Comic That I Wish I Liked More: Young Avengers #1
There is so much to love about Young Avengers that I feel a little guilty for not falling head over heels in love with it. Kieron Gillen and James McKelvie have created a book that's bursting with personality and character, but strangely short on plot or momentum. As someone unfamiliar with the history of the Young Avengers and Kid Loki (which I'm rectifying right now), I found myself completely lost regarding the status quo of these guys and girls. A #1 issue, especially one this breezy and, charming, shouldn't be so uninviting to newcomers. But hey, at least I was lost with a bunch of characters who instantly liked. That's a start.
Special Prize For Regained Comedic Footing Following a Heartbreaking Story Twist: Chew #31
The events of Chew #30 were so dark and mean and drastic and horrifying and game-changing that I was wondering if the book could ever go back to the way it was. The answer is yes and no. Tony Chu's life has been forever altered and he has a new mission in life (and possibly a new disposition), but after the grieving is done, the series immediately and without hesitation becomes the goofy and imaginative romp its always been. Chew's greatest asset has always been its ability to effortlessly leap between genres and tones and #31 brought both the tears and giggles in equal measure. There's no reason for Chew to ever work, but damn it, here we are. Whatta' series.
The "Going Out in Style" Award: Winter Soldier #14
And thus ends Ed Brubaker's stint with Marvel. While his final issue of Captain America definitively closed the book on his version of the character, he concludes his Winter Soldier run with a big question mark, putting Bucky Barnes in a situation that is best described as "shitty and no good and horrible." Although a new creative team will attempt to throw him an emotional lifeline with the next issue, this tragic conclusion is straight-up Brubaker: noir-tinged superhero espionage that begs to be read with a tumbler of your finest scotch. I'm going to miss his distinctive voice in the Marvel Universe.
Best Example of Being a Bad Comic Book: Uncanny X-Force #1
Here's the dirty secret about Marvel Now: so many of the new books are good that I'm having a hard time keeping my pull list at a manageable level. So I'm almost relieved that Uncanny X-Force #1 is one of the worst books in the Marvel Now line-up and that I'll never have to buy another issue. In addition to being impenetrable, obnoxious, crass and full of '90s "kewlness," the issue doesn't even bother to tell a complete story or properly introduce its cast. This is the kind of comic that reminds me why I spent years actively avoiding comics.
Best Comic to Use When Judging Other People's Opinions on Art: FF #3
Good God, Mike Allred. You are the best penciller working in comics today. Never change. Your critics are people I judge immediately and harshly. Anyway, FF is proving itself to be a solid series on its own, but Allred's art lends the book an absurd amount of personality.
Default Best DC Book of the Week Because It Was the Only DC Book I Read This Week: Wonder Woman #16
Wonder Woman is still a really good comic book, but the fact that it was the only thing published by DC that I read this week is telling about the company's entire line-up. They need to do something drastic to get me back…and a Vibe comic isn't the trick.
The "Why Do I Like This?" Award: Deadpool #4
As a general rule, I don't read Deadpool comics. But I think Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan's writing is hilarious. I think Tony Moore's art is gorgeous. I love the fact that this book essentially co-stars Ben Franklin's ghost at this point. So, somehow, I'm still reading Deadpool. Keep it up, guys.
Runner-Up Comic of the Week: Bedlam #3
There's no getting around it: Bedlam is an upsetting series, a horror comic that takes a familiar superhero/supervillain dynamic and turns it into a genuine nightmare (although the series' main inspiration is already getting a terrifying treatment of its own over in Scott Snyder's Batman). The latest issue doesn't necessarily propel the story forward - this is a dense book, but it's also deliberate - but it continues to turn the screws on our hero, a medicated and reformed supervillain and mass murderer, in fascinating ways. If you can deal with Bedlam's frequent cruelty (the first three pages of this issue feel like they're daring you to keep reading), you'll find a series with an infinite amount of promise. And of course #3 ends with a major cliffhanger. Of course.
Comic of the Week: Mind MGMT #7
It's rare that I spend $3.99 on an individual comic and feel that I've truly gotten my money's worth. With Dark Horse's Mind MGMT, I feel no shudders of guilt and feel no need to mutter about costs to the person ringing up my purchase -- writer/artist Matt Kindt crams so much content into every individual issue that I feel like I'm reading more than one in a single sitting. Take this week's issue (the first after a two month hiatus), which tells not one story, but four of them, with several running simultaneously. After a twenty-panel recap of the past six issues on the inside cover, the series launches back into its strange sci-fi conspiracy tale, all drawn in Kindt's loose and expressive art. As the main story trucks on, an expository flashback story is told in the bottom margins of each page. A mysterious commentary deepens the mystery in the left margins. Images and notes overlap the art, creating the impression that you're not holding a comic, but some kind of hastily assembled conspiracy nut's document. This is a remarkable issue of a remarkable series.