Avengers: Solo #1: Yay, Hawkeye! OK, this issue is pretty fun. It has a lot of ins-and-outs that take some time to follow, but, unlike Tony Daniel's ability to confuse me thoroughly in "Batman" with similar feints-and-dodges, Van Meter laid out a story that even I managed to follow without having to re-read the issue three times. I only have two questions. First, Mel was at least in touch with Tuli and says that Trace was a friend helping her. So, if a friend of my friend is my friend, wouldn't Tuli also be working with Trace, if he were working with Mel? If so, why were Trace and Tuli fighting at the start of the issue? Second, Hawkeye tells Chance that he was just looking at his file that morning. Is it because he sort of looks like Trace? Otherwise, I can't figure out why Hawkeye would be randomly flipping through Chance's file. But, for a complicated story, it's pretty good that I only have those questions. As such, I'd say it's a pretty fine start to this new mini-series (particularly ending with Paste-Pot Pete, of all people!). Although Hawkeye says the detective business isn't really his deal, Van Meter seems to have stumbled on something that might be the perfect métier for Hawkeye. Rather than the espionage series we've gotten over the last few years, I'd totally buy a series where Hawkeye is a cranky private investigator with a hot-but-off-limits (possibly lesbian) Girl Friday. Maybe he could join X-Factor!
Captain America and Bucky #623: This title, at this point, has essentially become the Bucky Barnes show. I've seen enough hints on the Internet that Bucky isn't, in fact, dead (fingers crossed, I haven't gotten "Fear Itself" #7.1 yet) to know that the hope that this series was merely a way to keep Bucky in everyone's minds before they resurrected him will hopefully be rewarded. It seems all the more likely since we will pretty much dispense of the "Captain America and..." part in the next arc, given its focus on Bucky's Winter Soldier years. As the final issue focusing on Bucky's experience during the Second World War, therefore, Brubaker pulls out all the stops. He somehow manages to tell a story about concentration camps that, somehow, doesn't become overly burdened by the subject. We see Bucky grow here, given his reflections on how he reverted to old behaviors due to his rage over the sights he saw in the camp. I'm sure I'm inevitably going to be annoyed by the way they resurrect Bucky, so I've got to enjoy these issues while I can.
New Mutants #32: ...and "Fear Itself" finally, finally ends. This issue was fine, though I more or less rushed through it, since the sooner I can forget about "Fear Itself," the better. I was glad to see that DnA had Bobby providing guidance to Nate on how to focus his power, given that, for the last 31 issues, all we've seen Bobby do is pine over Amara. The art on this title, to my mind, has become its most significant weakness. I really wish we would get one stable artist who stopped drawing Sunspot like the Beast and Nate like Lou Ferrigno. But, this title has also, I feel, really started suffering from all the various cross-over event forced on it. By my count, it's had to handle "Necrosha," "Siege," "Second Coming," "Age of X," and "Fear Itself," just in its short 32-issue life. At this stage, we've gotten a third as many issues as the group's original run, an iconic series that inspired such devoted fans that we still clamor to read about them almost (gulp) 30 years later. It's time for the Marvel editors to stop with these forced events and let the great authors they've assigned to this title work their magic, to tell the stories that we'll remember 30 more years from now.
Secret Avengers #18: OK, I had decided that, if I didn't like this issue, I was axing this title. But, Ellis delivers an issue I actually not only liked, but enjoyed. I don't know why his handling of multiversally derived transmatter felt more grounded (and worked better) than his previous two topics (nuclear weapons delivered by Doom platforms and zombie robots engaged in body snatching). It's probably got more to do with Aja's amazing Escheresque pencils selling the story than anything Ellis does in particular. But, to be fair, Ellis injects some more vim and vigor into this issue than he did in issue #16, when the Secret Avengers chasing a doomsday device felt more like the Beast reciting his doctoral dissertation to us. Ellis also actually gives us some great moments of characterization here, like Steve telling Shang Chi he's acting like an Avengers when he locates the flight deck and telling Sharon Carter he loves her after she kicks some serious ass. I also like how Ellis has Steve lament the fact that this team doesn't act like one, despite doing so being the Avengers' strength. The lack of teamwork (or at least focus on the cohesion of the team) has been one of my complaints about this series, and I hope Ellis acknowledging it means he's planning to do something to fix it. I'm still left wondering when we're going to see Steve become Cap in this title, since it's the only one where he doesn't appear as such. (I also have no idea how the cover fits with the issue. Is that supposed to be Shang Chi?) At any rate, I hope this issue represents a departure for the title, with an increased focus on teamwork. If so, I might stick around longer than planned.
Teen Titans #2: Lobdell delivers a pretty solid issue here. He hints at all sort of past realities and future plots. Superboy is tasked to take down Wonder Girl? I think we can all see where that assignment is going to lead. It sounds like Kid Flash is no longer a rapid-aged superhero from the future, but just a regular kid, a fairly welcome change, if I'm going to be honest. (But, it does raise all sorts of other issues, like whether or not he's related to Barry.) Speaking of Kid Flash, I wonder who this "Danny" guy was and where he went. Lobdell continues to do a nice job developing N.O.W.H.E.R.E. as a bad-ass organization, and Tim gives Cassie a pretty compelling speech about the need to fight to make sure they don't get weaker while N.O.W.H.E.R.E. gets stronger. (I thought it was a nice touch to have Bart observe how many cells his holding facility had, underling Tim's point that the more meta-teens in the slammer, the fewer meta-teens in the fight.) I'm anxious to see Superboy get into the mix, mainly because I'm hoping, as I've said before, that this series and "Superboy" depict past events. I'm already over Conner being a personality-less drone. You can tell that it's going to be the Titans that set him free, and I'm ready to get that ball rolling. (Did I mention the awesomeness of Tim in the Green Lantern shirt?)