X-Men: Legacy 227: This title has to spin its wheels a little bit, because the new direction presumably depends on the ending of “Utopia”, but it’s still nice to see a confident Rogue and the story does hint at what her role will soon be. The Ms. Marvel appearance is a bit of a missed opportunity, in my opinion. Even though it’s not Carol Danvers, I feel like her appearance (especially in the old costume) should have had some psychological effect on Rogue.
Wolverine Weapon X 4: Jason Aaron advances the story on two fronts: Wolverine fighting one of the Strikeforce X mercenaries who has a personal motivation to beat Logan (featuring some of Ron Garney’s best art in a while) and Maverick trying to stop the spread of the Weapon X technology (featuring a surprise capability of the Strikeforce mercenaries.) It’s great stuff, and I’m definitely liking this book way better than “Origins”.
Outsiders 21: Apparently the conspiracy plot is on hold for now, as Alfred uses the team to hunt down the Arkham Asylum escapees from “Battle for The Cowl”. First up: Black Lightning and Owlman vs. Mr. Freeze. It’s well enough done, but I don’t follow Alfred’s explanation for keeping the new Batman’s identity and location secret from the Outsiders. They know Bruce Wayne was Batman, so it’s not like they’re going to be fooled by Hush posing as him right? (Plus he’s on TV in the latest “Streets of Gotham”, so it’s not like Alfred can even keep his existence a secret.)
Superman/Batman 63: This title has been doing stories somewhat out of continuity for a while – since around the time Jeph Loeb left, I think – but there’s a “Blackest Night” tie-in issue coming, so somebody decided that all those stories needed to be explained as “not real”. Basically, they’re all Bat-Computer simulations like the old “Super Sons” stories turned out to be. This is wholly unnecessary for a book that’s always supposed to feature the “classic” versions of the characters no matter what’s going on in their home titles and I think it’s pretty silly to say Batman has spent this much time on simulations (at least half a dozen of them according to the computer readouts at the end of the story.) The Grodd story isn’t bad, though nothing you haven’t seen before, but the cover with him biting off the logo and exposing the top of page one is great.
Justice League of America 36: Fill-in writer Len Wein’s story turns out to be an issue longer than I was expecting, but I actually like the team he’s been given (especially with the addition of Wonder Woman) and his recap (or revision, I’m not sure which) of Amos Fortune’s origin is good.
Vigilante 9: I’m really liking this now that it’s gone its own way, and now that we understand who this Vigilante is and how he’s related (literally) to the legacy of the name. It took a really long time to get here, but next issue has a Batman appearance so it might be a good time to try the book if you were turned off by the Titans crossover. (And buy #8-9 if you’re interested in Vigilante’s origin story.)
Daredevil 500: Without giving anything away, Brubaker does manage to leave Matt in a game-changing position just like Bendis did for him when he started. It’s a great ending to Brubaker’s run, and I’ve got the first Omnibus so I’m looking forward to rereading it from the beginning. The preview of Andy Diggle’s first issue (actually a “Dark Reign: The List” special, and I’m not sure if this is new material or the first few pages of that) seems like a good start, so I’m looking forward to that too. I was not a fan of Ann Nocenti’s run at the time (though I bet I would like it now), but she and “Iron Fist” artist David Aja contributed a terrific little story here that works both literally and as metaphor. There's also fun in the pin-up gallery, featuring a page drawn by Brian Bendis that’s actually quite good. (Not that I don’t like his art; he just hasn’t drawn anything in a “serious” style for a while.) Also features a reprint of DD #191 and the requisite cover gallery.
X-Factor 47: There was some angst last week about whether this book was cancelled when it missed the November Previews, but it turns out that it’s renumbering to #200 and moving the cast to New York to serve as the detective agency for the Marvel Universe at large. Sounds like fun. In the meantime, the present and future storylines continue to converge with the surprise last-page revelation of the mystery villain’s identity. I’m not a huge Shatterstar or Longshot fans, but if you are there’s also a hint in this issue to a potentially big secret about them. (No, they’re not dating.) (I think.)
Dark Reign: The Hood 4: Still one of the best of these tie-in minis. Even though we know how the Hood’s struggle to be free of Dormammu will turn out – at least “New Avengers” readers do – Jeff Parker still manages to make it suspenseful.
Amazing Spider-Man 603: More with the “new” Chameleon – actually we don’t who know he is for sure yet and it’s implied that he’s Russian so he could be the original – infiltrates City Hall by posing as Peter Parker (who’s related to and working for the mayor now.) This is handled really cleverly by Fred Van Lente, showing both an outsider’s perspective on Peter’s life (“Does Parker know anyone who isn’t a stunningly beautiful woman?”) and highlighting Peter’s essential decency by showing the imposter’s petty (and not so petty) reactions to the ups and downs in Peter’s daily life. It’s pretty clear now that MJ knows that Peter is Spider-Man, though fortunately she doesn’t give it away to the Chameleon (and it’s not clear that the tech that wiped Peter’s identity would allow him to retain it even if she did – see the “24/7” collection due out this week to see what I mean). Whether she somehow retains the knowledge from before Mephisto’s spell or whether Peter re-revealed his secret to her after he wiped everyone’s knowledge (like he recently did in “New Avengers”) is still unknown. (Or maybe he exempted her from the wipe because we don’t know if they broke up before or after that.)
The Red Circle: The Web 1: Now this is the JMS book I was waiting for! I thought it was much more original than the other two books so far. It’s a different take on the “Hero for Hire” concept with a man who starts doing good for one reason and winds up continuing for another reason, both having to do with his family. I can see how this will fit well into the DCU, and it hooked me from the beginning. The unknown, of course, is that these concepts now get handed off to other people but this was a great start.
Mighty Avengers 28: With the exposition out of the way, the action in China with U.S. Agent and Quicksilver heats up – I love that Walker is a Norman Osborn supporter (“If it weren’t for him, you’d all be speaking Skrull right now!”) – and back at HQ Cassie’s solution for how to expose the “Scarlet Witch” was really clever. Dan Slott has taken on Christos Gage as a co-writer for this book, which I was a little worried about since it’s so much Slott’s vision, but so far there’s no change in quality. Khoi Pham also does a terrific job on the art, which I’ll talk more about when I get around to reviewing the Mighty Avengers hardcover that came out last week.
Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance 4: Joe Casey’s trying to make some kind of point about superheroes here, but it’s either poorly executed or it’s going over my head. Chriscross also does not draw the entire issue, which is not great for a miniseries.
Punisher 8: There’s a great gag here, previewed on the cover, where the returned Scourge villains aren’t allowed to operate in public so they disguise themselves as Avengers. Only they’ve been dead for so long that the Avengers they know are the 90’s version (Dr. Druid and all), so they don’t fool anyone. Frank, of course, comes out fine, but maybe his new partner does not. (Microchip: “No one who works with Frank lives too long.”)