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From the Hoss’ Mouth 03/21/07

This week turned out to be a great week for comics.  What made the cut and what didn’t? Find out as I review Birds of Prey, Justice Society of America, Cable & Deadpool, The Flash, Amazing Spider-Man, 52, and Aquaman as well as a rundown of almost everything else that came out this week.

Full Reviews:

Birds of Prey #104
Writer: Gail Simone
Penciller: Nicola Scott

What a great issue.  The Birds meet the Secret Six in a clash of Gail’s titans.  This issue starts right after the Spy Smasher takeover with the Birds being blackmailed into stealing a weapon from a soviet socialist sympathizer longing for the glory days gone by.  In their way are the Secret Six, guns for hire and protection racquet entrepreneurs, who are now contractually obligated to kick some Bird ass.   

Gail continues to amaze with some great character studies on her new Birds and in this issue I really enjoyed the extra attention given to Barda, whether she’s casually extracting long forgotten bullets or using her Mister Miracle escape skills, Barda goes a long way towards being a great and loveable big time Birds cast member.  On the Six side Catman continues to lead the team, which is now only 5 after Ragdoll’s betrayal of the Mad Hatter.  Catman gets himself readily involved with Huntress, man does he move fast and also licks fast too… before realizing that his newly acquired bond has just run away with the object of his mission.  A car chase and guest appearances follow until the very last page which if it holds up will be a huge shocker for any JLI fan.  I really honestly pray that unlike Manhunter’s recent psyche out this last page stays true.

This is a multipart arc so the actual skirmish between the two sides has just begun but with future issues we can look forward to one superstar showdown that will hopefully not only rival but surpass the Doom Patrol/Six fight from the last Six mini.  Gail’s Birds of Prey continues to be one of the most, if not the most, well put together comics out there today.  The team and character dynamics mixed with a healthy dose of humor and action lends this book a balance not easily achieved yet here it comes off so fluidly and so easily that it looks like cake. 

Nicola Scott does a wonderful job with the pencils.  She has a very clean very endearing style and she makes wonderful use of close up face shots.  These shots in particular are great for adding that touch of emotion and subtlety that a silent media like comics can easily lack and she excels at using them.

Verdict: Another great Birds of Prey issue, combine this one with Checkmate for a solid Justice League International week.

Quick Reviews:

Justice Society of America #4: The first arc wraps up and what a great one it was.  This whole book’s a big showdown between various JSA members and Vandal plus his legacy destroying Nazi’s.  What I really enjoyed about this issue wasn’t so much the fighting, though it was beautiful and exciting, but the great banter.  Vandal Savage does his best work while acting like a smug condescending badass and Johns does a great job of dialoguing his scenes.  Also done equally well is the Liberty Bell/Hourman/Damage sideplot.  This book, as becomes evident through Wildcat’s speech at the end, is all about the enduring legacy this specific group of characters has as they continue to be the backbone of the DCU.  My one small complaint about the book is that it seems I’m going to need to do some heavy research into an era of the Legion of Superheroes that I never read.  This book is all action and Eaglesham does a magnificent job of all of it.  Every panel, every scene, is well executed and just as exciting as any big splash shot, speaking of which there are 3 really nice splashes in this issue.

Verdict: One of the best team books on the market if not the best.  A firm recommendation for anyone who likes they’re superhero books big, bold, and exciting.

Cable & Deadpool #38: Reviewing this book for the Fwoosh seems like a big waste of time as I bet Nicieza’s largest fan following for this title resides right here in our own little corner of the inter-web. I’ve always loved preaching to the choir so here it is again.  This issue sees the return of Agent X, Outlaw, Weasel (yeah I know he showed up at the end of last issue), and the introduction of Bob Agent of Hydra… whose blog I desperately want to read.  Nicieza hits every note here giving us faithful ‘Pool readers an uproariously good time.  If you’re a fan of Cable or Ampersands well they’re nowhere to be seen here as this an all DP issue… just the way I like ‘em.  Brown does a great job here playing up all the right angles both big and small and gives us four perfect reasons why his work on this book is perfect.  You’ll see what I mean when you read it.

Verdict: If you’re not reading this title than everyone on the Fwoosh will laugh at you and that’s not the kind of shame you can wash away.

The Flash #10: Man oh man has Guggenheim turned this book around… now it’s tolerable.  I still can’t fathom why it just couldn’t be Wally here with a few different directional settings but Bart does a decent enough job for the time being.  Most importantly… the Flash rogues… they’re here and are finally providing our boy with some good old fashioned Flash action.  Diaz excels at drawing the Flash and gives this book the energy it needs at all the right moments.

Verdict: If you dropped this book earlier like you should have, you might want to think about picking it up again now that Guggenheim seems to be righting the wrongs of the first team.

The Amazing Spider-Man #539: Spidey’s mad as hell and he’s not going to take it anymore.  I don’t like ultra violent, bone breaking Spider-Man. In fact Spidey for me should be acting like he does in New Avengers right now, heavy banter and light-hearted wise cracks.  I know he has the whole weight of his family on his shoulders but after his death in “The Other”, unmasking in Civil War, and now vengeful rampage here; I’m very burnt out on dark, brooding, and serious Spider-Man.  It’s just not fun for me anymore and fun is the reason why I buy Spider-Man books in the first place.  The story’s not bad but it’s just another breaking point for both Parker and this reviewer and I don’t know how much more I can take.

Verdict: I’m gonna stick with PAD’s Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man for now, call me when ASM lightens up again.

52 Week 46: I adore the Oolong Island mad scientist crew after this issue.  Whether it’s Morrow ebaying Red Tornado’s head, Sivana realizing his dream, or IQ rallying the troops in a series of hilarious pep talks; the mad scientist gang live up to their potential finally.  The juxtaposition of the seriousness of Black Adam’s blood feud with the Oolang gang’s own comedic mishaps and failings is worth every penny of the $2.50 this week.  I’d really like to know who specifically wrote this segment because every bit of it’s gold! 

Verdict: Another great week for 52, a series all of you should be reading!

The Loser(s) of the Week:

Aquaman #50: New team and I still don’t like it.  The return of Topo and Tempest is just something that doesn’t excite me when what I really want to get to is, why is Orin not Aquaman anymore?  Some answers please for Mera’s sake at least.  New artist McManus has a cartoony art style that’s more exciting than Villagrain but it still can’t liven up this book for me.  On top of that, the book costs $3.99 because it’s an anniversary issue.  In a word: Boring.

Verdict: A disappointing addition to my ever growing collection of filler comics.


The Must Buys:

X-Factor – Another solid entry and I do believe “World’s Greatest Detective” Madrox is my favorite dupe yet.

The Walking Dead – Rick doing what he must to survive and then describing how these acts have changed him as a man make this book another winner.

Shadowpact – This issue isn’t particularly better than any other issue of Shadowpact, but I simply love this book and would recommend it to anyone.

Checkmate – Same here, another great post crisis title that showcases the best political drama DC can offer.  Also I love Amanda Waller.

The Still Good:

The Brave and the Bold – A couple of cringe worthy panels but overall a step up from last week.

Civil War: Battle Damage Report – I haven’t had time to read all of it yet but it looks like this is another solid bio book in the vein of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe series.

Exiles – Very close to being filler.  Why is Blink even on the cover here?  Nice fights though.

Ms. Marvel – This book’s picked up a lot of steam and dare I say it but it’s actually become interesting.  Love the publicist!

X-Men – If you missed Cable in C & D, you can find him here.  The use of a New X-Men concept also has me intrigued.  Bachalo’s work is still getting neater but I dislike the heavy blue outlines and monotone backgrounds in some panels.

Ion – For all that build-up and fresh ideas, this book’s ending is anything but satisfactory.  It’s ridiculous to think that I’ll have to get my conclusion to this series in another title.

Hellblazer – Writer Andy Diggle’s start is great and I really love how he gets John out of this issue’s jam.

Detective Comics – Moore doesn’t finish as strongly as he began but he still is the best fill-in writer for this series yet.

Runaways Saga – A recap book designed to bring in new readers before Whedon takes over.  For $3.99 it’s not worth it for anyone who has already read the series, but for you newbies looking to jump on it will be well worth your money.

The Filler:

Supergirl – Blech!  Why won’t this book get cancelled already!  It’s like Sanjaya on American Idol.