Week’s Best Double Shot 1/30 and 2/6

Last week’s top three (note: the newest Cap was sold out, though I’m sure it would have made this list, if you’re not reading Brubaker’s Cap then you, frankly, are a frickin’ idiot):

Avengers: The Initiative #9, Slott and Caselli
The rampage of the “perfect” human MVP clone (calling himself KIA) armed with a deadly alien weapon continues. Casualties occur left and right and some of the characters we have come to like bite the big one plus…a skrull! The appearance of Trauma counseling Cloud 9 makes me wonder if any of this is really happening, but next months confrontation between The Gauntlet (also bearing alien weapon) and KIA looks to be pretty badass. A great book taking a look at the new heroes of the Initiative being manipulated by the corrupt bureaucracy. Slott rocks, as usual, though his humor is toned down quite a bit here. Caselli does a fine job on the art; his inking (it’s NOT tracing) in particular lends a  gloomy air to the hardcore proceedings. A top shelf title that should be on everyone’s pull list.
Green Lantern #27, Johns and McKone
The Alpha Lanterns are revealed and it’s bad news.   A powered up internal police force to watch over the other police (Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?) they just seem like an all around bad idea on the Guardian’s part. It was great to see John Stewart acknowledged for being that badass that he is and I was proud to see that, being an earth native, he knows how to ask questions before jumping into something. The Sinestro Corps War was prelude to something much larger and I’m excited to see what that is. Things are changing in the cosmic world of DC and it’ll be a fun ride; especially with Johns at the helm.
Countdown to Adventure #6 of 8, Beechen/Gray and Goldman/Ferreira
One of the 2 countdown related titles I’ve been reading; mainly because of the interesting cast. I find the Adam Strange, Starfire, and Animal Man team an exciting trio and I’ve had fun viewing their interactions. The Starfire/Animal Man tension has been good and Adam Strange has been showing he can still kick ass; though it a little disappointing the that it has taken 6 issue to get all three back together again. This issue was interesting in that it focused attention on the significant others of both Animal Man and Adam Strange; both playing a large role in saving their husbands from certain doom. I don’t see any ties to Countdown, which is good, and this title would be a fun read without being tied to that cluster-f.  I do like the Forerunner backup, she is actually an interesting character and you can’t help but hope that her quest for revenge, against both the Monitors and Monarch, succeeds. Worth a look if you’re into the sci-fi space opera comics that both of the Big Two have been putting out.

Week’s Best, 2/6:

JSA #12, Johns/Ross and Eaglesham/Jose
This title is still getting its legs after that “Lightning Saga” garbage but things are looking better. More legacies show up (ncluding the return of Jakeem Thunder) one of which (in addition to the shadow of the villain) further ties into “Kingdom Come.” Things are looking bad for the DCU if that is the direction they’re heading. This title was a little late (last issue was in December) but we get two this month so things are improving. I’m really starting to like the new members and, despite the legacy throwback feel to many of them, all seem like they’re going to be a helluva lot of fun to read.
Annihilation: Conquest #4, Adnet/Lanning, Raney
If you can look past Adam Strange’s Madman/Captain Marvel knockoff costume you’ll find a good book, not as a good as Annihilation, but a good book. Things still look bleak for the captured, and now tortured, Starlord and his stranded crew as Mantis does her best to shelter Peter’s mind and learns of Ultron’s plans. Meanwhile Ronan, Wraith and others cook up a plan to attack the Phalanx on Hala, and it isn’t what you might think. Things are heating up but I still don’t see a way to beat the Phalanx (but I do see the potential of last minute, hail mary, save by Richard Ryder aka Nova down the line). Also can we get a Groot/Rocket Raccoon mini? Please?  That “I am Groot!” line was pitch perfect deadpan humor.
Uncanny X-Men #495, Brubaker and Choi
Have I mentioned that Brubaker rocks? This is a nice quiet issue that some fans might balk at (especially after the madcap pace of Messiah Complex) but that I found pretty enjoyable. It explores the Emma/Scott relationship in some detail, particularly from Emma’s perspective and, you know what, I buy it. It’s a bit romantic, a bit sappy, but it works within the context of the Marvel U and I like it. There is one attempted humorous line that falls a bit flat to my ear but other than that the writing is top shelf. The Iron Man/Cyclops confrontation in particular was worthwhile and Cyke raised some valid points and I’m glad to see him finally maturing (in Messiah Complex and here) into the leader he is supposed to be. I’m not too sure of the ending lead-in to the next big conflict but I’m willing to run with it as Brubaker and company continue to explore the concept of an X-Men without Xavier.

Last Weeks Best- Comics 1/23

I’m only going to to a Top 3 picks from last week’s releases. I missed out this week (some great comics too, dammit) but hopefully get to the store tonight or tomorrow.

The Order #7
Consistently one my favorite books from the house of ideas, The Order, follows a group of heroes chosen to be the “face” of the Initiative. Lead by former-actor turned hero Henry Hellrung the team has to deal with public scandals, super-villains, and micro-management from Shield Director Tony Stark. To make matters worse this issue Namor is holding the city hostage with a tidal wave; with the few operative member of the team dealing with crowd control Henry has to deal with the zealous and ever-pissy leader of Atlantis. Light on action but with great tension-building dialogue you really feel for Henry as the “inexperienced hero” has to take on a situation most veteran heroes would cringe at. I won’t spoil anything but Henry was already one of my favorite characters before this issue and his actions here only cement that opinion. I was a little disappointed that the Supernaut and Aralune storyline was nowhere to be found but hopefully we’ll get some resolution on that end next issue. Not a great jumping on point but a solid, well-crafted issue none-the-less.
Astonishing X-Men #24
As if Messiah Complex wasn’t enjoyable enough fans of the X get the ever-talented Joss Whedon penning his penultimate issue on this (out of continuity?) X-book. Whedon has a fine tuned sense of dialogue and relationship between the characters of this team (to elements any Whedonite should know about from his TV work) and if you look fondly on the X-men of old you really should be reading this title. Cassiday on the pencils is a master and I can only hope to see his work more widespread once he’s done here. I must admit I can’t think of any other writer who could pull off a story about angry aliens launching a giant bullet at Earth. Quality book that should be on any superhero fan’s pull list.
Jack Staff Special
Image Comics have really carved out a niche for themselves. Moving from their creator owned, larger than life, superheroics of the 90s they have performed quiet a coup in publishing smaller independent titles and throwback action superheroes. Jack Staff is a comic I’ve always wanted to get into and now that it’s going monthly I’ll have that chance; thanks to the fine folks at Image. This special gives a sampling of the titular hero and his assorted recurring characters and does a great job whetting one’s appetite for more. Kudos Image.