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Ceej Says… The Good, The Bad and The Pretty (3rd April 2013)

Had some good feedback on the format change last week, and it looks like a lot more of you guys took the time to look through the column, so – for the time being, at least – I’m going to stick with it.

I will say though that this week offered up some pretty tough decisions, as there was a lot of quality (and an equal amount of non-quality) titles in the pull list.  As always though, I’d love to hear what you guys liked and disliked this week.  One of the best parts of comics, in my mind at least, is being able to discuss what you’ve read with other like-minded fans.

Anyway, without any further ado, let’s get this show on the road.

“The Good.”

Polarity #1 (Boom Studios)

polarity1cover

Writer: Max Bemis
Artist: Jorge Coelho

Review: An intriguing creator-owned project from Max Bemis, lead singer of the band Say Anything, this book chronicles the life of Brooklyn-based artist Timothy Woods as he attempts to deal with his bi-polar disorder. Woods’ internal monologue as he struggles with his medicated state amidst a sea of hipsters is beautifully realistic, and is clearly drawn from Bemis’ experiences with his own bi-polar disorder (he actually ended up in a mental institution back in 2004 as a result of the condition).

However, rather than serving as a self-help book or an educational tome, Bemis decides to give the whole thing an inspired twist. Woods’ struggles with his medication (and him not liking the person the medication turns him into) lead to him giving up on them completely, and it’s at this point that the true nature of the comic surfaces. Because while the medication may be suppressing his condition, it also appears to be suppressing his true abilities… his true super abilities. And what’s more, that niggling feeling that people are watching him from afar turns out not to be paranoia after all.

Coelho brings the whole thing to life with some beautiful artwork, and believe me, the premise is executed about ten times more excitingly than I just described it. And while it may be a little ‘wordy’ in places, this is one of the most interesting comics I’ve read. Also, in a neat little addition, the comic features a code redeemable for a downloadable music track from Bemis himself, with more tracks promised in the next three issues of the mini-series.

Definitely worth a look if you can get your hands on it, and unlike anything else I’ve read for a long, long time.

Rating: 9/10.

Honourable Mentions: Jeff Lemire’s Animal Man #19 (DC) marked a major change in Buddy Baker’s status quo, and offered an extremely moving take on the fallout from the Rotworld saga.  Mark Waid’s Indestructible Hulk #6 (Marvel) supplied an exciting, beautifully illustrated dose of comic goodness, with an air-punching final panel.  And, Brian Michael Bendis’ All-New X-Men #10 (Marvel) continued its strong run with yet another perfectly pitched, character-based issue that had Cyclops visiting the Jean Grey School on a ‘recruiting drive’.


“The Bad.”

Batwing #19 (DC)

1363371547Writer(s): Justin Gray/Jimmy Palmiotti
Artist: Eduardo Pansica

Review: When the cover to Batwing #19 was leaked, I initially thought it was just going to be a costume reboot. However, as more and more spoilers were released, it became apparent that DC had decided to introduce an entirely new man behind the mask. And I should probably qualify this review by stating that actually, the identity of the new Batwing is a fairly interesting prospect, and should offer up some exciting content in the months to come. It’s the handling of the previous Batwing that I have such a big problem with.

Fabian Nicieza had been building up a fairly compelling tale that featured David Zavimbe being put through the wringer and pushed to his absolute breaking point. And, based on the closing pages of issue 18, it seemed he was poised for a resurgent comeback like so many great heroes before him. Well, sadly, that comeback ended up to be an absolute anti-climax on every conceivable level.

This comic was entitled ‘Tying Up Loose Ends’, which is clearly exactly what the writers were trying to do. In almost montage style, they checked through the boxes of the existing storyline, paying fleeting lip-service to each plot point before moving on to the next one. Marksbury’s son is being hidden away? Oh no, wait, he’s in Cape Town, and David catches him. Marksbury himself is untouchable? Oh no, wait, David storms into his office and puts him through a wall. Sky Pirate still at large? Oh no, wait, David blows up his airship. It just felt like the decks were being cleared as quickly and as unsatisfyingly as possible to make way for the new Batwing.

Even what should have been one of the major emotional beats of the series so far, the death of David’s mentor Matu, was handled in just two pages. Two. And in the end, after enduring all this hardship and being pushed to his absolute limit, our hero… gives up? WTF indeed. Having a hero that folds in the face of adversity shouldn’t be what comics are about, and this issue seemed like a massive slap in the face to those of us who had stuck with this title for nineteen long months. Grrr.

Anyway, there were a few positives. the artwork was solid enough and as I said before, the new Batwing does have some potential so I’ll likely stick with the title for another month or two. But to sweep away everything that had already been built up in such a cold, clinical fashion makes this comic without a doubt one of the most infuriating ones I’ve read since they brought in the cartoony stylings of Andy Belanger for Swamp Thing’s Rotworld finale.

Rating: 3.5/10.

(Dis)honourable Mention: John Laman’s Detective Comics #19 (DC) is a continuity-shattering, bloated, confusing affair that does little to justify its $7.99 (!!) cover price.


“The Pretty.”

Once again, 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;

covers week

From top left;

Indestructible Hulk #6 (Marvel)
Cover by Walter Simonson

Legendary artist Simonson brings a vibrantly coloured, instantly eye-catching cover that’s difficult for a shelf-browser to ignore.  A markedly different style than Leinil Yu’s immaculately detailed work, but still an absolute joy to look at.

Thanos Rising #1 (Marvel)
Cover by Simone Bianchi

Anyone who knows me knows how much of a Thanos fan I am, so this one was basically a no-brainer.  Any cover that features the Mad Titan looking as utterly bad-ass as this is a winner in my book.

Mind The Gap #9 (Image)
Cover by Rodin Esquejo

Esquejo supplies a brilliantly simplistic cover for Image’s latest installment of its mind-melting mystery book – a “silent” issue with zero dialogue.  If you’re not reading this, you really should be (although as it’s tough to get up here in Aberdeen, I’m waiting for the second trade to hit before I catch up).  Still, a beautiful cover.

Green Lantern #19 (DC)
Cover by Gary Frank

I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge Green Lantern fan (boo!! hiss!!) and never really found myself able to get into the title.  But dammit if this isn’t a cool-as-hell cover!  By far one of the most impressive covers I’ve seen from DC’s “WTF” month, Frank paints a poster-worthy image with Sinestro standing next to the pile of shattered lanterns.  Great stuff.

And now, this week’s winner…

Deadpool #7 (Marvel)
Cover by Kevin Maguire

prv15887_cov

There was never really any question about what cover was going to win this week.  From the moment I saw it, Kevin Maguire’s tongue-in-cheek reprisal of the classic ‘Demon in a Bottle’ Iron Man cover was destined for the number one slot.  I mean… just look!  Amazing stuff, and while I bailed on Deadpool after issue one (boo!! hiss!! – again), there’s no denying the awesomeness on display here.


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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