The Pull List – February 24th

Man, it was a full week this week. Let’s take a look:

Astonishing X-Men #36: A new creative team picks up with the team used by Warren Ellis. Daniel Way and Jason Pearson (both of Deadpool fame) give us a very different sort of story than we saw under Ellis: some monsters, a family tragedy, Wolverine going off to get drunk in Japan. It’s a quick, light story, one that seems set up to allow the X-Men to fight some big monsters. And honestly, I’m okay with that.

Deadpool #33: So Deadpool’s given up on the whole “being a hero” thing, and he’s back to merc work. In space. Honestly, I’m fully okay with this setup. There’s some great moments here, though I probably could have gone the rest of my life without seeing Deadpool in a bikini.

Justice League: Generation Lost #20: With only a few issues left, we take a brief pause here to examine the life of Maxwell Lord and see what drove him from ally and patron of the JLI to guy who wants to kill all the metahumans in the world. It’s nice that someone has finally given us a reason for the changes we’ve seen in the character over the years, but I am still very unhappy about the way issue #19 ended (which carries over to the end of this issue as well). Winick promises that much of the last few issues will be the final, knock-down drag-out fight between the JLI and Lord. I am curious to see what’ll happen.

Thor #620: Speaking of issues that’re just big fight scenes, that’s what we get here. It’s Odin and the Asgardian Blood Colossi versus the invaders from outside the nine worlds. It’s clearly a fight that’s meant to be epic, and individual moments and panels certainly seem to carry a particular weight and sense of “hell yeah!” to them, but the issue on the whole leaves me kind of cold. I don’t know why it’s off, but it is. We’ll see what Fraction and company come up with next.

Invincible Iron Man #501: Years ago, Tony Stark made a fool of Otto Octavius at a conference. While it wasn’t much of anything to Stark, it apparently made quite the impression on Doc Oc. And now, Octavius is dying, and he wants Tony Stark to fix him. Or else. It’s a neat story hook, and it’s nice to have Stark off doing something that’s not some huge, status quo-changing epic story that changes everything forever. This looks to be a good time.

Iron Man 2.0 #1: I don’t know how we went from having no Nick Spencer books from the BIg Two to having 60 million of them, but I’m not going to complain. This book is focusing on James Rhodes, a character I’ve never really felt anything in particular about. He’s just sort of…there in the Iron Man books. Oh, I know he’s had a few solo titles here and there, but none of it ever struck me as essential reading. This book looks to maybe change that. It’s fun; Spencer has a good feel for the dialogue and what makes Rhodes a compelling character. The supporting cast seems to be almost completely new, though the cameo with Iron Man at the beginning is pretty awesome. The rotating art teams was annoying and kept throwing me out of the story, but this still looks to be a promising book.

Skullkickers #6: This isn’t a book I’d ever heard of, but it had a story written by Brian Clevinger and another by The ISB’s Chris Sims, so I decided to pick it up. It’s a fun, light fantasy read, the sort of book I actually quite like. I’m half tempted to start reading the book proper now, and that’s definitely a point in the book’s favor.

Action Comics #898: I didn’t read any of the Green Lantern stuff where Larfleeze the Orange Lantern showed up, so I know next to nothing about the character. It’s to Paul Cornell’s credit that he introduces the character quickly and gets us up to speed without too much wordy exposition. The whole Black Lantern Energy story is really picking up here (and concluding next month!), and the big reveal at the end of this issue makes a lot of sense. I can’t wait to see how Cornell resolves all the plot threads he’s currently juggling.

Detective Comics #874: This issue picks up with the Commissioner Gordon backups that were running until a month or so back. It’s a creepy, disturbing issue, and Snyder carries it off well. There’s a bit near the beginning of the issue when Gordon’s son (the rarely-mentioned James) intimates that he’s killed someone in the diner bathroom. The art cuts to a shot of the bathroom door, and we get Gordon’s sense of foreboding, fear, and concern that maybe it isn’t a joke as his son states that it is. It’ll be interesting to see where it goes from here. The second half of the book, featuring Batman and Red Robin, is the less-interesting half of the book, as it deals with the aftermath of last month’s run-in with the new villain.

Atomic Robo: Deadly Art of Science #4: The action picks up again this issue, with Robo and company trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together to figure out who is behind the strange thefts. Like pretty much every other issue of Atomic Robo ever, it’s fantastic. Clevinger and Wegner keep putting out a fabulous book every time out, and the world is better for it.

I also grabbed the trade of Warren Ellis’s Astonishing X-Men story Exogenetic, which reads much better all at once rather than in the rather slow “whenever we can get an issue finished and released” schedule it was on.

The Pull List – January 26th

Man, it was pretty much a snow week here in Northern Virginia, but that didn’t stop me from getting my comics!

Wonder Woman #606: This feels like a completely different book than the one JMS was writing by himself. I dunno how much of that is Phil Hester’s doing, or how much of it was planned by JMS himself (I’m guessing more the former than the latter), but it’s turning into something I actually want to read. Diana actually seems like a character with some personality now rather than a cipher for whatever boring-ass story JMS was wanting to tell. Sure, we’re still dealing with the “someone messed up Wonder Woman’s timeline and now she’s in this alternate timeline where everything is different but not really all that different look Wonder Woman’s wearing pants isn’t that new,” but at least it’s interesting now.

Justice League: Generation Lost #18: We get a battle between a confused Power Girl and the JLI, Blue Beetle gets tortured a bit more by Maxwell Lord (who also spends some time rambling about “what is good and evil, anyway?”), and things are being moved into place for a final confrontation (there’s only six issues left now, y’know). I’m really, really hoping they do not kill of Jamie Reyes; he’s easily one of the most interesting characters introduced into the DCU in the past ten years (alongside Ryan Choi, but we all know how that went). This book is keeping my interest and making me look forward to the next issue, which is never a bad thing.

Deadpool #32: Deadpool versus the galaxy’s most unstoppable bounty hunter! No, not that intergalactic bounty hunter – he’s part of the Distinguished Competition – but the inspiration is pretty clear. And inspired is a pretty good word for this issue: it’s fun, gives us some great gags and visuals, and it doesn’t get too bogged down in trying to be funny (which is a problem I’ve noticed with this character and title before: when it doesn’t work, it’s because it’s trying too hard to be funny rather than letting the humor flow naturally out of the situation or characters). It’s a solid, done-in-one story that’s a light, fun read. What more could you want?

Detective Comics #873: A quick complaint/question: the cover to my copy of this issue has all sorts of streaks and smudges on it. Was it supposed to look like that? Or was it just a byproduct of printing dark colors on a white background? Regardless of this quibble, the issue inside is fantastic. Jock’s art has a sketchy, angular look to it that suits the comic well, containing just enough detail, and Scott Snyder’s script makes excellent use of the fact that Dick Grayson as Batman is not the same as Bruce Wayne as Batman. Had it been Bruce Wayne in this situation, it would’ve played out much differently (especially because, given the current tendency to show Bruce Wayne as the guy who plans for every single possible situation, he wouldn’t have ended up in the same predicament that Dick did), but Dick learns a few things about being Gotham’s protector and saves the day at the end. I am sad to see they didn’t finish up the Commissioner Gordon backups in this book so they cold “hold the line at $2.99,” but I guess we’ll get the resolution to that in a one-shot down the road (kinda like they’re doing with the Jimmy Olsen backups from Action Comics).

Action Comics #897: Speaking of Action Comics, this issue felt like a bit of a letdown, honestly. Lex Luthor’s confrontation with the Joker could’ve been much zanier than it ended up being; I mean, haven’t these two interacted before? Doesn’t Lex know enough to keep his cool when the Joker is razzin’ him? And beyond that, how is the Joker in Arkham? I seem to recall he was still on the loose after his appearance in Batman and Robin. Ah well. All that aside, we do get a couple steps closer to the resolution of Lex’s search for the Black Lantern energy, we find out his Loisbot might have some sinister ulterior motives, and there is a magic pony who sings.

Chaos War #5: This event ends in probably the only way it really could. Of course we know the Chaos King will be defeated; otherwise, this would’ve seeped over into the rest of the Marvel Universe line a whole hell of a lot more than it did. We get some folks resurrected permanently, while others don’t (which was kinda weird, but probably handed down from editorial), and the solution to the problem is deus ex machina in a very literal way. At the end, we do get the promise that this isn’t really the end of Hercules’s adventures, but rather the beginning of a new era of adventures.

I also grabbed the Batman International trade, which features a couple of stories written by Alan Grant (one of which was illustrated by Frank Quitely, which might be why I bought it) and another written by Mark Waid. They’re good stories, and it’s fun to see more Batman kickin’ but in places like Spain and Scotland, but it’s ultimately not an essential read by any means.

The Pull List – December 29th

Hey, it’s the last comics of 2010! Here we go!

Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis #4: This title has grown on me. Kaare Andrews’s art is pretty damn good, Warren Ellis’s script is loads of fun, but those damn outfits are just painful. Seriously, the trucker hats? I really want them to go away.

The Flash #8: This issue revises the origin of the Reverse Flash, and uses time travel (something the Reverse Flash does quite a lot of, apparently?) in a pretty interesting way to do some honest to God revisionist history on his own life story. It’s clever, though Scott Kolins’s art leaves me kinda cold.

Action Comics #896: This is the first of a two-part crossover with Secret Six, and while it’s mostly just an extended fight scene, it’s a really well-done, entertaining extended fight scene. Cornell comes up with some great lines from the Six, stuff that wouldn’t feel out of place coming from Gail Simone’s pen. Good stuff.

S.H.I.E.L.D. #5: I’m still really not at all sure what’s happening in this book, but it always looks absolutely beautiful. This issue is no exception. We do get a pretty cool reveal at the end of the issue, and a few more pieces are lined up for next issue’s conclusion. Maybe it’ll all make sense after that? Who knows.

Detective Comics #872: The second part of the Black Mirror hits in this issue, and it’s pretty damn good. There’s a clever trap laid for Batman, some good character interaction between Batman and Harvey Bullock, and a nice twist at the end. I’m hooked into the story, and interested to see how the backup feature with Commissioner Gordon’s son will tie in.

I also grabbed the third Secret Warriors trade. It’s good, though I still only really recognize Nick Fury in terms of the characters in the story. The art is fantastic, though.

The Pull List – December 8th

New comics! Get excited!

Booster Gold #39: We see Booster coming to grips with the death of Ted Kord, and while it’s not an easy thing for him to do, he does finally recognize why it needs to happen. Giffen and DeMatties manage to avoid too much sappiness here, though there is a sense of sentimentality that feels right. Not a “bwahaha” issue by any means, but there’s some nice character moments here.

Detective Comics Annual #12: A fairly interesting story (even if it’s a little pedestrian: there’s a killer out there who’s giving cryptic clues as to who their next target will be, and Batman has to try to figure out who’s in danger and protect them). There’s the inclusion of The Question (I do love me some Renee Montoya, and I’m glad to see she’s not just sitting on a shelf since Greg Rucka left) and an introduction to a new character (will he just show up in this annual and next week’s Batman Annual, or will he be someone we see again later?), so it’s not bad, and the art is all pretty solid, too.

The Flash #7: This issue spotlights the resurrected Captain Boomerang and gives us a brief rundown of his history. It’s decent enough, even if it is very tied up in playing connect the continuity dots.

Justice League: Generation Lost #15: We find a hole in Max Lord’s plan (whatever that is), and it makes him quite unhappy. We also get some nice character moments with just about everyone, and Booster Gold mans up (and tells Captain Atom to do the same). I’m surprised at how well this title is going.

Knight and Squire #3: Our heroes versus Richard III and a host of other villainous kings from England’s past! This comic remains unrepentantly British, and I think I love it for that. I am surprised that DC is putting out a book like this, that doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of continuity ties and it doesn’t feature anyone dying horrible deaths and changing the DC Universe forever.

Thor #618: I like Fraction’s writing a lot, but I have concerns about his Thor. Things seem to be happening here without any sort of rhyme or reason. I mean, it’s great to bring Odin back and all, but (1) how does it happen and (2) why does it happen? Do we really need Odin around? That being said, I’ve got faith Fraction will give us a good story, so I’m sticking around to see what happens next.

Welcome to Tranquility: One Foot in the Grave #6: So here ends another Tranquility miniseries. There are some nice moments here (I especially like when Thomasina works it out so that everyone in town gains Maxi-Man’s powers), but I feel like things in this particular miniseries just weren’t up to snuff compared to the first two. Part of it’s the art (Domingues’s art isn’t nearly as strong as Googe’s was in the first couple of series), part of it’s the fact that the story just doesn’t feel like it was that unique or that it necessarily needed to be told. We’ve had plenty of “the child of the great hero is a horrible villain” stories (or variations thereof) before, and while Simone tells the story pretty well, it just didn’t click for me. I sincerely hope this isn’t the last we see of Tranquility or its superpowered occupants, because I really do like the characters and the very idea of the series.

The Pull List – November 24th

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Pull List – 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 – August 25th

I was out of town all week, but I managed to pick up comics this week nonetheless.

Justice League: Generation Lost #8: Yeah, this is Winick’s gig now, no Giffen, which makes me quite sad (but has me hoping that Booster Gold will now move away from a parallel storyline with this title and go off in a new direction). The book’s not bad, and Lopresti’s art is great as always, but there is something just a little too rote about the proceedings. The reveal at the end isn’t telegraphed or anything, but it’s pretty obvious nonetheless; there is some good interaction going on between Fire and Rocket Red here, though.

Wonder Woman #602: Diana cuts loose on some soldiers and does some serious damage, finds some Amazons, and learns a little bit about sacrifice. It’s a decent issue and not as heavy on exposition as I feared it would be (it’s nice seeing Straczynski jump into action this early instead of having everyone spend the issue sitting around talking), but I’m still not sold on this “all-new Wonder Woman.”

Astonishing X-Men #35: This issue (finally) wraps up this storyline (and probably the series as a whole, since they’re switching the Astonishing line to mini-series), and while the art is good and there are some great Ellis lines (“Don’t be such a baby. You’ll almost definitely probably not die this time”), the whole reveal of who the “villain” is seems weak after the build-up we’ve had, and the whole thing just seems…kinda meh.

Detective Comics #868: Part Two of Impostors features more great art from Scott McDaniel, but the story itself is leaving me cold. I think my biggest problem is that it makes Batman seem ineffectual. That doesn’t really jive with everything we’ve seen about Dick Grayson (both as Nightwing and as Batman), and he seems to mostly be sitting around wringing his hands going, “Well, golly, I wish we could do something about all this.” We’ll have to see where it goes from here.

Batman #702: Part Two of Grant Morrison and Tony Daniel’s look at what happens between the end of Batman RIP and Batman’s crisis in time during Final Crisis. This is a pretty good issue, doing more than just filling in gaps: we get some nice mythology with the “God Bullet” that Batman shot Darkseid with in Final Crisis, further details on what the Omega Sanction actually is, and what’s happening to Bruce Wayne right now. It’s pretty cool, though I still really do not care for Daniel’s art.

Action Comics #892: This comic continues to be awesome. Luthor goes head to head with Deathstroke, finds some black ring energy, and basically proves that he’s pretty awesome. I really like the focus on Luthor as a character in his own right rather than as an arch-nemesis for Superman. Cornell and Woods are knocking this one out of the park.

Prince of Power #4: This issue concludes the mini-series and sets up the coming Chaos War. We get Amadeus Cho’s finest hour, a knock-down fight between Delphyne and Atalanta, and a (not-unexpected) return. This was really a perfect comic, with humor, epic battles, and some great character moments. I’m really looking forward to the next chapter in this saga.

I didn’t grab any trades when I was at the comic shop this week, but I did order the first deluxe volume of Ex Machina and the fourth volume of Walt Simonson’s Thor from Amazon. I’ve started in on Ex Machina, which seems pretty cool, and you really can’t go wrong with Simonson’s Thor.

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 23rd

Ah, the last week of school is finally over! And we celebrate with comics!

Justice League: Generation Lost #4: This title has started to really pick up. The dialogue has gotten much better, and the fight with the Rocket Reds is well-done. I’m curious to see where they’re going with this now, as apparently “getting the band back together” is all part of Maxwell Lord’s plan. And really, wanting to see what happens next is kinda the point, right?

Joe the Barbarian #6: Sean Murphy’s art continues to dazzle, and Grant Morrison’s script is strong and fun. We’re seeing elements from each world bleed over into one another (including a couple of characters seeing a world they weren’t expecting), and it’s becoming increasingly unclear what is and isn’t real. Definitely cool.

Detective Comics #866: A one-off written by Batman legend Denny O’Neil and drawn by the always-awesome Dustin Nguyen? You’d have to fight me to get me not to buy a comic like that. It’s a neat comic that uses flashbacks to one of the original Batman and Robin’s first cases (and with the Joker, no less!) done in a great faux-Silver Age style intercut with the current Dick Grayson Batman doing a follow-up investigation. It’s not a story of great consequence or anything, but it’s fun and well-done and well-worth the $3.99 price tag.

The Return of Bruce Wayne #3: Speaking of worth the $3.99 price tag, two words: Pirate Batman. He spends most of the issue fighting Blackbeard the Pirate and exploring the Batcave, basically giving you the comic book version of the Dread Pirate Roberts. Bruce Wayne is slowly remembering more of his past, while in the present the heroes are trying to figure out how to save him. Not to mention we have the promise at the end of Batman versus Jonah Hex. I’m not gonna lie to you: that is going to be absolutely awesome.

In terms of trades, I grabbed the fourth collection of Peter David’s X-Factor Visionaries and the 5th volume of Brubaker and Phillips’ always-fantastic Criminal. The fourth X-Factor collection is so far mostly just crossover issues with the X-Family X-Cutioner’s Song. They’re not bad, but they’re not particularly interesting because of their involvement in the big crossover. Haven’t had a chance to dig into Criminal yet.

Also, my comic shop had a sale today, so I grabbed a couple more trades: the first volume of Preacher and volume 8 of Fables. Preacher is definitely interesting, and I’ll probably end up continuing to collect the rest of it.