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Bought/Thought for 1/23/08


The Mad Moreno
Aug 5, 2005
Reaction score
Amazing Spider-Man #548- We get our third installment of post BND Spidey as this issue picks up right where the previous two began, with our favorite wall-crawler face to face with another body. Of course, there's something distinctly different about this one (but you'll have to read and see). In this issue, it's a race against the clock as Spidey hits the bricks with just one webshooter at his disposal, to prevent the third stage of Mr. Negatives' plan. There's an allusion to Spidey still having been involved with the Avengers, even after OMD, also more evidence to point out Harry's mutiny against Spider-Man. The new owner of the Daily Bugle makes his debut, much to the dismay of Robbie (who did an awesome job standing his ground) and we learn a thing or two more about Mr. Negative. 1) He displays a level of super strength and 2) He has a personal relationship with at least one Parker. Highlight: Even after making the deal with Mephisto, Aunt May gets closer and closer to once again being put in harms way. Between Mr. Negative's position as a crime-lord and Peter "New Pain in Mr. Negative's Ass" Parker's secret identity figured out, it's only a matter of time before OMD comes full circle. (Oh yeah, there's more Parker-Luck) 8/10 for Slott and McNiven's stellar performance!

Astonishing X-Men #24- Scott's branch of the X-Men, along with Danger , Aghanne and a special unit of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents race against the clock in order to stop the firing of a missile from BreakWorld. Another snake in the grass is uncovered, someone gives their life to save The Beast and Kitty winds up under more pressure than she seems to be able to handle. Highlight: Readers get to witness a touching moment between Scott and Hank as Hank's judgment comes into question.
7/10 the delay really hinders the readers ability to enjoy the story, since we know this takes place prior to Messiah Complex.

X-Men #207- PICK OF THE WEEK!- Messiah Complex comes to a close during the final battle between the X-Men and the Marauders. Scott comes face to face with Cable and Charles and finally reaches the baby (who, remarkably, is female, has red hair and green eyes and now has Scott's locket). One of the New X-Men kills a Marauder. Mystique makes skin to skin contact with Rogue and Logan gets swallowed by Predator X (oh, but wait till you see how he gets out!). Highlight: Bishop performs the ultimate act of betrayal against the X-Men. This is a must read for anyone who considers themselves an X-Fan.
10/10 What will the world be like without the X-Men? What happens next? Who will be their new leader?
I didn't get that Mr. Negative had figured his identity out?

:huh: :huh: :huh:

I just read it though, and it's good...really good... some things predictable, some things unexpected...

I like that for the first time in what seems to be DECADES is that an arc is concluded, but questions are still up in the air... it's an awesome feeling that I haven't felt since I was a kid... and I haven't felt like a kid in a loooooooooong time. :cwink:

I will say though...

This is NOT Spider-Man In Name Only... this is Spider-Man!!! :word: :word:

So is the Messiah Complex HC going to be a good purchase?I haven't touched a 616 X-book since the animated series and people have been pretty vocal about this x-event.

Iron Man #25 - Talk about misleading!Double sized with no extra pages of story.Luckily,the story,as always in this book,is top notch and will most likely have newcomers with this issue scratching their heads.Lots of things come together,Kooning and Mandarin are exposed,Tony's hallucinations are explained,Maria stops Dugan from helping Stark,Mandarin's plans are revealed,and there's a nice setup for the fight next issue.The Knaufs take on Mandarin is very sinister and subtle at the same time.Loved his scene at the end with Maya.

"Extras" :p
Layton goes over his favorite armors
2 page Iron Man origin by Lee and Heck
Iron Man Producer goes over the film with pics we've seen already
4 page preview of Iron Man Las Vegas,which has some awful dialog

Ultimates 3 #2 - Big action mostly with alot of messed up people running around.A little mystery to keep things going and Wolvie popping up at the end to further things.Hey man,my standards for this book dropped a thousand feet when the Hitlar run was over,so I'm not complaining.

Also bought:

Hercules:prince of Power #1-4 by Bob Layton

still need to finish Iron Prometheus!
FCK. Did comics come out today? MLK didn't push it back? There wasn't a national Heath Ledger mourning period?

...too soon?

Did you just put Heath Ledger and MLK in the same post? For shame.
I could have meant milk. Without the i. You don't know.
I didn't get that Mr. Negative had figured his identity out?

:huh: :huh: :huh:

I just read it though, and it's good...really good... some things predictable, some things unexpected...

I like that for the first time in what seems to be DECADES is that an arc is concluded, but questions are still up in the air... it's an awesome feeling that I haven't felt since I was a kid... and I haven't felt like a kid in a loooooooooong time. :cwink:

I will say though...

This is NOT Spider-Man In Name Only... this is Spider-Man!!! :word: :word:


That's because he didn't figure it out. Someone else did though and considering their line of work, it's only a matter of time before they run into each other.
So is the Messiah Complex HC going to be a good purchase?
I'd definitely recommend it.

Astonishing X-Men #24

All technically fine, and if I’d been reading this last December I’d probably have more to say on the subject, but I’ve pretty much lost all interest at this point.

Teen Titans #55

McKeever executes a major swerve in his handling of the Teen Titans here, going against where I thought his run was head; doubtless, fans opposed to the Tim/Cassie pairing will be pleased, as Cassie breaks up with him (after barely being together in the first place) and then leaves in a huff when they get into a fight (okay, fans probably didn’t need that, although it’s sure to be temporary). Elsewhere, Rose hangs out with Blue Beetle (still not on the team; McKeever continues to write him pretty well), to the obvious irritation of Kid Devil. And it turns out Miss Martian has been infected by Evil Future Miss Martian, which is presumably what drives her evil in the first place (thus making Evil Future Miss Martian a temporal paradox). I’m not sure about this plot, really; Miss Martian’s core character was always her innocent/sweet demeanour, much like Marvel Marvel, and, much like Mary these days, whatever the outcome of this plot it’s hard to see that core remaining in tact. Guest artist Jamal Igle provides good art, generally (his Ravager seems a bit too old to me). All this, and Supergirl leaves the team in a huff after Cassie breaks off their friendship!

Wonder Woman #16

Gail Simone’s run hits its third issue, the third of a four part arc, and Terry Dodson already needs another artist (Ron Randall) to come in and do some pages to keep things on schedule; wasn’t giving him an extra month back in October designed to avoid this? No wonder Aaron Lopresti will soon be taking over, following a two-issue fill-in by Bernard Chang; I can’t wait to see Lopresti’s work on the series, being a huge fan of his work on Ms. Marvel. Randall’s art is quite nice, by the way; although it doesn’t blend especially well with Dodson’s work.

Anyway, "The Circle" continues as Princess Diana and her clutch of Gorilla Knights take a magic clamshell to Themyscira to rescue Queen Hippolyta (and if that doesn’t convince you to buy it...), while we get more flashbacks to the Circle’s original crime, although they’ve yet to commit it; so far, we’ve gotten their motivations established, but it’s not especially clear what the big secret about Diana that is supposed to break Diana’s heart is. Anyway, this is another good issue of Simone’s run.

The only real problem I have with this story arc is the portrayal of the Captain Nazi army; quite frankly, if these guys are meant to be any army of superhuman combatants, then Simone and the artists have totally failed to convince me they’re anything resembling a threat. At one point, Diana and the Gorillas retreat because they conclude they’re losing, but the art certainly doesn’t convey that; they appear to be winning rather handily. Polly wipes out whole squads of these guys with ease. Just saying that these guys are at the level of the original Cap (who didn’t put up much of a fight either) doesn’t work; they have to be shown to be, and they’re not.

X-Men #207

"Messiah Complex" concludes with a bang, as the X-Men unite kick the crap out of the Marauders and Rogue finally does something after lying unconscious since, er, nearly a year ago. Surprisingly, none of the New X-Men die in combat, and they get some pretty cool moments; Pixie guts Malice/Omega Sentinel with her Soul Knife, and Dust combines with Emma to take down Exodus, making creative use of her powers (and reinforcing that she would be totally scary if she weren’t a pacificist Muslim who deplores violence; although the time she flayed all those Purifiers alive already communicated what happens when she lets go). Wolverine gets another pretty badass moment, defeating Predator X; if Marvel would just let Logan be Logan, we’d all be much better off. Cyclops decides to let Cable take the baby to the future and raise him; Bishop tries to stop him, but only succeeds in shooting Professor X in the head, and then leaving. With Xavier [edit; not dead, just comatose, apparently], Cyclops decides the dream died with him, and disbands the X-Men. In the last panel, Charles’ body vanishes, which, if it’s an art mistake, is a pretty big one; it seems like it is, given that, if his body vanished in comic, Cyclops would presumably reform the X-Men and start looking for him. Anyway, I’m interested to see where we go from here.

Young Avengers Presents #1: Patriot

The long-dormant franchise returns with the first of six issues dedicated to reminding us the Young Avengers exist; we true believers had never forgotten, of course, but there are doubtless many apostates in existence. This issue is by Ed Brubaker (various awesome things you should be ashamed of not reading, but most notably Captain America) and Paco Medina (New X-Men, New Warriors), and focusses on Elijah Bradley/Patriot.

Now, there are certain constraints facing the writers of these stories; this is a series of one-shots, so there’s not any overarching plot to feed into; character interaction will have to predominate. While some of the characters have issues of this sort that really need to be addressed (Hulkling and his not-dead dad; Stature, most of all), Eli doesn’t have anything of that level; so Brubaker ties this into his ongoing "Death of the Dream" story, with Patriot out to talk to the Winter Soldier about what it means to be a patriotic hero these days. Brubaker is great with quiet stories like this; just see Winter Soldier: Winter Kills, and while this isn’t at that level (few comics are), it’s pretty good; I especially liked Bucky bringing up the original Golden Age Patriot, Jeff Mace. We also get brief appearances by Wiccan (plot device cameo) and Hawkeye II (more extended appearance). There’s a brief mention of Cassie, where, tellingly, they call her by her codename. And there’s really no light shed here on their status in the post-CW universe; they aren’t in the Initiative, but they live at home under their real names (which Iron Man knows as well), so, are they registered but inactive? Retired to avoid registration? Is Iron Man doing the "don’t ask, don’t tell?" routine like in Brubaker’s Daredevil?
You should edit your post with spoiler tags dude.
That's because he didn't figure it out. Someone else did though and considering their line of work, it's only a matter of time before they run into each other.

Hmmmm... it's not clear whether the guy put two & two together...

Just adds to the mystery... :word: :word: :word:

Ultimates 3 #2 - Big action mostly with alot of messed up people running around.A little mystery to keep things going and Wolvie popping up at the end to further things.Hey man,my standards for this book dropped a thousand feet when the Hitlar run was over,so I'm not complaining.

The only reason this series doesn't infuriate me as much as it should is knowing that Millar and Hitch will return in five years to set things right.
The only reason this series doesn't infuriate me as much as it should is knowing that Millar and Hitch will return in five years to set things right.

Don't hold your breath.
The only reason this series doesn't infuriate me as much as it should is knowing that Millar and Hitch will return in five years to set things right.

Don't count on it. I really doubt that the Ultimate line will be here in 5 years.
Another week, another handful of issues. Nothing unexpected on the shelf except one title, and I am actually glad I bit. As usual, full spoilers ahead.

Dread's BOUGHT/THOUGHT for 1/23/08:

A lot of times, various people, myself included, will note a lot of Marvel's successes financially and note what they do right, and what DC "doesn't get". Well, following the cancellation of a completely excellent new series from Marvel, THE ORDER, this got me to wonder about one area here that DC does "get". They get the idea that "new blood" characters are useful to the universe as a whole, even if they do not sell very well as a solo. BLUE BEETLE has been a terrible seller for the past 18 months if not more. It struggles to get into the Top 120; INVINCIBLE is actually steady competition for it. If this was a Marvel book, it would barely have made it to issue 12. Quite why MTU got to issue #25 years ago is a mystery to me; maybe Marvel felt they owed Kirkman for MARVEL ZOMBIES. But DC sees the value in a new Blue Beetle, one that is critically acclaimed, maybe who gets some people on TEEN TITANS. They know that stories need newer characters sometimes to spice things up. And it is in that light that we go into BLUE BEETLE #23, which continues to tie things together across the entire run so far, and while it does allude to Blue Beetle's tenure with the TEEN TITANS, you don't have to read TT to get BB right now, which is good because I don't. Rogers & Albuguerque are naturally on a roll here and it is one of those great superhero books to read right now. I won't lie and say this is the best, or even my favorite, but it is a damn good read every month and I now look forward to it. The first page got a grin out of me with W.W.T.K.D. - What would Ted Kord do? Very nice. There is a short summary of events before Jamie settles into getting serious with stopping the Reach, now that he knows their long-term plan to take over the Earth. The plan is scary because it is so low-key and patient that it actually has a solid chance of working even with all the superheroes on Earth. Paco & Brenda talk to him about and Jamie also discusses the plan with his family, and maybe I am too used to Marvel, but it can be refreshing seeing a superhero's family support him instead of going, "Omigod, you're a freak, stop doing what you are doing and GOMAKEMONEY&GRANDKIDSALREADY!" or something. It took a while of course but they came around, and it was touching. Character progression is something that MATTERS, not something that should be whitewashed because the editorial board has a wonky idea for a band-aid solution to good writing. So Jamie experiments with his powers, utilizing "The Bleed" from all the way back to the first arc to dazzle the Reach and give their fleet a fight. The conversations between the Negotiator and Dawur the Soldier was pretty good. There is a bit of sci-fi exposition to wade through but it isn't too bad. Jamie gives it his all, but the Reach seems to get the upper hand for a very explosive cliffhanger. While it is great to see BB continue to go, I got a sense of finality to this story, like Rogers is perhaps leading to the end of a story and perhaps even this ongoing. I could be wrong, but I got that sense of upcoming closure. If so, hey, 2+ years is a great run for a new hero these days, or even a revived B-C-Lister. If not, though, then we really are in for a roller coaster here. I also need to note that Blue Beetle has come farther in 23 issues as a hero than USM came in 100. Just worth reminding. I did get amused by that teaser pic of Mongul and all the color-coded GL rings, which looks like it could have been made in 10 minutes by a fan with a "Motivational" template. But, BLUE BEETLE is one of DC's highlights and I hope to see more of it. Golly, how will Jamie get out of THIS ONE?
Oh, and I liked how his scarab is speaking English now. "About time."

ASTONISHING X-MEN #24: The final page reads, "WE'RE NOT DONE YET!" in bold letters, like some sort of chipper vow after the cliffhanger. I saw it another way, as a sign of annoyance and frustration. This story began in May 2004. It is now Jan. 2008 and after 24 issues, and fluxes in editorial strategies, the Whedon/Cassaday run is NOT FINISHED. Whedon once called it a "two year story" and it will very well be four before it is finished. Maybe it wouldn't be so gualing if the pacing was fast and breakneck, but it often isn't. Sure, this issue is, and so was the last, but other issues just plodded on and on with bits that had been funny once but had ceased to be. In 2003-2004 when Whedon pitched and plotted this story, Marvel was still in "6 issues or bust" mode with every story. By the end of 2005, this had come to an end with more reason intruding, but Whedon didn't see fit to re-examine his tale, maybe adjust, edit, tuck back an issue or two in the name of sanity, as by then the lateness was more than apparent. He didn't care, and for those of you who worship him, that is very, very telling. He sped things up for his BUFFY comics, and for his RUNAWAYS series (although I may add that it has taken nearly a year for him and Ryan to ship 6 issues), but he essentially stayed the course for AXM, and that is a shame. It is a shame because AXM as it is isn't a bad story. It has some good dialogue, at times great fight scenes or character moments, some "holy ****" sequences, and usually crisp art from Cassaday. That said, this is hardly Eisner material, and if in the next 5-20 years this is ever "rediscovered" as some lost classic, it will be because X-Men stories within that 5-20 year span have worsened, not because this body of work itself is that extraordinary. If this was a movie, it would be great, but as a comic arc, it is a slow paced, slow shipping, overrated piece of entertaining mediocrity. The sort of work that says a lot but means very little. This final arc, stretching on to what will be 7 parts, has a lot of good details, moments, etc. But it has been 6 chapters of the X-Men on another planet full of generic aliens. Yes, the Breakworlders are generic. They are the most generic new aliens I have seen in years. Compare them to the Reach, who at least have some quirks. These are just Z'Nox in the 21st Century. The only way they could be more stock would be if they had silver space-suits and flying saucers. They're even GREEN. That **** got old by the 80's.
So, what happens here? Kruun is wrapped up by Colossus after getting his ass blasted by Scott last issue. Scott dons the upper half of his costume again, showing the only bad part was the stupid skull-cap. Cassaday continues to draw Piotr as at least 6'' shorter than he should be, if not more. The X-Men plan with Brand & her S.W.O.R.D. agents to use Kruun as leverage as one squad tried to disarm his missile and Colossus is ready being the Worldbreaker...well, not exactly, but close enough. One detail that is embellished is that despite some of the fantastic technology the Breakworlders have, a lot of the finer mechanics of it are simple, from their unstable energy source to the missile at the end. Now, actually, THIS works. The Breakworlders under Kruun are impatient, war-mongering thugs (just like every alien race that has ever been created, ever, it seems). He'd have slaughtered any scientists who made the required "learning curves" types of mistakes. So that would mean their tech would have large gaps, and they would have to improvise. Kitty hates the plan because she has to be separated from Colossus, even though they have had X-Men missions where they had to be separate for extended periods before without whining, but I guess sex changes things. The X-Men have to fight a lot of Kruun's soldiers, and Brand takes a random shot for Beast, so we can all go, "Awww, the stern **** had a heart". Lovely. Hey, where's Maria Hill while we're at it? To be serious, though, she and Beast had some interplay throughout the series that was usually entertaining to read, and so on. Frost also gets Danger (in true Whedon-on-AXM fashion, a generic "Machine who gained sentience and became evil" type of being, but during DANGER, he used a lot of flowery words to claim it was more, when it wasn't) to work with them by promising Xavier, a deal that one wonders whether Scott would accept at this point, considering all the nasty secrets about Xavier that have been uncovered (while anything nasty Magneto does is whitewashed by Xorn). Wolverine says some notable macho man lines (I'm not being sarcastic, they're usually very readable and good). Even Lockheed shows up. Among the major revelations are that Aghanne planned the destruction of Breakworld from start to finish, and Kruun's missile is in fact just a very large bullet, likely in the crude plan to split the Earth in two that way. Oh, and Ord shows up for another fight, but he simply doesn't work. Whedon seems to enjoy the concept of a villain who is supposed to be scary one moment and comical the next, but that doesn't wash often. We are meant to fear Ord, but this is the same Ord who got PWNED by Lockheed, and Colossus, and Wolverine, and who can easily kill two soldiers but can't even twist Scott's neck off by jerking it around? Yes, it is. That works for a story that isn't taken seriously, like Fraction's P:WJ, but not something like this. And then the annual is promised, but not a date as to when, for chapter 25. Did this run really need 25 issues instead of 24? No. It is a pretty, sometimes funny, sometimes exciting generic action blockbuster that has been stretched thin and pretends to be more than it is. Imagine of INDEPENDANCE DAY was nominated for an Oscar for BEST SCREENPLAY, and you have AXM. It isn't a bad run, but it has been inflated beyond repair, it was amazingly slow for long stretches and naturally because of the creative team it will sell 300% better than plenty of better stories. All while Whedon & Ryan slowly strangle RUNAWAYS to a crawl in terms of shipping. Whedon's got talent as a writer, and can learn from mistakes. But lord, he needs an artist who can draw faster than 1 page a week. And that cliffhanger? Will Kitty die or somehow be removed from the stage? That has been presumed for a good 3-4 months now, and if that is indeed where Whedon goes, it will have no oomph or shock, just be an overblown overrated finish to an overblown, overrated popcorn story. Cyclops looks pissed on the cover, and I can't blame him. Nearly 4 years, and it ISN'T "DONE YET"!? For ****'s sake, does anyone think this is WATCHMEN!? Or even PLANETARY? And then Warren Ellis is next!? AXM may be known as the slowest book of the century when all is said and done.

DAMAGE CONTROL #1: The start of a 3 issue mini that is part of the "Aftershock" series of mini's that continue to mooch off WWH as we wait for SECRET INVASION. I figured, this is McDuffie returning to the funny franchise he created back in his original Marvel days, how could I go wrong? And I was right. The cover actually makes it seem more serious than it is, but that is alright. McDuffie even acknowledges the past bits done with the franchise, like implicating them in Stanford during the CW WOLVERINE issues. The title strikes the right tone for a work like this: "WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ALL THE FUN IN THE WORLD", and I imagine Dan Slott having a similar sentiment. My snappy answer would be, "Identity Crisis, and the attempts to imitate the buzz and success", but what do I know? Anne Hoag is back as head of DAMAGE CONTROL and they are faced with the task of rebuilding NYC after Hulk & the Warbound nearly destroyed it. Included are tidbits like NYC being considered a "perpetual disaster area" that got it's own federal "superfund" for tasks like that, Tom Foster revealing himself as the new "Black" Goliath and joining the squad (guess he isn't as angry as he was during WWH these days), and reuniting the old DamCon cast. John, Robin, Bart and the gang are reunited, and Monstro & Visionary from ANT-MAN show up. McDuffie may not always score points for innovation, but he always seems to know his continuity, and that means a bit to me. The book is just fun, and while the cliffhanger involves the Thunderbolts starting another brawl over registration, I took that as a lighter version of NOVA's bit with them. I mean the Thunderbolts are all but a joke now, especially "Penance". It also seems that Marvel may officially want Rage's mask to be white instead of black, as it is white here too (I thought it was a coloring error in NEW WARRIORS #8). I can't say I mind. I can't say I recall a lot of the details of DamCon, being it was so long ago, but this was an amusing introduction that manages to act as a worthy AFTERSHOCK story but at the same time isn't a hand-wringing grim-otron type of story. Plus, it is only 3 parts, and any story that isn't padded out is appreciated. Espin's art is good and fits the tone from serious to comical well, too. Just a solid all-around comic. Even if you never read DAMAGE CONTROL, I say give it a try, especially if you stuck around for WWH. You don't want to be part of whatever happened to all the fun in the world. Even though the "footnote" gag fell a tad flat, because some writers actually have used them, like Slott, lately.

THE ORDER #7: The simple pleasure I got from reading this, not only a brand new franchise spring boarding from CW, but arguably the best written & drawn team book Marvel publishes, now has a bit of grim reality behind it. It's sales never caught on, and it has been canceled; issue 10 in April will be the last, and it is essentially a "dead book walking". Such a shame. Compare it to BLUE BEETLE; that was a new ongoing spring boarded off an equally large event (Infinite Crisis), it also had average promotion, and it's sales also hit the skids by around issue 6. But DC has more faith in the bigger picture, in needing to have patience with new blood characters, so it has lasted nearly two years and counting despite selling below the Top 100 (and even 110) for the last 18 months, sans the SINESTRO CORPS tie-in. But Marvel isn't about patience or what is good for the company years down the line; they only see in what is hot NOW, or in 6 months. That tunnel vision has likely kept them atop as DC has tried harder to compete in the new century, but it can cost them some franchises that are high in quality. This being one of them. Of course it wouldn't be completely fair to blame Marvel alone; retailers who put little faith in new franchises and readers who never try anything new (yes, myself included sometimes) are to blame as well. Seeing all the people ***** about BND and still buy it anyway just adds to that. Why can't Fanboys be suckers for the good **** besides CAPTAIN AMERICA, huh? Oh, well. It's like screaming at a wall at this point.
Getting on with things, this is the usual issue for THE ORDER. A story that begins and ends in one issue, but connects to the larger subplots introduced in the previous issue(s). After surrounding the coast of CA with a motionless tidal wave, Namor surrenders to Anthem. Namor gets the "intro interview" this issue and that is in fact where most of the action takes place. Sure, Veda, Calamity, and Heavy are handling the evacuations and looters, but the real action is just with two men talking in a small room. Now, I suppose someone might say, "Why do you love it when Fraction does it, but whine when Bendis does it?" The answer is because Fraction is better at it. His lines sound like two adults speaking, not two teenagers. He doesn't repeat lines 3 times every panel. And the conversation has a point. Namor is there to play a political game, and while this is meant as a bit of an epilogue (I imagine) from his recent mini, you don't really need to have read it to get this issue. Namor is surrendering to the Order because he wants to embarass Tony Stark and he sees himself acting as a martyr will better serve his people than leading them nomadically across the ocean floor in search of a home, and the water-wall is meant as protection. I can't hope to capture the discussion between Henry and Namor in a review and I won't try. It spans most of Namor's history and reframes it to his current situation, and Namor is as arrogant as you'd expect, although more capable of discussion than rages of anger than Bendis writes him in THE ILLUMINATI (where he seems to scream and smash something every 5 pages). With a steady head and a subtle use of his powers, Henry manages to outwit Namor, although Namor does get most of what he wants; he is in FF custody and he embarassed Stark by claiming "the new kid" saved CA. But Henry saved everyone from drowning, which is always good. Next issue seems to be the rescue of their three missing teammates (Muholland may be playing tie-up games being kidnapped by the Black Dahlias, and Milo & Becky are stuck in the desert ducking the M.A.N. from S.H.A.D.O.W.), and that should be a heck of a ride. It really, really, REALLY sucks that THE ORDER is cancelled, and those who trade-waited missed out. But, at least it outlived THE THING, and at least we have another 3 great issues to come. If the trades sell well, it could return, but I am not holding my breath. Shame, though, so soak up the greatness while you can. It still is one of the best things to come out of The Initiative, just a shame it won't last longer. That cover's boss, too.

ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR #50: UFF, the lowest selling Ultimate title, reaches the 50 issue marker as Carey continues with his Cosmic Cube subplot, now boiling over back to the main focus of the arc. This means a return of the sci-fi babble, but it isn't so bad here so that isn't a problem. What is a bit of a hurdle is Kirkham's art. Don't get me wrong, he isn't terrible, but many of these wonky alternate dimensional being designs worked when Ferry was drawing them, and Kirkham's no Ferry. The Cube has activated itself while the Four were rescuing Sue in Russia, and entrapped most of Manhattan in a cube. The Four enter and find the Tessract back, trying to destroy it before Thanos gets his hands on it. Reed seeks to keep it on their side, but things aren't helped when the aliens tear the chunk off the city off-world! This is the last Ultimate title that I feel is worth my time and I see it like a Marvel Adventures sort of title, a series I buy for the fun adventure that isn't apart of the rest of 616. Unlike with USM and Ult. XM, I like Carey's general direction and sense of characters, and have faith in it.

X-MEN: FIRST CLASS #8: More Silver Age fun, with Nguyen filling in for Cruz, and it reminded me that Cruz's fun art is a big part of what makes it work, because Nguyen's art just didn't seem as appealing on the title. Fresh from punting the alien from last issue back into space, the X-Men investigate strange readings in a swamp and after a meeting with Dr. Conners (although doesn't he only have one arm when he's cured of Lizard most times?), they go out to investigate, run into the Nexus of Realities and run into Man-Thing, who never looked creepier. It is a simple sort of story, but unlike ASTONISHING X-MEN, isn't padded out beyond it's natural length and doesn't pretend to be more than it is. I appreciate it and enjoy it on that level. Hopefully Cruz or at least a more appropriate artist returns by next issue. I did like the allusions to Dark Phoenix or Thor's cameo during the last mini, and all that.
Last but not least:

YOUNG AVENGERS PRESENTS: PATRIOT #1: Part one of a 6 issue mini, or rather a series of one-shots by various creators, to flesh out the YA franchise from recent events, give their fanbase something new to chomp on besides cameo appearances, and probably test the waters for a "Season 2", which is "supposedly" scheduled to start sometime this year. It has been about 13-14 months since the YA last were in something with their names on the title, and the last mini was a team-up with the Runaways for CW, and then a team-up with Winter Soldier, and so on. Allowing a once hot Top 35 seller to gain dust for over a year waiting on Heinberg has been universally noted as an unwise idea at best, considering that Wells & Caselli were able to duplicate Heinberg & Cheung's sales with their mini, and I doubt carryover from the then-25k selling RUNAWAYS helped much. While this format allows for some good writers & artists to work on the characters and re-introduce them to fans, it isn't the same as another ongoing, which will pick another co-writer and so on. There is the deeper fear that a second volume won't come through because Marvel will insist on waiting for a writer who couldn't even be timely for the Distinguished Competition, even though YA sold without him (and with Cheung doing only covers, I may add). We all watched internal decisions kill OMEGA FLIGHT and while there is still interest in YA, collecting dust is never a good idea. Hell, not even Wolverine one-shots are automatic Top 50 sellers anymore.
I began this review with the flaws of the editorial management, because the comic itself doesn't really have too many. We all expected Brubaker & Medina to tell a great story and they do. Medina likely had to leave NW for two issues to pencil this story, and I'd argue it was worth it. He makes Winter Soldier look a bit young, but that is a minor quibble (and to be fair, he is a man in his mid-late 20's, which isn't exactly "old", I'm just used to Epting, I guess). The story in a way serves as a sequel to the WINTER SOLDIER one-shot from Dec. 2006. Eli Bradley ends up getting suspended after getting into a fight with a student who didn't like his school report, which noted the Tuskegee experiments on African Americans (which is the poster child of unethical experiments; I had a test on it in one of my final social work classes last year), and Eli socked him. Naturally, while Eli no longer has anger towards Capt. America specifically after meeting him, he still has issues with the dirty past of American history towards minorities, and in the wake of CIVIL WAR and the oppressive enforcement of the SHRA (register or be pummeled into a coma by the Thunderbolts, basically), Eli doesn't feel quite right dressing in red, white & blue and calling himself "Patriot". Naturally this is a very understandable feeling especially during the Bush Presidency, as he has become the Nixon of our generation. I've read a slew of Marvel stories with the similar theme at the end as Brubaker makes here, but he does it so well that it doesn't really matter. Formula can work if done well and not elongated without purpose. After Eli spots Bucky riding off from his grandparents' house after a meeting with his grandfather Isiah ("the original Capt. America"), he hooks up with Kate/Hawkeye and seeks out to find him; a recap of Isiah Bradly is given, which is good for those who didn't know or have forgotten. Billy/Wiccan has a cameo, but merely to serve as transportation; however, it does come across that after CW, the team has splintered, especially since Cassie/Stature has firmly supported the Initiative. They run into a battle between Winter Soldier & AIM's MODOC Squad, which in a way feels repetitive of the last one-shot, but I didn't mind. The discussion between Eli & Bucky at the end is the highlight of the issue, especially when the original Patriot, Jeff Mace, is acknowledged. Brubaker is a man who knows his history and never complains about how "limiting" continuity or past development are, because he knows they are only tools to be utilized by a writer with the proper skill level. Winter Soldier gets to speak for Brubaker a little (at least I felt that way from some of his SPOTLIGHT interviews, which were in his Omnibus) by having Bucky essentially tear a hole through Sally Floyd's logic on Cap in FRONTLINE about Cap, which is always refreshing. In a way, Eli probably finds it easier to relate to Bucky than to Cap, as they're both trying to do what their mentors seemed to accomplish so easily. I suppose in a perfect world, Brubaker could write Bucky/New Cap leading the YA and call it GOOD AVENGERS, but that's like playing Fantasy Football at this rate. I appreciated the good one-shot and while the mini isn't the perfect solution to YA's ills, it will allow some top notch talent to get the YA back into the thick of things and answer some fan requests, much like Wells did with the Runaways team-up, and that's not too shabby indeed. And I still say so long as Clint Barton wants to serve as Bendis' Ronin-Lovechild, Kate Bishop is free to call herself Hawkeye, damn it. She graduated to making tracking devices quickly. It is cute that she has an "older man" crush on Buck. Another solid effort and if all of the issues are this good, we're in for some good stuff...at least for a bone thrown to fans.
The art in the Patriot special turned me off.Everyone looked like friggin' midgets.
The art in the Patriot special turned me off.Everyone looked like friggin' midgets.

I like Medina's style but of course that is all subjective. I did think his Winter Soldier looked young and not as "gritty" though. That is the limitation of his style, a bit.

To what?

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