Iron Man #19 -- A "World War Hulk" tie-in, this issue is featues beautiful art by Butch Guice, and a pretty well-written script by Christos Gage, who wrote the surprisingly-good "Civil War: Casualties of War" one-shot. The story follows Tony Stark's day as the Hulk's stoneship makes its way to Earth, and his preparations for the inevitable showdown. By this point, the details of Iron Man and Hulk's fight have been hashed through quite thoroughly, but ultimately, this Iron Fan is more than satisfied with how he is portrayed both here and in "World War Hulk" #1, which I did not buy, and do not intend to buy in the future. One thing which I must give credit to Marvel is the way they use the tie-ins to these giant crossovers: both "Civil War" and so far "World War Hulk" have given me enough information in the tie-ins that I already buy to be able to dodge buying the main miniseries. Tony is fighting against an unmoving editorial wall in the Hulk, however. Still, I liked this comic book quite a bit, and by buying it I didn't need to drop $4 on a miniseries either. There's a lot of perfectly justified Iron Haters out on the Internet nowadays, but a lot that comes from his portrayl in titles outside of his own -- I think that if given a chance, most Marvel readers would enjoy this title. Recommended reading for Iron Fans, and as I have been saying for months, non-Iron Fans might like what they find as well.
Nova #3 -- It's been a rough homecoming for Richard Rider. His parents don't seem to know how to respond him, the entire community he knew has changed, and now he is facing down the most viscious "heroes" in the entire world -- the Thunderbolts! Will Nova register and join the Initiative, or throw in his lot with common criminals? Another enjoyable issue which deals very nicely with the fact that, especially to someone who wasn't there when all this went down, "CW" changed a lot of people really fast, and some parts of it simply make no sense. Richard's choice at the end is pretty much the only one he could have made, "Annihilation: Conquest" not withstanding. Also, it's interesting to see some of the details regarding everyone working for the government -- the T-Bolts, for example, do not answer to Tony Stark in any capacity, which is mind-boggling. Anyway, this was a nice little "check-in" from space for Nova, definitely a good read, and with "A:C" on the horizon, this series should remain interesting. This little story might be just a "name check" for the Initiative, and it definitely demonstrates just how head-scratchingly weird it is to have Speedball be grim n' gritty, but Nova (the character) has been on a roll of sorts since this time last year, so I'm happily along for the ride.
Annihilation: Conquest Prologue -- Ah, no ads. My favorite kind of comic book. Well, okay, my favorite kind of comic book has no ads and, say, Iron Man fighting Fin Fang Foom, but you get my point. I bought into "Annihilation" whole-hog and was not disappointed in it. From the Prologue to the four miniseries to the actual meat and potatoes event, "Annihilation" was like a nice honeydew sorbet for the pallete stomped upon by the harsh taste of "Civil War." And, judging by this Prologue, the sequel looks to be more of the same (in a good way). As the Kree Empire tries to rebuild itself following the Annihilation War, some heroes find new paths to walk (the former Star-Lord, Peter Quill) while others find new purpose and drive (the new Quasar, Phylla-Vel). I don't know much about either of these characters except what they did in "Annihilation," but DnA do a good job of bringing them to life, and giving them unique and memorable voices. Quill especially is a fun character, the kind of down on his luck regular joe who would have fit in back in the Mighty Marvel Manner 3 decades ago. The baddies of the piece are almost like someone in editorial threw out the names of every alien race from the 90s they could think of then picked one, but for right now I think it's an interesting choice with a lot of potential. Looks like "A:C" will be the refreshingly fruity alternative to "The Initiative." Ahhhhhh.
Heroes for Hire #11 -- A lot of people get on me about this, but man, is this a fun title. EVen when Humbug is captured by giant psychic insects in the Savage Land, it's fun, full of energy, and fast paced. The team returns from the Savage Land (with Moon Boy!) and find themselves smack dab in the middle of "World War Hulk" #1. Luckily for the readers, they go do something on the side of the main story instead of just watching Green Genes beat up Shellhead. The mix of characters, and the way which Wells plays them off of each other keeps me coming back for more and more. Also fun in this issue is a backup featuring the new Scorpion being tailed (no pun intended) by resident a-hole Paladin, which features the most insanely awesome weapon in the history of the Marvel universe: JOSH! I think all Marvel readers should be buying and supporting this title. It's solid every month without a lot of yakking or overly politcal allegory which falls apart on closer inspection. It's like the Bronze Age all over again! (Take that as you will.)
Iron Man: Hypervelocity #6 -- Adam Warren's technogeek love-fest wraps up here in what can be best described as the wet dream of a guy who spends too much time at Radio Shack. The entire issue takes place in about 3 minutes and 38 seconds as Warren finally ties the iArmor gags into something involved with the plot. It's unfortunate that none of the developments from this series will ever be used again, since Bendis didn't author it. Still, fans feeling the backlash of the mass of negative Iron Man appearances all over the Marvel Universe (I'm looking at you, Slott, and you too, JMS!) could do a lot worse than grabbing this in trade form -- high energy and always bounding forward with a lot of creative if not always 100% defined ideas. Not that there's anything wrong with that... when did we reach the point where we couldn't have things just be vague for vagueries sake?
Then again, there is a whole faction of folks who believe that Marvel's current output is part of some vast right-wing conspiracy; those will probably see Tony 2.0's approach to "godhood" as more of the same.
Pick of the Pile: Have to give it to "Annihilation: Conquest." An overall enjoyable tale which sets up some very interesting new conflicts. Hopefully "A:C" will continue the high standards of the first one, and give us all a reason to read Marvel beyond the quasi-politcal re-enactments.