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Old September 13th, 2007   Ye Olde Iowa is offline   #1
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Default Weekly Review Power Rankings 9/12/07

Each week when Diamond releases the week’s shipping list, I make note of each book I need to pick up and then pre-rank them based upon how I feel they will turn out, taking into consideration the creative team, the previous issues, preview pages, and solicits. Then, after I’ve read through them all, I re-rank them based upon how I feel after actually reading them.

Below are the books I picked up this week, counting down from worst to best, creating my “power rankings” for this week. The numbers in parentheses represent where the book was pre-ranked. I’ve also listed the main contributors to the creative team (writer, penciler, and cover artist). Let me know what you all think and feel free to post your own list. I attempt to keep everything as spoiler free as possible, but keep in mind that there may be the occasional minor spoiler that I overlook.

If you have any questions about the Rankings or just want to drop me a line, I’ve set up an email account specifically for the reviews at [email protected] or you can always PM me through the message boards.


---. Mice Templar #1 (--)
Bryan Glass (W), Michael Avon Oeming (A), Michael Avon Oeming (C)

I have to admit, like much of the Internet, I was off-put by the idea of Mice Templar. Despite everything that Oeming said about starting the book years ago, it sounded too much like Mouse Guard (which was unbelievably amazing) and so I was really hesitant about this book. Truthfully, I was a fool for doubting the creative team on this one. Quite frankly, this was one of the best single issues of the year. Glass and Oeming have created a very lush world of intrigue, danger, and mythology that within the space of one issues has me completely hooked. The characters are wonderfully well developed, the histories are engaging, the action was exciting, and the interactions were heartfelt. Combine that with some of Oeming’s best art EVER and you have one of the finest series debuts that should not be missed. Cast aside your prejudices against this other “mouse book” and pick it up; this one is getting my absolute highest of recommendations.

16. Suicide Squad #1 (12)
John Ostrander (W), Javier Pina (A), John Snyder (C)

Reading this issue reminded me a lot of reading the last few story arcs of Nightwing. With a writer as well-versed with the characters as John Ostrander (much like Wolfman and Nightwing) and a very capable artist in Javier Pina, there is absolutely no reason that this book is as disappointing as it was. First of all, the characters throughout the title felt completely lifeless and uninteresting, despite being some of the cooler characters in the DCU (perhaps I have been disappointed by Gail Simone’s Deadshot and Greg Rucka’s Amanda Waller). Also, Captain Boomerang the Elder died in one of the most important stories in the last decade for DC, so there is obviously something fishy going on here. Unfortunately, it felt more like a major editorial snafu than it did an interesting mystery. Yowch.

15. Countdown: The Search for Ray Palmer #1 – Wildstorm (15)
Ron Marz (W), Angel Unzueta (A), Art Adams (C)

Having dropped Countdown a few weeks back, I wasn’t planning on picking this title up. However, the main characters are interesting and the premise of DC and Wildstorm characters meeting up seemed promising. Unfortunately, until Majestic showed up, the interactions between the two groups of characters was fairly dull and meaningless. Even then, nothing of real consequence happened. Having Wildstorm part of the mutliverse opens a lot of intriguing doors, unfortunately, this issue just doesn’t live up to that promise.

14. Gen13 #12 (15)
Gail Simone (W), Carlo Barberi (A), Carlo Barberi (A)

On the positive side, I really like Gail Simone’s spin on Grunge, who had previously been a fairly one-dimensional character. Much like she did with Burnout, she has stayed true to the core of the character, but did a major enough overhaul to breath completely new life into him. It was a great move that was well-executed here. Unfortunately, the rest of the issue fell a little flat. Having never really gotten into Welcome to Tranquility, the guest stars in this issue didn’t really click with me and the gimmick of the Authoriteens lost its luster rather early on in the issue. Thankfully, even if I couldn’t really get into the major plot, Gail Simone’s undeniable wit and charm kept the book afloat and Carlo Barberi’s stylized art made it a joy to look at.

13. Fables #65 (7)
Bill Willingham (W), Mark Buckingham (A), James Jean (C)

As much as I absolutely love this series (it was my pick for ongoing title of the year last year), I just cannot get into this storyline like I have been able to with every story previous. Interesting things are developing, but the movement is considerably slower than I’ve come to expect with this title. However, as Frau Totenkinder’s true motivations are revealed and Flycatcher is approaching the end of his quest, it’s clear that things are looking up for this title. At the very least, however, Mark Buckingham’s art is as beautiful as ever; few artists have the consistency that he does. It’s not the best Fables issue ever, but then again, Fables at its worst is still considerably better than most books at their best.

12. Punisher: War Journal #11 (8)
Matt Fraction (W), Leandro Fernandez (A), Ariel Olivetti (C)

The fact that Punisher: War Journal #11 ranked at number 12 this week shows exactly how strong this week’s titles were; it was an excellent book and in any other week, it certainly would have been ranked considerably higher. Matt Fraction does a good job of running three parallel stories with similar themes, while allowing each story to have a completely separate point. His strong character work is central to the success of this issue, with great takes on everyone from the Punisher to Iron Man. The return of a classic Punisher villain with an interesting twist is the icing on the cake. Leandro Fernandez’s art was a welcome surprise, as his anatomy and storytelling style is very similar to Ariel Olivetti’s art, but is different enough to keep the book feeling fresh. This is a great jumping on point for new Punisher readers, as well as a nice recap and regrouping for those that have been following the title all along.

11. Wonder Girl #1 (14)
J. Torres (W), Sanford Greene (A), Sanford Greene (C)

Truthfully, I didn’t care much for the plot of this book. Not much really happened. We see Wonder Girl’s reaction to Amazons Attack and there is a bit of interaction with Robin, but otherwise this book just sorta happened. It would have been ranked considerably more poorly if it weren’t for two aspects of the book. First of all, J. Torres does a good job of writing Wonder Girl as an actual teenager who has a ton of life experience, but a considerable amount of youthful zeal and naiveté. At times, she is frustrating and headstrong, but at others she is a sympathetic character who faces continual confusion. Not many writers can pull of writing believable teenagers, but J. Torres shows that he has the chops. More importantly, however, is the fact that Sanford Greene’s art is absolutely delightful. Much like Torres does with the writing, Greene draws the teen characters as exactly that—teenagers. These aren’t smaller adults and that goes a long way. His energetic, magna-influenced art style is a great fit for the tone of the book, as is his surprising range. If nothing else, this one should be picked up for the gorgeous artwork.

10. Star Wars: Legacy #16 (13)
John Ostrander (W), Jan Duursema (A), Travis Charest (C)

I find it interesting that Star Wars: Legacy has done just as much for fleshing out and adding plausible details for the original trilogy-era Star Wars mythos as it does for creating an engaging future for the pop culture phenomenon. In that sense, it truly lives up to its name, as the entire legacy of George Lucas’s creation-past, present, and future-is privy for advancement here. This issue is a fine example of that, as Cade slips further into the Dark Side and we learn more about the post Episode III exploits of the surviving Jedi. As always, Jan Duursema’s moody and imaginative art captures the sci-fi excitement and exoticness of the Star Wars minutia, while retaining a very dark and gritty “street-level” tone.

09. Nova #6 (9)
Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (W), Sean Chen, Scott Hanna, and Brian Denham (A), Adi Granov (C)

Don’t let it’s place in the rankings fool you, I loved this book. Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning put together a great read here, with enough quirky sci-fi to satisfy my geek-needs and enough political intrigue (the Phalanx as a metaphor) to keep me intellectually engaged, plus some great action to boot. The art was a little inconsistent, but that could be a result of using multiple artists. Still, this was a crazy-fun issue that does a good job of bridging the return of Nova to the forefront and the Annihilation: Conquest storyline.

08. GI Joe: America’s Elite #27 (11)
Mark Powers (W), Mike Shoyket (A), Mike Bear (C)

Growing up, I absolutely loved the GI: Joe toys and cartoons. It had great action, memorable characters, sweet vehicles—you name it, GI: Joe had it. Having that childhood background makes this storyline all the better. With the political machinations, the unexpected violence, the idea that no character is safe, and the use of a HUGE array of GI: Joe characters, contemporary and classic, this is the type of story that I would have loved as a kid but with “grown-up” twists that keep me totally engaged. It’s more of the same in this issue, as Cobra’s world-wide super-assault grows in complexity and the Joes scramble to keep up. Mark Powers does a great job of keeping the characters familiar, but also believable through great dialogue work. Mike Shoyket’s art is a bit of a downside, as his facial expressions need a lot of work. His anatomy is otherwise fine, but his storytelling lacks the refinement of the book’s regular artist. Still, all in all, this was a great read.

07. StormWatch PHD #11 (2)
Christos Gage (W), Andy Smith (A), Mike McKone (C)

Another month, another strong issue of StormWatch PHD. I’m really going to miss this title when it’s gone. Christos Gage does his usual magic by crafting great character interactions in a minimal amount of space, while stacking the odds against the team as the plot moves forward. As the plot thickens and we find out more about who is offing retired StormWatch members, I found myself actually worried about the character’s well-being. That just goes to show how strong Gage’s writing is. Andy Smith’s art is still strong, though his facial expressions are a bit static and he seems to have trouble with the anatomical proportions, especially on the female characters. That’s a bit unnerving on a book that is so centered on the characters themselves, but it’s a small gripe on an otherwise fantastic book.
 
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Old September 13th, 2007   Ye Olde Iowa is offline   #2
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From this point on, I found myself ranking all of the books on a bit of a fanboy factor. The writing and artwork on all of these books was absolutely superb (as well as on several of the books that weren’t ranked quite as high), so it really came down to entertainment value, shock factors, and gratuitous fanboy excitement when I ranked books from #6 down to #1. It’s not surprising that in a week where I read 17 books that there would be quite a few excellent ones, but this week was something else with such a high number of really awesome issues. This was one of the best week’s in a long time when it came to the comics and there really isn’t a book (except maybe Suicide Squad—sorry!) that didn’t bring a ton to the table in terms of awesomeness. I hope everyone else has as much fun with this week’s titles as I did.

06. Thor #3 (10)
J. Michael Straczynski (W), Olivier Coipel (A), Olivier Coipel (C)

At first, I really wasn’t sure about the new character design on Thor by Olivier Coipel; but now, its really starting to grow on me. He has a much more knight-ish look to him and I think that fits him now that is more of a man-on-a-mission than he was in the past. I’m still loving the idea of Asgard-on-Earth, especially with the new twist on how Thor will bring the old gods back. Of course, the real highlight of this issue was the Thor/Iron Man interaction, which was intense and powerful, but still left the door wide-open for future throwdowns. JMS also does a nice job of sliding in some “real world” politics by having Thor come to New Orleans, though it did feel a bit heavy handed at times.

05. Booster Gold #2 (5)
Geoff Johns and Jeff Katz (W), Dan Jurgens and Norm Rapmund (A), Dan Jurgens (C
)
This was almost the Book of the Week, simply because of Sinestro twirling his moustache like a classic, black-hat villain. In the end, though, what held the book back is that it seemed like Johns and Katz were pushing too hard with the humor. Yes, this was a very funny book, but it was harder to take the more heartfelt moments seriously here because there were almost too many jokes. Still, it was great to see the creative team taking a lot of good-natured jabs at the DCU and finding a good balance between action and parody. Also, and I said this about the first issue too, Dan Jurgens and Norm Rapmund are putting out some amazing art in this issue—better than we have seen from them in a long time and I think that is because they are putting a lot of passion into this book. It shows, and it pays off in a big way.

04. Justice Society of America #9 (1)
Geoff Johns (W), Dale Eaglesham (A), Alex Ross (C)

Despite being a ridiculously huge fan of Kingdom Come, I’m actually really hesitant moving into this upcoming JSA arc dealing with the classic. It was such a great standalone story with such a powerful message, it’s hard to think of revisiting the story and characters without tarnishing the story in some way. That being said, this issue does do a great job of kicking off the new storyline in a big way. The opening sequence highlights the importance of legacy and training new heroes both physically and emotionally (something that the world of Kingdom Come completely lacks), which is a great reminder of what makes the Justice Society so great, especially in comparison to the Kingdom Come world. I like the idea of Starman being central to linking the two worlds as well, especially with him having been so central to the JLA/JSA crossover; it’s a great way to show off the idea of a shared multiverse and the affect an anomaly can have on it.

03. The New Avengers #34 (3)
Brian Michael Bendis (W), Lenil Yu (A), Lenil Yu (C)

So, wait, The Hood is actually Mum-ra from Thundercats?! Actually, that was really a cool moment, because, as I was reading the opening scenes of this book, I couldn’t think of any reason that the Hood should be an impressive villain…I was wrong. I know that it can be quite polarizing, but I think that Lenil Yu’s art is one of the best parts of this book and he really shines in this issue, using larger panels and interesting twists on character designs (the “inner truth” spread was amazing). Bendis’s passion for these characters was also impressive in this issue, as its clear that he is really trying to show the readers why he loves characters like Luke Cage and Dr. Strange (who had some great moments here that will be rewarding for those that read Brian K. Vaughan’s amazing The Oath mini earlier this year). In the end, another awesome issue for one of Marvel’s most consistently great books.

02. Green Lantern #23 (6)
Geoff Johns (W), Ivan Reis (A), Ivan Reis (C)

There have been a lot of really great major storylines this year (The Death of Captain America, World War Hulk, Amazons Attack, The JLA/JSA/Legion Lightning Saga, the conclusion of 52, etc), but none of them have me as excited and attentive as The Sinestro Corps War. This issue, like the rest of the storyline, is filled to the brim with high intensity action, gorgeous art, and an epic scale that dwarfs nearly everything else that has come out this year. In this issue, Johns does a great job of balancing the history of the Green Lanterns (particularly Hal’s troubled past) with the immediate threat of the Sinestro Corps. It makes for an interesting dynamic with a much weightier feel to it than other major storylines have this year. More importantly, though, Johns goes to great lengths to show the hard decisions, broken ideals, and sacrifices that all of the characters in the story have to make in order to keep fighting—showing that there are no winners in wars like this, even in a battle that is clearly good versus evil. Ivan Reis’s art is absolutely breathtaking, showing incredible imagination and bringing a ton of energy and chaos to the battle without making it feel muddled or too busy. This is a can’t miss issue in a can’t miss storyline.

01. Justice League of America: Wedding Special (4)
Dwayne McDuffie (W), Mike McKone (A), Ed Benes (C)

For those unfamiliar with Dwayne McDuffie’s history with the Justice League, he was a major force behind the successful and ridiculously awesome Justice League Unlimited animated series. With this being his “debut” with the Justice League in comics, it looks like fans of his work on that show (myself included) are going to have a lot to love from McDuffie in the near future. That being said, this issue is a lot like the best episodes of JLU. It has great, on-character writing, cameos by anyone and everyone, is a joy to look at, really great action, and more fanboy geek-out moments than you’d think possible in one over-sized book. I mean, seriously, to begin with, the strippers that Hal wants to get for Ollie’s bachelor party are obviously modeled after comics sexpots like Roxy (Gen13), Rogue, and Emma Frost. Then you’ve got the return of Firestorm (whose book I miss dearly), Luthor’s creation of the Injustice League, Hal and John Stewart discussing double-duty with the GLC and JLA, Batman cracking dry jokes, some really cool fight scenes, and the return of the greatest secret lair ever--Luthor’s Darth-Vader’s-Head-in-a-Swamp-Straight-Out-of-Super-Friends-Hall-of-freakin’-Doom! This book is pure fun from beginning to end and is precisely what a Justice League book should be—action, adventure, great characters, over-the-top villains, and seemingly insurmountable odds stacked against the heroes. McDuffie makes his debut in style and shows why his run on the Justice League of America is going to be a can’t miss. In terms of art, it’s Mike McKone…do I really need to say more? The art is full of energy, incredible expressive, and consistent from beginning to end. In a week full of amazing titles, this issue is the cream of the crop and without a doubt, my choice for Book of the Week.
 
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Old September 13th, 2007   superfriend is offline   #3
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Also, Captain Boomerang the Elder died in one of the most important stories in the last decade for DC, so there is obviously something fishy going on here. Unfortunately, it felt more like a major editorial snafu than it did an interesting mystery. Yowch.
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I made the same mistake. The captions, if read properly (which I failed to do until someone pointed it out for me), tell us that this story begins before the events of Identity Crisis take place.

It's not editorial snafu--you may've made the same mistake as me.
 
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Old September 13th, 2007   Ye Olde Iowa is offline   #4
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I made the same mistake. The captions, if read properly (which I failed to do until someone pointed it out for me), tell us that this story begins before the events of Identity Crisis take place.

It's not editorial snafu--you may've made the same mistake as me.
ddf
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I caught the note that the book takes place prior to Salvation Run, but not that it took place before Identity Crisis. That makes a lot more sense, but still, I wasn't impressed with this issue and I really wish that I liked it more, as I'm a huge fan of John Ostrander and the Suicide Squad. Thanks for catching my error, superfriend!
 
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Old September 13th, 2007   Astroape2000 is offline   #5
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I caught the note that the book takes place prior to Salvation Run, but not that it took place before Identity Crisis. That makes a lot more sense, but still, I wasn't impressed with this issue and I really wish that I liked it more, as I'm a huge fan of John Ostrander and the Suicide Squad. Thanks for catching my error, superfriend!
ddf
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I think it's the very first line in the first panel that says it's 2 years earlier. It seems that most people missed it.

PS I loved this book.
 
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Old September 14th, 2007   Santeria_101 is offline   #6
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Whadya think of the timing issues with the Countdown books and GL?

Its seems to me that a major blunder has occurred with the whole Kyle/Parallax thing and the realeases of these books this week.
 
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Old September 14th, 2007   Ye Olde Iowa is offline   #7
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Whadya think of the timing issues with the Countdown books and GL?

Its seems to me that a major blunder has occurred with the whole Kyle/Parallax thing and the realeases of these books this week.
ddf
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I will give DC credit before I make a judgement here, since they started Countdown, they have been trying to tighten up delays on their regular universe books and keep continiuity flowing from one title to the next. However, I think that Johns had the Sinestro Corps War planned before they planned Countdown, which is leading to the discrepancy. Either that, or the Countdown Kyle is from another Universe and just doesn't realize it yet. Plus, there is the fact that no one in any other book besides GL and GLC are reacting to the Sinestro Corps War, so I think it is a matter of "not all of DC's books happen at the same time." Either way, I'm having so much fun with the Sinestro Corps story, I really don't care where it fits in continuity.
 
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Old September 19th, 2007   Ye Olde Iowa is offline   #8
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For those who are curious, here are the PreRankings for 9/19:
15. Robin #166
14. Flash #232
13. Shadowpact #17
12. Catwoman #71
11. The Umbrella Academy #1
10. Birds of Prey #110
09. Annihilation: Conquest - Quasar #3
08. Checkmate #18
07. Irredeemable Ant-Man #12
06. Streets of Glory #1
05. World War Hulk #4
04. Tales of the Sinestro Corps: Parallax
03. Dynamo 5 #7
02. Captain America #30
01. Green Arrow/Black Canary Wedding Special
 
Check out the Weekly Review Power Rankings, counting down the best comics of the week, each and every week in the General Talk forum!
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Old September 19th, 2007   Jake1823 is offline   #9
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Have to disagree on the Suicide Squad ranking. I thought it was very well written. And I've never read the previous series.

Good stuff, though. Always enjoy these. Can't wait for this week.
 
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Old September 19th, 2007   Holiday is offline   #10
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I have to say that I thought that the third issue of Thor was a major disappointment for me. I loved the first two issues and this issue just didn't seem to work for me. Maybe I just wanted more from the Tony and Thor angle, but the issue just seemed off to me.
 
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