Stormwatch: PHD #3 (DC/Wildstorm): I'm still surprisingly enjoying this series that really makes something out of nothing with ties to the Wildstorm U and Daemonite remnants on Earth. I'm normally not into Doug Mahnke's art, but it seems effective and at home here, enjoyed the MIB-style recruitment and fun adversarial teaching practices, particularly Black Betty's matter-of-factly delivered magic/sex speech. Grade B+.
Tales of the Unexpected #4 (DC): Nice Bernie Wrightson cover that harkens back to the horror type anthology books with ambiguous names that this is seeking to supplant. But as usual on the lead Spectre story, we have horrible art that's really hurt even further by some odd inking. I know they're trying for a dark and shadowy horror feel, but the end result just looks random and splotchy to me. The story is basically boring and inconsequential, not helped at all by the desperate guest appearance of Batman. I just don't see what the point of this is, it's not an outright Spectre story, it's not an outright crime/cop/investigative thing, and it's not an outright supernatural horror thing either. It's attempting to blend all those genres (since none are strong or fully fleshed out enough to stand on their own here) and fails to really be anything significant. How can humans and bullets fail to get The Spectre, but Bats can kick him? I'd like some internal logic please. I basically just tuned it all out and started thinking about other things, like how this is a Grade F and I would rather be reading something else, namely.... the Dr. 13 back-up story! Enjoyed the banter and debate over 10 dimes vs. a dollar bill, and lines like "Hrmm, I suppose that's just as plausible as doping a scrawny four-f milktoast with steroids and vita-rays." The oblique Captain America jab captures the far-fetched but entertaining world these characters are inhabiting, complete with talking Nazi apes, Confederate ghosts, pirates, cavemen, and vampires. Traci has got to be one of the coolest characters to come along in a while. I want to reiterate that Dr. 13 needs to be collected independent of the Spectre mess; I don't think that's too much to ask after I've paid $3.99 x 8 for a mere 16 pages at a whack. Grade A.
Agents of Atlas #6 (Marvel): The tale of the 1950's archetypes: The Spy, The Spaceman, The Goddess, The Mermaid, The Robot, and The Gorilla comes to a close. Jeff Parker and Leonard Kirk deliver enjoyable fun with intellect, as evidenced by Derek Khanata stealing the show with his own family link to these happenings, knowing "Temujin" as Genghis Khan's real name, the duplicity he displays with his SHIELD superiors, and Namora's royal lineage recognition. I really developed an appreciation for Kirk's design sense, notice the panel that's primarily black with teal background where the splash of red from Venus' hair is highlighted. All in all, a nice closed loop ending as Jimmy Woo inherits the mantle as Atlas CEO. Grade B.
Justice Society of America #2 (DC): Geoff Johns is throwing a lot of ideas, or individual parts, into motion here. We open with a quick crash course in Commander Steel continuity, I love seeing not only the inclusion of Courtney, but her stepping up as possible mentor to Maxine, Wildcat's son, an unbalanced Starman from the Kingdom Come "universe," a hectic attack on the Commander Steel picnic, etc., but the whole is surprisingly a bit disjointed and kind of boring. It's not entirely original, but an interesting premise that a killer('s) cutting off JSA bloodlines in their entirety. I'll go a couple more issues to see how this plays out. Grade B.
52: Week Thirty-Six (DC): This may be the first time that the art didn't completely suck, thank you Jamal Igle! I'm confused why issue to issue, Kory's outfit keeps changing. Sometimes she's in her Starfire gear, other times she's wearing the top half of Animal Man's uniform, without any real rhyme or reason, some consistency please! Be interesting to see if Morrison is ok with letting Animal Man finally be at rest. Some touching moments with Renee and Charlie, with an all too obvious possible denoument. Growing weary of the homoeroticism of Sobek and Osiris, and nice to see the return of the Rip Hunter plot thread with a nice reveal that also implies the identity of Supernova. And the Power Girl short in the back penciled by Adam Hughes is surprisingly "eh." Grade C-.
My buying patterns this week really highlighted a trend I thought worth mentioning. I seem to buy more DC books initially, but end up keeping more Marvel books. Is this the result of growing up a DC kid, my affection for those characters and wanting to keep tabs on them now a part of me, while ultimately gravitating to the modern Marvel work, which is inherently a bit more meaningful to my adult sensibilities? Interesting...