We begin this week with Countdown #51 (written by Paul Dini, pencilled by Jesus Saiz, inked by Jimmy Palmiotti), a big hash of disconnected subplots which features exactly two of the characters appearing on the cover. It's the weakest Paul Dini script I've seen in a long time, with expositional dialogue and a very thin central storyline. It might look better in a few weeks, and the next issues might improve on this one, but for now, there's not a lot to latch onto. The art is pretty good, though, except for Darkseid's shell-casing head.
Much better is Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four #2 (written by Jeff Parker, pencilled by Mike Wieringo, inked by Wade von Grawbadger), in which the invading aliens turn everyone in New York against our heroes, and hilarity ensues. This doesn't aim to be a series of any consequence, unless you count well-done old-school superheroics consequential. Instead, it's a team-up that seems natural but doesn't happen often enough. My only complaint is with the Thing's proportions -- I don't remember him looking quite so candy-corn-shaped in Wieringo's FF issues.
Outsiders #47 (written by Greg Rucka and Judd Winick, pencilled by Matthew Clark, inked by Art Thibert) is Part 2 -- or, really, the second Part 1 -- of "Check/Out." It picks up with the team in Checkmate custody and Nightwing (of course) busting them out. It's not as good as the Checkmate issue, because the dialogue is a little too arch and the art is too heavy on gritted teeth and meaningful eye-closeups. It does a fine job of introducing everyone to each other, setting up the mission, and explaining the differences between the two groups. Most of it is a big romp involving an Outsider running around with her butt hanging out, and unfortunately that goes on a little too long.
Nightwing assembles yet another team in his own title, for Nightwing #132's conclusion of "Bride and Groom" (written by Marv Wolfman, drawn by Paco Diaz). While I appreciate the nod to Dick's team-leader capabilities, isn't this the book where he takes out bad guys on his own, without a random set of ex-supervillains I've never heard of? Basically they spend the whole issue wanting to kill B & G, and Dick says he's hip, but that's not how he rolls. I still don't understand Dick's emotional journey through this arc. Diaz' guest artistry gets the job done, but it's a different style from regular penciller (still, I hope) Jamal Igle, and it contributes to the feeling that the whole thing has gone slightly awry.
JLA Classified #38 (written by Peter Milligan, drawn by Carlos D'Anda) presents Part 2 of "Kid Amazo," and while it's a good installment of what looks to be a good superhero story, I have a few nitpicks. Although I did like being reminded that John Stewart is liberal and Wally West is conservative, I thought J'Onn J'Onzz and Amazo himself were somewhat out of character. J'Onn seemed too irreverent, and Amazo seemed too together. Still, the title character's main conflict was presented well, and I do like D'Anda's art -- bulky and expressive.
The Mogo-turns-everyone-evil subplot in Green Lantern Corps (#12 written by Dave Gibbons, pencilled by Patrick Gleason and Tom Nguyen, inked by Nguyen and Prentis Rollins) has been going on for an issue or two too long, but other than that this was another good floppy. I especially liked the Soranik Natu scenes. Nguyen's pencils also fit well with Gleason's style, and appropriately enough, they remind me of Dave Gibbons'.
Finally, guess which part of Tales of the Unexpected #8 I blogged about in Grumpy Old Fan this week? If you picked the Spectre (written by David Lapham, pencilled by Eric Battle, inked by Prentis Rollins), you lost!! The Spectre story did try to tie all of its carnage together into a unified look at one particularly evil tenement building, but it was just too nihilistic for me. Much more life-affirming was the conclusion of the Dr. 13 story "Architecture and Morality" (written by Brian Azzarello, drawn by Cliff Chiang), to which I wrote the aforementioned love letter. I know I'm not alone in saying a) I paid $3.99 a month for each 16-page chapter of this story, and b) I'll pay for the collection when it comes out as well. More of Dr. 13 by Azzarello and Chiang, please.