, showing that Williams doesn’t only have magic artist skills, but also writing skills (not to forget co-writer W. Haden Blackman of course). Art-wise, I would have liked to give this issue a ten, but I found some of the two page panel layouts were a bit confusing. But that’s a minor complaint of a beautiful book. This sees and explains Batwoman having broken off with her father and taking on a side kick, which I totally dig. This may be my favorite of the DC relaunch books, although I really think it’s an unfair comparison as this book has had a yearlong lead in time. Oh, and sometimes I get a bit over-enthusiastic about little art details (like the way I enjoy Yanick Paquette’s rendition of pigeons) and this issue has another pet peeve of mine: breaking glass. This issue has the most wonderful splash of flying glass I have ever seen. But it’s not just glass that looks great, Williams divides the book in two art styles. Detailed and photo-realistic with a thick line and stark color choices, for the out-of-costume scenes and beautiful painterly for the suited-up Batwoman scenes. I am in love with this book.
Art: 9.5           Writing: 9                   Overall: 9.2


3. Sweet Tooth #25 (Vertigo)                               
Jeff Lemire is a cruel Canadian donkey humper. There, I’ve said it. Not only is he evenly talented as a writer and artist, not only does he create one of the most unusual comics out there, but he’s also a cruel man. I’m not talking about the stuff he puts his character through in the book, but what he puts the reader through. For something like ten issues he’s led the reader to believe that one terrible thing has happened, which has influenced every decision made by two of the most important characters in this book. Well, in this issue, we learn that things did not pan out as we were originally led to believe… OMG, this has to be the cliffhanger of the year! I won’t spoil anything but oh what a surprise twist! The art is just as great as usual. Story-wise, the tension between Jepperd and the girls comes to a head. And he finds himself turned away from Gus, the (buck)boy he has sworn to protect. In my opinion, this is the best written issue in this series so far. We learn whether or not Gus survives being shot, then we see the group of survivors make a decision about staying at a safe location or heading further north, and then there’s this great, great cliffhanger!
Art: 9              Writing: 9                  Overall: 9

4. X-men Schism #4 (Marvel comics)      
This is like Marvel’s Civil War cross-over event, only for the X-men. The main point of conflict between Wolverine and Cyclops being whether or not they should put children on the battlefield. Cyclops thinks this is the case, Wolverine disagrees. They argue over this in front of the kids, Wolverine stating that the island nation of Utopia isn’t worth dying over, while Cyclops argues that this is where mutant kind should make their stand. And all the while there´s this crazy powerful super-Sentinel coming their way, with the purpose to destroy their home, Utopia. When Wolverine can’t convince Cyclops (or the children), he places explosives all over the island and threatens to blow it and the Mega Sentinel up, once it’s close enough. The children evacuate and then things get rough as Cyclops says: “She never loved you, you know. You always frightened her.’ At which Wolverine replies: ‘And if she was here right now… who do you think she’d be more frightened of?’ (Best X-men dialogue since ‘Professor X is a jerk!’?). This quip makes Cyke snap and things get physical, very physical as the two main mutants duke it out with a deadly Sentinel looming over them. All drawn very competently by the legendary Alan Davis and written by the writer who really gets the X-men, Jason Aaron.
Art: 8              Writing: 9.5                Overall: 8.7

Runners up for week 38: Criminal. Last of the innocents 4, Gladstone’s 5, Ultimate comics Spidey 1

2. Criminal. The last of the innocents #4 (Icon)criminal last of thew innocents 4 cover
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand Despicable Airlines keeps on flying. With captain Riley Richards at the helm, you will be sure to get whatever you desire and don’t have to worry about the repercussions for your loved ones. As we like to say here at Despicable Airlines: ‘No one ever got rich over their scruples, so let them fly!’

In this final issue we learn whether or not Riley Richards gets away with killing his wife and manipulating everyone close to him over some money issues. If you thought Riley had made some dire decisions in the previous issues, you’ll be astounded at things he is willing to do in this issue. The art, by Sean Philips, starts out a bit worse than it has been in the rest of this series. The main initially character doesn’t look like he had earlier in the series. However, he quickly picks up the high level of artistry from previous issues and ends on a stung note. Basically, this is the story of a man who has let his life go down the drain and is willing to do literally everything to get things back like they were in his youth. Even if it means he will have to live a lie (and even fool himself) for the rest of his life.  These four issues provide an illuminating peek into the darkest corners of a human soul. It’s not fun, but boy is it good!
Art: 9              Writing: 9.5                Overall: 9.2

3. Gladstone’s school for World Conquerors #5 (Image comics)     Gladstone's school for World Conquerors 5 cover
This is one of those series that takes well-known concepts and puts an entirely original and invigorating spin on it, in this case it plays with the tropes of the superhero genre and changes it up by telling a story from the viewpoint of the children from super villains, and their everyday life at a school for super villains. This issue is just heaps of fun, fun, fun! It’s impressing how, so far, with every new issue we learn something new about the characters and the world they live in. This issue sees Kid Nefarious banding together with his classmates to head out to earth (issue one explains that Gladstone’s is located on Mars) and defeat the Red Stormbreaker, the superhero who defeated all their parents. A fun detail is that Kid Nefarious learned about comic books for the first time, last issue. Now he’s constantly got his head in old comic books where he reads about the exploits and repeated defeats of his (and his classmates) parents, by Red Stormbreaker. Figuring that as villains their parents have never worked together to best Red Stormbreaker in combat, it’s up to their combined powers and education to restore honor to their parents’ legacies. This issue has great faux silver age art as well as great, dynamic action scenes by Armand Villavert.
Art: 9              Writing: 9       Overall: 9

4. Ultimate Comics Spider-man #1 (Marvel comics)ultimate spider-man 1 cover
Wow, this was really great. I just love the fact that Marvel’s ultimate editorial team is daring to put their ass on the line and do away with the old. This really feels like what the Ultimate line was ment for, putting new and unexpected spins on a bunch of characters we know through and through. The new Spider-man, Miles Morales (who isn’t Spider-man just yet) feels like a real, three-dimensional person. Brian Michael Bendis portrays him as a smart, but insecure kid. His supporting cast (parents and uncle) also feel really real. Plus, while this new guy also gets bitten by an irradiated spider, it looks like he has some interesting and original powers of his own. I´m thrilled to find out more. I really hope eventually we get to see some of the supporting characters from the old series (most notably Aunt May and Gwen Stacy), because Bendis wrote them so good and they were a very important part of Peter Parker´s story. Oh and the art, is this the first time Sarah Pichelli has done an entire Ultimate Spider-man issue? It’s spectacular, no scratch that, it’s ultimate! Because I always like to get a peek of the creative process, I’ve added this video of Pichelli drawing a page from Ultimate Spider-man:

I just wish we’d get some audio with it. I’d love to hear some of the thoughts that go into the drawings.
Art: 9              Writing: 9       Overall: 9

Runner ups for week 37: Crawl to me 2, Swamp Thing 1, Jezus Hates Zombies 1

2. Crawl to me #2 (IDW Publishing)
I reacted quite strongly (with my whole body) to this issue, because of this follows a guttural review (sorry, I’ll be swearing up a storm), describing my reactions as I was reading. Just to be clear: This is a horror book about a young family who is vacating their new home were something is horribly wrong. [written at page three:] The first couple of pages had me going ‘What the Fuck?!?!’, almost every panel. [Written at page nine:] Holy shit, I know this can’t be real. Ryan, the main character also knows this, but holy shit is this working on my nerves. We’ve landed smack dab in crazy town. [Written at page ten:] And just when you think things have turned back to normal, people have no eyes. This is some fucked up shit! [Written at page fifteen:] OMG she’s just cutting her hair, but it’s SO fucking creepy!!! [Written at page sixteen:] But I guess that means Ryan isn’t crazy (or at least not the only one whose crazy), as the scissors are talking to her… ‘You know what you have to do right?’. Oh no. No. Not the baby, right? [Written at page seventeen:] And then it looks like the baby’s gonna bite it… Shit man… [Written at page eighteen:] I’m clenching my fist here and have a weird feeling in my stomach… Things are not right. [Written at page twenty-two:] And it ends with the creepy child molester’s belt buckle. Wow, this went fast, but it was scarier than a fucking roller coaster!
Art:9               Writing:9        Overall:9

3. Swamp Thing #1 (DC comics)
It took me a while to get into this issue. I didn’t really care for the first half, but the story really picks up in the last third. That’s the part where we learn about a dreadful new villain (emphasizing once more that Swamp Thing is unmistakably a horror title). This part also shows how Alec Holland is plagued by ´the green´ (Swamp Thing’s connection to all of the world’s flora) and his memories of being Swamp Thing. While I wasn’t particularly excited about the writing, the art though… Oh, my God can this Yanick Paquette guy draw. He was already wonderful recently on Batman Inc., but with this series he has even improved upon that. For a random example of his unequalled artistic qualities, the first page of this book has the best looking pigeons I’ve ever seen in a comic book. They don’t just look like random birds, colored to look like pigeons. These are some realistic goddamned pigeons. Also in my review of Justice League #1, I said Superman’s new costume looks kind of like a royal ceremonial armor. …Well scratch that, in this issue he looks like a fascist superhero… Which I bet is not what DC was aiming for…
Art:9.5                        Writing:8        Overall:8.8

4. Jesus Hates Zombies. A Jurassic kinda life #1 (215 Ink)
This was one of my favorite reads in some time. Especially the number of chuckles (and even laugh out louds) it got from me made it rocket up the chart. The story by Stephen Lindsay doesn’t particularly make a lot of sense (however, I haven’t read the first Jesus Hates Zombies series, so who knows?), but if you want to read something completely different, you should really try it out. While the main character is Jesus (H.?) Christ, this isn’t your momma’s Jesus. For one thing, this Jesus curses like a sailor. It’s surprisingly refreshing to read the son of God go: ‘Sweet candy cane strap-ons! Is it really you, buddy? Fucking miracles never cease!’ Other important characters in this are Abe Lincoln (Jesus’ main wingman in prehistoric times), Benjamin Franklin, (SPOILERS) Elvis Presley and the animated wheelchair of Steven Hawkins (?)… The story: Jesus and Abe are stuck in prehistoric times, which for some reason is becoming infected with a zombie epidemic. They’re struggling with the decision of just getting back or saving reality as they know it. I thought that beyond the Walking Dead I was zombied out, but this proves me wrong. It actually a very good story, both exciting and funny and accompanied by outstanding, energetic artwork by Belgium artist Rob Croonenborghs. The book is black and white, uses a lot of effective dot patterns for extra texture. The only problem I had with this is the format. While there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with a smaller format, I thought some of the more diminutive panels became a bit unclear because of the scale. But seriously go check it out, it’s a ‘gloriously fun-filled prehistoric romp’ of 64 (!) pages.
Art:8.5                        Writing:9        Overall:8.7

Runners up for week 36: #new52, Stormwatch 1, Animal Man 1, Action Comics 1

2. Stormwatch #1 (DC comics)            
Okay, I love the first couple of volumes of the Authority (I finally got around to buying the trades yesterday) and this has me all giddy about those characters again. Very exciting to see some of my favorite familiar faces back like Jack Hawksmore, Jenny Quantum (the spirit of the 21st century), the Engineer and of course Apollo and Midnighter. In equal parts due to their appearance, their original use of superpowers and their bad-ass personalities these characters are among the very best of the spandex crowd to have arrived fairly recent.  It will be really interesting to see how this team will interact with classic DC characters. A tip of the iceberg was already shown, as Martian the Man Hunter is part of Stormwatch (as well as the Justice League). Basically, Stormwatch is the interdimensional secret superhero police. This new series is basically Stormwatch trying (very unsuccessfully) to get Apollo to join them because they want someone with ‘Superman-level’ powers. But then the roguishly handsome Midnighter sweeps all the members of Stormwatch off their feet to hit on Apollo: ‘I’m the Midnighter. With your help, I can kill every evil bastard on the planet. Interested…?’ (Cheers for my favorite couple in comics) Great art too! Oh, and what’s with the shimmering red cloaked guy that’s showing up in all the new 52 first issues?
Art: 8             Writing: 9       Overall: 8.5

3. Animal Man #1 (DC comics)        
This introduces Buddy Baker, aka Animal Man, just as I remember him. This guy can tap into the morphologic field of all the world’s fauna, to use the animal characteristics he needs. A superhero despite himself, yet foremost a family man. The first half of this issue tells you everything you need to know, neatly and elegantly. Without spoiling too much, first we get to know him and his wife and two children in his home environment. Then he puts on the costume to stop a guy who’s holding hostages in the children’s ward of the local hospital. In this sequence we learn about the kind of hero Buddy is. He´s hesitant to use violence, much rather trying to talk conflicted persons out of their troubles. Lastly we see one of his nightmares, which is portrayed wonderfully disturbing and then we see him waking up to see the weirdness has hit his private life again… Okay, now that´s a creepy cliffhanger… …well, maybe it´s not so much the cliffhanger that’s creepy, as much as the visuals of it (keep away from the last page if you’re allergic to dead animals). Nothing wrong with the writing here, leave it up to Jeff Lemire to rock his keyboard and make some magically good comics. Now the art though… Until the relaunch announcements, I´d never heard of Travel Foreman. And in the lead up to the relaunch his work got pretty hyped. And although I love the cover, and this issue´s dream sequence, I just couldn´t get into the rest of the art. It´s not bad, just not my kind of style I guess. It improved throughout the issue, but not enough as I´d like. Something about the rough, detailed line-work and lack of blacks just doesn´t sit well with me.
Art: 7.7           Writing: 9       Overall: 8.4

4. Action comics #1 (DC comics)      
This is a hard book for me to review, I had pretty high expectations, which weren’t met. Which doesn’t mean it’s a bad book, not at all. It’s pretty good, just not quit here nor there for me. Basically it’s whats been dubbed Bruce Springsteen Superman, with his shirt and jeans and working man’s boots. He’s a little edgier than we’re used to, threatening non-super powered villains with death. He’s also a lot more brash, making statements to the media that: ‘You know the deal Metropolis. Treat people right, or expect a visit from me.’ He seems to be standing up for the little people more than ever, which I also like. It gives him a bit of a political activist edge. Also, this issue introduces familiar mainstays like general Lane, Louis Lane, Jimmy Olsen and Lex Luthor. Plus a great Morrison idea of weaponizing the city against the man of steel. Art was pretty good, reminded me more than a little of Mark Bagley on Ultimate Spiderman for some reason. Come to think of it this whole issue kinda feels like the ultimate take on Superman: He’s younger, has to start from scratch in modern times, gets deconstructed to the ground, hmmm… Well if it worked for Spidey, it surely can’t hurt Supes. Plus if Bendis can pull something like this, I think Morrison should be able to do it well enough too.
Art:Writing: 8       Overall: 8

Come back tomorrow, to see if I can add anything new to my already extensively formulated love for Locke and Key. As I review the latest issue of Locke and Key. Clockworks…

Runner ups for week 35: Flashpoint 5, The Outsider and Gates of Gotham

3. Flashpoint #5 (DC comics)
Holy shit, was I giddy for this mini-series and this final issue in particular. I can’t remember the last time I was so excited by a mainstream superhero comic. Yeehah! Some background for the casual comic reader: This September publisher DC comics of Batman and Superman fame has stopped all of their series and will start out with 52 new ones, that all start from scratch. It looks like they are throwing away all the previous continuity and introducing the characters in new and exciting ways. In the previous months, it slowly became clear that their blockbuster summer event title Flashpoint would somehow be the catalyst for all the changes that were to come. And that is why I was so excited for this issue, this conclusion forms the creative explanation for what the hell DC is doing! In this issue we learn that one of the heroes is actually responsible for changing the time stream and causing a ripple effect that alters reality into that of Flashpoint. Because this reality is whack like crack he eventually undo’s his actions. However he is not capable of putting things back exactly as they were and that allows for all the stuff DC is doing in their 52 new number ones. I loved this very much, Kubert’s art was a little inconsistent but otherwise this book, in my opinion is the best event series since Marvel’s Civil War. Some quick remarks:
*There’s a great big fight in this issue, but sadly we don’t see much of it.
*There used to be 52 alternate realities in the DC mythology, why did only three get mixed into the new status quo? What about the other timelines?
* How do the time stream alternations make everyone in the new DC younger?
*Congratulations to DC for a very entertaining and hopefully successful transition!
Art: 7.5           Writing: 9       Overall: 8.2

4-5. Flashpoint. The Outsider #2 & #3 (DC comics)
If you just can’t get enough of the world of Flashpoint than the Outsider is a series you should really pick up. Strong writing by James Robinson and solid art by Javi Fernandez make for one hell of a read that will hold up even if you don’t care for Flashpoint at al. Basically it’s the story of an Indian anti-hero/villain/industrialist/millionaire who uses his superpowers to get what he wants. He’s pretty ruthless, is involved with the resistance against Aquaman and Wonder Woman out of business principles and is targeted by either one of those warring parties. This series mainly revolves around the Outsider figuring out who wants him dead and then trying to stay one step ahead of them. If you want cool visuals, this book’s got it: from a fantastic redesign of Martian Manhunter, to a 1970’s Calcutta ligthsaber gang war; newcomer Javi Fernandez makes this book look stellar. In the second issue the art took a small dip, but was still very good, the final issue rocked hard again. Also, this book makes a cool little nod to old DC continuity where there are 52 multiple alternate earths in different timelines, the Outsider has dimension hopping technology and weaponizes it in the third issue. Both issues got 8’s all around.
Art: 8              Writing: 8       Overall: 8

6.  Batman. Gates of Gotham #5 (DC Comics)
Aaaaaaaand the awesome sauce that is Trevor McCarthy returns to grace the pages with his artwork once more. I love this guy’s art so freaking much: from the creases and folds in the cowls, to the architecture and the perfect usage of toner dots. I’m seriously looking at this guy’s earlier stuff. This final issue was a lot better than the last one, both on the writing (Scott Snyder is back on board with this one) and on the art. I can’t believe how many people have been involved with this miniseries, (story-wise three, art-wise, art and layouts four, I believe). This series wraps up pretty good (and much better than I had anticipated after last issue), and was successful in that it provided an entertaining story, introduced a great new villain, delved more into the relations between the different Bat family members and offered a little resolve concerning the changes that are coming with the DC line-wide reboot.
Art: 8              Writing: 8       Overall: 8

My pick of the week will be online tomorrow, if anybody cares.

Runners up for week 34: Mystery Men 5, Ultimates 1, Baltimore Curse Bells 1

2. Mystery Men #5 (Marvel comics)
Another one of those series that keeps coming back in top spots on this website. Sadly, the same applies to this series as for Xombi: ‘At least it will be over soon’. Issue five is another great one, I can’t believe this is the first collaboration of this creative team. Writer David Liss (Black Panther: The Man Without Fear, as well as books without pictures and many, many letters) and artist Patrick Zircher (Cable & Deadpool , Spider-man: Noir) these guys are obviously insanely talented. While no new characters are introduced in this classic tale of Marvel pulp heroes during the interbellum, we finally get to see Nox in all her curvaceous evilness, we also witness an interesting change in the main adversary the General. Nothing mind blowing about this series, but man it’s just crafted impossibly good. In this issue we learn that the group of vigilantes has split in two, the Operative, the Aviatrix and the Revenant reject the Surgeon’s methods (‘I like it when their veins are easy to find’). The Surgeon however, comes across Achilles and they form their own dynamic duo. In the end, all heroes meet again and they confront the General in his new (and even more monstrous) form, a struggle that doesn’t fare well for our pulp heroes.
Art:9               Writing:9                    Overall:9

 3. Ultimates #1 (Marvel comics)
Yay! Finally a new installment of the Ultimates that looks as good as it reads! One issue in, I am really, really digging it. While I think the quality was a little less than that of Xombi and Mystery Men, this was flat out the favorite thing I read this week. I have a soft spot for the original two volumes of the Ultimates by Mark Millar and Brian Hitch and this series is tapping back into that. It’s superheroes mixed with politics, realism, intelligence and intrigue and reads like the original Ultimates mixed with a little Queen and Country. Nick Fury is back in the saddle and it’s shown that he has his hands full as we follow him in the ops room, where he is dividing his attention between a border dispute between Uruguay and Argentine that is escalating into a nuclear conflict, rising tensions between the EU and the Norse Gods, a civil war in Thailand, Captain America gone missing, and to top it all off he gets into contact with the evil Reed Richards and his mysterious German-based community. This is writer Jonathan Hickman firing on all cylinders, it’s smart, it’s an info dump, it’s witty and it’s very well written. The pencils by Esad Ribic were great too, I think he can still improve a little. Some scenes looked perfect, others looked near perfect.
Art:8.3                        Writing:8.9                 Overall:8.6

4. Baltimore. The Curse Bells #1 (Dark Horse comics)
I was late for the first series, but now I’m loving this thing from the getgo. I have no idea if the world of Baltimore is connected to the Hellboy-verse, and I have not read the novel which introduced the character. Yet I didn’t have any problem getting into the story during the first series. This new volume explains enough to not have to read anything prior to this. Baltimore hunts vampires, and one in particular. He does this in Germany and Austria during the First World War, only the war has come to a halt because of a plague which is linked to the vampire epidemic. In this new series he continues his hunt, kills a lot of vampires and comes across an entirely new development concerning the vampires. Great atmospheric art by Ben Stenbeck, as can be expected from a book with Mike Mignola’s name on it. The writing by Mignola and Cristopher Golden is just as atmospheric, we really get a feel of the times and the way people think and talk about things like vampire’s and plagues.
Art:8                Writing:9                    Overall:8.5