X-Force 14: It’s hard to talk about this, the third chapter of “Messiah War”, without giving much away so I’ll assume you know the premise. I wasn’t reading X-Men during the Cable/Stryfe/Apocalypse era, so I’m a little confused by some of that stuff although Kyle & Yost do a pretty good job of explaining just what’s necessary to know. My main problem is that this conflict between Cable wanting to protect the girl and Bishop wanting to destroy her has been going on for months and we still don’t know much about Bishop’s position. He seems to sincerely believe that letting the girl live will be a disaster for mutantkind, but we don’t know enough about how or why to sympathize with him. I feel like the story wants us to agonize about which side is right, but Bishop just comes off as a bully (and a mass murderer, but he thinks that won’t count because the timeline will reset when he kills the girl.)
Incredible Hercules 128: Pak & Van Lente make it look easy here, as usual, even though there’s clearly a lot of thought put into it. This, as opposed to Elektra and Thunderbolts, is how to have Osborn’s Dark Avengers lose without seeming ineffective – they’re fighting on two fronts, each being a group of gods, Ares is conflicted because his family is involved, and Osborn gets trapped by his team’s (fake) mission to act like real Avengers and save lives. (They should probably win once in a while too, but it makes sense that they don’t here.) Well done, as everyone in the story has an understandable motivation and doesn’t behave like an idiot. I’ve never heard of Deitrich Smith, but his art style fits well here.
Immortal Iron Fist 25: Continues to not miss a beat from the Brubaker/Fraction era. There’s one more part to this story, which is coming along nicely – I like that Danny and the other Weapons have stopped being passive – and I’m looking forward to the one-shots featuring them that are coming after #26.
Astonishing X-Men 29: OK, but the delays and the stalling with the special issues have robbed me of some of my interest. I generally like Warren Ellis’ work, and I do like this, but I’m considering waiting for the collection. There is also some momentum lost taking time to explain the fact that Ellis’ story, which presumably was written separately from the main X-universe planning, depends on mutants from an alternate universe when in the meantime it was established that Wanda wiped out mutants in all timelines at the end of House of M. (Which is a dumb idea that they never should have mentioned in the first place, so it’s too bad that Ellis has to spend time explaining it away here.)
Avengers: The Initiative 23: More good use of Osborn here, as almost the entire cast has to admit their complicity in the events way back in issue #1 and Norman swoops in as the “good guy” to fix everything. (Yes, those events were caused by a Skrull, but the rest of the characters didn’t know that at the time and went along with the authority figure anyway.) A little off on the timeline with the other Dark Reign books because HAMMER isn’t yet established here, but presumably that will sync up next issue as we find out the new status quo. Critical for those who have been following this book since the beginning, but I think next issue will probably turn out to be a better jumping on point.
Outsiders 17: Nothing particularly wrong with this, except that I am kind of losing the thread of why this “Insider” group is so bad that Batman made provisions for chasing them after his death. The connection to Metamorpho is interesting, though, and it’s nice to see him not treated like a buffoon for a change. Lee Garbett is another unknown artist to me, but his work here is good.
Mighty Avengers 24: This is very clearly aimed at “classic” Avengers fans, and I’ve heard from a lot of you who are used to the “New Avengers” style and just don’t like the change. I, however, think there’s room for both and I’m loving this book so far. Nice use of the Cabal (though where is the mystery villain Osborn scared everyone with in the first Dark Reign story?), and I think we’re slowly heading for a confrontation between this team and the Dark Avengers since Loki’s intention seems to be to use them to undermine Osborn. I also loved all the Quicksilver stuff, and the way he tries to rehabilitate his image with the public is pure evil genius from writer Dan Slott. Recommended for people who don’t hate fun. :-)
New Avengers 52: Another good chapter of the “Sorcerer Supreme” story. It’s interesting that Dr. Strange does not seem to know what demon The Hood is attached to – given who is involved, you’d think he would recognize them instantly (though he is clearly weakened.) I haven’t checked online, but I’m sure some people are pissed about the Son of Satan’s dialogue at the end. It fits the tone Bendis has established for the book, and it’s funny, so it worked for me. (Your mileage may vary, especially for those of you that are divorced.)
Thor 601: Terrific as usual, as the cast reacts to the events of #600 (which I really don’t want to give away because I know a lot of you are following this in collections and I’m not sure if it’s in the hardcover that just came out) and Loki’s scheme continues. I love Balder in the Latveria scenes, and there’s some more background to how that situation came about in the Dark Reign: The Cabal special that came out the following week. The story in the anthology is not by Straczynski, but I hope it gets in the next Thor collection anyway because I think it’s important.
That’s it for 4/22. Tomorrow: 11 of last week’s books including the controversial “Legion of 3 Worlds”.