3
Feb
2011
Chris' Comics Corner
Chris' Comics Corner
Chris
I feel like every week I call one of the books I review "one of my favorites" or "at the top of my reading list," so I thought it would only be fair to just tell you up front what my ten favorite books of the moment are. Mind you this list is subject to change at the drop of a hat (or the first issue of Fear Itself.) Ok so, my top ten reads, with #1 being my current favorite:

10. Flash-DC
The new adventures of the fastest man alive by Geoff Johns and Francis Manapul

9. S.H.I.E.I.L.D.-Marvel
A high concept series that reveals the secret history of the Marvel Universe through the eyes of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Leonardo DaVinci, Sir Isaac Newton, Galileo, Nathan Ridchards, and Howard Stark. By Johnathan Hickman and Dustin Weaver.

8. Secret Avengers-Marvel
The current status quo of the Marvel Universe sees Steve Rogers in charge of world security, and he enforces it with his black ops team of clandestine Avengers.
By Ed Brubaker and Mike Deodato Jr.

7. iZombie-Vertigo
A delightfully quirky and charming mature readers series following the adventures of a Zombie detective and her group of undead friends. By Chris Roberson and Mike Allred.

6. Avengers Academy-Marvel
A training program where the Avengers with the most personnal baggage try to steer at risk teen heroes towards the path of good. By Christos Gage and Mike McKone

5. Invincible Iron Man-Marvel
Tony Stark attempts to put the shambles of his life back together after losing everything, and he's doing so by reinventing the wheel (or more specifically the electric car). By Matt Fraction and Salvador Larocca

4. Uncanny X-Men-Marvel
Cyclops leads a mutant nation towards an uncertain future, featuring a cast of everyone who has ever been affiliated with any sort of X team. By Matt Fraction, Kiernon Gillen, Terry Dodson, and Greg Land.

3. Fantastic Four-Marvel
The adventures of Marvel's first family of adventurers and explorers, now reeling from the death of one of their own. By Johnathan Hickman and Steve Epting

2. Green Lantern-DC
Green Lantern Hal Jordan forges an alliance with the leaders of the various other lantern corps in order to confront a powerful and mysterious new adversary. By Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke

1. Batman Inc.-DC
Bruce Wayne is back, and he is traveling the world to recruit and train an international network of bat affiliated super heroes. By Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette

So there you have it, hopefully that will give you a better sense of my tastes and preferences, as well as some ideas for some great books to check out.

Now then. Reviews.

The Invincible Iron Man #500.1
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Salvador Larocca

I'm gonna go out on a limb, and say that I believe this is the first published issue of Marvel's new .1 initiative. Their plan is to do a standalone .1 issues of some of their most popular titles. It is their most recent tilt at the windmill that is acquiring new readers. I've seen a lot of similar attempts over the years, and while I'm unsure if they ever succeed in bringing in new readers, (I tend to doubt it), they usually mean an issue long boring rehash of the protagonist's origin and recent adventures for those who have been reading all along.

Granted this time around Marvel has put their A list up to the task, with most of the .1 books being written by the series's regular creative team, and a few genius fill ins (Alright, call me a hypocrite, but I'm genuinely excited for Nick Spencer's Secret Avengers 12.1).

Opening up the most recent issue of Iron Man I got half of what I expected. Yes it was a rehash issue, featuring Tony at an AA meeting recounting his life, minus the specific details, to a group of strangers. And it was a phenomenal read. Fraction has such a way with words. He is the freshest, most unique, and natural voice in comics today. Fraction reveals Tony's perspective on the events we all know so well, letting us in on Tony's self reflections, analysis, and mini reveals, and does so by diving away from the cliches and the standard rhetoric we've come to expect from such tales, (both AA meetings and super hero origin). Larocca proves he is up to the task of packing a lifetime into these pages without the art becoming too cluttered or confusing, and I really like how he altered his style slightly for the flashback sequences.

And to top it all off, Fraction and Larocca also give us a MAJOR plot development, and tease the coming year's worth of storylines. Invincible Iron Man is such a phenomenal book, and if what came before was the low gear, then the next year's worth of stories will truly be something to remember. For once, I'm really pulling for Marvel's new reader friendly initiative, because the time to start reading Invincible Iron Man was three years ago. But that's ok. Marvel is giving you a chance to get on board now.

Grade: A-


Amazing Spider-Man #653
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Stefano Caselli

Spider-Man faces off against Alyster Smythe, the Scorpion, and an army of Spider Slayers intent on killing Mayor J. Jonah Jameson's loved ones in front of him. This is an action heavy issue, so it feels a little bit slower paced than the roller coast ride that the past few issues of the new status quo has felt like.

Stefano Caselli brings his A game, and as we knew he would ever since he drew those Spidey guest appearances back in early issues of Avengers: The Initiative, he is just crushing it on this title. His style is very fluid, and I really like how he draws Spider-Man, returning that lithe and slightly creepy look that Ditko was known for.

The action is enjoyable, but Slott's writing sometimes feels a little bit too old school for its own good. Don't get me wrong, I love what he's done to propel the title and Peter himself forward, by giving Peter a new career and new supporting cast members, and I do like most of the nostalgic elements he's returned, such as classic villains, and fan favorite supporting characters. However Slott's exposition heavy style and cringe inducing jokes need to be toned down before this title can truly shine.

Grade: B-


iZombie #10
Publisher: DC/Vertigo
Writer: Chris Roberson
Artist: Mike Allred

Gwen is dead. She hangs out in a cemetery. Her best friends are a ghost and a were-terrier. Her mentor is a mummy. Every so often she needs to eat a brain. If she doesn't she'll turn into a mindless, shambling zombie. When she eats a brain she absorbs the memories and last desires of the departed, and does not know peace until she finishes what they left unfinished.

Her life is getting a lot more complicated what with the roguishly handsome demon hunter who rode into town on the trail of a bunch of vampires who run a paintball course, and the Bride of Frankenstein buying bodies from the city morgue. Oh, also the spirit of the were-terrier's grandfather has settled into a Chimpanzee.

It is a testament to the strength of these two creators that even two relatively quiet, set-up issues in a row have not diminished my love for this incredibly original and engaging book. Roberson and Allred have taken the horror/monster genre that is being so callously abused by others these days, and done something new and wonderful with it. Gwen's world is fascinating, fun, and suspenseful.

I hadn't read much of Chris Roberson before this, but I look forward to continuing to watch his career, this guy is gonna be a house name superstar in no time. And for those of you who do not know the inimitable Mike Allred, please, google him, check out his work, and let his clean, zany, pop style mesmerize you.

I know I recommend every book I review, but this is the one I recommend above all others. If you have any passing interest in comics, zombies, horror movies, detective stories, drama, or talking monkeys, you really need to pick up this book. I truly believe that iZombie has something to be enjoyed by all audiences. Get in on the ground floor of something special, that will be fondly remembered by cult followings for years and years to come. If for no other reason than I would be heartbroken if it were cancelled.

Grade: A-


Brightest Day #19
Publsher: DC
Writer: Geoff Johns & Peter Tomasi
Artist: Ivan Reis

Aquaman and Deadman take center stage this time around, and Brightest Day continues its surprising streak of winners. This issue kicks off with a quick check in with Deadman, who is in shock after the white ring he wears vaporized Hawkman and Hawkgirl and informs him it must do the same of Aquaman, Firestorm, and Martian Manhunter if the Earth is to survive the coming crisis.

We then dive right into Aquawar, with Aquaman and the new Aqualad defending the shores of a tropical resort against the invading armies of the Atlantean Penal Colony that had been locked away in the Bermuda Triangle.

There have been some hints, but after this issue, I need rock solid confirmation. This creative team needs to do an Aquaman ongoing series when all is said and done. And they need to bring Aspen MLT's Peter Steigerwald along for the ride as the book's colorist, cuz this issue is GORGEOUS!

The book ends with Black Manta once again proving what a bad ass he is by slicing off Aquaman's hand (poor guy can't catch a break, but I have to admit, I always liked the harpoon handed version best). This is gonna be one bloody brutal showdown next issue.

Grade: B+


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