Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Wednesday Pickups The Last Three Weeks of December and of 2010 (12/15, 12/22, and 12/29)

This will hopefully be my last multi-week post for quite a while since I will be all caught up. That said, lets get right into it since all three of these weeks had a lot of books.

First up from the 15th we have our only Marvel entry from the week, Uncanny X-Force #3. Picking up right where we last left them (getting their arses kicked), this issue reveals the origins of Apocalypse's final horsemen as they try to finish off our merry mutants. Wolverine and the gang use every trick up their sleeve, including pop rocks and psychic blades, but not every one makes it to the final show down with Kidpocalypse. Another spectacular issue that really only losses out on pick of the week because I don't want to give the spotlight to this title all the time, even if it's my favorite. Jerome Opena's art is gorgeous, especially for the graphiX-Men, while Rick Remender's story presents us with interesting new characters (in the Final Horsemen) and a fascinating test to see just how deep these X-Men will go into the darkness. If you love any of these characters or the last volume of X-Force, you really need to be picking this up.

Heading over to DC, we have Batman: Orphans #2 of 2. Everyone in the city, good and bad alike, are searching for a package said to contain a villainous super weapon culminating in a battle royale where not everyone walks away. Plus, the secret reason Batman has been recruiting these orphans is revealed. Not the greatest Bat story ever, but all in all it ended up being a descent two issue mini-series. The highlight would have to be Carlo Barberi's (the penciler) fluid and action packed panel structure, which really kept the book moving at a great pace. Ultimately, if you're a fan of Batman's wards I think you'll enjoy this book.

Next up is our bi-weekly dose of cheer, Brightest Day #16. Aquaman tells his newest aquabrother all about his past and dubs him the new Aqualad, with some slick aquabling! Meanwhile, Deathstorm has a little fun with his prisoner's and Firestorm blows up in a big way. An average issue, but one that was needed to keep these particular plot lines moving. Art, as usual, is still pretty good so that and the collector's mentality are reason enough to add this one to you're Brightest Day collection.

Rounding out the usual super suspects, is Green Lantern #60. Parallax takes a new in host in the Flash and the mysterious being collecting the entities is revealed. As I said last time Geoff Johns' story here has been boring me but picking up the slack, Doug Mahkne's art is awesome in this issue. Owning quite a bit to the great inkers (Keith Champagne, Christian Alamy, Shawn Moll, and Mahnke) and colorist (Rod Reis), I couldn't take my eyes of this vibrant issue even though I didn't care much for the story being told. Also, kind of felt like Johns was stepping on the toes of Tony Bedard's story over in Green Lantern Corps in having a character react in a completely different way than he did in that title. Can't rightly recommend this if your looking for a compelling Green Lantern tale but if your in it for the art, this one does not disappoint.

Adding a little fresh blood to the stack, we have The Suicide Forest #1 from IDW publishing. In this introductory issue we meet the two protagonists of the book; Ryoko, a young Japanese female park ranger working in the Aokigahara forest also know as The Suicide Forest for the massive amount that take place there, and Alan, an American living and working in Tokyo who just ended an exhausting relationship. It is a little early to tell exactly what the book is about besides the ghosts of these suicides stalking the woods, but it certainly lives up to its title. I will be sticking around to find out what El Torres (the writer) has in store for us though. The real appeal of this issue is Gabriel Hernandez art; very rough but strangely alluring it comes together nicely focusing particularly on symmetry of adjacent pages and panels. Definitely give it a chance a flip through at the your local shop to see if you dig it as much as I did.

Going back to a familiar face, from Vertigo we have The Unwritten #20. Continuing with the sexy ending of last issue, Tom and Lizzie bump uglies helping Tom to remember some of the time they spent together as children. This is cut short however as Tom picks up the trail of Moby Dick and ends up in the famed novel. Yet another solid issue from Carey, Gross, and crew; this title never fails to keep my attention and leave me wanting more. The only disappointment was the missed humor opportunity of not one mention Moby Dick during the more intimate scenes ;)

Also from Vertigo this week we get another helping of Vertigo: Resurrected, with John Constantine getting the special treatment. A 100 page collection that contains reprints of Hellblazer #57-58 and #245-256. In the first story, by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillion, John helps a friend track down a family member's body that is being used for something beyond science; while in the second tale, by Jason Aaron and Sean Murphy, a group is doing a documentary on the long forgotten punk band "Mucous Membrane" and they end up meeting one of John's oldest fans. If you've been following the blog, you know I've really been digging these resurrected titles and in particular the Constantine stories they've featured. This issue just builds that love even more with two great stories by two great, creative duos. Not sure why I never really checked out Hellblazer stuff till recently but I am certainly glad I finally did.

Last up and a double pick of the week is the first two issues of DCs latest series, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents (kind of cheated here since they didn't come out this week, but this is when I read them.) Written by Nick Spencer, with pencils by Cafu, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents follows of group of individuals recruited by the United Nations and given super powers to handle covert situations, the catch being the powers will eventually kill them. In these first two issues we see the death and capture of current agents, the assembling of a new team, and (in issue two) the back-story of the new Lighting (one of the agents.) I skipped this title the first time I saw it on the shelves but after a little prodding from John over at the Burnt Weiners Podcast, I decided to give the first two issue a chance and ended up loving them. A perfect blend of action, humor, and drama; this series has it all (along with some great art) and is easily accessible to readers because it isn't bogged down by the lengthy continuity of all the big name titles. While there was a previous T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents title, this one doesn't seem to be tied to it much if at all. Highly recommend giving this new book a shot and if your having a lot of "huh?" moments in the first issue, just press through. Everything gets explained and it will give you a funny new definition of double agent.

Lets keep right on moving with the huge stack of books (15!) from the 22nd.

Starting off with a slew of Marvel books, we have What if? Dark Reign one shot. Sick of Norman Osborn making the real Avengers lives a living hell, Clint Barton (aka Ronin aka Hawkeye) declared he was going to kill the former villain turned... well still a villain but now working for the government. Of course in the regular Marvel universe his plan didn't come to fruition but this comic explores the dire consequences on if it did. Being a big Hawkeye and What If? fan I had to check this out and was not disappointed. Instead of focusing on just the capes and tights aspect, writer Jason Henderson instead explores what if a hero became an assassin/terrorist and how quickly those roles can change in the public eye. Definitely recommend checking out this one shot, there is also back-up story involving Deadpool and Venom but I skipped it since I didn't read the other parts of it and I don't have much interest in either character.

Next up is Secret Avengers #8. John Steele and Max Fury, members of the mysterious Shadow Council (and surprisingly not male porn stars), cook up a scheme to kidnap Shang-Chi but will the Avengers figure it out in time to stop them? Still digging this interesting Shadow Council story of Ed Brubaker's while Mike Deodato's awesomely detailed art provides a great back bone to the book. The only improvement I could ask for is a bit more character development in the coming issues and having read some of Brubaker's other work I am sure that is just around the corner.

Moving in to the mutant books, we have Namor: The First Mutant #5. A one and done issue, this one examines the many faces of Namor through a bystander who has met him on more than one occasion. I have talked about how much I love this title at length previously but I think this issue provides a perfect example of why I love it. Stuart Moore's excellent writing shows the many sides of Namor whereas so many just write him off as the pissed off king. If that wasn't enough to sell you, Ariel Olivetti (whose name is misspelled in the title page, for shame Marvel) turns in more spectacular underwater art, while Brian Ching does some awesome flashback scenes of Namor throughout the years, and Mike Mayhew gives us a delicious cherry topping with his slick cover. If all you know of the character is his anger and physical strength, you really need to give this issue (and series in general) a shot.

Getting into the mutant team books, we have Uncanny X-Men #531. The virus continues to run rampant on Utopia affecting even the strongest among them, meanwhile the de-facto X-Men (basically the few who weren't on island at the time) try to maintain the media panic, find The Collective Man, and find out more about the artificial mutants sporting the powers of the original X-Men. In addition to all that Emma, Shadowcat, and Fantomex continue to deal with Sebastian Shaw. A solid issue with good art and writing but it does seem a little bit crowded plot-wise. It seems to me like Matt Fraction and Kieron Gillen (the writers) are trying to fit too many stories into one issue. Hopefully this will end with the Quarantine story line but I don't really see it happening before then.

Rounding out this week's X-books is X-Men #6, the conclusion of Curse of the Mutants. The vampire invasion failed and now Xarus must defend himself against Dracula, Blade, and Cyclops' X-Men, but that doesn't necessarily mean those three are playing nice together. All in all not a bad little story, a bit predicable but still fun and entertaining. The biggest disappointment was the one vampire I wanted gone is still around (hint: she is also on my short list of disliked X-Men.) Looking forward to what's next for our favorite mutants in this title as they apparently head back to the NYC.

Skipping over to Marvel's Icon imprint, we have Superior #3. Simon starts doing the whole hero thing, and in spectacular fashion. Another great issue by Mark Millar (writer) and Leinil Yu (penciler), particularly on Yu's part who draws some awesome crowd panels. Also, a nice little surprise at the end of the issue that hints as to what is really going on. Looking forward to more from this great creator owned book.

Over at DC, we start with Justice League: Generation Lost #16. The boys (Booster, Atom, Blue Beetle, and Rocket Red) engage in an all out battle with the Creature Commandos while Ice tries to help Fire who was shot last issue. Back stateside Batman and Powergirl dig a little deeper into what is really going, only to discover something is rotten in the state of Checkmate. A fun, action centered issue but nothing to spectacular. Still really digging the book though and looking forward to where it goes from here.

The second one shot of this loaded week is Teen Titans: Cold Case. Going back to shortly after "One Year Later" began, this book focuses on Robin and Ravager, the former dealing with the loss of his father and the latter being toyed with by her's. Inevitably, this leads to the two of them (along with Wonder Girl, Cyborg, and Kid Devil) getting roped into a battle with The Rouges. Big fan of this team, especially Robin, so picking it up was a no brainier for me but did not expect it be as well done as it is. Sean Murphy turned in some great art and Mark Sable's story is interesting, adding to the characters without mucking around to much so it can stay as a one shot. If your a fan of Tim Drake, Ravager, or this Titans line up you should give this issue a chance.

Checking in with my second favorite lanterns dressed for the season, we have Green Lantern Corps #55. Things heat up on Qward as Kyle and crew show up to rescue Soranik from The Weaponer and the corps find out about Gathet's secret alliance with Atrocitus. Another solid issue from Tony Bedard and Tyler Kirkham. Art is great, which has become the status quo on Green Lantern books, and the story actually remains interesting as opposed to Johns' GL book. Hopefully the regular GL series takes some notes from its younger brother here.

Last up from DC proper is Larfleeze Christmas Special one-shot. Being the "good" alien that he is, Larfleeze expects to get everything on his X-Mas list to Santa but he wakes up Christmas morning with not a present in sight. Johns and artist Brett Booth craft a fun one shot for all-ages that not only entertains as a comic but has a maze, make-able ornament, and a recipe for cookies. While its a little late to do so now, this is definitely one comic you could share with the whole family this holiday season.

The final third of this large week kicks off with Kill Shakespeare #8. Fair Othello attempts to ready the men for the coming battle with Richard and his forces while Hamlet and Juliet edge closer together. Consistently one of my favorite books, this issue brings us more amazing work from Andy Belanger (the artist), Conor McCreery, and Anthony Del Col (the co-writers.) The best little Shakespeare reference in this issue is a recreation of one of the more famous scenes from Romeo and Juliet. The question on this title isn't whether its great or not (that's already been decided) but rather whether to pick up single issues or wait for a nice collected edition of it all?

Next book up comes from Image, Skull Kickers #4. Shorty and Baldy make their play to retrieve the chancellor's body but, as per the norm, things don't go exactly their way. More fun, visual story-telling from Jim Zub and Edwin Huang comes in this issue along with quite a few laughs. Not sure if I've mentioned it before, but the unsung hero on this book is Marshall Dillon who does the awesome letters. If your still looking for a reason to check out this book, you have it right there as his letters here are probably the best on the shelves. Also for you RPG nerds out there, this issue contains stat sheets for its two protagonists. Strangely, neither of them has a +2 Shield.

The Stuff of Legend Vol.2 #3, makes a rare and always delightful appearance. In Chapter 3 of The Jungle, our favorite toys are split up as the animal-like ones are forced into the ranks of the Snake's zoo while their humanoid companions become the other animals' latest prey. While I don't talk about this title as much as I'd like, since the time between issues is lengthy, it is always a joy when I do. Sort of a cross between Toy Story and Saving Private Ryan, this comic has something for everyone and one of the easiest titles to hand to non-comic fans. With spectacular illustrations by Charles Paul Wilson III and a compelling story written by Mike Raicht and Brian Smith, this is one of the few comic I have no problem shelling out the $4.25 for every time it appears on the shelf. If your unfamiliar with The Stuff of Legend series, do yourself a favor and check out the first collection here. (Its only $11.05!)

No stranger to the blog is the next entry, American Vampire #10. Pearl and Henry continue to enjoy their new peaceful secluded life and take in a local jazz club opening, while we find out exactly what happened to Hattie after Pearl got her hands on her quite a few years back. Same great continuing story from Scott Snyder while Mateus Santolouco (and this time its Vertigo with a name misspelled on the title page) does the art solo for a few issues and it looks satisfyingly gruesome. This along with The Stuff of Legend were both close to pick of the week and probably would have taken it if they next book didn't have that new hotness appeal working for it.

Pick of the week comes from Archaia (in what is probably their first single issue appearance on the blog), Cyclops: The Recruit #1 of 8. Written by Matz and illustrated by Luc Jacamon, Cyclops takes place in the only somewhat distant future of 2054. Jobs are still tough to find as our protagonist, Doug Postoia, is forced to join up with a security firm who just landed the U.N.'s outsourcing contract and is now handling their military missions. This war will be seen by everyone the world over, as soldiers wear camera helmets and are affectionately known as cyclops (hence the title.) While this issue is mostly setting up the world, it starts with a bang that draws you, and the masses watching this war from their living rooms, in with every dark detail. This sci-fi thriller book looks to explore the fine line between entertainment and war reporting, and judging by this first issue it does so in spectacular fashion. Bottom line - buy this book!

2 Weeks down, 1 to go

Kicking off once again with marvel we have Ultimate Avengers (Vol.) 3 #5. The Avengers begin staging a massive attack force to take down the growing vampire populace but, Nerd Hulk (the new vampire leader) is tired of waiting and decides to attack the Triskelion. Essentially just another issue in this average arc, it has its funny moments and it has its ones that you roll your eyes at. The one thing that probably sets it apart, is its pretty descent examination of newer Avenger Perun and what brought him to where he is. Like I've said before, I wouldn't recommend it out right but if you think you might enjoy a bad vampire horror movie involving the Avengers, give it a shot.

Sticking in the Ultimate Marvel U, Ultimate Thor #3 of 4 is next. Its all been leading up to this, as Loki leads his army of Nazis and Frost Giants into Asgard destroying everything in their wake, Ultimate Ragnarok is here! Continuing this great mini by Jonathan Hickman (writer) and Carlos Pacheco (penciler), this issue really delivers on what the story has been building to but ends on a great cliff hanger going into the final issue. Looking forward to the book wrapping up nicely next month and it should make a great TPB purchase for those who held off on it.

Shifting time zones to the 616, Widowmaker #2 of 4 strangely creates no widows. Picking up right where it left off, Widow and crew are forced in to battle with the ruskies accusing Hawkeye of being the multiple murder eliminating politicians under the guise of Ronin. Descent issue as far as continuing the story but I honestly did not enjoy Manuel Garcia's art that much. Looking forward to getting back to David Lopez's art in issue #3. Still if you've been digging the Hawkeye and Mockingbird title, I recommend checking this mini out. Even if I wish they would have just kept it as a crossover between that and Black Widow.

Heading into the X-titles, we start it off with X-Men: The Heroic Age one-shot. Essentially the book is a guide to the current X-Men and mutant world written from the perspective of recently returned to life Steve Rodgers. Definitely a worthwhile investment ($3.99, but your getting a lot of book) for anyone who hasn't been keeping up with all the mutant books and it even manages to drop some knowledge on those of us that have been.

Next up was an impulse pick and one in which the cover really won me over, Chaos War: X-Men #1 of 2. Chaos War apparently centers around Chaos King (new character to my knowledge) putting every living person into eternal sleep and destroying the underworld so the dead return to earth. This comic follows some of the desceased X-Men (Thunderbird, Banshee, Moria MacTaggart, Esme & Sophie Cuckoo, and three clones of Jamie Madrox) as they come to and figure out what is going on. Really enjoyed Doug Braithwaite's art in this book and the story (by Chris Claremont & Louise Simpson) is ok but not particularly strong. It is mainly held back by Claremont's tendency to over explain everything to the reader (via character's thoughts and dialogue), something that has really been keeping me away from his books. I will pick up the second issue, since there is only two in the mini, but I'm not expecting any thing worthwhile besides more of Braithwaite's art.

Rounding out the X-books is New Mutants #20, Rise of the New Mutants part 1. After their narrow escape last issue Magick, Karma, and Pixie make it back to Utopia to regroup with X-Men and prepare to "rescue" their friends. Meanwhile in Limbo, General Ulysses finally starts to get his revenge on the demons for trapping his people there for so long. Still LOVE this book! Zeb Wells (writing) and Leonard Kirk (artist) truly are a dynamic duo, putting out one of Marvel's best books every month. Wells manages to show he's got everything well planned out by returning to and answering questions that have been present since this title launched. Can't wait to see how he wraps it up next issue and where the New Mutants stand going into the Age of X.

Heading over to the distinguished competition, we kick it with the young-ins in Teen Titans #90. After a certain hot head ruined things last issue, the team tracks down this TK kid and finds his high school isn't just sloppy joes and boring math lectures. Another great issue from J.T. Krul and Nicola Scott, they keep the current story line moving at a good pace but also throw in a little guide as to where their going next. Judging by the end of this issue Robin and Ravager are going to have their hands full next time, which is sure to result in our enjoyment almost equaling their own.

Adding a bit of color to the mix, we have Green Lantern #61. Taking a break from Hal and the gang, this issue focuses on Atrocitus tracking down the rage entity, The Butcher. The Butcher isn't alone how ever as he has started stepping on the toes of The Spectre, and good ole Crispus Allen certainly isn't one to take that lying down. It seems like I've been saying how bored I've been with this title for months, and in this issue Geoff Johns finally delivers a story I could sink my teeth into. While it does seem to play a role in the over all story of Krona trying to capture the entities, I think this chapter can stand on its own two legs and represent Atrocitus' adventures on earth. Doug Mahnke delivers some stellar pencils, as usual, and his team of inkers and colorist (Keith Champagne, Christian Alamy, Tom Nguyen, Mark Irwin, and Randy Mayor) really complete the art. If you've been iffy on or staying away from GL as of late I recommend you give this issue a shot, its a great example of what Johns and crew are still capable of delivering.

Keeping the Johns' train running, we have The Flash #8. Centering on Eobard Thawne this issue tells the Revese Flash Rebirth, and just how he became the man that who attempted to destroy the Flash legacy before it even began. Haven't checked in on this title since the first issue, and I must say I was really please with it. While I don't think I will start picking it up regularly (it seems to be heading into some Flashpoint event) Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins certainly put together a great one and done on the Reverse Flash. If your into the character, you might want to consider grabbing the issue even if your not regularly reading the title.

Hitting up one of the smaller companies, Slave Labor Graphics (SLG) Publishing, we have The Royal Historian of Oz #3. After being captured last issue, Frank awakens in Oz to find them a lot friendlier then he expected while the Ozians discover one of their own didn't feel like coming back. Not much new to add here, other than that I am still enjoying this fantasy tale from Tommy Kovac (author) and Andy Hirsch (artist.) The pacing seems to be a little slow for my taste but the humor more than makes up for it in the long run.

Saving the best for last we have the one shot Whatever Happened To The World's Fastest Man? from Accent UK. Its a cheat pick since it didn't come out this week, this just happened to be when I got it in the mail. The comic follows Bobby Dole, your average fellow, on the most important "day" of his life. In his city, a mad scientist placed a bomb that could not be defused and would kill everyone in two city miles. It is at this point Bobby comes into play as he posses the power to stop time and he could potentially save almost everyone but it would take his entire life to do so (as he ages normally when outside time.) Don't want to go to much beyond there story-wise, suffice to say this comic blew me away. After its glowing reviews from Tales from the Parents Basement and Burnt Weiners podcasts, I was a little skeptical on it holding up to their praise but it went above and beyond. This book contains a phenomenal story that is not only emotional but puts you in to the shoes of the protagonist, and is paired with some great art that perfectly illustrates the passing and standing still of time. Written by Dave West, with art by Marleen Lowe few comics in 2010 have been more deserving of your hard earned cash. Probably not a book you will find on your local shelf, I highly urge you to track it down (Hint: checking out the Accent UK website should give you a good start.)

Well that wraps up a very lengthy edition of Wednesday Pickups. You know the deal, any comments, recommendations, or questions can be left below or sent to my email at talesofthegeeklanterncorps@gmail.com Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go pass out on some long boxes with visions of Psylocke dancing in my head.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, really glad you enjoyed 'Whatever Happened To The World's Fastest Man?', it seems to have struck a chord with a lot of readers. Also out in this month's PREVIEWS is The Fall Of The Wolfmen, a different type of story but hopefully one you'd enjoy.
    All the best,
    Dave West