Welcome to the Cover Count, my summer weekly comic book review column. First, I review the comics of the past week. Then, I pass judgement on their covers, sorting them into two piles. One pile includes those that showcase the major event or events of the issue. The other pile includes those that don’t. I count up each side and provide a ratio.

I took last weekend off for Father’s Day, as I had a fairly busy schedule. To make up for it, I’ll supply two weeks’ worth of material and post it earlier. Sound good? Here goes…

Review:

Amazing Spider-Girl #9–Spider-Girl isn’t an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., but the Specimen 297 “gameball” is the main plot point. It’s a fun little story as S.H.I.E.L.D. defeats practically everyone. I’m unclear as to whether or not S.H.I.E.L.D. is the only organization in charge here, but I’m expecting that to be explained later. May’s personal life continues to be interesting, perhaps moreso than her Spider-Girl adventure. But, then again, I’m not a big fan of Specimen 297. (6/13)

Annihilation: Conquet Prologue #1–It’s an explosive start to the next great cosmic event as the Kree homeworld has breech in its defense, many forces become mind-controlled, and Kree space becomes sealed off from the rest of the universe. Action-packed, mildly funny, and filled with massive destruction, it’s wonderful from front to back. This is my pick of this week. (6/20)

Avengers: Classic #1–The last story is fun and the second one seems a bit unnecessary, but the real gem is the classic reprint. Having never read the story, I find it educational. Hulk doesn’t speak like a simpleton. Thor speaks fairly normal modern English. Sure, the dialogue and plot are a little cheesy, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. (6/13)

Blade #10–More of the prophecy is fulfilled, showing that the first issue actually did have a purpose in the scheme of things. There’s a moment that’s a little over the top. Spider-Man could’ve been written better. Overall, though, this issue is as good as this title usually is. (6/13)

The Brave and the Bold #4–This issue focuses on Supergirl and Lobo as they journey to Rann. An arm wrestle and a journey through Destiny’s realm later, they arrive just in time to fin Green Lantern in trouble with some Thanagarians. There’s less humor in this one, some of which is a little cliché, which gives way to explanation and action. It’s still fun, but not as much so as normal. (6/20)

Captain America #27–Bucky starts his quest to take down Tony Stark. The only two things of consequence to happen are Bucky getting Cap’s shield and Sharon and Falcon learning of Bucky’s plan. There’s also a bit of retconning with Black Widow. All in all, it’s somewhat dull and lacking progression. Disappointing. (6/20)

Countdown #46–I’m going to need X-ray vision to get out of this maze. Mary Marvel’s story has a continuity error. Jimmy goes on an odd adventure, where another character dies. The Rogues story finally catches up to events in Flash. The Monitors continue to act questionably in sending out the character on the cover. Oddly, Jason Todd and Donna Troy seem friendly in a place with a noticeable lack of Amazons. I’m a bit lost. (6/13)

Countdown #45–I’m tired of Jimmy going nowhere. I still don’t fully understand the Monitors and their story therein. Karate Kid’s story seems to only serve as a suppliment to “The Lightning Saga”, as least for now. At least this issue explains Forerunner after a drawn-out fight involving Donna Troy. This issue was actually kind of hard to read. (6/20)

Exiles #94–In this issue, Claremont changes the dynamic of the title, but leaves plot holes that lead to many unanswered questions. At least it looks good. (6/13)

The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #13–Time travel works like it should and the hero saves the planet in this tale that includes a profound notion of heroism. The villains may not act with the right sense of urgency, but it really doesn’t matter. This is the best issue involving a Flash that I’ve read in a few years. (6/20)

Ghost Rider #12–A World War Hulk tie-in where the Hulk only appears for one panel? I guess that’s bound to happen when Ghost Rider spends most of the issue just getting to New York. This was a waste of my time. (6/20)

Justice #12–I found it hard to follow all the elements of this final issue. It’s a climactic showdown as the cities fall and the villains along with them. Also, a minor thing is handled that I was taken care of last issue. The issue isn’t flawless or even smooth, but it is quite good. (6/13)

Justice League of America #10–“The Lightning Saga” coems to a close with… unexpected results. A hero returns, two stay behind, and something ends up trapped in a lightning rod. That hero returning is enough to please me, but I would’ve liked more explanation. (6/20)

Madame Mirage #1–A world after on age of heroism? A behind-the-scenes manipulator with blond hair and a white suit? A mysterious rogue agent? Art by Kenneth Rocafort? I wasn’t Hunter/Killer had a new issue. Oh, wait… It’s Madame Mirage. Sure, between the noir and superheroism, this concept is intriguing. I just feel like I’ve been here before. (6/20)

Nova #3–I love this comic. It showcases everything wrong with registration, from bureaucracy to influence. I especially love the comparison to the events of Annihilation. All that and a fun battle to boot. Just like the last time this title came out, it’s my pick of the week. (6/13)

Superman/Batman #36–By itself, this arc hasn’t been confusing. This issue is no different. However, certain details are a little baffling in context with other things, such as prior knowledge. The mere mention of Brainiace 13 (as a predecessor to the current Brainiac, even) made me cringe. At least the Metal Men get a decent showing. (6/13)

Trials of Shazam #7–No, Freddy isn’t wearing army duds and fighting in a desert. He is battling Sabina in a power struggle, though, as most of her backstory gets mixed in. It’s interesting and fun, but this title isn’t what it once was. (6/13)

Ultimate Spider-Man #110–I once talked of finishing strong. As Bagley’s last full issue and the end of a story arc, this issue is as strong as it could be. With the Kingpin losing thrice and Spider-Man giving a speech along the lines of the message in Flash, this in one of the best this week. (6/20)

World War Hulk #1–This issue is so much fun. Black Bolt and Iron Man face defeat (I guess that ends Silent War?) as New York City is evacuated, Avengers Tower is wrecked, and other heroes prepare for combat with the big green monster. I’m a little disappointed that I couldn’t see the end of the Black Bolt fight, but the brawl with Iron Man made up for it, despite the goofy armor. Well-written and definitely well-drawn, this is a must-read.

Cover Count:
For 6/13, the only true winner is Trials of Shazam. The other winner is Avengers: Classic, simply included due to the back cover.

Where did the other titles go wrong? Exiles, Justice, and World War Hulk all have poster-esque covers. Amazing Spider-Girl‘s cover implies things that aren’t true. Blade does not actually fight Spider-Man. Countdown tries really hard, but the confrontation is a small part of the issue when compared to other stuff. Nova‘s cover implies a fight that doesn’t happen. And Superman/Batman‘s cover is a little misleading.

That makes the ratio 2:8 or 1:4. Interesting.

For 6/20, the only winner is Flash. It doesn’t portray many details, but does put emphasis on the most important of all.

Annihilation: Conquest suffers from looking like the usual RPG video game cover. The Brave and the Bold‘s cover lacks description and is misleading. The Justice League don’t even appear in Countdown. Ghost Rider doesn’t fight the Hulk yet. Ultimate Spider-Man tries, but comes off a bit too generic. The rest have the generic pin-up style cover.

That makes this week’s ratio 1:6. Sigh. Down from last week…

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