Wednesday, April 27, 2011

ROUND FOUR: Comics for April 21, 2011

Ok, again with the late reviews. I won't presume to promise that this'll be the last time. Since these are reviews for last week's comics and I've already started reading this week's comics I'm going to resort to the old one (or more)-sentence trick. Oh yeah. That's how we're gonna party today. Get excited.

Everybody knows that everything in the world ever is a competition, so every week the publishers of the comics I read will be fighting for ultimate supremacy; hence "DC versus Marvel". I'm not limiting contestants to only DC and Marvel; I just shortened it for the sake of a catchier blog title. Books will be ranked from -1 to +1 which will add to or subtract from each publisher's overall score. Two +2 scores will be given per week for "Best Comic" of the week and "My Favorite Comic" of the week. I hope it never comes to this (because I don't usually like to buy bad comics), but if a book is just super terrible I may give a score of -2. When all scores are added up I will declare a winner and all other publishers will be killed. Thankfully, this is comics so nobody ever stays dead and we'll start right back over next week.

So here's what I picked up:
Deadpool Max #7
Fables #104
Generation Hope #6
Invincible #79
Power Girl #23
The Sixth Gun #11
Supergirl #63
Superman/Batman #83
Uncanny X-Force #8
X-Factor #218
Zatanna #12

I didn't read Generation Hope #6 or Superman/Batman #83 because I'm not caught up with either series. Don't you judge me.

Without further ado, because I'm tired and I want to read more before I have to go to bed............. FIGHT!!!

Zatanna #12 was almost My Favorite Comic Book of the week because it was smart and fun; pretty much exactly what a comic book about a Las Vegas magician who is also a super hero should be.

This week I finished reading Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle's run on Supergirl and was floored by how good it is despite being hobbled by event after event to tie into and I found myself wondering how good it could have been without being tied down. This week I found my answer: It could have been this good.

I read a review for this issue, in which the reviewer had an issue with a "poorly timed joke" made by Dupli-Kate, whereas I thought the joke fit the character quite well and broke the tension in what would have been an overly-emotional-in-a-bad-way-moment.

X-Factor is the black sheep of the X-Family tree and that's been something that has worked in the book's favor for pretty much the entire series since it means that literally ANYTHING can happen, which it does, and then it doesn't, but then you're left wondering why and how and who and what and that is exactly why I love it.

The Sixth Gun is almost always going to be The Best Comic Book of the week every time it comes out, but this week is the exception that makes the rule. Not because it wasn't amazing (it was) but because the winner of Best Comic Book of the week cheated a little bit (more on this later).

I read a review of this issue in which the reviewer took umbrage at the lack of violence. To that I say crazy is still crazy whether it's violent or not and Kyle Baker art is still Kyle Baker art and David Lapham scripts are still David Lapham scripts and Deadpool Max is still the sum of all of its parts, which when you look at its parts is quite a large sum.

Have you ever heard the saying, "If you have to explain why a joke is funny then it's not funny"? That's how I feel about this arc of Fables. The thing is, however, it's still Fables (which is a good thing) and the subplot (which I really hope comes to the fore soon) involving the many generations of Bigby's family promises to be AMAZING.

My Favorite Comic Book of the week is Power Girl #23 because any comic book that guest stars Superman, Zatanna, a velociraptor dressed as Paul Bunyan and Wexter the Tyrannosaurus Rex with gatling guns for arms from the Axe Cop comic will always be my favorite comic book of the week. Every time.

I have more than one sentence worth of things to write about Uncanny X-Force #8. There was no doubt in my mind after reading this that it would be anything other than the Best Comic Book of the week. It almost took the award for My Favorite Comic Book of the week, too. Seriously, guys, whatever you're doing that is keeping you from reading this series, stop it. Right now. Stop. Read this. Also, this book cheated. Issue #7 came out last week and I got confused and reviewed #8 instead of #7. So this week I'm going to review #7. Here it is: It's awesome.

That was so easy, you guys. It took like no time at all. I may get back on track after all. It didn't hurt that I bought nothing but amazing comics this week. Do me a favor and check out my homeboy Luke's webcomic Social Fist because, not only will I be posting reviews there, but he's a stand up guy and his comic is kind of awesome, too. Ok, let's see who lives and who dies this week...
DC: 4
Marvel: 4
Image: 1
Oni Press: 1

Oh man. We have a tie. Two survivors this week, but only two as Marvel and DC barely escaped the Sugar Man's mine in time to see the immovable door shut on the others and trap them with a horde of savage and hostile attackers. So sad. Thank goodness it's an alternate universe! Thanks for reading, everyone!

Monday, April 25, 2011

ROUND THREE: Comics for April 13, 2011

These reviews are late. Hopefully this won't be a running theme on this blog. I don't really have an excuse this week other than that I bought a whole crap load of comics and totally was not looking forward to writing reviews for all of them. That's still the case somewhat, but since I've already picked up my comics for this week I figured I ought to get these ones done. Anyways, let's get to it...

Everybody knows that everything in the world ever is a competition, so every week the publishers of the comics I read will be fighting for ultimate supremacy; hence "DC versus Marvel". I'm not limiting contestants to only DC and Marvel; I just shortened it for the sake of a catchier blog title. Books will be ranked from -1 to +1 which will add to or subtract from each publisher's overall score. Two +2 scores will be given per week for "Best Comic" of the week and "My Favorite Comic" of the week. I hope it never comes to this (because I don't usually like to buy bad comics), but if a book is just super terrible I may give a score of -2. When all scores are added up I will declare a winner and all other publishers will be killed. Thankfully, this is comics so nobody ever stays dead and we'll start right back over next week.

Here's what I picked up:

Uncanny X-Force #7
Punisher Max #12
Justice League: Generation Lost #23
Cinderella: Fables are Forever #3
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #157
Booster Gold #43
Batgirl #20
T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #6
Black Panther: The Man Without Fear #517
Casanova: Gula #4
Batman & Robin #22
S.H.I.E.L.D. #Infinity
The Unwritten #24
The Li'l Depressed Boy #3
Secret Warriors #26

Aaaaaannnnndddd.......... FIGHT!

Ok, so the first thing I need to get out of the way is that I didn't actually read all of these books. There's a couple series that I'm still reading my way through and haven't caught up to the point where I can read the newest issue. Those series are Cinderella, Ultimate Comics Spider-Man and Booster Gold.

For general review purposes, I'm just going to give each of these books an automatic +1, because based on my previous experience with each of these series I'm betting these comics are awesome and I look forward to reading them very much. Unfortunately, these +1's aren't being added to the final scores. Sorry, guys. Deal with it.

As far as the books I actually did read, well Jason Aaron's Punisher Max #12 was a pretty awesome one. This issue starts off the story arc in which Frank Castle is incarcerated. I'd been wondering since the end of the last issue (which was also awesome) how Mr. Aaron would pull this story off, and I must say I'm liking the direction this is headed. Frank is still recovering from his fight with Bullseye and he spend the entire issue in a prison hospital bed while two separate groups of inmates come to kill him. I won't give away what happens, but it's pretty cool. Art-wise, if you've ever read any comic book ever drawn by Steve Dillon you know exactly what you're getting. He's like the Too $hort of comics art. He's never changed his style in years. But you know what? It works. And it works very well for this series. Also, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the gorgeous cover by Dave Johnson. That guy pretty much rocks it every time.

If you had told me just a year or two ago that a book called X-Force would be one of the best books coming out, I would have punched you in the throat. Seriously. I would have. Ok, maybe not. It has happened before, after all. Remember Milligan and Allred's amazing X-Force run that led into X-Statix? But that was Milligan and Allred. And that may as well have been a creator owned thing since they came up with all their own characters. This book, though, stars a cast of some of the 90s-est of 90s comic book characters. It should be terrible. It should be god-awful. But it's amazing. It's....... uncanny. See what I did there? Anyways, this issue gives us a one-and-done story where the gang goes up against the Shadow King and I'm pretty sure Rick Remender is setting out to prove he can make even the most flagrant of comic book follies into something completely awesome. Psylocke's psychic armor comes off as pretty badass and Archangel is actually pretty scary. You're gonna want to read this.

Sometimes I'll read a comic and realize part way through it that I'm not as smart as I hoped I was. Secret Warriors #26 is one of those comics that makes me feel stupid. Actually, a lot of the time it's a Secret Warriors comic that makes me feel stupid. There's just a lot of intricacies and intrigue and betrayals and reveals and macguffins. Lot's of macguffins. Macguffins out the wahoo. It's a pretty good comic, I guess, from what I got from it. There were actually a couple of really cool scenes that didn't make me feel stupid. Once the series does wrap up, I'm going to sit down one weekend and blast through it all in one shot. Jonathan Hickman is one of my favorite writers and that fact is what has kept me on board with this book through all of its stages and story arcs. Anyways, I think it was the issue just before this, the one where Nick Fury's son is killed while on a misison, maybe it was two issues before this one, but that issue was perfect. And it gave me hope that the series would be wrapping up on that level of storytelling. Maybe it is, I don't know. I'm still trying to figure it out.

First of all, this comic is ADORABLE. I mean that in the best possible way. It reminds me a lot of what I enjoy about Brian Wood's comics in that it very convincingly captures the feel of being a young person. In the case of The Li'l Depressed Boy #3, that young person is basically a life-size voodoo doll who wears ironic t-shirts and says things like, "I smash hipsters." Like I said, it's ADORABLE. Last issue LDB and his new, um, girlfriend? friend-girl? romantic interest, we'll say... last issue they went style-points bowling and got kicked out of the bowling alley when LDB threw a hadouken. It was seriously the cutest thing I've ever seen in a comic and I have no problem admitting that as a 29 year old man. This issue the romantic interest, whose name is Jaz, is having a birthday party. While not as adorable as the first couple of issues, this one still has a lot of great moments and it's already one of my favorite comics every month.

You know, I was all set to give this issue of Batman & Robin a score of -1 and drop the series from my pull list, but I was talking to a friend of mine on twitter named Luke and he reminded me that during Batman's fight with the White Knight, Batman popped off his bat ears, which then stabbed the White Knight in the face. Honestly, if that's not worth an extra little nudge, I'm not qualified to judge the merits of any book, be they comic or otherwise. I'm still dropping the series, though.

One day a few months ago the proprietor of my local comics shoppe recommended that I try out this new book called T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents. So I did. And I loved it. So I bought all the issues and have continued to do so ever since. The end.

One day almost a year ago I was in New York and I met up with a guy I knew from twitter. A strikingly handsome fellow by the name of David Wolkin. He recommended to me that I read King City. So I bought all the issues and never read them. He also recommended that I read Justice League: Generation Lost. So I bought all the issues and actually did read them. And they were awesome. So I kept buying them. And they kept being awesome. Until this one came out. It wasn't bad, but it also wasn't that good. It's just a lot of movement with nothing substantial to hold it all together. Sound and fury. And, you know what, for this to be the first misstep in a year-long, bi-weekly series? That's pretty great. And the series has been exactly that: pretty great. I was going to give it a -1, but I just talked myself into giving it a 0.

Now this is more like it. This comic has been so hit or miss, oftentimes within the pages of a single issue, that it just frustrates to no end. Every time I open a new issue I'm flooded with hope in the potential of every aspect of the story, not least of which is the fact that in the first issue of Black Panther's tenure as lead he kicked a total of seven dudes in the face. This issue had none of the easily avoidable mistakes of the last issue and a hero/hero confrontation that was actually pretty interesting. Plus Francesco Francavilla is pretty much the best at drawing things that happen. Vlad's youngest son still has a bit of an exposition disorder, but honestly that's just being nit picky for the sake of picking nits.

Batgirl is awesome. She spent Valentine's Day with Klarion the Witch Boy. She also fought 24 Draculas with Supergirl. Sadly, she doesn't do any of those things in this issue, but this is still one of my favorite comics this week. Also, look at that cover. I mean, come on. Right? Right? Yeah. That's right.

I like S.H.I.E.L.D. I like S.H.I.E.L.D. a whole lot. I like S.H.I.E.L.D. so much that I don't really mind having to type out S.H.I.E.L.D. as many times as I did just now. I realize that S.H.I.E.L.D. can be pretty much boiled down to the phrase "softcore history porn." I don't care. I like S.H.I.E.L.D. And this is my favorite issue since the series premiere. The vignette style works really well for a book like this that is still leaving just about every question unanswered. These shorts don't answer any of those questions, but they do add just enough insight to make each little mystery a little bit more mysterious.

This book. This book right here. I don't think you'll find anybody on the internet who doesn't like a foul mouthed fairy bunny rabbit wearing a bow tie, and that's EXACTLY what Mr. Mike Carey has given us with this issue. There's also a commentary on faith and zealotry, etc. blah blah blah. Really, all you need to know is that Pauly Bruckner is a bunny rabbit. He wears a bow tie. And he does not speak a sentence without dropping an f-bomb. This is My Favorite Comic Book of the week.

The Unwritten #24 would have been The Best Comic Book of the week as well as My Favorite, except for one little thing called Casanova: Gula #4. If I had been writing these reviews back when Casanova was a 16 page book being put out by Image Comics that cost $1.99 you can bet they'd be The Best Comic Book every time. Basically this is Matt Fraction's best work. Even better than Invincible Iron Man. Even better than Immortal Iron Fist. This issue we find out when Cass has been this whole time. It's a bitter sweet thing seeing this issue published again. On the one hand, Casanova is over. And that sucks. It sucked the first time. On the other hand, Avaritia is coming. And that is AWESOME. I absolutely cannot wait for each issue of Avaritia to be The Best Comic Book every time it's released.

Ok, so lets see how we did:
Marvel: 4
DC: 2
Image: 1
Icon: 2
Vertigo: 2

Hey, whaddya know! Marvel takes the week, meaning that they won't get shot in the face by Max Lord after figuring out his evil plan. Poor Image, though. With only one point this week, Image got their little necks snapped by Wonder Woman to prevent Superman from being mind controlled.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

ROUND TWO: Comics for April 6, 2011

So these reviews are late. Even though it was a pretty light week for me I had so much else going on that I didn't even finish reading this weeks comics until the 13th. Between work, writing for The Remnant's upcoming album, writing for my upcoming solo album, writing for a secret project, and preparing for a live show there hasn't been a whole lot of time for writing comics reviews. So if you came here this past week looking for reviews, my bad. Well, enough of that. Let's get judgemental about comics!

Everybody knows that everything in the world ever is a competition, so every week the publishers of the comics I read will be fighting for ultimate supremacy; hence "DC versus Marvel". I'm not limiting contestants to only DC and Marvel; I just shortened it for the sake of a catchier blog title. Books will be ranked from -1 to +1 which will add to or subtract from each publisher's overall score. Two +2 scores will be given per week for "Best Comic" of the week and "My Favorite Comic" of the week. I hope it never comes to this (because I don't usually like to buy bad comics), but if a book is just super terrible I may give a score of -2. When all scores are added up I will declare a winner and all other publishers will be killed. Thankfully, this is comics so nobody ever stays dead and we'll start right back over next week.

Here's the list of what I got this week:

Madman All New Giant-Size Super Ginchy Special!
Sweet Tooth #20
iZombie #12
Jonah Hex #66
Axe Cop: Bad Guy Earth #2
Chew #17
Batman Beyond #4


Here's the first thing you should know about the Madman Super Ginchy Special: It was the best comic book of the week. Easily. Here's the second thing you should know about the Madman Super Ginchy Special: I am officially disqualifying it from "Best Comic Book of the Week" running. Here's why: it's basically a TPB. True, it only cost $5.99, but still. Come on. Seriously, though, this is a super great book and if you're a fan of Madman or Mike Allred you've already budgeted ahead for this book. CONFESSION! I've never actually read a Madman comic before this. I bought most of Madman Atomic Comics as it was coming out a few years ago from Image, but I never read them. I very clearly remember, however, one of the first times I recognized truly amazing art was seeing the cover of Madman Comics #1 from Dark Horse Comics in 1994. I've been a Mike Allred fan since that moment and a fan of the idea of Madman. But it wasn't until just now that I read a Madman comic. So, for me to have literally zero prior knowledge going into the stories in this book and still turn the last page with that much satisfaction speaks volumes about the quality of the book itself and the appeal of the characters and the talent of the contributors. Mike and Laura Allred's main story is great, Emi Lenox's story is about an emo band actually being super sad aliens who just want to have someone to be sad with, Matt Kindt's story is Jack Kerouac's On the Road starring members of the Atomics (I think), and Tonci Zonjic's story is flat out amazing and really very suspenseful. The pin-ups are also quite gorgeous. It's just a good book, you guys.

Sweet Tooth is not a series where you can pick out any one issue and say, "This is the best issue of the series," or "This is the one issue you have to have." Sweet Tooth is a series that draws you into it slowly. It's an upside down pyramid standing on it's point; it builds on itself and as you climb it you watch it spread out around you. I think it may be best consumed as a whole, but that may also destroy you. It's a dire series. It's an exploration into the darkest depths of humanity, but ultimately it focuses on the light that can never be extinguished. I hesitate to say that it's like The Walking Dead, but really, it kind of is. And I mean that in the best possible way. It's a totally loaded statement, though. On the surface it's easy to see the similarities. Post apocalyptic wasteland? Yeah. Small band of survivors? Yup. We are the real monsters? More than a little bit of that, too. That's really where the similarities end, though, and Sweet Tooth uses that genre framework to tell its own story of loss and survival. I realize I haven't said anything about this particular issue, #20, but really all there is to say is this: go get the trades, read from the beginning, and then get this issue. You need to earn your way to this issue. Then, once you've read all the issues leading up to it, you will realize just how good it is.

iZombie is the other book that Mike Allred currently draws. This is issue #12. Oh, but he didn't draw this issue. Disappointing, right? WRONG! Ever hear of, oh, I don't know, GILBERT HERNANDEZ OF LOS HERMANOS HERNANDEZ?!??! Yeah, that guy. He drew this issue. Oh, did I mention that this series is written by Chris Roberson? You know, the guy who writes that one book. It's kind of obscure. You probably haven't ever heard of it. It's called SUPERMAN!!!! This is one of several planned breaks in the main story. From what I understand, each story arc will be 5 issues followed by a standalone issue that focuses on a character in the supporting cast. Ellie the ghost girl is the focus of this installment. Roberson gives us a look at who Ellie was before she died and how that made her the ghost she is today and shows us a cool moment at the end of the issue depicting the first time Ellie met Gwen, the titular zombie of the series. The coolest part of the issue, though, is a two page spread that manages to do a bit of world building and make me hope the good Mr. Roberson has plans to tell that particular story. Seriously, it would be awesome.

"Name's Jonah Hex, an' ah'm a bounty hunter." That's all the introduction to the world of Jonah Hex this issue provides. It's also all the introduction you need to jump right in. I'd never read an issue of Jonah Hex before, but issue #66 is perfect jumping on point. Well, almost every issue of Jonah Hex is a perfect jumping on point because almost every issue is a standalone issue. In the issue, Hex trudges some prisoners into a snowy mountain town where dudes are just straight up getting eaten. SPOILER ALERT: The prisoners don't make it. There's more to it than that, though, and it's something that's going to stick with you for a little while after reading. This particular issue is drawn by Fiona Staples, whose artwork is just absolutely stunning. I seriously hope she gets a lot of work soon, and after this issue I'm pretty confident that's going to happen. Writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray do a great job of letting the artist tell the story, which is just fine with me. Not that their dialog isn't good--it's perfect--these are, after all the same writers who made Power Girl and Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters into must read series. There's been a lot written about the wonderful things those guys are doing on this book, which was pretty much the entire reason I bought this issue, and it's all true. This was so very close to taking the "Best Comic Book of the Week" award. So close.

Do I really have to tell you that Chew is awesome? Really? Ok, Chew is awesome. This is issue #17. It is awesome. This issue sees Tony and Colby team up with the hardcore badass women of the FDA and it does NOT go well. At all. There's a deus ex machina of the absolute best order. Seriously, you guys, read Chew. If every comic book were this good, well... there'd be a lot of really really good comics out there. I think my favorite part about this series is not the story (which is amazing) or the jokes (which are really funny) or the art (which is fantastic). No, my favorite part of this series is the kind of love and detail that goes into the characters. It's so easy to tell that Layman and Guillory enjoy making this book. This was another really close one for the "Best Comic Book of the Week" award.

Speaking of the Best Comic Book of the Week award... its Batman Beyond #4! It's the start of a new story arc that sees the re-introduction of Batman's best friend Maxine Gibson, who is basically like the new Oracle of the future. She's got some stuff going on that Batman's probably going to be getting involved in pretty soon--in a rescue me from the mess I've made kind of way--but until that happens, Batman, Terry McGinnis, is busy trying to diffuse a situation involving future Dick Grayson and secret identities. There may be tension between the Dick and Bruce Wayne of the future, but that doesn't stop Bruce from trying to intervene and help out his old partner and adopted son. Since this is comics we're talking about, things do not go as planned, but not quite in the way that was not planned. This is probably the comic I was most looking forward to this week and it completely justified it. I absolutely LOVED with a capital LOVED the Batman Beyond cartoon when it was on the air and this comic is looking like it's going to be another quality entry in the Terry McGinnis epic.

Finally, we have My Favorite Comic Book of the week and honestly, absolutely nobody should be surprised at this. It wasn't even close. Axe Cop: Bad Guy Earth #2 is a perfect comic book. I'll say that again: This comic is perfect. This is the product of a 30 year old man drawing the story that his 6 year old brother comes up with, which, in all seriousness, is the most original idea I've ever heard. And it's so obvious. Because, what were you doing when you were six? I'll tell you what I was doing. I was thinking about Spider-Man and Batman and what would happen if they met each other and fought. Basically, I was writing my own comics. Young Mr. Malachi Nicholle has the good fortune of having an older brother with both really good art skills and a great sense of humor. There's no way to even begin to describe how much fun this book is. It also contains the best sentence I've ever read in my life: "Truck chucks were like nunchucks made of semi trucks." I defy you to show me a better sentence that isn't contained in an Axe Cop comic.

Ok, let's take a look at who is going to live and die this week...
Vertigo: 2
Image: 2
DC: 3
Dark Horse: 2

Well, well, well. DC wins. Again. I grew up a Marvel kid and they didn't even compete this week. Perhaps it's for the best. They will be spared the experience of being trapped in the negative zone to face an oncoming horde of Annihilus' minions in a noble self sacrifice to allow the kids of the Future Foundation and a de-powered Ben Grimm to get to safety. Thanks for reading, guys. See you next week!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

ROUND ONE: Comics for March 30, 2011

Hello everyone! And by "everyone" I really mean "no one" because I have no illusions about who is going to be reading this blog (no one). I just wanted to try my hand at having something consistent to write every week. And since everything I write seems to be comics related anyways, from my twitter account to my tumblr account all the way to my raps with my good friend Adam WarRock, I might as well give the weekly review thing a go. I really enjoy reading comics reviews and today I got an idea for a format that I haven't seen before (which doesn't mean somebody else hasn't done it, probably better).

So here's how it'll work, at least to start. Everybody knows that everything in the world ever is a competition, so every week the publishers of the comics I read will be fighting for ultimate supremacy; hence "DC versus Marvel". I'm not limiting contestants to only DC and Marvel; I just shortened it for the sake of a catchier blog title. Books will be ranked from -1 to +1 which will add to or subtract from each publisher's overall score. Two +2 scores will be given per week for "Best Comic" of the week and "My Favorite Comic" of the week. I hope it never comes to this (because I don't usually like to buy bad comics), but if a book is just super terrible I may give a score of -2. When all scores are added up I will declare a winner and all other publishers will be killed. Thankfully, this is comics so nobody ever stays dead and we'll start right back over next week.

Alright, let's just jump right into it! Here are the comics I picked up this week:

American Vampire #13
Black Panther: The Man Without Fear #516
Captain America #616
Detective Comics #875
Jack of Fables #50
Jimmy Olsen one shot
Scalped #47
Scarlet #5
Thor #621
Walking Dead #83
Zatanna #11


Ok, let's get our first -1 score out of the way. Even though I really did enjoy BLACK PANTHER: THE MAN WITHOUT FEAR #516, it was flat out disappointing. It's not Jefte Palo's fault. He's filling in for Francesco Francavilla, who is probably the best artist in comics right now. But here's the thing: Jefte Palo's art is kind of amazing. I think this is his first time drawing Black Panther since the issues he did with Jason Aaron during Secret Invasion (which is hands down the best thing to come out of Secret Invasion) and you can tell Palo's been eager to do it again. No, the disappointment falls on David Liss, the writer, whose first few issues on the title were pretty good, if a little shaky. There's several things about this issue that completely took me out of the story with how dumb they were. For instance, the police and TV news crews showing up outside Vlad's home out of nowhere to investigate a crime that I'm pretty sure they had no way of knowing about yet. Also, Vlad's younger son helping a lobotomized boy escape from a sealed chamber in a pitch black basement during a power outage? Seriously? The issue is just a little bit undercooked. I will say this, though: Liss writes a good Spider-Man. Spidey's a scene stealer and thank goodness he was in more than a few scenes.

One thing I've noticed with Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev's SCARLET is that the review scores at most sites I read started off at "AMAZING SUPER GOOD OMG MESSIAH OF COMICS OMG!!!!" and then steadily started decreasing with each issue. While I agree that the first issue of the series was really really good, I don't think the quality of subsequent issues has dropped that much. Or at all, really. SCARLET is a solid read every time and this issue, #5, closes out the first arc with a police incited riot, a new job for a good policewoman, and a new supporting cast (that we don't meet quite yet). I'm sticking with this one and anticipate enjoying the experience.

Here's the thing about CAPTAIN AMERICA #616: it's really good. Is it worth the $4.99 price tag? Well......... yeah, actually it kind of is. Not only is the continuation of Ed Brubaker's story super solid (and honestly, it's been fantastic from issue one) but Marvel took an interesting turn with the back up material. Where they might usually reprint a decades old issue they instead gave a few creators who have never worked on Cap take a crack at him. Of course, Howard Chaykin gets his obligatory pages, which tell a flashback story that is just plain good. The stand out story, though, belongs to Cullen Bunn and Jason Latour. Bunn, who writes the always amazing THE SIXTH GUN, proves once again that he's awesome with his pages. It's a really moving story about finding and fighting spider robots in a small town after a natural disaster, which I'm pretty sure is one of the more ridiculous sentences I'll write this week, but it's true. Frank Tieri and Paul Azaceta's story about a smug art dealer is probably the best callback to Cap's time as a comic book artist you'll ever read and Kyle Higgins, Alec Siegel and Pepe Larraz's story about a war-ravaged town coming together will hit you in the same way as that scene in CASA BLANCA where the locals outsing the Germans in the club. Which is to say it will hit you hard. Mike Benson, Paul Grist, Ed McGuinness, Travis Charest and everyone else all turn in some solid stuff as well. It's a great comic, really. I also thought it was kind of cool that Marvel celebrated Cap's 70th anniversary on issue #616, which is the kind of thing only a super nerd like me would notice and appreciate.

Thor #621 is the end of Matt Fraction's first story arc on the title. It's also the last issue of the series, which is reverting to it's original title of JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY with Kieron Gillen writing and Fraction is moving over to THE MIGHTY THOR and getting a sparkling brand new #1. It's ALSO the best issue of Fraction's run yet. It's pretty much a nonstop brawl with what someone (I can't remember who or where) described as "Odin and Thoth screaming at each other Dragon Ball Z style," and even though that person numbered that in the reasons they disliked the issue, I thought it was kind of awesome. The problem with this issue is that the ones that came before it (other than the first of the run) were kind of boring. It could be that I had my expectations too high since Matt Fraction has been one of my favorite writers since I started reading comics again, but his THOR just never clicked with me the way I had hoped. I'm going to wait on the new titles to see what others think. I'm hoping they'll be back up to the Fraction standard, which is to say, super awesome.

I have to admit, I wasn't that big of a fan of AMERICAN VAMPIRE when the series started. It wasn't bad by a long shot, but I just couldn't get into it all the way. I stuck with it, though, and here's why: because from the beginning I liked Scott Snyder's part way more than Stephen King's. Fortunately, it's Snyder's book and not Mr. King's so it's pretty much been amazing since issue #7. But this is issue #13 and the beginning of a new story arc taking place during WW2. And guess what. It's super good. I really love how Skinner Sweet has the ability to fit into the role of bad guy in whatever setting he's put into. And as much as I hate the idea of vampire romance, Snyder has a good thing going with Henry and Pearl. Basically you should read this book and if you haven't read the previous 12 issues that's totally ok because you don't need any of the backstory to get into this new story line.

SCALPED #47, on the other hand, is the polar opposite of AMERICAN VAMPIRE's perfect jumping on point. Your enjoyment of this issue, like almost all of the others in the series, is completely dependent on your having read all the others that came before. I'm not saying this is a bad thing. On the contrary, Jason Aaron and RM Guerra's sprawling and tragic story is absolutely my favorite comic book series currently being published. It is not possible to recommend this series enough and you should stop reading this right now and run to your nearest comic shop/bookstore and buy the first 7 trades. This issue takes us back into the home and upended life of Dino Poor Bear as he looks at something that isn't there and sees what he wants to see. The narration lets us know that this is a turning point in Dino's life and I really don't want to watch him go down this new road. Not because I think it'll be bad comics, but because Jason Aaron has made me really care about what happens to this character. And every character in this series.

There was something just a little bit off about JACK OF FABLES #50. I don't know exactly; maybe it was that I'm upset it was the final issue of the series. It could have been that after 50 issues I wanted a different resolution for the stories and characters than what Willingham and Sturges presented. I don't know exactly. I have a sneaking suspicion, though, that it just wasn't as good of a comic book as the previous 49 issues have been. If you're already reading JACK OF FABLES there's no way you're not going to pick up this issue--and rightfully so, because it's still a good comic and the final issue of an amazing and fun series. I won't go into any details, but just... steel yourself.

I basically have the same thing to say about THE WALKING DEAD #83 as I did about SCALPED. It's been an amazing series from issue #1 and how much you enjoy it and are affected by it is going to be absolutely dependent on how many issues you've read going into this latest one. Basically, in this issue everything goes wrong. EVERYTHING. And if you've been reading the series you know exactly what that means.

In the coming weeks you'll begin to notice a theme in the comics I buy. Especially the DC titles. This week you get the first glimpse. ZATANNA #11 wraps up the latest story arc in which Zee deals with her fear of puppets. There's also the return of a big bad guy at the end of the issue in a moment that is pretty much perfect. Jamal Igle jumps on board with the series this issue, which I'm pretty excited about since I loved his work on SUPERGIRL, even though I'm a little disappointed Cliff Chiang didn't get to finish this story line. The thing about Paul Dini's ZATANNA is that it's consistently a fun read with very little baggage. It's one of those comics that really captures the essence of how much joy and wonder is in the super hero genre. It also is probably the best example of how much better at magic based comics DC is than Marvel.

Picking up the award for Best Comic of the Week is DETECTIVE COMICS #875. It's another Scott Snyder winner and good golly is this one a creeper. Before I talk about the story, let me just say that if Francesco Francavilla is going to take time away from BLACK PANTHER to do comics like this then I'm perfectly ok with that. He's an amazing artist and his work here is top notch. Story wise, this comic should have suffered from DC's recent decision to cut back up stories from their issues, but seeing as how Scott Snyder is pretty much amazing it turned out to be the week's best comic. The opening scene with Harvey Bullock on the roof of the police station is one of those moments that absolutely defines a character. The rest of the issue follows Commissioner Gordon as he reopens a case from his days as a lieutenant in Gotham while reminiscing on a seemingly unrelated incident involving his son, who's a bit of a psycho. It's absolutely a perfect comic and no other book even came close this week for Best Comic.

And finally, My Favorite Comic of the Week goes to the one and only JIMMY OLSEN one shot. Incidentally, this is another comic that exists because of DC's "war on back-ups" and much of the comic can actually be found in recent issues of ACTION COMICS. I'd read the first chapter of "Jimmy Olsen's Big Week" in Comixology's free preview and immediately knew that it was going to be something special. When DC announced they'd be collecting all seven chapters in one issue I may or may not have squealed with joy. There's no real way to be sure. I believe this issue was the first time Nick Spencer (now known as "super star writer Nick Spencer") had worked on a Big Two book and it's every bit as brilliant as we now know Nick Spencer can be. This may be the best thing he's written yet. It's just pure fun. From Jimmy literally saving the world from a horde of alien invaders by boring them away to becoming Co-Superman to contacting Superman via morse code to come save him from an evil genie but only after he finishes reading a book, this is simply perfect. I think all that stuff would be fun no matter what, but Spencer is really able to anchor it and make it mean something by using it all as Jimmy's way of winning back his girlfriend, Chloe Sullivan (from Smallville, which I've never watched). It was the most expensive book in a week where both CAPTAIN AMERICA and JACK OF FABLES cost $4.99, but even at $5.99 you will feel like you drastically underpaid once you turn the last page. One store I went to on Wednesday has sold out already, but luckily I found a copy elsewhere. Get this comic book. Read it. And then let someone else read it. It's that good.

That's all of them this week. Let's see what the final scores are....

DC: +5
ICON: +1

DC is the big winner this week, which should come as no surprise since they took both awards. All the other publishers except Marvel this week were killed when a microscopic Jean Loring traveled through phone lines and accidentally left tiny footprints in their brains. Marvel, the unfortunate loser of the week, was killed by Captain Boomerang.

Thanks for reading, everybody! See you next week!