Adventure Comics #7 (Blackest Night):
When I first saw that this issue was an event tie-in, my spirits were a bit deflated. Where was my Geoff Johns! However, after reading from cover to cover, I found that this is one of the rare instances where a tie-in issue might actually be worth it. There reasons are few, and specific, but they're reasons nonetheless. First, if you’ve been looking for a way to break into Action Comics (or anything Superboy-related), this is a good issue to pick up. The first few pages are a total recap Conner Kent’s entire saga up to this point, and while at first this might feel a bit superfluous, by the conclusion of the issue it is clear why this recap was necessary for casual readers, or those who were picking it up because it's part of Blackest Night. Writer Tony Bedard manages to bring the story to a satisfying end, tying the story to larger events and enough characterization to give the story a sense of importance. Overall, this is a great jumping-on point for anybody who wants to catch up with DC's favorite Superclone, but it’s hardly required reading to understand the larger story of Blackest Night.
In the continuing story of Brás de Olivia Domingo's life (and inevitable deaths), we're again presented with a vision of living as a mysteriously flawed state of being, one fraught with pain but ultimately worth experiencing. This third issue of Gabriel Bá & Fábio Moon’s limited series builds on the interchanging motifs and patterns of the first two without feeling repetitive. The intricate architecture of small connections becomes clearer with each repeated reading, providing the reader with a more rewarding and deeper understanding of Bá and Moon's existential explorations into life, art, memory and death. As you can tell, it’s difficult to review the book without getting overly analytical; so for now, we'll postpone any further theological discussions until the series is complete, and instead take a moment to recognize this chapter in what is quickly becoming one of this year's best and most unique works of comic fiction.
Punisher Max #4:
After a strong first two issues, critical acclaim and support for Jason Aaron’s Punisher Max has definitely wavered, and not without good reason. The current “Kingpin” arc isn’t suffering from any lack of characteristically enjoyable Punisher violence (the fight with the Menonite is brutally satisfying) or poor storytelling. The main problem seems to stem from the fact that the driving persona of the arc--a familiarly bald Wilson Fisk--has yet to feel like a mastermind worthy of the story’s namesake. It could be Fisk's uneven dialogue, which too often relies on profane threats and thuggish platitudes, eschewing any sense of a criminal genius at work. Again, this isn't Scalped, but I can't help but yearn for a better (or at least more complicated) Kingpin, one who is a little more along the lines of Chief Red Crow. That being said, The series is far from bad, and I'm genuinely interested in where it will go after this arc. But beyond the issue's R-rated fight sequence, Punisher Max #4 leaves something to be desired.
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #7
Teen Team-Ups! Dimensional slips to Detroit! Awkward Soda Slurping! What more could you ask for from the latest chapter in the ongoing saga of Ultimate (Comics) Spider-Man? Here we have Bendis doing what he do best: balancing teenage angst and action-packed superheroics with a proficiency that is damn-near mathematically precise. The story here ties back into the Ultimatum Wave (snore) and introduces us to the newest highly powered pubescent in Peter Parker's life. So while Bendis continues to garner press and praise for his reshaping of the Marvel Universe as a whole, his innate understanding of sequential storytelling is best found in the pages of Ultimate Spidey.
Muppet Comics #2
Now in the ongoing series it deserves, Muppet Show Comics never cease to please. Like the original show, the comic aims for a younger audience but retains enough humor to keep adults interested. For anybody who grew up on the original series, this is a comic for you. Writer/Artist Beyond his writing, Roger Langridge channels the spirit of the original show by using the television template to his advantage: several well-known re-occuring skits (Pigs in Space, Venternarian’s Hospital) are peppered in among one-off musical numbers, variations on lesser known segments, and a larger behind-the-scenes the plot that usually has Kermit fighting to keep the show on the stage. The best part of this current arc are definitely the issue-ending Fozzie shorts, proving that the best humor doesn't need dialogue. Now if we could only get a page of Bear on Patrol...
Muppet King Arthur #1
Like Muppet Robin Hood and Muppet Peter Pan before it, Muppet King Arthur continues the troubling tradition of Muppets inheriting other stories. While not totally unenjoyable, I wouldn’t recommend any of these titles to the casual Muppet fan. Often I find myself picking these up out due to a misguided sense of adolescent responsibility to the franchise, which is never a good sign. In much the same manner as the latter-day movies (excluding the excellent Muppet Christmas Carol), these long-narrative Muppet spin-offs are rarely as satisfying as the antics of the show-based series.