Things are back in the groove this week with a few new #1 books and I am able to keep up with some of the ongoing series.
Valiant Writer Jody Houser, Artist Francis Portela (Fantasy Sequence Marguerite Sauvage), Colorist Andrew Dalhouse, Letterer Dave Sharpe
I was pleasantly surprised by Faith for two reasons. First that it was very accessible to new readers that has been a real problem with Valiant comics and secondly both the story and artwork were really top-notch. This second issue continues to impress with Houser keeping the story moving along nicely. One of the things that I like about the story is that Faith doesn’t need a secret identity but she feels the need to have one. What Houser is pulling off so well is the tone and characterization of Faith. While she has all of these powers she has the same insecurities that we all face in life and yet she doesn’t choose the easiest path.We also start to uncover some of the mystery that is following Faith with the story unfolding at a nice pace. Portela is a real find here for the artwork that is really making this book shine. He really nails the subtle emotions of Faith and the rest of the cast. He can take a very mundane scene with her sitting at the computer and really make it come alive and convey the emotions of the scene. Is this book worth your time and money? I am really enjoying this book and the only reservation that I have is that it’s only a four issue series. Houser and Portela bring a great deal of real life elements in this book that make it a very down to earth and very enjoyable read. This one is a keeper. VERY RECOMMENDED!
Dark Knight III: The Master Race #3
DC Comics Writer Frank Miller & Brian Azzarello, Penciler Andy Kubert, Inker Klaus Janson, Colorist Brad Anderson, Letterer Clem Robins, Mini-Comic Breakdowns John Romita Jr., Finishes Frank Miller, Colorist Alex Sinclair,
While this book on the surface seems to be a cash grab for DC Comics. I have to say that while some are calling the book a train wreck, I would disagree to a point. While the book so far is nowhere nearly as good as the first Dark Knight, it’s showing some promise with this third issue over the second series that for me was a brilliant miss-step for Miller. This issue does start to bring the story into better focus and really sets up what the heck is going on. Miller and Azzarello’s story is more of a Dark Knight with the DC Universe story than a solo adventure. The one thing that Miller does bring to the book is the ability to divide people with shocking political and subjects that mainstream superheroes rarely go to. Love it or hate it Miller and Azzarello keep you guessing as to where the story is going to twist and turn in each issue. Kubert and Janson are really killing it on the artwork on the book. This is a gorgeous looking book and while it’s not trying to imitate Miller’s art it does keep a visual tone that makes it feel as if it’s in the same universe. The opening pages with Bruce and Carrie are both beautiful and touching and have wonderful emotional impact. On the mini comic side the Green Lantern story is a bit weird and seems more of a side story with it continued next issue. It was OK but not very memorable. Is this book worth your time and money? Look everyone is going to buy this book the question is whether it’s worth reading or not. So far I do like what I have read but the story is probably going to work better in one sitting as the previous books were. Miller tends to write that way and this one has that feel. There were a lot of questions in this issue but I think that it’s the right issue to keep the reader guessing at this stage of the game. Still worth checking out.
X-Men: Worst X-Man Ever #1
Marvel Comics Writer Max Bemis, Artist Michael Walsh, Colorist Ruth Redmond. Letterer Clayton Cowles
This book is really going to divide reader into two camps. For the Marvel Zombies and X-Men current believers they are going to hate this book. I’m in the other camp of liking it. Sure Bemis’s script is pretty basic here and there are a few set up issues but the thing that I loved about it was how beyond average Bailey is that it borders on annoying. I found that to be very charming because Bemis uses that to give the book a nice dark comedy edge that when he thinks that his life is about to change for the better it both does and doesn’t at the same time. While I’m sure that you could read things into the book like the gay friend that disappears or the basic plot structure of the first issue. While they are somewhat valid points I say that the vast majority of first issues struggle with this. What Bemis does do well is the subversive look at superheroes and specifically mutants. Walsh’s art does a nice job of complementing the story and I liked his basic storybook type art approach to the book. The only problem that I had been that there were many times where there were no backgrounds and the color work by Redmond nearly overpowers his artwork. The color palate was a bit on the strong side and while not bad it really did make the book pop but not in a totally perfect way. Is this book worth your time and money? Event with a few miss-steps I enjoyed this first issue and loved the dark humor tone that Bemis took with the story. If you’re looking for something on the different side I would recommend giving the book a chance. I’m not a regular X-Men reader but that is probably why I enjoyed the book and you should too.
Image Comics Writer Jeff Lemire, Artist and Story Emi Lenox, Colorist Jordie Bellaire, Letterer Steve Wands
As we come into the final lap of this five issue series Lemire and Lenox have created a nice subtle tale that has been a nice little book that has unfolded quite nicely. With only one issue to go the tension of what happened to Plutona and how the kids that found her are being pulled apart by it as well as being brought together. There is a strange subversive undertone that Lemire and Lenox have taken with the book that has been a great character study on how people will react when put together with strangers in a situation that is far from normal. The twist and turns that the kids have taken in the story has been quite fascinating. Lenox’s artwork style really portrays the subtle emotions that the kids are under in keeping the secret of the death of Plutona. On the surface her art has a simplistic tone to it but it really captures the raw nature of the darkness of the story. Is this book worth your time and money? I still have a funny feeling that things are not quite what they seem in the story and can’t wait to see how they wrap both the main story and the backup story that are leading up to a great ending. This continues to be a solid read and a nicely paced story. RECOMMENDED!
Marvel Comics Writer Warren Ellis, Artists Gerardo Zaffino with Antonio Fuso, Colorist Dan Brown, Letterers Clayton Cowles & Joe Caramagna
I really liked the first issue of this book but with a four-month gap in the publishing has sadly not done this book any favors. The problem is that while the story by Ellis is still interesting the momentum that would have worked with the story in this second issue doesn’t stand well on its own. The story ends up mostly being fight scenes and the payoff of the first arc falls a bit flat. Ellis runs into this problem at times where the book flies high out of the gate on the first issue only to fall too far on the second. While the story did work OK in the end, I am just not sure of the direction of the book. The story is a little too much like the old Kung-Fu television series where the traveling monk uses martial arts and wisdom to save the day. The art by Zaffino and Fuso is quite nice with a lot of storytelling without words and they pull that off quite nicely. They really save this issue from being a real disappointment. Is this book worth your time and money? Marvel should be ashamed for letting this fall so far behind with the huge delay in the second issue. They should have waited to have more issues in the can before scheduling the book. Now any good will of the first issue is gone and with the so-so second issue it’s going to be hard to keep the book on my pull list.
Superman: The Coming of the Supermen #1
DC Comics Story/Artist Neal Adams, Words Adams and Tony Bedard, Colorist Alex Sinclair, Letterer Saida Temofonte
After Adams last DC batshit crazy Batman Odyssey this new Superman book is at least has a pretty straight narrative. While Adams is a great artist and this book still shows that he still has it but writing was never his strong point. If you look at the books that he has written over the years (Ms. Mystic comes to mind) have not been the real high point in his career. So the good news is that this new Superman mini series gets off to a pretty good start. While the first issues story is a bit on basic side and the focus is not as sharp as I would have wanted at least it mostly made sense. Adams throws a lot of ideas into this first issue and while there is a lot going on the underlying Darkseid concept is very intriguing. The book would have benefited from a stronger writer at the helm but it’s not a total train wreck and there is more to like than dislike with it.The best thing that the book has going for it is that it’s a Pre-New 52 Superman that has all of the classic elements that were sadly lost to that. Adams does a classic Superman that just feels right without trying to re-invent him. Everything feels right about this and shows how bad that DC has screwed him up with the New 52.On the plus side the artwork is gorgeous and considering he is 74 and still able to produce artwork of this caliber is very impressive. Honestly his art is so beautiful that as long as the story is competent this series is worth it for the artwork alone. Is this book worth your time and money? I surprisingly like the story even with the shotgun approach to throwing in everything and the kitchen sink in this first issue. There are some good elements that if Adams is able to pull it together this might work. His artwork alone is worth the $3.99 cover price. If you’re an old school Superman fan then you will get it as far as new readers are concerned they should follow along just fine.
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #5
Marvel Comics Writer Ryan North, Artist Erica Henderson, Colorist Rico Renzi, Letterer Travis Lanham
The conclusion to the Doom time travel story is another feather in the cap for this book. North and Henderson have hands down done the best and most consistent comic at Marvel in years. The thing that is making this book so good is that they keep it simple and fun. That is not to mean that North doesn’t make the story simple by any stretch. One of the best assets the book has is witty, snappy and smart stories that make this book a real pleasure to read each month. While the book relies on its humor they don’t change any of the Marvel Universe characters that visit the book. Doom is still Doom and while I doubt that he would give a hand shake deal to anyone but Squirrel Girl in her book is make sense. The impressive thing that North does to defeat Doom is simply brilliant and ingenuous (no spoilers here you need to go and read it for yourself). I really love Henderson’s art on the book because it’s such a fresh and perfect style for this book and gives it such life and emotion that makes it such an enjoyable visual experience. She is never afraid to push it to the edge to make it work and gives the book that special quirkiness that it needs in the art department. Is this book worth your time and money? I have been a fan from day one on this book and it continues to charm me with its enjoyable stories and art each month. Just when I think that a book can’t be fresh and innovative and fun, North and Henderson prove me wrong every month. HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION!
Black Magick #5
Image Comics Writer Greg Rucka, Artist Nicola Scott, Color Assists Chiara Arena, Letterer Jodi Wynne
Rucka has been building a solid foundation for this book and this fifth issue starts to reveal the mystery surrounding Rowan and it not looking good for her. He really has folded so many elements in the story so effortlessly that each issue flows into each other so well. I do imagine that it will read better as one story when the arc is finished but he does a great job of breaking down each issue into a chapter that reads well as a monthly comic. It was nice to see a little more action in the story this month and yet the everyday elements in the first part of the issue is what makes the story and the characters so enjoyable to read. While Rucka’s story is very good it’s Scott’s artwork that seals the deal on this book. I can’t imagine anyone else bringing this book to life-like she does with the art. The detail and richness that she puts into it is simply breathtaking and really draws you into the story. Her use of color really pays off in this issue and shows how wisely that the “normal” world is more monochromatic and when the Magick kicks in it really burst off the page and makes it really stand out. Is this book worth your time and money? Rucka and Scott have given a great new spin on the detective genre and the slow burn aspect of the book is a real plus. The elements from the previous issues are starting to take focus and really start to pay off in this issue. This book is a real winner and just keeps getting better with each issue. VERY RECOMMENDED!