From worst to best of what I voluntarily paid money for.
Cyclops #12 (aka The Black Vortex Chapter 10)
Once upon a time, Greg Rucka wrote this book. Now it’s a book in which a major plot twist is “Cyclops was just imagining his father’s voice in his head, but it was really his own self-belief.” And then the entire series ends with a heroic shot of Cyclops, who has submitted to the Black Vortex, flying off, ready to save some planets, because apparently the book has decided to celebrate April Fool’s Day and decide this is a good thing.
The Amazing Spider-Man #17
I admit, I think I’m just bored of the ultra-traditionalist Spider-Man as served up by Dan Slott. He’s been the major writer on Spider-Man for eight years now, and I think it’s probably time for a change. This is perfectly fine, but I found myself completely unable to formulate any sort of meaningful investment in any characters in it.
Oddly paced, with an ending that had me looking through the house ads at the end because I wasn’t confident there wasn’t another page. Effectively moody, but this looks set to be a very minor Warren Ellis work.
Avengers: Ultron Forever #1
Odd timing for this – it’s a book that clearly just exists because of the movie. But that means it’s doing “mash up alternate timeline Avengers in a big smashy book” right in sync with Secret Wars, which is not a great time to be doing that. But Al Ewing and Alan Davis are a fun pair, and it’s hard to fault things like the last reveal, or casually decapitating the Hulk. Or sassy Vision. Very much a silly Marvel book, but enjoyable.
A weak issue here, long on fights and short on character, although the detail of Gwen being unmasked (but not, seemingly, recognized) is interesting. Not bad, certainly, but not particularly entrancing either. Still, even mediocre Spider-Gwen is a treat.
It’s easy to like the return of Tony Stark to the plot, his absence having been a tangible lack in the Time Runs Out story. This is on the one hand clearly deliberate, but with so much of Hickman’s Avengers hinging on the Tony/Steve dualism, it’s also made every issue feel like shuffling pieces around the board waiting for payoff, which is already a problem with a “countdown to EVENT” storyline. In any case, Tony’s back, and it’s kinda marvelous.
The Dying & The Dead #2
Hickman’s working with tight, effective characterization, on a story that’s long on scope but still narrow enough to feel focused and deliberate, and it’s frankly marvelous two issues in. There’s a whole lot of hand still to tip, but thus far, at least, this is the most I’ve enjoyed a new Hickman series in… erm… ever?