Useless Information: Graeme finishes off January's haul.

My, this was a busy week in terms of releases, wasn’t it? And that’s not even including the Essentials books that I read this past week (Essential Defenders – The title may be untrue, but I kind of wish that kind of comic was still being done at the big two today), or the history of the WB and UPN that I just finished last night (“Homeboys in Outer Space”? Really, America?). I've also been "grooving" to the leaked new Gnarls Barkley song, which rocks my world several ways to Sunday, and happily finally getting into The Wire on DVD, just to make my media consumption as vast as possible. But I’m not here to talk about other forms of media. This here is comic city.

ACTION COMICS #861: While I’m not the biggest fan of the slightly goofy “Hey! You guys!” Brainiac 5 we get here, I’m still enjoying this entirely nostalgic trip down Legion Lane more than I should. That said, this feels like treading plot water more than the last few issues for some reason, so I’m hoping that next issue sees faster movement and maybe some things exploding or something. Good, though.

BATMAN #673: I’m genuinely depressed by how bored I’m getting with Morrison’s Batman these days. All the ingredients for something good are in this issue – A near death hallucination where Bruce Wayne deals with his guilt issues and also reveals what happened to him during 52? That should be much more interesting than the flatly-illustrated reference-filled Eh-fest that this was.

DEATH OF THE NEW GODS #5 (OF 8): Wait, so it’s the Source that’s been killing all the New Gods? And behind, apparently, every single DC crossover ever? Because it wants to recreate the entire universe because it’s flawed and, by the way, can talk and explains everything to Metron? (Oh, and by the way: spoiler warning)? I’m not sure I buy it, but at the same time, it definitely gives some kind of scope (and, if the Source succeeds, finality) to Final Crisis if it’s true… Oddly Good despite the nature of the reveal.

MIGHTY AVENGERS #8: Still feeling very much like the unsuccessful attempt to do for the Avengers what Grant Morrison’s JLA did years ago, this big scale adventure reads muddled in execution and uncertain in planning – the symbiote takeover of New York is so rushed that any potential sense of it being a big deal is lost; it just seems more like a nuisance than anything else, and who wants to read about that if it’s not fun? Eh.

NEW AVENGERS ANNUAL #2: That said, even a nuisance is better than the feeling of complete unnecessary cashgrab that this book has. After defeating the Hood’s team in the main book, they escape and… get defeated again. Meanwhile, Dr. Strange turns out to be faking his magic and has to quit the team because… well, I’m not quite sure, but it’s probably meant to be shocking (Maybe he’s really a Skrull and this is foreshadowing). Why none of this could be done in the regular monthly – especially considering how meandering this storyarc was in there, and in need of the little meat that this annual provides – I have no idea, but this was rather Crap. Nice cover, though.

SPIDER MAN SWING SHIFT DIRECTORS CUT ONE SHOT: Almost worth it for the Tom Brevoort-written “manifesto” alone. In fact, those five pages are much more interesting than the main event, which is still a nice enough old-school Spidey story that you shouldn’t have to pay $4.99 for. The manifesto, though, illustrates the thinking behind the necessity for the revamp, and if you ignore your feelings on the whole “breaking Peter and Mary Jane up via the devil” thing, it’s hard to disagree with what is said in there… Okay if you’re a behind-the-scenes wonk like me, really.

SPIDER-MAN WITH GREAT POWER #1 (OF 5): This, on the other hand, is a nicely-illustrated but ultimately unfulfilling or affecting story about a timeframe that most people won’t care that much about. For Spider-obsessives, it’s probably absolutely awesome, but for me…? Eh.

SUBURBAN GLAMOUR #3: There seems enough story left over – especially because there’s not that much actual plot this time around – to make me wonder whether next issue’s end of this series will just set up future sequels (which I would welcome, actually)… Even when he’s not really moving events ahead, Jamie McKelvie’s writing shows nice, quiet, character work that’s matched by artwork that just looks so good in color. I have no idea if this is a “hit” or not, but nonetheless, it’s one of the best new books to have come along in a long time. Very Good.

But what, as the saying goes, did you think?