We're officially into it. Now that we've got a couple weeks under our belt, I know exactly which ones to read and in which order. Basically, the good ones come first and the not so good are last. Some I skipped altogether and are going to left out for review purposes. Skipping pages is a little weird because of the cost issue, but I still feel like the good ones are good enough to justify the whole thing.
BATMAN by writer Brian Azzarello and artist Eduardo Risso
This Batman story is blowing me away. A lot of the panels in this strip feel "Powerful Panels" worthy. Especially the panel when the son throws this droplets into his mouth. It's a weird panel because it's completely interpretive of the action. The panel is meant to convey getting the last drop out of your cup but there are slightly too many and it just looks like that's the way he's drinking. It's particularly good because it somehow manages to sum up why this guy is creepy. Like, he's so awkward, even his drink comes out awkwardly. Batman lurking in the background is a nice touch and his fist appearing while the girl is slapped works as a way to show Batman's anger in contrast to the son's. This is another page that could stand on it's own and tell a complete story.
KAMANDI by writer Dave Gibbons and artist Ryan Sook
I skipped this one on my initial run through, not because it's bad, but because it's more dense that most of the others. A mini adventure happens in each of the recent Kamandi. I get excited by the ideas of Kamandi like Apes driving jeeps, airships, and caveboys wielding guns. When it's drawn well and not too dense it works great. The characterizations are done very well. Tuftan, despite being this noble prince, has a warm reunion with Kamandi in the last episode and is reprimanded by Dr. Canus. He's shown looking sullen about it, which is a panel that really adds to the investment in the character. Stuff like this is especially important--these tiny gestures of characterization--when you're only getting a page a week.
SUPERMAN by writer John Arcudi and artist Lee Bermejo
I like how this page gives you the two halves of Superman's personality shown through the major locations in his life. The story seems to be just dissecting the personality of Superman. There hasn't been a single villian for the past two pages and it's still going strong. My big worry is that existential Superman could wear thin. I think as long as the art continues to knock socks off it will work. Be sure to pay attention to John Kents' expression in the last panel and that will pretty much tell you why this story is good.
DEADMAN by writers Dave Bullock and Vinton Heuck and artist Dave Bullock
I'm really getting into this. I like how the page is carefully constructed to be a page in a newspaper. The idea of this crazy murderer's mind being all messed up is intense. Even the idea of this murderer being possessed by a demon or something, as the last panel implies, makes perfect sense as a metaphor.
GREEN LANTERN by writer Kurt Busiek and artist Joe Quiñones
I'm still not ready to give up here. The black and white panel of the astronaut changing into a alien and the half-Green Lantern half-Hal Jordan panel still got me to cross my fingers. Even the party with Ferris and Jordan has me a little intrigued. I hope next week rules.
METAMORPHO by writer Neil Gaiman and artist Michael Allred
I don't even care about this story. I would continue to be happy with full page Allred Metamorpho spreads though.
STRANGE ADVENTURES by writer/artist Paul Pope
Again, lots of good stuff to harp on. The best part is how Pope explains the silliness of the zeta-beam strike into something meaningful. He comments that nothing like this could have ever happend on Earth. It's almost as if Adam Strange is in on the workings of the story itself which even kind of makes sense because of his super power. Pope's always been one to play with comics form and expectations and he's quietly getting meta here even as he gives you pure Pulp.
METAL MEN by writer Dan DiDio and artists Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and Kevin Nowlan
The reason why this works is because the strength of the villain. The robber in this page behaves realistically in the situation. He grabs onto a last ditch chance at safety and holds onto it. The last panel is a challenge to the "robots" to beat his trigger finger. It's a classic set-up but it still works because it grounded in reality. Guns are the sort of the ultimate power and seeing super heroes outwit them really never gets old.
WONDER WOMAN by writer/artist Ben Caldwell
Let's talk about Little Nemo in Slumberland. The reason why it is great is because of it's simplicity and it's formula. Most pages in Nemo end with him waking up. It's a large and important part of the story because it tell how his dream affects him in the real world. It's also the joke of the strip and the focus. In Wonder Woman there is no focus. What these dreams mean is undefined and they don't matter at all.
SGT. ROCK and EASY CO. by writer Adam Kubert and artist Joe Kubert
These pages have been simple, quick, and enjoyable so far. The page setup is excellent because the climax panel of the interrogation scene where Rock looks defiant is directly under the climax of the tunnel searching flashback where the Easy Co. asserts that they go in together and come out together. Both panels sum up what's special about these men. They have a brotherhood and heart that propels them forward. This contrasts with the two Nazi interrogators just from their body language alone.
FLASH COMICS by writers Karl Kerschl and Brenden Fletcher and artist Karl Kerschl
Remember how last week (Monday) I said it wouldn't be outrageous if Iris just left? Well she did! The thing that is really sad here is that Barry doesn't get the message even by the end of the page. Iris has left and by saying, "I loved you", she's made things pretty final between them. Then, in the Flash's strip he's still trying to make things right the same way he always has by doing superhero type feats. This is exactly what Iris is tired of and it makes the tension between the two strips--and the two characters--even deeper.
HAWKMAN by writer/artist Kyle Baker
The introduction of Aliens turns out to not even be that big a deal. Baker's art and his tone for Hawkman carry it right through the traditional comic book cliches. Aliens are typical comic trope but with lines like, "Suspecting and KNOWING are two different things" and a reaction that isn't exaggerated but a legitimate open-mouth speechlessness make this moment actually meaningful to Hawkman. The panel with Hawkman's red boots and blood on his mace is another Powerful Panels contender. Just sitting here and looking this far into one page of a comic is a pretty good indication that it has something going for it.