Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four #1 (of 4) — Writer: Jeff Parker; Penciler: Mike Wieringo; Inker: Wade von Grawbadger
I almost bought this, and if you’re looking for “classic” FF while the main title’s going through one of its periodic let’s-shake-up-the-roster things, you could do worse. Weiringo knows how to draw this book, and the script gives him Spider-Man and the Impossible Man and a Thing-Torch prank to have fun with. There was a little too much going on for me, though; it seemed like the volume was cranked up too high — the villain’s working for an alien race! And they want to take over the world! And he just took out the Impossible Man without breaking a sweat! And now the aliens are here!
I might back up and get this if the rest of the series is good, but if those aliens turn out to be harmless, intelligent cockroaches, or if the Impossible Man shows back up at exactly the moment they need him, I’m leaving.
Wonder Woman #7 — Writer: Jodi Picoult; Penciller: Drew Johnson; Inkers: Ray Snyder and Rodney Ramos
Not bad, but you know the bit where the villain appears, gets smacked around by the hero, issues a taunt and then escapes? That happens here twice. The whole book seems too… loosely constructed, I guess, with scenes that are OK individually but don’t mesh very well. (At one point, the injured guy sidekick gets rescued by Wonder Woman and makes a mildly sexual remark, and she drops him. That’s funny, and her semi-amused expression as she does it is just right, but then in the next panel we’re hearing about how much blood he’s lost, and how he needs to get to a hospital. And she dropped him?)
The Loners #1 (of 6) — Writer: C.B. Cebulski; Artist: Karl Moline
This reads like it wants to be an episode of The Real (super-powered) World, with six single college-aged kids thrown together in a “spandex self-help group,” as an extremely long cover caption informs us. (What’s up with that? It’s a technique I can’t recall ever seeing on a monthly comic. And why are only five of the six characters in the portrait?)
Anyway, when your main characters are Darkhawk, the Mattie Franklin Spider-Woman, and Julie from Power Pack, you’re somewhere south of D-list, but the book somehow makes that part of its scruffy charm. Having the Power Pack kid at college age just seems wrong, somehow; doesn’t that screw up some other characters’ timelines? It might be best to just imagine this as part of whatever small corner of the Marvel Universe Nextwave occupied, off where the events don’t necessarily connect to the “real” stories.
White Tiger #5 (of 6) — Story: Tamora Pierce and Timothy Liebe; Pencils: Phil Briones; Inks: Don Hillsman
This is sort of growing into a good story; you have to admire the willingness to throw in any old idea, from giving the character new powers to connecting her to the Marvel Universe in four or five different ways. It’s not exactly sophisticated plotting — after five issues, it’s still depending on random encounters with super-villains — but it’s OK, and although there’s a page or two of cheesecake the character’s presented as mostly strong and competent, too. If I were twelve years old, I might think this was a cool comic.
Nova #1 — Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning; Penciler: Sean Chen; Inker: Scott Hanna
Mostly an “Annihilation” summary, in between Nova acting as a one-man Green Lantern Corps and cosmic sheriff, and demonstrating how powered-up he is now that he’s got this whole Worldmind thing going on. The real kicker’s at the end, when the now mega-powered character gets back to earth, setting up a fight with the post-Civil War Iron Man, Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. That might be fun, especially with Chen’s background drawing Iron Man’s own book; tune in next issue to see.
Wolverine: Origins #13 — Writer: Daniel Way; Artist: Steve Dillon
This is plotted like a video game — we have to break into a bank to get the safe deposit box, which contains stuff that we have to take to someone who will use it to make other stuff, which we can then use it to defeat the main bad guy. First, though, it looks like there’s a boss we’re going to have to beat to clear this safety-deposit-box level. Nice art, as usual, but I’m just not feeling the compulsion to keep this book.
Punisher War Journal #6 — Writer: Matt Fraction; Artist: Ariel Olivetti
A perfectly decent Punisher story, actually, especially if you like your Punisher more connected to the Marvel Universe, and a little more tongue -in-cheek, than in his regular title. OK art, too; Olivetti has an exaggerated style that keeps edging close to caricature without quite falling over the edge. The problem is, I already have a lot of decent Punisher stories with OK art; if you don’t, then you might want to check this out.