Cable & Deadpool #8 (Fabian Nicieza/Patrick Zircher, Marvel)
I admire Nicieza's ambition here, making Cable into this grand figure who's changing the world a la the Authority, but we all know that he's going to have to hit the cosmic reset button at the end of this storyline, so it makes it seem a little redundant. Still, he's doing a decent job of developing Cable as a character, getting in supporting characters like Irene Merryweather, Domino and GW Bridge, and he's definitely got a good handle on Deadpool. In fact I'd kind of like to read a Deadpool solo title by Nicieza without the burden of shoehorning him into what is essentially a Cable story. I'd even read a Cable solo book by Nicieza - he's very good at exploring the minor corners of the X-universe. This book is not as entertaining as either of those would be, but it's still got some good dialogue and character moments, and is trying to tell a meaningful story, so for now I'm enjoying it. I just feel like Nicieza could come up with a really great story that made use of both characters and would make this book a must-read instead of just a fun little second-tier title.
Madrox #2 (Peter David/Pablo Raimondi, Marvel)
Now this is what I want out of a second- or third-tier X-book. David takes Multiple Man and makes his powers something unique and interesting, taking them to their logical extreme and not just using them as generic tools in fight sequences. The superhero private-eye concept owes a little to Brian Bendis's Alias, but David approaches it in a different way, and he's set up an intriguing mystery that has me looking forward to the solution. Rahne and Guido are used a little more sparingly in this issue, and I could go for some more of their banter, but overall the story is the kind of high quality I expect from David. Raimondi's art is also really nice, very detailed and clean while still conveying the gritty atmosphere of Mutant Town. I could go for a crossover with this book and District X, a sort of street-level X-books team-up. (I also couldn't help but notice that the silly cover copy promises "4X the Multiple Man Action!" which just sounds dirty.)
Noble Causes Vol. 3 #3 (Jay Faerber/Fran Bueno, Image)
I was all set to drop this book, and then this issue had a great cliffhanger ending that made me want to keep reading. This has always been a book that I liked more in concept than in execution. Faerber's done some good writing, and the idea of a superhero soap opera really appeals to me, but I've never gotten to the point of caring about these characters or getting that excited about where the story's going. Maybe it was the constantly-shfiting art teams, the stop-start mini-series, the shift to black and white and then back, or all three. Honestly, the main thing right now is that the price is $3.50, which is more than I pay for any other regular series. I figured it was time to let it go, but Bueno's art has been improving, and it looks like he'll be sticking around. And that damn cliffhanger really got me. Maybe I'll give it one more issue.
Ocean #1 (Warren Ellis/Chris Sprouse, DC/Wildstorm)
I was pretty harsh on Ultimate Nightmare last week, and, honestly, this is just as slowly paced. But it has a sense of purpose that Ultimate Nightmare lacks, and Ellis is able to really cut loose with his out-there sci-fi concepts when he's not working with company-owned characters. Sprouse's art also really justifies the widescreen approach - there are some beautiful panels here. In a lot of ways, this is vintage Ellis - a tough-talking, no-nonsense lead character, space-based sci-fi, exploration of future governments and corporations, etc. But it's an interesting exploration of his pet themes, has some gorgeous art, snappy dialogue and an interesting premise, about some mysterious coffins found a planet that's one big ocean. I'm looking forward to the rest.
Uncanny X-Men #451 (Chris Claremont/Alan Davis, Marvel)
Ugh. I could probably write a whole essay on why I still read the X-Men, but Claremont's current writing is not one of the reasons. Maybe editorial told him he had to throw X-23 into these last two issues, and it's not his fault that he got stuck with a lame female clone of Wolverine. But all of his other weaknesses are still on display here. The main plot is just a dumb misunderstanding between a bunch of characters we've never seen before and will never see again. There about 10 different subplots from the last several issues that have never gone anywhere, and a couple more introduced this time. At least the Sage-joins-the-Hellfire-Club plot seems like it will come to a head next issue, but I'd still like to know what happened at Braddock manor, what Viper's motivation was for co-opting Murderworld, what the Bacchae were up to, who was behind the attack by the Fury, and so on. Actually, I don't even care about any of that, but it'd be nice to see Claremont demonstrate some sort of coherent plan or grasp of basic serial plotting. I could even deal with the excessive narration, hackneyed dialogue and overwrought thought balloons if there was something like a compelling plot, or a plot at all. At least Davis's art is pretty, even if that costume for X-23 is hideous.