Before it's this Wednesday and this is all completely irrelevant!
Age of the Sentry #2- I thought that I was all burnt out on Silver Age pastiches. I thought that that, coupled with my utter lack of interest in the Sentry beyond the Jenkins/Lee mini, would keep me away from this in spite of how much I enjoy the combo of Jeff Parker and Paul Tobin in Marvel Adventures Avengers. Then that patron of the totally awesome arts alerted me to the existence of Ursus the Motherucking Ultra Bear, and that went straight out the window.
Parker's half of the comic, with pencils from Nick Dragotta (who is moving in to less of a Mike Allred clone and more of an artist in his own right, and I liked him as an Allred clone), brings all the fun you'd expect from a comic where a pink tutu wearing super bear and the goddam Truman Capote run amok. Also, Harrison Oogar, the Caveman of Wall Street. Umm, I mean Shit Bastard Harrison Oogar, alakazam! So, it's empirically great.
Paul Tobin's strip starts off in more conventional territory, and follows through straight to an absolutely corny pay off. Well, until the Sentry starts freaking out, in a way that Parker alluded to in his interview he also linked to at his website. So I found that really interesting. I may keep up with this even if great fictional chracter finds like Ursus, Ooogar, and Capote don't show up, just to see how they blend this style with an agorophobic paranoid schizophrenic Superman.
Blue Beetle #32- I'm late to the party on this internet popular comic*, and feel like a broken record saying the same thing three months in a row. Still; I really enjoy the way Struges is balancing the topical elements and the light, fun superheroics. Much more than Aaron over here. We can both agree on how cool the fight scene was. Polaris's origin dragged on a bit, I can agree with that too, but at least it established he was a different guy than the Dr. Polaris I was barely familiar with. At any rate, I'm still liking this book, even if it's the kind of comic I can pretty easily drop at any moment.
Criminal 2 #6- Didn't see that coming. Because it came pretty well out of nowhere, but still; what a twist! This is the penultimate part of a storyline in this book, so of course, that involves the already down and out protagonist being stabbed in the guts repeatedly (figuratively; although it can also be literal in this book). Because that's how this book rolls.
I can see how this can work better as a chapter in a book than a discrete single unit, but I really enjoy getting a regular fix of this book. The extras are nice, and I do usually enjoy the essays, but it's getting Brubaker and Phillips in regular intervals that's the draw of this comic in singles for me.
Final Crisis: Submit and Final Crisis #4- I'm enjoying this story on the level that I wish I was enjoying Secret Invasion on; as a summer blockbuster that gets some weight out of its premise. Well, that and being a Grant Morrison comic. I liked these as a one-two punch. It adds some punch to the scene in the Hall of Justice, beyond Ollie's pretty awesome last stand, so I can't see how people would consider it superflous. I mean, it was a little spendy for a side story, I'll admit, but I thought it was well excecuted and worth reading. Again, I can see how this would work better as a chapter in the eventual trade than as a self contained entity.
The switch from Jones to Pacheco's a weird one, for me. It didn't bother me when I was reading it at all, but in retrospect, it did undercut the abject bleakness a bit, especially in the Hall of Justice. Maybe that was always going to be there, I don't know, but Darkseid's forces clashed too much with the bright surroundings they were invading, and not in an unsettling way. They just didn't look as scary as they should have. Still a damn fine looking comic book.
In comparison to SI, I'm liking how this actually works better as a story where the villains invaded secretly and having won before the heroes even know there's a war on. It shouldn't surprise me that writers as radically different in approach and style as Morrison and Bendis would create different comic books for different companies with different characters; this strikes me as a definite apple/orange fight, comparing these two comics. But still; FC is better at what SI think it's doing! Speaking of which...
Secret Invasion #7- So, Greg already pointed out Abhay's stellar dissection of the comic in question. So, I mean, that pretty well covers it better than I could, in that Abhay literally ripped the problems I had with this fairly muddled mess of a penultimate issue from the murky fog they were dwelling in a put them up there.
One of my problems with Bendis on kick splode action books is that his fight scenes in otherwise strong comics like Alias, Daredevil, and even Ultimate Spider-Man always felt kind of tacked on. They don't play to his strengths or those of his artists (other than maybe Bagley on Spidey). They're just kind of there, action wise.
I could deal with that in a book with more meat, character wise (where I think Bendis's true strength is), but this isn't it by a long shot. In Bendis's best comics, action scenes tend to be a means to an end, to get to the emotional climax he's building to. Here, the action is what he's been building to, and its underwhelming rendering really clips his wings.
That said, there were elements I liked, just like last issue: Osborn and Fury's short but great exchange. Hawkeye's almost "fuck yeah!" moment (even if it came at the expense of the cooler, teenage-girlier version that I actually like getting set on fire). Howard the Duck on the brink of busting a cap in a Skrull's ass (I doubt that was in the script, but still; awesome). Thor bein Thor.
So, those individual scenes were fun, and at this point in superhero epics, a smattering of cool scenes if pretty much the best you can expect most of the time, instead of a satisfying, cohesive whole. So, yay for diminshed expectations/standards! And, you know, finding something to say in response to the guy who gave us a damn gem when he could barely find anything to say in the first place after all.
Bonus! A black and white collection of comics I have been reading that is better than any of the comics I have talked about here:
Essential Defenders volume 3- Well, the Gerber issues. This only collects the back end of his run on the non team. But it's Steve Gerber (with some damn fine work from Sal Buscema and Klaus Janson on art) writing a bizarre adventure story (and bizarre really is not an adequate word to describe the Headmen/Nebulon saga that the Gerber issues comprise a good chunk of). It's compellingly readable in spite of some dated elements, just like all of Gerber's best '70s work. That, and Valkyrie gives Chondu the Magician/abomination to nature a Unicorn assisted keen strike that reminds me just enough of the Go 2 Sleep that I can get my requisite WWE reference in and end on that, so that's pretty rad.