The Shopping List 11-10-10 and 11-17-10

Lots of book. Little time. Here we go.

Avengers: The Children's Crusade #3Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #2 by Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung

– Heinberg writes great dialogue. Here, he writes too much. The issue is full of talking and debates and arguments and only one action of consequence.
– Cheung is taking his sweet-ass time on this book. I’m glad he is. It looks great.
– Once again, the schedule is killing the momentum on this book.
– I love Magneto and Quicksilver. I think they’re great characters on their own, but their relationship, especially here, really pushes them to a new level.

The Flash #6The Flash #6 by Geoff Johns and Francis Manapul

– “The Dastardly Death of the Rogues” wraps up a little too easily here. Spinny, spinny, rewrite the future, change how a police department is run.
– Johns gives his characters great, unique personalities.
– Manapul is good. Colorist Brian Buccelato makes him amazing.
– Now that this arc is done and Scott Kolins is coming on for a few issues, maybe the book will get back on schedule. More Johns Flash? Yay!

Morning Glories #4Morning Glories #4 by Nick Spencer and Joe Eisma

– This book is a delight every time it comes out.
– Now that the characters have all been introduces, Spencer can start placing them together, letting their relationships build. I think most geeks will relate to Hunter. I know I do.
– Ooh! The plot thickens!
– Eisma’s art has smoothed out again. It looks great.

Amazing Spider-Man #648Amazing Spider-Man #648 by Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos

– This is kind of exactly what I want in a Spider-Man book.
– I’ve never liked Humberto Ramos’ art. Runaways was close though. Here, it perfectly fits the energetic pace of Slott’s script.
– The issue has about 10 plots. Instead of cutting between each, they are dealt with one by one. You may think it would come off as disjointed, but it works. If these are the stories Slott is going to tell, I’m interested.
– Spider-Girl prologue! Yay!

Spider-Gril #1Spider-Girl #1 by Paul Tobin, Clayton Henry, and Dean Haspiel

– It’s nice to see Anya land on her feet after the cancellation of the great Young Allies.
– I wish the industry could have supported this book with the name “Araña.” It reeks of changing a book to suit the industry rather than the story.
– This book is the Marvel equivalent of Batgirl. That’s a good thing. It’s fun. It’s exciting. It will live and die by its name-recognition and guest stars.
– Clayton Henry draws an amazing range of emotions. He’s a real talent.
– Anytime I get to complain about the cancellation of Young Allies I’m going to take it.

Superior #2Superior #2 by Mark Millar and Leinil Yu

– A bit of a let-down. I know Millar loves the Superman archetype. Now do something new with it.
– Yu’s pencils are beautiful (just look at those pages in the backmatter), but the colors are too splotchy. It looks like Superior has a rash.
– This book has exactly what Nemesis doesn’t: heart. The only emotions in that book are anger, rage, wrath, blah blah.

T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #1T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #1 by Nick Spencer and Cafu **

– I bought this based on Nick Spencer and good reviews. After the incredible debut of Morning Glories, this falls flat.
– I’m not sure who is going to be the real protagonist(s?) here and the plot is a bit overthought.
– The big hook is the that the agents are given super-powers that will eventually kill them. But Spencer doesn’t show enough (if any) of the characters who would take such a deal.
– Cafu’s art is clean and Santiago Arcas’ colors give some eerie realism. They’d make a great fill-in if Salvador Larocca needed a break on Iron Man.

Thunderbolts #150Thunderbolts #150 by Jeff Parker and Kev Walker

– This issue feels like a book. For $5, you get a 40-page main story, an 8-page “Thunderbolts Saga,” and a 38-page reprint of Thunderbolts #1. Almost double the standard cost of the book, but well worth it.
– A pared-down cast results in some great conflicts and better outcomes. Tony Stark disarms Ghost with no punches or repulsor rays, just words. Clever.
– It’s nice to see Kev Walker back. If his art has always been this good, I’ve got to do some back issue searching.
– I know people complain about anniversary issues containing reprint content, but this had something going for it; I had never read the story. Despite knowing the plot, specifically the twist ending, I was surprised how much I enjoyed the story. It’s a bit wordy and Bagley’s art is not as clean as it would be on Ultimate Spider-Man, but very enjoyable.

X-Factor #211X-Factor #211 by Peter David and Emanuela Lupacchino

– Last issue, all the shit of the past few issues launched fanwards. Here, it splays all about Las Vegas. Three words: Undead Viking Henchmen.
– David’s best skill is his character interactions. Bringing prim and proper Thor and the motley crew of X-Factor Investigations together should be brilliant.
– I can’t wait to see where Emanuela Lupacchino ends up next. She’s so good. At NYCC, regular X-Factor artist Valentine DeLandro told me he would understand if they dropped him from the book and put here on full-time. (I’ve heard no plans to do so.)

Sorry for limiting this post to simple bullets points, but you know, life happens. Big week this week. Cap, Iron Man, Ultimate Spider-Man #150, and my girl Batwoman. Woot.

The Shopping List 10-20-10

It’s Wednesday. i’ve got some free time. May as well knock these reviews out while they’re fresh in my mind.

Another note before I begin: My comics enjoyment has really increased since dropping a few titles. It’s just nice to look and the pile and not expect a stinker in the bunch.

Dakota North. Ass kicker.

Daredevil #511Daredevil #511 by Andy Diggle and Roberto De La Torre ****

I always focus on the supporting cast of books like Captain America and Invincible Iron Man, but these Shadowland tie-ins have certainly shown the strength of secondary and tertiary characters like Foggy Nelson (risking life and limb to save his friend), Dakota North (kicking some ass) and Becky Blake. And of course, past issues have spotlighted Elektra and Master Izo. Matt Murdock/Daredevil only appears on one page of this issue, but it was still a great read.

All the tension in Hell’s Kitchen is coming to a head. One issue of Shadowland, one issue of Daredevil left and 10 years of great DD stories are over. Please, please, please let it end well.

Despite a lack of heroic action, De La Torre turns in a striking, emotion issue. I love the spaces he leaves in his black inked areas. They add dimension and allow some color to shine through. They’re a nice touch.

Morning Glories #3Morning Glories #3 by Nick Spencer and Joe Eisma ****

Issue three of the industry’s newest surprise hit starts with a flashback. It appears some of the mysteries in Morning Glories have been going on for centuries. It’s a short enough sequence that the reader doesn’t get impatient, but connects to the plot enough that I can’t wait to see how this all ties together.

Much of this issue is spent building the cast, adding new students (prisoners) as well as staff at the school. It succeeds in expanding the world of the book, but Jun, Zoe and Hunter are nowhere to be found. Not a problem necessarily, but this early in the run, I’d hate to see half the main cast left behind.

Joe Eisma’s art is starting to look a bit uneven. Depending on the page and even panel, characters are smooth, then jagged and back again. Luckily, Alex Sollazzo’s colors keep everything balanced.

X-Factor #210X-Factor #210 by Peter David and Valentine De Landro *****

Writers of a team books could take a lesson from X-Factor. Rather than cram all the characters into one story, or split 22 pages 7 ways (my complaint to Matt Fraction a few weeks ago) Peter David allows the group to fracture and deal with their conflicts themselves. Many books would follow one plotline to its conclusion, then have an issue between arcs to catch us up on the other characters. But by taking a break from the great, great Vegas story, David ensures that we don’t forget about Rahne and Rictor. Speaking of Rahne, it’s great to see her laughing after the brood-fest that was X-Force.

There’s some big laughs and big drama here. And it’s stuff I’ve never read in a hero book before. Love it.

De Landro does his own inks here and I really like the results. Yes, the thicker lines can make mouths look a bit off, but details like clothing and environments look great.

A trimmed pull-list means some high-ranking books. Yay!

The Shopping List 10-13-10

I really wish I had more posts on here, but between moving the blog and NYCC, my focus hasn’t been on writing about comics. It’ll come.

Invincible Iron Man #31Invincible Iron Man #31 by Matt Fraction and Salvador Larocca

What a good book this is. How many sci-fi/industrial espionage books are there in mainstream comics? Not enough. Someone finally put together the whole Detroit Steel/videogame connection. And in the last issue of “Stark Resilient,” I’m curious to see how Tony is going to get out of this mess. It’s great to see Fraction getting milage out out his new characters, Sasha and Justine in this case.

I have no real comments on Larroca’s art, but I will say his consistency continues.

I’ve run out of ways to criticize this book. I’m not dropping it, but don’t be surprised if I skip a few issues between my reviews.

Shadowland #4Shadowland #4 by Andy Diggle and Billy Tan

This is the best issue of Shadowland yet. That may not say much, but it’s always nice to see an upgrade. The bulk of the issue was building for next issue’s climax, but that’s not a bad thing. What it reminds me of the most is Siege #3. Daredevil (Osbourne) has been defeated, but that only sets up the big bad, the Beast (the Void).

Even Billy Tan shows some improvement this issue. Part of me thinks it’s the coloring. Focusing on Elektra, the rendering of her face offers the kind of dimension I’m not used to seeing in Tan’s pencils. I don’t remember seeing colors this bright in Shadowland. It’s nice.

The supporting cast gets more focus this time with Spider-Man and Wolverine in particular having some nice moments. To speak of Elektra again, after seeing here lead and kick some ass here, I would love to see a new book focusing on her. I believe she is part of the upcoming Heroes for Hire. I hope she’s a big one.

Once again, I want to express my disappointment with John Cassaday’s covers. I love Cassaday, but these covers are super boring. Also, this issue’s is a lie as the Bullseye resurrection is never completed (right?).

Yes, Shadowland is a disappointment, and one of my favorite books is coming to an end because of it, but here’s hoping it can go out an a good note.

Superior #1Superior #1 by Mark Millar and Leinil Francis Yu

Superior is exactly what I expected and was hoping for. Forgetting my displeasure with Nemesis, I enjoy Millar’s books. He’s the kind of guy who can get me interested in even Superman. Through his character’s discussion, he acknowledges an opinion held by much of fandom “He’s boring, He’s a boy scout, etc.” But you know it’s only to turn things around show you how interesting a nigh-perfect alien can be.

There’s something to be said for a Scotsman who’s so interested in the hero that best personifies the American Dream. Same goes for Grant Morrison. Even Alan Moore (British, of course) wrote a couple great Supes stories. What is it about Superman that gets the British imagination running wild?

I don’t have the love for Leinel Yu that many do. His action is great, but he has a tendency to over-crosshatch his characters. His colorists then use those lines as a guide for shadows and highlights. This redundancy in rendering only leads to unnatural faces. His mouths are also a weak point. They are often open for no reason. In comics, a character’s face determines the tone a reader give a speech bubble; gaping mouths and squinted eyes make them look unsure and a bit dumb.

This is issue is mostly setting the scene, but I’m in for next month.

The Shopping List 9-22-10

Uhh … Mixed bag this week. I may have found another unclaimed seven dollars for comics next month.

Avengers Academy #4 by Christos Gage and Mike McKone ****

This second and concluding chapter of the “Scared Straight” crossover with Thunderbolts is also the weakest issue of this book yet. Most of this has to do with the prominence of Mettle, who I so far find the least interesting of the group. Also, his persistent use of the word “brah” is grating.

There is some good stuff here though. Hazmat makes a nice threat and you can really tell Hank Pym wants what’s best for these kids. Christos Gage decides to play Norman Osborne as Lex Luthor rather than the dissociative identity disorder guy we’ve seen since Civil War. Nothing wrong with that, but you really wonder how these kids could believe a word he says. The heroes have said a million times since he was in power “He’s the freaking Green Goblin!”

As I say, this may be the weakest issue of this book so far, but still, four stars.

Black Widow #6Black Widow #6 by Dwayne Swierczynski and Manuel Garcia ***

This is an exciting start for a new creative team. Nothing more complex than a case of mistaken identity, but Swierczynski has Natasha doing some undercover work, surveillance, and hand-to-hand combat proving her years of training.

Manuel Garcia draws some emotional, action-filled panels with his jagged pencils. His females show a bit more cleavage than necessary, but they do look good. I will say though, for a smooth, crafty spy book, I’d like some art that matches. (I would do bad things for a Greg Rucka/Terry Dodson Widow book.) Garcia would be well suited to something grittier, maybe Moon Knight.

It’s nice to see this book continue, even without its original creative team.

The Flash #5Flash #5 by Geoff Johns and Francis Manapul ****

This book has a lot of good things going for it. But for each, you gotta take the bad with the good.

The Good: The Rogues – Part of what makes the Flash so great (regardless of who’s in the suit) is the Rogues. They’re unique and they share a bond. Teamwork comes more natural to them than Superman’s villains, for example. With that in mind, pitting two sets of Rogues against each other is a great idea.

The Bad: But it also mean that your storytelling has to be crystal clear. When you zoom out too far, no one can tell the difference between Captain Cold and Commander Cold. I swear there are some errors in this book because I’ve read page 4 a few times and it still does not make sense.

The Good: Momentum coming out of Blackest Night – Plenty of people read about Barry in last year’s big event and seeing Johns’ name on a new iteration of a book he was great on years ago no doubt influenced plenty of them to pick it up.

The Bad: Not everyone read Blackest Night. So having Captain Boomerang go into a hallucination about his post-resurrection mission feels out-of-nowhere. Way to cater to new readers.

The Good: A simple hook – The Rogues from the future have to come back to stop a murder before it happens.

The Bad: You know what the problem with time travels stories is? You have to spend half your time explaining how it works and why the typical paradoxes do or don’t apply here.

The Good: The art – Francis Manapul is perfect on this book.

The Bad: I got nothing. He’s perfect.

I don’t mean to make it sound like I don’t enjoy this book, but it does have problems.

Nemesis #3 by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven *

Wow. This book is tasteless. Just trashy. It’s got one issue left and I don’t want to buy the final issue. The only redemption here would be to see Nemesis pay for his sins. He has to pay for his cruel, revolting, implausible sins. If Mark Millar is going to give me that, maybe I’ll give him another three dollars. But I can’t encourage a book where this guy wins. Of course, Millar teases a follow-up series in the back matter, so I may as well piss into the wind.

I’m not going to boycott Millar. Just this book. Superior looks very nice. Maybe it’s actually about a hero.

Violence doesn’t bother me. I read superhero comic books, so maybe that’s obvious. Nemesis can kill all the cops he wants. But when you inseminate a teenage girl with her gay brother’s semen and then booby trap her womb so terminating the pregnancy will make her unable to ever conceive again, you leave me so offended that I cannot describe it.

Did I just spoil that for you? Good.

Steve McNiven does draw some nice pictures though. I wish he didn’t waste his time on this story.

Uncanny X-Men #528 by Matt Fraction and Whilce Portacio **

Yeah, I’m done with this book too. I know I said I may hold on until Kieron Gillen helps on writing chores, but I can’t wait. If I hear that the book turns, I’ll probably pick up the issues I skip. In the meantime, this book is not enjoyable.

It’s not for a lack of plots either. We’ve got another of the five lights, Iceman trying to find the X-men a publicist, Emma dealing with her prisoner (Sebastian Shaw), Namor dealing with underwater subordination, Colossus trying to connect with his ghost of a girlfriend, and a riot at a San Francisco art museum. Six plots in 22 pages. As it stands, 11 pages are dedicated to Storm and Hope saving the new mutant. Another half of them: Iceman, Namor, and the art museum, are brand new. I’m not sure one monthly issue can handle much more than an A, a B and possibly, a C plot. Give each one some real attention so they can move forward.

Once again, this book is suffering from a lack of focus. I’m done.

So yeah … some new holes in the budget. Maybe I can save some money for New York Comic Con next month!