In this edition of my monthly reflect on comic reads, I find myself rating two of my favorite writers high in one instance and low in another on their respective pair of titles on the list. Also, when a month fails to deliver new Sex Criminals and Rat Queens issues, the overall rating for the month as a whole is bound to be of a lower average. However, the good news is September did bring new issues of other faves like Lazarus, Velvet and of course Sagacame out regularly when it’s supposed to. Looking at the new metrics I’ve put together for rating, tracking and critically analyzing my monthly reading habits, September was the worst ratings-wise of the five months I’ve been keeping track of this. HOWEVER, it’s also the month with the most reads (21), so who knows how that all shakes down. For contrast, both July and August had seven titles at 4.0 or better. Check out the breakdown for September to see how my birth month compares.
1. Lazarus #11 (Image) 4.5 – A consistent 4.0 series, this could quite possibly be the best issue of Lazarus yet. It hit well in all aspects. In a somewhat down month, it takes the top spot with grace, though barely fending off what’s at numero dos.
2. Saga #23 (Image) 4.5 – The penultimate chapter to Saga’s challenging fourth arc, this one picked up where #22 left off in terms of hitting that usual high bar Saga was known for during its first eighteen issues.
3. Southern Bastards #4 (Image) 4.0 – I’m really digging this series so far. It hooked me from the start. It seems to fill a hole left long years ago by Preacher for me in terms of its dixie-fried flavor. Hard not to buy into Earl Tubb’s plight. When you’re laughing out loud and verbally rooting for the lead character, you know you’re on to a good thing. But, damn, this issue showed ol’ tough-as-nails Earl Tubb in tears. And to add insult to injury, it also looks like things just got a little tougher for him.
4. Velvet #7 (Image) 4.0 – An issue that’s actually all about Velvet Templeton despite her only showing up in a brief flashback. At first I was dismayed by this, but by issue’s end I couldn’t deny its high quality of writing/illustration/storytelling. It’s Brubaker and Epting. They don’t make no junk. It’s usually a slow burn with those guys but Velvet breaks that mold. Still hands down Bru’s best writing. Ever.
5. Copperhead #1 (Image) 3.5 – A sci-fi western. “Deadwood in Space” the creators called it, upon conception. Means it’s a crime book. Could be cool. Decent start. Glad to have Jay Faerber back from the evil Hollywood empire and committed to an all-new creator-owned ongoing comic series again. And as usual he’s brought along a good artist who’s virtually unknown. This series shows promise.
6. Black Market #3 (Boom!) 3.5 – Still a really cool alternate take on the superhero and crime genres. Still agonizingly average in execution. Yet due to the cool intriguing concept I always rate it a cut above average. This issue was more of the same. I’d say it’s plotting style is similar to that of a b-grade action movie or network TV show. Will October’s final issue break the pattern, positively or negatively?
7. Wicked + Divine #4 (Image) 3.5 – The concept is awesome on many levels. But, for me, I guess given my aversion to “pop” things and overly self-aware “pop culture” (especially these days) it might not be quite the book for me long term. We’ll see. Despite his self-imposed limitations, Jamie McKelvie’s art is the consistent gem here with his very unique, clean style. No disrespect intended for writer Kieron Gillen, but if only the story was conceived within the mind of, say, a Brian K. Vaughan or Matt Fraction…(j/k)
8. C.O.W.L. #5 (Image) 3.5 – I’m going to repeat my initial statement yet again: this series would be so much better as a cable TV show. This issue reaffirmed that with 5/6 of it being an exercise in talking heads.COWL is an awesome concept. It’s just that the dramatic way its story is executed strikes me as a great TV drama with excellent actors…put onto a static page. Next arc looks likely to bring improvement while digging deeper into the mythos, while also ramping up the superheroic (and supervillain) action.
9. Storm #3 (Marvel) 3.0 – Another one-and-done, compressed adventure for the goddess of the wind. It’s refreshing to see classic, 80s-style comic book-making (the good aspects) in a modern comic. Greg Pakshould be commended for this. Ororo’s conversation with Forge works as both a treat for long-time readers and a history primer for new fans. This issue could have been a solid 3.5 if it had merely “good” art, and a 4.0 with actual “great” art. Yet instead it has bad art. That’s the reliable drawback with mid-to-low caliber series like this one – they will almost always get what is usually inexperienced artists on them. A necessary strategy in the industry, I get it, it’s just unfortunate for titles that already have the deck stacked high against their long-term success.
10. Cyclops #5 (Marvel) 3.0 – Wow, how the mighty has fallen. The penultimate chapter to Greg Rucka’s run on this exceptional series had me a bit confused. I think part of it was the switch from the more quiet, intimate father-and-son issues of numbers 3 & 4 that boasted some of Rucka’s best writing, while this one is more of a return to the feel of the first issue, only with less grace in the storytelling. Here’s hoping the conclusion is satisfying in October. Can’t promise I’ll stick with it post-Rucka, though.
11. Private Eye #8 (Panel Syndicate) 3.0 – I had such high hopes for this digital-only series when it first debuted, I believe in Spring of 2013. Can I say it’s impact might be diminished by the digital format and delivery? Yeah. I like holding/collecting/filing away the comics I really like and want to collect. I mostly read Image Comics and their production values are so high that I just love pulling new issues off the stands, anxious to see those beautiful single issues. Also, can I say this series may have lost me with its sporadic release schedule as well? Yeah. And I’m a fairly patient dude.
12. Rise of the Magi #4 (Image) 3.0 – Five issues in (including #0), this is a bad time for the excitement to NOT be ramping upward on this series. Kills me to say this about something my main man Marc Silvestricreated/writes, but this series may leave my pull list after the first arc completes. Here’s the crux: with all due respect to the Kesgin/Valentino art team, Silvestri, in my opinon, should be drawing this series while a seasoned writer joins him on the scripting and co-plotting duties. Heck, why not Top Cow veteran Ron Marz, or 2nd Cow-in-Command Matt Hawkins? Sigh. I feel like a blasphemer.
13. Wayward #2 (Image) 3.0 – Well, if the first issue read like a number zero issue, then #2 reads like a first issue. This series is holding my interest only by a mere thread so far.
14. Multiversity: Society of Superheroes #1 (DC) 3.0 – My disadvantage of low DCU character and lore knowledge kicked in on this one, so not as fun as #1 for me. The next issue in the miniseries looks to be really interesting though, so hopefully this is just a one-off misstep.
15. Hawkeye #20 (Marvel) 2.5 – A Kate Bishop “as Hawkeye” issue, which just isn’t as interesting as the Clint Barton ones (or the one’s where they work closely together). The cartoonish art jibed well with the silly aspects of this particular issue.
16. Outcast #4 (Image) 2.0 – This comic has been dull at best. #2 was its best issue while #1 was actually its worst. The art is its only real treat. Never been a fan of Kirkman’s dialogue and he uses it to push his narrative so much that the storyTELLING really suffers from it. I’m going to try to commit to the first arc, which ends with #6. But in terms of thrilling story, this is a FAR cry from that first The Walking Dead story arc (“Days Gone Bye”) from eleven years ago.
17. Roche Limit #1 (Image) 2.0 – Not a lot of hype on this one, but I was still hoping that it would be yet another exceptional sci-fi title from Image Comics which seems to have quite the stronghold on the genre these days. Jury’s out on whether it will eventually become that, but this first issue will not be admitted as overwhelming positive evidence. In a way it reminds me of RedCity’s first issue, only slightly better. Like Red City, and the above-mentioned Copperhead, Roche Limit also combines some crime elements with the science fiction.
18. Dead @ 17: The Blasphemy Throne #2 (Image) 2.0 – Unlike the first issue, this particular issue seems to play more off the stuff that came before in the other miniseries, so I was a bit lost while also unimpressed by the overall storytelling.
19. Low #3 (Image) 2.0 – And…I’m out. I respect it. The concept is really cool, and I respect what Rick Remender is trying to do with his writing on this one. But it’s just not for me. Greg Tocchini’s obscure, while very stylish and unique, does not help matters. It’s a beautifully colored comic. Probably one of the absolute best in that category.
20. Daredevil #8 (Marvel) 2.0 – Now with the interesting Original Sin stuff out of the way, this title returns back to its main agenda, which, sadly, does not interest me. And I still can’t accept Chris Samnee’sart on DD.
Stumptown #1 (Oni) 1.0 – I really hate dogging out my other main man writer /creator Greg Rucka – and to be fair (or unfair, I guess), this was my first issue ever of this title, which just started its third volume, the first ongoing. I turned the pages bored out of mind and cringing at the art. I don’t have much more to say, I think that’s enough criticism right there. I guess when it comes to Rucka, make mine Lazarus and Cyclops.
Next Month: We’re already in October now and the first week has indeed delivered the long-delayed, but oh-so-anticipated eighth issue of the sorely pined for Rat Queens mentioned above. This past week also delivered the first issue of Jason Aaron’s Men of Wrath and the second issue of The Fade Out, which I’m suspicious of. Also of note: Birthright #1 from Skybound/Image, Wytches #1, Sex Criminals #8 and I’m curious to see Ororo’s reaction in the aftermath of Wolverine’sdeath in Storm #4.
In the meantime, keep healthy, hearty comic book fetish…