My brother the ape: Douglas reads some 8/11 periodicals

MARVEL ADVENTURES SUPER HEROES #14: No grade on this one--I feel a little hinky about grading comics written by my neighbors (Paul Tobin, in this case)--but I will say that I enjoyed this issue immensely and wanted to call it to people's attention. It's a Hawkeye/Blonde Phantom team-up (what are the odds of two Blonde Phantom stories coming out in the same month?), a done-in-one detective story with a couple of action set-pieces and a lot of lively banter. It earns its "all ages" stamp: it's a very 10-year-old-friendly funnybook, but it's got a bunch of Easter eggs for people who've read a billion Marvel comics already, including a cute "Civil War" riff and, actually, the fact that it's got the Blonde Phantom in it in the first place. It's also driven by the longstanding friendship of two characters who may not even have appeared on panel together before, and it's pretty convincing on that front. DOMINIC FORTUNE #1: Yeah, it's a Howard Chaykin comic, all right: aerial dogfight on page 1, Jews in tuxes on page 5, anti-Semites in tuxes on page 6, blowjob on page 9. GOOD.

RED HERRING #1: First issue of a David Tischman/Philip Bond/David Hahn miniseries for which I've seen virtually no advance press; that may have something to do with the fact that I've read the first issue a few times and still couldn't tell you quite what it's about. It's overloaded with ideas, some of them pretty good, but none of them given enough room to breathe. There's a bunch of X-Files pastiche (particularly an alien-corpse-in-1951 flashback that leads nowhere in particular), a little cheesecake, some ridiculous name-based gags (the protagonists are Red Herring and Maggie MacGuffin, and other characters include Meyer Weiner and--this is a bad one--Afi Komen), some nasty violence, etc. There's iffy second-person narration for a lot of the story that disappears, then gets awkwardly replaced by third-person omniscient narration. Bond's art is really effective, as always: his characters usually have a sort of bobblehead look, with slightly oversized heads, but that gives him & Hahn more real estate for the facial expressions that are their strongest point as a team. OKAY.

WEDNESDAY COMICS #6: Halfway through the series, and I'm surprised by what's working and what isn't. The most welcome surprise is Karl Kerschl and Brenden Fletcher's Flash, which is taking advantage of the Sunday-page format in increasingly clever ways; the most unexpected misfire is Gaiman and Allred's Metamorpho, whose formal play not only doesn't serve its story very well but is keeping the story from happening much at all. In any case, I find myself looking repeatedly and with delight at almost every page of this series--I have to adjust my gaze for Ben Caldwell's crammed Wonder Woman (the vertical layout this week slowed me down even more), but so what? I would buy a $4 Sunday newspaper whose only comic strip was Ryan Sook's Kamandi. VERY GOOD.