Because I can't skip two weeks in a row...: Graeme reads some superhero books, writes some stuff about them. You know the drill.

Between sickness, work craziness and deadlines for everything under the sun, it’s surprising that I’ve had any time to read comic books. Add in the fact that Brian Hibbs got me addicted to Death Note, and it’s even more surprising that I have anything to write about under the jump apart from “Light Yagami is messed up, dude.” And yet, commentary about superhero books await you if you click that “Click here to read more”...

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #554: Now that we’re three quarters of the way through Brand New Day – it stops having that branding after all the writers have been introduced, right? – it’s worth noting that we seem to have established this quality level that could best be described as Okay And On Time. None of the BND issues have been stunning when taken on their individual merits, but there really is something comforting about the almost-weekly nature of the book and the fact that it’s not that bad, really. Bob Gale somewhat overdoes the knowingly-retro flavor in this issue (Overall, Marc Guggenheim’s been the most satisfying of the writers so far, but I’m hoping for more from Dan Slott’s second go-around, when he doesn’t have to introduce a status quo), and Phil Jiminez’s art just doesn’t really seem Spider-Man-ish enough for me, but at the same time, it swings by in a completely inoffensive manner, so it seems good enough, if that makes sense…?

CAPTAIN AMERICA #36: Call me irresponsible, but I’m really hoping that the reveal at the end of the issue lays groundwork for a return of Steve Rogers. Captain BuckyCyborg is a much more interesting character, and it’s a lot more fun seeing him try (and fail) to live up to the legacy of an icon than seeing the icon in action. Which is, in a way, my way of saying that this was a Good issue, and yet more proof that Ed Brubaker doesn’t need his characters alive to write compelling stories about them.

DEATH OF THE NEW GODS#7: There may be something wonderfully old school about the melodramatic “You didn’t expect this!” nature of this issue’s cliffhanger, but seriously, what actually happened at the end there? Starlin’s writing has a great old school crassness about it that really fits on this project, but his art just feels out of place – It doesn’t have either a modern look or the sheer graphic power of Kirby’s work – making this book even more of an oddity than it would be otherwise. It’s like a strange guilty pleasure, but the guilt comes from not really knowing why I’m enjoying it.

FLASH #238: Well, that’ll teach me to have high expectations for a book. As a big fan of Tom Peyer’s Hourman as well as his blogging, I was pretty excited about the idea of him stepping up to take over the Flash following Mark Waid’s too-soon departure. Finally, I thought, a writer who will be able to bring back the Silver Age weirdness of the book and also bring some humor with bite… and, to be fair, he’s done both of those things, but at the price of characters seeming out of character in service of plot, and jarringly so. Wally’s non-sequitur about feeling stressed because of lack of money to a reporter at a disaster site may have gotten the story moving, but was enough to stop the reader in their tracks in terms of “Doesn’t he, you know, know better?” Maybe there’ll be something later in the story to explain suddenly-grumpy Wally, but right now, this was a fun-but-flawed Okay first issue to Tom’s run.

FX #1: Hey, suddenly it’s 1986 again! Considering the incredibly generic script, the lazy John Byrne artwork (and, really, it’s very very lazy) and the pricetag, there’s really only one thing to recommend this Crap: John Workman’s lettering. Now there’s a creator who never lets you down.

TANGENT: SUPERMAN'S REIGN #1: Is it wrong of me to have really, really enjoyed this, especially Ron Marz’s back-up about the history of the Tangent world? There’s nothing particularly new about it, after all, and it’s not like DC isn’t already full of alternate Earths, but stil... Something (Perhaps Matthew Clark’s artwork, even though the series was trailed with Jamal Igle attached?) clicked for me, and I ended up wanting to read more to the point of almost buying the Tangent Comics trades. Luckily, I stopped myself before going too far, but still; who could’ve expected this to be so enjoyably Good?

This week? Man, if you’re not picking up the Fourth World Omnibus with remixed Hunger Dogs, then you hate life. It's that simple.