No, Jeff didn't really leave me with much that I WANTED to talk about, that bastard! It's OK, because it is Sweetie's Day around the ol' Hibbs/Friedman household. I stayed up way late last night creating an elaborate hunt for clues aorund the house leading to this year's card (and a kiss), so I don't even really feel like reviewing comics that much today. But here are some, where Lester didn't already tell you the punchline! :)
ALPHA FLIGHT #12: Last issue, and I wish Lester'd done this one actually, becauseof how much he hates Time Travel stories. He could have done a nice compare and contrast with this and JSA this week.... Anyway, yet another stab at AF dies, though I think the reasons why this time were fairly obvious -- it wasn't actually Alpha Flight, except in name. And the humor thing wasn't actually working. ("Funny" comics need to be, y'know, FUNNY). Anyway, this last issue, was EH for a last issue (where you don't expect much to begin with)
BREACH #2: I actually kinda liked this issue, and I thought the art, in particular, was really exceptional. But there's no chance it is going to make it to a full run -- I'll be flabbergasted if intials on #1 got above, say, 16k (we find out, what, next week?), and I fully expect it to be under 10k before issue #8, and a color book simply can't turn a profit at that point. Give that this started as a CAPTAIN ATOM pitch (and it's obvious it was), I really have to wonder why the decision was made to not have at least that minor commercial selling point attached to it. Ah well, easy to be a Monday Morning Quarterback. As a piece of storytelling, I'll give this a very low GOOD, though we all saw how much good that did for BLOODHOUND, eh?
CAPTAIN AMERICA & THE FALCON #12: Pretty much a straight ahead rock-'em sock-'em superhero comic, which we haven't seen from Priest... well, good lord, maybe when he had different initials. I actually understood almost every page here without having to scratch my head and read back. Not, mond you, that I neccessarily liked it that much better, but that this was probably more what people who want to read CAP & FALCON want to read. Not trying to damn with faint praise, though I know that's how it sounds... a highish OK.
FABLES #34: New storyline starts here, and its a cute one, way far away from Fabletown, in Hollywood, actually. It's one of those rare comics that might actually even play better if you hadn't read the 33 issues before it, so if you've heard the positive buzz and were thinking about it, I'd call this a terrific "jump on" issue. VERY GOOD.
INCREDIBLE HULK #78: Better than the uneven first part, but not back up to what I expected from a PAD Hulk comic. Probably becasue PAD didn't know if he'd be continuing when he wrote the script, and his best HULK stories were always change building upon change. If Jeff was reviewing this, he would have mentioned how the "We're Dead on a island" scene fizzled the dramatic tension, or some sort of other flowery college-boy thing, but me, I was stuck on "why are the calling him 'Hulk' in the flashbacks -- he's called that because the scared soldier said it!". So, critic say EH.
MAJESTIC #2: Its a well done 21st century silver-age Superman story, yes. However, given the performance of the mini, one wonders why they rushed to do a monthly. This is a book that, like BREACH or BLOODHOUND or, across the city, SHE-HULK or RUNAWAYS or... well, the list goes on and on, books like this are high quality, but are basically not marketed at all, and are lost in the flood of SPider/Bat/X/Super titles that drown the racks. The mid list is effectively dead now, and unless drastic surgery is made at DC and Marvel to rein in thier overproduction, they're never ever ever ever going to be able to launch a new idea or concept again and have any commercial success whatsoever. Which is a shame because this, while not great is at least a low GOOD and deserves something better than "we hope hundreds of retailers will handsell the book fervently because THEY know it is good" when that mostly entails getting people excited about work that is going to come to a premature end.
KRACHMACHER GN STRANGE DAY ONE SHOT: I wanted to put these two together in review because I read them one after another and they seemed like a good compare and contrast. KRACHMACHER is a Xeric grant book, and has terrific fucking art. Major cartooning potential here, and well deserving of a grant to develop style and talent. The story, however, was really craptastic. Dull, meandering, blech. By page 6 I had stopped reading, and I was on to flipping through to look at the nice art. AWFUL, there.
STRANGE DAY, on the other hand, had a terrific little story, that I had to fight my way through the art to find. In the end the art serviced the story just fine, but the first couple of pages were painful indeed. Sweet little romantic comic, just perfect for Valentine's Day, and I'm afraid it won't survive the casual "flip test" on the rack. It was VERY GOOD.
STRAY BULLETS #36: Lapham is well on his game here. Absolutely EXCELLENT. One wonders why this doesn't sell twice as well in the general market.
ULTIMATES 2 #3: I dunno man, though the recreation of the 70s TV show at the end made me hear the music in my head, I actually thought this was a pretty pussy development. I mean, if he's there and unconscious why go through the insane trouble and expense of strapping him to an aircraft carrier and nuking it, when it would be som much easier just to give him a lethal injection then and there, or a shot in the head, or a slit throat, or... well, hell, he's there on the floor, man. So, I don't know, there was a nice bit of dialogue here or there, but this issue didn't work for me. OK.
VIMANARAMA #1: I liked everything up until the baby disappeared, and really disliked everything after that. No dramatic tension at the end, either, as we've only just met her. On the other hand, I trust Morrison generally, and am willing to come back for #2 to see if it was me or if it was him. This issue: EH.
WALKING DEAD #15: The verbiage is cut by 50%, and things flow much smoother for it. Several fairly shocking things happen in succession, and this was clearly an EXCELLENT comic.
YOUNG AVENGERS #1: Actually, not that bad. Graeme called it. The script is brisk and fun, though I thought the characterization of JJJ was off, Kat seemed like too much of a bitch, and Jessica was reduced to the calling your boyfriend joke. Still that doesn't matter as much as the new characters. Right now they're still relatively ciphers, and how much and specifically how that changes is going to determine the long-term potential for the book. I'll give this first issue a low GOOD, though.
PICK OF THE WEAK is probably ACTION #824. Which is weird, because, as Jeff noted, it's probably Austen's best issue yet.
PICK OF THE WEEK: hard call, three excellents this week (also BERLIN #11), and all three are black and white, to boot. I'm going to give the edge to STRAY BULLETS #36, I think. Go buy a copy.
BOOK / TP OF THE WEEK has several very credible challengers this week: BPRD PLAGUE OF FROGS TP, FLASH IGNITION TP, LUCIFER VOL 7 EXODUS TP, NEGATIVE BURN VERY BEST FROM 1993-1998 TP, but I think I have to give the small edge to ITS A BIRD SC -- now that it is in paperback, and not expensive hardcover, you don't have an excuse to not enjoy this wonderful volume.