Thursday, January 27, 2011


AVENGERS #9—Another heavy installment, Bendis and the fellas are dropping the thunder here, no problem. Momentous business with the busted Illuminati. The muscular script goes for broke in a dash to claim the title of this particular corporation’s flagship series. He’s writing it like Morrison did JLA at the end of the twentieth century, I’m trying to say.

NEW AVENGERS #8—What a Deodato cover! And the colors, that one’s really not to be believed, thought it was Stuart and Laura, for sure. Acuna kills the sequentials, though, the best pages I’ve seen from him thus far. Again, Bendis is going for broke. But the Shocking Revelation involving this issue is without a doubt the double-page David Mack spread of the Vision & the Scarlet Witch looking into each other's eyes. You can basically feel Bendis trying to telepathically induce Mack to draw his reboot of the original mini-series, this time with more words and pinpoint characterization, and by Dammit, you can feel Mack agreeing, and yourself, getting ready to pony up the three dollars and ninety-nine cents plus tax. At the register, it seemed like a dick move for Marvel to release all three main $4 AVENGERS on the same day, but I have to say I’m liking the effect of slamming through them like this, with these other knuckleheads up next, going back to Mars with Shang-Chi, or some shit.

SECRET AVENGERS #9—You know what, this is G.I. Joe Avengers, is what we got right here. And I mean that in the best possible way. It’s just dawned on me that this book is basically the modern-day iteration of a S.H.I.E.L.D. monthly, and that they ought to give Steranko a jingle, I mean come on why not.

UNCANNY X-MEN #532—So, UNCANNY’s just going to be $4 for 22 pages now, too? Damn it! I keep being part of the problem! Every single book so far + THOR. I want to boycott the $4 cover price, but can’t! Thanks, though, DC.

Ah, this is fine. Fraction Gillen Land, I love CASANOVA and PHONOGRAM tra-lala. The Marvel price point really makes them look like assholes, as deftly as Brevoort spins it.

NEW MUTANTS #21—This is already turning out to be a pretty serious two-issue sleeper event unto itself before that last scene just fucking suckerpunches you. Nice uppercut, lads. Those Rasputins do it to me every time.

NEW YORK FIVE #1—Oh man, is Ryan Kelly just a master of what he does. Absurd how good that man is. Wood’s skewed take on, shockingly, GOSSIP GIRL by way of SCOTT PILGRIM and the aforementioned Master Kelly is a huge surprise. Can’t believe I passed on the new edition of the first volume of these when I held it in my hands a few weeks ago. God, I miss LOCAL. Or new LOCALs, I should say. This is one that maybe all the hip folk will be talking about, if you care to approach them swaddled in their own base vernacular. Which is certainly good enough for the fellas, here. Gobs of respect.

FABLES #101—The Shanower art looks so good! Surprising how great a non-Buckingham issue can be, I have never given the notion really any credence at all. Willingham has been at the top of his storytelling game for a few years, now. This title is so elastic, maybe the most versatile storytelling engine this side of The Doctah. Or Gaiman, whenever he's inspired enough to channel his own real and true D’s nuts.

AMERICAN VAMPIRE #10—That page where the cars are crashing and the two guys are bailing out? That’s what I’ve always been wanting from this situation when I encounter it in fiction. In a car falling off a cliff? Don’t go down with the ship, man! Take your chances with a broken leg or two, dashed up against the cliff on your way down.

Looks like NY5 is getting enough of a push, there. Good thing.

ACTION COMICS #897—That first page is just a whole lot to take, not even counting, ayeGod, the YOGI BEAR video game on the insane front cover. Are we not entertained?!? And then Cornell’s first Joker page, I think only the third of this particular periodical, is one of the all-time greats, just right out of the gate. Joker is certainly escalation from Death, I did not figure that out for myself. How hard not to just spiral off into a buddy-periodical starring these two nuts. Good show, Mr. Cornell and compatriots. When Superman actually shows back up in this thing, it’s going to be like ALL-STAR SUPERMAN’s coming out monthly, somehow. Maybe. I hope.

DETECTIVE COMICS #873—What a symmetrical week. Not even counting the Founding Family brilliance, but tonight I’ve got Faith’s 5 x 5, a perfect Big Two split, opened the evening with the cream of the Avengers and X-franchises before sliding into a Vertigo triptych (and where the hell is the last JOE THE BARBARIAN, anyway? Murphy was pretty much hitting his deadlines throughout and lad simply fell to pieces on us here at the end? Or, really what I hope, Dave Stewart’s just been holed up for all these weeks seeming like a total dick but really hard at work on his Sistine Chapel. What a best case BEST case scenario that would turn out to be, story still developing, breathless viewers...), and then, the cornerstones, ACTION & DETECTIVE. This is poetry. Maybe I should get going, here, on the actual Gotham yarn.

Jock takes top marks for these no background DC covers this month. Not even counting the interiors. You know what, somebody show me a better 3-part Dick Grayson story than this. I’m not sure that there’s one out there. And these yokels are just getting started! Such a such such a good time to be a Bat-fan. I am really going to have a sad, maudlin old time when Morrison finally gets done, but folks like this give me hope. In three or five months, this could be my favorite thing on the stands. Or whatever else is happening with FF or the rest of the caped crusaders.

BEST OF WEEK: Too many worthy contenders, but considering how well Hickman & Epting delivered amidst the deafening hype, no contest. I need to write better words about what just happened, there.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


An immaculate fourth movement that surpassed the considerable build-up hype. Ever since Hickman's first issue, I have constantly had to hold myself together to even try and talk about what's happening here with this run. Perfection actualizing itself.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Happy birthday, Buffy Anne. I can't believe you're younger than my little brother. I don't, actually.

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER: SEASON EIGHT #40—It was pretty much compulsory to jam the first four parts immediately before jumping in with this, at long last, final finale issue of this most grueling of seasons. Jeanty has come so far, really beautiful work, here. Interesting that at the end of season 8, we almost cycle back to the initial season 1 set-up, almost like every season was a note on the major scale and we’re all the way back up to do, pronounced doe, a deer, a female deer. Huh, sorry, I suddenly have three piano students and am apparently relating everything to the black and whites at the moment. Um, this was a good end. The cover almost makes me cry, too.

(later: just read that Rebekah Isaacs is supposed to draw Season Nine, which is great terrific news, can't imagine a better fit.

THE BOYS #50—I’m such a fan of the writing in this book that I don’t want to talk about it any more, because I don’t feel qualified to. Ennis is on his own level, man. The Garth Plane.

(huh, now, suddenly, there’s an airplane roaring overhead, coming in for a landing at old AIBA)

MORNING GLORIES #6—Issues 2-4 dipped a bit in terms of self-contained thunder, but are going to read like a dream sandwiched in between the pilot and these last couple. I heard they were going to price that trade to sell, not only is it going to move like hotcakes, it’s going to be one hell of a damn read, too. Which is always preferable, but it’s nice to hit both.

And wowdamn, with just a line, Spencer pulls a trick almost worthy of the top of MAD MEN 1.03 with the remark by that old codger bartender, skipping the setting quite a ways forward in such an unassuming manner that it’s really kind of horrifying. Brilliant.

A very strong showing from the indies, this week, here at the top. And there was even an Ennis war book that was gone by the time I made it to the rack, alas. Let’s dive headfirst into mainstream superhero comics books. But, first! More Lone Star!

__By the by, I’ve been meaning to say and here’s as good a place as any. The new covenants of Wednesday Night Mass for the new year, which have not been strictly adhered to thus far but which shall be henceforth, are as follows:

1) Writing of Wednesday Night Mass shall take place only on Wednesday night, during or immediately following the reading of the new comics. Exceptions, of course, will be made for shipping delays, but little else. If anything.

2) Wednesday night ain’t over until I say it is.

3) There shall be intoxication, usually and preferably of the kind induced by Lone Star and the occasional glass of fine red wine, but possibly enhanced by one or two or, in ridiculous circumstance involving convergence of shipping, three shots of what is known in some circles as “hard liquor.”

__That is all

So, yes. Detective Comics Comics.

BRIGHTEST DAY #18—All right, the notion on the page 3 splash that we’re suddenly going to lose one of the hawks or Carol, along with the title, those two combine for quite the humorous effect.

Okay, shit, obviously this is written in real time. Just finished. What an issue. Reis is insane. What a concentrated wonderful dose of Reis. We’ve got the series title pegged as completely ironic by now, but I can’t believe how straight up Kill Superboy Tear Off Pantha’s Arm Dark Johns this was. Also, great how he just wove in the rogues and Carol, this and GL and FLASH (and I guess GL CORPS, I pretty much have myself pegged as an asshole now for not reading that this entire time) really are an unspoken event unto themselves. Leading up to an already-bannerhyped event, sure, but this is a pretty cool ramp-up, is my point. Also, now secretly hoping that the final panel of this series is old Slade skullfucking what’s left of Terra. That's pretty much where we're heading in terms of tone with this one, and after that Arsenal thing, not really sure where else to take it.

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #9—Yeah, man, 20 pages like this with 2 ads, that I can do. Top 3 Things I Liked About This: 3) Levitz’s retro Alan Moore transitions. I would blast the shit out of a young guy for doing this, but our man has his stripes, doesn’t he, and it gives me a nice gatherin’-round-the-campfire sort of feeling. Look, repeated dialogue in two different settings! 2) That shot at the bottom of a mid to late page when Brainiac says “Think.” Feels like the high point of the series thus far, in the moment, there. Only until 1) Brin’s “What’s WITH these crazy Durlans?” Haven’t you been waiting your whole life to holler that question out at all your friends?

SUPERIOR #4—Lois’s first exclusive and the all-too-obvious nemesis cliffhanger are strictly by-the-numbers (come to think of it, isn't this exactly how CHOSEN and the KICK-ASS movie ended?), but the notion that Millar is going to tackle the Superman-in-the-Real-World conundrum is side-splitting.

X-FACTOR #214—Darwin solo issue! Great opening bit about the internal monologue, you’ve got to love David. But, ads! I had no idea about that new Rhodey book! The Ubiquitous Mister Spencer & Kitson! Bound to be great. Also, can’t believe RUSE is really coming back. That and NEXT MEN make everything feel even more cyclical than usual all of a sudden. But, oh, X-Factor. The things this team does with what initially seems like nothing more than a wonderful better-than-most-everything-else-on-the-rack-throwaway-issue. This certainly reads like the 2,104th or however many single issue David has written. He’s kind of got the eye for structure and the craft, that one.

THOR #619—God, man. These pages. 3 and 4 alone. Ferry and Holligsworth are producing unbelievable work that I guess most people aren't checking out, because I feel like folks would be making a bigger deal about it all over the place. The first three issues were such a slow build, but we're really cooking now, Odin's justifiably pissed at both of his idiot sons, Kid Loki is fantastic, and King Balder makes a move. This thing with Odin and his crows when he's screaming at Kid Loki, did it beget whatever the hell Casanova does? Or is Fraction injecting his own potent brew into the Marvel/Norse mythos? Still working my way through Simonson's run, just hit #367, which is perfect, as that issue ends with something that happens again this time out. These old gods never really die, do they? This book is gorgeous, gorgeous. Just check out that body language in the one panel with Thor and Odin and Balder. And Hollingsworth's palette might be the best fit on a title for anything on the rack. Thinking this arc is going to take us right up until the movie, now, doesn't seem like we're on the verge of a wrap-up for Part 6.


BEST OF WEEK: THE INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #500—The usual suspects plus a slew of new and old friends show up to deliver what's easily the best single issue of a title starring this character since the classic #232 by Barry Windsor-Smith. Yes, Ellis & Granov killed it, and the Knaufs had a fine run, and of course these guys have been tearing it up for almost three years straight, but in terms of single-sitting meltdown experiences, you can't really get more bang for your buck than this bad boy.

We open with thinking we're going to get a strong done-in-one pushing the monthly's status quo forward just a bit while serving as some kind of symmetrical counterpoint to #7, the last time Tony teamed up with Spidey for the epilogue of a long arc, the relaunch's first. And with all the post-Civil War shenanigans that have gone down since then, particularly considering Norman was this title's Big Bad for an entire year during that time, well, that probably would have been more than enough. But, we get so much more than that. A flash-forward to 2052, two brand-new generations of Starks, the revelation that Pepper's already got Howard the Second well underway, and a continuation of last year's epic Mandarin-centric annual before a final showdown between him and Tony that ultimately supplies the title of the book and, frankly, sets up a status quo that I'd be real interested in seeing explored at a later date (no pun intended). With four different art teams for the various characters, the incumbents deliver their strongest showing of the entire series thus far. Larroca and D'Armata have come a long way since the Wednesday after Favreau/Downey first started taking names. They've left themselves with quite a high bar to hit every month. Just scenes of Tony and Peter hanging out, the light and shadow falling across those faces, top drawer work. And Fraction delivers the second script of his mainstream work* that lives up to the glorious and enormous potential of the mind behind CASANOVA amok and at play in the Marvel Universe.

Lapsed fans, don't wait for the .1 issue, this is what you need. And you can't beat the page rate, $5 for 56 glorious pages of present-day and future Tony trying, as ever, to put the high-yield megaton destructive genies that pop out of his head back in the bottle, and Marvel even throws in a 6-pg WAR MACHINE prologue to sweeten the pot, good-looking Kitson art and a solid script by The Ubiquitous Nick Spencer that suffers slightly from fractured Tarantino syndrome ** but still makes a pretty good argument to check out the latest permutation of The Adventures of Rhodey***. Your take-home #s are: for an extra dollar, you get 40 more pages than last month, and this book's better than it's ever been, and it's always been pretty good. This makes me wonder if Fraction and these other guys have an exit strategy in mind or are just teeing up for the next three years' worth of crazy. Here's hoping the latter proves to be the case.

*UNCANNY X-MEN #512 being the first
**Why give a narrative linear chronology when you can mix up the pieces like a jigsaw puzzle, just because?
***They should quit fucking around and just get Denzel next time, if we're still playing Musical Rhodeys.

Friday, January 14, 2011


JOHN BYRNE’S NEXT MEN VOL. 2 #2—Am almost through the simultaneous runs on FF and ALPHA FLIGHT, and it is a freaky and interesting thing to see how Byrne’s simplified his style over the past twenty-odd years. The recap is done, and we’re off to the races with this one. Still kind of shell-shocked that it’s on the stands. Fifteen years on the shelf, folks. I wish he could get Al Gordon or Terry Austin to ink him. Or hell, make it Dave Stevens, since we’re wishin’*.

THE UNWRITTEN #21—Carey is really sinking his teeth into this one and making no bones about it. There’s only one place this arc can wind up. (cue Mastodon vocal): IN THE BELLY OF THE WHALE! This is as much as I’ve enjoyed the Tommy issues of this series (as opposed to #s 5, 12, and the already classic 16). Solid fun for the hyperliterate members of your family.

BATMAN & ROBIN #19—Cornell & McDaniel totally shatter the finale. I would be even more concerned for the incomings than I was last month, except Gleason nails that cover and Tomasi is obviously the man**. I can’t believe the state of the franchise is such that the creative team of this issue are just fill-ins. In three issues, we got pretty much pitch-perfect characterization of Dick, Damian, and the requisite four pages/issue of Alfred, along with a worthy new addition to the rogues’ gallery, and you know that that kind of thing does not happen just all the time. That cover, though, man, I’m suddenly really looking forward to how it’s going to go with the new guys. Just can’t believe how high the bar is in Gotham at the moment. Pretty serious.

BEST OF WEEK: CASANOVA: GULA #1 (also known as vol. 2 #5, reprinting vol. 1 #s 8 & 9)—That Cris Peter keeps showing up and doing it to it. We lose Cass and Ba but gain Moon, possibly a fair trade? I certainly remember being skeptical at the time, hilarious in hindsight. The thing is, I think I remember the whole thing about #14, but always meant to go back and reread the entire arc but never did, and then when they announced it was coming back in color, of course continued holding off, not that that had been much of a problem up until that point, but all of which to say, I think I’m seeing things, catching clues here, but am also maybe chalking it up to temporary madness, like happens. It would be melodramatic to say that it breaks my heart, but let’s make it, It bums me out that all my friends don’t read this book. It does a really fine job, in even its very lowest moments, of embodying everything I love about comics. My excitement for Volume III knows no bounds.

And the O’Malley backmatter is second only to the Chabon geekery. This is the first time it’s occurred to me that I might one day be ready to French kiss a comic book. What that means, I’m not sure, and kind of hope you don’t sit around and try to work out for yourself. Just forget it. Move along. Go on, now.

*this evening, I jammed the entire oversized ROCKETEER DELUXE volume with the Laura Martin recolors, and boy howdy. Not even counting the shocking guest creators (Jaime! Kaluta! Art Adams! Geof Darrow!), such a ridiculous, gorgeous ride

**hopping over from editing Johns & Van Sciver on Rebirth to co-writing The Sinestro War with same + Reis a couple years later is pretty much my definition of making it happen, people

Sunday, January 9, 2011


What an excellent week of reading. I meant to comment in the past two weeks that basically every huge writer showed up (and while I’m always happy to see him, I don’t count Gaiman in a statement like that, because he’s put out, what, something less than a couple dozen singles in the past decade+. But everybody else was there). Did you notice? Week before Christmas, we got offerings from Hickman FF, two shots of Fraction, Brubaker, Millar (not like my favorite or anything, but his crossover success makes him a part of any conversation involving Big Name Writers at this point, I’d say), some new blood with Snyder, yet another hit of Morrison Batman, and even the Wizard of Northampton taking a rare bow on the rack. We were really only missing Bendis, Johns, and Ellis and look who showed up for the last week of the year. More Hickman, Millar, a double-shot of Brubaker, another one of Johns, Bendis, Ellis in his penultimate (announced) work-for-hire gig, Levitz, and that Paul Cornell, who’s been doing it for me lately.

ANYwho. That was a hell of a curtain call for 2010. When I picked up this week’s books, there wasn’t anything I was really just pumped to hit. Except maybe SUPERBOY. But, you know? The only one of those big boys who showed up was a single Bendis and Johns co-writing BRIGHTEST DAY. So, I settled in for a more mellow night of reading. Only ten Lone Stars tonight, Johnny! Was still pretty knocked out by what I got.

SUPERBOY #3—This is the best new monthly that I’ve hit lately. Lemire’s work here and on that ATOM back-up inspired me to check out his much-lauded ESSEX trilogy, just jammed it these past couple of nights and, friends, I am here to tell you, believe the hype. It is stunning. Like, I had to give the book a long and meaningful hug when I was done. And I wasn’t kidding, either, just grateful. Most highly recommended. As for this title, yeah, he’s making everything sing, I’m really much more invested in the adventures of Connor Kent in Smallville than I ever thought possible. Jamie Grant continues to make you weep with the glory of it all, a hell of a sunrise on page 2. Pier Gallo’s lines do suffer just a bit this month from slight fatigue, not that strange for the third issue of a monthly, you can hear the deadlines rushing up, but the figurework and facial expressions are still excellent. And he manages to work this weirdo in. A head injury does not seem to have threatened Jeff's quest. This SUPERBOY is a fractured narrative that delivers.

WEIRD WORLDS #1—I am a sucker for anthologies, and this one delivers better than most. Jerry Ordway shows up to deliver some of the best work of his that I’ve ever had the privilege of laying eyes upon, and on a fraggin’ Lobo story, no less. A Kevin Van Hook script. Maybe he helped out on those Escapist anthologies Dark Horse used to want $9 for? The other two stories are by writer/artists, neither of whose scripts I’ve run across, if these aren’t their writing debuts. Aaron Lopresti reveals a love of the Silver Age with his origin of Garbageman and Kevin Maguire proves as economical with his words as his lines, giving us just a hint of what kind of a character his alien Tanga might be. Two 9-pg stories and a 10er. A single ad for BATMAN & ROBIN somewhere in there. And that is all. I’ll keep paying $3.99 for this one, but aren’t they rolling it back across the board? A steal at $3, to be certain, but easily worth the extra buck!

BRIGHTEST DAY #17—The problem with having Ivan Reis as one of three or four revolving art teams on your book is you get to a double-page splash and it’s pretty much five-star hyper-detail brilliance and then you turn the page and get on back to perfectly serviceable and even excellent work that is still unfortunately not even close to what’s just overloaded your retinas. Is Qward now like the go-to spot in the DCU when there’s just nowhere else to send your characters? It seems like almost every time a particular narrative starts to run out of gas, it’s off to the anti-matter universe! Maybe not. I’m not caring too much about the Hawks, but the Deadman plot remains pretty interesting, good hook at the end, here. Definitely on board with nine more of these.

ADVENTURE COMICS #522—And back down to $2.99. Beautiful. This one goes right ahead and delivers for everyone who was pumped about the identity of the new Green Lantern of Sector 2814. And Jiminez is doing a Legion Academy book next month?!?!? I can’t believe they found a way to sell me a third Legion book, but them’s the magic words. Paul Levitz is maybe sending all these scripts over the bridge from Valhalla? He deserves it.

HOUSE OF MYSTERY #33—Holy shit, Sturges did it again. I need to go back and count, I feel like he’s almost batting .500 for the entire series on the story-within-a-story not only trumping whatever’s going on in the main frame, but being better than all the individual stories that have come before. And I always think he’s not going to be able to do better, but then the next month or two, he does it again. “Great Artists Steal,” though, man, is going to have to maintain the throne for more than a little while, now. It’s all still riveting with Fig and what’s left of her merry band, of course.

GENERATION HOPE #3—Well, last month didn’t blow me away, but they cranked it up enough this month to carry me right on along. Gillen’s doing a fine job of letting us get to know these kids without jamming characterization down our throats. Espin, like Gallo back on SUPERBOY, dips just a little bit this month, but I bet he’ll get the flow back. With Gillen phasing out Fraction over on UNCANNY, this is probably not one to pass up, if you’re a fence-straddler on the current crop of mutant madness.

X-FACTOR #213—All the Vegas stuff and Rictor/Rahne stuff basically gets put to bed, but oh noes! Pip the Troll is a snake in the grass, a spy in our midst. Who woulda thunk it? The best news is that the recap at least opens with a gag, so maybe PAD will bring back the hilarity we’ve come to expect, nay, demand from that august inaugural page.


BEST OF WEEK: AVENGERS: PRIME#5—I’ve been saying it all along, but I’ll scream it so all the nine worlds can hear me now that the story’s over. This was not only one of the better written and certainly most lavishly illustrated arcs since Bendis took over the franchise seven years ago, it’s a better event book than anything that he (or, yeah, Marvel period) has put out in recent memory. Alan Davis, Mark Farmer, and Javier Rodriguez absolutely take us to church, there appears to be no limit to the amount of stunning vistas and heartstopping slugfests they’re capable of conjuring before our very eyes. And Bendis just nails it. The thing about his other runs like this (HOUSE OF M, SECRET INVASION, to a lesser extent SECRET WAR) is that the concept is always sound and he always comes out of the gate blasting. But then at some point, the train runs off the track. Never more so than SECRET INVASION, that’s a textbook example of how you set up a first issue without any bullshit, just trapdoor, trapdoor, trapdoor, cliffhanger. Sputtering out into the death of a founding Avenger in #8, related in expository captions on top of the action taking place.

But not here, friends. Here, Bendis not only pulls off a perfect-10 landing but mends in truly elegant fashion the rifts first torn asunder five years ago by Joey Q and Mark Millar. Remember how that CAP/IRON MAN: CONFESSION one-shot almost singlehandedly redeemed the entire CIVIL WAR malarkey, tied it up in a little bow and made you see the whole thing in a new light and almost believe that it lived up to its promise? Well, this series does that with at least the past five years of Bendis AVENGERS. Not that it was ever terrible comics, I enjoyed the run as much or more than most and only bailed out on the last year of NA when they jacked up the price, but this series closes the circle, delineates an ending to that first cycle of Bendis AVENGERS stories and retroactively whets our collective appetite for the across-the-board goodness the franchise has been giving us for the past eight months now. Well played, all.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Holiday travels and shenanigans cause another late one, folks. I actually didn’t even crack the first of these badboys until quarter to midnight Friday night, which, yeah, New Year’s Eve, the wife fell out and I just drank champagne and finally dove into the new stack while the madness all around me built, which, I have to tell you, was just a hell of a way to read the first book. What was it called?

S.H.I.E.L.D. #5—Just as Newton got #3, the elder Richards and Stark men take this one, and, you know, it’s a lot of fun. I wish these creators could just give us a series starring them. But it would not be a monthly, no! Words, pictures, this is nothing less than top drawer work, folks, with a last splash that seems so obvious in hindsight but that gasses up the narrative considerably and will leave us breathless for another eight to ten weeks or so. So, make that last gasp a good one.

(at this point, I paused to toast the new year and then watched this bit from Harpo, which happened to have been playing a few minutes earlier on AMC or some such and, really, isn’t it still one of the finest pieces of musical performance you’ve ever seen or imagined?)

AVENGERS #8—I’m impatient to start reading tonight’s new books and there are 13 of these things, so forgive the terse nature of this week’s reviews. Bendis gets me back on board with this arc, redeeming all those pages spent last month on how great the Hood is with a new meeting of the Illuminati. Which, maybe Medusa showing up would have been a bigger deal if she wasn’t on the cover? Not that it’s really like a spoiler or anything, but it was weird, because I saw the cover and made the mental adjustment, oh, that’s right, it would be her, and then the characters’ surprise was a beat in the plot. It’s better not to remind us that we’re outside of the picture, we want to be in their heads, feeling their surprise, not thinking Tony’s a doof for not checking out the cover. Nitpicking, though, what a huge last splash. That’s a pretty big moment. And the oral history continues to dominate, though at this rate, we’re going to be up to #500 in just a few months. It will actually be hilarious to hear the characters talk about Disassembled. In the hands of about anyone else, I think it would be a masturbatory Ourobouros train wreck, but I bet that old Bendis still finds a way to make me smile. He always does.

OSBORN #2—Kelly Sue continues to tear it up. And, my God, Emma Rios. But it looks like Ellis was only on board for #1. I didn’t catch McKelvie’s work on the interior’s, a mistaken cover credit? We hit the gas in this one, next issue should be pretty interesting.

ASTONISHING X-MEN: XENOGENESIS #4—Oh, I am the sad that teh Ellis is almost done playing with the X-toys. Certainly the definitive voice of Emma Frost, but he really makes the franchise sing in a way that it hasn’t since Morrison was tearing it up ten years ago. And Kaare Andrews turns in increasingly jaw-dropping work, I stared at that double-page celestial thing for what felt like much too long of a time.

NEW MUTANTS #20—Derp! He’s back! That was a crazy moment with Illyana, but she’s still a demon running with the angels. Right? Right?

CAPTAIN AMERICA #613—So glad this book can look this good without Epting, I was afraid it was never going to recapture this run’s halcyon days. The Nomad back-up was pretty hardcore. A younger version of me would’ve told you different, but I actually enjoyed the artistic switch-up between the two. Oh, and I am now officially fucking sick of William H. Macy’s new show. Wild and crazy! Never even heard of it before seeing an ad for it six times in a row.

INCOGNITO: BAD INFLUENCES #2—Another treasure. The comic books these guys make should be minted. Almost a platonic form of the medium, you can’t add or subtract a line of dialogue or art without reducing the perfection before you. And then Nevins drops in again and blows everyone away with the pulp essay. This is a hell of a value for your t’ree fifty, ladies and gentlemen.

NEMESIS #4—I . . . actually didn’t mind this so much? McNiven always kills it. I thought it was going to maybe end? Not very conclusive as a standalone, but hey, True Top Gun Romance is making a movie out of it, so I guess Millar can chalk this one up as another win. The script vs. art pages are hilarious. Like, maybe a joke, even, I wouldn’t put it past that Scottish imp. If not, I hope old McNiven is pulling at least 60%.

GREEN LANTERN #61—Mm, I don’t really care about Atroticus and dug this about as much as I could for an issue starring him. It kind of seems like Johns enjoys writing stand-alone issues for villains.

FLASH #8—Yah, it really really does. This is a pretty solid Rebirth done-in-one for Professor Zoom. Had a cool Twilight Zone/Outer Limits anthology show feel to it. If one of those things blew up into a monster Big Event, of course. This Flashpoint is probably going to be pretty solid, I’m thinking.

ACTION COMICS #896—Lex trying to talk his way out of it was a deft piece of writing. Running out of things to say about this arc. It’s really fucking good. Going to follow Spencer/Silva over to the OLSEN special, they’re doing the best work I’ve seen with that guy in years, hell, maybe in my entire natural lifetime.

DETECTIVE COMICS #872—Oh, Scott Snyder, how can you be killing it so hard out of the gate? Lining up this creative team was a masterstroke, everybody is at the top of their game. Was that plummet off the space needle thing an homage to Dick & Damian’s jump up at the top of BATMAN & ROBIN? It takes some balls to reference Quitely, but Jock more than gets it done. It doesn’t look good for Dick, no!

THE DARK KNIGHT #1—I was impressed by this. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise, but it kind of freaked me out how much like Jim Lee this artwork looked. He found a good man in Scott Williams! I knew the pencils would be solid, but had no idea what to expect from the writing, and am pleased to see Finch come out swinging, doing a fine job with the time-honored journal narration from YEAR: ONE. Too, it was nice to have someone walk in on the last page and not have that beat already plastered all over the title pages of CBR, Bleeding Cool, etcetera. A promising beginning.