Pull List Review (6/1/11 Comics)

Adventure Comics #527: Well, now. THIS is the Paul Levitz I remember. He actually made me care about Comet Queen. Comet Queen! (Note to self: look up on the interwebs to see if CQ is a fave character of Mr. Levitz’s–why else bring her back into the Legion Academy?) Ever since the Academy storyline started in Adventure Comics, I’ve wondered why some of the old-timers were still being trained (the passage of time in comic books notwithstanding), including CQ, so we get a story that explains that in a cool, tied-into-current-continuity way. I also like how Levitz has updated CQ’s lingo–she used to be all Valley Girl–although all the space slang gets a bit old quickly.

Criminal: Last of the Innocent #1: The next Criminal series is here! Now, I’ve only read two of the Criminal stories so far, but this one’s a little different, and resonates with me on a very personal level as it starts off with the death of a family member. It’s different in the art in an interesting way: the flashbacks are drawn in a simple, retro style. While not original, it lends itself to the nostalgia of someone going back to their small-town home after living in the Big City for many years. Other than the beginning when you have the main character being threatened to get the money before Monday, I kept wondering when the crime noir aspect of the book would kick in, and then I read the last panel. Bang! I wasn’t sure I was going to like this, but now I think I will.

Moon Knight #1-2: When I saw that Moon Knight would be done by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev, I was excited. I’ve always liked Moon Knight (from the Neal Adam’s-esque Bill Sienkiewicz days through the Fist of Khonshu run), and done by the same team that did the celebrated run on Daredevil? Sold! But guess what? I suppose lightning can’t be bottled every time. I remember Bendis talking online about the great concept he had for Moon Knight, but it came across as derivative and really not that great. If you haven’t read anything about this series (perhaps you’re waiting for the trade or just haven’t picked up the issues yet . . .), I suggest you stop reading now. SPOILERS!!! Anyone who knows Moon Knight knows that he started out as a hero with not just one secret identity, but three. Years later, it was revealed that he suffered from schizophrenia. Bendis has taken all of that and has burdened Moon Knight with three new personalities, namely, Captain America, Spider-Man, and Wolverine. In fact, Moon Knight actually dresses up as Spider-Man in the story, a costume over a costume (oh, someone’s being clever with that . . .). I do not find this take to be all that novel or entertaining. I will pass on this title.

Flashpoint: Batman: Knight of Vengeance #1: Wow, they’re really going for a Dark Knight Returns vibe in this comic, at least with the art and the violence. What happens if Batman came to be because Thomas Wayne witnessed the murder of his wife and son? I actually like the alternative as presented here, but some of the elements fall flat. For example, this Batman kills. The actiony bit in this issue is a Batman vs. Killer Croc story that we’ve seen countless times which ends with Batman slicing Croc’s head open with a machete. The rest of the issue is showing how Wayne does what he does. He owns a casino in Gotham to help control the criminal element and obtain intel. He also has a confidant and accomplice in Chief Gordan, who knows Batman and Wayne are one and the same. What I fear here is that all we get is an Elseworlds tale of Thomas as Batman, with no actual tie-in to the larger world of Flashpoint. But Batman does feature prominently in the main event book, so maybe it’s not necessary from an editorial standpoint. But if this first issue is indicative of what I get from this mini, I won’t be impressed.

Flashpoint: Secret Seven #1: Peter Milligan writing this with George Pérez on (most of) the art? Sold! Not to mention featuring Shade, the Changing Man, who is in that category of characters I like even though I know I shouldn’t (“madness vest”, really?). While I love Pérez’s art in general, I thought it a strange combination with Shade. This character really shines with someone on the art who is more . . . expressive, I think. It was also nice to see Enchantress feature so prominently in the story–I have always enjoyed that character as well, and she takes an interesting turn at the end of the story. Finally, it was good to see Black Orchid again, if only for a few panels.

Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint #1: I was pleasantly surprised by this title. I was afraid we’d get something like the Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps, but there’s an actual story here that ties in directly with the larger world of Flashpoint, and told from a particular character’s point of view: Traci 13. Rex Ogle does a good job at portraying the pathos without being too comic booky. I especially loved the part at the end when her father betrays her. I can’t wait to see how she reacts to that in the next issue. Side note: I hope that whoever inked the final six pages inks all of the rest of this series. It’s not that the art of the other pages is bad, it’s just not as good as those final pages.

Secret Six #34: This may be the single best issue of this series that I have read (caveat: I haven’t read all the issues of this latest version of Secret Six). Page 10 was worth the price of admission alone, but the rest of the story is just really, really, really good. Plus, Bane goes on a date! He explains to his date that he broke the Batman’s back, to which she replies, “But he got better, right?” Hah! Later, after he has won two big stuffed pandas for her, Bane quips that it would have been more challenging if “the cartoon rabbits were throwing batarangs”. Double hah! So much goodness to this issue. In fact, the way it ended, it almost seemed like a goodbye from Gail Simone, given that the title will be no more come September (though, Simone recently tweeted that another Secret Six series was a possibility post-new DCU launch), but it was definitely a very good ending to the current storyline. This comic is awesome.

SHIELD #1: It’s back! The sleeper hit of early 2011. As I found out by listening to an episode of Comic Geek Speak, SHIELD (now presented here without the periods, because I’m tired of typing them) was supposed to be a year-long limited series, but since Jonathan Hickman was an unknown property at that time, the bean counters at Marvel said, “Let’s do six issues and then we’ll see.” Flash forward to now, and we have the start of next six issues in our hands (though restarted at 1, because, you know, that’s not confusing, Marvel).

Wonder Woman #611: Much like many of this storyline’s issues, this is basically one long fight scene, but we do get a vision of a world where Diana has amassed an army to take over the world, crushing or converting anyone she crosses, which includes dead or captured Justice Leaguers. Her fight with Superman and the splash-page finality of it was an effective visual, however. Also, this cover: I love the way it’s colored.

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