So, let's see how this prediction experiment turned out. I'll run through the rest of the comics I bought this week, and I'll announce the BEST OF THE WEEK at the end. Here goes...
52 #48: This was a weak issue. I think Montoya needs to lose the fedora. I guess she's keeping it to honor Charlie or something, but she just looks ridiculous in the classic Question attire. Put her in a trenchcoat if you must, but give her just a plain black shirt--no tie, no fedora. Really. It's silly. And, yeah, this is a Rucka-heavy issue obviously, and it was clunky and flat. By the way, does anyone actually read the "origin" back-ups? I have liked the art on a few of them, but they seem pretty pointless to me. Predicted Grade: B / Actual Grade: D. Very disappointing.
Atom #10: No Panda, which is good. But I really hated the opening sequence, and the art is inconsistent. The Atom's not-so-secret love has some strange proportions. I still think the footnotes are a terrible idea that Simone is sticking with out of stubbornness. They detract from the narrative without adding any value. But, I kind of liked this issue overall, even with the flaws. It's nice to get to know this Ryan Choi guy, and that's what this issue's primarily about. Predicted Grade: B- / Actual Grade: B-. Yup. As expected.
American Virgin #13: Maybe it's because the protagonist is so humorless, or maybe it's because the whole series has been one quest narrative after another, but I'm just not feelin' this comic book. Even with the excellent-as-usual Cloonan art. I'll probably stick with it until the end of this story arc, but I can't see buying it much longer. Predicted Grade: C / Actual Grade: C-. Time to drop it, I guess.
Detective Comics #831: This issue didn't work for me. I've never thought Harley Quinn was much of a character and Dini didn't convince me otherwise in this issue. Dini, by the way, has seemed to avoid actually writing Batman stories, have you noticed that? He's exploring the secondary characters pretty extensively (and he has done a nice job with the Riddler in previous issues) but he seems to shy away from exploring Batman himself. Why do you suppose that is? And Bruce Wayne's appeal to the parole board at the end seemed wildly dangerous and out-of-character. So there's that as well. Predicted Grade: B / Actual Grade: C. Disappointing. I hope Dini can bounce back next issue.
Jonah Hex #18: This one was a surprise. It didn't even have Noto art, but I bought it anyway, even with the pedestrian work of Val Semeiks gracing the pages. Yet, I thought this was one of the tightest, most engaging Hex stories in a while. It was actually good. I think Hex could use a bit more narrative momentum between issues, though. I like the idea of the single issue stories, but what's the benefit, really? Is this really an entry-level book for any reader? Why not add some complexity to the narrative, or at least some subplots? That might compel me to keep reading. Predicted Grade: C / Actual Grade: A-. Nicely done, boys.
Midnighter #6: This one had even less of a "threat" than previous stories. It's just some alternate history version of the Midnighter/Apollo relationship with really nice Fabry art but not much else to recommend it. Really, shockingly pointless overall. Predicted Grade: B- / Actual Grade: C-. A severe disappointment.
Scalped #4: I like the build-up to the casino opening. I like the flashbacks. The story could have used maybe one more significant event, but it's still got some savagely powerful art by R. M. Guera and I like the tone of this comic. Predicted Grade: C / Actual Grade: B. I'm looking forward to next issue.
Superman #661: Yeah. This was weak. But I liked the Howell and Barreto art a lot. This comic looks like it could have been published in 1987, but that actually makes it charming in the context of 2007. Yet, sadly, the story didn't have much going for it. Predicted Grade: C+ / Actual Grade: C. Yeah. A fill-in.
Superman/Batman #33: A dramatic ending to a weak story. I liked this issue a lot more than the last couple, and although Benitez uses some strange poses at times, I like the character he adds to the faces, even if it is a bit McFarlane-ish for my usual tastes. I thought this issue turned out pretty well, with a nice, positive conclusion. Predicted Grade: C+ / Actual Grade: B+. Nicely done.
Welcome to Tranquility #5: Stuff is happening! The bad guy is revealed. And there's another layer of secrecy. And a really cool Captain-Marvel-as-a-geriatric-scene. Predicted Grade: B+ / Actual Grade: A-. Good work, Gail Simone. Maybe I'd like the Atom more if Googe were drawing that as well.
Marvel Zombies vs. the Army of Darkness #2: One of the great things about the character of Ash is that you can write really bad dialogue for him and it seems to fit perfectly. You can "hear" Bruce Campbell delivering those kind of lines. So I don't know if Layman's just a bad writer, or if he's just perfect for this comic, but this was another good issue. Predicted Grade: B+ / Actual Grade: B. Not as much happened as I would have liked, but the ending was pretty cool.
Madman Atomic Comics #1: Guess what? My store never got any copies of this. Predicted Grade: A- / Actual Grade: ???
Annihilation: Heralds of Galactus #2: I didn't buy this because I still don't have issue #1. Maybe I'll track it down someday.
Avengers: The Initiative #1: The cover of this book bears no resemblance to its contents. And that's a good thing. This is one of the best issues of the week. It's "Young Avengers Boot Camp" with all that such a concept implies. I love the dark undertones, and I love the way the characters have been established already. And I especially love the derogatory use of the term "New Warriors." A really promising start. You done good, Dan Slott. Real good. Predicted Grade: B- / Actual Grade: A. Surprising, in a good way!
Dark Tower: The Gunslinger #3: Yup, it's still got Richard Isanove ruining Jae Lee's fine artwork. Yup, I'm still not buying it.
Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America--Wolverine: I thoroughly enjoyed this issue. The characterization of Wolverine was better than I've seen him in the past year, and I love the use of Dr. Strange. I like that this issue goes out of its way to establish that, yes, Cap is really dead. Really. Because, honestly, we all need to hear that. So his return will be so much cooler! Predicted Grade: C+ / Actual Grade: A-. Nice job on this one too. Marvel's coming on strong in this post-Civil War environment.
Iron Fist #4: I own the Essential Iron Fist, and I really need to read it immediately, because this series seems to rely on a knowledge of the character's past. Yet, even without that knowledge, I liked this issue quite a bit. And, as I've said before, I love the pulp-era Iron Fist! Such a cool concept. Predicted Grade: A- / Actual Grade: A-. Good stuff.
Ms. Marvel #14: Still a solid title. The whole theme of this series, and it's being handled well, is: What does it mean to be a hero? (And, correspondingly, "How do I make heroic decisions?") In this issue, Ms. Marvel must face the consequences of one of those decisions, and it's played quite well. Brian Reed is one of the best of the "young" writers at Marvel. And, oh yeah, freakin' MODOK is in the next issue! Predicted Grade: B / Actual Grade: B+. Solid.
Omega Flight #1: Yes, I bought this. I'm not a fan of the Kolins art, and it was even worse than normal in this issue (it seemed rushed), but I really can't resist a story which stars Walter Langowski. I liked the story well enough--the pacing seemed about right, and it had the Wrecking Crew, so I gotta love that. But I have gigantic reservations about the U.S.Agent. We'll see how he's handled in the future. Predicted Grade: B- / Actual Grade: B. Not too shabby.
Runaways #25: Would the Runaway gang really hook up with the Kingpin so soon? It seems wrong to me. Not because they'd be disinclined to talk to a "villain," but because they have spent their entire career avoiding conflect and hiding out from everyone. Why show up in New York and set up a meeting with the most powerful gangland figure? But, if I play along with it, the rest of the story works quite well. It's fun and it's got 'splosions! But, yeah, I'm having trouble getting over that Kingpin hurdle. Predicted Grade: B+ / Actual Grade: B. Kingpin--can't let it go.
Ant-Man #7: BEST OF THE WEEK! Yes, I just can't help fall in love with a series which features such a likeable sleaze. And it has and epic battle with the Black Fox! And, yeah, I really think Kirkman is the guy destined to do a great run on Spider-Man someday. Maybe he'll take over the Ultimate title when Bendis ditches. A Kirkman/Immonen USM would be pretty sweet. Predicted Grade: A / Actual Grade: A+. I'll love this title until the bitter end.
Wow. So even though I am an unabashed DC guy, I was disappointed by a lot of the DC stuff and surprised by the Marvel quality. Come on, DC! You can turn it around. You know what, though? I really think there's a wealth of quality titles on the shelves these days. I don't think this is a groundbreaking era by any means, but the average quality is pretty darn high, don't you think? Higher than it's been in recent memory. Go Comics!