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What I bought – 17 September 2008

by  in Comic News Comment
What I bought – 17 September 2008

I’m kind of a Marvel Zombie this week. Not a complete one, but enough so I feel like a corporate tool. Feel free to ignore these reviews. Oh, wait – most people already do! Feel free to ignore them and take shots at me for being a shill for Joey Q!

And, because I like being depressed, I’m going to list the sales figures for each comic from last month. These are the numbers directly from ICv2. I’m not going to analyze them like the excellent Marc-Oliver Frisch and Paul O’Brien do over at The Beat, just list the numbers. Because there’s nothing more fun than seeing books you like teetering on the edge of extinction!

Air #2 by G. Willow Wilson (writer), M. K. Perker (artist), Chris Chuckry (colorist), and Jared K. Fletcher (letterer). $2.99, 23 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

The second issue of Air is as odd as the first, which doesn’t make it bad but doesn’t necessarily make it good. It makes it interesting, I suppose, and as I mentioned with the first issue, I’m willing to give it a few issues to see where Wilson is going with this. There’s something off about it, though, in both the writing and the art, and it’s keeping me from enjoying this totally.

Blythe’s dilemma takes a different turn, as she discovers what Narimar – the country from which Zayn sent his letter last issue – is and how to get there (come on, it’s a comic book – you didn’t think there would be an imaginary country named and then there would be no way to get there, did you?). She ends up in Narimar with her pal Fletcher (no, not Chevy Chase, but the flight attendant from last issue) and Mrs. Battacharya, who works for the airline in some capacity. She goes there because Zayn (or Javad, as is apparently his “real” name) has disappeared, and she thinks she can help him. Of course, things go pear-shaped pretty quickly, and we’re left wondering if Blythe and her gang will survive her little excursion.

The plot isn’t bad, although after the mystery of the first issue, it becomes a bit more “action-adventure” in this one. Not too much, and not to the point where everything is explained, but the overall plot seems a bit less interesting than it was in the first issue. I don’t have that big of a problem with it, because it’s only the second issue and Wilson has some time to work it out, but it’s worrisome. More than that, though, is the problems with the characters. Javad (as I’ll call him from now on) isn’t in the issue all that much, but his scene with Blythe early on is rather nice. Mrs. Battacharya is a typical wise old exotic person, but her and Fletcher’s decision to go with Blythe is rather weird, especially because all three of them have jobs (yes, Blythe claims to her boss that they’re all sick, but that’s a lame excuse, isn’t it?). I’m trying not to read this as “realistic” (it features an imaginary country, after all), but little things like that always bug me. These aren’t people who have jobs that lend themselves to heading off on adventures, so when they do, it seems strange. Plus, the answer about Narimar rankled me a bit as well. If I want to discover something quickly, I turn to Google. If the answer to the mystery of Narimar is what Blythe discovers it is, it’s probably on the Internet. Come on, Blythe, you can check it out while in your bath robe!

I know that’s nitpicking, but that’s part of the problem with the book. We come to a comic with a healthy suspension of disbelief, sure, but we also come to it with a baseline of reality, which is ours. If that reality is immediately done away with, as in superhero comics, then we can adjust to it. So far in Air, “our” “reality” is still established, and the presence of an imaginary country is treated as it would in “our” world – with skepticism. So we have to assume that this is “our” world, and therefore Google exists. The tension of the book comes because Blythe, who is fairly normal, suddenly finds herself thrust into a shadow world where strange things happen, and while that’s a good foundation for interesting fiction, it doesn’t work if we think Blythe is unaware of things in her world. It causes us to lose sympathy for her, and then we don’t care anymore. And that’s not good.

I should point out I’m thinking a lot about Air even though I’m not completely sold on it, which isn’t a bad thing at all. I want it to be better, but it’s still pretty intriguing. We’ll see if it improves next issue!

Latest sales figures (August, #1): 11,094. Rank: 163. Does Vertigo even care about singles sales?

Atomic Robo: Dogs of War #2 (of 5) by Brian Clevinger (writer), Scott Wegener (artist), Ronda Pattison (colorist), and Jeff Powell (letterer). Back-up story by Brian Clevinger (writer), Derrick Fish (artist), and Jeff Powell (letterer). $2.95, 26 pgs, FC, Red 5 Comics.

After a first issue that was entertaining but lacked the spark of the first series, Clevinger allows Robo to loosen up a bit in this issue, cracking wise while he’s cracking robot heads, and the result is a much more enjoyable issue. This is basically an issue featuring Robo beating up on the Nazi robots that are tying to stop the Allied invasion of Italy, so there’s lots of fighting, explosions, and wry humor. I laughed out loud at a few lines, including the one where Robo renames a soldier “Tex” just because it sounds better. The last line of the comic, amazingly enough, is hilarious but also somewhat poignant. I’m not sure how Clevinger did that. And in the back-up story, the first page, which features what appears to be a giant robot mummy, is one of the funniest exchanges in a comic in a while. Good stuff.

And I can’t say enough about Wegener’s art. It’s fantastic. Not only are the facial expressions of the soldiers great, but his fight scenes are breathtaking. If he learned about drawing fight scenes from looking at Ryan Ottley’s work, I wouldn’t be surprised. But Ryan Ottley’s great, so there’s nothing wrong with studying his stuff!

I didn’t really have a problem with the first issue, but I did wish it was a little more fun. This issue makes up for that and also keeps the petal on the metal in terms of action. And it’s four cents cheaper than your regular DC or Marvel book! You can’t beat that!

Latest sales figures (August, #1): 5,666. Rank: 221. I have no idea if this is good or not.

Captain Britain and MI 13 #5 by Paul Cornell (writer), Pat Olliffe (penciler), Paul Neary (inker), Brian Reber (colorist), Raul Trevino (colorist), and Joe Caramagna (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

You know, I could have sworn someone in MI 13 knew that Spitfire was a vampire. Because bringing Blade onto the team wouldn’t have been the smartest move if they had known. Oh well.

Olliffe does a nice job with the art in the issue, in what I assume is a guest pencilling gig (comics rarely call people “guest” artists anymore, have you noticed?), as he and Neary give it a nice, clean look, pleasant but unspectacular. Cornell takes the time to organize the team and give the members some down time, which is always nice. The highlight of the issue is Dane and Faiza’s visit to her parents so she can explain the fact that she’s joining the team. Faiza is, of course, the Sensational Character Find of 2008, so it’s not surprising that Dane’s meeting with them is delightful. It’s nice to see Cornell introduce Muslim characters who are culturally Muslim but not religiously Muslim (Faiza’s father says he’s not religious). You might think that “Muslim” means someone is religious, but it’s interesting to see a family that, like many Christians, are “Christian” in a vague sense but not necessarily when confronted with it. It doesn’t make them bad people, just like the Hussains aren’t bad people because they’re not hard core Muslim. They’re just people. It’s nice that Cornell is treating them that way.

The other members of the team get some face time, too, and the next story arc kicks in when Captain Midlands calls in with an emergency. It’s a satisfying issue. I do wish that Spitfire wasn’t so modern. I recently learned that she’s from the 1940s (which, yes, I should have known, but I hope you’ll forgive me) and in the comic in which I learned this, Ron Marz (of all people) does a nice job with the faint culture shock she feels. I get that she’s been young and modern for a while now, but I don’t think we’ve gotten enough of a sense so far in this series that she’s a Captain America kind of figure. Maybe I just missed it because I didn’t know she was (literally) olde-skool.

That’s a minor point – I don’t even know if it qualifies as a complaint. This is a fun, relatively quiet issue that builds on what has come before and moves us forward. How about that for a comic book? It’s practically revolutionary!

Latest sales figures (August, issue #4): 36,826. Rank: 63. Let’s see if people stay after the Skrulls aren’t tying into the book.

Checkmate #30 by Bruce Jones (writer), Manuel Garcia (artist), Travis Lanham (letterer), and Santiago Arcas (colorist). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC.

Um, yeah. As you know, I can’t really defend buying this. I’m just doing it because next issue is the last one, and I might as well finish it out. Yes, it’s a silly attitude, but I did really want to see what Jones did with the book. Not much, as it turns out. I mean, in this issue, the Black King (Khalid) tells the members of the Global Guardians, “Each of you also realizes it is only in a time of direst emergency would Checkmate reach out to deputize any metas.” Even if we ignore the tortured syntax, didn’t Checkmate just deputize the Justice League in Rucka’s last story arc? As I’ve mentioned, Jones has turned this into a superhero book, and while probably nothing he could have done would have saved this, it’s just not interesting anymore. I do hope Garcia gets a better gig, though, because his art is very nice.

Oh well. We’ll see if Jones can rescue it next issue. I doubt it.

Latest sales figures (August, #29): 13,000. Rank: 146. That’s why it got cancelled.

Ghost Rider #27 by Jason Aaron (writer), Tan Eng Huat (artist), José Villarrubia (colorist), and Joe Caramagna (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

This issue puzzles me. Maybe I haven’t been paying attention (it’s certainly possible) or maybe I should go out and buy the 1990s Ghost Rider series (which is not an option), but does Johnny Blaze not know that Danny is alive? He seems surprised to see him in this comic. Maybe I missed something. Anyway, we’re hip deep in GR history in this issue, and although the last issue was as well, I didn’t mind it as much. It seems like this issue is much more involved, what with the nun discovering weird things about Ghost Rider and Blaze speaking cryptically. I knew that all the weird characters in the last issue were old Ghost Rider bad guys, but it didn’t matter too much, as they didn’t hang around long. Now, it seems like Aaron wants us to figure things out by re-reading our old Ghost Rider comics, and I don’t own any. I’m still enjoying his run so far, but this issue felt off. I like albino vampires bashing people over the head with grave markers and nuns beating up truckers as much as the next guy, but there was something missing from this issue, and I’m not sure what it was.

Huat’s art is still quite nice, but I still don’t think it fits the mood perfectly. He draws a great Ghost Rider, I’ll admit, and the final page is very impressive, but it’s still a bit too clean for what Aaron is going for. Oh well – it’s still the best art I’ve ever seen from Huat, so I’ll give him a pass. But would it kill him to grit it up a bit?

Latest sales figures (August, #26): 27,026. Rank: 95. Sales are stable if low.

Gødland #25 by Joe Casey (writer), Tom Scioli (artist), Bill Crabtree (colorist), and Rus Wooton (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Image.

You know, for the first nine pages of this comic publication, it’s fairly normal. Well, “normal” for Gødland, which means Adam Archer is practicing teleportation and blasting off from Cape Canaveral to look for his sister, Neela. So, you know, normal. Then we turn onto page 10, and the caption reads “Twelve thousand luminous light years ago” and a voice from off-panel says, “Galactic greatness … a living and breathing Dynolux! Passion and fertility!” and the void of space is filled with pink and green ooze (and what looks like a face off to the side) and the book becomes even more insane than it already was. Yes, somehow that’s possible. Scioli goes full-on Kirby-Crazy on us, with “feral bipeds” and “gelatinous slugs” fighting on a virgin world while N’ull Pax Mizer – an “eventualist” – flies overhead, speeding up evolution while his enemies, Leviticus (with his serrated sail) and Vayikra (that’s them on the cover), attempt to stop him. Before you can say “What in the name of L-Ron –?!” (which Mizer says at one point), there’s time travel, fat jokes, evolved feral bipeds, and creatures getting sliced in half, into which Adam suddenly teleports! The final 11 pages of this issue are a tour-de-force of comics awesomeness. You can try to resist, but you cannot! And why the hell would you, anyway?

I have no idea where Casey and Scioli are going with this, but I’m locked in. If you don’t like breathtaking insanely entertaining comics, then I wouldn’t buy this. But you’re not that person, are you? Are you?????

Latest sales figures: You know, I couldn’t find it. The idea that this didn’t make the Top 300 in sales for July (when the last issue came out) is just too depressing to contemplate.

The Incredible Hercules #121 by Greg Pak (writer), Fred van Lente (writer), Clayton Henry (artist), Guru eFX (colorists), and Joe Caramagna (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

You know, The Incredible Hercules has reached the point where there’s really nothing new to say. I mean, I’m not sure how Pak and Van Lente can keep it this consistently awesome, but I don’t care how they’re doing it, just that they are. I mean, this is the beginning of a new story but it still continues stuff that has already been introduced, so it works well if you’ve been reading along, but it’s also a fantastic single issue that would be a wonderful introduction to the series if, for some really bad reason (it would have to be bad), you haven’t been reading so far. I mean, Pak and Van Lente throw in more mythology, which is always nice, but the crux of the issue is Amadeus getting kidnapped by Amazons, which sounds a lot more fun than it really is. Pak and Van Lente, in one issue, manage to make Marvel’s Amazons as much or more kick-ass than DC’s have ever been. It’s a blast to read, and Henry’s clean art works well for the story. Plus, in a book that’s largely about sex, there’s a sound effect that made me chuckle: “SHTUUUUP!”

I have one problem with the book. When Delphyne takes Amadeus to Artume’s boudoir, she mentions that he was chosen because he’s Hercules’ “eromenos.” Thanks to Google (see, Blythe, everyone can use it!), I learned that an eromenos was the young boy in Classical Greece who was in a sexual relationship with an older man. I mean, I probably could have figured that out for myself, but I just wanted to be sure! Anyway, Amadeus really freaks out about it. On the one hand, he’s sixteen and still immature. On the other hand, he’s been portrayed as wiser than his years, and more cosmopolitan than you might expect. I’m not saying he wouldn’t be offended by the implication, but his reaction seems a bit more homophobic than I thought. It seems like it’s in the book just for some cheap humor, and in a book that has a lot of smart humor, it doesn’t feel right. Or is that just me?

Other than that, it’s a typically excellent issue of The Incredible Hercules. Come on – we learn there’s a sex position called the Atlantean “crab hold”! Good times.

Latest sales figures (August, #120): 51,100. Rank: 38. This got a big jump from Secret Invasion.

Moon Knight #22 by Mike Benson (writer), Mark Texeira (artist), Javier Saltares (layouts), Dan Brown (colorist), and Joe Caramagna (letterer). $2.99, 23 pgs, FC, Marvel.

In order to make Joe Rice’s head explode, I think I’ll have to attest that this book is much better than All Star Superman. It’s that awesome!

Okay, it’s not as good as All Star Superman. Happy, Joe? But it’s still a great comic, even though I risk the wrath of noted smart guy Tim Callahan, who was unimpressed with the first issue of this arc. But where he sees “faux-intense” and a book lacking a sense of humor, I see a comic that doesn’t need a goddamned sense of humor and is attempting to examine serious themes, so it’s “actual-intense.” As I’ve always said with this comic, Huston and now Benson (and I’ve never seen Entourage, so I can’t speak to Tim’s assertion that it’s “jokey” and “unimpressive”) are taking a long view of what happens when a hero goes insane and how a government that regulates heroes would deal with that. I will admit that Moon Knight moves slowly. It’s possible (or even probable) that Benson is doing it because of the trade paperback ramifications, but it also fits the comic, because it shouldn’t feel compressed – this is the slow degradation of a hero and how those close to him deal with it. So I’m sure Tim won’t like this issue either, as there’s more talking. Of course, shit does blow up, but the interesting parts of the book, to me, are when Crawley goes to visit Frenchie and Marlene and tries to get them to help Marc. I’m sure it helps to have read prior Moon Knight series, but even if you don’t have their full history, the conversations Crawley has with Marc’s closest friends are painful because they sound like things actual people would say. I mean, I guess that’s just an opinion, but that’s all we have, right? I also thought the fight between Marc and the Thunderbolts worked really well. Neither side came off perfectly, and as this book has been doing since the beginning, we see the effects of the violence that these people can inflict upon each other.

Tim’s a smart guy, but he’s not, you know, perfect. And isn’t that a good thing? Life would be dull if Perfect Boy was living among us reviewing comics, wouldn’t it?

Latest sales figures (August, #21): 30,900. Rank: 78. That’s a big jump, but this has been shedding readers. FOOLS!!!!!

Scalped #21 by Jason Aaron (writer), R. M. Guera (artist), Giulia Brusco (colorist), and Steve Wands (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

Well, it’s yet another issue of Scalped I didn’t read, because I’m waiting for the third trade (which comes out in two weeks, I believe), but damn, that’s a cool cover. Jock (wait for it) rocks.

Latest sales figures (August, #20): 7,034. Rank: 199. Egad. That’s ugly.

All Star Superman #12 by Grant “12 issues in 3 years is pretty good, right, fanboys?” Morrison (writer), Frank Quitely (penciller), Jamie Grant (inker/colorist), and Travis Lanham (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC.

So it ends. I’m not quite as in love with it as Joe Rice, who probably bought two copies, one to read and the other to make into underwear (think about it), but it’s still something, isn’t it? I think a lot of its success has to do with Quitely, because he is a master at facial expressions and body language, especially when Luthor is monologuing and looks remarkably bored. Luthor wants Superman to show up, and we get that through Quitely’s art. You may not like Quitely’s style, but he always does a wonderful job making sure we understand what the characters are thinking.

As for Morrison’s story … Well, parts of this 12-issue epic were quite bumpy, and the emotional payoffs weren’t quite as powerful as Morrison perhaps wanted them to be, mainly because there’s nothing terribly original about this. Sure, Morrison writes what is essentially a Silver Age story remarkably well, but in the end, it’s just a Silver Age superhero story. Because Morrison is such a great writer, we get some wonderful little touches, like Jimmy making sure Clark’s secret is safe, and the overall plot, while familiar, is intricately put together, but I really did find myself wondering what the point of it was. The Superman-as-Jesus metaphor is always fairly heavy-handed, so even Morrison can’t escape bludgeoning us over the head with it, and Morrison points out the obvious, that Lex could have saved the world if he really wanted to. I like this a lot, and will probably appreciate it more once I sit down and re-read the 12 issues, but there’s something missing. I think that Morrison’s glorious failures like The Filth are more fascinating than this well-constructed love letter to 50-year-old comics. I like this more than I like The Filth, but I admire The Filth more.

Ultimately, this is a fairly standard superhero comic. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, but the hype that has surrounded it has blinded us to that fact. It does nothing we haven’t seen a thousand times before, and although Morrison does some small things better than almost anyone, it doesn’t change that fact. I think its aspirations are such that it’s a bit disappointing, because when Morrison does something, I think it should change the comics landscape in some way. He’s just that good. His aspirations in this comic come to very little, and that’s what bugs me. Morrison’s other pure superhero comic, JLA, was far less ambitious and worked a little better. Certainly, Quitely’s art is better than Porter’s, but Morrison seemed focused on telling big-ass action stories in that and not belaboring his prose with Christ imagery.

I’m glad we got this comic out of Morrison and Quitely, because it’s an impressive read. Now maybe Morrison can concentrate on the Seaguy sequels. That’s a comic I want to read!

Latest sales figures (May, #11): 70,355. Rank: 24. Best-selling Superman book by a considerable margin.

True Believers #3 (of 5) by Cary Bates (writer), Paul Gulacy (artist), Rain Beredo (colorist), and Dave Lanphear (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Now that everyone’s ignoring me to sharpen their proverbial knives, I’ll move on. As this is the third issue of a five-issue mini-series, we can expect a bit of padding and, especially in a series with new characters, the origin issue! And so we get it, although there’s less padding than you’d expect, but plenty o’ origins. It’s kind of a neat effect Bates goes for, as the entire issue takes place, technically, in about a 30-second time frame. However, because we get a bunch o’ flashbacks, we get a ton of information about Mavis, her father, and how she became Payback. It’s a somewhat typical superhero origin story, as Mavis becomes a superhero through some weird science and then has to learn how to do things, but it’s still an nice, entertaining read. I’m a tad bit disappointed at why Mavis is doing what she’s doing, but if Bates pulls it together in the final two issues, I won’t worry about it. There had to be a reason behind it, after all, and the reason is decent as it goes.

This continues to be a solid comic. I’m sure its sales are in the tank (see below), but at least it will exist for future generations!

Latest sales figures (August, #2): 12,845. Rank: 149. But the trade will live on!

Uncanny X-Men #502 by Ed Brubaker (writer), Matt Fraction (writer), Greg Land (penciler), Jay Leisten (inker), Justin Ponsor (colorist), and Joe Caramagna (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

You may wonder why I’m still buying this, as I really haven’t liked the last two issues. Well, as you know, when comics are being produced by writers I really like (and this is) and feature characters I really like (I don’t love all the X-Men on this team, but the X-Men remain near and dear to my heart), I tend to give the books more rope even if it’s not working for me. Plus, the fact that I don’t like Greg Land means I might have to wait until the first Dodson arc to really decide on this book. But it’s rough.

It’s really bothering me that I don’t like this comic more. I want so much to like it, but I just can’t. I mean, Dazzler is in this issue, for crying out loud! Dazzler is one of my five favorite female characters in comics (I’m so not joking, by the way). It pains me that this isn’t the awesomest book out there, even with Land on art. Seriously. This is worse than when Austen was writing it, because that run was so bad I could drop it with a clear conscience. Based on a few neat ideas here and there and the fact that the two writers have produced some of the best comics on the market over the past four years or so, I get depressed reading this. I suppose I should break it down just a bit, even though it’s upsetting.

The descriptive tags are back, and I tried to ignore them. I made my peace with them, and now must move on. On page 2, Scott tells Logan and Kurt to make sure to keep one bad guy alive, and Kurt asks, “Why is Scott so convinced we’re suddenly killers?” Well, beyond the fact that Logan has always been a killer, Scott recently put together a team with Logan on it whose sole purpose is to kill people. Now, I don’t mind if Frubaker wants to ignore X-Force (God knows we all should), but Marvel does publish it, so someone should force them to acknowledge it. Kurt telling Logan he kvetches like an old woman sounds really off coming from Kurt. I don’t know why, it just does. I thought the bad guy pissing his pants was just, well, dumb. It’s immature. I’m going to skip over Land’s art for the most part, but Ali’s first appearance creeped me out. I can barely look at it. Alison’s appearance, which made me happy, quickly became annoying. I’m a bit protective of Dazzler, because I think that writers post-Claremont haven’t really respected her, but I can’t deal with her telling Pixie, “Then come dance for me. At my shows. Let’s let that dust of yours make everything just that much more crazy. Won’t that just be, like, completely awesome?” Alison isn’t 15, last time I checked, and her dad was a lawyer, so she’s not an idiot. That line made me sad. Don’t even use Alison if you’re going to make her an idiot. Then, we get a descriptive tag that confused me. Logan is listening to Joe Walsh, and the tag says “His Masarati does 185.” That would be clever if, you know, Wolverine were driving a Masarati. I suppose he could have one stashed in the garage, but it’s just weird to mention it when he’s working on a Mustang. Anyway, his chat with Pixie is actually nicely done, and part of why so much of this book pains me. Then there’s the fight, which isn’t bad, to be honest. I’m not quite sure why Manuel, who’s a mutant, thinks other mutants are abominations. I mean, it’s one thing to deny your homosexuality and hate homosexuals, but Manuel is actually using his mutant powers, so it seems kind of strange for him to hate mutants. I guess I don’t get why he’s running an anti-mutant hate group.

I know Brubaker reads the blog occasionally, so I do feel bad about not liking Uncanny X-Men more, because I hate writing this about someone who is gracious enough to comment here. I wish I did like it. As I wrote above, I’ll probably hang around through the end of the first Dodson arc, because I wonder if part of the disappointment I feel has to do with Land (although I doubt it). It’s frustrating, because of the nice little nuggets sprinkled in the three issues of the Fraction/Brubaker story, plus I can always think nostalgically about the first time I saw Greg Land’s work, back on that Nightwing mini-series. That was some decent art. Oh well.

Latest sales figures (August, #501): 85,398. Rank: 10. This will always sell well, won’t it? That means Joey Q will let me do whatever I want when I write it!

X-Factor #35 by Peter David (writer), Larry Stroman (penciler), Jon Sibal (inker), Jeromy Cox (colorist), and Cory Petit (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

I’ve been reading some of the comments about Stroman’s art and how people don’t like it. That’s perfectly reasonable, as it’s kind of an acquired taste. But I wondered if anything was different about it from when I first dug it, back in the early 1990s. I think, in this case, he needs a new inker. Thanks to Google (another time I used it!), I found out that Al Milgrom inked Stroman at least for a while on the old X-Factor. Milgrom’s inks were much heavier and solid, anchoring Stroman’s rather odd style. Sibal’s inks are much lighter, and Stroman’s figures are more ethereal and ill-defined. Milgrom, it seemed, gave the strangeness of Stroman’s lines solidity, whereas Sibal lets them go wild. Stroman’s art, I will admit, works better when it’s more heavily inked. I still like his art, and I’m glad to see it on this book, but I wish Sibal would either change his style or they get a new inker.

Anyway, another one of my favorite mutants, Longshot, shows up in this issue (again, not joking), and it’s really him this time! Well, at least we think it’s him, but knowing David, he’ll just turn out to be a Skrull again just to mess with our heads (especially after Longshot gives a convoluted explanation about why he’s not a Skrull). It’s an interesting story that actually gives X-Factor a mystery to solve – remember when that was kind of the point of the series? – and introduces a typically nasty threat. It ends really weirdly, but that’s okay. It’s a good issue, and David seems to be setting things up well for the post-invasion status quo. And it has Longshot!

Of course, I’m not necessarily in love with how Longshot is written. Like Dazzler, these characters are used so infrequently that there’s no excuse for writers to ignore the way they’ve been written in the past. Batman, of course, has so many different personalities that it’s pointless to even try to adhere to a core set of traits. But Longshot isn’t all that popular, so the way David writes him seems to clash with a lot of what has come before. I appreciate that Longshot clears up why he and Dazzler aren’t together anymore, but Longshot, who has always been a bit naïve, seems a bit more worldly for someone who keeps getting his mind wiped clean. When he does act naïve, it feels forced. I know I’m nitpicking, but it bothered me. And I don’t have a problem with his DNA being hardwired to draw “the opposite sex” (his words), but that just allows David to set up kind of a lame joke about the cop being gay. I wish Longshot simply attracted everyone, and it takes a herculean effort from Guido, say, to resist him. The cop isn’t the opposite sex, for instance, so it’s kind of a silly way for Longshot to describe himself. I’m sure his DNA could be hardwired to simply stimulate whatever turns anyone on, whether they’re straight or gay. But I’m rambling a bit, aren’t I?

You’d think I’d be happier with two of my favorite characters showing up in the same week. I’m fickle that way, aren’t I?

Latest sales figures (August, #34): 50,416. Rank: 40. Thanks to Secret Invasion, unfortunately. Maybe some will stay.

Nobody came up with last week’s totally random lyrics, which was taken from “Tether,” a fantastic song off the Indigo Girls’ 2004 album All That We Let In. And here are some more totally random lyrics!

“I had to roam so I picked up the phone
Dialed Ali up to see what was going down
Told him I pick him up so we could drive around
Took the Dodge Dart, a ’74
My mother left a yard but I needed one more
Shaheed had me covered with a hundred greenbacks
So we left Brooklyn and we made big tracks
Drove down the Belt, got on the Conduit
Came to a toll, we paid and went through it
Had no destination, we was on a quest
Ali laid in the back so he could get rest”

Dodge Darts are awesome, man.

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