Ceej Says… The Good, The Bad and The Pretty (1st May 2013)

After missing out on last week’s musings due to me being away for the weekend, we’re right back in the thick of it with a pretty massive pull list this time around.  And, yet again, there were so many great (and quite a few less-than-great) titles in the bag this week that I really struggled to make any kind of decision on what to include in this column.

However, while I finally settled on the comics below, I’d definitely be interested to hear what you guys thought about last Wednesday’s bumper comic crop.

So let’s get this show on the road with…

“The Good.”

Hawkeye #10 (Marvel Comics)

detailWriter: Matt Fraction

Artist: Francesco Francavilla

Review: In a somewhat predictable move, I finally settled on Hawkguy as this week’s ‘Good’, simply because I honestly couldn’t find a single thing to fault about it.  No David Aja or Matt Hollingsworth this time around, which gave the book a completely different visual style to the previous issues, and maybe that’s the one of the main aspects that helped give this ‘side-story’ the unique style it truly deserved.

Francesco Francavilla’s artwork is perfectly suited to a story like this, and his page layouts are a thing of absolute spellbinding beauty as he shows us the origin of the mysterious ‘clown’ hit-man (as well as a much-needed focus on the ‘other’ Hawkeye, Kate Bishop).  Francavilla also provides some beautiful colour work, juxtaposing the purples of Kate’s side-story with the fiery reds and oranges of the hitman’s compelling tale, and painting an absolute masterpiece in the process.

The wise-cracking humour of the previous titles is absent here for the most part, and Clint himself takes something of a back seat, only appearing briefly in the book’s latter stages, but this comic still manages to work on almost every conceivable level.  We are given a poignant and moving back-story for our newest villain, and several intriguing storyline seeds are put in place for the months to come.  The book also features some of the best writing I’ve seen yet from Fraction, which is most definitely saying something.

Hawkeye is a title that can basically do no wrong in my eyes, and issues like this show that – even while departing from the successful formula already in place – there’s definitely no end in sight for the stellar run this book has been on since its very first issue.

An amazing piece of storytelling, and a firm case for the ‘comicbooks as an art form’ argument.

Rating: 10/10.

Honourable Mentions: Max Bemis continues the incredibly high standard set in the first issue with Polarity #2 (Boom Studios), giving an extremely interesting take on the concept of a ‘bi-polar superhero’.  Jeff Lemire’s Animal Man #20 (DC Comics) is also about as close to a perfect comics as you can get as we get an in-depth look at Buddy Baker’s movie ‘Tights’, and some incredibly poignant moments along the way.  Gail Simon’s The Movement #1 (DC Comics) takes a unique look at the ‘broken’ world we live in, and provides an extremely compelling jumping-off point to this new series.  Charles Soule continues to excel in the wake of Scott Snyder with Swamp Thing #20 (DC Comics), giving some tremendously well-pitched interactions between Swampy and the Man of Steel.  And finally… (phew)… Ten Grand #1 (Image Comics) by J. Michael Straczynski sucks you in with some beautiful artwork and a truly compelling premise, as a ‘reformed’ hit-man tries to cleaned his soul in order to die a righteous death.

“The Bad.”

Detective Comics #20 (DC Comics)

Detective-Comics_20-682x1024Writer: John Layman

Artist: Jason Fabok

Review: The interesting ‘Emperor Penguin’ storyline was about the only thing keeping me hanging on to what has been an incredibly lacklustre title in recent months.  Sadly though, this issue managed to take what was an extremely interesting new character and completely and utterly ruin him over the course of about twelve pages.  Which is almost something to be admired, in a grim sort of way.

Ignatius Ogilvy goes from a compelling, ultra-intelligent manipulator to ludicrous, Nightcrawler-looking super-powered foe (with a combination of Venom, Man-Bat serum and some sort of Poison Ivy gimmick) almost without explanation.  It seems so completely at odds to his previous agenda as to make you wonder if there’s some sort of ‘swerve’ coming.  But no, sadly not.

As he decimates Batman with his new powers, the supposedly intelligent Ogilvy decides to dust off the super-villain cliché where he hangs his opponent from a tree and walk off assuming he’s probably going to be dead soon.  This leads to Batman coming back, dispatching him in ridiculously easy fashion, and for Ogilvy to roll over and give up, happy that he “at least ruled Gotham for a little bit”. WTF???

And that’s it.  Six, seven issues of pretty solid build-up, all for one rushed, lukewarm, cookie-cutter conclusion?  Nope.  Not happy.  So I’m officially done with this title, which will leave me with another £2.75 every week to fill with something that doesn’t insult my intelligence.   Every cloud, and all that.

Avoid at all costs, people.

Rating: 3.5/10.

(Dis)Honourable Mentions: Brian Michael Bendis’ Age of Ultron #7 (Marvel Comics) continues to spiral into the realm of ‘who really cares?’ with an absurd Back to the Future 2 style storyline that seems to have lost all the impact and urgency the first few issues had.  And, Dan Slott’s Superior Spider-man #9 (Marvel Comics) continues the trend of ‘shocking nonsense just to rile up the fanboys’ as Peter Parker and Otto Octavius do battle in Parker’s brain.  No doubt the outcome of this issue will rapidly be undone within the next few weeks, so don’t worry too much.

“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;

Animal Man #20 (DC Comics)
Cover by Jae Lee

aaaaI’m a huge fan of Jae Lee’s work, and there’s something about this cover just really appealed to me.  The contrast with Buddy Baker in the foreground as Animal Man and in the background as Red Thunder works extremely well, and I love the vivid colours on display.

X-Men Legacy #10 (Marvel Comics)
Cover by Mike del Mundo

xmenNot a title I’ve been following, it has to be said, but an extremely inventive and eye-catching cover, with the mock ‘advertisement’ and the stream of mutants being ‘cured’ by the X-Cise drug.  Great stuff.

Ten Grand #1 (Image Comics)
Cover by Ben Templesmith

tengrand_coverA brilliantly coloured and extremely intense look at the series’ main protagonist, Joe Fitzgerald.  Templesmith’s interior artwork is just as rich and vivid too, for the record.  A great piece of work.

Superior Spider-Man #9 (Marvel Comics)
Cover by Marcos Martin

ssI’ve not been a huge fan of the title’s direction and questionable storytelling choices, but dammit if this isn’t one mighty fine cover.  The maze-like brain with the silhouetted Octavius stalking Peter is a brilliantly ingenious cover, and almost makes up for the pointlessly trolling nature of the comic itself.

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

Polarity #2 (Boom Studios)
Cover by Frazer Irving


I cannot get enough of Frazer Irving’s cover work.  The guy has such a creative mind, and the previous covers that he’s turned his hand to (Bedlam in particular) have been absolute works of art.  This follows in the same trend, giving a gloriously visceral interpretation of the demons spewing forth from Timothy Woods’ mind.  A stellar piece of work, and a worthy winner of the ‘Pretty’ accolade this week.

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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