And, I'm back. Yeah, I'm a day late. A family situation required me to stay an extra day to look after five English bull terriers. I don't know how the hell my dad does that every day, because I'm a freaking wreck from being in mortal terror that one of them would suddenly fall really ill. As you might guess, I have no pets of my own. Anyway, thanks to everyone who chipped in on the "friends" post. Let's get back in gear, eh? You should watch out for spoilers, especially, as I'm going to type the reviews as I read it for the first time.
New Excalibur #10 - So we kick it off in the 6th century ruins of a castle. A fellow is entrusting Excalibur to the Black Knight, who's forgone a helmet for the stylish Iron Fist-style bandanna hood/mask look. Flash to the present. Dane Whitman, current Black Knight, has turned his family estate into a museum to celebrate the history of the Black Knights, which includes the preserved body of Hoodie Knight himself, Sir Percy of Scandia. Seriously, Percy? Irregardless of his name, the people crowd around his glass coffin like Soviets gawking at Lenin (assuming Soviet citizens were allowed close enough to gawk at Lenin's tomb).
The entire issue flows back and forth between those settings. We see Percy deal with the rabble, now terrified by the fall of Camelot, and eager to take out their fear on anyone they don't know, which includes Percy. Might want to pick a target not wielding Excalibur and the Ebony Blade, boys. Oops, too late. He winds up at the Lake with the Lady, wanting to know what he's supposed to do. Well, you're supposed to save Camelot, Percy, but it's a matter of "when", not "how".
Dane's talking on the phone to Captain Britain, who does some playful dissing, and then gets ready to make an offer. But Percy "arrives" first, and you get your standard misunderstanding fight. Works for me. I have to admit, I'm consistently surprised by the fact I like this book, though I wonder, is this Tieri doing his own stories, or is he still following Claremont's scripts? Ah well, either way. 4.2 out of 5.
The Punisher #36 - From the book that had probably a dozen deaths - all involving impaling or decapitation - done off panel, to the book that shows you see the gore, in bright pretty pictures. Oooh, pretty.
So we got duplicity (duplicity? duplicitousness?). Alice wants Barracuda to kill Dermot, as well as Harry. Or does she? Well, either way we get a scene straight out of Wes Craven's The Last House on the Left, which proves that Frank Castle is an idiot, because clearly he was just going about trying to kill the Barracuda the wrong way. Dermot and Alice made it look pretty easy. Or did they?
Harry is already ruined with news of his planned blackout having been leaked, and finding out Dermot and Alice are together doesn't help. Finding an explosive in the engine room doesn't help Dermot much, but he gets it together and feeds a good line to the stockholders, until Frank detonates the other charge. At which point Dermot makes a massive screw-up. Rather than relent to the Punisher's demands, or at least truthfully explain why they can't be met, Dermot tells the Punisher there is nothing he, Frank Castle, can do to stop Dynaco, because they are a big corporation, and they have all the power. Which is true. . . up to the point you meet someone who doesn't care about, law, proper channels, or any of that stuff.
Of course it still takes a surprise assist for Frank to wrap up the loose ends, plus a bunch of sharks, who must just be starving to wolf down so many humans (or else the people are really high in fat). The surprise assist gets its reward, and Frank Castle gets to keep killing people in adventures that run a neat little six issues. Which is just fine with me. 3.8 out of 5.
Ultimate Spider-Man #98 - I've been wondering how long it'll be before I give up on this book. I mean, it's the Clone Saga, I should be running for the hills. But maybe Bendis can do it well. By "well", I mean quickly and neatly, in six issues, with all the clone crap resolved at that point, so someone can't come back in 20 years and destroy everything. On to the actual issue.
So Peter has found out the Scorpion is a clone of himself, so he takes it to the Fantastic Four. OK, that's solid, I'd buy that. And Reed Richards will agree to hide the testing from Nick Fury, that's good. Scientists don't usually trust the military's intentions, and Reed probably figures he gave Fury enough stuff with whatever it was he used against Gah'Lak'Tus. But the Fantastic Four don't know Peter is Spider-Man? I could have sworn they found out in that same Super Special thing where he ran into Blade. I know at the end Reed makes some comment about greatly respecting the work Peter's father did. And the Blade encounter is in continuity, so what's up? Thinking too much, just review.
Interestingly, the clone is not an exact clone, only a 94.2% match, with some signs of genetic damage. Well, I'm not too surprised. The body was modified so that tail could be grafted to the spine, you'd probably have to monkey with the DNA to avoid rejection (he said, as if being a supreme expert upon cloning). Or it could be that just like in DC, cloning is an imperfect science, though they're apparently farther along in the Ultimate Universe.
Anyhoo, Peter freaks and bails, finds out MJ is missing, and goes to the warehouse she sometimes hides at. She's not there, but a familiar-looking Spider-type female is, and she whoops Pete's butt. And shoots webbing from her fingertips. Ew. And the Peter that kidnapped MJ wants to make it so she'll be safe. Yes, safe from being kidnapped by weird ass clones like yourself. Well, you should get right on that then.
Oh yeah, and Gwen Stacy's back. God, Bendis is just having a rollicking good time with this one. It's a little terrifying, honestly, and a bit of a train wreck situation. Not a bad issue by itself, but would Reed Richards really waste time trying to make drinkable water out of urine? Or is this one of those side hobbies he does to fill 20 minutes? 3.5 out of 5.