District X #7 (David Hine/Lan Medina, Marvel)
Wow, my interest in this book has really plummeted quickly. The first couple of issues were smart and innovative, doing stuff with mutants that explored new territory. But since then we've had a meandering, drawn out first arc, inconsistent art and some bland characterization. This issue isn't particularly bad, but it's just kind of mediocre and seems pretty directionless. No reason is given for Bishop staying in the district; he just seems to be hanging around randomly. The plot set-up is just a mish-mash of old X-Men concepts like the society of mutants living in the sewers and the mutant who can see a future that must be prevented. Even the cliffhanger ending didn't get me excited. The art is wholly generic, not even up to the standards Medina has set in his work on Fables and Aria in the past. I would say I miss David Yardin's work, but he's barely pencilled half the issues so far. I'll give it another issue or two, but given how many X-books and how many comics overall I'm buying, it would be easy to just let it go.
Fables #31 (Bill Willingham/Mark Buckingham, DC/Vertigo)
I reread the March of the Wooden Soldiers storyline in collected form last week for a review in Las Vegas Weekly, and it just re-emphasized for me how awesome this book is. That story in particular, drawn out as it was, read better in one sitting. In this issue, Willingham sets up some major changes, with Snow and Bigby both leaving Fabletown and Prince Charming taking over as mayor. I really hope this doesn't signal a shift in which characters the book will focus on, since I'd really miss seeing Snow and Bigby every month. But the sense of things moving forward is strong, and Willingham has really built up a touching relationship between Snow and Bigby. Buckingham proves again how perfect his art is for this book, and I'm always disappointed when I see a fill-in issue. I think between reading the collection and this issue, I've really come to appreciate this as one of the best books being published right now.
Ocean #2 (Warren Ellis/Chris Sprouse, DC/Wildstorm)
I passed up Ellis's first issue of Iron Man this week, partly for financial reasons but mostly because I just don't have any interest in his for-hire work on someone else's characters. I know he'll be off the book in a year or so anyway, and it's not really worth my time to get on-board. Instead, I'm really enjoying Ocean, which like most of Ellis's work has built slowly, but has a fascinating presence at its core and does a good job of exploring Ellis's obsession with space travel. We learn more in this issue about the strange bodies trapped below the icy surface of Europa, and even if the characters are still somewhat sketchy, the plot is enough to keep my interest.
X-Men: The End #5 (Chris Claremont/Sean Chen, Marvel)
Good lord this is boring. I feel ashamed for liking this series at the outset, when it had a certain driving plot force behind its sprawling, epic scope. But we haven't even seen the ostensible main character from the start (Aliyah Bishop) in the last two issues, and Claremont's only goal seems to be trotting out every single X-character who ever existed for a panel or two. The only enjoyment I'm getting out of it now is playing "spot the character," trying to see how much X-Men continuity I can remember so I can figure out who the latest obscure hero or villain to show up is. I have no idea what the plot is, who we're meant to care about, or where it's all going. This first volume is supposed to wrap up in the next issue, but I can't imagine a single question will be answered. What a wasted opportunity.