Neal’s Weekly Picks – or the great un-named column

Ratings

Story: How well the issue worked as a story of its own.
Art: How well the art fit the particular story being told. Not necessarily a measure of how “good” the art was.
Fun: An incredibly subjective measure of the number of surprises in any given issue. Bonus points if there’s anything that makes me chuckle or gasp while reading it. Minus points for cliches that the writer and/or artist don’t try to do anything new with.
Continuity: How many other books you have to have read to get everything out of it. With a “1” being a book you can pick up and everything you need to know is between the covers, and a “5” being something that requires flowcharts or a handbook of some kind to fully appreciate.


CABLE & DEADPOOL #44

Marvel Comics

CABLE & DEADPOOL was always a schizophrenic book. There was the Cable half, which was all about big ideas and elaborate plans. And then there was the Deadpool half, which was a lot of violent slapstick. And, surprisingly, the two halves worked together really well. At least until the current X-Men crossover decided that Cable must die. Now we’re left with DEADPOOL TEAM-UP, which, while fun, loses a lot of what made the book special in the first place.

This issue is part two of a story following up on some recent plot threads. Deadpool has to infiltrate a Hydra base to rescue his old friend Weasel before Wolverine ventilates him. The action that follows is fast and frantic, with just the right amount of humor (for this book). That combined with an interesting set-up for the next issue make this a good one, but not great.
Here’s hoping that the higher-ups at Marvel let Nicieza bring Cable back before too long.

Story: 3
Art: 3
Fun: 4
Continuity: 3

BATMAN #668
DC Comics

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll admit right now that I practically worship at the altar of Grant Morrison. So anything with his name on it automatically starts out in the positive column for me. Even so, his run on BATMAN so far has been pretty hit-or-miss.

Fortunately, the current storyline lands squarely on the “hit” side. In part due to the always gorgeous J.H. Williams III art. This issue is part two of a clever little murder mystery involving the beyond-obscure Club of Heroes, a group of Batman knock-offs from around the world. The Club, plus Batman and Robin, find themselves on the private island of an eccentic billionaire where
they are being murdered one by one by a mysterious killer.

One of the pleasant surprises about the story is how Grant supplies enough small details to make it seem like these characters have never been out of publication, despite their last appearance being decades ago. Often, when a writer picks up a long-disused character, it seems like they’ve just been sitting in a cupboard since we last saw them. Here, you get the feeling that these people have actually been living.

Another nice touch is how Williams draws each of the pseudo-Batman in the style of another artist, such as Howard Chaykin, Chris Sprouse and Ed McGuinness. I’m still not quite sure of the rationale behind the choices, but it adds another layer for those who want to look for it.

Story: 4
Art: 5
Fun: 4
Continuity: 1

JOHNNY DELGADO IS DEAD #1
Spacedog Entertainment

My goal is to do one DC, one Marvel and one “other” review for these. Looking through the new comics this week, nothing really jumped out at me (except for BLACK SUMMER, which I’ll be doing something on later), so I decided to give a first issue of something I’d never heard of a shot. The result was, well, mixed.

There’s an interesting premise here, a tale of family and revenge set in the sun-baked Southwest. As the story begins, we find out that (SPOILER) Johnny Delgado is dead. Then, as we move along, we begin to find out why, which is where the problems come in.

The story is told in non-linear fashion, which can backfire unless it’s handled very carefully. And here, it seems to add less to the texture of the book and more to unnecessary confusion. Which wasn’t helped at all by the art. Sometimes the same character was barely recognizable from one page to the next. Add that to the leaps in time and what should have been a fairly straightforward story ends up requiring far too much effort distinguishing what’s happening to truly be enjoyable.

There’s a good comic in here, something along the lines of 100 BULLETS or SCALPED, but it just hasn’t found its way to the surface yet.

(editor’s note: The book was co-created by Kompany X and Emmy award winning executive producer and writer John Leekley, Spacedog president and CEO Roger Mincheff, and son of the legendary Edward J. Olmos, Michael D. Olmos.)

Story: 3
Art: 1
Fun: 2
Continuity: 1

Neal Bohl