Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Comic Book Review Power Rankings for 03/02/11

It is still considered on time if I post the Comic Book Review Power Rankings for last week before this week’s comics are released, right? If so, I’m in just under the wire as I check out a slim six releases from last week. Who will be this week’s #1? Hit the jump to find out!

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

Those of you that follow me on Twitter are already aware of this, but I recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund my self-published comics collection, Matinee Eclectica. We have met our goal, but are still accepting pledges between now and April 1st. Any additional funds raised will go towards increasing our initial printrun and taking the comic to more conventions this summer! Please consider backing the project as you check out our official Kickstarter page. Your support is appreciated!

Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Ed Benes, Adrian Syaf, Rob Hunter, Vicente Cifuentes, and Randy Mayor
Letters by Steve Wands
Cover by Doug Mahnke
preRanking: 06

• After having it out with the Justice League over his chosen allies, Hal Jordan continues to hunt down Krona, whose origins are also explored.
• This is really the first DC Comic that I’ve read that seems adversely affected by the new 20-page issues. There just doesn’t seem to be enough story here.
• I am glad to see Krona’s origins revisited, but its placement in this issue actually takes away from the action and undercuts the shocking ending. This would’ve made more sense a few issues ago.
• This series seems to be losing a step over the last few months and it is difficult to pinpoint what exactly is the problem. Green Lantern just isn’t as good since the end of Blackest Night.
Ed Benes and Adrian Syaf fill-in for regular artist Doug Mahnke in this issue. While they fail to live up to Mahnke’s exceptionally high standards they do blend well together. It’s just hard to step down from Mahnke!
• The storytelling in the art is the weakest link with some awkward layouts and odd progressions being a tad distracting.
• I did love the very iconic shot of Sinestro bursting in on the other Lanterns. The artists really nailed Sinestro’s smug attitude.

Verdict: Check It. This series has lost a lot of steam over the last few months and this choppy issue does nothing to alleviate that problem. Geoff Johns still clearly has a good handle on his characters and the fill-in art team does a good job in Doug Mahnke’s absence, but something just isn’t clicking in this issue. Part of it is odd storytelling, part of it is a lack of that entertainment factor, but overall, its just not working out for Green Lantern this week.

Written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Lead Art by Tan Eng Huat, Victor Olazaba, and June Chung
Lead Letters by Joe Caramagna
Backup Art by Timothy Green II and Nthan Fairbairn
Backup Letters by Clayton Cowles
Cover by Alex Garner
preRanking: 05

• In the main story of this debuting miniseries, Cosmo’s new super-group of space heroes face off against and then are called to arms by a Spaceknight (just like our ol’ pal ROM) in response to a new cosmic threat.
• The lead story in this issue is your classic paint-by-numbers Marvel team-up formula. Future allies battle it out, talk it out, and then head off to fight something else. You’ve seen it thousands of times before.
• While I am intrigued by this new team, there isn’t much in terms of quality interaction here, which is what made Guardians of the Galaxy so great.
• I have faith that Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning can bring this together eventually, but as it stands, this story is a rare misstep for them.
• I will admit I was way more impressed with Tan Eng Huat in this issue than I was in Thor: First Thunder (a fantastically written miniseries that fell short in the art department). There is great potential here.
• The biggest issue that Huat has here is an extreme lack of design consistency. The characters themselves rarely look they belong in the same book together and, in the case of Quasar, take on different looks throughout the issue.
• The second story follows Rocket Raccoon in his post-Guardians role as he tries to make it in the cosmic corporate world without his best friend Groot.
• This second story is sheer genius and is a prime example of why we need to have a Rocket Raccoon and Groot ongoing series. It’s light and hilarious, but with a great heart.
• If you dug what DnA were doing with these characters in Guardians, you’ll love this issue as they pick up right where they left off. If you didn’t dig what they were doing, you are dead to me.
Timothy Green’s art on this issue is just absolutely perfect. His designs are the right mix of whimsy and expressive to fit perfectly with the characters and his storytelling is exceptionally clean.
Nathan Fairbairn deserves major props for the coloring in this story. His work is simple, but incredibly crisp. Again, this just a perfect fit for the tone of the story.

Verdict: Buy It. This issue just barely sneaks onto the Buy It plateau. At $4.99, it is a tad pricier than most comics, but you get two extended stories. The first really didn’t do much for me this week, but I’ve got a lot of faith in the writing team and I know they can bring it back around. That alone is probably a Check It level story, but it is balanced out by the Must Read brilliance of the Rocket Raccoon and Groot second story. So, although I do say Buy It, I want to forewarn you that the lead is a bit of a letdown.

Written by Ed Brubaker
Art by Sean Phillips and Val Staples
Letters by Sean Phillips
Cover by Sean Phillips
preRanking: 03

Zack Overkill continues to dig deeper into the criminal underworld in this issue, running across his former sidekick and running into all sorts of trouble.
• Superb pacing throughout the issue allows Ed Brubaker to build a great amount of tension from beginning to end, giving lots of great impact to the cliffhanger.
• There is some seriously crazy stuff in this issue, as Brubaker gets to Gail Simone-levels of depravity, much to my enjoyment.
• Much like the first volume, the plot gets lost from issue to issue. It’ll read much better in trade or all at once, but as it stands, it does feel like we are getting more events than plot points.
• The storytelling in this issue is amongst the best I’ve seen from Sean Phillips. He really turns it up to 11 in that regard. I love the way it is so structured throughout the majority of the issue, but then breaks down in the end.
• There are some issues with design consistency, which seems to go hand-in-hand with the abundance of spot blacks. It seems like Phillips loses focus in these panels.
• If you are reading an Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips comic, you know that the unsung hero of the issue is colorist Val Staples, who controls the tone of the issue with his atmospheric and bold coloring.

Verdict: Buy It. Another fine issue of Incognito: Bad Influences and in much quicker succession than this series has become known for! Brubaker, Phillips, and Staples remain one of the best trios in comics and this issue is a fine example of why. There are a few issues with the writing that won’t be as noticeable if you read it in trade, but if you keep that in mind, you still have a great read here!

Written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti
Art by Travis Moore, Walden Wong, and Allen Passalaqua
Letters by Travis Lanham
Cover by Travis Moore, Trevor Scott, and Rob Schwager
preRanking: 04

• The Freedom Fighters finally face off against the Arcadian over the fate of America and the mysterious artifacts, leading to a very surprising return.
• Freedom Fighters remains the most densely packed superhero comic on the shelves as Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti cram the story in tight in the fast-paced issue.
• This issue finds a nice balance between the action and character work. Palmiotti and Gray are doing a brilliant job of making these characters compelling in the midst of this very exciting story.
Travis Moore’s artwork has grown leaps and bounds since the beginning of this series. This issue is probably the best example of what he is capable of putting together.
• There are still some consistency issues and the storytelling needs to be tightened up, but Moore shows pure superstar potential here.
• I love how clean his designs are. There is an old school flair in this issue that is dynamite. There are a few pages in this issue that I’d love to own for that aspect alone!

Verdict: Must Read. This issue is a prime example of why it is a tragedy that Freedom Fighters is being canceled later this year. The awesome pacing, great character work, and superb art make it one of the finest comics being produced, while its density and focus on huge action makes it unlike any other superhero book currently on the market. This is a can’t miss comic, even if you only have a few more months to catch it!

Written by Christos Gage
Art by Sena Chen, Scott Hann, and Jeromy Cox
Letters by Joe Caramagna
Cover by Mike McKone
preRanking: 01

• The Avengers Academy instructors and cadets face their own horrific pasts in this issue which sees the group head to the site of the Stamford incident and Hazmat spending a day finding her own humanity.
• Another month and another issue full of powerful storytelling and brilliant character writing from Christos Gage. This series is the best work of his career and this is another fine example of why.
• Hazmat’s day out was really charming and added a lot of depth to the character who, up to this point, was the shallowest character in the series.
• It’s great to get some closure on Speedball’s involvement in Civil War and the Stamford incident, even if the closure might just be a cover-up for some darker secrets.
• The art duo of Sean Chen and Scott Hanna join the series and do a fine job in their first outing here. Their work is clean and consistent, with a design style that should sit well with fans of Mike McKone’s work on the series.
• Chen sure does love close-ups doesn’t he? It’s a good thing that his expressions are so strong, otherwise this issue would fall apart rather quickly.
• There are some awkward moments in the issue art-wise, including some strange “floating heads” that are a tad distracting, but Chen and Hanna do a great job overall.

Verdict: Must Read. Are you reading Avengers Academy? No? Why not? Seriously, this is the best comic that Marvel is currently releasing and probably the best comic that they have released in years. You need to read this book, including this issue. Seriously, go buy it right now. You won’t regret it.

01. SECRET SIX #31
Written by Gail Simone
Art by Jim Calafiore and John Kalisz
Letters by Travis Lanham
Cover by Dan Luvisi
preRanking: 02

• Remember when the Secret Six obtained that “Get out of Hell Free” card? Well everyone wants to cash it in this week, which leads to all sorts of consequences!
• This issue opens with the Secret Six filming a commercial for their services. It is exactly as hilarious as it sounds like it would be and it features one of Gail Simone’s best lines ever—“The Secret Six: Your enemies are our enemies, and most of our enemies are dead.”
• I’m glad to see that Simone is bringing back Ragdoll’s infatuation with his old pal Parademon, which was one of the best gags of the early days of the Secret Six.
• Ragdoll has a monkey version of his Secret Six teammates. This is the scene that Gail Simone was born to write.
Jim Calafiore works his usual magic here, especially in regards to his superb storytelling. He is one of the most underrated artists in DC’s stable in that regard.
• Calafiore never misses a beat when drawing some truly bizarre things in this issue.
John Kalisz’s colors are really subdued here, but work really well. It’s not your usual DC-style coloring, but it works well here.

Verdict: Must Read. Secret Six is at its best when Gail Simone gets bizarre and it doesn’t get much more bizarre than this issue, which features some just plain crazy moments. True to form, however, Simone and artist Jim Calafiore never back down in this issue when confronting their insane demons. Both creators are at the top of their game in this Book of the Week winner.

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Anonymous said...

secret six was awesome as well as tbolts last wk, quick question, is ragdoll officially out of the team and now apart of hell's dark forces?

Anonymous said...

I agree with you about freedom fighters, last issue was awesome.

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