EXTRA! EXTRA! (OCT 31-NOV 6, 2012)

A+X #1
(w) Dan Slott, Jeph Loeb
(p) Ron Garney, Dale Keown
(i) Danny Miki, Cam Smith, Mark Morales

I don’t know why everyone keeps thinking A+X is tied to the “Avengers vs. X-Men” crossover as it obviously has a ‘+’ sign, a symbol that’s also commonly used in place of the word ‘and’, which means that in this series, the Avengers and X-Men are working together — it’s not a terribly complicated idea. A+X #1 does exactly what it says it will — give readers two stories, each featuring one Avenger and one X-Man teaming up, written and drawn by some of Marvel’s top talent. The first tale features Captain America and Cable, an odd pairing but one that’s more fun than it sounds, especially with Dan Slott on writing duties. The second team-up comes from Jeph Loeb between Wolverine and the Hulk, a partnership that pays homage to Wolverine’s debut as a Hulk villain — it’s not as good as Slott’s story, but Loeb definitely intended this vignette to be the prelude to something bigger.

GRADE: 7/10

Justice League Dark Annual #1
(w) Jeff Lemire
(p) Mikel Janin

“War for the Books of Magic” concludes this week as series regulars Jeff Lemire and Mikel Janin take the Justice League Dark beyond their battle with Nick Necro and into the world of the unknown — even for a series about magic. After surviving the crash landing of the House of Mystery, the team recruits fellow odd-man-out Frankenstein (Agent of S.H.A.D.E.) in their fight against Nick Necro — Constantine and Zatanna’s old mentor — as well as the turncoat Doctor Mist and the ever-evil Felix Faust. Lemire goes all out in Justice League Dark Annual #1, giving readers the blowout, nigh-cinematic ‘season finale’ that again resembles many popular supernatural dramas littered throughout network and cable TV. And while the inclusion of Amethyst is just plain fantastic (in a fanboy sense), the real cliffhanger is the revelation behind the Books of Magic that throws everything we know about magic in the DCnU into question — a great way to end an arc.

GRADE: 9.5/10

Swamp Thing Annual #1
(w) Scott Snyder and Scott Tuft
(p) Becky Cloonan

While I wasn’t very keen on Becky Cloonan’s artwork in Batman #12 — I found it to be a bit more manga-style than my liking — her work here in Swamp Thing Annual #1 is a marked improvement of her already well-stylized work; maybe it’s that her more jovial techniques work better with a more lighthearted story, such as this one about the real first time Alec Holland met Abigail Arcane. Scott Snyder is joined by Scott Tuft for this story about a young Alec Holland making a trip to a pot-Soviet Carpathian Mountains in an effort to use his genius knowledge of botany to help bring vegetation back to a radiation-soaked landscape. It’s here that Alec meets Abby for the firs time and their feelings for each other are allowed to grow. Snyder does a fantastic job giving readers the ‘secret origin’ of Alec and Abby’s relationship, while also setting new groundwork for Alec’s vendetta against the Rot in “Rotworld: The Green Kingdom”.

GRADE: 8/10

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