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Excuse me while I seem distracted: Graeme continues to plow through 3/21 books.

Graeme McMillan

Ah, the joys of pet-parenting; Kate and I are just back from the Pet Hospital on 9th Avenue, after dropping off our cat for an overnight stay because she’s having trouble breathing and not vomiting over our carpets. I’m trying to think comics, but really I’m flashing to imagined images of a little black cat hooked up with IV drips and a thermometer sticking out her mouth.

BIRDS OF PREY #104: I don’t know if there’s a difference between “You didn’t see that last page coming!” because it’s a well set-up, yet unforeseen plot twist that, in retrospect, makes a lot of sense, or because it literally comes out of nowhere with no foreshadowing or reason to particularly exist. I mean, obviously there is, but both make the “you didn’t see it coming” thing true, and so does it really matter that the end of this issue – apparently bringing a long-dead character who has never appeared in this book back to life – is the latter rather than the former? The saddest thing may be that the shock ending that’s getting the Newsarama coverage is the worst thing about this otherwise Good issue – Bringing her two teams (the Birds and guest stars the Secret Six) together brings out the best in Gail Simone’s dialogue, and her plotting is tighter than it’s been in a long time. If we get a good rationale for why certain mystery character is back from the dead next issue, this could even be a return to form for this book.

THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #2: As (I think?) Ian Brill was saying the other day, Mark Waid’s new team-up series proves that he’s the new Bob Haney to Grant Morrison’s John Broome. Or something. Nonetheless, this book is just plain fun; superheroics that embrace the fantastic and over the top while managing to come up with a better characterization in one issue for Supergirl than Jeph Loeb and Joe Kelly have managed in the last year or so of her own book. Excellent stuff, and even better than the first issue.

THE FLASH: THE FASTEST MAN ALIVE #10: Wait, so last issue wasn’t filler? It was the first part of an ongoing storyline…? Then why does this issue have nothing to do with what happened last month? Yet again, it’s competent enough, but not especially enjoyable. Eh, and all done before and better with the previous version of the character.

RUNAWAYS SAGA: Mentioned just because my mate Mindy was partially responsible for the actual recap meat of the issue, and because – despite the fact that she didn’t believe me when I told her this – the diary of 11-year-old Molly really reads like the way Mindy speaks, in my mind. It’s tough to do any kind of review of a “Saga” book, because who wants to review what’s essentially a clip show? But that said, there’s more to this than most, not least of which the humor of Molly’s take on what’s happened to date or Humberto Ramos’s very enjoyable art. If you’re looking to catch up on the series before Joss Whedon takes over next month, this is a Good way of not only getting plot details but also a taste of the tone of the book. But, like I said, I’m biased.

THE SPIRIT #4: Maybe it’s me, but this seemed weaker than the last three issues – Very Good, say, instead of excellent – and part of me wonders if it’s because of the subject matter. The Spirit makes sense to me as a crimefighting detective, and as soon as you take him out of that and try to put him in a story about fighting terrorism then my interest starts to wain. Add to that the taking-you-out-of-the-story narration of a CIA agent who suddenly switches from just-the-facts to “What am I doing? This is sooo wrong!” (Like, totally), and I’m left hoping that next issue sees some straight-forward criminal-punching and pronto.

Y: THE LAST MAN #55: You can tell that this is the last storyline, because the characters are beginning to talk about their own development just to remind the reader. Ignoring the expositionary value, though, this feels like the strongest issue of the series for awhile – we’re back with the main characters, and finally getting back to the quest that started the series. I’m waiting for the traditional Vaughan twist midway through this arc – Beth doesn’t love you anymore, Yorick! She’s a lesbian! – but could probably happily deal with another couple of episodes of this kind of thing before we get there, to be honest. Good.

Still not done with this week’s books – I have Aquaman, Army@Love and Hellblazer to get through, and at the suggestion of some of you I picked up Fray this week in trade – so no PICK OF THE WEAK yet, but I can easily say that PICK OF THE WEEK is Brave and Bold; all superhero comics should have planets that are entirely like Las Vegas. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to call the pet hospital again to continue being annoying and asking for updates…

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