Ocean #5 (Warren Ellis/Chris Sprouse, DC/Wildstorm)
Ellis makes up for the slowness of previous issues with a lot of action this time, most of which is interesting. The explanation of who the mysterious creatures under the ice are is something of a sci-fi cliche, but Ellis handles it well enough and creates enough excitement that I don't mind. As with last issue, the evil Doors manager gets another total stock Ellis line ("Kill everything you see."). I'm not all that taken with him as a villain but the menace of the creatures proves interesting enough.
Otherworld #1 (Phil Jimenez, DC/Vertigo)
I was really looking forward to this, but it was quite the disappointment. Jimenez introduces a horde of characters in this issue whom I could barely tell apart, and his magical mystical plot isn't that easy to follow, either. At its core, though, it's pretty basic: Some mystical land is in peril, and some sorcerors summon a bunch of college kids from our world to help. A simple premise, but one that could be taken in a number of interesting directions. So far Jimenez hasn't done that, although his hyper-detailed art is, as always, gorgeous, and I'm willing to give him one more issue to come up with a story worth telling, since this one was free from DC publicity anyway.
The Pulse #8 (Brian Michael Bendis/Michael Lark, Marvel)
I have pretty much lost all interest in this book, although its Secret War crossover is more interesting than this week's issue of Secret War (see below). Seriously, after the 28 wonderful issues of Alias, Bendis has given us a decent Green Goblin story that went on a little too long and this totally useless crossover that barely adds anything to the story with which it's crossing over. Plus the third artist in eight issues. If the next storyline isn't a dramatic improvement, I'm gone. On the upside, Lark's gritty art fits the tone of the book better than Brent Anderson's did, and, as I said, at least something actually happens vis a vis the whole Secret War mess.
Secret War #4 (Brian Michael Bendis/Gabriele Dell'Otto, Marvel)
Unlike this, which is basically just an issue-long fight scene with a bunch of generic villains. For this I waited who knows how many months and paid $3.99? Good lord. I liked this story when it started (what seems like a decade ago), but now it's just treading water and has already been overshadowed by Bendis's next big crossover, House of M. I don't expect it will have any interesting long-term ramifications in the Marvel universe, and now that we've discovered what it's all about (some Latverian chick funding science villains), I find it hard to care about the outcome.
Also out this week: Astonishing X-Men #9 and X-Men: Phoenix - Endsong #4, but thanks to a snafu at my local comics store, I did not pick them up. I can pretty much review them anyway, though: Astonishing X-Men remains far and away the best X-book Marvel is publishing, with Joss Whedon's sharp dialogue and spot-on characterization, and John Cassaday's beautiful art. Endsong is still surprisingly good for such a shameless cash-grab mini-series, and tells an important story that should have bumped one of the main books. How's that?