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 – 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 – 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 – 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 – 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 – April 28th and May 1st

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Pull List – April 14th

Comics! Really, that says it all.

Booster Gold #31: I didn’t actually intend to pick this up (I wanted to start getting the series next month, when Giffen and DeMatteis take over with all the “bwahaha” that entails). It’s the last issue written and drawn by Dan Jurgens, and it’s really just a send-off for him. There’s not a whole lot of substance to the story: Booster fights against some nameless mooks, there’s some collateral damage, Booster feels frustrated about it, and then everything ends up getting fixed up nice by the end. It’s a straight-forward end to Jurgens’s run, but it’s a nice end.

Secret Six #20: Catman gets mad and starts tracking the folks who threatened to kill his son. It ain’t pretty, the Six split over what to do about Catman running off, and you generally get the sense that there’s going to be some hell to pay in the issues to come. Another fantastic issue from Simone, though this one does lack a lot of the trademark humor we’ve come to expect from the title.

Green Hornet: Year One #2: A little more back story on the original Green Hornet and his companion, Kato, and a couple steps closer to their inevitable first meet-up. Plus some mobsters get beaten up. Wagner’s script doesn’t do much of anything new (especially if you’ve read any of his Sandman Mystery Theatre), but that doesn’t mean it’s not good. The art’s fantastic and fits perfectly, too.

Atomic Robo: Revenge of the Vampire Dimension #2: Atomic Robo continues to be one of the best reasons to read comics. Great dialogue, giant monsters, a mecha with a rail gun…what’s not to love? I’m not sure how this connects to the first issue in this particular series, but I’m sure all will be made clear by the end.

This week, I also picked up the fourth volume of Fables and the second omnibus of Starman. Both are fantastic, and the Starman collection includes a crossover with Sandman Mystery Theatre (see how I brought it all back around full circle?).

Comics to Heal the Soul

C’mon, get happy! It’s new comics time! Possible spoilers (but only if you haven’t been paying any attention to interviews from the writers or, well, the internet), so you’ve been warned!

Incredible Hercules #141: I’m sad this is the last issue of this title. Sure, I only started reading it in single issues at the start of the current Assault on New Olympus storyline, but I’d read everything else (except the apparently awesome Incredible Thorcules story) in trades and felt this was a title worth following monthly. And it was. We get some interesting twists here (the new chief deity of the Olympians makes sense, but she turns out to be just as cruel and calculating – more so, really – than Hera ever was), a couple of deaths that were telegraphed from quite a ways back (Van Lente and Pak have been telling us that a certain Prince of Power would die). There are a couple of choice bits that were interesting: finding out who was really behind, well, essentially everything that’s ever happened in Hercules’s life, Amadeus Cho’s resigned acceptance of his new role, a couple of nice sound effects. However, Herc’s defeat of the big baddie doesn’t make a whole lot of sense (I mean, the Aegis plate bounces the kinetic energy of his attack back at him the first time, but doesn’t three pages later? Seems a little off to me, fellas). This isn’t the end for these characters (there’s a two-part Fall of an Avenger thing coming out in the next couple of months, which will lead into a new title, Prince of Power, staring everyone’s favorite self-proclaimed “Seventh Smartest Person in the World”), so it’s good to know there’ll be more from this creative team with these characters. The Agents of Atlas backup feature was decent, too, and the ending to that had a decent little twist, too, and tied things back into the original miniseries (what with Venus’s assumptions about her identity) rather nicely.

Joe the Barbarian #2: The pace really picks up in this issue and we’re thrust right into the action. Deathcoats are hot on our hallucinating hero’s trail, he’s joined by a samurai rat name Chakk (actually Joe’s pet rat, Jack), and Captain Pickard gives him a pretty useless phaser (well, seems useless so far. This is Grant Morrison we’re talking about here, so you have to assume everything was done for a reason). Sean Murphy’s art is beautiful, and with the able assistance of Dave Stewart on colors and Todd Klein on letters, this is one of the best possible creative teams you could hope for in a comic. Loved Joe’s interaction with Lord Arc, whose “The journey – arduous, companions on the way, et cetera! Traditional rules apply!” had me laughing out loud. Morrison is using something of a stock fantasy plot here – young man falls into a world not his own and must make a journey to save the world and get himself home – but it’s the twist of this just being the kid’s hallucination (or is it? Again, it’s Morrison, so who knows what’s really happening just yet) that adds an interesting dimension to an otherwise standard plot. Morrison’s always playing around with storytelling conventions and metafiction, always tweaking little things and playing with the basic notions of narrative, so I’m interested to see where he takes this.

Deadpool #19: This issue felt kinda flat, and not just because of its use of Hit Monkey as a plot device. No, it was the characterization of Spider-Man; things just felt off, and Peter Parker seemed to have way too much anger and not nearly enough snark in him. And Deadpool just didn’t bring the crazy funny in this issue. There’s a chance for hijinks next issue, sure, but as the opening issue of a story, this just didn’t draw me in.

Atomic Robo: Revenge of the Vampire Dimension #1: Hot damn, new Atomic Robo! Any week that features Atomic Robo is a good week. In this case, we get to see one of the current Tesladyne’s employees on his first day, which also happens to be the same day a dimension full of “vampires” break through into Tesladyne and Robo and his team have to contain them. Well, I say “Robo and his team,” but it’s really all about the force of nature that is Jenkins. Brian Clevinger throws in some great lines (“Action geology.” Heh), and Scott Wegener’s art is fantastic as always. This issue was essentially done in one, which leads me to wonder what they’ll do with the other three issues in this mini, but I trust in Clevinger and Wegener to steer us right. They haven’t let me down so far.

Trade this week was the second volume of J. Michael Straczynski’s run on Thor. There’s some decent stuff going on in this title, between the machinations of Loki (and the revelation about Loki’s female body is a nice twist) and the trick to kick Thor out of Asgard. I’m actually really interested now to see what Matt Fraction does when he takes over the title post-Siege.