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 – December 15th

Ah, the waning days of the year! We’ve still got comics comin’! Here we go!

Deadpool Max #3: Okay, so this is what this book should be like. Baron Zemo, reimagined as a white supremacist bent on making the U.S. “pure” again. The writing is clever, the violence fits, and the Lapham uses racial slurs and horrible, horrible terminology to great effect. If more issues are like this one, I’ll definitely be continuing to keep it up.

Batman and Robin #18: We get the origin of The Absence and a couple of really cool visuals (that closing page is fantastic), though some of the villain’s motivation seems a little off somehow. Decent, but not the best Cornell’s managed. We’ll see how it turns out next issue.

Birds of Prey #7: Barbara Gordon’s got an ambitious plan to keep her friends and allies safe: she’s going to kill Oracle. The art for this issue ain’t bad, and Gail Simone’s script is solid (the bits in the strip club are hysterical), as per usual. One request, though: can we please get Nicola Scott on this book? Please?

Chaos War: Thor #2: I’m not entirely sure about the real purpose of this book. I mean, it’s not a bad book, and there are some really interesting concepts at work in this issue. But there does feel like there’s something slightly off about it.

Chaos War #4: Things look pretty grim, but that’s par for the course when you’re talking about event comics and cosmic stuff. Hercules does not want to give up, Athena tries to be clever and fails, and Amadeus Cho comes up with a neat idea. I’m curious to see how Pak and Van Lente will pull off the win in this one, and where it’ll take the iHerc crew next.

I also grabbed the fifth Booster Gold trade, which rounded out Dan Jurgens’s run on the title, and the first trade of Thor: The Mighty Avenger, which is one of those books I kick myself for not having gotten into earlier (especially now that it’s apparently going to be canceled after the 8th issue).

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 – 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 – July 14th, July 21st, & July 28th

So, long time out of commission, I know, but I picked up all my comics yesterday and today and managed to read ’em all already, so let’s see what’s been going on, shall we?

Batman #701: Grant Morrison reunites with artist Tony Daniel to tell the “Lost Chapter” between the end of R.I.P. and Batman’s “death” in Final Crisis. As with R.I.P., I don’t really care at all for Tony Daniel’s art. It’s too sketchy, too lacking in polish, too inconsistent. It mostly deals with Batman trying to figure out whether or not Dr. Hurt survived the helicopter crash at the end of R.I.P. (which anyone who’s been reading Batman & Robin knows he, y’know, did) and decide whether or not Hurt is who he claims to be. This seems like a pretty inconsequential story, honestly, and I’m not sure why Morrison felt it was necessary to do it. It’s not exactly bad, per se, but unnecessary.

Justice League: Generation Lost #5 & 6: Issue 5 gives us the reconstituted JLI standing around trying to decide whether or not to go after Maxwell Lord (they decide to, of course) Issue 6 deals with Captain Atom jumping into the future after absorbing too much energy and jumping into the future, where he discovers that if they don’t stop Max, things’re gonna get real bad. We’re about a quarter of the way through the series now, and we really haven’t seen much happen as of yet. It’s all been setup, getting characters into place, establishing motivation, and making Max not just a credible threat, but someone who really needs to be stopped to prevent something horrible from happening to the world.

Booster Gold #34: Booster goes back to the ol’ JLI days again to try once more to get evidence to pin on Maxwell Lord and prove to everyone that Max even exists. Booster spends a good chunk of the issue ruminating on the fact that he’s not the same guy he was back then, and his sister and the young child he rescued from the future spend some time getting to know each other. Giffen steps in and pencils a couple of pages this issue, and the shift between his work and Batista’s is pretty significant. Overall, it’s another solid issue from this creative team.

Invincible Iron Man #28: Posturing between Iron Man and Mrs. Hammer, more folks get hired for Stark Resilient, and Tony starts to tie some things together. This comic is on a slow build, but Fraction’s payoffs are usually pretty solid, so I’m willing to ride out the talky issues in anticipation of those payoffs.

Deadpool #25: Cross and double-cross, switched identities and changing alliances…I’m not really quite sure what the point of those particular storyline was, though it does seem to set up a new (albeit temporary, I’m sure) status quo for Deadpool as a guy with a (gasp!) job. It lacked the manic energy and non-stop gags we usually get in the Deadpool book, but the backup story (written by Duane Swierczynski) is pretty awesome (and the first time I’ve really enjoyed the “Pool-o-Vision” gag).

Green Hornet: Year One #4: In the past, the Green Hornet and Kato arrive in the United States, while in the present (well, 1938, at any rate) they continue their assault on Chicago’s mobsters. There’s some decent character work here by Matt Wagner, and Aaron Campbell’s art remains moody and fitting for the time period and subject matter.

Atlas #3: I was tremendously sad to hear that this title will be canceled after issue 5, as I’m really digging the story. Bad guys that can possess people’s bodies, a legacy hero who’s the only one who can see them, and some great art and well-crafted dialogue make this a solid book. The back-up story, featuring more detail about the origin of M-11, is also solid, though it just adds more details to what we already know.

Prince of Power #3: Amadeus Cho and Thor go into the Egyptian Underworld in search of the next piece of the recipe for eternal life, only to find that they’ve played right into Vali Halfling’s plans. The trademark humor and sight gags are in place and as hilarious as ever, and the lioness goddess of destruction turning into a LOLcat is pretty damn hysterical. It’ll be interesting to see how they wrap this up next month and set the stage for the Chaos War.

Welcome To Tranquility: One Foot in the Grave #1: This mini picks up right where the second collection left off. Mayor Fury is released from prison, and Sheriff Thomasina Lindo doesn’t seem to be too happy about it. Simone builds on previous Tranquility stories, teasing out existing stories and characters and setting up some new plot lines. The return of a character at the end of the issue is a nice twist, and it’ll be interesting to see where it goes next. Horacio Domingues’s art is decent and not too far off from Neil Googe’s style, though some of the lines seem too thick and make the characters come across as too blocky and kind of blurry.

Birds of Prey #3: I’d love to say this issue was fantastic, but there was a printing error and the middle 1/3 of the issue was actually from an issue of Batgirl. This is clearly another “nothing is as it really seems” sort of issue, and I’m more than happy to wait and see what Simone has planned, but I really do wish I could have read all of the issue (it’s pretty clear that there’s some important plot points in those missing pages).

Wonder Woman #601: This issue kicks off JMS’s Wonder Woman run, and it really just picks up right where the prologue in Wonder Woman #600 left off. Every vibe I get from this book is that this major status quo change has to be temporary; the very dialogue in this issue indicates that things shouldn’t be this way and that success will be measured by achieving a revival of the old status quo. All that being said, this isn’t a bad issue; there’s actually some plot developed (and not just in the plot dump/exposition vein of things), Wonder Woman finds her motivation and purpose, and we’re introduced to a shadowy new villain.

Action Comics #891: Mister Mind, that worm with a big brain, attempts to trap Luthor in his own fantasies so he can do…something to Luthor’s brain. For someone we don’t know. The worm fails, because you just don’t mess with Luthor’s mind, but the fantasies themselves are fantastic (Luthor as Dr. Frankenstein, a gunman in the wild west, and as a caveman stealing fire from the gods a la Prometheus). Cornell and Woods are really knocking this one out of the park.

Detective Comics #867: David Hine continues his run on Detective, this time with art from Scott McDaniel. McDaniel’s art is cartoony and recalls the old Batman: The Animated Series look without being a slave to it. He also manages to maintain a strong sense of kinetic energy and good storytelling mechanics. The only real problem with the story is that it’s pretty mundane: a group called the Jokerz are using a variation on the old Joker Venom running around causing trouble, and Batman and the GCPD are trying to stop them using minimal force. When a cop gets killed in retaliation for a dead member of the Jokerz, things get strained, and an impostor pops up at the end that will definitely cause trouble next issue. It’s standard fare, but well-crafted.

Batman: The Widening Gyre #6: This is the first half of Kevin Smith and Walt Flanagan’s planned twelve issues, and it’s a double-sized issue that ends on a hell of a cliffhanger. We get plenty of action, some nice interaction between Batman and Silver St. Cloud, and a surprise marriage proposal. The twist at the end I’d actually pegged well before it came around (if you’ve read Smith’s previous Batman min, Cacophony, you probably spotted it early, too), and there’s a tragedy that anyone who’s ever read a comic where Batman falls in love with someone could’ve predicted easily. It’s decent, if not great, and I am curious to see what Smith and Flanagan do next.

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #4: Batman the cowboy! Honestly, that should be all you need to know, but it’s not really all that great, I’m sad to say. Morrison’s script is solid enough, though I’m not sure what the hell is going on with the bad guys, why they’re doing what they do, or anything like that. Georges Jeanty’s art is pretty awful; characters aren’t consistently rendered, adults often look like children in terms of stature and appearance, and it’s hard to tell characters apart sometimes. I’m definitely going to have to re-read this (and, really, the whole series) to truly be able to follow what all’s happening.

I also picked up two trades: X-Men: S.W.O.R.D. and Cowboys and Aliens. S.W.O.R.D. is pretty good so far; I’m definitely becoming a fan of Kieron Gillen’s work. I haven’t dug into Cowboys and Aliens yet, but it was only $4.99 for a pretty substantial chunk of comic (way longer than the same-priced Batman: Widening Gyre #6), and it’s written by Fred Van Lente.

The Pull List – June 16th

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

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

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

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

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

The Pull List – 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).