Review Nuggets - how I get through the pile.

*Deep-fried meat is all I can manage today.

*Aces! More juicy exposition served up hot in Eternals #5 (of 6)! And this time writer Neil Gaiman doesn’t even bother with the flashbacks; a character just walks in, dumping line after illuminating line of exposition to another character who’s just trying to enjoy his homeless stupor. Granted, Gaiman’s a bit too skilled a technician to let the pacing get too badly bogged down, and John Romita Jr. is giving his all on the pencils; there’s a few decent character bits concerning the main characters’ godly/human nature, still (almost subconsciously) caring for their little human kids while dressing for battle. Some ok Civil War jokes too. But it’s becoming increasingly evident that Gaiman just doesn’t have a lot to say about these characters, nor much of a story to tell with them; there’s only one issue left, and pretty much all that’s been going on is an extended bit of backstory puzzle-solving for the purposes of sprucing the property up for future use, with little verve or substance behind the polish, and next comes the obvious action and coming together of the forces. It’s accomplished enough work, but in a remarkably uninteresting way for this late in the production.

*Then again, I can hardly say Wisdom #1 (of 6) is the freshest idea in the Marvel comics group (and I did balk at paying an extra $1 for the unnecessary MAX label), but it’s a surprisingly likable, fun little book. Don’t expect much of anything new out of writer Paul Cornell’s setup; the titular former Excalibur cast member is head of an English secret ops divisions devoted to magic, featuring the likes of Captain Midlands and a peaceable skrull who’s taken the form of John Lennon. Our world is under attack by the Enchanted Land of Avalon, which is apparently some sort of cross-dimensional representation of the English collective unconscious in addition to being a literal place, and Wisdom must save the day with neat gadgets and a slightly gentler adaptation of assorted witty tough guy Warren Ellisisms. When he’s not leaving awkward messages on the X-Men answering machine after the very much moved-on Kitty Pryde. Little that’s new under the sun, but very successful light entertainment with a done-in-one story, fitting pencils by Trevor Hairsine, and lines like “I wanna get back for the alien duplicates get-together at the Bull and Whistle. Anybody who’s anybody is gonna be there.” Not bad at all.

*And the first Grant Morrison/Andy Kubert storyline in Batman certainly… ends. Just as I’d hoped would not happen after reading last issue, Batman and Damian zip off to confront Talia and some inevitable plot machinations are hammered into place so as to clear the table for whatever’s next. Expect them all back toward the end of the Morrison run. As usual with this book, it all feels kinda perfunctory, as if Morrison’s trying to rein himself in for the good of mass superhero appeal. We do get the welcome return of “Hh” (unless I missed it earlier), and Talia is amusingly characterized as a sort of perky supervillain soccer mom, and the dynamic between the main characters is somewhat surprisingly effective given how jumbly the storytelling has been, but these four issues still manage to feel undercooked yet somehow overextended. How does something feel like it’s worn out its welcome despite needing another issue or two to air itself? The mystery can be contemplated until February, as the creative team takes a break. UPDATE 11/9/06 7:54 PM: Or not, since there's actually another, stand-alone Morrison/Kubert issue out later this month, as was pointed out in the comments section. Don't ask me how I missed that, or I'll lie.

*52 Dept: This issue has something we’ve all been waiting for in one of the plotlines. Unless it’s a particularly evil bit of misdirection, which I’m not putting past anyone. Otherwise, it’s one of the ‘dramatic’ issues, focusing primarily on Ralph (who’s somehow regained his backpack - I’m picturing Dr. Fate’s Helmet storing stuff inside it like a magic hat) as the Spectre tempts him into killing Jean Loring, who’s now the outer-space vessel for Eclipso or something; hey, I just believe what I’m told here. Exactly as emotionally gratuitous as these things tend to get, but it mysteriously manages to work as a nasty, self-contained Spectre short. I like the blue dimensional doorway behind Ralph at the end, since it looks like he’s the star of a syndicated sci-fi television show, off to next week’s adventure.