Wolverine & The X-Men #10 (Marvel): I usually think Rachel is the best bit of Aaron characterization in this book, but we get a really weird extended looong and boooring monologue from her about Warren here. I also usually like like Bachalo's quirky art (DC's The Witching Hour being a favorite performance), but some of the oddball panel layouts here are just odd for no apparent reason. I feel like this convoluted AVX plot is getting more coy in terms of what exactly Logan and Scott are trying to do. Sometimes they fight, sometimes they're civil, and here I guess the school is neutral ground or something? I do like the way Scott tries to box him in and force an answer: Avenger or X-Man, friend or foe? There was one cool panel layout as they tour the mansion, but it's just sooo damn talky. Like every other book this week, this had stuff I hated and some stuff I liked. The shoehorned in Shi'ar bit at the end was gross. But by the end, this issue nicely highlights the difference between Scott and Logan. Logan is a tactical warrior, certainly the best there is at that. Scott can do that too in the field, but he's also a master strategist. This whole thing was a ruse. He knew he wouldn't get Logan to jump sides. But he pulled Rachel, Gambit, Iceman, and Chamber in the process. Smart. For that clever move alone, this almost gets the "+" mark, but with all of the other glitches it's still a Grade B.
Batgirl #9 (DC): This opens with a painfully boring origin story about the female Talon. Babs spotting her circus acrobatic similarities to Dick high above Little Jakarta was either really cool or totally unbelievable. Ardian Syaf's art is actually really cool. It's much slicker than most of the Generic DC House Style and I particularly like the nice use of silhouettes and negative space. The Gordon threat scene was chilling, and once again this tied in nice to the other Court of Owls books this week, with repeated stuff like Alfie's broadcasted distress call to the Bat Allies. Like most of the other books this week, this had a rocky start, but rallies by the end to redeem itself, with the incredible line: "I think we just lost Gotham." Grade B.
Batman #9 (DC): You do have to appreciate all of the playful history lessons which have become something of a hallmark with Snyder's work. Bruce and Alfred are still under siege in the Bat Cave, with Batman fighting off the Talons by tasing them, slicing them with his battle armor, running over with them with a redesigned Bat Mobile, freezing them by lowering the temp in the cave, and then using one big fucking dinosaur to unleash Bat Hell. Capullo's art is slick as hell too, with high octane transitions and a sense of kineticism; I especially liked the clever interior cutaway "helmet cam" as a blade pierces it. I really liked Bruce being most concerned about protecting Alfie even as he blacks out. It was also nice to see Lincoln March back in the story after being MIA for so long, though after so much intro and build up of his character, I felt he was dispatched rather abruptly. The problem with this issue is mainly the sub-par back-up story featuring Alfred’s dad (Jarvis? Really? C'mon). The issue itself, as slick as it looks, was basically just an extended fight scene, that's all it is, and the one-note melodrama of the bonus story did not justify the extra $1. Grade B.
Batman & Robin #9 (DC): I do appreciate the way this syncs up well with the other Court of Owls books this week, but the target Damian is sent to protect feels like inconsequential filler. I'm also not sure about the logic of Damian's rockets suddenly disappearing so they don't burn the Colonel guy as they try to evac. There's a page of pointless decapitations. The art is very flat, as is the entire first chunk of the book, but then it really seems to get going around the time Damian drops a Von Clausewitz reference. As a guy who was trained in it by FEMA and then some private sector agencies, seeing Damian basically take over Incident Command was a treat. The interesting two-page splash by a different artist was a fun way to sneak in a Snyder-esque history lesson, though General Washington in Gotham City is a bit of a jarring marriage of fiction and non-fiction. By the time Damain makes a piñata out of one of the Talons, I was fairly convinced to just surrender and go along for the ride. Grade B.
Uncanny X-Force #25 (Marvel): After it's been thematically danced around for so long, it was nice to finally see an on-the-nose discussion of the consequences of this covert amoral mutant hit squad. Wolverine's line about "an alcoholics anonymous meeting with a mandatory drinking contest" sums this up nicely. The emotional fallout of that seems to hit Psylocke and Fantomex the hardest as they seem to exit stage left. I'm now very worried that with two of the only three (Deadpool being the third) great characters leaving the team, this will severely disrupt the magic. Hey, Marvel! Everyone just wants Jerome Opena as the main artist! Why is that so hard to figure out? No matter how good Remender's scripts are, and even though other artists occasionally get things right - like making Psylocke look Asian, without Jerome Opena, I'm just not interested. He defined the aesthetic of this book early on, and anyone else will forever be chasing him unsuccessfully. And, sorry, but the Omega Clan? C'mon, such a generic set of villains. Might as well just bring Omega Red back, even though I don't know where he is or what happened to him. The back-up stories are also really bad. They don't even come close to justifying a $4.99 price tag. Deadpool Fart Power? Really? C'mon. Grade B-.
The Walking Dead #97 (Image): I think I read up to about issue #50 before getting bored, so this was going to be an interesting experiment to see if I could tell WTF was going on. Let's see, Rick, Glenn, Andrea, Michonne, Maggie, and Carl are still around. There's a bunch of other people I don't know who are planning... something. There are walkers in the trenches. I guess they're trying to make some place called Hilltop defensible? They're in some turf war with another gang? There's a chance for optimism it seems, but with an arc entitled "Something To Fear," I think that means there's a fear of losing it all? The art seems really "blobby" compared to what I remember, like there's too much ink slathered on the page and the lines aren't very refined at all. The whole issue moves with an incredibly slow pace and the very Bendis-y lettercol leaves something of a bad after taste. Grade B-.