Hey, look: reviews!:
X-MEN: FIRST CLASS #8: This comic is fun. I've been in love with the X-Men since I was a tiny stuffed calf, but that love's been spread among different titles, different creators, and different X-Men teams through certain periods. Right now I'm taking a break from most of the mainstream X-Teams (I do enjoy Astonishing X-Men, but it's really best read in big chunks or in the trade), so that leaves X-Men: First Class as my perennial top X-Title these days. I've heaped enough praise on this book from month to month that you know where I stand: it's fun without being full of angst, even in this month's issue which guest-stars the always gloomy Man-Thing and puts chipper Jean Grey face-to-face with her future, the future we all know from having read Uncanny X-Men #135-137, but which young Jeannie is sensing for the first time. I'm not quite certain weighing this book down with the gloom of the future is something I want to see every month, but it's done in such a light and clever way (the X-Men glimpse alternative future realities when Man-Thing's Everglades Nexus goes haywire) that it hardly seems as heavy as the frequent "Dark Phoenix" references of the mainstream X-Books. Add moments like the delighted glee Cyclops has at the opportunity to pilot a hydrofoil, Angel's encounter with valkyries, and consistently some of the best and cleverest intro/recap pages at Marvel. New (or guest?) artist Eric Nguyen provides suitably creepy swampish atmosphere, and there's a funny one-page Chris Giarrusso "Mini Marvels" strip at the back which ties into an Iron Man gag running in other Marvel magazines. In short, consistently delightful, even with dead Wolverine stinkin' up the place.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #548: This comic is fun. Well, here's the surprise comeback of the year as far as I'm concerned: bitter and tortured "One More Day" leading into an entertaining and energetic Spidey comic book. I picked this ish (and the two weekly issues preceding it) solely because Dan Slott's handling the writing on this story arche's a writer who I nearly always enjoy, and he does Spidey well. There's a fun and footloose 1970s Gerry Conway/Ross Andru feel to the entire proceedings: a clever death threat in a poison engineer to target certain DNA, the soap opera aspects of JJJ's heart attack and what Marla's getting up to while he's out of action, a funny and frantic taxi chase...and just what is the mystery with cute Carliewill she and our hapless Pete become an item? Most of all I applaud the concept of actually having a story arc that ends (even though with weekly publication, it seemed to come to that end fairly fast) at the same time subplots continue from week to week. Since the next arc is not written by Slott, I'm not entirely certain I'll be buying it, but I'm certainly gonna peek at it. I do miss Mary Jane. But the best thing that Marvel can do now is produce entertaining Spidey stories, and with this, they're off to a good start.
DAMAGE CONTROL #1: This comic is fun. Or, as the full actual title in the indicia says "WORLD WAR HULK: AFTERSMASH!: DAMAGE CONTROL". But that's a bit like calling an old friend "Mister." I loved, loved, loved the three original nineties Damage Control miniseries, so picking up this issue this week was a no-brainer. What I hoped for but didn't quite expect was that it'd be a worthy 21s-century successor to the original, one of the cleverest concepts of the Marvel Universe: who picks up and rebuilds after superhero battles? Damage Control, that's who! This one hits all the right notes straight from the first scene, where DC CEO Ann-Marie Hoag negotiates with Tony Stark...and wins. Like the original, it's funny if not necessary laugh-out-loud, but it doesn't sacrifice story for silly jokes. There's an interesting subplot about unregistered superheroes and a dandy cliffhanger when the Thunderbolts show up on the last page to kick ass and check ID. All the original cast are back (even the Damage Control bulldog), and Damage Control creator Dwayne McDuffie scripting, which is good enough news to make me do the happy Bully dance. Damage Control is a three-issue limited series, and I think it works best in small short stories, but I'm hoping that like the original, this'll spin off annual miniseries. And in a week with funny Spider-quips and some thoughtful Jean Grey dialogue, I'm gonna award The Best Line of the Week to the title of this issue, which sums up the way I've been feelin' about the Marvel Universe before Damage Control's return: "Whatever Happened to All the Fun in the World?" Why, it's right here! Right here in a comic about guys who rebuild the shattered Marvel Universe and give us a good laugh. That's why DAMAGE CONTROL #1 is the most fun comic of the week: because if fun isn't what we all need right now, I don't know what we need.