As though five-Wednesday months aren't expensive enough, DC had to put out some annuals this week, huh? Well, they were both good, but I'm not sure if my wallet appreciated them as much as my brain did. I know they're more pages, but drawing the line at 4.99 doesn't have quite the same ring.
Animal Man Annual 1 - I like how we're seeing some of the backlog of Red versus Green versus Black and the line that each of the elements has overreached in the past was the best. That being said, the inconsistent art of this title (though not this book in particular) is really troubling. With this issue, we see how valuable a regular artist is and I wish that would transfer over to the main title. The story isn't really worth telling, at the end of the day, though, which makes this the lesser of the two annuals this week.
Angel and Faith 10 - A fun fill-in issue with Chris Samnee on art, which makes it all the more enjoyable. The sisters don't seem like characters who are truly going to stick around, and I'm OK with that. If you need a filler issue every once in a while, this is the way to do it, especially with the nice drop at the end of the issue. It's always interesting, though, to get bits of Giles' childhood, and that was the best thing about this issue.
Batman Annual 1 - A much better story than the Animal Man annual, credit due to Scott Snyder. The origin of the DCnU Mr. Freeze is familiar for longtime comic fans, but it's well-played here, especially with the connection to the Court of the Owls. This crossover has felt a bit forced at times, but this was not one of those times. It was a well thought-out connection and the twists and turns that the story takes (especially the end with the reveal about his mother, but I'm definitely not discounting the reveal about his wife) show what a monster Snyder is right now. While Lemire is a good writer, Snyder is one who's at the peak of his skills.
FF 18 - Hickman continues to tell little bits of the story, filler that manages to continue the overall arc as well. Johnny takes over the class and its title and aim switches many times, but the intent never does: to prove that Johnny Storm is more than the one-dimensional jerk he's been written as before. (This issue also serves as a great contrast to the Peter and Johnny roommates issue, as Hickman was nodding to that past there, and disproves it entirely here.) The way the issue plays out isn't a surprise, but the ending will leave more than a few threads that need to be wrapped up (by Hickman!) before he leaves. The best bits are the small parts, such as Franklin working with Franklin, Franklin's admission that he isn't long for this world, and the construction of a box so secure that we get to hear Black Bolt's voice. Incredible stuff here.
Powers 10 - So, Powers is going to restart...again. It's getting crazy, yes, but we've seen crazy from this book before. I'm not sure if Bendis really has committed to a vision here, or if he just feels backed into a corner. However, the story is still intriguing enough to me that I'm going to continue with it, even though it doesn't feel original in any way, and I feel like it's a bit of a lazy cop-out (no pun intended). I'm curious to see the new status quo a couple months from now, so it feels like discussion on the events of this issue are a bit redundant. Here they are, quickly: Gods might be real, the press have always been a bunch of idiots, lots of people are going to die. Deena Pilgrim and Christian Walker will not be amongst those who die.
Rachel Rising 8 - I love Terry Moore, and I love this book, but there are definitely times where I feel like I'm not getting my money's worth. I know indy comics are a tougher gig than the Big Two, and I'm always down to support great creators, like I have with all of his series, but for an issue where a LOT of stuff happened, it felt shockingly light. All that being said, if you love comics and you're not buying Rachel Rising, you're a fool. Dr. Siemen is still incredibly creepy, as are most of the residents of this world. The woman who's hanging out with the wolves...I don't know? This is another issue for me (revealed especially by my recent reading of the entire run of Echo): Terry Moore's characters all look a lot alike. Jet's development is strange, even given Rachel's predicament, because Rachel isn't talking in weird-possessed speech bubbles. What's the difference between them? A poor man named Rudy shows up to check on his friend Natalie and pays quite the price for his kindness. Lastly, Earl is turning into a great character. I'm loving the dynamic between him and Jet.
The Ultimates 11 - The universe is coming back together! Thank God! (Also, the promos inside for "Divided We Fall" promise more unity, which is a great thing. Sometimes it's hard to be a comic book fan who stays away from Previews.) This issue teases in all the right ways, challenging our fanboy assumptions that the good guys we root for will find some way to triumph over the tremendous odds they face. Tony and Thor get to have their meet up and schedule a visit with the President. The WCOS crew makes it to their destination and, even when things look bleak, they find a way to conquer the army that's there to take them in. But...both of those victories change pretty quickly as the President calls out Tony for being an alcoholic and Hawkeye, Black Widow and Falcon, it turns out, are no match for superior numbers. Things are looking bleak. And that's when they're the best.
Wolverine and the X-Men 11 - Weakest book of this run so far. Bouncing between all the battles that are happening in Avengers vs. X-Men, none of which I care about, the only part of this book that was interesting was getting to see Logan coming around to the realization that he can't kill a kid; especially not Hope.
Book of the week goes to FF. I'm long past my suspicion that I should drop this book and am even thinking that I might try out whoever steers the ship after Hickman leaves.