Based on Diamond’s shipping list, I predicted that October 3rd would be a good day to be a comic fan. A trip to my local retailer and forty bucks later, nineteen titles stood the chance of leaving me very satisfied and broke…or just broke. Welcome to the inaugural edition of Ambidextrous’ Rapid Fire. Reviews straight to the damn point and presented in the order of consumption. I promise not to swear too much. Let’s begin shall we?
1. Joker: Last Laugh #1 (Dixon & Beatty/Woods/Pepoy)
The Joker is diagnosed with a brain tumor and in typical psychopathic fashion, proceeds to orchestrate a murderous jailbreak through the use of a very familiar chemical substance, while Dick and Barbara attempt to enjoy a quiet night out. Before you can scream, “Not another damn DCU crossover”, Chuck Dixon comes through and delivers an entertaining introductory issue that sets a dangerous plot into motion and reveals that Dick and Barbara have very different opinions about Joker’s right to life.
2. Young Justice #38 (David/Nauck/Stucker)
The team comes apart at the seams following the War. This issue is conclusive proof that The Last Laugh has no business outside of the Bat-titles. The ridiculous tie-in involving Superboy’s clone is only rescued by several pieces of interesting character development.
3. Amazing Spider-Man #35 (Straczynski/Romita Jr./Hanna)
Spidey injects himself with a dose of radiation and finally beats the shit out of Morlun. This nearly invincible pain in the ass has been waxing Spidey for the last two issues, and seeing him turn the tables is a delight. JMS’s engaging narrative, JRJR’s fluid storytelling and one hell of a cliffhanger make this one a definite must-have.
4. Fantastic Four #48 (Pacheco & Loeb/Johnson/Weems)
Marvel’s first family bounces around the multiverse in search of the Ultimate Nullifier and leaves me dazed and confused. Not only do I not have the slightest idea what the hell is going on here, but this new villain, apparently on par with Galactus, has the physical presence of Richard Simmons…and you can see his ass on the cover. His…ass. Given the caliber of the creative team, I expect much more. Boo.
5. The Crusades #8 (Seagle/Jones/Randall)
Venus makes a shocking discovery as the search for the Knight intensifies. Seagle focuses on what makes this title consistently enjoyable…its diverse cast. Pieces of the puzzle are fitting together and Anton Marx remains an entertaining asshole.
6. The Agency #3 (Jenkins/Hotz)
The Agency follows the bloody trail of serial killer God’s Man to a demented pleasure dome. This book is Seven on amphetamines. It’s not very often that a comic leaves me genuinely creeped out, but Jenkins does it again with this latest effort. Don’t read before bedtime.
7. Daredevil #25 (Gale/Winslade/Hodgkins)
The trial of Daredevil concludes and realizing that the tedium of this storyline concludes with it makes me happy. My interest was peaked with the first chapter, but plunged suddenly as the bi-weekly saga approached the dreaded comics netherworld known as retro. I like my Man Without Fear gritty and hard-boiled. Sorry.
8. Doom Patrol #1 (Arcudi/Huat)
The Doom Patrol comes together. Knew nothing about the previous incarnation of this title so I’m an unbiased guinea pig. Good start with great art. DC will get more of my money next month.
9. Iceman #1 (Abnett & Lanning/Kerschl)
Bobby Drake meets the son he never knew he had. An interesting surprise and polished artwork balance out the hopelessly obvious ending.
10. Exiles #5 (Winick/Calafiore/McKenna)
The X-Men meet Quantum Leap as the Exiles fight the Hulk and encounter a very different incarnation of Alpha Flight. Humor and character dynamics blend with excellent guest art from Calafiore to make McKone’s break much easier to accept, as the man behind Barry Ween continues to entertain.
11. 100 Bullets #29 (Azzarello/Risso)
Wylie Times is evidently more than he appears, as Dizzy Cordova and Mr. Shepherd attempt to keep him alive long enough to deliver the good news. Pay close attention…this book is good. Always has been and from all indications…always will be.
12. Uncanny X-Men #398 (Casey/Phillips/Wood)
Wolverine faces Mr. Clean as Chamber gets booted out on his mutant ass. I hate to say I told you so…but I told you so. Casey’s run is getting better with every issue. Expect some fireworks in the coming months from this title, not to mention the annual reuniting Casey and Ashley Wood.
13. Ultimate Spider-Man #14 (Bendis/Bagley/Thibert)
Doctor Octopus emerges from his coma to make a shocking discovery, as Peter and his friends discuss what it means to have ‘powers’. Bendis re-introduces two mainstays into Ultimate continuity and successfully overcomes a voyage into the realm of unattractive lettering. Hopefully it’ll grow on me.
14. Alias #2 (Bendis/Gaydos)
Jessica Jones learns that she’s being gamed, but by who and for what reason, she has no idea. Her psychological breakdown is subtle and strangely entertaining. It’s not often that characters in our funny books mentally break down for all to see, crushed under the weight of a dangerous situation that they do not understand and cannot hope to control. Bendis’ masterful dialogue once again achieves marvelous effects. Excuse the pun.
15. Ultimate X-Men #10 (Millar/Kubert/Thibert)
Things become progressively worse for our captive X-Men, as Jean is forced to make a terrible decision, and the team’s last hope is dragged back into captivity sporting serious napalm burns. Mark Millar and Adam Kubert once again showcase the enjoyment possible from a controlled continuity flush.
16. Origin #2 (Jenkins/Kubert/Isanove)
Childhood friends become deadly enemies and the greatest secret of all is finally revealed. Jenkins pulls the rug out by utilizing the oldest trick in the book and I curse myself for not figuring it out earlier. Misdirection folks, and it doesn’t hurt that the art is gorgeous.
17. Wildcats #28 (Casey/Phillips)
Voodoo learns her condition isn’t permanent, and Spartan ties up loose ends. Casey and Phillips conclude their run at the top of their collective game and successfully accomplish an impossible task…making the Wildcats a unique experience among the superhero set. I’m making it my business to re-read Casey’s entire run…you should do the same.
18. X-Force #120 (Milligan/Allred)
Coach calls his final play as a familiar X-Man drops by for a visit. The addition of celebrity status to this band of heroically challenged misfits was sheer brilliance…and I hate Milligan for getting there first.
19. U.S. War Machine #4 (Chuck Austen)
Rhodes assembles a force to save the world from A.I.M. An engaging storyline and an original art style, not to mention an experimental format keep an extra $1.50 leaving my pocket every week.
Overall, a beautiful week to be a comic reader punctuated by several excellent titles and a minimum of near-misses. This probably only means that next week’s stash will be a bit disappointing in comparison. We’ll see…
Next time: The conclusion of my Crucible script, just to get the thing out of my system…