Madman #1 — Words and pictures: Michael Allred
Just OK. Wonderful art, but it’s more of a clip show than anything else, and the suggestion at the end that everything up to now’s all been an illusion feels like a cheat. Of course, the cheat might be a cheat, too, so it’s important to reserve judgment; it’s understandable that Allred wants to clear away 20 years of cobwebs surrounding his character, and we’ll have to wait until the end of the storyline to see exactly how he’s going to accomplish that. Allred’s part of an interesting pattern — Matt Wagner’s Mage and Ostrander/Truman’s Grimjack (and, soon now, Baron/Rude’s Nexus) have all recently featured creators in their 40s and 50s returning to fondly-remembered creations from their 20s, and sometimes struggling to make them relevant and vital again, instead of mere nostalgia. If Allred’s able to recapture the magic, more power to him.
Iron Man: Hypervelocity #4 (of 6) — Story and Layouts: Adam Warren; Art: Brian Denham
Still rocketing along. Warren’s plots are nothing if not technologically savvy and complex, so don’t even think about picking up this fourth issue and trying to figure out what’s going on — but if your comics shop still has issues 1-3 out on the stands, it’s worth getting them; between all the cutting-edge cyberpunk riffs and the musings on consciousness and self-knowledge, this has been a fun ride.
Jack of Fables #9 — Writers: Bill Willingham & Matthew Sturges; penciller: Tony Akins; Inker: Andrew Pepoy
Speaking of fun rides… between this and last week’s Green Lantern, DC certainly seems to have a cover fetish for half-naked women towering over beaten men, but once inside you’ll find this an amusing and sly Las Vegas battle between Jack the trickster and the literal Lady Luck. It’s the small touches that really make this book — the character called “The Pathetic Fallacy,” who’s able to connect emotionally with inanimate objects; the fact that the villains are, of all things, Belgians (leading to the hurled insult of “waffle biters”); the way Lady Luck, in her “royal” costume, looks like she was drawn by Wally Wood.
52 #48 — Writers: Johns, Morrison, Rucka & Waid; Breakdowns: Keith Giffen; Art: Darick Robertson
Resolution of the Crime Bible/Batwoman/Question arc takes up the whole book (except for a page on Black Adam’s continuing, and deepening, troubles), and there’s a nice splash page of Montoya finally accepting her destiny. Robertson, over Giffen’s layouts, shows an unexpected aptitude for shadowy action, and this continues to be a solid, smooth telling of a complex story. Four issues to go….
Runaways #25 — Writer: Joss Whedon; Pencils: Michael Ryan; Inks: Rick Ketcham
Whedon’s “other” book this week, and a good, if subdued, start. The kids, in New York, meet with the Kingpin, represent the Pride, and get into various kinds of trouble. The dialogue is the best part, as you might expect, and the character bits show that Whedon wasn’t kidding when he said he’d been a fan of the book since the beginning; everyone sounds exactly like they should. Points for not starting the book over with yet another first issue, too.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Season Eight #2 — Writer: Joss Whedon; Pencils: Georges Jeanty; Inks: Andy Owens
Still an intriguing read, although the whole reveal-a-returning-character-on-the-last-page bit is going to get old fast. Worth buying, although it probably doesn’t matter what I say, because this book is reviewer-proof: if you’re a fan of the show, you’ll want it as long as Whedon is writing it, and if you never saw the show, you’re not going to care either way.
Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness #2 — Writer: John Layman; Artist: Fabiano Neves
We know where it’s going, so the only real fun is in seeing the various twists and gory deaths involved in getting there. OK art, although Ash and Peter Parker look almost exactly alike, which is off-putting; there’s a nice splash of Spidey acting like he’s trying to gnaw off the top of Hawkeye’s head to eat his brains which makes up for it, though. The last page made me laugh, and was just enough to tip this book into the “buy” stack.
Justice League of America #7 — Writer: Brad Meltzer; Penciller: Ed Benes; Inkers: Sandra Hope & Ed Benes
One of those the-team-gets-some-downtime-after-the-first-long-arc episodes, and it’s all about the character beats, the consolidation of the new lineup and the new headquarters, and the foreshadowing of future stories. If you skipped the introductory story, this is a good chance to check out what the creative team’s like, as everybody takes a deep breath and gets ready for the next adventure. There’s also a triple-page foldout portrait of the new team, which either helps to justify the extra 51 cents you’re paying for this issue or doesn’t, depending on your tolerance for that sort of thing.
Jonah Hex #18 — Writer: Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti; Art: Val Semeiks
A stand-alone story, twisty and bleak, that wouldn’t have been out of place in the original Fleisher run. It’s a good example of why Hex is such a cynic; in his time and place, that’s usually the safest approach, and just about any time he forgets that, it comes back to bite him.
Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #28 — Writer: Mark Waid; Penciller: Barry Kitson; Inkers: Gray and Palmiotti
Next-to-the-last episode of the current arc, so we start with the things-look-bleak bit, followed by the rally to set up the final battle next issue. Suitably heroic, and respectful of the many past iterations of the same basic idea that this team’s been through (given the events in the issue, I’m still looking for a “Computo” reference, though… and wondering if someone’s name is going to have to change to “Solo Lass.”).