The Expatriate #1 (B. Clay Moore/Jason Latour, Image)
I'm trying out a few new things lately, and this one caught my eye for its noir tone and interesting art. The plot actually reminds me a lot of Howard Chaykin's Vertigo series American Century, which I found interesting in theory and then dropped after a few issues because the execution was lacking. Moore follows an American on the run from the CIA in an unnamed Latin American country, where he crosses paths with a sexy femme fatale and some local lowlifes. It's hard to tell from the first issue where it's going and whether it will end up being interesting, but I'm willing to give it a little time to see what happens. I also like Latour's sketchy, inky art, with its dark colors that effectively capture the dark tone.
Livewires #2 (Adam Warren/Rick Mays, Marvel)
Pretty much the same as the first issue, with an energetic sense of fun and some good lines, plus a few more ties to the Marvel universe. I don't sense much in the way of an overarching plot for the mini-series, but that's okay as long as it remains entertaining.
The New West #1 (Jimmy Palmiotti/Phil Noto, Black Bull)
First off, I, like many, was surprised to learn that Black Bull was still publishing. This is kind of an odd vehicle, a two-issue mini-series with a high price tag ($4.99), but I'm glad I picked it up. Palmiotti, writing without his usual partner Justin Gray, comes up with an interesting concept that combines sci-fi with a hard-boiled detective story and a little bit of the western, as implied by the title. Sometimes his dialogue is a little clunky, but the plot moves along well and the world is full of promise. Noto's art, of course, is stunning; I absolutely love his work. While I enjoyed the Danger Girl specials he did recently, it's a nice to see him sink his teeth into something a little more substantive. A good read, although it'd be nice if the price were a little lower.
Runaways #2 (Brian K. Vaughan/Adrian Alphona, Marvel)
As many have pointed out, the way that Vaughan sets up the battle between the Runaways and Excelsior is a little contrived, but there are plenty of other mysteries (the Gert from the future, Victor Mancha's parentage, Excelsior's mysterious benefactor) to keep my interest. There is also the typically sharp dialogue and some character development with interesting potential.
X-Men #168 (Peter Milligan/Salvador Larroca, Marvel)
This is head and shoulders above Milligan's first two issues simply because it actually makes sense. Now that I can finally follow the story, I can't say that it's blowing me away, but it's at least exploring some interesting stuff, and if some of the characterization is a little heavy-handed, I can't really fault Milligan for trying to make lemonade out of the lemons that Chuck Austen left behind. I'm still waiting for the whole storyline to play out to see if I'll keep reading or not.