Secret Empire #2: Spencer avoids the "Age of Ultron" trap here by making the heroes' next steps pretty damn logical. Tony eventually reviews the thumbdrive the new Patriot brought him, revealing a message from Rick detailing the truth behind Steve's betrayal. (He hacked into Hydra's files to get the information.) Hawkeye wants to lead a team to track down the pieces of the Cube, but, since Dr. Selvig was smart enough to hide them outside HYDRA territory, he and his team have to get smuggled past the (very secure) border to do so. On the other hand, Natasha feels it's a fool's errand. She recalls all the people they lost in previous attempts to prove Steve was a clone or a LMD and argues (pretty convincingly) Steve would want them to kill him if he knew how he was being used. Miles doesn't necessarily agree with her, but he feels his destiny is to kill Steve (per "Inhumans vs. X-Men") so he and the Champions join her. (Yes, I'll be getting "Secret Empire: Uprising.") Meanwhile, Clint and his team are on the border in a Mos Eisley sort of town. Ant-Man leads them to Sam, who helped him smuggle Cassie across the border. Let's just say Sam isn't too thrilled to see them. In the Darkforce dimension, Dagger is killing herself to provide the only light the city gets while Kingpin is providing help to the population with the request that people remember his help when the sun "returns." Throughout the issue, Spencer does an excellent job keeping up the pace while still taking us through all the steps necessary to make these developments feel organic. But, it's the last page that brings an honest-to-goodness surprise. Seriously, these sorts of developments are usually so telegraphed that it's rare to be surprised anymore. However, a rugged-looking Steve Rogers saving a mysteriously glowing woman from members of the Serpent Society and asking her for help to get home? Let's just say I don't think I'm as cocky about knowing what Spencer has in mind as I was.
Teen Titans #8: Maybe it's because this cross-over arc has three writers, but this issue made little sense to me. First, we have Kid Flash deciding to spend the day with some older guy with a cool car. I get he misses his father and likes working on cars, but going for a joyride and then burgers with a stranger (with an eyepatch) you just met is a pretty clear no-no, teenage superhero or not. Then we've got the weirdness of Dick's deal with Deathstroke, which drives the tension of this issue. We don't know what it is yet, but I feel like we're not going to get a satisfying answer in the end. Deathstroke seems to have kidnapped both Wally Wests to activate some sort of battery that will not only resurrect his son but make himself more powerful. But, what would Dick have to do with that? Is the deal completely unrelated and just so happens to come to light when Deathstroke is being all villain-y? Seems unlikely. Percy actually does a solid job in scripting the tired "good guys initially fight as a result of an obvious misunderstanding" bit; the rumble on the roof of Titans Tower actually sounds the way I think it would, all chaotic and jumbled. But, for Percy to sell this issue, you still have to believe Kid Flash not only spent the day with Deathstroke but also then helped him with his time-travel plans even after he revealed himself. I just don't believe even a rookie would be that naive, but there you go.
The Wild Storm #4: Not a lot happens in this issue, but it's beautiful to behold: Davis-Hunt and Buccellato are geniuses, truly. After the Wild C.A.T.s escape Angie's bunker via Void (before one of the surviving members of Razors 3 detonates a grenade), the action stops and everyone gets a moment to breathe. Miles recaps the last two issues for his husband over wine and leftovers, and we then get our first prolonged exposure to Henry Bendix. We don't learn much, other than the fact he prefers spending his time in his enormous space station orbiting Earth (as opposed to Earth itself) and he engages in a whole lot of bluster with everyone other than his assistant, Ms. Pennington. (I don't know if it was a conscious choice, but Pennington looks a lot like Carol/Cheryl from "Archer," which makes it all the more awesome.) We conclude the issue with Mike telling Miles his brain tumor is inoperable and Miles asking him if he wants to keep working. Meanwhile, Angie walks along a deserted highway (after initially crashing into the ocean when she fled the bunker at the start of the issue). Ellis does a great job keeping us guessing mostly because his characters are all in the same situation: no one really has any clue what's happening. That said, Henry Bendis, Miles Craven, and Jacob Marlowe aren't exactly the types of guys who handle that well, so we'll see where we go.
X-Men Gold #4: Guggenheim's telling a number of stories here, and they're all pretty great. First, we've got the mundane. Kitty, Kurt, and Rachel easily take out some members of the Serpent Society as they rob a bank. Kitty is anxious to get the fight concluded so she can get to her meeting with the city about hooking up the Mansion to the sewer and water system, a clever reminder of the team's struggles to get itself established. (I'm also intrigued how they're going to pay that rent bill the city presented them earlier.) Plus, Guggenheim is reminding us Kitty wants to improve the X-Men's visibility not just by eliminating mutant threats, but regular ones, too. Then, we're got the mysteries. Dr. Reyes informs Colossus the alien-looking guy from the Brotherhood is actually an alien; in fact, he's an alien whose language is even unknown to the universal translator. Meanwhile, Logan and Storm go all "X-Men: SVU" when they convince a NYPD detective to tell them more about the murder of a mutant. (This entire sequence is great, in part because Guggenheim uses the pacing and phrasing of "Law and Order." It makes me realize I would 100% read a comic where Logan and Ororo just went around town solving crimes.) But everyone has to put their day on hold to help Remy. You see, he swiped some nanites for Bolivar Trask's granddaughter. (Before you worry, he didn't know who she was when he took the job; he took it explicitly to find out the buyer's identity.) Trask planned on connecting the nanites to an artificial intelligence for military (and, allegedly, non-mutant killing) purposes, and Remy decides to stop her. But, he sorta accidentally breaks the containment tube and the nanites fly into Trask's computer system. Given the amount of anti-mutant AIs on your average Trask computer, the nanites bond with such an AI and become a nano-swarm Sentinel. Ooopsie! Remy obviously glides over his role in creating said Sentinel when he calls for help. (It's all part of his charm.) Seriously, it sounds like Guggenheim would've been rushed given how much happens here, but the pace is really fun, a sort of "day in the crazy life" approach. It's a great start for this new arc.
Also Read: Batman #23; Generation X #1; The Mighty Thor #19; Nightwing #21; Star Wars #31; U.S.Avengers #6