Last week's comics were all over the place in terms of quality, but certain images stand out. Let's pick two for Marvel and two for DC and see what we get, shall we?
Marvel's worst image of the week would have to be the cover of the latest issue of the Avengers' most recent re-launch:
although I'll give this monstrosity its due: it perfectly reflects the disaster this opening run of the book's first storyline has been from the start. It's hyperactive, confused, and incredibly misleading (nothing even closely resembling that scene happens in the issue, needless to say). 'Old' Hulk is grabbing Thor's tunic; but Thor is smacking him across the face with his hammer; but Thor's helmet is falling off, for some reason; but there's some weird-looking young woman jumping over the two of them like it was a dance contest; but the Avengers logo is shattering, for some reason … etc. Actually reading the issue isn't any less painful or distracting – just more prolonged.
DC's worst image isn't actually bad – but it also serves as perfect visual shorthand for the whole issue's contents. Smack dab in the middle of the latest issue of the Teen Titans, we get this:
That's sensitive young Connor Kent – i.e. Superboy – getting all sympathetic with Wonder Girl (because this is the 21st century, the scene takes place after they've done some heavy kissing and caressing), pausing in the middle of a make-out session to hear about all the things that are bothering her this week. It's plodding, TV melodrama-type stuff, and that's been a besetting problem with the Titans for about 900 issues now: no writer has come along in quite some time who seems willing to just ignore the impossibly complicated back-stories of every single character on the team and just make the book exciting again. Instead, we get scene after scene like this one (although usually not so prettily drawn), in which meaning and melodrama are hashed out endlessly in place of anything actually happening. It's possible the writer and artist felt they needed to get this stuff out of the way first – the set-up for next issue looks very promising, at last – but we'll see.
Luckily, it's not all bad news! DC also furnished one of the best issues of the week, in which Lex Luthor, thinking he's dead, has an issue-long angry discussion with Death herself – the teenaged girl-waif Death from Neil Gaiman's interminably pretentious “Sandman” run. At one point, Lex (who here proves again and again the truth of the old theater axiom that villains get to be ten times more interesting psychologically than heroes), trying to figure out what's going on, makes a ranting mention of DC's biggest, most-hyped crossover event of the summer, saying all of this must be connected somehow to the Black Lanterns and Darkest Night. To which Death has an answer that's hilariously blasé:
And even that panel can't hold a candle to the best visual of the week. Over at Marvel, Ben Grimm has been given the ability to temporarily revert to his human form, and he and Johnny Storm decide to make the most of it by filling the day with a host of long-postponed 'normal' activities that Ben could never quite do in his monstrous Thing persona. And one of those activities is a pure gift to us long-time fans:
Impossible to beat that, this time around. But who knows what the next batch of comics will hold?