Four No. 1s this week, so let’s get going:
Somewhere I actually have a copy of What If #105, the issue that introduced May “Spider-Girl” Parker, but I never read the character again until Amazing Spider-Girl #1 (written by Tom DeFalco, pencilled by Ron Frenz, co-plotted by them, and inked by Sal Buscema). It’s not hard to figure out what’s going on, although there is the usual alt-future game of “where are they now?” In this case the future takes off from the standard Spider-Man setup, so there’s not too much of a learning curve. I like Ron Frenz well enough, but here his figures and faces seem a little more angular and skinny, and it’s a little distracting. Also, I halfway expected a more traditional done-in-one approach to this first issue, and while ASG #1 isn’t decompressed, it still doesn’t feel quite whole. Not sure if I’m coming back next month.
A lot of bloggers seem frustrated with The Authority #1 (written by Grant Morrison, drawn by Gene Ha), but I kind of liked it. It reminded me of Morrison’s JLA Classified #1, which similarly spent most of its pages on something other than the Justice League. I’ve read the first couple of Authority paperbacks, so I’m a bit more familiar with the book, but didn’t have much of an expectation going into this issue, and that might have helped. A good cliffhanger has me eager for #2, assuming I won’t have lost interest in two months.
WildCats #1 (written by Grant Morrison, pencilled by Jim Lee, inked by Scott Williams) was about as busy and plugged-in as The Authority was disconnected, and honestly, it was a little disorienting. I don’t mind massive infodumps generally, but this felt like I was missing a layer of references. Again, I’m moderately familiar with these characters, but not that much. I might get the paperback.
The Omega Men #1 (written by Andersen Gabrych, drawn by Henry Flint) did the most to get me looking forward to issue #2. It set up the threat, introduced the characters, put them in trouble, and left me hanging. It did take me a few pages to figure out that the flaming figure was Ryand’r and not Auron, and the choreography of the last big action sequence wasn’t as clear as it could have been, but maybe I just read too quickly.
Back in the land of higher numbers, 52 #24 (written by Four Non Blondes, breakdowns by Keith Giffen, pencils by Phil Jiminez, inks by Andy Lanning) was spoiled somewhat by the revelation in Firestorm that his new JLA wouldn’t get very far. Evil Skeets and his army of pirates and cyborgs was the kind of crazy I like, though. If this were my first issue of 52, I’d want to see the rest pronto. Also, Ambush Bug’s room-service call was worth the $2.50.
Secret Six #4 (written by Gail Simone, pencilled by Brad Walker, inked by Jimmy Palmiotti) was a couple of weeks late getting to me, but it does get me ready for #5 coming out tomorrow. Most of it is the big fight with the Doom Patrol, which is what got me to pick up this series to begin with, but in context I’m not quite sure what purpose it served. The main plot focuses on the relationship between Scandal and her dad, and that’s creepy enough — especially the opening dinner, which (yes) I read while eating. Thanks, DC!
Like it or not, I think I’m committed to Flash: Fastest Man Alive (#5 written by Danny Bilson & Paul DeMeo, pencilled by Ron Adrian, inked by Alex Lei and Rob Lea) through the first twelve issues, or at least long enough to confirm that Bart will, indeed, be the long-term Flash. Jay Garrick’s in danger, but DC won’t kill him, so that’s hardly suspenseful. This issue also brings back Inertia, apparently Impulse’s evil twin, whose relationshp to Bart could have more ramifications for that long-term situation. That assumes Bilson & DeMeo have a plan, though. If they do, that could redeem what has been very lackluster execution so far.
Birds Of Prey #99 (written by Gail Simone, pencilled by James Raiz, inked by Robin Riggs) finishes up the Batgirl/weird Turkish assassin story from last issue (and probably before, although I only read last issue) and sets up the big changes in issue #100. With Black Canary’s departure (for the JLA, I presume) capping off this issue, I get the feeling that more of a history with this book would have produced the desired emotional response. Still, I did like the interplay between the principals, and I’m eager to see #100’s changes. After that, who knows?
Checkmate #7 (written by Greg Rucka, Nunzio DeFilippis & Christina Weir, pencilled by Cliff Richards, inked by Bob Wiacek & Dan Green) finishes the Suicide Squad story and, apparently, the first paperback. I think the best byproduct of this story is the firm re-establishment of Amanda Waller as her old manipulative self. The rest, including one villain’s flexible approach to her late husband’s memory, is just gravy. Overall, a very attractive issue, with the art being a little better defined. This creative team tends to work together a lot, and I wouldn’t mind seeing it in these pages more regularly.
1602: Fantastick Four #2 (written by Peter David, pencilled by Pascal Alixe, inked by Livesay) gets the action going in earnest, bringing the Four together and setting them against Doom. The art reminds me of Keith Giffen, with its thin lines and “puffy” (for lack of a better term) figures, and that’s not bad. David has a bit of fun with the 17th-century setting, as you’d expect. He turns Johnny Storm into Dorrie Evans’ stalker and Doom into a Shakespeare fanboy, even going so far as to have Doom adopt a Shakespearean pun-laden speaking style.
Finally, Batman and the Mad Monk #3 (by Matt Wagner) was definitely the best of the week. As Julie Madison gets sucked into Dala and the Monk’s clutches, Batman gets to be just as spooky and intimidating. Wagner does a lot with just the characters’ eyes — the Monk’s are penetrating and eerie, Julie’s are wide and anxious, Bruce’s are thoughtful, and Batman’s are blank and menacing. I can’t quite see how Wagner will work the Batplane into this (it was introduced in the original story), but that’s about the only negative this miniseries seems to have.