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Old October 11th, 2007   Ye Olde Iowa is offline   #1
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Default Weekly Review Power Rankings 10/10/07

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.
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On an unrelated note, I went to FallCon this past weekend in Minnesota and I must say, I was really impressed. Outside of the oppressive heat, the con was really well run with a great mix of well known and indie talent. I picked up some fantastic sketches and got to chat with some of the absolutely nicest guys in the industry (Kurt Busiek, Shawn Moll, Pat Gleason, Gene Ha, etc). Its my understanding that FallCon is this good every year, so if you are in the area next October, I highly recommend checking it out.
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11. Wolverine #58 (10)
Marc Guggenheim (W), Howard Chaykin (A), Arthur Sudyam (C)

Well, that was…unexpected. I must say, Guggenheim certainly threw me for a loop with this issue, providing one of the weirdest plot twists I can remember in a very, very long time. I’m not sure what to make of it because it is simply so out of place. I’m trusting him to bring it all together but it’s just so weird. I do not, however, trust Howard Chaykin to produce quality work anytime soon. His art in this issue is disturbingly inconsistent, with sloppy line work, piss-poor anatomy, and absolutely dull panel choices. I mean, it is great to see someone from the old school getting work, but there are plenty of quality talents who deserve a shot in place of this absolutely horrendous art. So, this issue is probably one you can pass on, though I will admit that I did love Dr. Strange’s Star Wars joke.

10. Wonder Woman #13 (09)
J. Torres (W), Julian Lopez (A), Terry and Rachel Dodson (C)

I think my biggest problem with this issue is that it doesn’t seem necessary. This issue seems to rehash the last few issues that J. Torres produced, as Wonder Woman contemplates her role in the DCU post-Amazons Attack. We’ve seen it before and so this issue feels like Torres is simply spinning his wheels, keeping the title warm for Gail Simone to take over next issue. The art by Julian Lopez is inconsistent, with the best art coming from larger panels. When the art needs to be more focused, the anatomy seems skewed and the perspectives get wonky. In the end, it’s not a horrible issue, but its one you can certainly live without (even if you are a huge Wonder Woman fan).

09. New Avengers #35 (05)
Brian Michael Bendis (W), Lenil Yu (A), Lenil Yu (C)

Bendis and Yu take an odd break from the main characters of New Avengers in this issue to place the focus on Bendis’s villain-du-jour, the Hood, and his attempt at unifying the post-Civil War Marvel Underworld. It’s an interesting idea, but Bendis’s excessively wordy writing style makes it a bit of a bore, especially given that there is no subplot in this issue to break to when the Hood’s preaching gets to be too much. This makes the issue drag and the lack of action keeps Lenil Yu from making the issue any more interesting. This is an issue that will read tremendously better in a trade, but as it stands, its an oddly paced aside that will leave even the most devout New Avengers readers scratching their heads.

08. Punisher: War Journal #12 (07)
Matt Fraction (W), Ariel Olivetti (A), Ariel Olivetti (C)

I find it very interesting that Matt Fraction is taking such a sudden twist in his representation of the Punisher. For most of the first 10 issues (there are exceptions), his Punisher wasn’t much different that the Frank Castle we are used to. He is methodic, ruthless, and loves to kill. In the last two issues, we are seeing a much softer side, with the reverence that Frank has for Captain America and, in this issue, his willingness to help the common folk against seemingly insurmountable odds. It works well to a point, as he was a family man before he was a vigilante and giving him a softer side adds depth to the character. In this issue, however, I feel that Fraction goes a bit overboard and lays it on a bit too thick. The gruffness of the Punisher is almost nonexistent here and his demeanor is a bit too…hopeful. It just feels out of place. The same goes for Ariel Olivetti, whose art works well when Frank is tackling street crime, mob bosses, and out-of-control Nazis. However, when he is battling aliens, Olivetti seems out of his milieu and that really brings down the readers ability to been enveloped in the story (even when Fraction whips out such insane moments like the amazing “gun that shoots swords”). The end result is a mixed bag that is a bit too out of its own element.

07. Nova #7 (03)
Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (W), Sean Chen and Brian Denham (A), Adi Granov (C
)
Nova was another mixed bag this week. Abnett and Lanning’s writing is strong, with good dialogue and captions, but ultimately the pacing is off a bit, which leads to the end becoming rushed. I think the biggest problem is that there is simply too much going on in this issue and nothing really has time to develop. We have Nova’s internal battle of wills against the Phalanx’s transmode virus, the alliance of Gamora and Drax, the return of the Worldmind, and more all happening in the span of one issue, but to capture it all, the pace shifts too much and that really takes away from each moment. The art duties are again split in this issue, with Chen and Denham doing a good job of blending their styles together, though it seems like the level of detail (with both art teams) fluxated a lot throughout the issue, which takes away from the epic feel of what Abnett and Lanning are attempting to accomplish. In the end, this is still a fun sci-fi/action romp with some memorable moments, but I think allowing the events of the issue to stew a little would have made it all the more effective.

06. Runaways #28 (08)
Joss Whedon (W), Michael Ryan (A), Jo Chen (C)

I haven’t been too hot on Joss Whedon’s run on Runaways, but I must say, I really did enjoy this week’s issue. Whedon really ramps up the storyline by infusing a large number of new characters and troubles, while staying true to the core of the title characters that was established by Brian K. Vaughan. His Molly and Chase especially struck me as true to BKV. At times, though, the new threats and characters can be a bit too much, so this issue definitely warrants rereading to get a good feel for everything that is going on in this very dense issue. Michael Ryan’s art was stronger than it has been in the past few issues, though his perspectives seem skewed it times and his storytelling choices had me doing a few double takes. Outside of that, this is probably the best issue of Whedon/Ryan run and certainly the most intriguing.
 
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Old October 11th, 2007   Ye Olde Iowa is offline   #2
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05. Booster Gold #3 (04)
Geoff Johns and Jeff Katz (W), Dan Jurgens and Norm Rapmund (A), Dan Jurgens and Norm Rapmund (C)

My biggest complain about the last issue of this book is that Geoff Johns and Jeff Katz were pushing the humor too hard on the reader and it really took away from the fun of the book. I’m glad to see that they scaled the humor back, adding in some nice character interaction and a heightened sense of adventure. That’s not to say that the book isn’t funny (after all, who wouldn’t find Booster Gold dressed as Woody from Toy Story approaching the infamously gruff Jonah Hex), but it now has a large sense of fun and excitement that makes for one heck of a read. The writers also do a good job of juggling the cast members and giving everyone a moment to shine, though they still need some work on developing Dan Carter (though the newest character introduced in this issue should help with that). Once again, Jurgens and Rapmund are shining on this title, with fun layouts and larger panels with very expressive and kinetic character work. I honestly think this is the best work of Jurgens’s career and I’m glad to see that he is keeping the quality consistent. This is a nice, done-in-one-in-a-larger-context book that I give a strong recommendation too, especially with readers looking for a fun book that isn’t dumbed down or lacking in excitement.

04. StormWatch PHD #12 (02)
Christos Gage (W), Andy Smith (A), Mike McKone (C)

I really cannot begin to express my disappointment that this is the final issue of Christos Gage’s phenomenal series. It’s just a shame that such a well done series is being cast aside and I highly recommend that folks track down the full 12-issue run. You will not regret it. In this issue, the once-chaotically unorganized team finally comes together as a full unit to track down the villains who killed their police brethren. From there it’s a fairly intense shakedown, though surprisingly, Gage moves slightly away from telling the story in a completely character focused manner (which has been a calling card of the series), focusing much more on actions (though there is still some great character work here). Andy Smith’s art is solid and consistent, thought it is a little bland at times. Still, his realistic anatomy and good facial expressions help carry the tone of the story well. Ultimately, it’s a nice send-off to this incredible series that is definitely ending well before its time.

03. Simon Dark #1 (11)
Steve Niles (W), Scott Hampton (A), Scott Hampton (C)

Generally, I’m not a huge fan of the horror genre and the idea of yet another anti-hero in Gotham City didn’t exactly capture my interest, but the hype around Simon Dark was positive and Hampton’s realistic-with-a-hint-of-psychosis art style seemed reason enough to pick up the book. As you can tell by its surprising jump from prerankings to final rankings, I’m glad that I did. Steve Niles does a good job of mixing standard superhero comics conventions with those of the horror genre while establishing both the titular character and his foil (a medical examiner). The characters form an interesting balance, with the medical examiner being very realistic in her portrayal, while Simon Dark is a violent-but-kind “urban legend.” In that sense, there is definite air of V for Vendetta (sans politics) in what Niles is setting up here and I’m excited to see how it plays out. Scott Hampton’s art is absolutely perfect in its moody, brooding execution that toys with both stark realism and supernatural surrealism. The end result is a title that isn’t the most innovative book on the shelf, but a surprising choice for a new in-continuity ongoing that should appeal to Vertigo fans looking for a book that is a little more planted in the DCU.

02. Green Arrow/Black Canary #1 (06)
Judd Winick (W), Cliff Chiang (A), Cliff Chiang (C)

The debut of the Green Arrow/Black Canary series was a strong contender for the top spot on this week’s rankings. It has gorgeous art, good character work, and intriguing plot, but ultimately it felt a tad too rushed in moving towards its cliffhanger and seemed to ignore some major plot holes too much to be #1. I will say this much, longtime Green Arrow fans should be pleased with this book, especially given the end of the Green Arrow/Black Canary Wedding Special. Although, admittedly, having the major cliffhanger from that issue resolved so quickly in this series cheapens the effect a little too much for my taste. Also (and sorry, but here be spoilers), where the heck did those Amazons come from? It probably has something to do with Countdown, but I’m pretty sure that Amazons Attack did away with them. On the positive side, Winick’s writing is much stronger here than it was in the last 20-odd issues of Green Arrow, with good character interactions and nice contrasts drawn between Conner and Black Canary. The pace is very quick, but, as I said, I think it is too quick as it throws away a lot of potential for character-focused storytelling in favor of the plot. Cliff Chiang’s art is the real selling point here, though. His clean lines and open designs have a definite Silver Age feel, with a nice mixture of a “cartoony” storytelling style that is remniscent of former Green Arrow artists Phil Hester and Scott McDaniel and more realistic anatomy that you’d come to expect from someone like Mike Grell. So, for Ollie fans, it should be refreshing that you can draw a line from Adams to Greel to Hester to Chiang in a fairly natural evolution of artists with fantastic takes on the Emerald Archer. I was hesitant about this relaunch, but I have to say, I really enjoyed this issue and I highly recommend it.

01. Green Lantern #24 (01)
Geoff Johns (W), Ivan Reis (A), Ivan Reis (C)

I really have to hand it to the creators behind the Sinestro Corps War storyline. With all of the major events that have been thrown out over the last few years, I (like many others) was really feeling event fatigue and didn’t think I had enough in me to really love a major epic storyline for at least a few more years (hence why I dropped Countdown a month or so ago). Then something like Sinestro Corps War comes along and changes all of that. Seriously, how cool is this storyline? You get some of the most exciting action scenes in years, along with well written character work by Geoff Johns and Dave Gibbons, and some incredibly imaginative and striking artwork by the likes of Pat Gleason, Ivan Reis, and Ethan Van Sciver. How can you not love this? This is (much like World War Hulk—though the scope of that event causes as much fatigue as the premise causes excitement) a fanboy’s dream series executed magnificently. This issue is just another fine example of that. As Sinestro’s murderous crusade hits Earth, Hal Jordan battles Parallax, the will of the Lanterns is tested, and all hell breaks loose. Johns does a good job of balancing the emotionally resonant scenes with the full-on action sequences, while Reis captures both beautifully with his larger-than-life, incredibly detailed, and amazingly gorgeous artwork. My biggest problem with this book is that it wasn’t double-sized, so we couldn’t see more of things like the Justice League fighting the Yellow Lanterns or Super(boy)man Prime’s revenge against all existence. This is a truly awesome book that had me salivating for more as I got giddy with excitement. Any book that can do that to me surely deserves the honor of Book of the Week.
 
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Old October 11th, 2007   Santeria_101 is offline   #3
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Just an FYI cos you arent reading Countdown. Athena and her Amazons are the lasses from the Athenian womans shelters with Harley Quinn and Holly Robinson. They moved to Themyscira in the last couple issues of Countdown.
 
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Old October 11th, 2007   BART ALLEN is offline   #4
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what no Captian Carrot,
never say you as a humanist , who was prejudice against non-human
not a single Rabit title on your list
 
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Old October 11th, 2007   Dan Loayza is offline   #5
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I'm glad to see you were as impressed with Simon Dark as I was.
 
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Old October 11th, 2007   DABEARS is offline   #6
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Great rankings as always. Green Lantern really rocked.
 
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Old October 12th, 2007     #7
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I think my biggest problem with this issue is that it doesn’t seem necessary.
ddf
Why?
 
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Old October 12th, 2007   Ye Olde Iowa is offline   #8
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Why?
ddf
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As stated in the review, much of this issue seemed to be a rehash of the previous few. We get Wonder Woman, again, contemplating her new dual role. We've seen it before and it seems like it was just a fill-in story to keep the book monthly until Gail Simone jumps on. It's not a bad issue by any means, it just felt like I've been there and done that. What did you think of it?
 
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Old October 13th, 2007     #9
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We've seen it before.
ddf
Who's "we" and where have they seen it before? As for my thoughts - well, I've seen worse issues than this one that didn't star Wonder Woman.
 
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Old October 16th, 2007   Ye Olde Iowa is offline   #10
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Who's "we" and where have they seen it before? As for my thoughts - well, I've seen worse issues than this one that didn't star Wonder Woman.
ddf
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The "we" was just a generalization because I felt that this issue was simply rehasing a lot of the ideas that Torres had covered in the last two issues of the book (so I guess, "we" would be the Wonder Woman readership). I agree, I've certainly seen worse issues as well, but I still wasn't impressed with this issue.
 
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Old October 16th, 2007   Ye Olde Iowa is offline   #11
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For those interested, here are the PreRankings for this week:

12. Shadowpact #18
11. Fables #66
10. Birds of Prey #111
09. Catwoman #72
08. Mighty Avengers #5
07. GI: Joe - America's Elite #28
06. The Boys #11
05. Checkmate #19
04. Elephantmen #11
03. Justice League of America #14
02. The Umbrella Academy #2
01. Captain America #31

Be sure to check out the actual Rankings on Thursday!
 
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Old October 16th, 2007   bookwriter is offline   #12
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Looking forward to reading your reviews.
 
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