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 – October 13th

Back to buying my comics week by week. This is the Pull List: get excited!

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #5: As Bruce gets closer and closer to the present, things get stranger and stranger. Here, he’s pulled into a murder investigation…for his own parents. Everything that Grant Morrison’s been doing for the past several years with Batman – the Black Glove, the Club of Heroes – is all coming to a point here. Ryan Sook’s art is fantastic and a perfect fit to the moody, noir-ish plot for this issue. Good stuff.

Booster Gold #37: There’s a brilliant moment here – when Booster hops a little into the future (but still in the old JLI days) to ask Ted Kord how he survived an incident – and it’s absolutely perfect. The plot for this book may be kinda thin, what with all the deviations from it and asides and tangents and all, but it’s a fun book, which is what it should be.

Justice League: Generation Lost #11: Ice, Fire, and Rocket Red versus the alloyed Metal Men! And Tora’s got an icy mad on goin’. Meanwhile, Booster, Blue Beetle, and Captain Atom run around trying to uncover more of Maxwell Lord’s plot, only to run into a factory they certainly weren’t expecting. This book’s finally starting to click for me.

Knight and Squire #1: This book is unabashedly British through and through. There’s everything from rhyming slang to a team of heroes based on cricket players (it somehow never caught on in the US). Paul Cornell’s story is pretty light – about a pub that’s neutral ground between heroes and villains – but the book itself is a delight.

Casanova #4: Casanova finally puts on the big boy pants and proves himself to be…well, if not exactly a hero, at least a protagonist we’re gonna root for. Cross and double-cross abound in this issue, the final installment of the first storyline. Good times.

Invincible Iron Man #31: If you can’t bring Mohammad to the mountain, bring the mountain to Mohammad. That’s Tony Stark’s idea after a tech conference he was going to present his car of the future at gets canceled (because of his planned attendance, natch). But things go from bad to worse when the Hammer family decides to strike at Stark’s own exhibition.

Thor #616: Yeah, I bought three Matt Fraction books this week. This seems a little like a retread of issue 615, with a human scientist trying to explain to yet another Asgardian (this time, Thor) his theory about nature abhorring a vacuum. Thor seems uncharacteristically angry with the human, and it struck me as a bit odd. I mean, sure, the guy’s home just got destroyed in the Siege and all, but threatening a human with his hammer just ’cause the human tried to explain something that’ll be important to him? Weird. And that last page…stranger still.

Welcome to Tranquility: One Foot in the Grave #4: When you’re going up against one of the most powerful – and psychopathic – beings on the planet, you gotta bring the right people along. Someone who’s already dead and can’t get much deader? Probably a good idea. Even though it turns out not to be. Simone keeps ratcheting up the creepy factor in this book, and it’s pretty awesome. I do miss Googe’s artwork, though.

I also grabbed the last trade of Gail Simone’s Wonder Woman run. Honestly, I think time will bear out that Simone’s run on Wonder Woman was easily one of the best the title’s ever seen (the same will not be said for JMS’s run, I don’t think).

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 4th

It’s pouring down rain right now, but that won’t stop the comics (though it might delay the posting of this)!

Batman: Odyssey #2: Neal Adams is weaving a story of a young, inexperienced Batman that is downright weird. Anyone used to the prepared-for-everything Batman will find it rather jarring, but it’s an interesting alternate take on Bruce Wayne. Adams’ art is still kinda sketchy, but there’s solid storytelling and a shirtless, hairy-chested Bruce Wayne giving us a recap of the first issue. It’s still not clear exactly what Adams hopes to achieve with this miniseries, but I’m definitely willing to go along for the ride and see what he’s doing.

Doom Patrol #13: This issue focuses on Rita Farr, aka Elasti-Woman, as she discovers the secrets behind her resurrection and we just get further confirmation of what a bastard the Chief is. Giffen puts a good twist on the usual “superhero brought back from the dead” thing, and manages to make her character that much more tragic (and rather in line with the rest of the members of the Doom Patrol). We also get a confrontation between Rita and Mento, a fight that promises to be pretty awesome in the next issue. This title has gotten better as it’s gone along, finally finding its rhythm and a sense of what kind of stories will fit the characters best.

Hercules: Twilight of a God #3: Herc spends the whole issue in a coma, so his buddy Skyppi the Skrull takes center stage in an effort to help resolve the problem of the Galactus Black Hole that threatens the whole galaxy. There are some fun moments, snappy bits of dialogue, and good pacing: this is a solid comic from some of the most consistent, legendary creators in the business.

Deadpool #1000: An anthology of short Deadpool stories from a variety of creators, this is (as with most books of this type) a mixed bag at best. Some of the pieces are fun (“Canada, Man” is easily the best of the bunch, though “Luck be a Lady” is solid-if-mundane and “Silentest Night” is a fun little send-up of the distinguished competition’s recent event), and the art varies from typical superhero fare to indie comix style and a bunch of stuff in-between. The last quarter or so of the book is given over to more than two dozen Deadpool-centric variant covers that ran in different Marvel books over the course of the last year or so. All in all, not a bad book, but not necessarily worth the $4.99 price tag unless you’re really into Deadpool.

Casanova: Luxuria #2: Casanova goes on a mission (and counter-mission) to an island of sex robots. Yes, it’s as awesome as that sounds. There’s some weird sexual tension with his kinda-sister, some weirder sexual tension between a large Scotsman and a creepy mutant robot woman, and a naked man psychic fight. Good stuff.

S.H.I.E.L.D. #3: The antagonist is revealed, and we find out that he’s a man who will do whatever it takes to do his duty. Weaver’s art is fabulous throughout, and Hickman’s script gives us lots of information and details without feeling like a giant data dump. We don’t get to see much of Leonid and Da Vinci in this issue (they pop up in one panel on the last page), but next issue promises to be a knock-down, drag-out fight.

Secret Six #24: Our “heroes” are in the Wild West, and while everyone’s basic characteristics are the same, that’s pretty much the only similarity to the team of degenerates we know and love. The six end up banding together to protect a town from Ragdoll’s sister (who’s back along with her henchmen Aaron and Tig), so you know there’s gonna be carnage and blood. And man, is there. The roles everyone plays in this town in the past make sense: Deadshot’s a bounty hunter, Jeanette runs a bar/brothel (and the bathtub scene? Damn, Gail Simone’s a dirty woman), and Ragdoll does a Punch & Judy puppet show (which is just as wrong as it sounds). There’s also the fact that they team up to take down Slade Wilson, a gunslinger working for Ragdoll’s sister, which seems like a small nod to fans of Ryan Choi (a character written by Simone who was himself killed by Wilson in a recent issue of Titans). Definitely a good issue; can’t wait to see what Simone does next.

I also grabbed the ninth Fables trade, which so far has been setup for a final battle between the Fables in exile and the armies of the Adversary. Good stuff.

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.