July Comic Roundup (Part 3)

Harley Quinn #18This is one of DC's best selling books right now and I'm giving it another chance after dropping it around issue 12. The book has gotten a lot tighter in the writing department. I never have trouble following the incredibly silly plots, which used to be a problem for me, and the supporting cast is much more memorable and likable. In the two new issue I have read, Poison Ivy has appeared in both. I really enjoy the pairing of those two. Not to mention that Conner and Palmiotti have to win the award for most explicit lesbian references between Ivy and Harley.That actually brings me to my next point, how surprisingly weird and occasionally filthy Harley Quinn is as a best-selling book. This issue features a sailor who looks exactly like Popeye eating alien seaweed that makes him super strong. Half way through the issue Harley has a multiple page pirate dream sequence featuring the Joker. And this is a top ten selling book!Conner and Palmiotti have really nailed the tone of exactly what a Harley Quinn book should be. It's a great example of artists doing what they want to do rather than trying to be popular and being rewarded for their efforts.Aquaman #42Cullen Bunn's run on Aquaman continues as we, very slowly and in a unnecessarily complicated fashion, are told how Arthur became the enemy of Atlantis that he is in the new status quo.It turns out another dimension is slowly infecting ours and to save the world Aquaman must destroy the world infecting ours. The problem is that the other world is inhabited by people that are somehow Atlantean. The specifics of this were not revealed in this issue, which only helped highlight the pacing problems. All of the exposition is given intermittently through flashbacks while we see Aquaman in the present doing his renegade thing as he fights to protect these other dimensional atlanteans. This is very jarring and a storytelling technique that I feel is used to create a false sense of complexity.The story itself is interesting enough once it gets underway as we meet the gang of underwater themed badasses that Mera has sent to bring Aquaman in. It seems like a change destined to be forgotten though, as there is nothing that feels distinctly "Aquaman" about it. I think this storyline could really be slapped on to any character, and actually feels similar to the incursion storyline from New Avengers. I do plan to continue reading though, and would love to be proven wrong.Hail Hydra #1 (Secret Wars)It was recently announced that Rick Remender was going to be leaving Marvel to focus on his numerous creator owned projects. This was bittersweet for me; while I prefer his independent work, his runs on Venom and Uncanny X-force were part of the reason I got into modern marvel comics. I'm glad to see that the series that might very well be his last work at Marvel is off to a good start.Hail Hydra follows Ian Rogers, Steve's adopted son, as he is transported to a domain in Battleworld where Hydra has taken over everything. I believe the idea here is that this is the regular universe Ian who has been transported forward in time to Battleworld, which is a neat idea from Remender. So far this book really feels like a denouement to Remender's Steve Rogers run and a time for Ian to finally get the spotlight.Lots of good action and interesting set-up. A quality first issue.

July Comic Roundup (Part 2)

Grayson #10My favorite book right now just keeps getting better. With his ex-partner Huntress running Spyral, you'd think things might get a little easier for former Robin Dick Grayson. But when he discovers that he is being framed for murder, Dick Grayson finds that he is on his own against whoever is out to get him. This issue he crosses paths with the always entertaining Lex Luthor. This book is full of amazing action, intrigue, humour and art. I'll probably never review an issue again since I have so little to say, but I just wanted to get the word out about how good Grayson is.Wonder Woman #42The reign of the Finches (husband and wife writer/artist team David and Meredith) continues as they begin their second arc on the book. This issue opens with a bit of a PSA about men being respectful to women in a club situation as a slimy guy tries to grope Wonder Woman and gets a judo flip for his efforts. Sometimes this sort of soapbox writing can be detrimental to the quality of a book, or can take the reader out of the story. It is very quick and honestly if any character should be allowed to get on a soapbox about woman's rights it is Wonder Woman, so I didn't mind it.We are introduced to our new villain: Aegeus, great-grandson of Theseus. He is a regular guy who wants to become the god of war and is being backed by an unseen party. The Finches have been sticking to the groundwork laid by Azzarello and Chiang in their well-beloved run that preceded this one. They are continuing to utilize the Greek Pantheon as a supporting cast and as plot points and I appreciate the continuity.For a book that I initially thought was very weak, I enjoyed this issue a lot. I think we are watching Meredith gradually become a better writer and this is the best art I've ever seen from David.Punisher #20Frank deals with the end of the old universe the only way he knows how, by murdering a whole bunch of people. While I have found Edmonson's Punisher run to be a bit on the boring side, this issue provides a possible ending to Frank's story an it's really a lot of fun. Frank is crossing any and all borders to punish as many people as he can before the universe ends (thanks a lot secret wars!) and he wages an all out assault on a terrorist compound.Definitely a must read for Frank fans. Lots of great action and character moments. Plus murder, lots and lots of murder.Magneto #20Magneto also faces the end of days in his second last issue of this volume. Writer Cullen Bunn really has a handle on just what makes Magneto tick as Eric rage against the machine in an attempt to stop the end of the universe (secret wars again). Most of the issue is told in flashback as we see Magneto preparing for what we learn is a suicidal attempt to save the world.I am really enjoying these last days tie-ins to secret wars and would have liked to have seen more of them. Being able to give an a-list character a definitive ending is pretty rare. Hopefully the last issue of Magneto is able to maintain this momentum.