Writers: Francis Manapul & Brian Buccellato
Artist: Francis Manapul
Company: DC Comics
So much has been said about the layouts and artistic talents of artist Francis Manapul. Simply stated, they're all true. He has so much talent and employs it in such a manner that your eyes are drawn to his work like it was a big giant steak that has been seared to perfection. There are aspects of Will Eisner utilized in his work, especially using the backdrops for the opening titles. Still, with the art being so good, the stories have had a hard time finding the same amount of traction. This sixth issue finally does. Yes, the confrontation between Cold and Flash and the specifics of said battle are told through time jumps and flashbacks (which is getting to be a tiresome gimmick at this point in comics), but there's literary meat on them bones that goes hand in hand with the action portions of the affair. I still would have liked to see an explanation for Captain Cold's newly acquired powers (his guns are mentioned), but this was the first issue that had me feeling the excitement and has me interested to see what happens next.
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Nick Bradshaw
Company: Marvel Comics
Well, Wolverine needs money to keep the School open. Where better to find said fortune than in Space Vegas, and who better for him to bring along than Quentin Quire, psychic and jerk extraordinaire. Aaron melds equal parts Rain Man and Hangover with the humorous antics of alien poker. The repartee between these two is golden and provides numerous laugh out loud moments. On the flipside, Aaron doesn't forget about the rock/hard place that he left Kitty and the other members of Wolverine's merry band of mutants in. He has created new bad guys, made nods to famous X-Men stories, and knows a thing or two about the creation of unique situations. With Nick Bradshaw, who's still providing clear and spirited imagery for stories that seem to throw everything and the kitchen sink at you, at his side, Wolverine & the X-Men is on a veritable roll.
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Ivan Reis & Joe Prado
Company: DC Comics
This story for this one focuses on Mera retrieving some dog food for the new pup that she and Arthur adopted. It's a done in one tale, and while it is a slightly corny story idea, Johns is able to pump up the dial on Mera's character. We get clues as to who she was, who she is now, and how she feels for "human" law. There are a few plot points that feel contrived (I'm looking at you, pervy store manager), but Johns has made Mera a character that I want to know more about. It's an accomplishment that I didn't even think was possible. Prado and Reis do a nice job with this one too. The way that they are able to visualize Mera's "water-bending" is effective and in general their sense of dynamic story-telling ramps up the cool points to the breaking point. One of the best things about this story though is that it's a done in one tale. That style of story isn't seen as often as it should be and it's awesome that Johns is utilizing the format.
Writer: Brandon Graham
Artist: Simon Roy
Company: Image Comics
A slow moving comic that is long in the tooth and amazing in its depth. Visually striking, Prophet continues to find ways to draw you in on all fronts. Graham has created such a diverse and strange and fundamentally intriguing world that as John Prophet's mission continues, learning about the world around our main character as he moves about it is almost more exciting than seeing his mission to restart the God Satellite fulfilled. That sounds like a strange way to praise a book, but it's true and I wouldn't want this book any other way. Simon Roy continues to lay a smack-down artistically. There is so much detail in his pencils and it's like participating in a futuristic/alien/awesome scavenger hunt, as there are so many small things incorporated into his lush splash pages. The design work of the alien bugs and the way that he draws their technology is so engaging and intriguing. This is Sci-Fi Fantasy done right.
Writers: Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti
Company: DC Comics
What does Jonah Hex do when he's trapped in an endless maze of caves beneath Gotham City? Well, it seems that tussling with Giant Bats is one of his favorite pastimes. Seriously, the way that writers Gray and Palmiotti have threaded Morrison's Return of Bruce Wayne and Snyder's current Owl craziness into this story while keeping it grounded with traditional Jonah Hex antics and values is refreshing. The character work continues to feel spot on and Moritat's artwork is simple and gorgeous and drives the glorious violence home with the impact of a Peacemaker Revolver. The fight scene towards the end of the issue, with Hex dishing out a bucket of vengeance, has a layout that is intense and all but unbeatable. Add to that Moritat's storytelling, a great usage of sound effects, a resolution that makes sense, and the appearances of a few special guests make for an issue that seals the deal. All Star Western is a force to be reckoned with.