Avengers Prime #1 of 5 – Brian Michael Bendis + Alan Davis. Gorgeous, simply freakin' gorgeous. And since it won't be tying into the continuity as it goes along it won't threaten to pull me in. It will, though, be completely outdated by the time it finishes. See, this entire miniseries, five issues, one every other month, takes place between Siege #4 and Avengers #1. Yes, it's already behind the times as it is, when we get to the end it will be almost a year behind, so that will certainly hurt the issue to issue experience for readers that are collecting all the Avengers titles as they are coming out. Fortunately, I'm not one of those people and I can enjoy this as a beautiful exploration of the relationship between the big three Avengers – Captain America (Steve Rogers, that is), Iron Man, and Thor. Let's hope they can re-ignite their poly bromance.
Franken-Castle #17 – Rick Remender + Roland Boschi. Yep, they officially changed the title of the book from “Punisher” to “Franken-Castle.” Though I'm enjoying the story I think the name change was really stupid, especially when they are introducing elements that could be used to return him to “normal.” And despite the name change, this issue actually has more of a classic Punisher feel than the initial Franken-Castle story arc. He broods, has an argument with the person trying to help him, visits his family's grave, and then uses guns to kill a lot of people. Boschi's free-and-loose play with proportions still annoys me here but the writing keeps it going strong.
Heralds #1 of 5 – Kathryn Immonen + Tonci Zonjic. It's a five issue weekly series throwing together a bunch of female characters, only some of whom actually have ties that would put them together, and re-introducing a fairly B-level character that died years ago. OK, calling Nova (Frankie Raye, Herald of Galactus, not Richard Ryder, member of the Nova Corp and recent star of the Nova comic series) a B-level character might be generous. I thinks that's part of the reason that they released this as a weekly, they might have been worried that it wouldn't keep the interest level going if it was spread out monthly.
It was marketed as part of the whole Women-of-Marvel thing, but not marked as such on the book itself, which I'm actually glad of. Seriously, the the series stars Hellcat, She-Hulk, Valkyrie, Monica Rambeau, Agent Brand, and Emma Frost. Do you really need to throw a Women-of-Marvel logo on it?
All that said, you probably wonder if I liked it, and I did. Kathryn Immonen is a lot of fun but also keeps track of how characters would emotionally react, all of which makes for an enjoyable reading experience. I really enjoy how the artist draws facial expressions and people interacting, but some of the action was a little unclear, or could have been handled better.
Hercules: Twilight of a God #1 of 4 – Bob Layton + Ron Lim. In the 80s Bob Layton did a pair of miniseries and a graphic novel about Hercules in the future, in space. They were deliciously odd-ball affairs, right up until the end where there was some serious familial issues being... worked out. This series takes up after that, where Herc is the big shot hero of the planet Wilamean, but he's going a tad soft in the head and his adult children have to try to keep him from being a complete embarrassment to everyone (an early scene has him pissing on a potted plant). It actually works better than that sounds as he shifts in and out of his senility, and still follows his heroic instincts to save the planet from invaders despite that fact that physical exertion, and continued blows to his head, serve to worsen his condition. It's an odd balance of comedy, action, and poignancy that few could handle crafting.
Official Index to the Marvel Universe: Avengers, Thor & Captain America #2 – Covering Avengers #40-79, Captain America Comics #6-9, Captain America #129-158, Journey Into Mystery#110-Thor #144.
Sky Doll Space Ship #1 of 2 – This series is a collection of shorts illustrated by other creators that highlight different stories with Noa. They don't all star her, and they certainly don't work to give a consistent ortrait of the character, but they are mostly enjoyable and sometimes creepy. Barbara Canepa + Matteo De Longis do story in the doll factory where Noa seems to have begin her rebellion by pointing out to a Gothic Lolita style Sky Doll that she is not unique and was meant as a sexual play thing instead of being a loved child/family member. Unfortunately, the little doll was also designed to not care which just adds to Noa's feelings of helpless despair.
Alessandro Barbucci + Claudio Acciari do an odd little Western piece that I'm still trying to figure out what I'm supposed to be getting from it. Maybe it's only supposed to be silly and fun.
Barbucci/Canepa + Pierre-Mony Chan finish this issue off with an anime looking tale starring another Sky Doll trying to break from her assigned role by using magic to turn herself into flesh and blood. It's not easy conjuring spells in a combo strip club/cat house.
Thanos Imperative #1 of 6 – Dan Abnett/Andy Lanning + Miguel Sepulveda. If you haven't been paying attention, Abnett & Lanning have been using their cosmic books to build a multidimensional war of seriously epic proportions. Damn, but this shit is good.
Thor and the Warriors Four #3 of 4 – Alex Zalben + GuriHiru. The Asgardians have been reduced to infancy , and it's up to the Power Pack kids to save the day against Loki. FYI, baby Thor is adorable.
The Hercules back-up by Colleen Coover continues to be a real treat, as he recounts more of his famous labors while helping to repair the recently trashed Power family home.
Muppet Show Comic Book #6 - Roger Langridge + Amy Mebberson. It's the Muppets written by Roger Langridge, it's an Eisner Award nominated series, and it's damn fun.
28 Days Later #11 – Michael Alan Nelson + Declan Shalvey. Consistently well done. The story, dialog, pacing, and art all shine.
DARK HORSE COMICS
Serenity: Float Out one-shot – Patton Oswalt + Patric Reynolds. I was hoping for more. It has three charactes, none of whom we give a shit about, telling their tales about Wash. And the intended squee-inducing moment at the end just fell flat as a an M. Night Shyamalan twist.
Brightest Day #3 – Geoff Johns/Peter Tomasi + Ivan Reis/Patrick Gleason/Ardian Syaf/Scott Clark/Joe Prado. Still don't have a firm opinion on it yet. Plot, interesting. Characters, less so.
G.I.Joe: Origins #16 – Chuck Dixon + Alex Cal. Zartan gets another modern treatment, with an origin quite a bit different than the one detailed by Devil's Due before they folded. Just the first of a mutlipart storyline.
Transformers: Ironhide #2 of 4 - Mike Costa + Casey Coller. Another nice view of Cybertron's past as well as the present, the mystery continues as to just how Ironhide was reborn, and why.
back-issue buys from Newkadia.com
Alpha Flight #106 (March 1992, second printing) – Simon Furman + Mark Pacella. A highly significant piece of comic book history... unfortunately the art and writing are both... of their time. Actually, the art is really awful. Even by standards of the pathetic Rob Liefeld knock-offs of the time, this looks bad. Very bad. The writing is melodramatic, but no worse than the typical work of the time. The significance, though, is that this is the issue where Northstar came out as gay. He wasn't the first gay character in comics, but he was the first mainstream superhero that was. In the story Northstar found, and immediately took to the hosipital, a baby with HIV. He takes care of it, and the media catches wind and plays it up. A retired hero sees the story on the news and gets upset enough to attack Alpha Flight and Northstar. His beef was that there was no media attention when his son died of AIDS because his son was gay. Northstar takes that to heart, and realizes that he has to be open about his sexuality to help fight the intolerance. It was heavy handed, but it was also a step in the right direction.
NOTE: I was a little annoyed that this was the 2nd print, I was under the impression I was getting a 1st print. Boo!
Annihilation: Super-Skrull #4 of 4 (September 2006) – Javier Grillo-Marxuach + Greg Titus. This is the book that had me go to the site - I wanted to finish up the miniseries I had picked up on sale on Free Comic Book Day, and thereby complete my collection of the Annihilation saga.
Astonishing X-Men #1, Marvel Authentix (August 1999) – Howard Mackie + Brandon Peterson. Not as great of an Authentix version as some of the other ones I have, it was still interesting. What they did is had the first couple of pages of the story in the raw pencils. Then the next ones are inked. Then the last part of the book is the fully colored deal. (Has the dialogue sound effects throughout so you can read the whole issue.) The problem with this one is that they went straight to computer coloring, skipping the color guide step displayed in some of my other Authentix editions.
Fantastic Four: The End #1, Rough Cut (January 2007) – Alan Davis. I'd actually been looking for this for a couple of years, and had begun to believe that it was never actually released. This “Rough Cut” edition features Alan Davis' raw pencils, and they are truly unbelievable. The amount of texture and detail that he puts into the work is difficult to comprehend. What we typically see as final product, having been inked and colored, is a pale shade of his originals. It really kind of makes me sad. The issue was also written by Alan Davis, and contains the surprisingly detailed script. I found it quite interesting seeing the things that he changed between the script and the final execution.
Lawdog/Grimrod: Terror at the Crossroads one-shot (September 1993) – Chuck Dixon + Hoang Ngyuen/Pop nhan/Han Nguyen. It was a hole in my Alien Legion collection, but I was expecting much out of it. And I didn't get much. Decent art, but the combo of two tough-guy characters thrown at each other just got to be a bit much.
Space Ghost one-shot (1987) – Mark Evanier/Steve Rude + Steve Rude. A beautiful love letter to the old Space Ghost cartoon, it makes me want to give ol' Rude the Dude a big old hug. Refreshing to see Brak, Zorak, and the rest portrayed as villains. What a concept! At $6.93 it was the most expensive one in the batch , interesting since the bag still has a 50 cent sticker on it from somewhere in the book's past.
Bulletproof Monk: Tales of the BPM one-shot (March 2003) – Mark Paniccia/Michael Yanover + Michael Avon Oeming. Cyrus Voris/Ethan Reif + Tim Sale. Framing by Reiff/Voris + Dave Johnson. Hmmmm. A couple of OK stories, not sure whether they would have worked better if I'd read the original Bulletproof Monk series or not. I'd hoped for more.
Spoof Comics #7 (1992) – John Pizer + Keith Quinn/Allan Jacobsen. Justice Broads versus X-Babes. Because what's better than one group of female parodies of male heroes? Two groups! I was hoping it had art by Adam Hughes, because he did the cover, and what I'd found online listed him as an artist on it. Unfortunately “on” it was quite literal, and Hughes only did the cover. I laughed at a few jokes, but it was barely worth it.
X-Babes 2088 #1 (one-shot, 1993) – Shawn Segler (possibly not) + Allan Jacobsen. Another annoyance in the shipment, this should have been Spoof Comics #1 which, I'm fairly certain, does actually have art by Adam Hughes. Instead it's a barely passable spoofing mash-up of time traveling X-Men-as-Women. The art simply isn't cheesecake enough to get over the lame writing, and the writing isn't funny enough to get over the bland art.