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Old October 18th, 2007   Ye Olde Iowa is offline   #1
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Default Weekly Review Power Rankings 10/17/07

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.
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First, a few “better late than never” reviews:

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #24
J. Michael Straczynski (W), Joe Quesada (A), Joe Quesada (C)

I suppose with JMS writing this book, I should be prepared for anything, but I was surprised by the mystical elements of this issue. It was an interesting way to show that there is really nothing that Peter can do to stop Aunt May’s imminent death, but it felt a little forced and a little out of place. Still, it does allow for anything to happen, including a major reboot for the Spider-Man franchise (which is obviously coming up). The highlight, not surprisingly, is Joe Quesada’s art. Unlike the previous issue in the crossover, the perspectives are much stronger and the art is considerably more consistent. If nothing else, you can count on “One More Day” to look pretty, even if, like me, you are a bit hesitant about where the story is going.

Superman: Doomsday (DVD)
I finally got around to watching Superman: Doomsday this week and, as I expected it to be, it was a bit of a mixed bag. The story itself was good, even if it did veer away from the original storyline quite a bit. I was really hoping to see the “Reign of the Supermen” being addressed, but there is only so much you can cover in 70 minutes. The voice acting was especially strong, with Adam Baldwin making for an excellent Superman and the other voices being well cast (then again, Andrea Romano has an excellent track record for getting the best possible voice casts for DC projects). The animation and designs were a bit disappointing. The quality of the movement and synchronicity with the sound was nowhere near the quality that you’d get with Justice League Unlimited, being much closer to Superman: The Animated Series. The designs were also a bit too close to the Bruce Timm style that we’ve seen from WB since Batman: The Animated Series, which adds some familiarity, but I was hoping to see something a bit closer to the style of art found in the comic books that the movie was loosely based on. Still, in the end, it had a lot of great action and was very enjoyable. If this is any indication, I expect good things from the upcoming DC animated films (especially after seeing the “behind the scenes” look at the upcoming New Frontier DVD).
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Below are this week’s Rankings. Please note that I foolishly forgot to pick up Shadowpact this week.

12. Fables #66 (11)
Bill Willingham (W), Mark Buckingham (A), James Jean (C)

I've said this before, but even though I am a huge Fables fan, I simply can’t get into this arc. Between the odd pace (one minute, its creeping along, the next we flash forward months and have major story movements already established) and the stiff, at times boring character writing (which is very uncharacteristic of this title), I’m just not enjoying this story as much as I should be. However, looking forward, I do like some of the things that Willingham is building up in this issue, as I think the next few arcs will be very exciting and should have some major ramifications, but as of right now, I’m just not enjoying the book as much as I’d hoped to (although, as always, Mark Buckingham’s art is worth the cover price alone).

11. The Mighty Avengers #5 (08)
Brian Michael Bendis (W), Frank Cho (A), Frank Cho (C)

This week’s issue of Mighty Avengers was definitely spinning its wheels without going anywhere. When I finished the book, I couldn’t believe that so little actually happened. We get minimal plot movement as Ares suddenly becomes an idiot savant (he simultaneously comes across as both an moronic buffoon and a master of strategy in this issue) in the fight against Lady Ultron, with most of the issue being a rehash of the previous few issues. If it weren’t for Frank Cho’s very pretty art, I’m not so sure that I would be picking up this book after issues like this (and I’m a fairly huge fan of Bendis’s work). Let’s just hope that the action picks up next issue.

10. GI Joe: America’s Elite (07)
Mark Powers (W), Mike Bear (A), Mike Bear (C)

I’m really glad to see that Devil’s Due will be publishing a handbook for GI Joe soon, especially after reading this issue. There is simply too much going on with too many characters and too little info provided to help bridge the gap between issues. It’s not that its not an enjoyable read, as there is some great character work, plenty of action, and a ton of dramatic tension that makes me absolutely love this title, even if I’m scratching my head and searching for back issues to piece things together. It makes me consider picking this book up in trade format, where this won’t matter as much, but I think that these problems could easily be solved by slowing the pace a bit and giving the reader a bit more info on the actions of the previous issue. The book would be infinitely easier to read and more enjoyable if it were a tad more accessible.

09. Justice League of America #14 (03)
Dwayne McDuffie (W), Ed Benes (A), Ian Churchill (C)

I loved the action of this issue, with Black Lightning and Superman facing off against the Injustice League in an impressive show of force from both sides. The dialogue was good and the pacing was strong, but ultimately, I need a bit more meat for me to really care about the story. There’s little motivation behind the villain’s attack on the Justice League and some parts of the plot left me absolutely baffled (Seriously, why would Luthor tell Grodd not to kill GeoForce? Is there really a point to keeping him alive when the villains’ only aim seems to be crushing the Justice League?). I’m also disappointed by the art by Ed Benes. His layouts are still very cool, but his execution was very inconsistent (check out his Joker from panel to panel to see what I mean) and it seems like he was striving for t-and-a shots whenever possible, even if it felt out of place. In the end, there is a lot of promise with McDuffie being behind the Justice League, but there just needs to be more substance to keep me interested.
 
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Old October 18th, 2007   Ye Olde Iowa is offline   #2
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08. Birds of Prey #111 (10)
Tony Bedard (W), Jason Orfalas (A), Stephane Roux (C)

Birds of Prey #111 is the type of book that you need to just enjoy without thinking about it too much or you are going to ruin it for yourself. Bedard’s sense of humor shines in this issue, as he puts Oracle and the Calculator in a very amusing situation that felt more like a sitcom than a superhero story (which is a compliment). The issue was incredibly amusing and engaging, with good character work that shows that Bedard has a strong understanding of the Birds and makes me very excited to see them placed in more serious situations. Unfortunately, the plot really doesn’t make that much sense and the villains are laughably inept. If you don’t think about these things, the book is much more enjoyable; if you do, it’s harder to look back on the book without being disappointed (much like this week’s Justice League). I’m not tremendously familiar with Jason Orfalas, but I’m really impressed with his work on this issue. His clean lines and expressive designs are very energetic, with great panel choices that flow well from page to page. If anyone is more familiar with his work, let me know of other books that I should check out, as I really like his work in this issue. In sum total, this is a very fun issue with great work from the creative team, even with the plot holes.

07. The Sword #1 (--)
The Luna Brothers (W), The Luna Brothers (A), The Luna Brothers (C)

Not surprisingly, given that this is a Luna Brothers book, the first thing that captures your attention in The Sword is the gorgeous, dream-like artwork. Much like Ultra and Girls (and the Spiderwoman: Origins miniseries for Marvel), the art is perhaps the biggest draw for this book and, if you are a fan of their style, the Luna Bros. offer more of the expected here. The linework is fluid, with hazy colors and tight inks, giving everything a very ethereal look to it (which works well with the theme of nothing being what it initially seems in this issue). The story itself is a little sparse, but we get a good introduction to the characters, particularly the main character, Dara, a wheelchair bound artist whose life is going to get very interesting after this issue. The plot is nothing innovative, but between the interesting characters, the strong cliffhanger, and the gorgeous art, I’m interesting in following the book long enough to see what twists and turns lie ahead.

06. Catwoman #72 (09)
Will Pfeiffer (W), David Lopez (A), Adam Hughes (C)

With this issue, we see the end of the last remaining “One Year Later” twist that DC debuted the spring of 2006. Honestly, I’m surprised that this twist (Catwoman the mother) lasted as long as it did and I admire that Will Pfeiffer allowed it to flourish into some strong stories and chose to reset it in a manner that is more satisfactory than blatantly ignoring that it ever existed in the first place or abandoning it before giving it a chance. While the story of Helena Kyle isn’t over yet, Pfeiffer does a good job of giving the baby a good send-off with this very strongly written issue. He has really mastered the interaction between Catwoman and Zatanna, making the latter a great supporting character and making me wish that we’d see a Pfeiffer helmed Zatanna miniseries sometime in the near future. David Lopez’s art is standard issue once again, with good consistency and strong storytelling. It’s not innovative or particularly memorable, but it fits well with what Pfeiffer is doing. In the end, its clear that a big reset button is on the horizon, but it looks like Pfeiffer and Lopez are going to make the journey to it interesting.

05. The Boys #11 (06)
Garth Ennis (W), Darick Robertson (A), Darick Robertson (C)

Another month and, like clockwork, another strong issue of The Boys. It’s more of the same as the third storyarc kicks off with the team heading to Russia and all sorts of bad things happening. Ennis makes some interesting social/political commentary that I’m sure will become more prevalent as the story moves forward, though it takes a backseat to the character writing as the newest character—a former Russian superhero—allows for a “softer” side of the Boys to surface. Darick Robertson’s art is a gritty and realistic as ever, though it looks like he has tweaked the design a bit on Mother’s Milk, which was a bit off putting at first. If you aren’t picking The Boys yet, but are interested, this is a good place to start and, if you are, you already know how great this issue is going to be.

04. The Umbrella Academy #2 (02)
Gerard Way (W), Gabriel Ba (A), James Jean (C)

My biggest problem with the second issue of the Umbrella Academy is that Gerard Way throws the reader into the deep end too quickly with the grown-up versions of the characters that we were introduced to in the previous issue. If you read the back cover text first, you’ll be better equipped to follow what is going on, but if you don’t, you may find yourself confused for a few pages. Beyond that, though, this is an excellent follow-up to a very strong debut, with more of the quirky Morrison-meets-Mignola goodness that made the first issue such a delight. The characters are well written and interesting, with their reunion in this issue being very reminiscent to the character interactions in the incredibly enjoyable Dynamo5 series (if you are a fan of that book, you’ll love this one). The art by Ba is a bit more cartoony here than it was in the previous issue, but it still works well with the tone of the story. With the plot thickening and the danger mounting in this issue, it looks like the miniseries has great places to go to and should be just as enjoyable as these first two issues. Between the memorable characters, fantastic artwork, and the underlying quirkiness, this is a thoroughly enjoyable book that I cannot recommend enough, especially to fans of such modern classics as Hellboy and Morrison’s Doom Patrol.

03. Captain America #31 (01)
Ed Brubaker (W), Steve Epting (A), Steve Epting (C)

We’ve now hit the second act of Brubaker’s post-Civil War Captain America masterpiece and although things aren’t looking good for the heroes, I’m loving what I’m seeing. With Tony Stark finding out the truth about Cap’s murder, SHEILD agents going missing, Lukin and Red Skull prepping for a full scale war, and Bucky being on the cusp of the dark-side once again, the tension is as great as it has ever been and there are no signs that Brubaker intends to slow things down in the near future. He is delivers in a big way with great character interaction, intense espionage intrigue, and strong dialogue that is accented well by the well-paced and very moody art in this issue by Steve Epting. My only grip against the entire issue is that Epting (working without Mike Perkins here) was a bit stiff in some panels, which broke the tension at times. Still, in the end, there are few book that can compete with Captain America and this issue is more proof as to why.

02. Elephantmen #11 (04)
Richard Starkings (W), Moritat (A), Ladronn and Moritat (C)

This issue is another fine example of why Elephantmen is amongst the best comics on the stands. In this issue, Starkings and Moritat show interesting connections between the creation and destruction of the Elephantmen by exploring the backgrounds of two new characters while still touching upon the established ones. The creative team continues to expand the dystopian world of the Elephantmen, while keeping everything connected in believable ways, while still keeping with the done-in-one, snippets-of-plot format that is just one of the many ways that this book is completely unique. The format itself is so simple, which juxtaposes nicely with the complex and well planned world that Starkings and company are so expertly crafting (which makes every issue both accessible to new readers and satisfying to longtime fans). The art by Moritat is as hauntingly beautiful as the title creatures themselves, with a strong feeling of realism that supersedes even those most unreal elements of the story. As always, the book comes loaded with extras, including a flip-cover by Ladronn and a great tribute to the late-Mike Wieringo (a gorgeous pin-up by Ringo is also included). If you have never tracked down an issue of Elephantmen, I strongly urge you to pick this issue up, as it is a great example of the incredible quality of this series.

01. Checkmate #19 (05)
Greg Rucka (W), Joe Bennett (A), Kalman Andrasofszky (C)

I was, admittedly, a bit disappointed with the first few issues of the “Fall of the Wall” storyline. It’s not that they weren’t good, they just didn’t live up to my ridiculously high-expectations, especially since Greg Rucka has been building towards this storyline since the series began. This issue, on the other hand, is precisely what I was hoping for, exceeding my expectations and easily capturing the top spot as the Book of the Week. Rucka does a great job of building tension in this issue, which each scene adding another layer to the conspiracies or providing a new threat to the stability of Checkmate. The factions are well-defined and, the Suicide Squad is effectively used as Waller’s muscle in a way that makes sense in context and shows how badass they really can be. The character interactions do a great job of reinforcing the themes and tone of the issue without shortchanging the actual character’s themselves (never putting plot too far ahead of character is a major strength of Rucka’s). Joe Bennet’s art is a perfect fit, matching the tone perfectly and building up the sense of impending doom with increasingly claustrophobic layouts and perspectives and incredibly gritty (but never sloppy) linework. The inks and colors accent this all nicely, as well. The complete creative team is coming together in perfect synch as the storyline gets more and more intriguing. This is issue is a great example of what Checkmate is capable of and one of the best books I’ve read this year.
 
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Old October 20th, 2007   Santeria_101 is offline   #3
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Does anyone know if Ex-machina came out this week?
 
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Old October 20th, 2007   Teenlantern923 is offline   #4
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It did, and it was awesome, and gave you a major gut punch at the end.
 
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Old October 24th, 2007   Ye Olde Iowa is offline   #5
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For those interested, here are this week's PreRankings:

12. X-Men #204
11. Flash #233
10. Robin #167
09. Gotham Underground #1
08. Gen13 #13
07. She-Hulk #22
06. Blue Beetle #20
05. Green Lantern Corps #17
04. Tales of the Sinestro Corps: Superman Prime
03. Teen Titans #52
02. Green Arrow: Year One #6
01. Action Comics #857

Also, I may end up picking up and reviewing Authority Prime #1, Streets of Glory #2, and What If: Planet Hulk. I will also be doing catch-up reviews of Clockwork Girl #0-1 and Drafted #0-2. Check out the final Rankings and reviews tomorrow!
 
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Old October 24th, 2007   General grievous is offline   #6
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For those interested, here are this week's PreRankings:

12. X-Men #204
11. Flash #233
10. Robin #167
09. Gotham Underground #1
08. Gen13 #13
07. She-Hulk #22
06. Blue Beetle #20
05. Green Lantern Corps #17
04. Tales of the Sinestro Corps: Superman Prime
03. Teen Titans #52
02. Green Arrow: Year One #6
01. Action Comics #857

Also, I may end up picking up and reviewing Authority Prime #1, Streets of Glory #2, and What If: Planet Hulk. I will also be doing catch-up reviews of Clockwork Girl #0-1 and Drafted #0-2. Check out the final Rankings and reviews tomorrow!
ddf
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look forward to superman prime (poor risk)
 
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