CHEW #33 — Layman & Guillory deliver yet another slice of the greatness that we have come to expect. John Colby is playing a very dangerous game. Or, really, just in an awful awful situation. It is wonderful how Savoy merely shows up on the bottom of Page Five for a single panel to utter the name of the island as his sole appearance this issue. Make us thirst for it, gentlemen! Of course, we all know that Tony’s overconfidence re: his secret package reinforcement is going to turn out poorly but these guys still do a masterful job blowing our socks off with the subsequent double-page splash, which has to be both the most stunning and hilarious thing of the week. The thing is, after the special, we know that Poyo can back it up, it’s not just a mega-silly concept for a pin-up, the charming little fellow really can carry his own book. And but what a damn ending. It’s already been like ten issues for me since I jumped off trades and into singles but the wait here is excruciating.
AGE OF ULTRON #6 — All right, this is exactly what I needed, we finally hit the gas right here. The two art styles herein are an appropriate stylistic departure from what we’ve seen before and both good matches for the new time periods (one slight quibble: seems like in the credits, the Petersen art should get credited to FUTURE, not PRESENT. I mean, they’re in the future, aren’t they? There’s no present-day action in this entire issue). I particularly enjoyed the more pastel-heavy palette that Jose Villarrubia elected to employ on the past sequences, it conjured up a very immersive retro vibe and did a fine job distinguishing itself from his work on the other section. Bendis’s ear for Pym’s monologue is as spot-on as ever, though it did take me out of it when he dropped the more modern-day vernacular “game changer” that is so so overused these days (just finally hit Brubaker/Epting’s THE MARVELS PROJECT and was horrified to find Erskine saying the same thing back in 1941). Terms like that and “wheelhouse” really have no place whatsoever in flashback sequences, if a writer is too slammed with titles to catch that sort of thing, that is exactly what you pay the assistant editor for, hey. After Hickman’s economical work with Dragon Man in FF a little while back, it is more than a little disturbing to see him unconscious/deactivated here on the table. Logan’s reaction to witnessing Pym’s epiphany is perfect. Tony totally jinxed the future squad with the “We’re not doing too bad” comment. Terribly stark endings there. Completely onboard with this and hope they don’t mind rushing out the next issue to me just any time now. Which doesn’t seem like it’s going to be much of a problem.
DAREDEVIL #25 — In keeping with the general mindset since this volume’s first issue, there is no attempt made to capitalize upon the fact that the numbering makes this arguably a milestone issue. It is still only $2.99. It does not have a bloated page count or extra pages of story. All that happens is Mark Waid, Chris Samnee, and in particular Javier Rodriguez show up and deliver yet another chapter of one of the best superhero books on the market with compelling narration, edge-of-your-seat plot beats, dynamic kinetic art, and a unique palette that pops right off the page. This one’s still going strong. Seriously running out of good things to say about it.
CONAN THE BARBARIAN #15 — There’s no doubt during those first four pages whose secret origin we’re finally privy to, though, it’s still a nice twist to see how that plays into the status quo at hand. The wrap-up on this one didn’t knock me out the way some others on this series have, I think mainly because it’s pretty directly reminiscent of a couple of them. But hey, I’m sure incoming artist Davide Gianfelice is going to blow it up, if what’s gone before is anything to go by.
FABLES #128 — Bringing Bigby & Snow back to the forefront has gone a long way toward making this title more engaging on a monthly basis. Mr. Buckingham and his worthy contemporaries Misters Leialoha and Pepoy deliver truly rousing double-page spreads of vertical combat between arrogant prince and enraged wolf.
WONDER WOMAN #19 — Well, there’s enough Kirby Krackle for me on the hidden part of that gatefold cover! The way things played out on the interior, I don’t know, I guess it was supposed to be empowering but it came across as a bit lightweight. She should have just kicked Orion’s ass without kissing him and grabbing his balls, that wasn’t exactly the way to combat over-sexualization. I did get a bit tickled with that business with the frog prince inside the belly of Poseidon, though, started thinking about old Lemmiwinks on SOUTHPARK and once you go there, you just can’t find your back. The Gerbil King!
BATWOMAN #19 — Another fill-in, blast it! But once again, Trevor McCarthy and especially Guy Major step up and deliver art that, if not hitting the insanely high bar set by the regular team, at least comes across as the very best effort of which mere mortals are capable. Of course, bizarrely, that said, the issue’s main misfire comes to us from series regular, God of Letters, Todd Klein. The cursive script with a white outline meant to highlight Kate’s mid-fight opponent assessment should be legible in a micro-glance, simulating its split-second nature but it’s distracting and I had to slow down the pace of my reading to understand it, which works to the opposite of what I should think is the intended effect. So, Todd Klein did something this one time that didn’t work. I feel like hell just typing the words. Huge ending, though, definitely on the edge for next issue already, while holding the majority opinion that I hope Brother J.H. is back on-deck to blow us away with his interiors.
BEST OF WEEK: DAREDEVIL: END OF DAYS #7 — Reread this while listening to the TO THE WONDER soundtrack, which I must recommend to one and all (really taking your time so that the seventh track “Toil” is what’s playing at the very end). What a terribly poignant opening scene, I love that Urich never even says a word to Sister Maggie. We only see her for two panels, even. Still, such a calming influence before all the madness finally breaks loose. But wait! In the apartment at 616 Errand Street, #237, in that hard drive, we’ve got folders labeled “Hand,” “Heart,” “Soul,” “Head,” and “Hole,” as well as two labeled “Map” and “One.” That’s got to be it, right? Those two files in that sequence are the beginning of the answer, surely. We just don’t understand the significance. Though it looks like Urich clicked through enough before the ninja attack, at least. Janson/Sienkiewicz/Hollingsworth give us a terrific action sequence at the end just in case this has been too much noir investigation and not enough massive ninja free-for-all for anybody. And the reveal at the end, man, so so damn forehead-slappingly obvious in hindsight, just thrilled and delighted that I never saw it coming. Can’t believe that this is already almost over. They’re going to do it. After all of this time. So grateful to have gotten to read it at all, nothing but top drawer work all around.