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 – 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.

The Pull List – October 27th

A new week means new comics! Here we go!

The Avengers and the Infinity Gauntlet #3: Our heroes finally reach their destination: the asteroid from which Thanos is destroying the universe. Sadly, the fight doesn’t go so well. I like that they’ve taken a “the journey is more interesting than the destination” approach with this series; seeing Dr. Doom forced to make sandwiches is possibly one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever seen in a comic. However, I shouldn’t have read this book first, ’cause it made everything else seem way less awesome by comparison.

Detective Comics #870: The “Impostors” story comes to a close here, and I have to say it’s been tremendously unsatisfying. Batman has been an ineffectual bystander, merely witnessing what’s going on and kind of shrugging and basically saying, “Well, what can ya do, amiright?” It’s also unsatisfying because this is a story with a theme – that Batman “created” the villains he fights, or that his very presence ensures that they keep coming back – that we’ve seen countless times. There’s nothing wrong with revisiting themes – when a character’s been around for 70+ years, it’s hard to break new ground without totally changing the character – but this wasn’t particularly done very well. And the villain’s motivation isn’t all that strong, to be honest.

Justice League: Generation Lost #12: The fight between Fire and an enraged, superpowerful Ice is intercut with a revised look at Ice’s origin. It’s a nice breather issue, giving us a look at who Ice is and how her childhood has shaped her approach to the use of her powers…and why making her upset or angry is probably a really bad idea. We’re now at the halfway point of this series, and it’s looking pretty good so far.

Wonder Woman #604: So we finally get to meet the villain of the piece – well, one of the villains of the piece – and he’s…pretty unmemorable. I mean, Burn Victim Man (as I like to think of him) seems pretty generic and not at all unique in terms of his motivation or characterization. I’m still not sure why this is a story that required we completely change the circumstances of the character, and I’d really rather be reading Gail Simone’s Wonder Woman instead.

Action Comics #894: The much-heralded return of Neil Gaiman’s Death (of Sandman fame) to the DC Universe proper turned out to be…well, pretty darn good, honestly. For an issue that’s really just two people standing around talking about death and dying in comics, it’s entertaining and visually interesting. Cornell gets in some absolutely great lines (“A pony. A magic pony. A magic pony that sings.”), and Woods draws the hell out of Death and Luthor’s debate. And the Jimmy Olsen backup continues to be absolutely fantastic as well, featuring aliens who basically get drunk on oxygen. Good times.

I also grabbed the Hellboy: Masks and Monsters trade. It features the Hellboy/Batman/Starman team-up from 1999 drawn by Mignola and a team-up between Hellboy and a character called the Ghost from the mid-90s. Both seem pretty solid, though I am left wondering (in the first story, at any rate) whether there was any reason to have Hellboy there other than someone thinking, “Hey, wouldn’t it be awesome if we had Hellboy and Batman running around Gotham beating up Nazis?” And honestly, there isn’t anything about that last sentence that isn’t awesome.

The Pull List – September 2010

Man, getting through September without getting to read comics was tough! I did it, though, and ended up picking up all my September stuff the first week of October, so that wasn’t so bad. Let’s see what we missed, shall we?

Hercules: Twilight of a God #4: The finale to this miniseries gives the Prince of Power a right proper sendoff, letting him go head to head with a blackhole and, well, winning (even if he does give his life for it). Great art, solid if not particularly original story, and just a fun little ride all around.

Secret Six #25: Holy crap, Gail Simone is just downright evil. Catman attempting suicide by lion is pretty awesome, though, and the promise of Six vs. Six from this issue is gonna rule.

Batman and Robin #14: This issue was downright creepy. I kinda knew what to expect going in, what with having seen the preview and read reviews and such, but it was still a damn well done issue. I’m not a huge fan of Frazer Irving’s art, but Grant Morrison’s story is dead on. In the hands of a lesser team, Professor Pyg would just be ridiculous, but Morrison (and Irving, I have to admit) have me downright terrified of the guy. He ain’t right in the head.

Batman: Odyssey #3: I just…I don’t really know how to feel about this title. Sure, it’s Neal Adams and it’s Batman, but…it just doesn’t feel right. Everything is very over the top, everything is very exaggerated, and that’s fine and all, but…I dunno. The story’s a mess, the art’s not up to his usual high standard, and everyone…talks…like this!

Booster Gold #36: This title continues to be awesome. The cover is frankly fantastic, and the continued antics of Booster in the JLI days is hysterical. Also, I realize now I miss Ted Kord, even though I wasn’t really reading comics when he was still alive. Sad, really.

Doom Patrol #14: So the Chief just decided to keep a Kryptonian around to do experiments on? And now he’s all superpowered and crazy? Okay, sounds like a wild ride. I’m in. Giffen continues to make this a hell of a book.

Green Hornet: Year One #5: I don’t think I’d really realized it before now, but apparently this title isn’t a miniseries, it’s an ongoing. Which is awesome. Matt Wagner does period stories better than just about anyone, and seeing the young Britt Reid coming to terms with his place in the world and realizing the limits of working within the law to bring evil to justice…it’s great.

Invincible Iron Man #30: Tony Stark has a confrontation, a couple of cars blow up, and Pepper Potts comes to the rescue. Is there anything about this book that isn’t great? Well, I could probably do with a different artist, though Larroca’s art is far from terrible (just not terribly interesting to me).

Justice League: Generation Lost #9: I was skeptical when I saw that Judd Winick was running the show solo now, but it’s going pretty well, I think. We get more infighting among our heroes, Maxwell Lord hints at his plans and goals, and it’s just an interesting book still.

Welcome to Tranquility: One Foot in the Grave #4: I have mentioned Gail Simone is evil, right? ‘Cause she ups the ante here, pitting the villain of the piece against everyone’s favorite aviatrix, and that fork featured on the cover? It ain’t there just to look cool.

Avengers & the Infinity Gauntlet #2: So we’re already halfway through this miniseries and they’ve only just left Earth and filled up their space rig with gas. They’ve got two issues to defeat Thanos and save the universe. Sure, I think that they’ll do it, and I’d be willing to read an ongoing series by Clevinger about Spider-Man and Doom bantering back and forth, but I fear the ending of this is gonna be kinda rushed. We’ll see.

Birds of Prey #5: Black Canary is in deep trouble. So deep, that her friends are probably gonna regret trying to help her out of it. Things get worse for the Birds in the aftermath of the first arc, and Simone keeps things moving so quickly here that it’s almost disjointed and scattered (which I kinda think she did on purpose to leave the reader feeling off-balance, just as the characters feel). I find it interesting that Ed Benes already needs a fill-in artist. Let’s just go ahead and put Nicola Scott on this book and be done with it.

Deadpool #27: Steve Rogers sucker punches Deadpool. ‘Nuff said.

Joe the Barbarian #7: Joe’s grasp of what is and isn’t real is as tenuous as ever, though that may be because what is and isn’t real isn’t staying the same. This book is still pure, distilled awesome, from Morrison’s writing to Sean Murphy’s art to Dave Stewart’s colors and Todd Klein’s letters. This is like a comics dream team here, folks.

Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis #3: A face-off between the X-Men and a ruler who will do what it takes to protect his country, the use of a decades-old plot device from Excalibur, and the usual no-good-choices scenario that Warren Ellis writes so well…it’s a decent comic, and I’m kinda glad I’ve stuck with the series.

The Flash #5: The plot thickens as we discover that villains turned allies probably aren’t as friendly as we thought. Things go from bad to worse for the Flash, and look like they’re not going to improve anytime soon. Love the art in this book, too, even if Barry Allen is still something of a cipher.

Justice League: Generation Lost #10: Can I just say that Cliff Chiang’s cover for this book is absolutely perfect? Admittedly, all of his covers for the series have been great, but there’s just something about this cover in particular that really grabs me (it’s probably Batman).

Thor #615: Matt Fraction comes on board to write with this issue, and it’s pretty great. I love the basic concept – that if you leave a space empty, something else will just fill it up – and the art is great. There’s a cartoony feeling to it that I love and much prefer to the hyper-realistic art that seems to be more of Marvel’s house style lately.

Action Comics #893: Lex Luthor vs. Gorilla Grodd. Lexbots. This book continues to be pure awesome. And the Jimmy Olsen co-feature is perfect. I would read the hell out of a Nick Spencer Jimmy Olsen ongoing. Get on that, DC!

Atlas #5: I’m really sad that this is the last issue of Atlas. I was digging the title. I do like that it’s open-ended enough for the team to return down the road, maybe, but it still annoys me that this book basically gets killed off right as it’s finding its momentum each time. That said, it’s a pretty great sendoff for the team; everyone gets their moment to shine, the good guys win (of course), and there’s a nice little moment between Jimmy Woo and the spirit of his former enemy/mentor, Master Plan, that’s pretty great. Also, we should totally get a Ken Hale ongoing, because he is the single greatest monkey ever.

Casanova #3: Things get real funky here with an island of superintelligent cavemen and Casanova starting to realize he needs to grow up and grow a pair. Why have I not read this book before now?

Detective Comics #869: This story continues to irritate me. It’s implied that this is the Bruce Wayne Batman, but if so, he’s the most ineffectual we’ve ever seen him. Batman basically sits around shrugging the whole time, saying, “Well, what the hell can I do about all these impostor Jokers and impostor Batmen running around?” Then he kicks his feet up on the Bat Computer and eats a bag of chips. Lazy, useless Batman is not Batman. The art is still pretty great, though.

Wonder Woman #603: JMS’s take on Wonder Woman continues to do a whole lot of nothin’ for me. I mean, I’m still not even sure what the point of it all was. Why change her history? Why change her situation the way he has? It hasn’t really added anything to the story. This could’ve been done with the star-spangled shorts and tiara just as easily as the useless jacket and stretch pants. We’ve really gained nothing with these changes except for some publicity (which was probably the point) and some exasperation. Mostly the latter.

The Pull List – August 18th

I mostly made mine Marvel this week, but they were some damn fine comics. Let’s get to it:

Deadpool #26: This issue was a surprisingly somber, almost poignant look at the early life of Wade Wilson courtesy of Ghost Rider’s Penance Stare. It’s interesting to see the formative events in Wilson’s life, and it’s kinda nice to see that there’s a person underneath all the gags and motormouthing.

Atlas #4: A revelation about the true nature of the 3-D Man, a glimpse at the real Bob, and some great action made this a damn fine comic. I really am sad that next issue is (apparently) the final issue of this version of the Agents. God willing, there’ll be more from them on down the road, but this issue was definitely a slam dunk.

The Avengers and the Infinity Gauntlet #1: I’m a sucker for pretty much anything written by Brian Clevinger, and an all-ages retelling of one of the best Marvel cosmic stories sounds great to me. The actual issue turns out even better: Clevinger ignores most of the original details of the Infinity Gauntlet series, keeping only the barest essentials: Thanos gets the Infinity Gems, half the world’s population disappears, and a bunch of heroes band together to take on the big baddie. Clevinger pares it down to a small ensemble – Wolverine, Ms. Marvel, Spider-Man, and the Hulk – and changes up the tone of the story. Clevinger usually has a wry, humorous tone to his comics, and this one is no exception. Spider-Man quips his way through the entire issue, the Hulk ends up in a dress, and Dr. Doom shows up and monologues in a pretty classic style. Add to all this Brian Churilla’s cartoony, expressive art, and you’ve got a winning comic. This is a great set-up issue, and I’m really excited to see what the team comes up with next.

I also grabbed the second volume of the DC Comics Presents: Doom Patrol. I’m still working my way through the first volume, but it’s a lot of fun reading these old comics.