Brief thoughts about recently read comics. Not terribly spoilery, but read ahead with caution just in case. Word.
Scott Pilgrim Vs. The Universe - Darker (well, darker by Scott Pilgrim standards, anyway) than the previous volumes, but for my money the best of the series thus far, and the perfect thematic sequel to the last volume. In Vol. 4, Scott Pilgrim did indeed "get it together" and actually grow up a bit, so it makes sense that this would be the book where aspects of this "precious little life" (okay, I'll stop) fall apart. And most importantly, Bryan Lee-O'Malley's characters finally start asking the questions that have been hanging in the air since Vol. 1 but that no one, probably not even most readers, have thought to ask. What's really in it for Scott if and when he defeats all of Ramona's evil exes? By whose definition are these people really "evil," anyway, since most of the main characters have been pretty mean or dishonest at one point or another in the series? What sort of effects has Scott's pursuit of Ramona had on his band, or Knives, or Young Neil, or Scott himself? But it's not all angst... there's still fighting, video game references, and even some robots, so it's still the same old Scott Pilgrim, but maybe with a little more to ponder until the release of the final book. Plus, lots of Kim Pine in this one. Kim Pine is awesome.
Scott Pilgrim Full Colour Odds and Ends 2008 - This is reprints of one-off Scott stories from some past years' Free Comic Book Day, as well as a story that ran in some magazine or newspaper (I forget precisely where, but I remember it was online, too), and some pin-ups and promo art. So it's all stuff you've probably read before, and for free at that, as opposed to the 5 clams this cost. But this is in Colour. Which is fancier than plain old color. And you have everything in one place. So there's that. If you missed any of the FCBD stuff in the past, or just, you know, want one, it's totally worth tracking down.
Essex County Volume 3: The Country Nurse - I thought the first volume of Jeff Lemire's Essex County trilogy was good, but didn't initially see what the big deal was. The second volume helped the first click a little more for me, and this final book brought it all together in such a way as to make me look at the entire series in an entirely new light. We see a few days in the life of the title character, how those days parallel important events in the life of her grandmother, and how both of these women affect the lives of characters from the previous two books and Essex County as a whole. Now that I can see the whole rather than just the parts, I definitely think this is both a wonderfully complex and beautifully simple work.
Justice Society of America Vol. 1: The Next Age - I know a lot of people who hold this title up as the absolute pinnacle of the DC line right now, but at least as far as this arc goes, I don't really get that at all. It was a decent read, Johns' characterizations were interesting (particularly Cyclone, a.k.a. Maxine Hunkel, granddaughter of the Golden Age Red Tornado), and Dale Eaglesham sure draws himself a good-looking superhero book, but honestly, "let's put the team together while we fight some new threat that's actually an old threat with a new coat of paint" is nothing new or groundbreaking. Decent, and well-told, but not pinnaculous by any stretch. But a damn sight better than...
Justice League of America: The Lightning Saga - Brad Meltzer can write a quiet moment with the best of 'em, but the man can't write interesting full-on superhero action at all. Picked this up from the library because I wanted to see the beginning of the "Everything Old is New Again" Legion of Super-Heroes that Geoff Johns will be writing, but even at the low cost of Free Ninety-Free, I feel sort of ripped off. Well, partially. The JSA issues in this book were actually pretty good, mostly because of the character moments, like Superman sharing his reminiscences of the Legion with Stargirl and Cyclone, or Johns' metatextual dig at the way Meltzer has all the JLA members call each other by their real names in public. But honestly, there's nothing Saga about this story, which could have been handled in a single issue... stretching it to 3 issues would be "padding," but going all the way to 5 was just ridiculous. Skimmed the rest of the non-Lightning Saga issues that made up the back-half of the book, but saw nothing worth actually reading. Avoid, even for free.
Blue Beetle #36 - Matthew Sturges tried, he really did, but this book never really recovered from the departure of John Rogers. Not that it would have last any longer had Rogers stayed, based on sales numbers, but I would've liked it better right up until the end. As it happens, this ending left a bad taste in my mouth. A good chunk of Jaime's support system is dismantled, a character is killed in a needless and totally callous attempt at !ZOMG SHOCK VALUE!!1! (I won't spoil who, but make room in the refrigerator), and the series ends with plenty of opportunities for future writers to get their angst on with our boy Blue. In other words, it goes out like every other DC book it did its level best to stand apart from. Oh well, at least there's still Batman: The Brave and the Bold, right?