I'm still reading this All New X-Men book, but I'm deeply conflicted about it. The art is getting better, Dave will be happy to hear me admit, but the story still seems like a one-trick pony. I mean, how long can this plot actually be stretched out? (Knowing Bendis, I realize it can go on for well over four years and still not actually say anything. Thanks, decompressed storytelling.) But after that...I mean, no matter how long it goes... What from there?
Animal Man 15 - And Lemire brings in his pet project, Frankenstein! Of course he does! This is just great. The way these guys are getting to build their own little corners of the Universe is exactly as it should be. Especially with great writers like Lemire (and Snyder and Hickman, on the other side of the Big Two), give them free reign! This book runs a really nice chapter in the Red section of Rotworld's crossover. I'm liking Buddy's ragtag bunch more and more with every issue. Garfield is an obvious choice, and it's clear that Lemire loves Constantine. Steel makes sense given the Superman fakeout, and I'm curious about the last page cliffhanger. We knew it wasn't gonna be Supes, but this'll be interesting. Good stuff, especially the foreshadowing that Lemire is so good with, in Buddy's dream, where everything appears normal until Baker gets a look at his son. Maxine, for as powerful as she's destined to become, on the other hand, comes across as incredibly stupid. I guess she is a kid, after all, but it's still strange to see from someone that I don't expect that blatant stupidity from.
Avengers 1 - Hickman is a master plotter. Seriously. I'm not even genuinely interested in any of these heroes, but with Hickman at the helm, I will follow this story blindly! This was a great start, and I think the art did a good job complementing the overall tone. The clear lines helped, the way that Opena played with shadows, especially when it came to the scenes with the Hulk, was nice in particular. All that being said, we still don't truly have an introduction. I have no idea who's on this team, but I want to know. Hickman has already proved he can pull threads together like no other and Marvel is really giving him free reign with the Universe here, at least it looks that way.
Before Watchmen: Minutemen 5 - Darwyn Cooke reminds us all that he's in charge of the Before Watchmen ship. As good as the other books have been, this one is head and shoulders above them. The mix of sex and violence, the focus on Hollis and his book, the juxtaposition of the classic style of art with the truly horrendous things that these deeply flawed characters do all the time makes this a classic. The relationship between these older generation characters was always such a subtle darkness, and yeah, that's the way Moore wanted to leave it. But Cooke has dragged it, kicking and screaming out of those shadows and, at least in my opinion, he's improving on the original story. Could it have gone a hundred million different ways? Sure. And would some of those, at least, be better than this? Undoubtedly so. But just because something could have gone differently doesn't mean that we should discount this greatness we've got in front of us. We only have one more issue of Minutemen left, and the way things have gone so far, I'm expecting fireworks. It's been a car crash in slow motion and we're about to see the total devastation. Even if we didn't know what was coming, even if we were newbies who'd never read Watchmen, it's evident by this point. It's going to be beautiful in one of the worst ways possible, when Hooded Justice and Nite Owl get their final tango.
Invincible 98 - Well, this was a misleading title. But, it could still play out the way everyone's fearing. But I don't think it will. It was a welcome relief from the over-the-top meta-approach that Kirkman took to last issue and it was a relief to see Mark back in costume, taking control of his own book again. The dynamic between him and Dinosaurus is always a good one, and I have a feeling that this is going to be quite the clash, what with Dino's predilection for planning. Next issue some bombs should go off (not literally, although maybe) and I'm looking forward to a gnarly cliffhanger that maybe will and maybe won't get resolved in issue 100. But for now, this book is officially back on track. Always good to see.
Swamp Thing 15 - Ahhh! The old trick of a shitty guest artist with the normal artist on the cover! What a disappointment! By the second panel, I was already unhappy. This book is good enough, I like the angle of dystopian future, obviously, but it's just not sticking the way that Animal Man is. The surprise guest at the end of this issue might change things for me, though. As resentful as I am of the New 52 and the way they've blatantly manipulated Barbara Gordon, I have to believe that Scott Snyder is capable of doing great things with her. The way the art here tries to mimic Batwoman is a nice, glowing compliment to Williams, but it's nowhere near that level, and mainly just comes off as cheap tactics as opposed to an homage of any kind. Boston's gone, which is a drag, Abby's story is still being told and, ultimately, none of this is going to matter, because they're going to prevent it. It kind of feels like spinning our wheels.
Ultimates 18.1 - Well, the point one issue of this title sucked. There's just no getting around it. I liked the angle the Ultimate Universe was taking, coming together as a cohesive whole, and I still think it's a good one, but the drastic realigning to make it seem closer to the Cinematic Universe is a mistake. The Tony brain tumor is such a great little thread, but really, all he's gonna come up with is Iron Patriot? Weak. The art was good, if a bit outside my most-loved realm. Thor looks good, but Cap looks kind of generic. The civil war angle that's still running through all the books is an example of a great idea, held on to for too long, that now feels forced. (I guess this is how people thought of the Clone Saga?) It would work if there was some kind of Hickman-esque master storyteller behind it and we had confidence that it was building to something that was planned long, long ago, but more and more it just feels like they're making it up as they go along. There's nothing wrong with that, per se, there are plenty of fun comics written that way, but it's my opinion that longterm arcs don't work well that way.
Book of the week goes to Minutemen. Nothing can compete with something that's going to be recorded as a classic. We're getting to see something unfold right in front of our eyes that future generations are going to talk about in reverential tones. Put aside the Moore-loyalty and appreciate it for the great tale that it is.