Gasping towards the finish line: Graeme finishes 4/11 and just in time, too.

I'm sure that you've heard of the concept of saving the best till last, right? Well, this isn't like that at all. This is more "Saving the completely bland until last," for the most part, as I present the books I read over the last seven days that I had no strong feelings for one way or another in one big dollop just to get it over with. LONERS #1 (OF 6): I'm undecided on this Runaways spin-off. On the one hand, it's definitely competently done; CB Cebulski's script has some nice moments and Karl Moline's art is solid enough... But on the other hand, there's nothing new in here. It reads like the characters' appearance in Runaways mixed with the middle storyline from Young Avengers, and as good as that sounds in theory, it's been done before, you know? It's Okay, but I kind of wanted to be wowed, or at least surprised, more.

MARVEL ILLUSTRATED THE JUNGLE BOOK: There's something weirdly depressing about this book. It's not really the stories themselves, which are fine enough but feature a mismatched art team where P. Craig Russell's delicate inkwork overwhelms the usual grumpy power of Gil Kane's pencils (although these stories do come from the late 70s, early 80s, when Kane had a tendency to push work through that wasn't up to his standards, if y'ask me - There are places here where the sum is equal to its parts, but not too many), and scripting that's as much expositionary Cliff Notes versions of the stories as I (perhaps mistakenly; it's been a long time, and I wasn't a fan to begin with) remember them. But the "backmatter," as it's now called - Ralph Macchio's bombastic advertisement for the later books in this line, and the previews for said books, with their tone of "Sure, they may be classic stories... But done by new artists who RAWK like only Marvel can!" - seemed kind of out of place with what had come before, as if you were having a nice leisurely conversation with a well-meaning older relative telling you stories you've already heard ten times before and then he's pushed off his chair by your unsettling brother-in-law who wants to tell you about this great new band he's just found out about called Limp Bizkit. Eh, and better enjoyed if you stop reading as soon as the last story finishes.

NEW AVENGERS #29: Wait, so this issue reveals that Brother Voodoo is involved with the whole New/Mighty Avengers showdown, and apparently New Avengers #31 will have the most shocking last page of any Marvel comic this year, and Marvel is milking their Marvel Zombies franchise as much as possible... Oh my God we're going to have Zombie Captain America as reanimated by the ancient terrifying power of Voodoo within three months. Holy crap. This issue was pretty much filler; nothing about the main plot was moved forward, and instead we had some posturing and the occasional good line. Pretty much the definition of Eh, which is a shame after the last couple of strong issues.

NEWUNIVERSAL #5: So, I was reading on The Engine the other day that Warren Ellis is avoiding "Heroes" because he knew, upon seeing the first episode, that it would be following a similar route. It's a shame, in a way. I mean, he's right, but Heroes does one thing very right that this series get very wrong - the pacing. We're five issues into this series, and instead of offering any kind of resolution to the origin stories of the characters - or, really, any kind of growth for the characters we've met so far - we get an introduction to another new character. So, it's not Heroes: The Comic Book. It's the comic book version of Lost, but without the spooky music. A pretty low Eh.

NOVA #1: I know that I should like this. Nova is pretty much "What if Spider-Man was Green Lantern?," so I'm sure that I should dig this even if the Green Lantern he's modelled after is now Kyle Rayner instead of Hal Jordan. But there was nothing worth reading here - No originality, no humor, no spin on what we've seen before. There's still a mix of concepts here, but now it's "It's Nova -- but just as grim as Civil War!" and, to be honest, if you're going to have a "He's a cop in space" story, even a "He's the last cop in space" story, then I want it to be fun, Goddammit. Eh.

PUNISHER WAR JOURNAL #6: So, we get Punisher putting on the Captain America mask as teased, but it has nothing to do with him actually claiming the Captain America identity... Instead, it's all to do with him trying to stop others from ruining the legacy. That swerve is the nicest part of this issue; as good as Fraction's take on the character is - and it's much better than I'd expected, as I continually tell you - this issue is just a bit thin for my taste. That said, I know that there's going to be more explanation and chances for more than just Ariel Olivetti cutting loose in the next issue... You can tell that this is definitely Act 1 in a three-act-structure. Okay.

WONDER WOMAN #7: Welcome to the latest episode of "Where was the editor?", our continuing series where I present comics that you read and wonder exactly where that strong guiding hand was that could've prevented what you just read. It's not that this book was bad, mind you - It was Okay although, considering the reaction of many people on this internet, I may be the only person who thinks that - just very, very muddled. There's a stronger story here, under the confusing scenes and gimmicks of Circe jumping in and out of mirrors or a trannysupervillain bar (Not as exciting as it sounds), and it's frustrating to read this version of the story instead of the one where you're sure it could've been, you know, actually good. I don't think that it's that Jodi Picoult is new to comics that's to blame, as much as it is that she's dealing with too much at one time to make sense of any of it - I would've preferred this to have been its own thing, as opposed to the obvious "set up the new status quo post-Heinberg and also that whole Amazons Attack! mini-series and tie in with Countdown while you're at it" clusterfuck that it's turning into; Maybe she should've been given All-Star Wonder Woman instead of the cursed main-continuity version? In any case, now that Gail Simone has been announced as the new writer come the end of the summer, I have to join the growing number of people who're ready for this title to be relaunched again just to get rid of the taint of this screwy latest run of the book.

Now that I've finished the week, PICK OF THE WEEK is All-Star Superman #7, which shares TRADE OF THE WEEK (as All-Star Superman Volume 1 HC) with The Professor's Daughter, which came out last Wednesday after all. PICK OF THE WEAK, meanwhile, is probably Iron Man, and that's just because I'm not on the same bus as everyone else at Marvel, it seems... Coming up this week: APE! Signings! Onomatoepia! Which may mean less reviews than normal, so forewarned is forearmed, or something...