No podcast episode this week? No problem! Feast your rods and cones on reviews so short you’ll forget what you’ve read before you finish reading it! THIS…IS THE LUDICROUS SPEED ROUND — WRITTEN EDITION!!!

Flash Annual #1 (DC Comics):
This issue fills in a bit of the pre-issue-one history of the New 52 version of the Rogues, and it isn’t bad. There are a lot of artists here, but each artist’s pages are wisely divided into individual chapters, so the change is never jarring. However, I thought Wes Craig’s art seemed really out of place compared to the others, though I’m generally a fan of his work. Ultimately, though, this issue reads as filler that could easily have fit into the regular series, as opposed to a $4.99 annual. Plus, the cliffhanger, while offering an exciting tease, seems completely disconnected from the current Rogues Gallery-centric story, and we’ll have to wait until September’s Zero Month is over to find out how it all fits together.
Rating: SKIM IT

Green Lantern Annual #1 (DC Comics):
This is more like it. Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver (along with Pete Woods) wrap up the current Black Hand storyline while setting things up for the Rise of the Third Army crossover coming in October. Van Sciver’s art is gorgeous as usual — his Black Hand is genuinely terrifying. As with the Flash Annual, Pete Woods’ contribution is confined to a separate chapter, which prevents a jarring transition between the two styles. John’s uses this issue’s page count to the fullest, adding quite a bit to the Green Lantern mythos, and I’m looking forward to reading more about the concepts that were introduced. My biggest criticism is that the concept/design of the Third Army seems a little…silly. But, I’m willing to go along for the ride, and trust Johns and Company to make the Third Army really feel like the threat they want it to be.
Rating: BUY IT

Justice League #12 (DC Comics): 
My “it’s okay/eh, whatever” relationship with the rebooted Justice League continues…I wish I could put my finger on what exactly is holding this book back from the greatness of Geoff Johns’ other team books like JSA. The art isn’t exactly helping. A staggering number of inkers make this one of the most artistically inconsistent issues of this series to date. Some sequences look like they weren’t even drawn by Jim Lee at all (and I don’t mean the two preview sequences at the end). Of course, this issue holds the event that has everyone in a furor: the start of Superman and Wonder Woman’s romantic relationship. If only I could be bothered to care… To be fair, though, there are some nice moments, but this book needs to be more than a series of occasionally nice moments.
Rating: SKIM IT

Justice League International Annual #1 (DC Comics):
This is the final issue of Justice League International, a title I haven’t read since its debut. I gave this a look because it was supposed to follow the events of Justice League #12, and set up some major stories for the year to come. Geoff Johns and Dan DiDio step in to script this one, and Jason Fabok (upcoming artist of Detective Comics) provides some nice art. For the most part, this issue delivered on its promise, though it comes dangerously close to treading on ground that will be very familiar to some DC fans. The ultimate villain remains unrevealed, so there’s still hope that they’ll take the story in a new direction. There’s a twist at the end that I genuinely didn’t see coming, and it did more to make me care about the Superman/Wonder Woman relationship than its parent title.
Rating: BUY IT

Locke & Key: Grindhouse One-Shot (IDW):
With each new issue, Locke & Key proves that it’s one of the best titles on the stands. Not best INDEPENDENT titles. Best titles. PERIOD. In Grindhouse, Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez shift gears for a Depression-era tale of a gang of thugs that decide to make Key House the last stop of their violent crime spree. They quickly learn that the Locke family is not to be trifled with. Rodriquez approaches this issue with a gritty style reminiscent of old EC crime comics, and it is a joy to look at. Even the lettering by Robbie Robbins is done in a noir-ish style that suits the tone of the book. The latter half of the issue is devoted to Rodriguez’s designs for Key House, and they reinforce the notion that every detail of this series is meticulously and  lovingly crafted. Locke & Key is one of the titles that I look forward to the most each month. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Rating: BUY IT

Mudman #5 (Image Comics):
Seriously, you guys…Paul Grist’s comics make me SO HAPPY. They don’t come out on a strict monthly schedule, but whenever they appear, I know I’m in for a solid, FUN read with great art. I’ve said it on THN before: Paul Grist packs more sheer imagination into ONE ISSUE of any of his titles than you’ll find in any other TEN comics on the stands today. If you haven’t read Mudman, or any of Grist’s other work like Jack Staff and Kane, do yourselves a big favor and seek them out. You won’t regret it.
Rating: BUY IT

Stay tuned to for more reviews, and editorial content over the weekend! Happy Labor Day, you diseased maniacs…