The Pull List – August 25th

I was out of town all week, but I managed to pick up comics this week nonetheless.

Justice League: Generation Lost #8: Yeah, this is Winick’s gig now, no Giffen, which makes me quite sad (but has me hoping that Booster Gold will now move away from a parallel storyline with this title and go off in a new direction). The book’s not bad, and Lopresti’s art is great as always, but there is something just a little too rote about the proceedings. The reveal at the end isn’t telegraphed or anything, but it’s pretty obvious nonetheless; there is some good interaction going on between Fire and Rocket Red here, though.

Wonder Woman #602: Diana cuts loose on some soldiers and does some serious damage, finds some Amazons, and learns a little bit about sacrifice. It’s a decent issue and not as heavy on exposition as I feared it would be (it’s nice seeing Straczynski jump into action this early instead of having everyone spend the issue sitting around talking), but I’m still not sold on this “all-new Wonder Woman.”

Astonishing X-Men #35: This issue (finally) wraps up this storyline (and probably the series as a whole, since they’re switching the Astonishing line to mini-series), and while the art is good and there are some great Ellis lines (“Don’t be such a baby. You’ll almost definitely probably not die this time”), the whole reveal of who the “villain” is seems weak after the build-up we’ve had, and the whole thing just seems…kinda meh.

Detective Comics #868: Part Two of Impostors features more great art from Scott McDaniel, but the story itself is leaving me cold. I think my biggest problem is that it makes Batman seem ineffectual. That doesn’t really jive with everything we’ve seen about Dick Grayson (both as Nightwing and as Batman), and he seems to mostly be sitting around wringing his hands going, “Well, golly, I wish we could do something about all this.” We’ll have to see where it goes from here.

Batman #702: Part Two of Grant Morrison and Tony Daniel’s look at what happens between the end of Batman RIP and Batman’s crisis in time during Final Crisis. This is a pretty good issue, doing more than just filling in gaps: we get some nice mythology with the “God Bullet” that Batman shot Darkseid with in Final Crisis, further details on what the Omega Sanction actually is, and what’s happening to Bruce Wayne right now. It’s pretty cool, though I still really do not care for Daniel’s art.

Action Comics #892: This comic continues to be awesome. Luthor goes head to head with Deathstroke, finds some black ring energy, and basically proves that he’s pretty awesome. I really like the focus on Luthor as a character in his own right rather than as an arch-nemesis for Superman. Cornell and Woods are knocking this one out of the park.

Prince of Power #4: This issue concludes the mini-series and sets up the coming Chaos War. We get Amadeus Cho’s finest hour, a knock-down fight between Delphyne and Atalanta, and a (not-unexpected) return. This was really a perfect comic, with humor, epic battles, and some great character moments. I’m really looking forward to the next chapter in this saga.

I didn’t grab any trades when I was at the comic shop this week, but I did order the first deluxe volume of Ex Machina and the fourth volume of Walt Simonson’s Thor from Amazon. I’ve started in on Ex Machina, which seems pretty cool, and you really can’t go wrong with Simonson’s Thor.

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Old 97’s – Mimeograph

I love me some Old 97’s. I remember hearing their album Too Far To Care at a CD Warehouse when I was in college (man, do I love me some CD Warehouse! Used CDs, and you could find all sorts of crazy stuff that people would bring in and trade. And also fifty copies of any given Backstreet Boys album. That wasn’t so great, but it was funny), and I was just hooked. They always sounded like they were just on the verge of falling apart completely; the skittering drums, the half-shouted vocals, the blistering guitar work…these guys made having an emotional breakdown sound like fun.

Their albums since then have been, for me at least, a series of diminishing returns. Sure, Fight Songs, Satellite Rides, and Drag It Up all had some solid tunes and the good generally outweighed the bad, but each successive album smoothed away the rough edges, and Blame It On The Gravity just went for straight power pop with no rough edges (and missed the mark considerably, if you ask me).

Then I see Mimeograph, a four-song EP featuring covers of classic rock songs. The very idea sounds winning and engaging, and I’m thinking maybe they used this to cut loose and really have fun. But I guess the title (a reference to an old copy machine-type thing, for those of you who’re, y’know, young and don’t know how to use the internet to find things out) should have been a dead giveaway: these are raucous alt-country versions of classic rock songs, these are almost exact duplicates of classic rock songs performed with expertise and precision by a band that used to be much more fun.

It starts out with a cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Rocks Off,” the four-on-the-floor rocker that kicked off Exile on Main Street. And…well, it sounds exactly the same, except Rhett Miller is singing. They stay so true to the original, they even keep the same vocal effects in the bridge. It’s sad. This could have been so much better; they could have reinterpreted it into something new rather than an exact duplicate of the original.

It doesn’t get any better from there. Sure, these four tracks are played well, and the band clearly enjoys the music they are paying homage to, and they are definitely better musicians than they were in the Too Far To Care days, but I really do feel this was a missed opportunity to recapture some of the energy and vitality of their earlier albums. Their cover of the Fratellis’ (the newest song here) “For the Girl” doesn’t add anything new, nor do their covers of REM’s “Driver 8” or David Bowie’s “5 Years.”

Ultimately, Mimeograph is something of a disappointment. I guess had I not gone in with expectations about what this could have been, I would have enjoyed it: after all, these covers are competently done and well-played, even if the arrangements are too safe and predictable. Maybe next time, we’ll get some of the energy and rough edges of their early stuff.

The Pull List – August 18th

I mostly made mine Marvel this week, but they were some damn fine comics. Let’s get to it:

Deadpool #26: This issue was a surprisingly somber, almost poignant look at the early life of Wade Wilson courtesy of Ghost Rider’s Penance Stare. It’s interesting to see the formative events in Wilson’s life, and it’s kinda nice to see that there’s a person underneath all the gags and motormouthing.

Atlas #4: A revelation about the true nature of the 3-D Man, a glimpse at the real Bob, and some great action made this a damn fine comic. I really am sad that next issue is (apparently) the final issue of this version of the Agents. God willing, there’ll be more from them on down the road, but this issue was definitely a slam dunk.

The Avengers and the Infinity Gauntlet #1: I’m a sucker for pretty much anything written by Brian Clevinger, and an all-ages retelling of one of the best Marvel cosmic stories sounds great to me. The actual issue turns out even better: Clevinger ignores most of the original details of the Infinity Gauntlet series, keeping only the barest essentials: Thanos gets the Infinity Gems, half the world’s population disappears, and a bunch of heroes band together to take on the big baddie. Clevinger pares it down to a small ensemble – Wolverine, Ms. Marvel, Spider-Man, and the Hulk – and changes up the tone of the story. Clevinger usually has a wry, humorous tone to his comics, and this one is no exception. Spider-Man quips his way through the entire issue, the Hulk ends up in a dress, and Dr. Doom shows up and monologues in a pretty classic style. Add to all this Brian Churilla’s cartoony, expressive art, and you’ve got a winning comic. This is a great set-up issue, and I’m really excited to see what the team comes up with next.

I also grabbed the second volume of the DC Comics Presents: Doom Patrol. I’m still working my way through the first volume, but it’s a lot of fun reading these old comics.

The Pull List – August 11th

The rain falls outside, hopefully dropping our temperature, but that doesn’t stop the comics from being read!

Booster Gold #35: Booster continues his misadventures in the good ol’ JLI days with Blue Beetle, Big Barda, and Mister Miracle. There’s plenty of the trademark banter, bwa-ha-ha moments, and even a couple of touching character moments. It’s exactly what you’d expect from a comic written by Giffen and DeMatteis. Also, the one page featuring Rip Hunter and Rani is both adorable and funny as hell.

Justice League: Generation Lost #7: Apparently Giffen wasn’t involved in this issue at all, which is weird. Is he still on the book? I hope so. Things start to get interesting here, as we discover that all isn’t as it seems with Maxwell Lord and the newly-(sorta)-reformed JLI infiltrates the Checkmate castle in an effort to capture him. There’s some great moments in here (Bea and Tora shouting Communist slogans as the Checkmate guards complain that they’re not all capitalists was particularly entertaining) and the action is really starting to pick up after a slow start to the series. Definitely worth following.

Invincible Iron Man #29: Pepper Potts gets behind the metaphorical wheel of a new armor, Tony sets his company up in Seattle, and a gala event takes place in this issue. Dunno what’s going on with that ending, but I trust Fraction to do something interesting with it. It’s also neat to see a Tony Stark who is not exactly cool and confident about everything; it’s humanizing without necessarily going against the established character. Good stuff.

Birds of Prey #4: Since my copy of issue 3 was missing a few pages, I’m caught a little flat footed on some of the stuff that’s happened here, but Gail Simone does a bang-up job of catching us up without it feeling like heavy-handed exposition. There’s a great reveal on the identity of the White Canary that makes perfect sense and recalls one of Simone’s best stories from her first run on BOP, we get to see the determination of the team as they pull together to survive their first mission, and Oracle does some awesome stuff that not only involves
talking her way out of a bad situation but hurling herself out of her wheelchair. If you aren’t reading Birds of Prey, you have my pity, because you’re missing one of the best damn books on the shelves.

Welcome to Tranquility: One Foot In the Grave #2: Speaking of awesome Gail Simone books, this one is cranking it up. We’re only on the second issue, but there’s already been twists, surprise revivals and reveals, and cold gravy (no, not cold gravy!). The art still isn’t quite as good as I’d like, but the story is shaping up to be awesome.

I also bought the second Scott Pilgrim collection this week, and I think it was definitely stronger than the first volume. I still have some problems with the character and the book (so we’re supposed to identify with him but not like him? It’s weird), but I’m definitely excited for the film and I’ll probably end up getting the rest of the series at some point.

The Pull List – August 4th

It’s pouring down rain right now, but that won’t stop the comics (though it might delay the posting of this)!

Batman: Odyssey #2: Neal Adams is weaving a story of a young, inexperienced Batman that is downright weird. Anyone used to the prepared-for-everything Batman will find it rather jarring, but it’s an interesting alternate take on Bruce Wayne. Adams’ art is still kinda sketchy, but there’s solid storytelling and a shirtless, hairy-chested Bruce Wayne giving us a recap of the first issue. It’s still not clear exactly what Adams hopes to achieve with this miniseries, but I’m definitely willing to go along for the ride and see what he’s doing.

Doom Patrol #13: This issue focuses on Rita Farr, aka Elasti-Woman, as she discovers the secrets behind her resurrection and we just get further confirmation of what a bastard the Chief is. Giffen puts a good twist on the usual “superhero brought back from the dead” thing, and manages to make her character that much more tragic (and rather in line with the rest of the members of the Doom Patrol). We also get a confrontation between Rita and Mento, a fight that promises to be pretty awesome in the next issue. This title has gotten better as it’s gone along, finally finding its rhythm and a sense of what kind of stories will fit the characters best.

Hercules: Twilight of a God #3: Herc spends the whole issue in a coma, so his buddy Skyppi the Skrull takes center stage in an effort to help resolve the problem of the Galactus Black Hole that threatens the whole galaxy. There are some fun moments, snappy bits of dialogue, and good pacing: this is a solid comic from some of the most consistent, legendary creators in the business.

Deadpool #1000: An anthology of short Deadpool stories from a variety of creators, this is (as with most books of this type) a mixed bag at best. Some of the pieces are fun (“Canada, Man” is easily the best of the bunch, though “Luck be a Lady” is solid-if-mundane and “Silentest Night” is a fun little send-up of the distinguished competition’s recent event), and the art varies from typical superhero fare to indie comix style and a bunch of stuff in-between. The last quarter or so of the book is given over to more than two dozen Deadpool-centric variant covers that ran in different Marvel books over the course of the last year or so. All in all, not a bad book, but not necessarily worth the $4.99 price tag unless you’re really into Deadpool.

Casanova: Luxuria #2: Casanova goes on a mission (and counter-mission) to an island of sex robots. Yes, it’s as awesome as that sounds. There’s some weird sexual tension with his kinda-sister, some weirder sexual tension between a large Scotsman and a creepy mutant robot woman, and a naked man psychic fight. Good stuff.

S.H.I.E.L.D. #3: The antagonist is revealed, and we find out that he’s a man who will do whatever it takes to do his duty. Weaver’s art is fabulous throughout, and Hickman’s script gives us lots of information and details without feeling like a giant data dump. We don’t get to see much of Leonid and Da Vinci in this issue (they pop up in one panel on the last page), but next issue promises to be a knock-down, drag-out fight.

Secret Six #24: Our “heroes” are in the Wild West, and while everyone’s basic characteristics are the same, that’s pretty much the only similarity to the team of degenerates we know and love. The six end up banding together to protect a town from Ragdoll’s sister (who’s back along with her henchmen Aaron and Tig), so you know there’s gonna be carnage and blood. And man, is there. The roles everyone plays in this town in the past make sense: Deadshot’s a bounty hunter, Jeanette runs a bar/brothel (and the bathtub scene? Damn, Gail Simone’s a dirty woman), and Ragdoll does a Punch & Judy puppet show (which is just as wrong as it sounds). There’s also the fact that they team up to take down Slade Wilson, a gunslinger working for Ragdoll’s sister, which seems like a small nod to fans of Ryan Choi (a character written by Simone who was himself killed by Wilson in a recent issue of Titans). Definitely a good issue; can’t wait to see what Simone does next.

I also grabbed the ninth Fables trade, which so far has been setup for a final battle between the Fables in exile and the armies of the Adversary. Good stuff.