The Pull List – October 27th

A new week means new comics! Here we go!

The Avengers and the Infinity Gauntlet #3: Our heroes finally reach their destination: the asteroid from which Thanos is destroying the universe. Sadly, the fight doesn’t go so well. I like that they’ve taken a “the journey is more interesting than the destination” approach with this series; seeing Dr. Doom forced to make sandwiches is possibly one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever seen in a comic. However, I shouldn’t have read this book first, ’cause it made everything else seem way less awesome by comparison.

Detective Comics #870: The “Impostors” story comes to a close here, and I have to say it’s been tremendously unsatisfying. Batman has been an ineffectual bystander, merely witnessing what’s going on and kind of shrugging and basically saying, “Well, what can ya do, amiright?” It’s also unsatisfying because this is a story with a theme – that Batman “created” the villains he fights, or that his very presence ensures that they keep coming back – that we’ve seen countless times. There’s nothing wrong with revisiting themes – when a character’s been around for 70+ years, it’s hard to break new ground without totally changing the character – but this wasn’t particularly done very well. And the villain’s motivation isn’t all that strong, to be honest.

Justice League: Generation Lost #12: The fight between Fire and an enraged, superpowerful Ice is intercut with a revised look at Ice’s origin. It’s a nice breather issue, giving us a look at who Ice is and how her childhood has shaped her approach to the use of her powers…and why making her upset or angry is probably a really bad idea. We’re now at the halfway point of this series, and it’s looking pretty good so far.

Wonder Woman #604: So we finally get to meet the villain of the piece – well, one of the villains of the piece – and he’s…pretty unmemorable. I mean, Burn Victim Man (as I like to think of him) seems pretty generic and not at all unique in terms of his motivation or characterization. I’m still not sure why this is a story that required we completely change the circumstances of the character, and I’d really rather be reading Gail Simone’s Wonder Woman instead.

Action Comics #894: The much-heralded return of Neil Gaiman’s Death (of Sandman fame) to the DC Universe proper turned out to be…well, pretty darn good, honestly. For an issue that’s really just two people standing around talking about death and dying in comics, it’s entertaining and visually interesting. Cornell gets in some absolutely great lines (“A pony. A magic pony. A magic pony that sings.”), and Woods draws the hell out of Death and Luthor’s debate. And the Jimmy Olsen backup continues to be absolutely fantastic as well, featuring aliens who basically get drunk on oxygen. Good times.

I also grabbed the Hellboy: Masks and Monsters trade. It features the Hellboy/Batman/Starman team-up from 1999 drawn by Mignola and a team-up between Hellboy and a character called the Ghost from the mid-90s. Both seem pretty solid, though I am left wondering (in the first story, at any rate) whether there was any reason to have Hellboy there other than someone thinking, “Hey, wouldn’t it be awesome if we had Hellboy and Batman running around Gotham beating up Nazis?” And honestly, there isn’t anything about that last sentence that isn’t awesome.

The Pull List – July 8th

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Pull List – 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 5th

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Pull List – April 28th and May 1st

Today was Free Comic Book Day, which is truly one of the greatest holidays of them all. I managed to swing by and pick up a couple of free books, and got most of my usual pull list the day before. Let’s dig in, shall we?

Deadpool #22: Clearly the previous arc was just an aberration, as this done-in-one issue is freakin’ hilarious. The dialogue is spot-on, Deadpool’s interactions with the crooked cops is great, and his moral dilemma is wonderful. I had only two problems with this issue: the twist at the end about who was really behind the crimes was too obvious, and the overly-exaggerated southern accent the characters were given was just too much. But really, those are small complaints in a comic that was mostly dead-on.

Detective Comics #864: I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be continuing with this one now that Batwoman isn’t the lead character, but this particular issue still did a good job. We get to see just how screwed up Jeremiah Arkham really is, and the tone of the book is genuinely creepy and just a little off, but in a good way. I’ll definitely keep with it for the next issue or two at least, just to see what happens here. Plus, I really want to see what happens in the Question backup that’s still running in the book (and still keeping me turning pages to see what happens next). I was hesitant coming into this issue, but I’m glad I gave it a shot.

Wonder Woman #43: Not only do we get a great story from Gail Simone, we get Nikola Scott art? God, this must be what Heaven is like. Admittedly, there’s probably a lot more fighting going on here than in Heaven (unless you’re, y’know, a Viking), but Wonder Woman kicks some butt, we get some details about how her aunt ended up with the bad guys, and some more of the backstory is revealed. Plus, ape soldiers jumping around and saving small children, which is always cool. I’m very sad Gail’s run is about to end, but at least she’s pulling out all the stops on the way.

Invincible Iron Man #25: Double-sized issue, the start of a new story, and the introduction of new enemies and new armor. Man, Fraction manages to pack a lot into this issue. There’s plenty of neat twists (such as Stark’s new business plan), we get to see Stark dealing with his reset brain, and the promise of some serious robot-guy-on-robot-guy action to come in future issues. This title just keeps getting better and better.

The free comics that I picked up weren’t many, but damn were they good!

Red 5 Comics: It may be a short Atomic Robo story, but any Atomic Robo is better than no Atomic Robo. It’s a slight story, but long on fun. Everything we know and love about Robo is here: snarky robots, bizarre science, not-extinct giant chicken things…this comic has it all, and I managed to grab the last (or possibly only) copy my store had of this. There’s some other Red 5 stories in here as well, but I don’t really care about this. I’m all about the Robo, baby.

Mouse Guard: I absolutely love the Mouse Guard stuff I’ve read (which is really just Fall 1152, but damn if that isn’t a great book), and this brief story is just as beautiful as anything else set in this world. With two new Mouse Guard titles getting ready to hit the shelves in coming months, it’s a great time to jump in and see what the fuss is all about. While there’s not a story here per se, the book does a great job establishing the status quo and the setting. You don’t have to have read previous works to catch up with what’s happening here, which is nice. And, if you flip this book over, there’s a couple of Fraggle Rock shorts as well. They’re cute and manage to nail the tone of the show, which is nice.

Iron Man/Thor: With writing by Matt Fraction and art by John Romita, Jr., this was something of a no-brainer. It ties in well with this week’s issue of Invincible Iron Man, showing Stark’s resolve to try to fix the problems his past has created and make the world a better place with his technology, not a more dangerous place. It’s a good look at both characters and a nice glimpse of what a good writer can do with a very simple team-up.

As far as trades go, I picked up the new BPRD collection, War on Frogs, as well as volume 6 of Fables and the Strange: The Doctor is Out mini. The Strange trade was a pretty good story, and I wouldn’t mind a Doctor Strange ongoing from that particular creative team. Volume 6 of Fables was likewise enjoyable, featuring Boy Blue running around being way more badass than he had any right to be. I haven’t cracked the BPRD book yet, but I’m sure it’ll be as good as I’ve come to expect from these guys.

The Pull List – April 21st

I actually managed to pick up my comics on Wednesday for once, so let’s get to it…

Joe the Barbarian #4: I’m still not entirely sure what’s going on in this comic, but apparently it’s more than just a kid whose blood sugar has dropped too low hallucinating. Which probably shouldn’t surprise us much, as this is a Grant Morrison comic, so there’s always more going on than you’d think. Sean Murphy’s art continues to look absolutely fantastic, we’ve got the introduction of a new ally to the group, and the bad guys are hot in pursuit. Simply put, this comic rocks.

Hercules: Fall of an Avenger #2: This is a much better issue than the first. We’ve got a throwdown between Amadeus Cho and the champion of Apollo, important decisions are made, and there’s some decent jokes. This issue mostly just sets up the comic miniseries Prince of Power, but there’s a nice twist at the end and the comic was pretty fun despite its piece-moving nature. The art still bugs me and doesn’t really do a whole lot for me, but it was serviceable.

Captain America: Who Won’t Wield The Shield? #1 (One-Shot): This one was dropped into my box by my LCS guy, and I decided to go ahead with it just for giggles. It’s an anthology of sorts, I guess, with two short stories and a fun framing story. Matt Fraction and Brendan McCarthy give us a psychedelic take on Captain America called “Doctor America” that features my new favorite word: “Ditkirbanko.” Seriously. Roll that around in your mouth for awhile. Tastes right, doesn’t it? The second story, Golden Age Deadpool, falls a little flatter. While part of it is a pisstake of the over-saturation of Deadpool, it doesn’t really have a whole lot going on and feels too slight. The best part of the book is definitely the framing story, which features Forbush Man getting angry at the writers of Marvel comics (he actually kills Jason Aaron, Matt Fraction, and Brian M. Bendis, along with editor Stephen Wacker) and basically having a good laugh at Marvel’s own expense. I’m a fan of metahumor, so this works for me.

For trades, I grabbed the latest volumes of X-Factor and Sandman Mystery Theatre (Matt Wagner does this 1930s noirish stuff so well, I wish he’d just write comics like this forever…granted, at least we’ve got these trades still coming out and his work on Green Hornet: Year One) and Mike Mignola’s Witchfinder: In the Service of Angels. All of which look like they’ll be a lot of fun to read.