In no particular order:
A PEOPLE’S HISTORY OF AMERICAN EMPIRE BY HOWARD ZINN: I haven’t seen anybody on the comical interwebs really discuss this at all, but I picked it up yesterday and it’s really very good; it’s meant to be a more easily read and accessible version of Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States and mostly succeeds. It’s not funny or cute, but it’s compelling and hits its points thoroughly, and the occasional divergences into sorta-memoir by Zinn (acting as the book’s narrator) give it a nice personal touch. Also, it’s pretty cheap considering the size of the book. Recommended. (SPOILER: Woodrow Wilson is a Skrull.)
IRON MAN THE MOVIE: Excellent, probably better than any superhero movie in recent memory other than maybe Batman Begins. By this point you’ve already read at least two dozen glowing reviews all saying the same things, so I will simply add my two cents and mention that what far and away got the most enthusiastic reception out of my audience was Tony Stark’s robots in his lab – biggest laughs, biggest cheers, biggest “wows” all went to Tony, in his lab, building the suit with the funny robots. This continues to confirm my theory that the best superhero movies have some form of comic relief in them, usually a sidekick, or as I like to call it, Alfred-Gets-All-The-Best-Lines-Syndrome.
DC UNIVERSE NUMBER ZERO: I wouldn’t have paid fifty cents for what’s essentially an advertising flyer even if it is written by Grant Morrison, but I got a copy for free. And… it’s an advertising flyer written by Grant Morrison. Worse, it’s an advertising flyer that’s really, really bad at advertising its product to the supposed new readers to which a comic sampler thingy like this should be advertising. If I had no idea what was going on in the comics, this sampler thing would not help in the slightest. Heck, I read some issues of Grant Morrison’s Batman and I’m still not sure what “Batman, RIP” is about, other than the obvious. Ditto the Wonder Woman thing. And I only understand the “Legion of Three Worlds” teaser because I’m a giant DC nerd; were I not, it would be as impenetrable as all the rest, albeit with George Perez art making it at least tolerable.
BRINGING BACK BARRY ALLEN: My word, it’s like comics are being written by and for people essentially opposed to change!
Incidentally, on a related note, will people stop saying things like “the new storytelling model on Flash is terrible and doesn’t work?” Because it’s not true; it’s a direct lift from The Incredibles, which is one of the best and most successful superhero movies ever, and if you’re going to argue otherwise then tell me with a straight face that you would skip Return of the Incredibles, Trial of the Incredibles and The Incredibles Versus The New Superions. The new concept on Flash is just fine, and honestly it’s not like the comics post-Wally’s-return have been bad; they’re just tainted by DC completely mishandling the franchise for the better part of a year and a half. “Wally And His Super Family” is a good idea.
(People seem to forget that Flash: The Fastest Man Alive was easily one of the worst single runs of comics in the last decade if not longer: mean-spirited, incoherent, ugly, boring and just the antithesis of fun. Fans were stoked for a new, bold reign on Flash, which is why the debut sold so high, and then they dropped it in droves because it was total dogshit. I’d say it’s now the textbook example of how to actively destroy a fanbase.)
SATURN GIRL TALKING DIRTY: A minor kerfuffle over this at Chris Sims’ joint, where some people said “god, that’s creepy” and other people said “wait, a girl expressing sexual desire is creepy?” Which of course misses the point, because it’s a superhero comic which is ostensibly marketed to all ages last I checked, even if that’s only a convenient fiction at this point in time, and in an all-ages work of fiction, yes, it’s a little bit creepy, because even if it is PG-ish in actual vocabulary it’s R-ish in spirit.
Let me put it this way: if ostensibly romantic dialogue would sound creepy in, say, an episode of Gilmore Girls, it will probably be somewhat out of place in a superhero funnybook. That’s all I’m saying.
SECRET INVASION: So far, so good. Yes, it’s a wildly silly concept that requires a lot of handwaving to work (I particularly appreciated the scene in New Avengers where the Skrulls explained their newfound ability to transform and be totally undetectable by any means available with a short speech basically summing up with “well, we used science a lot!”), but so what, these are superhero comics and the point of the sausage is not how is it made, but that it is delicious with mustard. And Secret Invasion thus far is hitting what it needs to hit, which is little green men invading in dangerously sneaky ways and creating an enjoyably paranoid atmosphere.