Captain America #600

Creative team: Story by Ed Brubaker, Mark Waid, Roger Stern, and more; art by Butch Guice, Luke Ross, and more

Villain to Watch: I gotta figure Red Skull is in there somewhere, right?

They say: Where were you when Captain America died? It’s the anniversary of the day Steve Rogers was killed, a day of reflection and mourning in the Marvel U…a time to look back on the things Steve did and what he stood for… or is this issue actually the beginning of the most wicked plot twist since issue 25? Yeah, actually it’s both. Plus, contributions from Cap creators past and present, including a very special essay by Joe Simon, a classic story from Cap’s Golden Age, a full gallery of 600 Cap covers, and more anniversary shenanigans than you can shake a shield at! 104 pages.

I say: If you listen to my podcast, Webcomics Weekly, you may have heard me say how much I hate anthologies. If there’s one think I know I’m going to hate, it’s three pages of good art/writing followed by three pages of so-so stuff followed by a few pages of crap followed by a few pages of passable stuff. I’m not saying you gotta buy this because it’s gonna be good. I’m saying you gotta buy it for the history. This is one you don’t have to feel bad about bagging without opening. The inside is secondary. You’re buying the issue, not what’s in the issue.

Dark Reign fantastic Four #4

Creative team: Story by Jonathon Hickman; art by Sean Chen

Villain to Watch: Norman Osborn

They say: A high-tech smash-up future/science adventure as Ben, Sue and Johnny boldly go where no time-traveler has gone before. With their alternate history comrades tagging along, they battle in a future where evil has triumphed and good guys are hard to find. And while Reed searches for the final answers that will get him home, Val and Franklin take on the head of H.A.M.M.E.R. himself, Norman Osborn!

I say: “Dark Reign Fantastic Four” has been one of the better of the Dark Reign series. The writing has been intriguing and Sean Chen is a can’t-miss artist. The other-dimensional FF characters are fun, and the growing tension between the Richards kids and Osborn is promising as heck. We’re square into the beginning of the Second Act with this arc, so if you haven’t picked up the series, you’re in a beauty of a good jumping-on spot.

Dark Reign Hawkeye #3

Creative team: Story by Andy Diggle; art by Tom Raney and Scott Hanna

Villain to Watch: Bulls/Hawk-eye

They say: The psychopath formerly known as Bullseye has been painting the town blood-red in the guise of the heroic Hawkeye. But the hero mask is starting to slip-along with his tenuous grip on reality! As the cold blooded killer struggles to cover up his murderous excesses and hide his deteriorating mental state from Norman Osborn, who should he be more afraid of-the killer within or the hero without?

I say: Another solid Dark Reign title. Diggle writes a particularly compelling Bullseye. And the art has been sharp and clean. Plain-and-simple, this is a good title. There have been some plot points laid down in this series that have had ramifications across the Marvel U, so I’m thinking this is a good one to follow to the end.

Dark Reign Mister Negative #1

Creative team: Story by Fred Van Lente; art by Gianluca Gigliotta

Villain to Watch: Mr. Negative, the Hood, Scorcher, Speed Demon, Squid, White Rabbit

They say: Spider-Man’s most mysterious new enemy takes center stage in a 3-issue mini-series by Official Amazing Spider-Man Web-Head Fred Van Lente and newcomer Gianluca Gigliotta. One-half benevolent philanthropist/One-half underworld mastermind, Mr. Negative has carved out a substantial slice of the big apple for himself over the past year. But when the super-villain mastermind The Hood strikes at the heart of Mr. Negative’s criminal operations with a whole horde of classic Arachno-Foes (including The Scorcher, Speed Demon, The Squid and the long awaited return of the White Rabbit), Spider-Man is left to clean up the mess between these two violent nemeses.

I say: I’m officially cold on Mr. Negative and the Hood. Neither characters have been compelling. I’m pulling this for the B-listers like Speed Demon and Squid. Most likely, I’ll eyeball it at the shop and make my decision then. If the art is any good and if the writing is close to serviceable, I’ll follow it to the end. If not, you’ll hear about it here.

Mighty Avengers #26

Creative team: Story by Dan Slott; art by Stephen Segovia

Villain to Watch: It’s heroes vs heroes again.

They say: The Avengers/Fantastic Four slobberknocker continues! This one’s got it all true believers: from Mr. fantastic and Hank Pym’s battle of the brains to Hercules and the Thing’s battle o’ the brawn! When it’s over, expect big changes for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes– including the team’s all-new headquarters and a very disturbing Dark Reign alliance.

I say: Wait. What’s a slobberknocker? Is that some kind of sexual innuendo? I was really excited about this issue before I read that press release. Slobberknocker? Really?! Listen. This arc has been heating up and this issue has a lot of promise. In the last installment, Dr. Pym told Mr. Fantastic, “It’s on, b****” The reaction from Marvel’s First Family was priceless. The plot then flew ehadlong into classic heist territory. We’re talking Ocean’s Eleven meets spandex. Knowing Slott’s writing chops, this is just gonna get better. Please don’t let Marvel’s copy writers put you off. Put this on your Pull List.

Slobberknocker. Sheesh.

…and TWO To Pass…

Dark Reign Young Avengers #2

Creative team: Story by Paul Cornell; art by Mark Brooks

Villain to Watch: It’s not an Official Marvel book this week without an appearance by Norman Osborn

They say: The Young Avengers vs. The Young Avengers. Guilt and horror and sexual yearning. Race hatred and the super hero as serial killer. Anything is permitted. And Coat of Arms shows Norman Osborn some of her art and says ‘You were the Green Goblin, right? Right? Right? Right?’ just to see what happens.

I say: Just to prove that I’m not a total shill for all of the Dark Reign titles… I gotta tell you that this one has missed the mark with me. That’s probably because the concept of the Young Avengers in general hasn’t really resonated. If you’re taking my recommendations, you’ve got plenty of Dark Reign on your pull list this week. You can give this one a Pass.

Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance #2

Creative team: Story by Joe Casey; art by Chris Cross

Villain to Watch: Whomever approved this title

They say: The following is a message on behalf of the Super Young Team: The Super Young Team would like to formally and publicly sever all ties with the manufacturers of Oxy-Gen. When the team agreed to be celebrity sponsors of the product, their contracts in no way disclosed the potential deadly side effects. We in no way endorse a product that could cause our fans to be harmed, and will be making a donation to the charities helping the victims of the Oxy-Gen tragedy. In the meantime, please visit our website where you can leave video messages for your favorite member of Super Young Team, and be sure to take part in the trivia challenge!

I say: I knew the minute I named this feature “Five to Pull / One to Pass,” that there would come a day when those numbers would haunt me. Today’s that day. But I gotta tell you, Super Young Team is so incredibly, tremendously bad, I’ve got to break my rule to make special room to tell you that you shouldn’t only avoid buying this book. You should stand outside the comic shop and prevent innocent newcomers from purchasing it accidentally. Do it for the future of comics.

…And while you’re there…

The Irredeemable Ant-Man

Creative team: Story by Robert Kirkman; art by Phil Hester and Cory Walker

Villain to Watch: A whole slew to look out for. None better than the Irredeemable One himself

They say: Introducing the world’s worst super hero! When a low-level S.H.I.E.L.D. agent gets a hold of Hank Pym’s new Ant-Man suit, you know the Marvel Universe is in trouble. He’s not concerned with saving the world or helping others. He’s concerned with getting through the day and getting a leg up on life. He’s not going to use his powers responsibly, he’s going to use them for the betterment of himself. He’s Ant-Man, a new ‘hero’ for the modern world. But it also costs money to be on the run from the law. Luckily, Damage Control is on the lookout for someone who can safely sift through rubble for survivors. Don’t worry, though – he’ll still have plenty of time to spy on the ladies like the despicable human-being that he is. If you thought Robert Kirkman pushed the boundaries of what could be in a Marvel Comic with Marvel Zombies, just wait until you see what he does in here.

I say: Robert Kirkman is one of the undisputed kings of comic-book writing. Unfortunately, I never followed Irredeemable in the monthlies, so I’m eager for this opportunity to read the series in trade format.