ComicsCulture – Introducing The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Comics. Something our little site has been light on of late. Well good news! That’s all going to change!

Every week I’ll be bringing you The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, a weekly round up of the weeks best and worst comics out there. So without further ado let’s begin!

The Good

Star Wars Agent of the Empire: Hard Targets #4
(Dark Horse Comics)
Oh, Jahan Cross, you scoundrel! He manages to anger and then befriend the former bodyguard of Serreno’s count, just in time for the galaxy’s most dangerous bounty hunter (who speaks almost exclusively in Hemingway sentences) to subcontract the kidnapping of a young boy caught in the middle of galactic politics. The locales are exotic and well depicted (there’s a great two page splash), the pacing and action are gripping and there’s decent character work as well. Like an athlete in a contract year, John Ostrander’s script performs at an all-star level, and the artwork from Davide Fabbri, Christian Dalla Vecchia and Wes Dzioba makes every moment work. With the wonderful backdrop of an Empire solidifying its power (and when you really look at that, it paints this story in a much more interesting light than the light fare one might presume), this is the “Star Wars” comic we’ve been waiting for.

Batman and Robin Annual #1
(DC Comics)
Jump from the Read Pile.
With a refreshing balance of action scenes and emotional connections between characters, this issue went a long way to cement the relationship between Bruce Wayne and his often bloodthirsty son. We also get a very rare glimpse into the life and romance of Thomas and Martha Wayne, discovering elements that might not even contradict things that have gone before. Taking a moment to see a smiling Batman, having Bruce Wayne play soccer with kids in Barcelona … this comic book charms you with almost every panel. Peter Tomasi’s script, the artwork from Ardian Syaf, Vicente Cifuentes and John Kalisz … this is a comic book you’ll cherish, one that characterizes this teaming of Batman and Robin wonderfully, with a cross-continental plot that rocks. A sheer treasure.


The Bad & The Ugly

“Red Lanterns” #16 was, in fact, a symphony of stupidity. Atrocitus manages to, using “blood magic,” convert the entire Manhunter organization to something resembling space Catholicism so they can team up to go kill the Guardians, as if either of them could ever accomplish such a feat. Atrocitus, the space pope. Sure, why not? Also, the Red Lanterns apparently have a security guard named after an Autobot medic, for some reason. Really, scarily bad.

Ooh, ooh, ooh, wait, it gets worse. “X-Treme X-Men” #9 is like somebody sat in a comic book store and tried to come up with every possible bad mutant-minded idea at the same time, then jam ’em into one comic book. Taking the old “Exiles” “Sliders” shtick and popping in Elseworlds versions of mutants (there are two Dazzlers, for the love of pie) including: a Cyclops who’s Black and fought in the Union Army, the severed head of Chuck Xavier (because, apparently, Futurama is fair game), Steampunk Gay Wolverine, Gay Hercules (in love with Steampunk Gay Wolverine) all fighting against (not making this up) Lord Xavier, Witch King of Gha-No-Sha. Did we mention this is just a part of their struggle against a series of parallel universe evil Chuck Xaviers? Let’s stop talking about this.

“Before Watchmen: Dollar Bill” #1, by comparison, was a lesser shade of terrible, racked with cliches (including Dewey, Cheatham and Howe from the old Johnny Carson days), tedious and dull adventurism, flat characterization, an ending that somehow makes something stupid even stupider, all while Alan Moore slowly seethes and tries to buy scrapings of Dan Didio’s skin off of eBay to complete his voodoo torture doll. Like waking up, over and over, and realizing that you are underneath Meat Loaf. Abominable.

“He-Man and the Masters of The Universe” #6 reveals some odd things on its way to a cliche battle with Skeletor being really, really stupid (like he wanted to lose, almost). However, that comic book was like reading a Pulitzer nominee compared to “Masters of The Universe: The Origin of He-Man” #1, which had no actual elements of an origin, few actual instances of character and virtually no plot. This comic book strove mightily, reaching for the levels of awfulness achieved by the first six issues of “Superman/Batman” or “Spider-Man: House of M.” Not good.