- Countdown #39 of 52 (backwards), by Paul Dini, Sean McKeever, Jim Calafiore & Jay Leisten (DC)
- Justice Society of America #8, by Geoff Johns, Fernando Pasarin & Rodney Ramos (DC)
- Metal Men #1 of 8, by Duncan Rouleau (DC)
- Welcome to Tranqulity #9, by Gail Simone, Neil Googe, Leandro Fernandez & Francisco Paronzini (DC/Wildstorm)
- Ms. Marvel #18, by Brian Reed, Aaron Lopresti & Matt Ryan (Marvel)
- Thor #2, by J. Michael Stracyznki, Oliver Coipel & Mark Morales (Marvel)
- World War Hulk #3 of 5, by Greg Pak, John Romita Jr., & Klaus Janson (Marvel)
- Elephantmen: Wounded Animals HC, by Richard Starkings, Moritat, and others (Image)
Usually I find “special character spotlight” issues to be tedious: exposition and incidental adventure which mostly feels just-plain-obvious. But this month’s JSA is better-than-usual: Although nominally spotlighting Liberty Belle (the former Jesse Quick), it’s more interesting for its handling of Damage, one of the more tragic characters in recent memory, whose face is so badly scarred that he wears a mask like the original Atom’s to hide his appearance. After the predictable flashbacks to Belle’s early life, Damage confronts Zoom, a recent Flash villain who’s responsible for his disfigurement, in which we get to learn both something about both his character and Belle’s. Pretty good stuff.
Except for the cover. The Alex Ross “pose” covers got boring a long time ago.
So who exactly is Duncan Rouleau and where has he been hiding? I picked up Metal Men #1 because I liked his clean, dynamic artwork when I thumbed through it, but it’s an all-around fun comic: A mix of action and adventure (the Metal Men take on a nanotechnological menace), danger (then they’re confiscated by the government), drama (a flashback to Will Magnus first unveiling the Metal Men and what it meant to his career), and mystery (a familiar-looking figure apparently ready to wipe the Metal Men from the timestream). That’s a lot of stuff for a first issue, but it should be plenty to keep the series busy and enjoyable for 8 issues. If it delivers on even half its promise, then it should be lots of fun.
Oh, and Rouleau’s art is just as good as it looked at first glance.
Ms. Marvel introduces a couple of new superhumans to her S.H.I.E.L.D. unit, including the current revision of Machine Man who both (1) looks really boring, and (2) is a stuck-up, obnoxious prig. Which is really annoying since Machine Man’s hallmark has always been that inside he’s as human as any of us. He’s a lot like Brainiac 5 from the current Legion of Super-Heroes, except that Brainy’s always been a little annoying that way, while for Machine Man it goes completely against character. Gah, what a waste.
Thor #2 is mostly a lengthy sequence with Thor returning to Asgard (sort of), and talking with the locals in the middle of nowhere. Nothing happens, really. Didn’t I mention that Straczynski’s comic books drive me up the wall? Get on with the story already!
Man, World War Hulk sure is fun, and #3 has about four times as much story in it as I’d expect: Doctor Strange’s plan comes to fruition, the Hulk fights the US army, Hulk’s warbound comrades take down a while slew of Marvel heroes, and the last page promises some serious ass-kicking next issue. And there are still two issues left!
It takes a lot to make a big slugfest worth reading. Admittedly “Planet Hulk” tried a little too hard to give the Hulk’s fury a sense of righteousness, but plopping it on top of Civil War made it just effective enough.
(Comics Should Be Good thinks World War Hulk is the second part of a Hulk trilogy, which raises the question: What the heck would part three be?)
I have no idea what Elephantmen is going to be like. It’s gotten good word-of-mouth and the art style has always intrigued me in the previews. I wonder if I’ll miss a lot because I haven’t read the earlier Hip Flask material?