AvX: VS. #6 of 6
(W) Kieron Gillen
(P) Jim Cheung
(I) Jim Cheung, Mark Roslan, and Mark Morales
As an experiment, AvX: VS was a learning experience more than anything - it showed what creators could do under a different set of rules, some more freeing, others more strict. AvX: VS #6 showcases the best of what the series has to offer, with the main event between Scarlet Witch and Hope Summers not only taking the prize for most interesting duel in the entire run, but also giving readers more than just a fight, which is what we wanted all along. The latter half is filled with awesome one-page bouts that we didn't get to see throughout the Avengers vs. X-Men event, but in a humorous light (like showdowns between Jeeves and Toad, the science-y characters in the Marvel U, Red Hulk and Domino, Iceman and Iron Fist, and lastly, Squirrel Girl and Pixie, whose magic dice may have caused more damage than they anticipated). This was a strong finish for a tumultuous series.
Before Watchmen: Rorschach #2 of 4
(P/I) Lee Bermejo
While I very much enjoyed Rorschach #1, this second issue has really mutated into something I now don't want to read - somewhere along the line, Brian Azzarello decided it would be good sport to make Rorschach as much like Batman as possible, except here, Rorschach talks in two-to-three word sentences exclusively. I seem to remember that good ol' Inky Face didn't like prostitutes that much - going so far as to kill them - yet here, he's readily defending a woman of the night against her pimp, albeit to get to a bigger catch, but it's hypocritical nonetheless. Azzarello is now batting zero for two with Rorschach and Comedian, the two least enjoyable books of the entire Before Watchmen line. Seriously, just stick to the other four (and upcoming Moloch) series because these two are simply unnecessary and silly.
(W) Peter Milligan
(P/I) Will Conrad and Cliff Richards
I love me some Stormwatch - it's a series that, so far, has been set literally and figuratively at the fringe of DC's 'New 52' universe. Stormwatch #13 starts a new arc for the title, as Peter Milligan gives us more and more connections between the Stormwatch organization and the group of heroes banded together in Medieval times over in Demon Knights. There has already been a lot of foreshadowing that the Demon's Knights eventually become that era's Stormwatch, but here, Milligan finally brings Etrigan the Demon into current day continuity! Demon Knights has been one of my favorite titles from DC's 'New 52', and Stormwatch has been getting better and better ever since Milligan took over and stared planting the seeds of this awesome crossover.
Uncanny X-Force #32
(P/I) Phil Noto
Uncanny X-Force is so good, it makes me excited and worried for Rick Remender's upcoming 'Marvel NOW!' titles - I know Uncanny Avengers will be good, but I'm concerned Captain America will suffer because Remender seems to only be able to focus on one title at a time, as evidenced by his lackluster arc on Secret Avengers. Uncanny X-Force #32 is another brilliant chapter in possibly the best series Marvel currently publishes each month. "Final Execution" heats up as Deadpool and Evan (clone of Apocalypse) are confronted by the Evil Brotherhood of Mutants as Deadpool tries to break Evan out of their stronghold. Wolverine and Psylocke offer back-up, but times are looking grim for X-Force, as the premonition of Evan's ascension to the Apocalypse throne seems to be getting closer and closer.
Uncanny X-Men #19
(W) Kieron Gillen
(P/I) Dale Eaglesham
Uncanny X-Men #19 is "The Passion of Scott Summers", a look at what the leader of the X-Men was going through - internally - as he amassed the cosmic power and became the Dark Phoenix, ravaging the world before being defeated by the Scarlet Witch and Hope Summers. I typically don't like stories being told exclusively in formulaic first person perspective, but Kieron Gillen does an apt job convincing me that Scott Summers (of all people) is actually thinking these thoughts. It's incredibly hard to convey the idea of omnipotence (obviously), but Gillen somehow finds a way to come close by showing that even with all his power, Scott is still just a person, mostly unable to control or understand how that power actually works. It's sad knowing that Gillen is moving off UXM (due, mostly, to it's cancellation), but he's moving on to the newly announced Young Avengers, which gives me high hopes for the series.