Some books I had high hopes for fell short, while one book that's had a rough patch of issues really got me good. Comics surprise me. Constantly.
10 - Edge of Spider-Verse #4 (last issue - 9 out of 9 books)
I want to make a distinction here, because I think this was really well-done. This list isn’t about technical perfection, so much as what I do and don’t like. With that said, I didn’t like this very well-done book. If you’re ready for a Tales from the Crypt style story about a creepy perv with an awful family who happens to become a Spider-Man, this is for you. But it missed the mark with me.
9 - Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier #1 (last issue - n/a)
This started out with a lot of promise. Bucky glibly continuing the journey Nick Fury started. Bringing Daisy on board because 1) she has no where else to go, 2) Bucky doesn’t want to be alone, and 3) Bucky needs someone to play off of if this is going to be worth reading. There was a lot of promise in those opening pages.
Then things fell apart. The narrative that Bucky was the secretive man on the wall fell apart as character after character seemed to be let in on the secret. The cleaning up of the extraterrestrial drug ring found a conclusion that was sloppy to read and the best possible reading of it is the most dull as well. I may give this a pass and eat my words later, but this one doesn’t seem like a keeper.
8 - X-Men #20 (last issue - 5 out of 10 books)
All of that fun character work from the previous issues takes a break here and Guggenheim tries to flesh out the nature of the threat. The problem with that is that they still have a very vague objective and we already knew Manifold Tiger was one of them...so we essentially got the same cliffhanger two issues in a row.
7 - Thor #1 (Thor: God of Thunder #25 - 9 out of 11 books)
In case you were wondering, this is still currently He-Thor’s book, with the new titular character not showing up until the very end. Still, Aaron does an admirable job showing how low He-Thor has fallen. The unworthiness to lift his hammer, the effect that has on him both as a character and in combat is given a considerable amount of time, so the former Thor looks to remain a fixture in the book with his name on it, even if someone else is using it.
Some problems: The gimmick here seems to be the withholding of the identity of the new Thor (though we’re given our first too-obvious-to-be-anything-but red herring) as well as the whisper that left the former Thor unworthy to be mysteries. That’s a dangerous rope to walk, especially if you want us to get behind this new Thor as a character. “What does she have that the old Thor doesn’t?” is a question left blank in two parts right now.
6 - Spider-Man 2099 #4 (last issue - 9 out of 10 books)
Actual headway in the quest to make a better man out of Tiberius Stone comes in as Peter David also does some heavy lifting to restore some gravity to the Scorpion as a villain. Some of it seemed a little forced, but this was still a ton of fun and sneakily ran with some commentary about the disasters of arming one side of a war and hoping for the best.
5 - Morning Glories #41 (last issue - 9 out of 9 books)
These are character pieces that take place against the backdrop of the big, mysterious thing that is Morning Glories Academy. As long as you remember that, you aren’t worried about who Headmaster is and what he wants, but you are thoroughly interested in Guillaume’s plan to upset the rule of the Headmaster that you kind of forget how shallow it is. Even as a symbol.
4 - Captain America #25 (last issue - 8 out of 10 books)
This was a lot of fun. You tend to forget that Remender, who can read as purely nihilistic sometimes, has a firm handle on levity and brought it out now as the Avengers are presented as a bunch of friends giving each other a hard time about who can and cannot take a joke in advance of the unveiling of the new Captain America (with a meta joke about how the reveal wasn’t surprising at all).
There’s no attempt, outside of what was supposed to be an impromptu eulogy in the early goings, to define yet again what Captain America stands for - just a clean and fun passing of the torch with some backmatter that sets up a betrayal to come. Wonderful stuff.
3 - Nailbiter #6 (last issue - 10 out of 10 books)
A little respite from the main story that sheds light on one of its characters we need to know more, but also builds the legend of our little Serial Killer-Spawning Berg a little more. There’s more to a teenage girl with a brooding problem than we’ve been led to believe, as she struggles with the town and a soon-to-be mother hellbent on infamy. This was really well-done.
2 - Rat Queens #8 (last issue - 3 out of 9 books)
Violet gets a character focus, as we get - more or less - her origin story. Simple ones are often the best, and the story of a girl who wants to go against the expectations of tradition is well-worn but still important to tell. Weaving in the inherent silliness of the dwarven culture as established in this world just wrapped a layer of fun around a book where the climactic scene is the shaving of a beard. And it was wonderful.
1 - Uncanny Avengers #25 (last issue - 10 out of 11 books)
I don’t know how many people remember the act of desperate violence that originally created Onslaught, but it all came from Chuck Xavier being so ticked off that he shut down Magneto. So here’s the Red Skull, with the power of Professor X, goading Magneto into the same kind of act. And we all know why, because we remember the epilogue from the first arc.
The Scarlet Witch narrates the action for us, because we need to understand how angry Magneto is and how neglectful he is of his actions because of that anger. If he’ll neglect a daughter, of course he won’t remember the catalyst for one of the 90’s biggest sales successes/story disasters.