Pull List Review: 11/9/11 Comics

All-New Batman Brave and the Bold #13: So much goodness in this issue! Of course I had to buy it since it was the all-Robin issue (long-time readers/listeners will know of my affection for Robin)! And the story was pretty damned good, too. Because I enjoyed this so much, I’m going way too much into story detail, so if you haven’t read it, you may want to skip to the next title below.

Batman is gravely injured, so the Phantom Stranger gathers past and future Robins to help Dick Grayson (as Nightwing) and Tim Drake (the current Robin in this continuity, I believe) save their mentor. Besides those two Robins, we also get Jason Todd, Stephanie Brown, Damien Wayne, and Carrie Kelly. Dick takes charge, and they all take Batman to a Lazarus Pit. Dick orders Tim and Steph to stay behind to guard Batman, while the rest of them go inside to confront Ra’s Al Ghul’s minions. Steph is hurt that Nightwing doesn’t think much of her to assign her to guard duty, but Tim spells it out for her: “Batman means more to Nightwing than anything.  . . . He did it because he trusts us to keep Batman safe.” Inside the cave, Nightwing gives we readers a rundown on how the rest of the Robins are so different. The fight ends when Ra’s appears to tell his goons to stop. It seems that Tim and Steph gave Ra’s the lowdown and Ra’s can’t stand the idea that a mere bullet will end the Detective’s life, so he allows Batman to be dipped into the Pit. When Batman rises out of the magical waters, we get this six-panel spread of reactions from all the Robins: Nightwing is bemused, as if he knows exactly how this was going to play out; Jason is delighted to see this, though he doesn’t want anyone else to know it; Tim is ecstatic and raises his fist excitedly; Steph is just utterly surprised at what she’s seeing; Damien is smirking confidently; and Carrie’s head is cocked to one side as if to say, “well, duh, Batman don’t shiv”. Of course, Ra’s has to get a dig in since, he reveals, the Pit causes those who enter it to go mad. This freaks out the younger Robins, but Nightwing confidently strolls over to Batman, offering him a hand. Batman grunts menacingly, but then smiles at Dick, saying, “Thanks. I knew I could count on you.” That is what I love about the whole Batman & Robin relationship. Batman may be all angsty and dark, but he needs his sons (and daughter) to help him out. The issue ends though with a teaser that I would LOVE to see someday: Madame Xanadu is discussing the resolution to this crisis with the Phantom Stranger, and says that if the Robins had failed, then there were the Batgirls to lend a hand. We’re shown Babs, Cassandra, Betty, and Stephanie! It reminded me of that last Bryan Q. Miller Batgirl issue that hinted at a time travel story. Please DC, give me a story with all those Batgirls!!!

Avengers Origins: Vision: I’m not sure why Marvel decided to publish a one-shot featuring my favorite synthezoid, but I enjoyed this. We basically get Vision’s “birth” and development from his point of view, though it’s never explained why he has emotions. If you know the Vision’s history, then you know why he feels, but it’s never revealed here, which is interesting since this seems to be a reintroduction to the character. What is really good about this comic though is the Stephane Perger art–it is fantastic. This is what I like to see out of artists who do it all. The Marko Djurdjevic cover is also really snazzy.

Avenging Spider-Man #1: This is the newest incarnation of Marvel Team-Up, though I heard one podcaster say that the focus would be team ups with Spider-Man’s fellow Avengers (which now makes the “Avenging” part of the title make sense–I mean, what part of Spider-Man is about vengeance?!), so if that’s true, I’m not as excited about this title. I picked it up because it was a Spider-Man team up book, and I’ve long felt I should reconnect with the superhero who started my love for comic books. But if this is just to push more Avengers stuff into the market, I don’t need to contribute to that–there’s already too much Avengers out there (having said that, I do love New Avengers, the only Avengers book I’m reading). As to this inaugural issue, the Red Hulk is Spidey’s partner, so that’s another mark against the title. As for the art, I guess Joe Maduriera is some sort of comic artist god, but I think his work is just ok (too 90s for my taste, which is probably why I never heard of him before–I didn’t read a whole lot of superhero books in the 90s, let alone Marvel titles). It doesn’t really matter since I read recently that Joe Maduriera is off the book soon. I’ll try this out for a few issues.

Batgirl #3: The appearance of Nightwing was a nice intrusion, but it read more to me like “oh, we should have someone in the Bat Family show up”. I know there will be people out there in Internetland that will take this as a dig as women in general, but Simone undercuts this, I think, with Dick telling Babs that he’s there because he (and Batman) are worried about her because they love her, not because they don’t trust her. I also really liked these words, since they succinctly summed up Babs’s and Dick’s former relationship:

We used to chase each other like this. Two kids flirting in a way only a handful of people on Earth could ever match. He with his acrobatics, and me with my ballet.

Batman & Robin #3: Each subsequent issue improves upon the previous. I’ve heard people (and I agree to a point) that Batman is the Bat book to be getting, but I’m enjoying this Bat book more right now. (In fact, I heard someone recently remark that Detective Comics was the Bat book to be getting and that Batman & Robin was not good–what are they smoking?!) The only thing that bugs me about this issue is that ninja finger poke to the forehead that stops Robin cold–huh? The sequence towards the beginning with Alfred was beautiful. The rage that Damien unleashes on the mugger, while it has shades of Jason Todd pre-DCnU, is a portent of the drama to come. I just hope they don’t go down the well-trodden path of pitting son against father.

Batwoman #3: This book is just a feast for the eyes, and I’m really enjoying the story, too. I just hope that Flamebird doesn’t end up dead before she really starts her new career.

Buffy, Season 9 #3: This being Buffy, of course she should look a gift horse in the mouth. Or something. The vampire killer turns out to be gunning for our favorite Slayer, but if that’s true, then why not take Buff’s power while she was sleeping at his apartment? Why the big reveal at the end? Dodgy writing, or is something else up? This being Joss Whedon writing this arc, I would tend to think the latter, but I’ve been wrong before.

Demon Knights #3: Such good stuff here. I really like the limitation put on the Demon regarding how much time he can spend on Earth, otherwise, we’d never see Jason, or Cornell would have to come up with contrived ways to switch the characters. Speaking of seeing Jason, he mentioned spending too long in Hell. I never thought about the idea that Etrigan and Jason actually switched physical locations–has that always been a part of the character or is Cornell adding to the characters’ history? I am intrigued by Xanadu’s continued, apparent two-timing. What angle is she playing at here? Does she actually care for either of these creatures? This duplicitousness does not go unnoticed, which leads to a great little scene between Exoristos and Sir Ystin–Wikipedia is saying that Ystin is actually Ystina, and the Shining Knight certainly appears to be female in this comic (at least how Neves draws the character), but I love the whole sex bender part of this story. The end of the issue got a little bloody for your typical DC comic, but it certainly makes sense in context. If you’re not reading this title, I don’t know why.

Green Lantern #3: Despite my complaints during episode 11 of the LBR podcast about this title not being new reader friendly and continuing where the title left off before the DCnU, I just don’t care at all because this is such a great story (and has been for years). Johns has infused even more life into Green Lantern with the twist that Sinestro is now a GL again, Hal is not, and by having teamed those two up to fight the Sinestro Corps?! Then, about half way through the issue, we find out that the Guardians are planning to replace the GL Corps–whaaaat?! Finally, the issue ends with Hal apparently being dissolved in the main yellow power battery (which will please those “I don’t like Hal Jordan” folks). Consistently good action/adventure story here.

Huntress #1-2: Confession: I had no interest in this series. Zilch. Nada. I’ve never cared that much for the Helena Bertinelli version of the character until more recently as part of the last Birds of Prey series pre-DCnU, plus, when I read that Paul Levitz was writing it, I  thought, why bother? After all, Levitz’s return to comics in the form of the Legion of Super-Heroes hasn’t been thrilling me, so I thought I’d wait to get the trade if I heard it was good. So why am I reviewing issues one and two? Because the buzz surrounding it was so great! I picked up issue one off the shelf at my LCS and was really impressed, first with the Marcus To/John Dell/Andrew Dalhouse art, and then with the story–Levitz actually can write a modern, interesting superhero comic! While the plot is pretty simple, it’s the character monologue that I enjoy. And gone is the midrif-showing, hot pants costume design that I hated on this character. She’s now fully clothed as makes sense for a non-superpowered crime fighter–after all, you don’t see Batman wearing a belly shirt, do you? I understand there’s some who have speculated that this comic is actually set on Earth 2, but I don’t see that happening.

New Avengers #18: I almost didn’t get this issue. When I saw in Previews that the Dark Avengers thing was returning, I thought that meant that my New Avengers characters would be gone from the book, but it seems that isn’t going to happen. What does happen in this issue is that Norman Osborn goes recruiting. That’s pretty much it, but at least we don’t have anymore of that silly interview style, talking heads crap that have permeated a lot of Bendis’s books during Fear Itself.

Point One #1: I just got this to see where the Marvel U was heading for the next year or so. I liked the hook of the issue: some space-suited people are able to tap into the Watcher’s mind while he’s uploading all his info to wherever the Watchers upload all that they record. Other than that, what we get are excerpts into future stories. First features Nova and the reveal that the Phoenix force is back. Second was some futuristic human vs mutants story (X-Terminated)–blech. Third was a Scarlet Spider preview. Fourth was the introduction of two new characters, a brother and sister duo called Dragonfire and Coldmoon, respectively, who are genetic manipulations created by some high-tech corporation. I was getting into the story until the end when they free themselves and it becomes just like any other superhero story, complete with an appearance from the Avengers. Next was a Defenders preview. Since I’m already getting that title, I wasn’t all that interested in this. Finally, there was some sort of future Ultron vs Avengers story (yawn). Out of all of those, I may only be interested in the Nova/Phoenix thing. I guess we’ll see as more information is released from Marvel.

Resurrection Man #3: Something needs to kickstart this series for me, or I’m gone very soon. It’s a shame, too, because I like the Dagnino/Arcas art.

Star Trek/LSH #2: Hmm, two issues in and our two groups haven’t interacted in any way (ok, sure, the very last page shows them about to engage each other, but that doesn’t really count). Did we really even need this issue? I think I got enough info from issue one to understand where the story is set and what the basic plot will be–this issue sure seems like padding to me. I just hope issue three moves the plot forward dramatically.

Suicide Squad #3: Still like it! That baby Deadshot rescued sure is quiet, though. It’s almost like the writer forgot it was there or at least how newborn babies actually behave. I also enjoyed the non-linear storytelling this time.

Unwritten #31: Tom Taylor finally takes the offensive against the Cabal and kicks some ass! Unfortunately, I think he’s about to learn a valuable, if not deadly, lesson about the price you pay playing with powerful magic.

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