Another large stack of comics this week, so let's dive right into them:
Kicking things off (sorry I couldn't resist the easy set up) is Skull Kickers #5, the conclusion to its first arc One Thousand Opas and a Dead Body. Baldy and Shorty do battle with the demonic horde, which turns into battle with a giant ugly demon! Spectacular letters by Marshall Dillion and great pencils by Edwin Huang lead this title but Jim Zub's story isn't to shabby either. Keeping with the humorous and outrageous tone it's set so far, the book finishes it first arc in good fashion and even plants a seed or two for the future. Really looking forward to next issue, a collection of short stories about our two favorite warriors but put in the hands of other creators besides Zub and Huang.
Heading over to DC, we have Justice League: Generation Lost #18. Max Lord continues his experiments on the Blue Beetle while his new mind control minion, Power Girl, takes the rest of the league down a peg or two, seeing them Superman and crew turned evil. Another fantastic issue from writer Judd Winick, this time with pencils by Aaron Lopresti, that leaves us craving the next issue. Really enjoying how Winick opens each issue with a scene from the past that informs readers where these heroes are coming from but also relates to what their about to face. Still keeping my fingers crossed that this book turns into a regular monthly title after Brightest Day concludes.
Finishing the DC titles for the week is Teen Titans #91. Most of the titans face off against the genetically altered teens who took their school hostage while Ravager and Robin are left to deal with the remain student body that have been turned into mindless thugs. Solid issue by J.T. Krul (writer) and Nicola Scott (penciler) that wraps up their beginning story-line on the book nicely. Nothing too flashy or epic but good character development and interaction, something I have always enjoying Teen Titans books. Next up is a cross over with Red Robin which, being a huge fan of that book, I am really looking forward to.
Concluding the non-Marvel books is Vertigo's American Vampire #11. The two part The Way Out finishes up here as Pearl and Henry battle some bootlegging blood suckers while Hattie tracks them down for a not so friendly reunion. Not my favorite issue of the book but still a good one none the less. Mateus Santoluco's art keeps it visually interesting but isn't quite as dynamic as series regular Rafael Albuquerque. Scott Snyder's tale continues to be the best regular does of vampire around.
First up from a large selection Marvel books this week is Ultimate Avengers 3 #6. The finale of Blade Versus The Avengers is here, as the two stand together against an overwhelming force of vampires. While I voiced my doubts about this volume of the series, this issue brought it all together for me. The book straddles the line between over the top hilarity and groan-worthy cliches until this final issue where it sets its self firmly on the side of the former. I could sell this issue to you in one sentence, SPOILERS: Someone get stabbed with a plane! So if you skipped out on this series, make sure to correct that when it gets collected in TPB form.
Continuing with the avengers, but moving over the regular marvel universe, we have Secret Avengers #9. Steve Rodgers and crew cook up a plan to get Sharon Carter back from the Shadow Council but will they be able to do so without losing another member? The art by Mike Deodato and Will Conrad compliments Brubaker's shadow ops story well, filling tons of panel space with shadows but still conveying action convincingly. Not sure how the arc is going to wrap up next issue, but I am definitely looking forward to it.
Special addition this week, is the book most comic fans are talking about, Fantastic Four #587. Spread out and all in dangerous situations, one of the fantastic four members meets their end in the conclusion of the Three arc. Not going to say which member it is (in case you have somehow managed to avoid spoilers from major media services and the online comic-fan community) but I will say I enjoyed the issue. Been meaning to check out Jonathan Hickman's FF since it started but kept pushing it off and then never grabbed the trades. Definitely going to rectify that soon though, after seeing the quality of his writing on this book matched with Steve Epting's great art.
This brings us the the huge amount of mutant books this week (yeah, I might be a mutantholic), and we'll start them off with Age of X: Alpha one-shot. Written by Mike Carey (and with art from and army of talent) this book drops us in the world of Age of X and hits the ground running. Instead of taking the usual approach and showing how the world got this way, this first entry just gives us the back story of a few of the main mutants and promises to reveal over time why this world is different from the one we know. Digging the story so far and looking forward to more when it takes over some of the regular X titles in February.
Next up is Namor: The First Mutant #6 with a fantastic cover from Phil Noto. Starting a new arc titled Namor Goes to Hell well... Namor goes to hell or at least his own version of it while his allies work on trying to bring him back but end up getting a visit from one of Namor's oldest friends. Surprise surprise, another spectacular issue from Stuart Moore (writer) and Ariel Olivetti (artist.) These two just manage to get everything about the character and his surroundings/supporting cast right. It might be a little early to call it, but I think there run is my favorite out of any Namor title.
Getting into the team books we have X-Men #7. In their new initiative to make every one love mutants, Cyclops sends a team to New York to deal with a problem some might classify as street level. After the first arc, Curse of the Mutants, being barely satisfying and this new one, To Serve and Protect, not seeming to interesting I think I'm going to take a break from this book. While I love the Terry & Rachel Dodson covers, I never really liked Chris Bachalo's art (interior artist) and Victor Gischler's writing isn't helping either.
Rounding out the regular X-men books is Uncanny X-Men #532. Emma, Kitty, and Fantomex continue to deal with Sebastian Shaw; Angel's group tackles the Collective Man and Sublime's Designer X-Men; and everyone back on Utopia continues to suffer from the mutant flu. Featuring splendid art (both inside and out) by Greg Land, this issue brings the title back a little bit from the past few crowded and convoluted issues. While Matt Fraction and Kieron Gillen (the writers) still have a lot going on here, its improved a lot in presentation and pacing making for a more enjoyable read.
The penultimate book this week, missing the top spot just barely, is New Mutants #21, the conclusion to Rise of the New Mutants. General Ulysses has released the Elder Gods spelling doom for both Limbo and our world but Magick hasn't performed her last trick yet and may still have a shot at stopping them. This issue brings a fitting end to they story the Zeb Wells has been telling since the book started and manages to send us out on a bang but also with a few new story-lines hanging to be pulled on later. Not sure if Wells and partner in crime, artist Leonard Kirk will be returning to the book after Age of X but I certainly hope so as they have proved they can make it one of the best titles Marvel has to offer every month.
Pick of the week should come as no surprise since its been here a couple times already, Uncanny X-Force #4. The Apocalypse Solution concludes as Archangel and crew decide the final fate of Kidpocalypse. Another frakking awesome X-conclusion and another awesome issue from Rick Remender and Jerome Opena, this issue brings a perfect ending to this new groups first adventure with many more to come. I seriously can't recommend this book enough, both for its great story and art, and if you missed out on the single issues make sure to grab it when its collected in TPB.
And thus brings us to another thrilling conclusion of Masterpiece Myster... I mean Wednesday Pickups. Any comments, critiques, suggestions, or questions can be left below or sent to firstname.lastname@example.org . I know it's a little late this week but that was actually a test. Everyone should have been so busy checking out Multiplex (see the article below this one) that they shouldn't have had time to read this till now. Most of you passed, barely.