All-New X-Men #1.MU: Honestly, this issue is one of the best stand-alone issues I've ever read, let alone one connected to an event. Whitley really has an excellent bead on the characters' personalities. But, he goes beyond that, shows us those personalities when they're pushed into uncomfortable or new places: Warren adjusting to being the responsible one, Laura having to contemplate why she's part of a team, Idie reacquainting herself with her faith. On top of that, their interactions with each other really sing: you can really feel the warmth in Gambit and Laura's relationship, for example. (In fact, Whitley's Gambit is probably the best version of him I've ever read, getting to the person behind the accent and charm.) Plus, the action is legitimately fun, thanks to Barberi's great sense of motion. Honestly, it's a good time had by all. Laissez les bon temps rouler indeed.
Avengers #4: Yup, you guessed it: I still have no idea what the fuck is happening. Kang narrates this issue and, as amazingly beautiful as it is, I still wrestle with all the usual problems with Kang. As Waid walks us through Kang's "history," you just have to wonder how it's at all possible. How does he live eternally? Why does he live eternally? What motivates him? Why is conquering only one era not enough? This issue makes it clear Waid has big ideas when it comes to Kang, but every author has to answer these questions about Kang if their story is going to make sense. After the virtually nonsensical first arc, I have my doubts. Why does everyone insist on starting their run on "Avengers" with a Kang story? It's like learning to swim in the deep end.
Batman #16: If you've been reading this blog for a long time, you know that I'm pretty much obsessed with the need for the Bat-family to have a big group hug. I come as close as I'm ever going to get to that in this issue. King has the four living Robins go to Bat-burger with Bruce, where Jason admits that he loves Jokerized fries despite "the crowbar and all." We then see Damian and Jason engage in a food fight while Dick confirms to a bewildered Duke that, yes, Bruce, the man raised by the butler, eats his hamburger with a fork and knife. Although Bruce proves to be the downer when he angrily notes Tim's absence, I don't care. I would read an entire series devoted to the Robins having burgers with each other. King eventually has to get to the point of this meeting: Bruce asks the boys to vacate Gotham since Bane is on the way and he doesn't want any of them to die (again). But, it's really all about the meal at Batburger. Don't worry, Jason: despite what Damian says about your hairline, I'll still love you.
Hawkeye #3: I really love everything Thompson is doing here. It's the L.A. Kate Fraction was trying to write but never quite got right. Thompson has Kate's Scooby gang fully assembled here: handsome Johnny, grumpy but game Ramone, hacker Watson, and, most importantly, inside-woman Detective Rivera. My guess is the large dude looming over Kate at the end of this issue is nefarious surfer Brad, but we'll see. At this stage, we still don't know why he would be so obsessed with Mikka, so it's possible it is creepy Larry. On some level, it doesn't matter, because it's just fun to spend time inside Kate's head. Thompson has her internal narrative down pat, making even searching a house (and finding a dude on the toilet) an exercise in fun.
Moon Knight #11: This series has been all about Marc's past, but, in truth, we haven't seen much of it from a narrative perspective. We know his friends and his personas pretty well, but, if you're a new reader like I am, you don't know anything about the details of his life. Lemire remedies that problem here in a typically creative fashion, showing us flashes of Marc's past as he fights his way through the Overvoid. (He's trying to find something Anubis lost so Anubis will give him back his friend's soul.) We see Marc being released from the psychiatric ward where he seems to have spent years, a grown man at this point. He is released only for a time, to attend his father's funeral. Afterwards, he rebuffs his mother's assertion that his father would've been happy he came by reminding her how disappointed his father had been in him. Later, we see him lying to recruiters about his mental illness to join the Marines, but his strange behavior (including a sexy naked walk through a mine field) leads him to being dishonorably discharged. (That seems harsh, by the way. They discover he lied about his mental illness, but don't get him help?) Marc goes AWOL in Baghdad, and we eventually see him meeting Frenchie after he wins a bout at an underground fight club. Throughout this narrative, we see hints of Khonshu speaking to him, observing Marc will do anything he needs to do to be cured. (Lemire's Khonshu at this point is definitely the villain of the story, an opportunist looking to exploit Marc's weaknesses to be reborn.) In the Overvoid, Marc finds Aput, Anubis' wife, but he'll have to survive being sacrificed to the Overvoid's gods if he's going to save her. I still marvel (heh) after all these issues at Lemire's ability to tell so many stories on so many levels in so many time periods while still holding onto the threat of the narrative. It's a wonder to behold, and Smallwood's art infuses it with an emotional depth that's hard to explain. I don't think I've seen a better duo since Snyder/Jock on "Detective Comics." I also agree with Kaylee in the letters page: a great story plus the most handsome Mark ever? What more could you want?
Nightwing #14: Seeley has a pretty decent track record for wrapping up loose ends, and he does the same here. Dick and Shawn track down Jimmy thanks to Shawn poking through his finances and discovering an odd investment: his "quiet reflection project" that just so happens to be located in a toxic-waste site. Svoboda gets credit for the collar as planned, and Nightwing and the Run-Offs are exonerated. Dick even gets the girl, in a clever twist on a fantasy sequence, where Dick imagines telling Shawn who he is and she guesses anyway. (They kiss in both fantasy and reality.) Moreover, Dick's personal life doesn't get a boost just from his burgeoning romance with Shawn, but the fact he's taking over her position at the community center since she was fired given her connection to the murders. (This part seemed a little unfair, since she was definitively proven innocent.) I do wish Seeley spent a little more time on fleshing out Cherry and Jimmy's relationship, since we learn in this issue that Cherry was the one feeding Jimmy information about corruption. Seeley doesn't really tell us how Cherry came to use Jimmy as her avenging angel or why she felt so strongly about corruption in the first place. But, it seems possible we'll return to these characters at some point: at the end of the issue, an accident causes Jimmy's face to bond with broken shards of a mirror. Although Mirror-Face isn't a great name for a villain, it's clear that someone with that good of a shtick is going to return. Other than this small complaint, this arc really does establish Dick in Blüdhaven. Since Dick resumed being Nightwing in 2011, I don't think we've had firmer ground under our feet when it comes to Dick, and I'm excited to see where Seeley takes us.
Nova #3: As expected, Rich starts doling out girl advice here, telling Sam that the thing he learned by dying is that he wish he would've talked to more girls when he was alive. Sam is worried Lina -- (the girl whose name his brain screams, as Cosmo tells us) -- will reject him, and Rich tells him that he'll live if that happens. After all, again, Rich died, so he's got a pretty solid perspective on that front. But, Loveness and Pérez actually call into question here whether Rich "died" or "remains dead;" when he uses his powers here, he reverts to his Cancerverse self, even if no one else (or, at least, Sam) doesn't see him in that form. The mystery continues. At any rate, Loveness and Pérez really capture the Rich we all know and love, the caring and charming straight guy who feel responsibility for taking care of everyone around him. Speaking of girls and love, enter Gamora next issue!
Spider-Man 2099 #20: I enjoy Miguel having an archenemy in the present in the form of Man Mountain Marko. It adds a nice touch. Of course, his real archenemy, his father, is also at play here, so it does dim Marko's star a little. David does a great job using Tyler to remind us just how much Tempest knows about Miguel. I was worried he was going to spill the beans about Miguel being Spider-Man or being from the future, but Tempest already knows all that. I think the most significant conversation is actually when Tempest threatens to kill Tyler if he's lying about his ability to cure her, because that feels like clear foreshadowing and not an idle threat. Also, I haven't mentioned it for a while, but Sliney is really the perfect fit for this title. His clean lines really imbue it with a futuristic vibe. It's really smooth sailing over here.
Also Read: Champions #5; Midnighter and Apollo #5