What I bought - 28 February 2007

The last day of February turned out to be gigantic.  I bought 13 comics, and interestingly enough, not one of them was published by DC!  What the crap is up with that?

But we're not here to ponder the comics I didn't buy.  That would be foolish.  Let's check out the books I actually bought!

Action Philosophers! #8 by Fred van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey.  $2.95, Evil Twin Comics.

There's really not much to say about this fantastic series.  Either you like the jokes or you don't, and there's very little in art that's more subjective than humor.  I think this series (which ends next issue, by the way) is brilliant - funny, educational, wildly original - but others might not like the humor, on which a lot of its goodwill is based.  Some of the philosophy goes right over my head, but that's okay - what I do get is interesting, and even when I don't get it, it's still pretty fun.

The highlight of this issue is the section on John Stuart Mill, as seen in the circle on the cover.  Van Lente and Dunlavey (which I spelled correctly this time, damn it!) turn Mill into Charlie Brown, espousing his philosophy (along with his friend, Jeremy "Linus van Pelt" Bentham) to an uncaring Lucy and a downright hostile Snoopy.  It's astonishing how easily Mill's philosophy seems to fit Charlie Brown's sad-sack existence, and the final strip, in which Lucy pulls the football away from Mill, is utterly brilliant.  And this issue gave me one of my favorite lines of the series: "Bad dog!  That is Bentham's blanket!  Bad dog!"  The first section, a Law & Order parody in which Immanuel Kant proves that others can't prove that God DOESN'T exist, is nicely done, as well, and although the final section, in which Hegel and Schopenauer interpret Kant through their own lenses, is a bit weaker, it's still fun.

Dunlavey continues to make philosophy interesting with his whimsical art style, and van Lente manages to break down the endless philosophizing into something that's at least coherent.  And that's a wonderful thing.

If you haven't checked out an issue of Action Philosophers! yet, you're not doing yourself any favors.  Put down that copy of Hawkgirl and buy this instead!

Daredevil #94 by Ed Brubaker, Lee Weeks, and Stefano Gaudiano.  $2.99, Marvel.

Boy, that's a great cover.  Every Daredevil cover should be in that vein!

I'm watching Brubaker's next storyline very carefully, because I want to see if I should drop the book or not.  This issue doesn't help, as it's basically a recap of Matt and Milla's relationship from Milla's point of view.  While that's not the worst thing in the world, we don't really get a whole lot of new insight into Milla, which is presumably what we're supposed to get from it.  She stays up late and worries about Matt when he's out kicking butt.  So?  That's not exactly a news flash.  She and Matt don't talk about these issues.  Well, Matt's never been the most open of superheroes, even though he knows what she's going through, so that's not a surprise.  There's just nothing here that reveals anything more about their relationship.

One of the problems, I think, is that neither Bendis nor Brubaker has done very much with Milla prior to this, so we don't have much empathy for the character.  We've never really gotten a sense of how much they love each other, just statements to that effect.  I still have a sneaking suspicion that Matt will jump into bed with the next femme fatale who shows up trying to kill him, because he's fucked up in the head that way.  We don't have a good sense of Milla as a character, so the love she feels for Matt is less powerful, and this issue has far less of an impact.

A new storyline starts next issue, and I'm going to figure out whether I want to keep buying the book or not.  Brubaker has, unfortunately, restored the status quo, which perhaps he needed to do, but it's still disappointing.  We'll see.

Doctor Strange: The Oath #1-5 by Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin.




There's quite a bit to like about this mini-series, even if you're not a fan of the good doctor (like me) or not a fan of Vaughan (unlike me, which is why I bought this in the first place).  Strange's relationship with Wong is handled very well, and actually feels more like a friendship than in some Dr. Strange comics I've read in the past (not many, granted), in which Strange treats Wong nicely but in a vaguely condescending manner.  The appearance of a slightly acerbic Night Nurse is fun, and it might actually be interesting to read a series with the two leads as a couple and the Night Nurse running her clinic out of Strange's house, as Vaughan sets up in the final issue.  We never actually learn her real name, though, do we ...?

The idea of a "panacea" for all the world's ailments is an interesting plot point, and Vaughan moves us through the story like the good storyteller he is, revealing characters when he needs to, highlighting facets of Strange's personality when it's appropriate, adding bits and pieces to Strange's "origin" that don't, as far as I know, contradict anything that has come before.  This is a story that unfolds the way it should, which sounds like damning with faint praise (and it is, a little), but the fact that a lot of writers don't know how to tell a story means that when we get one that does, I appreciate it.

However.  Of course there's a however!  The cure for every disease known to man is problematic for a couple of reasons.  The first is our sinister pharmaceutical cabal.  I just watched The Constant Gardener, which was propaganda, but at least it was plausible propaganda.  I don't like drug companies any more than the next guy, but the idea that they wouldn't want this cure-all to exist is kind of weird.  First of all, it doesn't eliminate disease.  It cures them.  So people would keep getting sick, presumably, and then the serum would have to administered.  Or, if it could be turned into a vaccine, it would have to be given to children around the world.  Either way, a pharmaceutical company who had an exclusive cure-all could really clean up, one would think.  And if you took it once, would it eliminate all future diseases?  If you had a cold and you took it, could you still get cancer once it left your system?  Again, a drug company could make some good money out of that.  Vaughan never gets into the specifics of the panacea, just assumes we'll think that the pharmaceutical company would want to destroy it unilaterally.  For someone who actually considers different viewpoints and what they mean in Ex Machina, it's a bit disappointing to read here that the drug company is just villainous.

Second, of course, is Wong's brain tumor.  The instant that it's introduced and Strange finds the cure for cancer, we know how this series will end.  I won't spoil it, but ask yourself a two question: Would Marvel kill off even a minor character like Wong, and would they allow Strange to cure every diseased person in the Marvel Universe?  If you can answer those questions correctly, you know that Strange's decision at the end of the book is perfectly simple and perfectly predictable.  This robs the book of much of the drama.

It's a pretty good mini-series, despite the problems.  Martin's art is gorgeous, and the banter between Strange, Wong, and the Night Nurse is nicely done.  It doesn't achieve greatness, but it does do a good job with everyone's favorite Sorcerer Supreme and provides a good place to start an ongoing series, if that's what Marvel is looking to do.

Eternals #1-7 by Neil Gaiman, John Romita, Jr., and Danny Miki along with some other inkers.  $3.99, Marvel.





Neil Gaiman gets the best line about Civil War, which comes at the end of Eternals #6: Zuras tells Iron Man, "If you saw two groups of children arguing over which of them could play in some waste ground, would you choose sides?"  That shuts Tony up but good!

This is a decent mini-series because it's kind of Gaiman's wheelhouse - he deals with godlike figures and mythic adventures well, and that's what we get here.  I'm still not entirely sure what Sprite was up to, exactly, and the Miracleman bit that Zuras pulls on the train with him is a bit too familiar (yes, Gaiman knows that he's ripping off Moore, and we know he knows, but still), but it tells an interesting story that, unlike both the Doctor Strange mini-series above and 7 Brothers (see below), doesn't necessarily work out the way we expect.  It's tough to do world-ending stories, because obviously the world is not going to end (it's the Marvel Universe, after all), but Gaiman does a nice job showing us why the world doesn't end and how the Eternals and Deviants are going to live in the new world.  The final issue, which was originally not planned (issue #5 still proclaims that it's "of 6"), is a decent coda to the main story, with loose ends wrapped up, Makkari's role explained to a certain degree, and a set up for another mini-series or an ongoing, which is what all mini-series for the Big Two seem to do these days (not that there's anything necessarily wrong with that, it's just a bit odd).

Gaiman, as usual, is far more interested in heroic themes rather than prosaic superheroes themselves.  That turns Eternals into a very nice critique of Civil War itself, not only with Zuras' disdain for Iron Man and Hank Pym, but throughout the series.  Early on, we get the reality show picking America's next superhero, and the fact that the contestants can't use their powers when they're off the show, even though they could save lives.  It's a nice little dig at the whole Registration thing.  The Registration itself is handled well, as a fact of life that doesn't really mess very much up, but the idea that Tony Stark would try to dictate to these demi-gods is interesting, because of Zuras' analogy.  Gaiman does a nice job showing how very unimportant this Registration is even though he doesn't attack the idea directly.  It's as if he's winking to the fans and telling them not to worry, because everything will go away in due time.  Or I could be reading it completely wrong.

Romita's artwork is Romita's artwork.  I like it, and it fits well with grand scenes of giant golden robots and such, as well as the monstrous Deviants.  It's when we get into close-ups that Romita tends to slip, as his faces are usually too blocky, but it's not anything to ruin the book.  For the most part, it's fine.

Another satisfying if not superb mini-series.  We'll see if Marvel does anything with it, or if they remember that there's a giant golden robot standing in Golden Gate Park the next time a superhero shows up there.

Fallen Angel #13 by Peter David and J. K. Woodward.  $3.99, IDW.

Well, it's another issue of Fallen Angel, so you know that means I won't be saying much, as it's consistently a quality book.  In this issue, Jude attempts to dispense justice and punish Asia Minor, even though Lee pleads with him to let the drug dealer go so he can cure Dolf's employee, Ezil.  Jude is determined to make a statement about punishing the wicked, but he learns very quickly that Bete Noire doesn't necessarily see "dispensing justice" in the same way that he does.  By the end of the issue, Asia Minor and Jude have reached an understanding that we knew they would, and Malachi and Jubal are biding their time before making a move on Jude.  It all just keeps humming along.

Like a lot of David's best work, events in the past issues keep percolating to the surface, and cause problems in the present.  Many comic book writers forget things that happened as soon as they write an issue, and they don't bother to take the long view of things.  If they do, it's simply with events that occurred, and not how it might affect the main characters.  David has always been able to juggle ideas and also make his characters change because of events that happen to them, which is why he's such a good writer.  Therefore, Jude's character is changing, not always for the good, but we understand why he is.  Lee is also changing, and we remember the things that have affected her.  It's fascinating to read each issue, because everything is fraught with meaning, maybe not right away, but certainly for the characters' futures.

Gosh, a good issue of Fallen Angel.  How surprising.

Hero Squared #5 by Keith Giffen, J. M. DeMatteis, and Joe Abraham. $3.99, Boom! Studios.

Every time Hero Squared comes out, I wonder if I want to keep getting it.  It's not a bad comic by any means, and whenever I read it, I enjoy it and dutifully get the next one.  This "first" "ongoing" series is apparently coming to an end, and I will keep getting it until it does and make up my mind then.  But I don't know.

Why am I conflicted, you ask?  Well, maybe you don't care, but that's okay - I'll tell you anyway!  This is a fun book, with crisp dialogue, some very funny situations, and an intriguing premise that has driven it since the mini-series that introduced Milo and his alternate universe alter-ego, Captain Valor.  So it's entertaining, but it doesn't seem like we're going anywhere.  It's very slow-moving, and all the interesting characterization and witty banter can't mask that.  Stuff does happen, but it feels like more stuff could be happening.  Take this issue, for instance.  Captain Valor and Milo are in the police station after the Captain's rampage last issue, which resulted in innocent people dying.  Valor is almost comatose with grief, while Milo is smart-alecky as always.  Caliginous shows up, disguised as a Secret Service agent, and gets Milo out of there by saying the Vice-President is a friend of his.  Stephie visits Valor and manages to snap him out of his stupor, whereupon they escape.  Caliginous and Milo get it on once again, and then she teleports Milo back to earth, where he is placed in the apartment to which Valor and Stephie fled.  Valor finds Milo dressed up as a superhero and gets angry because he's treating it like a joke even though people died.  Everyone is sad.

There's our general character development in this issue, which is always nice, but a lot of this is familiar territory - Milo feels guilty about cheating on Stephie but does it anyway, even though Caliginous points out that she is Stephie, so why does it matter; Valor and Stephie have a deep and meaningful that is cut off prematurely; people make jokes about Valor being a superhero from a different universe and about his middle name.  So although it's entertaining, it still feels like the pace is glacial.  Maybe because it doesn't come out every month, it feels worse.  I can't quite put my finger on it.

It's certainly a nice, solid effort from two old-school professionals, who are in complete control of the medium.  Giffen and DeMatteis can do this sort of thing in their sleep and still make it entertaining.  I just wish it went a little faster. 

The Killer #3 (of 10) by Matz and Luc Jacamon.  $3.95, Archaia Studios Press.

The first two issues of this series dealt with an unnamed assassin in Paris, botching a hit and freaking out about it a bit.  He flees to his retreat in Venezuela, but a French policeman follows him, and that's where we pick up the story, as our assassin hangs out on the beach, bangs his girlfriend, and muses about conquistadors and liberators.  He hears about another gringo in town, and draws the cop into a trap.  Our hitman suspects that someone in France set him up.  He's probably right.

This is a very intense series, as we know what our assassin is going to do, but the way in which he goes about trapping the cop is done to heighten the drama.  We're also pretty sure we know who betrayed him, but again, the way he confronts the person and the fact that doubt still exists (presumably we'll find out for sure next issue) makes it a tense conversation.  The killer is not a pleasant man, and we don't like him, but we are intrigued by him and we are rooting for him.  I mean, all he wants to do is live on the beach in South America and have wild sex with his girl.  Nothing wrong with that!

Jacamon's art is a highlight in this issue.  The first two were nice to look at, but they didn't allow him much because of the setting - drab and dreary Paris.  This issue is gorgeous, from the painfully blue sky of the first page to the claustrophobic jungle where the assassin confronts the cop.  The fact that Jacamon is able to take a green and naturally beautiful place and turn it into something sinister speaks volumes about his ability.  We get the sense of languidness that you get in the tropics, but there's also that feeling of exotic danger.  It's really an amazing book to look at, and along with the story, makes this a really good comic.

Noble Causes #27 by Jay Faerber and Yildiray Cinar.  $3.50, Image.

New artist Cinar comes on board, and after Jon Bosco's poorly drawn issues, it's a nice change.  The faces of the characters look normal again, and the women aren't all stereotypically buxom and tiny-waisted.  Here's hoping that Cinar hangs around for a while.

The story is typical of the title, which means it's entertaining and full of secrets, dramatic undercurrents, double-crossing, and nice characterization.  Faerber continues to give us good action, as Kitty Blackthorne, who turns into that creature on the cover and runs wildly out of control, fights Krennick and her husband before eventually succumbing.  Hunter Blackthorne knows that the only person who can cure her is Doc Noble, and he decides to expose someone in Doc's family to the disease so that he's motivated to come up with a cure.  Luckily for the Blackthornes, Slate now knows that his next-door neighbor is Zephyr Noble, but she doesn't know who he is.  Hmmm ... I wonder who will be exposed to the disease?

Meanwhile, Gaia is putting something in Liz's food to keep her memory from coming back, because then Liz would remember that Gaia was the one who summoned the monster that led to the deaths of several innocent people last issue.  Oh, what a tangled web we weave!

Yes, it's a soap opera.  But it's a very good one, and Faerber has a nice grasp on the characters (he should, since he created them).  This is another one of those books where each issue flows easily into the next, and a chance encounter between Slate and Zephyr, both of whom are disguising who they are, turns into something sinister down the road.  Slate, presumably, will expose Zephyr to the disease, even though he has always appeared to be the decent Blackthorne.  But it's family, so he does what he has to.  These small moments are what make this a fine read every month.

Next time: someone dies!  Oh dear.

The Secret History Book One (of 7) by Jean-Pierre Pecau and Igor Kordey (translated by Edward Gauvin).  $5.95, Archaia Studios Press.

That's a cool cover, even though I'm positive the archery is completely off.  That's why we have MacQuarrie in the world!

This is a spendy book, certainly, but it's packed with a great story and beautiful art.  I don't know how often these Secret History books will come out, but I'm a sucker for stuff like this, and when it's executed with such panache, it makes it all the better.

The set-up is simple: 5000 years ago, a wise man gave four youngsters runes of power as he died.  They were to use them for good, not evil, and never use them together, because their power could destroy the world.  He gave them to the kids because a tribe of bad guys had attacked their village and plundered and raped, doing what bad guys in 3000 B.C. did.  They decided to take revenge, and immediately ignored his advice and used the runes together.  They called down an asteroid which struck the Earth with great force, presumably killing their enemies, but of course wiping out their entire civilization.  They survived, somehow, and moved on.  We jump to 1350 B.C., at the height of Egyptian civilization.  One of the kids, Dyo, has become a close advisor to the pharoah (how these archons - as the keepers of the runes are called - managed to become immortal is not explained).  He is besieging a fortress in southern Egypt (Upper Egypt, because the Nile flows south to north), wherein his fellow archon, Erlin, is trapped with a familiar figure - Moses.  Dyo is obsessed with eliminating the Hebrews, which Erlin does not understand, and even when the pharoah is killed, Dyo continues to press the attack.  Moses manages to get Dyo's rune away from him, while Erlin disappears.  How did Moses get the Red Sea to part?  It wasn't God, says this comic.  Meanwhile, the two female archons - Reka and Aker - have been distracted by Dyo so they can't help Erlin.  They arrive too late to affect the outcome, but we get a nice glimpse of their personalities, which presumably will come into play later in the series.

This is a wonderful comic, full of battle scenes and magic and drama.  The story is fascinating, and Kordey's art is stunning.  He brings ancient Egypt to life magnificently, and the battle scenes are beautifully laid out, full of people, action, and mayhem, but never confusing.  Kordey is excellent at showing movement even though his figures look static, which is a nice trick.  His work on X-Men was terrible because it was so rushed, but if you don't have access to Smoke, which was also very nice-looking, and you want to see some nice art by Kordey, check this out!  It's an old series (from 2005), so I hope that Kordey had plenty of time to get it done, because his art is a very good selling point.

Yes, it's six bucks.  But it's packed, and it's beautiful.  So you get your money's worth!  

7 Brothers #1-5 by Garth Ennis and Jeevan Kang.  $2.99, Virgin Comics.




Okay, so here's my question with regard to 7 Brothers.  I have heard that some people really like The Punisher.  That's fine.  Many people also like the character but thought before Ennis took over the book, it sucked mighty moose cock.  So it's obvious that the only reason The Punisher is any good is because Ennis writes it.  So why wouldn't you buy 7 Brothers, because it's an Ennis book, and if he can make The Punisher readable, he must be good, right?  Especially because, from what I've read, we know exactly what's going to happen in every arc of The Punisher.  That's not alway a bad thing, but still.  You don't necessarily know what's going to happen in this mini-series, because it's not a Marvel mainstay.  So when our heroes get slaughtered at the end of issue #3, we are a bit surprised.  How on earth will they save the world if they're, you know, dead?

Some people would ask me, if I think this way, why I'm not reading The Punisher.  That's an excellent point, and here's why: I loathe Frank Castle.  I think the Punisher is the worst big-time character in comic book history.  There is nothing I like about the character, so I don't care if Ennis is writing him.  Alan Moore couldn't make me like the Punisher.  Don DeLillo couldn't make me like the Punisher.  (Don DeLillo is my favorite author, by the way.)  So there.

Anyway, none of this speaks to this mini-series, which is very good.  It's good partly because Ennis reins it in a bit, so that despite the violence, this is more interesting story-wise than, say, The Boys, which was just mean-spirited and ugly.  Yes, this book is about an evil sorceror trying to take over the world, so there's a lot of bloodshed and mysterious Asian assassins plucking eyeballs out of heads with chopsticks and people getting their bullets in the brains and whatnot.  But it's really an adventure story, with the fabled Seven Chinese Brothers getting a nice modern update, and an epic battle between the aforementioned evil sorceror, who has grown as tall as a skyscraper, and a foul-mouthed dragon (sample dialogue: "Suck my scaly-ass dick in hell!").  Good stuff!  Plus, Ennis actually makes a nice point about racial harmony.  Who'da thunk it?

Kang's art is spectacular, too, and fits the epic nature of the tale.  He really cuts loose in the final issue with the big fight, but throughout, he does a nice job with both the modern stuff and when he has to go back in time a bit to the fifteenth century.  When Rachel Kai fights Zheng, the evil sorceror's assassin, we get a real sense of movement and real violence, without it being too cartoony, which is how Ennis-penned fight scenes sometime come off.

Another well-done mini-series.  It's Ennis doing something a little different from what he usually does (not too much; there's still a lot of violence), but he does it well.  Very cool stuff. 

X-Factor #16 by Peter David and Pablo Raimondi.  $2.99, Marvel.

Yet another title that continues to hum along, as David leaves trying to make sense of the various Marvel crossovers behind to focus on Jamie's continuing quest to re-absorb all his duplicates.  This gets a bit tricky when he meets John Maddox, who is a minister in a small Vermont town.  John is perfectly happy, plus he has a wife and child.  Will Jamie end his existence because his own soul is troubled?  Oh, it's a conundrum!

Well, it's not much of a mystery.  We can pretty much guess what's going to happen.  However, as he has throughout this X-Factor revival, David is more interested in how these choices affect the characters rather than the actual choices.  Jamie is trying to become whole again, but here's an aspect of himself who already is whole.  Even though John Maddox is a copy, he's happier than Jamie has ever been, and who is Jamie to take that away from him?  The idea is, of course, that Jamie is God, with "dominion" over John (John's sermon at the beginning of the book concerns Adam having dominion over the animals and the Earth), but is he really God?  Or did the actual Big Enchilada give John sentience and, more importantly, independence?  Jamie comes to understand that relinquishing some measure of control brings freedom and relief.  In this way, he becomes more, not less, God-like.  It will be interesting to see how this crucial decision affects him as he leads the team forward.

This idea of "dominion" crops up in the other story in the issue, that of Theresa and Monet in Paris.  Monet has dominion over one of the instigators of the riot from last issue, and she uses her power cruelly.  She takes it upon herself to rescue one of the young mutants (I guess she's a mutant) whose parents died in the fire that destroyed their haven.  She, like Jamie, is making a decision that she will not let someone be hurt, and like Jamie, there is freedom in her choice.  A mysterious figure helps them escape, so we'll see where that goes, but the point of Monet's and Jamie's choices is that control isn't all it's cracked up to be.  Jamie gives it up and feels relief, while Monet doesn't and takes on a stressful situation.  We'll see which is the correct choice down the road, I suppose.

As usual, it's not a big-time Marvel comic, so it's much better than the big guns.  Weird.

X-Men #196 by Mike Carey, Humberto Ramos, and Carlos Cuevas.  $2.99, Marvel.

There have been lots of comments on Brian's review of this issue, and many of them have to do with his bashing of the art.  I'll go further than he does: I cannot find one panel in this book that I don't dislike in some way.  Not ONE!  And I think I like the story better than Cronin did, so that really vexes me.  Please, Humberto Ramos, go away.  Please!

Let's open the book completely at random: Page 8 and 9, when Mystique infiltrates the lab where they're about to dissect the X-Men and rescues them, while Pandemic tells Rogue his diabolical plan as he steals her power.  Mystique's lips in the first panel are grotesque, and her maniacal visage in the final panel is completely out of place.  On page 9, Rogue's face as the needles come close to her face is supposed to evoke horror and sympathy, but her ridiculously wide-open left eye makes me think of the weird dude in "The Tell-Tale Heart," while her lips curl around her teeth in a strangely disconcerting and unnatural manner.  My heart sank when I saw the first page, in which Rogue is shackled in braces that negate her powers.  I don't mind that, but if she's strung up and hanging by all four appendages, why does Ramos feel it's necessary to draw it so she's strung up seductively, with her hips out of whack and one leg bent?  It's just bizarre.  And not good at all.

Carey's resolution to the story is certainly interesting, and deserves better art.  The X-Men go on a rescue mission against a seemingly unbeatable foe (yeah, where have we seen that before?) and defeat him rather cleverly, I thought.  There's some nice banter between the combatants, Mastermind does something nasty to Pandemic, and I like that even though it's a three-part story, Carey doesn't end it as much as set up the following issue.  Remember the good old days, when things weren't neatly divided into story arcs?  Despite my continuing reservations about the actual members of Rogue's team, Carey is doing a good job telling old-fashioned superhero yarns, with just enough on the brain to make them relevant.  It's a fun comic to read.

A couple of small things bother me.  This Pandemic is NOT the doctor Rogue visited in the late 1990s to get rid of her powers, which bugged me because that makes two different doctors Rogue visited to do something about her powers, and nobody ever brings it up.  But that's minor - I certainly don't care about continuity that much, it's just something I happen to remember.  Second, one of the things that bother me about Marvel's advertising policy cropped up in this book.  Sabretooth drops down on Pandemic as he and Cable battle, and it's a super-dramatic moment!  On the next page, where we would expect to see what happens when Creed lands on the bad guy, there's a house ad for the whole "Back in Black" story, the first panel of which is Sandman attacking Spider-Man.  The fact that it features Marvel characters and looks like a panel from a comic book jarred me for a second, because I thought it was actually part of the comic!  Yes, I'm stupid.  It was only a split second, but it was enough to jerk me out of the moment, and I doubt if Marvel wants that.  I'm trying not to object to the ads, believe me, but I wish they would place them better.  This is a big moment, and not only do we get that ad, but then a double-page ad for the Ghost Rider video game.  Only then do we get Sabretooth and Pandemic in their showdown.  It doesn't flow well, you know?  Fine, I can live with the ads.  But can't they put them in better spots?

So.  A good three-issue story, hampered by atrocious art.  I know Bachalo is occasionally more incoherent than Ramos is, but if we get "good" Bachalo back, it will be a tremendous step up.  Let us hope!


Samurai: Heaven and Earth vol. II #3 (of 4) by Ron Marz and Luke Ross.  $2.99, Dark Horse.

A few things about that cover: If you're going to trace someone, you could do a LOT worse than Kelly Hu, I'll tell you that much!  Also, what's up with Yoshiko?  She's swooning before she sees that dark and sinister figure coming through the door.  So why is she swooning?  And why is she clutching that knife?  Is she planning on committing suicide?  If so, why the swoon?  This reminds me of one of those melodramatic paintings from days of yore.  Maybe it's meant to.  I guess I'll find out when I read the damned thing, won't I?

Man, that's a bunch o' books!  DC better step up next week and release some good comics! 

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