Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Comic Book Reviews: Ragemoor & Frankenstein

So, lots to catch up on from the last few weeks and into this week. I would love to be able to review all the comics I read. But, as I mentioned in a different post, I'll continue to focus solely on what I like and not spend time writing on what falls flat. I would like to think that I'm only buying stuff that blows me away month after month and, so, should have plenty to write about.

Speaking of being blown away, Ragemoor #2 (Dark Horse) simply blew me away. The first issue was sort of a closed, inclusive issue, so I was eager to see the direction this issue would take. It begins with a tortured Poe-esque love poem that Herbert writes to Anoria, who survived the castle attack. It then introduces a new, brilliantly conceived character, Tristano ("that poacher"), that lurks outside the castle, and pushes the plot for the rest of the issue, even if he appears only in two panels. The lovesick Herbert attempts to prove his manliness to Anoria, and in doing so more secrets about Ragemoor are revealed, and, of course, many, many more mysteries deepen. I'm not even sure we've even arrived at the heart of what the series is about yet. There's plenty of moving forward here and so does my anticipation. Jan Strnad's script crackles throughout and here are some choice quotes, sans context, to give a taste: "Servent venom is nothing to be taken lightly" and "Those wretched baboons - why does Ragemoor tolerate them?" Richard Corben's art continues to exude dread, terror, and the gothic ridiculousness of it all. I'm saddened that we're halfway through this tale. Highly Recommended

Jeff Lemire and Alberto Ponticelli's Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE continues its run as one of the highlights of the New 52. Issue 8 finds Frank and Lady Frank searching for their son, who escaped SHADE's prison. This son is the cause of strife between Frank and Lady Frank and Lemire deftly handles the charged emotions throughout the book between Frank and his ex-wife. Lemire deals with similar issues of familial loss and tragedy in his exceptional Sweet Tooth and mines the same potent material here. Lemire leaves his writing duties on Frankenstein with next issue, I believe. But I won't be leaving as the highlight of each issue has been Alberto Ponticelli's art (High praise indeed as Frankenstein is one of the tightest and intriguingly plotted books I read each month. Also one of the most fun). Ponticelli's scratchy-lined work works great within this monster-populated universe. Walden Wong came aboard with issue 7 to provide inks for Ponticelli's pencils and it threw me off as it was too clean and formed. Wong remains here on issue 8 and the pair seem to have found their groove together as the art is eye-popping an dynamic throughout. Highly Recommended

Today is new comics day. My predicted haul for later today:

All-Star Western #8 (DC)
Captain America #10 (Marvel)
Captain America & Hawkeye #629 (Marvel)
Daredevil #11
Exile on the Planet of the Apes #2 (Boom)
Flash #8 (DC)

Still looking for Saga #2!

Friday, April 20, 2012

A Two Week Haul

I was off the grid for a week and as a result missed a week at the old LCS. I returned in time for this Wednesday's offerings and was able to get last week's haul as well. Except for Saga #2 (Image), which I'm still hunting around for.* 

Here's the the two-week takeaway:
Avenging Spiderman #6 (Marvel)
Batwoman #8 (DC)
Fantastic Four #605 (Marvel)
Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE #8 (DC)
Justice League #8 (DC)
Lobster Johnson #4 (Dark Horse)
Planet of the Apes #13 (Boom)
Punisher #10 (Marvel)
Ragemoor #2 (Dark Horse)
Rocketeer Adventures 2 #2 (IDW)
Wonder Woman #8 (DC)

With plenty to read, there's plenty to talk about. Here's some thoughts on some Marvel comics. Reviews on others later this weekend, hopefully.

Fantastic Four #605 *Pick of the Week* 
Sensational issue. Perfect epilogue to the sprawling saga that ended with last issue. Rather then engage in a soapy, emotional, overview of the myriad of events that just concluded, Jonathan Hickman has Reed Richards unwind by time-traveling with his dad. During the trip, Reed takes in the enduring legacy of his and his teammates work over the millenniums. Simply amazing how something that seemed like filler or padding or convenient in the build-up to the "Death of Johnny Storm" storyline - Ben being able to turn human again - propels the emotional center of this story. Artist Ron Garney depicts The Thing throughout the ages as resigned yet stubborn, with cracked rocky features and stalactite beard. Each panel is emotionally centered up to the end, back in the present where Reed slows down and appreciates all that's around him that's not a science experiment. This issue just solidifies how great a creation Ben Grimm/The Thing is. And why the bond between the four is something that other team books will never match. Highly recommended

Avenging Spiderman #6 / The Punisher #10 (The Omega Effect Three-Part Crossover)
One of my ground rules I made for myself when coming back to regular comic reading was not to fall for crossovers and nonsense of the like. So, now an excellent storyline from Daredevil has spilled over into Avenging Spiderman and Punisher and I find myself purchasing copies of Avenging Spiderman #6 and Punisher #10 (two series I don't normally buy) as I await Daredevil 11, which concludes the story. The story: Daredevil has a drive containing information on 5 megacrime organizations and each outift wants it. Punisher wants to kill everyone and Spidey makes a lot of quips (I probably only noticed the over-quipping Spidey, especially in Punisher issue scripted by Greg Rucka, as Rucka has said that he finds Spiderman "imtimidating to write" due to the wit factor). Rucka and Mark Waid (co-writer on Avenging Spierman and writer on the forthcoming Daredevil issue) create a powerful tension to Daredevil and Spiderman's uneasy alliance with Punisher as they plot to bring the crime groups together and, of course, make sure none of those groups acquire the disc. The Omega Effect story is solid so far.The art by Marco Checchetto in both Avenging Spidey and Punisher has been stellar, easily dispatching information from panel to panel cleanly and efficiently. I eagerly await the conclusion. These smallish crossover things are something I can get behind. Recommended

*I'm not sure why I'm so resistant to having a pull-list subscription at my shop, which would avoid problems like this especially now that creator-owned comics are rising steadily and, the ones I'm reading at least, are knocking it out of the park, but the demand may not be as high as weekly offerings from The Big Two, and so shops order for pre-orders, which leave someone like me, with out a pre-order, scrambling for titles that get a buzz, but may not have been ordered to satisfy demand.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

2 Snapshot Reviews and This Week's Haul

Last week's purchases were a solid bunch. Here's two of the standouts:

All-Star Western #7 (DC) *pick of the week*
Jonah Hex leaves Gotham for Nawlins and meets up with Nighthawk and Cinnamon in a fun tale that further blurs the line between Hex's anti-hero tendencies and the fact that he is pretty darn heroic. The Nighthawk and Cinnamon back-up hits all the right marks as well. The back-ups thus far have been excellent additions the All-Star Western roster. This book remains in the top 5 of the New 52. Recommended

Captain America & Bucky #628 (Marvel)
The closing chapter of the 2nd Bucky and Adam III story as well as the final Cap & Bucky tale as the title shifts to Cap & Hawkeye next issue. This arc was pretty great. The story had depth, action, whimsy, and sorrow. Well done, Ed Brubaker and James Asmus. But, the real accolades go to Francesco Francavilla, who just killed it over the 4 issues. Just amazing art and coloring. I was planning on dropping this book after this arc, but since Cullen Bunn of the fantastic Sixth Gun is hopping on board for the Cap/Hawkeye series, and he promises dinosaurs, I'll keep it in the "to buy" pile. Recommended

Later today I fully expect to have these in my possession:

Action Comics #8 (DC)*
Animal Man #8 (DC)
Creepy #8 (Dark Horse)
Daredevil #10.1 (Marvel)**
OMAC #8 (DC)
Swamp Thing #8 (DC)
Ultimate Spiderman #9 (Marvel)

*DC has Action #8 listed with 4/4 as the release date, but my LCS doesn't have it listed as an arrival for today. I'll see what happens.

**Not sure I get this ".1" business for comics. I'll flip through and see if it's worth my while.

In other news, IDW announced a new Godzilla series for the summer in addition to the new ongoing Godzilla beginning in May. It'll be nice to get my Godzilla fix again after a succesful run of three series overthe past year (h/t Comics Reporter)