Category Archives: COMIC OF THE WEEK

This Week’s Finest: Archer & Armstrong #21

Archer & Armstrong 21 Shawn Crystal
Shawn Crystal

“That was weird even by our standards.”

It all seemed pretty simple, or at least simple by their standards. Archer had learned that his biological parents were being held at the headquarters of The Church of Retrology in Hollywood, California. Their attempt at a quiet scouting of the facility soon grew more complicated once they were identified. The Church’s founder and leader, a certain Lizard King, offered Archer a deal: find where in the building the fabled Wheel of Aten had been hidden or he will never be reunited with his mother again. Thing is, searching for the Wheel—which by the way holds the key to immortality—resulted in Archer and Armstrong being stranded in a disconcerting series of corridors. Eventually, they stumble upon a party of aged celebrities, all of whom are supposed to be dead, which is where last month’s issue left them.
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This Week’s Finest: Moon Knight #4

mk“It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night.” — The Tell-Tale Heart, Edgar Allan Poe

Could it have been any other way? I think not. Moon Knight, unequivocally, has the right to be deemed This Week’s Finest.

With each passing issue, Moon Knight continues to not only stand above all others on the shelf but surpass those it succeeds. As with the former installments, Moon Knight #4 continues the strand of brilliantly-crafted standalone stories. After reading the first three issues–despite however much I enjoyed them–a faint whisper beckoned to me in the depths of my consciousness: “What are we leading to?” I couldn’t help but wonder if these were chapters or merely glimpses. But after this issue, the voice dissipated into the ether. I don’t care any longer what the end-game may be–if there even is one–but rather I throw caution to the wind and buckled up for the ride (yay cliches!).

Just what made this issue so special–and, dare I say, the best so far? Well, it is a combination of elements. Typically, I find describing something by comparing it to another to in some ways diminish the defined, but in this case the similarities are most than just coincidence.

Sandman: With the once again popularity of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman due to Overture, it would only make sense for creators to find themselves playing in the land of dreams.  Moon Knight’s time in the dream land allows for the great Declan Shalvey to show all he can do.  The incredible imagination needed to design such a world in a finite amount of pages such as the one in this issue serves to prove that Ellis and Shalvey are masters of their craft.

E.A.P.’s The Tell-Tale Heart: Here is where I pull in that drop quote from the beginning…I won’t give away too much of the story, but those of you whom have read the issue will understand this connection immediately.

I know I have talked about this sort of thing before, but some comics just give a specific vibe.  This is quite possibly the most vague portion of this review (at least I hope so), but there is no other way to describe the feeling you get in your gut when something you read, watch, or listen to just feels right.  Perhaps it was some of Ellis’ British background coming through, but I got a clear “Hellblazer” and “Amnesia: The Dark Descent” riff, maybe even some League of Extraordinary Gentlemen in the parts with the sleep therapist.

Needless to say, if you have not started reading this series yet, it is your loss.  I know I say that about a lot of my picks, but, hell, I wouldn’t pick them if I didn’t think people should be reading them.  I’m pretty sure that the physical issues come with a free download. If you are still skeptical about whether or not you should be reading this, let me know below and I will give you the download code.  This is serious, people.  I can’t say what this will be like when Ellis and Shalvey are replaced with Brian Wood and Gary Smallwood in September, but take what you can get when you can get it, ya know?

This Weeks Finest: Deadly Class #5

Deadly Class #5by Rick Remender & Wesley Craig

This post is coming to you an hour late for forces out of my control. I’ve moved out of the city for a home in the suburbs that I hold all the liability for even though it’s essentially  majority owned by a bank for the next thirty years. Moving here added another twenty minutes to my commute and when I got home I had to walk my dogs and then go in the basement to pick up my dogs shit that he does during the day when I can’t take him out and here is where the monkey wrench comes in. While I was outside throwing away said shit Ed the pitbull decided to follow me to the backyard and run laps for reasons only known to him. I played around and chased him a for a few minutes before going inside where my better half discovered a small wood chip sticking out of his paw. So you know: patch that up, a cone of shame, some more responsibility stuff later and here we are. Sixteen year old me would look at all this and call me a sell out. I think he’s an idiot but on some level I get it. I was never a punk rock kid, Biggie was my Jesus and Wu Tang wrote the bible. I posed as one for  a little while though. I picked up Misled Youth when I was 15 and wanted to be that for a short time. Even though I didn’t really love the music or lifestyle in any meaningful way it hit something in me. I get a similar feeling when I read Deadly Class now. As stated I was never a punk rocker nor was I ever a homeless orphan or spent any of my adolescence in the 1980’s but there is a primal energy going on in this comic that I strongly relate towards in spite of all that. Like watching Jamie Thomas nollie down a large stair case to “Babba O’Reilly”, it hits you in the gut and won’t let up. This is simple in description but much more difficult in practice. Where pumped with watered down versions of art and advertising trying to ratchet that feeling out of us 24 hours a day, so much so that sometimes we mistake a fleeting reminder for the real thing. But it takes true talent to  bring that out and that’s what Rick Remender, Wesley Craig and the rest of the team on Deadly Class have in spades; talent they utilize 100% in each issue to the point that they are evoking powerful emotions and feeling at our core with every new installment, this one being the best work of the series yet.

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The Week’s Finest: Thor God of Thunder #22

Thor_God_of_Thunder_Vol_1_22_TextlessBy Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic

I know I am going to sound like a broken record but choosing this week’s finest was one of the toughest choices I have ever made. I have explained my week’s finest selection process in the past. I usually end up with a week’s finest contenders pile at the end with a few books that I have to make a decision on.  This week after putting almost every book into the contenders pile I was able to shrink the pile to 8 books. 8 BOOKS! How am I suppose to choose one book out of eight fantastic choices? The solution always is and forever shall be a head to head, single elimination, bracket style knockout. It is amazing how I can stare at 8 books and have no idea which one deserves to win, but if I can boil the decision down to a head to head battle it becomes much simpler…hmmm I just had to break my big choices into a bunch of yes or no questions, perhaps Two Face is on to something. Without getting too derailed let’s shift the mindset to the winner of the May 2014 bracket challenge, Thor God of Thunder #22.

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This Week’s Finest: Astro City #12

mar140284Astro City #12 by Kurt Busiek & Graham Nolan

Kurt Busiek has a gift, and it is vital to the success of Astro City. Most of the tales in Busiek’s series are told through the perspectives of people normally on the periphery of traditional superhero adventures. One issue you might spend some time with a super-team’s phone operator, another a mob lieutenant responsible for the waterfront. There are exceptions, most notably the recent excellent four-parter about Winger Victory, but these are rare. Usually, even if the focus is on a powered individual it is one living a quiet life away from the spotlight.

One of the trickier aspects of this narrative approach is that every issue or two ushers in a new character. The rub is making each of these protagonists a distinct individual in fresh circumstances. The reader cannot feel like “oh wait, an assistant to a sorceress? Didn’t I read something like that back in issue . . ?” This is where Busiek’s genius reveals itself. He is able to express the voices of his characters so well that it only takes a few pages for me to be swept up in their story. It may be the most conventional of set-ups (happily married man living in the suburbs, for example), but in Busiek’s hands it is as compelling as ever.
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This Week’s Finest: Batman/Superman #10

by Jeff Lemire, Karl Kerschl, and Scott Hepburn

I’ve spoken before about my process in choosing The Week’s Finest; which one was the most fun, “this one told the tale of the Hero’s journey”, etc. This week, my biggest concern was narrative. Every book I read today dealt with their narratives in a different way, but with many similarities. That’s not to say any of the books were bad, but it was interesting to notice. In the end, it came down to a simple story told simply; from “Batman/Superman #10”.

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This Week’s Finest: Southern Bastards #1

Southern Bastards #1I often explain to people that I typically chose my favorite comic rather than “the best comic” for This Week’s Finest.  There are situations when I unequivocally read the greatest book to be published, but my pick does not reflect that.  This is one of those situations.  Jason X 2’s Southern Bastards may not have been the best of the best, but it sure as hell was my favorite.  Like the creator’s explain in their note at the end of the issue, the south both a magical and terrifying place.  While I’ve not spent too much time in that region of US, I’ve always felt those same feelings.  The same feeling I felt while reading this issue.  And that’s why I choice this issue: say what you will about the plot, the atmosphere portrayed is one of the most genuinely realistic depictions I’ve ever read.
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This Week’s Finest: Daredevil #2

ddBy Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

What a difficult week to pick the finest.  I had a very large stack this week and the quality of this stack was delightful.  I had 10 Image books this week so that is where I began.  Usually I make a Week’s Finest contender pile after I have read the issue and then put non contenders in a short box.  I am often left with 3 or 4 books in the end I have to sift through but it is usually obvious to me which issue to pick.   Like I said I began with Image and began my contender pile.  After finishing my Image books I already found myself overwhelmed with my contender pile which now contained Lazarus, Manhattan Projects, Sheltered, Ghosted, Dead Body Road and Zero. At this point I’m thinking with that many contenders might as well just pick one of those, but I took a look at the Marvel stack I had for this week which contained the likes of Daredevil, Avengers Undercover and Elektra and I knew I should give all three of those a chance.  I read Daredevil first and upon finishing took my contender pile and chucked it into a short box, problem solved!

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This Weeks Finest: The White Suits #3

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by Frank Barbiere and Toby Cypress

The White Suits is one of the best new series to come out in the first quarter of a year that has already been chock full of great new series and issue three has been it’s best yet. It’s a singular work from two creators at the top of their abilities restrained only by the power of their own imagination.

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