I read The Ultimates #1-13 on the Fourth of July. It’s still great, a bit like League of Extraordinary Gentleman as the government assembles a team of flawed iconic figures, with a clash of personalities. It might have been short on action in the first few issues, but that fight with the Hulk in the fifth issue was worth the wait, and the last few issues were basically one giant battle, as the alien invasion started.
With Dial H #0,1-4, China Mieville and Alberto Ponticelli deserve a lot of credit for all the new superhero identities, as well as a twist about just where the powers come from.
Secret Avengers #1-12, 12.1-21 started out as Brubaker Captain America spinoff, which sometimes felt a bit padded. Although the second art with Shang Chi and a rogue Nick Fury LMD was pretty good. Later issues were single issue adventures as Nick Spencer and Warren Ellis explored the corners of the Marvel Universe, and experimented a bit with comic book form. Sometimes it worked (Black Widow time-travelling) although it often wasn’t quite as effective.
Warren Ellis copied from his earlier work on Global Frequency #1-12, a series of single issue adventures with a new artist for every issue about a team dealing with terrorists and reactivated weapons from decades past. The gimmick is that most of the members have never met one another, and they’re activated whenever their skills are needed. It may be his best work, and could one day make an awesome Contagion style action-adventure movie. The threats and settings vary, as do the solutions, as an Indian Parkour in London hunts down a bomb, and an expert biofeedback gets into a very violent fight.
Fear Itself: The Fearless #1-12 is essentially a vehicle for Valkyrie, also on the Secret Avengers. I don’t know if we needed twelve issues of that, especially since the implication that the bad guys in Fear Itself weren’t really defeated made the ending of Marvel’s big event book seem a little bit hollow. It does a solid job of developing a character Marvel wants to promote, even if Spencer’s Fear Itself tie in of Secret Avengers covered the same territory in a single issue.
Captain America: The Chosen #1-6 is a padded mini series with an interesting concept, and nice enough art, as a dying Captain America develops the ability to communicate with a solider in danger. It’s a bit better then it sounds, as Rambo creator David Morrell captures the grandeur of Marvel’s most noble superhero.
X-Factor #1-24 represented the first two years of Peter David’s hundred plus issue second run on the title, exploring the ramifications of House of M from a bottom-up perspective, with heroes who were private detectives more than the likes of the X-Men or the Avengers. The villains and twists were solid, although the team dynamic is probably the most effective part. And Layla Miller makes a great addition to the series. Because she knows stuff, and that can be creepy.
Since the next issues were part of a crossover, I decided to read the build-up to that event in other titles. X-Men #188-204, Annual #1 featured Mike Carey and Chris Bachalo’s X-Men team, a bit like a mix between the Ultimates and the X-Men, a group with familiar faces from various generations of the X-books, including a few villains (Sabertooth, Mystique, Lady Mastermind.) Shockingly, there were some betrayals. For all the talk about how Morrison’s run on New X-Men was ignored, this run did focus heavily on the concepts he had established.
X-Men: Deadly Genesis #1-6 kicked off Brubaker’s run, with some dark revelations on Professor X’s past, as well as the introductions of a new hero and a fairly nasty villain. Uncanny X-Men #475-491 dealt with the aftermath, although it was kinda disappointing when an 18 issue plot ended without much of a resolution. It made solid use of the X-Men in space concept, before the team went to Earth to fight what was left of the Morlocks.
The Messiah Complex (Uncanny X-Men #492-494, X-Men #205-207, X-Factor #25-27, New X-Men #44-46, X-Men: Messiah Complex #1) crossover was pretty good, as far as X-Men events went. The threat justified all the heroes coming together, and the story tied together threads from the four titles pretty seamlessly (well, except for Predator X) with some impressive twists, especially those involving an X-Man who was big in the 90s.
Fatale #1-15 is a strange series, with Brubaker and Phillips exploring a seemingly immortal woman who brings death and destruction to anyone she touches. The series is tied together by a narrative in the present day, as the executor of an estate tries to understand a mystery of a writer’s lost novel, and the beautiful woman who ruined his life. It’s like a cross between film noir and Lovecraft, as Brubaker and Phillips find new avenues of inspiration, with a Manson style cult in the second arc, and a series of shorter pieces on the American Frontier and Medieval Europe.
The Strange Talent of Luther Strode #1-6 is a solid superhero origin series, albeit with much more hyperviolence, something that tends to lower the emotional stakes.
Supermarket #1-4 is visually quite inventive, and the hypercorporatist future it presented was fascinating.
SHIELD #1-6 explores the corners and history of the Marvel Universe, with some lovely art by Dustin Weaver and Jonathan Hickman having fun with legendary historic figures. SHIELD’s motto is one of the best lines in comics.
At this point, I’m not going to worry about how many comics I’ve read this year. The answer will probably be the same: Too many.