Thursday, July 2, 2009

Comic Book Review Power Rankings for 07/01/09

Things slow down a bit this week for the Comic Book Review Power Rankings. After checking out 20 books last week (Part 1 and Part 2), I took it easy with only 8 titles to kick of July. While the Rankings might be a bit smaller this week, you can still expect big things with such high profile releases as the long-awaited Captain America: Reborn #1, Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s Batman and Robin #2, the newest issues from the always great War of Kings and Secret Six, and more. You can check out the full reviews and Rankings after the jump!

For the uninitiated, the Comic Book Review Power Rankings is a countdown from worst-to-best of my weekly comic book haul. Before reading the issues, I preRank them based on the creative team, previous issues, solicitations, and gut instinct. The final Ranking number is based upon how the issues actually turned out. I attempt to keep everything as spoiler free as possible, but keep in mind that there may be the occasional minor spoiler that I overlook. As always, I can be reached via responses to this thread or at

Before we get into this week’s Rankings, I do want to spotlight a new webcomic that launched today, THE FUTURISTS by acclaimed artist Mitch Breitweiser and his partner-in-crime Patrick Stiles. The creators promise to tell an epic tale of a quest for eternal life gone horribly wrong and the first episode looks promising. Breitweiser is one of the best artists in the industry today and brings the same level of quality to the webcomic that he does to his work with Marvel. If you’ve got a minute, I’d highly recommend checking The Futurists out at

08. THE BOYS #32
Written by Garth Ennis
Art by Carlos Ezquerra and Tony Avina
Letters by Simon Bowland
Cover by Darick Robertson
preRanking: 07

The Boys, once one of the best comics on the market, has been on a downward spiral as of late, with a few disappointing issues in a row and the incredibly disappointing Herogasm spin-off. This week’s issue shows some signs of life, but ultimately succumbs to a lot of the issues the book has been facing over the last few issues.
• The issue follows up on the vicious attack by Payback on the Female from last month, focusing mainly on Payback’s attempt at making a final blow against the Boys.
• The story itself is brief, with more action than substance and, being an issue of The Boys, the violence is over-the-top and excessive. The problem is that it really serves little purpose. While it is interesting to see how “capable” Butcher is at taking down “capes,” even this loses its impact by the end of the issue.
• The subplots focuses on an ill-fated attempt to “retcon” Annie’s origin and darken her image, which is an interesting commentary on certain aspects of modern comments, but it’s nothing new nor is it very insightful. While it’s always great to see Annie get the spotlight and the moment she stands up for herself is fantastic, the overall act is getting a bit stale.
• The good news is that, even though the plot is a bit much the jokes are getting stale, Ennis continues to write all of the characters well and does a great job of throwing in moments of development amidst the excess.
• When Darick Robertson has been handling the art chores for most of the book, fill-ins like this are simply disappointing. Carlos Ezquerra’s art lacks the strong anatomy that Ennis brings and is riddled with design and style inconsistencies. It’s a poor fit for the issue and generally unimpressive. Plus there are a few weird moments where it looks like Hughie is traced from pictures of Stalin and that doesn’t really work for me.

Verdict: Permission to Avoid. There are some interesting and well-done moments here-and-there in this book, including some strong character development for Annie and the first time we really see what Butcher is capable of, but ultimately the issue’s excessiveness feels stale and the poor art destroys all hope for the issue to rise above Burrito Book statues.

Written by Ed Brubaker
Art by Bryan Hitch, Butch Guice, and Paul Mounts
Letters by Jor Caramagna
Covers by Various
preRanking: 04

• Launching out of the misfired hype (but strong execution) of Captain America #600, Captain America: Reborn #1 is pure setup for the return of Steve Rogers, who apparently didn’t die in Captain America #25 after all.
• Despite lots of statements and interviews stating otherwise, I can’t help but feel that the return of Steve Rogers was haphazardly put together based upon the events of this issue. It’s full of deus ex machina twists and a bit of time travel nonsense that is entirely too convoluted to be effective.
Ed Brubaker’s character work isn’t bad, but strong character voices can’t overcome the absurdity of the plot; plus, most of the dialogue is used as exposition, which takes away from the fact that Bru has a good handle on the character voices.
• I was a bit surprised to see that Butch Guice was co-illustrating this issue given the hype surrounding Bryan Hitch being the artist. That being said, I didn’t feel like either artist lived up to their abilities here.
• The character designs and amounts of details presented are wildly inconsistent. Some pages look incredibly unfinished, which is never a good thing. Plus, there are a few moments early on in the issue where the star on Cap’s uniform is so poorly rendered that I’m shocked the panels would ever be allowed to see print. Yikes.
• The best thing I can say about the art is that it looks like both men are borrowing some style points from Mitch Breitweiser; but then again, if both men are going to depart from their usual styles to imitate Breitweiser, why not just hire him?

Verdict: Read with Caution. I’m going to hold off saying that you should avoid this issue because there are seeds planted that could bear interesting fruit and I’m a bit intrigued by the predicament that Steve Rogers finds himself in at the end of the issue. It’s all setup, so there is still the possibility that the next issue could redeem this one. However, you should approach the issue knowing that the plot device to bring Steve back is unnecessarily complicated and doesn’t appear to be as well-thought out as recent interviews with the creative team would have you believe. Plus, if you are expecting Ultimates-level Hitch, you are going to be disappointed.

06. UNCANNY X-MEN #513
Written by Matt Fraction
Art by Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson, and Justin Ponsor
Letters by Joe Caramagna
Cover by Terry Dodson and Rachel Dodson
preRanking: 05

• Spinning out of last week’s Utopia one-shot, this week’s Uncanny X-Men kicks off the title’s crossover with Dark Avengers that finds Norman Osborn and Emma Frost attempting to take control of the war between human protestors and the nearly-extinct mutant population by starting their own version of the X-Men.
• This issue is a solid introduction to the new Dark X-Men team thanks to strong character work by Matt Fraction. I’m especially impressed with how he introduces this team in the midst of developing other offshoots of the human/mutant conflict, giving clout to both sides of the argument. Clearly Norman Osborn is meant to be the villain, but its cool to see Fraction develop strong arguments both for and against what he is doing.
• While it is great to see Fraction fleshing out the argument, I am a bit shocked to see that he doesn’t do that much with the fact that Emma has clearly sold out her students and peers. There are a few lines of anger from Mercury, but most of it seems to be directed at the situation; should someone, especially Cyclops, be pissed about this?
• The biggest problem for the issue, however, is the fact that too much of the issue is simply rehashing what we saw last week in the one-shot. With the exception of the introduction of the Dark X-Men, there isn’t much new here at all. This issue could’ve added three or four pages of setup and completely negated the need for the one-shot.
• The art by Terry and Rachel Dodson shows flashes of brilliance and is solid throughout most of the issue. Unfortunately, there are some pages towards the end that look nothing like the style they employ through most of the issue. I was actually shocked to find out that there were no credited fill-in artists here. That’s not a good thing.

Verdict: Read with Caution. If you read last week’s Utopia one-shot, there isn’t much of a need to read this issue. You can look at the cover and see who the members of the Dark X-Men are, which will fill you in on the only info of relevance that hasn’t already been covered. If you didn’t read the one-shot, then you will probably enjoy this issue a bit more. Fraction’s character writing is solid, but his storytelling is a bit iffy, which is about how things go for the art by the Dodsons as well.

Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Art by Tonci Zonjic, Jelena Kevic Djurdjevic, and June Chung
Letters by Cory Petit and Chris Eliopoulos
Cover by J. Scott Campbell
preRanking: 08

• I will openly admit that the only reason I picked up Marvel Divas is because a lot of other comic bloggers seemed really interested in the issue based upon the previews; I didn’t get what all the buzz was about at the time, so I thought I’d pick up the issue to see if maybe they were on to something.
• The good news is that the issue is far more complex and interesting than the dreadfully insulting solicitations and cover would have you believe. The bad news is that my gut feeling that this would be the superheroine version of Sex and the City wasn’t very far off base.
• The issue follows Patsy Walker, Photon, Firestar, and Black Cat as they dish about their love lives and their careers in an attempt to make themselves feel better about the fact that the Invisible Woman and She-Hulk are more glamorous than they are. That’s an oversimplification of the plot, but only slightly.
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa does a good job of selling each character’s personality and setting up the interaction, provided that you can stomach the saccharine and catty approach that he takes. If you’ve ever seen an episode of Sex and the City you’ll know what to expect. I suspect that is what Aguirre-Sacasa is going for, so I applaud him for nailing that.
• It’s interesting how Aguirre-Sacasa attempts to find just the right balance between sassy, materialistic stereotypes (again, writing to the genre) and stronger proto-feminist portrayals with the characters. I can’t quite put my finger on which side is dominate, but I will give him credit for trying to hit both.
Tonci Zonjic’s art has a lot of strong qualities. I dig the fluidity of the art and the linework is extremely clean. There are subtleties in the expressions that simply floored me. The problem is, when you look at the lead character’s side by side, the only major difference in how they are drawn is the color of their skin and the shape of their hair. Excellence in style and a lack of variety battle it out with no clear victor.

Verdict: Mildly Recommended. Marvel Divas is considerably better than it really has any right to be. The story is asinine and the style is a rip-off of what I consider to be the least interesting original programming in HBO’s history, but Aguirre-Sacasa seems to achieve everything he is working towards both in terms of plotting and execution. I’d love to see more variety of Tonci Zonjic, but as it stands the art is pretty solid. This issue really isn’t my thing and so it’s unlikely that I’ll pick up #2, but if you are the target audience, you are probably going to love it.

Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Frank Quitely and Alex Sinclair
Letters by Pat Brousseau
Cover by Frank Quitely
preRanking: 06

• I’ve been extremely vocal in the last few years about my feelings towards Grant Morrison’s recent work, especially his simply abysmal take on Batman; that makes it all the more surprisingly that I found myself really enjoying this week’s Batman & Robin, even more than I did with the first issue of the series.
• On the surface, the issue is a solid action-oriented comic that finds the new Dynamic Duo (Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne) taking on the mysterious Cirque D’Etrange, who have attacked the GCPD headquarters. Digging deeper, it is an interesting character-focused look at how Dick Grayson is dealing with being Batman, especially in regards to training a new Robin.
• I really, really enjoyed the interaction between Dick and Damian. Morrison really nails it when Dick is imitating Bruce throughout the issue, so much so that he really doesn’t need to beat the reader over the head with it towards the end of the issue. This serves as a nice parallel to Damian’s attempts at filling in as Robin, especially with his take on Robin being that the Boy Wonder should be a shorter version of the Dark Knight.
• I wasn’t quite as thrilled with the way that Morrison pushes the “newness” of the team throughout the issue. It’s clear that this isn’t the previous Batman and Robin and a few comments on that is enough, but Morrison brings it up too much throughout the issue. We can get the point without having it dumbed down over and over again (then again, had he taken this approach with Final Crisis, it would probably have been readable).
Frank Quitely’s art in this issue is a majorly mixed bag. On one hand, his fluidity and expressions are top notch. He nails the tone and the pacing of Morrison’s script; the chemistry between the two is undeniable.
• On the other hand, I hate how bulgy his designs are and how wavy his lines are. It looks bad, to be quite honest. I simply don’t get what he is going for. Plus, his design for Damian’s face seems to change with every subsequent page.
• Also, there is no need for fancy layouts when the storytelling choices are so baffling. First, present me with a logical sequence of action, then worry about crazy panel borders.

Verdict: Strongly Recommended. I know that Frank Quietly is a fan favorite, but his lack of artistic discipline on a number of levels kept this issue from being a “must-read” book. That being said, Grant Morrison is does an amazing job of character development here, showcasing skills that have been completely missing from his work over the last few years. This one is a ton of fun, despite some fairly major flaws.

Written by Peter Tomasi
Art by Pat Gleason, Rebecca Buchman, Tom Nguyen, Randy Mayor, and Gabe Eltaeb
Letters by Steve Wands
Cover by Pat Gleason, Rebecca Buchman, and Pete Pantazis
preRanking: 03

Emerald Eclipse comes to a shocking conclusion this week as Green Lantern Corps completes its buildup towards this summer’s Blackest Night event.
• If for nothing else, you have to applaud Peter Tomasi for the massive scope of this issue. This one has a majorly epic feel with Tomasi covering a lot of ground in such a short amount of space; he does a great job of wrapping up all of the current storylines, introducing new elements, and setting up a very interesting status quo for the title as we head into the upcoming event.
• I love Tomasi’s use of Guy Gardner here, as it feels like a culmination of the last few years for the character. His oafish veneer is dropped in the face of serious issues and he emerges as a major leader, while still retaining his hot-headed nature and ferocious loyalty. This characterization is the key to the effectiveness of this issue.
• On the flipside, I’m really beginning to think that Tomasi simply has no clue on what to do with Kyle Rayner. We’ve seen him be forced into an unnecessary relationship (with fellow Lantern Soranik Natu), fall back on tired stories (the artist gig), and now reduced to being Guy’s toady. Yikes.
• Between the events of this issue and the events of the last Green Lantern issue, I’m really interested in seeing how they redeem the Guardians following Blackest Night. This is getting ridiculous.
• Speaking of ridiculous, the biggest low-point in this issue for me was the two-page spread that “wraps” up the Arisia/Ion/Daxamite/Mongul story. This was majorly disappointing.
• Although I’m still confused as to why he changed things up, Pat Gleason’s rounder, more open designs really started to grow on me in this issue. I still prefer his more detailed style that he had been using up until recently, but he’s showing better control with the new style here.
• Then again, I knew Gleason would come around. He is one of the best artists in the industry and deserving of far more recognition than he gets. This issue is another solid example of why I believe that.

Verdict: Strongly Recommended. This issue features extremely solid art and an insanely epic scope that makes it the perfect lead-in to Blackest Night. The poor conclusion to the Ion vs. Mongul subplot left a bad taste in my mouth, as did the usage of Kyle Rayner, but the rest of the issue was fantastic. Green Lantern Corps is amongst DC’s strongest titles and this issue is yet another fine example of the quality you can come to expect from it.

Written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Art by Paul Pelletier, Rick Magyar, and Wil Quintana
Letters by Joe Caramagna
Cover by Brandon Peterson
preRanking: 02

• With just one issue left in this amazing miniseries, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning kick things into high-gear as the Inhumans unleash their endgame on the Shi’ar Empire, who stumble into all sorts of trouble following the death of former-Empress Lilandra last issue.
• This is easily the best character writing Abnett and Lanning have displayed in this entire miniseries, rivaling even some of their best work from Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy. Every single major player from this story gets a least a line or two of solid dialogue with unique voices.
• I loved the interaction between Crystal and Medusa here, which is a great culmination of Crystal’s development through the series. Likewise, I’m glad to see DnA doing a bit more with Rachel Grey, who has been criminal underused in this event.
• While the pacing and character writing was simply superb, I had two major stumbling blocks with the writing. First, I didn’t read War of Kings: Ascension, so I was totally lost on the stuff with Talon; DnA definitely should’ve done more to clear that up. Secondly, the T-Bomb concept is cool, but I refuse to believe that anyone would be dumb enough to think that would end the war. Stupid move, Inhumans, stupid move.
Paul Pelletier has shown tremendous growth over the course of this miniseries and this issue is a fine showcase of that. In particular, I’m really digging his expressions here. The connection between body language and facial expressions is top notch and he is doing a great job of being subtle, but effective.
• Plus, as per usual with Pelletier, the action is stellar. He has a great sense of motion and impact, which brings a ton of excitement to the table in the few scenes were the battles start picking up. Plus, he absolutely nails the final page standoff between Vulcan and Black Bolt. I can’t wait to see what he brings to the table when they fight it out next issue.

Verdict: Don’t Miss This Issue. Once again, the creative team behind War of Kings delivers an amazingly well-executed issue that does a great job of balancing a huge cosmic war with personal character issues. Despite some logical missteps and an assumption that I read all of the tie-in issues, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning continue to prove they belong with the elites of the comic book writing world while Paul Pelletier’s growth as an artist is on full display here. It may not have taken the Top Spot this week, but this issue is still a book you shouldn’t miss under any circumstances.

01. SECRET SIX #11
Written by Gail Simone
Art by Nicola Scott, Doug Hazlewood, Mark McKenna, and Jason Wright
Letters by Travis Lanham
Cover by Daniel Luvisi
preRanking: 01

• Another month, another win for Secret Six, which has now pulled in an unprecedented five Book of the Week honors in 2009, tying the record of most #1’s in one year set in 2008 by Criminal—but doing so in just over half a year.
• This issue sees a lot of problems developing for the titular team as they squabble over the ethics of their current contract while learning more about their simply insane employers.
• As per usual with this series, the character voices and interaction is paramount to the success of this issue. There is more personality in one page of this issue than there is in nearly every other issue on this week’s Rankings combined.
• I love the twisted sense of honor and duty that Gail Simone develops throughout this issue. Every single character, both good and bad, has their own spin on these concepts in this issue. From Bane’s protectiveness of Scandal to Deadshot’s insistence on honoring the dead to the villains’ attempts at saving the world through slavery, this entire issue centers on these concepts and the individual perversions thereof.
• That being said, this issue is a virtual clinic on how tight plotting and effective characterization can be used to have an entire issue reinforce a singular theme. This allows Simone to create a complex story that moves as smoothly a simpler one and showcases exactly why she is a master storyteller.
• It should come as no surprise that the art by Nicola Scott with assists from Doug Hazlewood and Mark McKenna is nothing short of spectacular; after all, this art team rarely has even so much as an off page. The expressions are great; the art is fluid; the consistency is impeccable—it’s simply a great looking comic.
• I was really impressed, however, with how clean the storytelling is. Scott uses very simple grids effectively, occasionally mixing up the number of panels, but never straying from basic layouts. Because her panel choices are so great and follow such logical sequences, she doesn’t need to do anything fancy. This is something some “big name” artists should be taking notes on (I’m looking at you, Frank Quietly).

Verdict: Don’t Miss This Issue. It is simply ridiculous how good this title is month-in-and-month-out. Once again Gail Simone and the talented duo of Nicola Scott and Doug Hazlewood (with help from Mark McKenna and Jason Wright) produce an amazing issue with loads of personality. It’s sick, twisted, depraved, shocking, and ludicrously charming. This issue excels on all levels and was an easy pick for the week’s best book. Do not miss out!

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mq1986 said...

Your Power Rankings are essentially my feelings on these comics. Secret Six is consistently one of the most compelling, funny, and even likable comics on the market; I just hope that more and more people will feel the same. Although I like all the Secret Six, I am really loving Jeanette and her dark Victorian Gothic appeal. And of course, pissed Wonder Woman is always an "Oh s---" moment. We all know Gail Simone writes a mean Wonder Woman.

I say, let Geoff Johns continue with the ethereal aspects of Blackest Night and let Tomasi get the real drama across. Johns is great with concepts, but I really think Tomasi is quickly becoming one of the best character writers in the DC battalion. His Outsiders and Mighty are also great reads on a consistent basis.

I'm really amazed at how grounded Morrison's kept Batman and Robin. He usually tends toward the really pointed, minimalist style of dialogue, but he's kept it pretty down-to-earth for Batman and Robin, especially for Dick Grayson's dialogue. Morrison's story has been really intriguing so far, and I'm really enjoying the new dynamics of the characters. I sincerely hope that Dick's self-conflict comes to a near close after this issue. And yeah, Quitely has always been a mixed bag for me. On the one hand, great expressions and creative flair; on the other, everything looks wrinkled and inflatable.

Nathan Aaron said...

I'm curious if you can read Uncanny X-Men without having to (so far) pick up the Utopia mini. I was erked to see the "part two" on the cover, since I regularly buy Uncanny; but have no real desire to add another mini to my pull list.

Ryan Schrodt said...

If you skipped over the one-shot last week, you should have no problems jumping into this week's Uncanny. The only thing that you need to know is that Norman Osborn and the Dark Avengers have gotten involved in San Francisco after the protests on Proposition X became violent (which was blamed on the X-Men). Since this issue really rehashes the one-shot, you won't need more than that.

It's more than likely that I'll be picking up the Dark Avengers issues as well, so I'll let you know if they end up being required reading for the story.

The Dangster said...

I find your Quitely complaints odd. It's an acquired style. But right now, it's some of his best work after All Star Superman and WE3. A far improvement since JLA: Earth 2 and X-Men

Steven R. Stahl said...

It'll be interesting to see whether Brubaker can overcome the absence of a body for Captain America's spirit to occupy; in that respect, having his spirit/essence/mind floating about is no different from rescuing a wrongly imprisoned soul (cf. Mockingbird) from Hell. The absence of a physical body is the only important plot element. Moving Cap's body forward in time would be impossible.

I've seen lots of comments to the effect that Brubaker is an excellent writer, but those people aren't judging him on the basis of DEADLY GENESIS and his UXM arc.


Jonathan M Perez said...

my ranks

#8 Cable #16 (W: Duane Swierczynski; A: Paul Gulacy)

The art was the big letdown for me. I just did not like Paul Gulacy's artwork here at all. He makes Hope look much, much older, as if Gulacy has never seen what a nine-year-old girl looks like. Swiercynski does a much better job with the story away from the recent crossover with X-Force, but I'm a bit tired of the cat-and-mouse game with Hope and Bishop (though Hope really looks to be in a bind here). I did like Swiercsynski's nod to David Tischman and Igor Kordey's run on Cable, by having the lead character meditate as an attempt to control the spread of the techno-organic virus in his body. That run is fondly remembered by me. 5/10

#7 Captain America Reborn (W: Ed Brubaker; A: Bryan Hitch and Butch Guice)

Ryan, I reall raked you over the coals for your review of Detective Comics #854 last week, but your take on this issue is spot on. Overall, I felt a tremendous sense of disappointment in reading this issue. Mainly because this issue displayed a huge lack of originality. The flashback scenes may as well be lifted from the cutting room floor of Ultimates #1. The twist involving time travel in the issue is straight out of LOST and Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five. Worst, the issue reads like just another Dark Reign tie-in.

Then there's the art--which not quite Gulacy level of bad--isn't very good either. I was very leery when I read (from Brubaker or Tom Breevort) that Butch Guice was going to be "the secret weapon" on art to compliment Bryan Hitch. We all know that is Marvel double-speak for "Uh, Hitch was running behind and we needed another artist to make sure the issue gets to the shelves on time." The art is a total rush job, and it shows.

Worst, I can't shake the feeling that Cap Reborn is a Marvel mandated series. Nothing about Steve Rogers return feels organic. It's as if Quesada said "We need Steve back to take down Norman Osborn." The story is awfully artificial, and a poor attempt to copy the success DC has had with the Green Lantern and Flash (to a lesser extent than GL) relaunches. All the creators involved are capable of much better, and if it weren't for the goodwill Brubaker has fostered with his run on Cap, I'd drop this in a heartbeat. I actually wouldn't mind a delay here, if it meant a higher quality issue. 5.5/10

#6 Uncanny X-Men #513 (W: Matt Fraction; A: Terry and Rachel Dodson)

I feel incomplete in reviewing this, as I did not read the first part of the "Utopia" crossover. The good: Matt Fraction has an excellent handle on the massive cast here, and he wins big points with me by bringing Iceman back. Maybe he can give Iceman a great moment like Angel had when he revealed he was still Archangel and has the metal wings. Also the art is by the Dodson's, so by virtue of it not being Greg Land it's ten times better (Seriously, we need to start a letter writing campaign or petition to Marvel to permanently expunge Land from all their titles). The trade dress on the issue is very catchy.

The Bad: It looks as if this is going to play out like another Dark Reign bullshit crossover. I could care less about the "dark" X-Men or "dark" Avengers. I cannot wait until Marvel gets this horseshit out of their system. 6.5/10

Jonathan M Perez said...

the next part:

#5 Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 #26 (W: Jane Espenson; A: Georges Jeanty with Andy Owens)

The big highlight of the issue is that Oz makes his return to the Buffyverse. I also think this was one of Jeanty's strongest efforts on art yet on this title. Espenson's writing is very shaky though. This issue is all over the map in the beginning--characters pop in out of nowhere, plot threads are picked up in medias res, and the issue is literally overstuffed with action. I also kind of felt like I missed an issue. By the time the submarine (cool twist) is introduced, the issue rights itself, but it takes nearly the whole 22 pages to get there. Certainly a case of the art and the overall story carrying the issue. 6.8/10

#4 The Boys #32 (W: Garth Ennis; A: Carlos Esquerra and Hector Esquerra)

I agree with Ryan on much of this too. The Boys really suffers when Darick Robertson isn't on the interiors. The Esquerra's seem like capable artists, they just don't rise up to the high standards Robertson has set for this title. I also thought the Annie subplot belonged in Herogasm or another story. Though there is excellent and relevant satire here, it is tonally out of place with the rest of the story.

As for that, I really liked it, especially since The Boys themselves--heretofore mostly unstoppable--find themselves in a very dire situation fighting Payback. Seeing these characters in jeopardy played to Ennis's strengths as a writer and the vulnerability afforded them makes them all the more accessible. The art and the main subplot let me down a bit, but the story kept me riveted. 7/10

#4 Green Lantern Corps #38 (W: Peter J. Tomasi; A: Patrick Gleason with Rebecca Buchman and Tom Nguyen)

Aside from the Daxam thread (again, I agree with Ryan here), this issue of Green Lantern Corps wraps up "Emerald Eclipse" in a very satisfying manner, and has my heart palpitating for Blackest Night.

The sciencell breakout gets the biggest focus here, and Tomasi does an excellent job of showing us how critical and dire the conflict here is. Guy Gardner was especially awesome in this issue. When he and Kyle confront the Guardians about the treatment of the prisoners in the cells the book intensely heated up. Tomasi is doing an excellent job of having the audience buy into the facist-like turns the Guardians have made.

Gleason rebounds nicely from an uneven issue last month. He nails the big action spreads here, and his vivid, edgy pencil work matches the intensity of the conflicts within the issue. Very solid and highly entertaining issue of GLC, which looks much better than Green Lantern (Agent Orange was so uneven) right now headed into the major storyline.

#2 War of Kings #5 (W: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning; A: Paul Pelletier with Rick Magyar)

A classic example of a "calm before the storm" issue. Much of the issue deals with the fallout from the assassination of Lilandra Nermani. As such, DNA give us some great narration from Crystal and Gladiator. Crystal's narration is especially good--her pleas for understanding are totally lost on Medusa, and the contast between the two female Inhumans provides the strength of the issue. That said, DNA set us up for a HUGE conflict between Black Bolt and Vulcan next issue. They nail the moment when Black Bolt speaks here. When Black Bolt speaks, it should be nothing less than monumental and epic. DNA capture that quality as well as heartbreak and grief in the Inhuman leader.

Paul Pelletier turned in the best artwork this week. I guess the finest compliment I can pay him is that his work reminds me a whole lot of Dave Cockrum and Jack Kirby. Pelletier is a real jewel in Marvel's stable of pencillers. 9/10

Jonathan M Perez said...

my number 1 (this week really inspired me to write some reviews again, tanks for always being so open about letting people post, Ryan):

#1 Batman and Robin #2 (W: Grant Morrison; A: Frank Quitely)

I just love this title. All of the freshness and energy in the Batman relaunches can be found here. Morrison and Quitely are up to their usual greatness (I love how Quitely is working the sound effects into the panels organically). What I like best about the story here is the potential in it. There are so many mysteries to be unlocked, questions to be answered, and conflicts brewing for down the road. Who exactly are L'Cirque D'Etrange? Does Gordon know Dick is now Batman (cause he certainly knows that ain't Bruce under the cowl)? How far is Damian going to go as Robin before Dick knocks him on his ass? The Batman/Robin dynamic here is so awesome. You could feel the disappointment, the failure as Damian rips the R off of his chest. Morrison knows exactly where he wants to take these characters, and he demonstrates mastery of character in the conversation between Dick and Alfred. Dick is just emo enough unloading on Alfred, and the butler knows exactly what to say to comfort him. The worst part about this comic was that it ended, and that's what I want the worst part of every comic I read to be. This is just fantastic stuff. 9.25/10

Nathan Aaron said...

I was a little confused as to the ending of Batman and Robin this week. I love Quitely's artwork, but some panels on this issue actually seemed confusing. You weren't quite sure what was going on. What happened at the end, with Pyg blowing something up? What did he blow up? Robin, or his doll drones? Those two characters, one woman and one man with a cowboy hat, just appear out of nowhere in that panel? I didn't get it? Help! LOL

Nathan Aaron said...

Wow. Just read Captain America: Reborn. Man, not good. I'm HATING this idea completely anyway. We don't NEED Steve Rogers back. But Marvel wants what Marvel wants.

Ryan, the star on Steve's chest was drawn that way to sort of mimic what it would look like with all those little costume scales over it. It wouldn't be smooth edged, because you'd have the little scales all around it. That was my take. Though I do feel that, overall, even with Fantastic Four, Hitch is really going down on his art quality. BUT I blame fanboys for this. We're going to have to either accept one or the other. Late books with rockin' art, or half crap art and not complain about it. Me, I'd rather have a late book, but drool worthy artwork. His Ultimates proved this. But in order to make his deadlines, he's tried to carry out this looser style on FF and now this mini. And it shows. PLUS on FF he usually has like, three different inkers. I think he should just say "screw the fanboys" and take his time. LOL But I'm always more about art over story. So just IMHO.

And uh, LOST could SUE Ed Brubaker for this script. I was in shock. I mean, the Constant, ok, I was like, gah. But I can deal. But then on top of that, the flashing through timelines. WORD! Did Ed just watch the entire series on DVD and decide to use this? It's not even subtle. WHO doesn't watch Lost? Everyone's gonna catch onto this... if this is the basis for the entire return of Cap, I'm horribly disappointed. Time will tell, I guess.

Ryan Schrodt said...

Damn! No LOST spoilers, please! I'm only midway through season 2!

Daringd said...

I'll have a ranking up late tonight I have yet to pick up my books yet

Jonathan M Perez said...

On Cap Reborn and the issue of artist consistency and lateness: I do think that a series Marvel is marketing with such importance should have fantastic art. And for Hitch, I'd be willing to wait.

Marvel has plenty of artists who could produce a high quality art issue without delays. They could have picked a different team with a better reputation for speed and quality.

So the debate boils down to this: rush out the product to meet a deadline (and to capitalize on the 4th of July weekend), or let that fans know to expect delays. Or better yet, Marvel could wait until all five issues of the series were in the can and then solicit the first issue. But that will never happen.

Looks like Marvel chose option #1 here.

Daringd said...

I forgot to pick up JL: Cry for Justice and my store sold out when I went back to get. So I will not be reviewing this week.

6. Destroyer #4: Kirkman/Walker MAX $3.99
The new issue of Destroyer is meh at best. After two great issues this series took a 360. Last issue was bad and this issue while slightly better still does size up to the first two issues. Walker’s art does this no favors it to me a least is plain. Unlike his work on Invincible. I was really expecting more from it hopefully the final issue can close strong. But I wouldn’t keep my hopes up.

5. Fantastic Four #568: Millar/Ahearne/Hitch/Currie Marvel $2.99
Really? Mark Millar only did the story. Ahearne wrote the script, and if anyone could tell me who he is I would really like to know. I wish Millar could of least finished the run. But oh well at least we have Hitch on art. Oh wait he had someone help him to. Andrew Currie. I at least noticed when it was Hitch and it wasn’t. I guess Hitch was working on Reborn. It had some good moments put over all and with the changes it does become the earth shattering Fantastic Four story it should be. One more issue left then we get Hickman on the book. Who’s excited? You should be!

4. Reborn #1: Brubaker/Hitch/Guice Marvel $3.99
Sorry Ryan I have to quickly say one thing. What a rip on LOST. Again sorry Ryan. Besides that I actually really liked it. However his book could of easily been issue 601 of the Cap title. 4 bucks for this? Really? Still an enjoyable book Brubaker is giving it his best (Or at least what he can do with it IMO) and art really worked here. Guice did a great job as did Hitch even if it occasionally looked a little rushed. I think the picture of Cap kneeling before Norman will come into play at some point in the series. But then again maybe not. I’m interested to see where Brubaker takes this storyline. Wasn’t horrible wasn’t great but it was pretty good.

Daringd said...

3. Batman & Robin #2: Morrison/Quitely DC $2.99
I really enjoyed this issue but it wasn’t best of the week. This issue is told non-linear which really works. Finding out why Damian left is pretty cool to me at least. The art here is amazing. One of Quitley’s best single issue works to date. This man knows how to tell a story and with the master Morrison it’s a match made in comic book fan heaven. I cannot wait for the next issue of this series. Highly recommended.

2. The Astounding Wolf-Man: Kirkman/Howard Image $2.99
The last issue of Wolf-man claimed a book of the week title. This issue keeps up the quality. Howard is doing great work on the art. You could say he’s showing off and that’s a very good thing. Kirkman is finally bringing everything together, after all he’s been building this arc up since #7 of the series. For once this book is one the top books I get actually one of my favorites since issue 8. Which a far cry from when I started picking this book up. While not Kirkman’s best Image book it’s still damn good. If you are interested in picking up the book the trades are out and once you get past this first 7 issues (I know it’s a lot) This book starts to kick major ass.

1. Uncanny X-men #513: Fraction/Dodson Marvel $3.99
I am a huge X-men fan. The X-men actually got me into comics in the first place. I have read some really good X-men books. I have also read a lot of crap X-men books, and I have read very few great X-men books. Right now Uncanny is a great X-men book. This is issue two of the utopia crossover an boy \does it keep up the pace. Fraction does a great job introducing the Dark X-men. There were so many moments as a X-men fan that I loved. I actually didn’t see the Mystique thing coming however I didn’t mark it out of the realm of possibility. The Trask bit was a surprise. There was just so much here I liked. Dodson killed it on art, I like Greg Land and I’m happy he wasn’t handed this arc. I really can’t explain how I felt reading this issue. It brought back everything I love about the X-men. Bravo Fraction!
This is also the 4th time this year Uncanny has claimed the number one spot on my rank!

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