A short stack this week, as it seems is the new norm for me. Representing something from (almost) everything, though. That seems good.
Angel & Faith 3 - The search for the demon's blood to bring Giles back from the dead continues, but we get some good characterization of both Angel and Faith in the meantime. We also see some neat demons, some of the world after magic (this isn't new, in fact, it feels like the only thing that's already tired from both books – I can see how this trope is going to wear thin very, very quickly) and some more of the ex-Slayers. The way Faith talks to them, and the way they talk to her, is really the biggest sign of the progression of her character. She's definitely not the young, pissed off girl who's been passed over one too many times anymore. In fact, she doesn't even think of herself that way, even if she's shocked at her own journey into old age. But the biggest part of this issue is the introduction of a new secondary character I hope they keep around: an ex-mage who knew Giles (at least in a second-hand manner) and who guesses at Angel's motivation pretty quickly. As I said, Faith has progressed as a character, but there's still something to be said for having that old voice of reason around.
FF 11 - Building into 600, it seems like nothing more is happening in this issue. We've got the continued domestication of Reed, his censure at the hands of Sue becoming more and more clear. We've got Ben returning home. We've got the kids working on a secret project, which Reed surmises rather quickly (which will change in that good Hickman way to be something completely different, I'd guess) and we've got some guest spots from Marvel's best and brightest. The real meat of the issue comes in the way the Inhumans (or just the Kree, I really can't tell if they're truly working together) deal with the Alterna-Reeds. (And how sad was it that we didn't see Victor, Other Other Reed and Nathaniel at all in this issue?) But it's clear that the battle that's coming up is going to be huge. It's going to involve diverse and multitudinous sides and, honestly, I'm not sure what each side is going to have to sacrifice if they want to win. Here's to looking ahead.
The Flash 2 - There are a couple pages in this issue, like the title page and the pages where Barry is learning at super speed, that seem truly revolutionary. Francis Manapul's art is truly the best thing in the comic industry right now, and the fact that he's been given free reign on a flagship DC title is promising. However, it's not all wonderful news here, as the story seems...well...kind of dull. Maybe it's the reboot retreading over ground I've already run (pun intended) but it felt very static. As though we were supposed to be amazed at what was going on with the plotting, but, as I started this recap with, the only thing groundbreaking about it is (was) the art. That art, like I've already said, is indeed fresh. But it's not quite enough to be the product it could be.
The Ultimates 3 - This was a bit of a disappointment after the greatness of 2, but, again, it seems like a set up issue and, given the goodness that's happened before, I'm willing to accept that. Hickman paces himself on a scale that a lot of other people can't see most of the time, so I'm more than willing to go along for the ride. It's just like FF; I acknowledge that the end game might be invisible to me, but I know it's worth sticking around. This issue reverts back to the first issue formula: BATTLES! That's pretty much all there is for it, and after the cerebral way that we get our reveal last issue, it kind of felt like a let down, but I know that Thor getting over to the Tomorrow City is going to play out in a way that I can't foresee. And I love that. Meantime, in this issue, we have some Fury, some Hawkeye, a whole lot of Iron Man, and still no Cap. My guess is that's going to have to change next issue. Looking forward to it.
Book of the week goes to the Flash. In a world without Manapul's art, people would still, somehow, realize they were suffering. They would feel that absence. Thank God we don't have to be those poor fools.