Astro City: The Dark Age #2 (Kurt Busiek/Brent Anderson, DC/Wildstorm)
Busiek has done a really good job here inverting the sense of wonder that defines Astro City and turning it into a sense of sort of terrified awe. The world he's portraying here reminds me in many ways of the world Warren Ellis showed in the early days of The Authority, where average people are just as afraid of mysterious superpowered beings in their midst as they are reassured. It's possible that Busiek is going too far, and tainting the sort of wide-eyed reputation that Astro City has, but I think the book's mandate has always been a grounded, real-world take on superheroes, and that means taking the bad with the good.
The Pulse #10 (Brian Michael Bendis/Michael Lark & Stephano Gaudiano, Marvel)
As much as I have been down on this book and on House of M, this issue (a House of M crossover) should have been my least favorite one yet. But it was actually a big improvement over the terrible Secret War arc. It has what seems like a significant impact on the House of M story overall (Hawkeye deciding to go kill Magneto), so much so that I wonder if people reading House of M who don't buy this book will be missing something. Honestly this was the first House of M story that felt to me like it was going somewhere, and saying something about a specific character (in this case Hawkeye). As a Pulse story, though, it was pretty much a waste. Jessica Jones doesn't even appear in this issue, and the one Pulse character who does (Kat Farrell) is used almost exclusively as a sounding board for Bendis to move Hawkeye's story ahead. I did like the mix of Lark and Gaudiano's art, and at least Michael Gaydos is returning next issue. But while this was a decent House of M story, it was pretty much worthless as an issue of The Pulse, so my opinion still stands: If the next arc isn't a significant improvement, I'm done.
Runaways #6 (Brian K. Vaughan/Adrian Alphona, Marvel)
Vaughan accomplishes a hell of a lot in the conclusion of the new volume's first arc: He adds a much-needed male member to the team; he establishes Excelsior as its own, highly interesting, entity; he puts in one hell of a twist at the end that ties the book back into its origins; and he offers a decent wrap-up to Victor's story, although to be honest I found that to be the weakest part. I really hope we see more of Excelsior, either in these pages or, even better, in their own book. And the twist at the end gives the series a nice long-term subplot for Vaughan to develop, which he's always been good at. Once again, this is the best thing that Marvel's publishing (although it's neck and neck with Young Avengers).
Silent Dragon #1 (Andy Diggle/Leinil Francis Yu, DC/Wildstorm)
I've read a lot about how great Diggle's work is on The Losers and the recent Adam Strange mini-series. I wasn't impressed with the first issue of The Losers, but this series has an intriguing presence (samurais! in the future!) and the always excellent Yu artwork, so I gave it a shot. The plot of the first issue is a little confusing, and features samurais doing pretty basic samurai things. It doesn't take quite enough advantage of its sci fi setting, but Yu's work is as always dynamic and beautiful, and there's enough potential that I'll stick with it for a bit.