The Pull List – February 24th

Man, it was a full week this week. Let’s take a look:

Astonishing X-Men #36: A new creative team picks up with the team used by Warren Ellis. Daniel Way and Jason Pearson (both of Deadpool fame) give us a very different sort of story than we saw under Ellis: some monsters, a family tragedy, Wolverine going off to get drunk in Japan. It’s a quick, light story, one that seems set up to allow the X-Men to fight some big monsters. And honestly, I’m okay with that.

Deadpool #33: So Deadpool’s given up on the whole “being a hero” thing, and he’s back to merc work. In space. Honestly, I’m fully okay with this setup. There’s some great moments here, though I probably could have gone the rest of my life without seeing Deadpool in a bikini.

Justice League: Generation Lost #20: With only a few issues left, we take a brief pause here to examine the life of Maxwell Lord and see what drove him from ally and patron of the JLI to guy who wants to kill all the metahumans in the world. It’s nice that someone has finally given us a reason for the changes we’ve seen in the character over the years, but I am still very unhappy about the way issue #19 ended (which carries over to the end of this issue as well). Winick promises that much of the last few issues will be the final, knock-down drag-out fight between the JLI and Lord. I am curious to see what’ll happen.

Thor #620: Speaking of issues that’re just big fight scenes, that’s what we get here. It’s Odin and the Asgardian Blood Colossi versus the invaders from outside the nine worlds. It’s clearly a fight that’s meant to be epic, and individual moments and panels certainly seem to carry a particular weight and sense of “hell yeah!” to them, but the issue on the whole leaves me kind of cold. I don’t know why it’s off, but it is. We’ll see what Fraction and company come up with next.

Invincible Iron Man #501: Years ago, Tony Stark made a fool of Otto Octavius at a conference. While it wasn’t much of anything to Stark, it apparently made quite the impression on Doc Oc. And now, Octavius is dying, and he wants Tony Stark to fix him. Or else. It’s a neat story hook, and it’s nice to have Stark off doing something that’s not some huge, status quo-changing epic story that changes everything forever. This looks to be a good time.

Iron Man 2.0 #1: I don’t know how we went from having no Nick Spencer books from the BIg Two to having 60 million of them, but I’m not going to complain. This book is focusing on James Rhodes, a character I’ve never really felt anything in particular about. He’s just sort of…there in the Iron Man books. Oh, I know he’s had a few solo titles here and there, but none of it ever struck me as essential reading. This book looks to maybe change that. It’s fun; Spencer has a good feel for the dialogue and what makes Rhodes a compelling character. The supporting cast seems to be almost completely new, though the cameo with Iron Man at the beginning is pretty awesome. The rotating art teams was annoying and kept throwing me out of the story, but this still looks to be a promising book.

Skullkickers #6: This isn’t a book I’d ever heard of, but it had a story written by Brian Clevinger and another by The ISB’s Chris Sims, so I decided to pick it up. It’s a fun, light fantasy read, the sort of book I actually quite like. I’m half tempted to start reading the book proper now, and that’s definitely a point in the book’s favor.

Action Comics #898: I didn’t read any of the Green Lantern stuff where Larfleeze the Orange Lantern showed up, so I know next to nothing about the character. It’s to Paul Cornell’s credit that he introduces the character quickly and gets us up to speed without too much wordy exposition. The whole Black Lantern Energy story is really picking up here (and concluding next month!), and the big reveal at the end of this issue makes a lot of sense. I can’t wait to see how Cornell resolves all the plot threads he’s currently juggling.

Detective Comics #874: This issue picks up with the Commissioner Gordon backups that were running until a month or so back. It’s a creepy, disturbing issue, and Snyder carries it off well. There’s a bit near the beginning of the issue when Gordon’s son (the rarely-mentioned James) intimates that he’s killed someone in the diner bathroom. The art cuts to a shot of the bathroom door, and we get Gordon’s sense of foreboding, fear, and concern that maybe it isn’t a joke as his son states that it is. It’ll be interesting to see where it goes from here. The second half of the book, featuring Batman and Red Robin, is the less-interesting half of the book, as it deals with the aftermath of last month’s run-in with the new villain.

Atomic Robo: Deadly Art of Science #4: The action picks up again this issue, with Robo and company trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together to figure out who is behind the strange thefts. Like pretty much every other issue of Atomic Robo ever, it’s fantastic. Clevinger and Wegner keep putting out a fabulous book every time out, and the world is better for it.

I also grabbed the trade of Warren Ellis’s Astonishing X-Men story Exogenetic, which reads much better all at once rather than in the rather slow “whenever we can get an issue finished and released” schedule it was on.

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The Pull List – February 16th

Kind of a disappointing week in comics, but let’s look at what we got…

Wonder Woman #607: We’re finally starting to dig into the meat of the plot in this book and figure out what the villains of the piece really want. Also, Diana is actually allowed to have character and to react to things! This book has gotten considerably better since Phil Hester came on board, but it’s still pretty painful.

Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis #5: This miniseries finally comes to an end. The final battle was decent enough. Wolverine got some nice one-liners, as did Beast and Emma Frost, and the way Frost dealt with the alternate-dimensional invaders was fairly clever (if not without its problems). Overall, this wasn’t the greatest miniseries I’ve ever read, but it wasn’t awful. It was just sort of…there, I guess. I am curious to see what Daniel Way does with the regular Astonishing X-Men ongoing starting next month. As much as I like Warren Ellis, his tenure on the book hasn’t been all that great (the fact that it was plagued with delays from the get-go didn’t help).

Deadpool Max #5: So, was this book always intended as a limited series? Apparently (according to solicits I’ve seen for future issues), it’s a 12-issue series. I thought it was a regular ol’ ongoing. Ah well. Either way, it remains a seriously messed-up book, but not in a bad way. Deadpool goes up against his “Mom,” Taskmaster, and we get more hints that there is something deeply sinister going on with whatever organization is employing Wade Wilson and Hydra Bob. Also, the flashbacks with the “Muskrats” was freakin’ hysterical. All summer camps should be run that way.

Doom Patrol #19: Apparently this book is slated for cancellation with issue 22, which is a shame. It’s a book with a lot of potential, and I think it would’ve fared far better if Giffen had a co-writer (most of his best stuff as a writer/plotter have come when he has a co-writer to handle dialogue so he can handle the crazy plots and layouts). This particular issue falls a little flat, as the usually competent Secret Six seem suddenly…less so. The issue doesn’t resolve so much as just end abruptly, but I wonder how much of that is the page count reduction from DC’s “Hold the Line at $2.99” nonsense.

S.H.I.E.L.D. #6: So apparently this is just the first volume in this story, which is probably good ’cause I have no idea what’s happened or why it’s happened or anything like that. Hickman writes a complex, interweaving narrative here, and the visuals from Weaver are beautiful as always. Leonid finally does something more than just stand on the sideline and look dumbfounded, even if what he does is fairly useless. There’s also a reveal at the end that’ll probably make more sense somewhere down the line.

Booster Gold #41: Booster and company fight off an attack from some old Nazi sympathizers, and Booster goes to jail. The pretense for sending Booster to jail is kinda flimsy (even if does bring up a point: why has no one ever tried to take him in for his thefts in the 25th century? They clearly have time travel in that time, in the DCU, so why hasn’t a time cop come back and taken care of this already? It doesn’t make much sense), but I think the story that comes out of it should still be pretty solid. It is Giffen and DeMatties, after all. Batista’s art is pretty good, though it’s inconsistent (Rip Hunter’s head seems to get taller and thinner in one panel, then squashed back out again later).

I also grabbed the trade of Avengers and the Infinity Gauntlet, the all-ages remake of the old Infinity Gauntlet series, done by Brian Clevinger and company. It’s a fantastic book (I picked it up in singles originally) and includes the first issue of the old Starlin/Perez Infinity Gauntlet series, but I have a complaint: why are all of Marvel’s all-ages books done in a smaller size than their usual trades? What point does this serve? I noticed it with their Marvel Adventures trades, the trade of Wizard of Oz (which has amazing art that deserves to be seen in a much bigger page), and now this. C’mon, Marvel, give kids the full-sized treatment! Just ’cause the person reading it may be small doesn’t mean the book has to be!

Rockin’ in the Free World

So I’m putting together an honest-to-God rock and roll band, just because.

I figure, why not? I’ve got some decent songs, I can sing and play rhythm guitar well enough, and I’ve got a songwriting partner who can also do some singin’. We just need the rest of the instruments.

So far, I’ve found a bass player who’d work perfectly, and a lead guitarist who may or may not be a good fit (need to try him out with the songwriting partner in attendance). What we’re having trouble with, though, is finding a drummer. Apparently good roots rock drummers are hard to come by in Northern Virginia. If I were doing metal, I’d be in like Flynn, but alas, I have taste.

So yeah, if anyone knows of a good drummer in the Northern Virginia/Greater DC metro, area, please let me know. It would be nice to have a full rhythm section.

The Pull List – February 9th

Quite the haul this week! Let’s dig in! Quick note, though: while I usually try to avoid them, there will be some spoilers this week, just FYI. Admittedly, I won’t be doing any more spoiling than the cover of the comic did itself, but etiquette requires a warning.

Power Man and Iron Fist #1: I love me some Fred Van Lente comics, folks. And this one is pretty good. I’m not sure how much the characterization of Danny Rand matches up to the Immortal Iron Fist series done by Fraction/Brubaker a few years ago, but it’s a fun read with some interesting villains (really, who uses Commedia del Arte anymore? That’s clever. And Don of the Dead? I laughed. Out loud. Or LOL’d, as the kids say these days. God, I’m old). The art’s not bad, though there are a couple of spots (Power Man’s fight with the shadowy guy on the rooftop) that’re kind of hard to follow. This should be an interesting miniseries, though.

Justice League: Generation Lost #19: If Judd Winick just did what it looks like he just did to Blue Beetle, I am going to be royally pissed. Seriously, for as conspiracy theory-ish as the whole “DC is trying to get rid of all their minority legacy characters and replace them with the good ol’ white boys again” chatter you see, there’s a fair amount of substance to the argument: John Stewart and Kyle Rayner (Stewart’s African American, Rayner is part Hispanic, I believe) being replaced by Hal “White Bread” Jordan in Green Lantern, Ryan Choi (Chinese) being offed in a gruesome and wholly unnecessary fashion in the pages of Titans just to prove Deathstroke and his crew are “badass” and make way for Ray “gee, I’m dull” Palmer to be The Atom again (even though Final Crisis used both of them quite well and proved there’s room for more than one Atom in the DCU)…and now Jamie Reyes, the Mexican-American kid who became the Blue Beetle in the wake of Infinite Crisis (easily one of the best things to come out of that whole event; God, the Blue Beetle book was good. I miss it), gets capped in the head by Maxwell Lord? I am not happy. Compound that fact with the art (which is pretty mediocre and has some storytelling problems throughout, not to mention Jamie does not look like a high school kid once he’s in his armor), and this issue just really upset me. Judd Winick had managed to build some goodwill from me with his work on this book, but he may’ve just lost it in one panel.

The Flash #9: We finally get back to the story after a couple of issues of character (villain) spotlights. I do love me some Manapul art, lemme tell ya. There’s not a bad panel in the book. I do like that Geoff Johns is dividing the storylines into “cases,” which fits very well. We’re still not getting much characterization out the returned Barry Allen, but that’s not Johns’s style: he’s about the big plots and the “look at this cool, obscure pit of continuity that I just dug up to play with.” Still, Manapul art. Mmm.

Casanova: Gula #2: Casanova is one of those books I’m starting to think I’m not smart enough to get. I mean, I get the basic bones of it: Casanova Quinn got pulled from his own universe to a parallel universe where his counterpart was a decent guy, and now he’s become a decent guy himself through weird circumstances. And now he’s missing in time somehow. I just don’t get how we jumped from that first sentence to the second one. This issue, though, deals with the missing Casanova only for a bit, choosing instead to focus on his not-so-nice sister (who’s supposed to be dead in this universe), Zephyr, as she goes around killing folks for money. Or sex. Possibly both. Fabio Moon’s art is moody and brilliant, and fits the manic story quite well.

Knight and Squire #5: Jarvis Poker, the English Joker, is dying. But before he goes, he’s going to pull off one last brilliant joke on the people of Britain. We get to see that the “British Batman,” Knight, isn’t really the same guy as our own Dark Knight; no, this guy has a very English outlook on life, and he knows Jarvis isn’t a dangerous guy. There’s some brilliant characterization, some very nice moments, great art, and a twist at the end that I did not see coming that really has me looking forward to next issue. Good stuff.

Batman and Robin #20: This is the first issue of the new creative team, Tomasi and Gleason. Tomasi has a very different voice for these characters than what we’ve seen before; his Damian Wayne is more of an apathetic pre-teen boy here. We’ve seen him in Morrison’s and Cornell’s runs as obstinate, willful, stubborn, and of the opinion that he knows more than Dick Grayson (which, admittedly, isn’t too far off from most pre-teen boys anyway), but never…bored. It’s a bit of characterization that just doesn’t quite ring true, and to an extent almost wrecks the character growth he’s had since his introduction at the beginning of Grant Morrison’s Batman run. Otherwise, the script and the dialogue aren’t too bad; the opening scene of Bruce Wayne watching The Mask of Zorro with his adopted family works well, and Tomasi has already found a decent voice for Dick Grayson. I am bothered by Gleason’s art, though: his figure work is too stocky, too thick. He handles the big action scenes quite well and with plenty of dynamic movement (look at the page where Robin is swinging off the tied-up bad guys in the alleyway over the car as Alfred pulls up), but his art just doesn’t work in the quieter, less-colorful moments.

Birds of Prey #9: Things are getting almost out of hand with Oracle’s plan, as we see the Birds get captured, Black Canary deal with her innermost demons, and Hawk be a complete jerk. The art’s solid, the story is interesting, the characters are engaging…this is typical Gail Simone fare, and that is not a bad thing by any means.

Atomic Robo: Deadly Art of Science #3: This is the…quietest issue of Atomic Robo I’ve ever read. Sure, there’s super-science, references to duking it out with giant robots, and hints of the bigger plot here, but this is a character issue. Robo is getting in deeper with Jack Tarot and his daughter, who has some sort of automaton fetish or something going on, but the bigger part of this issue is given over to Robo’s and Tesla’s relationship, and it’s downright fascinating. Telsa’s really only been a background character to this book (by which I’m referring to the four volumes that have come before this particular miniseries), a shadowy influence that we know set Robo down the path to figuring things out with his brain rather than his fists. It’s nice to get a chance to see how that happened, ’cause our only glimpses of Robo when he was “young” so far have involved him shooting at a giant C’Thulu-esque monster and chasing after gangsters while spouting wide-eyed one-liners. And while there’s nothing wrong with that (believe me, there is nothing wrong with anything in that sentence), we haven’t gotten a sense of how Tesla’s legacy was imparted to Robo. Now we’re seeing it, and it makes a lot of sense. Plus, Tesla is just damn funny.

I also grabbed the trade of The Question: The Pipeline, the backup feature that ran in Detective Comics while Batwoman was the headliner. It actually reads a little too fast all at once like this; as a backup feature, it worked perfectly in little 8-page doses, and having a break in-between issues gave you a sense of the passage of time. Here, things just seem to happen to fast. I also grabbed the first collection of Suicide Squad. I know Gail Simone swears by this book (and possibly got some of her choicer swears from this book), but I’ve never had a chance to read much of it aside from that one miniseries they did several years back, From the Ashes. I’m really looking forward to digging into this title.

The Pull List – February 2nd

I’m stuck in DFW Airport, but I’ve still got comics for you!

Deadpool and Cable #26: This wasn’t a planned purchase, but it was a fun comic nonetheless. Deadpool is sad that his old buddy Cable is dead, so he decides to head to an Eastern European country Cable used to run. Hijinks ensue. It’s a fun comic and a nice little farewell to Cable (until the inevitable resurrection).

Invincible Iron Man #500.1: Part of Marvel’s “.1” initiative to offer jumping on points for many of their titles, the concept here (Tony telling his life story at an AA meeting) is clever, but it’s really more of a charterers history for those already in the know than a place for newcomers to jump on.

Secret Six #30: This is the first part of a crossover with Doom Patrol. And it’s hilarious. It feels somewhat rushed at times, but every single scene sparkles wig the wit, clever dialogue, and pitch-perfect violence that this book is known for. If Keith Giffen ever leaves Doom Patrol, I want Gail Simone to take it over. Or at least write an Ambush Bug book.

I also grabbed the first volume of Phonogram, which sounds cool, but left before I had a chance to crack it open.