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!

The Pull List – December 29th

Hey, it’s the last comics of 2010! Here we go!

Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis #4: This title has grown on me. Kaare Andrews’s art is pretty damn good, Warren Ellis’s script is loads of fun, but those damn outfits are just painful. Seriously, the trucker hats? I really want them to go away.

The Flash #8: This issue revises the origin of the Reverse Flash, and uses time travel (something the Reverse Flash does quite a lot of, apparently?) in a pretty interesting way to do some honest to God revisionist history on his own life story. It’s clever, though Scott Kolins’s art leaves me kinda cold.

Action Comics #896: This is the first of a two-part crossover with Secret Six, and while it’s mostly just an extended fight scene, it’s a really well-done, entertaining extended fight scene. Cornell comes up with some great lines from the Six, stuff that wouldn’t feel out of place coming from Gail Simone’s pen. Good stuff.

S.H.I.E.L.D. #5: I’m still really not at all sure what’s happening in this book, but it always looks absolutely beautiful. This issue is no exception. We do get a pretty cool reveal at the end of the issue, and a few more pieces are lined up for next issue’s conclusion. Maybe it’ll all make sense after that? Who knows.

Detective Comics #872: The second part of the Black Mirror hits in this issue, and it’s pretty damn good. There’s a clever trap laid for Batman, some good character interaction between Batman and Harvey Bullock, and a nice twist at the end. I’m hooked into the story, and interested to see how the backup feature with Commissioner Gordon’s son will tie in.

I also grabbed the third Secret Warriors trade. It’s good, though I still only really recognize Nick Fury in terms of the characters in the story. The art is fantastic, though.

The Pull List – September 2010

Man, getting through September without getting to read comics was tough! I did it, though, and ended up picking up all my September stuff the first week of October, so that wasn’t so bad. Let’s see what we missed, shall we?

Hercules: Twilight of a God #4: The finale to this miniseries gives the Prince of Power a right proper sendoff, letting him go head to head with a blackhole and, well, winning (even if he does give his life for it). Great art, solid if not particularly original story, and just a fun little ride all around.

Secret Six #25: Holy crap, Gail Simone is just downright evil. Catman attempting suicide by lion is pretty awesome, though, and the promise of Six vs. Six from this issue is gonna rule.

Batman and Robin #14: This issue was downright creepy. I kinda knew what to expect going in, what with having seen the preview and read reviews and such, but it was still a damn well done issue. I’m not a huge fan of Frazer Irving’s art, but Grant Morrison’s story is dead on. In the hands of a lesser team, Professor Pyg would just be ridiculous, but Morrison (and Irving, I have to admit) have me downright terrified of the guy. He ain’t right in the head.

Batman: Odyssey #3: I just…I don’t really know how to feel about this title. Sure, it’s Neal Adams and it’s Batman, but…it just doesn’t feel right. Everything is very over the top, everything is very exaggerated, and that’s fine and all, but…I dunno. The story’s a mess, the art’s not up to his usual high standard, and everyone…talks…like this!

Booster Gold #36: This title continues to be awesome. The cover is frankly fantastic, and the continued antics of Booster in the JLI days is hysterical. Also, I realize now I miss Ted Kord, even though I wasn’t really reading comics when he was still alive. Sad, really.

Doom Patrol #14: So the Chief just decided to keep a Kryptonian around to do experiments on? And now he’s all superpowered and crazy? Okay, sounds like a wild ride. I’m in. Giffen continues to make this a hell of a book.

Green Hornet: Year One #5: I don’t think I’d really realized it before now, but apparently this title isn’t a miniseries, it’s an ongoing. Which is awesome. Matt Wagner does period stories better than just about anyone, and seeing the young Britt Reid coming to terms with his place in the world and realizing the limits of working within the law to bring evil to justice…it’s great.

Invincible Iron Man #30: Tony Stark has a confrontation, a couple of cars blow up, and Pepper Potts comes to the rescue. Is there anything about this book that isn’t great? Well, I could probably do with a different artist, though Larroca’s art is far from terrible (just not terribly interesting to me).

Justice League: Generation Lost #9: I was skeptical when I saw that Judd Winick was running the show solo now, but it’s going pretty well, I think. We get more infighting among our heroes, Maxwell Lord hints at his plans and goals, and it’s just an interesting book still.

Welcome to Tranquility: One Foot in the Grave #4: I have mentioned Gail Simone is evil, right? ‘Cause she ups the ante here, pitting the villain of the piece against everyone’s favorite aviatrix, and that fork featured on the cover? It ain’t there just to look cool.

Avengers & the Infinity Gauntlet #2: So we’re already halfway through this miniseries and they’ve only just left Earth and filled up their space rig with gas. They’ve got two issues to defeat Thanos and save the universe. Sure, I think that they’ll do it, and I’d be willing to read an ongoing series by Clevinger about Spider-Man and Doom bantering back and forth, but I fear the ending of this is gonna be kinda rushed. We’ll see.

Birds of Prey #5: Black Canary is in deep trouble. So deep, that her friends are probably gonna regret trying to help her out of it. Things get worse for the Birds in the aftermath of the first arc, and Simone keeps things moving so quickly here that it’s almost disjointed and scattered (which I kinda think she did on purpose to leave the reader feeling off-balance, just as the characters feel). I find it interesting that Ed Benes already needs a fill-in artist. Let’s just go ahead and put Nicola Scott on this book and be done with it.

Deadpool #27: Steve Rogers sucker punches Deadpool. ‘Nuff said.

Joe the Barbarian #7: Joe’s grasp of what is and isn’t real is as tenuous as ever, though that may be because what is and isn’t real isn’t staying the same. This book is still pure, distilled awesome, from Morrison’s writing to Sean Murphy’s art to Dave Stewart’s colors and Todd Klein’s letters. This is like a comics dream team here, folks.

Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis #3: A face-off between the X-Men and a ruler who will do what it takes to protect his country, the use of a decades-old plot device from Excalibur, and the usual no-good-choices scenario that Warren Ellis writes so well…it’s a decent comic, and I’m kinda glad I’ve stuck with the series.

The Flash #5: The plot thickens as we discover that villains turned allies probably aren’t as friendly as we thought. Things go from bad to worse for the Flash, and look like they’re not going to improve anytime soon. Love the art in this book, too, even if Barry Allen is still something of a cipher.

Justice League: Generation Lost #10: Can I just say that Cliff Chiang’s cover for this book is absolutely perfect? Admittedly, all of his covers for the series have been great, but there’s just something about this cover in particular that really grabs me (it’s probably Batman).

Thor #615: Matt Fraction comes on board to write with this issue, and it’s pretty great. I love the basic concept – that if you leave a space empty, something else will just fill it up – and the art is great. There’s a cartoony feeling to it that I love and much prefer to the hyper-realistic art that seems to be more of Marvel’s house style lately.

Action Comics #893: Lex Luthor vs. Gorilla Grodd. Lexbots. This book continues to be pure awesome. And the Jimmy Olsen co-feature is perfect. I would read the hell out of a Nick Spencer Jimmy Olsen ongoing. Get on that, DC!

Atlas #5: I’m really sad that this is the last issue of Atlas. I was digging the title. I do like that it’s open-ended enough for the team to return down the road, maybe, but it still annoys me that this book basically gets killed off right as it’s finding its momentum each time. That said, it’s a pretty great sendoff for the team; everyone gets their moment to shine, the good guys win (of course), and there’s a nice little moment between Jimmy Woo and the spirit of his former enemy/mentor, Master Plan, that’s pretty great. Also, we should totally get a Ken Hale ongoing, because he is the single greatest monkey ever.

Casanova #3: Things get real funky here with an island of superintelligent cavemen and Casanova starting to realize he needs to grow up and grow a pair. Why have I not read this book before now?

Detective Comics #869: This story continues to irritate me. It’s implied that this is the Bruce Wayne Batman, but if so, he’s the most ineffectual we’ve ever seen him. Batman basically sits around shrugging the whole time, saying, “Well, what the hell can I do about all these impostor Jokers and impostor Batmen running around?” Then he kicks his feet up on the Bat Computer and eats a bag of chips. Lazy, useless Batman is not Batman. The art is still pretty great, though.

Wonder Woman #603: JMS’s take on Wonder Woman continues to do a whole lot of nothin’ for me. I mean, I’m still not even sure what the point of it all was. Why change her history? Why change her situation the way he has? It hasn’t really added anything to the story. This could’ve been done with the star-spangled shorts and tiara just as easily as the useless jacket and stretch pants. We’ve really gained nothing with these changes except for some publicity (which was probably the point) and some exasperation. Mostly the latter.

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 – May 12th

It’s Saturday and I’m sitting here with quite a stack of new comics, so let’s get to it, shall we?

I will say it’s interesting that, of the 6 single issues I pulled this week, only one of them isn’t a #1. Most of them are miniseries, too. Strange.

Birds of Prey #1: Gail Simone’s basically the reason I read comics, so a return to her career-making Birds of Prey title is a welcome thing indeed. And it gets off to a decent start: we get solid introductions, some of Simone’s trademark dialogue, and the caption boxes (mostly from Black Canary) work well. I’m not so thrilled with Hawk and Dove, mostly because they don’t seem to be as deep in terms of characterization as the rest of the team. Admittedly, we’ve had the other characters on the team (Oracle, Black Canary, Huntress, and Zinda Blake, aka Lady Blackhawk) for a considerably longer period of time; there’s been more time for them to receive good characterization. However, just the characters of Hawk and Dove kinda bore me. They seem like they’re completely defined by their superhero identities, rather than those superhero identities being an extension of who they are. Rather, it seems that, with Hawk and Dove, they are defined only by their superhero identities: Hawk sees himself as a soldier of God who came back to life to do God’s work (i.e., punch things), while Dove is all about trying to find peaceful solutions to situations. I’ve got faith in Gail Simone, though, so I’m sure she’ll do something worthwhile with these characters. On another note, Ed Benes turns in some decent art. I know he’s a divisive artist in the comics community, but he seemed to keep the cheesecake shots to a minimum here, and his storytelling is solid throughout. Definitely a great “let’s get the band back together” issue, and one where you surprisingly don’t have to know much about what’s come before to appreciate what’s going on now.

Justice League: Generation Lost #1: I’m a sucker for anything connected to the old JLI, so this was sort of a no-brainer. Tony Harris’s cover is pretty terrible (apparently Booster Gold is portrayed here by Michael Keaton?), but the art inside is Aaron Lopresti (who’d been doing the art for most of Gail Simone’s Wonder Woman run), so that’s cool. We’ve got a solid set-up in this issue, Maxwell Lord is established as a pretty credible threat (his ploy to make the world forget him is downright awesome, I think), and we get a reason why our four heroes (all former JLI members) are the only ones who can really stop him. I’m not sure how they’re going to make this last for twenty-some issues, but I’ll be there to find out. A minor quibble with the book: someone in editorial fell down on the job, ’cause there’s a half dozen pretty glaring typos, one in the first sentence in the book. That’s pretty ridiculous.

Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis #1: We still haven’t seen the conclusion to Warren Ellis and Phil Jimenez’s Astonishing X-Men story, but here’s the title being relaunched with Ellis and a new artist, Kaare Andrews, with a similar name to the Ellis/Jimenez arc but with several key differences. The art in this title really bugged me; it wasn’t bad, but it didn’t fit. And the new uniforms? Even with Wolverine’s mention of the fact that it’s a “G.I. Joe uniform of the week,” it’s still pretty bad. They look like a frat out for a day hike. All that aside, it’s still a Warren Ellis comic, but it feels like one we’ve read a dozen times before already. Usually, I don’t mind that, ’cause he manages to put a unique spin on his favorite themes, but this just feels like a retread. I’ll give it another issue to see if I want to keep with it until the end of the miniseries, but right now it’s not looking favorable.

Booster Gold #32: The only non-#1 in my pull list this week, and it kicks off the start of a new creative team on the title. I enjoyed Dan Jurgens’s run on the book; it felt like solid superhero goodness with a sense of fun about it, but it also had a serious tone that I could appreciate. The new Booster Gold is being written by the Giffen/DeMatteis team, and it comes out exactly as you’d think it would with that pairing. There are plenty of funny moments, but don’t forget these guys can bring the serious, too. And they do: when Booster is sent to the planet Daxam right as Darkseid is beginning a war on the planet, things get pretty tense, especially when the Emerald Empress shows up. Giffen and DeMatteis have all the most gruesome stuff happen off-panel, but that just adds to the emotional gut-punch of finding out what’s happened. It’s brutal, but not in the way that dissecting a hero and presenting him to his enemy in a shoebox is (yes, I’m pissed about that). All in all, I think this is definitely a title I’m going to be happy with. If you’ve liked the other stuff this writing team has done in the past, you’ll enjoy this. If you haven’t…well, what’s wrong with you? Do you not like good comics?

Prince of Power #1: Speaking of a writing team that can bring the funny and the serious in equal parts, we’ve got Pak and Van Lente’s latest entry in the saga of the Olympus Pantheon. This time, we’re following Amadeus Cho, Hercules’s former kid sidekick, now stepping up to be a hero in his own right. And Cho is doing pretty awesome. He fights a giant supercriminal/monster thing with Herc’s mace, he continues his search for the fallen Hercules (whom he believes to be simply lost in a parallel universe rather than dead), and we get some of the great sound effects we’ve come to love from these guys (“REDDSHERT” being my favorite, as he hits Vali Halfling’s cannon fodder with the mace). This isn’t necessarily new-reader friendly, though Pak and Van Lente do go out of their way to bring everyone up to speed in a manner that doesn’t involve a huge data-dump/exposition and instead uses cleverly-written and well-placed captions to give you what you need to know about characters and situations. This is gonna be a fun ride.

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #1: Bruce Wayne is a badass. You get that from the first moment you see him in this book, standing shirtless at the mouth of the cave he ended up in back at the end of Final Crisis. The plot is fairly straightforward: Batman is found by a group of cavemen, another group of cavemen led by Vandal Savage come in and kill the group Bruce was hanging out with, and Bruce goes all prehistoric asskicker on them. Bruce doesn’t seem to be quite right at the moment, as though he’s in a daze and doesn’t quite fully realize who he is or what’s happening, but it doesn’t stop him from being a hero (or from inspiring a cavelad to don a domino mask, make a shield out of Batman’s shirt, and assist him like a good Robin does). The art in this book is fantastic, and part of me wishes Chris Sprouse was going to do the art for the whole miniseries. Then I see the list of guys coming up to do the art for the rest of the issues, and I’m okay with it.

I also picked up the latest Wonder Woman trade, Warkiller, this week. I love me some Gail Simone Wonder Woman, even if I feel it’s probably one of her weaker works overall (then again, I may just have an unhealthy love of her other stuff, and her Wonder Woman – while excellent – just isn’t as awesome as Welcome to Tranquility. Or her Secret Six work. Or the All-New Atom. Or Birds of Prey. It’s just not fair; it’s like comparing George Harrison’s Beatles songs to Lennon and McCartney’s Beatles songs. Sure, Harrison’s stuff is awesome, but the Lennon/McCartney stuff is just more awesome. In this case, Simone is Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison. But not Ringo).