Solo #8 (DC): Still impressed by this title and for this ish Teddy Kristiansen offers up a much more moody and experimental take than we typically see. Not all of the pieces connected with me, but no denying he is a true craftsman. Grade B+.
Young Avengers Special #1 (Marvel): This was good enough, but I have to ask was this really necessary? From a storytelling standpoint, we don't really learn anything that groundbreaking. It would be kind of like pitching a solid Vietnam War movie. No matter how good it is, do we need another one of those? Makes me think that sales are suffering on this book and this is a last ditch effort to generate interest and provide a recap/jumping on point to newbies(?). Grade B-.
X-Men #180 (Marvel): Wow, it's been years since I picked up an X-title that wasn't helmed by Joss Whedon. And this makes me remember why. Looks and sounds like a bad 90's comic. Wonky art (Havok looks like such a douchebag!), out of character, highly expository dialogue, and no semblance of a self-contained story beat. Of mild interest (spoiler alert!), is that Xorn on the last page? Shame on me for not giving it the casual flip test, which it would have failed miserably... I was suckered by a nice shot of Lorna/Polaris on the cover. Grade C-.
Catwoman #50 (DC): Beautiful noir cover! Dig how the logo doubles as a neon sign. As a single issue, this was executed amazingly well. Strong, engaging, good sounding dialogue from Will Pfeifer and some wonderfully muted inks and colors over Pete Woods' pencils. From a larger continuity standpoint, we're led to believe that Selena has only changed her ways due to a Zatanna/JLA induced mindwipe which sure sends a doozy of a ret-conning ripple through the last few years of Cat-continuity. Not sure how I feel about that, seems kinda' cheap. Grade B.
Ultimate Fantastic Four #26 (Marvel): Dig how Namor was a prick until the very end, just pushing everyone's buttons. Nice last page reveal. Grade B.
The New Avengers #14 (Marvel): Bendis is still Mr. Exposition, but this time it feels very weighty and intriguing. He even manages to make Jessica's double agenting sympathetic to readers (and Cap for that matter). Cho's art is impressive as hell, hope he stays around a while. Yeah, generally liked this. Grade B.
The Sentry #4 (Marvel): Not nearly as engaging as the last issue. Growing a little impatient with the whole concept of "The Void." Looks purdy though. Grade B-.
All-Star Batman & Robin The Boy Wonder #3 (DC): What an awkward mouthful that title is. What an awkward opening scene with Black Canary. What awkward dialogue. What an awkward series of pin up shots. What an awkward book. Who would have thought that Miller and Lee could be so... awkward together. Let's put Morrison & Quitely on this book too in order to get some of the good kind of awkward going. Grade C.
Testament #1 (DC/Vertigo): This book was not released this week. Wasn't really into this until those last few pages where it got all Morrison'd out with the counterculture kids and the crazy blue chic. Might pick up another issue or two. Grade B-.
And that, my friends, is that. The last of the reviews for 2005. I hopefully saved the best for last in the bottom of my reading pile, just haven't gotten to them yet. Generally, the batch above was less than stellar. If you want a few good reads, check out The Keep #3 (IDW), Revelations #5 (Dark Horse), X-Factor #2 (Marvel), BPRD: The Black Flame #5 (Dark Horse), and the Blacksad: Sketch Files book from iBooks which are sure to be better than all of this. See you next year!