Sunday, March 20, 2005

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What I bought and what I thought, week of March 9!

OK, let's take a look at this dreadfully dull, decompressed, stretched-out-for-the-trade comic book, shall we? And if I spoil, I apologize- but hey, so little happens, there's nothing to spoil, right? As we begin, Cap and the group disarm a bomber. We are reminded that the media remain skeptical of the necessity of having such a powerful group to perform such menial tasks. We also see Hank Pym working on what appears to be "Ultimate Ultron". There's a telling conversation between Captain America and the Wasp, which points to trouble for their relationship down the road. A little somewhat-less-than-comic relief with Jarvis at a "Billionaire Bachelor's Club". Then, Tony Stark give the Black Widow a present of her own armor, and the proposes in the way that only a multi-billionaire can. In Italy, the police break up a peaceful demonstration, which is in turn broken up by Thor, once again fighting what he perceives to be the good fight. We next discover that Clint Barton is married with two kids, then finds out about Thor's encounter as he's summoned by Nick Fury via helicopter. Next, we're in Brussels where we find out more about other countries' Super-Soldier programs, and are introduced to a host of other Captains, from different countries- Captain Britain, Captain Italy, etc. Millar defuses the silliness of these names by having his characters make fun of the naming convention. We also get a version of Thor's origin, and how he stole his hammer and armor from his brother, and fled to pursue his humanistic goals. It becomes obvious to all that Thor must be dealt with, since he's becoming a pain in the ass to all concerned, then we go to Norway where Thor is camped with his followers, including an alternachick Jane Foster, and is confronted by the Captains and our Ultimates...and as a cliffhanger, Cap A once more gets to demonstrate what a dick he is in this version. Boy, that's a whole lotta nothing, huh! Maybe my ADD isn't as bad as I thought. A

The Question gets a somewhat unexpected ghostly ally (whose murder didn't exactly seem to be the smartest thing to do, given the circumstances) in this penultimate issue, in which Rick Veitch sets the stage for the grande finale next month. Some nice character moments in this issue courtesy of Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen's downright mean ridicule of Vic Sage college-age poetry at Sage's expense, and Sage's suppressed reaction to same. As always, nicely drawn by Tommy Lee Edwards, and vividly colored. If Veitch doesn't blow the ending, this up-and-down series has a good chance of finishing on a high. A-

This book continues its upward swing of late with the continuation of the dueling Jill Presto-and-her-unwanted-baby and the Lilith/Lilim/Mazikeen war on Heaven storylines, which Mike Carey seems to be a lot more interested in than other recent storylines. Good for us. As always, the Peter Gross/Ryan Kelly art is competent. A-

No new surprises here as Jaime continues to give us interesting, funny, and sometimes sexy spotlights on Hopey and Ray, along with some amusing sports misadventures with Maggie, and Gilbert continues his "Dumb Solitaire" storyline, with which I remain fascinated in spite of myself. I'm beginning to wonder more and more if the Bros. aren't in a rut of a less obvious sort...but at least it's an interesting rut, so I won't complain. A-

The mystery was a weak and convoluted one, each twist having to be constantly explained and referred to every step of the way (and that drives me crazy), and the dialogue was always clunky...but the resolution didn't strain credibility too much (although it certainly seemed like he pulled the real perpretator out of thin air) and I kinda liked this Nate Hollis character, or at least his potential. While I doubt that Gary Phillips is the one to help him realize it, I wouldn't mind seeing him pop up again someday. Guess we'll find out whether this will happen if this should somehow manage to get collected, despite its abysmal sales- but I'm not holding my breath. Another thing that I fervently hope is that Shawn Martinbrough gets a better, more high-profile and more challenging project with which to showcase his illustrative skills next time. This issue: B-. Entire series: C+

MIA: STREET ANGEL #5, SHAOLIN COWBOY #2, and the 100% TPB, coming (hopefully) sooner rather than later from DCBS.

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