Hope everyone enjoyed the recent holiday.

In another fourteen hours or so, I’ll be heading towards family and a weekend’s worth of free meals with an armload of reading material, Metroid Prime for my Nintendo, and an assortment of secret projects along for the ride. Is this going to prevent me from providing an adequate weekly dose before hitting the interstate?

Of course not…you should know better. Using the impending holiday as a reason to experiment (and provide a focus that won’t sacrifice quality for speed) we’re going to witness the elicit marriage of two former topics and marvel at the dangerous illegitimacy they create. It’s Wednesday as I write this, and any direct market zombie acknowledges this as “new book day” or some other such terminology that denotes the habitual pilgrimage that many make to their local supplier.

I’ve got a bag full of material to sort through in the next several hours, and you unlucky folks are coming along for the ride. Commentary, insights, and harsh criticisms will be dispensed in rapid succession, and only true unadulterated New Hotness is safe. I’ll also be providing a timeline in which the contents are consumed, just because it may prove interesting.


Prologue:
Before beginning, I’d be remiss for ignoring two of this week’s releases that I snagged by way of First Look last week. Batman #609 is a solid enough installment of the yearlong “Hush” arc, but the narrative still hasn’t picked up enough speed. Jim Lee art remains pretty, but Loeb appears to be in the process of setting up his dominos. Once he begins knocking them over, I have no doubt that he’ll easily attain Hotness status.

globalfrequencyGlobal Frequency #2 on the other hand is so intelligent that I’m declaring it worthy without even touching this week’s stash. Once again Ellis gives us a complete story in 22 pages, offering an abundance of clever notions and diverse characters, wrapped around a stylish execution and bright premise. Are you on the Global Frequency? You damn well better be.

Okay, I think I’m warmed up now. Let’s do this…


8 pm- 9pm

Action Comics #797 has Superman visiting his therapist one last time. This is an epilogue of sorts to the “Ending Battle” crossover we just had to endure the last couple of months in the Superman titles and resolves some dangling plot threads while spinning a few more. Decent book with solid characterization from Joe Kelly.

Buffy #51 takes place in the relative nothingness between the feature film and the weekly serial, and fights against the potential death knell of all stories shoe-horned into continuity…the possibility that they may not matter. Nothing bold can be accomplished because a precedent is established beforehand that effectively handicaps the creative team. Things look solid thus far as the tale begins slowly, hinging itself on an emotional hook that could prevent the balloon from bursting. We’ll see.

American Century #20 is the usual mix of sex, violence, and bad language. The likable presence of Harry Kraft keeps this title interesting despite its frequent change of venues, and its knack for introducing too many characters too fast. Marc Laming’s pencils, which are digitally inked this month, lose a bit of sharpness but remain attractive. Will read much better in collected form, which is the case with nearly all of Chaykin and Tischman’s previous arcs.


9 pm-10 pm

Resistance #3 continues to build upon the potential nearly buried in the first issue. The world opens and characters are allowed to develop among the friendly confines of Juan Santacruz’ artwork that seems unnaturally at ease with rendering this dystopian future that proves the greatest adversary. Gray and Palmiotti have shown up in the last couple of months, making this book worth reading.

Gail Simone picks up her sharp cliffhanger from last month with Agent X #5, removes her character’s ability to speak, has a cameo from X-villain Arcade, examines the plight of the girl no one can see, and positions herself to exit the title in a blaze of action packed glory. Cover’s kinda funny too.

FF #62 is the kind of approach I was expecting from Mark Waid. Strong family dynamics, balanced by weird science fiction. The mathematical equation from last month isn’t what it appears to be and its true nature proves to be yet another clever reversal in an already imaginative story.


10pm-11pm

It’s the Sopranos disguised as Wolverine #183. I’m down with giving Logan a gritty underground approach, but I think he should be in more than a third of his own book. Right now the mob hands are dominating his title and reducing him to a secondary concern that only appears when characters arranged as dominoes take a break from talking about nothing. Art’s nice though.


11:30pm-12:30 am

Broke for dinner and a phone call. Back to things.

Paul Pope handles the art chores on X-Statix #5 as the title continues to regain its footing and live up to the precedent set by Milligan when he first inherited the title. Less traditional superheroics and more modern celebrity trappings. Hopefully the trend will lead the concept through its next arc.

Midnight, Mass. #8 is proof that this series should return in 2003. X-Files meets the Exorcist with a Vertigo twist for one of the most overlooked mini-series of the year. Maybe the rumored television deal will buy us another few installments.

Ultimate Adventures #2 – I really don’t know what to say about this one. I don’t know if it’s supposed to be funny, tragic, or just…hell I don’t know. The art is good, some of the dialogue is good, but is there a point to all this? The main character irritates me and Hawk-Owl or whatever his name is…he irritates me too.


12:30am-1:30am

Queen & Country: Declassified #1continues Rucka’s flawless record on the Oni Press title. We’re taken back to the late eighties and a younger Paul Crocker who’s trying to keep the world safe…at the expense of his marriage. Even while playing in a different decade, Rucka manages for Q & C to offer one of the best reads on the stands. And who doesn’t love Scott Morse covers?

Ultimate X-Men #25 has such a dynamite cliffhanger that I won’t comment on the fact that we never receive a clear understanding of what the Phoenix Force really is. It could very well be a figment of Jean’s imagination, which would be clever, or it could be an ages-old mad god that wants to eat our world. You know what though? I don’t care, because the stage is set for the Ultimate War and things are about to get dirty.

Avengers #60 – I don’t care about the Avengers. Not even a little bit. But I’ve been buying it since Geoff Johns took over, and that’s about the highest compliment I can provide.


1:30 am- 2:30am

Wildcats 3.4 continues the title’s trend of having the sexist covers in comics. Thanks to Joe Casey it has some of the sexiest content too. As a discussion of corporate branding and marketability comes to an end, we’re thrust into a vivid action sequence that allows Dustin Nguyen to show just how skilled he’s becoming with each passing issue. And you gotta love a book with the title “Pearl Necklace”.

100% #4 is a comic for cool people. From the descriptive words “a graphic movie” on the cover to the continued page numbering to the use of the inside front cover…this book is cool. A comic that would find itself completely comfortable in record shops and trendy clothing stores, next to the cheap earrings and sunglasses. I’ve raved about this series before, and with only one more chapter to go, here’s hoping something rushes to take its place. We need more cool comics out there.


2:30am

Whew, okay I’m through with this little experiment. New Hotness is identified by the presence of a cover scan and it was really tough choosing this week, because excluding the presence of a few duds, the majority of the stash was pretty respectable. Must sleep now. Back next week with what should be my seventy-fifth column.

Peace

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