Days Missing #1 (Archaia): I was a little confused by the pricing here, the Dale Keown cover had the .99 cent price tag that was advertised in various spots on the web, and the Frazer Irving cover had a $3.99 price tag – yet as far as I could tell the contents were identical(?). That aside, this tale about a mysterious bloke traveling through time “shepherding humanity” at critical junctures showed some degree of promise. The language was electric at times: “…cordoned off in a pandemic hot zone” or “redacted from your history.” Other times, the prose felt well researched, but started to drown under the weight of its own industry jargon and showed off some very coincidental turns simply to advance the plot. The dark tone was nice and certainly complimented by Irving’s syrupy art. His wavy inky lines felt almost as if they were moving just on the edge of my peripheral vision. The rotating creative teams on each issue are an odd choice, while my interest is mildly piqued, I’m not sure the story is strong enough to carry my interest into the next issue with guys like Chris Burnham and David Hine on the roster. Grade B+.
Punisher #8 (Marvel): There’s some nonsensical technology in here – even for a Marvel book – but this was still fairly entertaining. Remender’s script is competent, but occasionally slips into clunky awkward dialogue with lines like “They left is all - - bunch of pansies.” Huat’s art is also still generally to my liking, but his fine line detail sometimes makes it hard to distinguish all of the myriad bad guys from each other. The coloring also made most of his panels feel very washed out in this particular issue. There was a fun moment with Punisher delivering a brass knuckled uppercut to Thor, but it wasn’t really Thor and it wasn’t really that cool. Overall, this issue didn’t have the bite that’s drawn me to previous issues. Once again, I’m wondering if I should keep buying this or if it’s slipped into skippable mediocre territory. Grade B.
Wednesday Comics #7 (DC): Batman opens with some great perspective shots and Eduardo Risso’s art is generally strong enough to make me want to see it on an ongoing Batman title. Grade B+. Kamandi once again shows off the pencils of Ryan Sook’s career, with expansive panels that stretch out to the horizon and drop dead gorgeous women. Grade A. Superman fights another alien. Next issue will probably see the needle scratch over to another disjointed scene with him talking to Lois or something. It’s still colored well though. Grade C+. Deadman has a very attractive page layout and figures reminiscent of Darwyn Cooke, but I still have no idea what the story is supposed to be about. Grade C+. Green Lantern grants my wish from last issue and finally features plenty of the titular character in full fight mode, depicting the ring's abilities, and a great looking Hal, particularly in that fantastic fourth panel. Grade B+. Metamorpho… it’s almost as if Neil Gaiman woke up from some self-amused funk and decided to stop screwing around and get on with a story. More happens in this issue than all of the previous ones put together. For a minute it felt as if we were finally on track with flirty Element Girl banter, but then it all gets ruined with the Java gag at the end. “My bad?” Seriously? Wow. Grade B-. Teen Titans is a bit more coherent plotting wise, and there’s a decent bit of internal monologuing with Robin’s self-consciousness around Starfire, but the other characterization seems off. Since when are Wonder Girl and Nightwing so tight? Galloway’s art isn’t just cartoony, but goofy. Two circles for Robin’s mask, skimpy details, washed out colors, rushed looking rendering, and a hideous last shot with Nightwing’s foot bending in an anatomically impossible fashion and somehow longer than his thigh. Wha…? Grade C-. Strange Adventures has Paul Pope giving us a great Dr. Fate appearance, The Black Dog of Fate, a crimson dream sequence, and planes of reality bounding across the page. There were some straight wicked details in Dr. Fate’s helmet, his collar piece, and the streaming tears of a child. This was brilliant as usual. Grade A+. Supergirl made me say “Yeah, more cranky Aquaman!” I wish he’d remained a dick to the end, with lines like “Listen up, little girl, I’m only going to tell you this once,” but admittedly I was feeling sorry for Kara by the time she started tearing up. I would TOTALLY buy an ongoing “Aquaman: Helpless Hero” or “Aquaman: The Fish Whisperer” title from this creative team. What a treat. Dig those sideburns too. I hope there’s more humor like this to be found in future issues, if not more Aquaman. Grade A. Metal Men still features strong art carrying a mediocre script, but the Battlestar Galactica reference helps a little. Grade B. Wonder Woman might be improving, the coloring was actually discernible and I managed to read a panel or two for once. The art seems a little less blurry, but at this point who cares? It’s another 38 vertical panels with cluster headache inducing font. Grade C. Sgt. Rock is certainly taking its time building toward (what I’m assuming is) a big finale on the horizon. But hey, it’s Kubert and it looks beautiful in this format. Grade B. The Flash & Iris West might actually be the most underrated strip in this whole lot. Kerschl delivers a very engaging story and Fletcher’s art is full of detail, energy, and a vintage design sense, nailing the action scenes as well as the talky bits. This one’s really growing on me. Grade A. Demon & Catwoman is just… God, I don’t like this strip. It’s so boring. I’ve never been given a reason to care about these people or whatever’s going on. It just feels like random scenes out of different books that have been poorly edited together. Grade D. Hawkman ends this issue with art that suddenly looks a little grainy, but then… Dinosaur Island?! Yeah! Grade A. So, as has become customary let’s do our little visual stack and see if anything has changed;
Flash & Iris West
Demon & Catwoman
By my subjective assessment, we’ve got 40% in the top tier, 47% in the middle, and only 13% on the bottom tier. This is due to some previous stinkers clawing their way up to the middle and then Supergirl and Flash making surprise jumps up into the elite. Averaging out the grades we get a 75% (or straight C) overall, which is up slightly from last week. If we adjust up for the killer format, we come in at a Grade B.
Project Superpowers: Meet the Bad Guys: The Green Lama & Bloodlust: Volume 1 #1 (Dynamite Entertainment): First of all, that title is just ridiculous. But honestly, I didn’t even want to buy this book and I'm just too tired to go into the long-winded story about how Sea Donkey tricked me into buying it through a bizarre series of events. I will just say that if you’re in retail, it’s nice to acknowledge the presence of your customers. Me setting my books (the ones with all the crinkled spines, like someone sat on them) on the counter and staring at you for five minutes while you silently type away on your computer and avert your eyes is generally an indication that I’m ready to check out. And when I say “computer,” I mean the greasy morass of wires connecting your POS system, Commodore 64 monitor, Duck Hunt scanner gun, Apple IIe desktop, 1989 credit card machine, and all the Gama Go Yeti dolls behind the counter. The debacle at Sea Donkey’s Oceanic Safari (aka: my weekly trip to the LCS) makes me so pissed that I forget to leave the book I don't want on the counter for him as a little rejection present; my friend Michael does this with him, if something goes awry he just leaves a stack of books on the counter and walks out, which I think is hysterical, a sort of ding-dong-ditch of retailing. So anyway, here I am reading some book with 14 words in the title. Oh… the book? Yeah, it isn’t very good. Dynamite’s still got slick production quality, but I usually try to avoid all this Alex Ross wannabe Watchmen rehash, even though Joe Casey occasionally does some scripting. Jonathan Lau’s art is generally pleasant during the Green Lama sequence, but the second Bloodlust shows up it quickly degenerates into hoary gratuitous bad girl art and skimpy backgrounds depicting verbose exposition about some half-hearted revenge plot. Unoriginal and bland earns a Grade C-.