Ceej Says… The Good, The Bad and The Pretty (27th March 2013)

Starting from this week, I’m changing up the format of my reviews based on general feedback and my own observations. So rather than reviewing every title I read in a week, a lot of which is starting to become more than a little repetitive (unless a title suddenly decides to bomb for no real reason), I’ve decided to adopt a different format from now on.

So what we’re doing now is a simple blog entitled “The Good, The Bad and The Pretty”.

And basically what it involves is a short review of the title I enjoyed most this week, the title I enjoyed least this week, and – after some positive feedback from you guys – my ‘Cover of the Week’. Hopefully this’ll make things a little more interesting for you guys to read, and also more interesting for me to write.

So, without any more chit-chat, let’s kick things off with…

“The Good.”

East of West #1 (Image Comics)


Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Nick Dragotta

Review: The truly awesome Jonathan Hickman’s latest project is a comic that I’ve found extremely difficult to slot into a particular genre.  It has traces of western, alternate history and post-apocalyptic biblical thriller.  So rather than trying to pigeon hole it, I’ll instead take a moment to rave about just how damn great it is.

Hickman’s ability to create deep, fully-developed worlds is showcased to perfection here as he uses the early portion of the book to rewrite American history all the way from the Civil War to the “present day” of 2064.  The story he’s telling is a deeply compelling one, and he wisely opts to withhold several major details that are going to make delving into the backstory of the world we’re inhabiting an extremely engrossing experience.

The story is beautifully illustrated by Nick Dragotta, who has previously worked alongside Hickman on several projects, and the pair combine to paint a lavish, beautiful and chillingly violent world.  I don’t want to delve too much into the realm of spoilers, but suffice to say there is a huge amount of variety on display here, from isolated desert scenes to jam-packed futuristic cityscapes, and – as I mentioned – there is no shortage of brutal, visceral violence.

Overall, this is an extremely interesting story with some terrific dialogue and a lot of unanswered questions, and shows without a shadow of a doubt just why Hickman is so highly regarded as a storyteller.  I’d recommend anyone with a love of great stories with interesting characters to get on board the bandwagon right now, as I guarantee you that this title is going to be absolutely huge.

Rating: 9/10.

Honourable Mentions:  James Tynion IV’s Talon #6 (DC Comics) continues Calvin Rose’s development as one of the most interesting new characters in the DC Universe, with a twist that promises yet more greatness in the months to come.  Grant Morrison’s Batman Incorporated #9 (DC Comics) shows the wake of last week’s shocking death in excruciating detail and features Batman Incorpoated gearing up for what should be an epic final showdown with Leviathan.  And, Brian Michael Bendis’ Guardians of the Galaxy #1 (Marvel Comics) serves as a fast-paced, dynamic (re)introduction to these characters, and drags you in right from the opening few pages.  Great stuff all across the board.

“The Bad.”

Superior Spiderman #6AU (Marvel)

The-Superior-Spider-Man_6AU-674x1024Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Dexter Soy

Review:  As one of The Age of Ultron’s first ‘out-of-continuity’ crossovers, this title seems so completely at odds with Brian Michael Bendis’ main arc that – no matter how interesting the story may be or how well OctoParker is characterised within its pages – there’s no escaping the fact that it just feels ‘wrong’.  The main purpose of this comic seems to be the clarification of the fact that yes, the Age of Ultron Spiderman is the same ‘Octavius’ version as the ongoing Superior title (something that had been extremely unclear from Bendis’ writing, mostly due to the fact that Age of Ultron was written far in advance).

There are some bright spots in the story though, it has to be said, and having a Superior Spider-Man title without the ever-present ‘ghost Parker’ definitely makes for a refreshing change of pace and allows the character to stand on his own two feet a little more.  Sadly though, the story itself is fairly lacklustre, and despite Otto’s slight change of heart near the end, has no real impact on the main story and, sadly, no real impact to the Superior ongoing title either.  It’s difficult therefore to really get too invested in what’s going on, and the comic definitely suffers as a result.

That said, it’s not a ‘bad’ comic as such, but is definitely the title which impressed me least from my ten-book pull list this week.  Not essential reading by any stretch of the imagination, but possibly worth taking a glance at if you’re a fan of the OctoParker character, even if he is completely and utterly removed from any kind of continuity.

Rating: 6.5/10.

“The Pretty.”

Before we get to the cover of the week, I’ll share with you a few of the runners-up who really impressed me this comic book day;


From top left;

Transformers: Robots in Disguise #15 (IDW)
Cover by Casey W. Coller, Joana Lafuente

Megatron in all his glory, choking out Bumblebee and Starscream?  What else needs to be said? 

Aquaman #18 (DC)
Cover by Paul Pelletier, Sean Parsons, Rod Reis

The New 52 Aquaman has been completely reinvented as an incredibly cool, bad-ass character, and nothing communicates that reinvention more than this effortlessly awesome depiction of Arthur on the Throne of Atlantis.  Poster-worthy stuff.

FF#5 (Marvel)
Cover by Michael Allred, Laura Allred

Another cover that doesn’t need much in the way of justification.  The Allreds have stamped their unique visual style on this comic, and continue to churn out some of the best covers in the comic book world every couple of weeks.  So vibrant and colourful.  A cover that immediately snatches your attention.

I, Vampire #18 (DC)
Cover by Andrea Sorrentino, Marcelo Maiolo

A title that I’m going to be extremely sad to see go, and a cover that is truly beautiful in its simplicity.  Straightforward, distinctive and eye-catching.  Great stuff.

And now the winner…

Batman Incorporated #9 (DC)
Cover by Chris Burnham, Nathan Fairbairn

prv15817_covAnother spectacular piece of work from Burnham, continuing the trend of ridiculously good covers for almost all of the ‘Requiem’ tie-ins.  Another cover that’s beautiful in its simplicity, with Batman cast in silhouette looking down into the grave of his fallen son.  Powerful, moving, and utterly captivating.

And that’s all for this week.  Let me know what you guys think of the new format, and let me know what you enjoyed (and didn’t enjoy) from this week’s batch of comic goodness.

And I’ll see you all back here next Saturday.  Same Ceej time, same Ceej channel!

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