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CSBG Archive

Dean Trippe’s The Good Stuff (6/29/09)

In the interest of helping the mainstream comics industry by both promoting their good stuff and ignoring their less successful attempts, Dean Trippe takes time out of his busy schedule to inform you about the best of the best put out by the Big Two. Here are his picks for the last few weeks.

Batman and Robin #1 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely with Alex Sinclair. Well, this is how you do it. For my money, Dick Grayson taking over the role of his dead(ish) mentor is the biggest event to happen in Bat-comics since the introduction of Robin to the franchise. It has been the promise of Robin that he would one day carry on in his adoptive father’s footsteps, fighting for justice as the Caped Crusader. Joining him as the fifth in-continuity Robin is Damian Wayne, the recently discovered son of Bruce Wayne, who was raised by his mother, Talia al Ghul and the League of Assassins (which is convenient as all get out, since it means the ten-year-old has a sufficient reason for being capable of handling the dangers of Gotham City sidekicking). There’s a flying Batmobile, series standbys Alfred Pennyworth and Jim Gordon, and a Batman who’s actually has fun spitting quips at his adversaries (and allies). Morrison and Quitely are pitch perfect as usual, and Sinclair’s coloring, while a bit of a departure from the Jamie Grant colors I’ve come to associate with Quitely’s work, is rad in a NuGotham, experimental future kinda way. With issue two hitting stands this week, I’m quite sure the buzz has reached the point of convincing you to grab this if you missed it, but in case it hasn’t, consider this my endorsement: This is the best superhero comic I’ve read since All Star Superman. (Plus, I liked the issue so much I drew this.)

Detective Comics #854 by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III with Dave Stewart, backup feature by Greg Rucka and Cully Hamner with Laura Martin. And now it appears we have entered a new Golden Age of Bat-Book Awesome. This work was apparently intended for a Batwoman series but then repositioned as the new Detective Comics direction, which I gotta say, I’m a bit happier about. Detective is a good place for non-Batman Batman allies, and with the Question backup features, feels incredibly title-appropriate. Two gay heroines running together in a flagship title like this is also pretty awesome. JHW3 brings the incredible drawing, costuming, and page layout skills we expect from him, and Rucka’s rocking the writing with a new witch-themed villain set that opens up new avenues of crime-fighting in the generally very familiar Gotham City cast. The Question story didn’t get too far in this first issue, but showed off Cully’s art and introduced Renee Montoya’s new M.O. pretty well. It feels good to approve of every choice in an entire comic book, you know.

Batman: Streets of Gotham #1 by Paul Dini and Dustin Nguyen with Derek Fridolfs John Kalisz. Despite the incredible creative team here, I wasn’t expecting to dig this comic that much. With Morrison game-changing the Bat-line, I felt like Dini might step away from the Dynamic Duo and focus more on the old school Bat-villains, which he does, but not without putting his own spin on the new Batman and Robin. Which is awesome, because without other solid writers feeling comfortable with the new B&R, it’d feel like a temporary gimmick, rather than a step forward for the titles. While Bruce will undoubtedly one day return, I am all for enjoying this time with Grayson and Lil’ Wayne tripping rooftops. Anyway, here we’ve got mainstay villains Harley Quinn and Firefly, with the all-new flavor of Batman (with non-lethal gun) & Robin (non-lethal when mentored). Also, check out how cool Dick and Damian look in Dustin’s drawings! This book just went from “additional reading” to “required” in my syllabus.

Superman/Batman #61 by Michael Green, Mike Johnson, and Francis Manapul with Brian Bucellato. This is the second part of an alternate dream reality storyline with Batman (Classic Bruce Wayne Edition) and Superman meeting amalgamized versions of their Justice League and Teen Titans pals, as well as their rogues galleries. The story is fun with a few special character notes (Hal Jordan and Dick Grayson ARE kinda similar, huh?), but the real pressure point of purchase here is Francis Manapul’s so-fresh art stylings. I just recently started following Manapul’s work, mostly from being floored by his Previews’d covers for Red Robin and Adventure Comics, but now seeing his sequentials, I’d read any book drawn by this guy. Grab issue #60 and this one for a little extra World’s Finest treat in your pull list goodies.

Ghost Rider #35 by Jason Aaron and Tony Moore with Dave McCaig. Wait, a non-Bat-title? OH RIGHT, there ARE other good comics out there! Specifically, there’s Ghost Rider. Aaron and Moore are running like a dream team on this title. I’d never really gotten into GR until Aaron wrestled this title into awesomeness, and with Moore’s expressive, fantastical art, the demon/angel battle situations are probably the first truly engaging ones I’ve seen since Preacher. Aaron writes Johnny Blaze as an oddly relatable badass, and has delivered hot-off-the-grill new heroes and villains (somewhat literally, I suppose) into this long-running mythos. This issue features a new villain I didn’t want to spoil here, so if you’re not already pulling this one, grab it off the racks and check it out for yourself. Crazy, crazy fun here.

MORE GOOD STUFF: The Unwritten #1 (& 2) by Mike Carey and Peter Gross. It falls a little outside the mainstream mandate of this column, but The Unwritten is the best new non-superhero comic launch I’ve read probably since The Walking Dead. Do yourself a favor and pick up the first issue and see if it grabs you like it did me.

30 Comments

I still don’t get this column. If anything the mainstream comics industry would be helped by pointing out the bad stuff that fanboys just lap up week after week.

Can we have a column like that?

Do it, Sam! Write the column of the awful, the bad, the terrible, and the lamented 95% of comics. TREAD WHERE ANGELS FEAR!

(Plus, I liked the issue so much I drew this.)

You forgot to include the link to the “this” that you drew.

This is the “this”, right?

And, it’s awesome.

…and I forgot to close the link correctly.

Crap.

Sorry, some formatting must’ve fallen out in my email to Brian. Thanks for posting intended the link, Ian!

Fixed!

WHOA SWEET, thanks Brian! Speedy service here at CSBG. :)

Also, I would just like to take a moment to point out how excellent the new Robin logo is.

Julio Dvulture

June 29, 2009 at 4:35 pm

No pointing out the bad stuff doesn’t help at all. Geeks and comic books afficionados are for me the most part like trainwrecks fans or like that people from the Cronenberg’s Crash movie. Lots of them buy things just so they can complain later or out of completism. So the less is said about bad comics, the better. No news in this case is just a larger chance that a bad comic won’t be a success just because of schadenfreude. My opionion is instead of doing a long analysis of why a particular comic is bad, a laconic “Generic Superhero #11: Bad.”, would help the industry a lot more.

Wow … Tony Moore’s art looks all Erik Larseny there, doesn’t it? Not that I mind; I’ve always liked Larsen. He’s just not one of those artists whom you see really influencing others.

Of course, I may be completely wrong, but that’s how it looks to me.

Thanks, Dean!

Detective Comics would only be cooler if Todd Klein was lettering it all old-timey style, like Desolation Jones.

One day, Dean, one day, you and I will work together on Supergirl. I know, I know, it seems totally unlikely, but it’s totally gonna happen.

Also, I’m so sad you went out and bought those new blinds. *sob* WHAT HAPPENED TO OUR LOVE

That Batman pic’s pretty sweet, by the by.

Thanks Bill! Oh hey! I see you out there! *waves*

I like this column and appreciate that Dean is a critic who rewards good work, as opposed to just scolding bad work like 99% of other internet critics. Good teachers would agree that giving a kid a treat for doing well is a better motivator than whacking them on the bum when they misbehave.

That said, the omission of the current Invincible Iron Man comic is criminal. ;)

“Good teachers would agree that giving a kid a treat for doing well is a better motivator than whacking them on the bum when they misbehave.”

ANAL ALERT! Going by what little I remeber about the topic from my education classes, when I was awake at least, rewarding good behavior with prizes considered a short term solution to reinfrocing positive behavior. I forget the long term one right now, which is why it’s good I haven’t gone in to teaching. Not that I don’t get your point. I guess this was kind of pointless, other than to lamely justify my time in education classes, especially since I’ll probably be refuted by a real teacher like Rice or something.

Oh, and, uh, good work Dean! I may have to give Superman/Batman a look based on that scan of the art alone, and Streets of Gotham I’ll probably read in a trade (I’ve enjoyed what little I’ve read of Dini and Nguyen’s Detective).

Oh! And I’ve read those other comics. I was gonna tack that on there too.

I think Brad Curran is drunk.

Ha ha ha ha ha

Thanks, Nitz. I guess I’ve carved out a little niche of positivity that I enjoy. As a former retailer, I understand the value of not dissing weak books that other folks like, but rather encouraging fans toward the best of the pile. That said, I really enjoy reviews by the other critics here at CBR and around the interwebs.

I also used to teach middle school art, and prefer to reward rather than punish. Both are necessary, but as a fan and creator first and reviewer second, it’s not really my job to hassle anybody, yet. I’ll leave that for Future Dean, President of Comics.

Fake me strikes again!

This is almost bemusing.

Almost.

Also: I would totally vote Trippe for President of Comics. But, who would your running mate be? Jemma Salume? Evan Bryce? John Campbell? Jason Horn? Chris Arrant? You work with too many talented people, man!

“I still don’t get this column. If anything the mainstream comics industry would be helped by pointing out the bad stuff that fanboys just lap up week after week. Can we have a column like that?”

Um… doesn’t that describe 99% of comics writing on the internet?

And the urge to read the Jason Aaron “Ghost Rider” series continues. I might have to break down and buy this.

So I can prep myself, is his run the kind of slow-build, “The first year’s only okay, but you need to read it so you know what’s going on once the second year kicks into high gear” kind of run, or is it immediately entertaining?

Jeff: If you start with Aaron’s first issue, #20, it’s gang-busters right out of the gate. He and Roland Boschi are amazing. The second arc is actually where it drags, as Aaron gets into a “Ghost Riders around the world” thing that is kind of boring. I dropped the book there, and then Moore came on board and apparently the book took off again (Tan Eng Huat provides art for the second arc, and it’s actually pretty good). So now I might have to go back and pick up the back issues. But his first arc, #20-23, kicks a ton of ass.

Excellent, thanks, Greg. I’ll grab the first trade and see what I can make of it.

Jeff – I’m with Greg, Jason Aaron’s run on Ghost Rider rocks the socks right out of the blocks. I think the second arc only suffers a lil’ bit due to waiting a month between issues, but collected or in back issues it’s solid. Tan Eng Huat’s art is a unique flavor, and has a kinetic and expressive vibrancy I really dig. And Aaron delivers badass dialogue in every issue. Dude’s poured so much new lifeblood into that book, you can’t skip it!

It actually amazes me how good Jason Aaron is right now. I haven’t gotten to his Ghost Rider stuff yet (but I will), but he’s consistantly writing the best Wolverine stories in twenty or so years and there’s no real formula to it either. He was willing to portray Logan as a little out of his element, almost comically, in Manifest Destiny and completely in his element and nigh-unstoppable in Wolverine: Weapon X, while doing a pretty heartfelt and clever take on the character over Wolverine #73 and 74. And all of these ended up being just top notch stories.

BTW, if the lead story in Streets wasn’t enough for you, the Manhunter backup was also very, very good.

Dean – I have a new desktop wallpaper now. Great drawing, and thanks!

FunkyGreenJerusalem

June 30, 2009 at 10:30 pm

Can we have a column like that?

Put your money where you’re mouth is – you buy the god awful books (week after week) and review them!

Personally, I don’t need to know what’s bad, I need to know what’s good.

ANAL ALERT!

That totally got me expecting a totally different kind of childhood anecdote.

Excellent, thanks, Greg. I’ll grab the first trade and see what I can make of it

Not to be a wet blanket, but I got all excited based on reviews – and my love of Scalped – and I still haven’t finished the first trade.
It just fell really flat for me.
Both in terms of nothing really happening – nurses with guns does not automatically make a good story – and I don’t think the art matched the writing well.

Funky – Hard to believe! But unlike Greg, I was more excited by the second arc, which is when I jumped on the title. I had to go back for the first trade, but I did enjoy it. If you’ve already got it on hand, I can’t do anything but recommend at least finishing it out. The second arc in there with Huat’s art and the prison stuff was pretty hardcore. Also, I think that’s when Huat came on the book, which is that cool new flavor I mentioned earlier. Anyway, thanks for commenting!

Personally, I’m pulling for Sam and his new column, The God-Awful, Horrendous, Bad Stuff.

Hey so I totally repeated myself there with the Huat-noticing. That’s what I get for multi-tasking while I respond to comments. Darn you, drawing work.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

July 1, 2009 at 8:35 pm

I do plan to read it, but it just hasn’t got off the bottom of my trade pile – every week new stuff comes in, and the pile gets bigger!
I try read in order I get, but sometimes you just get too excited about something new, or start flicking on the train and can’t put it down (which I did with Tomine’s Shortcomings last night).
Wagner’s Zorro was another one I read the whole thing of last night (having brought yesterday) – caught me off guard how into that one I got – it’s good stuff.

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