The New Avengers: Illuminati #3: Jim Cheung does a spectacular job with art here, somehow managing to make the Beyonder look far less stupid here than he did during Secret Wars II. For a moment you might even think that Bendis and Brian Reed have found a way to explain that crossover away, but no such retconning luck. Instead, it's the Beyonder's origin that gets rewritten, and possibly for the second time. The original conception of this book was clever, and so far has held on precariously to that cleverness. Much longer, though, and it's in danger of making "The Illuminati" into the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern of the Marvel Universe.
New Excalibur #20: Thank heavens for Marvel's frontpage text pieces. I've been reading this book fairly regularly, and I keep losing track of what's going on. Heaven help those who think, ooh, that cover looks nice and just pick it up. Excalibur (the "new" may be optional) face not one but two extra-dimensional teams of super-villains, and because the Shadow King has gotten involved, it's hard to know if we're supposed to consider Shadow-X truly evil or not. Maybe they're just misguided. The only thing I can recommend for certain is Jeremy Haun's artwork, which has a solid sense of pacing and does help keep characters from blurring.
Silent War #5: One of the best titles Marvel has out there, this revisit of the Inhumans hasn't missed a beat. David Hine uses the Sentry's ambivalence to great effect, without relying on the crutch of the Void. This feels like all out war between Marvel characters, and because this series is so underrated, it also has the freedom to be true to that concept. No marketing dollars to lose as Hine lays out the Inhumans' war against us, while their own society may be crumbling from underneath. Hopefully, someone will notice.
X-23 Target X #6: Though this contradicts her earlier appearances, Laura throws down with Wolverine. It's a fitting end to the mini-series, and goes far to remind you of a time when certain other Marvel heroes were more clearly heroic, even if the art team makes them look like kids playing dress-up while taking steroids.
Wolverine #54: If Jeph Loeb isn't cheating us, then he's just opened the door to a pretty interesting set of plots in the Marvel Universe. Here, though, it still feels like we're being cheated a bit, because Logan still has an obviously crucial chunk missing from his memory. Otherwise he wouldn't look so much like a chump lately. He seems out of it because several other well-established mutants arrive on the scene, and seem to know way too much about what's going on. Wolverine's right; it just doesn't make sense.
Also on the Stands:
52 vol. 1: As if DC wasn't going to get enough of my money this week, they've begun collecting 52 into volumes jam-packed with commentary. Why buy into it? Because the behind-the-scenes on this one has to be extraordinary, especially as the early issues started guiding the writers somewhere they didn't think they were going.
The Boys #7: The ultra-violent, ultra-offensive mini-series about superheroes and the men who hunt them returns. It makes The Pro look like Betty and Veronica. That probably makes some of your heads swim.
Martian Manhunter 13 inch Deluxe Figure: Le sigh.
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