The List: The "Jeez, is it really September 1st already?" edition

Brief reactions to recently read (if not always recently produced) comics. Might be a little spoilery, so read with caution.

Batman & Robin #3 - I'll admit that I was getting a little tired of Dr. Pyg's eccentricities by the end, but Damian came to my metatextual rescue with the best reaction possible. I keep saying I'm going to wait for the trade on this, but watching Dick and Damian grow into their respective title roles has been a fun ride, so curiosity keeps me coming back. I don't think that's a bad thing. It'll be interesting to see if a non-Quitely issue still has that same draw, though.

Doctor Who: Cold-Blooded War! - I passed on pre-ordering this, but thumbing through and seeing all the callbacks to old school Who (Draconians, Ice Warriors, and Alpha Centauri!) and the Adipose journalist on the first page... I'm not made of stone here, people. The metaphor at play here - Draconian society since we last saw it has basically become like the Taliban - is handled in an incredibly straight-forward manner, but 22 pages don't leave much time or space for subtlety (oh, the irony there). Not as plot-hammered as it could have been, though, which I'm going to chalk up to Richard Starkings fleshing out Gary Russell's story. Definitely makes me want to finally read Starkings' Elephantmen. The art by Adrian Salmon is great, too, capturing the basic looks of the characters without being over-referenced. In the end, it reads like an abbreviated episode of the show, which is all-too-rare with Doctor Who comics, so that's definitely a win.

Uncanny X-Men First Class: Giant-Size #1 - I didn't read the original X-Men: First Class as often as I probably should have, but I always enjoyed it when I did, so I gave this a shot, and I'm mostly glad I did. It's a mixed bag, to be certain - with so many creators, there's no feeling of a unified voice here - but it succeeds more often than not. The idea of Cyclops getting to know his new, post-Giant-Size X-Men #1 teammates through their own narratives could have been cheesy in the wrong hands, but it plays out well, especially Wolverine's supposed origin story. Let's see some more Agent of S.N.I.K.T. stories, people!

Red Herring #1 - Admittedly this is just the first part of the mini-series, so it's not supposed to make a lot of sense yet, but I wasn't immediately drawn in by this tale of political intrigue and people with weird names (Red Herring! Maggie MacGuffin! Meyer Weiner!). However, it is drawn by Phillip Bond, whose artwork I always enjoy (he draws cute wimmins), which is why I can never bring myself to part with that weird Howard Chaykin-penned Angel & the Ape mini from Vertigo. So I'm curious to see how it all works out if only to keep seeing Bond's artwork. I guess that means Wildstorm wins?

Essential X-Men Vol. 6 - This covers the era right just before and after Uncanny #200, so you get the Asgardian war, the trial of Magneto, and entire Mutant Massacre, and at this point, X-Men is still the best soap opera ever committed to paper. But if there's a flaw here, it's in getting all the attendant crossover bits from the Massacre story. When you're so thoroughly entrenched in Claremont's writing - thick and dense as the finest molasses - it's jarring to transition to Louise Simonson on X-Factor, and then to her far lighter touch on Power Pack. And to then go completely off into left field on her husband Walt's Thor... it's a schizophrenic reading experience to say the least. And while it's good to get the whole story, you spend so much time reading about X-Factor, the Power kids, and Thor that the X-Men take the back seat in a surprisingly large chunk of their own book. Still, it's the sort of thing I better get used to if I plan on reading further in the series, as the crossover era is just beginning.

Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: Best of the Best - As I've said before, I think Ms. Marvel is great in terms of both design and concept - if Marvel's going to have a female superhero that stands any shot at being even partially equivalent to the iconic status of Wonder Woman, she's one of their few best chances - and it's great that they've put such effort into rebuilding the character in the past few years. I can't say as this made me want to sit up and pay more attention to her, though. It's certainly competently written and drawn, don't get me wrong, but there's not a lot of "Wow!" here. This was a library read, and the only issues of this series I own are the two that Mike Wieringo drew, and at least based on these initial stories, it may stay that way. But at the same time, if more volumes show up at the library, I may check them out, because they were at least a quick, pleasant-enough diversion. (I thought it was weird to see Spider-Woman violating Marvel's sacred "our heroes don't smoke" rule in the first issue, though. Maybe because she was later outted as a Skrull?)

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