This latest haul was a pretty good one:
Astro City: The Dark Age, Book Two #4 - Wildstorm (2007)
I've really enjoyed following the story of Royal and Charles, two brothers living in Astro City in the 1970s. Kurt Busiek really captures the feel of the period and Brent Anderson does a great job with the visuals. He's not going for a reproduction of '70s art which is good. What he's done is made Astro City look different while maintaining the feel that previous artists have given it.
The two main characters don't get to do much in this finale but that's not really a problem. The whole thing has more of a Marvels feel to it in that we see how normal people react to Big Events. Unlike, Marvels, however, the main characters both got to be truly involved in the fallout from the Big Events. I have a couple of quibbles with the amount of stuff that was revealed in this issue just to bring the story to a close but that sort of thing just drives home the difference between the "Capes" and the rest of us. Nice ending to a good story. There's an overarching mystery that may be wrapped up with Book Three. I'll be there for it.
Un-Men #3 - Vertigo (2007)
The first two issues just barrelled through the story at breakneck speed. In fact at least one neck was broken. The third issue ramps up the weirdness along with the pace. Everybody in this story is messed up and I don't just mean physically. I mean, how well-adjusted do you think a town full of freaks and run by Anton Arcane's original Un-Men is going to be? If you can be creeped out, there's something in this issue that'll do the trick.
John Whalen is writing the hell out of this thing and Mike Hawthorne's art fits well with the story. Some of the faces Hawthorne drew for this issue look too much alike which made some of the closeups confusing but other than that, it's all good. Whalen and Hawthorne are completely in synch on Cranius which is good when you're depicting a super-genius head attached to a hand.
Simon Dark #1 - DC (2007)
When I heard about this a while back, I thought, "Oh, yawn. Another creepy-ass dude running around Gotham City who's crazy and kills bad people." Well, that's pretty much what you've got, here, but Scott Hampton's art combined with Steve Niles's writing make it more interesting than that. Not a lot more interesting but interesting enough. The first page of the comic hooked me. It's dark and creepy and beautiful. I figured that even if the story sucked the book would be nice to look at. Good news: The story doesn't suck. There are few surprises, here, but it's a nice character study and it leaves enough open for future issues to reveal.
It's like a cross between Profit and Batman Begins. I'll stick with it.
X-Factor #24 - Marvel (2007)
This issue marks the conclusion of the "Isolationist" storyline. It started off strong but kind of lost focus near the end. The bad guy who shares a name with the story looked like he was going to be awesome and ended up being merely less lame than a lot of villains. I wish his motivations had been different because Peter David really invested him with a lot of depth.
Still, there were some very cool (no pun intended - see cover) things that happened. David does something a lot of writers who aren't Warren Ellis don't do. He comes up with innovative uses for superheroes' powers. Given that he's writing about a bunch of people who have lost their powers, as well, he has the chance to come up with innovative things they can still do. I'm not disappointed in this story but it had a potential that wasn't realized.
Stormwatch: PHD #12 - Wildstorm (2007)
This was the week for endings. In this case, #12 is the last issue of the entire series. Christos Gage and Andy Smith teamed up to tell a hell of a story. If you haven't been buying the individual issues, pick up the first trade. The second should be out soon.
I'm a sucker for stories where non-powered people fight supervillains. Of course, on this team a few of the members are "reformed" villains. Gage did a masterful job of developing the relationships between the characters while telling exciting action stories each month. There was only one small speedbump along the way involving Christine Trelane but they managed to smooth it out fairly well. This is a great story, well-told and very well drawn.
Super-Villain Team-Up: Modok's 11 #4 (of 5) - Marvel (2007)
This issue has the best cover yet. The story is less coherent than earlier issues which is weird considering that there's only one issue left. However, it's still as much fun as you'd expect a story about M.O.D.O.K., Armadillo, Nightshade, S.H.I.E.L.D., Hydra and nearly every other weirdo in the Marvel Universe to be.
Fred Van Lente is one of the funniest writers in comics today and Francis Portella's art is spot on. Portella has a clean style, a great sense of composition and a Giffenesque flair for facial expressions. Also, the colors by GURU-EFX - E (whatever the hell that means) are outstanding. See the sample page below.
So, if you're interested in a kick-ass story which features crazy superpowers, crazier antagonists, double-crossing, and bizarre technology all while not taking itself too seriously, check this one out.
This latest haul was a pretty good one: