Thursday, October 15, 2009

Comic Book Review Power Rankings for 10/14/09

Just in case you haven’t had enough reviews from the Weekly Crisis Crew with our double-dose of Spider-Man reviews earlier today, I’m here to once again countdown the best release of the week (that I picked up) in this week’s Comic Book Review Power Rankings! This week features some of my personal favorite comics including the always-amazing Secret Six and the new Batgirl series that has been off to a great start, plus a big chunk of new releases from DC, a handful of Marvel books, and the debut of Phil Hester’s The Anchor. As always, only one comic can walk away at #1 and the only way you can find out is to checking out the 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

12. UNCANNY X-MEN #516
Written by Matt Fraction
Art by Greg Land, Jay Leisten, and Justin Ponsor
Letters by Joe Caramagna
Cover by Greg Land
preRanking: 11

• This week’s Uncanny X-Men kicks off the first major Nation X storyline as a group of anti-mutant terrorists use Scalphunter to sneak a plane-load of Predator X clones onto Utopia to kill all of its mutants at the same time that Magneto requests sanctuary and renounces his war against humanity.
• The Magneto business is marginally interesting, but feels like the many other times that he claims to have been reformed. The only really interesting thing is the High Evolutionary stuff, but that feels like a forced explanation of plot points that were dropped months and months ago.
• The characterization is extremely stiff, with nearly everyone appearing as a depthless shell of themselves. Xavier is a reactionary, Magneto is a broken man, and Scott is the righteous but ultimately confused leader. Meh.
Greg Land’s artwork is hitting an all-time low and the fact that he couldn’t trace anything for the High Evolutionary and the Sentinels in this issue show just how lazy of an artist he has become. Seriously, if he bothered to draw people like he does these things, this would be a wholly different story.
• Unfortunately, this is more of the same and I mean that literally. This issue features the same faces that Land has traced countless other times, whether it be repeated panels of Cyclops from different issues or the same models and porn actresses that Land has been reusing for years now.

Verdict: Avoid It. I’ve been threatening to drop this series for some time now, but it always sucks me back in with a decent issue with art by Terry and Rachel Dodson. However, now that I’m back on board with the vastly superior X-Men: Legacy, I see no reason to continue reading this in hopes that it will get good again. In all likelihood, the horribleness of this issue may mean that it’s the last issue of Uncanny X-Men that I pick up until the Second Coming crossover in 2010.

11. BATMAN #691
Written by Judd Winick
Art by Mark Bagley, Rob Hunter, and Pete Pantazis
Letters by Jared K. Fletcher
Cover by Tony Daniel
preRanking: 12

• Picking up from the end of last issue, Dick Grayson fights Two-Face, who isn’t really the Two-Bat (or Bat-Face) that he appeared to be—it was a hallucination—and as a result decides to restructure the Bat-Cave.
• The only thing I took from this issue is that Judd Winick isn’t tremendously happy with Dick Grayson being Batman. There is no other reason I can think of that would cause him to write Dick as so bumbling and horrible at being Bruce Wayne’s temporary replacement.
• The fake-out of Two-Face as Batman is seriously one of the worst plot points of 2009, though it is still beat out by the ridiculousness of the teleporter that Two-Face employs to break into the Bat-Cave.
• Also, I’m getting really sick of prison transports being blown-up on their way to Arkham. It was a neat plot point the first time we saw it, but I feel like it has happened way too many times in the last few months. Blech.
• I haven’t exactly been impressed with Mark Bagley during his run on this title, but had I known that this issue was coming down the pipe, I would’ve been a bit softer on him. His anatomy is tremendously inconsistent, his expressions are limited and don’t always match the scripts, and the cluttered storytelling is doing no favors to the disappointing story.

Verdict: Avoid It. The best thing about this week’s issue of Batman is that it isn’t this week’s issue of Uncanny X-Men. I loved Judd Winick’s run on Batman a few years back and I had liked what I’ve seen of Mark Bagley’s art prior to his jump to DC, so, in theory, this should be a great run. Unfortunately for us, the execution hasn’t really come together and this issue is really a culmination of everything that has been wrong with the run thus far.

10. DEADPOOL #900
Written by Various
Art by Various
Letters by Joe Sabino
Cover by Dave Johnson
preRanking: 10

• In all honesty, as hard as I’ve tried, I’ve never been a big fan of Deadpool. He’s just one character whose popularity never made much sense to me (other than the fact that he looks like a badass). I really only picked up this issue to see if I could find something to like about him and to uncover the mystery behind his huge increase in popularity as of late.
• I will admit that I found myself amused by Deadpool and his antics throughout the first third or so of this issue. Its chock full of humor of various forms and gave me a good idea of why people dig him. I was sold.
• Unfortunately, by the time I reached the end of the issue, I was simply worn out and the gimmicks were getting old. It doesn’t help that issue ends with its two weakest stories (Charlie Huston/Kyle Baker’s story and the full size issue by James Felder and Pete Woods).
• Before that though, I was especially pleased with the “silent” story by Fred Van Lente and Dalibor Talajic and the over-the-top but well-played story by Joe Kelly and Rob Liefeld.  Seriously, if this was $2.99 for just the Kelly and Liefeld story, this would be a Must Read.

Verdict: Read with Caution. If you are a big Deadpool fan, this issue will probably be a little bit like Christmas for you; after all, it is 104 pages of non-stop jokes and action featuring a wide range of talent and a good mix of approaches to the character for a reasonable price. Unfortunately, the quality ranges from simply abysmal to pretty good, so if you aren’t 100% vested in the character, it’s probably not worth your time and money.

Written by Phil Hester
Art by Brian Churilla and Matthew Wilson
Letters by Ed Dukeshire
Covers by Brian Churilla with Dave Stewart and Rafael Albuquerque
preRanking: 09

• This new series introduces “God’s leg-breaker,” the Anchor (or “Clem” to his friends), the gatekeeper to Hell who finds himself simultaneously battling demons in Hell and in Finland.
• The issue moves at an incredibly brisk pace, introducing the titular character and his supporting cast in rather short order before immediately getting into the punching. Phil Hester doesn’t waste a single page in the story, pounding in details at a break-neck pace.
• The concept of the series is pretty cool, but we don’t get to know enough about what the meat of the story is going to be about. At this point, it reminds me a lot of Hellboy and the differences aren’t really compelling enough to have me clamoring for more.
• I think I would find myself more excited for future issues if the art were stronger. Brian Churilla has a good handle on storytelling, with decent layouts and a good grasp on matching the pace of Hester’s script.
• Unfortunately, the actual execution really isn’t that great. His designs remind me a lot of Hester’s actually, which just disappoints me that Hester isn’t drawing the book himself. In addition to this, there are a lot of moments where faces looking incredibly deformed, the female lead’s nose changes structure several times, and the overall look of the issue is just too unpolished.

Verdict: Read with Caution. I think that Phil Hester has a cool concept here that could be really interesting once it is fleshed out a bit more. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough specifics of the plot of the series in this issue to really suck the reader in and, quite frankly, the art just isn’t that good. This book has potential, but it just isn’t living up to it in this issue.

Written by Andrew Kreisberg
Lead Art by Mike Norton, Bill Sienkiewicz, and David Baron
Backup Art by Renato Guedes, Jose Wilson Magalhaes, and David Curiel
Letters by Sal Cipriano
Cover by Ladronn
preRanking: 06

• The lead story of this week’s Green Arrow and Black Canary is lousy with Green Arrows as it follows one apparently actual Green Arrow (Green Arrow #1) who tries to regain his bearings after waking up naked in the gutter, Cupid as she looks to find fulfillment by dressing up random dudes as Green Arrow, and features a surprise appearance by a second apparently actual Green Arrow (Green Arrow #2).
• This story is a fun continuation of the story Andrew Kreisberg has been spinning around the idea of Green Arrow “losing” his identity and is quite effective long before the cliffhanger, which really seals the deal.
• It’s a simple story that works extremely well thanks to how great of a character writer Kreisberg is. Even when Green Arrow #1 is doing something as simple as interacting with hobos, it’s engaging.
• The art by Mike Norton and Bill Sienkiewicz is solid, though not their best effort. The main problem is that the level of “scratchiness” in Sienkiewicz’s finishes varies greatly throughout the story, giving it very, very uneven look.
• The backup story is considerably lighter, showcasing Speedy telling a bedtime story about Black Canary to Lian Harper, the daughter of Red Arrow.
• The story seems to build around the twist ending featuring a cop telling his son a similar story, but there the buildup never really comes together and, quite frankly, the twist isn’t tremendously interesting.
• Of course, the story isn’t helped much by the art by Renato Guedes, whose anatomy is as poor as usual. At times his character’s bodies look entirely too long, though it’s hard to notice that over the never-consistent facial designs. Honestly, it looks like he never draws the same person twice.

Verdict: Check It. The main story on this issue is a definite winner with Kreisberg doing a great job of spinning out of his previous arc into a new story in a very natural way with great art by Norton and Sienkeiwicz. Unfortunately, the backup story completely derails the issue with a nonsensical narrative and simply disappointing art. If it were just a “bad” back-up story, I wouldn’t mind as much, but this one is horrible enough that by the time I was finished, I forgot how good the lead was. That’s not a good thing.

07. RED ROBIN #5
Written by Chris Yost
Art by Ramon Bachs and Guy Major
Letters by Sal Cipriano
Cover by Francis Manapul
preRanking: 04

• After being brutally attacked by the mysterious assassin from the Council of Spiders last issue, Red Robin finds himself at the mercy of the League of Assassins that wants him to track down and destroy the Council of Spiders.
Chris Yost is still primarily pushing the story forward in this title through Tim’s inner monologues, though I’m pleased to say that he is rounding the corner from talking about how much edgier he is to providing insight into the action.
• Tam Fox’s role is expanded in this issue as she stumbles into the plot surrounding the warring assassin clans and she makes for a fun foil to Tim, especially since she hasn’t put it together yet that he is a hero.
• I’m still just very, very pleased with Yost’s take on the character. He is doing a tremendous job of evolving the character without changing the core. This is a unique take on Tim, but one that feels incredibly natural.
Ramon Bachs’s art is once again the weak link for the issue, perhaps moreso than usual. There is just something really weird going on with his work here as all of his lines look incredibly shaky and some of his characters have the weirdest bugged-out eyes I’ve ever seen. Yikes.

Verdict: Check It. The story and character work in this issue are simply awesome as Chris Yost continues to write one of the best interpretations of Robin that I’ve ever read. The greatness of the writing is really thrown off by the art though. Honestly, as rough as Bachs’s work is here, I consider it a testament to the strength of the writing that the issue is even ranked this high.

Written by Peter Tomasi
Art by Pat Gleason, Rebecca Buchman, Keith Champagne, Tom Nguyen, Randy Mayor, and Gabe Eltaeb
Letters by Steve Wands
Cover by Pat Gleason and Rebecca Buchman
preRanking: 08

• It’s another whirlwind issue for Green Lantern Corps this week, as the Green Lanterns continue to struggle against the attacks of the Black Lanterns.
• There really isn’t a lot of story in this issue, as it mostly focuses on pushing the action from the previous issues forward. There are a few new developments, but most of them come at the end of the issue.
• While he isn’t doing a lot with the story, Peter Tomasi does a good job of working with the characters in this issue, using strong clear personalities as the characters quip and react.
• If you are going to have an all-action issue, there aren’t many active artists out there today that could bring more energy to the battle than Pat Gleason, who doesn’t disappoint with his lively artwork and strong storytelling. Gleason brings a lot of life to each page with strong expressions and great impact.
• The art is a bit problematic at times thanks to the differing styles of the inkers and colorists. The changes aren’t tremendously noticeable, though the line thickness and depth does vary from page to page, which gets distracting if you take your time while reading the issue.

Verdict: Buy It. There’s not a lot going on in this issue besides the hitting, so it certainly isn’t required reading if you’ve been following the title for the last few issues. For what it is, though, it’s a fun romp with strong character voices and good art. Sometimes all you really need out of a comic is good action and it works well for this one.

Lead Written by Dan Jurgens
Lead Art by Dan Jurgens, Norm Rapmund, and Hi-Fi
Backup Written by Matthew Sturges
Backup Art by Mike Norton, Nrom Rapmund, and Guy Major
Letters by Travis Lanham
Cover by Dan Jurgens and Norm Rapmund
preRanking: 07

• The lead story in this week’s Booster Gold is a nice pause for reflection on the last few storylines as the titular character takes a moment to connect with the new Batman, Dick Grayson, on what his mission is and why it is important.
• The biggest thing that impressed me about the writing in this story is how well Dan Jurgens wrote Dick Grayson. While other writers have done a good job with the character recently, this is really the first time that I felt like someone was writing Dick as Dick and not Dick trying to be Batman.
• There isn’t a whole lot going on in this story, but Jurgens makes up for it by showcasing just how well-rounded Booster Gold has become since 52. We see everything from Booster’s pompous arrogance to his strong sense of heroics here and everything in between.
• The co-feature wraps up the Blue Beetle vs. Black Beetle storyline…sort of. The story ends but there isn’t a clear conclusion as the identity of the Black Beetle remains in question after their confrontation.
• It’s a fun character study in seeing how Jaime reacts to the claims that the Black Beetle makes, though I wish there would’ve been a bit more meat on the story. There really isn’t much to go off of here other than hints at things that may or may not actually happen.
• Art in both stories is strong with all of the artists involved doing as good of a job as ever. Norm Rapmund does a solid job of finishing the work of both Jurgens and Mike Norton, leaving me with little complaints.

Verdict: Buy It. Both stories in Booster Gold are a bit light on plot, but feature strong character writing. For once, the lead is actually the stronger story as Dan Jurgens does a wonderful job of reflecting on his run thus far and makes me wish that he’d have more chances to write Dick Grayson as Batman. The co-feature is a fun little romp, but ends far too quickly for my liking.

04. BATGIRL #3
Written by Bryan Q. Miller
Art by Lee Garbett, Trevor Scott, Sandra Hope, and Guy Major
Letters by John J. Hill
Cover by Phil Noto
preRanking: 05

• This week’s issue of Batgirl solidifies Stephanie Brown’s role as the titular character as she faces off against the Scarecrow and shows that Barbara Gordon will have a bigger role than originally anticipated in the series.
Bryan Q. Miller’s superb character writing is front-and-center with this issue as he fully develops not only Stephanie’s motivations for being a superhero, but also Barbara’s reasons for accepting Stephanie as the new Batgirl.
• To develop this, specifically Stephanie’s end of it, I was really pleased with how Miller used a fear toxin-induced hallucination of Tim Drake and herself to push Stephanie into building the confidence necessary to proclaim herself as Batgirl.
• The “candle oath” was easily the best moment of the issue, adding credibility to Stephanie as Batgirl, but more importantly, showing Barbara take ownership of the title for the first time. In the past, Batman has given out the role, but here Barbara makes it hers to give, which is long overdue and incredibly fitting to Barbara’s headstrong nature and her reluctance to have the Batgirl legacy pass on.
• The only problem with this scene is that it really isn’t given the weight that it deserves. It is shoehorned into the last few pages and done mostly in small panels interspersed with other story moments when it really should have been given its own time with much larger panels. Honestly, in my opinion, Stephanie swearing an oath is much more deserving of a full page splash than the debut of her new costume.
Lee Garbett and Trevor Scott’s art was serviceable with good energy. It gets the point across, but suffers from some consistency issues and isn’t tremendously strong in its expressions.
• The art works best during the fight scene with Scarecrow and Batgirl, which finds the art team using some good angles to setup Batgirl as the underdog early in the fight, but then to show her prowess as she wills herself into defeating the villain.

Verdict: Buy It. Despite a few missteps here and there, Batgirl #3 is a very solid issue and does a great job of cementing Stephanie into the role of Batgirl. There is a lot of grumbling amongst fans that she is replacing Cassandra Cain, but Bryan Q. Miller does an amazing job of creating an argument for the replacement that reinforces the choice for Stephanie while evolving both Stephanie and Barbara Gordon as characters.

03. SECRET SIX #14
Written by Gail Simone
Art by Nicola Scott, Carlos Rodriguez, Doug Hazlewood, Mark McKenna, and Jason Wright
Letters by Pat Brosseau
Cover by Daniel LuVisi
preRanking; 01

• This week’s installment of the always amazing Secret Six wraps up the incredibly depraved (and awesome) “The Depths” storyline as the titular team and the Amazons fight back against the slavers that originally hired the team.
• This issue features the Secret Six in a bit too deep and, not surprisingly, their way out is through sheer violence, making this one of the most action-packed issues of the series. Of course, just as she did in both Villains United and the original Secret Six miniseries, Gail Simone balances this nicely with fun quips and strong dialogue.
• As per usual, the character work here is front-and-center. Simone’s ability to write eccentric personalities makes this one incredibly enjoyable.
• I’m glad to see the Bane/Scandal friendship turning into an interesting new direction in this issue. It has been fun thus far, but a bit too one-dimensional. The twists here work perfectly with what we have seen before, but also kick-off what is clearly going to be the next major movement for the two (Bane assuming leadership and removing Scandal from the team).
Deadshot steals the show, though, with his twisted sense of “chivalry” and his ridiculously fun sadism. Simone has him in full-on badass mode, which puts him in a fun position for next issue where he takes center stage in a story written by special guest John Ostrander.
• The art, as per usual, is great despite the number of cooks in the kitchen. Nicola Scott and Carlos Rodriguez gel very well together, so there aren’t many jarring transitions. Neither artist really brought their A-game, but Scott in particular is better than most even at her worst.
• I wasn’t totally thrilled with some of the coloring choices, as the tones often made everything look oddly round. I’m not sure why this was done, but it was really distracting, especially in the opening pages.

Verdict: Must Read. There were a few extremely minor issues with the writing and the art, but all-in-all this is yet another simply amazing issue of Secret Six, which remains one of the top two or three ongoing books being put out right now. In most weeks, this issue could easily have taken the Top Spot, so don’t let the #3 Ranking fool you—it has a lot more to do with the #1 and #2 books being exceptionally awesome than it does with any problems this issue had.

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: 02

• Chris Yost packs in the story with this week’s installment of Ender’s Game: Command School, covering a lot of ground in the story as Ender’s Dragon Army finds themselves in non-stop battles against other armies far too early in their training and far too often.
• I’m really blown away by how much story Chris Yost stuff into this issue. Not only does it cover a lot of ground in terms of sheer plot points from the novel, but Yost also does a great job of subtly conveying the shift in Ender’s attitude and understanding of the Battle School during this issue.
• Yost’s handle on the characters perfectly captures the spirit of Orson Scott Card’s original work, which is done by closely adapting the dialogue, at times taking actual lines out of the book. Through this Yost develops at tremendous amount of depth for characters like Bean and Ender in this issue.
• As a huge fan of the original novel, it was awesome to me that major characters received “spotlight” panels during the battle, allowing characters like Crazy Tom and Hot Soup to make a definite appearance despite not being essential to the plot of the book.
Pasqual Ferry does a great job yet again with the art, making bold storytelling choices in his detail-filled panels. As per usual, his designs are simply amazing, mixing old-school sci-fi elements with a new modern sleekness.
• At first, I was a bit put off by Ferry’s expressions as they all seemed to be very similar, but upon closer inspection, I realized that he was just being ridiculously subtle with how he presents them. On one hand, this is very, very impressive, but on the flipside, you have to be a bit more “in-your-face” with expressions due to the limitations of the medium, otherwise things are going to get lost on readers who don’t scrutinize every page.

Verdict: Must Read. This is probably my favorite issue thus far in Marvel’s adaptation of Ender’s Game, including both this miniseries and the Battle School series from earlier this year. Chris Yost has found the perfect storytelling rhythm and is packing in the plot elements in a way that rewards longtime fans of the story while remaining accessible to first-timers. When you add in the finely-crafted art by Pasqual Ferry and Frank D’Armata, you’ve got a simply superb adaptation that shouldn’t be missed.

Written by Warren Ellis
Art by Facundo Percio and Digikore Studios
Letters Uncredited
Covers by Various
preRanking: 03

• After a four month gap from the release of the last issue, Anna Mercury 2 returns this week with one of the best high-concept, action-packed, incredibly fun pulpy sci-fi issues of the year.
• Picking up directly after her capture last issue, this week’s installment follows Anna Mercury as she fights her way out of imprisonment to confront the leaders of semi-alternate planet only to be then attacked by the Ultraspacial Dreadnaught Vanaheim—or, in layman’s terms, Space Vikings.
• Yes, I said Space Vikings. You get lots of awesome fast-paced action in this issue and it ends with Space Vikings. That alone propelled this issue up the Rankings. Having never run across them before, I now know that you can never go wrong with Space Vikings.
• On top of that, Warren Ellis writes the most personality-filled issue of the series as we get more fun quips and humor from Anna than we have in any other issue. The bits with the ray gun had me cracking up.
• What impresses me most about the writing in this issue are the layers that Ellis builds throughout the narrative. You get action, you get pulp-style adventure, sci-fi goofiness, high-concept science fiction (totally different from the goofiness), good character work, and though provoking analogues to modern day concerns on security vs. privacy.
• The art by Facundo Percio is filled with energy with super b designs and great expressions. I can’t think of any work this week that was as lively as this issue.
• I also really dug the layouts by Percio which were inventive—he never does anything simple or normal with the layouts—much like the series itself.

Verdict: Must Read. As grumpy as I was regarding the massive delay between issues prior to picking this up, I walked away not caring. Seriously, if this is the level of quality that I can expect, Ellis and Percio can take all the time that they need. This one is great fun on a purely visceral level if that is what you are looking for, but a closer read will reveal a multitude of layers and though-provoking concepts if you are looking for something a bit meatier. In that sense and in terms of sheer quality, I’d compare this issue to Image Comics’ Elephantmen series, which is about as big of a compliment as I can give a comic. Anna Mercury may not be an easy series to track down, but believe me, it is well worth it.

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Pat said...

I think Tim Drake is slowly surpassing Dick Grayson as the REAL replacement sometime years and years ahead...he is so much like bruce its amazing. His anger, his distrust for the truth until he sees it himself, etc. His crusade to find bruce is becoming an awesome journey to follow. I hope Yost writes Tim forever and can't wait for whats next on this title

The Dangster said...

Well, the thing about Tim is that if he were older he'd be the best replacement Batman. He's a detective and sought this life.

On that note. I haven't picked up any Blackest Night tie-ins except the Batman one. It's only 3 issues, doesn't fill in the story that much. But if you're interest in what Dick, Tim, Damien, and Deadman are doing in all of this, this is the place.

Ryan Schrodt said...

I totally agree, Pat. I've always felt that Tim was being groomed for being a future Batman--after he did only become Robin after using detective skills to learn Batman's identity. Dick never wanted the role and was simply too good as Nightwing.

I really hope that Yost is around for a while, as well. He's doing a simply amazing job.

Primewax said...

I probably need to get in on this Red Robin stuff. Tim has always been my fave of the Bat-family, and Morrison's B&R is a bit too out there for me. Plus, I wanna know where Bruce is, and why we've (or rather, DC) been ignoring the cave from the end of Final Crisis.

Radlum said...

I'm giving Uncanny X-Men one more chance before dropping the book; Fraction's writing isn't as good as I expected (he can do better), but Land's "art" really brings the comic down, it's awful and judging by the cover of the next issue, it will only get worse.

Chris said...

I thought Uncanny X-Men was pretty good this week and I know a lot of other people really enjoyed it too.....I hope you aren't letting the art keep you from reading what could be a good story...personally I'd rather have a poorly drawn book with a good story than a well drawn book with a bad story...thats just me. That being said though, Land's art in this book was pretty bad.

Ethereal said...

How many times has Booster gold been near the top of your rankings?

Anonymous said...

and the R.E.B.E.L.S. review? when?

Ryan Schrodt said...

@Chris - Normally I can stomach a good story with bad art, but the writing in Uncanny has been getting progressively worse as of late as well. There are just much better books out there that I could be reading.

@Anonymous - I did almost pick up REBELS this week, but after flipping through it, I figured it might be best to read the Annual first, which I couldn't find. I'll try to track that down and jump in from there.

@Ethereal - Here is the breakdown of how Booster has Ranked (I can't seem to find where I ranked Booster #1):
Issue #2 - Ranked #5/16
Issue #3 - Ranked #5/11
Issue #4 - Ranked #3/16
Issue #5 - Ranked #3/14
Issue #6 - Ranked #2/10
Issue #0 - Ranked #4/14
Issue #7 - Ranked #2/14
Issue #8 - Ranked #4/12
Issue #9 - Ranked #8/14
Issue #10 - Ranked #12/16
Issue #1,000,000 - Ranked #7/17
Issue #11 - Ranked #9/15
Issue #12 - Ranked #14/14
Issue #13 - Ranked #9/11
Issue #14 - Ranked #11/14
Issue #15 - Ranked #8/16
Issue #16 - Ranked #7/12
Dropped #17-20
Issue #21 - Ranked #5/12
Issue #22 - Ranked #7/11
Issue #23 - Ranked #5/14
Issue #24 - Ranked #6/12
Issue #25 - Ranked #5/12

So, you can see it started really high, but dwindled after the first few storylines and since then has been a solid middle-of-the-road book.

smkedtky said...

UNCANNY X-MEN #516: I have really been enjoying this book since the closing issue of UTOPIA. I have always preferred Magneto as an ally to the X-Men and hope he sticks around as part of the cast.

Greg Land is another matter. While I didn't find his art as repulsive as usual this issue, it is still the low point of the book.

Look at the cover of next issue...Where did the bottom half of Psylocke go?

BATMAN #691: I'm loving Dick Grayson as Batman and hope it lasts well into Bruce's inevitable return. Therefore, i'm able to enjoy even the worst issues of BATMAN to some extent. This issue was a good example.

DEADPOOL #900: Van Lente's story was the best in the book. Kelly's was the most disappointing (probably because it had the highest expectations). The reprint at the end really detracted from an otherwise great issue. I didn't like the reprint the first time I read it.

RED ROBIN #5: Despite the art, this may be my favorite Bat-Family book (after BATMAN AND ROBIN). I think the pencils change next issue, yes?

ADVENTURE COMICS #3: also had a great Red Robin story this week.

GREEN LANTERN CORPS #41: The last 3 issues have felt the same to me and despite the variant cover, I don't recall even seeing John Stewart this issue.

BOOSTER GOLD #25: Best issue since Johns left.

Question: If Booster went back to the Batcave 5 minutes earlier than he did the last time, shouldn't he have run into himself 5 minutes later? I hate time travel.

BATGIRL #3: Better than last issue but I'm still not sure where I stand on the title overall.

SECRET SIX #14: It says a lot when the weakest issue of this book is still one of the best books out there. Plus, DeadShot re-awakens the 13-year old in me every month.

Dickey said...

Ryan, I have a question regarding your complaints of Greg Land's tracing. First, for a little background, I have never payed to much attention to the inticacies of the comic art process. I personally read super hero comics primarily for the stories. So as long as the art is serviceable I am not bothered by it (Phillip Tan's inablity to draw faces in recent issues of Batman & Robin is a whole 'nother story though).

So when I have seen you complain about Land's tracing for the past few issues what exactly are you referring to? Does he literally trace most of his poses/faces from a limited stock set of images? If that is the case then that is pretty shameful for a man paid to be an artist. Or does he just use an enormous amount of reference images to base his characters on, leading to images that do not showcase his own unique artistic viewpoint? Because from what I understand that is a common practice among many artists today. While that is a depressing thought it seems to me that if we bust Land for a practice such as the former then we should be busting on any artist who over-references their character models.

However I must agree with you on how his art looks. The only X-men issues I have picked up in years was the finale of that Dark Avengers/X-men crossover and most of the images in that issue were abysmal, especially long distance shots of the characters.

Kirk Warren said...

@Dickey - Not Ryan, but here's a few images that should help you figure out why Land is referred to as a tracer:

Fantastic Four Tracing

X-Men Origins Wolverine Movie Post

Traced Travis Charest

Animated Tracings

These are just a couple of Land images I have in my folders from various hate threads and posts I've seen online. I've never bothered making a proper post about it, but just assumed everyone knew about it. He's also traced Bryan Hitch, Scott McDaniel and several other artists. And not just 'oh it looks close', but full on tracing like the Travis Charest image above.

Ryan Schrodt said...

@Dickey - Kirk's posts point out some of the more famous instances, but if you do a Google search for "Greg Land Trace," you'll find plenty more.

For the record, I've got no problem with artists using references or even heavy references, but I feel that Land is the poster-child for taking this process too far, especailly considering his old work wasn't nearly as bad.

Sadly, despite being caught in the act by numerous bloggers, including famed rumor-monger Rich Johnston, no action has been taken against Land for this practice. In fact, whenever confronted with this online and at conventions, Marvel's Editor-in-Cheif Joe Quesada claims that this is just referencing and blames the fans for stirring up trouble.

What I think is even more apalling about the situation is that Land's tracings rarely even match what is going on the script and, in numerous cases, he has used the same model to trace for multiple characters in the same issue--or, in the case of one issue just recently, the same panel. Tracing is already a horrible enough practice, but lazy tracing is, in my opinion, simply unacceptable.

It's just heartbreaking that there are so many amazing artists out there struggling to make a name for themselves and yet Land is allowed to do this one a very high-profile book.

Anonymous said...

I used to be a Pascual Ferry fan way back when he started on "Heroes for Hire". I opened a few pages of the latest Ender's Game issue, and I was just horrified. The oversized heads are the biggest turn-off.

He's become like Chris Bachalo: A once great artist that I'd collect with the zeal of a librarian, but now I won't even touch his stuff. I couldn't believe that Kirk likes Chris' current output. He really should track down some of the later issues from the "American Scream" arc of "Shade the Changing Man" if he wants to see Chris' best work.

Matt Ampersand said...

Damn, Ryan, you have all your entries saved up? That's a mighty lot of data you served up on Booster Gold.

Ryan Schrodt said...

I have a Word document that lists every Book of the Week choice I have since I started reviewing in 2006, even before I started writing the Rankings.

I also have listed the preRankings and final Rankings for every column since May 16, 2007 (which is right around the time I started the Rankings). The only week's I'm missing are the four weeks or so that I was without a computer earlier this year.

Daringd said...

5. Action Comics #882: Rucka/Gates/Perez DC $3.99 (4)
This is part 3 of “The hunt for Reactron” crossover. It a good issue but it’s not great. I have been reading Action/Supergirl/Superman in one sitting recently so I think this issue suffers from not being read in one sitting with its “tie-ins”. That said as far as plot goes this really moves things along quite a bit. As for art solid if not great, again would read better if read with the rest.
Overall 7.0/10

4. The Astounding Wolf-Man #19: Kirkman/Howard Image $2.99 (5)
While not a great issue it pretty good. Kirkman and Howard obviously had fun making this issue. It’s a fun read but in a week this good it doesn’t make a lasting impression. This issue is more or less stand alone which works just fine, but with 6 issues left now do we really need a standalone issue like this? As for the art Jason Howard just get better and better as time goes on, I can’t wait to see what Kirkman and him are working on together after this. Good issue just not great.
Overall 7.8/10

3. The Walking Dead #66: Kirkman/Adlard Image $2.99 (1)
Let me start by saying Adlard gave some of his best art here. Really amazing work from him can’t imagine what it would have looked like in color. The story is solid once read with the previous 4 issues of this arc it will be seen as one of the best Walking Dead storylines. This issue yet again takes TWD to a DARK place similar to how issue 57, 61, and 63 have in the last year. Again as a whole this arc is a real turning point for TWD. I can’t wait for the next issue especially after the last page.
Overall 8.7/10

2. Hellboy: The Wild Hunt #7: Mignola/Fegredo (3)
What a great issue of Hellboy. Everything works great here; I wish every issue could be this quality. This issue is a mind game that is played with Hellboy and Mignola really works wonders here. As always the art is great. Sadly we only have one issue left of this mini but this mini has really opened up the flood gates for Hellboy stories.
Overall 9.0/10

1. Uncanny X-men #516: Fraction/Land Marvel $2.99 (2)
I loved this issue to be completely honest. I can over look Land’s art so I think I’m able to enjoy Fractions work more. This is the start of the giant Nation X storyline and this is a pretty good start to the arc. The Magneto stuff was what really interested me. Fraction has hinted at how he got his powers back for a while. Well I actually think it was one issue about a year ago but still. The Predator X stuff was pretty cool I thought. I wish Yanick Paquette would take over for Land but oh well. I’m happy with the end result overall. This is also the 5th time Uncanny has made #1 on my rank if I don’t count X-men: Exodus.
Overall 9.2/10

Dickey said...

@Kirk and Ryan, thanks for the info. I had no clue the integrity of some artists had fallen so far. At least I no have reason to purposely avoid and book I see with his name on it.

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