I don’t buy a lot of loose issues–I tend to be a wait-for-the-trade kinda guy, ’cause bound volumes are easier to store and more durable, and most of the books I read are more fun in larger arcs.  But there are some titles I read month to month.  These are their stories.

This week I picked up two weeks’ worth of books: This week’s and last week’s.

BOOK OF THE WEEK: DEADPOOL MAX: A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE #1. This book reprints issues #1-3 of the acclaimed–but largely unread–Deadpool Max series.  I scooped it up because $.99 for three issues is just too good a deal.  I am so glad I did.  I buy a lot of Deadpool each week because my oldest son is a fanatic.  Even has Rob Liefeld’s autograph on his wall.  But this series by David Lapham (the man behind the indie book Stray Bullets) is, by my account, the only one that’s a must-read.  The others are of varying quality, some good, some bad, but this one is groundbreaking.  It reads like an indie.  The reader is thrown off-balance by Deadpool’s insanity, and we are never really certain what is real and what is not, as Deadpool controls the narrative.  Bob–who serves as a comic relief for the Marvel Universe Deadpool–is tragically abused in service to his country.  And it’s still hilarious.  This is the blackest of black comedy and some of the best comic writing I’ve ever had the good fortune to read.  Kyle “Plastic Man” Baker’s art is the perfect compliment: It’s realistic enough to be disturbing, but abstract enough that we can even laugh at pictures of Hitler.  Baker’s sense of color, his panel layouts, and his choice of odd add ins (Danny Devito and Big Nurse!) are nothing short of brilliant.  Grade: A+.

BATMAN #708. I just started picking up Batbooks-other-than-Grant-Morrison recently, so DC’s plan to reign in Grant’s weirdness and have him focus on good stories must be working.  And, I must say, I haven’t been disappointed,  The main batbook has been hard to follow for new readers. This one is clear enough, but it’s an entree into a Red Robin story.  Grrr.  They’re just trying to get me to buy Red Robin.  Which I won’t do.  I did enjoy the issue, though, as well written and beautifully illustrated by Guillem March.  Truly, it was the art the kept me turning the pages.  Forcing me to follow yet another Bat-title to get the end of the story just ticks me off to no end.  Do this again, Mr. Didio, and I drop Batman from my pull list.  A for art; B for writing; C for where they went with it.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #656. New spider armor.  I love–love!–what Dan Slott is doing with this series.  And series regular artist Marcos Martin is fantastic. Only these guys could get me not to miss the classic red-and-blue pajamas with the web-underarm fringe.  This is grade “A” comic book work.

THUNDERBOLTS TP CAGE.  Collecting Thunderbolts #144-47, wherein Luke Cage takes charge.  I appreciate Jeff Parker’s writing, and Kev Walker is a fine illustrator, but try as I might, I just can’t get into this book.  First of all, it’s ridiculous to think Crossbones could ever come close to being a good guy.  Second, the book just never seems to go far enough.  And Cage’s “criminal” past has been reconciled as a frame-up/misunderstanding, so he’s not even a reformed criminal–which means there’s a complete lack of genuine wrestling with morality.  T-Bolts hasn’t been great since Warren Ellis left.  As it stands, it’s just fair.  Nice to see Man Thing, though.  Grade: B-/C+.

BATMAN INCORPORATED #4.  In this issue, we see both the old and new Batwoman characters, through a present-day mystery and past-day flashbacks.  We also get to see Robin jealous of Batman having a girlfriend (he tries to sic Ace the Batdog on her), and, generally, a level of fun and goofball Batzaniness that’s been missing from the Batverse for a long time and that’s been missing from Grant Morrison since…Well, he’s never been this way in the Batbooks before.  Morrison is a true professional, but most of the time I find him unapproachable.  It’s great to see a master storyteller focus on telling stories–rather than mystifying readers with innuendo and subtlety.  This book keeps getting better.  At this rate, I’ll soon stop missing Grant’s work on Batman & Robin.  Grade: A.

BATMAN THE DARK KNIGHT #2. Issue #2 of David Finch’s take on The Bat.  The art is still great, the story is getting a little better.  I’m still curious enough to keep going with it.  Grade: B.

ICEMAN AND ANGEL #1.  A comedy relief buddy comic.  Much better than it should have been, it’s a light-hearted romp.  We used to get a lot more of these in the 1980s, so it’s nice to see.  Grade: B.

DAREDEVIL REBORN #3.  Somebody end this awful rehash of Frank Miller’s “Badlands” done-in-one from Daredevil #219.  Grade: D.

PREACHER: GONE TO TEXAS. This isn’t new.  It’s a hardcover I got from the library and read over the course of the last two weeks, reprinting the first 9 issues of Garth Ennis’ series about a Preacher who literally goes searching for God . . . For revenge.  It’s not Ennis’ best work, but it’s pretty damn interesting.  It’s rare that a comic book about God makes me think about faith.  Solid book.  Grade: B+.

DEADPOOL #34. Haven’t read it yet.  Love the cover.

ALAN MOORE NEONOMICON #4. Haven’t read it yet.  The prior issues, though, were some of the sickest stuff I’ve read in comics.  Check it out.  Grade: B+.

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