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Scott from the Ashes...
7.19.2002 by Scott, every Thursday.

Wow, summertime rears it’s ugly head and flattens me on my ass with a bad case of bronchitis, coupled immediately with my girlfriend getting sick just as I get better, and seeing as how it was I who infected her, well, I had to take extra special care of her. All that pretty much wiped out any extra-curricular activities we had for the last month.

On the bright side, lots of comics accumulated at the shop for me. Good reading today, as I picked up about 4 weeks worth of stuff.

First up was The Ultimates #5, by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch. This series so far has either been love it or hate it for readers. The slow and steady pacing of the plot in the first four issues really flushed out some strong characterisation (yea!), but also had less than no action (what is this, a textbook?). Well, the creative team behind the Ultimates make up for it in this issue when the Hulk Takes on Giant Man, the Wasp, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, and Freddie Prinze Jr. (not kidding). Some highlights of issue five include the Hulk’s raging libido, and the Wasp flashing the Hulk to distract him, mid-battle, saying “Does Betty (Ross, Bruce Banner’s wife) have a rack like these?”

You can catch up on the series up to issue #4, here with a free user registration. It’s a good read, and the art by Mr. Hitch is fabulous.

Also, I grabbed The New X-Men #129, by Grant Morrison and Igor Kordey. Morrison, who I’ve been following since he wrote JLA for CD comics, has had a highly acclaimed run on New X-Men, using a core line-up of Cyclops, Phoenix, Wolverine, The White Queen, Beast, and Prof. Xavier. The stuff he’s done with the team is innovative and fresh (e.g. Beast gets dumped by his girlfriend, and when she realises she wants him back, he drops her cold with a line of “I just don’t think I can date a human now... and I think I’m gay.” Just to shrug her off as coldly as possible). Unfortunately, this issue, priced at 3.75$ cdn was merely filler, with no real content. It gives some development on the new character, Phantomex, a mutant art thief, but not really much else. Skip it if you can.

Lastly, I also got Forge #4, from Crossgen comics. Forge is a monthly publication from Crossgen, and it collects the previous month’s titles in a neat 256 page, ad free, collector’s edition. Nine issues worth of ad free action, and it goes for about 15 bucks. Partnered with Crossgen’s other monthly trade title Edge, they cover ever title Crossgen publishes. I’m halfway through the fourth Forge, and the stories are solid and consistent. I recommend these books to people who are curious about the new stuff this upstart company out of Florida is all about.

Also, a new special feature is going to be added to the “Underpants on the Outside” experience. Each new column will have one or two fashion reviews of comic heroes and villains, in a section titled "Threads, baby!”.

This week, the pride of the northland, Captain Canuck. His choice of colour is fantastic, the patriotic use of the maple leaf on his forehead, and general “flag” motif of the ensemble is very nice. His costume is cut in the traditional body suit, accented by gloved and boots that flair out a little. No cape, or loincloth or head ornaments or tuque to get in the way here, this sassy number is made to be worn. I give it 3 ½ underoos, only losing points for a pet peeve I have with it. I think this costume could use even more use of the maple leaf. Like on the chest or shoulders or something. Just to really throw it in everybody's face, that' there's no mistaking it, he's Canadian.

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