Astonishing X-Men #14 (Marvel): Joss really turns up the sexual heat in this issue. Emma and Scott are playing a very dangerous game of dominance and psychological intrusion that really digs into the heart of what makes these characters tick. Meanwhile, Kitty and Peter are just having a good ol' fashioned romp in the sack - finally. Anxious to see how this all plays out. When I first read this issue, I was kind of like, what the hell was that? That's pretty divergent in tone from previous issues, I almost dismissed it as an attempt at shock value. But then it started lingering with me for hours, that conversation between Emma and Scott, this is powerful stuff. And of course, tremendous pencils from Cassaday. Grade B+.
Ion #1 (DC): Ugh. That's really all I can muster. I remember commenting to myself at the comic shop that "I don't really like Ron Marz's writing, but I like Kyle as a character, so I'll give this a shot." What we got here is typical Ron Marz scripting, which means it's totally flat, not engaging, extremely expository, employs overstated dialogue, and overtly telegraphs its moves, like the obligatory Kyle Rayner history lesson and the introduction of the love interest. He swiped some techniques from Frank Miller, like the "script bleed," where some dialogue finishes up on a subsequent panel in which the art has already progressed to the next scene, but he sure didn't learn about script/art dichotomy. Meaning that when the words and the pictures are essentially conveying the same message and there's no dramatic contrast, it's BORING AS HELL AND DEFEATS THE PURPOSE OF THIS MEDIUM. Schuyler accuses Kyle of just "pushing paint around the canvas" and not finding a voice or point to make, which to me is hilarious as hell, though I'm sure the irony wasn't intended, since Marz and Co. are basically just pushing words around the comic page here with the same lack of precision or consequence. The art is basically incomprehensible in spots and the inking has a murky... "globby" quality to it that looks amatuerish at best. Ugh. Grade D-.
Checkmate #1 (DC): I like procedural stuff. Military acronyms, cop lingo, House MD on Fox, that abbreviated shorthand that some professions use is great, lends a feel of authenticity. And crisp radio traffic does get me kinda' hot. "SAS-5 to base, I'm assuming IC" will always get my blood flowing. But, it did get a little thick here. "Black Queen to White King's Bishop's Knight," sorta' makes me scratch my head and have to refer back to the org chart that the UN was using on pages 4-5. But all in all, interesting character choices and a pretty engaging ride from Greg Rucka, with competent, though not *amazing* by any means, pencils from Jesus Saiz. I'll hang for a couple issues to see where this goes. Grade B-.
The Sentry #8 (Marvel): Well, that was certainly the long way around the mountain to shed some light on the The Sentry's origin. And after the exhaustion of that long trek, we get right back to the tired, used up concepts of the Weapon X Program and the Super-Soldier Serum? Oh, *that's* creative as hell. This book was just like The Sentry/Void conflict it chronicled. For every neat idea, there is an equally boring one pushing back in infinite repetition. I did like the concept of the megadose of the serum being ingested by an "average joe" with schizophrenia, producing these divergent personalities within Robert, both The Sentry and The Void. But, this convoluted, red-herring filled, doubling back on itself style of relaying his origin really wore me out. To go through all that to ultimately deliver a simple message of love and hope seemed inefficient and arbitrary and played anti-climactically. Did we really need 8 issues to do *that*? At the end here, I feel let down by Jenkin's script and that I was lulled into thinking this was better than it actually is due to the stellar art work from John Romita Jr., which pushes the grade up slightly to a B-.
Iron Man: The Inevitable #5 (Marvel): I really enjoyed the fact that Casey is making a deliberate effort here to maintain some synthesis with Warren Ellis' recent run on The Invincible Iron Man. I also don't mind Frazer Irving's bizarre art style that makes me feel as if I'm viewing this through a kaleidoscope at times. Where I lose it is the overall direction of this story. Like what exactly is going on here? Tony getting naked in front of Doc Samson for no apparent reason? What is the compelling need for this story? One issue to go and I still don't really know where it's going or what the point is. Grade C+.
Godland #10 (Image): Recent issues still don't feel as strong as earlier ones, but still enough weird presence to keep me engaged. There's an insanely funny self-referential line here about Casey's book The Milkman Murders pencilled by Steve Parkhouse. Grade B.
New Avengers Annual #1 (Marvel): Woo-hoo! The wedding of Luke Cage and Jessica Jones. After just reading the Alias Omnibus in about 2 sittings, I was really pumped for this event. Then I got a zillion pages of fight scenes with the Adaptoid, some mumbo jumbo about a Black Widow that I've never met before, and only like 3 pages dedicated to the actual wedding. So, aside from a really nice pin-up page of the New Avengers' roster and some awesome pencils from Olivier Coipel (*dug* his Legion of the Damned and Legion Lost work, which *still* hasn't been collected by DC!), this was kinda "whatever." Moments that were meant to play grand, like the "fastball special, Avengers style" just sort of sat there. Grade C.
X-Factor #6 (Marvel): This issue was just really... solid. Peter David's scripts are humming along, portraying nice character banter amid all the assorted personalities. And Dennis Calero's art is starting to grow on me. Good comics. Grade B.
Solo #10 (DC): Damion Scott. Loved his work on early Batgirl issues. This was quite a mixed bag of stuff. Which is cool. That's why I like the Solo project. It's like a box of chocolates, you never know wh-- eww, no, that's just wrong. So, I like experimental things, really I do, but when they're so pushing the envelope that you can't really understand what's going on, that's problematic. Like the first piece involving the Flash. It did really incorporate Scott's graffiti art, which is what he said he was gonna' do, but it just didn't work for me. There were some very cute moments with both Batgirl/Robin pieces here, so that was cool. The highlight for me was actually his series of Superman pin-ups. Loved the forced perspective shot of him soaring over Metropolis, it had a real Fritz Lang meets MC Escher quality to it. Though everything didn't click with me, still proof why DC's Solo project is one of the best things to happen to comics in a while. Grade B-.