Another week, another stack of comics (though unfortunately I couldn't find a copy of Voice in the Dark #3).
AMAZING X-MEN #3: The art by Ed McGuinness is an absolute dream, full of excitement and energy in every panel. The story is at this point mostly an excuse to give Ed McGuiness exciting things to draw. It's a Jason Aaron X-Men comic, which means it's full of wacky high-concept stuff first and characterization second. The interactions between the characters are perfunctory, especially with the obvious character shipping (and the revelation that Nightcrawler and Storm have always been in love with each other, and didn't Aaron just pair her up with Wolverine? Either she's polyamorous, which I wouldn't mind, or pairing her up is the most interesting thing Aaron has planned for Ororo, which I would seriously mind)At least this doesn't have any overbearingly wacky stuff like the 12-year-old Hellfire Club (literally the most annoying team of villains in Marvel history, from my perspective at least), but it's still a comic about the X-Men joining Nightcrawler in the afterlife to fight Satan and his pirate crew. In other words, it's the Axe Cop of the X-Men. But again, great art. RECOMMENDED.
ULTIMATE COMICS CATACLYSM: THE ULTIMATES #3: The Ultimate comics have stuck around far longer than they should have, the promise of a simpler, more relatable Marvel Universe long since expired in favor of a bunch of earth-shaking cataclysms. Galactus eating the world is the third time we've seen this happen, but this tie-in by Josh Fialkov and Carmine di Giandomenico has been surprisingly entertaining. It takes the rather predictable doomsday set-up and uses it to do a fast-paced, snappily-written story with a snarkier take on the formula. Since the story has Nick Fury's Ultimate Howling Commandos (re: a bunch of second and third stringers, such as Ultimate Stature and Ultimate Hercules) on an essential doomsday mission against a techno-organic Gah Lak Tus cult. The characters are suitably dysfunctional, but there's a bit of pathos too with Danny Ketch's dying words, and his eventual fate. It doesn't really end, but it's interesting enough that I'll actually try the Ultimate FF book that follows. The art by Carmine di Giandomenico is exceptional too, which nearly matches the widescreen detail of Bryan Hitch but has a fluid, expressive line more appealing than the usual "photo-realism" we see in this sort of book. RECOMMENDED.
MIRACLEMAN #1: It's 12 pages of the Alan Moore/Garry Leach run padded out with old Mick Anglo strips for childred and extra material for a price of $5.99. The great lost work of Western comics is why people are here, but it's not even the majority of the product; Marvel's gouging the audience who'd buy this for all they're worth. I'd never read the original Miracleman stories, so I can't really judge the overall story. This prologue is beautifully drawn by Leach, but the script is extremely familiar in its portrayal of the superhero as an outlet for a mid-life crisis-- though that's be due to its influence, both on Moore's later works and the genre in general. Still, this issue itself is an expensive curio, so I'd have to give it a MILDLY RECOMMENDED.
VELVET #3: It's great that Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting, two creators perhaps best known for the Winter Soldier story of Captain America, can now do their thing unfettered by Marvel franchises and apparently make a living at it as well. In this case it's Velvet, a.k.a. "what if Moneypenny went on a rampage to avenge a dead James Bond". It kind of defies belief that Velvet can be such a strong action heroine at her age (at least in her fifties) with her long retirement from field work, but given how my favorite spy story involves a man physically in his seventies fighting against mooing robots and nanotech vampires, I'm in no position to complain. This is the sort of story that seems like a perfectly natural take on the high concept, but still comes across as novel and exciting. Velvet's perspective as a woman offers her a distinct insight in to the Martini-flavored spy game, as she's a PROTAGONIST who uses the Honey Trap techniques instead of a love interest/femme fatale. Everything about this book, from the script to the art to the coloring to the basic magazine design with the white gutters, just works. STRONGLY RECOMMENDED.