New Mutants #35 - I really wasn't looking forward to an "evil nu-mutal band" plotline, and the "fight" this issue went about how you would expect, but throw in Shuma-Gorath-in-a-Box and i'm with you. This book is very good at the inter-personal stuff; the Nate/Dani/Blink conversation about atonement was both funny and good characterization. There definitely seems to be a fight going on between the artists about who is supposed to be drawing the faces on these characters. It seems in this issue the inker said "That #$#@ isn't going to draw faces again? Somehow that's my job? Fine, you want eyes? I'll give you eyes no one will miss."
Sorry for the quick scans, but these are called Speed Reviews for a reason.
Avengers Academy #23 - The introduction of X-23 to the team was really good, and the Lightspeed/Striker conversation/revelations was good too. Oh, and Hybrid! I am really disappointed that Sean Chen is leaving the book, especially due to 'revised budgets'. It's one thing to trim the line, quite another to lose top talent. Or maybe they're moving Chen to a higher profile book, which would be well-deserved, but at the same time it ensures that lower tier books like this will never rise to prominence, Wolverine-clone or no Wolverine-clone.
Hulk #46 - I was so sure, when they announced that there was a giant portal to Rigellian space in the basement, that i was going to get my Recorder/Machine Man team-up, or at least get to see a few Big Heads, but no such luck. This was good, and i'm surprised and pleased that the book will actually have a lasting effect on Marvel's status quo with the introduction of this new country and leader. I like the analysis that the Red Hulk uses the reputation of the Hulk to get enemies to treat him like an unthinking monster while actually using tactics more fitting to the guy that used to be General Ross, but i don't feel like that's really borne out in the stories. They should do more with that.
Thunderbolts #167 - I seem to be in the minority about this book again, but i don't have any complaints about the time-travel romp. I was glad to see this Victorian plotline wrap up after two issues, and i don't mind a meeting with [a] Black Knight next. The writing is great, the characters are awesome, and i'm willing to go wherever Parker wants to take us.
New Avengers #19 - If you can get past the fact that it's a re-hash, the Norman Osborn stuff is good.
Avengers #20 - Same here. I enjoyed the "get the squid off Madam Hydra's head" scene. The art is a little weird and blocky, but i kind of like it. This panel looks awkward but at the same time it reminds me of Ditko's early Hulk.
I was advised to read the Avengers comics in the wrong order, but looking back on this there's actually decent coordination between the two issues, with Iron Man realizing that Osborn is working with AIM after the Ultimo attack from New Avengers. I know that complimenting two books with the same writer and editor for actually fitting together in a way that makes sense is faint praise, but it's more than we've gotten in the past from some Bendis books (and i'm one of this guy's defenders!).
Some words on the ads in these issues:
By fnord12 | December 26, 2011, 10:18 AM | Comics
NM: i found the art to be inconsistent in this issue. the book starts with the Blackbird in a freefall. one panel shows the NM in their seats as the plane's plunging towards the ground. they chose to show this panel in one of those wacky sideways shots where everyone's flipped 90deg clockwise. considering they're plunging towards the ground, doing this really took away from that drama. i would have preferred a regularly rotated shot, thus giving the illusion that they're falling. also, there were face shots where people looked really different between panels, esp Dani. while i enjoyed the banter between Blink and Dani, the art suddenly turned super cartoony and then went back to being "normal." it just weirded me out and made me stop reading just to stare at the panels critically for a bit.
once again, i wish something actually happened in a comic. you know, there's no reason for the NM to pause. Blink could just teleport them to the damn tour bus so they could hurry up and rescue Doug before the stupid destructo-band makes it to their next tour locale. we didn't have to end the issue there. they could actually get to do something.
AA: i like that X-23.
Hulk: holy crap this story dragged on for so long that i forgot what the hell the plot was to start with. can we try to establish a happy medium between the "too damn much going on" of the 60s and "i finished reading that issue and nothing happened" that we've been getting lately? cereally, did this story need to take more than 2 issues?
NA and Avengers: i hate this Norman Osborne King of the World thing. and now that Madame Hydra is no longer a squid head, i just don't know what's in it for me anymore.
Yeah! Min makes a good point. Why undo squidhead? This is comics, bad guys should have squidheads.