Down #1 (Warren Ellis/Tony Harris, Image/Top Cow)
I remember when this was announced a number of years ago, along with the deluge of self-contained, non-superhero mini-series that Ellis was pushing at the time. Given the amazingly long delays that this project has endured, it's a remarkably unremarkable result that's finally made its way to stores. This reads much like those other series that came out at the time, stuff like Mek and Tokyo Storm Warning, in that it's a mildly interesting genre exercise that comes off like Ellis wrote it on the back of a napkin in between pints at the pub. With its badass rebel law-enforcement agent and upcoming art by Cully Hamner, this reminds me most of Red, which was probably my favorite of those old mini-series (not that that's saying much). Harris's art is more exaggerated and cartoony here than it is on Ex Machina, but it's still nice to look at. Since this has been reduced from six issues to four, I'll probably pick up the rest of it, but it isn't exactly Ellis's best work.
Ex Machina #16 (Brian K. Vaughan/Tony Harris, DC/Wildstorm)
It's a good week for Tony Harris fans, even if he's leaving Down after the first issue and Ex Machina has been plagued by lateness recently. This wraps up the "Off the Grid" arc, which has been sort of low-key and short on interesting developments, and has also shied away from the political issues Vaughan tackled in earlier arcs. The addition of Mitchell's mother to the supporting cast doesn't really excite me, and the revelation about his father's death strikes me as a bit of a cliche, but I'm sure Vaughan will weave them into the overall tapestry in a way that makes this arc seem more relevant in retrospect.
Jack Cross #4 (Warren Ellis/Gary Erskine, DC)
Speaking of not exactly Ellis's best work, this wraps up the opening storyline of this book, and looks suspiciously like a final issue. Taken by itself, the four-issue story again resembles one of the Ellis minis of a few years back, an interesting but relatively insubstantial genre exercise. Since this was advertised as an ongoing series, I'd be willing to give Ellis the benefit of the doubt and see where he takes the character next, but the next issue box has only vague promises of a "new adventure" in "a few months," and no info on what that adventure might be. I'm not sure how the book's been doing sales-wise, but it looks like DC's yet to solicit the next issue, which is a bad sign. Honestly, though, if this book just fades away, I don't think it'll be much of a tragedy.
She-Hulk #2 (Dan Slott/Juan Bobillo, Marvel)
Another entertaining issue, although I'm not quite sure I understood the time paradox at the center of the trial. I like that Slott is delving into Jennifer's psyche again, and developing some interesting relationships along with the goofy superhero stuff. I'm not sure how keen I am on having a continuing arc rather than the more self-contained stories of the first volume, but so far things have certainly not dragged, so I'll give Slott the benefit of the doubt.
Young Avengers #9 (Allan Heinberg/Jim Cheung, Marvel)
This reminds me a lot of the recent arc in Runaways, with one character's alien heritage leading to an unwelcome visitor from space, in the person of a Skrull. The similarities end there, though, as this is obviously going to lead to a much grander storyline. I like how Heinberg lets different members take the spotlight in different arcs, even as we continue to learn bits and pieces about the backgrounds of each. It's nice to see Cheung back on art, too, although some of his panels look a little rushed.