By: Paul Cornell, Diogenes Neves, & Robson Rocha
Even besides the Questing Queen's miscoloring on the cover, I'm just plain old ambivalent about this issue. On one hand, the ending is quite nice, with a nice smack of morality and doubt that feels right in this title, and the battle itself was engaging with some nice surprises along the way (hello again, Vandal Savage).
But after seven issues, this just feels like another waste of space. The battle is epic, but there aren't enough moments here for our characters to really shine. The Amazon gets a nice speech, but it feels out of place. Horsewoman saves the day, but it's too deus ex machina to have an emotional surge of victory. All in all, a good attempt but not much more. I need more characterization for this title to stay on my Pull List.
Fairest #1 (New Title, Fables Spin-off)
By: Bill Willingham & Phil Jimenez
Let me just say that I buy Fables because I love the writing. I think Willingham is smart and sassy, and his characters are fantasticly human. But it was Jimenez's art that stole the entire show here. Even on cheaper paper than what most titles use these days, Jimenez's work is absolutely gorgeous, with George Perez-level detail and some of the most exquisite faces I've ever seen. Add to that absolutely gorgeous coloring by Andrew Dalhouse (the page with the Snow Queen and Sleeping Beauty asleep is my absolute favorite page of the year so far) and a terrific cover by Adam Hughes, and you have the most beautiful book on the stands.
My only complaint is that this title was supposed to be the women of Fables, and the first issue is actually all Ali Baba. It's a good story, but I want to see the women here be in charge, not the men.
By: Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, & Leandro Fernandez
Like Demon Knights, the best part of this issue was the ending, with Warlock delivering the news that he's got to trap his own teammates on an island with an insane bird-man, where one of them died in the past. (Yes, I know it's sentences like that that make non-comic readers' brain explode.)
The art was alright, despite some heavy inking and dark coloring that murked things up, but it was really the strange plotting that got me. The whole impetus of the story was odd (it was all a dream), and while Cypher's power evolution - the ability to decode any language, including dreams and movement now - is nice, it just doesn't fit together, especially when the team nearly kills an old ally. I just walked away feeling like this was a huge let-down after last issue's stunning achievement.
By: Kieron Gillen & Greg Land
Sometimes you get the feeling that the pacing is all wrong for a story, and here's a perfect example of why. While half of the team barely appears in this issue, Storm, Cyclops, and an annoyingly arrogant ally stand around and talk a lot. And I mean, a freakin' bunch. When you combine that with the photo-traced, stiff artwork of Greg Land, you end up with one very bland issue.
There's one good moment, with Psylocke, where she asks, "Where do you stand on ambushes? Or swords?" as she stabs the villain in the back, and he responds with (after blasting her away), "Quaint but somewhat obsolete." It's funny but also sad that this is the issue's highlight. It would have been better to just jump to the next issue. You won't miss anything important, I promise.
By: Christos Gage & David Baldeon
Once again, we have a fight issue where nothing much happens, except a nice cliffhanger. The X-Men are still fighting Exodus, who is going to kill Cyclops to reunite the mutant race. Wolverine and Rogue have a fight. Icemen reveals new power levels. It's all ho-hum, didn't we already see this last issue?
I mean, even the cliffhanger is a two-page spread that isn't that beautiful. It could have easily been a one-pager. The only cute things here is Rachel Grey's psychic battle with Exodus, with scenes of them in various guises alluding to their respective and quite strange pasts. (We see Rachel's mutant slave with spikes outfit, and Exodus as a Medieval Times Crusader). All in all, not my favorite.