Some spoilers ahead. Read with caution.
Dark Avengers / Uncanny X-Men: Utopia – I’m continuing to enjoy reading Matt Fraction’s run on Uncanny in trade. What I’m not enjoying is Marvel filling these books extraneous material to pump up the page counts and the prices. They did it with Manifest Destiny, they did it with this, and I can expect with Nation X and beyond, I’m sure. Anyway, Fraction’s story from Uncanny and Dark Avengers was good, and I legitimately like the idea of the X-Men getting so fed up with the “hated and feared” malarkey that they take their ball and go home to an entirely new country formed from the wreckage of Asteroid M. That is some mad, rad comic bookery right there. The X-Men: Legacy issues weren’t bad, but, you know… Gambit. All set there. And the rest was just filler. Send the filler off to its own book, Marvel, and just give me the story.
Superman: Brainiac – I’m so very, very happy that after all these years, they’ve finally found a way to make the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths Brainiac a threat again (though it looked like they had it back in the early 90s with the Panic in the Sky story, but they got away from that eventually, too), and even though the death of Jonathan Kent seemed forced in order to make the comics more Richard Donner-y, it did have a decent impact (especially the silent funeral sequence, with Bruce Wayne and Alfred standing in the back obscured by shadow). If anything, though, the story felt too short, like they were in a rush to get to the New Krypton stuff.
Showcase Presents: Bat Lash – Now this was fun. Pretty much all of the Bronze Age DC Western material I’ve read is Jonah Hex, which is great, but pretty depressing, especially when read in chunks. Bat Lash, on the other hand, is generally more fun and light-hearted, though writers Sergio Aragones and Denny O’Neill handle the serious stuff well, too. Lash is a study in contrasts – he’s a killer, but he can’t resist helping a kid or a pretty woman; he abhors violence but is really good at it; he never has much money (or when he does, not for long), but appreciates the finer things in life – and is a great character as a result, but there are a lot of other things to enjoy here, too. My favorites were the recurring Laurel & Hardy-esque undertakers and the fact that Aragones himself ends up cast as two different villains throughout the run. And then, of course, there’s the artwork of Nick Cardy, who draws shoot’ em up action and beautiful women equally well. And as one of the smaller Showcase volumes, you still get a pretty decent read at a cheaper price. Highly recommended.