Last week was kind of a slow week for new comics, but this week is out-of-control! Soooo much new stuff on Wednesday. Let’s get started! Warning: Spoilers!!!

Avengers: The Initiative #21 (Marvel)

By Christos Gage and Humberto Ramos
The Initiative has had a rough week! Hank Pym, Yellowjacket, turned out to be Skrull impostor, and the whole operation was the main front for the Secret Invasion. Gauntlet is left as the reluctant ad hoc leader and then robot-clone Thor shows up to eff shit up. Thor Girl responds but is quickly subdued, followed by Gorilla Girl and finally, The (wanted) New Warriors appear to attempt to save the day.
I haven’t kept up with this title after the first few issues. Not that I didn’t like the concept or watching new heroes come into their own, I just stopped reading it. Now that Dark Reign has begun, it affords me the opportunity to revisit titles like this one and see if it’s something I want to follow again. Not sure yet, but I’ll probably catch the next ish. Gage is an accomplished writer and even though i am no fan of anime, I appreciate Ramos’s cartoony, big-eyed style.

Justic Society of America #23 (DC)

By Geoff Johns and Jerry Ordway
So the good guys have finished their fight with Gog and apparently, the elders of the team aren’t pleased with the way the new kids handled themselves. Hawkman bails and the big dogs decide to make some cuts , which is a good thing because the size of the team got a little crazy there for a while. The rest of the story focuses on former JSA-er, Black Adam, reuniting with Isis and the two of them attacking the former Captain Marvel (now Wizard), Billy Batson, to obtain the Rock of Eternity. Doing so strips Billy of his powers and puts the Black Marvel family on top. The final splash page shows them recruiting the newly bad, Mary Marvel to join them.
The art in this book has a very old school feel, which is appropriate considering the JSA’s mission to instill silver age values to the new generation of heroes. I am very glad they will be trimming their ranks and excited to see this story cross-over into the Marvel (not Marvel comics) Family realm.

Nightwing #152 (DC)

By Peter Tomasi and Don Kramer
I just saw this one in the new stack today, but the DC website showed its release date as two weeks ago. Better late than never! I honestly don’t think I’ve ever read a single Nightwing issue before, but this is a Faces of Evil tie-in, featuring Ra’s Al Ghul, so, you know.
Just as Dark Reign allows me to explore some new Marvel books, the end of Final Crisis, and perhaps more significantly, the forthcoming, Battle For The Cowl, provides the same opportunity in the DC Universe. Batman is dead and soon, one of several players in Gotham will rise to assume the mantle left by Bruce Wayne. The first Robin and now Nightwing, Dick Grayson seems the obvious candidate for the job. In this story he is in the Batcave when a whole mess of League of Shadows ninjas attack. Action ensues and Nightwing is summoned to a meet-up with Ra’s under a temporary truce. The rest of the tale is all positioning to cast Nightwing as the new batman but it’s not a bad self-contained story and a good jumping-on point for new readers.

Thunderbolts #128 (Marvel)

By And Diggle and Roberto De La Torre
Here’s another book that I apparently missed last week, or just shipped late. Also, one I haven’t followed in about two years. Last issue I read was #110, right after Civil War, when Warren Ellis took over writing duty and reformed the team with Norman Osborne, the Green Goblin, as team leader. Now that Norm is the big man on campus heading up the defunct S.H.I.E.L.D., now H.A.M.M.E.R., I felt this was worth a look to see how Dark Reign has changed things.
The Thunderbolts are a unique team. All are former, or still villains, who work for the government to bring in unregistered heroes. After his glorious ascent, Osborn disbanded the T-bolts, but seems to have secretly formed another squad with the purpose of assassination. Led by Black Widow II, the team also includes Ant Man and Ghost. Everything is looking good for Osborn, but hey, we have a new president now! Osborn meets up with Obama (although his name is never actually mentioned of course) to discuss Norman’s fitness to wield so much power. Who better to make the assessment than superhuman psychologist, Doc Sampson? Osborn then uses evry ounce of manipulation and positioning to turn the tables on Sampson before his new Thunderbolts fake an attack on Air Force One led by some new Green Goblin.
The art in this book is fantastic and with Norman as the Marvel U’s man-in-charge, Thunderbolts will no doubt be a very important title throughout Dark Reign.

The Mighty Avengers #21 (Marvel)

By Dan Slott and Khoi Pham
Again, this one showed up under last week’s releases, but I didn’t see it until today. Hmmmmm…. Anyway, with Tony Stark stripped of his directorship of S.H.I.E.L.D., and subsequently The Might Avengers, Ms. Marvel’s resignation and Osborne’s formation of his new Avengers team in the pages of Dark Avengers, this team has been hit hard! This book is packed with nearly every Avenger ever! It opens with Stature and Vision from The Young Avengers who are attacked by the return of…the Scarlet Witch! Yes, the same former Avenger responsible for their disassembly and M-Day. Whesn strange things happen all over, Herc and his new partner, Amadaeus Cho, seek out Jarvis, whom Cho calls the constant of the Avengers. They then seek out Hamk Pym to be the new leader before making it to Transia, the epicenter of all the craziness. There, they find the Scarlet Witch and learn that she has assembled a new team of Avengers for Pym, who has summed his late ex-wife’s mantle of the Wasp, to lead. Among them are: Hulk (the real one), U.S. Agent, Stature, Vision, Herc, and Jocasta. In the end, it wasn’t Wanda Maximoff causing all the chaos, but Mordred summoning none other than Pietro Maximoff, formerly Quicksilver and now some crazy person called Cthon.
Something about this book in general has always been a little off. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is exactly but now with Slott taking over from Bendis, there are bound to be some changes. This story loks pretty interesting so I’ll see where it goes, but I’ll only be satisfied with a return to ONE Avengers title!

Ms. Marvel #35 (Marvel)

By Briann Reed and Ouiffe
While I’m not a huge Ms. Marvel fan, I have to admit, that lady has some of the best covers ever! That, and after the events in Dark Avengers, I was curious to see what she might be cooking up. As I mentioned earlier, she resigned from the Avengers and subsequently had her mantle passed along to former Thunderbolt, Moonstone. Now, her and a couple of guys are digging for dirt on Osborne. Some wacky cult sees Marvel Boy assume the role as Captain Marvel and all drink the kool-aid, if you know what I mean. Carol Danvers goes to the scene to check it out and confronts the new Marvel and they duke it out. When she returns to her hideout, one of her associates has made a breakthrough in their investigation. Expect a lot of detective work and run-in’s between the old and new Ms. Marvels and the new Captain Marvel. I probably won’t follow this one though.

Captain America #46 (Marvel)

By Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting
I never would have guessed just how awesome Captain America was when I first got back into comics a few years ago. I figured it would be cheesy patriotic crap about a good little soldier who did was his country told him too. Au contraire! Even back when it was Steve Rogers behind the mask, Ed Brubaker made Captain America just about the coolest character in the Marvel Universe. He did the same thing for me with Daredevil, another character I assumed to be lame. Brubaker has a thing for noir and in the case of this book, espionage. It was there in the beginning of his run but now that Bucky is the new Cap, we get to see a Soviet-trained assassin kick ass. Scratch that, two Soviet-trained assassins as Black Widow is a part of the cast. That’s what I really like about this book. Ffrom the beginnning, it hasn’t been all about Cap. So much so that for about a year after his death, the title continued with no Captain America whatsoever. The other great thing about it is how Brubaker taps into the history of Captain America and the Invaders. In this ish, Cap teams up with his former teammate during WWII, Namor, to save another ex-Invader, the Human Torch. Not the Fantastic Four one, but the one from the 40’s, who is being kept alive by a mad scientist guy. You really get a sense of what a dickhole Namor is in this. I’m glad to be reading Captain America again as it is one of the most consistently great titles there are.

Batman # 685 (DC)

By Paul Dini and Dustin Nguyen
At first I thought this was just a way to tella Catwoman story after her title had been cancelled but when Hush appeared masquerading as Bruce Wayne, I began to see where this was going. I have to admit, this did feel a lot like filler and I’m just really eager to read Neil Gaiman do a Batman story, when he taks over for a two-issue arc before battle For The Cowl begins. You do get the sense that Hush will have a part to play in everything, if not now, then the near-future. I can’t help but compare this “death” with the death of Captain America. Both were major players in their respective universes and both seemed like the type of character you can’t just kill off. After the death and return of Superman, it seemed like you could never get rid of such classic characters. But Steve Rogers is most certainly dead and Marvel did him the solid of not staging a way to bring him back. I don’t feel like Bruce Wayne Batman is gone forever, or even dead at all. He has plenty of successors that could fill his shoes, but I don’t think it will be permanent and that cheapens any “death” story.

The New Avengers #48 (Marvel)

By Brian Bendis and Billy Tan
When we last left Luke Cage, he had made a deal with Osborne in order to get his daughter back from Jarvis-Skrull. He does and it seems as though he is going to toe the H.A.M.M.E.R. line but ends up busting up some of Osborne’s lackeys instead and returning to Captain America’s hideout to meet up with the rest of the team. It is there that the renegade Avengers witness the unveiling of the Dark Avengers and Ronin, formerly Hawkeye, is pisseed! He is all for taking the fight to them instead of waiting for them to screw up.
What I anticipate is a relatively quick resolution to the mess the Marvel U is in right now. Osborne will be dethroned before the end of the year and the registration act will be nullified. Then, hopefully, we can return to one Avengers title, in time for the next crisis.

Holy shit, that took way too long to read, write, etc. Next week I’m going to pick 3 books at random from my stack and talk about them. Trying to read everything in one or two days took all the fun out of it.

In other comic-relted news, there will be a Comic Book Art Show at Bogda next Saturday! It will feature original art pages from Batman, Superman, Dectective Comics, Lobo, and more. I think it will be a very cool show so be sure to check it out. i’ll write more about it in a future post.