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Alias #15
writer: Brian Michael Bendis
artist: Michael Gaydos

After months of teasing, Jessica finally has her date with The Astonishing Ant-Man. Okay, so it's really just Scott Lang; the cybernetic helmet never makes an appearance. As he does so well, Bendis manages to make the man behind the Ant more interesting in a few pages than he has been in the years since his first donned a costume. Heck, Bendis even makes Carol Danvers more interesting this issue, and she's not even actually in it.

Before going on the date, Jessica also makes peace with Luke Cage in a sly cross-over with the events of Daredevil. The conversation illuminates a lot of issues, and also slaps down critics of Bendis' earlier use of the Hero For Hire, but in a reasonable (if profanity-laden) way.

The only actual super-action occurs in a couple of panels near the end. Scott and Jessica's date gets interrupted by Spider-Man and The Human Torch chasing Doctor Octopus Classic down the street. It's a golden moment for two reasons: it acknowledges the casual destruction of such events, and remembers that The Torch and Spider-Man are pretty much best friends. For whatever editorial reason, that seems to get forgotten an awful lot.


Doom Patrol #13
writer: John Arcudi
artist: Seth Fisher

Just as Tan Eng Huat started to look tired on this book, the quirky Fisher steps in for a guest rotation. It's a welcome breath of fresh air, and looking at these layouts, it's no wonder DC has signed him to an exclusive contract.

If only the story were as fresh.

Every incarnation of Doom Patrol has stumbled over the same thing, a slavish need to rehash the past and add some new layer of mystery to it all. The original Doom Patrol sacrificed themselves to save a town from The Brotherhood of Evil (not Mutants). It was noble. It was shocking. And it was final. Except that this dead team keeps getting revisited.

After picking over the wreckage of the Vertigo version for the past few issues, Arcudi goes back to the originals. So Cliff gets a renewed rush of anger towards The Chief, who in retroactive continuity caused the accident that destroyed Steele's human body. And there's some humor in seeing the new Negative Man trapped in the body of the original one, but not enough. The concept might be quirky, but Arcudi really doesn't do anything with it beyond taking a potshot at Monsieur Mallah, the revolutionary ape. At least Grant Morrison took it a step further and gave the monkey a homoerotic crush on The Brain. There's really no topping that.


Exiles #18
writer: Judd Winick
artists: Mike McKone and Jon Holdredge

In a move that smacks of neo-post-irony, Winick titles this story arc "So Lame." Is that to cut us off at our knees? Because he's right, and knows it.

The Exiles get pulled out of their journeys by Mojo, the spineless grotesque blob whose resemblance to a Hutt must be purely coincidental. Granted, it's an interesting twist that there is no alternate version of him; every member of the team has been whisked away to the Mojoverse at one time or another, but it's always been the same Mojoverse. That sort of explains away the X-Babies.

However, Mojo stories always go the same way, always revolving around the mystery of Longshot, the three-fingered mutant refugee from an '80's hairband. The concept was lame from its inception, only made popular by artwork from Art Adams. McKone is good, and Winick's grasp of character helps carry us through the creaky plot, but the twist that will make this arc sparkle has yet to come.


Green Arrow #17
writer: Brad Meltzer
artists: Phil Hester and Ande Parks

Together again and drug-free, Green Arrow and Speedy have thrown themselves full throttle into a mystery. Okay, so now Roy calls himself Arsenal; Speedy was really a name just asking for trouble on so many levels.

Where Kevin Smith seemed intent on taking readers on a tour of the entire DC Universe, Meltzer appears content with something even more crucial to the book: a tour of Green Arrow's past. After last issue's cliffhanger, the re-villainization of The Shade loomed, but Meltzer surprised with a pretty good reason for his involvement: somebody has to clean up when a hero dies. Paying attention to little details like that could prove interesting.

Already, unfortunately, there's a last panel pattern forming, but because Meltzer has at least been intriguing, I'll let it slide.


Hawkman #8
writer: Geoff Johns
artists: Rags Morales, Rollins & Bair

After a Times Past, it's only right for Johns to revive a classic team. For some reason in the sixties, DC decided that Hawkman and The Atom were a perfect pair, and this issue proves that, well, at least they're good friends. However, we've already seen enough of Carter having to defend his current angst over Kendra, though it's interesting that Ray Palmer is far less judgmental than Oliver Queen was.

For sheer action in the book, Kendra gets the name of a man involved in her parents' death. The rough and tumble Warwhip must have been fun for Morales to draw; he's certainly the most, er, phallic character to appear in a DC book this month. Also note that former Hawkman writer Tony Isabella has moved to St. Roche and joined the police force.

The book is fun, and at least half of it moves the plot along. But it looks like next issue will once again be divided between action and Carter defending his strange relationship to Kendra.


The Punisher #16
writer: Garth Ennis
artist: Darick Robertson

Compared to being in the hands of Ennis, Wolverine in any other book is a reasonable man of peace. Somehow, the Logan appearing in these pages strikes me as the most realistic portrayal of the character. And he's funny.

A new danger lurks beneath the streets of New York City. In the wake of Frank Castle's destruction of the ruling mob families, small fry scrabble for power. And someone has been scrabbling for the small fry, making them even smaller by cutting off their legs with a chainsaw.

In typical comic book fashion, Wolverine and The Punisher come at this crime from different trails, each assuming the other one is responsible. Their knock-down drag-out fight sets a new high for hilariously over the top violence. If you've ever wondered what would happen if Wolverine took a shotgun to the face, look no further. Oh, why is this funny?


Derek McCaw


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