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Alias #16
writer: Brian Michael Bendis
artist: Michael Gaydos

Bendis just loves using this book to poke around in the obscure. First we get Ant-Man. Now he strongly implies that Jessica spent some time kanoodling with SHIELD Agent Clay Quartermain. And during that implication, Bendis also makes the supposedly good government agency more than a little disturbing.

The revelation gets forced by a nice dig at fandom. One night Jessica comes home to find her apartment broken into by Mattie, the most recent Spider-Woman. (The third, as Quartermain comment, for those keeping score.) Apparently, Mattie has confused Jessica for Jessica Drew, the first Spider-Woman, and hoped she could turn to her for help. Clearly not. It's a nice dig because for months the rumormill was absolutely positive that Alias would be about a de-powered Jessica Drew before the series actually appeared.

A few of us conspiracy-minded buffs might think that was once the truth. After all, we're still smarting from Captain Atom not being Monarch just because the news leaked early.


Amazing Spider-Man #46 (487)
writer: J. Michael Straczynski
artists: John Romita, Jr. and Scott Hanna

For all its faults, at least this book has the best covers on the stands, this month's by Frank Cho (who will do a full Marvel book with the upcoming Shanna The She-Devil. Start drooling now.)

Ah, who am I kidding? This book doesn't have any faults. JMS brings back a minor point from a couple of issues back to play a big part. Remember that this writer never, ever lets anything go to waste. It's not a cliché to say that Peter really does face his deadliest foe ever. Spinning off the concept of the spider-totem, he has to confront what would be his natural predator in the wild.

Realizing that a slugfest wouldn't be the most fun, this enemy takes a new tack that is both clever and promises some very believable headaches for Spider-Man's future.


Detective Comics #776
writer: Paul Bolles
artists: William Rosado and Bob Wiacek

With a new look on its cover, this issue purports to be going back to what it does best: be about detecting. Unfortunately, writer Paul Bolles provides very little in the way of a mystery. The trick comes in it being a flashback once we see a bleeding and unconscious Batman, but that really is just a trick. The rest of the story feels very much like we've seen it before.

In the back-up by J.C. and Michel Gagne, I'll grant we get something new. "Spore" is pretty much what it says it is: an alien spore coming to Earth. Though it has a grotesque and gripping final page (to be continued), the story doesn't fit in this book. Slam Bradley or The Elongated Man, they belong here. The return to form needs to be thought out a little more by the editors.


Doom Patrol #14
writer: John Arcudi
artist: Seth Fisher

This blast to the past gives some nice perspective to the original series. Odd and groundbreaking for its time, the original Doom Patrol actually had it pretty good. It isn't just that everybody's laughing at The Brotherhood of Evil. Fisher also draws the book with a quaintness that makes it just fun for a little while.

Arcudi provides a touch of pathos, as Ava, the girl with a demon something inside, prefers being Elasti-Girl (or, as she renames her, Elasti-Lass) to being herself. One of the least believable elements of the old series was that Rita Farr felt she had to give up her acting career for no other reason than she could change size. In his artwork, Fisher hints at a better reason: Rita is starting to age out of the ingénue role. Subtle, and ironic that Elasti-Girl didn't have a complexion to match.


Exiles #19
writer: Judd Winick
artists: Mike McKone and Jon Holdredge

And so "So Lame" concludes. Despite a little (very little) drop more detail on the Exiles' actual mission, this arc kind of betrays what the book is ostensibly about. Still, every title needs an occasional change of pace, and giving Mimic center stage and his own talkshow is certainly that. But the actual action goes nowhere, especially where Longshot is concerned.

If Winick's aim was to prove how lame Longshot was as a character, he succeeded. Sort of, because that plotline just stops without ever making sense. How could Dazzler have run off with the guy? But for the purposes of story, it's a lot of build-up, pushing Mimic to the edge, but Winick leaves himself no other choice but a deus ex machina ending. So Lame, so what? At least next issue it's back to the What If premise.

Rating: 3.5

Green Arrow #18
writer: Brad Meltzer
artists: Phil Hester and Ande Parks

Every now and then, you just need to see your hero fight against the odds. Meltzer delivers the goods on this one, as Oliver should clearly be outclassed by Solomon Grundy. Certainly, he should be able to outwit the vegetable man, but sometimes brute strength has its uses.

This knock-down drag-out also affords Meltzer a chance to really go over his take on Ollie's personality. What's really important to him? More importantly, who? And with one deft finishing move, we also gain an appreciation for Green Arrow's physical strength, an aspect easily overlooked when dismissing him as a non-powered hero. (Unless you believe his marksmanship skill is a meta ability.)

If this story has a weakness at all, it's that for some reason it raised my saplust. Green Arrow should have gone ahead and beheaded Grundy. Anyone? Anyone?


Derek McCaw


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