Thursday Round Up
Wolverine and the X-Men #4
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Jason Aaron
Penciler: Nick Bradshaw
My favorite new book of the year slows down (just slightly) from the high octane non-stop bullet train of crazy for some quieter, though, no less enjoyable character moments. The students and faculty become acclimated to two new additions to the student body and one very poorly chosen guest lecturer. These new faces force Logan to address the apparent hypocrisy of continuing to run X-Force given the school's mission statement, and the explanation he offers is quite satisfying, however one has to wonder if Logan isn't stretching himself to thin given what's at stake. The issue also offers a great confrontation between Wolverine and Iceman, as the latter learns of what has become of Warren, as a result of his time with X-Force. Aaron continues to deliver excellent character growth for Iceman who has been so long neglected among the stable of X mainstays and this issue adds another item to the growing list of responsibilities he's taking on at the Jean Grey School. Nick Bradshaw's art has an almost animated look to it. His character designs border on caricature in some places and while this is suitable for some issues given the inherent whimsy of the title I don't think he is strong enough yet to carry the title as it's regular penciler. Month in and month out Wolverine and the X-Men is proving that fun and greatness are not mutually exclusive terms when it comes to comics.
Grade: A-

The Amazing Spider-Man #677
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Mark Waid
Penciler: Emma Rios
While I am really enjoying his work on Daredevil, his return to The Amazing Spider-Man for this two part crossover represents a rare miss for Mark Waid. Having recently been dumped by his girl friend Carlie, Peter tries to reignite things with his on-again, off-again flame Black Cat. Black Cat has bigger problems on her hands, ones that will require Spider-Man's help as well as some legal counsel. Enter Daredevil. Peter's attempts to hit on Black Cat are sufficiently awkward and hilarious, but something about the idea of Peter cruising for rebound nookie just feels"¦wrong. Therein lies the greater flaw with this issue, as Waid's attempt to harness Peter's voice, especially in his inner monologue and descriptions of Daredevil just come off as juvenile. Waid's handling of Daredevil fares much, much better almost to the extent that the titular hero suffers in comparison. Emma Rios' style is not what you would expect when you think of a Spider-Man artist. However he pencils capture the litheness and Ditko-esque creepiness of the character in costume while the civilian designs boast a fluidity of motion and a wide range of expressions. Here's hoping the conclusion in this month's Daredevil fares better than part 1 of this story, Waid can do better.
Grade: C+

Demon Knights #5
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Paul Cornell
Artist: Diogenes Neves
Don't get me wrongI love this title. I love Paul Cornell. I love these characters. But three "calm before the storm" issues in a row tends to give the impression that the title is spinning its wheels. This issue continues to flesh out and add depth to its exotic and eclectic cast of characters. And while I'm sad to see the intrigue and questions regarding the nature of Madame Xanadu, Jason Blood, and Etrigagn's relationship resolved so early in the game, the issue offers up some new answers and even more questions about the Horse Woman and Exoristos. Al Jabr is quickly becoming a favorite and a new character to watch, and Vandal Savage continues to prove just how much an x factor can enhance a book's dynamic. Diogenes Neves returns to his art duties after a one issue fill in by Mike Choi. And while his lay outs still leave quite a bit to be desired, his figure work is versatile and emotive. This was an enjoyable issue, but it's time for Cornell and company to bring the fireworks.
Grade: B
Tags: Wolverine and the X-Men, Amazing Spider-Man, Demon Knights
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