Back! Rushing! Speed speed!: Graeme catches up on 7/25's books.

Dear Teacher, please forgive Graeme for not posting for four days. I mean, sure there was that San Diego thing at the weekend (And thanks to all Kate and I met and hung around with there, by the way; it was fun), but there was also work and all manner of craziness happening at the same time that meant that my attempt to write lots of reviews ahead of time went somewhat awry. That said, San Diego was weird, in that it may be the first convention in my life that I've ever left feeling more excited about comics than I was when I got there. I think that's due to the fact that the few things I picked up while there were all very, very good (In particular, Black Metal, Pulphope and Joel Priddy's Beeswax Bound; I completely forgot to try and pick up a copy of the "5" minicomic, though, much to my annoyance) - Expect some kind of write-up of those things and more (Clubbing! Laika! Robot Dreams!) soon, once I catch up with the weekly grind. Which can only mean one thing: Time for lots of short reviews!

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #542: Is there anyone who isn't deadly bored of this storyline? The stunningly unconvincing "Dark Spidey" plot continues with Peter Parker promising to kill the Kingpin and enjoying Kyle Baker's favorite sport, shirtless fighting. If it wasn't for Ron Garney's surprisingly good artwork, this would be much less than Awful.

ANNIHILATION CONQUEST: STARLORD #1: Another Good spin-off from the Annihilation line, with Keith Giffen remembering that Marvel has plenty of non-MODOK d-list characters that could be used and abused as cannon-fodder in this beautifully illustrated book - Timothy Green II really makes this more enjoyable than it has any right to be. Here's hoping he ends up a superstar who still manages to do random and fun books like this one.

BLACK SUMMER #1: Which is really #2, and also Eh. If you like Warren Ellis a lot and wanted to see him do superheroes, then you'll probably like this, but there's not enough meat or originality in this issue to make me want to come back for the next issue.

DOKTOR SLEEPLESS #1: Also in the disappointing Ellis vein, this new ongoing feels very much like Ellis trying to find a fictional use for the online persona that he's been trying on for the last couple of years, but not really succeeding. Lots of lines feel as if he's written them elsewhere and, again, there's not enough of a hook to bring non-Ellis fans back for a second issue. Eh.

GREEN LANTERN CORPS #14: My first taste of the Green Lantern spin-off, and the momentum of the Sinestro Corps crossover is enough to make it seem like something I should be reading more often. I don't know if it's good writing or just depressing that Dave Gibbons' writing fits in so well with Geoff Johns' work, but it's solid enough space opera. Good.

THE IMMORTAL IRON FIST #7: One of the books I would've spent more time on had I had the time, this fill-in/breather between main storylines was Very Good despite the oddly-split art chores; romantic, funny and smart, this really is what I want to see more of in my punchin' and kickin' books.

IRON MAN #20: Pretty much filler, but well enough done to be Okay nonetheless - Ending the issue with "Find out Iron Man's fate in World War Hulk!" does make me wonder whether the next issue, which isn't a World War Hulk crossover, is just going to completely ignore whatever the end of WWH is going to be, or spoil it, considering that the crossover has another three months to run, but that's the way these particular cookies crumble, I guess.

THE MIGHTY AVENGERS #4: Hey, remember this book? That's good, because this issue is pretty unmemorable in and of itself. "Nice" to see the return of gratuitous death of spouse as plot McGuffin, though. And when I say "nice," I mean Crap. Late and depressing.

STAR TREK: YEAR FOUR #1: It's just like an episode of the original series, if the original series was Awful. The main fault, I think, is that it's half a story - All set-up and then rushed resolution - although the art (which can't decide whether it wants to be "realistic" or cartoony) doesn't help, either. I almost want to say that it's a missed opportunity, but I'm not sure what opportunity has been missed, exactly - Was anyone really desperate to see a comic version of what happened when the original show was cancelled when we've already had movie follow-ups and years of comics with the same characters?

UNHOLY UNION #1: Ass Crap, as Abhay might say, but it really is - An ugly '90s flashback with no plot and pointless guest stars that leads into a crossover you don't want to read. There's no rhyme, reason nor explanation for the crossing over of the Marvel and Top Cow universes here, instead the characters just appear for a pointless and generic fight scene without a winner, then magically disappear once the pages are up. It's tough to say just how lazy and painful to read this is, so I'll just say that everyone should avoid it, and leave it at that.

Any attempt at Picking Of The Week would end up with something that I'd read at SDCC (Although Iron Fist comes close, I have to admit), but Picking Of The Weak would easily be Unholy Union. Ron Marz, you lived through this the first time... Why're you doing it to yourself again?