The Pull List – March 16th

I have acquired a new computer and new comics! Let’s do this thing!

Fear Itself: The Book of the Skull #1: The Red Skull’s daughter has fancy plans, even if they are daddy’s old plans. There’s an ancient weapon of immense power, a double-cross, and some nice setup for this summer’s Fear Itself event. To be honest, I probably could’ve done without this issue, though really I won’t know for sure until I dig into Fear Itself in the coming months and see how this feeds into it.

Knight and Squire #6: The Joker (the real American one) has arrived in England with an axe to grind. Jarvis Poker, the British Joker, is along as a witness. The issue brings up an interesting dichotomy between these laid-back British heroes and villains and their American counterpart; nothing in this series so far has seemed all that serious or grim. Instead, we’ve had a lighthearted, whimsical romp through the British countryside. The Joker’s rampage is jarring, but our heroes’ solution is very British and in keeping with the series as a whole. All in all, this was a fun miniseries, and I’d love to see more from some of these characters.

Casanova: Gula #3: Zephyr kills everyone. Like, everyone. But don’t worry, most of them get better. Fraction has crafted a bizarre and engrossing tale of betrayals, double-crosses, puzzles, and synthetic humanoids who used to be sex slaves. It’s got me hooked and I can’t wait to see how he ties it all together next month.

Invincible Iron Man #502: Tony Stark is in a bit of trouble, here. Doc Ock has him in a classic hero dilemma: in order to save innocent lives, he’ll have to heal the broken-down brain and body of the villain. Add to that the promise of Pepper Potts versus some Spider-Man villains, and we’ve got a pretty nice setup for some good ol’ fashioned tights (or armor) and fights next issue.

Iron Man 2.0 #2: The plot thickens, and James Rhodes gets some help from an old friend. Nick Spencer is writing a pretty decent comic here, but the rotating art still bugs me.

Ice Man and Angel #1: I will read anything Brian Clevinger writes. Period. The art isn’t really my thing, at least in regards to the way Juan Doe draws our two “heroes,” but his take on Goom, the Thing from Planet X, is perfect. Hands-down my favorite comic this week.

I got a couple of trades in the mail this week. The most recent Captain America collection, Two Americas, wasn’t too bad (even if it was a bit heavy-handed with the “we live in different Americas!” stuff). I also got the Jason Aaron Ghost Rider Omnibus, which was damn good comics.

The Pull List – February 9th

Quite the haul this week! Let’s dig in! Quick note, though: while I usually try to avoid them, there will be some spoilers this week, just FYI. Admittedly, I won’t be doing any more spoiling than the cover of the comic did itself, but etiquette requires a warning.

Power Man and Iron Fist #1: I love me some Fred Van Lente comics, folks. And this one is pretty good. I’m not sure how much the characterization of Danny Rand matches up to the Immortal Iron Fist series done by Fraction/Brubaker a few years ago, but it’s a fun read with some interesting villains (really, who uses Commedia del Arte anymore? That’s clever. And Don of the Dead? I laughed. Out loud. Or LOL’d, as the kids say these days. God, I’m old). The art’s not bad, though there are a couple of spots (Power Man’s fight with the shadowy guy on the rooftop) that’re kind of hard to follow. This should be an interesting miniseries, though.

Justice League: Generation Lost #19: If Judd Winick just did what it looks like he just did to Blue Beetle, I am going to be royally pissed. Seriously, for as conspiracy theory-ish as the whole “DC is trying to get rid of all their minority legacy characters and replace them with the good ol’ white boys again” chatter you see, there’s a fair amount of substance to the argument: John Stewart and Kyle Rayner (Stewart’s African American, Rayner is part Hispanic, I believe) being replaced by Hal “White Bread” Jordan in Green Lantern, Ryan Choi (Chinese) being offed in a gruesome and wholly unnecessary fashion in the pages of Titans just to prove Deathstroke and his crew are “badass” and make way for Ray “gee, I’m dull” Palmer to be The Atom again (even though Final Crisis used both of them quite well and proved there’s room for more than one Atom in the DCU)…and now Jamie Reyes, the Mexican-American kid who became the Blue Beetle in the wake of Infinite Crisis (easily one of the best things to come out of that whole event; God, the Blue Beetle book was good. I miss it), gets capped in the head by Maxwell Lord? I am not happy. Compound that fact with the art (which is pretty mediocre and has some storytelling problems throughout, not to mention Jamie does not look like a high school kid once he’s in his armor), and this issue just really upset me. Judd Winick had managed to build some goodwill from me with his work on this book, but he may’ve just lost it in one panel.

The Flash #9: We finally get back to the story after a couple of issues of character (villain) spotlights. I do love me some Manapul art, lemme tell ya. There’s not a bad panel in the book. I do like that Geoff Johns is dividing the storylines into “cases,” which fits very well. We’re still not getting much characterization out the returned Barry Allen, but that’s not Johns’s style: he’s about the big plots and the “look at this cool, obscure pit of continuity that I just dug up to play with.” Still, Manapul art. Mmm.

Casanova: Gula #2: Casanova is one of those books I’m starting to think I’m not smart enough to get. I mean, I get the basic bones of it: Casanova Quinn got pulled from his own universe to a parallel universe where his counterpart was a decent guy, and now he’s become a decent guy himself through weird circumstances. And now he’s missing in time somehow. I just don’t get how we jumped from that first sentence to the second one. This issue, though, deals with the missing Casanova only for a bit, choosing instead to focus on his not-so-nice sister (who’s supposed to be dead in this universe), Zephyr, as she goes around killing folks for money. Or sex. Possibly both. Fabio Moon’s art is moody and brilliant, and fits the manic story quite well.

Knight and Squire #5: Jarvis Poker, the English Joker, is dying. But before he goes, he’s going to pull off one last brilliant joke on the people of Britain. We get to see that the “British Batman,” Knight, isn’t really the same guy as our own Dark Knight; no, this guy has a very English outlook on life, and he knows Jarvis isn’t a dangerous guy. There’s some brilliant characterization, some very nice moments, great art, and a twist at the end that I did not see coming that really has me looking forward to next issue. Good stuff.

Batman and Robin #20: This is the first issue of the new creative team, Tomasi and Gleason. Tomasi has a very different voice for these characters than what we’ve seen before; his Damian Wayne is more of an apathetic pre-teen boy here. We’ve seen him in Morrison’s and Cornell’s runs as obstinate, willful, stubborn, and of the opinion that he knows more than Dick Grayson (which, admittedly, isn’t too far off from most pre-teen boys anyway), but never…bored. It’s a bit of characterization that just doesn’t quite ring true, and to an extent almost wrecks the character growth he’s had since his introduction at the beginning of Grant Morrison’s Batman run. Otherwise, the script and the dialogue aren’t too bad; the opening scene of Bruce Wayne watching The Mask of Zorro with his adopted family works well, and Tomasi has already found a decent voice for Dick Grayson. I am bothered by Gleason’s art, though: his figure work is too stocky, too thick. He handles the big action scenes quite well and with plenty of dynamic movement (look at the page where Robin is swinging off the tied-up bad guys in the alleyway over the car as Alfred pulls up), but his art just doesn’t work in the quieter, less-colorful moments.

Birds of Prey #9: Things are getting almost out of hand with Oracle’s plan, as we see the Birds get captured, Black Canary deal with her innermost demons, and Hawk be a complete jerk. The art’s solid, the story is interesting, the characters are engaging…this is typical Gail Simone fare, and that is not a bad thing by any means.

Atomic Robo: Deadly Art of Science #3: This is the…quietest issue of Atomic Robo I’ve ever read. Sure, there’s super-science, references to duking it out with giant robots, and hints of the bigger plot here, but this is a character issue. Robo is getting in deeper with Jack Tarot and his daughter, who has some sort of automaton fetish or something going on, but the bigger part of this issue is given over to Robo’s and Tesla’s relationship, and it’s downright fascinating. Telsa’s really only been a background character to this book (by which I’m referring to the four volumes that have come before this particular miniseries), a shadowy influence that we know set Robo down the path to figuring things out with his brain rather than his fists. It’s nice to get a chance to see how that happened, ’cause our only glimpses of Robo when he was “young” so far have involved him shooting at a giant C’Thulu-esque monster and chasing after gangsters while spouting wide-eyed one-liners. And while there’s nothing wrong with that (believe me, there is nothing wrong with anything in that sentence), we haven’t gotten a sense of how Tesla’s legacy was imparted to Robo. Now we’re seeing it, and it makes a lot of sense. Plus, Tesla is just damn funny.

I also grabbed the trade of The Question: The Pipeline, the backup feature that ran in Detective Comics while Batwoman was the headliner. It actually reads a little too fast all at once like this; as a backup feature, it worked perfectly in little 8-page doses, and having a break in-between issues gave you a sense of the passage of time. Here, things just seem to happen to fast. I also grabbed the first collection of Suicide Squad. I know Gail Simone swears by this book (and possibly got some of her choicer swears from this book), but I’ve never had a chance to read much of it aside from that one miniseries they did several years back, From the Ashes. I’m really looking forward to digging into this title.

The Pull List – January 12th

New comics are go! Let’s take a look.

Batman and Robin #19: This wraps up Paul Cornell’s three-issue run on the title, and it’s a decent finale. Cornell introduced a new villain, The Absence, that I’m sure someone somewhere down the line will probably bring up again. There were some flaws with this issue (the villain’s motives are still just weird and feel off, some of the dialogue felt a bit off), but it’s nice to see Dick Grayson as Batman loosening up and enjoying his job again.

Birds of Prey #8: When a story references that abomination Identity Crisis, I always get a bit concerned. But I trust Gail Simone, and I know she’ll come up with something interesting here. The premise of the story arc – that Oracle needs to clean the slate and start fresh to protect those she loves – makes sense, I guess. And getting Bruce Wayne (as Batman) involved in it is interesting (and also has me wishing she was writing an actual Batman book now).

Booster Gold #40: The past…er, future…comes back to haunt Booster this issue. It’s an interesting direction to take the book and the character in. Booster has grown considerably as a character in the past few years, and it’ll be interesting to see how he handles someone digging up his bad deeds.

Casanova: Gula #1: Where is Casanova Quinn? He’s disappeared in time and/or space, and it’s up to his allies in E.M.P.I.R.E to find him. It’s a strong start to the second miniseries from Fraction, this time with art by the fantastic Fabio Moon. It’s awesome and over the top, but I shouldn’t have to tell you that.

Chaos War: Dead Avengers #3: Here, we get to see what heroes are really made of, and a few of ’em aren’t gonna survive the experience. A couple do, however, and while this particular mini doesn’t feel vital to the greater arc of the Chaos War event, it’s still a nice tie-in and uses the Chaos War backdrop to great effect.

Deadpool #31: This issue wraps up Deadpool’s involvement with the “Draculas,” and it’s a damn fine comic. Deadpool’s quips are funny, his solution to the vampire problem is clever, and it’s easy to forget that this book is tying in to an event over in X-Men.
Let’s see where it goes from here.

Justice League: Generation Lost #17: We’re finally starting to see Maxwell Lord’s plans here, and they aren’t pretty. Checkmate is abolished, only not really, Blue Beetle’s captured, and the rest of the JLI has a new foe to face that’s…well, let’s just say it ain’t gonna be so easy to walk away from this one.

Knight and Squire #4: Beryl has a boy come to visit, and the Knight finds himself fighting his own armor. It’s a fun issue (as all the issues of this book have been), with the highlight being the Knight’s American butler, Hank (who is from Texas, I’m thinking).

Secret Six #29: This issue picks up where the last issue of Action Comics left off: with the Six caught up in a power struggle between Lex Luthor and Vandal Savage. All the Six can really do is stand by and watch (and throw in the occasional one-liner). The framing sequence featuring Ragdoll is funny as hell and more than a little disturbing, but what do you expect from him? I can’t say I was particularly happy with the art this issue, but it’s serviceable.

I also grabbed the trade of the first Casanova story arc, which was (of course) pretty awesome and will (I’m thinking) read better all at once than in single issues.

The Pull List – 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 10th

The wife’s family was in town visiting this weekend, but that didn’t stop the comics!

Booster Gold #38: This was really the first issue of this title since Giffen/DeMatties took over that hasn’t worked for me. As a character, General Glory doesn’t work particularly well for me (I think the same idea has been done better before, possibly even by these guys), and their usual schtick with muttered asides just felt…tired, I guess. The art is strong, and the idea behind the issue is interesting, but this felt like a misstep.

Justice League: Generation Lost #13: Magog versus Captain Atom! There’s pretty much no one else in this issue, though I can applaud the end of it (I’m pretty sure the character who dies is not gonna be missed by anyone). Too bad it’s the only person outside of the JLI who knows about Maxwell Lord and his plans.

Chaos War: Thor #1: JM DeMatties steps in for this Chaos War tie-in, and while it’s not at all essential to the main story, it’s still a well-done Thor story. Our POV character is a woman without connections to anyone, and Thor (who spends most of the issue amnesiac and in the guise of Donald Blake) tries to form some relationship in a single day while also not getting killed by the mad god Glory. Interesting, but not really necessary.

Thor #617:Thor has brought Loki back to life, but Loki doesn’t know who he is. This looks like it could be a new, not entirely evil beginning for the god of mischief. Also, those evil dimension-hopping guys get one step closer to Asgard’s old realm.

Birds of Prey #6: It’s Huntress versus Shiva! There ain’t nothin’ wrong or bad about that, either. Simone continues to do awesome things with this book, though I’d swear I’ve seen her use this idea before (and with Huntress as well) in the Justice League Unlimited show (y’know, the one where Black Canary is doing pit fighting for Roulette while under hypnosis. God, I loved Justice League Unlimited). It’s interesting to see Simone putting these characters through their paces and getting used to the rhythms of the book again, though I do notice that we still don’t have Benes on art (not that I’m gonna complain about that too much).

Welcome to Tranquility: One Foot in the Grave #5: An issue that mostly deals with flashback looks at the relationship between Sheriff Lindo and Derek Fury when they were kids. It also reveals the source of a plot point from back in the first Tranquility miniseries, which is interesting. I do have a question, though: are we ever going to figure out what the deal is with Mr. Articulate’s resurrection? I mean, it seemed at the beginning of the series that that was going to be the focus of the story, but the focus instead has been on Derek Fury. Weird.

Knight & Squire #2: The Morris Men! Quite possibly the most British villains ever. There’s also the great scene that opens the book (a shop clerk directing a super-villain to find Knight and Squire in London while Squire – in her civilian guise – looks on, bemused) that really reflects the more laid-back attitude Britain seems to have towards…well, pretty much everything.

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #6: Batman is back, baby! There’s a sense of sentimentality to this issue, a feeling that this is almost a love letter to the character of Batman and a change of his attitude toward his fellow heroes. I don’t really want to reveal the ending, but it’s almost heartwarming seeing how he thinks of other heroes and their roles in his life.

Atomic Robo: The Deadly Art of Science #1: A new Robo mini is always a cause for celebration, and this one is no exception. Clevinger and Wegner offer up yet another great issue full of wonderful little moments. It’s great to see a more adolescent Robo, one who isn’t particularly interested in actual science but is all about pulpy action and punching bad guys. Jack Tarot and his daughter are immediately interesting characters, and it’ll be fun seeing Robo as the enthusiastic sidekick rather than the more-jaded leader he’s become in the present.

I also grabbed the latest Thor trade, which collects the last of the Keiron Gillen issues on the book as Thor and the gang start to pick up the pieces after Siege and Thor goes to Hell to protect the souls of the dead. Good stuff.

The Pull List – October 13th

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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