In Wolverine & X-Men, the artwork seems slightly off in places, Whilce Portacio anatomy put through a smoother filter, which doesn't quite work – except for one aspect. In that it emphasises Colossus' nature as a power mad nut job turning into a narcissistic monster, divorced from humanity – and it's clearly deliberate, as the final page shows. He's fake, a god's idea of what it must be to be a man, or a mutant. And it really works.
In Avengers, we see someone we haven't seen in the book for quite some time. General Ross. As a human, abandoning his Red Hulk persona for stealth purposes, to commit an act of assassination upon Cyclops. Narrated at length by the man, it's a look inside this walking contradiction of a character, who has become all that he hated, discovered he loved it, but now has to put it on hold to do this act – also stepping across another moral line.
Talking of moral lines… Crossed: Badlands. It's an outbreak story, we haven't had one of those for a while, with two very interesting things. One, it's set during a performance in a travelling circus, so the line between Crossed and performer gets blurred. And secondly, it stars a young, introverted, maladjusted teenager, the least likely person to survive a Crossed outbreak. But survive he does. Somehow. For now.
While Astonishing X-Men's Mike Perkins draws the aftermath of the wedding of Northstar and Kyle, he only bookends the comic. In the middle in flashback mode is Karma's story, drawn in a very different fashion, closer to Jill Thompson's work. It's convincing – though strange when Karma exhibits her powers in exactly the same fashion as in old issues of New Mutants, the line drawn pink blossom effect around her and the affected people's heads. And there's this scene, a lovely contrast between Karma's desires of anonymity and Warbird's embracement of her form, simultaneously.
This may be my favourite issue of Axe Cop to date, crammed full of such amazing and bizarre ideas taken straight, with a child logic strapping them all together. Of course Axe Cop would declare himself President of the Earth and create a new capital city of the Earth and, yes, as President naturally he would talk to God – and God would answer him. And that's all in the first few pages. Even Grant Morrison could never cram so much madness into so little space…
X-Treme X-Men does try to keep up with Axe Cop however, with a hundred disembodied heads of Charles Xavier from different dimensions teaming up with a Nightcrawler to save their world. And in the process, dooming many others…
As does Prophet, making his way through a very organic cosmic future… remembering another familiar face from the past.
Or The Manhattan Projects, with Robert Oppenheimer's evil twin brother using his Planerian Wormness to dicover the truth about the current state of the universe (with Jonathan Hickman diagrams to help explain it all), and how it could be exploited…
Nah, Aze Cop still wins.
Justice League Dark takes us back to the Black Room, as Constantine uses it, basically, like MacGyver in a closet of chemical supplies. Merlin's staff is in there… which may or may not be news to the folk over at Demon Knights.
Aquaman starts to take on aspects of Game Of Thrones, but sadly doesn't seem to have room for the humour that the likes of Tyrion provide. It's a very earnest, bleak, humourless world all of a sudden – the fight for mystical objects, that then reveal other mystical objects is a familiar one, but even Indiana Jones knew how to bring the audience along without totally depressing them with all this mumbo jumbo.
We get an early pre-Dr Manhattan Vietnam story with The Comedian. It's interesting to compare this to Marvel's current Fury MAX series, and the Before Watchmen book is lacking in this regard. Thee, the moral complexites are brandished by Fury in a righteous, well, fury. Here, they feel like exposition necessity, putting the case against war just as The Comedian is revelling in it. Also, the artistic dexterity in Minutemen and Silver Spectre, and to some degree the first issue of The Comedian, isn't present here. It does work as a period piece, but the Watchmen trademark flourish seems to be missing.
National Comics: Eternity feels utterly like a weekly TV series pitch. Check this, a guy works in a morgue (procedural detail) and can grab the spirits of the recently dead to interrogate them about their death but, get this, they can never remember the last twenty-four hours of their lives. How very very convenient, demanding detective work, fighting an unknowing boss, and another supernatural entity who has his own plans for the spirits that our Eternity targets. It's Silent Witness meets Randall And Hopkirk (Deceased). And I feel complicit…
Whereas Debris is completly and utterly Nausicca Of The Valley Of The Wind meets Princess Mononoke. It wears its manga influences on its patchwork shoulder as it tells a story of a post apocalyptic semi-society fighting and hiding from the mechanical monstrosities around them, and one young woman standing up to protect them all…
Hit-Girl. Hilarious. A young girl trying to teach an older guy the wherefores and whys of being a real life superhero. She stays in control throughout, and the comic is full of nice touches, from Pimp Daddy Kick Ass, the window routine, the gun that is not full of tranquilizers and her plans to subvert her school's version of Heathers. I've been a little cold on Secret Service, Superior, Nemesis and Supercrooks, even Kick Ass 2, but Hit-Girl is shaping up to be Millar's best comic since Red Son. It is clever, witty, looks great, and is a joy to read. Even if it seems to be, basically, filling in continuity between two pre existing series. The Comedian should be this good at it.
There are many Millar haters out there, those who have gone off his work even if they once liked it. The second issue Hit-Girl could, if they deigned to read it, be the book that brings them back.
Comics courtesy of Orbital Comics, London. Currentky exhibiting the work of Hung.