The Pull List – March 31st

Spring Break means getting comics on the day they come out! Huzzah! Get ready, here come the comics!

Detective Comics #863: The end of the Cutter storyline gives us a decent-enough resolution to the arc, with more of that parallel storytelling between what happened in the past with Batman and Batwoman in the present. Both get their man, we get a nice little moment between Batwoman and her cousin at the end (though I’m still not sure if we’re supposed to know what costume Bette’s wearing). Jock’s art is great, and Rucka’s writing is solid as usual. The backup feature with the Question is great as usual, with the revelation of the big baddie (though when did he get that weird burning sword cross thing on his forehead?) and some solid banter between Rene Montoya and the Huntress. Good stuff all around.

Wonder Woman #42: Wonder Woman is only featured in half of this issue, really, with the first half focusing on some Green Lanterns and setting up the conflict for Wonder Woman in the second half. We get a nice bit between Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor and a great Etta Candy moment (“You think you could maybe go get my guns for me? Oh, and maybe some pants while you’re at it?”). The enemies seem truly dangerous and malevolent, but why is it her enemies are always women? It’s strange.

Trades this week: third volume of Fables, Wonder Woman: Ends of the Earth (which felt disjointed the first time I read it; maybe reading it all in one shot will be different. Also, it includes the great two-part story about a Wonder Woman movie), and the third volume of Mark Waid’s The Brave and the Bold (which seems slighter than the previous two volumes, but it’s still good fun).

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The Pull List – March 24th

Pretty light week this week, but hey, today’s my birthday, so you get a present!

Deadpool #21: This particular story just hasn’t been doing anything for me, so thank goodness it’s over. Maybe it’s just the presence of that horrible thing known as Hit-Monkey, or maybe the conceit of Deadpool running around “trying to learn to be a hero” has just worn thin for me, I dunno. I’m gonna give the book another few issues before I decide what to do, but I seriously hope this title picks up a bit. On the positive side, there were a couple of decent gags in this issue, and it was definitely stronger than the last couple of issues. The art’s still solid (though I’ve no idea why Carlo Barberi draws Spider-Man with such broad shoulders. Isn’t Peter Parker supposed to be more…I dunno, wiry? Not built like a guy who lifts weights and downs protein shakes?)

I also picked up two trades this week: the third volume of Brian Wood’s excellent Northlanders and the Deadpool: Suicide Kings collection. Suicide Kings was alright, though it relied a little too heavily on a couple of crutch-like jokes throughout (the whole “imagine some ‘wacky’ situation then snap back to reality and realize he was daydreaming or whatever” thing was used, like, at least once per issue, and most of the supposedly-wacky situations weren’t all that wacky), but it was okay. Northlanders was great, a collection of some of a couple of the shorter stories from the title so far (two two-parters, “Lindisfarne” and “The Shield Maidens,” and a couple of one-shot issues, including the excellent “Sven the Immortal,” proving that an old man who is pissed off can take a bunch of insolent young idiots anytime). Good times.

When Did THAT Start Blinking?

It's a Logan's Run reference, yo!  They all, like, disappeared at the age of 30 when that little thing in their palm started to blink.  Remember?

I turn 30 today. I do not feel like I should be 30 yet. I don’t feel much like I thought adults would be like when I was growing up. But here I am, 30, and while turning 30 doesn’t really scare me the way it does some people, I do find it strange and foreign to not be in my twenties anymore.

On the positive side, I’m doing better at thirty than I was at twenty-nine. Or twenty-eight, for that matter. Really, better than I was for a lot of my twenties.

You know what? My twenties sucked. Screw the twenties! I’m glad I’m thirty! Up yours, traditional interpretation of getting older in this stupid youth-obsessed culture!

She & Him – Volume Two

“Sometimes, lonely isn’t sad,” Zooey Deschanel croons in the album opener, “Theives,” over instrumentation that wouldn’t have been out of place in a Roy Orbison tune. That sense of optimism in the face of failed love in “Thieves” carries forward throughout the album; there’s a genial, conversational tone to her lyrics and stories, and while the thematic content of the songs hasn’t change much (or, really, at all) from Volume One, but Deschanel and Ward are mining such a rich, comfortable source that you can always draw from.

Volume Two builds on the sonic palette from the first album, adding new sonic touches such as old-school countrypolitan strings and more electric guitar (both of the warm, 1950s Patsy-Cline style and Ward’s more typical spidery electric leads) to the warm, strummy acoustic base. There are touches of steel guitar and some piano and keyboards as well, and Ward surrounds Deschanel’s voice with a Phil Spector-ish wall of sound. While Deschanel’s voice is limited, it’s limited in a charming way, and she manages to work around her limitations in such a way as you don’t notice or mind so much.

Volume Two is a great continuation of the Deschanel/Ward collaboration, and hopefully the two will continue making comfortable, warm, sunny pop music for a long, long time.

The Pull List – March 17th

St. Patrick’s Day was indeed a day for green, as the second of five (!) new Green Hornet titles from Dynamite came out. Apparently my LCS guy thought I might enjoy it, so I found a copy of Green Hornet: Year 1 #1 in my box. Here’s my thoughts on it and the rest of the stuff I pulled this week.

Green Hornet: Year One #1: I really dig Matt Wagner’s stuff set in the 1920s/1930s (really, the only other thing I can think of off the top of my head is his work on Sandman Mystery Theatre, which is absolutely fantastic), so I’m down with this. The Year One subtitle is a little bit of a misnomer, as Wagner bounces around between the early childhoods of Britt Reid and Kato and their early efforts as masked heroes. What we get is the beginning of a nice little examination of how Green Hornet came to be, and some solid moments of characterization for each character. We haven’t seen how the two will get together just quite yet, but hey, this is just the first issue. I may not have originally planned on pulling this book, but I’m glad it made its way into my box and I’m definitely looking forward to the next issue.

Joe the Barbarian #3: This book just keeps getting more awesome. Sean Murphy’s art is easily the best thing about this title, but that’s not to say Grant Morrison’s script isn’t cool as hell. The parallels between Joe’s hallucinations and the real world are well-done and add some great depth to the story, and things are starting to blur together in a pretty exciting way. Plus, we get a new addition to the group, the rather large son of a pirate guy who brings some fun to the proceedings. This is one of the funnier books I’ve ever read by Morrison, and I’m enjoying it immensely.

Hercules: Fall of an Avenger #1: So we get a nice little send-off for Hercules here, with folks getting together and telling stories about their experiences with the Prince of Power. Thor’s tale is pretty great, a couple of solid little jokes about Herc’s sexual exploits, and an interesting set up at the end of the issue. I do have a couple of problems with the book: first, the art is just bland and boring. Things look washed out, and the women all have the same exact face. The Agents of Atlas backup works pretty well, featuring Venus going around and closing out Hercules’s accounts in what ends up being quite funny and warm. The book’s worth picking up, if for no other reason than to set up the new Prince of Power book that’s starting up in a couple of months.

As for trades, I picked up the new Hellboy trade, which admittedly came out last week, but which I could only find this week. Huzzah for Hellboy!

The Pull List – March 10th

I don’t let a little thing like having some bad RAM in my laptop stop me from bringing you a rundown of the comics I bought this week! I’m just that dedicated, really.

Batman and Robin #10: New story arc, new artist (Andy Clarke). And damn if this issue doesn’t kick some ass. There’s some great interaction between the two title characters (and a hint that there’s more to Damian than petulance), and a lot of fun clue finding in the Wayne family mansion. This comic is consistently fun and awesome (we’ll even give a pass to the arc with Phillip Tan on art chores), and the setup here for the Return of Bruce Wayne miniseries is handled pretty well. I’m definitely looking forward to next issue.

Batman: Widening Gyre #5: I’m still not sure what to think of this miniseries. It seems like it’s trying to do too many things at once: Bruce Wayne’s efforts to let go a bit, and the introduction of a new player in Gotham named Baphomet. It’s interesting, but the intrigue of who Baphomet really is and why he’s doing what he does and the love story with Silver St. Cloud just…it all seems like it should be in two separate books, not smooshed into one.

Doom Patrol #8: This feels more like what I was expecting out of this series from the beginning. It’s quirky, fun, and manages to maintain a frantic, excited pace throughout. Not to mention Keith Giffen’s use of lots of weird ideas from other incarnations of the Doom Patrol. It’s fun, which is something I always appreciate in a comic. More, please!

Secret Six #19: Another new arc in Secret Six, too. The issue plays a little too formulaic, but the characterization is as solid as we’ve grown to expect from the book, and the ending is pretty awesome (plus, there’s an old man in a tuxedo coat, shirt and tie, and khaki shorts, which is fantastic). This issue promises some crazy antics in the next couple of issues, so I’m still excited to see what happens next.

In terms of trades, I got the Batman: Heart of Hush trade, which was pretty good. Paul Dini’s run on Batman was pretty solid, and this was probably the best use of Hush I’ve ever seen (granted, it’s still Hush, so that’s damning with faint praise, really). Worth checking out if you’re a fan of Dini’s work or Batman in general. I also wanted to pick up the latest volume of Hellboy, but my LCS didn’t have it in stock, unfortunately.

Holy Crap, the Music!

I’m something of a music fanatic (as anyone who’s been around me for any more than five minutes is probably aware), and looking at the upcoming releases for the next few months has be extremely excited.

And with good reason: new releases from She & Him, The Walkmen, Band of Horses, The National, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Josh Ritter, Jakob Dylan, The Hold Steady, The New Pornographers, Ra Ra Riot…it’s like a season of music specially-designed to make me happy. The only thing that could make the next few months of new releases better would be if Bob Dylan announced he had a new one coming out, too.

The Pull List – March 3rd

Comics strike back! And this time, there’s some fantastic stuff in the pile…

Detective Comics #862: Part 2 of “Cutter” continues the breakneck pace of the first issue in the arc, flipping back and forth between two cases (one from Batman’s past and one which Batwoman is currently working) that are running remarkably parallel. There are some great character moments here for Batwoman, and some interesting interactions between her (in her civilian Kate Kane persona) and her cousin, Bette Kane (and an unusual little snippet of a scene featuring Bette looking at a rather odd costume), and the parallels between Batman’s work on the earlier Cutter case (I’m guessing the implication here was that he was unsuccessful in really stopping this guy back then) and Batwoman’s approach now are deft and clever. Parallel imagery and situations are handled well by artist Jock, and Rucka’s dialogue and scripting are smart, well-paced, and fit well. The Question backup feature continues to engage as well, and Cully Hamner’s art is just great.

Invincible Iron Man #24: The finale of the Stark: Disassembled storyline delivers a solid story after a rather tepid issue last month. Stark’s friends acquit themselves well in a fight against Ghost, though ultimately it’s up to Tony to save the day (and he does so in a very Tony Stark sort of way). Dialogue and action are well-done here, and the scenes in Stark’s mind are much better than they were last month. Still not quite sure what was happening there, but sitting down with the whole story and reading it in one shot should help clear that up. The most interesting aspect is the last scene, which sets up a new status quo for the revived Tony in a way that not only makes sense, it kinda helps clear the deck of the past few years’ worth of craziness that’s built up. I’m interested to see where this is going next, and that’s always a good thing.

This was a good week for trades. I picked up volume four of Justice League International (the last one they’re releasing, as far as I can see, which makes me quite sad), and though it doesn’t feature nearly as much Kevin Maguire art as I’d like, it’s still a great collection. If you haven’t read this stuff, I highly recommend it: superhero melodramatics and laugh-out-loud funny bits mixed together liberally and with some (usually) great art (there were a few issues in volume 3 that looked like they were just using someone’s rough sketches for the final art, and it’s pretty painful after getting used to the stellar work of Maguire and the book’s other semi-regular penciller, Ty Templeton). Definitely worth the investment.

The other trade I picked up was the Iron Man story Demon in a Bottle, one of the most well-known Iron Man stories out there. I haven’t had a chance to crack this one open yet, but I’m looking forward to it.