The Pull List – August 11th

The rain falls outside, hopefully dropping our temperature, but that doesn’t stop the comics from being read!

Booster Gold #35: Booster continues his misadventures in the good ol’ JLI days with Blue Beetle, Big Barda, and Mister Miracle. There’s plenty of the trademark banter, bwa-ha-ha moments, and even a couple of touching character moments. It’s exactly what you’d expect from a comic written by Giffen and DeMatteis. Also, the one page featuring Rip Hunter and Rani is both adorable and funny as hell.

Justice League: Generation Lost #7: Apparently Giffen wasn’t involved in this issue at all, which is weird. Is he still on the book? I hope so. Things start to get interesting here, as we discover that all isn’t as it seems with Maxwell Lord and the newly-(sorta)-reformed JLI infiltrates the Checkmate castle in an effort to capture him. There’s some great moments in here (Bea and Tora shouting Communist slogans as the Checkmate guards complain that they’re not all capitalists was particularly entertaining) and the action is really starting to pick up after a slow start to the series. Definitely worth following.

Invincible Iron Man #29: Pepper Potts gets behind the metaphorical wheel of a new armor, Tony sets his company up in Seattle, and a gala event takes place in this issue. Dunno what’s going on with that ending, but I trust Fraction to do something interesting with it. It’s also neat to see a Tony Stark who is not exactly cool and confident about everything; it’s humanizing without necessarily going against the established character. Good stuff.

Birds of Prey #4: Since my copy of issue 3 was missing a few pages, I’m caught a little flat footed on some of the stuff that’s happened here, but Gail Simone does a bang-up job of catching us up without it feeling like heavy-handed exposition. There’s a great reveal on the identity of the White Canary that makes perfect sense and recalls one of Simone’s best stories from her first run on BOP, we get to see the determination of the team as they pull together to survive their first mission, and Oracle does some awesome stuff that not only involves
talking her way out of a bad situation but hurling herself out of her wheelchair. If you aren’t reading Birds of Prey, you have my pity, because you’re missing one of the best damn books on the shelves.

Welcome to Tranquility: One Foot In the Grave #2: Speaking of awesome Gail Simone books, this one is cranking it up. We’re only on the second issue, but there’s already been twists, surprise revivals and reveals, and cold gravy (no, not cold gravy!). The art still isn’t quite as good as I’d like, but the story is shaping up to be awesome.

I also bought the second Scott Pilgrim collection this week, and I think it was definitely stronger than the first volume. I still have some problems with the character and the book (so we’re supposed to identify with him but not like him? It’s weird), but I’m definitely excited for the film and I’ll probably end up getting the rest of the series at some point.

The Pull List – July 14th, July 21st, & July 28th

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Pull List – June 30th

This week was a week for big comics and comics I never expected to see. Ever. Let’s get to it!

Wonder Woman #600: Unlike the recent Batman #700, this milestone pulls several short stories from a variety of creative teams interspersed with a whole lot of great pin-up art. We get a nice little going away bit from outgoing writer Gail Simone, a quick story featuring dozens of the women of DC getting together to fight a threat. It’s a nice parting issue drawn by the great George Perez, and it does explore one of the basic traits of Wonder Woman’s character: that she’s one of the few people in the DC universe well-respected enough to be able to get a huge group of heroes together just because she’s the one asking. The story by Amanda Conner is funny and fantastic, featuring a team-up between Wonder Woman and Power Girl. The story by Louise Simonson seems well-done if rather inconsequential, and the one written by Geoff Johns just seems pointless and doesn’t really do anything. Then there’s the prologue to incoming-writer J. Michael Straczynski’s first story arc, Odyssey. As you’ve probably heard by now, JMS is changing not only Wonder Woman’s costume, he’s also revamping her origin and situation and apparently making her an 18 year old girl. I’m not sure I like the new direction the title is taking, but I’m going to give it a shot before I pass judgment. That being said, it looks like a halfway interesting premise, and it doesn’t seem like all the sweeping changes are permanent (I sincerely hope that ridiculous jacket isn’t), but we’ll just have to see.

Invincible Iron Man Annual #1: This is a pretty long comic, and despite the title splashed across the cover, it really doesn’t feature Iron Man at all. Instead, we get the Mandarin’s efforts to create a revisionist history of his own life. It’s a great exploration of truth, the power of storytelling, and one man’s willingness to do the right thing. There’s also a great reference to Invincible Iron Man at the beginning. The art by Carmine di Giandomenico is fantastic in an exaggerated, sketchy, expressive sort of way.

Astonishing X-Men #34: Holy crap, I almost couldn’t believe this comic had finally come out, even though I was holding it in my hands. There’s some great dialogue, fantastic art from Phil Jimenez, and a Leonard Cohen reference. I’m looking forward to seeing this story finish up soon (God willing).

Action Comics #890: Paul Cornell comes on board this issue and shifts the book’s focus to Lex Luthor, who apparently enjoyed having a power ring so much during Blackest Night that he’s become obsessed with finding one again. There are some nice twists in the story, a clever hook, great dialogue, and top-notch art from Pete Woods. I’m definitely going to be following this title.

Atomic Robo: Revenge of the Vampire Dimension #4: A week that features a new Atomic Robo is a great week indeed. And this particular issue is a perfect example of everything that’s great about the book: snarky robots, bizarre superscience, and unexplainable things going on when they shouldn’t. Not to mention the fact that this issue apparently takes place in the same week as all three of the previous issues in the current set, making it the worst week ever. The story itself is pretty straightforward and mostly seems to (I hope) set up a future story: Robo accidentally revives his greatest enemy. Kind of. Sort of. It’s awesome.

I also picked up the second Secret Warriors trade. Hickman continues to play a great game with this book, working the secret agent stuff and throwing in a lot of great plot twists. The art is great, including an issue drawn by the always-fun Ed McGuiness. All great stuff, really.

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 19th

Damn, but this was a great week for comics!

Atlas #1: I really got into the previous Agents of Atlas series, and this doesn’t feel like a new start so much as a continuation. The plot involving the 3D-Man is interesting and draws you in, but I’m kinda disappointed the Agents don’t get more panel time. The second story in this issue fills in some of the backstory for the main plot and features the Agents back in the ’50s, which is always fun. I’ll definitely be following this title.

Deadpool #23: This issue doesn’t feature nearly as much of the manic humor of most issues from this title, but it does bring back an old “friend” (if that term can be used for anyone connected to Deadpool) and introduces an interesting story. It’s also interesting to see Deadpool reacting to the public’s perception of him and to see that it actually hurts him. This should be a good story.

Invincible Iron Man #26: There may not be a whole lot of action in this issue, but there’s still some great characterization and we see that Tony Stark definitely has a history of being a bit of a dick to people. He’s clearly trying to make amends, but he’s not really making any apologies. This was an issue setting up Tony’s new status quo, for the most part, and getting pieces in place for some guys in robot suits punching each other later, but it’s still very well done.

Joe the Barbarian #5: Things go from bad to worse for Joe, as an open door leads to some big trouble, and a garbled phone conversation doesn’t help matters. Sean Murphy’s art continues to be perfectly-suited for this book, and all our heroes get some solid panel time. Good stuff.

Atomic Robo: Revenge of the Vampire Dimension #3: This is, quite possibly, the single best comic I’ve read this year. No, scratch that qualifier, it is the single best comic I’ve read all year. It’s funny as hell, and I laughed aloud at least once per page. The pacing is perfect, the action is perfect, and we get more Doctor Dinosaur, who is truly one of the greatest villains ever. This is a pitch-perfect comic, with fantastic art and dead-on writing. If you aren’t reading Atomic Robo, there’s probably something terribly, terribly wrong with you.

Got the second volume of the Peter David X-Factor Visionaries collection, ’cause there weren’t any trades that came out this week I was looking for. Man, I do love me some Peter David comics.

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 – March 3rd

Comics strike back! And this time, there’s some fantastic stuff in the pile…

Detective Comics #862: Part 2 of “Cutter” continues the breakneck pace of the first issue in the arc, flipping back and forth between two cases (one from Batman’s past and one which Batwoman is currently working) that are running remarkably parallel. There are some great character moments here for Batwoman, and some interesting interactions between her (in her civilian Kate Kane persona) and her cousin, Bette Kane (and an unusual little snippet of a scene featuring Bette looking at a rather odd costume), and the parallels between Batman’s work on the earlier Cutter case (I’m guessing the implication here was that he was unsuccessful in really stopping this guy back then) and Batwoman’s approach now are deft and clever. Parallel imagery and situations are handled well by artist Jock, and Rucka’s dialogue and scripting are smart, well-paced, and fit well. The Question backup feature continues to engage as well, and Cully Hamner’s art is just great.

Invincible Iron Man #24: The finale of the Stark: Disassembled storyline delivers a solid story after a rather tepid issue last month. Stark’s friends acquit themselves well in a fight against Ghost, though ultimately it’s up to Tony to save the day (and he does so in a very Tony Stark sort of way). Dialogue and action are well-done here, and the scenes in Stark’s mind are much better than they were last month. Still not quite sure what was happening there, but sitting down with the whole story and reading it in one shot should help clear that up. The most interesting aspect is the last scene, which sets up a new status quo for the revived Tony in a way that not only makes sense, it kinda helps clear the deck of the past few years’ worth of craziness that’s built up. I’m interested to see where this is going next, and that’s always a good thing.

This was a good week for trades. I picked up volume four of Justice League International (the last one they’re releasing, as far as I can see, which makes me quite sad), and though it doesn’t feature nearly as much Kevin Maguire art as I’d like, it’s still a great collection. If you haven’t read this stuff, I highly recommend it: superhero melodramatics and laugh-out-loud funny bits mixed together liberally and with some (usually) great art (there were a few issues in volume 3 that looked like they were just using someone’s rough sketches for the final art, and it’s pretty painful after getting used to the stellar work of Maguire and the book’s other semi-regular penciller, Ty Templeton). Definitely worth the investment.

The other trade I picked up was the Iron Man story Demon in a Bottle, one of the most well-known Iron Man stories out there. I haven’t had a chance to crack this one open yet, but I’m looking forward to it.

Comics Ahoy!

Another week, another collection of sequential art storytelling magazines! Get ready, it’s comics time!

Secret Six #17: Picking up where last week’s Suicide Squad #67 left off, we basically get a great big fight scene. Or a series of fight scenes. But very nice fight scenes, and with plenty of clever dialogue and some great character moments. I swear, Gail Simone could be writing a comic book about paint drying and I’d still read it.

Invincible Iron Man #22: Matt Fraction not only writes an awesome Iron Man, but he’s got the voice and character of Doctor Strange down perfect, too. Will someone get this man writing a Strange ongoing now, please? I mean, sure, he’s already doing Iron Man, X-Men, and (if I’m not mistaken) about to take on Thor as well, but surely he’s got enough time to do another title, right?

Batman: The Widening Gyre #4: This feels an awful lot like a middle of the miniseries issue, which is exactly what it is. Kevin Smith does a decent job with the characterization and the different relationships he’s juggling in this book, but there doesn’t seem to be much of a conflict in the story to really drive the plot. There’s just two issues left, so I’ll just follow it through to the end, but I can’t help wishing there was something more happening.