The Pull List – June 16th

Real quick this week. I’ve got one more week of school, then I’m off for the summer! And lemme tell ya, it couldn’t arrive soon enough for this teacher.

Birds of Prey #2: Simone and Benes jump headfirst into the plot this issue, doling out some serious pain to our heroes and setting up some serious hurt. Who’s trying to frame the Birds? Who killed their old enemy/ally (and lemme tell ya, while I’m not usually okay with the whole “shocking murder to show the heroes that the villains mean business” routine, the death in this issue makes sense. Plus, I’m pretty certain no one’s used the character since Simone, and she’s the one who came up with the character, so I think it’s fair)? There’s some big questions and big problems in this issue, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Atlas #2: The Agents finally get some face time this issue, and while the whole thing is really just fight scenes and exposition, it’s tremendously fun and well-done fight scenes and exposition. The short backup stories that they’re giving us to fill in the actual (or, at any rate, one interpretation) events that occurred in the past to which the main story alludes are pretty nice, and the art is beautiful throughout both stories. Very well-done indeed.

Deadpool #24: Betrayals, switches, and carnage on the Vegas Strip! This comic was a fair amount of fun, with several more twists than you’d have thought would pop up in the issue. Definitely fun.

In terms of trades, I grabbed the Batman: RIP collection to round out my Grant Morrison Batman run and the third volume of J. Michael Straczynski’s Thor run. Both were pretty good and fairly epic, though, and since I’ve also been re-reading Grant Morrison’s JLA run, I feel like I need a cool down with some nice, light comics next week. We’ll see what happens.

The Pull List – May 26th

It’s a new week, which means new comics! Here we go!

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #2: Batman runs around in the age of Puritans, hunting witches and fighting giant tentacle monsters. Frazer Irving’s art is kind of hard to follow sometimes, as Bruce Wayne looks an awful lot like his antagonist in several panels and it’s not always clear who is who, but this is still a fun comic. The stuff with Rip Hunter and his Time Masters was interesting if kind of confusing; I’m definitely curious to see where this is headed next.

Detective Comics #865: A pretty cool little story with the Black Mask/Jeremiah Arkham. The art is solid, and there’s some neat little twists with what’s real/isn’t real, who Arkham really is, and an ending that (while not particularly original) still sets up future interesting stories. We also get the closing chapter of the Question backup feature. The ending is ambiguous, and I’m not really sure I care for it, but I did enjoy Cully Hamner’s art and Rucka definitely put in some interesting ideas. I’m not sure if I’ll keep following Detective Comics now that Rucka, Batwoman, and the Question are all gone, especially with the price staying at #3.99 despite the loss of its backup feature.

Justice League: Generation Lost #2: I keep expecting this to be more like the old JLI stuff. Maybe that’s not a fair comparison to make, but when the main characters are all JLI stalwarts, one of the key members of the creative team was behind the old JLI stuff, and it’s using the JLI as a key feature in the setting and plot…well, such comparison are bound to come up. There are some neat ideas here – discrediting the few people who do remember that Maxwell Lord even existed, the way that those who have forgotten Lord can’t even process when they see images of him – but this still feels like it’s just setup, and the art is kind of bland. Still, I’ll look forward to what comes next, ’cause it looks to be an interesting story at least.

Wonder Woman #44: Gail Simone’s last regular issue on Wonder Woman ends the run on a high note. There’s good spotlight moments for everyone from Etta Candy to Steve Trevor, the gorillas get their due, Achilles and Hippolyta lend a hand, and Wonder Woman gets to use cleverness and her brains to solve a problem rather than just punching something. It’s a good end to Simone’s run, though I will be sad to see her go. Next issue is the specially renumber #600, which will feature a story by Simone (with George Perez on art!) as well as stuff from incoming Wonder Woman writer J. Michael Straczynski. We’ll see how that goes.

Green Hornet: Year One #3: We finally get to see how Britt Reid and Kato met, not to mention seeing the two back in the States taking down a gambling club and upsetting some gangsters. Wagner and company continue to crank out an enjoyable comic here, though it’s nothing groundbreaking or that unusual from his other period comics work (I’m lookin’ at you, Sandman Mystery Theatre, and it’s a look filled with love).

I also picked up the Thor: Latverian Prometheus trade. It’s Kieron Gillen’s first few issues on the title following J. Michael Straczynski’s departure from the title. I’m not real far into it, but it’s pretty interesting so far. There’s the promise of a throwdown between Dr. Doom and Thor which should be fun.

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.

Snow Day Means Comics!

Snow day, school was closed, so I got to get my comics today instead of the weekend! Let’s jump right in, shall we?

Invincible Iron Man #23: Actually a rather disappointing issue, as it turns out. Not much of anything really happens; Fraction just gets players into place for the final issue of the Stark Disassembled storyline. The art also isn’t all that great; Stark’s face isn’t consistent from panel to panel, and he and Dr. Strange look way too similar. There is a nice bit between Pepper Potts and Maria Hill that’ll make for an interesting little confrontation when Stark does finally wake up next issue (’cause, c’mon, we know that’s what’s gonna happen here), but this really just feels like a setup for the finale.

Doom Patrol #7: Not a bad issue, per se, but also pretty underwhelming. We see the aftermath of the Black Laterns’ attack from a couple of issues ago, an old character gets dredged up from Grant Morrison’s run, and a new story is set in motion with what looks to be competing Doom Patrols. This could have a nice payoff later, but I’m just not seeing it yet. The issue also featured the final Metal Men co-feature, and I was pretty underwhelmed by that as well. The art was great as always, but the humor seemed forced and the ending just didn’t do anything for me. It feels rather like they were expecting to have longer to work with this than they did, but that’s merely idle speculation on my part.

Also picked up the first J. Michael Straczynski Thor trade, just to give it a go. We’ll see how that goes. I’ve heard good and bad, and the fact that it’s set in my native Oklahoma has me a little concerned (rarely is my home state portrayed well in popular culture; I mean, not that Oklahoma often does much to be proud of, but not everyone there is a bumpkin named Cletus).