Thursday, October 21, 2010

Comic Book Review Power Rankings for 10/20/10

After last week’s controversial Comic Book Review Power Rankings, I’m back with reviews! I’ve got a big crop on the countdown this week, including the newest Bruce Wayne: Road Home one-shots, the return of the much-hyped Skullkickers, and more—including, dare I say it, Grant Morrison’s Batman and Robin! This week’s Rankings are full of great comics (everything is Check It or above) and big surprises—so hit the jump to see what issue comes in at #1!

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

Written by Derek Fridolfs
Art by Peter Nguyen, Ryan Winn, and John Kalisz
Letters by Dave Sharpe
Cover by Shane Davis and Barbara Ciardo
preRanking: 11

• In the next installment of Bruce Wayne: The Road Home, Bruce’s longtime love/enemy Catwoman infiltrates a villain’s auction as she investigates the increasingly troublesome Vicki Vale.
• The plotting of this issue is a bit haphazard as we see some great concepts, most notably the villain’s auction, but they never become fully developed. The story jumps around far too much to hit all of the necessary points to move the Road Home story along.
• The dialogue is fairly minimal, so its hard to get a feel for the character’s voices or personalities. There is a lot of narration from Catwoman, but it never really sucked me in. It’s all very shallow.
• Vicki Vale’s involvement really stretches here. I can buy her breaking down the Bat-Family, but getting involved with “the Underground” doesn’t feel like a natural progression for the character or the story.
Peter Nguyen shows moments of brilliance with some strong designs and a style that reminds me a lot of regular Batman franchise artist Dustin Nguyen.
• The biggest problem is consistency. The facial features of the characters, especially Selina’s nose, are never nailed down. Catwoman seems to take on a different look with every page.
• I did love the Hush references in the art though, especially in the final scene with Catwoman and Bruce (as the Insider). As a huge fan of that storyline, I’m glad to see its influence made blatant here.

Verdict: Check It. There are a lot of reasons that this book could have jumped up to Buy It territory, including some interesting new concepts and some of the stronger points of Peter Nguyen’s art, but ultimately the flaws are too numerous and too glaring to bump this issue up. If you are following the Road Home storyline, its necessary reading, but I’d recommend not setting your expectations too high.

Written by Adam Beechen
Art by Szymon Kudranksi and John Kalisz
Letters by Dave Sharpe
Cover by Shane Davis and Barbara Ciardo
preRanking: 09

• After getting involved with the wrong crowd in the Catwoman one-shot, Vicki Vale is targeted by Gotham City’s villains for her knowledge on the Bat-Family, which puts her under police supervision and in the care of Commissioner Gordon.
• This issue is a very longwinded explanation and exploration of the relationship between Batman and Commissioner Gordon that takes a giant leap forward from the end of the previous installment (see the above review).
• Writer Adam Beechen finds himself covering the same ground over and over again between Bruce Wayne and Vicki Vale’s narrations of the events, which takes away from the intense chase he is building.
• The dialogue is stiff and lifeless, without much personality from any of the characters, save Vicki Vale. Given that Commissioner Gordon is to be the focal point of the issue, I was surprised that he was the most lifeless throughout the majority of the issue.
• That being said, the last two pages completely nailed the relationship between Gordon and Batman as the Commissioner clearly sees through the Insider gimmick. It’s a great moment that completely salvages the writing in the rest of the issue.
• The main draw, though, is the art from Szymon Kudranski. I’d never heard of him before this issue, but now I definitely want to see more of his work as soon as possible.
• His work has a brilliant sense of atmosphere with a dark, claustrophobic style that ratchets up the intensity from page one and never let’s up.
• On the flipside, the darkness of the style and the limited palette from John Kalisz does detract from the details in the art and does hamper the storytelling slightly. It’s a gorgeous book, but Kudranski will need some refining so that he doesn’t work against himself.

Verdict: Buy It. The majority of the issue features fairly lifeless and lackluster writing, but the issue as a whole jumps up to a Buy It verdict on the strength of the last two pages and the very impressive art. This issue was a nice reminder of how effective a grounded Gotham City story can be and really makes me wish that DC would dust off the Gotham Central concept, hopefully teaming up the brilliant Greg Rucka with Szymon Kudranski, who really impresses me here.

Written by Bryan J.L. Glass
Art by Tan Eng Huat and Jose Villarubia
Letters by Joe Sabino
Cover by Jay Nacleto and Brian Haberlin
preRanking: 06

• The retelling of Thor’s earliest days continues with the introduction of Loki, who escapes imprisonment only to run roughshod over Donald Blake’s hospital.
• This certainly isn’t the Loki of old, that’s for sure. Bryan J.L. Glass’s take on Loki is considerably darker and more frightening than most. His “mischief” is horrific murders. It’s disturbing, but makes for an immensely more convincing villain.
• The story is filled with thick “Asgardian language,” which requires a slower, more careful read than most contemporary Thor stories that use a standard English. This gives a lot of weight to Thor and Loki’s interactions, serving to make them both more alien, but could frustrate casual readers.
• I really like how Glass is developing the relationship between Thor and Blake—essentially two separate entities occupying the same space and often in opposition. It’s very intriguing and makes things like Jane Foster’s infatuation with the hero considerably more engaging.
• While the writing completely blew me away, the art nearly derails this issue as I’m simply not a fan of what Tan Eng Huat is doing here.
• While I do love how explosively expressive Huat’s art is and the undeniable energy that he brings to the art, his style and designs simply aren’t working for me.
• There are a lot of unnecessary lines and excessive crosshatching that gives the art a very rough, unfinished look. Plus there are major consistency issues in terms of design. It’s just not a very attractive comic.
• .

Verdict: Buy It. Much like Thor’s internal battle with Donald Blake within the issue, I feel like the writing is at battle with the art in this issue. Glass’s strong take on the Thor/Blake relationship and his simply frightening vision of Loki are definitely Must Read material. Unfortunately, I found that the art seriously hindered my enjoyment of the issue. Tan Eng Huat definitely has strong aspects to his art, but the overall look and feel of the issue is incredibly off-putting. Thankfully the writing wins out on this issue, but I can’t help but feel that, with stronger art, this issue could have made a run for Book of the Week.

Lead Written by David Hine
Lead Art by Moritat and Gabriel Bautista
Backup Written by Jan Strand
Backup Art by Richard Corben
Letters by Rob Leigh
Cover by Ladronn
preRanking: 03

• In the lead, the Spirit tracks down Kass through various drug dealers and users, only to have the villain taken down by a very angry Octopus.
• This is an oddly-paced story that takes a big step back in terms of storytelling to cover a lot of ground to wrap the arc up. It’s a bit disjointed because of this, being a strange departure from the pacing and style of the previous issues.
• The shock ending with the Octopus definitely raises the stakes on the villain. David Hine is known for his creepy comics, so I’m actually surprised it took him this long to deliver something so frightening.
• I really like how the Spirit is presented as relentless in his pursuit here. It’s solid character development and definitely sets him apart from the corrupt lawmen of his city.
• As per usual, Moritat’s artwork is a great fit for the issue as he has undeniable chemistry with Hine, perfectly capturing the tone of the story.
• The line-work in this issue is very clean and straightforward in its storytelling. While Moritat isn’t exactly known for his wild designs, I felt that the art in this issue had a “controlled” air about it.
• The colors are a major part of the success of this issue as Gabriel Bautista takes a minimalist approach effectively, never shortchanging the lines with his limited palette, instead accentuating the strengths of the main artist.
• The backup follows the Spirit as he tracks down the mysterious Full Moon Killer, only to find himself up against a trained wolf.
• I really wasn’t impressed with this story as it was hard to get engaged in, but its awkwardly paced dialogue really killed it for me.
• The art is probably the weakest that we’ve seen in the Spirit back-ups. This a far cry from Richard Corben’s stronger works, in terms of consistency, storytelling, and design. Corben is a legend, but this just doesn’t live up to his legacy.

Verdict: Buy It. DC’s soon-to-be-deceased backup features can be both a blessing and a curse, sometimes lifting lackluster titles up (such as Sean McKeever’s Ravager stories in the abysmal Teen Titans), but they can also drag an otherwise strong comic down. This is definitely a case of the latter. While David Hine’s departure from the style and pace of the previous issues does make this the weakest issue of the storyarc, this issue could have jumped up a few slots on the Rankings with a strong backup (or without a backup at all). Don’t get me wrong, this comic is still worth your money, but in the end, there are better buys because I do have to look at the comic as a whole.

Written by Joshua Williamson
Art by Ale Garza, Oliver Nome, and Pete Pantazis
Letters by Swands
Cover by Ale Garza, Oliver Nome, and Hi-Fi
preRanking: 13

• This week’s Superman/Batman strays from the titular heroes, but keeps it in the family, following Supergirl in an impromptu team-up with Robin (Damian Wayne) after finding a mass grave in Metropolis.
• There is a great amount of personality in this done-in-one that makes it highly enjoyable. Joshua Williamson has a great handle on both of the main characters and puts together some fantastic interaction between the two.
• There are some really great gags in this issue as well, like Damian’s Ozymandias-esque line to Supergirl and Robin’s costumes at the Halloween party to Damian potentially having a crush on Supergirl.
• The plotting was a bit rushed, which forces a lot of exposition from the villain as he explains what he did and why he did it, which did throw off the issue a bit (and gave it a weird Scooby Doo-like vibe).
• Every page of this issue looks really great on its own thanks to a strong effort form the art team led by Ale Garza. Unfortunately, the pages don’t always gel throughout because of the style and design inconsistencies.
• Garza’s Supergirl does have an impossibly thin body, which is frustrating and disgusting at times. If he just evened her out a bit, the art would be so much stronger.
• Beyond that, I loved the energy and expressions throughout. Garza does a great job of bringing the characters to life here.

Verdict: Buy It. This is a fluff issue for sure, but that doesn’t stop it from being fun as Williamson does a great job of developing the tense relationship between Robin and Supergirl in their unlikely team-up. Between the strong interaction and fun gags, Williamson has a winner on his hands. When you add in the art by Ale Garza—Supergirl’s torso aside—the issue is that much better. I just hope other writers pick up on how well these characters came together here, as I’d like to see more interaction from them.

Written by Jim Zubkavich
Art by Edwin Huang and Misty Coats
Letters by Marshall Dillon
Cover by Chris Stevens and Saejin Oh
preRanking: 05

• Our currently-nameless heroes find themselves battling ne’r-do-wells over a corpse then set out to recover said corpse in this week’s Skullkickers.
• This issue is just as crazy and irreverent as the previous, which I mean as the highest compliment. Between battling big monsters and saving the people they intend to rob, our heroes Bald-Guy and Short-Guy have the beginnings of a highly entertaining adventure here.
• I love that Jim Zubkavich is taking his craft seriously with strong plotting and an effort to develop his characters, but doesn’t take himself too seriously by injecting loads of fun into this issue.
• This is a hard series to review because it is so unexpected, but the mechanics of the writing are solid. It’s paced well, it has good characters, and it ends with a great cliffhanger.
• There is something genius about the simplicity of sound effects like “Run-Run-Run-Run” and “Stir-Stir.” It takes the already ridiculous nature of comic book sound effects to a whole new level.
• The art from Edwin Huang is highly enjoyable with clean lines and bold designs. His art is just as larger-than-life as the rest of the comic.
• I would like to see some tighter storytelling, though. Sometimes the progression from panel to panel isn’t as clean as it could be, though it is always clear what is going on.
• Other than our heroes, the designs on a lot of the characters really blend together. I know that these guys will always stand out, but that doesn’t mean that no one else should.

Verdict: Buy It. Skullkickers is big, crazy fun. Jim Zubkavich and Edwin Huang pull no punches with how boldly silly this comic is, but never let that get in the way of telling a great story through superb craftsmanship. This is high fantasy that isn’t afraid to ham up its kitschier elements. If you are looking for a comic that is sheer entertainment, you can’t do much better than Skullkickers.

Written by Christos Gage
Art by Stephen Segovia and David Curiel
Letters by Rob Leigh
Cover by Jesus Saiz
preRanking: 07

• In this one-shot, Ragman, struggling to understand his father’s lack of faith, recounts the history of the Ragman legacy, focusing on his father’s involvement in World War II.
Christos Gage does a great job developing character here in an unusual way. The story mainly focuses on the Ragman legacy, yet does an incredibly job of developing the character of the current Ragman through it. Its similar to how character development was done in Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction’s Immortal Iron Fist.
• Despite being told mainly through narration, I didn’t feel that this issue was too heavy on exposition. Gage does a great job of balancing that.
• I love that heavy issues are tackled here. Faith is something often ignored in comics and is usually centered on Christianity, so its great to see Ragman’s history with his Jewish faith addressed in such a thoughtful way.
• I was a tad put off by Ragman’s involvement against the Nazis, but there is no comfortable way to add superheroes into a story that involves the Shoah. I am glad to see that it was handled with respect, though.
Stephen Segovia’s artwork does a great job of capturing the dark, very mature tone of the story—mature here referring to the story’s emotional complexity and not an abundance of boobs-and-blood.
• The spot blacks are a tad haphazard at times, which causes for some really awkward panels. The shadows do more to detract from the art than to enhance it.
• Segovia’s work looks to be equal parts Lenil Yu and Jim Lee. It’s a great mix of bold characters, efficient cross-hatching, and superb amounts of detail.

Verdict: Buy It. This issue came really close to jumping up to Must Read territory. The $3.99 price tag does hamper it a bit as we don’t get any extras and a few other flaws all add up to knock it down a peg, but just barely. This is a fantastic comic that really celebrates why Ragman is such a fascinating character, but also serves as a great introduction to those who are unfamiliar with him.

Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Frazer Irving
Letters by Patrick Brosseau
Cover by Frank Quitely
preRanking: 10

• In the conclusion to “Batman and Robin Must Die!,” Robin has to escape the clutches of the Joker, Dr. Hurt continues to pose as the not-dead Thomas Wayne, and the titular heroes play their endgame against the mysterious villain.
• This is one of the tightest plotted issues that we’ve seen from Grant Morrison in some time and, as such, it’s a resounding success. There is little filler, little nonsense dialogue, and lots of clear plot movement.
• We see a lot of the things that Morrison has been planting for years coming to a head here, but what makes it work is how clearly he puts it together. Casual readers will not need to have 30 issues open in front of them to catch where he is going with certain details, but the astute reader also isn’t being shortchanged by having the story being beat over their head. Morrison finds a nice balance.
• It’s interesting to see Morrison pull back from the supernatural elements in this conclusion (Robin’s line about Dr. Hurt’s true nature really emphasizes this) after so heavily hinting in the direction of Satan for much of this storyline. It’s an interesting twist that helps ground the story.
• I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating—clarity and consistency are Morrison’s best friend and worst enemy. When he has it, we have fantastic comics, when we don’t, it’s a mess. We have it here.
• The art is more of a mixed bag, with Frazer Irving showcasing both the best and worst of his style in this issue.
• There is no texture or depth in his blacks, giving things like the Joker’s outfit a flat, unfinished look. There is also the issue of thick black lines that constrain the details of Irving’s drawings, making his characters look like Colorforms slapped upon the page. I’m also not a huge fan of how over-the-top some of his expressions were.
• On the flipside, when Iriving is drawing details, they are fantastic. Plus his storytelling is top-notch and he does a brilliant job of capturing the tone. Plus, his art can be downright gorgeous when it isn’t being problematic.
• Seriously, that is the worst Frank Quitely cover since his bloated-Asian Emma Frost cover on New X-Men. Robin’s hair and neck are ridiculous, while Dr. Hurt’s mask doesn’t appear to be attached to his face so much as it is conveniently falling in front of his face in a way that makes it vaguely appear like he could be wearing it. Ugh. Not good.

Verdict: Buy It. This is a prime example of the type of Grant Morrison comic that I thoroughly enjoy. It features the crazy off-the-wall concepts, but doesn’t sacrifice the sanctity of established characters. It’s focused and clear, but still delivers the unexpected and the unusual. It’s just good writing. In fact, it would’ve catapulted this book to Must Read territory and a potential Top 3 finish if not for the fact that Frazer Irving’s art is just too inconsistent. Yes, some pages are beyond awesome, but some pages are equally as dreadful.  Overall, however, I'm calling this a win based upon the strenght of the writing.

Written by Bryan Edward Hill and Rob Levin
Art by Phil Noto
Letters by Troy Peteri
Cover by Brian Stelfreeze
preRanking: 12

Top Cow’s Pilot Season 2010 wraps up with the release of 7 Days from Hell, which follows a recently deceased hitman who has been given a second chance at redemption from a renegade demon that wants to return to Heaven.
• The concept of this comic is just insane. The main character, John Bishop, is a hitman that is killed in the line of duty. Thanks to a deal with a demon that wants to earn back God’s love, he is brought to life with instructions to kill wrongdoers within seven days. The more John kills, the closer he gets to Heaven. If he fails, he goes to Hell. How crazy is that?
• This is a heavy concept and the writing team of Bryan Edward Hill and Rob Levin don’t shy away from that. We see lots of brutality, but what sells it is the reactions from John Bishop who ruminates on his casual attitude towards killing as he reflects upon his life and death. Its complex and satisfying.
• I really dig how the demon, Mandy, is presented. She’s beautiful and straightforward, but seems too good to be true. It immediately puts the reader on edge, especially when John aligns himself with here.
Phil Noto handles the artwork and brings his usual awesomeness. His work is bold and clean, with strong expressions that carry the tone of the story admirably.
• I love that Noto plays with his perspectives throughout the issue to give this a very cinematic quality, despite working form a very standard grid. He shows that the grid doesn’t have to be restrictive if your storytelling is solid.
• The backgrounds are limited, which is disappointing. The artwork itself looks great, but I’d love to see Noto bring more detail to the table in this regard.

Verdict: Must Read. I’d been solidly behind the Week 2 offering, Asset, from the very beginning, but this issue completely blew me away. From its solid premise to its amazing execution, this is the clear Pilot Season winner for me. I do hope we see Asset again in some form or another, but 7 Days from Hell is a story that needs to be told. Even if you’ve skipped over the rest of what Pilot Season has had to offer, you should not missed this exciting, intriguing comic.

04. X-23 #2
Written by Marjorie Liu
Art by Wil Conrad and John Rauch
Letters by Cory Petit
Cover by Danni Sinya Luo
preRanking: 04

• In this week’s X-23, the titular hero struggles with her current situation after saving a man from a burning orphanage (who claims she killed the others inside), leading to a confrontation with Soulless-Logan.
• First off, if you aren’t reading Jason Aaron’s Wolverine, this issue won’t make much sense. The Wolverine Goes to Hell banner does imply that, but there really should be a warning. I’m going to work on the assumption that most X-23 fans are also Wolverine fans and have the knowledge necessary to make this issue work. If, by chance, you aren’t reading the Wolverine series, go pick it up; it’s pretty awesome.
• It would seem, in theory that the supernatural element of Wolverine Goes to Hell wouldn’t fit with the more grounded approach to the character that Marjorie Liu takes with X-23 but it works really well.
• I love how much personality and emotion Liu brings to the dialogue. She is doing a fantastic job of adding depth to X-23. The carnival scene with Wolverine is easily one of my favorite scenes with the character that I’ve ever read.
• The cliffhanger has me super-jacked for the next issue. That says a lot about the way tension is built and how well the closing moments of the issue are handled.
Wil Conrad does a superb job with the art. He is all about the tone of the story with subtle, but powerful expressions and strong storytelling.
• I really like that Conrad is able to bring a sense of maturity to X-23 while still making her look like a teenager. That’s a rare gift that most artists who draw teen heroes struggle with.
• If he ever takes a break from this series, I’d love to see Conrad take a stab at a Wolverine solo story. He is one of the few artists I’ve seen that makes Logan’s hair look realistic. I’d like to see what else he can do with the character.

Verdict: Must Read. The second issue for Liu and Conrad’s X-23 shows that the first was no fluke. This is a great exploration and expansion of the character that adds considerable depth while maintaining a highly interesting plot. Plus, this is the coolest that the Wolverine Goes to Hell storyline has been so far and actually has me more excited for future of Jason Aaron’s Wolverine series because of that. This series continues to showcase superb craftsmanship, but still has a lot of potential yet to reach. As awesome as it is now, can you imagine how great it will be once it hits its stride?

Written by Paul Levitz
Lead Art by Francis Portela and Hi-Fi
Backup Art by Phil Jimenez, Scott Koblish, and Hi-Fi
Second Backup Art by Yildiray Cinar, Wayne Faucher, and Hi-Fi
Letters by Sal Cipriano
Cover by Yildiray Cinar, Wayne Faucher, and Hi-Fi
preRanking: 02

• In the lead story, Shadow Lass’s relationship with Earth-Man—who once again proves his loyalty to the Legion and their ideals—comes to life, just as her new man demands an unaltered Legion ring from Brainiac.
• This is a strange “wrap-up” to the first storyline, as there aren’t any conclusions so much as the story just starts to change direction. It’s a cool move for Paul Levitz to make in the age of trade waiting.
• Once again, the brilliant character work and accessible relationships make this an awesome read that should appeal to both longtime and new fans of the Legion.
• I love how complex Earth-Man is becoming. It’s hard to tell which way he is going as lots of new wrenches are thrown into the works. Levitz’s development here is just fantastic.
• The art in the lead is all handled by Francis Portela, who proves my theory that a single artist on this title will make the story exponentially more awesome, even if that artist isn’t quite as awesome as Yildiray Cinar.
• The inks in the final scene between Earth-Man and Brainiac are much too dark. I get that they are going for tension, but its just too dark in comparison to the rest of the issue.
• The first backup follow Cosmic Boy on a visit to the Legion Academy, where he checks up on some new recruits who show off their powers.
• After five heavy issues of action and political maneuvering, its great to see the Legion in a lighter way. Plus, the new Legionnaires were lots of fun and have a lot of potential.
Phil Jimenez tackles the art and is awesome as ever with great designs, clear expressions, and superb consistency. I hope we see more of him on this series!
• The second backup is a short one pager starring Matter-Eater Lad, who reminds us that we can go online to vote for the new Legion Leader.
• Nothing to really review here as its really a throwaway page. Since I have to say something, I’ll just let you know that I voted for Lightning Lass.

Verdict: Must Read. It’s amazing how this went from a series that I approached with caution due to the convoluted history of the extremely large Legion of Superheroes cast to becoming one of DC’s strongest titles. Paul Levitz and a great art crew close out the first story arc with great new twists on undeniably charismatic characters. I get more and more excited about this series with each issue and this is a fine example of why I’ve recently become a total Legion junkie.

Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Joe Eisma and Alex Sollazzo
Letter sby Johnny Lowe
Cover by Rod Esquejo
preRanking: 01

• The mysteries continue to build in this week’s Morning Glories, as the issue carries a mysterious message from the 1490s to today as Casey fights to get Jade back into the school after the events of issue two.
• I seriously have no idea where Nick Spencer is going with this, but I do know that the ride to get there is absolutely brilliant. We are all being left in the dark, but its still immensely satisfying. The writing in this series is simply genius.
• I’m glad to see more character development happening here than we’ve seen in the past as Casey gets considerable depth added as she takes action against her teacher/captors in the name of Jade. I can’t wait to see other characters fleshed out in a similar, surprisingly plot-centric fashion.
• At first I was frustrated that the cliffhanger from the previous issue was not touched upon here, but I feel that its fitting. Its just one of a number of mysteries that Spencer is dropping on us to prove that anything goes and nothing can be trusted.
Joe Eisma steps up beg time from his previous issues, which were already impressive. This is easily the best work we’ve seen from him on this series.
• A large chunk of this issue contains very minimal dialogue, requiring very strong storytelling from the art and Eisma pulls through fantastically. Even without the brilliant script, Eisma’s work alone makes for a great comic.
• The big, bold panels give this issue a very unique feel. As you are reading, you’ll swear that the pages are oversized. I’m not sure how Eisma does it, but it’s a damn cool effect.

Verdict: Must Read. Morning Glories is every bit as amazing as everyone says it is. There is no way around it. If you aren’t reading this comic, then you can’t possibly comprehend how awesome this series is. Don’t just take my word for it—grab $3.50, head to your comic book shop, and demand a copy. Well, take like $15, because you’ll want all three issues, plus you’ll probably need a snack, too. DO IT NOW.

Written by Sterling Gates
Art by Bernard Chang and Blond
Letters by Travis Lanham
Cover by Amy Reeder, Richard Friend, and Guy Major
preRanking: 08

• With Bizarroworld under siege, Supergirl must team up with Bizarro and Bizarrogirl to save the planet in this week’s issue.
• Since he came onto the title, I’ve felt that Sterling Gates has been building towards Supergirl finally coming into her own outside Superman (and other Kryptonians) as a hero. It finally happens in this issue.
• Supergirl inspiring Bizarrogirl to be a hero to her people is an amazingly powerful moment that only works because Sterling Gates has such a great take on Kara. To me, this is a defining moment for the character and it is handled incredibly well.
• The Bizarro-speak is still a tad inconsistent, but not distractingly so. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to write an issue taking placing completely on Bizarroworld for this fact alone. Kudos to Gates for doing the best he can to build character amidst this, though.
Bernard Chang fills in for the always-awesome Jamal Igle and does so admirably. He is a great choice for a fill-in because of their similarities, but, honestly, I think Chang eclipses Igle a bit here.
• We get to see more Bizarro heroes, which are awesome. Bizarro-Arsenal carries a quiver of cats. That is amazing. Kudos to Gates and Chang for that.
• Chang’s designs are just fantastic in general—and so full of detail! I really dig his work here.
• What made the art, though, were the expressions. This is an emotionally charged story with lots of big action, all of which Chang sells beautifully with his fantastic art. It’s just a joy to look at.

Verdict: Must Read. This issue is simply brilliant. Sterling Gates does a wonderful job of stepping up his Supergirl to an all-new level that really revitalizes her (just in time for Nick Spencer to take over in a few months). Between the amazing art, fantastic story, and great character writing, this issue really showcases just what Supergirl is capable of as a character and how complex she can be. It’s not often that a single issue is a game changer for a character without resorting to gimmicks, but this issue is just that, which is precisely why it tipped the book over the edge to make it my pick for Book of the Week (and what a week it was!).

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Dennis N said...

How awesome has Damian become from being an annoying little brat, evolving into an awesome annoying little brat? I can't think of a better character arc for a new character in recent years. I think he's benefited from the loss of Bruce more than any other bat-character. Such a surprise from what could/would have easily been a dork age for Batman.

The Dangster said...

i think Damien's hair on the cover is fine, he's just got asian hair. trust me.

Ken said...

Kind of bummed on Morning Glories compared to the first two issues. Especially the end, which seemed like filler pages with no dialogue.

Eisma's a good artist but he's not strong enough yet to carry wordless pages. Cue either Rocky III or Rocky IV training montage.

Ryan Schrodt said...

@Dennis - I totally agree on Damian. I hated the character when he was first introduced, but once he started showing up in the other titles like Streets of Gotham, Batgirl, Red Robin, etc. and started to show more personality, he really started to grow on me. I'd now say that he is amongst my favorite characters in the DCU. I can't wait to see what JT Krul does with him in Teen Titans.

I do hope that someone picks up on his infatuation with Supergirl. Its a surprising twist but it helped humanize Damian amd could lead to some fun stories down the road.

Joe said...

As much as I have complained in the past about not including Brightest Day in your reviews, I must say the format and content of Power Rankings is the best on the Internets!

And, PJ has stated that he will be drawing the Legion Acedemy next year in Adventure Comics. Woo-Hoo!!! Hopefully their solo series as well.

Dennis N said...

So Damian has a crush on Supergirl and Supergirl has a crush on Dick...

That could play into Damian's growing respect for the new Batman.

Bizarro-Arsenal shoots cats? Shades of Adam West's cat launcher crossbow from Family Guy. I think that just made me want to pick up Supergirl when I was disillusioned with the Bizarro story.

Anonymous said...

Why would I buy a lackluster comic for just two pages? come on man

Anonymous said...

All hail Ryan!

All Hail Ryan!
We love positive reviews of Morrison comics. :-)

Abjekt said...

Just bought the first three issues of Morning Glories because of the universally good reviews and I absolutely agree - what a brilliant comic it is already. It's going to be good to see more strands unravelling before we get to any answers too.

Anonymous said...

gotta agree cannot believe you can actually put a buy it on comissioner after even yourself said the writing is lifeless . you realise the last 2 pages could just be posted on moments . sheesh

Ryan Schrodt said...

Anonymous #7 and #10 - I must not have made myself clear. For the majority of the issue, the writing was lifeless and lackluster, but the last few pages were near perfect. Plus, the art was phenomenal.

Between the two, I feel that we have a Buy It book--albeit the lowest ranked Buy It book, but still something I think is worth owning.

jana said...

I have to agree I really dont get why your saying people should shell out 3.99 for two good pages . dont mean to be mean I know you you have just started being a reviewer :)

Anonymous said...

Ryan great reviews. I know you are the one purchasing the books and reviewing them but I really think you should review again brightest day, Decay is a great character and John Johnnz is shining here...

Great weekend to all

Enrique G.

twobitspecialist said...

I'm pretty sure Ryan is been reviewing for years now, since the old Newsrama days.

STL said...

Haven't had a chance to read the latest LOSH arc, but has anyone addressed how everyone just overlooks the fact that Earth-Man captured and tortured Sun Boy back in Action Comics? Not to mention the other things he said and did.

Ryan Schrodt said...

Yep, I've been reviewing for about 5 years now, starting on the Newsarama boards before bringing the Power Rankings to the Weekly Crisis quite some time ago.

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