All Star Superman #10 (DC): Grant Morrison delivers his usual imaginative and dramatic script as the “last will and testament” of the Man of Tomorrow begins to play out. There are so many rich ideas embedded here, one that jumped out was the notion that if Superman has truly achieved his destiny of showing man at his best, and representing that futuristic ideal, then the true test is if the world becomes a better place in the wake of his departure. Morrison is able to deliver these thought provoking concepts, as well as more comedic parody, such as the way Lois (love how Quitely draws her!) confesses that she places herself in damsel-in-distress type situations merely to get Kal-El’s attention. The creators also exhibit a fun sci-fi sensibility, as with the ultimate disposition of Kandor. They offer metatextual commentary with the seeding of Earth Q. There’s no end to what this creative team is capable of and the many aspects they can simultaneously juggle. This is not just fun and engaging, it’s not just well-balanced, it is perfect. This may be the most intelligent Superman comic of all time. Grade A+.
Transhuman #1 (Image): Initially, I was a bit concerned that Jonathan Hickman might be stretching himself too thin already. Pax Romana hasn’t been wrapped, Red Mass for Mars is now basically months late, and here we go with Transhuman. Those fears were quickly put to rest. I was on board with this book from the very first page, which lends a very E! True Hollywood Story sort of vibe to the whole endeavor. Hickman’s typical bold story idea and strong core premise benefits greatly here from JM Ringuet’s more traditional artistic approach to page layouts. I enjoyed Hickman's experimental graphic design immensely on previous works, but this makes for a much more accessible reading experience. We’ve got everything from playful jabs at the X-Men to some brilliant analysis of market shifts and the competing paradigms of science, business, and consumerism. Speaking as a refugee from high-tech Silicon Valley, Hickman’s scripts can also be analogized to the rise and fall of many corporations. Aided by JM Ringuet’s visceral detail and style (reminiscent in spots of Brett Weldele), this may be Hickman’s true breakout book. Grade A.
Dan Dare #5 (Virgin): I realized that I really only like Garth Ennis’ writing when he’s dealing with militaristic, warfare, historical, procedural jargon. I actually don’t dig his sci-fi concepts. Thankfully, this issue is mostly centered on the former. Erskine drops a nice “Ministry of Space” cookie into the bookshelf and Dare’s “old man’s talk” was quite moving with a sense of melancholy from a character who may have just realized, in the aftermath of his friend’s death, that he’s outlived his time. You could argue that bits of this story are derivative of Independence Day or even Han’s fate on Bespin, but those nitpicks are mostly overshadowed by a gripping conversation with Christian about what’s right and wrong, and the decision-making process required of those who are leaders of men. Grade B+.
New Avengers #39 (Marvel): When did Maya and Logan hook up? Did I miss an issue of something? So, this issue goes a little something like this. Maya: “Cap’s dead. Are we going to just sit around and do nothing? Are we just waiting for Skrulls?” Logan: “I’m Logan. I’m cool, and I know stuff.” Maya then proceeds to fight a Skrully dupe of herself which sounds like this for a few pages: “Oof! Naagh! Nguuk… No! CRACK! BAMF!” The End. I mean, it’s always good to see David Mack working. And I did enjoy the convo between Hawkeye and Maya. It was a good lesson in things being relative and it was just a cute scene. That aside, there just wasn’t much there there. When the most exciting thing to me is the ad for Amazing Spider-Man #555 with Zeb Wells and Chris Bachalo, I feel something is amiss. Or Bendis is just writing for the trade. Grade B.