Monday, December 20, 2010

Comic Book Review Power Rankings for 12/15/10

It’s Thursday and you know what that means! It’s time for the Comic Book Review Power Rankings. Wait…what? It’s Monday? Really? Oops. Hit the jump and read the reviews already! This week’s new comics are almost here! Quick!

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 Paul Cornell
Art by Scott McDaniel, Christopher Jones, Rob Hunter, Art Thibert, Andy Owens, and Guy Major
Letters by Patrick Brosseau
Cover by Guillem March
preRanking: 09

• In the second issue of Paul Cornell’s fill-in storyline on Batman and Robin continues this week with the origin of the villainous Absence—a former flame of Bruce Wayne’s with a hole in her head and an eye for killing Bruce’s other exes.
• The majority of this issue looks back at Absence’s origins and so the success of the issue really falls upon her shoulders—unfortunately, that means that her clichéd behavior and outrageous origin story really derails this issue from the get-go.
• Comics require a certain suspension of disbelief, but Absence’s “empty brain,” high-tech automated personal medical facility, ability to live with a completely open skull, and ludicrous efficiency in forming a gang is simply too much. Cornell piles on too many ridiculous concepts for one issue.
• If you can get past the ridiculousness of Absence, you still have to contend with the lifeless dialogue and plodding pace that really kept me from finding any enjoyment or natural rhythm in this story. It was a difficult read.
Scott McDaniel and Christopher Jones share the art chores in this issue, which is a bit jarring. While both use relatively loose or “cartoony” styles, their aesthetic differences don’t blend tremendously well.
• The layouts in this issue rarely stick to simple grids, instead overlapping panels or crushing panels together amidst large amount of empty space. It’s really ineffective and quite distracting.

Verdict: Avoid It. If you can live with the piles upon piles of ridiculous details and implausible concepts in Absence’s origins, you might enjoy this issue more. Unfortunately, I simply couldn’t get over all of the things that don’t work about this issue, which really distracts me from the things that do. Of course, this wouldn’t be so bad if Scott McDaniel and Christopher Jones gelled better or if either artist brought his A-game. The end result is a surprisingly weak issue that simply misses the mark on a number of levels.

13. BATMAN #705
Written by Tony Daniel
Art by Tony Daniel, Sandu Florea, and Ian Hannin
Letters by Jared K. Fletcher
Cover by Tony Daniel
preRanking: 14

• In this week’s Batman, the titular hero teams up with Peacock and I-Ching to explore the mystery surrounding Sensei and his violent actions in search of a legendary artifact.
• While Tony Daniel is making some headway in his search for the right “voice” for Dick Grayson, this issue still suffers from the same identity crisis that has plagued all of Daniel’s issues. He simply can’t get the right feel for the character and is much better suited for Bruce Wayne.
• Daniel seems to have just as many troubles with Peacock. I understand that Daniel is trying to write some conflict in her town as she is basically forced to team up with Batman, but the inconsistencies in her character are more grating than intriguing.
• I will say, however, that the final page reveal in this issue was pretty awesome. I may be frustrated with how Daniel is writing some of these characters and struggled to get excited about this issue, but that last panel has me incredibly pumped for next month’s continuation of this story.
• Daniel’s art is big and bold with a great sense of motion and force. It’s simply heavy-looking and has a great amount of weight to it.
• Unfortunately, it too just doesn’t have the feel of a Dick Grayson comic. The is more akin to Frank Miller’s vision of the Dark Knight than any take I’ve seen on the former Nightwing before.
• The storytelling is also a bit wonky. Daniel relies too much of forceful close-ups of extremely stiff faces and rarely follows up with a panel choice that seems natural. There is no flow to the art at all.

Verdict: Byrne It. I really can’t fault Tony Daniel when he is clearly putting forth a huge amount of effort for this comic and is showcasing a great amount of talent as both a writer and an artist. Technically, this is a really sound comic. The problem is that, creatively, he is missing the mark. Daniel just doesn’t seem to be meant for writing or drawing Dick Grayson as Batman. If you turn off your brain and pretend that this is actually Bruce Wayne, you’ll probably love this comic. If not, you’ll only love the totally awesome last page.

Written by Rick Remender
Art by Jerome Opena and Dean White
Letters by Cory Petit
Cover by Esad Ribic
preRanking: 07

• After storming the stronghold containing the resurrected Apocalypse (now a child), the X-Force team must contend with the “Final Horseman,” whose origins are also explored.
Rick Remender does an interesting job of putting more reasoning and rationale behind the creation of these Horsemen than I’ve seen from any other writer establishing a new team. At the very least, these characters make way more sense than Gambit.
• Remender completely overwrites much of this issue with unnecessary monologue and too-thick dialogue. He needs to put more faith in the reader and in artist Jerome Opena to fill in some of the story. That would drastically improve the pace and readability of this issue.
• In the first issue of Uncanny X-Force, I really dug Remender’s badass approach to Deadpool, which shunned a lot of the goofiness and shtick that has defined the character over the last few years. Unfortunately, he falls back on a lot of that here, which does not fall in line with the tone he takes with the other characters.
• Opena’s art is the high point of the issue for me. His art is loaded with details on strongly designed characters. There is a ton of detail on ever single page.
• The storytelling is a tad rough, as the panel progressions aren’t always as logical as I’d like. Plus he has a tendency to take the focus of each panel away from the characters, especially when their reactions should be the focal point.
• I really dig Dean White’s colors on most books, but they really detract from Opena’s work here. The colors have a tendency to blend together and are incredible dark with little variation for shading or depth. It simply does not work in Opena’s favor.

Verdict: Byrne It. The interesting concepts and the strength of Opena’s art is certainly enticing, but the faults of this issue are simply too much for these to overcome. For every step forward that this issue makes, it takes another big step back with an overwritten script, a move backward for Deadpool’s characterization, and coloring that simply doesn’t work. This book has a ton of potential, but issues like this make me wonder how long I’m willing to stick around to see if it will live up to it.

Written by Gail Simone
Art by Adrian Syaf, Vicente Cifuentes, and Nei Ruffino
Letters by Travis Lanham
Cover by Stanley “Artgerm” Lau
preRanking: 10

• Kicking off the “Death of Oracle” storyline, this week’s Birds of Prey finds Barbara Gordon unveiling her end game against the Calculator to Batman, who has his own plans for Oracle.
• I was really taken back by how stiff the dialogue between Batman and Oracle was, which is the one thing that stands out to me most about this issue. This interaction lacks the punch and personality that is Gail Simone’s calling card.
• On the flipside, there is a great “birthday party” scene with the other Birds at a strip-club that is classic Simone. Simone does a great job of using this scene to highlight how much Dove is unlike the others, but also the differences in attitude between the other members of the team.
• I’m really getting tired of Calculator as the villain in every single Barbara Gordon story. I know that he is her arch nemesis and that this story is meant to be the culmination of their ongoing war, but it’s hard to care after seeing them go head to head in story after story for the last several years.
Adrian Syaf takes over on the art chores for this issue and, quite honestly, I’m just not a fan of how this comic looks. I’ve never been a huge fan of Syaf’s work and this issue doesn’t change that for me.
• There isn’t a tremendous amount of panel-to-panel consistency in how he draws certain characters’ faces, with Black Canary really suffering the worst of this throughout the issue. This gets to be frustrating and a tad jarring.
• Some of the perspective choices are also disappointing. The awkward perspective shifts take away from the storytelling and there are simply too many close-ups of things like characters’ hands, which cheapens the effect that Syaf is going for.
• It doesn’t help that this is one of the weaker outings from colorist Nei Ruffino, This is a very heavily inked comic and it seems that Ruffino’s colors are war with that. She seems to struggle to find the right balance here.

Verdict: Check It. I’m really torn on this issue. There are a lot of really interesting things going on and I’m really looking forward to seeing what Gail Simone has in store for Oracle’s end-game against the Calculator and her many enemies who are aware of her presence, but there is also a lot about this issue that simply doesn’t work for me. I think I might be more forgiving if I could get behind Adrian Syaf’s art more. In the end, I don’t think you’d regret reading this issue by any means, but I don’t think you need to run out to buy it.

Written by Bryan JL Glass
Art by Tan Eng Huat and Jose Villarubia
Letters by Joe Sabino
Cover by Jay Anacleto and Brian Haberlin
preRanking: 12

• In the penultimate issue of Bryan JL Glass’s reexamination of Thor’s earliest adventures, the Thunder God catches the attention of the US government and Tony Stark, who enlist the hero to battle China’s Radioactive Man, whose origins are also explored.
• I’m not very familiar with the origins of Radioactive Man, but kudos to Glass for tying his origins into an international arms race that is spurned by the appearance—in America—of Thor. It’s incredibly intriguing, has contemporary implications, and seems to fall in line with the rampant nationalism that has defined Radioactive Man in the few stories that I have read with him in it.
• Glass continues to do a good job of developing the dichotomy between Thor and Donald Blake, as well as the arrogance and pride of Thor as his ultimate downfall. This is really the crux of the series and Glass is doing a great job with it.
• The final scene does come on faster than I had anticipated and so the twist feels a bit forced upon a first read. While this is a strong culmination of a lot of what Glass has been building, I think it could use a few more pages to be fleshed out.
• My displeasure with the art of Tan Eng Huat has already been stated in my reviews of previous issues, so I’ll spare y’all the trouble of reading my complaints. His work just simply doesn’t do it for me.
• Again, though, in Huat’s defense, he brings a lot of energy with big bombastic fight scenes and a great sense of motion. He does bring an epic sense to the fight between Thor and Radioactive Man.

Verdict: Buy It. I feel like I’m repeating myself in each review of Thor: First Thunder. Bryan JL Glass is doing a solid job of updating Thor’s origins with by adding more character depth and a greater sense of conflict between Thor and Donald Blake. He has the character work down and the plotting is engaging and exciting. The art continues to be the downfall for me and keeps this series from having a shot at a Must Read verdict. Still, if you can get past the art, this is an fun comic that every Thor fan should definitely check out.

Written by Peter Tomasi
Art by Fernando Pasarin, Cam Smith, Randy Mayor, and Gabe Eltaeb
Letters by Steve Wands
Cover by Rodolfo Migliari
preRanking: 13

• This week’s Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors kicks off with the Kilowog, Arisia, Bleez, and Guy Gardner being attacked by mind-controlled Green Lantern rookies, leading to a heartbreaking sequence of events that culminates in Guy revealing the dark secret that set his mission in motion.
• This is a strangely paced that finds writer Peter Tomasi focusing on a short amount of “real time” in the world of the comic, but the choppy pace makes it drag some.
• I really liked the character work with Kilowog, who shows a more emotional side than readers would expect over the result of the rookies attacking him. It’s not often that you see such “humanity” from the former Green Lantern drill sergeant
• Guy’s “Red Lantern” prophecy is surprising and intriguing. It leave s a lot of questions unanswered and is really the big hook for me to comic back for future issues. This series had been spinning its wheels for quite some time and, without this moment, I’d consider dropping it.
Fernando Pasarin’s art turns a corner here for the better, taking on a look that is extremely reminiscent of Pat Gleason’s work. Fans of the Tomasi/Gleason Green Lantern Corps run will feel right at home.
• The art is a tad stiff at times, which does keep the opening action sequences from being as engaging as they could be.
• The spot blacks work extremely well at times, but are completely overused. I’d like to see more of the shadows being done with color shifts, which would add considerable depth to the art.
• Unfortunately, Pasarin’s Kilowog just isn’t up to snuff. He has almost no definition, which really takes away from how powerful his scenes are.

Verdict: Buy It. When Emerald Warriors launched, I was really hoping that it would simply take the place of the once near-and-dear Green Lantern Corps on my pull list, especially with Peter Tomasi spearhearding the book. Unfortunately, the last few issues have really spun their wheels without going anywhere, which had me ready to drop the title. An improved effort from Fernando Pasarin and a very intriguing final scene really elevated this issue, though, and has earned this title a reprieve for a few more months. I just hope this momentum can continue to carry this book in the right direction.

Written by Jason Aaron
Lead Art by Renato Guedes, Jose Wilson Magalhaes, Oclair Albert, and Matthew Wilson
Backup Art by Jamie McKelvie and John Rauch
Letters by Cory Petit
Cover by Jae Lee and June Chung
preRanking: 11

• In the lead story of this week’s Wolverine, the Soulless Logan attacks the X-Men on Earth, while Wolverine’s battle against Satan in Hell causes some unexpected consequences.
Jason Aaron does a superb job of pacing out this issue, using small twists throughout to keep things fresh before unleashing a huge shocker ending that completely changes the game.
• The dialogue throughout the issue is fairly minimal, but is perfectly in character for all of the characters that appear. For the most part, though, the script takes a back seat to the action.
• The way that the insurrection in Hell plays out is extremely cool and makes a lot of sense logically. I would never have thought to go in that direction, but I’m damn glad Aaron did.
• The art by Renato Guedes is big, bold, and full of energy. This issue might just be my favorite book that Guedes has ever drawn. The amount of impact he brings to the action scenes is simply stellar. Aaron hands him the reigns and he runs with it.
• The coloring, though, is a tad lackluster at times, especially in the Hell scenes. I’m a bit shocked to see the usually-awesome Matthew Wilson produce something that is so lifeless.
• In the back-up, more people who hate Wolverine intend to do him harm, this time destroying his belongings that he has stashed away in Madripoor.
• The back up is simply unnecessary and adds nothing to the story. This installment is especially ineffective because it may be inaccessible to more casual readers. I’d much rather Marvel drop $1 from the price and cut the backup altogether.
• The good news, though, is that the art is by Jamie McKelvie, who works his usual magic. The characters have great designs executed with slick, clean line work and solid storytelling.
• Kudos to colorist John Rauch for using such a hazy palette over McKelvie’s lines. It’s a perfect fit for his style.

Verdict: Buy It. Despite really enjoying the lead story, I strongly considered bumping this down to a Check It verdict because of the unnecessary backup story. I probably would have if not for the great art in that story by Jamie McKelvie. Jason Aaron is doing some cool things in this issue that have lead to a much stronger than I expected from the premise. I’d much rather see this book to only have a single story and a lower price, but as it stands, its still a damn fine read.

Written by Sterling Gates
Art by Jamal Igle, Jon Sibal, Robin Riggs, and Blond
Letters by Travis Lanham
Cover by Amy Reeder, Richard Friend, and Guy Major
preRanking: 06

• In the final issue of Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle’s run on Supergirl, the titular heroine must save her rival Cat Grant from the clutches of Toyman’s equally as villainous son, Dollmaker.
• This issue is a nice way to close out the creative team’s run on the title, which has been one of the longest this series has seen from any creative team and easily the best as well.
• I’m glad to see that they were able to close our their run by bringing together a lot of the threads that had built, especially the longstanding Cat/Supergirl feud. It is a very satisfactory end.
• This issue serves as an interesting commentary on the relationship between legacy and family, with nearly all of the involved characters, including Lois and Lucy Lane in the subplot, facing their own questions and issues in this regard.
• The last few pages felt extremely tacked on it and didn’t work as well as the rest of the issue, even if they were necessary to segue into the important final page reveal of Cat’s newest article on Supergirl.
• Jamal Igle does a great job throughout, showcasing the same strengths that became his hallmark during this run—especially his strong expressions and superb storytelling.
• The spread of Supergirl flying with the smaller shots around her of her taking down crooks might just be my favorite Igle pages ever. It’s a spectacular spread.
• The last few pages, though, simply don’t hold up. The art barely resembles Igle’s work in the rest of the book and is downright sloppy compared to the rest of the book.
• There are some consistency issues with the coloring, with some of the pages looking very round and shiny with heavy rendering and others looking flat and unfinished.

Verdict: Buy It. While this is a far cry from some of the best issues in the overall-stellar Gates/Igle run on this series, it does close out their time on the title on a strong note. The creative team did a fine job of giving Supergirl a strong supporting cast and in fleshing out the character, both of which are on full display in this finely crafted comic. While this is by no means groundbreaking, it is fun, well put together, and definitely worth your money.

Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Doug Mahnke, Keith Champagne, Christian Alamy, Shawn Moll, and Rod Reis
Letters by Nick J. Napolitano
Cover by Gary Frank and Nathan Eyring
preRanking: 02

• Picking up from last issue with the Flash now infected by Parallax, things go from bad to worse for Hal Jordan as he must not only face off against his friend, but also a vicious attack from the mysterious Entity gathering villain.
• The majority of this issue is a rehash of things that we’ve seen before. The issues between Hal and Parallax, as well as the in-fighting amongst the Lanterns, are nothing new. Geoff Johns is retreading quite a bit here.
• That being said, the last few pages that feature the Entities being used as weapons against their Lanterns and the reveal of the villain were incredibly bold. They more than make up for some repeated story beats.
• As far as character writing goes, Johns is working with characters that he knows backwards and forwards. There isn’t a wrong note anywhere in the dialogue.
• You know who is awesome at drawing this book? Doug Mahnke is.
• I am still impressed at how well the multiple inkers have been working out for Mahnke. Yes, there are some minor stylistic issues, but for the most part, they blend together quite well and really highlight Mahnke’s line work. There is only one page that doesn’t work because of the inks.
• The title spread that shows a full sequence of Flash attacking Green Lantern is easily the coolest thing I’ve ever seen from Mahnke.

Verdict: Buy It. This issue features some of the most excitement Green Lantern moments of the year, but falls short of being a Must Read simply because so much of the issue is Geoff Johns covering the same ground that he has covered countless times since Green Lantern: Rebirth. It’s still a book that all Green Lantern or Doug Mahnke fans should check out, but be aware that there are issues!

Lead Written by David Hine
Lead Art by Moritat, Gabriel Bautista, and Andre Szymanowicz
Backup Written by Paul Dini
Backup Art by Mike Ploog
Letters by Rob Leigh
Cover by Ladronn
preRanking: 08

• In the lead story of this week’s issue of The Spirit, the titular hero full inserts himself into the lives of the very much not-dead Jimmy Bauhaus and his mod-daughter wife by tricking the two and stopping a full-scale gang war from happening.
David Hine pulls off some incredibly clever writing here with a host of great twists and turns. He plays with readers expectations very skillfully and puts together a highly entertaining plot in the process.
• The is the first issue of the relaunch that really pushes just how capable of a character the Spirit is. He remains aloof as ever, but with a sense of cleverness and cunning that we haven’t seen before.
• The art in this issue is amongst Moritat’s best. I’ve been a huge fan of his for years and there are pages in this book that are heads-and-tails above everything else he has ever done.
• The lines are incredibly clean and clear with superb consistency. I absolutely love how open the designs are. It’s just a beautiful issue.
• The monochromatic colors really set the tone for the issue and give it a great “old-school” vibe. Kudos to Gabriel Bautista for taking the book in a unique direction.
• In the final Spirit: Black and White back-up, the hero foils a villain’s attempt at using a Santa Claus impersonation to commit crime.
• The back up and loose and fun with cheerful twists that make it a lighthearted foil to the opener. If you are fan of Paul Dini, it definitely holds up against his other work.
Mike Ploog is one of the few artists that really ran with the black-and-white concept with a stark penciled style that is a great fit for the tone of the story. The only problem is that the darkness of the penciling isn’t terrible consistent. I love the style, but the execution just falls short.

Verdict: Must Read. The criminally under-read Spirit has another fine issue this week with two great stories that showcase two completely different interpretive tones. In the grittier, more serious lead, David Hine and Moritat each put forth some of the best work of their careers in an incredibly clever and great-looking story. The back up is fun and lighthearted, with Paul Dini and Mike Ploog bringing loads of charm into their story, even if there are major consistency issues that hold it back some. This may be the least-read comic on the Power Rankings this week, which is a damn shame as it is also one of the mostly finely crafted!

Written by Dan Slott
Lead Art by Humberto Ramos, Carlos Cuevas, Nikki Damon, Victor Olazaba, and Edgar Delgado
Lead Letters by Joe Caramagna
Backup Art by Neil Edwards, Scott Hanna, and Morry Hollowell
Backup Letters by Chris Eliopoulos
Cover by Humberto Ramos and Edgar Delgado
preRanking: 01

• In the first of two stories in this week’s Amazing Spider-Man, the titular hero uses science to slightly deter the rampaging Hobgoblin before unveiling his new stealth suit as part of a team-up with Black Cat.
• This is a fun, fast-paced action-oriented issue that features some clever character work that continues from the previous issues. Dan Slott is on a roll with this title and this issue shows no signs of Slott letting up.
• There were some really fun character moments here, like Peter’s quick-thinking to save his identity while sacrificing his integrity at Horizon Labs as well as his reaction to MJ and Carlie being buddy-buddy.
• Slott does a great job with the sexual tension between Spider-Man and Black Cat. I especially loved her playfulness when she can hear Carlie in the background.
• I do feel that the stealth suit is a bit of a slipper slope. It’s cool and it falls in line with Peter’s new scientific focus with his new job, but I like my Spider-Man to be, you know, Spider-Man and not Iron Man.
• The art is the usual Humberto Ramos—loads of energy, hyper-stylized characters, etc. You either love it or you hate and, personally, Ramos is one of my favorite artists.
• I loved Ramos’s expressions here. He really carries of the tone of the story through the characters, who are surprisingly nuanced despite their outrageous appearances.
• In the back-up, the Spider-Slayer infiltrates the Raft to take out Mach 5 and monologue for a while at Mac Gargan, the former Venom and Scorpion.
• I’m really not sure what the point of this story is, but it is fast-paced, filled with solid action, and had an intriguing reintroduction to the Spider-Slayer.
• The art by Neil Edwards was solid and fit the script well. I totally dug the Total Recall homage he throws in there.

Verdict: Must Read. This week’s Amazing Spider-Man just barely falls short of earning the title its third-consecutive Book of the Week honor, but still manages to be one of the best comics of the week. Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos are putting together one of the most exciting new spins on the character in quite some time and have turned this book around completely from how haphazard and uneven it had been earlier this year. While I could have done without the back-up, it was still a fun little addition to the book. I know a lot of readers dropped this book during Brand New Day, but this issue is just one more reason why Big Time is a perfect time to jump back on.

Written by John Ostrander
Art by Jan Duursema, Dan Parsons, and Brad Anderson
Letters by Michael Heisler
Cover by Jan Duursema
preRanking: 05

• The grand finale of Star Wars: Legacy kicks off this week with the first issue of the War miniseries, which features the return of Darth Krayt who sets his sights on his former protégé Darth Wyyrlok.
• This issue features a ton of recap from the final storylines of the recently ended main series to bring new readers up to speed, but still takes many large steps forward with the new storyline. John Ostrander should be commended for toeing the fine line between the two.
• Ostrander clearly has not lost a step since the end of the main series, as he moves back into writing the characters splendidly. There is no re-learning curve here.
• Not surprisingly, this issue is densely packed with story beats. There are a ton of characters and all of them have a vested interest in the events that are laid out here.
• This issue features the best art from Jan Duursema in the entire 50+ issue run of Star Wars: Legacy. Her work is incredibly detailed with superb expressions. She’s actually improved in the months since the last issue of the series.
• I love how big and bold the characters are with some very strong storytelling choices being made in the art. This comic looks as epic as the story demands.
• The fight between Krayt and Wyyrlok is brief, but intense as it is full of power and impact.

Verdict: Must Read. Star Wars: Legacy is back in style with one of the most impressive issues in the entire run for this series that kicks off the grand finale in an incredible fashion. Fans of the series and those picking it up for the very first time will both feel at home with this densely packed and highly entertaining issue. I hate that this is the end for this branch of the franchise, but I’m glad to see it go out in style!

Written by Christos Gage
Art by Tom Raney, Dave Meikis, Scott Hanna, Jeromy Cox, and Andrew Crossley
Letters by Joe Caramagna
Cover by Mike McKone
preRanking: 03

• In a very Hank Pym-centric issue of Avengers Academy, the hero bonds with Tigra over the son that his Skrull doppelganger conceived with her and, later, a botched prisoner transfer finds the cadets and teachers facing off against the Absorbing Man.
• This is honestly one of the best Hank Pym comics I”ve ever read. Christos Gage does a brilliant job of showcasing the complexity and depth of the character. You seem Pym at his best, but also at his most tortured.
• The action in the comic is equally as great as the character beats, with the fight between Pym and Absorbing Man being one of the best fight scenes of the week.
• The way in which Pym “defeats” Absorbing Man is simply horrifying. It’s not graphic or even violent, but is incredibly dark. Kudos to Gage for going there.
Tom Raney does a great job of filling in for Mike McKone. I love what McKone has been doing on this title, but Raney would be a damn-fine replacement if he ever leaves the book.
• Raney’s consistency throughout the issue both in terms of his strong designs and overall style is pretty staggering. There isn’t an off panel in the entire book.
• I have to applaud colorists Jeromy Cox and Andrew Crossley for blending so well together. It’s really hard to believe that this book had two colorists (or even two inkers, really).

Verdict: Must Read. This week’s Avengers Academy made a strong run at the top spot this week through a great combination of exciting action, strong art, and brilliant character writing. This will be the defining Hank Pym story for years to come and with good reason, Gage does a great job of redefining the character in a way that opens up a lot of potential stories without fundamentally changing anything about the character that has come before. Oh yeah, and you think that Janet Van Dyne is gone forever? Think again.

01. TIME BOMB #3
Written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Art by Paul Gulacy and Rain Beredo
Letters by John J. Hill
Cover by Paul Gulacy and Rain Beredo
preRanking: 04

• The brilliant Time Bomb miniseries from Radical Comics concludes this week with the time-displaced American heroes going through all sorts of hell to destroy the Nazi doomsday device before it can be unleashed upon the unsuspecting 1940s within the small window of time that they have left in the past.
• This is a fast-paced, high-octane thriller that delivers from beginning to end by taking full advantage of Radical’s expanded page count. The excitement starts on page one and doesn’t let up.
• Given how action-oriented and plot-centric this issue is, I was surprised by how strong and engaging the character work was. Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray do a great job of developing the characters to the point that I want to follow their adventures once this story is finished.
• The writers jump into this story with a tremendous amount of ambition and execute the comic perfectly. You get a great time travel story, an amazing war comic, and an exciting thriller. Palmiotti and Gray go big here and do not falter.
• Simply put, Paul Gulacy is amazing in this issue.
• I really cannot find anything about the art to complain about. The gorgeous designs, the super spot blocks, the fantastic storytelling, the great “acting” from the characters, even the way Gulacy draws Hitler…it all comes together perfectly.
• I do have to give Radical credit for using such high-quality paper on the printed comic as it really enhances Gulacy’s work. Production matters!

Verdict: Must Read. This comic is awesome. I cannot stress that enough. It is simply awesome. The first two chapters were fantastic, but the entire creative team turns it up to eleven in the finale. I can’t recommend this highly enough and I can guarantee you’ll see it on a lot of “best of” lists this year. The easy Book of the Week and a major contender for Book of the Year.

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loran16 said...

Quick complaint: The icon for this post is "Trade waiting" and the link goes back to the Udon Street fighter post.

Simon McDonald said...

I think it's related to conflicting tastes, but I can't believe you could claim Remender overwrote Uncanny X-Force and then applaud Slott's writing in Amazing!

(That's not me saying saying Slott wrote 'badly,' but if any writer's been guilty of overwriting recently it's him, since 'Big Time' began...)

Will agree with you regarding Batman & Robin though. It feels rushed. Cornell and McDaniel are capable of so much better. Wish they'd been given more time to craft something special. I know they're just filling in for three issues, I'd just really hoped it wouldn't feel that way.

Rocker69 said...

To tell you the truth Tony Daniel's Batman is just too confusing to me. I love Marvel for doing recap pages and I wish DC would start doing that as well.

I love Spidey and I have no problem with the new's probably going to be something he will use from time to time. My biggest problem remains Carlie and MJ. I DON'T LIKE BRAND NEW DAY AND I NEVER WILL, PERIOD. (Plus, milk bath? With cats licking the milk AS she bathes? Black Cat is becoming a parody of herself, she used to be less of a cliche)

I actually didn't like this Green Lantern issue. I hate Barry Allen and I thought Parallax was way too talky. Aren't these entities supposed to be more mysterious? I'm digging Green Lantern Corps way more.

And as for is well written but I still don't understand why Puck's in hell and I absolutely hate Aaron's Devil. He's just a big bad monster and the Devil, in my conception, should be more like Mephisto. That could have been waaaaay more interesting.

And you didn't mention it here but what the hell is going on with Peter David's X-Factor? It's like he chose to ignore everything that happenned in Thor the past few months. I hate it when writers do that, seems lazy. Do your research before you mess with other people's creations.

GhostCritic said...

It's interesting that you have a problem 'suspending disbelief' at the origin of The Absence as her affliction is actually based on medical fact ( ) - Personally I thought it was inventive and no more ridiculous than most of Batman's more 'out there' villains. And why shouldn't she have all the hi-tech gadgetry, hidden lair, it's not just the men of the comic book universe that have made all the money and built themselves a technologically advanced medical pod.
Saying all that, it was the sucky artwork that ruined a perfectly servicable Batman story for me.

The Dangster said...

yeah, dandy-walker syndrome is real.

too bad, I really like Paul Cornell AND Scott McDaniel, but they just don't gel. Reminds me of when Darwyn Cooke and Tim Sale teamed up. Should've been good.

Naymlap said...

My ranking:
#3 X-Factor #212
It was ok. I like the current direction of the series. I like the way PAD is dealing with Rhane's pregnancy, I like Layla, and I like his take on Shatterstar. But the way he's handled Darwin never really appealed to me.
#2 Atomic Robo
This issue is setting up the plot ably. Can't say much about the art or writing, since it's the same high standard as always. I like the vampire dimension, since they were referenced in the last series. But I'm wary of the use of the crystal skulls since they make me think of the last Indiana Jones movie, and that movie made me die a little on the inside.
#1 Amazing Spider-Man #650
I'm with Ryan, Ramos' art is great. Slott's Big Time run, so far, reminds me of the better parts of Jenkins' Spectacular Spider-Man. In part it's because of Ramos' lively art, but it's also the fully developed supporting cast, the strong voice of Peter Parker, and the great use of Spidey's rogue gallery.
And I almost hate to admit it, but the Lady Gaga bit was pretty funny.

Kevin said...

I actually highly enjoyed Batman #705. I thought it was the best issue Daniels has written, though I know that's not saying much. His Batman fills a nice niche for fans looking for a straight forward Batman adventure that doesn't feel to continuity heavy like Morrison's Batman Inc. does.

And I completely agree with you on Amazing Spider-Man. For me it was hands down my favorite comic of the week. Just a fantastic read from start to finish.

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