The Pull List – March 9th

I’ve re-read all of Transmetropolitan since Friday evening. Damn, if that isn’t a great book!

Batman and Robin #21: This issue is better than the last, with the characterization of Damian less grating this time and an interesting story shaping up. The idea of a guy who goes around killing the families of Arkham inmates as some form of reparations for their own horrible actions is interesting, and Tomasi’s script works well. Gleason’s art is growing on me a bit, but his characters still feel way too bulky and blocky for my tastes.

Doom Patrol #20: With this book building towards its conclusion, Giffen seems like he’s just decided to pull out all the stops and go nuts with it. The Doom Patrol spend most of the issue visiting different corners of the DCU trying to find a new place to live after Oolong Island evicted them at the end of the previous issue. Of course, it doesn’t go well, ’cause the easy way is not the Doom Patrol way. The last third or so of the book, with the visit and offer from an old villain, is clever and an interesting way to set up the last few issues we’ve got left of the book. I am sad this book is ending soon, but it looks like Giffen’s going out with a bang.

Justice League: Generation Lost #21: Speaking of books nearing their end, this issue is the calm before the storm of the final confrontation between Maxwell Lord and the JLI. There’s a lot of self-doubt running around in this issue, a lot of frustration and people on the verge of giving up. There’s also (spoilers!) the reveal that the big happening from a couple of issues ago was just a dodge. I’m sure it’ll be made clearer next issue. I am curious to see how this series is going to resolve, but I guess we’ll know that in about a month or so, right?

Booster Gold #42: This issue is an example of why I absolutely love Giffen and DeMatties working together: usually, this pair is all “Bwa ha ha” and more jokes and dialogue packed into a panel than you’d think possible. But they also do drama and tragedy really well. They can switch gears at the drop of a hat, and they can pull it off like no others. This is a darker, more sinister issue than we’ve seen in awhile, but it’s carried off with aplomb and heart. I really do hope they’re just taking a brief break from the book for the Flashpoint event this summer and will be back after that’s all done, because I love what they’ve been doing on the title since they took it over almost a year ago.

Wonder Woman #608: I do like that, since Hester has taken over on scripting duties, characters actually have individual, distinct voices and motivations for what they’re doing (and hell, they’re actually doing something!). This book is actually interesting again, and while it’s maybe not as good as the Gail Simone run, it’s a damn-sight better than when JMS was running the show all on his lonesome.

Batman Incorporated #3: Well, this finally came out. And it’s…well, there are bits that are truly clever (it’s Grant Morrison, there’s always gonna be something that’s clever), there’s some fun silver-agey stuff (exploding scorpions!), but for some reason it all just feels kinda…flat. Like there should’ve been something more to it if we were gonna have to wait three months for a new issue. There is the hint that this isn’t just a series of disconnected issues of Bruce Wayne traveling around the world to wherever Grant Morrison saw a travel poster for that month, but not enough build up yet for us to really know what to make of it. I’m gonna keep reading it, ’cause I trust Grant Morrison to do something interesting with the book, but I’m more than a little frustrated.

Birds of Prey #10: This book, however, is never a disappointment. Simone draws her “Death of Oracle” story to a close by…well, basically killing the idea of Oracle. By letting the criminal element think she’s dead, she can operate more effectively; or, as Barbara herself puts it, “If I’m out in the open, then criminals get cautious. And we can’t have that. Because my goal is that they never see me coming.” It’s brilliant, and there’s a nice metaphor (unspoken, but one I’m kind of assigning to the story anyway) of a mother bird pushing the babies out of the nest to fly on their own (the few pages of heroes calling in to Oracle and getting stony silence, then winning their own battles anyway). Plus, we’re promised the Huntress/Catman date next issue! How is that not going to be awesome?

I also grabbed the second trade of Thor: The Mighty Avenger, which was just as awesome as the first collection. I’m really upset now that Marvel decided not to let them finish this book. It’s sad that great books like this don’t get picked up on by more readers ’cause they “don’t matter” to the larger continuity. I am coming to hate continuity. This is, hands down, the best Thor book since Walt Simonson was writing Thor.

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 – 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 – 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 – 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 – October 13th

Back to buying my comics week by week. This is the Pull List: get excited!

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #5: As Bruce gets closer and closer to the present, things get stranger and stranger. Here, he’s pulled into a murder investigation…for his own parents. Everything that Grant Morrison’s been doing for the past several years with Batman – the Black Glove, the Club of Heroes – is all coming to a point here. Ryan Sook’s art is fantastic and a perfect fit to the moody, noir-ish plot for this issue. Good stuff.

Booster Gold #37: There’s a brilliant moment here – when Booster hops a little into the future (but still in the old JLI days) to ask Ted Kord how he survived an incident – and it’s absolutely perfect. The plot for this book may be kinda thin, what with all the deviations from it and asides and tangents and all, but it’s a fun book, which is what it should be.

Justice League: Generation Lost #11: Ice, Fire, and Rocket Red versus the alloyed Metal Men! And Tora’s got an icy mad on goin’. Meanwhile, Booster, Blue Beetle, and Captain Atom run around trying to uncover more of Maxwell Lord’s plot, only to run into a factory they certainly weren’t expecting. This book’s finally starting to click for me.

Knight and Squire #1: This book is unabashedly British through and through. There’s everything from rhyming slang to a team of heroes based on cricket players (it somehow never caught on in the US). Paul Cornell’s story is pretty light – about a pub that’s neutral ground between heroes and villains – but the book itself is a delight.

Casanova #4: Casanova finally puts on the big boy pants and proves himself to be…well, if not exactly a hero, at least a protagonist we’re gonna root for. Cross and double-cross abound in this issue, the final installment of the first storyline. Good times.

Invincible Iron Man #31: If you can’t bring Mohammad to the mountain, bring the mountain to Mohammad. That’s Tony Stark’s idea after a tech conference he was going to present his car of the future at gets canceled (because of his planned attendance, natch). But things go from bad to worse when the Hammer family decides to strike at Stark’s own exhibition.

Thor #616: Yeah, I bought three Matt Fraction books this week. This seems a little like a retread of issue 615, with a human scientist trying to explain to yet another Asgardian (this time, Thor) his theory about nature abhorring a vacuum. Thor seems uncharacteristically angry with the human, and it struck me as a bit odd. I mean, sure, the guy’s home just got destroyed in the Siege and all, but threatening a human with his hammer just ’cause the human tried to explain something that’ll be important to him? Weird. And that last page…stranger still.

Welcome to Tranquility: One Foot in the Grave #4: When you’re going up against one of the most powerful – and psychopathic – beings on the planet, you gotta bring the right people along. Someone who’s already dead and can’t get much deader? Probably a good idea. Even though it turns out not to be. Simone keeps ratcheting up the creepy factor in this book, and it’s pretty awesome. I do miss Googe’s artwork, though.

I also grabbed the last trade of Gail Simone’s Wonder Woman run. Honestly, I think time will bear out that Simone’s run on Wonder Woman was easily one of the best the title’s ever seen (the same will not be said for JMS’s run, I don’t think).

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 25th

I was out of town all week, but I managed to pick up comics this week nonetheless.

Justice League: Generation Lost #8: Yeah, this is Winick’s gig now, no Giffen, which makes me quite sad (but has me hoping that Booster Gold will now move away from a parallel storyline with this title and go off in a new direction). The book’s not bad, and Lopresti’s art is great as always, but there is something just a little too rote about the proceedings. The reveal at the end isn’t telegraphed or anything, but it’s pretty obvious nonetheless; there is some good interaction going on between Fire and Rocket Red here, though.

Wonder Woman #602: Diana cuts loose on some soldiers and does some serious damage, finds some Amazons, and learns a little bit about sacrifice. It’s a decent issue and not as heavy on exposition as I feared it would be (it’s nice seeing Straczynski jump into action this early instead of having everyone spend the issue sitting around talking), but I’m still not sold on this “all-new Wonder Woman.”

Astonishing X-Men #35: This issue (finally) wraps up this storyline (and probably the series as a whole, since they’re switching the Astonishing line to mini-series), and while the art is good and there are some great Ellis lines (“Don’t be such a baby. You’ll almost definitely probably not die this time”), the whole reveal of who the “villain” is seems weak after the build-up we’ve had, and the whole thing just seems…kinda meh.

Detective Comics #868: Part Two of Impostors features more great art from Scott McDaniel, but the story itself is leaving me cold. I think my biggest problem is that it makes Batman seem ineffectual. That doesn’t really jive with everything we’ve seen about Dick Grayson (both as Nightwing and as Batman), and he seems to mostly be sitting around wringing his hands going, “Well, golly, I wish we could do something about all this.” We’ll have to see where it goes from here.

Batman #702: Part Two of Grant Morrison and Tony Daniel’s look at what happens between the end of Batman RIP and Batman’s crisis in time during Final Crisis. This is a pretty good issue, doing more than just filling in gaps: we get some nice mythology with the “God Bullet” that Batman shot Darkseid with in Final Crisis, further details on what the Omega Sanction actually is, and what’s happening to Bruce Wayne right now. It’s pretty cool, though I still really do not care for Daniel’s art.

Action Comics #892: This comic continues to be awesome. Luthor goes head to head with Deathstroke, finds some black ring energy, and basically proves that he’s pretty awesome. I really like the focus on Luthor as a character in his own right rather than as an arch-nemesis for Superman. Cornell and Woods are knocking this one out of the park.

Prince of Power #4: This issue concludes the mini-series and sets up the coming Chaos War. We get Amadeus Cho’s finest hour, a knock-down fight between Delphyne and Atalanta, and a (not-unexpected) return. This was really a perfect comic, with humor, epic battles, and some great character moments. I’m really looking forward to the next chapter in this saga.

I didn’t grab any trades when I was at the comic shop this week, but I did order the first deluxe volume of Ex Machina and the fourth volume of Walt Simonson’s Thor from Amazon. I’ve started in on Ex Machina, which seems pretty cool, and you really can’t go wrong with Simonson’s Thor.

The Pull List – July 14th, July 21st, & July 28th

So, long time out of commission, I know, but I picked up all my comics yesterday and today and managed to read ’em all already, so let’s see what’s been going on, shall we?

Batman #701: Grant Morrison reunites with artist Tony Daniel to tell the “Lost Chapter” between the end of R.I.P. and Batman’s “death” in Final Crisis. As with R.I.P., I don’t really care at all for Tony Daniel’s art. It’s too sketchy, too lacking in polish, too inconsistent. It mostly deals with Batman trying to figure out whether or not Dr. Hurt survived the helicopter crash at the end of R.I.P. (which anyone who’s been reading Batman & Robin knows he, y’know, did) and decide whether or not Hurt is who he claims to be. This seems like a pretty inconsequential story, honestly, and I’m not sure why Morrison felt it was necessary to do it. It’s not exactly bad, per se, but unnecessary.

Justice League: Generation Lost #5 & 6: Issue 5 gives us the reconstituted JLI standing around trying to decide whether or not to go after Maxwell Lord (they decide to, of course) Issue 6 deals with Captain Atom jumping into the future after absorbing too much energy and jumping into the future, where he discovers that if they don’t stop Max, things’re gonna get real bad. We’re about a quarter of the way through the series now, and we really haven’t seen much happen as of yet. It’s all been setup, getting characters into place, establishing motivation, and making Max not just a credible threat, but someone who really needs to be stopped to prevent something horrible from happening to the world.

Booster Gold #34: Booster goes back to the ol’ JLI days again to try once more to get evidence to pin on Maxwell Lord and prove to everyone that Max even exists. Booster spends a good chunk of the issue ruminating on the fact that he’s not the same guy he was back then, and his sister and the young child he rescued from the future spend some time getting to know each other. Giffen steps in and pencils a couple of pages this issue, and the shift between his work and Batista’s is pretty significant. Overall, it’s another solid issue from this creative team.

Invincible Iron Man #28: Posturing between Iron Man and Mrs. Hammer, more folks get hired for Stark Resilient, and Tony starts to tie some things together. This comic is on a slow build, but Fraction’s payoffs are usually pretty solid, so I’m willing to ride out the talky issues in anticipation of those payoffs.

Deadpool #25: Cross and double-cross, switched identities and changing alliances…I’m not really quite sure what the point of those particular storyline was, though it does seem to set up a new (albeit temporary, I’m sure) status quo for Deadpool as a guy with a (gasp!) job. It lacked the manic energy and non-stop gags we usually get in the Deadpool book, but the backup story (written by Duane Swierczynski) is pretty awesome (and the first time I’ve really enjoyed the “Pool-o-Vision” gag).

Green Hornet: Year One #4: In the past, the Green Hornet and Kato arrive in the United States, while in the present (well, 1938, at any rate) they continue their assault on Chicago’s mobsters. There’s some decent character work here by Matt Wagner, and Aaron Campbell’s art remains moody and fitting for the time period and subject matter.

Atlas #3: I was tremendously sad to hear that this title will be canceled after issue 5, as I’m really digging the story. Bad guys that can possess people’s bodies, a legacy hero who’s the only one who can see them, and some great art and well-crafted dialogue make this a solid book. The back-up story, featuring more detail about the origin of M-11, is also solid, though it just adds more details to what we already know.

Prince of Power #3: Amadeus Cho and Thor go into the Egyptian Underworld in search of the next piece of the recipe for eternal life, only to find that they’ve played right into Vali Halfling’s plans. The trademark humor and sight gags are in place and as hilarious as ever, and the lioness goddess of destruction turning into a LOLcat is pretty damn hysterical. It’ll be interesting to see how they wrap this up next month and set the stage for the Chaos War.

Welcome To Tranquility: One Foot in the Grave #1: This mini picks up right where the second collection left off. Mayor Fury is released from prison, and Sheriff Thomasina Lindo doesn’t seem to be too happy about it. Simone builds on previous Tranquility stories, teasing out existing stories and characters and setting up some new plot lines. The return of a character at the end of the issue is a nice twist, and it’ll be interesting to see where it goes next. Horacio Domingues’s art is decent and not too far off from Neil Googe’s style, though some of the lines seem too thick and make the characters come across as too blocky and kind of blurry.

Birds of Prey #3: I’d love to say this issue was fantastic, but there was a printing error and the middle 1/3 of the issue was actually from an issue of Batgirl. This is clearly another “nothing is as it really seems” sort of issue, and I’m more than happy to wait and see what Simone has planned, but I really do wish I could have read all of the issue (it’s pretty clear that there’s some important plot points in those missing pages).

Wonder Woman #601: This issue kicks off JMS’s Wonder Woman run, and it really just picks up right where the prologue in Wonder Woman #600 left off. Every vibe I get from this book is that this major status quo change has to be temporary; the very dialogue in this issue indicates that things shouldn’t be this way and that success will be measured by achieving a revival of the old status quo. All that being said, this isn’t a bad issue; there’s actually some plot developed (and not just in the plot dump/exposition vein of things), Wonder Woman finds her motivation and purpose, and we’re introduced to a shadowy new villain.

Action Comics #891: Mister Mind, that worm with a big brain, attempts to trap Luthor in his own fantasies so he can do…something to Luthor’s brain. For someone we don’t know. The worm fails, because you just don’t mess with Luthor’s mind, but the fantasies themselves are fantastic (Luthor as Dr. Frankenstein, a gunman in the wild west, and as a caveman stealing fire from the gods a la Prometheus). Cornell and Woods are really knocking this one out of the park.

Detective Comics #867: David Hine continues his run on Detective, this time with art from Scott McDaniel. McDaniel’s art is cartoony and recalls the old Batman: The Animated Series look without being a slave to it. He also manages to maintain a strong sense of kinetic energy and good storytelling mechanics. The only real problem with the story is that it’s pretty mundane: a group called the Jokerz are using a variation on the old Joker Venom running around causing trouble, and Batman and the GCPD are trying to stop them using minimal force. When a cop gets killed in retaliation for a dead member of the Jokerz, things get strained, and an impostor pops up at the end that will definitely cause trouble next issue. It’s standard fare, but well-crafted.

Batman: The Widening Gyre #6: This is the first half of Kevin Smith and Walt Flanagan’s planned twelve issues, and it’s a double-sized issue that ends on a hell of a cliffhanger. We get plenty of action, some nice interaction between Batman and Silver St. Cloud, and a surprise marriage proposal. The twist at the end I’d actually pegged well before it came around (if you’ve read Smith’s previous Batman min, Cacophony, you probably spotted it early, too), and there’s a tragedy that anyone who’s ever read a comic where Batman falls in love with someone could’ve predicted easily. It’s decent, if not great, and I am curious to see what Smith and Flanagan do next.

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #4: Batman the cowboy! Honestly, that should be all you need to know, but it’s not really all that great, I’m sad to say. Morrison’s script is solid enough, though I’m not sure what the hell is going on with the bad guys, why they’re doing what they do, or anything like that. Georges Jeanty’s art is pretty awful; characters aren’t consistently rendered, adults often look like children in terms of stature and appearance, and it’s hard to tell characters apart sometimes. I’m definitely going to have to re-read this (and, really, the whole series) to truly be able to follow what all’s happening.

I also picked up two trades: X-Men: S.W.O.R.D. and Cowboys and Aliens. S.W.O.R.D. is pretty good so far; I’m definitely becoming a fan of Kieron Gillen’s work. I haven’t dug into Cowboys and Aliens yet, but it was only $4.99 for a pretty substantial chunk of comic (way longer than the same-priced Batman: Widening Gyre #6), and it’s written by Fred Van Lente.