Almost everything was really good this week. The only disappointment comes courtesy of Mark Powers, the new GI Joe writer. More on that below.
GI Joe #22: Joe Casey's run on GI Joe didn't exactly light my world on fire, but at least it had one plot point that I knew was going to be dynamite. GI Joe was keeping the Baroness, presumed dead, in a secret underground prison. When Destro found out, it was going to be awesome. Well, as of this issue, Destro knows his wife is alive, and it is underwhelming. I always loved that Destro and the Baroness, even though they were villains, were always consistently depicted as being deeply and truly in love. I'm looking for a joyful reunion, and then for hellfire to rain on their enemies. What I'm getting is tepid anger from Destro, and a Baroness who's plans seem increasingly complicated and unreasonable. It's really not working for me. Despite that, I'm at least going to stick out the rest of this story arc. I mean, I waited almost two years for it already anyways.
Nova #1: Finally, the shining star of Annihilation get his own ongoing. This issue mostly just sets the table and brings everyone up to speed if they weren't following Annihilation (shame on you). Nova's been burning himself out trying to do the work of the entire Nova Corps by himself. At the very end of the issue, the Worldmind convinces him to take a vacation back to Earth. Issue #2 is where this book is really going to pick up steam, but the art and writing in the set-up issue are nothing to complain about. Good dialog, good characterization, go buy this book right now.
Cable & Deadpool #39: T-Ray's continuity issues are finally resolved in a convincing fashion. T-Ray is not Wade Wilson. Of course, we still don't know who T-Ray is. That's anyone's guess , I suppose. Also, we actually get some of Cable's supporting cast in this book, and the promise of Cable's return next issue, in a crossover with the current X-Men story. Again, I say just split the two of them up already. I'm no marketing wonk, but I'd be willing to bet that the two properties are capable of standing on their own at this point.
X-Men #198: Especially considering this issue promises the return of Cable's telepathy and telekinesis. I bet they did it because nobody except Nicieza understands how to write Cable's funky substitute powers. Anyways, Cable's been offered his old powers back in order to fight the Hecatomb, and Sabretooth leaves his allies to die. I'm not totally in love with the Hecatomb as an enemy, but this is another case of strong dialog and characterization carrying the book.
Thunderbolts #113: A couple other people have already been talking about this book, so I won't spend too long on it. It was a good read, and Osborn steals the show. The one thing I really don't like is how Andreas Strucker is written here. I especially don't care for the insinuation that he and his sister carried out an incestuous affair. When Strucker was introduced as the Swordsman, he was a genuinely conflicted character. He at the same time recognized his previous life as debauched and pointless, a life ultimately void of satisfaction. At the same time, he realized it was a life of privilege, which genuinely recommended itself over the constant hardship and brutalization of his life as the Swordsman. He both wanted his old life back and at the same time despised what he used to be. This Swordsman doesn't have that extra dimension anymore. He's just another super villain on the team, and I think that makes him feel flat and unnecessary.
Uncanny X-Men #485: We draw ever closer to the end of Brubaker's space opera. The battle is joined, betrayals are made, and Xavier and Darwin get chucked into the M'Kran crystal, the nexus of all realities. Also, Gladiator kicks major ass. My great hope is that the Shi'ar get mixed up in the next Annihilation event, just so those guys can use Gladiator. Anyways, this issue is pretty good, although none of the surprises are that surprising. I am interested to see how this gets resolved, as there are a couple of ways it could viably go in.
X-Factor #18: X-Factor engages X-Cell, and mostly don't do so good despite the fact that X-Factor still has their powers. Even Jamie's kung fu Buddhist dupe gets bested. Also, the return of an old character.
Birds of Prey #105: More good stuff, as Scandal beats the snot out of Hawkgirl, and the new Birds of Prey finally turn on one another. And the reveal of the newest member of the Secret Six is good enough that I won't spoil it here. Enjoy Simone on Birds while you can, she just dropped it to take on duties as the writer for Wonder Woman. Which means I'm probably going to have to add that title to my list.
One title that might have fallen under many people's radar is the Nightwing Annual #2. Anyone who's followed the Dick Grayson/Barbara Gordon relationship (and who didn't as a child) should give this issue a go. It goes into why Oracle shot down Dick's marriage proposal. And not only is the explanation satisfying, but there are some genuinely funny looks back at the Robin/Batgirl days (complete with Batman's "old chum" phrase). This one definitely gets a thumbs up from me.
I also got a good look at Nova #1 and am definitely looking forward to his return to Earth. It was kind of slow, but set up the second issue perfectly. The confrontation between Nova and Iron Man (and later, Nova and the new T-bolts) will undoubtedly be a must-read.
And count me among the disappointed with the recent Birds of Prey arc. Somehow, it feels like the conflict between the Birds and the Secret Six (probably the best thing to emerge from the most recent Crisis) is missing something...
The Wisdom of Homsar: AaAaAa! I'm a trendy tote bag!
That double page spread with all the Corps together? Awesome. And GUY GARDNER front and center looking badass? AWESOME. I've read this in several places, and I think I agree with it. If this is a tale of redemption, it isn't about Hal.