SECRET AVENGERS #2 – A double shot of Brubaker Steve Rogers is a fine way to kick things off. There’s a lot going on here. Carol’s trying to figure out why she got bushwacked by Fury, Fury goes into hyperdrive, Rhodey and Ant Man take a page out of the Grimm/Storm playbook then find a giant bad guy who wants to clobber them, Moon Knight, Valkyrie and the Widow find Nova, and we get a killer shot of Steve throwing himself into the fray yet again, shield up and fist cocked back, ready to pound somebody to paste. Oh, and they’re all on Mars (except Fury). Deodato supplies lively visuals and Brubaker keeps things moving, even though we’re still for the most part reading set-up. The franchise is still looking better than it about ever has.
CAPTAIN AMERICA #607 – Love Breitweiser on art, am just fine with Guice going back to inks if this is the level of quality we’re going to be getting. Is Brubaker ever going to walk? Not that I want him to, but it’s starting to freak me out how long he’s managed to keep the quality of this book so high. This is another part 2, so again, it’s more set-up, but it’s an enjoyable enough read. Bucky uses an EMP to attack a nanovirus that’s only trying to give him a buzz. Foolish! Glad he’s still Cap, he and Natasha make a solid couple to succeed Steve and Sharon. Love is in the air, behind the wheel of a flying car.
ACTION COMICS #890 – Marvel cancelled him, DC signed him, what’s the verdict on Cornell’s first issue? (on the company’s flagship, no less) Pretty enjoyable. I expected to dig Lex as protagonist and was not disappointed. The Lois reveal was a good time, particularly that smash mode, there. Cornell teases some nice character moments out of Luthor’s monologue, as well as his handling of that feisty employee. Woods’s work looks a bit more static than, for instance, the UP, UP & AWAY arc, but it gets the job done. Not crazy about the fact that the whole point of this is searching for a power ring, kind of time to move on from that, I’m afraid, but if the character beats stay this strong every issue, I’ll be happy to take a ride into space with Lex and his funky battle-armor and Braniac Kryptotech girlfriend.
GREEN LANTERN #55 – Johns and Mahnke welcome the Main Man into the fold and a fine time is had by all. Mahnke’s work continues to evolve, starting to remind me of Seth Fisher in places. Not as much pages like that splash of Lobo showing up, more like shots of just Hal, the linework. The backup with Dexter is a classic. Jamie Grant, keep working!
FLASH #3 – Loving this book. Am a huge fan of the concept of the Reverse-Rogues, showing up because Barry’s due to commit in three months (why show up that far back, though?). Manapul keeps making it happen, nails the quick-change sequence with aplomb. Sure loved these guys over on ADVENTURE COMICS, but this is a step up. The heart and soul of the book, though, is Barry and Iris, and these guys know it. Nice to have a FLASH title back where it’s supposed to be, up at the top of the heap.
THE INVINCIBLE IRON MAN ANNUAL #1 – I bought the hard copy. Wasn’t Aja supposed to be drawing this? Positive I read Fraction saying that somewhere. Took me a little while to get over that, just because I was so ready for the old IRON FIST team to rock a reunion, but Carmine Di Giandomenico does fine. Fraction’s come up with a cool premise upon which to hang a Mandarin issue with the brilliant, doomed director as protagonist. It's tempting to delve into the subtext of this, or really a subtext, but Mandarin grabbing this prominent talented guy and using him to make art, the stories he wants to tell, you can certainly read that as a metaphor for editorial influence over massive corporate properties involving armor or mutants or thunder gods (can't wait!), but I think I'm going to go with the Sometimes a pipe is just a pipe school of thinking.
Marvel all of a sudden drops serious value here, more like what we've come to expect from DC, does them one better, even. For $5, I count 68 pages of story. That’s worth like $12 at AVENGERS page rates! This is a fine way to bring Mandarin out of hibernation and set him up to come crashing back into the main title at Fraction’s discretion, though certainly an interesting choice to debut their same day digital distribution model, an IRON MAN annual that's only got Tony Stark for like two pages of flashback. Great story, though, and at the end of the day, what else matters?
ASTONISHING X-MEN #34 – Man, Jimenez just deSTROYS this one, he really is industry gold standard at this point. Just gorgeous, gorgeous work. And old Frank D’Armata cranks up his usually excellent work from CAP. Ellis moves the plot along while filling the pages with perfect character interaction, Hank telling Scott to dial it down, Logan complaining about being sent off, Emma turning to Hisako for data on a random bad guy. Storm’s line about the Professor’s wheelchair was my favorite. You’ve got to love it when Brood Sauron shows up. Not sure who that is at the end, are we supposed to know? I mean, it ain’t Chuck, is it? Surely not a clone. Bummed that there’s only one more of these, I could read X-books from these guys until I go blind.
BEST OF WEEK: I almost certainly blew it this week not picking up NORTHLANDERS #28, but one day I will read that in a trade along with #17 for the first time and it will be a sublime experience. My store either didn’t order or didn’t order enough CAPTAIN SWINGs, so I still need to pick that one up, and it would have to be a contendah, even though I’m not sure I’d like it better than those guys killing it over on AXM. But, you know what? I decided to treat the symptoms of my Tradewaiter’s Regret over NORTHLANDERS by finally doling out the last two issues of SCALPED Vol. 6, bookending the evening with them, even, meaning I opened up with #33 and was leveled, Guera’s maybe never looked better, especially that helicopter opening sequence, then it was murder to just stop on that last page and go on to the books that actually came out this week, but oh, #34 waiting for me at the end of the night, absolutely incredible. So, even though they came out months ago, I have to say that two issues of SCALPED are the best thing I read all night. Such a fine, fine series, so glad to be catching up with it. But the next trade isn’t supposed to come out until February! Looks like the wait is over.