Thursday, October 29, 2009
Due to the massive number of comics being released this week, the Comic Book Review Power Rankings couldn’t be contained in just one installment. Today I’ll be looking at the Bottom 8 comics of the week. Are these all issues you should avoid at all costs? Are some of them hiding hidden gems of awesomeness amongst their mediocrity? Could this week have an unprecedented 17 Must Read books and these are just the ones that I’m review first? Well, there is only one way to find out and that is to check out Part 1 of this week’s 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lead Written by Felicia D. Henderson
Co-Feature Written by Sean McKeever
Art by Yildiray Cinar Julio Ferreira, Pete Pantazis, and Rod Reis
Letters by Sal Cipriano
Cover by Joe Bennett, Jack Jadson, and Rod Reis
• After a disappointing debut last issue, Felicia Henderson does very little to instill faith in the readers with a haphazardly constructed second issue that finds the Teen Titans battling the demons that attacked Raven while bickering at one another over the team’s leadership.
• The dialogue in this issue is simply horrendous. The pacing of it makes the issue hard to sludge through and the “voices” of the characters makes me wonder exactly how much exposure Henderson has had with the characters.
• There is almost nothing to like about Henderson’s take on any of the characters. Beast Boy is a jerk, Wonder Girl whines to much, and, truthfully, the remaining characters are basically ignored to the point that they have no personality.
• Of course, it doesn’t help that the plot is horribly incomprehensible and ends without much fanfare, making me confused as to what was supposed to be accomplished.
• The back up was fun though as we see Ravager running into more trouble just as she thought she was in the clear. It featured good action and solid narration—the only problem is that there isn’t enough room in the co-feature for it to really flourish.
• Yildiray Cinar handles the art on both stories, though the two couldn’t be more different in terms of quality. The lead story looks incredible rushed; it features less details, the storytelling is a bit more awkward, and the art lacks the sharp precision Cinar is known for.
• The second story, however, looks incredible. Cinar showcases great fluidity, a strong attention to detail, and superb storytelling—basically it is the complete opposite of his work on the lead.
Verdict: Avoid It. For the second issue in a row, the only good thing about this issue is the co-feature. Sean McKeever and Yildiray Cinar continue to do stellar work in their Ravager story, but it isn’t nearly enough to make up for the simply horrible writing in the lead story. I hate to be so blunt about a writer, but Henderson simply isn’t ready to be taking on this title and it shows.
Written by John Ostrander
Art by Kajo Baldisimo, Dan Parsons, and Jesus Aburto
Letters by Michael Heisler
• Star Wars: Legacy takes a break from the adventures of Cade Skywalker and crew to return to the Mon Calamari situation and, in particular, Hondo Karr’s involvement in it.
• We learn a bit more about Karr’s history as a Mandalorian, but the odd pacing issues and lack of overall focus from the story takes away from the impact that this has on his current situation.
• It’s hard to tell exactly what the issue is building towards as a lot of the major events are brushed aside the moment Karr’s ex-wife mysteriously shows up, leading to the abrupt and out-of-place ending to the issue.
• The art by Kajo Baldisimo is incredibly uneven. It starts of very strong, with an especially impressive first page, but quickly falls apart due to major consistency issues in regards to design and attention to detail. Plus, the Hutt we meet in this issue looks majorly weird.
Verdict: Avoid It. Unless you are the world’s biggest Hondo Karr fan (if there is such a person), I can’t think of any reason you’d want to trudge through the haphazard writing and very inconsistent art. The series takes a break from the main story and also apparently takes a break from the quality it had showcased over the last few issues; I would recommend that you also take a break this week and pass on this issue.
Written by Craig Kyle, Chris Yost, Zeb Wells, and Mike Cary
Art by Clayton Crain, Ibraim Roberson, John Rauch, Laurence Campbell, and Matt Milla
Letters by Cory Petit
Cover by Clayton Crain
• The X-Necrosha one-shot features three stories that set up major elements of the upcoming X-Necrosha crossover. These include Selene’s attack on the X-Men, Cypher returning from the dead and setting his sights on Magma, and Blindfold receiving some sort of prophecy from an undead mutant that I didn’t recognize.
• The comparisons of this story to DC’s Blackest Night are inevitable and this issue doesn’t do much to squash those, with the role of the techno-organic virus serving a similar role to that of the Black Lantern rings, though Selene’s rationale for resurrecting the dead is presumably different than Nekron’s.
• The problem with this issue is that, unless you are majorly familiar with the characters, there isn’t much to grasp onto. There isn’t much setup to speak of and if you aren’t familiar, you are going to be lost on the significance of the events.
• I found myself losing interest rather quickly, which is probably due to equal parts being lost on the characters and being a bit burned out on semi-zombie stories.
• I did enjoy the binary gimmick of Cypher’s story, which is a fun twist for explaining how the techno-organic virus works. This seems to be the main focus of the story, though, which does absolutely nothing to build towards the revelation that Cypher is going after Magma.
• Things aren’t help by the art at all. Ibraim Roberson does a serviceable job in the Cypher story, but the horrible anatomy, poor detail, extreme stiffness, and lack of discernable expressions from both Clayton Crain and Laurence Campbell in their respective stories were cringe-worthy.
Verdict: Avoid It. I’m assuming that the purpose of this issue is to set up major story beats for the crossover, but the stories do very little to setup anything, so this is certainly not required reading. This issue should come with a disclaimer for casual readers warning them that they may get lost, though the biggest offense is still the very shoddy art.
Written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Art by Wesley Craig and Nathan Fairbairn
Letters by Joe Caramagna
Cover by Alex Garner
• The usually awesome Guardians of the Galaxy wraps up a major movement in the series with this issue, which finds Star-Lord’s team of Guardians working with Kang the Conqueror to return to their own time to defeat Magus.
• This issue is oddly unfocused, with haphazard dialogue and an unclear explanation of the Guardian’s predicament from Kang.
• The character work, which is normally the highlight of this series, seems a bit off here. There is very little humor, charm, or even personality in this issue. It reads nothing like any Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning-penned issue I’ve ever read.
• Two major characters apparently die in this issue and both happen very quickly and without much gravitas. This is disappointing because a) their deaths seem almost brushed aside and b) the characters are two of the richest in the book, so there isn’t much sense in killing them off.
• The biggest problem with the issue, though, is the art. Everything good that the script does, the art undoes. Despite a fun sense of energy, the cartoony look of the issue is too overly exaggerated to generate any emotional resonance. In fact, it is so over-the-top that it actually works against the emotional weight of the issue.
Verdict: Read with Caution. This should be one of the biggest and most important issues of the series, but, unfortunately, the unfocused dialogue, rushed plotting, and simply horrendous art completely derails the importance of the moment. You’ll very little of the many, many, many things that make this one of the best comics on the stands in this issue, which is a damn shame as I hate to criticize what is normally one of my favorite titles.
Written by Sterling Gates
Art by Julian Lopez, Bit, and Hi-Fi
Letters by Jared K. Fletcher
Cover by Phil Noto
• DC’s introduction to the new status quo for the Batman and Superman families, World’s Finest, kicks off this week with a team-up between Red Robin and Nightwing as they attempt to save Flamebird from Penguin and the Kryptonite Man.
• If you aren’t already familiar with the characters, this is an okay setup, but if you aren’t there isn’t much sense in picking it up as its really just a distilled introduction to the characters, making them considerably less interesting than there respective ongoing titles do.
• Nightwing, in particularly, is so watered down that he has almost no personality, while Red Robin is written in the first half of the issue like a complete jerk. I will give Sterling Gates credit, though, as the character comes across much better in the latter half the issue.
• In terms of plot, the issue is full of fun superhero action with an interesting and unlikely team-up. I like the Kryptonian trafficking idea and I think that, in general, were the characters handled better, this could be a really strong story.
• The art by Julian Lopez is okay. There are moments of strength, but during the action sequences his style uses all depth and texture, which is a bit distracting.
Verdict: Read with Caution. This is really an unnecessary issue that doesn’t have enough going for it to make it worth picking, especially not for folks that are already reading Action Comics and Red Robin. The character work is surprisingly dull for Sterling Gates and the art is just ‘meh.’ If you really want to sample the characters, I highly suggest tracking down an issue of their actual series—you’ll be happier with the results.
Written by Mark Millar
Art by Carlos Pacheco, Justin Ponsor, Danny Miki, Dexter Vines, and Allen Martinez
Letters by Cory Petit
Cover by Carlos Pacheco, Danny Miki, and Justin Ponsor
• Gregory Stark, brother to Tony Stark, puts together his team of operatives to track down Captain America in this week’s Ultimate Comics: Avengers.
• Stark’s team is so out of control and features such nefarious characters that you’d think he was creating the Ultimate Thunderbolts. There really isn’t anything likable about any of the characters except for Hawkeye.
• This is easily the least accessible issue since the Ultimate reboot, assuming that Black Widow II (only referred to as Monica) and Red Wasp are preexisting characters. If not, Mark Millar probably shouldn’t be writing him like they are.
• I found myself having a hard time getting invested in the story because all of the characters, including Captain America to a degree, are simply unlikable. I can’t care about the story if I really don’t care what the characters are doing.
• Carlos Pacheco struggles with design consistency in this issue. Facial structures, character sizes, etc seem to shift throughout the issue. When Pacheco is on his game, it looks good, but he can’t seem to keep up that level throughout the entire issue.
• My biggest complaint, other than the unlikable cast, is that there is really only about 5 pages worth of story in this issue, which makes it hard to justify the $3.99 price tag. I don’t mind decompression if it means solid development, but if its just stretching a story for the sake of filling an issue, I’m not okay with it.
Verdict: Read with Caution. Ultimate Comics: Avengers continues to be a pretty mediocre comic spinning out of a superb creative team and premise. This issue compounds that with a cast that is a poor mix of dastardly and dull, which really turns me off. I like the hunt for Captain America and Pacheco puts together a few strong pages, but ultimately, there isn’t enough for this series to stand on much longer.
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Ivan Reis, Oclair Albert, Joe Prado, and Alex Sinclair
Letters by Nick J. Napolitano
Cover by Ivan Reis, Oclair Albert, and Alex Sinclair
• Despite having already been spoiled in the solicits, the big-bad behind Blackest Night (Nekron) is revealed in this week’s issue as Barry Allen does his best to rally Earth’s heroes to defend against the Black Lanterns as Hal works with the other Lanterns off-world to stop the threat.
• The issue spends a lot of time building up towards the reveal of Nekron, but the fact that this was already spoiled and he is a character that most readers aren’t going to be familiar with makes it feel like a pretty worthless twist.
• The vast majority of the issue is the same thing we’ve seen in every other Blackest Night title—heroes fighting Black Lanterns and having a hard time dealing with fighting dead loved ones—only this time it is mainly through the eyes of Mera and the Atom.
• Despite this, there were some cool moments, like Barry running so fast that he simultaneously warns all of the world’s heroes and the revelation that the returning dead are only those connected with heroes, but its mostly just more of the same.
• Ivan Reis’s art looked very rushed in comparison to his earlier work on this series. His character designs weren’t nearly as strong and the details on some pages looked simply unfinished. When compared to his earlier work, it looks like he simply ran out of time and had to push the issue forward before his vision was complete.
• There were moments of sheer brilliance from Reis though, particularly in the last few pages. The only problem is that, after seeing how strong those pages were, it makes it a lot harder to swallow the earlier, messier pages.
Verdict: Read with Caution. It's not that I'm tired of Blackest Night, I'm just tired of the fact that every single tie-in issue is doing the exact same thing. We get it, already, Black Lanterns are horrible and we should be sad because they used to be our friends. Geoff Johns does some fun things with Barry Allen here, but it doesn't make up for the fact that it looks like Ivan Reis rushed through the sane story we've been reading for months now.
Written by J.T. Krul
Art by Ed Benes and Hi-Fi
Letters by Rob Clark Jr.
Cover by Ed Benes, Rob Hunter, and Rod Reis
• The Titans chapter of Blackest Night comes to a close with a full-on brawl between the collected Titans and their zombie-esque Black Lantern counterparts.
• Much like the previous issues in this miniseries, J.T. Krul’s character work is a lot of fun, especially with Donna Troy and Dove. His Dove is so strong here that I’d love to see him write her in her own miniseries (provided she survives Blackest Night now that she will clearly be playing a major role).
• What didn’t set well with me, though, was the way Terra’s character was ripped apart here. Beast Boy’s reaction to her, as well as Cyborg’s summation of her character, portrays here in an incredibly negative manner. This, to me, is way too one-dimensional given how complex her character has been portrayed since the Judas Contract. It was totally unnecessary and does nothing to further any of the characters.
• The art by Ed Benes had loads of energy and strong impact, but the expressions were very weak. Given that so much of the issue involves the characters reacting to crazy situations, this is not a good thing at all.
• Also, Benes really lays on the cheesecake here. I was pleased that it was kept to a minimum in the last few issues, but this one is full of T-and-A. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I see no reason why Starfire would stick out both her boobs and her ass while fighting off a zombie.
Verdict: Check It. Given the strength of this miniseries’ first two issues, this one is a bit of a letdown. The art isn’t nearly as strong and the treatment of Terra is simply ridiculous and unnecessary. There is a lot to like, but for every step forward the issue takes, there is something bad going on to bring it back a step. If you aren’t following this title, you may want to check this one out anyway simply because of the revelation regarding Dove’s powers and how it affects the Black Lanterns.
That’s it for today, True Believers. Now that you know which comics you should probably avoid, be sure to check back on Friday for the Top 9 comics of the week so that you know which comics you shouldn’t miss out on!