The End League #3
Deliberately derivative, yet devoid of the faith in the power of good to overcome evil which many would consider essential to any superhero book; The End League isn't going to make all spandex fans happy. Writer Rick Remender likes superheroes, (you'll recognise the archetypes on show here), but he doesn't think humans are necessarily very heroic, and the world of The End League is one where the existence of super-powered folk spells disaster for the planet.
Given that it's essentially a "What If the bad guys won" story, there are parallels to be drawn with Mark Millar's Wanted, but The End League is so pessimistic that it makes Wanted look like the Beano. Quite how this will play out in the long run I don't know. It's a novel take on a tired old genre, but then so was Robert Kirkman's excellent Irredeemable Ant-Man, and look what happened to that.
While I fear cancellation then, I hope enough people out there get behind The End League to make it last. Remender's voice is a unique one and I'm keen to see where he's going with this. His work on Fear Agent and Crawl Space shows a certain reverence for the Sci-fi and Horror comic genres, but his take on superheroes is different. This is no nostalgic tribute to the genre, it's a bitterly pessimistic treatise.
Captain America #38
In many ways this is just as bleak as The End League, which (given that it's a mainstream Marvel title) makes it all the more impressive. We all know that the world's in a mess at the moment and Cap reflects that fact.
A word too for Steve Epting who hits the high notes with his pencilling on this issue. The fight scene between Bucky the Falcon and a bunch of AIM agents is as dynamic a looking superhero beat 'em up as you'll see anywhere.
Black Summer #6
Bleak, bleak, bleak. Are you sensing a theme here?
Check out the Juan Jose Ryp's splash on pages 2+3 for a bunch of unexpected special guest appearances. I've spotted Sponge Bob, Mario, Pebbles, Shrek and this fellow who I can't quite place...
Nice to see Ryp sending his famously overly detailed work up. The man's a marvel.
Fantastic Four #557
This has been taking a real bashing, but I like it. Millar is doing a particularly fine job with Reed Richards. It's easy to portray Richards as a pipe smoking bore with no sense of fun, but Millar wants us to know that he's not called Mr Fantastic for nothing. This is a man who in the space of 22 pages climbs into giant Galactus-Transformer to save the world, travels back in time and gives his missus a ring containing a micro-galaxy as an anniversary present.