Spoken like a spoke: Douglas catches up on periodicals, quick-hit style

I got to read two weeks' worth of individual issues at once. Behind the times! Oh no! Under the cut: AMBUSH BUG, ROGUES' REVENGE, JONAH HEX, AVENGERS both MIGHTY and NEW, SECRET SIX and some spoilers.

AMBUSH BUG: YEAR NONE #2: The premise of this mini, as I understand it, is that each issue is Keith Giffen and Robert Loren Fleming riffing on some project in recent DC history; the first one was a reasonably pointed take on Identity Crisis. This one seems to be about the run-up to Infinite Crisis, but there's not much to say about that--a death-of-Ted-Kord scene, a couple of near-miss OMAC gags--so Giffen and Fleming spend most of the issue riffing without a theme, and their jokes don't go anywhere. A low EH, but I'm looking forward to the 52 and Countdown issues...

FINAL CRISIS: ROGUES' REVENGE #2: I used to actively dislike a lot of Geoff Johns's comics--I thought they leaned hard on gross-out sadism and obscuro continuity to cover up for what they lacked in plot dynamics and character development. I'm not sure if my sensibilities have shifted or if he's just gotten significantly better over the last year or two, because I've been thoroughly digging most of what he's been writing lately. This issue is as gruesomely violent as any mainstream comic I've read lately, but it roars--I'd say it's just a well-constructed crime story that happens to have costumes and powers, but actually the costumes-and-powers stuff (as well as some backstory from his old Flash run that's spelled out briskly and fairly gracefully) is central to the way the story comes together. And I love the ragged, nasty grain of Scott Kolins' line here. VERY GOOD.

JONAH HEX #35: Gray & Palmiotti's ongoing series about sexual assault in the Old West gets a special issue drawn by J.H. Williams III, maybe my favorite artist currently working in mainstream comics, and he digs into the dust-and-sagebrush look with relish. But the gunfight half of this issue is the most generically written Western I've seen in a long time, and the premise of the rest--in which Hex gets some psychedelic roofies in his drink from a couple looking for him to knock the woman up because he's too ugly for her to fall in love with... well, it's pretty GOOD as long as you just look at the pictures, anyway.

MIGHTY AVENGERS #17/NEW AVENGERS #44: Has anyone put together a comprehensive Secret Invasion chronology? At this point, with the main action of the invasion treading water in the Savage Land and the two Bendis Avengers books flashing all over the timeline, I'm losing touch with how these stories fit into the overall scheme, and what they signify. In particular, I'd appreciate it if somebody could explain what's happening in this particular Mighty (aside from its cute cover nod to TALES TO ASTONISH #27): so the Skrull replacements for Hank Pym keep going off-message and being killed and replaced? But after Criti Noll/Pym gets killed, he's replaced by another Criti Noll? Or another Skrull pretending to be Criti Noll pretending to be Pym? What? And, in New, the Skrull "clonepod" Reed Richards only has access to the real one's mental abilities if he thinks he's the real one? Both OKAY, but I'm impatient for everything to click together.

SECRET SIX #1: It is a personal weakness of mine that I really prefer first issues to act like first issues. Having only read bits and pieces of Gail Simone's Secret Six projects in the past, I found myself navigating through this page-by-page just fine, but wondering what exactly the premise of the series is. The title includes a "six," there are four characters visible on the cover, on the inside there are five members on the team but the promise of a sixth (why would there have to be six?), and... what kind of team is it? They have missions? They're assassins and thugs? They're sort of in Batman's good graces? Why do they work together? As usual, Simone is more than solid with the character stuff (the best bit here is Deadshot blithely ignoring a stickup at the convenience store where he's buying ice cream until he finally gets fed up and demonstrates how one should hold up a convenience store), but this is very oddly paced--the opening scene setting up a creepy bad guy who talks like Herbie Popnecker seems like it'd be more appropriate for an issue that doesn't have a big "#1" on the cover, for instance. OKAY.