Wednesday, February 29, 2012


PROPHET #22—Another solid slab of science pulp goodness. Gone are the sideburns, the headdress. The shoulderpads. The tone of Prophet’s wanderings through this desolate wasteland bring a certain Confederate veteran named Carter to mind. This issue survives the inevitable sophomore slump, now that my expectations are so jacked up from the first issue. A satisfying episode in its own right, but this time with a set-up promising that next month will be even better. Really digging on this.

CHEW #24—All right, I was fortunate enough to get to sit down with Layman & Guillory last month in New Orleans, and there was no way that I was going to not be up to date on the title, so I got off the tradewaiting bench and snatched up #21-23 and 27 (solid little mindfuck, that), all of which to say that this is the first issue of this excellent series that I read the day that it came out, and I have to tell you, sign me up for 36 more issues of exactly that. Our main character continues to spend almost the entire issue off-panel, but this time the spotlight is on the undercover trio of Olive, Mason, and Caesar. These characters play off each other so well, you want them just to get a spinoff to themselves. We get a new power, courtesy of Hershel Brown, whose opening scene might be the funniest one this issue has supplied yet. Not even counting the Southpark and Kirkmanly Easter eggs. And just when I couldn’t be more pleased with myself for picking this up the day it comes up, McLain McGuire’s right arm makes the letter column, a thrill for all to behold! We are all of us, creators and readers alike, having far too much fun with a series about superpowered cannibal FDA agents.

MORNING GLORIES #16—Man, Image certainly dropped a cluster of bombs the week before the Expo. This is more L O S T than your average shot of MGA, which is really saying something (we even get the word in-dialogue again, page 6, panel 2), but what we have here is a double-flashback, our present-tense Casey time-travelled back to the same military base where she lived with her parents when she was three, getting grilled by some MPs and then meeting that younger version of her dad, then that juxtaposed against a later flashback in the neighborhood of a hypothetical #0 relating the process of Casey getting accepted into the academy, her parents blocking her attendance before relenting, then a last-shot revelation on the part of her father that might have led to the shock ending of #1? Then Miz Hodge reprises her return to the campus from a few issues back, her first appearance, I want to say, but I’m not 100% on why we’re getting, I think verbatim, that entire scene again for five full pages unless it’s to ground this timeline in the Holy Shit! fact that the last page takes place no earlier than just a few issues back and Casey has just been hanging around for that dozen+ years, doing Spencer knows what. Fodder for flashbacks in the 30s and 40s, no doubt. I sense this series might read better in trade, but I just can’t wait! Certainly a gripping installment, here. Fine work, all around.

AMERICAN VAMPIRE #24—On the other hand, this one suffers a bit from the episodic format. I get that you need some page-space to most effectively convey a fight between a vampire and a hunter aboard a dragster hurtling down the road. It just felt a bit, I’m so sorry, skinny by the time I made it through? I’m probably missing the point, but after two years, I want Skinner Sweet to be just like the least bit nuanced. He’s just so nasty, reptilian-tongue-angled-out baaaaad! I’m absolutely not rooting for him the way Harris gets you on-board with Lecter or Hill dials you in to whatever we’re calling the antagonist of LOCKE & KEY now (#1,2 bumper compendium released next week, absolutely cannot wait to finally dive in to Volume 5). Albuquerque, of course, continues to make it happen on every level.

FLASH #6—I couldn’t quite click with this one, either, certainly not as well as with the first five of these. Maybe it just still seems too weird having someone else lay her head in Barry’s lap, maybe it was the stilted boyfriend/girlfriend dialogue, maybe it was actually all the time-jumps (and as an acolyte of fractured storytelling who cut his teeth on Tarantino and adores L O S T, if it’s too jilting for me, then we definitely have a problem, Houston). All that said, the art is still top-notch and they still manage to finally pick up enough steam to roar toward a hell of a cliffhanger.

THE MIGHTY THOR #11—Deplorable art. Even Ferry’s pages look rushed. The lack of this kind of fill-in malarkey is exactly what’s kept me onboard with IRON MAN, you’ve got to respect those guys showing up every month. Just about ready to walk, but don’t want to bail on Fraction and keep hoping the next arc will be a return to greatness. Wait, they’re about to launch into another event, you say?

BEST OF WEEK: FANTASTIC FOUR #603—Man, as tremendous as all that creator-owned output was this week (and I didn’t even get BULLETPROOF COFFIN), Hickman & Kitson continue to do nothing less than simply rocket this thing up out of orbit each and every chance they get. The accrued weight of the narrative is approaching critical mass, it has to be. The fact that the Staple con is this weekend made me realize that we’re coming right up on the end of three years of Hickman’s run and it just keeps building, swollen up now to something almost beyond belief, over a dozen characters who can barely be contained by two monthly titles. The guy is still running with and organically developing threads that he first started weaving in a damn DARK REIGN mini-series that had to drop in out of nowhere in 2009 to pick up the slack because Millar/Hitch couldn’t be counted upon and ultimately failed to deliver 16 issues in a row of the flagship title. Highlights from this glorious issue include Bentley threatening an orbiting Fantastic Five with destruction before getting shoved aside so that Valeria can tell her dad that she knows she’s grounded, Franklin’s reunion with Uncle Johnny, Galactus fighting and killing a Celestial amidst copious Kirby krackle before getting blasted all to hell when his three brothers Voltron up into a mega-Celestial, and then a final page-turn so grand and glorious that it just about has to bring a tear to any parents’ eye. This is the story of a post-nuclear family who loves each other, fighting to save the universe from itself, and it has been one of my favorite things ever. I never want to read the words THE END but really can’t see how much longer this seething cosmic furnace can sustain itself before at long last burning out.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


BATMAN #6—The first phase of this conflict draws to a close with our hero finally managing to overcome the new antagonist who’s been outclassing him since first dropping in (always a dicey proposition in a BATMAN title, but the creative team pulls it off as well as possible). However, from that last page, we see that they’re just getting started, these owl folk are going to be up to no good for quite some time to come. I like how the book threads the line of ambiguity between whether they’re all wearing masks and Bruce is just seeing them as owls because he’s all doped up or what. Capullo/Glapion deliver satisfying catharsis with Batman finally roaring up and beating the hell out of Talon. Really dynamic good-looking pages, there. Can’t remember the last time a punch getting thrown looked so good. Half a year down the line, this team is still performing at the height of their creative powers and delivering one of the finest books on the rack today.

WONDER WOMAN #6—Oh, I miss the Chiang. Akins doesn’t drop the ball by any means, but Chiang put such an indelible stamp on his first four issues that anyone else has just a hell of a time picking up the pieces. More shenanigans with Hera this time out, as Diana manipulates her fish uncle Poseidon right where she needs him to be in order to get the better of her, I don’t know, wicked stepmother? Not quite, but close enough. Azzarello continues to entertain and never overly explain in this supercollision of Greek myth and the Wonder Woman mythos.

FABLES #114—We start off another arc (well, two, if you count the three-pager at the end) with a clearly malevolent toy tugboat who took me out of the story every single time he was on-panel by bringing to mind Tugger (“Tuggah”) of Foightin’ Round the World!-fame (see: SOUTHPARK 6.05). I’m going to have to get over that. We get another two pages of Bad Sam, a breakout-character-in-the-making if ever there was one, spend a little time with Bigby and Winter, as well as at home with Snow and the rest of the cubs, and really just set the stage for what’s to come. Willingham’s accrued long-term storytelling chops are seriously starting to freak me out.

DAREDEVIL #9—Waid continues to mine greatness from a well-tapped vein with the head-slappingly simple conceit of pitting our intrepid Man Without Fear against that original 616 antagonist, the Mole Man. More gorgeous pages and pitch-perfect characterization via caption dialogue. That first two-page spread from Rivera is as iconic as any shot in this character’s rich history. This run and Hickman over on FF(s) are the reason that I have no chance whatsoever of boycotting Marvel, despite all that righteous Kirby indignation that keeps crackling all up and around.

THE INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #513—Rhodey has a great entrance and then of course has to take Tony in, because isn’t that always the way. This one’s still earning its $4 cover, but I’d be all right if the fellas wanted to pack it in after another year or so.

X-FACTOR #232—Madrox makes it home! Gets laid! Bad guys from alternate dimensions follow him back! Still no sign of Alex & Lorna! PAD winks at long-time readers!

THE NEW AVENGERS #21—Because nobody demanded it, Clor 2 VS Luke Cage’s Avengers. Deodato certainly draws the hell out of it. I’ve said it before, but really wish Bendis would have left Osborn on the shelf and come up with something new rather than just revisit already-trod ground. Bringing back the Thor clone really drives the point home.

THE AVENGERS #22—Really, Obama? We’re going to make overtures to Osborn, now? I think if Bendis hadn’t already announced that this is his homestretch, if these runs still seemed open-ended, I would bail. But there are just another couple dozen+ $4 singles before he takes his bow. Of course, they’ll get Hickman and I’ll be on the hook for another five+ years.


BEST OF WEEK: GLORY #23—A revelation. As much as I’ve been digging on Azzarello/Chiang’s reboot, this is probably the best single issue of WONDER WOMAN that I’ve ever read. Joe Keatinge pulls the seemingly impossible trick of not throwing out any of the character’s existing continuity, folding in the Alan Moore tweaks, and then making it his own streamlined version, all of this delivered in a manner that perfectly balances new-reader-friendly exposition with a combination of scenes that propel the action forward. And that doesn’t even count the nine-panel scene wherein, through dialogue alone, she basically cuts Supreme’s dick off and then flies away. And Ross Campbell. What a guy. I’ve never run across his work before, but it is thunder on every level. You just need a glance at that opening shot of her punching the tank to know. This dude is, among many other things, the Anti-Benes. Which is perfect for this book. I mean, think about it. This character, along with maybe Lady Death, represents the absolute nadir of comic book storytelling in the 90s. All Liefeld did was take Wonder Woman, chop a couple inches off her skirt, blow her bust size up to two or three times of its original level, and send her out into the world to bring home some money from pre-Internet fanboys titillated by all of that skin. By grafting on to the character just a bit of the whole fascination-with-mortals thing that keeps Thor hopping over that Rainbow Bridge, as well as playing down the soft curvy feminine cheesecake aspect in favor of emphasizing that she’s a bruiser who could straight up clean Supreme’s clock, Keatinge/Campbell perform one of the most improbable character rehabilitations of all time. Really impressed with this and PROPHET, Liefeld could not have hired better guys for the job.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


BEST OF WEEK: CONAN #1—Oh my Crom. I am wild about DEMO and have picked up just about everything that Wood and Cloonan have released separately. And Dave Stewart is easily one of the best guys working today. So my expectations for this were pretty stratospheric. But these people still managed to absolutely blow me out of the water. I wasn’t prepared for the magnitude of how much I loved every page of this. The captions in Courier New, conjuring old Bob Howard’s Underwood typewriter, where it all began. The dashing breadth and adventurous scope of Cloonan’s vistas, the energy of her figures hurling themselves headlong into danger, the cocksure grin on our hero’s normally dour visage. How Stewart uses the sky to control the light and tones, as he should, there is no artificial lighting to be had, even though BĂȘlit manages to conjure up her own lusty sort of foggy purple iridescence, which is a perfect fit. But it took active effort after the fact to parse these elements, these creators all turn in top-flight work that fuses into a unified narrative experience that carries the reader away, immerses us back in a time before the rise of the sons of Aryas, when a Cimmerian with not that many years of battle behind him fought and stole and laughed and loved, slew and sailed and drank and sought. This is already one of the best comics on the rack. And they’re just getting started.

JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #634—Once again, the recap page is worth the price of admission alone. There are some who might prefer their fantasy comics not to reference Tarantino and quote APOCALYPSE NOW back-to-back, but I am not that animal. And speaking of, the look in the hellhound’s eyes when it asks Hellstrom to be his master is perfection. Loki ripping up the narrative caption is also a fine thing. I was a fan of that page that recycled the art of Loki and Leah finding the source but adding Nightmare’s captions, it didn’t feel like a cheat, somehow. All of this just in time for Loki to recreate Mia Wallace’s fucking trippy moment in PULP FICTION, which of course gets telegraphed on the recap page. Elson’s art wasn’t quite as good this time out, but Gillen is in as fine a form as ever.

THE UNWRITTEN #34—All right, this is the first issue in which the double-down really seems to be doing a number on the art. It’s a lot closer to Perker’s work on AIR, which I was not crazy about, and not as good as Gross’s lines on the majority of this series. I’m sure that that will level out after this crazy double-arc, but the strain is starting to show. Just more than a lot going down on the story side of this thing, as ever. We’re not even to the end of the arc and get the answer that the council doesn’t really know anything and there must be much more going on than we’ve been led to believe thus far. Which makes sense, there’s no way something as winding and labyrinthine as this story about all stories could just coast into a tidy resolution. Great fun, looking forward to the next .5 in a couple of weeks.

FRANKENSTEIN, AGENT OF S.H.A.D.E. #6—Wow. In a month when some of the DC titles take a bit of a drop in quality, a natural result of settling into the no-late-shipping monthly deadline sprint rhythm, Lemire/Ponticelli/Villarrubia turn in arguably the strongest issue of this series thus far. I might have dragged the pacing out just a little bit and let that one humanid achieve sentience and run off with no follow-up until next month, spent the rest of the issue messing around in Vietnam with our cast going after Col. Quantum, but Frank sends him off to his reward in a brief but effective scene and we are on to the main show. O.M.A.C.’s boss has evolved the humanids in a nice bit of strategy to cripple S.H.A.D.E., our heroes are outnumbered, and the original Creature Commandoes are lurking on the last page! A wild pulp ride, twenty pages more than worth your three dollar bills.

GREEN LANTERN #6—Big shame to finally lose the Mahnke/Alamy streak. It’s been almost three years, maybe? Seems like there have only been maybe a couple fill-ins since Mahnke first showed up two and a half years ago to draw #43 of the previous volume on a prologue to Blackest Night. I’ve enjoyed Choi’s work in the past but it was really quite jarring in this context. I get that you can’t always find a perfect stylistic match for fill-ins, but if that’s going to be the case, the story should ideally somehow reflect that. Like, if this had been a flashback issue, then it wouldn’t have seemed so strange that Hal and Carol suddenly looked about ten years younger. The art switchup put the spotlight on the story and helped me see that I’m picking this up more out of habit than anything else after seven years, though honestly the Mahnke streak is a huge drawing point. Embattled times, Hal Jordan!

BATWOMAN #6—Man, I guess the dip was inevitable, but this was still a bit much. I haven’t checked out MADAME XANADU, so I don’t know if her covers are just like much better than her interiors, but this is not the caliber of work that I was expecting from Amy Reeder Hadley when she finally clocked in. And, I mean, it looks rushed. She’s had no small amount of lead time, hey. Anatomy should be a bit less wonkier than this. Respect for at least attempting a crazy Williams layout on pages 2 and 3 to preserve artistic continuity, but without his chops to back it up, even such a commendable effort falls a bit flat. And the story even seemed to be not quite as solid, jumping around in a way that seemed more scattershot than symphonic. I wish that they’d tag-teamed this book all artjam-style, the way they did in #0 with Williams handling the in-costume action and Hadley doing the Kate scenes, because that was a solid mesh, a very good fit. This came across as much more second-tier than it needs to if it’s going to sustain its audience for an entire arc with this set-up. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still better than a great deal of what’s on the rack, just not nearly as compelling as the first five issues have led me to expect from the series.

BATMAN & ROBIN #6—Tomasi/Gleason/Ward do a fantastic job upping the ante on this one. The cover alone is instantly classic, even though it pulls the classic doesn’t-happen-in-the-issue about-face. But there’s enough meat in here that I didn’t realize that until well after finishing the issue. Loved that splash of savage Bruce smashing through Morgan’s windshield. And Tomasi remembers right where to put Damian’s trademark *Tt*. This is a fine slice of serial entertainment, one that definitely has me on pins and needles for the next installment, which is no mean feat, six months in.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


BEST OF WEEK: ACTION COMICS #6—With this last pair of issues, Morrison and fill-in penciler Andy Kubert (not a phrase you hear that often) succeed in cranking this book up to, if not ALL-STAR SUPERMAN-levels of wonder and brilliance, then close enough to get the job done. Especially since this thing keeps cranking out every four weeks, I think it was close to two years by the time Quitely had the first six in the can. On the other hand, the hustle shows. The Legion fight scenes, in particular, look a bit rushed. This isn’t altogether a bad thing, as it in some small way captures that dynamic energy that Kirby splashed out all over the place when he was just slamming out two or three pages a day, but it’s certainly a far cry from Kubert’s meticulous-to-the-point-of-eyebleed work a couple years back with Gaiman on the underpraised “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?” Not sure I’ve seen Gotham look as impressive since. But ACTION, this story right here is a great big Silver Age romp. Let me see if I can tell this right. The Superman from the DC-present, the guy in George Perez’s run, journeys back in time to the present day of this initial ACTION run with his friends, the original Legion triumvirate, to save his rocket, which is running out of kryptonite and about to reboot, which will bring Braniac into the situation somehow. But meanwhile, the Anti-Superman squad is having a meeting IN A SMALL POCKET OF TESSERACT-SPACE INSIDE SUPERMAN’S HEAD to determine what happens to the rocket core, who gets what. Um. I think I should have reread the last few pages of #5, I was so overwhelmed by then, I’m not sure how this story got set up. Are the Anti-S Squad from the future/DC present, too, and also came back in time to steal the core? They wouldn’t have to be, except for the fact that they’re hiding in the head of the older Superman, seems like that would need to be the case. It is enough to make a fella’s head hurt. At any rate, interspersed with all of that madness, we get flashbacks of Superboy’s first meeting with the Legion and a few key scenes of Pa Kent teaching Peter that with great power comes great responsibility. Saturn Girl tying it all together for the big finish really did a number on me. Morrison finding new, more streamlined ways to tell these myths is a strong validation of the entire reboot concept. I mean, if I can get choked up about Superboy meeting the Legion? That’s happened like fifteen times, already. The backup is again rock-solid, definitely worth the extra buck. Jose Villarubbia’s overexposed blasted white tones in the flashback images are a particularly nice touch. Hell of an issue.

O.M.A.C. #6—We gladly welcome back Giffen as Didio brings a Fury into the fold and reprises COUNTDOWN’s infamous Ted Kordicide for a bold new era. Plus THE PRISONER catchphrase, always bonus points for that. Only two issues left, going to miss this one every first week out.

ANIMAL MAN #6—Well, this was totally filler, but John Paul Leon’s on art, so what are you gonna do? We get to see Buddy act in TIGHTS, the movie that’s led to a resurgence in his career. He’s better than I thought he’d be. Probably no nominations, but not bad.

SWAMP THING #6—Rudy shows back up and maintains the high standard set by Paquette. More boo’ful layouts. But wtf, Snyder, you just did that ending with Batman a couple of weeks ago, guy! I’m sure you write these all out of sequence and they may have been conceived weeks or months apart, but you can’t just crib your own cliffhangers! Looking forward to #7 and more thunder from Paquette.

STORMWATCH #6—That was pretty crazy. Cornell throws in a dash of PLANETARY into the status quo going forward for good measure and drops his mic on the way out the door. I forget who’s replacing him but think it made me want to bail, as well. This was a solid run, could have been a little loonier than Ellis-lite, but it certainly ramped up in the last couple of issues.

THE BOYS #63—Hughie finally gets his. And boy, does he. My man brings the splatter. And there’s some pretty grievous damage on our side of the fence too. You can really feel it all spinning up here, Ennis is going to do some real damage on his way out. Can’t believe this is only going to happen seven more times.

X-FACTOR #231—Ha, PAD takes a page out of the ol’ Lindelof playbook and doesn’t follow up on last issue’s cliffhanger in any way, whatsoever. On the other hand, we have Captain Deathlok America vs Iron Man in yet another Marvel Universe that Wanda ruined (when Tony asked Madrox if Wanda ruined his world too, you could just hear the growl of one thousand fanboys. “It was Bendis.”). This was entertaining enough but is wearing a little bit thin, it will definitely be all right to shut this arc down next time around. And get our boy back home so that he can hang out with Alex and Lorna and Guido and Rahne! Like in our childhood!

THE DEFENDERS #3—More Great Weird Fun from Fraction and the gang. It looks like they might have knocked out this arc in three and on to the next thing? That would be nice. Loved the detail about Iron Fist punching the dragon’s heart when he was a little boy. The best random footer is probably a tie between WHAT IF IT ISN’T A CANKER SORE and STORY INTERRUPTED SECOND PAGE PREVIOUS. I’m a sucker for the ones that make fun of the ads, I guess. It’s pretty wild that they’re asking $4 for a DEFENDERS book every month out, but as long as they don’t start crapping them out bi-weekly, I’m on board for the time being. And scene!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


JUSTICE LEAGUE #5—It’s against my upbringing not to be digging on Jim Lee drawing a bunch of Justice Leaguers going toe-to-toe with Darkseid amidst the stygian wasteland of Apokolips, but man, this thing is so light on character it’s about to blow away up out of the atmosphere. And the thing is, we know that Johns is capable of it. It’s certainly in vogue to malign him, but his JSA run did an immaculate job developing and making the reader invest in a bunch of Golden Age characters that many felt had no place still having adventures on the rack. You know what, I like his Wonder Woman here, but she’s really not doing anything but providing a couple beats of comic relief per issue. And I know I shouldn’t care, because you just can’t let yourself, absolutely cannot fall into the trap of trying to reconcile a single thing about the DCs that were and the one that currently is right here in this one fleeting moment, but when Hal starts arguing with Bruce in just like the most lowest-common-denominator summer-blockbuster-for-the-masses kind of way, then my inner continuity authority starts dialing back and whispering disturbing things like, This is still the Hal from before the reboot, the one that Johns has all the man-love for, the one he’s been writing since 2005 and it’s pretty much a given that the pre-reboot GL continuity still counts, but so does this guy remember that Bruce died during Final Crisis and that Dick was Batman? Or wait, this is in the past, right?so this is like after the Secret Origin arc from the last volume so it doesn’t matter right here, This Hal, but as soon as we get to “The Present” tense of this league then, I mean, Blackest Night has to count, right? and on and on like that and it’s just a mess and with Lee no longer going to be able to make the monthly deadline, I think I’d bail except I’m a little curious about Johns & Frank on Shazam, because their time together on ACTION was quite strong.

FLASH #5—Not only a solid finish to a very strong opening arc, but Manapul & Buccellato drop us right into the next situation with a cliffhanger that raises the stakes just exactly the way that it ought to. The origin of the EMP is perfect and head-slappingly obvious in hindsight but really, the way they set us up for what’s yet to come is very encouraging that this team will be able to go the distance with a long and much-beloved run on this character*. Manapul joins Paquette over on SWAMP THING in really really giving old J.H. Williams III a run for his money on layouts, just a ridiculous mountain to attempt scaling. My favorite part of the whole thing is probably the Eisner titles double-page spread. Fine work.

THE UNWRITTEN #33 & #33.5—I picked up #33 late because it was underordered, which seemed like a cool thing, getting to read these back to back instead of two weeks apart. So, wouldn’t you know it, this was the first done-in-one that I wasn’t crazy about. Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood to read about a little tiny girl get molested and impregnated by her father (even taken through this book’s storymagic manipulation filter). But I have trouble seeing how this is going to ever come around and fit into the big picture. I mean, obviously those two characters could go on to perform come crucial act that sets the stage for a series climax, but it’s not like they’re the only ones. The thing about dropping all these monthly .5s is that now there are so many plates spinning, it doesn’t seem possible that Carey’s going to be able to fold them all back into the main narrative. And at this point, it feels like the threads on this book should be starting to converge, not spin them out farther and further. The main title, Tommy hits a snag that will hopefully lead to him and the readers getting some information while he’s in captivity that cranks things up just a bit, here.

AMERICAN VAMPIRE #23—Baaaaahhh! Snyder gets us again! It’s been long enough that I totally wasn’t expecting the same cliffhanger that he must really have trotted out like at least four times now. I mean, great job, it worked again, after a few months, maybe a year off. But once again, he’s done such a solid job creating a character whose captions help the reader at once dial right in to their situation that we feel like we’ve been reading about him much longer than only two issues. And Albuquerque continues to do nothing but blow it up, gorgeous work, such dynamic energy crackling off the pages.

KIRBY: GENESIS #5—Well, it’s just as gloriously Kirby clusterfuck batshit as ever, so put me down as satisfied. Haven’t been interested in trying to snatch up all the spinoffs tentacleing out of this spinning madness mainly because the point of this series seems to me to be all of these insane discarded flashes of the great man bouncing off each other, with most of the fun being watching Busiek & Ross try to make just barely coherent sense of it all. Plus, it is always a fine thing to turn the page to discover an Alex Ross painting of a Kirby Supergod reaching out at you. The best part was them emboldening “MELTDOWN” and putting it in quotes. Could have even made it two words. Maybe this will get old, but it hasn’t yet.

SECRET AVENGERS #21.1—Well, I went ahead and picked this up, if only for the rare thrill of a Remender book that Marvel isn’t charging $3.99 for. Certainly a well-constructed two-man assault on a random foreign country, the entire affair built as a bridge between Ellis’s surgical sickness and whatever comes next. Killer art from Zircher. Solid issue, but probably not enough to make me stick around on the monthly once this jumps back up in price.

THE MIGHTY THOR #10—Mm, we get a fill-in on art and it’s still not quite enough to make me cut the cord. I dunno. Fraction’s just almost not doing it for me here in singles at the moment. I think I want to like the run more than I actually am.

BEST OF WEEK: FANTASTIC FOUR #602; FF #14—These two are truly flip-sides of the same coin and the engaged reader is doing him- or herself a terrible disservice not picking up both issues, particularly at the $2.99 price-point. We open with Kitson/Mounts on the flagship title, delivering what amounts to Part 4 or 5 of, really, my favorite Big Event that Marvel’s put out in at least the past decade+, all the more satisfying due to the fact that it’s taking place organically as part of a monthly series and spawning only a single tie-in that’s every bit as wonderful as the original. But yeah, it is blitzkrieg go-time from page one, we’ve got Kree Invaders in orbit, Cap and Iron Man and a couple of Hulks about to be overrun, Ben & Johnny & Spidey opening up a can of whupass before Sue completely steals their thunder and reminds us for the umpteenth time why she’s the most powerful member of the team (even though Johnny is, yeah, still a lot scarier since he came back), and then Reed and Sue call Galactus and he slaughters the Kree armada and then the mad Celestials who’ve been hanging out over in FF the past couple months show up . . . and MEANWHILE, IN FF: we flashback cut on over to the kids in the Future Foundation holding off those self-same Celestials with the help of Nathaniel Richards and especially the final surviving alternate Reed Richards and the one true Victor Von Doom. And. Um. They do. I think I’m too sad to talk anymore about it. But the profound relationship between Valeria and Doom is my favorite thing in a long list of things that I absolutely love about Hickman’s run. My man continues to do nothing but drop the thermonuclear devastation all over the place with these. Great fun.

*OH no, just real sorry about that, double-unintentional but no time to change it