Speed Reading: Graeme finishes off 11/14's books.

It had to happen, of course; the busiest week for new releases in a long time coincides with my busiest week workwise, meaning that I have a whole stack of books beside me that I haven't even mentioned yet. Let's try and remedy that right now, shall we?

ALL-STAR SUPERMAN #9: Feeling more like a series of scenes illustrating ideas than a coherent story, something about this issue doesn't come together properly. Still Very Good, but more for the strength of its individual pieces - the humor of seeing Kryptonians talk like Glaswegians ("A soft wee scientist's son," Grant? Really?), or the colors of the weirdly unfinished cover, for example - than the whole.

BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS #1: Pretty much reading like a book that exists only for DC continuity completists, right down to the appearance of the mystery villain on the last page. There's no excitement to the writing, no spark between the characters. Julian Lopez's art is nice enough, but doesn't raise this to anything above an Eh.

BOOSTER GOLD #4: It may sound weird considering the point of this title, but the reveal of the bad guy to be a minor character from a forgotten mini-series that hasn't been in print for more than ten years felt like a continuity nerditry too far, and discovering that Supernova is pretty much Evil Booster Gold, complete with Evil Skeets (Nice Black Hole reference, though) felt obvious, rushed and unsatisfying. Four issues in, and it's already losing its sense of fun and openness? Not a good sign. Eh.

CAPTAIN MARVEL #1: Apparently, I'm the same age as Mar-Vell. Huh. Of course, when that's the thing I remember most about a book as ponderous and pretentious as this one, that's probably not what the creators intended. Lee Weeks' artwork is easily the best thing about this Eh book; Brian Reed's script is slow to get to a point that I thought we were already at before the series started.

COUNTDOWN TO FINAL CRISIS #24: Like Bri said, it read like an issue where everything interesting that happened last issue was undone, as if Paul Dini read it and thought "Wait! I didn't want to do that! Or that!" And Superboy Prime appearing here, ruining the Sinestro Corps storyline for a second time? Somewhere, Geoff Johns is crying. Awful.

HOUSE OF M: AVENGERS #1: Look, I'll even buy into the idea that retailers have been crying out for more House of M material, but does anyone really want an alternate universe story about these particular characters? It read more as if Christos Gage and Mike Perkins were indulging their nostalgia than creating a story, and I don't see where any dramatic tension is supposed to come from, considering that we already know how it ends. A confused Eh, I guess.

NEW AVENGERS #36: Well, I guess we don't have to read that next Mighty Avengers arc now. Awfully slow and fragmented; Bendis is trying to do too much with his titles, and with Mighty running so late, it pretty much falls apart; I can't tell if Deathlok's off-panel defeat is something that's supposed to happen in another book, or just sloppy storytelling.

NOVA #8: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning go for the Grant Morrison award, and almost get it, with the idea of a civilization called Knowhere inside the head of a Celestial, complete with telepathic Russian dog. There's something very Doctor Who about the viral villain, complete with catchphrase, as well, but seeing characters reduced to zombies again is the bum-note here, and so bum as to bump the whole thing down to an Okay.

SALVATION RUN #1: Amazingly, enough to make me long for the days of Amazons Attack, with a plot conceit so dumb that so many things are just not even mentioned in the book itself: Why put the villains on another planet with their costumes and weapons, for one thing? Where is the planet? How did they find the planet? Aren't they worried that someone is going to wonder where the villains have all disappeared to? Or that the villains will find some way home? I mean, those last two are obviously going to happen along the course of this series, but neither possibility is even raised here... The lackluster execution by Bill Willingham and Sean Chen doesn't help, either; you could overlook the stupidity if there was some verve and excitement to the way the story was being told, but sadly not in this case. Pretty much Crap.

THE SWORD #2: An amazingly slow second issue, with the dramatic moments made all the less so by the lack of subtlety in the way they're presented - two splash pages with one line of dialogue, in a font larger than in the rest of the book, in case you've somehow missed that you're meant to be shocked there. With scenes and characters as cliched as they are here, I'm not sure who this book is aimed at - People who wanted to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer but got scared off by the fact that it wasn't written like Law and Order? Awful.

THOR #4: Very pretty, but best appreciated if you don't actually try and read it - The story is overly convinced of its social relevance, and instead misses that it has no suspense or surprise. Hopefully, the end of the issue, and the promise that Thor will speed up his discovery of the other Asgardians, isn't a pointless tease, because it's not the most exciting over-arcing plot to base a title on... but what happens after that? Eh, and that good only because of the artwork.

Next week: Well, after tomorrow, it's time for me to jet to New Mexico for four days and escape this bitter, twisted, online life for awhile. I get a vacation, and you people get a vacation from me. Everyone wins!