29.Feb.2008 The Best of the Bunch: Week of 2/27/2008

What’s a comic book blog with some weekly book reviews?!

Well, when you’re readin’ the Monkey you’ll get The Best of the Bunch!

If you grabbed books this week, you don’t need me to tell you that good reads were in abundance. Between perennial crowd-pleasers like Geoff John’s Action Comics and Justice Society of America, and Ed Brubaker’s Captain America and Daredevil (not to mention an exceptional kick-off to volume two of his Icon series with Sean Phillips, Criminal), but the book that really rocked my week was JSA Classified #35.

Much like last week’s Superman Confidential, I grabbed this issue because it was written by B. Clay Moore. I picked up Hawaiian Dick—Moore’s awesome Image series—last year and was amazingly pleased to find it was exactly the type of book I was hoping it’d be after seeing the cover, and I’ve checked out as much as I could by Clay since. I heard about the Superman book from Clay when I did an interview with him last fall for a Columbia Missourian article about professional comic creators in and around Kansas City. I was jazzed to read Confidential and really enjoyed it, but in the end, I’m not a big Superman guy. However, when I heard he was doing a three-issue arc on JSA Classified starring Wildcat, I was ecstatic!

Seriously, as far as I’m concerned, Ted Grant is the preeminent badass of the comic book world, because he was the first and he’s still kickin’…

…The coolest thing about the beginning of this arc, is it asks exactly that; why is Ted Grant still wearing the whiskers after all these years? GL poses the question and tells Ted that his old gyms in Gotham are looking a little fishy. So, Ted jumps on his bike and heads to check it out and maybe reaffirm for himself why he hasn’t retired. He punches people and the plot thickens—I could keep telling you what happened or tell you why it was awesome. I’ll opt for the latter.

The dialogue’s tight and rings true of a down-to-Earth, graying boxer in a cat suit constantly outshined by his superpowerful teammates and without sounding as ridiculous as that description of the hero. The plot isn’t overwhelming after one issue but allows for punches aplenty and has more than enough room for chances to analyze what keeps this golden age hero going. Reading the book, it felt like it was written exactly for my tastes and was enjoyable from first page to closing cliffhanger, and that’s just the writing.

Ramon Perez’s art was…well, let’s just say I want to paste it up all over my white and extremely boring apartment walls. He captures the essence of why Wildcat is just flat-out cool in the opening fight sequence and emphasizes every cool jab and hook throughout the book. And the scenes where Moore juxtaposes Wildcat’s past with his present, Perez deserves a callout just for drawing that awesome image of Wildcat punching a ‘20s classic boxer through the seat of a chair…

…Other than the above-mentioned books, I have to give a call out to Blue Beetle. Seeing Jaime Reyes dawn the Ted Kord Beetle costume after 24 issues was just plain awesome…

…and this whole issue was a slam-bang, drag-out action extravaganza. Great stuff!

Lastly, I loved X-Men: Legacy. I’m a big X-Fan, and seeing such an interesting exploration of the easily-clichéd “Xavier might not be perfectly altruistic” theme was really a treat.

Ok folks, that’s it for this week’s bunch, and hey, feel free to email me any questions or comments at TheLoudestMonkey@gmail.com!

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