Amazing Spider-Man #630: Zeb Wells takes over the writing duties for this arc, and he brings the Lizard to "The Gauntlet." Chris Bachalo's art is phenomenal in this issue -- it's cartoonish, but fun to look at, and his take on the Lizard will make your skin crawl. The back and forth between Spider-Man and Black Cat makes the issue, and I found myself laughing out loud a few times. It captures the traditional Spider-Man wit, but it doesn't feel forced. There's a nice balance of comedy and action, and after the disappointing Juggernaut run, Wells doesn't waste any time on the action. We're thrown into a pretty incredible gunfight on the second page, and while the following pages are mostly dialogue and plot development, I feel they still do a nice job of building the tension for Curt Conners' big reveal at the end of the issue. Some of the bigger mysteries of the series are starting to be revealed, but only in minor glimpses. I'm glad they're doled out at by Wells' competent hands, because the man knows how to write Spider-Man, and, while that's important, Wells doesn't neglect the rest of the players in the issue. I especially enjoyed the lizard "voice" Conners hears in his head. "Shred" is shaping up to a be an intense arc.
Ultimate New Ultimates #2: I was hoping Loeb would redeem Millar's Ultimate Avengers 2 with his New Ultimates. Sadly, this issue suffers from the same malady as Millar's: it's not believeable. What we're shown is that Danvers, Valkyrie, and Zarda are all convinced, by Amora, that they are destined for greater things. So, they rebel and kick the shit out of Captain America, Iron Man, and Bullseye. The problem is that I just don't buy it. Even if these gals are being brain-washed, it seems like a lazy way to introduce a conflict. This story isn't anything we haven't seen before, and maybe that's my real issue with New Ultimates. The Ultimate universe was meant to introduce a new generation of readers, free from the constraints of the regular 616 universe. But it seems as if Loeb is trying out some old material with new characters. But if we're to swallow this, it would have been better if Loeb took more time to develop the conflict rather than shoving it down readers' throats. I hope that Thor's return is spectacular because that feels like the only thing that will save this series.
Batman and Robin #12: The final page of this issue, the reveal of Detective Sexton, made me laugh out loud. Why? Because it was completely unexpected. As usual, Grant Morrison hurls the dirtiest of curve balls at the readers, and I don't know one person that could have guessed Sexton's actual identity. In this issue, Damien confronts his mother regarding his surgery, more mysteries about Bruce Wayne's return are revealed, Dick gets some payback against Slade for what he did to Bludhaven, and we also learn that Talia Al Ghul has a back up plan in case Damien decides to join Bruce. And I love it. I think we're just seeing the hints of what is to come eventually. The series looks to pick up steam now that The Return of Bruce Wayne is coming out, and Morrison will probably merge the two stories together in the end. So how will he solve the problem of Damien and Dick? We'll just have to wait, patiently, and see what develops.
iZombie #1 (Vertigo -- Roberson & Allred): In this comic, a zombie grave digger eats the brains of the recently deceased, once a month, and then inherits their thoughts. The problem is that her latest cadaver had some seriouly screwy shit occur before he died, so now she has to go and solve his murder. First, what I didn't like about iZombie is that it seems like a copy of Image's Chew in which a man can get the final images of whatever he eats. iZombie's redeeming factor is in its supporting cast. Gwen, our main character (and brain eater) is friends with Ellie, a ghost, and Scott, a Were-Terrier. Mike Allred's art is well suited for the idea because of its cartoonish nature. If they recruited a more intense artist, iZombie might not work because of its grusomeness. For a first issue, it's okay. Vertigo brilliantly made it $1, so its chances of selling are pretty good. As an introductory issue, there's not much to keep me here save for Gwen's buddies, but I'll give iZombie another go when the next issue comes out. Maybe the more apparent purpose of the comic will be revealed by then.
Sweet Tooth #9 (Vertigo -- Jeff Lemire): Jeff Lemire does a nice job of bouncing between Tommy's current situation, his past, and Sweet Tooth's incarceration. These later issues are nowhere near as fun as the earlier issues, but at the least the story is moving right along. The pacing for the issue works well as the story skips along. What bothers me, still, is that Tommy's backstory isn't all that interesting. I'm sure it's important in some capacity, but Jeff Lemire can't compete with his own creation. Sweet Tooth is the true root of the mystery, and when the writer doesn't focus on him, the comic falls flat.
Stealth #1 (Top Cow -- Kirkman & Silvestri): I wanted to hate this comic because it looked like, to quote Kurt, "Pure fanboy crap." But what works best in Stealth is its characters. We're introduced to Todd, an older man who's moving back in with his father. His father happens to be an aging superhero (named Stealth), but he's starting to go senile. This is the comic's most interesting aspect. The problem is that it's a novelty that will soon lose it's sheen. And then,we have to wonder when Todd will don his father's costume and fight crime, where the book will become just another superhero book. I'm hoping Kirkman paces this story well enough to keep the characters the focus of the book, and not to fall into the trap of making this about the superhero (who is more like a Spawn/Darkhawk conglomeration). I'm intrigued by Stealth, and interested to see where it goes from here.
Irredeemable #13 (Boom! -- Waid & Barreto): Mark Waid takes a step in the right direction with this issue. The flabby second arc almost lost me. The comic was losing its urgency and interest after the intial introduction to the issue at hand. In this issue, however, the characters start coming to life. My only worry is that we'll fall back into the previous rut, and while I did it once, I don't think I could stick with Irredeemable again. My only hope is that Mark Waid keeps moving the comic forward, introducing interesting plot threads and developing these characters into something more than just cardboard representation of different facets of humanity.