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Graeme will never sleep: Finishing off 11/21.

Graeme McMillan

Another day, another later-than-intended entry. This is what happens when work is insanely busy and family members are sick, making everything slightly more distracted than you’d really want…

THE FLASH #234: Mark Waid’s transformation of this book into family-friendly adventure continues, but there’s something off, somehow; the pacing seems strange, and while individual scenes play out well, it fails to gel into a satisfying whole for some reason. Much more successful are the back-up strips of derring-do from former Flashes on an alien planet, which manage to squeeze as much fun as possible out of their short length. After such a strong start only a couple of months ago, it’s sad to see this being “only” Okay; I hope it’ll find its footing again soon.

THE INCREDIBLE HULK #111: Or, really, a trial run for the renamed Incredible Hercules book, considering the lack of Hulk and focus on the Herc/Cho/Angel/Namora team that’s been leading this book over the last few months. It’s a good sign, too, that the new/old book will be worth checking out, as everything here is pretty Good; Cho’s pretty much been the breakout star of the World War Hulk event for me, and his interplay with the dumb but well-meaning Hercules is entertaining enough for me to want to see more. Shame that it’s not the creative partners on this particular issue (Jeff Parker co-writes with Greg Pak, and Leonard Kirk draws) that’ll be sticking around, but I’ve dug Fred Van Lente elsewhere…

IRON MAN, DIRECTOR OF SHIELD ANNUAL #1: There’s probably a good book hidden somewhere in here; the cover seems to be hinting at one, at least. But I just couldn’t get past the art to get to it – Harvey Talibao’s work has this weird over-anatomizing of everyone (especially the women, who get objectified here even in defiance of what the dialogue for a particular panel might say) that distracts, and it’s matched with hyperactive pastel coloring that manages to draw too much attention to itself while flattening out the page as to be almost unreadable. I’m sure that there was more to Christos Gage’s script than what I remember from reading the book – essentially, “Tony Stark goes undercover, meets lots of women with big breasts, then becomes Iron Man and blows something up” – but I have absolutely no desire to put my eyes through that kind of pain again to find out. Awful.

WHAT IF ANNIHILATION REACHED EARTH?: First off, I love that that’s actually the title of the book. Second off, this is one of those What Ifs where you wish that this had happened instead of the “real” continuity, if only because characters in this book act more in character – and more heroically – than they do in their own books. It feels like the most classically “Marvel” thing I’ve read for awhile, even with the suicidal ending, and the scope and execution are satisfying in a way that the end of Civil War just… wasn’t. On it’s own, it’s a Good book, but as a missed opportunity, it’s frustratingly wonderful.

Oh, and Jeff? A. Definitely A.

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