Invincible Iron Man #25
Matt Fraction/Salvador LaRooca
Meanwhile, some other subplots are building. Hammer (not led by Norman Osborn) Industries is back and looking to horn in on Stark Industries military contracts. Since Stark has decided he is not going to supply the government with any more weaponry its looking like Hammer will be a force to reckon with. As we approach the release of the second Iron Man movie some of the business aspects of the book seems to be meshing with the movie lore. Stark is out of the military business; he wants to focus on providing his repulsor technology as a power source that will wipe out reliance on fossil fuels. By buying in on the ground floor companies will benefit from this tech instead of being put out of business by it.
All in all, a good jumping on point for Invincible Iron Man. Salvador LaRocca's art is smooth and moves the story along nicely. Fraction has a firm grasp of the character and seems like he has some juicy plots lined up for the next year. 4 out of 5 bullets.
Ultimate Avengers 2 #1
Mark Millar/Leinil Yu
I am beginning to get confused by the number of Ultimate Avengers books. There's Ultimate Avengers, Ultimate Comics Avengers, New Ultimates, Old Ultimates, Ultimate Ultimates...okay maybe I made a few of those up. But it does seem like the Ultimates line is getting a bit muddled. At any rate, this new series opens with the Punisher doing what he does best, karaoke! No, wait...that's someone else. In fact, the Punisher is wasting mobsters and all their associates. After pages of violence, Punny heads back to the Punisher Cave to recap what he has been upto. Maybe he needs a Microchip or a Lil'Punisher to talk to.
Anyway, Punisher talks about wanting to get a Russian mobster who doesn't believe Punisher is whacking all of his guys. He's going to come to America (like Eddie Murphy) and talk to the New York Crime families because he thinks they are behind it. What, no CNN in Russia? No one can confirm this is a real guy? Seems like a poor intel department for the Russian mob.
Anyway, Punisher sets up the hit but is promptly captured by Nick Fury who set the whole thing up as a sting operation to capture poor ole Frank. Seems Nick Fury is running the Black Ops version of the Avengers and needs his version of Captain America and thinks that Frank fits the bill. Frank reluctantly agrees for new so he doesn't go to prison for a gazillion life sentences. The rest of the team is being put together include the Hulk. However, its not Banner Hulk its the Hulk before the Hulk. Let's call him Pre-Hulk Hulk. Looks like next issue will spotlight Pre-Hulk Hulk who apparently was Banner's 'mentor'.
All in all, a pretty paint-by-numbers offering from Millar. The overly long massacre at the beginning of the book chewed up pages that could have been used to move the story along a bit further. Yu's art is fine for the book but his line heavy work is not my cup of tea. Your mileage may vary. 2.5 out of 5 bullets.
Craig Kyle-Chris Yost/Mike Choi
The Second Coming X-over event continues in this issue. As I have said, I am really enjoying this crossover and this issue does not disappoint. I commend Marvel for not advertising the hell out of this issue and allowing the big event to just happen. I won't spoil it here but if you are a fan or have been a fan of the X-Men you need to read this issue.
For those who read X-Force regularly, Kyle and Yost continue their grand tradition of putting the X-folks through the wringer and Mike Choi's more photo-realistic art is a nice change from Crane's sketchier style. Crane's style suited the dark ops arcs of the book but this is more traditional super-hero fare and the cleaner style really helps differentiate the characters. There is more I could say about this book but it would require spoilers which I don't want to do. Well worth the read and made sad at the end. 4.5 out of 5 bullets.
Captain America #605
Ed Brubaker/Luke Ross
Luke Ross is a competent penciller but he's no Steve Epting or Mike Perkins. The art is servicable for the story given but this arc has not been either of these creator's best work. Hopefully things will pick up in the next arc. As for the Nomad backup story, I really have no interest in the character and think this story might have worked better as a Spider-girl back-up given its tone and art style. However, since they want Nomad in the 616 Marvel universe to kick off their Young Allies title (which if it lasts more than 12 issues I will be massively surprised) is scheduled to launch very soon. Not a bad story just not something that interests me. 2 out of 5 bullets.