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So damn easy to cave in: Graeme rounds out the week faster.

Graeme McMillan

Lightning round! Unlike Bart Allen, I’m still alive, and the fastest reviewer from the 31st Century there is! 3X2(9YZ)4A and awaaaaaayyyyyy!

THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #4: For some reason, I’d become convinced that this book had dropped off the face of the earth recently – Maybe this issue is late, or maybe my sense of time has just become horribly distorted, but either way, this is worth a wait either real or imaginary. Mark Waid’s sense of pacing and characterization, mixed with his ability to juggle tones, continues to make this book a fun and exciting joy each time ’round. Very Good.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #27: Now deeply entrenched in the moral ambiguity that made his Catwoman and Sleeper books so good, Brubaker has managed to make Captain America’s series much more interesting without its star. As good as the book used to be, pre-murder, spreading the storylines around the supporting cast has raised the level in a way that I wouldn’t have expected. You really don’t miss Cap here at all, because his death manages to keep him an active presence, even as everything spirals out of control for everyone involved. Very Good, and enough to make you hope that Cap never comes back…

COUNTDOWN #45: Donna Troy with a machine gun. When you’re trying to make that work seriously, as opposed to on a campy level, then that’s your problem right there. Awful.

EX MACHINA #29: For all the hints about there being some kind of larger plot point happening behind the scenes, this issue – and all of the current storyline, actually – has felt curious unfocused, and the resolution reads as if working on Lost has given Brian K. Vaughan their inability to resolve a plot without a frustrating question that suggests that he doesn’t have a direction. Disappointingly Eh.

THE HIGHWAYMEN #1: Mailed to me by the good folk at DC, for which I’m very grateful… Especially since this opener about some kind of retired special op agents being reactivated by the legacy of now-dead Bill Clinton is a surprising amount of fun. It’s not likely to inspire anyone to change the world, but as a summer movie-type romp, it’s a high Okay.

MADAME MIRAGE #1: Pretty much a disappointment; while Kenneth Rocafort’s art is actually more attractive than the T&A images released may suggest (It’s highly stylized, and the men actually get a similar over-the-top treatment – if less sexualized – to the women), it’s the lack of clarity in Paul Dini’s script that lets the book down hard. Awful, especially to fans of Dini’s other work.

THE SPIRIT #7: While Darwyn Cooke’s only involvement with this issue is the cute cover, the quality stays pretty high as the fill-in gets split between three different creative teams. Walt Simonson and Chris Sprouse play it the most straight, and to be honest, come off worst as a result, as light and amusing as their story is. Hitting a fine middle-ground is Jimmy Palmiotti, with a story that’s very Eisner-esque in scope and humanity and paired with wonderful artwork by Jordi Bernet. Best of all is the Sin City parody by Kyle Baker, another example where he decided to play it broad and it works despite itself. Overall, Very Good.

For old times’ sake, I’m going to give PICK OF THE WEEK to Captain America, because I feel as if it’s defying the odds by not being bogged down by all of the hype around its central storyline, and that’s an extra achievement outside of just being a good book in and of itself. PICK OF THE WEAK is Countdown because it’s almost becoming depressing to read it each week at this point. But what did the rest of you think…?

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