Tuesday, September 11, 2007

What I Read This Week

Action Comics #854 -- The finale of "3-2-1-Action!" is slightly more confusing than it needs to be, but that's only because I don't read Countdown. And honestly, if I could afford it I probably would. But anyway, Jimmy and Superman's friendship goes in new directions here, as the readers also get to catch up with Krypto finally. Busiek can probably write good Super-stories in his sleep, and art is clean and pleasing.

Action Comics #855 -- The long-awaited Bizarro story from Johns/Donner and Eric Powell starts off with a bang, but cannot sustain itself for the entire running length. I suspect a good deal of that has to do with Morrison doing a similar story over in All-Star not too long ago. Powell's Superman looks like an import from 1942, in a good way, and his Bizarro is quite nice. Pretty good start to the new story, but a step down from the previous arc. (Side note: Are we ever getting the end to the Zod/Phantom Zone story?)

Outsiders: Five of a Kind #5 -- Grace and Wonder Woman mop up a mess left behind by their respective sisters as Bats puts Ms. Choi to the test. A lot of bloggers hate Grace Choi because of Winnick's seeming crush on her, but I don't have a problem with her; couple that with the fact that I have been more interested in Diana in the last few years and you have a pretty decent little one-shot which leads direct-ed-ly into...

Outsiders #50 -- ...the last issue of the title. Taking a drastic left turn from the last installment, both in tone and appearance, it is here that we get the first true taste of the new Outsiders team and how they intend to operate. I got a sort of Defenders vibe from this, but that's not really accurate; I guess the earnestness of the relaunch is what is fueling that. I enjoyed this issue a lot more than I thought I would and the pendulum has swung back over to "Anticipating" for the upcoming Batman & The Outsiders. Also, the new(est) Suicide Squad shows up, and it's a pretty cool bunch!

Annihilation: Conquest: Wraith #3 -- The fight is on as Wraith must battle against the Phalanax's programming, find some allies, and escape from his torture chamber before Ronan turns him into another willing soldier. But just how tight is the Phalanx's hold on the Accuser? Strong sci-fi-style hero mag, as the "Kree with no name" and Ronan set the stage for the climax next issue.

Iron Man: Enter The Mandarin #1 -- Is it Silver Age? Is it Modern Age? Who knows! And who cares? What I know is that this retelling of sorts of the first meeting of Iron Man and the Mandarin is fun, fast, and thoughtful story from the team of Joe Casey and Eric Canete which is engaging and smile-provoking. Folks who only know the "nu-Marvel" Iron Man would do really well to check this miniseries out and see some old school Shellhead. I could not remove the grin from my face to see Happy Hogan as Tony's driver and Professor Anton Vanko working for SE's Research Division.

New Excalibur #23 -- Everything is going to hit the fan in very short order: with Great Britain still suffering from a technological blackout, the skirmishes between Excalibur/Shadow X and Albion and his Shadow Captains are growing more and more violent. But what did you expect when Iceman has begun to push an avalance into London?! Another Shadow-Xer falls, Brian and Kelsey have some very short if insightful dialogue, and it looks like one of Excalibur might be too far gone as well. The finale is next issue, and then we segue into a crossover mini with the Exiles which is supposed to shake up both teams... wow, it's like Five Of A Kind all over again. Pretty cool Excal story, but not much to offer beyond that. (With Marko going evil in a "main" X-Book, I guess he'll be leaving the team?)

Captain America: The Chosen #1 -- Cap at war? It looks that way as a soldier who's convoy is ambushed is joined in his firefight by the Sentinel of Liberty in this Marvel Knights tale written by "First Blood" author David Morrell and grimy, harsh linework by Mitch Breitweiser. This comic is sure to turn off Liberals, with it's "US vs THEM" foreign policy and it's somewhat heavy-handed dialogue. But I think if you can put your frigging politics aside for a little while and, I dunno, read the story then you might find something a little deeper than what it first looks like. Also, it was nice to read a story with Cap in it and not just groan my way through it ala Civil War.

Wonder Woman #12 -- The other epilogue to AA I read is less interesting than Five of a Kind, and does little except to re-affirm that, yes, nothing has changed so Gail Simone can come in and do what she wants in two months. Wonder Woman and Nemesis fight Everyman and locate Sarge Steel, while the world remains distrustful of the newly-dispersed Amazons. Pass on this one.

JSA Classified #29 -- Nazis Nazis Nazis! Starting out in the closing days of WWII as the original JSA fights to stop a rocket launch, our story shifts to the present, where Mr. Terrific becomes aware that a politician he has been supporting may have some proverbial skeletons in his closet, if you'll pardon the reference. Decent set-up issue which is a bit uneven in places -- the art by Alex Sanchez, varies from sublime (the sound effects) to ridiculous (Mr. Terrific's face). But overall it's not bad, I like Mr. Terrific and this should be a fun 3-parter.

Marvel Adventures: Iron Man #4 -- It's a psuedo-flashback to the "Bob & Dave" era as Justin Hammer hires the Spymaster to sabotage an experimental power core at Stark Enterprises! Unfortunately, turns out that is just a ruse, and the real target is Shellhead himself -- AND his company! Slam-bang AA action, with Tony's supporting cast stepping up into the spotlight as well. Both Rhodey and Pepper play key roles this time out, and we also see the emergence of both Justin Hammer and the Spymaster (who has a new costume). Kids may not understand the business side of this tale, but the armored action will keep them happy. Oooh this is a good series.

Pick of the Pile is pretty straightforward: Enter the Mandarin is an old-fashioned adventure yarn which most Marvel fans will enjoy. But I was more impressed with how strong Outsiders was. Bedard seems to be putting a ton of thought and love into this series and that shows in the final product. I mean, I'm excited about purchasing a book featuring Catwoman for crying out loud!

So what did you read this week?

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