Short (and increasingly less timely) reactions to stuff I read and liked lately:
Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #13 - Superboyman makes his debut in Metropolis, and we see how his initial time with the Legion has prepared him for the event. Understandably, the Legion itself takes a back seat here, but their few appearances throughout the issue are used to good effect. The real treat is seeing not only the animated LSH continuity version of 21st century Metropolis, but the early days of Clark and Lois's respective careers. When we usually see the early days, Lois is already the star reporter and Clark the talented up-and-comer, so it's a real kick to see them both just starting out for once. It's also nice to see J. Torres avoid the "and then we all learned a lesson, didn't we?" that has marred so many otherwise good stories from the Johnny DC books in the past, so that's another plus right there. And it needs to be said - Alex Serra draws a freakin' adorable Lois Lane.
Black Panther (Vol. 2, the Christopher Priest series) #s 1-16 - I've been picking up an issue or two every few weeks since the local shop has pretty much the entire run for cheap. And I have to say, all of the positive press I've read through the years is correct. I don't think it's quite, as I heard one person say, "Marvel's Starman" (I think that title belongs to Brubaker's Captain America, if anything), but it certainly does do a phenomenal job of fleshing out the Panther's character, creating his own little niche of the Marvel universe, to the point of giving him one of those Dynastic Centerpiece Models that Scipio was always talking about. And the idea that Black Panther is often a supporting player in his own book, that we're seeing everything through his addled (and inable to tell a story in the proper order) State Department handler, the Michael J. Fox-esque K. Everett Ross, is a brilliant storytelling device. Too bad the art is so painfully uneven. Overmuscled figures, rivers of weird mouth spittle, needless crosshatching... throw in some pouches, and you'd have 90s comic art in microcosm. If you don't go blind, though, it's a fantastic read.
Secret Invasion: Who Do You Trust? - I'm not following Secret Invasion at all (or Final Crisis, for that matter), but there was an Agents of Atlas story in it, so I felt the need to get it in the hopes that Marvel someday lets Jeff Parker do a follow-up to the awesome original mini-series. And the story here brought the goods... strong enough to stand on its own, even if you haven't read the original Agents series or any of Secret Invasion books, but moves the plot along for both concepts pretty well. Worth a read for that. The rest was scattershot. The Agent Brand story was fun, and interesting enough to make me curious about what happens next to her. The Beast/Wonder Man story had a couple of fun moments, but since one or both of them may be a Skrull, it didn't feel like it ultimately *meant* anything. And the Captain Marvel and Marvel Boy stories were both pretty dumb. But still, more Agents of Atlas, so yay.
What If This Was the Fantastic Four: A Tribute to Mike Wieringo - Kinda weak storywise, but that's not why any of us bought this, is it? It was great that 'Ringo's final finished pages got to see the light of day - strong work from him, as always - and the rest of the art chores were handled ably by a who's who of his friends and admirers, and their styles all blended well, without any jarring transitions, which was nice. And yeah, the tributes in the back from Mike's brother, Mark Waid, Todd Dezago and others may have left me a little sniffly. One bit of weirdness, though... I thought it was funny that they said that many of the contributors waived the normal fees, most working for just $1 a page. Makes you wonder who the douchebags still charging full price were, huh?
The Nearly Complete Essential Hembeck Archives Omnibus - Haven't actually read this giant brick of a book yet, but I've read at least some of the material in the past, so I know it'll be awesome and I'm glad it's finally here. I'm just sayin'. Here's hoping this does well enough that the powers that be at Marvel and DC release compendia of his works for those companies, too.