Tag Archives: Jonathan Hickman

Reviews for week 43: Ultimate Spider-man 3, SHIELD 2-6, Animal Man 2 and much more

Because of a very aggressive flu that has struck the whole family down this week, a whopping 23 books were read. But because the sickness hasn’t fully wore off yet, I’m not going to spend a whole lot of time reviewing them. So, in rapid succession my thoughts on the books I read this week:

1. Ultimate Spider-man #3 (Marvel comics)                                                            9.2
This is shaping up to be the origin story of all origin stories, it doesn’t miss a single beat. Everything from the funny, to the emotional is there. We still haven’t seen a costume, but we did see Miles his first spider-powered heroic feat! Plus, we get to see how this story fits into the greater continuity of the Ultimate universe. The art was a bit less detailed than the last issues but still beautiful. It’s a blessing that no one wears masks in this because Sarah Pichelli draws every face unique and every expression exquisite.


2. SHIELD
(Volume 1) #2-6 (Marvel comics)                                                               9.1
Apparently we’ve got Galactus to thank for the Gregorian calendar! The main plot of this series basically revolves around SHIELD’s old leader Leonardo DaVinci, who has come back and wants to change SHIELD (when he led the brotherhood, its goal was to protect Earth from anything that would stand in the way of achieving humanity’s and Earths ultimate potential), the new leader Isaac Newton however has calculated the date the world ends and is steering to that which he accepts as inevitable. Thus, the dichotomy between humanism and religion/fatalism is a central and very interesting part of the plot. Ultimately of course, this conflict comes to a boiling point; a war of ideas, actually! I really love how this series uses big ideas and weaves them into the tapestry of the rich (yet apparently vastly unexplored) history of the Marvel Universe. I am really excited to see how all of the subplots (about the two warring factions, this kid Leonid who wants to stop them, the mysterious figure of the Forever Man and Howard Stark and Nathaniel Richards stuck in the future) get woven back together. Which, I guess, is what we learn in the second volume of this series (which is currently being published). However, I will wait till we have all the issues, so I can read them all in one sitting. With a complex series like this and with the crazy big ideas that we have learned to expect from Jonathan Hickman, I think reading it in one big chunk will work better than having to wait one or two months between issues. It’s a shame I’ll have to wait a bit for the continuation of this story. But I’m sure it will be worth the wait, as this really is a tour de force of comicbooking by both Hickman and artist Dustin Weaver.

3. Animal Man #2 (DC comics)                                     9 
I can appreciate the art a whole lot better than in the first issue, which is mainlydue from me getting used to it. But I still find it too inconsistent for my taste, some panels are picture perfect and very expressive, yet others look a bit clumsy. Also, I think the uninked linework in this book is very effective and looks really interesting, but it seems to be getting into the way of the colours. In some of the smaller panels the tattoos that appear on Buddy’s body are black instead of red, and also what’s with the pink on his chin? That being said, this issue is quite the accomplishment just from looking the way it looks. I’ve said it before, but to my knowledge it has never been more true that there literally isn’t anything out there that looks even slightly like this. On the story-side, I’ve got nothing to complain about. Once again we see how Buddy Baker balances his family life as a husband and father of two with his super heroics. Undead animals still find a haven in the Baker household as Buddy and his daughter Maxine go on a journey to explain why dead animals are walking around and why Buddy is bleeding out of his eyes and suddenly covered with mysterious tattoos.

4. Batman #2
(DC comics)                                                                                                        9
And yet another artist that draws exquisite breaking glass. More smart and innovative storytelling techniques. This is the Batman book you CAN’T not read.

5. Northlanders #41-43
(Vertigo)                                                                                   8.7
Issue 41 is a beautiful little one-and-done story about the daughter of an island leader who loses all her privileges when her father dies. Very striking, unusual art by Marian Churchland, which fits the book perfect. Oh and the colours (Dave Mccaig) are also nothing to sneeze at. Plus another great example of Brian Wood writing strong women. Issues 42 and 43 are the first two chapters of a nine issue story about the first settlers on Iceland. beautiful, hard lined art by Paul Azacetta. This is one of those stories where there are no good guys and you’re constantly wondering ‘now why’d you go and do that?

6. Ultimate X-men #2
(Marvel comics)                                                                        8.5
High ratings for the art and the spotlight on Iceman, Human Torch and Kitty. Writer Nick Spencer proves his comedic genius in the bit where Johnny goes: ´Ha! Bobby used to date a crazy chick!
A little disappointed with the new villain rev. Striker, if was left up to me this character would have never been dredged up after the classic graphic novel X-men. God Loves Man Kills. Striker was originally a great character, his later incarnations though? -Pretty sucky. This latest version looks like a half human Sentinel, only not as cool as Bastion (an important and cool looking X-men villain back in the nineties).

7. Resurrection Man #1-2 (DC comics)                                                                        8.3
After finally having read this one of DC’s 52 new first issues, I understand some of the thing I heard on many a podcast. This reminds me of a solid ‘90’s Vertigo series. This totally has the feel of DC’s mature imprint both in art and writing. It looks good and really is comparable to art from ‘90’s Vertigo series like Shade the Changing Man. Even the story credits reek of old Vertigo, with its type writer font and stereoscopic colour combination. Written by Abnett and Lanning it’s a bit darker then I’m used to seeing them do, but it works wonderful.

Aaaand the price for hottest new villains goes to the Body Doubles! But maybe they are a bit too attractive, the scene where they are lying on each other in their underwear makes no sense. I understand that DC has gotten a lot of shit about their depiction of woman in the relaunch books and in most of the books that I read I didn’t have a problem with it. But this is just silly and sexist…. If it fits the story, sure make it sexy and if there’s a good reason for it, I can get behind the exploitative angle, but this is just unnecessary and totally random cheese cake… When they have some (really still not much) clothes on however, they make for really fun villains. This series chronicles the story of this guy who resurrects every time he dies, with a new power set. He seems to be missing his memory and is visiting an old friend of his dad for some answers when he encounters these two sexy bounty hunters from Hell. Oh, and in the course of two issues, he’s already died three times. Great fun!

8. Batwing #2 (DC comics)                                                                                                    8.2
Wow is this dark and bloody, and really good! Really refreshing to read a superhero book set in Africa and one where the stakes are realistic and terribly high.

9. Reed Gunther #1-2 (Image comics)                                                                           7.9
Poppycock! This was way better than I’d ever expected. Finally bought it after all the good things I kept hearing. And really I can’t find anything I’d wanted to see different. The first issue is a fun little all ages story, beautifully cartooned about a cowboy and his bear lending a hand to a female rancher who’s cattle is preyed upon by a giant river snake. The second issue sees our heroes entering a haunted mine only to find weird reptile creatures and a magic dagger… The creators have found a great way of building a continuing story through single issue stories. If this series is an indication, the brothers who created Reed will get far in the industry!

10. Aquaman #1 (DC comics)                                                                                             7.8
I can see that this would be very new-reader-friendly. I don’t think I’ll be getting into this though, mainly because of the character. But I’m curious enough to sit the first story arc out. We’re basically introduced to Aquaman, the least popular of all superhero’s , who is taking the decision to live on land instead of in Atlantis. Besides that we are also introduced to a weird race of piranha humanoids who are bound to wreak havoc on the surface world. Great art by Ivan Reiss!

11. OMAC #2 (DC comics)                                                                                                       7.3
I appreciate the art, it just not really my thing. I couldn’t get into the writing, even with a lot of effort. Again, a lot of strong nineties vibes, which I´m not digging. This was my last issue.

12. New Mutants #31 (Marvel comics)                                                                         7.2
I’m loving the thick lined indie art by David Lafuente but I bet I’m in the minority on that one. I only wish they would have gone with the more painterly style of colours-lines, like back in Ultimate Spider-man. Story not much special. It’s just one of those frigging Fear Itself tie-ins…

13. Justice League #2 (DC comics)                                                                                     7
It’s beginning to dawn on me that the Justice League just isn’t for me. I’m not a huge DC guy, and especially this new incarnation seems rather… …silly. The art is okay, but just not for me, and really, both art and story are sooooooooooo nineties, which isn’t always a good thing.

14. Dunwich Horror #1 (IDW Publishing)                                                                  6.8
This is based on the works of H.P Lovecraft. It contains a decent adaptation at the end, though I’m not sure how true to the source the main story stays.

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Finally… …book of last week review 41: Ultimate Hawkeye 2

Okay, once again stuff is interfering with writing reviews, so here’s a short one for my favorite book of last week. Hopefully, I’ll be more current coming sunday.

1. Ultimate Hawkeye #2 (Marvel comics)
And this shows once more why Ultimate Hawkeye is so much cooler than his 616 counterpart. He’s more akin to an athletic and military schooled version of Bullseye than the fun loving Robin Hood clone that we know from the Avengers. He’s portrayed by Jonathan Hickman as a strategist ala Captain America, only with a kick ass attitude (remember, this is the same guy that used his fingernails as deadly ranged weaponry back in Millar and Hitch’s run, not the glasses wearing Grifter lookalike from Jeph Loeb’s run). Not only do we get to see this great character in action, but we also get treated to some beautiful artwork which is even better than last issue. Dynamic layouts; emotional facial expressions; energetic action scenes; beautiful splash pages; and a confident thick line of ink: I COULD NOT possibly love this series more… …Could I? Well, this issue ends with Hawkeye asking Nick Fury for backup from the Ultimates. However, since the Ultimates are occupied elsewhere, Fury sends Ultimate X, his covert mutant team of Angel, Firestar(?), Jean Grey and the Hulk. Kill me now, I can’t wait for next issue.


Art:9               Writer:8.5                  Overall:8.7

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

Quick shots for week 39: Kirby Genesis, getting caught up with my MArvel and some more DC 1’s

A beautifull two page spread by Alex Ross and Jack Herbert, from Kirby Genesis #3, published by Dynamite Entertainment.

A beautifull two page spread by Alex Ross and Jack Herbert, from Kirby Genesis #3, published by Dynamite Entertainment.

5. Kirby Genesis #3 (Dynamite Entertainment)                                                      8.5
This feels like an action packed Saturday morning cartoon, complete with a giant toyline. There are like a hundred characters in the cartoon, so they can sell all kinds of cool action figures. If that doesn´t sound too good for you, let me just spell it out for you: This comic is excellent! There’s a bit much going on and there really are a lot of characters. But they are all extremely well designed, very distinct from one another, very original and just like this series, heaps and heaps of fun! Basically, this series tells the story of a normal, realistic world (not unlike ours), which in the span of a couple of hours gets bombarded with a whole bunch of superheroes and villains (all unused or license-free creations of legendary comic creator Jack Kirby). The whole world quickly goes ballistic, while we follow a kid named Kirby, who is looking for his girlfriend (who turned into some kind of power princess) and in doing so gets abducted by aliens, together with Sasquatch and subsequently delivered in the land beyond time… (come on, need I say more?)
6. Ultimates #2 (Marvel comics)                                                                                         8
Contrary to the first issue, this really felt like its own beast. This isn´t so much a new take on Millar and Hitch’s (or Hitlar as we know that duo on the millarworld forums) run on the Ultimates, but a good story by Jonathan Hickman about the Ultimates. This issue, things are jam-packed with action. And once again I appreciate the bold editorial choices that have been made to set the Ultimate universe apart from the 616-verse. [Spoiler:] All the Asgardian gods (except for Thor, it seems) get killed by the inhabitants of evil Reed Richard’s sphere society.
7. New Avengers Annual (Marvel comics)                                                              7.9
Interesting story about former Avenger Simon Williams (AKA Wonderman) trying to end the Avengers with his own team of superheroes. First target, the New Avengers, [spoilers], they go down relatively easy, which was kinda surprising. But of course they aren’t the big league Avengers, which are their next target. So, I’m curious to see how that will pan out. The art was interesting, not great but pretty good. I think what made the art by Gabriele Dell’Otto back on Secret War particularly impressive, was all the dark areas which hid a lot of details. This issue plays out in clear daylight and we see much more details, which diminishes the impact of his linework.
8. New Avengers #16 (Marvel comics)                                                                      7.5
Very well written story about how Daredevil gets to join the New Avengers. A cute tie-in to fear itself. Yet, again Bendis does this thing where the story is narrated through interview scenes. I can’t stand them! They work great however, especially in this issue. The art however ugh… I (really!) like Deodato a lot, but the coloring here is not helping him, it’s making it far too photorealistic. Plus the architecture and Nazi mech armors look computer generated, which doesn’t look good.
9. Green Lantern #1 (DC comics)                                                                                     7
Not enough action. I like the premiss of Hall Jordan without a ring, without a job and without money, and seeing Sinestro (of all people) with a green ring. Well played comedic bits. There´s just not enough action and that’s what the art team of Mahnke and Alamy do best, which is a shame. Will check out the second issue, but I’m still very cautious.
10. Fear Itself #6 (Marvel comics)                                                                                     7
Once again, the grade is pulled down big time through the writing. I don’t think I’ll be back for the next issue. The writing was a bit better, art a bit worse compared to earlier issues.

Will try to get the Book of the week and Runner Ups online tomorrow or the day after. Titles to be reviewed: Batwoman #1, Ultimate Spider-man #2, Sweet Tooth #25 and X-men Schism 4.

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

Runners up of week 33: SHIELD 1, Cloak and Dagger 1, Captain America & Bucky 620

2. SHIELD (Volume 1) #1 (Marvel comics)              
Last year when it originally came out, I didn’t give this series a fair shot, as it was written by this newcomer Jonathan Hickman, and had nothing to do with Nick Fury or the Supreme Headquarters International Espionage Law-enforcement Division. I got the first issue, read the first couple of pages and declared it crap. This week, after listening to John Hickman on the Wordballoon podcastmy interest was sparked and I sorted through my shortboxes to find this issue. And concluded that I had really done myself a disservice for not taking this series seriously. It turns out to be wonderful. It plays on some Marvel continuity Easter eggs (Egyptian En Sabah Nur joining Imhothep’s resistance, cameos by Howard Stark and Nathaniel Richards), while delivering a wholly original and smart story, that may well be retconned into Marvel cannon.  In this first issue we follow this young guy named Leonid, who has unspecified superpowers (and shows the black of the universe in his shadows). Leonid is taken into this organization called the Shield (called after Imhothep’s shield) and taken before the High Council in the Immortal City under Rome. Here, it is explained that the Shield knows “the final fate of Man“, and that their mission is to ensure nothing threatens the world before this occurs. A great premise and some seriously beautiful art by Dustin Weaver. I can’t wait to dig into this the next couple of weeks!
Art: 9.5               Writing: 8.5      Overall: 9

3. Spider Island : Cloak and Dagger #1 (Marvel comics)          
I’m not following this whole Spider Island thing, I’m not a big fan of Dan Slott’s Spider-man and something about this event just didn’t click with me. I picked this book up, because I’ve been a fan of Cloak and Dagger ever since the days of Maximum Carnage and had heard good things about it on the Ifanboy podcast. I loved how the characters of Tandi (Dagger) and Tyrone (Cloak) were juxtaposed by writer Nick Spencer. I thought that this was most effectively and entertainingly done in two caption boxes where both Cloak and Dagger describe the state of New York, when they first got around to doing some super heroics. Cloak: “Criminals ran the streets, preying on the innocent, poverty and hopelessness were everywhere, it was a den of filth, perversion and greed.Dagger: “Everything smelled like pee”.  Great stuff… Art duties where done by the talented Emma Rios who gave this book quite a distinctive look. I loved how she constantly drew Dagger surrounded by splotches of lights, while Cloak was followed by dark smudges everywhere. The only thing I didn’t like was the panel where Luke Cage seems to be wearing a plastic witch’s nose. The story was pretty standard, but executed very well. Cloak and Dagger are evaded from their church and get caught up in a fight between the Avengers and a bunch of Spider-men. Plus, we also learn that the near future holds some pretty dark stuff for Dagger…
A8.9       W8.4      O8.7

4. Captain America & Bucky #620 (Marvel comics)      
The short of it is: if you want to read a good Captain America book, read this and not the McNiven/Brubaker series. Sorry, but this is waaaaay better. The art is (as could be expected) knocked out of the park by Chris Samnee. This is basically an origin story for Bucky and Samnee has adequately tweaked his style to fit the era. The story shows James Barnes growing up at a military base with his father. Young Bucky is always getting into fights and his father discourages him to do so. When his father is unexpectedly killed in action Bucky stays on the base and is taken care of by Mayor Samson. With his father gone, he lets his mean streak out and is never far away from a bar fight. He becomes so adapt at fighting that he gets assigned to some super-special-training, to eventually (unbeknownst to him) become Cap’s partner. Sure, this summary of the story sounds a bit cliché, but the combination of superb art and great writing make this one hell of an entertaining story and I can’t wait for the rest of this series.
Art: 9              Written: 8.5   Overall: 8.7

Runners up of week 32: Red Skull 2, Red Wing 2, Criminal. Last of the innocents 2

2. Red Skull: Incarnate #2 (Marvel comics)
As a historian myself, and having studied Nazi Germany for a while, I have to tip my hat to Greg Pak for the amount of authenticity he manages to seep into his writing. The amount of research he must have done, must be ridiculous, as well as the way he must have critically edited his own writing and the incoming art from Mirko Colak. This may sound off-putting, but this is no graphic novel historic documentary, it’s a typical comic book, just as you’d expect, only damned good. With the Captain America movie in theaters all around the world Marvel can’t be blamed to publish a Red Skull origin just now. But this is not just another cash cow. It’s a very well executed story, that may have been in the pipeline longer then the movie and tells the story of young Johan Schmitt, the boy that will one day become the Red Skull. The story plays out in 1930’s Germany, where they know what a real financial crisis feels like. Poor, little, red haired Johan is given a rough start at life, and in this heart wrenching tale we see a shade of grey, who may have turned white, slowly turn darker, and darker.
Art: 8.5 Writing: 9.5       Overall: 9

3. The Red Wing #2 (Image comics)
This high concept tale of tie fighter, time traveling high jinks keeps delivering in the quality department! Great art, great writing telling a great story, in an overall fine package. Without spoiling, I really can’t say too much about this book. The one cadet following in the footsteps of his father, who’s missing in action time (and presumed dead) has some issues, while the reader learns that the father’s story is far from over. The concept of time and time travel, get explained to a time traveling fighter pilot, who doesn’t really get it himself. While, this may sound intellectually challenging, even with your brain turned off, in the most passive reading mode, the given explanation turns out to be just as entertaining as it is compelling. This book contains a couple of short pages containing prose, companioned with an illustration. Contrary to some of writer Jonathan Hickman’s earlier work however, it fits seamlessly into the story. The end of this issue has a cliffhanger I could not have foreseen, and I am very much interested to see how this is explained and dealt with. Also, check out the Comic Minute from the first issue of The Red Wing:
[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/hPFugszCcwI.html width=”480″ height=”385″]
Art:9 Writing:9 Overall:9

4. Criminal. The last of the Innocents #2 (Icon)
If you hate stories with despicable protagonists, then stay clear from this series. Or better yet, stay clear from the whole line of Criminal books by Ed Brubaker and Sean Philips, because every one of its main characters have something seriously wrong in their head.  Take for instance this series’ ‘hero’ Riley Richards, he has a lousy marriage, knows his wife is cheating on him, his best friend is a recovering junkie, and he has gotten used to a costly lifestyle that has led him to make debts at the address of some gangster. The only way out of his problems, he decides is to kill his wife and that’s what he sets out to do in this issue. He thinks everything through, and even creates a strong alibi by orchestrating the falling off of the wagon of his best friend. When said friend falls down unconscious, Riley’s alibi will be that he has been with him all night, taking care of him, while in reality he was out killing his wife. Sounds pretty rough, right? Fortunately, this miserable plot is interspersed with little flashback vignettes about Riley’s past in his wholesome hometown Brookview, which are drawn in the Archie style. These ‘dirty Archie’ tales provide both some breathing space in this dark and macabre story, as well as deepening the emotional implications of what Riley is doing. Also, a lovely cover by Sean Philips.
Art: 8.6 Writing: 9           Overall: 8.8

Runner ups for week 31: Red Wing 1, Spontaneous 1, Crawl to me 1

2. The Red Wing #1 (Image comics)
Time traveling fighter jet pilots and a young cadet who believes his pilot father who went Missing In Time (MIT) is still alive. Another great inventive story-hook by writer Jonathan Hickman. The art by Nick Pitarra is rich in details and varies from great to sublime between panels. Really good art, really good writing and an original plot. If that doesn’t make you want to buy it, then maybe you would if I mention the jet fight that sweeps over ancient Rome as well as dinosaurs. Honestly it’s a good book, fun and it promises to be a bit cerebral, go check it out!
Art: 8.5      Writing: 9       Overall: 8.8

3. Spontaneous #1 (Oni press)
An exciting new series from the creators of Ghost Projekt and the Surrogates, about a boy making an almost scientific study of the spontaneous combustion of inhabitants of his hometown. After being witness to a spontaneous combustion of a man-eating at the fast-food joint where he works, he meets a young reporter who is puzzled by the lack of explanation for the man going up in flames. The boy introduces her to his research and explains his theories about probability and such stuff. It ends with them studying and contacting another ‘burner’ who is especially volatile. Holy shit, the art is a mix between Sam Keith and Ben Templesmith’s more figurative work (say Fell), but it’s the grimy, dirty colors that are put over the inks that stand out the most. A fun and captivating first issue, I will certainly pick up the rest of this series.
Art: 9    Writing: 8.5      Overall: 8.8

4. Crawl to me #1 (IDW Publishing)
Genuinely creepy, this issue gave me that feeling in my stomach and throat throughout most of the story. Great art in the vein of Dave McKean and Ben Templesmith’s 30 Days of Night work (only much less ambiguous), for some persons the lightning effects may look a little too Photoshoped, but for me it worked really well. Especially the effects in the villains glasses, make him look extra creepy. The story tells of a man, named Ryan Shelby, who is waiting at his new home for his belongings to arrive, when suddenly a bunch of police cars show up to arrest his neighbor for sexual assault of a little girl. Ryan witnesses the massacre of the officers when the arrest escalates into a gunfight. When the dust settles and he goes to check things out it turns out the neighbor ( a registered sex offender) is a dark figure from Ryan’s past and that Ryan is mentally unstable. He drifts into a panic and everything around him disappears in splotches of blood. At the end of the issue it’s clear that Ryan is losing his mind mistrusting everyone, including his wife and afraid to take his medication. I really have no idea what next issue has in store…  Impressive book written, drawn, inked, colored and lettered by one guy: Alan Roberts. Additionally the back matter contains majorly interesting information on Roberts’ creative process.
Art: 8    Writing: 9.2      Overall: 8.6

PS. Since it’s already too late, the rest of my quick shots review will be up tomorrow evening! Good night everyone!