Flash #233 -- First thing you'll notice here is that Acuna is gone, replaced by Freddie E. Williams II on interiors. And I for one couldn't be happier. I'm sure that the "blogosphere" will revoke my membership card for this, but Acuna's art on this title was static and eye-aching, with a water-color pallete which did nothing for the character. Things may look more "conventional" here but they also look substantially more like a series entitled Flash. Waid's alien invasion arc wraps up here in the typical Not-Finished-But-Done-For-Now method, and then we get a visit from the Justice League. The first arc since Wally's return sort of just peters out to an end, but the interaction with the League and the discussion of Jai and Iris sorta make up for it; Waid knows how to write Wally and Linda, and makes it look effortless in the process. Should be interesting where the series heads from this point. The backup, with Doug "You have to look up my last name every time you type it" Braithwaite on pencils, is a fun little Jay Garrick story, featuring some aliens who look vaguely like Afghan Hounds, which is not something you see every day.
Annihilation: Conquest: Wraith #4 -- With 'The Kree With No Name' and his new allies facing down some pretty poor odds, it's a last ditch effort to destroy the Phalanx's secret weapon before they can enslave the remaining Kree en masse. But, no one told the Wraith that along the way he'd have to embrace his new destiny, as well as face the Accuser as well! Things have definitely taken a sort of epic-y turn here as the second "A:C" prologue bows. What has impressed me about both the first "Annihilation" and now this one has been the use of the cosmic tropes in new and different scenarios and situations; to wit, how we see Super-Skrull (who, let's face it, rocks) and Ronan in this issue is a twist on their usual roles and produces interesting results. Though nominally about Wraith, this series has focused almost as much on Ronan, who rose from Silver Age Era Baddie to Widescreen Space Hero last year -- his righteous fury at expelling the House Fiyero remains a personal favorite moment in the last decade of comicdom -- but then was knocked off that perch back in the Prologue. The journey of these two Kree is compelling, and hopefully will continue to be one of the themes in the main series.
JLA Classified #45 -- First off, hot damn does this cover by Walter Simonson kick ass. Rick Leonardi's interior pencils aren't quite up to that level, but man, the use of negative space and the copy just mesh so nicely with the bodywork on J'Onn that even if I wasn't already buying it, I would have picked it up. And honestly, it's not a bad pick up -- Martian Manhunter (woo!) must fight his friends because of the machinations of the ghost of his brother. There's a lot of punching and taunting and guest stars, but all in all I think it comes together pretty well considering. Of note is that MM wears his classic costume the entire time, and it looks fantastic. Fans of the Manhunter from Mars could do a lot worse than this tale, which wraps up in the next issue. Plus, classic Aquaman! And Black Manta (sort of)!
Superman #669 -- Kurt Busiek: World Builder! Kurt gets busy fleshing out some previously-untold history of Krypton in this, the middle of act of "The Third Kryptonian." It's a very typically Busiekian story, in that while it treads carefully and doesn't step on any continuity toes (that I'm aware of), it is told in a style which one could see having been used in the late 60s or early 70s in a DC title. Between the attention Johns seems to have been paying to it and now this, Krypton has taken on a fairly significant role in Big Blue's stories since the "OYL" jump, which is fine by me, in all honesty. Leonardi's linework is clean and easy to look at, with a splash page which is perfect for a Superman story. A chunky read which takes it's time developing, but is rewardingly in depth for a single issue. Overall a very enjoyable read and a good second installment of what is shaping up to be a superlative arc.
X-Men: Die By The Sword #2 -- Oh boy, what a mess. Now, don't get me wrong. Y'all know that I like Excalibur, and that I know my Captain Britain-Excal continuity pretty well, and that I'll go along with just about anything involving Crosstime or what have you. But this issue, after the promising start in the debut, is a muddled, hurried jumble, and so packed with nonsense that even a second reading doesn't help. Claremont indulges himself -- check it out, Dazzler reveals her thoughts about Longshot in about 5 panels worth of inner monologue -- and we gets lots of scenes of people talking without any real point or resolution. There's a ton of characters (mostly because of the Exiles cast), and a lot don't have all that much to do. The last page almost makes up for it -- but given that last page, and the preceeding ones, I get the feeling that DBTS was supposed to be 4 parts, and it got stretched out to 5, and this was the issue which took the brunt. I hate it when you really want to like something and you just can't.
Wonder Woman #13 -- A Kipling quote opens the issue, and is probably the most eloquent piece of writing I have seen in this title since it was launched, but that's alright. It is Kipling, after all. Anyway, this is essentially a catch-up issue before Simone takes over next month, as Torres and Lopez put together a tale which follows up on Cassie Sandsmark and her mother, and gives a little glimpse of the title post-"Amazons Attack!" The art remains too over the top cheesecake for my tastes, but I think I'm probably in the minority of that opinion for those who purchase the title, sadly. I want my Diana to look heroic and powerful, dammit! Get me George Perez on the phone! Not all that much really happens here, but it's not really bad either, so it's a hard call. On the plus side, it does feature WW punching a hydra. Casual fans can skip it, though Amazon Enthusiasts should check it out.
The Pick of the Pile is Superman, which is a superior effort from what rightfully is one of DC's flagship titles. My feelings are no doubt influenced by my own personal background, but it's stories like this which remind me why I like Superman in the first place.
So what did YOU read this week?