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I picked up some fantastic issues this week on my New Comic Wednesday trip to The Comic Bug, including Lady Mechanika, which might be the new comic love of my life. Find out more about her as well as the rest of these issues after the jump…

Angel & Faith #4

No wonder people go all helpless when you bite them. It’s quite a rush.

This issue of Angel & Faith opens with a fairly epic battle between Angel & Faith and Pearl & Nash, which quickly turns into a free-for-all when Faith slips the last vial of Mohra blood into Nash’s pocket. As Pearl and Nash fight the angry masses, Angel and Faith slip into the basement to investigate an odd scent. There, they find out that everyone who has used the Mohra blood since the destruction of The Seed has turned into a sort of regenerating giant elephant-man. They ask Angel to help them end it, but first he has them help him with Pearl & Nash, who take off through the window. Angel & Faith then help the regenerators find their peace before going on their way. Faith meets with Nadira and offers her a bit of hope in her quest to find justice for her sister. Alasdair then pops up again to remind Faith that Angel cannot go through with his mad quest to bring Giles back. When Faith returns to the apartment, she warns Angel that she’ll be keeping him in check, then gets a rather confused look when he turns a phrase in the exact manner Giles would. What could that be about?

Can I just mention again what a great team Dark Horse has put together for this title? Christos Gage has put together a clear, engaging story and with the help of Steve Morris‘ gorgeous covers and Rebekah Isaacs‘ brilliant art inside, it’s a truly superb series. Angel & Faith’s discovery of the mutant men in the basement is one of the more shocking moments in the series so far and their granting these men the quick deaths they want just shows again these are two characters who will do whatever it takes. Faith is obviously struggling to continue acting like she supports the idea of bringing Giles back, which is understandable, considering lying has never worked in her favor in the past. Angel suddenly donning spectacles to research in books and then asking Faith for a cup of tea in Giles’ voice is a seriously intriguing cliffhanger for the end of this first arc. I was very pleased to read that all of the same team will continue to work on the series (apparently Phil Noto will be filling in on one issue for Rebekah Isaacs, but that’s certainly nothing to complain about!). Can’t wait!

Avengers Origins: Thor

Odin’s Beard!

Thor and his brother Loki, children of the Asgardian god Odin, have grown up in Asgard in the company of Sif, a girl they both care for. They are all children of Norse gods. One day, Thor catches Loki cutting hair from one of Sif’s braids to do magic to make her prefer him over Thor. Their father catches them both and thus a task meant for both of them falls only to Thor: to go to the rock trolls Brokk and Eitri to command them to fashion three of the greatest treasures ever known. They create these treasures, one of which is Mjolnir, destined to be the hammer of Thor. Upon its receipt, Odin enchants the hammer to only be wielded by one who has proven himself worthy.

Years pass and Thor is unable to wield the hammer until one day Sif is taken by the storm giants. Only then is Thor able to wield the hammer and become the Odinson. However, once he has defeated the storm giant, he becomes a bully of their realm, starting trouble where there was none. As punishment, Odin casts him to Midgard (Earth), separating him from his hammer, and Thor lives his life as mild-mannered Dr. Donald Blake, until one day he is struck by an urge to take a holiday to Norway. There, he finds the hammer and becomes Thor once again, but changed by his years spent helping and healing humanity.

For the most part, Thor’s origin story was already known to me, but it is still interesting to see it put together in this book. The petulant, over-indulged Odinson’s transformation into a defender of humanity will always be an epic tale. One of my favorite moments is when, as children, Thor, Loki, and Sif are at play and Thor proclaims Sif to be “just a girl.” Not one to let it go, Sif seriously derides him for this comment. She goes on to become a true warrior of Asgard along with Thor and Loki. My other favorite moment has to be Odin uttering, “and by my beard, Thor…” So good.

Uncanny X-Men #2

The “X” is a target pasted on our backs.

We open with the Extinction Team fighting a veritable sea of Sinister clones. To top things off, Scott gets a telepathic call from Agent Brand informing him that the rest of the Celestials are none too pleased that Sinister has stolen the Dreaming Celestial’s head and they’re headed for Earth to destroy humanity. Naturally, this is when Sinister calls in the X-Men to his headquarters for a “discussion.” The discussion consists of him waxing poetic on his evil genius and perfection and concludes with him confessing that the meeting is, in fact, a trap. A battle ensues, which reveals that the Sinister clones are actually a sort of network and Sinister’s consciousness can jump from one to another. Needless to say, this doesn’t bode well.

Another solid issue in the X-Men-verse. Of the two books to come out of Schism, I have to say that I’m enjoying Wolverine and the X-Men more, but that could just be because I enjoy Logan and his shenanigans so much. This issue also seems to be mostly set-up for what’s to come, but it does look like what’s to come will be interesting. I’m looking forward to learning more about the Celestials – I hope they get a more interesting story than just “bad guys from outer space.” Their character design alone deserves better than that! On the positive side, there are definitely several laugh out loud moments in this issue, despite the majority of it being split between the two battles. The infusion of humor into the X-Men books is one of my favorite things about them. If I’m understanding correctly, it looks like Magik made a daring escape from the battle, so we’ll see if she can round up some help for our heroes.

Birds of Prey #1

As much as I’d like to believe that there’s some cover ops team run by a bunch of supercriminal hotties, I still need this teeny little thing journalists like to call…facts.

A reporter in Gotham City is meeting with his “deep throat” informant in a church. Just when things are about to turn bad for the hapless reporter, one of the so-called “supercriminal hotties” drives through the church wall and jumps out to defend him. At the same time, her cohort takes on a sniper in the choir loft. This is how Charlie Keen finds out his lead was correct. It seems for the past two weeks, he’s been tailing Dinah Lance and Ev Crawford (aka Black Canary and Starling). Dinah is, in fact, putting together a team, and it seems she’s attempted to recruit Barbara Gordon (Batgirl), but she isn’t having any of it. Back at the church, the group makes a daring escape, during which the ladies reveal they’ve been aware of Charlie and using him to bring their enemy out into the open. They arrange for him to fly out safely, but it certainly seems someone was aware of their plans…

I’m not sure why I hadn’t started this series until now, but after reading a couple of recommendations for it, I was happy to pick up the first from the $1 issues during The Comic Bug‘s sale this weekend! I love Gotham books and I love lady-driven books, so this one certainly has potential. I think part of it may be that I wasn’t particularly drawn in by this first cover, but the art inside is nice and I’m digging the set-up from this first book. I’ll definitely be checking out the second issue.

Elephantmen #1 (Collects Man And Elephantman #1, Elephantmen #31 and Elephantmen #32)

We may have caught one killer…but it looks like Elephantmen are still in season.

As this is a three-issue collection, I’ll just break down the premise a bit. It’s 2259 and the Elephantmen are human/animal hybrid survivors of a war fought between Africa and China over European countries that had been laid to waste by the FCN virus. The Elephantmen were created to be indestructible soldiers and killers, but over 15,000 of them survived the war, so they were rehabilitated and scattered throughout the world to live amongst humans. The series mainly centers around Hip Flask and Ebony Hide, who work for The Information Agency as Crime Scene Investigators, specifically dealing with crimes on and between Elephantmen. The series also focuses on Obadiah Horn, Chairman and CEO of Horn Industries, who doesn’t quite seem to keep his hands clean. As you can imagine, it isn’t always easy for Elephantmen living in a human world.

This book was given to me with my purchase yesterday because apparently one of the creators had instructed Mike to give out copies to the first ten girls who came into the shop that day (I was told I was the first). Reading over the three issues collected in this volume, what stands out most is the concept of the series. It’s such an interesting premise and certainly different from anything else I’ve read. I can only imagine how many stories there are to tell in this universe, particularly from the perspective of Crime Scene Investigators. To make things even more interesting, there’s a highly hallucinogenic drug called Mirror that many of the Elephantmen turn to as a means of escape and so sometimes you aren’t sure whether what’s happening is real of part of a trip. If I had one complaint, it’s that every single female in the book is the stereotypical scantily clad Barbie-proportioned comic book babe, but that does make for an interesting contrast with the Elephantmen. With such an intriguing premise and interesting characters, I’d definitely read more.

Lady Mechanika Collected Edition (#1 and 2)

It’s 1878 and Lady Mechanika has heard rumors of “The Demon of Satan’s Alley.” Her interest? The creature has been described in an account as half-mechanical. Because of this, the Lady Mechanika has a rather personal interest in the creature, but she’ll have to beat Blackpool’s Guns (a weapon manufacturer) to get him first. Fortunately, this is something that comes naturally to Lady Mechanika. She and the creature begin to fight, but when she exclaims, “Don’t make me kill you!” the creature responds to her. It turns out his name is Ucky and he doesn’t want to hurt anyone. He’s just alone, hungry, and scared. It also turns out that Ucky recognizes her and that his Master created her as well. Just as Lady Mechanika is about to get answers she’s sought for a very long time, one of the men in Lord Blackpool’s party puts an end to Ucky, which displeases Blackpool enough that he puts an end to the man.

Needless to say, Lady Mechanika is extremely displeased. A doctor with the Blackpool party pronounces Ucky dead and asks the Lady if he might be of any assistance. However, she’s preoccupied when Blackpool decides to offer his men double their salary if they can catch Lady Mechanika. It doesn’t go so well for the men. When she’s dispatched the men, she asks the doctor for a blanket to wrap around Ucky, then carries him off through the tunnels.

In Issue One, a mechanical girl is being hunted through the woods, but manages to make a daring escape onto the roof of a train. She’s been pursued by Commander Winter and her troops and to say that the Commander is displeased that her men let the girl get away would be a serious understatement. The girl dies on the train and is pronounced dead by the very doctor from issue one, Dr. Charles Littleton. That night, Lady Mechanika pays him a visit, looking for information on the girl. She finds out the girl’s being kept at the Ministry of Health and goes in to retrieve the body, but things are looking sticker than she expected.

Okay, can I gush for a minute here? I picked up Lady Mechanika on a whim yesterday because I was struck by the art and a fantastic-looking female lead and I couldn’t be happier that I did. It’s so good, you guys. So. Good. I’ve never quite “gotten” the whole steampunk realm before, but with this book, I might just be on board. The character design, the whole world, and all the creatures in it are so fantastically illustrated. The art in the series is truly breathtaking. Fortunately, the story lives up to that. When Ucky is shot in the zero issue, I just about cried. Granted, I’m a sucker for a sweet demonic-looking creature, but that whole part of the story was written perfectly. I also love that one of the main villains, Commander Winter, in addition to the main character, is an extremely strong female. While you may not like her, you have to respect her. Dr. Littleton’s precocious, Lady Mechanika-obsessed daughter is one of the high points of issue one as well and I cannot wait to learn more about the Lady herself. Add into the mix the British-ness of the books and my sudden realization that Mechanika is basically Mecha-Anika and I am done for. Basically, I’m in love. I already went back and picked up the second issue today. You should probably check it out if you have the opportunity.