Friday, September 11, 2009

Comic Book Review Power Rankings for 09/10/09

Comics may have been a day late this week, but when they did come, they did so full-force. This week’s haul is amongst the strongest of the year with new issues of the two best ongoing titles of 2009, Secret Six and Elephantmen, as well as the conclusion of the much-hyped “Red Headed Stranger” arc in Amazing Spider-Man, the epilogue to War of Kings, and more. With such a great load of books you know that it was a tight battle on this week’s Comic Book Review Power Rankings for the top spot. You know there is only one way to find out what book made it to #1, so check out the 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

On a non-review note, I’ll be attending the Windy City Comic Convention in Chicago, IL on September 19th. It has one of the strongest one-day guest line-ups that I’ve seen from a convention this size with some of my absolute favorite creators attending (Richard Starkings, Chris Samnee, Don Kramer, Gene Ha, Ryan Stegman, Moritat, Skottie Young, and more). If you plan on attending, let me know and I’ll keep an eye out for you!

Written by Fred Van Lente
Art by Barry Kitson, Nick Ketcham, Joe Rubenstein, Jeromy Cox, and Antonio Fabela
Letters by Joe Caramagna
Cover by Lenil Yu and Jason Keith
preRanking: 11

• The topsy-turvy Red-Head Stranger story arc concludes with this issue that doesn’t really wrap up anything, but does kick off a number of new story beats.
• This issue is a very strange write-of of what has been built over the last few issues. The two main focuses of the story, the Chameleon and Mary Jane, are both glossed over in favor of odd filler-scenes and the introduction of new elements that spin out of last issue’s events.
• That being said, I do find the new status quo a bit interesting. It becomes clear that MJ does know that Peter is Spider-Man and the two are apparently on better terms than it seemed, Vin’s sister Michelle is apparently a psychotic girlfriend to an unwitting Peter, the Spider Slayers are no more, and Harry is now apparently living with Aunt May’s in-laws.
• So, a lot happens, but all of it only seems marginally related to the main story. In the end, what has come before is more of an means to new ends, which casts an unfortunate shadow on the last few issues.
• Things aren’t helped much by the fact that Spider-Man explains a lot of action as it is happening, which is completely unnecessary when Barry Kitson’s art is already leading us to these conclusions.
• While I’m not a fan of the plot structure and how it feels a lot more like haphazard set up than a coherent story, Fred Van Lente’s solid character writing keeps things enjoyable and fresh. By the end of the issue, you’ll forget about a lot of the plotting problems that plague the issue.
• Barry Kitson’s art is solid, especially in terms of his storytelling. He does a great job of leading the story, which, as I said earlier, makes it frustrating when Spider-Man begins narrating what we can already see.
• The art is held back by the three inkers and two colorists though, which is unfortunate as I think this would have otherwise been Kitson’s best issue on the series.

Verdict: Mildly Recommended. This story certainly has its faults, but it does leave Spider-Man with an interesting new set of problems to deal with, which does have me excited for the next issue. Fred Van Lente’s strong character writing and Barry Kitson’s solid storytelling efforts kept this one from really bombing and so we are left with an uneven but enjoyable read. It’s certainly a good sign for the week when a comic of this caliber is the worst book I read.

Written by Matt Fraction
Art by Mike Deodato, Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson, Justin Ponsor, and Christina Strain
Letters by Joe Caramagna
Cover by Steve McNiven
preRanking: 10

• After it was revealed in the last issue of the Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men crossover that Cyclops’s brilliant plan was to move the world’s mutants to the now-floating Asteroid M (Genosha II?), you may be wondering what exactly was left for this issue to cover. As it turns out, it was mostly people hitting each other.
• The issue opens with Beast confront Emma and Cyclops in a scene that felt oddly similar to a scene we already saw a few issues ago that kind of, but not really sets up a future one-shot but ultimately has nothing to do with the rest of the issue. This was pretty unnecessary and starts the issue off on the wrong foot.
• From there, the issue quickly becomes a parade of punches as the X-Men and Dark Avengers battle it out on Asteroid M for what is essentially just pride I guess since the mutants have already made their decision to move off-continent.
• Since it is mostly action with relatively little story, Matt Fraction is left with the responsibility of writing quips and he does quipping well, so I really can’t complain much about the character work here.
• That being said, I absolutely loved the brief interaction between Wolverine and his semi-progeny X-23 and Daken. There is a story waiting to be told coming out of this moment and I really can’t wait for someone to tell it.
• The art is split between The Dodsons and Mike Deodato, which is a strange choice. The Dodsons put in a strong effort with their big characters and clean, open linework. It’s standard fare from them and they don’t disappoint.
• Deodato, on the other hand, chose to draw everything from really wide angles. While this does open the panels up to include more action, it also removes all detail and facial expressions. Given that his art is also extremely stiff here, I’m not so sure this was the wisest decision, especially since there is almost no variation in angles.
• This contrast between styles here creators a pretty major problem when the extremely jarring shifts happen. While neither artist does anything tremendously offensive here (though I really don’t’ care for Deodato’s approach), the combination of the two simply does not make sense. This was just a poor, poor choice.

Verdict: Mildly Recommended. This is a fun action-packed comic with some cool fights and interesting character moments, but it is completely betrayed by an absurd choice in art teams and the fact that nothing really happens despite the $3.99 price point. There is potential for more awesomeness here, especially given the strong effort from the creative teams, but ultimately you can probably get away with stopping after the last issue of the crossover.

Written by Peter Tomasi
Art by Pat Gleason, Rebecca Buchman, Tom Nguyen, Prentice Rollins, Randy Mayor, Gabe Eltaeb
Letters by Steve Wands
Cover by Pat Gleason and Rebecca Buchman
preRanking: 06

Green Lantern Corps #40 is one of the most ambitious books of the week, with Peter Tomasi and Pat Gleason working at an incredibly brisk pace to cover the aftermath of the Green Lanterns being overwhelmed by Black Lanterns (and a strange little subplot featuring Sinestro Corps member Kryb teaming with a Star Sapphire).
• There is lots and lots and lots happening here, but while the breakneck pacing of the issue allows for the creative team to cram the issue full of story, it doesn’t allow for any of the scenes to really resonate emotionally, taking away a lot of the impact.
• Tomasi’s great knowledge and sense of voice for the characters does give some weight to what is going on, especially in the Kyle Rayner and Jade scenes, but ultimately everything comes and goes too quickly.
• Of course, this isn’t helped by the fact that we are already being oversaturated with the Black Lanterns. We’ve seen so many dead partners, lovers, and family members return that it is losing all meaning—not a good sign considering how early on in the event we are. Here we do get to see more personality than we’ve seen from them elsewhere, but its getting hared to care.
• Pat Gleason is becoming a master storyteller and this issue shows why. I really don’t think he gets enough credit for not only his strong designs, but also his great layouts and panel progression.
• Unfortunately, I think there are getting to be too many cooks in the kitchen when it comes to his art. His storytelling still shines, but the multitude of inkers creates unnecessary inconsistencies. I’d almost rather see him take a few months off to get back to just one inker per issue.
• Of course, given how awesome his pencil-to-color covers were earlier this year, I think it might be neat to see him take a no-inks approach as well.

Verdict: Mildly Recommended. Despite gallant efforts from the creative team, this issue is held back by the fact that there is simply too much going on for it to be effective. Sometimes it is best to walk a bit instead of run and this issue is a fine example of why. Of course, there is also the problem of the Blackest Night story getting to be too much, especially given the fact that so far, we have only seen that Black Lanterns are apparently dead friends and family and that they apparently can’t be killed, and we’ve seen it too many times in too many books.

09. Dead @17: Afterbirth #4
Written by Josh Howard
Art by Josh Howard
Letters Uncredited
Cover by Josh Howard
preRanking: 09

• The latest volume in Josh Howard’s Dead @17 franchise comes to a close with this issue which finds the main character, Nara, confronting the main villain, Pitch, in an attempt to not have all Hell break loose only to find that her actions have some unforeseen consequences.
• Much like the closing issues in the three previous Dead @17 volumes, this issue ratchets up the intensity and shows how epic the scale of the conflict is, despite being so closely focused on just a few characters. It’s formulaic but effective.
• This issue was a bit confusing at times, with a lot of things happening without much explanation. Its for this reason that Howard’s work tends to read better as a trade or in one-straight shot. He is always moving forward and at times like this, that can become a bit of a hindrance.
• Howard really front loads the story in this issue, using almost no dialogue in the latter half of the book. This allows him to use larger panels to make each moment that much “bigger” (no pun intended), but it also quickens the pace so that readers fly through the important ramifications of the issue’s events.
• The art in this issue is gorgeous. Longtime readers will know that Howard is one my least favorite artists to review because he is an utter perfectionist and rarely has an off-panel.
• The only complaint that I have is that he really only plays to his strengths. In a way, that means he could branch out with more varied designs, adding some depth through new techniques, etc. But, on the flip side, if it ain’t broke, why fix it?
• This issue definitely marks a turning point in the series and is a very cool one at that. Clearly Howard is building towards something larger with this issue and, in the end, when he writes the final installments of Dead @17 as a whole, he is going to have an epic on his hands. That progression really starts in earnest here.

Verdict: Mildly Recommended. As a big fan of the franchise and of Howard’s work, I loved this issue. However, when I switch into reviewer mode, there are a lot of storytelling problems in this issue that need to be tightened up before I can strongly recommend it to the general populace. In terms of sheer enjoyment, this one is a winner, but beware that under closer inspection, its got some kinks to work out.

08. RED ROBIN #4
Written by Chris Yost
Art by Ramon Bachs and Guy Major
Letters by Sal Cipriano
Cover by Francis Manapul
preRanking: 05

• This week’s Red Robin showcased perhaps the first major development in the eventual return of Bruce Wayne as Batman, as well as the first major confrontation between Tim “Red Robin” Drake and Dick “Batman” Grayson since Grayson took up the mantle.
• I’m really enjoying how much growth writer Chris Yost has developed for Tim in just four issue. He is continually getting sharper as a detective and more mature as a character, all in a very natural progression. It’s more of the same here.
• It is getting to be a bit annoying that Yost keeps writing narration where Tim is reminding the readers that he is getting darker, even though he’s already told us that over and over, and we are seeing in his actions and the company he keeps.
• I’m glad that we are finally starting to see some hints about how Bruce Wayne’s disappearance is going to be resolved. This issue marks the first time the “bat-etching” from the final issue of Final Crisis has been addressed. This renews the focus of this series and is a nice reminder that Batman is clearly not dead.
• I really enjoyed the confrontation between Tim and Dick, especially with Tim lashing out over his perceived abandonment in the face of Bruce’s disappearance. I also really liked how evenly matched Yost presents them, though their quickness to brawl really undercut a lot of the impact of the scene, making everything look like a tantrum.
• Once again, the biggest weakness for this series is the art by Ramon Bachs. His inconsistent line thickness is extremely distracting and he still seems completely unable to draw Tim resembling his actual age while in costume. This is a major hurdle for this series, though I suppose we can be thankful that we are now one issue closer to Marcus To taking over the art chores.

Verdict: Strongly Recommended. What really impresses me about this series is just how well Chris Yost “gets” Tim Drake and how that extends into everything he does with the character. The interesting plot and intriguing quest to find out what happened to Bruce Wayne certainly helps, but it is how well Yost handles Tim and his interactions with other characters that really carries this issue and this series as a whole.

Written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Art by Paul Pelletier, Andrew Hennessy, and Guru eFX
Letters by Joe Caramagna
Cover by Brandon Peterson
preRanking: 03

• The fallout of Marvel’s superb War of Kings event is explored in this follow-up one-shot that focuses on the Inhumans first acts after “conquering” the Shi’ar, most notably their attendance at former empress Lilandra’s funeral.
• Much like the War of Kings miniseries, the crux of this issue is the fantastic character work by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. In particular, their handling of Crystal and Gladiator works incredibly well. Both characters are portrayed as proud and regal, yet with a very common and relatable outlook. It’s the perfect fit not only for the characters in general, but for their position in the larger story.
• Talon plays a fairly major role in this issue, which doesn’t sit tremendously well with me. Having skipped the War of Kings: Ascension miniseries, I’m only privy to what was revealed of him and his purpose in the main series, which isn’t much. At this point, he seems unnecessarily shoehorned into the story simply to push certain plot elements around.
• I really dig how the end of this story ties-in with the end of the last issue of Guardians of the Galaxy, showing that Abnett and Lanning are wasting no time building off of War of Kings.
• There is a good amount of humor here, which is a welcome breather given the serious nature of the plot. Much of this centers around Gladiator, an incredibly serious character to begin with, which makes it that much more amusing.
• This isn’t Paul Pelletier’s best work. In some places the detail work looks rushed and his character designs are tremendously consistent—mostly in body size.
• The colors by Guru eFX, however, were very strong and bold. The colors used harkens back to an “old school” palette which works well with the tone of the story.
• The biggest problem with the issue is its predictability, as the ending is telegraphed from the very beginning of the issue and is something most readers assumed had already happened at the end of War of Kings.

Verdict: Strongly Recommended. This issue is another fine example of the strength of Marvel’s cosmic books, which have flourished under the writing team of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. There are some glaring issues, most notable the predictability of the issue and the uncharacteristically weak art by Paul Pelletier. However, ti is a nice kick-off to the next saga for this end of the Marvel Universe and a good exploration of Crystal and Gladiator—the most interesting characters coming out of the original War of Kings miniseries.

Lead Written by Dan Jurgens
Lead Art by Dan Jurgens, Norm Rapmund, and Hi-Fi
Co-Feature Written by Matthew Sturges
Co-Feature Art by Mike Norton, Norm Rapmund, and Guy Major
Letters by Sal Cipriano
Cover by Dan Jurgens and Norm Rapmund
preRanking: 08

• One door closes and another opens, so to speak, in this week’s issue of Booster Gold, which finds the titular character stopping Black Beetle’s time-traveling plot (sort of since Black Beetle still got what he came for) in the lead story and Blue Beetle being confronted by Black Beetle in the co-feature..
• The lead story has a fun old-school adventure feel to it, with Booster teaming up with pulpier versions of current heroes to stop Black Beetle’s plan in an alternate future ruled by Trigon.
Dan Jugens’s take on Booster, Rip, and Skeets are as good as always, but I was especially impressed with the subtle nuances he used with Robin and Kyle. Neither character is overwhelmingly full of personality like the lead characters, but Jurgens still does good work with them.
• Likewise, in the co-feature, Matt Sturges puts forth a solid effort with almost all of the characters. He taps into the strong personalities and great relations between the characters that made the Blue Beetle ongoing so great.
• What did not work for me, though, is how vastly different the depictions of Black Beetle are between the two stories. The two simply do not gel. If this were two separate books, this would be annoying, but not disastrous, but considering they are both printed in the same comic, it is pretty unacceptable.
• There were a few places in the co-feature that didn’t sit too well with me, mostly the attempts at “hipness” by having Blue Beetle’s armor crack South Park jokes and Paco’s Mr. T impersonations. Both seemed really forced to me.
• Both stories feature strong art. Mike Norton and Dan Jurgens have both been on a roll as of late with great work, and the great inking by Norm Rapmund with his tight finishes propels the work of both men to another level.
• What really impressed me, though, was Jurgens’s work with the Teen Titans in the lead story. He is clearly aping George Perez, but with a slightly more modern flair. The end result looks fantastic and makes me wish he’d tackle the characters with this style sometime again in the future.

Verdict: Strongly Recommended. With a fun, adventurous lead-story and strong art throughout, this issue of Booster Gold is another win for the book since adding the Blue Beetle back-up. The co-feature was a bit simplistic, but the character work was solid enough for me to overlook that. The only thing that really held this one back was the unacceptable discrepancies in how Black Beetle was portrayed between the two stories.

Written by Mark Millar
Art by Carlos Pacheco, Danny Miki, Dexter Vines, Crime Lab Studios, Allen Martinez, Victor Olazaba, Chism, and Justin Ponsor
Letters by Cory Petit
Cover by Carlos Pacheco, Danny Miki, and Laura Martin
preRanking: 12

• I didn’t originally intend to pick up this issue, but picked up after a quick flip-through intrigued me. I’m glad that I did, as this issue capitalizes on a lot about the first issue that worked and throws in a bit more extra goodness on top of that.
• The issue follows the aftermath of Captain America finding out that the mysterious Red Skull is actually his son, both in terms of Cap’s reaction and SHIELD’s reaction to Cap’s reaction.
• It is clear that Mark Millar is responding to a lot of the criticisms that the Ultimate Universe was becoming too much like the regular Marvel Universe by taking the Avengers in a drastically different direction here.
• That being said, it is really strange seeing Captain America freak out and go rogue here, but it seems fitting to the character and given what he finds out in this issue is pretty understandable.
• Much of the issue is spend on exploring the origin of the Red Skull as a second super soldier and works out extremely well, instantly catapulting him into a spot as a top-tier villain and helping reinforce the darkness of the government (which, when you think about it, makes sense given that they ordered experiments on humans to create super soldiers during WWII in this universe).
• All of this builds to the disgraced Nick Fury being called back to start a new team of Avengers with Hawkeye, which is extremely intriguing, especially given that it will apparently include a new Black Widow and Tony Stark’s arrogant older brother.
• The most impressive part of the art isn’t Carlos Pacheco’s energy or strong expressions, it’s the fact that six inkers managed to gel extremely well and keep consistent throughout this issue. That is fairly unheard of.
• As I said, Pacheco’s art has a lot of energy and great expressions, but runs into problems when he seems to force in iconic pin-up style shots that don’t always follow logically with what comes before. Were he a bit more interested in quality storytelling, this issue would’ve been that much stronger.

Verdict: Strongly Recommended. I have a few hang-ups here and there with this issue, but it is still a very engaging and well-crafted read that has me extremely excited to be exploring the Ultimate Universe and to see what Millar has up his sleeves for Nick Fury’s new team. In fact, I was so impressed with this issue that there is really only one reason that it wasn’t granted “Must Read” status—the price. Quite frankly, there really is no reason for this book to be $3.99 and until there is, it’s going to be held back on the Rankings.

04. SECRET SIX #13
Written by Gail Simone
Art by Nicola Scott, Carlos Rodriguez, Doug Hazlewood, Rodney Ramos,and Jason Wright
Letters by Travis Lanham
Cover by Daniel Luvisi
preRanking: 01

• After having an unfortunate falling out last issue, the Secret Six find themselves divided this week with Ragdoll, Deadshot, and Catman continuing to work for their benefactors while Bane, Scandal, and Jeanette team with Artemis to save the Amazons from the clutches of the team’s benefactors.
• This issue was a bit more manic than the series normally is, with Gail Simone jumping between scenes and losing focus at times, which is an oddity for her considering how tight her plotting usually is.
• I’m running out of ways to talk about how engaging and supremely entertaining Simone’s character work on this series is. Seriously, there is no way anyone but Gail could do such amazing work with such an oddball cast.
• We get some glimpses into Scandal’s childhood here, which is really interesting, but comes up a bit too suddenly for my tastes. I get what Simone was going for, but it feels really forced.
Nicola Scott is joined by Carlos Rodriguez here and the work of the two artists blend well together. Although, admittedly, part of that is because this week isn’t Scott’s best effort. It’s still better than the majority of the art on the Rankings this week, but her consistency and expressions are nowhere near as sharp as they normally are.

Verdict: Must Read. It is incredibly telling about the quality of the series when you consider that even a weak issue of Secret Six is still a Must Read book and far better than the vast majority of this week’s other comics. So, unfortunately, this means that Secret Six did not pull in the coveted Book of the Week honors (for only the third time this year, as #5, 7-9, and 11-12 did), but it certainly came close and definitely should not be missed.

03. KICK-ASS #7
Written by Mark Millar
Art by John Romita Jr., Tom Palmer, and Dean White
Letters by Chris Eliopoulos
Cover by John Romita Jr.
preRanking: 07

• After a long delay where the memory of the title was only kept alive by news on the film adaptation, Kick-Ass returns this week with what is, by far, the best issue of the series thus far.
• Having been betrayed last issue by Red Mist, this issue follows Kick-Ass and his impromptu partners Hit-Girl and Big Daddy as they are captured and tortured by Red Mist’s mobster father.
• This issue is incredibly brutal—definitely the most brutal issue of the series. Between the extreme violence towards the characters and the psychological toll of the events, this one is ridiculously dark.
• Building out of that, Millar does a great job with the character writing here. His twits on the characters, most notably Big Daddy, make them all the more tragic and the aforementioned brutality all the more horrifying.
• I loved the twist on who Big Daddy is and Hit-Girl’s reaction to it or rather her willingness to retcon the truth in favor of the origin story that better suits her needs.
• The dialogue throughout the issue is strong, with all of the characters showcasing strong personalities and interacting naturally, or rather naturally according to the logic of the seires.
• The art by John Romita Jr, Tom Palmer, and Dean White is unsurprisingly awesome with great energy, pacing, and expressions. Dean White especially deserves praise for his murky colors that set the tone perfectly and are fine accept to the looser style that Romita uses here.
• The only major problem I had with the art was the copy-and-paste job with the comic book covers or, if it wasn’t a true copy-and-paste job, the contrasting hyperrealism that Romita uses when drawing them. It’s a weird contrast that doesn’t work particularly well for me.

Verdict: Must Read. Kick-Ass returns with a vengeance and a score to settle with an issue that more than makes up for the wait with sheer brutality, superb art, and strong character work. While I hate extended delays on comics, I’m willing to be a bit more lenient when the end result is an issue like this.

Written by Richard Starkings
Art by Boo Cook
Letters by Comicraft
Covers by Boo Cook and Ian Churchill
preRanking: 02

• This week’s Elephantmen #21 is being hyped as a perfect jumping on point for the series and, given how well it condenses the larger conflict of the series and embodies a lot of the series’ themes, I’m inclined to agree.
• The issue focuses on Ebony as he is “reactivated” at forced to do battle with two Croc Elephantmen by MAPPO agents, who have apparently developed sleeper agents. Meanwhile, it is revealed that Savannah (Ebony’s young human friend) has been “tagged” by her mother as she does not trust the Elephantmen nor her daughter’s obsession with Ebony.
• The story is told mostly through detached narration, which remains indifferent against the shocking events of the story. This puts an interesting contrast between the tone of the writing and the intensity of the art, meta-creatively embodying the duality that is paramount to the series.
• Following that same theme, I absolutely loved the contrast between the “deactivated” Ebony’s sweetness with his pets (which parallels his sweetness with Savannah) and the brutality of his battle when activated. It’s pretty horrifying, which makes it all the more engaging.
• Through the narration’s explanation of what is going on with Ebony, writer Richard Starkings also reviews the bulk of the history behind MAPPO and their Elephantmen forces while clearly setting the stage for MAPPO’s next move, which is likely to be the next major stories for the series.
• The art by Boo Cook is ridiculously intense, perfectly capturing the tone of the story and, as mentioned above, acting as an interesting foil to the detached narration.
• I was a bit put off by the lack of background details during the fight sequence. This does put the focus solely on the battle, but is also distracting in its own way because the remainder of the issue is so meticulously detailed.
• Regardless, Cook breathes a disturbing amount of life into the art, making the characters frighteningly lifelike despite their fantastic appearances, something he appears to play with by drawing his human characters equally as lifelike. It seems extremely calculated so as to set up this balance for the reader and I have to applaud Cook for it.

Verdict: Must Read. Brutally intense and viscerally pleasing, this week’s issue of Elephantmen marks a dark turn for the series, but continues to encompass the thought provoking characterization and themes that make the series such a brilliant work. Because this issue does cover so much of the series’ essence and explains much of its back story, it is a great jumping on point for new readers. However, under absolutely no circumstances should that be taken as an excuse for new readers not to track down all of the back issues or trades to fill themselves in. As much as this issue is a Must Read comic, so is every other single issue of this series and its spin-offs/off-shoots.

Written by Chris Yost
Art by Pasqual Ferry and Frank D’Armata
Letters by Cory Petit
Cover by Pasqual Ferry and Frank D’Armata
preRanking: 04

• After rocking incredibly hard on their adaptation of the first act of Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, Chris Yost, Pasqual Ferry, and Frank D’Armata reunited to take on the book’s second section, which follows Ender’s promotion to the commander of a Battle School army.
• This is an absolutely perfect, spot-on adaptation of the original story (which I actually just finished rereading about two weeks ago). The creative team perfectly captures the tone and the spirit of the story.
Chris Yost does an exceedingly great job with the character interaction and his adaptation of the dialogue. I was especially impressed by how he actually lifted important lines out of the original story and filled in gaps where the interaction is discussed more than shown in the book.
• The adults, Graff and Anderson, take on a slightly less ambiguous tone here, which helps push the actual story along and keeps things fresh, but is a tad off putting considering how closely the remainder of the story is adapted.
• The art by Pasqual Ferry is simply gorgeous. His designs are a great mix of creative future-tech with old-school sci-fi goodness as he takes Card’s original descriptions and runs with them.
• Once again, I’m blown away by Frank D’Armata’s colors and, as I said with the last miniseries, I wish he would use this lush palette in his other books as it shows so much more range and really opens up his work more than his superhero coloring does.
• What impresses me most about this issue, though, is how fantastically it is adapted while remaining incredibly accessible. If you aren’t terribly familiar with the original story, there are some beats that might get lost, but this issue does not require the reader to fill in major gaps like the majority of the Battle School issues did.

Verdict: Must Read. As impressive as the Battle School miniseries was, Yost, Ferry, and D’Armata really outdid themselves with this issue. I would say that this is a picture-perfect adaptation of the original story, but even that doesn’t seem fitting. The creative team does an amazing job of presenting and, most importantly, enhancing the original story with this brilliant issue earning it my pick as Book of the Week!

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Flip The Page said...

Beast turned out to be way too much of an anticlimax in dark x-men. I mean... He's completely inconsequential. we get a few glimpses here and there and he's still blue and furry. what a gyp.

still great reviews, makes me wanna check out dead@17

brandon said...

I found the Elephantmen comic to be one of the five best in the series. It showed such an absense of humanity it was chilling. Awesome stuff.

Daringd said...

7. Wednesday Comics #10: Various/Various DC $3.99
Interesting to say the least. The series is ending in two weeks and you can tell the stories are starting to wind down. Per usual The Flash and Deadman impress and per usual Superman and Wonder Woman suck. I hope next Wednesday Comics can redo Superman and Wonder Woman I mean they really could lead them self to a good story. Not much to say here.
Overall 6.4/10

6. The List: Avengers: Bendis/Djurdjevic Marvel $3.99
Well, I really don’t know what to think of this to be honest. Part of me enjoyed it but after thinking about it this is decent at best. The art here is actually pretty solid, I wish Djurdjevic could be this good on Thor. Bendis on the other hand IF he plays some of the plot developments here right could really do something great. But as far as this issue stands not a whole lot here. On another note why the hell is this $3.99? Why include the DD preview and the X-men preview…come on marvel.
Overall 7.0/10

5. The Amazing Spider-man #604: Van Lente/Kitson Marvel $2.99
After reading this was the last issue of the Red headed stranger arc I decided to pick it up. I am now moving Spider-man to trades. This to my surprise isn’t a bad issue at all. It’s actually pretty solid. However some of the things *Chameleons changes to Peters life* was just bizarre. The art was nothing special but solid looking work. The cover was the best thing in the issue, love me some Lenil Yu!
Overall 7.5/10

4. Kick-Ass #7: Millar/JRJR Icon $2.99
YES! What a great issue of this series. Nothing earth shattering nothing mind blowing, just fun. Millar makes this issue gold as do the wonderful art by JRJR. The plot moves along quite a bit here. Not gonna write a whole lot about this other than this issue KICKED-ASS!
Overall 8.0/10

Daringd said...

3. Hellboy: The Wild Hunt #6: Mignola/Fegredo Dark Horse $2.99
Holy s#%^! I can not believe what happened in this issue. It is so shocking I had to re-read the page 4 times to make sure I wasn’t misreading it. I don’t want to spoil for any Hellboy fan so all I will say is wow. Mignola did a great job on the story with out a doubt. Fegredo continues to due great work as the artist. If you are a Hellboy fan your mouth will hit the floor when you read this issue.

2. Superman: WONK #7: Robinson/Rucka/Woods DC $2.99
After going on a huge Superman binge this past weekend, I couldn’t wait to pick this issue up. Let me just say this issue did not disappoint. The story really moves along here. This is a great thing after the first 5 issues lacked a bit and issue 6 was part of the Codename Patriot storyline. The art looks a lot cleaner than it has been, if I’m not mistaken Woods got a new colorist which seems to be a good thing. Any fan of Superman will absolutely love this.
Overall 9.3/10

1. X-men: Exodus: Fraction/Deodato/Dodson Marvel $3.99
Wow! As a X-men fan I was in heaven. This issue has so many good moments. Fraction really is trying to due something different with the X-men and I love it. The art is great as well Deodato is a very interesting choice to due art choirs along with Dodson. I really enjoyed the different art styles. Fraction has opened the X-men up to a new world and I couldn’t be happier.
Overall 9.7/10

Ryan Schrodt said...

@Flip - Definitely check out the original minis in trade. As much as I dug Afterbirth, I never would've been able to read it without checking out Josh's original Dead@17 stuff first.

@Brandon - You said it! This was one of my favorite Elephantmen issues and was just barely edged out for #1.

brandon said...


To echo your thoughts on Hellboy: I simply cant remember an issue that drops this type of bombshell. It might be my favorite issue in 10 years from this universe. Wow.

BTW - a good spoiler/teaser is to state this issue is a MAJOR development in Hellboy's origin. But is it true? Or is it a trick or red herring?

Toss up as to which issue I loved more this week - Hellboy or Elephantmen.

Ryan Schrodt said...

I am behind on Hellboy. I was caught up in trades a few years back (#6 - Strange Places) but haven't picked up any lately. I'm honestly not even sure which volume of the trades they are on now, which is really sad because of how much I love the character and mythos.

Daringd said...

@Brandon- The LCS Manger is a HUGE Hellboy fan when he gave me my stack of books for the week he said. "Read Hellboy first it is" I am still in shock about it.

Matt Ampersand said...

I really need to get caught up in Hellboy as well. I've read up until Strange Places, but I haven't checked any of the following books.

Fenris said...

Nice to see some praise for Barry Kitson, one of the unsung great storytelling artists along with Tom Grummett and Mike McKone.

Anonymous said...

I keep wanting to like Elephantmen but I just can't get into it. I feel like Starkings is writing Babar out of character from every other version I've read of him.

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