Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wednesday Pickups 9/14/11

Fresh September continues with four new titles this week, as well four regular favorites. So let's get right to it:

We start in the X-world, with Uncanny X-Force #15. The Dark Angel Saga blazes on as Fantomex, Deadpool, and Deathlok may be all that stand in the way of global genocide; God help us all. Another spectacular issue from my favorite on-going title, Rememder's characters remain well written, while Opena's art never ceases to amaze. Only a few issues left in this storyline, and while I can't wait to see how it all shakes out at the same time, I really don't want it to end.

Heading off world, we catch up with X-Men Legacy #255. Magneto, Frenzy, Gambit, and Rogue continue their search for Havok and Polaris, but they might be getting in over their heads. While I do enjoy Mike Carey's story here, and not just because it is the gateway for some of my favorite X-ers to return regularly to X-books, Steve Kurth's pencils aren't exactly my cup of tea. I generally find myself not a fan of artist's whose face drawings come out strange or misshapen, and Kurth is no exception. That said, his action sequences are alright and do make the downsides tolerable. Overall, I am looking forward to where this title is heading and hopefully an artist change in the near future.

From Marvel, we head over to DC's Vertigo line with The Unwritten #29. Tommy and Lizzie get closer to unraveling the mystery of his father's journal with neither of them liking what they find. This great and original series continues with another solid issue. While I don't want to get into too many specifics and give anything away, one of the final scenes in this issue gets into some Marshall McLuhan ideology and offers a brilliant critique on the way the comic book industry has been run at times. A must read for long-time comics fans as well as those just getting into the medium.

Last up from Vertigo this week is, the penultimate issue of American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest #4 of 5. Cash and Felicia's covers are blown, so let the slaughter of Nazi vampires begin. Really enjoying this mini from Scott Snyder (writer) and Sean Murphy (artist), but that should come as no surprise since I love both of their work. While I was worried from last issue that this mini would end up trying to explain too much of this vampire world, Snyder has succeed in telling just enough to not get to far away from the main series roots and leave some question unanswered. In addition to that, Murphy's art really shines this issue as he gets to draw a lot more action that we've seen so far. Looking forward to the final issue, as the end of this one sets it up for a bloody conclusion.

Kicking off the new titles is Pigs #1 from Image Comics. Mischief and murder have forced a second generation KGB sleeper cell based in Cuba into action, and America authorities are left trying to figure out what the hell is going on. Superb story concept and execution by Nate Cosby and Ben McCool on this first issue. They paced the action and drama quite well in addition to ending with a cliffhanger that makes the wait for the next issue unbearable. My only complaint so far is Breno Tamura's art is a little rough for my taste, but I could see myself warming up to it as the book goes on. Always happy to support something that tries to tell an interesting story, and this title is no exception.

Going back to Marvel, for the third installment in their relaunched Ultimate line, we have Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1. In this first issue we meet Miles Morales, an average kid in New York, whose life is about to change forever in multiple ways. Stupendous start for Brian Michael Bendis (writer) and Sara Pichelli (artist)! This issue seems to have that perfect balance of being something original, with a new protagonist, and having the classic feel of a super hero origin story. I've been enjoying all the new titles from the Ultimate Comics line but so far this one is my favorite, although the last one to come in the one I'm most looking forward to.

Finishing out the week we have two of DC's new 52, and the first of those is Superboy #1. Scientists at a secret facility have combined the DNA of Superman and that of human to produce a clone with amazing abilities, but only time will tell if Superboy inherited his "father's" penchant for doing good. While I wasn't amazed by this first issue, I was surprised that I did like it and how well it was done. Written by Scott Lobdell and drawn by R. B. Silva, this first issue does a solid job of introducing the character and showing where he is coming from. One particular inclusion I liked, was that of Rose Wilson (aka Ravager pre-DC Reboot) who was beginning to be a romantic interest for him at the end of Teen Titans and might end up being one here, a nice nod to the readers that creator's haven't thrown everything out in the DCnU. I think the next issue will weight a little more on whether I will be picking this series up regularly, so I'm hoping for it to grab me a little more.

Last up, and barley edging out the new Spider-Man for pick of the week, is Red Lanterns #1 from DC Comics. Atrocitus and his blood thirsty red lanterns are back, but it seems their leader made have lost his taste for rage. Extremely impressive first issue from Peter Milligan and Ed Benes! While I was a little worried these characters wouldn't be able to hold their own title, Milligan has erased all doubt and Benes great art is just blood-red icing on the cake. I can't wait to see future issues getting to the core of these lantern's rage as is done for Atrocitus here and any additions Milligan makes the core. If you've grown a little tired of the event-centric Green Lantern books over the last few years, as I have, I think this book might be just what your looking for in the new DCU.

Another solid week of floppys in the books, and next week looks to continue the trend with a whole lot of appetising X-titles. See you back here in 7 days for some X-Men, X-Women, and maybe if we're lucky something X-rated.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wednesday Pickups 9/7/11

This week, I get my first taste of the new DC universe and a few regulars make an appearance. Lots of good things to say about this group, so let's get right to it:

Kicking things off this week, from Image Comics, is Hack/Slash #7. The Fame Monster story arc continues as Cassie discovers the identity of the slasher while Vlad has to return to his "Meat Man" roots to deal with a few of the slasher's lackeys. I have been enjoying most of this series so far, Daniel Leister's art was good as usual, but this particular issue felt a little dry. The humor-action combo I've come to expect on the book seemed pushed to the side for the old cliché of the villain revealing his master plan for multiple panels, which one could find appropriate in this book but to me just seemed boring. I'm hoping Tim Seeley rights the ship in the next few issues.

Moving over to Dark Horse Comics, we have Star Wars: Dark Times #2. Former Jedi Dass Jennir continues to traverse the desert moon of Prine, looking for civilization, while the crew of the Uhumele continue searching for him while getting acquainted with their new Jedi companion, Beyghor Sahdett. Admittedly, I was kind of hoping for more from Dark Times when it returned to store shelves. While Douglas Wheatley's art is stellar, and great for a Star Wars book, Randy Stradley's story feels predictable, slow, and just doesn't have that same galactic thrill of the former series. I will be giving it a few more issues to see if he turns it around, as for now though I wouldn't recommend anyone jumping on it.

A returning character that has retained his luster is Casanova, from ICON, who is back this week in Casanova: Avaritia #1. Everyone knows the the truth about Cass and his father (well, the guy who would be his father if he was from this dimension) has put him to the arduous task of cleaning up all the time-dimension anomalies caused by Newman Xeno kidnapping him in the first place. As I already mentioned, I am still in love with this series. Matt Fraction (writer), Gabriel Ba (current artist), and Fabio Moon (former and future artist) have created a world quite unlike anything else in comics today. The craziness of the art and story blend into a perfect storm that causes one to either love or hate the book, with not surprisingly many readers choosing the former. Usually I would suggest grabbing the first collection of the series to get a good grasp of the happenings, but I think this issue is actually a great jumping on point being a little more straightforward with the story than the book has been in the past. Get on this book one way or another and start having some nonsensical fun with your science fiction.

Filling out the second half of my comic stack this week is DC with four of their new/relaunched titles, first up is Action Comics #1. Sporting blue jeans and an arrogant attitude, this rebooted Superman has his sights set on the corporate fat-cats, who exploit the working man and operate outside the law but he soon finds this also puts him at odds with law enforcement. While I am digging the art in this first issue, penciled by Rags Morales, I'm not yet sure how I feel about the direction of this book. Instead of something new it feels like Grant Morrison (the writer) is just turning Superman into more of a public menace/vigilante ala Spider-Man or Batman. Going to pick up a few more issues to get a better grasp of it, and to get more of Luthor who was great in this first issue, but I hope it isn't just more of the same.

From Metropolis, we go global with Justice League International #1. The United Nations has decided it's time to get a few superheroes in their pocket, a group that can handle large threats but also answers to them. Lead by Booster Gold and composed of heroes from various nations, this team looks to save the world while having the authority to do so, that is if they figure out how to work together. Overall, I liked this first issue but not really as much as I was hoping to. The art is great, with pencils by Aaron Lopresti and inks by Matt Ryan, but the writing leaves something to be desired. A lot of Dan Jurgen's (the writer) dialogue feels forced or just out of place, some of them talk like they've known each other forever when this is supposed to be the first time they're meeting. I did enjoy some of the book though, especially Godiva and Booster Gold, so I'm hoping the writing evens out as we go along.

Bringing things back in a bit, we head to Louisiana to check in on Swamp Thing #1. Mysterious events occur in simultaneously throughout the planet and no one has any idea why. Superman decides to track down Dr. Alec Holland, the only man who might be able to understand these occurrences due to having the memories of the titular force of nature, and while Superman gets no answers Dr. Holland hasn't been totally truthful with him. Great first issue from Scott Snyder (writer) and Yanick Paquette (artist)! No real back story is required to get what is happening, and the natural/horror elements leave you wanting more. Can't wait to see where Snyder and Paquette take this book.

Animal trumps nature for pick of the week, as Animal Man #1 nabs the top spot. Buddy Baker has been out of the tights more and more these days. With having a family that is growing up, being an active animal activist, and enjoying some success as a Hollywood stunt-man turned actor, he rarely goes out on patrol, but that doesn't mean when a guy takes a hospital hostage he is going to sit on the side lines. I loved this first issue from Jeff Lemire (writer) and Travel Foreman (artist)! Instead of making Animal Man more like every other hero book on the stands, they focus on what makes him unique and base the entire book around it. Foreman's art excels equally in the domestic interior of Buddy's house and the trippy, exotic locales of his nightmare, leaving me salivating for whatever he draws up next. Easily my favorite book of the new DC Universe, so far, and I can only hope there is more coming that is just as excellent.

That is it for this week, next week should have a few more regular titles but I am sure some of the DC newness will slip in as well. Until then ponder what you would serve at a meal where both Animal Man and Swamp Things are in attendance, my guess is Spam.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wednesday Pickups 8/31/11

While I skipped out on most of August, I figured this small, final week would be a good place to get back on track. So without further ado, here are two new titles (neither the main topic of this week for most, JL#1) and a usual suspect as pick of the week.

First up is The Rinse #1, the latest title from Boom Studios. Jeff Sinclair is a cleaner, of sorts, who instead of working with water and soap, prefers burners and as little paper trail as possible. It has worked out pretty well so far, but his newest client might be biting off more than both of them can chew. I enjoyed this first issue, especially being a deal you can't pass up at $1. Marc Laming's art carries the right amount of grit and grim for a crime tale, while Darrin Moore's varied colors keep it from being just another noir-wannabe on the shelves. Gary Phillips story didn't grab me quite as much as I would have liked it to, but I think others will find it right up their alley. All in all, I won't be picking it up regularly but I could see myself grabbing a collection of it somewhere down the line.

Moving over to Marvel, we have Ultimate Comics Hawkeye #1 of 4. Continuing straight out of last week's Ultimate Comics The Ultimates #1, we see what is happening with every one's favorite archer on his "business" trip to Bangkok. While this first issue eats up a lot of it's space with exposition, I still found it a fun read and think it will end up being a good mini-series. Hickman has found a nice balance for this mini (at least based on the first issue of each title) that doesn't make it mandatory to read The Ultimates to know what is going on and vice versa. My only complaint so far with his story is any character could be exchanged for Hawkeye, I am hoping in future issues his character becomes more relevant than just being the action star of the book. Pencils are done by Rafa Sandoval, whose character faces aren't the greatest but are made up for with everything else. Not a must read, by any means, but if you are a fan of the character and the political world The Ultimates sometimes touches on, you will probably enjoy it.

Saving the best for last, we have Uncanny X-Force #14. The Dark Angel saga heats up, as the titular character is awaiting his former teammates return from the Age of Apocalypse with his own horsemen, and is about to usher in the Age of Archangel. I've written many times on how great this book is and how well Remender writes these characters (which still remain true in this, it's 14th issue) but far too often I have just glossed over Jerome Opena's art. Yeah, I've said "it's great and I love it" but I don't usually get into specifics. The special attribute the makes a lot of Opena's art on this book, and the issue specifically, amazing is that it doesn't need the dialogue. Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy Rememder's writing (as mentioned just sentences ago) but this book could be enjoyed just looking at the pictures. The characters faces and movements are so precise and articulate, conveying exactly what their feeling or thinking, that they give credence to that old saying "a picture is worth a thousand words", even if in this case that picture is a drawing. So now that I have successfully geekgasmed over this book for the 14th time, you need to do yourself a favor and pick it up so you can do the same.

That is it for this short week, but next week looks to be quite a full one as I dig into some of the DCnU books. Be on the look out for that as well as my attempt to catch up with my stack of Oscilloscope Labs films.