Ceej Says… The Good, The Bad and The Pretty (10th April 2013)

Has it been a week already?  Well, from another jam-packed comic book day, it’s time to sift through the reading pile and decide what impressed me, what disappointed me and what – well – was nice to look at.

So let’s not waste time talking, and get things going with the best of this week’s purchases…

“The Good.”

Hawkeye #9 (Marvel Comics)

hawkeyeWriter: Matt Fraction
Artist: David Aja

Review: Matt Fraction continues to do an absolutely stellar job here with an issue that focuses primarily on the ladies in Clint Barton’s life.  This comic offers a compelling, intertwining story told from multiple perspectives which are tied together into the same narrative, and features all the charm, wit and intelligence that have become a hallmark of this series since issue one.

Barton’s downtrodden everyman continues to be one of the most likeable characters in comics at the moment, and it’s almost impossible not to sympathise with the guy as he stumbles from one disaster to the next.  And, sadly, from the final pages of this book, it seems unlikely that his private life is going to improve any time soon.

As always, David Aja absolutely kills it with the artwork, showing off his thick, eye-catching style by cramming almost every page to the brim with expressive, creative panels.  This comic went from ‘sleeper hit’ to ‘essential reading’ pretty much from the get-go on the strength of Fraction’s writing, Aja’s distinct visual style, and Matt Hollingsworth’s perfectly-chosen colours, and it’s difficult to see much changing as quality issue after quality issue hits the shelves.

If you’re not buying this already then I’m unlikely to change your mind, but for a unique take on a previously underused character, and some of the most instantly quotable dialogue I can remember reading in a comic for a long, long time (maybe ever), you really owe it to yourself to at least give this one a look, bro.  Seriously, bro.

Rating: 9/10.

Honourable Mentions: Brian Michael Bendis’ Age of Ultron #5 (Marvel) kicked into a high gear this week as the story hit its midway point, with the battle lines being drawn for what should an absolutely epic showdown.  Peter J. Tomasi did a great job with Batman and Red Robin #19 (DC), showing the true toll of Bruce’s grief as he desperately struggles to deal with the loss of Damian.  And, Scott Snyder’s Batman #19 (DC) took a slight break from the large, epic-scale stories that have typified this title to focus on a slightly less ‘famous’ Bat-villian, and also featured a brilliant backup ‘Batman and Superman’ story from James Tynion IV.

“The Bad.”

Secret Avengers #3 (Marvel Comics)

Secret-Avengers_3-674x10241Writer(s): Nick Spencer
Artist: Luke Ross

Review: I’ve been really enjoying Nick Spencer’s ‘superhero spy drama’ for its first couple of issues, even if it did seem to be trying  a little *too* hard to tie itself into the Avengers movie franchise.  It offered an exciting premise with plenty of twists and turns and a liberal helping of Spencer’s typically excellent dialogue.  Sadly however, this issue takes the foot off the gas in a major way, and the series loses a great deal of momentum as a result.

This comic features a lot of exposition and scene-setting, which is bound to happen from time to time, but aside from one or two minor points, the plot doesn’t seem to be advanced much at all here.  Mockingbord’s inclusion serves almost no purpose to this point, and with the exception of the brief skirmish at the defense expo and the revelation in the closing pages, there really wasn’t the same energy and drama on display here that sucked me in during the first two issues.

That said, this isn’t a bad comic by any means, and only really falls down by nature of the comparison to earlier issues in the same series.  Luke Ross continues to provide solid artwork (even if some of the facial expressions still seem to be a little off), and his gift for action is showcased beautifully during the one-page montage where S.H.I.E.L.D. attacks the A.I.M research facility.

So not so much ‘bad’ as ‘mildly disappointing’.  However, it’s fairly common knowledge that I’m a huge fan of Spencer’s work, so I have the fullest of confidence that things will pick up again before too long.  So let’s call it a minor speed bump on what has otherwise been a pretty exciting journey thus far.

Rating: 6.5/10.

(Dis)honourable Mention: None this week, as everything else was of a pretty good standard.

“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;

Jennifer Blood #25 (Dynamite Entertainment)
Cover by Mike Mayhew


Mayhew brings an incredibly visceral image of our titular heroine having just survived a brutal prison attack.  The detail is what sells this one to me, with all manner of knives, shivs, and – is that a toothbrush?! – still protruding from her blood-soaked body.  An extremely eye-catching cover, and one which definitely lives up to the title of the book.

The Colonized #1 (IDW)
Cover by Dave Sim

the colonized

The legendary ‘Cerberus the Aardvark’ creator provides cover duties on IDW’s latest release, and goes into B-Movie overload as he perfectly taps into the somewhat bizarre premise of the title.   Zombies versus Aliens?  Shut up and take my money!!

Batgirl #19 (DC Comics)
Cover by Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira


Another cover from DC’s ‘WTF’ month that definitely lives up to its name, and incredibly vivid image from Barrows and Ferreira that instantly grabs you and makes you take notice.  Brilliantly framed and scaled, and also fairly gruesome for a DC comics cover.  Great stuff.

Hawkeye #9 (Marvel)
Cover by David Aja


Normally, David Aja would be an absolute lock to get the ‘Pretty’ award every month Hawkguy hits the shelves, and he comes extremely close with this brilliant, straightforward image of Kate Bishop wearing her heart on her chest.  Awesome stuff, but not quite enough this week.

So now, without any further ago… this week’s winner…

Batman: Li’l Gotham #1 (DC)
Cover by Dustin Nguyen

lil gotham

I mean… come on.  Just look at it.  Nguyen’s artwork is absolutely gorgeous, and has made the Li’l Gotham digital comic pretty much an essential purchase for anyone who knows about it.  And this montage of pretty much every Bat-character getting the Nguney treatment is pretty much jaw-dropping.  I demand a poster… now!!

And now, I turn it over to you guys.  What were your ‘Good, Bad and Pretty’ comics this week?  Let yourself be heard, and maybe you can turn someone else on to a great comic they’d otherwise have missed out on.

Don’t forget to tune in again next Saturday.  Same Ceej time, same Ceej channel!

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