Executive Assistant Iris #0 ~ This issus is a promising preview, with a 16-page self-contained story about Iris doing what she does, busting her way into a heavily-guarded villa to apply some pressure on behalf of her boss in order to close a financial deal. Probably nothing that doesn't happen all the time for real, although Iris is a lot sexier and more ninja than her real-world counterparts generally are - though on the subject of sexy, it's worth noting that she does her spy stuff dressed in a practical head-to-toe stealth bodysuit, rather than some kind of battle bikini, so there's at least lip service paid to realism (magic ninja combat notwithstanding), which along with the gritty/amoral concept gives the story an edge.
C.E. Murphy's Take A Chance #2 ~ Much like the first issue, here we get a fairly self-contained episode in the superhero career of Chance, a woman without powers in a superpower-rich world who takes it upon herself to lend an unofficial vigilante helping hand to the cops, since the regular heroes are just a pack of glory-seeking idiots. This issue Chance changes her regular MO and gets more directly involved, leading to some tricky situations as her lack of direct experience leads her astray, and there's some neat interaction between her and her cop ex - I like the mix of street-level superhero and Law & Order-style crime story. The art is still a bit of a weak link, capable but unremarkable, but the story's good enough to carry the show regardless.
M.I.L.F. Magnet #1 ~ Okay, with that title it's not going to be a surprise to anyone that this comic is non-stop sex jokes. The 'plot' concerns Taser, a teenage hero and junior member of the JLA-parody 'Bastions of Justice', whose usual electricity-based powers land him in trouble when they absorb a whole magic shop's load of love spells, making him irresistable to women - in order to be able to go out in public without being molested, super-magician Esoteric M.D. (yup) reins in the spell as much as he can, limiting the effects to women over 40 (so at least Taser can go near a high school without being arrested), and naturally what follows are a series of silly escapades in which Taser tries to battle evil while various conveniently gorgeous 40-something women (including Women's Liberator, the Bastions' ersatz Wonder Woman) throw themselves at him. It's not highbrow or particularly clever, but what it does get right is that it doesn't ever let up - every page throws in more silly humour and adolescent superhero parody, so while there's nothing especially sophisticated going on, you do get a lot of laughs out of it. The story concludes in the issue, so it looks like this'll be the only one there is - I'm okay with that (I don't know how well it'd hold up to being prolonged over more issues anyway), but I wouldn't mind seeing more comedy from the same creators.
Secret Six #7 ~ The Six finally reach Gotham city and the conclusion of the 'get out of hell free card' story - and at this point, I'm stopping reading. As I've said before it's no fault of the book, which features strong writing from Gail Simone, and art from Nicola Scott and the rest of the art team that'd be welcome in any book they chose to work on - it's just that I'm not that interested in most of the characters. I knew going in that this might've been the case, and it's always been a problem for me with reading team books that, aside from a very few exceptions, the cast is mostly male, and it takes something out of the ordinary to get me to give a damn about them. Simone writes the whole cast well, but it's just my nature that I'm not going to be as interested in, say, Catman as I am Wonder Woman, despite them being written just as convincingly and interestingly as each other.
Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade #4 ~ I've been enjoying this title all along - it's aimed at a young audience, but not in a condescending way, and it's very likeable - but this issue really kicked things up a notch. Streaky the Supercat makes his debut, setting off a chain reaction of mayhem that results in Kara, Belinda, and Lena (in her own version of the Luthor battle suit) all charging about like maniacs in a supremely dysfuntcional attempt to save the world, arguing at cross-purposes the whole way. The all-bets-are-off craziness of it is maintained well, with snappy dialogue and fun artwork - it doesn't really have the savviness of something like Futurama, but it's got the same comedic momentum - and while the conclusion (which necessarily wipes Lena's memory of Kara's Kryptonian identity) is a bit of a cheat, there's a second twist that's a lot more palatable.
Hack/Slash #20 ~ Since it's not mentioned on the cover this time, I'd forgotten that this title now has Lovebunny backup stories - it was a real treat to get to the end and find her being cute and quirky in an amusing little one-page story, and we finally get to see her arch-nemesis (alluded to last issue), Hatedonkey. In the main feature Vlad's hurt and anger at being left behind (as he sees it) boils over, while Cassie inadvertently gets herself into all manner of trouble involving the police and a band of crazy slasher worshippers (not working together with the police, obviously). It's set-up, ending on a cliffhanger, but as usual while the monster-fighting and mortal danger may be exciting, it's the character subplots that really keep me coming back.
New Avengers: The Reunion #1 ~ New Avengers #50 (reviewed last week) made me interested in this, for the banter and interaction between Mockingbird and Hawkeye/Ronin, whatever he's calling himself now. Unfortunately I didn't find what I was looking for - this book seems to want the relationship between them to be rocky and edgy, and while there's plenty of reasons for that to be the case - him having thought her dead, her having been stuck in traumatic captivity on Skrullworld for years - the fact remains that it turns the snarky-but-fun banter into something more plodding and obsessed with its own importance. The plotline is an interesting idea - the Skrulls had analysed the corruption in Earth's security agencies, so Mockingbird and her fellow captives (who weren't corrupt, otherwise they wouldn't have been taken) are now the only ones really clean of its taint and able to go after it, since even though the Skrulls are gone their analysis of Earth (concluding that we'd likely kill ourselves eventually) still holds true. But it kind of boils down to Marvel Secret Agent stuff, which I find problematic at the best of times - I can't off the top of my head think of a spy-oriented Marvel book, where they try to do Jason Bourne stuff, I've really liked.
Farscape #3 ~ This issue keeps the story moving nice and fast - it's a peril of adapting TV to comics that 22 comic pages contain far less storytelling space than 42 minutes of TV, but luckily Farscape has upped its pace accordingly, so there's no sense of the story lagging, even compared to the often fast-and-furious pace set by the original show. Scorpius's presence gets some explanation, and although his initial gambit of kidnapping John and Aeryn's baby gets resolved pretty quickly - it had to be, really, they couldn't have lost the baby, even just to Scorpy kidnapping him for an extended period, this early - the Scorpius master plan is quite clever, and ties well into his background from the show. Rygel is the star, though, leading a kick-ass takeover of the prison ship he's been stashed on - I think I could get to like the Hynerian focus of the comic, which seems intended to persist beyond just the opening issues.
Agents of Atlas #2 ~ Like last issue, this is a clever, intricate story that demands - and rewards - attention from its readers. It also again splits between the past and present, but instead of it being a main story/backup story arrangement, the past segments this time and interwoven with the present, and look to be set up to be part of the same tale. Namora gets a bit more to do this month than just stand around looking hot (not that that's unwelcome), and the arrival of a new face kicks off some interesting debate about James Woo's plans and methods - while the opposing arguments (a more overt take-over-the-world approach) aren't exactly practical, they are at the very least fascinating. The art continues to be strong, with sophisticated shading in the colouring of the present segments, and clever use of inks to give the past segments a retro feel without losing the ability to convey subtleties of expression and so on.
Shrapnel: Aristeia Rising #3 ~ This issue is all about taking a breath and looking ahead, now that the first big burst of action is out of the way - here things are calmer, there's a heavier emphasis on planning and dialogue, with more character development, and via several well-executed scenes, a significant look at our heroine Sam's backstory. That she'd served with the Marines - who are now the enemy - we already knew, but now we get much more info about the events that led her to abandon her former life and wind up hiding on Venus, delivered both from her own mouth, and through a Marine Colonel who she meets in a parley, in what's probably this issue's stand-out scene. The art is murky but evocative as usual, and since there's little chaotic fighting this issue, it's always quite clear what's going on.