Comic Book Fetish Favorites – August 2014

So I’ve expanded out to 18 books read this month, can 20 really be far behind? Overall I would say that critically August was right on par with July, with both being better than June. As always, given my 1st issue fetish, there are a few #ones here: Dead @ 17, The Fade Out, The Multiversity and SIP Kids. Also of note: Marvel hits twice in the Top 5. WTH? Let’s see how this all shakes out below.

1. Saga #22 (Image) 4.5 – Happy to say that after a three issue “slump” (as if still scoring 4 out of 5 from me is all that bad) Saga is back to hitting the 4.5 or better bar set by the first 18 issues. Also, three other words about this issue: King Robot. Wow.

2. Sex Criminals #7 (Image) 4.5 – Still one of the most unique high concepts in the market. Still consistently a great read (like those early issues of Saga). Still Matt Fraction writing at his best. Still moving the story along while exploring the past. Sadly, I’m the only person ordering this at my LSC. That’s a shame.
3. Cyclops #4 (Marvel) 4.5 – Okay, this trend of Cyclops being one of my top reads of the month is completely unexpected but very welcomed. Greg Rucka is trying his damnedest to vie for the top writer of the year spot for this year with me. Only one issue left of his run and I have every reason to believe it will be a satisfying conclusion. Incoming creators will have tough shoes to fill in October.
4. Storm #2 (Marvel) 4.0 – Greg Pak is channeling his inner Chris Claremont. See my additional thoughts here.
5. The Multiversity #1 (DC) 4.0 – Grant Morrison brings his usual blend of fun, wonder and out-of-this-worldness, making me read a comic about the DCU. I have ten more random thoughts about this comic here.
6. Lazarus #10 (Image) 4.0 – #9 wrapped up the previous story arc very well, and this stand-alone issue keeps the quality high on this series that’s rightfully been hailed as “the most unique” of sci-fi series, and given that there’s so much sci-fi at Image alone these days, that’s a good thing indeed. I’m very much still invested for the long-haul on this epic (which is very worthy of cable television adaptation someday).
7. SIP Kids #1 (Abstract) 4.0 – I was a big Strangers in Paradise fan back in the day, but even I noticed that there were certain similarities between it and Jaime Hernandez’s portion of Love and Rockets (specifically his Locas stories). Not saying Terry Moore is a copycat, but Hernandez had treated long-time readers to flashback stories of his characters’ youth and here Moore does the same with his SIP characters, although this is not a proper in-continuity flashback. More like a “What if…” It’s fun too, almost like Peanuts with an edge.
8. Dead @17: The Blasphemy Throne #1 (Image) 3.5 – Speculation buy and not a bad one. Really enjoyed the art and most importantly I’m interested in what comes next while not being overly concerned with what has come before, as I know there were at least two previous miniseries. Maybe I’ll rock all 7 issues of this mini. I may eventually discover the old ones too. I certainly found this more interesting that Wayward (see below).
9. Rise of the Magi #3 (Image) 3.5 – Zany, fun, urban fantasy, inter-dimensional monsters and a magical frog. Needs to pickup a little, though.
10. Black Market #2 (Boom!) 3.5 – Like C.O.W.L, this is a unique angle on the superhero comic and I’m real curious to see how it wraps up in two more issues. Victor Santos’ are is not really the draw here, however, it does help create this books different flavor.
11. Daredevil #7 (Marvel) 3.5 – The Original Sin tie-in for Daredevil deals with why his mother abandoned him to his father Battlin’ Jack Murdock as a baby, but not before he infiltrates Wakanda to deal with the new Black Panter and Queen of Wakanda. Not bad.
12. C.O.W.L #4 (Image) 3.5 – Still one of the most unique and intriguing superhero books in the market, and still after four maddeningly intriguing issues, I say it would make a better weekly cable television show. That’s more of compliment than it sounds. This is a superhero universe book, the kind even I’ve conceived on my own, so I know it takes patience to build and present that kind of world and all its mythos. So, patient I remain.
13. Low #2 (Image) 3.0 – I actually liked this better than #1 by a notch. My thing is while I dig Remender as a writer, I just can’t get into Tocchini’s art, despite that it’s his best work. It’s just too obscured. Still, Remender effectively makes you feel Stel’s emotions.
14. The Fade Out #1 (Image) 3.0 – I’ll admit it, I expected more. I was not impressed with this first issue. Granted it’s one issue. It’s no Velvet, which was great from the start. I think one thing that hurts The Fade Out is the third-person narration, whereas Velvet’s is first-person. I think for noir, it just needs to have that close narrative intimacy of a first-person narration, since Ed Brubaker has a penchant for using prose captions to tell his stories. Also, this being Bru, I know it’s going to have a slow-burn.

15. Outcast #3(Image) 3.0 – Still better than #1 but not better than #2. Many have lauded this series as the great “next Walking Dead” from Kirkman. I’m just not feeling that yet at all. TWD’s first six issues are arguably its best. I don’t think that will be the case for Outcast once we get a year, two years and more away from this first arc.

 Other Notable Reads:
Wayward #1 (Image) 3.0 – Reports of this being “the next Saga” are either premature or greatly exaggerated. I’m opting for the latter. This issue felt like a #0 instead of a proper #1
Trees #4 (Image) 2.5 – Seems I only like the odd-numbered issues; this series is missing an engine to thrust it along. Seriously. The first half was filled with conversations that I can suppose MIGHT payoff in say, issue 12, but had no bearing on what occured in the second half where things finally got interesting (just like last issue). I’m a huge fan of writer Warren Ellis, but even he has to admit he’s really testing ones patience with this maddening series. However, artist Jason Howard does his best to save the show with his awesome scratchy, cross-hatched line work.
Wicked + Divine #3 (Image) 2.5 – This would be lower if not for the line and color art, otherwise it sports quite possibly some of the worst dialogue I’ve read in a while (well, since Outcast #1 and Red City #1, I suppose). I really hope I haven’t been duped with this series given this kind of free-fall from grace.
Well, the great month of September brings not only my birthday, but also another individualized issue of The Multiversity, plus all-new number ones of: Copperhead, Roche Limit (yes, both bring yet more sci-fi from Image) and I think I’m finally going to check out Rucka’s Stumptown as it returns with an ongoing series. Until then, keep a healthy, hearty comic book fetish…



Comic Book Fetish Favorites – July 2014

Overall July was a better month than June in terms of what came out and the average quality (although no Sex Criminals is…criminal). For this list I’m going to expand to include the 15 books I read in July. A few notes: there were four all-new number ones in my reading pile this month: Black Market, Death Vigil, Low, Storm and Grayson, the latter of which reminded me that I don’t need a faux spy title while the excellent spy series Velvet is around.

So, without further ado …

1. Velvet #6 (Image) 5.0 – some of the finest character + story work this century, Brubaker & Epting at their best.
2. Cyclops #3 (Marvel) 5.0 – can’t stress enough the high quality of this series under Rucka’s pen and Dauterman’s pencil.
3. Southern Bastards #3 (Image) 4.5 – Southern-fried justice served up with a big stick (literally)…can’t help but root for ol’ Earl Tubb.
4. Lazarus #9 (Image) 4.0 – satisfying end to this extended world-building second arc.
5. Saga #21 (Image) 4.0 – has rolled three 4 stars in a row, not normal, will it ever match its first 18 issues?
6. The Wicked + The Divine #2 (Image) 4.0 – a slight slippage from the stellar debut, but not by much.
7. Black Market #1 (Boom!) 3.5 – earns its rating with its strong premise, high concept and pacing.
8. Outcast #2 (Image) 3.5 – impressive bounce back from the underwhelming debut, now I care.
9. Veil #4 (Dark Horse) 3.5 – wicked and vivid and really sets up a big payoff in the finale.
10. Rat Queens #7 (Image) 3.5 – weakest issue of this stellar series yet, pains me to say.
11. Rise of the Magi #2 (Image) 3.5 – and now merges the fantastic with the urban.
12. Storm #1 (Marvel) 3.5 – the windrider’s first “ongoing” series gets off to a good start (see the rather glowing CBR review).
13. C.O.W.L. #3 (Image) 3.5 – great concept still unfolding, would make great television.
14. Hawkeye #19 (Marvel) 3.0 – Clint Barton is deaf, so half the issue is quiet and using sign language; executed well by David Aja, but overall a weak issue for this series.
15. Low #1 (Image) 3.0 – the best I’ve seen Tocchini illustrate, and the concept is quite interesting with good world-building, but Remender’s script was a problem for me.
Notable pickups:

Trees #3 (Image) 3.0 – the pivotal issue to make or break the series for myself and many, even stated so by the author himself Warren Ellis; I think I’m out (although there’s only a few more “trial” issues left before it goes on a decision-making hiatus).

Grayson #1 (DC) 2.5 – another failed attempt getting into and caring about the DCU by me; just not my thing.

Death Vigil #1 (Image) 2.0 – spec buy during a light week, didn’t hold my interest.

August brings new promise in Brubaker & Phillips’ The Fade Out and the seventh issue of #SexCrims. Until then . . .