Month: August 2007

Casey’s Top and Bottom of the Pile: 8-22-07

TOP: Wolverine #56
This book gets top of the pile honors this week for simply being a breath of fresh air after writer Jeph Loeb’s lackluster, continuity error laden, and often boring six-issue run. New writer Jason Aaron tells a decent story, but it doesn’t really matter since he’s only filling in on this one issue before Marc Guggenheim returns. Howard Chaykin’s art is solid, though not as pretty as Simone Bianchi’s. His style fits the tone of the book, so it’s a good thing he’ll be sticking around to work with Guggenheim. Here’s hoping Wolverine can get back on track.

BOTTOM: The Sensational Spider-Man #40

This wasn’t a bad issue, it just felt like filler until the big One More Day event kicks off next month. We get a flashback to Spidey’s origin and some of the bigger moments in his life. He then has a chat with “god” who tells him that what he does makes a difference in the world. With this being the last issue before the final issue of the series it seems like a missed opportunity. Cover artist Clayton Crain does the interiors on this one and the whole thing is absolutely beautiful. I really hope Marvel keeps him around for more Spider-Man work on the new Amazing Spider-Man.

The Rest of the Pile: The Amazing Spider-Man #543, Countdown #36, Ultimate Fantastic Four #45, Invincible #45, The Walking Dead #40

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Top and Bottom of the Pile: 8-22-07

It’s been a couple weeks since I did this, so I guess I should get off my lazy duff and get to it! Back in the swing of things!

TOP: Immortal Iron Fist #8
Last issue of Iron Fist hit the bottom of the list not because of a lack of quality in the story, but because having a interlude issue featuring a former Iron Fist seemed to kill the momentum of the storyline. This picks it right back up and runs with it, reintroducing Danny to K’un-Lun and preparing him for the tournament between the champions of other fabled cities. Fight’s ready to go and if this issue is an indication of things to come, it’s going to be good.

BOTTOM: Cable & Deadpool #44
This book is in an odd spot where Cable has supposedly been killed over in the pages of X-Men, so this book is trying to push on without him. That the cover had Wolverine written over Cable’s name is a joke on the frequency of Wolvie appearances. Nicieza worked to set up a base for Deadpool in Cable’s absence, and he’s got a neat cast of side characters with Agency X, Weasel, and Bob from HYDRA. Still, this book seems to be filling time while waiting for Cable’s return, and if November’s solicits ring true, then it’ll be a while.

Rest of the Pile: Astonishing X-Men #22, The Order #2, Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #33, Walking Dead #40, X-Men #202, X-Men: First Class #3

Debut Issue: The Order #1

When I pick up a new title, I’ll try to slap together a first-impressions piece on it called, of course, Debut Issue. Yeah, I realize I missed it for Thor, but I’ll go back and get it before too long. In fact, I might go back to issue 1 of all my monthly titles, as a mix of From the Box. We’ll see. Anyway, onto The Order #1.

This is another Initiative book taking place in the fallout of Civil War. With the registration side winning, the government pushed ahead the “Fifty States Initiative” which means a super hero team in every US state. Yes, even Montana.

The Order follows the California-based team introduced briefly in the pages of Civil War. There, they were called the Champions (based on the 80s team featuring Iceman, Angel, Hercules, and others) as would the book have been had not Marvel been alerted that someone else owned rights to the name. So forget the Champions were mentioned and we have The Order. Good times.

This seems like an odd idea – a team of hired heroes using manufactured powers, filling roles of Greek gods. Oh and Pepper Potts is running the show. Yeah, Tony Stark’s secretary. I’m not familiar with the character – all I know is that she was a secretary and now she’s leading The Order in an Oracle-like role. The team introduced in Civil War and again at the beginning of the issue don’t even make it to the end. Four violate behavior agreements by getting publicly sloshed and get booted from the program, which allows the core cast to come in.

This is what sets this team apart from Avengers: The Initiative. There, you have kids being trained in the use of their powers behind closed doors. Here, you have trained volunteers taking center stage and trying to rebuild the trust lost in the New Warriors incident. It’s an interesting premise, and Matt Fraction doesn’t often disappoint (from what I’ve read of his work). With Barry Kitson (of Legion of Superheroes) on art, this looks to be a good one. Let’s see how long it goes.

Fare thee well, Flash.

It’s not often that I drop one of my monthly titles (not since New Excalibur stunk in up for five months), but it’s time for me and Flash to part ways. I originally picked up the title because I was a big fan of Bart Allen (stemming from my time as a Young Justice reader), but when he met his end in Flash: Fastest Man Alive #13, I wasn’t sure where to go from there. I saw that Wally West was back, but in the preview pages for the upcoming Flash book, it seems that the story will be focused on Wally and his family – something that doesn’t at all interest me. I’ll take my Flash doses in the pages of Justice League of America and part ways with Flash upon the new series.

Of course, I have started reading The Order by Matt Fraction and Barry Kitson, so it’s not a total loss.

Don’t worry – he’ll be back in a couple years.

Once every so often, companies take a character that has had spurts of popularity here and there and decide to try again on a solo series. Try again – because all previous attempts have fizzled out not long after the launch. These characters, they think, should be franchise players, but try as they might, they cannot muster a fanbase strong enough to warrant an ongoing.

On that note, it should come as no surprise that Marvel’s Blade is (once again) getting the axe after twelve issues.

Marvel has a string of characters that once in a while they will try to push to the top tier, only to fail time and time again. Perennial background players like Ghost Rider, Blade, and whichever Captain Marvel is current are pushed into the limelight, but the fans just don’t buy it. The latest incarnations of Blade and Ghost Rider are no doubt thanks to the movie hype the two have gained (though Ghost Rider’s wasn’t exactly positive, and Blade’s was a bit overdue), but for Blade, it wasn’t enough. One year, and he’s through.

But when thinking about the character, it really shouldn’t be a surprise that Blade can’t make it as a solo series. The main appeal of mainstream super heroes is that they can fight anyone, anywhere. It takes a story base (Fantastic Four – science, X-Men – mutation, Thor – folklore, Avengers – homestyle heroics) and pushes on. Blade has a very limited scope – he’s a half-vampire vampire hunter who, uh, hunts vampires. In a massive event like Civil War or World War Hulk, Blade completely feels out of place. Why should he care about registration? He’s not a hero – he simply hunts vampires.

Blade’s a perfect character to show up as a guest star when a title like Amazing Spider-Man or New Avengers enters a vampire-based storyline (which hasn’t happened in quite some time). As for his own, Blade deserves a mini-series at best, but when you push beyond, there’s not really much else you can do with the character. It’s a fate, no doubt, that Ghost Rider will (once again) be meeting before too long.

So farewell, Blade. We’ll see you in a few years when your movie trilogy comes out in a special edition boxed set.