What I bought - 18 March 2009

This week: A treat for you, the readers! Definitely not a treat for me! You know you can't wait to find out what it is!

Athena Voltaire/The Black Coat One-Shot ("Blood for Water"/"And the Isle of the Dead") by Ben Lichius (writer/artist, "Blood for Water"), Steve Bryant (writer/artist, "And the Isle of the Dead"), Seb Hombel (colorist, "Blood for Water"), Chris Studabaker (letterer, "Blood for Water"), Jason Millet (colorist, "And the Isle of the Dead"), and Eric Wright (color assistant, "And the Isle of the Dead"). $2.00, 28 pgs, FC, Ape Entertainment.

That's the full cover above, and my copy below. Just so you know.

It has been quite some time since either of these series came out, although we did get the one-shot of The Black Coat last year, so there was that. Steve Bryant came by the blog a while back to explain why Athena Voltaire had disappeared from the schedule (and that was awfully nice of him), but this actual issue promises that both series will be back soon. That is excellent to hear, because these are the kinds of books you should be reading. They're adventurous enough for the hard-core superhero fans, but they're not mired in continuity and they're not, well, disgusting (that's a hint about what to come). This is a fun comic, as Lichius and Bryant give us two separate stories (the Black Coat, after all, lives in Revolutionary War time and Athena lives in the 1930s) that are linked nicely. In the first story, the Black Coat is helping take a shipment from Florida to New York, and off the coast of North Carolina, the ship is attacked by pirates. In the 1930s, Athena is hired to find a shipwreck off the coast of North Carolina that has an unusual cargo. Hmmm ... you don't think they're related, do you?

Neither story is all that revolutionary, but both give us a good introduction to the characters and what they're all about. Both Lichius and Bryant have nice art styles, with Bryant's matching the sleekness of 1930s art deco while Lichius's rough line work is better suited for depicting the days of yore. They don't clash, but they're nicely different and make the two halves of the story stand out more.

For two dollars, you get a fine story that's a bit longer than your average book. Plus, pirates and zombies! That's gold! And let's hope we get brand new issues of these two books soon. They're both quite good.

Cost per page (CpP): 7.1 ¢. I'll get back to this.

Hellblazer #253 ("Scab Part Three of Three: Infectious") by Peter Milligan (writer), Giuseppe Camuncoli (breakdowner), Stefano Landini (finisher), Jamie Grant (colorist), and Sal Cipriano (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

Milligan's first story for Hellblazer ends ... okay, I guess. It's a nifty little resolution, but nothing earth-shattering. Camuncoli's art is nice, especially at the climax of the story, at which the book turns somewhat horrific. The idea of John's past work coming back to haunt him isn't new, but Milligan does a decent job with it. As an introductory arc, it's fine.

However ... I'm a bit disappointed with the ending. Not the ending to the arc, but the way Milligan resolves John's relationship with Phoebe. I'm not sure what the point of her was. Milligan might continue with her, but it doesn't appear likely. I was rather keen to see what would happen with them, but Milligan doesn't seem interested in that. It's kind of sad. John rarely gets to be in a good relationship, and the way Milligan was writing Phoebe, it seemed like she could handle his eccentricities. But I guess that's not what's going to happen in this run. It's too bad.

I'm going to read a bit more of Milligan's work on the book, because the first arc didn't make me angry or anything, but it wasn't anything spectacular, so there's a way to go.

(CpP): 13.6 ¢.

Potter's Field: Stone Cold by Mark Waid (writer), Paul Azaceta (artist), Nick Filardi (colorist), and Marshall Dillon (letterer). $3.99, 24 pgs, FC, Boom! Studios.

It would be nice if Waid and Azaceta could do stuff with John Doe and his quest to identify nameless corpses every so often, because this is a fine comic book. The first mini-series was good, too, and although I don't know if either gentleman has time to do an ongoing, something like this book coming out every 6-8 months would be keen. Waid's scripting in this issue is extremely tight, and the story is very interesting. Someone is stealing identities of the recently-deceased, and John Doe is trying to figure out what's going on. He enlists a contact on the police force, and they dig up a repugnant scheme that the perpetrators actually justify to the point where we wonder how bad they really are. It's the same length as most books, but it feels meatier, partly because of Waid. Azaceta also does a nice job with the atmosphere of the book. It's a gritty book, naturally, and Azaceta is a fine artist for that kind of pulpiness. His work on the mini-series was good, but it's gotten better - the action scenes, for instance, have a looser feel to them, which makes them more fluid and better.

This is a nice little action comic with a plot that you don't see every day. Sure, it's 4 dollars, but so are several other, really crappy books that came out this week (yay, another hint!)! So what's stopping you from picking this up?

CpP: 16.6 ¢.

Zorro #11 by Matt Wagner (writer), Cezar Rezik (artist), Salvatore Aiala (colorist), Simon Bowland (letterer). $3.50, 22 pgs, FC, Dynamite Entertainment.

Cezar Rezik's art is really growing on me. I liked it when I first saw it, back in issue #9, but it seemed stiff and a bit artificial. Issue #10 was better, and this is even better than that. His line work is as solid as ever, and Aiala's colors, especially in the first scene, in which Diego and his nemesis vie for the romantic attention of Lolita and Diego acts the fop but manages to make the major look foolish nevertheless, pop off the page. When Zorro makes the scene, Rezik captures both his danger and his derring-do equally well. It's a pleasure to see.

Wagner does a wonderful job with the scene in the beginning, then allows Rezik to take over when Zorro shows up. The wordplay between Diego, Lolita, and Major Pasquale is delightful to read (yes, I wrote "delightful"!) and gives us plenty of information in an entertaining manner. The way Diego embarrasses Pasquale is nice, too. Later, Wagner fails a bit to make an info-dump entertaining, as we just get a letter in which part of the plot is spelled out. It's unusual to see the good way and the bad way to transmit chunks of information in the same book by the same writer, but Wagner does it. Luckily, the letter doesn't go on too long, and the book doesn't get dragged down by it.

I don't know if anyone has seen the hardcover of the first arc, but it cracked me up. In GIGANTIC letters, Isabel Allende's name is written across it. I get that the first arc was following her novel pretty closely, but it never claimed to be an official adaptation, and Ms. Allende had nothing to do with it, as far as I know. I know Dynamite had to get her permission to use her name so prominently, but it cracked me up. I guess if it helps move copies, more power to them. I just found it humorous. And it's totally worth a look, by the way.

CpP: 15.9 ¢.

And now, it's time for a treat! I didn't have much on my pull list this week (those four books, plus three books that I'll get to soon), so I decided to do something crazy: I bought every Marvel book that shipped this week. Before you say, "You're nuckin' futs!" I will say that I skipped the latest Soleil comic, Scourge of the Gods, because one issue is 6 bucks and I'm planning on getting the trade anyway; the fourth issue of Ender's Game, because it's not a Marvel Universe book; and I believe a Marvel Adventures book, because my store didn't have an extra copy (they only ordered enough for those subscribers who wanted it). Still - that's 17 Marvel books for this week alone. And that's a relatively small week. I know there are people at my store who buy every Marvel U. or Ultimate U. book, of which there are about 80 a month. Jesus. I was ready to kill myself after reading the ones that came out this week. You'll see why as we delve into them. By the way, buying every Marvel book this week cost me $50 (with my discounts - 7 of the 17 books were $3.99, in case you're wondering). If you're buying mainly shitty comics from Marvel, no wonder you're skipping good comics from other companies! Sheesh. So let's check out Marvel's output from this week, with recurring features and everything!

The Amazing Spider-Girl #30 ("Never Say Die") by Tom DeFalco (plotter/writer), Ron Frenz (plotter/penciler), Sal Buscema (finisher), Bruno Hang (colorist), Antonio Fabela (colorist), Chris Sotomayor (colorist), and Dave Sharpe (letterer). $3.99, 29 pgs, FC.

The final printed issue of Spider-Girl came out this week (it's going digital so all the kids can still read it), and while I have never bought an issue of this or any other series starring Peter Parker's daughter, this wasn't difficult to figure out. It's a bit confusing at the beginning, as DeFalco, tying up all kinds of loose ends, throws every character who ever appeared in the comic into the issue (probably not, but it does seem that way). Basically, the story is told on two levels: May Parker is battling Norman Osborn on the psychic plane as he holds her father hostage, while in the "real world," Osborn, whose mind is in Peter's body, fights a bunch of Spider-Girl allies. May is tussling with her - ugh - clone inside Norman's head, and of course, both levels of reality end up on the Brooklyn Bridge, because Marvel has a little-known clause in every writer's contract that, if they write any Spider-related book, someone has to get chucked off a bridge at some point. (I should point out that Gwen originally got chucked off the George Washington Bridge, something DeFalco has to know, right? I mean, they span different rivers, for crying out loud! Has it been retconned to Brooklyn because the GW Bridge is so far north, while the Brooklyn Bridge is right downtown? I suppose I could live with that, but I just checked my Essential Spider-Man volume 6, and Spidey clearly identifies it as the George Washington Bridge.) Perhaps not surprisingly, it all works out in the end.

What makes this book charming is that DeFalco and Frenz make sure it has plenty of action, but May is always trying to think her way out of problems, and she never lets anger overwhelm her intellect. This is an old-school superhero comic, and although I've never been a huge fan of Frenz's art, it's not awful, and he draws a ton of stuff that he and DeFalco throw in while never confusing the reader, so there's that. If everyone kind of looks like they stepped out of an Image book circa 1993 (I don't know what the Green Goblin is wearing in the "real" world), at least Frenz has a solid grasp of basic anatomy and the story itself doesn't come from that era.

I can't say, based on this one issue, that this would be the kind of book I would have liked. It seems like good comfort food comics, and while there's nothing wrong with that, after a while you start to fill up on starch and then you get sleepy. It's nice to see that it lasted this long and will continue on-line, but I'm not in any hurry to check it out. Still, given what's coming up from Marvel, this is solid gold!

Brutal Killings/Maimings/Bloodshed? Of course not. Old-school, remember? Two different women and a baby get chucked off a bridge, however, but nothing bad happens to them. Oh, come on, like you thought it would?

Letters Page? Yep - "Mayday's Mailbox." Two whole pages of them, in fact.

What's Wolverine Up To? Nowhere to be found. Rather strange for this week's Marvel batch.

CpP: 13.8 ¢.

The Amazing Spider-Man #588 ("Character Assassination Part 4 of 4") by Marc Guggenheim (writer), John Romita, Jr. (penciler), Klaus Janson (inker), Tom Palmer (inker), Dean White (colorist), and Cory Petit (letterer). $3.99, 32 pgs, FC.

According to the letters page, this is the end of 43 straight issues of the Spider-Man "Braintrust," which consisted of Bob Gale, Marc Guggenheim, and Dan Slott. Next issue, we get the new group, which consists of ... Marc Guggenheim, Dan Slott, and Bob Gale as "Web-Head Emeritus." Okay, so they're adding Joe Kelly, Mark Waid, Fred van Lente and Zeb Wells, but still - nothing seems to be changing. Oh well.

Anyway, this issue perfectly encapsulates why I don't buy The Amazing Spider-Man. There's absolutely nothing wrong with it. There's mayhem in the Mighty Marvel Manner, there's a jailbreak, there's a reappearance of Harry Osborn as the Green Goblin, there's the ultimate fate of Menace, there's pathos, there's a springboard to future stories, there's absolutely gorgeous JRjr art (although the inking on some of the pages - Palmer's, probably - is a bit weak). So why don't I buy it?

Well, there's the fact that it comes out three times a month. I'm sorry, Marvel, but with all the other good stuff out there, that's too much. I'm very happy you've managed to hold it all together like this and get out what is apparently a pretty good product for a year, but that's too much of a commitment on my part, especially when there are better comics out there. More importantly, as I noticed a year ago, there doesn't seem to be any reason for the whole "selling my soul to Mephisto" thing, because the few Spider-Man stories I've read since then don't have anything to do with whether he's married or not. I also noticed a year ago that these are perfectly good Spidey stories ... for 1975. Seriously - I'm reading Essential Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man volume 1, and except for better production values and a distinct lack of Razorback (a HUGE detriment, let me tell you), this issue could have been published back then. There's nothing wrong with that, but I have NINE volumes fo Spider-Man stories like that, with one more coming out and two more (PPTSSM is up to volume 3, right?) that I haven't bought yet. Why should I buy these? I'm not being snarky, I'm really wondering. It seems as if Marvel has decided to compete against their own product from 30 years ago, and let me tell you, when the comics 30 years ago feature the Hate-Monger pulling off his mask to reveal that he's really Man-Beast and the Hypno-Hustler committing crimes in a disco, there's absolutely no competition.

Still, it looks great. So there's that.

Brutal Killings/Maimings/Bloodshed? Someone gets beaten to a bloody pulp.

Letters Page? One page of "The Amazing Spider-Mail."

What's Wolverine Up To? Again, disturbingly lacking from the comic. He had a busy week elsewhere!

CpP: 12.5 ¢.

Dark Avengers #3 by Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Mike Deodato, Jr. (artist), Rain Beredo (colorist), and Chris Eliopolus [sic] (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC.

Brian Michael Bendis, Ruler of All He Surveys, has written many, many, many, many superhero comics since he started his coup of the Marvel Universe. So why, pray tell, isn't he any better at them now than he was five or seven years ago? Except for Ultimate Spider-Man, I have never read a BMB superhero comic that I absolutely loved. It's very weird. I guess the answer to my question is "He sells buttloads of comics, asswipe, so he doesn't need to get any better, and you should shut the hell up," which is a perfectly valid answer. It's quite vexing, though.

Take your latest issue of Dark Avengers. This issue begins with NINE pages of Norman Osborn chatting with the Sentry. What do they have to say? Norman: "There is no Void." Sentry: "Yes there is." Norman: "No, there isn't." AND SO FUCKING ON. Jesus. Seriously: Norman says "There is no Void" or a close variant of such FIFTEEN times in four pages. Oh my dear Lord. I know this is Bendis's thing, but THIS IS A SUPERHERO COMIC. If it's one of his pulp masterpieces from the 1990s and dialogue is crucial, I can forgive it (although I might have grated my teeth if Goldfish had said "There is no Void" fifteen fucking times in four pages). Here, I wanted to dig my eyes out with a spoon before Morgana le Fay shows up and starts kicking ass.

And yes, Morgana le Fay shows up and starts kicking ass, on pages 11 and 12 (actually, she doesn't, but her army of mystical creatures does). Deodato has a lot of fun with this (after having had to draw nine pages of Norman and the Sentry talking to each other, it's not surprising - and no, I can't let it go), but it's strangely uninspired. It's probably because the whole Morgana le Fay schtick is that she keeps escaping into the past when she's beaten, so when Bullseye puts five arrows through her (one through the temple and one through the neck, while he says, enigmatically, "And I watch you burn in the eye of my sun" - fuck the heck does that mean?), it's meaningless. At least the Avengers know it's meaningless, so they're ready when she comes back. Then Norman and Dr. Doom use Doom's time machine (a "time cube," not the cool one from the old days of the Fantastic Four) to confront Morgana in the past. And ... cut!

It's not like this is an offensively bad comic, like certain ones further down on the list. It's that it's about a third of a comic drawn out to 22 pages, and it costs more. I get that Bendis is the Lord of the Decompressed Comic, but man! this is a tough slog. Even more goofily, last issue, according to the recap page, Morgana "brutally" killed the Sentry, so the first nine pages are a flashback, and then he's not even in the rest of it. It's a weird way to structure an issue.

This is the worst offender this week in terms of bang for your buck. FOUR dollars for 22 pages, NINE of which are two people sitting around saying the same thing to each other, is a complete and total rip-off. And I'm sure it sells like crazy. Sigh.

Brutal Killings/Maimings/Bloodshed? I mentioned Bullseye "killing" Morgana (the other arrows go through her side right below her mystically raised breasts - seriously, she wears spandex with the entire middle of her torso down to her crotch gone; how do her breasts stay up? - her ribs, and her hip); there's a replay of some brutal scenes from Marvel's past, such as Bullseye killing Elektra; many mystical creatures die, but there's surprisingly little arterial spray when they do.

Letters Page? Sadly, no. Not for $4, suckers!

What's Wolverine Up To? Will you accept Dokken? Wolvie's son is in Latveria, carving his way through mystical creatures.

(Yes, I know what his name is. He'll always be Dokken to me.)

CpP: 18.1 ¢.

Deadpool: Games of Death by Mike Benson (writer), Shawn Crystal (artist), Lee Loughridge (colorist), and Cory Petit (letterer). $3.99, 32 pgs, FC.

So the "merc with a mouth" is back in a one-shot, and it's rather fun. Sure, it's 4 dollars and rather inconsequential, but for those naysayers out there who said Mike Benson had no sense of humor because Moon Knight is so deadly serious (you know who you are!), this is Exhibit A. I'm not sure if it's completely worth it, but it's a lot better than other 4-dollar books this week!

Deadpool is hired by an old rich dude to find his son. His son, a spoiled brat, wanted to be an actor but ended up on a reality show - "Pain Factor." This show pits the worst of the worst of humanity against a series of traps and pitfalls, and the one who survives gets a million dollars. Deadpool goes undercover as "Grand Master Woo Ping Yeun: Father of the 'Flying Guillotine.' Renowned master of the patented 'Serpent Strike Death Touch.' " Wade needs to find out what happened to the son, as he's disappeared. There are twists we see a mile away, but so what? This is basically an excuse for Benson to create and then dispatch some marvelously weird bad guys. There are nine contestants, and Benson manages to insult every ethnic variety, from the Dutch to Hispanics to blacks to Asians to rednecks to Italians. The page where the host introduces them all made me laugh out loud. Fu Ji, for instance, tells his competitors, "On your tombstone it shall say: 'Killed be most stunning Asian on planet.' " Kariem Williams, meanwhile, says, "I got wimmen linin' up like a sale at Pottery Barn." Well, I laughed.

There's general mayhem, of course, as the contestants lose their lives in various gruesome ways. Crystal does a fantastic job with the art, as the book looks like a surreal cartoon crossed with a Japanese game show ("Pain Factor" is Japanese, needless to say) crossed with a 1970s kung-fu flick. There's a little bit of John McCrea in him, and he obviously has a blast with the comic. Benson has a ball, too, and while it's a trifle, it's a wildly entertaining trifle. Come on: "Flamethrower beats ugly like paper beats rock." Comedy gold!

Brutal Killings/Maimings/Bloodshed? Kind of the point of the book, ain't it? I shan't ruin the way people get slaughtered, but yes, there's quite a bit of it. All in good fun!

Letters Page? It's a one-shot, so no.

What's Wolverine Up To? Sitting this one out.

CpP: 12.5 ¢.

Eternals #9 ("Manifest Destiny: Conclusion") by Charles and Daniel Knauf (writers), Eric Nguyen (artist), Andy Troy (colorist), and Todd Klein (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC.

I guess this is the final issue, because it sure feels like one. Remember when Marvel and DC used to put "FINAL FUCKING ISSUE" on the cover to let you know that yes, you would be missing this comic next month, you losers! Good times.* But I'm just going to assume this is the final issue. Yes, I could look it up, but I have 17 Marvel books to write about, so I just can't be fucked to do that.

Anyway, there's not a lot to say about this issue, is there? I mean, it's a bland issue of what I can only assume was a bland series. There's a horrible threat to the Earth that is taken care of in, I'm not joking, one panel, but I guess it's all about getting to that point. To be honest, other, far more craptacular comics have pushed all memory of this out of my head. I'm looking at it as I type and I honestly have to flip through it to remember what happened. The Knaufs wrote some pretty good issues of Iron Man a while back, and Nguyen's art on this book seems a bit tighter and more focused on this than on Gigantic, but there's just nothing memorable about this at all. I guess that's why it got cancelled.

Brutal Killings/Maimings/Bloodshed? Surprisingly little, considering an alien horde (called "The Horde") destroys San Francisco.

Letters Page? No. I doubt if anyone read this series, much less sent letters.

What's Wolverine Up To? Staring ineffectually at the sky and getting blasted by the Horde. That has to sting!

CpP: 13.6 ¢.

* N. B.: They may have not put the profanity on the cover. My memories are a bit hazy. I'm also grumpy that Young Heroes In Love isn't approaching issue #150 by now.

Moon Knight #28 ("Down South: Chapter Three") by Mike Benson (writer), Jefte Palo (artist), Lee Loughridge (colorist), and Joe Caramagna (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC.

This is, of course, one of the Marvel books I read regularly, and part of this little experiment was to see if I would decide that the Marvel books I buy regularly really are better than the rest of their output or if I was just being silly. Well, I tried to read all of these as if I just picked them up without knowing the back story, and based on that, this is still one of the best comics from Marvel (at least this week). We've been following Jake Lockley as he sojourns down south, as the recap page tells us, and then, on the first page, a psychotic spider talks to Jake. Yes, Jake is a bit off the reservation, but I love how Benson keeps the manifestations of his psychosis fresh. Come on - a creepy spider (with a human face) telling him to put the moves on the girl he's protecting? That's pretty danged cool.

The Zapata brothers, the luchadore hitmen hired to kill Jake and get the girl back, find him but fail to kill him. Of course, their employer doesn't like this too much, but they convince him to give them another chance. Meanwhile, the Toltec (about whom we know very little) is still stalking the streets, killing members of the Alcantara organization. At the end of the book, it appears Moon Knight (back in costume), the Punisher (good to see him still hanging around, even though he hasn't done anything) and the Toltec are all on a collision course. And, of course, there are the Zapata brothers to worry about.

Benson doesn't have much to do in this issue, but he does a good job with it. The Zapatas are quite funny as they go about their business, and Jake is sufficiently steely and eventually comforting when it gets too much for Carmen (but he's still noble around her). Palo, who has done a nice job establishing the seediness of this town, gets to do some action, and he's quite good at it. His art is a bit like Steelfreeze on steroids, and it works for this story. Unlike other books this week, Benson is restrained a bit when it comes to the bloodshed (there's plenty of it, but it's more restrained than other comics this week), and he even keeps the tone a bit lighter than it usually is in Moon Knight. It's still a dark book (coloring-wise), but the presence of Mexican wrestler assassins can't but lighten things up a bit, right?

I have no regrets about buying this and skipping most of the other Marvel books that usually show up. This and the other comic I would have bought regardless are the best that Marvel offered this week.

Brutal Killings/Maimings/Bloodshed? It's Moon Knight! Of course! Someone gets decapitated (and one of the luchadores later kicks at the head) and someone else gets their hand chopped off.

Letters Page? "Knight Mail" is sadly absent.

What's Wolverine Up To? He sent the second-favorite guest star of 1992, Frank Castle, as his proxy.

CpP: 13.6 ¢.

Punisher #3 ("Living in Darkness Part 3") by Rick Remender (writer), Jerome Opeña (artist), Dan Brown (colorist), and Joe Caramagna (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC.

I usually wouldn't buy a book starring the Punisher, because along with Gambit, he's my least-favorite high-profile Marvel character ever. I didn't even think "Welcome Back, Frank" was all that, even though people claim Ennis's take on the character gets better. But there it was, so I picked it up.

And you know what? This is a pretty good issue. I'm not quite sure if it's enough to get me to buy the series regularly, but Remender and Opeña do a good job with everything. It has a recap page, of course, but Remender does a nice job making sure we get plenty of information from the text itself. The mission Frank chooses is straightforward, so when it all goes pear-shaped (and, of course, it does), it's not already needlessly confusing. There's even a bit of goofiness - the "Shaolin Scientist Squad," who seem to exist only so Frank can go all Indiana Jones-with-the-gun-facing-that-dude-with-the-scimitar on them. But it's a neat little scene. The Hood is both an imposing villain and, as the shadowy dude who seems to be higher up on the food chain than he is points out, a little out of his element. And Microchip II is kind of neat.

Opeña is dynamite, as I expected when I saw he'd be on the book. The art is a bit rougher than it was on Fear Agent, but not by much, and I imagine it has to do with Dan Brown's coloring, which is darker than that on FA. Opeña's details and perspective are fantastic, and the action scenes are terrific. The last half of the book is a chase scene, and it gets more and more exciting as we reach the end. The issue is good enough, but the art really elevates it. I'm not sure how long Opeña is supposed to be on the book or if he can keep up a monthly schedule, but it would be nice if he could.

This actually makes me wonder if I should start buying Punisher. That's a pretty nifty achievement. I'll have to think about it.

Brutal Killings/Maimings/Bloodshed? It's a freakin' Punisher comic! What do you think? The Hood dispatches four goons in a fun way, although we see very little of it, and the Shaolin Scientist Squad is no match for Frank!

Letters Page? Interestingly enough, yes. Remender himself answers the letters. it doesn't have a name, unfortunately, but I find it odd that this is still technically a Marvel Knights title.

What's Wolverine Up To? Well, he's not in the book, but Microchip II calls him "Angry Animal McClaw Blades or some such silly shit," which is pretty funny. Frank knows Wolverine, so why doesn't Microchip II?

CpP: 13.6 ¢.

Spider-Man Noir #4 (of 4) by David Hine (writer), Fabrice Sapolsky (story), Carmine Di Giandomenico (artist), and Artmonkeys Studios (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC.

I'm not exactly sure what the point of these "Marvel Noir" books is. I mean, based on this one issue that I've read, it appears that it's simply transporting the characters to 1933 and putting them through their paces. I read that the X-Men one is a bit different, and there's nothing really wrong with this issue, but it's a lot of Elseworlds stuff, and the problem I always had with Elseworlds books is that everything turned out pretty much the same, just with different paths. In this book, Spider-Man fights the Vulture, upsets Aunt May, gets in a rumble with Kraven, and discovers the shocking! secret! of! Norman! Osborn!!!! Felicia Hardy shows up, J. Jonah Jameson is a big jerk, and it's all very familiar, despite the unfamiliar trappings. It's not bad, but it simply feels unnecessary.

Giandomenico's art is quite nice, though. It's very distinctive, with a nice European look to it. It has a nice horror feel, which makes the book better than it is. The book looks cluttered, but it doesn't detract from the storytelling. It will be interesting to see what he does next.

Brutal Killings/Maimings/Bloodshed? Oh yes. Kraven's fate is particularly nasty, but nothing is too graphic.

Letters Page? No sir!

What's Wolverine Up To? This isn't X-Men Noir, people!

CpP: 18.1 ¢.

Ultimate X-Men #100 ("Ultimatum Part 3 of 3") by Aron E. Coleite (writer), Mark Brooks (penciler), Karl Story (inker), Edgar Delgado (colorist), and Albert Deschesne (letterer). $3.99, 25 pgs, FC.

And so it ends. Back in the day, this was the best X-book out there. Then, a few years ago, it went horribly off the rails. It's kind of sad. But now it's over, and I! Am! There! And it's tied into Ultimatum! Whoo-hoo! I suppose there are SPOILERS below, because something really bothers me about this issue and I need to discuss it.

So hundreds of Madrox's duplicates walk into the Houses of Parliament and blow it up. Well, that can't be good. Then we get a really convoluted recap page. Usually the recap pages are very helpful. This one really isn't. It just makes me think that the book has gotten out of control in the few years since I picked it up. Luckily, however, the issue itself is fairly easy to follow. Basically, Madrox, working for Magneto, is trying to kill every mutant he can find. I'm not sure why - I suppose it's explained in the regular Ultimatum series. The X-Men, reeling from the fact that Xavier, Beast, Nightcrawler, and Dazzler have been killed, split up to protect (or avenge) Emma Frost's school and the Morlocks, while Wolverine goes to the Savage Land. Because he knows, for some reason, that the Original Jamie is there. How? I don't know.

So there's a lot of fighting. Wolverine, Ka-Zar, and Shanna find an idyllic house in the middle of the jungle, where Lorelei (remember that Styx song "Lorelei"? Good stuff!) is keeping Jamie in an arrested adolescent state. For some reason, Lorelei's ability to cloud men's minds is like a virus to Wolverine, whose healing factor treats it as such and therefore he's able to break the hold. That's weird. But it enables him to get into Jamie's bedroom, where the book goes completely off the rails.

Remember that old issue of Ultimate X-Men where the kid's mutant power goes completely nuts and Wolverine has to terminate him with extreme prejudice? Well, that's what we have here. Wolverine tries to snap Jamie out of whatever fugue state he's in, but Madrox is convinced he's a teenager living in Wisconsin and won't recall his duplicates. On the last pages of the book, the duplicates disappear, Wolverine comes out of Jamie's room, and when Ka-Zar asks what he did, Logan responds, "The same thing I'm gonna do to Magneto." So the implication is that he killed him. That's fine, but hark! I have a problem with that. This occurs on the 25th page of story in the issue. On the 21st page of the story, Madrox himself says that if you knock the original unconscious, all the duplicates disappear. Now, I can believe that Wolverine doesn't know this, but shouldn't he have? I mean, Madrox isn't some obscure villain no one knows anything about. Someone should have briefed him, right - "Oh, by the way, Logan, just knock him out. No need to slaughter another child." It's simply killing for "dramatic" purposes, Coleite making some ironic comment about how bloodthirsty Logan is when he doesn't have to be. But it's not really dramatic, because this is the final issue anyway, so it's not like Logan will have to live with his decision and it's not like anyone will ever call him on it. It's somewhat tawdry, not as much as the main series, but still unpleasant, and not in the way Coleite intends. I didn't think "Oh, the irony!" when I read this. I thought, "What an idiot Logan is." That's not a good reaction to have.

Mark Brooks, by the way, has gotten a lot better over the past few years. The first time I saw his work, on various annuals in the Ultimate U., it was serviceable but nothing great. He's still not perfect (his Wolverine looks goofy too often), but his pencils have become much stronger, with nice figure work and some impressive layouts. He often appears to be channeling his inner Adam Hughes, which is never a bad thing. Maybe he'll get some higher profile work now that the Ultimate U. is going down in flames (yes, I know it's being reborn, but still).

Brutal Killings/Maimings/Bloodshed? Given that it begins with Parliament blowing up and ends with Logan killing a teenager, I'd say yes. It's not too graphic, although Cyclops does blast the head off of one of the duplicates.

Letters Page? No.

What's Wolverine Up To? He kills a big Savage Land snake, stabs Lorelei, and dispatches Madrox. Not a bad day's work!

CpP: 16.0 ¢.

Ultimatum #3 (of 5) ("Heaven on Earth") by Jeph Loeb (writer), David Finch (penciler), Danny Miki (inker), Peter Steigerwald (colorist), Steve Firchow (colorist), and RS & Comicraft (letterers). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC.

SPOILERS below, although I shouldn't warn you because you shouldn't read this anyway.

Well, I guess I have to write about this, don't I? I know there are people out there who hate Jeph Loeb, but he always used to write entertaining comics, even if they weren't very good. Recently, however, he gave us Ultimates 3, and now this abomination. I knew that after last issue, in which the Blob killed and ate the Wasp, that this would be unpleasant to read, but I did it anyway. So let's check it out.

So after killing thousands, including a litany of Ultimate superheroes, Magneto is hanging out in his citadel in the Arctic. A duplicate of Madrox attempts to blow him up, but Magneto dispatches him with Thor's hammer. Why do people who want to kill others always talk? Magneto isn't even paying attention to the duplicate, who happens to be wired with explosives. Instead of just blowing himself up (he's standing five feet away from Magneto), the duplicate makes a speech, allowing Magneto time to react. Stupid duplicate! Then we return to the Blob. Jan is still there, her midsection all chewed up, and good old Hank Pym picks up the Blob and ... bites his head off. He then spits it out. Ugh. How edgy! He then picks up Jan's body and mutters that they can still save her. Yes, he's gone a bit around the bend. We check in on the X-Men, who are in New York mourning their dead (this takes place before Ultimate X-Men #100, apparently), and Captain America and Thor, who are in Valhalla fighting the dead. Hela offers to restore Valkyrie to life if one of them stays. Then we cut to the Triskelion, where Hank has brought Jan's body but which is currently being attacked by hundreds of Madroxes, each armed with explosives. Hank gets them to climb all over him and walks into the water, where they all blow up. Then Valkyrie wakes up - Thor stayed behind for her - and Cap wakes up (he was in a coma, and his mind was in Valhalla) and they decide they're going to kick Magneto's ass. Dramatic Pose!

When you begin with Hank Pym biting off the Blob's head, it's difficult to go any lower. A duplicate of Madrox does get an arrow in the eye, but come on - biting a head off tops that any day! This is just a thoroughly unpleasant comic book. It's certainly not entertaining, as it's more a chore to get through than anything. There are noir comics out there, certainly, that are darker than this, but those comics usually explore the dark side of humanity and examine it from all angles. This is a superhero comic (true, an "edgy" one, but a superhero comic nevertheless) that isn't examining humanity's dark heart. It's just Loeb ratcheting up the ultra-violence for the fun of it. Even Millar's original Ultimates series was more subtle about examining the perversity of superheroes. When you're not as subtle as Mark Millar, something's wrong.

Finch doesn't do anything terribly awful on the book, and that's probably because I'm a fan of his work even though it has plenty of flaws. I mean, look at Sabretooth on the cover. Fine veins, those. And look! the Blob has a chicken leg! Ha ha. Yes, the women in this comic pose sexily far too often for what's going on, and there's a hole in Valkyrie's bikini top that keeps moving but never actually exposes her nipple, and everything's so very busy, but it's what we expect from Finch. The story is so icky that the art doesn't matter.

I know this is going to sell like crazy, and that makes me sad. I'm all for "realism" in comics, but like so many before him, Loeb believes "realism" means "slaughtering lots of people." The Ultimate Universe, except for Ultimate Spider-Man, has been unpleasant for a while, and this is just the culmination of that. Blech.

Brutal Killings/Maimings/Bloodshed? Uh, yeah. Quite a bit of it.

Letters Page? Of course not.

What's Wolverine Up To? He finds Kurt in the sewer, dead, blood leaking from his eye and mouth.

CpP: 18.1 ¢. Cost to your soul: Incalculable!

Uncanny X-Men #507 by Matt Fraction (writer), Terry Dodson (penciler), Rachel Dodson (inker), Justin Ponsor (colorist), and Joe Caramagna (letterer). $2.99, 24 pgs, FC.

As we move back to Greg Land as the artist, I'm still really torn about this comic. Once again, there's plenty here to like, mainly in the part of the story where the X-Club (as I suppose we must call Beast's little group) takes on the big Japanese lizard. Warren reveals that he's back to being Archangel, which surprises the hell out of Hank, and it's neat to see, especially once they get back to San Francisco and have an aborted discussion about it. Meanwhile, Colossus beats up the bad guy, proving that he's not afraid of him, but the problem with this part of the arc has always been that we never really believed Peter was afraid of the guy in the first place. So little time was spent with this bad guy that the emotional payoff - Peter confronting him without becoming metal, because he wants to prove that he can - doesn't resonate. Which means the tattooing scene, where Peter gets ink of Kitty over his heart, doesn't work either. It's meant to be powerful, but it's kind of goofy. Of course, I think getting tattoos in general is goofy, but if there's one tattoo you shouldn't get, it's a lover's. But that's just me.

The violence is over relatively quickly, and then Fraction does a decent job with the aftermath, from the Emma's confrontation with Sebastian Shaw to Cyclops' discussion with the mayor. The ending has no impact on me, because I've lost track of what the status of the character is. So it doesn't mean anything, especially because I'm sick of the character anyway. If Fraction is going there, I might still drop the book.

Much like Brubaker when he took the X-Men into space for far too long, Fraction appears to be finding himself on the book, and that gives me hope. However, there's still a lot about this comic that feels inert and relying on things other writers have done to lend it emotional heft. That might be why the Big Monster Fight works so well - it's all Fraction, and he has a ball with it. I'm going to have to think long and hard next month, when Land is back on the book. Nothing in this issue convinced me to drop the book, but nothing convinced me to keep it, either. It's a conundrum!

Brutal Killings/Maimings/Bloodshed? Well, the Big Lizard In My Backyard dies in an icky way, so I guess there's that. Peter's fight with the bad guy is kind of brutal.

Letters Page? Sadly, no.

What's Wolverine Up To? Incredibly, he's absent from this issue.

CpP: 12.5 ¢.

Wolverine #71 ("Old Man Logan Part 6") by Mark Millar (writer), Steve McNiven (penciler), Dexter Vines (inker), Morry Hollowell (colorist), Paul Mounts (colorist), and Cory Petit (letterer). $2.99, 23 pgs, FC.

How long is "Old Man Logan" running? Is it 12 issues? Man, that seems long.

Anyway, I haven't been reading this, but it's fairly easy to figure out, thanks to the recap page and Millar's fairly straightforward writing style. Basically, this issue (and, I just assume, the rest of the arc) is an excuse for Millar to write Big-Ass Awesome Moments for McNiven to draw, which he does very well, of course. So we get a Tyrannosaurus Rex possessed by the Venom symbiote chasing Logan and Hawkeye across the plain, from which they are saved by Black Bolt whispering at it. It looks extremely cool, I'll give it that. They check in with Emma Frost (who's married to Black Bolt) for no particular reason except it's on the checklist, then head ... somewhere (I'll get back to the weird geography), where Hawkeye meets up with his contacts. If you wondered if everything goes FUBAR, well, you've read a comic book before. Congratulations!

This is basically a Twinkie of a comic book - fun to read but ultimately unfulfilling. I mean, Millar likes his KEWL moments, and we get those - the one I just mentioned, plus a gigantic skeleton of Hank Pym lying across the horizon (rough week for Hank, I guess). As it's the middle of a story arc, I can't really judge it all that much, but it doesn't seem like I'm missing anything. It's certainly gorgeous, but that's not enough.

I should point out that on the map of the U. S. on the recap page, our heroes' route takes them along the Appalachian Trail (or so it seems) through a place called "Pym Cross" in Virginia to "New Babylon," which appears to be where Washington, D. C. once was. So later in the book, they travel through "Pym Falls, Connecticut" to reach New Babylon. If you're going to come up with fake geography, at least make sure you get it right! Oh well.

This certainly isn't the worst Marvel book this week. It's okay. Nothing spectacular, but okay.

Brutal Killings/Maimings/Bloodshed? Well, the Venom-saur gets dispatched nastily, but it's not bloody at all. Someone does get shot in the head, and the cover accurately depicts what happens to Logan inside.

Letters Page? That would be nice, but no.

What's Wolverine Up To? He's traveling across a post-apocalyptic United States with Hawkeye, silly.

CpP: 13 ¢.

Wolverine: Origins #34 by Daniel Way (writer), Doug Braithwaite (penciler), Bill Reinhold (inker), Cam Smith (inker), Paul Neary (inker), Art Lyon (colorist), Andy Troy (colorist), and Cory Petit (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC.

I mentioned the weird pose Wolverine was in when this showed up in Previews, but seriously, look at him - that just looks uncomfortable. I also don't like how this cover implies that Logan is fighting against the X-Men as an ally of Dokken - in fact, the X-Men and Logan are both trying to stop Wolvie's son.

According to the recap page, Dokken wants the Murumasa blade, the only weapon capable of killing Wolverine. The X-Men happen to have it, so Dokken draws them out into the open so he can take it. The X-Men arrive in Brooklyn to find Dokken, and Wolverine is speeding to the scene with Nick Fury, although Fury doesn't participate in the rhubarb to come. Dokken lures the X-Men into his trap, and the fight begins! It ends with Dokken about to skewer Cyclops with the sword while Wolverine leaps at him to stop it. In between, it approaches the ridiculous.

Okay, maybe this was explained in an earlier issue, but why would Cyclops walk around with the Murumasa blade? He shows up in Brooklyn with it strapped to his back, which seems rather idiotic when it's what Dokken wants. If there's some reason for Scott to bring it with him, okay, but that reason is not in this book, so it just seems stupid for him to bring it with him. Then, Dokken takes down Scott, Peter, Kurt, Sam, and that Armor chick without breaking a sweat. I get that he's Wolverine's son, but I always get annoyed when a writer makes a character with very little history so bad-ass by making everyone else look incompetent. I don't mind that Dokken is bad-ass, but the four male X-Men have been doing this a loooooong time, and he shreds them in seven pages, even though they're expecting him to attack. If Dokken is bad-ass, fine, but at least Way could not make the X-Men so stupid.

Then there's Braithwaite's art. It's not bad, but not great either. The one thing I wonder about is the way a panel or two is laid out. On the bottom of one page, Dokken gets zapped by Cyclops in the back. Wolverine is clearly standing in between Cyclops and Dokken. Our bad guy falls senseless to the ground in the next panel. At the top of the very next page, Cyclops is still standing behind Wolverine, this time directly behind. Wolverine is getting blasted in the gut by what I can only assume is Cyclops' optic blast, as Cory Petit uses the exact same sound effect. Where did the blast come from? It didn't come from Scott, who's standing behind Logan and not using his powers. Even if he was using his powers, the blast would hit Logan in the back. But the blast comes from off-panel in front of both men. What, exactly, is going on? I don't know. It's sad.

This is another comic that's not terrible, but not terribly interesting either. Given that it stars Wolverine, I'm not surprised it's lasted three years, but it's not that good, either.

Brutal Killings/Maimings/Bloodshed? Given that this comic features two men with claws in their hands and a sword, there's very little bloodshed. People get beaten up and stabbed, but I guess Marvel wants to have one Wolverine comic that doesn't feature buckets of blood.

Letters Page? Confound it! No!

What's Wolverine Up To? Oh, you know, locked in an Oedipal struggle with his offspring. Pretty standard stuff.

CpP: 13.6 ¢.

X-Factor #41 ("Back and There Again") by Peter David (writer), Valentine de Landro (penciler), Marco Santucci (penciler/inker), Pat Davidson (inker), Jeromy Cox (colorist), and Cory Petit (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC.

I don't know when I'm allowed to write about what's been going on in X-Factor, but I won't yet. I will say that David's desire to triple sales in the next year is kind of quaint. He can't think he's going to do that without adding Wolverine, Spider-Man, and changing his name to "Mark Millar" or "Jeph Loeb," but it's a nice goal. I just hope he can keep a regular artist long enough to tell all the stories he wants before the book gets cancelled (De Landro doesn't pencil the entire book, but the transition between the two artists is rather smooth).

So, basically, the plot moves along. I guess I can't mention what happens with Madrox, as that would spoil the surprise from last issue (although you can go find out on the Internets what happened, if that's your thing), but the part with the rest of the bunch is well-done - David seems to be getting a better hang of Longshot, which is always nice to see. I still don't understand Darwin's power - does he think about what he needs to do to adapt, or is it instinct, because what happens to him in this book seems wildly implausible. Whatever. It's a Peter David book, so that means it has a dollop of humor, some surprises, some good dialogue, and Joe Rice will hate it. It's always good to have some certainties in this world, isn't it?

More than anything, it's entertaining. David knows what he's doing and never lets the shocks overwhelm the storytelling fundamentals. Unlike so much else from Marvel this week, that makes X-Factor a good read. Too bad some other writers don't understand this.

Brutal Killings/Maimings/Bloodshed? Someone gets shot in the head, but we only see his body with blood around his (intact) head. There's other violence, but nothing graphic.

Letters Page? No sirree.

What's Wolverine Up To? Nothing in this book. Other commitments, apparently.

CpP: 13.6 ¢.

X-Force #13 ("Suicide Leper: Part Two") by Craig Kyle (writer), Christopher Yost (writer), Clayton Crain (artist), and Cory Petit (letterer). $2.99, 23 pgs, FC.

I have to say, as blood-stained as that cover is, it's pretty keen. Oh, and more SPOILERS down below. Sorry, but that's the way it is.

Unfortunately, this is yet another horrifying comic. People have occasionally defended Kyle and Yost's work on that other mutant book (New X-Men, right?), but whenever I happened to read it, it seemed like someone got killed brutally. And guess what? In this issue, people get killed brutally! Does Marvel say, "Hey, we have a comic where we can kill off several dead weight characters! Do we have Kyle and Yost on speed dial?"

That's not to say the idea behind this comic is awful. The Leper Queen is injecting mutants with a deadly strain of the Legacy virus and leaving them in heavily populated areas, hoping their subsequent deaths by explosion will turn humans even more against mutants. It's a fairly standard "Crazy Human Hates Mutants" plot, but it's not irredeemable. It's in the execution, as usual. Cyclops sends X-Force to rescue three mutants (Hellion, Surge, and Boom-Boom) who have been kidnapped and will be used by the Leper Queen in the next round of 'splosions. Seems fairly straightforward, but of course, it never is, is it? Scott, apparently, has been skipping episodes of Castle to work "on creating miniature time machines," according to the recap page. Um, what? So Scott sits around in his free time, when he's not leading the X-Men to Brooklyn to get ambushed by Dokken or meeting with the mayor of San Francisco, and creates miniature time machines? How is Scott suddenly a super-brainiac scientist? Okay, it's completely unbelievable that Scott, in between depraved fuckfests with his Barbie doll mistress and therapy sessions for dicking over his lawfully wedded wife, is creating time machines - and fucking miniature ones at that! - but let's run with it. He explains, as he's sending X-Force on their mission, that they don't have a lot of time. This is where the story breaks down a bit, and the only reason it does it so Kyle and Yost can end it on a particularly depressing note.

Scott tells them that helping Cable is their top priority. He, you'll recall, has that mutant baby, and Bishop, for reasons I don't care to know (so don't tell me!) is trying to kill her (him?). Scott says when they find Cable (in the future?) they'll use the miniature time machines to go there and help him. Okay, all clear. But how do they find Cable (which, of course, they do)? Hank and Scott are staring at a big screen with all sorts of swirly colors on it. Is that what the future looks like? I guess it's already been explained, but it seems dumb. Of course, this occurs right in the middle of X-Force's mission. Wolverine and his bunch are in New York, about to kill the Leper Queen and rescue Hellion, Surge, and Boom-Boom. After a lot of slicing and dicing (come on, Wolverine, X-23, Archangel, and Warpath's knives are on this team - of course there's going to be slicing and dicing!), the team manages to fail to rescue Hellion and Surge. They've been infected with the virus and have been moved to their target sites. Boom-Boom is still there, and the team confronts the Leper Queen as she's about to inject Tabitha. That is, of course, when Scott tells them they've found Cable. Before they can rescue Boom-Boom, they're teleported away, presumably to the future. The Leper Queen, never one to waste an opportunity, shoots Boom-Boom in the head. And so the issue ends.

Yeah, it's that unpleasant. Kyle and Yost create this false tension (of course they're going to find Cable and get called away!) simply so that they can have the issue end on a downer. They don't explain how they "found" Cable, or why, if Cable is in the future, they have to go "now." I mean, if Cable is in the future, can't they just set Scott's little time machines for any time? Again, I'm sure it was explained at some point, but the explanation couldn't have made much sense. It's as if Kyle and Yost started with Boom-Boom getting a bullet in her head, decided it would be a cool ending, and worked backward from there. It's just a horribly depressing issue, for no other reason than Kyle and Yost wanted to kill someone.

Crain's art doesn't do much to help, either. The slaughter of the Leper Queen's minions is lovingly rendered, but Crain has an odd stiffness to his art that makes it cold and distant. It works, I suppose, to a degree, as this we're not supposed to feel close to this assassination squad, but it's still vexing. Then we get to the hostages. Hellion is wearing two shirts and sensible pants. Surge is wearing what appears to be a metal breastplate, exposing her belly (of course) and low cut pants. The breastplate exposes the sides of her breasts and has what appears to be random cuts in the armor, two right above her nipples. Tabitha, meanwhile, is dressed like a hooker. She has a tiny red dress on that barely covers her chest and ass. I have no idea why she's dressed like this. Maybe so on the last page, when she's lying on the ground after taking a bullet in the head, we see mostly skin and very little clothing. Beats me. It's icky.

So yet another comic whose sole purpose, it seems, is to slaughter characters in as horrible a way as possible. That's kind of sad.

Brutal Killings/Maimings/Bloodshed? Oui, monsieur!

Letters Page? And blunt the impact of Tabitha lying on the ground, presumably dead? Bite your tongue!

What's Wolverine Up To? He tries to have a man-to-crazy chat with X-23, fails, so does what he does best. He's still Scott's bitch, though, as he fails to argue out of being whisked away by the time machines.

CpP: 13 ¢.

X-Men: Legacy #222 ("Salvage") by Mike Carey (writer), Scot Eaton (penciler), Andrew Hennessy (inker), Brian Reber (colorist), and Cory Petit (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC.

Mike Carey's epic (or interminable, if you don't like it) journey through the X-Men Kontinuity Kwilt continues, as things happen. So much of what happens is either in the past or in simulations that it doesn't seem necessary to go over it. The stuff that takes place in the present and in the real world is, well, a lot of talking, as Xavier and the Shi'ar salvagers discuss what's happening. I enjoy Mike Carey's writing, and before this whole "Legacy" thing started, I thought his work on X-Men was quite good, but this is wildly uninteresting. Anything that's even remotely keen is from other comics or happened years ago. I guess the gist of it is that Rogue has to speak to Cody, the boy she sent into a coma when she kissed him and her powers first manifested, but I couldn't sworn she's done that already. Oh, and Danger is gloomy. Poor Danger!

The only thing I, personally, found of interest in this comic is that Rogue/Mystique (Mystique is in Rogue's head) calls Scalphunter "Grey Crow." I found this interesting because years ago, when Rogue went on her odd "road trip" across the country with Bobby, there was a mention of a Grey Crow who knew Gambit. Nothing ever happened with it, but for some reason it stuck with me. Carey obviously remembered that, but making Scalphunter this same Grey Crow seems strange. Unless it's just a coincidence. It could be.

I suppose as a long extended story, reading them in chunks, this might work. However, as a single issue, this is pretty dull. Oh well.

Brutal Killings/Maimings/Bloodshed? There's some violence, but nothing graphic.

Letters Page? Nope.

What's Wolverine Up To? He's in the book, naturally, but only in flashback.

CpP: 13.6 ¢.

Young X-Men #12 ("End of Days") by Marc Guggenheim (writer), Rafa Sandoval (penciler), Daniel Acuña (artist), Roger Bonet (inker), Ulises Arreola (colorist), and Dave Sharpe (letterer). $2.99, 21 pgs, FC.

And so we come to Young X-Men. The last issue of Young X-Men, by the way, in case you mourn these things. I don't quite get what Marvel is doing with all these X-spin-offs. I guess they think they're a license to print money, but they rarely go far, do they? And now Marvel is relaunching New Mutants with the original cast. You know why New Mutants sold well originally? Because it was the only other X-book! Now there's been approximately 6,998,234 of them*, and the bloom is off the motherfucking rose. But Marvel keeps trotting them out there, giving them a year, and then killing them. Good job, Marvel!

Anyway, this is a perfectly fine issue, part of it taking place in the present and part in the future (Sandoval pencils the "present" sequences, Acuña the "future" sequences). In the present, Dust is dead, while in the future, she's alive and pissed about it. After Rockslide beats the shit out of Donald Pierce, the guy who killed her, the group chillaxes and decides to break up. Life sucks. Then Ink ("Tat-Guy," I would have called him) brings her back to life. That is why she's pissed at him in the future. Apparently he didn't bring her soul back. Well, that's kind of shitty of him. And then Dani shows up, tells them that the Neo (the fucking Neo?) are back in San Francisco, so they're off! And so we end on a happy note, with two groups of mutants beating the shit out of each other. Oh, happy days are here again!

There's really nothing else to say about this, except Rafa Sandoval needs a high-profile book to work on. He was great last year on The Incredible Hercules, and he's great here. Get him back on a big comic!

Brutal Killings/Maimings/Bloodshed? Future Dust kills a bunch of people, but nothing graphic.

Letters Page? Nein, scheisskopfen!

What's Wolverine Up To? Why, there he is telling Rockslide not to kill Pierce! Yes, it's funny. Unintentionally so, but still.

CpP: 14.2 ¢.

* This number may be a bit high.

Well, Jesus. That was unpleasant. First, let's look at the pennies per page that each comic I bought this week cost. In other words, what's the best value?

1. Athena Voltaire/The Black Coat: 7.1.2. Amazing Spider-Man: 12.5.2. Deadpool: 12.5.2. Uncanny X-Men: 12.5.5. Wolverine: 13.5. X-Force: 13.7. Eternals: 13.6.7. Hellblazer: 13.6.7. Moon Knight: 13.6.7. Punisher: 13.6.7. Wolverine: Origins: 13.6.7. X-Factor: 13.6.7. X-Men: Legacy: 13.6.14. Amazing Spider-Girl: 13.8.15. Young X-Men: 14.2.16. Zorro: 15.9.17. Ultimate X-Men: 16.0.18. Potter's Field: 16.6.19. Dark Avengers: 18.1.19. Spider-Man Noir: 18.1.19. Ultimatum: 18.1.

So the shittiest Marvel comic this week was also the worst value. I don't put too much stock in this, because I want good comics and will pay for them, but I just found that interesting. Athena Voltaire/The Black Coat isn't the best comic of the week, but because it's quite good and such a good value that you should check it out. And Wolverine's ubiquity cracks me up. He shows up in 7 of the 17 Marvel books and has a cameo in Punisher. MILK THAT COW, MARVEL!!!!!

So that's the Week in Marvel. Man, that was no fun. It shouldn't hurt to read comics, but some of these offerings were brutal. I'll do this for DC in a bit. Probably a month or two. I'm not made of money!

Finally, it's time for totally random lyrics! You didn't think I'd forget, did you?

"I lie awake and dread the lonely nightsI'm not aloneI wonder if these heavy eyesCan face the unknownWhen I close my eyes I realizeYou'll come my wayI'm standing in the night aloneForever together"

Phew. Can I go to sleep now?

Once & Future #1 Is an Adventurous, Endearing Debut

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