Ceej Says… The Good, The Bad and The Pretty (17th April 2013)

Another week, another bumper crop of comic book goodness.  And believe me when I say that trying to actually choose a ‘good’ from the quality on display this week as an extremely tough decision.

However, after weighing up the pros and cons of each of the stellar titles in the running, I finally decided on one comic that stood above the rest – although not by much.  So, without any further ado, let’s get this week’s show on the road with…

“The Good.”

Daredevil: End of Days #7 (Marvel Comics)

end ofWriter(s): Brian Michael Bendis, David Mack
Artist(s): Bill Sienkiewicz, Klaus Janson

Review: It’s extremely rare in the comicbook world for a title to consistently live up to what I’ll admit myself are ludicrously high expectations.  But Daredevil: End of Days, Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack’s noir mystery take on the Man Without Fear, is undoubtedly a book that does.  Bendis and Mack have put together an extremely compelling, intriguing and beautifully scripted mystery thriller over the last six issues, and as the series reaches its penultimate chapter, all the pieces are finally being moved into place for what should be a jaw-dropping finale.

Ben Urich’s inner monologue which effectively narrates the story has been perfectly crafted from the very beginning, with his pain over Daredevil’s untimely death gradually melting into frustration and anger as each lead in his investigation comes up short.  We’ve followed him intently as he delved into the murkier side of the Marvel universe, into a gritty, grimy world of violence, vice and vendetta, and every step has felt like we’re right there with him.  The set up in the first issue was so compelling as to completely suck us in, making us just as invested as Urich to piece together the story of Matt Murdock’s final months.

The artwork – a collaboration between Klaus Janson, Bill Sienkiewicz and Matt Hollingsworth – has been an absolute joy to behold right throughout this series, and that trend continues here with some simply amazing pages, particularly the scenes where Urich attempts to survive his close encounter with the Hand and their endless waves of ninjas.  The scratchy, jagged pencils of Janson help convey the chaos of the moment, and when the Punisher is unleashed on the comic book… well, Frank Castle has rarely looked this relentlessly bad-ass.

And while the twist in the final pages may not have been quite as big a shock as perhaps it should have been, the final chapter in this absolutely stellar story will hopefully tie all the threads of what has been a stellar story together.  Along with – hopefully – just who, or what, ‘Mapone’ is.

If you’re not reading this, you’re missing out on what is arguably (although not to me) Marvel’s best mini-series in a long, long time.

Rating: 9.5/10.

Honourable Mentions: Coming in a close second place is Mark Waid’s Daredevil #25 (Marvel) which introduces a new villain in absolutely jaw-dropping fashion.  Brian Michael Bendis continues to deliver the goods with Age of Ultron #6 (Marvel) with some incredibly powerful scenes as the survivors travel through time – in separate directions – in an attempt to put things right.  Geoff Johns’ Justice League #19 (DC) gives flashes of ‘Tower of Babel’, a tremendous confrontation between Bruce, Clark and Diana, and the (re)introduction of an old foe.  And finally, in the first issue of its new ongoing series, Keith Giffen knocks it out of the park with He-Man & The Masters of the Universe #1 (DC), delivering a book that pays service to the fanboys while delivering a tremendous introduction in its own right.  Great stuff.

“The Bad.”

TMNT Villain Micro-Series #1 – Krang (IDW)

TMNT_Krang_cvrAWriter: Joshua Williamson  Artist: Mike Henderson

Review: This is a comic I picked up on a whim due to A) the quality of the cover (see below) and B) the fact that IDW’s TMNT comics have been of a consistently high quality since their return in 2011.  A little one-shot comic that gives a more backstory into the origins of General Krang?  Hell, what could possibly go wrong?

And while there were some good points along the way – such as Krang’s survival in the swamps of Morbus and the discovery of his inner strength and ruthlessness – a large chunk of the story failed to really engage me in any significant way.  Krang’s struggles with his father and the political instability on his homeworld of Utrominon were so far removed from the rest of the TMNT universe as to feel like an entirely different title, and as a result, it was difficult to find myself caring much about them.

The artwork, provided by Mike Henderson, also felt a little ‘off’, and wasn’t quite up to the same quality of the main TMNT title.  Several panels were sorely lacking in detail, and felt almost ‘sketch’ like (and not in a good way).  Also, it’s fairly difficult to overcome the innate absurdity of a megalomaniacal dictator who looks like a little brain walking around on tentacles.

All in all, I didn’t feel like the story added much to Krang or his character aside from what we already knew, and would have far preferred to focus on a slightly later chapter in his life on earth rather than his formative years on some distant planet I neither knew nor cared about.

So some good moments – and one sexy-ass cover – but a bit of a missed opportunity overall.

Rating: 4.5/10.

(Dis)honourable Mention: For the second week in a row, nothing else was below ‘great’.

“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 week;

He-Man & The Masters of the Universe #1 (DC Comics)
Cover by Ed Benes

HE-MAN_MOTU_Cv1-asmxfrt72rA tremendously kinetic, beautifully colourful battle scene for the first issue in the new ongoing He-Man series, with Despera going head-to-head with the Masters.  While Teela still looks too much like a glamour model for my tastes, there’s no denying the eye-catching appeal of a cover like this.

TMNT Villain Micro-Series #1 – Krang (IDW)
Cover by Tye Walpole

TMNT_Krang_cvrAAn incredibly cool rendering of General Krang here which was actually enough to make me pick up the comic out of curiosity.  Sadly, we can see above how that turned out, but in terms of an eye-catching cover that’s going to make you sit up and take notice, you can’t do much better than this.  Damn judging books by their covers :(

Justice League #19 (DC Comics)
Cover by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado

Week-3-Justice-League-19-WTF-April-2013-Full-Gatefold-Cover-Batman-vs-SupermanAnother DC ‘WTF’ success story, and while the cover doesn’t bear much relation to what actually happens in the comic, it’s still a pretty damn cool image.

Cable and X-Force #7 (Marvel)
Cover by Salvador Larroca

daddyIf you’re gonna use a cover blurb, make it a good one. ‘Nuff said.

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

Daredevil #25 (Marvel Comics)
Cover by Chris Samnee


I honestly can’t get enough of Chris Samnee’s artwork, and I love his thick-lined, ‘old school’ take on the Man Without Fear.  He’s put together some jaw-dropping covers over the last 25 episodes, but I’d put this one right near the top of that pile as Matt fights for his life against his latest assailant.  Just a great image composition, and the addition of Matt’s father’s boxing robe with the cover logo taking its place on the back just sets the whole thing off beautifully.  Great comic, great cover.

And now, as usual, I’m going 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.

And forget to tune in again next Saturday.  Same Ceej time, same Ceej channel!

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