Wednesday, July 7, 2010

What I Read This Week

Action Comics #890 -- Lex Luthor begins his quest to unlock the secrets of the power rings... and nothing will stand in his way!  This was a pretty good Lex Luthor story.  Cornell has a handle on Luthor's manner and method of speaking, and the story itself was well developed.  That having been said, I am just not that interested in reading about Lex Luthor as a lead, so I am going to be passing on Action for the time being.  Still, if you want a Luthor title this looks like it will be a good one.

Flash #3 -- Barry Allen has all sorts of problems, both in the crime lab and out on the street!  The Renegades are back once more and even Flash's super-speed may not be enough to overcome them.  And what's the deal with Captain Boomerang?  Johns and Manupal are firing on all cylinders here, and the book is building up steam with plenty of hints being dropped about future storylines.  I am definitely on board.

The Web #10 -- In the lead, the Global Concern flexes its muscles against one of the biggest thorns in their side -- the Web and the Web Hosts.  Meanwhile, the Hangman confronts the imposter committing murder in his name.  In contrast to the last issue of The Shield, which ended on a strong note of finality, both of these stories seem to end a little more open-ended.  I mean, Web teaming up with Fly-Girl seems like the book was moving in a sort of team-up direction (which would have been wonderful), while Hangman learning about the other avatars of execution (and the creation of another enemy) seem to be preparing for more adventures.  Maybe some of these storylines will play out in Mighty Crusaders?  In any event a very good issue and a solid finale for both.

Wonder Woman #600 -- The Amazing Amazon stars in this transitional anniversay issue, closing the book on the modern era and launching the new direction.  Up first is a great piece by Gail Simone and George Perez featuring Wondy and a gaggle of superheroines battling robotic sirens in DC.  Next is Amanda Conner's cute team-up of Diana and Power Girl (with Cassandra Cain thrown in for good measure).  Then we get a team-up of Wonder Woman with Superman, followed by a prologue to the revamp by Geoff Johns, and finally JMS and Don Kramer's new take.  We also get some pinups to round things out.  All in all I liked this one a bit less than Superman #700, mostly because the teaser for the new direction didn't reel me in very much.  Still, the other tales are worthy.

Invincible Iron Man Annual #1 -- Iron Man's greatest enemy, the Mandarin, kidnaps a Chinese filmmaker and forces him to tell the greatest story of all time: his biography.  What the filmmaker discovers is a tangled web of lies, deceit, horror, and death, all built to the honor of a monster.  I like what Fraction is doing here, for the most part.  This really is a total and unblinking spotlight on the Mandarin as a complete and utter scumbag.  He may play the Magnificent Bastard in public, but behind closed doors he's a madman, and I can dig that.  I don't like the retconning here to put Tony Stark's history more in line with the movie (Mandarin being present when Tony was captured was already retconed in back in the 80s), but I guess that's the way things are now.  I also am not happy with the glossing-over of what the Knaufs did with Mandy in Volume 4, but that may be for the best considering how badly Fraction has reinterpretted that stuff previously.  Perhaps the rebirth through the Extremis cocoon helped turn Mandy into this petulant freak?  Carmine Di Giandomenico has a scratchy sort of style that works for the seedy setting of this tale.  Worth the money and it should be interesting how this new take of the Mandarin works in the main title.

Iron Man: Kiss And Kill -- Two tales of titanic espionage starring Shellhead!  The first story guest stars the Black Widow as Tony infiltrates a Russian arms ring while disguised as a Russian himself.  The second tale features Wolverine as he and Tony Stark investigate a robbery connected to the Hellfire Club!  A nice one-shot which doesn't seem to have much reason to exist, but that's alright because both halves are entertaining.  The Black Widow story is timely, and features the return of an old school Shellhead baddie which I totally did not see coming.  The second story scores points by having Sebastian Shaw, one of my favorites, as the heavy, which just about makes up for having Wolverine in it.  Unnecessary but entertaining.

The Phantom/Captain Action #2 -- Captain and Lady Action are on the prowl, but where is the Ghost-Who-Walks?  There's action a-plenty here, as both of the titular stars plus Lady Action for good measure cracks skulls and take names.  It's fast-paced and hard-hitting, reminding me of nothing so much as a couple of kids playing with Phantom and Captain Action toys.  It's too bad we won't be seeing anymore of these two together.

The Phantom: Generations #12 -- In the Reign of Terror, the Ghost-Who-Walks must protect the descendant of one who had recieved the Good Mark generations earlier.  After the really well done last issue, this one is sort of a let down.  Greg Cox's writing has a sort of paint-by-numbers feel to it, and gets clunky in the descriptions.  The action is good, though, and the twist at the end brought a broad smile to my face.  Next issue is the final one most likely, so let's go out on a high note.

Re-Read Pile: Flash, Web, Wonder Woman, Invincible Iron Man Annual, Iron Man: Kiss and Kill

The Pick Of The Pile is a tough one, as there were a lot of strong books this time out.  I am going to give it to the Invincible Iron Man Annual, just edging out Wonder Woman.  If the JMS sequence had been more to my liking, the Amazing Amazon would have taken it.  Hopefully Fraction will turn this new direction for the Mandarin into something strong and memorable.

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