Batman Widening Gyre

Creative team: Story by Kevin Smith; Art by Walter Flanagan and Art Thibert

Villain to Watch: Deathstroke

They say: As The Dark Knight stalks the night preying upon Gotham City’s criminals, Bruce Wayne spends his days getting reacquainted with former girlfriend Silver St. Cloud. Plus, Batman learns the name of his mysterious masked ally. From superstar creator Kevin Smith and guest-starring Aquaman, the New Teen Titans and Deathstroke the Terminator!

I say: Hey! Silver St. Cloud is back! How bad could this possibly go?

Besides, Smith’s current Batman series has been very good, so far, so I’m still on board with this go-round. However, issue three is about the point at which “Cacophony” started to jump the shark, so I’m going to be looking at this issue very closely.

Deadpool Team-Up #899

Creative team: Story by Fred Van Lente; Art by Dalibor Talajic

Villains to Watch: Arcade and Nightmare

They say: Stop rubbing your eyes, fanboy, they don’t deceive you! Everyone’s favorite Merc with a Mouth stars in a third on-going series, hacking and wisecracking his way across the Marvel Universe with a new guest-star every month! First up: when master assassin Arcade and Nightmare, Lord of the Dream Dimension, join forces to destroy Wade Wilson and the Incredible Hercules, they get more than they bargain for, taking on two of the MU’s most irresponsible heroes! Drunken mayhem, bad jokes, and billions of dollars of property damage ensue!

I say: More reasons to rejoice on your way to the comic shop today: A new ongoing series that teams Deadpool with a random character from the House of Ideas. Deadpool is experiencing a dandy little resurgence these days, and I, for one, think that’s a good thing. First up on the team-up list is another character who has really come into his own in 2009 — Hercules. Herc took over the Hulk title with issue #113 (renamed The Incredible Hercules) in 2008, after his character played a crucial role in the Civil War storyline. Both of these characters are on the upswing, and they both represent different aspects of what makes Marvel unique these days. This issue is in perfect position to be Great.

Dr. Voodoo, Avenger of the Supernatural #2

Creative team: Story by Rick Remender; Art by Jefte palo

Villain to Watch: If I’m looking at that cover correctly, Daimon Hellstrom — fresh from his lackluster appearance in Marvel Divas

They say: Lost, gravely injured and stranded in the low pits of the Everdimensions, Doctor Voodoo is hunted by a brutal living nightmare that holds a festering and contagious self-doubt. Was Jericho given the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme in order to leave our dimension vulnerable to the great evil Agamotto foresees? Or is he the one man with the strength to suppress the coming darkness? The Loas do not listen, the Vishanti cannot answer — alone Jericho must decide if he is fit to serve. He will soon learn.

I say: OK, I’ll come right out and say it. I don’t like brother Voodoo in the Sorcerer Supreme role. I’m Old School. There’s only one top mystic in the Marvel Universe. And it’s me. So, I’m picking this issue for two reasons: First, I’m justing waiting to see how quickly they can get the Eye of Agamatto back into Stephen Strange’s leopard-skin-cad hands. And secondly… sigh… it’s a really well-written story. There. I said it. But that doesn’t mean I’m buying into the whole “Dr. Voodoo” thing.

House of M Masters of Evil #4

Creative team: Story by Christos N. Gage; Art by manuel Garcia

Villain to Watch: Magneto

They say: The ruler of the House of M has targeted the Sapien homeland established by the Hood and his gang. With his wrath about to fall on their city and its helpless citizens, will the villains take the money and run? Or will they stay and fight a suicidal battle against impossible odds?

Either way, there’s going to be a high body count… especially when Wolverine, Rogue, and the rest of the Red Guard come to town!

I say: This series has been a solid read — with both excellent writing and beautiful art — from the opening panels of the first issue. And it looks as if the plot is heating up nicely at the fourth-issue mark. Heck, this series is even making dead-lasters like Batroc the Leaper kinda interesting.

Secret Six #15

Creative team: Story by John Ostrander; Art by J. Califiore

Villain to Watch: Deadshot

They say: Deadshot takes center stage!

He’s always been a killer, but now the urge to kill everyone is threatening to take him over completely. Can the mercenary pull himself out of these murderous depths? Or will he drown in the murky waters of his own addiction to death? Guest-written by John Ostrander, whose fan-favorite run on “Suicide Squad” helped define Deadshot.

I say: A Secret Six without Gail Simone? I am officially sceptical. Gail’s writing has defined this series as one of the best in modern comics writing. But she’s done such a good job of making me care about these guys that I’m willing to go an issue or two with someone else at the helm.

But one of two things gotta happen: Either Ostrander writes by the Simone playbook or Gail gets back to the title ASAP. Do not screw with this series.

Honorable mention: PsyLocke #1

…And One To Pass…

Strange Tales #3

Creative team: Story and Art by various writers and artists

Villain to Watch: various

They say: You won’t believe your senses!!! Marvel is proud to present the final issue of this hotly anticipated three issue anthology showcasing Marvel’s greatest characters re-imagined by the best and brightest talents working in independent comics today. Don’t miss what’s sure to be one of the most exciting collections of comics short stories ever produced!!! Every issue stars a stunning array of the best, most exciting cartoonists on the planet-showcasing the Marvel Heroes as you’ve never seen them before! Featuring the long-awaited Peter Bagge ‘Incorrigible Hulk’ serialized over all three issues!

I say: I was actually pretty excited about the launch of this series, and then I picked it up and got an instant reminder of why I hate anthologies. For every great story, I have to wade through a couple mediocre ones, a real stinker, and one that I can’t make heads-or-tails of. I’m seeing comics master Stan Sakki, for example, has a story in this ish, but how much boring crap am I gonna have to wade through to get to it? A little? A lot? I’d just as soon skip the entire experience.

Dishonorable mentions: Spider-man #610 (Still ignoring the Clone rehash); Doom Patrol #4; Magog #3; Red Tornado #3

Trading Up

Wonder Woman Rise of the Olympian (trade paperback)

Creative team: Story by Gail Simone; Art by Aaron Lopresti, Bernard Chang and Matt Ryan

Villain to Watch: Genocide

They say: When the gods change their plans for man’s world, it’s up to Wonder Woman to protect humanity against an invading army of male warriors and a new adversary called Genocide. An army of Olympians has risen for an all-out assault on war across the globe and only Wonder Woman can stop them! One particular attack could spell the end of the Department of Metahuman Affairs and end WW’s secret identity of Diana Prince. And Wonder Woman’s life is changed forever when she faces a monster named Genocide who goes toe-to-toe with her . . . and wins.

I say: For those of us going through Gail Simone withdrawl, perhaps this trade can help ease the pain. Gail’s work on Wonder Woman doesn’t have the same tome as her Secret Six work, but her creativity shines through with some awfully good characterizations and plots. If you haven’t been following along with this title, this is a good book to play catch-up with.