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Comic Reviews For 29 June

Yes, the reviews are two weeks out of date – you really should be used to that by now. I don’t need no steenkin’ timeliness …

Even though I read these comics at the same time as I read the comics for 22 June (in a crazed comic bender last weekend), I separate out the reviews for the sake of some sort of order. I’m weird like that.

Usagi Yojimbo #94
I’ve haven’t scanned it yet, but it’s a great image on the back cover. This issue is a done-in-one story, but with the groundwork for future stories. Usagi is staying with a merchant and his young daughter, when the merchant is attacked by assassins (one of whom Usagi has crossed paths with before). The artwork is gorgeous, as always, as Stan does the playful scenes with the child, to the cold-blooded look on Usagi’s face in the midst of fight. The story seems to end in a positive note, only for the wind to be taken from our sales in the final panel. The ominous thought balloon (‘Soon, Ronin, soon …’) means trouble ahead. Masterful stuff once again.

Supergirl and the Legion of Super Heroes #19
Well, well, well – Kitson does a whole issue. Makes a change. The story (of Chameleon solving a classic closed-room whodunit in a SP holding cell) is a tight little tale, reminding me of Waid’s Ruse and his love of detective stories. It’s nothing particularly significant, trying to link to the ongoing stories, but enjoyable enough, and allows a nice focus on Chameleon.

PVP #27
That’s an odd cover – nothing like it happens in the issue, and it suggests that Kurtz watched Porky’s too much growing up. The main storyline here is Miranda trying to seduce Max Powers (‘Are these things on?’ made me laugh out loud) and failing, ending up with sensitivity training with the majority of the office. This is very traditional sitcom territory, but it doesn’t matter when you care about the characters and they make you laugh from sharp writing. Hardly groundbreaking, but appreciated in comic books. The rest of the book is filled with small strips about whatever Kurtz had on his mind at the time (the gold farming bit is slightly forced), which bring out a chuckle here and there. It would be interesting to see Kurtz tackle a whole issue devoted to the classic sitcom format of Plot A and Plot B coming together with the characters at the end, but I don’t mind what we get at the moment.

New Avengers #21
I never thought I’d see the day when Howard Chaykin would be drawing mainstream Marvel superheroes, but I’m glad he did with this issue. He does do fight scenes well, the feeling of movement, the sense of adrenaline (the sound FX as wallpaper), the crackling fizz in the air as Cap is attacked in the warehouse. Bendis seems to step up his game after the rot that was The Collective, defining the characters through action, extensive internal dialogue and even external dialogue (‘You don’t even know what you’re fighting for.’) He moves the story along organically, playing people off each other in a dramatic yet natural manner. This is more like it. Maybe he shouldn’t do his own plots for a while, and just play off others …

Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. #6
EXPLODO! The fighting is on, and Immonen excels at the fights scenes, with Elsa battling Samurai robots using a shovel. Nextwave is superhero nonsense – to quote Monica, ‘This is getting silly now.’ – which it should be. Over the top and ludicrous; what’s not to enjoy? Ellis lets rip, with Immonen up to the job – just look at the expression on Anger’s face when he sees Aaron with the dress. Priceless. ‘Licky my blinky diodes.’ Nextwave is love.

Runaways #17
Vaughan brings a one of his great cliffhangers to this issue – is the character dead? – but that is not the main focus of the issue, nor the limit of Vaughan’s strengths. The interplay of the characters and the sharp banter is a joy (‘B.F.F.?’ ‘W.T.F.’ ‘What … what just happened?’), and he plays with the notions of obvious plot points and avoids clichés. Great stuff. I just hope he doesn’t feel he has to keep killing characters …

X-Factor #8
The art from Calero seems a little tighter this issue, not so erratic or messy. David always seems to be able to handle crossover issues so much better than most people, so this issue doesn’t feel forced or incomprehensible. There are jokes, character interplay, surprises – Jamie Madrox, Agent of SHIELD – and X-Factor finding out about Decimation through Siryn and her pheromones on Spidey, all setting up nicely for next issue. Very enjoyable.

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