The Pull List – March 9th

I’ve re-read all of Transmetropolitan since Friday evening. Damn, if that isn’t a great book!

Batman and Robin #21: This issue is better than the last, with the characterization of Damian less grating this time and an interesting story shaping up. The idea of a guy who goes around killing the families of Arkham inmates as some form of reparations for their own horrible actions is interesting, and Tomasi’s script works well. Gleason’s art is growing on me a bit, but his characters still feel way too bulky and blocky for my tastes.

Doom Patrol #20: With this book building towards its conclusion, Giffen seems like he’s just decided to pull out all the stops and go nuts with it. The Doom Patrol spend most of the issue visiting different corners of the DCU trying to find a new place to live after Oolong Island evicted them at the end of the previous issue. Of course, it doesn’t go well, ’cause the easy way is not the Doom Patrol way. The last third or so of the book, with the visit and offer from an old villain, is clever and an interesting way to set up the last few issues we’ve got left of the book. I am sad this book is ending soon, but it looks like Giffen’s going out with a bang.

Justice League: Generation Lost #21: Speaking of books nearing their end, this issue is the calm before the storm of the final confrontation between Maxwell Lord and the JLI. There’s a lot of self-doubt running around in this issue, a lot of frustration and people on the verge of giving up. There’s also (spoilers!) the reveal that the big happening from a couple of issues ago was just a dodge. I’m sure it’ll be made clearer next issue. I am curious to see how this series is going to resolve, but I guess we’ll know that in about a month or so, right?

Booster Gold #42: This issue is an example of why I absolutely love Giffen and DeMatties working together: usually, this pair is all “Bwa ha ha” and more jokes and dialogue packed into a panel than you’d think possible. But they also do drama and tragedy really well. They can switch gears at the drop of a hat, and they can pull it off like no others. This is a darker, more sinister issue than we’ve seen in awhile, but it’s carried off with aplomb and heart. I really do hope they’re just taking a brief break from the book for the Flashpoint event this summer and will be back after that’s all done, because I love what they’ve been doing on the title since they took it over almost a year ago.

Wonder Woman #608: I do like that, since Hester has taken over on scripting duties, characters actually have individual, distinct voices and motivations for what they’re doing (and hell, they’re actually doing something!). This book is actually interesting again, and while it’s maybe not as good as the Gail Simone run, it’s a damn-sight better than when JMS was running the show all on his lonesome.

Batman Incorporated #3: Well, this finally came out. And it’s…well, there are bits that are truly clever (it’s Grant Morrison, there’s always gonna be something that’s clever), there’s some fun silver-agey stuff (exploding scorpions!), but for some reason it all just feels kinda…flat. Like there should’ve been something more to it if we were gonna have to wait three months for a new issue. There is the hint that this isn’t just a series of disconnected issues of Bruce Wayne traveling around the world to wherever Grant Morrison saw a travel poster for that month, but not enough build up yet for us to really know what to make of it. I’m gonna keep reading it, ’cause I trust Grant Morrison to do something interesting with the book, but I’m more than a little frustrated.

Birds of Prey #10: This book, however, is never a disappointment. Simone draws her “Death of Oracle” story to a close by…well, basically killing the idea of Oracle. By letting the criminal element think she’s dead, she can operate more effectively; or, as Barbara herself puts it, “If I’m out in the open, then criminals get cautious. And we can’t have that. Because my goal is that they never see me coming.” It’s brilliant, and there’s a nice metaphor (unspoken, but one I’m kind of assigning to the story anyway) of a mother bird pushing the babies out of the nest to fly on their own (the few pages of heroes calling in to Oracle and getting stony silence, then winning their own battles anyway). Plus, we’re promised the Huntress/Catman date next issue! How is that not going to be awesome?

I also grabbed the second trade of Thor: The Mighty Avenger, which was just as awesome as the first collection. I’m really upset now that Marvel decided not to let them finish this book. It’s sad that great books like this don’t get picked up on by more readers ’cause they “don’t matter” to the larger continuity. I am coming to hate continuity. This is, hands down, the best Thor book since Walt Simonson was writing Thor.

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 – January 12th

New comics are go! Let’s take a look.

Batman and Robin #19: This wraps up Paul Cornell’s three-issue run on the title, and it’s a decent finale. Cornell introduced a new villain, The Absence, that I’m sure someone somewhere down the line will probably bring up again. There were some flaws with this issue (the villain’s motives are still just weird and feel off, some of the dialogue felt a bit off), but it’s nice to see Dick Grayson as Batman loosening up and enjoying his job again.

Birds of Prey #8: When a story references that abomination Identity Crisis, I always get a bit concerned. But I trust Gail Simone, and I know she’ll come up with something interesting here. The premise of the story arc – that Oracle needs to clean the slate and start fresh to protect those she loves – makes sense, I guess. And getting Bruce Wayne (as Batman) involved in it is interesting (and also has me wishing she was writing an actual Batman book now).

Booster Gold #40: The past…er, future…comes back to haunt Booster this issue. It’s an interesting direction to take the book and the character in. Booster has grown considerably as a character in the past few years, and it’ll be interesting to see how he handles someone digging up his bad deeds.

Casanova: Gula #1: Where is Casanova Quinn? He’s disappeared in time and/or space, and it’s up to his allies in E.M.P.I.R.E to find him. It’s a strong start to the second miniseries from Fraction, this time with art by the fantastic Fabio Moon. It’s awesome and over the top, but I shouldn’t have to tell you that.

Chaos War: Dead Avengers #3: Here, we get to see what heroes are really made of, and a few of ’em aren’t gonna survive the experience. A couple do, however, and while this particular mini doesn’t feel vital to the greater arc of the Chaos War event, it’s still a nice tie-in and uses the Chaos War backdrop to great effect.

Deadpool #31: This issue wraps up Deadpool’s involvement with the “Draculas,” and it’s a damn fine comic. Deadpool’s quips are funny, his solution to the vampire problem is clever, and it’s easy to forget that this book is tying in to an event over in X-Men.
Let’s see where it goes from here.

Justice League: Generation Lost #17: We’re finally starting to see Maxwell Lord’s plans here, and they aren’t pretty. Checkmate is abolished, only not really, Blue Beetle’s captured, and the rest of the JLI has a new foe to face that’s…well, let’s just say it ain’t gonna be so easy to walk away from this one.

Knight and Squire #4: Beryl has a boy come to visit, and the Knight finds himself fighting his own armor. It’s a fun issue (as all the issues of this book have been), with the highlight being the Knight’s American butler, Hank (who is from Texas, I’m thinking).

Secret Six #29: This issue picks up where the last issue of Action Comics left off: with the Six caught up in a power struggle between Lex Luthor and Vandal Savage. All the Six can really do is stand by and watch (and throw in the occasional one-liner). The framing sequence featuring Ragdoll is funny as hell and more than a little disturbing, but what do you expect from him? I can’t say I was particularly happy with the art this issue, but it’s serviceable.

I also grabbed the trade of the first Casanova story arc, which was (of course) pretty awesome and will (I’m thinking) read better all at once than in single issues.

The Pull List – November 24th

I ate way too much on Thanksgiving, but I still read some damn fine comics!

Justice League: Generation Lost #14: I’m surprised at how much I’ve enjoyed this title so far. This issue sends Captain Atom hurtling 100 years into the future, where he gets a few more pieces of the puzzle (the puzzle being “what the hell did Max Lord do?”) and teams up with the Justice League of that time (which features some neat legacy heroes and a couple of long-lived folks from his own time). The twice-monthly release schedule is working out well for this book, ’cause a tangent like this doesn’t seem to derail the momentum of the main story.

Deadpool #29: Every time I think, “maybe I should just go ahead and stop picking up this book. I can wait for the trade,” they do an issue like this that’s just damn funny and rather clever, and I think “I’m glad I’m getting this in singles. I would’ve deprived myself of this joy.” But really, this was a solid conclusion to the “I’m Your Man” storyline, with Deadpool running around killing folks and blowin’ stuff up. His interactions with Steve Rogers are funny as hell, and the last couple of pages actually had me laughing aloud.

Detective Comics #871: Scott Snyder takes over as regular writer with this issue, and he sets up a nice little mystery for Dick Grayson Batman to solve: someone is selling old supervillain stuff that’s being used in new crimes. I particularly liked seeing how the interactions between Commissioner Gordon and Dick out of costume and in costume were so different. Clearly they are much more comfortable with each other while Dick is Batman (though Gordon doesn’t know it’s the same person. Or does he? Who the hell knows with stuff like this). There’s also a backup (also written by Snyder) starring the Commissioner that digs into a question I’ve had for a long time: what the hell happened to his son? Didn’t he have a son? I get the feeling the backup will eventually tie into the main story (we’re already seeing elements cross over, such as the birds that kept popping up).

Invincible Iron Man #32: Finally, some action! And it’s pretty darn good action, at that. Everyone gets in on the fighting, from Pepper and Rhodey to Tony and even his employees (though they’re not actually fighting, per se, just trying to save their boss and their jobs). It’s a fast-paced issue with plenty of excitement, though the actual battle between Detroit Steel and Iron Man seemed…off, somehow. Like it wasn’t really a fight and we didn’t really get a sense of “Detroit Steel is a credible threat,” though they keep saying he is.

Batwoman #0: It’s only 16 pages of story, and that 16 pages really only reintroduces the character for people who didn’t follow/don’t remember her run in Detective Comics awhile back, but that is 16 pages of JH Williams III art (well, half him, half Amy Reeder). It looks…spectacular, honestly, but what else can you expect from Williams? The issue does a good job of setting up the main conceit of the character – she’s socialite Kate Kane, but she dresses up like a bat to hunt down criminals – and we see Batman basically staking her out and preparing to maybe even recruit her (Batman: The Return seems to indicate that he does eventually do so). It’s short and simple, but the layouts and art are just breathtaking. I’m looking forward to the regular series.

Action Comics #895: Luthor versus Vandal Savage! Except…well, not really, ’cause Luthor is one of the smartest guys on the planet, and even though Savage tries for years to draw Luthor into a trap that’s been planned for centuries (the references back to previous continuity, such as their time off-planet during Salvation Run and whatnot, are pretty damn funny. I would read an entire series of Luthor blowing off Vandal Savage for stuff he thinks is more important), Luthor just slips in and does what he needs to do. There’s the promise of the Secret Six in the next issue, and I think a Six/Luthor crossover is exactly what the comic world needs. On top of that, the Jimmy Olsen back-up continues to be freakin’ awesome, as Jimmy hatches a plan to bore some aliens to the point that they don’t hold a world-shattering party on Earth. Very clever.

Batman and Robin #17: Grant Morrison may be gone, but Paul Cornell has stepped up to do a three-issue fill in until the next regular writer on the title comes up. And it’s a thing of beauty, lemme tell ya. Cornell introduces a weird new villain, Batman and Robin argue over who gets to spout the one-liners, and we get a sense that Dick Grayson is way more comfortable being Batman now that Bruce Wayne is back. Scott McDaniel’s art is a little rough in some spots (there’s one panel early on where Batman has no neck, and lots of folks have mentioned the Amazing Size-Changing Robin), but the cartoony look really suits the story.

The Avengers and the Infinity Gauntlet
#4: The final confrontation between the Avengers and Thanos! One-liners! Wizard of Oz references! And only your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man remembers everything! I love that last page, too. This was a terrific all-ages book, and I’m glad to see Clevinger will be doing more work in this vein at Marvel.

I also grabbed the latest Northlanders trade, The Plague Widows, but I haven’t had a chance to dig into it yet.

The Pull List – November 3rd

There weren’t a whole lot of comics this week, but quantity was offset by some really high quality! It’s comics time!

Doom Patrol #16: This was the weakest book of the week, and even it was pretty damn awesome. Keith Giffen stepped in and drew this issue as well as co-writing it with Brian Keene, and his art is simple, clean, and as solid as ever. The Saturday afternoon horror movie intro is pitch-perfect, and the story itself draws on Patrol history once again to good effect. This title has only gotten better as it’s gone along, and this issue shows just how good it can be.

Chaos War #3: I’m confused. On the cover, it says #3 of 4, but the checklist inside shows there will be an issue 5. Color me confused. Anyway, the art here is better than last issue, losing some of the plastic look to the figures from issue 2, but there’s not a whole lot going on in this issue. The God Squad go head to head against the resurrected gods of earth and the Chaos King himself, but things don’t go well (as you could well surmise on your own, I bet). Fewer great moments than last issue, but still pretty solid if just rather pedestrian.

Batman and Robin #16: The finale to Grant Morrison’s run on this book is so full of important resolutions and great character moments, it’s kind of a lot to take in. The art duties are split between Cameron Stewart, Chris Burnham (whom I’ve never heard of but who does a great Frank Quitely impression while still maintaining a distinctive style of his own), and Frazer Irving, who each get a set piece to draw (Stewart on the stuff happening in the 1700s, Burnham on the fight between Batman and Dr. Hurt, and Irving on the Professor Pyg and Joker stuff and the bit at the end). The issue ties up a lot of loose ends while still leaving enough plot points open for future writers to play around with stuff, and of course it sets up (as you’d know if you get on the internet at all) the new status quo for the Batman Family (or should I say Batman, Incorporated?). Definitely a solid finale, though it would’ve been nice if Quitely had been able to come on board to draw a few pages. It does feature a shot of Commissioner Gordon in a dress, so there’s that.

Secret Six #27: The cover to this issue – Bane riding a dinosaur – really says it all. Gail Simone takes what could be a confusing mess and makes it an awesome ride full of double-crosses and Amanda Waller being downright badass. King Shark also manages to out-creepy Ragdoll, and that is not an easy accomplishment.

I also grabbed the latest volume of BPRD, King of Fear. Haven’t had a chance to crack it open yet, but I do love me some BPRD and Guy Davis art.

The Pull List – October 20th

It’s time once again for the internet’s laziest, least-interesting comics review! Get excited!

Green Hornet: Year One #6: Part of me wants to stop getting this book in single issues, ’cause it’s clearly going to read much better in a big trade-sized chunk. It’s not that it’s a bad book, mind, just that reading it issue by issue kills the momentum of the story. We finally get to see the Green Hornet piece together his modus operandi and take on some thugs on a moving train. The art is good, though there are some storytelling problems during the train scene that make it hard to follow the action and tell who ends up where and how.

Deadpool #28: So the villain of this particular storyline is “Doctor Bong?” And he’s got a bell for a head? That’s just downright weird. The story is good, though, as the real Secret Avengers show up and lots of fighting ensues.

Chaos War #2: The Chaos King invades the afterlife, anyone who isn’t a god gets put into a magical comatose state, and the all-new God Squad is gathered. This issue doesn’t move with quite the same fantastic pacing that most Pak/Van Lente joints have, but it’s clearly just setting the stage for the awesome things to come. I do have a complaint about Khoi Pham’s art: everything looks kinda plastic. Like, the people do. I dunno if it’s the inker or the colorist or Pham himself or what, but it’s distracting.

Batman and Robin #15: The reveal on the final page of this issue was awesome. And, despite my usual misgivings about Frazer Irving’s art, he really knocked it outta the park on this issue. Everything is finally coming together, and the final showdown between Batman and Dr. Hurt is nigh. Will we finally figure out just who the hell Dr. Hurt is? Or is this just gonna be one of those bits that gets left dangling for ever until someone else comes along and tries to explain it away as a clone of Thomas Wayne or something equally ridiculous? Who knows.

I also picked up a couple of trades this week: Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds, which seemed like an excuse to have George Perez draw the hell out of as many members of the Legion of Super-Heroes as possible (not that I’m complaining) and may’ve finally removed Superboy-Prime from the gameboard as a character we ever have to see in anything ever again. I also grabbed the latest volume of X-Factor, which was pretty cool and featured a great story involving the Fantastic Four (also, I would buy the hell out of a series featuring Ben Grimm, Shatterstar, and Monet running around cold wreckin’ stuff. It would be beyond amazing).

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 – July 8th

Comics were delayed a day this week by the holiday weekend, but that hasn’t stopped us from buying them and reading them! And hey, it looks like it’s flashback week, what with classic writers and artists turning up all over the place. Let’s take a look:

Batman: Odyssey #1: The great Neal Adams writes and draws this one. The first half is just Bruce telling a story from his early Batman days (back when he carried a gun), and it’s neat to see Adams reflect Bruce Wayne’s naivete and uncertainty in a variety of ways (the fact that his costume has ears that aren’t solid and flap in the wind on the train; trying to climb a ladder with a gun in his hand). The art isn’t as solid as you’d expect from the guy who defined the look of Batman back in the 1970s, but c’mon: that was almost forty years ago now. The art still looks pretty good (there are a couple of weirdly-posed figures and some faces that feel a little off), and the sketchiness of the line work isn’t a bad thing. Adams still has some great art chops, and he composes panels and pages that flow and are full of energy. His dialogue and dense use of captions and thought balloons (!) can get a little overwhelming from time to time and do slow the story down some, but it’s not a bad comic, and it’s a very different take on the Bruce Wayne Batman than what we’re used to seeing. One weird point: this was supposedly originally a twelve-part series, then two six-part series, but the book clearly indicates this is issue one of twelve. Either way, you get twelve issues, sure, but it’s weird.

Hercules: Twilight of a God #2: the Prince of Power faces off against a ticked-off Herald of Galactus, and it’s a hell of a knock-down, drag-out fight. Most of the comic is just fight scene, which Ron Lim (pencils) and Bob Layton (script and inks) handle like the old pros they are; there’s also some extra plot thrown in about black holes that I guess sets up the rest of this miniseries. We do get to see why messing with Hercules (and his family) is a bad idea, and we get proof that even if this Herc is older and a little more doddering, you still don’t want to mess with him.

Doom Patrol #12: The Doom Patrol fight the Front Men, then…leave. It makes way more sense if you read the comic, and their leaving has very specific repercussions for the team down the line, I’m sure. This is playing out very similarly to the plot of Birds of Prey: discrediting a team through the media for some nefarious purpose, even if the Doom Patrol are being targeted not because of who the enemy is but because they happen to be convenient scapegoats. I’m definitely interested to see where this is going, though I did have one nitpick: at one point, a character refers to a YouTube video of Wonder Woman breaking Maxwell Lord’s neck. So, is this taking place before the events of Justice League: Generation Lost #1? Or did Keith Giffen (who works on both series) just slip up? A minor detail, to be sure, but one that could have easily been avoided.

Secret Six #23: John Ostrander steps in for a done-in-one story about the Secret Six as the Most Dangerous Game. The pacing is perfect, each character gets a chance to shine, and Ostrander gets to have Bane beat a guy to death with his own arm. We get a couple of the creepy/funny moments from Ragdoll that we all know and love, though Doll hanging from the front of a power boat singing, “What do we do with a bendy sailor” may be my favorite thing of the day. The art for the book, unfortunately, isn’t quite up to snuff. RB Silva’s pencils are fine in terms of presenting dynamic action and competent storytelling, but the faces seem…wrong. From the back of the head to the front, everyone’s faces seem too long. If it were one or two panels where this happened, I could let it slip, but it’s every time we see a character from something other than a straight-ahead view, their faces and heads look wrong. If you’re at a 3/4 angle, I shouldn’t see the face as though you were facing me. It just threw me off, y’know?

Batman and Robin #13: Pieces of Grant Morrison’s Batman-related run start to fall into place here, as we see that everything that’s happened in this series starts to connect with what happened in his Batman run. There’s a nice conversation between Dick Grayson and Commissioner Gordon that highlights just how different Dick is from Bruce Wayne; we get a sense (and not for the first time) that Dick isn’t sure he can handle what’s happening (though we do get the sense this time that me may be right about that); and Damian goes to town on the Joker with a crowbar. It’s a solid issue from a comic that’s been consistently awesome, and Frazer Irving’s art works for the dark tone of the story.

Casanova: Luxuria #1: I never got around to reading the comic that broke Matt Fraction into the big leagues, Casanova, so when Marvel decided to reprint it (in color!) through their Icon imprint, I decided I’d be a fool not to get in on it. And it’s great. Definitely the sort of high-concept, bug-crazy stuff that makes you smile. I mean, there’s a staring contest with a mutant, for cryin’ out loud. Definitely recommended.

As for trades, I grabbed the latest BPRD release, 1947. BPRD is a consistent book and a lot of fun, and these looks back at the Bureau’s early days are always interesting.

Sadly, I won’t be able to pick up comics next week or the week after, as I’ll be in Oklahoma visiting family. I’ll just have to write about something else then.

The Pull List – May 5th

Man, it was a good week for comics. Let’s take a look!

Doom Patrol #10: This comic has definitely started to really click. The dialogue feels good, the characterization feels good, and we’ve got a nice little plot boiling with the Front Men. A cool villain shows up and make things miserable for our heroes, the Chief is a right bastard, and things are basically building up to some fun down the road.

Batman and Robin #12: Damn. Just…damn. This comic rocked. And the reveal at the end of the issue…perfect. I don’t know how long Grant Morrison’s been planting the seeds that are sprouting in this issue, but it feels like a huge, fantastic payoff. Morrison is also clearly demarcating Dick Grayson as a very different sort of Batman than Bruce Wayne, and it works very well here. If you aren’t reading this book, then there’s something very wrong with you.

Secret Six #21: We get a deeper look into Catman’s life and the events that formed the man, a kickass fight scene between Catman and a rather large bulk of a man who lasts way less time than you’d think, and the introduction of the replacement Six, a group that includes…well, villains who are even more has-been than the original Six (it does include Dwarfstar, though, a character Simone introduced in her All-New Atom run, as well as Giganta and *snerk* King Shark). There’s also a bit of a throwdown amongst the rest of the group as they track Catman. This book gets more and more disturbed and creepy with each passing issue, and I love Gail Simone for that.

Hellboy in Mexico: A brief, somewhat slight done-in-one featuring the art of the legendary Richard Corben. And luchadores. And demonically-possessed luchadores. And honestly, what more could you possibly want? While there may not be much meat to the story, and Mignola’s writing seems almost perfunctory and not exactly his best, it’s still a fun little diversion from the recent epic Wild Hunt storyline.

As for trades, I grabbed the latest Deadpool collection (in which our anti-hero attempts to become a member of the X-Men, with wacky results) and Invincible Iron Man (in which Tony Stark’s brain slowly melts away in an effort to beat Norman Osbourn). Both were quite good, and the Deadpool book reminded me yet again that the recent story arc featuring Hit Monkey was merely a misstep.