1. Dark Avengers #14:
Bendis and Deodato continuously outdo themselves. This issue has some of the best panel direction I’ve ever seen. Your eyes will glide smoothly across a page littered with panels that are tossed about like debris. There are a few standard nine panel pages, but the ones that require the most tension are masterfully drawn. This has been, and continues to be an amazing series. Bendis has taken the most dysfunctional members of the Marvel Universe and placed them in the unholy hands of Norman Osborn. As I read this, I thought back to Norman’s prior role as a Spider-Man villain. It’s similar to thinking about Laurence Fishburne’s role on Pee Wee’s Playhouse. You can’t really imagine him quitting his job to go back and rehash his mailman character. This is where Norman Osborn belongs -- pulling the strings of one of the darkest teams ever assembled. Credit has to be given to Joe Quesada for allowing Bendis free reign over these characters because he’s a Godddamn phenomenal story teller, and this is one of the best series ever written.
2. Doomwar #1:
I get the feeling this has been building up for a long time. Jonathan Maberry spends the entire issue putting in the exposition. This makes the issue a pretty dense read. Plus, nothing that occurs on the cover occurs in the story. My only hope is that this paves the way for five issues of non stop kick-ass-ery. The plot is pretty flimsy, and mildly echoes Avatar, so you’ll want to be prepared for some eye rolling. I would like to think that Doom’s motivation behind taking over another country is pretty simple -- he’s Doom. And he wants more. But the writing is solid, and it showcases Marvel’s more cult-loved characters, like Black Panther, and it fills in the gaps so you don’t have to go back and read to see how we got here. I’m going to give this one more issue. If there isn’t an awesome battle that relates to an idea of a “Doom-War”, I’m going to drop it. If you’re an X-Men fan, you’d like this. Otherwise, you can read a summary online.
3. Amazing Spider-Man #621:
The writers of Amazing Spider-Man have decided to include Mr. Negative in their “Gauntlet” series. Negative came on the scene during the Brand New Day story arc which completely rewrote the status quo for Peter Parker and Spider-Man. And while most newer comic book characters have the staying power of a puddle on a hot day, Dan Slott has done a good job of making the character work when he needs him to. Instead, Negative is a great addition to the Spider-Man universe. He operates similar to how the mobsters in The Dark Knight do -- he’s a representation of the deeper problems of New York. And, he’s more dangerous than a villain whose got a super powered punch (which he does -- in a brilliantly illustrated three panel sequence, he punches Spidey through the ceiling of one building, through a the wall of another, and he finally exits out of that one and falls five stories to the street). Slott also nicely resolves the problem of Carlie’s dad, and keeps readers going with “Bitch-May” (or the bitch version of Aunt May) that appeared recently. I look forward to this issue every week, and while the end of the issue teases the lizard, an ad in the comic shows who Spidey fights in March: The Vulture. Consistently one of my favorites, Amazing Spider-Man is worth the read.
1. Blackest: Night Flash #3:
I love that Geoff Johns is re-establishing Barry Allen as the Flash. There’s a great moment where Barry reveals himself to Bart, and it’s pretty damn touching. Because Johns has penned the issues, there’re more hints to the final outcome of Blackest Night, including some odd moments surrounding Eobard Thwane, also known as Professor Zoom (there’s a moment where the Brightest Day symbol displayed in DC solicits appears on his chest -- so what does Thwane have to do with Brightest Day?). In addition to that, we get more of the Flash’s rogues, led by Captain Cold, and a horrifying encounter with Boomerang’s son, Owen Mercer. Johns and Bendis are two of the finest comic writers out there right now. They’re both good at crafting incredible stories with incredible characters. Johns is working on making The Flash relevant again, and he’s got me super excited about Flash: Rebirth, and the continued Flash series beyond that. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Johns pen an Aquaman: Rebirth series given his ability to resurrect the silver age heroes of the DCU.
2. Green Lantern Corps #45:
Peter Tomasi solves the problem of Guy Gardner’s red ring, but I can’t help feeling slightly cheated. It was a left field solution, not one that really tested the corps. Instead, it involved Mogo doing something no one knew Mogo could do. There’s still a minor threat to Guy’s body that needs to be fixed by a blue lantern, so we know what to expect from Blackest Night. But I’m not totally satisfied with the ending. I feel that there would be better ways to solve Guy’s dilemma that didn’t involve a secret treatment. It’s like the serials from the 1940’s. At the end of one segment, the hero’s car plummets off a cliff. But at the beginning of the next one, it’s revealed that he was able to climb out in time, roll away from the wreckage, and still defeat the bad guy. It’s a cop-out. And I hate to knock on how great of an issue this was -- because it really was -- but the ending soured it for me. However, Patrick Gleason’s art is superb. With so many different types of characters -- from humans to aliens to parasites to giant planets -- the editors of the Green Lantern universe continue to one-up themselves. I wish I had started reading this series much earlier because Johns and Tomasi have done a great job of connecting their story lines to each other. And this further shows that Blackest Night is the comic event of the year.
3. Green Lantern #51:
What the hell more can I say about this comic? If you’re not reading it, you’re a schmuck! I think Doug Mahnke threw in a few more ink lines because the art here is super gritty. My guess is that if it was intentional, it was done to mirror the grittiness of the story. Hal Jordan, in the body of Parallax, enters the Spectre (who has become a black lantern) and rips the ring out of his body. He also rips off the Spectre’s face, and Atrocitus infects the Spectre with rage to make him the red lantern Spectre. Whew! I wonder what the Green Lantern meetings are like? I see Geoff Johns sitting at a big polished table, spewing the craziest ideas while some assistant types like mad to try and get them down. From the first issue, Geoff Johns knew what he wanted to do. This is very evident. I think Green Lantern’s renewed popularity is due to Geoff Johns. Props to Eddie Berganza for letting Geoff Johns run wild in the Green Lantern universe. They definitely took a chance, and I hope they see how well it’s paid off.
1. Incorruptible #3 (Boom!):
The dialogue in this comic was so awful it was hard to concentrate on the rest of it. We moved a bit more on the plot, and it turns out that the only way to escape from the Plutonian is to buy a one billion dollar portal to another dimension. We got a little closer to realizing why Max Damage went bad, but there’s still too much humanity about him when he’s evil. He complains about how he can’t feel anything, and what a terrible way it is to live like this . . . while he burns someone to death in an oven. The most interesting thing about this comic occurs on the last page, but it’s not enough to keep a reader hooked. I’m dropping this series as of this issue. With writing like this, it’s hard to see how anyone would stay interested.
2. The Tick: New Series #2 (NEC):
Not much to say here. If you’ve seen or read The Tick before, you’ll like these. It’s more along the lines of the cartoon where silliness took over for plot, but it has it’s moments. Plus, you get to see the Tick again, so I’m not complaining. It’s fun to read something this light hearted compared to some of the darker comics out there.
3. Joe The Barbarian #2 (Vertigo):
Morrison has planted the seed of doubt in this issue: is Joe sick and dying and just hallucinating? Or is he actually being transferred to an alternate world that uses the world around him but in different ways? I still have no idea what the hell is going on, but it’s a delightful confusion. Sean Murphy’s art shines in this issue. Joe’s rat Jack (or Chakk as he calls himself) is drawn as a great knight whose leading Joe further down the rabbit (rat?) hole. I’m intrigued beyond comprehension here. I just hope that, in the end, everything makes sense. Regardless of the ambiguity, this is a stellar series that you should be reading.