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Sometimes, you forget to headline these things…

Graeme McMillan

Was it just me, or was February a strange and full month that just overwhelmed everyone else with stuff? I’m used to January seeming like a hangover from the previous year, but there was something about February this time that seemed to take me by surprise. Those damn leap years, man. They take it out of you.

Reviews of last week’s books under the jump, for those who want comics.

BATMAN #674: This is a strange book; you get the idea that Grant Morrison knows roughly where we wants to go with the character, but just can’t quite get there for whatever reason. Ideas that should be big and bright and interesting – the trainee Batmans gone rogue, Bat-Mite showing up – fall flat, as if they’ve been rushed out without being thought through, and without art that boosts their potential by dazzling us into submission. It feels oddly like Morrison’s X-Men run, which had moments of wow and genius but felt more and more bogged down in mental sludge as it went on. Okay, I guess.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #35: Over here, however, Ed Brubaker has used the new Captain America to regain focus on another book that seemed to be getting trapped in itself a little bit too much. I didn’t find the Winter Soldier to be that interesting a character, but there’s something about Bucky’s aspiration to be Steve Rogers – and the fact that he’s kind of digging trying, despite the legacy – that I really enjoy. Weird to see Butch Guice doing such a great Steve Epting impersonation, but you can’t fault a book that has such a stylish rotating art team where you can’t see the joins. Very Good.

CRIMINAL #1: Talking of Brubaker, the return of his noir collaboration with Sean Philips is, very simply, Excellent; the writing doesn’t miss a beat or waste a word, and Philips’ artwork manages to be realistic and appropriately melodramatic all at once. The done-in-one format works surprisingly well, given the previous stories’ sprawl, and while the last story lost me slightly with what felt like overdone cruelty, this short piece gripped me all the way through. Really, really good, and easily PICK OF THE WEEK, as we used to say.

DOCTOR WHO #1: Eh, I suppose? It’s a strange book, which comes close to feeling right in a few places, but then veers off to a more cartoony place (in writing as well as art) that is off for some reason that I can’t quite put my finger on. I didn’t dislike it, but I didn’t really enjoy it that much, either. I’d say that it wasn’t what I expected, but I’m not sure that I could tell you what I expected if you asked.

RASL #1: Getting back to what I said about consistency yesterday – This is pretty much not the subject matter nor the writing that you’d expect from the guy who gave you Bone and last year’s Shazam book, and it’s much the better for it (The art, though, is very Jeff Smith; that’s not a bad thing, mind you). Like some kind of karmic doppelganger to Casanova, the main character here is a dimension-hopping thief lost in an alternate dimension that it’s quite like our own, but the execution is different enough to make it its own book. What’s going to kill it, ultimately, is the schedule; this is a Very Good first issue, but I probably won’t remember enough about it when the second issue comes out in three months.

X-MEN: LEGACY #208: Surprisingly strong, even if I find myself far more interested in the flashback/X-Men Saga scenes than the current-day plot about Xavier’s stolen body or Magneto returning, again. Mike Carey definitely has both a love of, and a feel for, Xavier and the old characters, and John Romita Jr.’s art is beautiful work – with equally beautiful coloring – but I wonder just where this is going, if anywhere. For now, a highly Good first issue of the new run; here’s hoping it keeps it up as we go through the history of the team.

But what did the rest of you think?

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