I'm backtracking over the Journey Into Mystery run from Kieron Gillen, thanks to @mfeige. I'm also continuing to read The Walking Dead, but after my experiment with reading it monthly ended so poorly last time, I'm not going to put it back in these reviews until I'm confident that I'm going to stick with it.
Avengers 9 - Wow, this book is really transforming. The long arc seemingly gets put on pause by the end here, and the connection between this book and the New Avengers gets made much more explicit. The fact that Starbrand and Nightmask go to see the Builder and that he gives them a pretty significant reveal will have a lot of influence on where this is all going. But for now, after a fight that could have really messed things up, there seems to be a calm that we're in for. Knowing Hickman's writing style, though, makes me suspect that things will not be without consequence. Even with those two locked away, even with the focus (seemingly) about to change, there will be ramifications to what's going on in this book for the long-term future. I love the fact that this team is so big and it's got so many different people who, on their own, could change the course of any given battle. Put them all together and it seems like there's nothing they can't do, but I'm pretty sure that we're going to see some tremendous odds for them - much, much later. Ex Nihilo, also, will be a player in that future. Great stuff.
Batman 19 - Well, at least in my opinion, Batman has been seriously suffering since its strong start. The Court of Owls was an amazing revamp, but it quickly fell off the rails, and the book hasn't been right since then. The Death of the Family suffered from the same fate, and this issue didn't improve things at all. Clayface is back and he's not threatening, just like he wasn't before. I'm unimpressed and close to dropping the book...but then! Alex Maleev pencils a backup tale featuring Superman, where the dialogue gets close to the Batman we all know and love and would expect to encounter in the wake of Damian's death. Pitch perfect. Contrast this with Bruce merely looking at videos of old Damian footage in his cowl in the main story, like some parent in a depressing feature film. I don't know who James Tynion IV is (apparently he's writing Red Hood and is going to do Talon [or already is, if it's out?]), but the fact that he's got a better take on Bruce's response to tragedy is worrying for my faith in Scott Snyder. Snyder's still got a lot of room, but the troubling fact is that DC's track record right now is less than spotty and they seem to be squandering the good will they engendered with the handful of good books that came out of the New 52.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer 20 - Remember when we all kind of hated Xander? (But also, remember The Zeppo? And how that showed us we shouldn't? But then no one really learned the lesson? At least not permanently?) Well, we're being played right along that angle again. Sure, the fact that he's not the hero of the book (or even of his own life) must get to him every once in a while. (Or most of the time.) But even if he's just putting himself in position to blow this evil plan out of the water, it's frustrating that the writers can't think of anything new to do with him. It's such backwards momentum. He's a great character who just keeps being reduced to being the same plot beats over and over again. He deserves better. And, speaking of that, so do all the characters and their looks. The art on this book isn't terrible by any stretch of the imagination, but it's not good either. It's amazing to see Willow back in the book, but it's hard to see that it's even her. Andrew looks flat the whole time he's on page. The best bits of this book are the BPRD jacket that Xander wears and the fact that we're getting an art change next issue. Sad to say that those are the highlights of what used to be a top-notch book. Hopefully, with the minis over, the arcs wrapping up and the synthesis of the Angel & Faith plot with this one, we'll be able to look forward to a strong conclusion.
Hawkeye 9 - Oh man. I don't know how else to tell you guys this: If you're not reading Hawkeye, you're missing out. This comic is exactly what people talk about when they say working class. You know how there was that stat about Bush that said people liked him because they could imagine having a beer with him? Well, that's like Hawkeye, except he's not turning out to be a miserable failure. (Not partisan! Just some Google humor!) It's so ordinary. It's so gritty. (But not in the Frank Miller/80s way.) It's so street level. And it's so damn good. It's just Clint Barton trying to live his life when he's got some pretty extraordinary circumstances surrounding him pretty much all the time. He's trying to do his best most of the time, but he's pretty damn flawed. It's not that he's a bad guy. It's just that he's human. The art, by David Aja, almost makes the book, but it's another great example (two this week!) of collaboration between artist and writer. Matt Fraction is creating something entirely new here. It feels almost like voyeurism in its honestly. It's so straight forward that sometimes it feels awkward to watch. And when Jessica slaps him, repeatedly, we feel it. Things are building up for Hawkguy and we get to see, by way of that last page heart-stopper, that the amping up is going to get significantly more intense very quickly. Fantastic stuff.
Invincible Universe 1 - Well, I've loved Todd Nauck for a long, long time, and I've got plenty of faith in Phil Hester, but I'm just not sure that this book is for me. I don't find myself caring enough about the Invincible universe enough to get into it. It's just like the Wolfman book: great, great stuff that I just don't have time for. If someone I trust tells me that it gets phenomenal, I'll go back and get after it, but for now, if you love the Kirkman-verse, definitely get this. If not, you can probably feel free to skip it. I loved the art, I thought the story was engaging and I don't regret reading it. But it's not compelling enough to make my stack month after month.
Saga 12 - I can't believe this issue got so much press for all the wrong reasons, especially because, upon reading it, that 'controversial' part was so little! The issue overall has so much more, and so much more that is truly praise-worthy that it's shocking to me that people focused on such a small part of the issue. Therefore, I'm not going to get into it any more than I already have. Let's focus on the great: the little creatures that Prince Robot runs into when he lands on the author's planet. I know this is another small thing, but come on! Just look at the detail and the imagination that went into that! Fiona Staples is working with BKV at a level that we rarely see in this collaborative art form. Plus, the backstory that we get from the Robot makes him a bit more of a relatable character. The position he's put in by the land forces also help us see him as a bit more human. And then, his conversation with the author... Wow. We kind of got that double sense from the beginning, but I love how quickly they both turned into their true selves. And, of course, the ending was fantastic. Didn't see that coming and looking forward to the waiting game of next issue. Of course, that brings us to the only bad double entendre of this issue, because in the letters column, there's the confession that it's time for another little chunk of waiting. The only bad thing about such a great product is that sometimes it takes a bit longer to come out. For something this good, we should all be willing to wait.
Thor: God of Thunder 7 - We see the title reflected in a nice revelation at the end, but way before that, we get to see old Thor team up with young Thor and it is an absolute delight. Highlights include the "Thor-force" and "By my beard!" God, this book is incredible. I love how deep the mythology is getting, and, for that reason especially, I'm glad that I'm getting into the backlog of JiM. But here, Thor is front and center, and he's an incredible force. We get to see some instantaneous growth, thanks to the time-traveling nature of the story (maybe time-spanning is a better term) and it's great to see how different each of his incarnations is. The young(est) Thor is incredibly naive. The old(est) Thor is so jaded, even if it's justifiably so. And Gorr continues to demonstrate that he is more than a capable foe, tricking the Godbomb into existence. I can't wait to see Odin-Thor and middle Thor go into battle together and I can't wait to see what they're going to be up against.
Book of the week goes to Hawkeye. I'm giving it to Fraction & Aja over Saga because of the fact that they're working on a Big Two book and they still have the guts to make it this great. Incredible.