The Immortal Iron Fist #6 (Marvel):
Channeling my inner Hannibal Tabu here... Russ Heath? Here's a little story about that: no. *Not* a welcome addition to the art stable at all. Completely *didn't* enjoy his representaton of the flashback sequences one bit. It was simply the wrong tone. Aja's thread-bare and lean style is the prime driver and attraction on the art front, even with his little quirks (notice how even Cage and the new Heroes For Hire all have the weird elongated torso). Cage and said Heroes lose Jeryn in the middle of the melee? Hello, rookie mistake! This remains one of the best titles out there from Marvel right now, with the perfect balance of retro hip Kung Fu awesomeness and historical significance building toward epic proportions. Less the Russ Heath bits, of course. Heh. Grade A-.
Sinestro Corps Special #1 (DC): It begins with a nice summary of Sinestro's history and motivations amid his current plight, brings in all 4 Lanterns from Earth (which makes the Corps still feel a little Earth-centric doesn't it?), and nicely captures the feeling that something big is building. There was a small reveal here about the secret of the 52. The Guardians are discussing it and indicate that not only are there 52 parallel Earths, but there are also 52 parallel universes. That's kinda' a big deal, no? Wouldn't that seem to indicate that there are then 2,704 (52x52) individual possibilities? Sheesh, talk about a multiverse. Anyway, I like how Johns was able to weave this story around existing GL mythology with the "Blackest Night" prophecy, though it does smack a bit of Episode 1/Anakin's emergence. There seemed to be a bunch of disparate little bits here than were woven together pretty skillfully, if unevenly. Hal as outcast Earther? Cool. Guy with some tender moments with Kyle? Umm, no. And Ethan Van Sciver's art makes Kyle look like some awful 90's Image rendition of Bruce Wayne, but then bounces back with some cool touches like Guy's green jacket being ripped off to reveal the black tunic underneath, which just struck me as kinda' neat-o. Overall, pretty entertaining though, with a sneak attack, dozens of GL's killed, the implied tragedy of dozens of rings frantically seeking out new owners, and Sinestro getting the best and most sinister line: "Power Rings won't allow you to kill. A Green Lantern is an empty threat." Sinestro, a badass in his own right, has now assembled an army of disgruntled ring bearers, the Ion power, Parallax, Superboy Prime, Cyborg Superman, *and* the Anti-Monitor, in preparation for one hell of a showdown. Grade B.
Hellboy: Darkness Calls #3 (Dark Horse): Fegredo's art hits a nice peak here with the warrior skeleton army and Mignola's writing is as strong as usual, but... even that combined pairing can't escape the vortex of badness swirling around this week. Maybe it's put me in a bad mood, but I keep asking myself if I need to buy single issues and could get by on trades alone. Am I buying Hellboy out of habit? Is it time for Mignola to wrap up the main Hellboy saga already? I mean, how many times are we going to see the Baba Yaga again? Blasphemy! I know. But, I'm certainly enjoying the BPRD team dynamics much more, their status as agents of a larger organization pushes my buttons more than the mysterious loner, brawler type. Maybe this is the last HB mini I buy in singles(?). It's quite good in terms of execution, but just not as engaging to me as I feel it needs to be to warrant continued financial support. Grade B.
The Nightly News #6 (Image): I basically lost track of who's who, what their motivations are, all the different layers of manipulation, and why the ultimate outcome is important. There are some rough jumps in time, I have no recollection of what happened in #5, thus no way of knowing if there is anything dangling or properly resolved here. It all adds up to a disappointing denoument; it's just people talking at me. But, if The Nightly News can be considered a noble failure, the most important element of that is that it was an interesting experiment. I'm actually very excited to check out Hickman's new projects in the pipe, as he's suddenly become an Image darling with his hip graphic design-y sensibility. Giving the benefit of the doubt, true innovators are rarely understood and appreciated at first glance. Anxiously awaiting Pax Romana and Red Mass For Mars. Grade B-.
X-Men #200 (Marvel): The narrative starts with a pretty disjointed feeling, but then settles in nicely to a more linear tale about a coordinated attack against the various X-Squads. The Ramos/Bachalo art duo make for a highly stylized approach which ranges from nice to odd. Sometimes the hard angular lines create disproportion, such as with Mystique. Notice how her waist is as thin as her neck, both of which are smaller than her head. That's just... odd. Carey gets some points for lines like "Enjoy damaging your meningeal wall and leeching your natural electrolytes," certainly a case against alcohol consumption if I ever heard one. This book feels hefty enough, even with the price tag, though it probably is telegraphing its moves with Wolverine being able to "heal" Rogue. It's ok enough, but not quite good enough for me to envision following a 17 part crossover into a bunch of titles I don't normally pick up. Oh, and why doesn't Sunfire (personal fave) on the cover of the book match up looks-wise to anything in the story on pinup? Editorial assist, please. Grade B-.
Silent War #6 (Marvel): Speaking of dastardly disappointing denouments... what the hell happened here? This title was burning along nicely as one of the strongest in the Marvel stable, a gripping and original read with innovative art, then just... stopped. Maximus' ascension was chronicled well on the writing front and superbly by Frazer Irving's art, and just when it starts to get fascinating with the destruction of the moon-based Attilan, it literally ends in the middle of a conversation between Black Bolt and Luna with a blank page. No information, no "the end," no "continued in ___," really resolving nothing that had been set in motion. It's a bizarrely unappealing way to "end" what was otherwise a strong mini-series. Grade C.
X-Factor #20 (Marvel): Continuing the week of disappointment, we have Khoi Pham on art chores with another *ugh* performance. There's a panel with Quicksilver that sums up that sentiment nicely with its odd perspective that manages to make Pietro look like a fat jawed yokel, while simultaneously appearing flat with no depth. It takes a rare anti-talent to be this off-putting. Rahne comes off looking like a steroid enhanced cat in need of shearing, appearing simply awful in feral form. The art is is like a degraded copy of a copy of a copy over time; it's hardly noticeable until you compare this issue to the skill of earlier issues by Ryan Sook and see just how far the quality has dropped. Not even Peter David's scripts may save this one as it offically enters the pool of consideration for titles to drop altogether(!). Rictor manages to somehow pull the Terrigen shit outta' Pietro while the combined might of The Inhumans couldn't(?). When did Quicksilver gain the ability to pull versions of himself outta' the future? Is this Marvel's answer to The Speed Force? So confused and just don't care. Grade C-.