I hate summer. It's too damn hot and sticky for me to fully enjoy as I would like. I have to remember, when I become a full-fledged member of the workforce, to take vacations in more temperate seasons (or more temperate locales). But that's for the future, these five reviews are for the present. And I guess also for the future, since people who haven't read them yet may some day stumble across them. And maybe for the past as well, since they can probably chart some sort of downward spiral of mental health when compared to similar posts from earlier in the blog's history, and posts that are yet to come. Anyway, spoilers and warnings, and what have you.
Amazing Spider-Girl #11 - Tom DeFalco seems to be going with a time-tested axiom for people whose codenames start with "Spider-": they have to take the bad with the good. Every time May has fortune smile upon her, it promptly follows that with a pie to the face. It should be good that SHIELD is out combing the city, because they can help her find Carnage - except SHIELD is convinced she stole Specimen #297, and so they're focusing all their energy on catching her. Typical SHIELD. May makes a connection with the symbiote's host, but it only serves to strengthen the connection between the host and the symbiote. Drat. May saves her little brother, but. . . well, it's more bad news.
It's a solid enough issue, as DeFalco/Frenz continue to convince me that bringing Carnage back into play wasn't a horrible mistake. They spend a brief moment covering what Mary Jane is up to, before turning the focus to May and Peter (who gets one of those classic Spidey moments where he triumphs through will and determination. It's not up there with lifting all that rubble to get the medical serum in Amazing Spider-Man #33, but it's not bad). Frenz does his usual solid job, and it's got pretty decent momentum for a middle chapter of a multi-issue arc (at least by today's standards). 3.8 out of 5.
Annihilation: Conquest - Wraith #2 - I feel kind of sad after reading this. Chris Sims seemed hopeful that Wraith might be Marvel's way of slipping ROM back into the Marvel Universe, without officially reinserting ROM in the Marvel Universe. Since the latter half of this issue is "Wraith" (as Ronan describes him) telling us all about who he is and how he came to be, it seems unlikely this is the greatest of the SpaceKnights (which is much cooler than being the greatest of the Green Lanterns. I'm just saying).
Ronan seems in an odd place, infected by the Phalanx, obedient, but still free enough to be pissed at his situation. I have a feeling that means something, as does Super-Skrull's current resistance, and what Wraith said about why the Phalanx fear him, but it's a thought that needs more work. Mr. Hotz' work is dark and moody, and appropriately creepy for what seems very much like a horror movie, but on the whole I didn't enjoy this issue that much. It felt cheap to just get all of Wraith's origin in one setting like we did. 2.9 out of 5.
New Excalibur #22 - I'm curious as to what Claremont's up to here with Dazzler. She's getting progressively angrier, more prone to respond with violence to anything. Maybe it's a response to dying multiple times in the first two years of this title, but it feels too abrupt of a shift from where she was previously. It could be an attempt to mirror what's happening to Sage, as she seems to be falling farther under Albion's control, more willing to kill for him all the time (though she's only killed Dark X-Men so far, which I guess can be her "out" when this is all over).
Olliffe's artwork is more to my liking than Scot Eaton's was, personally. Because really, if you're going to do a story where the bad guys conquer a country, and the good guys will have several skirmishes with the bad guys, then you need someone who can draw good fight scenes, and I think Olliffe does that better than Eaton did. Better representation of movement, force, action, however you want to describe it. Knows when to go close-up, or wide-angle.
Things feel too disjointed in this issue. Both sides have forces scattered all over, and I think it would have helped to have a quick stop over at Captain Britain's location. After all, the previous issue ended with Dark Jean freaking out as she telepathically senses Dark Scott's death; you'd think they might want to touch on that. Did she go comatose, or Dark Phoenix? Has she dissolved the Dark X-Men's partnership with Excalibur? Is she charging towards London as we speak? Or trying to vent her fury on Lionheart/Captain Britain/The Queen, etc.? 2.4 out of 5.
And what the heck was up with the second-to-last page, with the 13-panel death of Dark Beast?
Nova #5 - Well, congratulations to the Nova Corps. There's 2 of you now. Ko-Rel, the new Nova, is going to have to learn on the job, but the Worldmind seems to to be helping with that, at least as far as activating powers at proper moments. Problem being, Ko-Rel's increase in station comes with a boatload of Phalanx forces on the prowl, including Gamora, and a SpaceKnight.
No, it's not ROM. No, I don't know when ROM's going to show up and save the day. Hopefully soon. Whereas Wraith is taking more of a horror approach to the Phalanx (with large, and seemingly painful methods of maintaining control), Nova is going for more of a Indiana Jones feel, since it seems to mix fighting with some humor (the reactions of the other Kree to Ko-Rel's new outfit), plus the Phalanx conversion isn't portrayed as nearly so painful or difficult (unless someone was playing opossum there at the end). Which I guess makes Worldmind Sean Connery. "Your mother liked it ruff Ko-Rel!" I'm very sorry about that. 3.9 out of 5.
X-Factor #22 - Well, for everyone that doesn't like Layla Miller, this may just be the issue for you. As for the rest of us, well, I'm not sure it's "the" issue for us, but it's not bad. I'm still very happy to have Pablo Raimondi back on art duties; he draws violent acts much more effectively than Khoi Pham did.
So the Huber fellow has an idea to save mutants, and he wants Jamie to spearhead the idea. It's an interesting idea, one that probably fits within the letter of the law, though I can't imagine some of the people it applies to being very happy about it. I agree with Guido though, people around X-Factor used to have a sense of humor, and even laugh at stuff. I laughed at his "skink" pun though, so maybe that counts for something. Can you believe my spellcheck doesn't recognize skink? It's a type of reptile! Stupid worthless spellcheck. Where was I?
Siryn and Monet seem like they're going to have a bit more trouble completing this mission than they planned (imagine that!), and I'm curious to see whether that ties into Huber somehow. Seeing as so many things seem to be connected in this book, I'm thinking there must be some connection, but I can't guess at what. It's a solid issue, mostly set-up. but with some amusing moments, and it was just sort of there. I may be starting to take X-Factor for granted. 3.5 out of 5.