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Old October 25th, 2007   Ye Olde Iowa is offline   #1
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Default Weekly Review Power Rankings 10/24/07

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, you can email me at [email protected] or you can always PM me through the message boards. I have been asked recently if I accept review copies; I most certainly will. Any book sent to me will be reviewed. Just drop me a line if you want me to check out your book. I’d be glad to give it a look.
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First, a few “better late than never” reviews:

Clockwork Girl #0 and #1
Sean O’Reilly and Kevin Hanna (W), Grant Bond (A), Grant Bond (C)

Arcana’s Clockwork Girl is an interesting amalgam of Disney-style animated storytelling and classic comic book sensibilities, with fantastic character designs and a crisp, but effectively brief style of characterization and storytelling. The gist of the story is established quickly in the first issue (issue #0 contains design samples and the first half of issue #1), as we are introduced to the main characters and see them quickly interact with one another. Though nothing is fully realized, the charm of the characters (especially Huxley, the biologically manufactured boy and the Tinkerer, creator of the Clockwork Girl) is enough to keep me interested, though I’m a little worried about the lack of a definite plot at this point. The story is clearly setting up an interesting Romeo-and-Juliet-esque situation for the titular character and Huxley, but we see little of that established in this issue. However, you really can’t deny the fun of what story is there, with the whimsically beautiful art, great designs, and strong writing. Simply put, this book is very enjoyable and with the low price tag ($0.25 for #0, $0.99 for #1), it is one you should not pass up.

Drafted #0, #1, and #2
Mark Powers (W), Chris Lie (A), Chris Lie (C)

I did check in with Drafted #1 a few weeks back after reading the full issue on Newsarama, but having now caught up with the entire book, I’d like to reiterate how great this title is. While alien invasion stories are nothing new, Mark Powers takes a very interesting twist in this book by having the aliens “drafting” humanity in a war against a bigger, badder alien force. One of the many things that really impresses me is how Powers uses each of these first three issues to establish a different side of the alien invasion. In issue #0, the mystery is set up as mass destruction is wrought all over the Earth for no apparent reason; issue #1 introduces the aliens and sets up them up as a threat to humanity; and issue #2 builds off of #0 while defying #1 by showing the aliens true intentions and putting them in the position of being a potential savoir for Earth (provided that we play along). Powers also does a great job of developing the many lead characters in the series, juggling all of them well and using his dialogue effectively to establish personalities and back-stories without ever straying from the main plot. Chris Lie’s art is strong as well, with great consistency and strong facial expressions. It’s not very innovative, but it fits with the story; with the writing being this strong, the art becomes secondary anyway. In a year full of strong debuts, Drafted is yet another can’t-miss new book for 2007.

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Below are this week’s Rankings. My shop was out of She-Hulk #22 by the time I got there, so I picked up a few other books to make up for it. Look for a catch-up review on the book to appear in a future Rankings.

14. Robin #167 (09)
Brandon Thomas (W), Freddie Williams II (A), Pat Gleason (C)

I really appreciate what Brandon Thomas is trying to do in this issue and I think it is something that is long overdue. Since Identity Crisis, Robin has lost his father, his best friend, his girlfriend, many teammates, etc. and he has rarely had a chance to reflect upon it. Using this done-in-one to do that is a good idea, but Thomas’s execution is what brings this issue down. We suddenly see a very dark side to Robin that is beyond even the most brooding and jaded interpretation of Batman, appearing more like the Red Hood in his ruthlessness. This change in mood is so jarring that it throws off the entire issue, as its really unlike any interpretation of Robin that we’ve seen in the last few years and, in my opinion, it simply does not work. The art by Freddie Williams II is fine, but it doesn’t seem to live up to his previous efforts on the title. In the end, this is one issue that you can definitely pass on without any regrets.

13. X-Men #204 (11)
Mike Carey (W), Mike Choi (A), Mike Choi (C)

The major problem with trying to mysterious in comics is that unless some the writer provides some indication as to what the mystery is about, its hard to care about it when the story installments are a month apart. That’s how things are with X-Men right now. I understand that the Maurauders and the Acolytes want to eliminate the X-Men’s ability to see into the future and I understand that Gambit probably has his reasons for teaming with Mister Sinister, but Carey is keeping the readers too much in the dark with all of this and, truthfully, I’m just getting bored with it. Between that and the very stiff interaction between characters (most of the dialogue felt too clichéd for me), I’m just not digging the writing on this issue. Mike Choi’s art was beautiful (and an interesting departure from the Bachalo/Ramos style we’ve been seeing), but was surprisingly inconsistent and stiff. With early reviews being in for next week’s Messiah CompleX looking so good, my interest is building again in the X-titles, but this is a reminder of why I’m not digging the current direction of this title.

12. Hack/Slash #5 (--)
Tim Seely (W), Emily Stone (A), Crank! and Tim Seely (50/50 C)

This week’s issue of Hack/Slash is a very precarious little book. On one hand, Tim Seely is using the issue to provide some personality base for the main characters by showing their interactions with one another rather than focusing on their killer-fighting antics. On the other hand, he is assuming that the reader has a ton of familiarity with the characters to begin with. For people that just started picking the series up after its relaunch as ongoing (like myself), this can be a bit troublesome. For example, a large amount of the issue is spent following Cassie Hack’s non-Vlad associates, who have never been properly introduced to new readers in this volume. While their story was interesting, its hard to really care when you know next to nothing about them. Additionally, the weird jumps in time seemed haphazard and, truthfully, unnecessary as it just convolutes the otherwise easy to follow narrative. Emily Stone’s artwork is exactly what you’d expect if you’ve been following the series thus far; good, thin line work with expressive characters that are very consistent. It’s not ground breaking, but it’s a good fit for the tone of the series, even if the writing left me a little cold.

11. Foolkiller #1 (--)
Gregg Hurwitz (W), Lan Medina (A), Lan Medina (C)

I read a few reviews trashing this issue pretty hard, so I decided to pick it up as a replacement to She-Hulk just to see what all the fuss is about. While I can see where this isn’t the type of book that is going to appeal to everyone, I don’t think it is any worse than most ‘mature readers’ titles out there. If nothing else, its excessive use of violence and strong language (how often do you see a c-bomb dropped in a comic?) is just Hurwitz’s way of flaunting the fact that this is a MAX title and that he can do pretty much whatever he wants, no matter how vulgar. It’s a little over-the-top, but I’m not going to condemn the book for that. What I will do, though, is praise Hurwitz’s attempt to differentiate this from say, Punisher MAX, by telling the story through the eyes of a layperson rather than following the Foolkiller first hand. It builds on the idea of the Foolkiller being an urban legend for most of the book and makes it a little more interesting than I think it would be otherwise. Lan Medina’s art, though, is the main selling point. His art has a strong sense of realism but a gritty enough style to remind me of Darick Robertson, which makes him the absolute perfect fit for this title. He does a nice job of showing how over-the-top and absurd everything else (check the final two pages or so) while still keeping a foot firmly in “the real world.” It’s neither the best, nor the worst mature readers book I’ve ever read and it does like to flaunt its vulgarity, but I certainly don’t regret reading it and I might be included to pick up issue #2 if it drops on a slow week.
 
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Old October 25th, 2007   Ye Olde Iowa is offline   #2
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10. Blue Beetle #20 (06)
John Rogers (W), Rafael Albuquerque (A), Rafael Albuquerque(C)

I had to check several times to make sure that my eyes weren’t deceiving me on this issue and yet, each time, the book told me that it actually was Rafael Albuquerque drew this issue. I guess it goes to show that even the best up-and-coming artists can have an off issue. Unfortunately, this is one such issue. Albuquerque energetic and vibrant style was stiff and lacking life in this issue, with odd perspectives and poor pacing. Add in a strange story by John Rogers that, while easy to follow, just didn’t seem to work from scene to scene and you have a very disappointing issue from the Blue Beetle crew (which is sad, because I really love this book and I really love the Sinestro Corps storyline). Although, I will give this book credit for addressing the existence of the Sinestro Corps invasion of Earth, which hasn’t been touched upon in any other books.

09. Gen13 #13 (07)
Gail Simone (W), Kevin West and Sunny Lee (A), Carlo Barberi (C)

My single biggest complain about Gen13 #1 was that the fonts were too hard to read, making me spend more time straining to read caption boxes and less time to ingest and enjoy the story. I’m going to have to use that same complaint on this issue. While I like the amount of heart that Gail Simone is pouring into Caitlin’s narration in this issue, the fonts are so small and so hard to read that the caption boxes become more of a hinderence to the story than a guidepost. Otherwise, this is a fine story that perfectly sums up Gail’s run on the relaunch, as we see the team come together once again as both a means of a survival and as a family. The art looked good on both halves of the book, but Kevin West and Sunny Lee’s character designs were too drastically different, which is just as distracting (though not nearly as aggravating) as the caption boxes. As an aside, looking back, I’m really impressed with Gail’s relaunch of the title, especially with her focus on building the characters in a manner that was relatively unheard of in the previous Gen13 volumes. She is definitely going to be missed on this book.

08. The Flash #233 (10)
Mark Waid and John Rogers (W), Freddie Williams II and Doug Braithwaite (A), Doug Braithwaite (C)

First of all, I really want to give credit to John Rogers for capturing the spirit of the Golden and Silver Ages with his back-up tale involving Jay Garrick’s trip across universes to save a planet from hostile invaders. His pacing, the dialogue, and execution were very old school and was a surprisingly natural fit for Doug Braithwaite’s very contemporary (and gorgeous) style, making it a very nice amalgamated story that works perfectly as a flashback (no pun intended) to an early Jay Garrick adventure. The main story was a bit more of a mixed bag. Freddie Williams II’s art was a better fit for the title than Daniel Acuna’s was, though it felt very rushed and lacked the polish that his art in the last year on Robin had. The story was an interesting look at Wally and Linda’s parenting choices and the reaction of the Justice League felt very natural, but the entire plot involving the Lovecraft-ian monsters felt both forced and inconsequential, which brought this otherwise fine issue down a few pegs. Still, things are looking better for this series with each issue, even if I’m still uncertain about the new status quo.

07. The Authority Prime #1 (--)
Christos Gage (W), Darick Robertson (A), Darick Robertson (C)

I picked this issue up on the strength of the creative team and, although I was not disappointed, it is worth noting that this book is not for casual WildStorm fans. Unless you have a solid base of knowledge on both StormWatch Prime and the Authority, you are going to be a little lost here. Once you get things straight though, this is a finely crafted story that does a good job of building both the Authority and the StormWatch as reputable and somewhat-likable organizations, making the inevitable showdown between them more compelling (after all, we’ve seen Good vs. Evil plenty of times and we’ve seen Good vs. Good enough times that seeing a well crafted Good vs. Good is refreshing—although, as Gage subtely builds here, this isn’t exactly Good vs. Good, but more so Necessary (StormWatch) vs. Well-Intentioned (Authority) with both sides leaning towards the betterment of society—but I digress). The dialogue and characterization are as solid as you’d expect from Gage and Darick Robertson’s art is gritty, heavily inked, and a pleasure to look at (again, as expected). This is something casual fans could probably pass over, but if you are a fan of the creative team or a fan of the characters, I think this is going to be a can’t miss.

06. Green Lantern Corps #17 (05)
Dave Gibbons (W), Various (A), Pat Gleason (C)

You know, with as many artists as there were working on this book, you’d think it would be a bit more jarring from page to page. Instead, I’m impressed by how well the individual styles blend together, which is greatly aided by the fact that Dave Gibbons has crafted a very fast-paced page turner here, allowing the reader to overlook the seams. The Sinestro Corps War rages on in this issue, as we see more of the invasion of Earth while building towards the Oans new secret weapon (which has been hinted at for the last few issues of this book and goes back even further to a “prophecy” from an Alan Moore Tales of the Green Lantern Corps story(thank you internet search capabilities!)). With this much action and tension-building, this is a great issue that really ratchets up the intensity of the entire Sinestro Corps storyline.

05. Green Arrow: Year One #6 (02)
Andy Diggle (W), Jock (A), Jock (C)

The origin of the Emerald Archer concludes this week with Ollie taking the final steps towards becoming a superhero, including the solidification of his Robin Hood mentality. This issue is a bit predictable, but Diggle and Jock’s commitment to semi-realism continues to work well (so much so, that I’d love to see them tell more Green Arrow stories outside of the superhero realm, a la Punisher MAX). The dialogue is solid, the art is gorgeous, and the pacing is great. There is little to say about this issue that hasn’t been said about issues past, so I’ll leave it go with a reminder that this comes with very high recommendations.

04. Teen Titans #52 (03)
Sean McKeever (W), Jamal Igle (A), Ale Garza (C)

Jamal Igle + Teen Titans = Awesome. While I am certainly enjoying Sean McKeever’s take on the future Titans (which is perfectly in line with Geoff John’s characterizations), the highlight of this issue for me was Jamal Igle’s art. It was fully of energy, very consistent, and had a very cinematic quality to it (great shifting perspectives and logical panel progression). He brings a great deal of impact to the action, but doesn’t skip on strong facial expressions as the Titans face off against future versions of themselves. I also like that McKeever is building off of the idea that the Teen Titans cannot defeat the infinitely more powerful Future Titans without help, which was established in the original “Titans Tomorrow” storyline. The final page is a strong cliffhanger and has my hopes high for the new characters and concepts that it promises. While this isn’t quite to the level of Johns and McKone, it’s a great book for fans of that run that should not be missed.

03. Tales of the Sinestro Corps: Superman Prime (04)
Geoff Johns and Sterling Gates (W), Pete Woods and Jerry Ordway (A), Ethan Van Sciver (C)

Much like the previous Tales of the Sinestro Corps one-shots, this issue is just a recap of Superman Prime’s origin and the tragic implication behind it that led to him joining forces with Sinestro. In the process, much like with the Cyborg Superman, Prime is shown in a much more sympathetic light, despite the absolute horrors that he has committed. Johns does a great job of building this by weaving in flashbacks of Prime’s time on his own Earth and writing his dialogue with a combination of naïveté and frustration that would eventually become the rage that fuels him. Pete Woods shines here, showing again that he has the chops to handle larger scale projects with gigantic casts. His art also blends well with the art by Jerry Ordway (who has much more polish here than he did with Infinite Crisis, returning to the high quality that he is known for). Ordway also handles the backup story, featuring the debut of Sterling Gates. It’s a strong story that is creepy as all get-up, but feels out of place in the back of this very emotional issue. Again, its not essential reading for the greater Sinestro Corps story, but it does provide some very interesting insight to one of DC’s most powerful villains (if not THE most powerful).

02. Gotham Underground #1 (08)
Frank Tieri (W), J. Calafiore (A), J. Calafiore (C)

The premise behind Gotham Underground seemed solid enough for me to add it to my pull list, but I did not expect it to be as strong of a book as it was. Frank Tieri shows a strong understanding of Batman’s rogues and allies here, with good dialogue that reflected each of the character’s individual voices. I especially enjoyed his take on the Penguin, who flirts with being both legit and crooked as they come; his interaction with the Riddler is one of the book’s many highlights and a good example of how interesting the changes to the characters introduced in Paul Dini’s Detective Comics can be when carried into the larger DCU. I also like Tieri’s usage of Matches Malone, Nightwing, and Commissioner Gordon, playing into the idea that Batman’s allies (and aliases) can be an incredibly effective unit—something we rarely see these days. J. Calafiore’s art here is amongst the best that I have seen with him, using great facial expressions and anatomy work in conjunction with very strong layouts to tell the story. The issue ends on a great cliffhanger that is all-too familiar for Bat-fans, but leaves plenty of possibilities open to build upon the idea of the collective Bat-family working together (after all, nothing pulls people closer together than a tragedy).

01. Action Comics #857 (01)
Geoff Johns and Richard Donner (W), Eric Powell (A), Eric Powell (C)

The conclusion to the very impressive “Escape from Bizarro World” arc really seems to have it all. It’s well written, well paced, has great art, and is filled to the brim with moments that should bring a smile to fanboy faces (like Bizarro Green Lantern being drafted into the Sinestro Corps). Johns and Donner do a great job of twisting the tragic storyline into a heartwarming conclusion without forcing anything upon the reader. Its refreshing, given Bizarro’s previous one-dimensional roles (comedy relief, mindless muscle, etc), to see the character and his world so fully realized. In the end, Bizarro is more than just backwards Superman, he is Superman without the hope and guidance that has made him the beacon of justice for Earth (although, the resolution does make the future that much brighter for Bizarro). I just hope that DC sticks to the changes established for Bizarro here, as I think that Johns and Donner have easily the best grasp on the character that I have ever seen. Although, truthfully, no matter how strong the writing was, it would not be nearly as effective were it not for Eric Powell’s stunning art. Her does a great job of capturing the spirit of the Bizarro World, as well as the timelessness of the Superman design (the issue looks like a bizarre crossbreed between the Fleischer Superman cartoons and a George Romero film festival). The art and the story are perfectly in sync on this one; when bother are of such high quality, there is no question as to why Action Comics #857 is my pick for Book of the Week.
 
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Old October 25th, 2007   superfriend is offline   #3
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My best of the week goes to Superman 669.
 
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Old October 25th, 2007   Marky is offline   #4
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My best of the week goes to Superman 669.
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Yeah I was just about to note the absence of Superman, my fave too

Great list Ye Olde, look forward to seeing more!
 
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Old October 25th, 2007   Ye Olde Iowa is offline   #5
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Yeah I was just about to note the absence of Superman, my fave too

Great list Ye Olde, look forward to seeing more!
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Thanks Marky! I post these every Thursday, so keep on the look out for them.

I'm generally not the biggest Superman fan (so it is a huge deal that the last two issues of Action have been the top books of their respective weeks). I considered picking up this week's issue though (I dig Busiek's take on the character). I'm beginning to think that I should have now! If I do pick it up, watch for a "better late than never" review on next week's Rankings.
 
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Old October 25th, 2007   bookwriter is offline   #6
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Great reviews!! Thanks for posting them.
 
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Old October 25th, 2007   JeffDyer is offline   #7
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Good reviews, Ye Olde!
Keep 'em coming!
Jeff
 
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Old October 30th, 2007   Ye Olde Iowa is offline   #8
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This week's PreRankings are as follows:

11. Annihilation: Conquest - Quasar #4
10. Mythos: Fantastic Four
09. X-Men: Messiah CompleX
08. Robin Annual #7
07. Midnighter: Armageddon
06. The Lost Books of Eve #3
05. Batman #670
04. Crime Bible: 5 Lessons in Blood #1
03. Action Comics #858
02. Dynamo5 #8
01. Justice Society of America #10

Plus a catch-up review of last week's She-Hulk #22 and an advance review of Rich Johnston's The Flying Friar. Check it all out this Thursdy!
 
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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