Annihilation: Conquest #3 -- We're running up to the midway point of these series, which means that the spit really hits the fan here. Our cast of heroes is split up into three groups, and for two of them, war truly is hell. While Quasar and Adam Warlock deal with Ultron's forces in the High Evolutionary's haven, Star-Lord and his team are suddenly in a firefight on Hala. Can Ronan, Wraith, Super-Skrull and Praxagora make enough progress to save the cosmos? Another rock-solid piece of space opera, with DnA's snappy scripting a good match with Tom Raney's "kinda-but-not-really" plasticy pencils. This is truly epic, "widescreen" stuff, but in the true tradition of space opera, it's presented with enough grounding through the beleiveable (and likeable) heroes that the reader doesn't lose the connection. Great escapist fare.
Superman #672 -- Deep inside LuthorCorp's secret Moonbase, the new Insect Queen prepares her army and finalizes her plans to infest Earth. Unfortunately for her, Superman is hot on the trail of Lana Lang, and is bearing down on the Hive. Plus, what is wrong with Chris Kent? Busiek's new take on Insect Queen is interesting. He speech (or should I say "zpeech?") impediment is a little silly, but I like how he sticks to the anthromorphized bugs aspect from the previous issue, and even gives a rationale for how she found Earth, and chose Lana as her new form. It's a little repetitive during the backstory exposition, though, and Lana's responses kept reminding me of Bill Cosby's Noah routine -- "Riiight!" Pete Vale's art is top notch though, handling the mundane and the fantastic equally well, and making the Queen look sexy as well as bizarre at the same time. The Photoshop'ed posters in Chris's room are obvious, but they made me grin so I can't hold that against the art. I think you have to like Busiek's work in general, and it's neo-Bronze Age sensibilities, to really like this title, and I happen to fall into that field.
Drawing From Life #2 -- Jim Valentino's collection of short autobiographical comics returns with eight more original pieces illustrating various points in the creator's life. Jim, or "Kid," as he is called in the strips, explores chasing fads as a junior high school student, dealing with the Denver police, and getting in touch with his "spiritual side -- that is, going to a series of lectures to get a girl's number. Of interest to most comic readers are a trio of tales about the industry: one is a dedication to the late Clay Geerdes, the underground "comix" guru from the 70s, and the other two are both tales of Jim's time with the Image boys -- one set during the infamous 1992 San Diego Comic Con, and one from San Diego this past year when the Founders had their panel. I mark out for Jim Valentino in a way most bloggers reserve for Grant Morrison and Ed Brubaker, so I am definitely the target audience for these stories. The crips black and white printing is very pleasing to the eye and Valentino's work lends itself very well to these sorts of cartooning. Really great sutff, even if most readers will see "Valentino" and be turned off, thinking, "Ugh, he created ShadowHawk."
Transformers: Beast Wars: The Ascending #4 -- It's the final issue of the mini, which of course means it's time foe the Big Fight At The End. But seeing as this is a Transformers miniseries, written by Simon Furman at that, it's time for the Big Fight At The End Where Characters Die Trying To Stop Unicron -- or in this case, at least, his agents. It's familiar ground for Furman, who has been writing this kind of Cybertronian war stuff for decades now. It's a satisfying conclusion to the storylines both on prehistoric Earth as well as Cybertron, but there is little to recommend of this particular issue to anyone who is not already a Transfan. The ending seems to set up a sequel while hinting at stuff we already know happens, if that makes any sense.
Transformers: Beast Wars Sourcebook #3 -- At the risk of Dave Sim calling me an "emotion-based being," let me tell you a little story. Since this series began being published, I have eagerly waited for the profile of my favorite Predacon who has never had one -- Sky Shadow. A Fuzor (that is, his beast form is two animals merged together -- in this case, an iguana and a dragonfly), he was one of the first Beast Wars toys I ever owned, and he stood on top of my computer monitor for many, many years. He's got a great personality as well -- scheming, duplicitous, gregarious and cruel. So I really wanted to see how Ben Yee and/or Simon Furman would flesh him out. So when I got this comic in my hands, I flipped to the last page to see if he would be covered in this pages. That last profile? Silverbolt. AHHHH! I have to wait another month! Anyway, insanity aside, this one covers a lot of major characters, including Rattrap, Scorponok, Rhinox, Quickstrike, and Bigbot himself, Optimus Primal. One more issue remains, which, one imagines, will contain Sky Shadow! You should already know whether you need to buy this one or not, folks.
The Pick Of The Pile is Drawing From Life, unsurprisingly. A:C continues to be top-shelf type stuff, but I am a sucker for Valentino as well as auto-bio-comix.
So what did YOU read this week?