Pull List Review (7/27/11 Comics)

Batman: The Dark Knight #4: You know, I only bought this series because of Finch’s work on covers I’d seen. I am always leery of artists with seemingly no writing experience taking on writing & art duties in a book (insert your early Image Comics joke here), but I have to say I was impressed by Finch’s first few issues of this title. Of course, he doesn’t draw this issue, but Jason Fabok on pencils and Ryan Winn and Batt on inks do a really good job of evoking Finch’s style. I am intrigued by Ragman’s appearance in this story (and the devil-worshiping cabal whose cloaks look an awful lot like Ragman’s suit). I’m not sure all the demons and demon-possessed folks showing up as much as they are in a Batman story fits, but I’m along for the ride (at least until September). That final two-page spread was done well, evoking a sense of cinematic dread (but does Batman really not see or hear them approaching?). I am ignoring the Gordon sub-plot, just because I won’t be returning to it in September. Four Batman-family books are enough, I think.

Brightest Day Aftermath: Search for Swamp Thing #2: Bah.

Criminal: Last of the Innocent #2: Another great issue. Ed Brubaker does a really good job of developing character, which is my favorite thing about any story, in a comic book or otherwise. Plus, I love the bad guy as protagonist, which Criminal the series excels at. The art style of the flashbacks continue to please me, and add a nice juxtaposition between the dark grittiness of the main story and the Archie Comics feel of the past sequences. Nicely done.

Fables #107: I bought this only because Terry Moore was listed as a guest artist (plus that Joao Ruas cover is quite striking). I have to admit, I was a little disappointed in what I got. Moore’s work on Strangers in Paradise is at times sublime, and almost always better than most comic artists out there, but here, it was . . . typical for this book, I guess. The story was also typical if you’ve read enough of Fables, as I have. I did like, however, the sign shown in the background of one panel where a line of newly minted princes await their turn to kiss the Sleeping Beauty; it reads: “No tongue! No touching! No ogling! No drooling! No gifts!”, and then, tacked onto the sign at the bottom: “No singing!” Hah! Take that Disney!

FF #7: Part two of the Black Bolt interlude. Nothing to say here, really.

Flashpoint: Kid Flash Lost #2: I wonder if anything will be made of the facts that the Flash, in the present, and Kid Flash in the future knows that the universe has changed. Or is it simply that because of what the Reverse-Flash did to change the DCU via his anti-Speed Force (dark SF?), and that Barry and Bart are connected via the Speed Force, that’s enough of an explanation? I guess in this case I’d like things to be spelled out for me a bit more, but then, why do I care when we get the new status quo next month?

Flashpoint: Lois Lane & the Resistance #2: This is currently my least favorite of the tie-ins. When I pick up something called Lois Lane and the Resistance, I expect Lois Lane to be the focal point of the story, but she really wasn’t in this issue. Plus, I just don’t care for Grifter.

Flashpoint: Project Superman #2: Now this issue was actually pretty good. Seeing how General Lane adopts the alien Kal-El as a surrogate son over time was nice to read, plus how Subject Zero helps Kal over the years, only to be schooled in humanity by the alien boy was also nice. It’s definitely a nice change of pace from the General Lane we were shown in Superman: Secret Origin (I feel like I have to spit when I type that title . . .).

Mighty Thor #4: Now this is more like it! Odin and Thor (and the other Asgardians, presumably, though they are conspicuously absent in this great battle) take on Galactus! But it’s not merely a physical fight, and I appreciate Matt Fraction showing us a battle of minds between the two “gods”. We get to see a side of Galactus that I have never seen, and I actually feel some compassion for that old blow-hard Odin. Then, after Thor has flung himself and Mjolnir at Galactus’s head, the Silver Surfer attacks Thor and they land on Mars! That’s a helluva distance, I presume.

Sixth Gun #13: Ok, so now we know why Sinclair was so spooked by the appearance of the mummy from last issue. Regardless, I’m starting to wonder if I should keep reading this title. It definitely started out strong for me, but these last few issues is just more of the same. I want the plot to move along, little doggey.

Teen Titans #98: I haven’t had much to say about this title in recent months, and I’ll only add this now: Superboy-Prime is back? Blech. I am so sick of this character. So sick of the recurring trope of Conner saying he’s the “real” Superboy and Prime going all ballistic. Just sick of this story being retold again and again, and this storyline is what will end this title before the relaunch? Ugh.

Wonder Woman #613: We are finally shown the events leading up to the “old” Wonder Woman being replaced by this “new” version. The rest of the issue is mostly a fight scene between Nemesis and WW, ending with Diana reclaiming all of “herself” that Nemesis had taken, but still, and refreshingly, in her new outfit (which I have grown to like quite a lot–I hope the relaunch WW keeps the pants). Next issue is the last before the relaunch, so I suppose we’ll have a battle royale.

Xombi #5: God, I love this book. I love the visuals, I love the ideas, I love the characters. Rozum and Irving have created something unique at DC Comics (hell, anywhere, really), and I hate to see it go (I know, I keep saying it, but it’s still true). Irving’s art is either getting better or I’m just getting used to it, but I still think it’s lovely. I love how he uses shading/shadows to create form. And I think where I’m getting used to the art is where he uses coloring–I didn’t mind it so much this time. The only problem I have with this issue is the two pages that were spent on David talking about the love of his life who, correct me if I’m wrong, we haven’t even seen in these five issues. Why bring this up now and spend so much time on it? If it doesn’t come up in some way in the next, the last, it was a wasted moment on Rozum’s part. I look forward to the resolution of this storyline.

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.