Well, between preparing for family coming in from out of town for Independence Day and some shipping snafus from the fine folks at Diamond, I unfortunately did not get the chance to read, or purchase, all of the comic books I wanted this week. But, I did get some of them, and actually had time to even read some, too!
Checkmate #15 -- Part 5 of "Checkout," and the final part taking place in "Checkmate" unfolds here. While Chang Tzu/Chung Zhu/Egg-Fu begins his gruesome research, the remaining Royals must negoitate their way through a politcal minefield to recover their team. Lucky the Outsiders have no such qualms. This is a slower paced issue, with a lot of focus on more Checkmate-specific stuff which is somewhat obscure to me. Still, Egg-Fu's reseach is cruel and upsetting without being stomach churning or gory, and you feel for those under his knife. I got a weird Unit 731 vibe from these scenes, even though the nationality is wrong. The last page cliffhanger is basically spoiled by the solicit for Outsiders #49, but its sill enjoyable. This crossover has been fun reading in a "last decade" sort of way; nothing Earth-shattering or hugely intelligent, but a good excuse for some action and a good buildup to the upcoming reformat of the Outsiders. Hopefully the finale will not disappoint. All in all, a good pick-up, with some interesting groundwork being laid for the future of both teams.
JSA Classified #27 -- The conclusion of Tieri's Wildcat story bows, with the Sportsmaster (who seems really young considering how long he has been kicking around) trying to clean up his balance sheet by taking on the entire JSA. Sounds impossible, you say? Well, stranger things have been known to happen! Tieri has a very good voice for Wildcat, a gruff voice like the one which might belong to a cool uncle who gave you your first beer and Playboy. There's action aplenty as well, and let's face it, Sportsmaster is both funny and interesting a concept for a villain. I like this series as it gives little side stories and insight into players we normally only see in a team environment. Plus, hey, two issues and the story's done, I can dig that, too.
Legion of Monsters: Satana -- The third "LoM" one-shot, this comic features a lead story with cover-girl Satana, the Devil's Daughter, plus a back-up starring N'Kantu, the Living Mummy. The lead story is fun if lightweight; Satana is never a character I took all that seriously, but if this is her status quo in the current MU, then I am all for it. Robin Furth, best known for working with Peter David on the "Dark Tower" offerings, writes Satana pretty much as I would imagine -- that is, if a member of the cast of Sex & The City were a soul-stealing succubus. The first page is a nice homage to the first Satana story, which was amusing. The backup is the real star here, as Jonathon Hickman's fully integrated art and story create a sort graphical design take on a comic book. This is something I would call a "graphic novel," as it is not sequential art, but the art and story are inseperably linked together as one entity. The story holds up as well, with lots of history and mysticism, as a series "Nightly News"-esque info boxes, including one which partially reproduces N'Kantu's OHOTMU entry. Buy this comic for the second story -- the headliner's just tasty gravy.
(At this point I feel I should reiterate that I want Legion of Monsters as an ongoing Marvel horror anthology.)
Marvel Adventures: The Avengers #14 -- The Avengers travel to a far-off land to help a village stand up to a group of rampaging warlords. Oddly, the solicitation for this involved the Agents of Atlas (yay) and KANG (YAY!), but neither of them show up... scheduling snafu? I was keyed up for the Conquerer and this failed to deliver him. Still, this is fun, fast-paced, and severely lacking in characters standing around being serious, this is the kind of comic book which you used to look forward to when you were a kid. Me, I still do, so what does that say. Marvel readers burned out on politics could do a lot worse.
Infuriatingly enough, Diamond still has shorted the shop on copies of Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #53, so I still haven't read it. Curses!
Pick Of The Pile: It might have been harder had I received all of my pulled comics, but of the ones I read, I have to give the nod to Legion of Monsters. The Satana story is nothing special, but the Living Mummy story is worth the price of admission, even at 12 pages. Very cool all the way.