Cable & Deadpool #9 (Fabian Nicieza/Patrick Zircher, Marvel)
I'm not sure if it's a good or bad thing, but in this issue Nicieza offers a twist that pulls back a bit from the Cable-as-messiah concept. On the one hand, it allows the book to continue past this storyline in a reasonable way, but on the other hand it sort of negates some of the philosophical ideas that Cable was exploring as self-appointed savior of the world. Still, I'm back liking this book, and I'm happy to see that this storyline will wrap up next issue and not be another six-parter, which was a little too much last time. Nicieza still has a good handle on Deadpool's wacky banter and makes good use of Marvel and X-Men continuity, so I'll keep reading.
Ex Machina #6 (Brian K. Vaughan/Tony Harris, DC/Wildstorm)
Vaughan is really tackling a lot here, taking on gay marriage and school vouchers in this issue, as well as advancing a new mystery plot and providing more info on The Great Machine in a flashback. This is not as much of an adventure book as Y The Last Man or Runaways, which is maybe why I was less excited about it at first, but it's still got Vaughan's crisp dialogue and clever plotting, and this issue still ends with a nice little twist even if the characters aren't facing life-or-death situations or whatever. It's more low-key than Vaughan's other books, and more of a slow build, but it's got a lot of intrigue going on to keep my interest.
Kinetic #8 (Kelley Puckett/Warren Pleece, DC)
Man, what a let-down. I don't know what Puckett had originally planned, or how much time he was given to wrap things up, but this issue feels very rushed and forced. Given the insanely slow pacing of the early issues, there is a lot crammed in here, and while the ending is kind of a nice idea, it doesn't feel earned in any way. This was a book that had loads of promise at first and didn't get the chance it deserved to develop, so I can't really blame the creative team for how things turned out, but this is a very anti-climactic ending to what was once a really good comic.
Madrox #3 (Peter David/Pablo Raimondi, Marvel)
David continues to do interesting stuff with Madrox, and builds a strong noir mystery and a good supporting cast in the process. I really hope they let him continue beyond the mini-series, because this could be the best non-core X-book around if they let it become an ongoing series. David's always been good at balancing continuity and originality, and he takes off from stuff he was doing in X-Factor years ago without creating a barrier for new readers. He also builds nicely on the characters rather than having them rehash stuff they've already done. There's even a Bishop appearance that ties things in with District X, which does a nice job of showing the larger X-universe without coming off as oppressive. Raimondi's work remains very nice, and overall this is just a lot of fun to read.
The Pulse #6 (Brian Michael Bendis/Brent Anderson, Marvel)
Okay, what the hell? I get that this is tying in with Secret War and showing the same events from a different perspective, but it felt like there was maybe four panels' worth of original meterial in this issue. I suppose if you read this and not Secret War, it ensures you're kept in the loop, but they could have done just as well by putting a summary on the recap page. I like Secret War, and I liked the first storyline in this book, but this issue comes off as a total waste of time.
X-Men #164 (Chuck Austen/Salvador Larroca, Marvel)
Hallelujah, Austen is gone! That's really all I could think about this issue, which has the typical nonsensical and sloppy plotting and sudden developments that come out of nowhere. Xorn sucks all the bad guys (plus Nocturne and Juggernaut) into his brain? And then just wanders away? It's implied that Wolverine killed Sabretooth, just as Marvel is releasing a Sabretooth mini-series? And I have no idea what the twist at the end is supposed to mean. I guarantee that no other writer is going to follow up on any of this, which makes it all the more pointless and serves only to sweep all of Austen's characters and concepts under the rug. As much as I've disliked Austen's run on the book, that's not respectful of him or the readers who've endured all of the stuff he wrote. I hope Peter Milligan can come on board and make some sense of this mess, but I'm not optimistic.