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 – January 19th

Pretty good week this week, even if it was light on single issues.

Thor #619: Odin is mad as Hell, and he lets everyone know it. Balder and Tyr gird their loins for a brave battle against the oncoming forces of darkness, and Thor mostly stands around doing a whole lot of nothing. Fraction’s got this story on a bit of a slow burn, introducing small elements in each issue that will (I hope) all add up to something awesome, but it’s a bit of a slog waiting for the action to start.

Deadpool MAX #4: Cable! In a monocle! There’s something sinister brewing in this book, some deeper story that’s simmering just below the surface. Bob gets lucky, Deadpool goes temporarily hippy, and Cable is actually interesting (and wears a tux and the aforementioned monocle!). I was originally skeptical about this book, but I find myself enjoying it more and more with each issue.

Invincible Iron Man #500: Iron Man returns to its “original” number this issue with a cross-generational tale of Starks trying to save the world from their own inventions. It’s a solid story, though the guest art on the book didn’t really gel with the usual glossy, heavily-rendered style we normally get on the book.

I also grabbed three trades this week: Thor: Siege, volume 10 of X-Factor, and the latest collection of Secret Six. Good, good stuff all around.

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 – January 5th

Kind of a slim start to the new year, but here we go nonetheless!

Weird Worlds #1: This is an odd little anthology title, and while it has some promise (art by Jerry Ordway, Aaron Lopresti, and Kevin Magiure? It’s like Christmas again!), the writing and the characters feel a bit flat to me. The Lobo story feels like it’s something we’ve seen before, Garbage Man feels rather like Swamp Thing, and…well, actually, I quite liked Maguire’s offering, Tanga, probably because it feels like the sort of thing I could see Maguire doing with his old JLI buddies, Giffen and DeMatties.

Doom Patrol #18: This issue is mostly fighting, but it’s fun and energetic fighting. We get to see the Patrol run up against the Bostwick family, a group of people with “mandatory immortality.” The Patrol hold their own against the group, and Rita’s pounding of the Bostwick son is pretty classic. Also, the recap pages continue to be hysterical, up there with anything Pak and Van Lente did on Incredible Hercules in terms of combining effective summary and smart humor. Good stuff.

I also grabbed a couple of trades: the fourth volume of Fraction and Larroca’s Invincible Iron Man, which finds Tony Stark trying to reboot his brain, and the first volume of Jonathan Hickman’s Fantastic Four run, which I’ve heard good things about.

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 22nd

Yeah, we may’ve had a brief pause for the holidays, but we’re back and we’ve got comics!

Chaos War: Dead Avengers #2: Our resurrected heroes set up for a last-ditch defense against the forces of Chaos, we get some nice character bits, a few heroic moments, and some damn fine action. Good times.

Wonder Woman #605: We start to see who is responsible for Wonder Woman’s current condition. There are some interesting character moments (and start to see Wonder Woman as something more than a cipher, which is really all she’s been during JMS’s run), get a peek into the villains of the piece, and start to see the shape of this thing. Phil Hester does rather a better job with the dialogue that JMS has done, so I’m glad to have him aboard.

Batman Incorporated #2: Grant Morrison is knocking this one out of the park. It’s funny, over the top, a little bizarre, and lots of fun. Plus, hey, Batman of Japan!

Justice League: Generation Lost #16: This title continues to exceed expectations. We’ve got the JLI versus the Creature Commandos, a few more bits of Maxwell Lord’s plan falling into place, and our heroes are in a worse place at the end than they were at the beginning of the issue.

Deadpool #30: I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: just when I’m ready to give up on this book, they put out an issue that is so spot-on and hilarious, I feel pulled right back in. We’ve got Deadpool protecting vampires against other vampires. I guess this is probably tied into what’s happening in that one X-Men book right now, though I’ll be damned if I know anything about what all’s happening there.

Invincible Iron Man #33: The conclusion to Stark Resilient is full of action and a nice setup for the next story arc. This title continues to impress and be one of the best books I read each month. I’m also pretty damn impressed with the fact that Salvador Larocca hasn’t missed a single issue yet. Most impressive.

I also grabbed the latest Blue Beetle collection, which I guess wraps up a few issues from his solo title and collects the backup feature from Booster Gold that was running late last year/early this year. Good stuff.

The Pull List – December 15th

Ah, the waning days of the year! We’ve still got comics comin’! Here we go!

Deadpool Max #3: Okay, so this is what this book should be like. Baron Zemo, reimagined as a white supremacist bent on making the U.S. “pure” again. The writing is clever, the violence fits, and the Lapham uses racial slurs and horrible, horrible terminology to great effect. If more issues are like this one, I’ll definitely be continuing to keep it up.

Batman and Robin #18: We get the origin of The Absence and a couple of really cool visuals (that closing page is fantastic), though some of the villain’s motivation seems a little off somehow. Decent, but not the best Cornell’s managed. We’ll see how it turns out next issue.

Birds of Prey #7: Barbara Gordon’s got an ambitious plan to keep her friends and allies safe: she’s going to kill Oracle. The art for this issue ain’t bad, and Gail Simone’s script is solid (the bits in the strip club are hysterical), as per usual. One request, though: can we please get Nicola Scott on this book? Please?

Chaos War: Thor #2: I’m not entirely sure about the real purpose of this book. I mean, it’s not a bad book, and there are some really interesting concepts at work in this issue. But there does feel like there’s something slightly off about it.

Chaos War #4: Things look pretty grim, but that’s par for the course when you’re talking about event comics and cosmic stuff. Hercules does not want to give up, Athena tries to be clever and fails, and Amadeus Cho comes up with a neat idea. I’m curious to see how Pak and Van Lente will pull off the win in this one, and where it’ll take the iHerc crew next.

I also grabbed the fifth Booster Gold trade, which rounded out Dan Jurgens’s run on the title, and the first trade of Thor: The Mighty Avenger, which is one of those books I kick myself for not having gotten into earlier (especially now that it’s apparently going to be canceled after the 8th issue).

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.