Planetary #21 (Warren Ellis/John Cassaday, DC/Wildstorm)
This book comes out so infrequently that I've given up on trying to remember what happened in the previous issue. At some point, when the series limps to a close, I'll sit down and read all the issues in a row and it'll undoubtedly make a lot more sense. Until then I am just kind of taking each issue as it comes, and this one is easy enough to appreciate on its own. There's actually a recap of sorts in the dialogue at the beginning - apparently Elijah Snow killed one of the Four in the last issue. I totally don't remember that. Anyway, this issue reminds me a lot of some of the metaphysical stuff in Alan Moore's Promethea, with Snow going to visit some mystical shaman who feeds him drugged tea that gives him helpful hallucinations. This being Warren Ellis, it's all couched in techno-speak about femtotechnology and strangelets. I was struck again, as I was when reading Orbiter, about how much genuine, non-cynical awe and wonder Ellis must have toward science, and it's cool to see him get it across in a story. He really does make you believe in the possibilities of the universe. Cassaday's art is, as always, phenomenal, and as much as I like his stuff on Astonishing X-Men, it's nice to see him on a book where he can do more creative visuals that aren't tied to the looks of decades-old characters.
We3 #2 (Grant Morrison/Frank Quitely, DC/Vertigo)
I hadn't been planning to pick this series up, but I am on DC's press list and they sent me a copy of the first issue at work. I'm glad they did, because that issue was great and this one is just as good. Morrison's created a really original story here out of a goofy premise (cybernetically-enhanced housepets!). He manages to give the dog, the cat and the rabbit distinct personalities with only the few words that they each can utter, and says something about the way we treat animals in our society and the way we view warfare, all while telling an action-packed and suspenseful story. There's nothing quite like those dense pages of security-cam views in the last issue to be found here, but Quitely's still doing some of the best work of his career and pressing the bounds of sequential storytelling with his panel arrangements. Without a doubt one of the best mini-series of the year.
X-Men #163 (Chuck Austen/Salvador Larroca, Marvel)
Thank goodness only one more Austen issue to go. There is a whole lot of deck-clearing going on here, as it seems like Austen has been given a mandate to get rid of all the characters he created or brought into the team, so Annie and Carter are rushed out of the mansion, Northstar decides to quit, and Sammy the fish-boy, who was a lame character from the start, is killed off. I'm sure Gambit will be regaining his sight soon, too, which makes this issue almost entirely pointless. The X-Men fight the new Brotherhood and I can't muster up the energy to care. Maybe many of the problems with Austen's run can be blamed on editorial, but that doesn't make it any more enjoyable to read. Larroca's art, as always, is very pretty, but can't salvage this total waste of time. I can only hope that Peter Milligan figures out some way to make this book worth reading.