The Pull List – February 16th

Kind of a disappointing week in comics, but let’s look at what we got…

Wonder Woman #607: We’re finally starting to dig into the meat of the plot in this book and figure out what the villains of the piece really want. Also, Diana is actually allowed to have character and to react to things! This book has gotten considerably better since Phil Hester came on board, but it’s still pretty painful.

Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis #5: This miniseries finally comes to an end. The final battle was decent enough. Wolverine got some nice one-liners, as did Beast and Emma Frost, and the way Frost dealt with the alternate-dimensional invaders was fairly clever (if not without its problems). Overall, this wasn’t the greatest miniseries I’ve ever read, but it wasn’t awful. It was just sort of…there, I guess. I am curious to see what Daniel Way does with the regular Astonishing X-Men ongoing starting next month. As much as I like Warren Ellis, his tenure on the book hasn’t been all that great (the fact that it was plagued with delays from the get-go didn’t help).

Deadpool Max #5: So, was this book always intended as a limited series? Apparently (according to solicits I’ve seen for future issues), it’s a 12-issue series. I thought it was a regular ol’ ongoing. Ah well. Either way, it remains a seriously messed-up book, but not in a bad way. Deadpool goes up against his “Mom,” Taskmaster, and we get more hints that there is something deeply sinister going on with whatever organization is employing Wade Wilson and Hydra Bob. Also, the flashbacks with the “Muskrats” was freakin’ hysterical. All summer camps should be run that way.

Doom Patrol #19: Apparently this book is slated for cancellation with issue 22, which is a shame. It’s a book with a lot of potential, and I think it would’ve fared far better if Giffen had a co-writer (most of his best stuff as a writer/plotter have come when he has a co-writer to handle dialogue so he can handle the crazy plots and layouts). This particular issue falls a little flat, as the usually competent Secret Six seem suddenly…less so. The issue doesn’t resolve so much as just end abruptly, but I wonder how much of that is the page count reduction from DC’s “Hold the Line at $2.99” nonsense.

S.H.I.E.L.D. #6: So apparently this is just the first volume in this story, which is probably good ’cause I have no idea what’s happened or why it’s happened or anything like that. Hickman writes a complex, interweaving narrative here, and the visuals from Weaver are beautiful as always. Leonid finally does something more than just stand on the sideline and look dumbfounded, even if what he does is fairly useless. There’s also a reveal at the end that’ll probably make more sense somewhere down the line.

Booster Gold #41: Booster and company fight off an attack from some old Nazi sympathizers, and Booster goes to jail. The pretense for sending Booster to jail is kinda flimsy (even if does bring up a point: why has no one ever tried to take him in for his thefts in the 25th century? They clearly have time travel in that time, in the DCU, so why hasn’t a time cop come back and taken care of this already? It doesn’t make much sense), but I think the story that comes out of it should still be pretty solid. It is Giffen and DeMatties, after all. Batista’s art is pretty good, though it’s inconsistent (Rip Hunter’s head seems to get taller and thinner in one panel, then squashed back out again later).

I also grabbed the trade of Avengers and the Infinity Gauntlet, the all-ages remake of the old Infinity Gauntlet series, done by Brian Clevinger and company. It’s a fantastic book (I picked it up in singles originally) and includes the first issue of the old Starlin/Perez Infinity Gauntlet series, but I have a complaint: why are all of Marvel’s all-ages books done in a smaller size than their usual trades? What point does this serve? I noticed it with their Marvel Adventures trades, the trade of Wizard of Oz (which has amazing art that deserves to be seen in a much bigger page), and now this. C’mon, Marvel, give kids the full-sized treatment! Just ’cause the person reading it may be small doesn’t mean the book has to be!

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 – October 5th

Let’s see what the first week of October had to offer, shall we?

Batman: Odyssey #4: Batman wigs out when he thinks a little girl’s been killed and goes to town on the guy who did it. How many times have we seen the “Batman snaps and nearly kills a guy only to be talked down” thing? Also, since when do EMTs and the police and the freakin’ Batman all just assume a person’s dead without checking for vital signs? Kind of an epic fail here, Neal Adams.

Chaos War #1: The Lion of Olympus is back, but all is not well. There’s danger a-comin’, in the form of the Chaos King (our good buddy Mikaboshi, who just happened to not return to Earth with the rest of the God Squad at the end of Sacred Invasion). Herc has to convince everyone he’s not crazy and that there is danger, which is no easy task. Good thing he’s got Amadeus Cho on his side.

Doom Patrol #15: It’s the Patrol versus the Chief! And the Chief is increasingly unbalanced, it seems, ’cause trying to graft Kryptonian DNA onto your own just isn’t a good idea. Plus, there’s that fantastic intro with Ambush Bug. I kinda want all comics to recap the plot like that.

S.H.I.E.L.D. #4: Things are getting even crazier, what with da Vinci birthing something in the heart of the sun (and let’s not even get into how he’s surviving being in the sun), Leonid getting a deeper look at his own role in things, and a not-quite-a-confrontation between da Vinci and Newton. Also, Nostradamus, who has some serious emotional problems after letting himself be locked up for several centuries. Interesting stuff and fantastic art as always.

Secret Six #26: Bane is not someone you mess with. At all. Skartaris doesn’t stand a chance, unless Scandal Savage’s Six can stop him. This comic, month in and month out, is one of my favorite reads. Simone delivers again!

In terms of trades, I grabbed the third Secret Six trade, Danse Macabre, which was quite solid (especially for a Blackest Night tie-in). Definitely some good stuff this week.

The Pull List – August 4th

It’s pouring down rain right now, but that won’t stop the comics (though it might delay the posting of this)!

Batman: Odyssey #2: Neal Adams is weaving a story of a young, inexperienced Batman that is downright weird. Anyone used to the prepared-for-everything Batman will find it rather jarring, but it’s an interesting alternate take on Bruce Wayne. Adams’ art is still kinda sketchy, but there’s solid storytelling and a shirtless, hairy-chested Bruce Wayne giving us a recap of the first issue. It’s still not clear exactly what Adams hopes to achieve with this miniseries, but I’m definitely willing to go along for the ride and see what he’s doing.

Doom Patrol #13: This issue focuses on Rita Farr, aka Elasti-Woman, as she discovers the secrets behind her resurrection and we just get further confirmation of what a bastard the Chief is. Giffen puts a good twist on the usual “superhero brought back from the dead” thing, and manages to make her character that much more tragic (and rather in line with the rest of the members of the Doom Patrol). We also get a confrontation between Rita and Mento, a fight that promises to be pretty awesome in the next issue. This title has gotten better as it’s gone along, finally finding its rhythm and a sense of what kind of stories will fit the characters best.

Hercules: Twilight of a God #3: Herc spends the whole issue in a coma, so his buddy Skyppi the Skrull takes center stage in an effort to help resolve the problem of the Galactus Black Hole that threatens the whole galaxy. There are some fun moments, snappy bits of dialogue, and good pacing: this is a solid comic from some of the most consistent, legendary creators in the business.

Deadpool #1000: An anthology of short Deadpool stories from a variety of creators, this is (as with most books of this type) a mixed bag at best. Some of the pieces are fun (“Canada, Man” is easily the best of the bunch, though “Luck be a Lady” is solid-if-mundane and “Silentest Night” is a fun little send-up of the distinguished competition’s recent event), and the art varies from typical superhero fare to indie comix style and a bunch of stuff in-between. The last quarter or so of the book is given over to more than two dozen Deadpool-centric variant covers that ran in different Marvel books over the course of the last year or so. All in all, not a bad book, but not necessarily worth the $4.99 price tag unless you’re really into Deadpool.

Casanova: Luxuria #2: Casanova goes on a mission (and counter-mission) to an island of sex robots. Yes, it’s as awesome as that sounds. There’s some weird sexual tension with his kinda-sister, some weirder sexual tension between a large Scotsman and a creepy mutant robot woman, and a naked man psychic fight. Good stuff.

S.H.I.E.L.D. #3: The antagonist is revealed, and we find out that he’s a man who will do whatever it takes to do his duty. Weaver’s art is fabulous throughout, and Hickman’s script gives us lots of information and details without feeling like a giant data dump. We don’t get to see much of Leonid and Da Vinci in this issue (they pop up in one panel on the last page), but next issue promises to be a knock-down, drag-out fight.

Secret Six #24: Our “heroes” are in the Wild West, and while everyone’s basic characteristics are the same, that’s pretty much the only similarity to the team of degenerates we know and love. The six end up banding together to protect a town from Ragdoll’s sister (who’s back along with her henchmen Aaron and Tig), so you know there’s gonna be carnage and blood. And man, is there. The roles everyone plays in this town in the past make sense: Deadshot’s a bounty hunter, Jeanette runs a bar/brothel (and the bathtub scene? Damn, Gail Simone’s a dirty woman), and Ragdoll does a Punch & Judy puppet show (which is just as wrong as it sounds). There’s also the fact that they team up to take down Slade Wilson, a gunslinger working for Ragdoll’s sister, which seems like a small nod to fans of Ryan Choi (a character written by Simone who was himself killed by Wilson in a recent issue of Titans). Definitely a good issue; can’t wait to see what Simone does next.

I also grabbed the ninth Fables trade, which so far has been setup for a final battle between the Fables in exile and the armies of the Adversary. Good stuff.

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 – April 7th

It’s a beautiful day out today, but I didn’t let that stop me from sitting down and reading this week’s comics!

That sounded a lot better in my head.

Batman and Robin #11: This comic continues to be awesome. I’ve read a lot of speculation about who Oberon Sexton really is (and there are some out there who are convinced he very well might be Bruce Wayne, despite that being way too easy an answer for a Grant Morrison comic), but one thing’s for certain: this comic kicks ass. Batman runs around in a secret underground railroad, Alfred flies the Batmobile, and Sexton and Robin beat the crap outta some guys from a group called the 99 Fiends. Plus, we get some nice callbacks to Morrison’s original Batman run (with a nice reference to the Domino Killer and that bit at the beginning of the issue with The Penitent). Add to that Andy Clarke’s fantastic and expressive art, and you’ve got a damn good comic here. It’s not doing anything all that different from the previous 10 issues, but why mess with awesome?

Doom Patrol #9: For awhile, I was considering dropping this (especially when I heard they were getting rid of the Metal Men backup), but I’m glad I’ve stuck with it. While the book may’ve had some troubles stumbling out of the gate, it’s finally starting to pick up a bit. There’s some solid character interactions, a new power from the Negative Man, and lots of sarcasm from the robot (and the brick). Giffen keeps throwing weird idea after weird idea at us (Danny the Bungalow?), the dialogue was sharp, and the ending was pretty damn funny. Add to that the new character who’s implied to be joining our merry little band on the last page (surely not, though. Right? I mean, really?), and you’ve got a solid issue here.

S.H.I.E.L.D. #1: I’d heard so many good things about this one this past week that I decided to pick it up and give it a shot. The art’s beautiful, the concept is pretty cool, but it feels kind of disjointed to me. The issue didn’t seem to flow too well, but that could just be because it’s a first issue setting up what’s to come. Da Vinci as (essentially) a superhero is a pretty awesome idea, though.

In terms of trades, there was some fun stuff this week. First, there was volume four of Booster Gold, which I find I’m enjoying quite well (enough so that I’m adding the monthly to my pull list when Giffen and DeMatteis take over in May). This particular collection featured the issue written by Giffen from last year, which I actually quite enjoyed (and hey, who doesn’t love a good Happy Day’s reference?) as well as a solid story from series regular writer/artist Dan Jurgens. All in all, enjoyable classic superheroics.

I also picked up the second collection of the Secret Six ongoing, Depths, which happens to include one of my single favorite issues of anything ever (the “Double Date” story from issue 8) and features art by the always-awesome Nikola Scott. Simone’s writing is top-notch as usual, and Ragdoll is possibly one of my favorite characters ever.