Apparently Powers is back? And I looked at the two issues. I've already publicly exclaimed that I'm not buying into this, but let me mention the good parts: Pilgrim meeting her new partner, calling him Tom Selleck, the girl telling Pilgrim, "Tomorrow is another day," the opening dialogue between Pilgrim and Walker in the beginning of issue 2, and...that's about it. It's good, but it's more of the same. I won't be following along. Also, I've dropped Green Lantern. If it gets significantly better after Johns' departure, I'm more than willing to check it out, but I have my doubts. DC is losing me.
All New X-Men 8 - The art was great. The story is still fun. But the weakest part was the Angel-Angel interaction. The new Angel is still just toooooo weird. (I mean, he's really, really weird.) But the best part made up for it: Bobby and Kitty doing Cap and Beast's conversation made for some of the funniest comics that I got to read this week. And the most frightening part? Jean Grey acting like a total badass at the end, changing young Warren's mind for him. Young Warren is probably the only one who's reacting appropriately in this situation. I know they're mutants and X-Men and they live in a crazy world and they've seen crazy things, but this is, by far, the craziest at this point in their young lives. And he just wants to go home. Because he's seen how crazy things get. Scott's being selfish, trying to change his future, which he knows he can't do. Bobby's just being immature, which is perfect, because that's always been him, and he wants to play. Hank's just being a scientist, trying to figure everything out. But we didn't really have a reason for Jean staying yet, and here, we're starting to get into some of the deeper, more terribly horrifying ways in which this story might get extended: Jean Grey is starting to see some of the world. She's always been a good character. But she's never been better than when she's been bad.
Animal Man 18 - Ugh. Rotworld was so terrible. This supposed conclusion/epilogue to Rotworld was so terrible. I'm still proud that Lemire got such a high-profile gig at DC, showing that the New 52 wasn't 100% risk-averse, but even it's best and brightest are suffering. From the overwrought cover to the narration full of Cliff, if you couldn't tell what was going to happen in this issue, you haven't read more than two books. Also, the pacing felt off the whole time. He should have died during the battle, as opposed to the trite manner of the bad guy coming back for one final blow. Plus, Animal Man and Swamp Thing jump into the portal just because the Rot tells them to, because Arcane has gone beyond their demands? THose are some dumb superheroes. The only bright side? Maxine really tapping into her potential means that maybe we'll have a truly generational possibility in Animal Man. The only downside to that? DC has proven, over the course of decades, that they are unwilling to take advantage of those generations. Almost done with this title.
Angel and Faith 19 - Admittedly, this is the book I wasn't able to find last week, so it's not exactly current, but Dark Horse and Joss and Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs are all doing such a great job with this title that it'd be excellent no matter when you read it. Starting with the cover, going through more of Ripper's backstory (and seeing family members he doesn't loathe), the great dialogue between Angel and Spike (their relationship is a million times better than Buffy with either of them), and the 'pass' that the baby slayers give to Spike. This book is the epitome of the TV show on paper. It's really, really great. It's got soul (no pun intended) and it's constantly witty. The battle that Eyghon brings to the crew seems to be over pretty quickly for such a big baddie, but I didn't really see that as a bad thing, since it let us get to the point of Angel having three complete souls in his body and the fight that he's going to have to go through. The only bad part, for me, was the overuse of dialogue when the slayer crew was making their way out. We could see it coming a mile away, but it still needed four pages to tell the story of their departure and reasoning? Next up, Spike and Faith taking care of crazy Angel. Good times.
Avengers 7 - "The superflow of Universe 616." "The Last White Event." Builders, makers, grand cosmic events, comic books and Jonathan Hickman... Jesus. This guy is really swinging for the fences, huh? The story seems to be moving slow, but I think that's because these are all the opening moves of an incredibly complex chess game. It's clear that Hickman knows how to spin a monumental story from his time with the FF and I'm positive that's what he's doing here. The panels highlighting the Starbrand are a perfect example of this. A background character, hidden in plain sight, even when he told us that was exactly what he was doing. The interaction between the Nightmask and Captain Universe is great, as is the alternate armor that Tony is wearing and the add-ons that Hulk has gotten as part of his Avenger duty. While we're not quite getting the big picture story yet, I have no doubt that it's coming and I'm loving the way we're getting there. All these New Universe revelations have me wondering how many more we're going to get and, even more so, if Hickman is being groomed to give the WHOLE Marvel Universe a new go, not just the little pockets he's chosen thus far. It wouldn't be a bad idea.
Before Watchmen: Rorschach 4 - First of all, great cover, way to use the shadows. Secondly, though, there wasn't much more good to say about this book. It was a pretty weak ending for a pretty surprisingly good book. I felt like there wasn't much that they really wanted to say, but there were reasons (obviously) why Rorschach had to have his own book. The writer and the artist were the perfect pair for him, and, like I said, the book surprised me early on by being eerily and unexpectedly good. But here, with the conclusion, there just turned out not to be much of a point. It was nice to see the raw, gritty street-level ethos of Watchmen reflected in this book, because it wasn't really shown anywhere else, but that's about it. We didn't learn anything about Rorschach, nor did this book extend the Watchmen line in any significant way. But it wasn't terrible, and it's worth your time to read if you want to see more general goodness from Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo.
Daredevil: End of Days 6 - Same story as my last few reviews. Nothing much worthwhile here, other than the second page. Ben Urich is still chasing this story, he kind of sort of meets the maybe new Daredevil, his kid is infatuated with the new guy, the Owl's a piece of shit, and Punisher is killing bad guys. That's about it.
Swamp Thing 18 - It's reassuring that, even if Animal Man is sliding off the tracks, this book can still seem somewhat salvageable. But that doesn't mean that it's anywhere near its former levels of greatness. There are trite elements (sure, I know, I'm reading a comic book; but it doesn't have to read like a soap opera) that need to be overcome and there are way too many deaths and rebirths for such a short-lived book already. I get that that's part of what this epilogue was meant to focus on, and I get what that's meant for Swamp Thing in the past. I get the inner conflict aspect of this story, and I appreciate that. But...it still comes across as merely hitting a reset button. In contrast to Animal Man, though, I feel like the next issue of Swamp Thing might actually be vitally different, and I think there's potential here. Snyder may have disappointed me with Death of the Family, but this feels like there could be something good spawning from it. The reunion of Abbie and Alec was, after all, genuinely touching. The art helped more than a little bit, too. I'll be interested to see how long they can genuinely keep Arcane away, though, after giving in to the temptation to bring him back so quickly and in such a huge manner. His Parliament has its hands full for now, but we'll see if that lasts.
Willow 5 - Well, just a fantastic conclusion to a great story. Willow sums it up best when she says that she's returned from her grand quest without knowing if she accomplished anything or not. We know plenty, though: She's got magic, she's back on Earth, she's joining back up with the Scoobies and there are plenty of areas in which her friends are going to need magic, notably Angel with getting Giles back and Buffy in her fight against the Siphon. This is clearly wrapping up in a really neat way, and I credit Joss for doing a much better job of planning a tight story (with room for some side trips) this season as opposed to last. Willow's fight against Rack in this issue and her subsequent talk with the embodiment of magic were both great touches and the little chalk drawing that closed the issue served as a neat metaphor/preview of what Willow is capable of now. The art was spectacular in places but very sloppy in others. I really enjoyed these issues, and I love the fact that the Buffy line is so strong right now.
Winter Soldier 16 - Bucky's quest continues and man, he is one guilt-ridden SOB. Bringing him back is one of the best things that Ed Brubaker has ever done. His book, always good, has plunged into great territory by exponentially tripling down on the layers that he's having to fight through now: guilt over being the Winter Soldier in the first place. Then, moral ambiguity toward Steve Rogers for making him remember all the terrible things he's done. And now, being totally out of water over the newest turn with Black Widow, essentially erasing all the progress that he's made since he's been back. Now, he's working one-on-one with Nick Fury, tracking down some of his older mistakes (that's putting it lightly) and trying to set them right. Currently, we have the ghost (?) of a girl whose parents he killed and a training program that he went through under the Iron Curtain. And, oh yeah, he's teamed up with a man who's totally off the reservation because, long ago, Bucky killed his lady friend. Man, this book is good.
Book of the week goes to Avengers. It was kind of a weak week; Willow was great (as was Angel and Faith, but that's from last week) and Avengers was't purely better than it, but it has much richer long-term potential.