Where did it all go wrong?: Graeme returns, again.

I'm desperately trying to catch up on reviews, after this weekend being much busier than I'd expected - Chopping up Jeff Lester's body takes time, after all - so excuse the rushing through the following books... Luckily, none of them are really worth paying that much time on...

BIRDS OF PREY #106: Gail Simone's heading towards the end of her run with something resembling abandon; this issue's essentially entirely all fight scene as opposed to plot development, and really enjoyable because of that - It's just banter and violence all the way. I'm not sure whether Gail's defined her characters (outside of Barbara and Huntress) enough for them to survive her when she leaves the book, but for this issue it's not something to worry about. Good mindless fun.

COUNTDOWN #49: Hibbs is right; three issues in, and it feels as if none of the plots are in motion yet - It doesn't help that the cover underlines that stalled feeling by featuring three characters, two of which haven't even appeared in the series yet. For all the talk of the writing team of the series having learned from head writer Paul Dini's TV experience, it seems to have been entirely missed that no TV show would get away with such a slow, sloppy start as this book. Crap.

FANTASTIC FOUR #546: After two issues of well-done build-up, this conclusion feels rushed and unbelievable, partially due to the McGuffin Machine that T'Challa just so happens to have lying around at home (It's just one step above "Luckily I have my Beats-All-Bad-Guys-Ometer right here!"); it's as if Dwayne McDuffie was suddenly told by his editors that he really had to wrap up everything he had planned and start working on getting the original team back together in time for the new creative team arriving in four issues' time or else. Both sad and Eh.

FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #1: Obviously a delayed tie-in to the movie, this "Sandman: Year One" issue is surprisingly flat - The origin story is cliched in almost every way (He had a rough childhood! He's trying to prove himself to his absent father!), with no sparkle or surprise in the execution. There's also a strange back-up strip that's so simple that it makes me feel as if I'm missing a context for it... All in all, a somewhat disappointing Eh.

MARVEL ADVENTURES IRON MAN #1: All of the fun in this Okay first issue came from the small things - Tony Stark as Steve Jobs, for one thing - and not from the revised origin, which may make the whole thing make a little more sense, but still just comes over as extremely hokey. I wouldn't be surprised if this is more or less what the movie version of the character is like, though...

NEWUNIVERSAL #6: I'm not sure why I'm still reading this book - It's extremely slow, to the point where at the end of this issue (which will also be the end of the first trade), almost nothing has actually happened, in terms of actual plot - but there's still something enjoyable, if seen-before, about its "if superheroes were real" take on the characters. A low Okay, but I look forward to seeing something moving forward pretty soon.

SHE-HULK #18: "A tin-plated tyrant... who thinks he knows more... than everyone else. Remaking the world in his own image. You know who that is? That's not Iron Man, Tony! That's Doctor Doom!" It's almost worth reading the rest of this lackluster, Eh issue (with appalling art - Cliff Rathburn, your inking is really not a match for Rick Burchett's pencils) for those lines alone. Sadly, the rest of the book reads like filler while waiting for World War Hulk to arrive. Didn't this book used to be fun?

Tomorrow, if I have time: Mark Waid's last Legion issue, and why it's both great and sucky at the same time...