Spider-Man: Reign #3 (of 4) — Writer: Kaare Andrews; Artists: Kaare Andrews and Jose Villarrubia
Train wreck, definitely. Even after the second issue, I’d hoped it could turn around, but it’s just… not good. And the Jimmy Olsen newscaster is named “Miller Janson.” Oh, well, OK then. Even the art doesn’t help — the big full-page reveal of the villain made me laugh out loud, and I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the intended reaction. Maybe Andrews, who has a ton of talent, has now gotten his “I read Dark Knight Returns when I was 12 and thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen” influences out of his system in one massive, um, load, and is now ready to start something new, and completely his. That, I’d probably buy.
White Tiger # 4 (of 6) — Writers: Tamora Pierce and Timothy Liebe; Pencils: Phil Briones; Inks: Don Hillsman
This would be “rollicking” if I liked it, but instead it’s just “confusing,” with a ton of characters ricocheting off one another. Of course she calls Luke Cage “Uncle Luke,” and takes a sparring lesson with him. Of course everywhere she goes, she runs into trouble and has to put on the costume. Look over there! It’s the Lizard! And over there — a gang of anti-superhero terrorists! Menacing the foreign costumed couple with shrinking powers! After a couple of pages of this, I have a headache. The cover art’s nice, but there’s just not much else to recommend this book.
The Irredeemable Ant-Man #5 — Writer: Robert Kirkman; Penciler: Phil Hester; Inker: Ande Parks
This is a tough trick, making the main character a jerk, but somehow still likable enough to root for — sometimes it’s been done with brass (Phil Silvers), or with perfect comic timing (Archie Bunker). Kirkman hasn’t quite figured it out yet here, and this whole the-origin-needs-to-be-drawn-out-six-issues-for-the-trade crap gets old. On the other hand, sometimes the little jerk’s appealing; the last page suggests that the best model for the character might be Bugs Bunny, which wouldn’t be a bad thing.
Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse #5 — Writer/Artist/Creator: Ben Templesmith
The whole deviant-leprechaun bit was funny at first, but it’s so over-the-top that it’s best in small doses, and now, apparently, we’re going to get two or three entire issues of it. Too rich for me; I think maybe this should have been a mini-series, since the first four issues have pretty much mined out the concept.
The All-New Atom #8 — Writer: Gail Simone; Penciller: Mike Norton; Inker: Andy Owens
The cover quote from Entertainment Weekly calls it the “Best New Ongoing Comic of the Year.” Huh. Maybe it looks better to non-comics readers, but it’s always seemed too jittery for me; it jumps all around and never seems to settle on a solid tone (the artist changes haven’t helped with this, either). If you want to check it out, this is an OK jumping-on issue (it’s the conclusion of a two-part story, but you don’t really need the first part to understand what’s going on).
Nightwing #129 — Writer: Marv Wolfman; Penciller: Jamal Inge; Inker: Keith Champagne
Wolfman with Dick Grayson is like Chris Claremont with the X-Men, or Denny O’Neil on Batman: The good news is smooth, professional storytelling, and dead-on characterization earned by decades spent writing the character. The bad news is that we’ve seen so many similar stories from the writer that everything’s familiar, every little plot device and character tic. Worth a look, but if you’ve been following Wolfman’s work since New Teen Titans #1 (let alone Tomb of Dracula), you’ve probably seen it all before.
Welcome to Tranquility #3 — Writer: Gail Simone; Artist: Neil Googe
So far with this, I’m interested enough to follow the story (Simone usually delivers at least something decent), but not enough to actually want to own the book. The whole Goth-teen thing seems a little… old-fashioned (there’s a Goth reference in Nightwing this week, too. What, is it 1992 again? I think it’s called “emo” now, people), and it’s a jolt to realize that a lot of people have nostalgia for early Gen-13 stories. I still want to know what happens to the characters, though, and that’s a hopeful sign.
Incredible Hulk #103 — Writer: Greg Pak; Penciller: Aaron Lopresti; Inker: Sandu Florea
Still on the Convenient Alien Planet? This was a nice new direction for the character (Hulk as Conan), but it’s been a freakin’ year now, hasn’t it? Wrap it up, guys. There’s a decent Bruce Banner moment, but it’s counterbalanced by the ending, where two characters just happen to bump a switch that just happens to turn on a video that… well, the coincidence reminds me of Captain Marvel getting sucked into the time wormhole and dumped into the Negative Zone prison a few weeks ago, and that just makes my head hurt.