1. Walking Dead #100 (Image comics)
With a hit television series; a great video game; a table top game; action figures; statues; t-shirts; novelizations; and the news that this anniversary issue has become the best selling single issue of 2012, the Walking Dead really doesn’t need any more hype. Still, it’s one hell of an achievement that Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard (and Tony Moore) have come this far with their little zombie book. The remarkable feat of reaching one hundred issues isn’t what’s most noticeable about the latest issue though: It’s the strong character driven plot and the emotions it evokes in readers.
This anniversary issue is a real stomach turner. I won’t spoil anything specifically, so rest assured and read on. In the last couple of issues Rick Grimes and his little community of survivors have reached out to a larger community not far from them. When they learn that this Hilltop community is being extorted by a man called Nagin and his gang of enforcers, Rick offers to deal with them. At first it seemed to work, twice Rick and his people encountered Nagin’s followers, and twice they killed most of them, sending the survivors back to tell Nagin that the Hilltop is now under their protection. In this issue, we get an idea of the size of Nagin´s gang as they retaliate and randomly choose one of the main characters to make an example of.
Again, labeling this book as merely a zombie book is doing it a huge disservice. Sure there´s some zombies getting their heads chopped off. And, sure the story is set in a world gone to hell because of the dead rising with a bad apatite. But really, this is a story about survival and the strains that such extreme situations put on relationships and society as a whole. It´s because of Robert Kirkman´s choice to focus on character interaction, instead of mindless zombie whacking, that the gruesome horrors that fictional characters inflict on each other drive straight home with a sickening emotional sucker punch. Case in point is the death in this issue. Here we see a character that was introduced in the first couple of issues having his or her head brutally bashed in, right in front of his or her loved ones. A character that, time and time again has proven him or herself as crucial to the survival of Rick and his people. A character that had just found some happiness in this post apocalyptic wreck of a world. The character that just a couple of pages before his or her death utters the phrase: ‘I can’t stop thinking about tomorrow. I never used to do that.’ A character that was built up so strong that readers will miss him or her like a real person. Heck, I couldn’t stop thinking about that scene the rest of the day. My mind kept going back to all the good memories about the character and the five pages that show the horrific last moments in shocking detail.
On that last note, this issue isn’t just an issue filled with horror for horror’s sake. It sets up Nagin as a villain that makes The Governor (remember him?) look like Mary Poppins and changes the status quo of the series: Just as everything seemed to be looking up for Rick and his people, they now find themselves in a new bleak situation, which I can’t imagine they can easily get out off. Still, I can’t wait till Rick gets his hand on Nagin.
I’m not sure what to say about the art. It was as fantastic and dire looking as can be expected from Charlie Adlard. Although I have to wonder what his reaction was when he first read Robert Kirkman’s script. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been to render some of the stuff in here.
Art: 9 Writing: 10 Overall: 9.5
5. Super Dinosaur #4 (Image comics) 8.4
Another solid issue. Action packed, great art, cool new gizmos. Really, this has anything any age of reader would want. My only problem is that I just can’t get over the fact that the main character is calling himself awesome all of the time. But I guess that will come around on him some time in the future.
6. The Walking Dead #89 (Image comics) 8
This issue of The Walking Dead is just like every other, a well written and beautifully drawn story about Rick Grimes and his group of survivors getting in (and hopefully out of) a pickle. There seems something weird about Charlie Adlard’s art this issue. It’s a bit looser or something, it’s like he’s stepped over to working digitally with a tablet or something. Ah, well it’s still solid art.
7. The Flash #1 (DC comics) 8
Great art, hit and miss writing, a sequential flow that didn’t work very well outside of the action scenes. The story of this first new installment of the Flash was pretty interesting and delivered an interesting cliffhanger. I dig the armored redesign and the illuminating speed lines on the uniform, but this is one of those redesigns I think will look worse when drawn by many other artists.
8. The Big Lie (Image comics) 7.5
Great, inventive and balsy concept about a scientist that has traveled back in time to save her husband from the World Trade Tower attacks of 9-11. There’s a lot of exposition here, with the main character talking to herself to explain what’s happening, which feels a bit too old school for me. Also, I was kind of bummed that this is only a one-shot, I would love to have seen more of this woman, trying to convince people of the coming doom with her footage of the attacks on her futuristic device (an Ipad). While I like the story and concept, I have to say that I find the time of release on the decennial commemoration of the attacks in poor taste. Especially since the story is told with a dark sense of irony, the book being introduced and closed by a panel of Uncle Sam joking about lies. I understand and appreciate the reasons to present a story which is a thinly veiled metaphor for all the warnings that were ignored by the Bush administration before the attacks, I just wish it could have been brought a bit more respectfully.
9. X-men Schism #5 (Marvel comics) 7.2
As great as the last issue was, as mediocre and forced this final issue was. I appreciate the (much needed) shift in status quo that the events in this series present the X-men. However, Wolverine and Cyclops continue to duke it out, while the super Sentinel attacks and ultimately the two veteran X-men are saved by the X-kids, that’s just so unnatural and contrived, I can’t believe I read it. I did like the little epilogue of Wolverine, Iceman and some kids leaving Utopia and heading back to Westchester. The art was regrettably subpar, I always like any Kubert, but in my opinion this issue represents the low point in the art of this series.
10. Stormwatch #2 (DC comics) 7
Who are these Adam and Harry Tanner? I’ve never read any of the previous Stormwatch volumes, just the Authority spin-off. As much as I like the first issue, the writer and as much as I wanted to like this issue, it just wasn’t very good. The plot was unclear and the art looks rushed and inconsistent. Mayor bummer!
11. Tarot. Witch of the Black Rose #69 (Broadsword comics) 6.7
A June issue I still had lying around, this made me feel uncomfortable on SO many levels. This was made worse by reading it with my wife next to me on the couch. Let’s just get this out of the way: I like boobies as much as the next men. But there’s a time and place for everything, and this book draws so much attention to the cheese cake, it draws attention away from other aspects of the book. Sadly, this may actually be a good thing, because otherwise there’s not much there. The art, while sexy was inconsistent, and artist Holly Golightly seems way more experienced in drawing hot chicks than guys. The story was not bad, but not very good either. We got treated to a big fight scene, which while fun was pretty standard, not withstanding a fun little twist at the end.
12. Terminator Robocop. Kill human #2 (Dynamite Entertainment) 6.5
Uhm, was Robocop ever this ‘human’, I know him mostly from the movies and cartoon series, but wasn’t he mentally more machine than human? In this issue he gets all emotional and curses like a Detroit sailor. This series offers the interesting concept of Murphy moving back in time to help Sarah and John Conner stop Skynet and thus apparently interfering with the movie continuity? I’m not entirely sure if the artist (PJ Holden) is suited for this book though. I think his raw, shadowy and edgy style would work better in a horror book than in this action packed sci-fi story.
13. X-men. Legacy #255 (Marvel comics) 5.9
I’m sad to see this book slowly going out with a whimper. It started strong with writer Mike Carey at the helm and spinning out of the Messiah Complex crossover. Yet, almost immediately the series was hampered by art that didn´t look quite as good as that in the other X-books. Add to that, that this initially was the X-book that stands apart from most of the continuity of the other X-books, while relying heavily on knowledge of earlier X-men continuity and it becomes apparent that this book was never destined to be a big seller. But over the last couple of issues even Carey has dropped the ball more and more. While I love the fact that we’re finally getting a rescue mission for the X-men that have been stuck in the far end of space for the last five years, I strongly doubt the execution could be more terrible. Characters act wildly inconsistent, the story lacks any kind of lackluster and the art is over rendered and incoherent. I want to see how this arc pans out, but I think I’ll be leaving this book, even though I have been a vocal supporter of it for so long…
Posted in Quick shots
Tagged 9-11, Adlard, Comic book review, Dynamite Entertainment, Jim Ballent, Kirkman, Marvel Comics, Mike Carey, New52, Rick Vietch, X-men