The Pull List – June 30th

This week was a week for big comics and comics I never expected to see. Ever. Let’s get to it!

Wonder Woman #600: Unlike the recent Batman #700, this milestone pulls several short stories from a variety of creative teams interspersed with a whole lot of great pin-up art. We get a nice little going away bit from outgoing writer Gail Simone, a quick story featuring dozens of the women of DC getting together to fight a threat. It’s a nice parting issue drawn by the great George Perez, and it does explore one of the basic traits of Wonder Woman’s character: that she’s one of the few people in the DC universe well-respected enough to be able to get a huge group of heroes together just because she’s the one asking. The story by Amanda Conner is funny and fantastic, featuring a team-up between Wonder Woman and Power Girl. The story by Louise Simonson seems well-done if rather inconsequential, and the one written by Geoff Johns just seems pointless and doesn’t really do anything. Then there’s the prologue to incoming-writer J. Michael Straczynski’s first story arc, Odyssey. As you’ve probably heard by now, JMS is changing not only Wonder Woman’s costume, he’s also revamping her origin and situation and apparently making her an 18 year old girl. I’m not sure I like the new direction the title is taking, but I’m going to give it a shot before I pass judgment. That being said, it looks like a halfway interesting premise, and it doesn’t seem like all the sweeping changes are permanent (I sincerely hope that ridiculous jacket isn’t), but we’ll just have to see.

Invincible Iron Man Annual #1: This is a pretty long comic, and despite the title splashed across the cover, it really doesn’t feature Iron Man at all. Instead, we get the Mandarin’s efforts to create a revisionist history of his own life. It’s a great exploration of truth, the power of storytelling, and one man’s willingness to do the right thing. There’s also a great reference to Invincible Iron Man at the beginning. The art by Carmine di Giandomenico is fantastic in an exaggerated, sketchy, expressive sort of way.

Astonishing X-Men #34: Holy crap, I almost couldn’t believe this comic had finally come out, even though I was holding it in my hands. There’s some great dialogue, fantastic art from Phil Jimenez, and a Leonard Cohen reference. I’m looking forward to seeing this story finish up soon (God willing).

Action Comics #890: Paul Cornell comes on board this issue and shifts the book’s focus to Lex Luthor, who apparently enjoyed having a power ring so much during Blackest Night that he’s become obsessed with finding one again. There are some nice twists in the story, a clever hook, great dialogue, and top-notch art from Pete Woods. I’m definitely going to be following this title.

Atomic Robo: Revenge of the Vampire Dimension #4: A week that features a new Atomic Robo is a great week indeed. And this particular issue is a perfect example of everything that’s great about the book: snarky robots, bizarre superscience, and unexplainable things going on when they shouldn’t. Not to mention the fact that this issue apparently takes place in the same week as all three of the previous issues in the current set, making it the worst week ever. The story itself is pretty straightforward and mostly seems to (I hope) set up a future story: Robo accidentally revives his greatest enemy. Kind of. Sort of. It’s awesome.

I also picked up the second Secret Warriors trade. Hickman continues to play a great game with this book, working the secret agent stuff and throwing in a lot of great plot twists. The art is great, including an issue drawn by the always-fun Ed McGuiness. All great stuff, really.

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The Pull List – June 23rd

Ah, the last week of school is finally over! And we celebrate with comics!

Justice League: Generation Lost #4: This title has started to really pick up. The dialogue has gotten much better, and the fight with the Rocket Reds is well-done. I’m curious to see where they’re going with this now, as apparently “getting the band back together” is all part of Maxwell Lord’s plan. And really, wanting to see what happens next is kinda the point, right?

Joe the Barbarian #6: Sean Murphy’s art continues to dazzle, and Grant Morrison’s script is strong and fun. We’re seeing elements from each world bleed over into one another (including a couple of characters seeing a world they weren’t expecting), and it’s becoming increasingly unclear what is and isn’t real. Definitely cool.

Detective Comics #866: A one-off written by Batman legend Denny O’Neil and drawn by the always-awesome Dustin Nguyen? You’d have to fight me to get me not to buy a comic like that. It’s a neat comic that uses flashbacks to one of the original Batman and Robin’s first cases (and with the Joker, no less!) done in a great faux-Silver Age style intercut with the current Dick Grayson Batman doing a follow-up investigation. It’s not a story of great consequence or anything, but it’s fun and well-done and well-worth the $3.99 price tag.

The Return of Bruce Wayne #3: Speaking of worth the $3.99 price tag, two words: Pirate Batman. He spends most of the issue fighting Blackbeard the Pirate and exploring the Batcave, basically giving you the comic book version of the Dread Pirate Roberts. Bruce Wayne is slowly remembering more of his past, while in the present the heroes are trying to figure out how to save him. Not to mention we have the promise at the end of Batman versus Jonah Hex. I’m not gonna lie to you: that is going to be absolutely awesome.

In terms of trades, I grabbed the fourth collection of Peter David’s X-Factor Visionaries and the 5th volume of Brubaker and Phillips’ always-fantastic Criminal. The fourth X-Factor collection is so far mostly just crossover issues with the X-Family X-Cutioner’s Song. They’re not bad, but they’re not particularly interesting because of their involvement in the big crossover. Haven’t had a chance to dig into Criminal yet.

Also, my comic shop had a sale today, so I grabbed a couple more trades: the first volume of Preacher and volume 8 of Fables. Preacher is definitely interesting, and I’ll probably end up continuing to collect the rest of it.

The Pull List – June 16th

Real quick this week. I’ve got one more week of school, then I’m off for the summer! And lemme tell ya, it couldn’t arrive soon enough for this teacher.

Birds of Prey #2: Simone and Benes jump headfirst into the plot this issue, doling out some serious pain to our heroes and setting up some serious hurt. Who’s trying to frame the Birds? Who killed their old enemy/ally (and lemme tell ya, while I’m not usually okay with the whole “shocking murder to show the heroes that the villains mean business” routine, the death in this issue makes sense. Plus, I’m pretty certain no one’s used the character since Simone, and she’s the one who came up with the character, so I think it’s fair)? There’s some big questions and big problems in this issue, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Atlas #2: The Agents finally get some face time this issue, and while the whole thing is really just fight scenes and exposition, it’s tremendously fun and well-done fight scenes and exposition. The short backup stories that they’re giving us to fill in the actual (or, at any rate, one interpretation) events that occurred in the past to which the main story alludes are pretty nice, and the art is beautiful throughout both stories. Very well-done indeed.

Deadpool #24: Betrayals, switches, and carnage on the Vegas Strip! This comic was a fair amount of fun, with several more twists than you’d have thought would pop up in the issue. Definitely fun.

In terms of trades, I grabbed the Batman: RIP collection to round out my Grant Morrison Batman run and the third volume of J. Michael Straczynski’s Thor run. Both were pretty good and fairly epic, though, and since I’ve also been re-reading Grant Morrison’s JLA run, I feel like I need a cool down with some nice, light comics next week. We’ll see what happens.

The Pull List – June 9th

Holy crap, did I have a pile of books waiting for me this week! Let’s get to it!

S.H.I.E.L.D. #2: Refusing to answer questions but raising plenty of new ones, this comic jumps right in and gives us a Leonardo da Vinci who is, as he mentions in the last line of the book, tired of how “these men have stood on my shoulders for far too long.” Hickman’s script is tight and fun (though the text page that pops up 2/3 of the way through? That was weird. Is that a thing of his?), and Dustin Weaver’s art is absolutely beautiful: detailed, sharp, and well-rendered. Definitely interested to see where this goes next.

Batman #700: A special anniversary issue featuring a series of interconnecting stories written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by the likes of Andy Kubert and Frank Quitely. In a story that spans many years and several Batmen, we essentially get a story that expresses Morrison’s recurring theme during his run on the various Batman titles: no matter what, there will always be a Batman. Most of the art is beautiful (Quitely’s fight scene against the Mutants gang is particularly awesome), though it’s jarring when Quitely’s stuff ends with several pages left to go in his section and he’s replaced by the talented-but-quite-different Scott Kolins.

Secret Six #22: Holy crap. If this comic wants you to come away with any sort of message, it’s simply this: do not mess with Catman. He will mess you up seriously, and possibly just cold throw your old ass through a stained-glass window. His search for his son and vengeance ends in a way that makes sense, and we get to see just how dedicated he is to his son. Meanwhile, there’s a great knock-down between Scandal Savage and an Etrigan-channeling Black Alice (which features the best genitalia-related rhyme I’ve ever heard, though there’s a pretty short field in that race) and a great moment for Ragdoll. If you aren’t reading this comic, there’s something wrong with you. Granted, if you are reading this comic, there’s still probably something wrong with you.

Justice League: Generation Lost #3: I keep really wanting to like this book, but something’s just not clicking. The art is fine, the plot of the book is interesting enough, and I’m invested in the characters and all. It’s just…I dunno, maybe it’s Winnick’s dialogue (though Giffen’s breakdowns are still great and keep the action moving briskly), maybe it’s that I keep expecting the plot to actually start going somewhere. I dunno. We’ll just have to see where all this goes.

Invincible Iron Man #27: There’s a whole lot of standing around and talking again. It kinda feels a bit too much like last issue. We do finally get some action in Japan between Detroit Steel and some nameless NBGWG (Nameless Bad Guys With Guns), and some nice character moments from the likes of Jim Rhodes and Pepper Potts, but I’m really hoping next issue kicks up the action a bit.

Prince of Power #2: Knock-down, drag-out fight between Amadeus Cho and Thor! So many hilarious sound effects (including a whole slew of IKEA-related ones during the fight with Thor), some great character moments (Cho telling Thor off is fantastic), and some clever plotting and dialogue…this is everything I want from a comic. Honestly, Pak and Van Lente are like the Giffen and DeMatties of the 2000s, finding that perfect balance between comedy and drama.

Booster Gold #33: Speaking of Giffen and DeMatties, this issue finds Booster trying to find evidence in the good ol’ JLI days to prove Max Lord exists, with less than ideal results. We do get a great exchange between Booster and Cyborg near the beginning of the issue, though, that perfectly sums up my feelings about the JLI and why treating the Leaguers from that period as has-beens and also-rans doesn’t do them…well, justice. Definitely a good read.

Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis #2: I still wanna see the end of the Ellis/Jimenez story, but this one is picking up a bit from the rather lackluster first issue. It’s still not great, but there’s an element of fun to the story that wasn’t there in the first issue. The art’s kinda grown on me some, too, though I’d still prefer something more superhero-y. The biggest problem with the book is that it feels basically like a retread of every X-Men book Ellis has written since jumping onto Astonishing X-Men: the X-Men hear about the possibility that new mutants are surfacing, so they go to investigate even though they are skeptical. Turns out there aren’t really new mutants showing up/being born, something else is going on, so sad. Admittedly, though, this issue does draw a connection between the current miniseries and Ellis’s first story on the Astonishing title, Ghost Box, but I’m not sure it’s enough to really hold my interest. We’ll see what I think next issue.

Doom Patrol #11: Doom Patrol vs. the Front Men! There’s some fun things here, though less zaniness than I’d expect from a comic featuring Ambush Bug, and the idea of the Front Men is pretty interesting. I get the feeling I’m supposed to recognize the true enemy revealed at the end of the issue, but I’m not up enough on my Doom Patrol lore to really know for certain. There’s definitely plenty going on in this book.

As far as trades are concerned, I grabbed the latest Hellboy collection, The Crooked Man and Other Stories. It includes The Chapel of Moloch, the most recent Hellboy story drawn by Mignola himself. When you throw in stories drawn by Richard Corben and Duncan Fegredo as well, it’s too good to pass up.

The Pull List – June 2nd

Pretty thin this week. In fact, the only comic I picked up wasn’t even one I’d planned.

Hercules: Twilight of a God
#1: This feels exactly like an old-school Marvel comic. And with writing and inks by Bob Layton and pencils by Ron Lim, that’s really no surprise. The comic was a lot of fun if a little confusing (why the hell is Hercules in the Andromeda galaxy, anyway?), but I figure things will become clear as we go along.

I did pick up a couple of trades this week. First, I found the Incredible Hercules: The Incredible Thorcules trade, which I’ve been looking for other the past month or so. Great fun. I also grabbed the latest Agents of Atlas trade, which is also pretty awesome. Not to mention the four Iron Man Marvel Adventures books I ordered from Barnes & Noble this week (at a nice discount; four books for less than $20 is awesome). So, despite very few actual single issues, this was still a pretty awesome week for comics.