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).

The Pull List – April 14th

Comics! Really, that says it all.

Booster Gold #31: I didn’t actually intend to pick this up (I wanted to start getting the series next month, when Giffen and DeMatteis take over with all the “bwahaha” that entails). It’s the last issue written and drawn by Dan Jurgens, and it’s really just a send-off for him. There’s not a whole lot of substance to the story: Booster fights against some nameless mooks, there’s some collateral damage, Booster feels frustrated about it, and then everything ends up getting fixed up nice by the end. It’s a straight-forward end to Jurgens’s run, but it’s a nice end.

Secret Six #20: Catman gets mad and starts tracking the folks who threatened to kill his son. It ain’t pretty, the Six split over what to do about Catman running off, and you generally get the sense that there’s going to be some hell to pay in the issues to come. Another fantastic issue from Simone, though this one does lack a lot of the trademark humor we’ve come to expect from the title.

Green Hornet: Year One #2: A little more back story on the original Green Hornet and his companion, Kato, and a couple steps closer to their inevitable first meet-up. Plus some mobsters get beaten up. Wagner’s script doesn’t do much of anything new (especially if you’ve read any of his Sandman Mystery Theatre), but that doesn’t mean it’s not good. The art’s fantastic and fits perfectly, too.

Atomic Robo: Revenge of the Vampire Dimension #2: Atomic Robo continues to be one of the best reasons to read comics. Great dialogue, giant monsters, a mecha with a rail gun…what’s not to love? I’m not sure how this connects to the first issue in this particular series, but I’m sure all will be made clear by the end.

This week, I also picked up the fourth volume of Fables and the second omnibus of Starman. Both are fantastic, and the Starman collection includes a crossover with Sandman Mystery Theatre (see how I brought it all back around full circle?).

The Pull List – April 7th

It’s a beautiful day out today, but I didn’t let that stop me from sitting down and reading this week’s comics!

That sounded a lot better in my head.

Batman and Robin #11: This comic continues to be awesome. I’ve read a lot of speculation about who Oberon Sexton really is (and there are some out there who are convinced he very well might be Bruce Wayne, despite that being way too easy an answer for a Grant Morrison comic), but one thing’s for certain: this comic kicks ass. Batman runs around in a secret underground railroad, Alfred flies the Batmobile, and Sexton and Robin beat the crap outta some guys from a group called the 99 Fiends. Plus, we get some nice callbacks to Morrison’s original Batman run (with a nice reference to the Domino Killer and that bit at the beginning of the issue with The Penitent). Add to that Andy Clarke’s fantastic and expressive art, and you’ve got a damn good comic here. It’s not doing anything all that different from the previous 10 issues, but why mess with awesome?

Doom Patrol #9: For awhile, I was considering dropping this (especially when I heard they were getting rid of the Metal Men backup), but I’m glad I’ve stuck with it. While the book may’ve had some troubles stumbling out of the gate, it’s finally starting to pick up a bit. There’s some solid character interactions, a new power from the Negative Man, and lots of sarcasm from the robot (and the brick). Giffen keeps throwing weird idea after weird idea at us (Danny the Bungalow?), the dialogue was sharp, and the ending was pretty damn funny. Add to that the new character who’s implied to be joining our merry little band on the last page (surely not, though. Right? I mean, really?), and you’ve got a solid issue here.

S.H.I.E.L.D. #1: I’d heard so many good things about this one this past week that I decided to pick it up and give it a shot. The art’s beautiful, the concept is pretty cool, but it feels kind of disjointed to me. The issue didn’t seem to flow too well, but that could just be because it’s a first issue setting up what’s to come. Da Vinci as (essentially) a superhero is a pretty awesome idea, though.

In terms of trades, there was some fun stuff this week. First, there was volume four of Booster Gold, which I find I’m enjoying quite well (enough so that I’m adding the monthly to my pull list when Giffen and DeMatteis take over in May). This particular collection featured the issue written by Giffen from last year, which I actually quite enjoyed (and hey, who doesn’t love a good Happy Day’s reference?) as well as a solid story from series regular writer/artist Dan Jurgens. All in all, enjoyable classic superheroics.

I also picked up the second collection of the Secret Six ongoing, Depths, which happens to include one of my single favorite issues of anything ever (the “Double Date” story from issue 8) and features art by the always-awesome Nikola Scott. Simone’s writing is top-notch as usual, and Ragdoll is possibly one of my favorite characters ever.

Weekend Reading

Haven't we already been through this once this winter?This is the view out the back door of my townhouse at 10:00 AM this morning. The view from the front is much the same. We’re snowed in, baby, so it’s a weekend of reading and enjoying the warmth of our townhouse until the power cuts out and we’re left to huddle together under blankets for warmth. So what, exactly, am I reading? Well…

Runaways, Volume 1: I’ve read these before, but I felt this would be a great time to sit down and re-read the three digest-sized trades of Brian K. Vaughn’s first Runaways story. The second volume was alright, and I haven’t had a chance to read anyone else’s stuff with the characters, but this first 18-issue arc was fantastic. It’s nice to see kids portrayed in a way that isn’t condescending or makes them seem like they’re just adults with acne. And the anime/managa-influenced art is pretty solid, though the characters’ mouths open tremendously wide sometimes. Like, freakishly so.

Booster Gold, Vol. 3 – Reality Lost: I rather dug the Booster Gold stuff Geoff Johns wrote in the first two trades of this title, so went ahead and picked up the third trade yesterday before Snowpocalypse 2: Electric Boogaloo got underway. It’s not bad; not nearly as good as the stuff in the first two trades, but the art (by Booster Gold creator Dan Jurgens) is still top-notch, and there’s some neat little ideas running around in it. Can’t wait for Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis to get ahold of the title in the coming months.

No Hero: I’m a big Warren Ellis fan, and this is supposed to be classic Ellis: over-the-top violence, weird concepts, snarky dialogue, the works. Can’t wait to dig into it.

The Starman Omnibus, Volume 1: I’ve heard phenomenal things about this, James Robinson’s opus, and picked up the first volume of the set to see what I think. It’s pretty awesome so far. I’ll definitely be picking up the rest of the set as they come out (they’re up to number 4 of 6 so far, right?).

John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty and Utilitarianism: What, I’m not allowed to read something deep and intellectual? I’m not all fights and tights, folks. There’s hidden depths here. Plus, I just really like a philosophy built around the idea of “if it doesn’t hurt someone else, you should be able to do it.” And yes, that’s an oversimplification, but it’s early still and I haven’t had breakfast yet.