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Alias #17
writer: Brian Michael Bendis
artist: Michael Gaydos

This issue left me a little disturbed, mostly because we have perhaps had more than enough of seeing Jessica get it from behind. If you're not familiar with this quasi-superhero title, that might come as a shock. But by now it's so blasé that I had to wonder if we would learn a new reason that Scott Lang is known as the Astonishing Ant-Man. (If it were Garth Ennis writing the book, we probably would.)

At any rate, Bendis and Gaydos further probe what happens to trademark-protecting characters after their books get cancelled, and it looks to be building to a darker fate than any recent John Byrne monstrosity deserves, except maybe Lab Rats. J. Jonah Jameson also appears, less enjoyable here as Bendis tries to prove that the guy really is a bastard. Of course, Bendis is also too good a writer to let it be quite that simple.

Jessica's groupie Malcolm also reappears, perhaps to settle into a groove as her teen sidekick. His presence also gives an interesting view on the events of Daredevil. See? Subtle cross-overs can be fun, as long as they don't overpower a book's events.


Detective Comics #777
writer: Ed Brubaker
artists: Tommy Castillo and Wade Von Grawbadger

Finally, Brubaker brings back the reason we're reading about a guy in a batsuit: archenemies. Though Batman does work well in gritty crime dramas, this title has missed the denizens of Arkham for a while.

A lowly henchman poses as Killer Moth and dies for it. As to who the killer is, well, that's why the book is called Detective, but one thing we know for certain is that other old bad guys know his identity. The Riddler in particular gets so nervous he runs to The Penguin to warn him. Since Batman hasn't got a clue, it may be up to the underworld to save their own.

What doesn't hold water this issue comes in the back-up. Part two of "Spore" still feels out of place in this book; as a story, it's just an excuse for some weird art. Good thing Batman manages to pull his Bat-anti-alienmicrobe-germ out his utility belt.


Doom Patrol #15
writer: John Arcudi
artist: Tan Eng Huat

Tan Eng Huat remains a dynamic artist with a unique style. His work on this series has been good, but it's time to just hope that he lands another job soon. Doom Patrol is going nowhere fast.

Arcudi has written this book into a corner, and just keeps circling around it. Fifteen issues after it began, we know no more about who these characters are than we did at the start. A few aspects of their powers have become clearer, but that's it. In a daring move, the team members find all their internal conflicts to be too much, and break up. Though it holds the promise of seeing them try to develop some semblance of private lives, the move comes too late.

This revival has followed the pattern of its previous incarnation: go weird, and if that doesn't work, then bring back the original team. If that doesn't work, go weird again. The only thing left is cancellation.


Exiles #20
writer: Judd Winick
artists: Jim Calafiore and Jon Holdredge

At its best, this series takes the dark side of famous Marvel plotlines, and brings it to the fore. Thankfully, after a little foray into the lame, Exiles (and Winick) is back to its best.

This time around, the team lands on an Earth where the Legacy Virus went ahead and became the plague it was always meant to be a metaphor for. And just for good measure, Winick throws in the potentially disgusting living dead merger of Doug Ramsey and Warlock, following it through to its logical conclusion. Add the two elements together, and you've got a real Marvel Zombie movie.

On this Earth, the Virus mutated when Warlock tried to save Doug, creating a cyber-undead race that soon overran the planet. Humans have been reduced to living in fortified enclaves, their only method of secure communication being telepathy. And of course, there just aren't that many actual telepaths left.

The result is a nicely creepy issue, perfectly complemented by the Calafiore and Holdredge art. Much of it feels like George A. Romero loose in the Marvel Universe, even though that's just cabling, not intestines, dragging along the ground. Nice way around the censors.


Green Arrow #19
writer: Brad Meltzer
artists: Phil Hester and Ande Parks

A little caption points out that all this takes place before events of "The Obsidian Age," in which Green Arrow essentially rejoins the Justice League. Whether or not we actually need that caption, it does point out that that story makes us kind of question the necessity for this one.

Not that Meltzer isn't doing a good job; he is. Ollie stays perfectly in character, especially in a confrontation with Green Lantern. At some points, he even betrays a little emotional growth. But now that he's back, you have to wonder why he's gathering up all these little mementos that he let lie during his first life. They weren't important before, and really, Meltzer has yet to make a compelling case for their being important now.

Still, in Meltzer's hands Ollie remains roguish and likeable. Though the writer has tabled Connor Hawke for now, he has done more to rebuild the relationship between Green Arrow and Arsenal than Kevin Smith cared to do, making them seem like the father and son they probably would be.


Derek McCaw


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