Pull List Review (8/31/11 Comics)

In case you missed it, Oddfellow and I talked extensively about Flashpoint #5 and Justice League #1 in episode 9 of the LBR podcast. Check it out!

For the rest of the comics I read for the week of 8/31/11, see below.

Angel & Faith #1: I never read the IDW Angel: After the Fall series as it was being published monthly, though I did buy some cheaply priced trades of the first eight issues and enjoyed them. Now that Angel is published side by side with Buffy, Season 9 at Dark Horse, I decided to try this series out. It starts out strong enough, with Angel finally not catatonic and trying to amend for his murdering of Giles, with Faith as his helping hand/guide. Things are full circle because we saw Angel do the same for Faith during the television series, much to Buffy’s consternation. It turns out that Giles had been maintaining his Watcher Files and now Angel is reading those files and acting upon them where he needs to. The art is good enough, meaning that the principles look enough like them to appease me. The lack of duplicating to some degree the actors’ faces is one reason I don’t generally buy media tie-in comics, but Rebekah Isaacs pulls it off sufficiently. And I love the Steve Morris cover. I’ll stick around for the first story arc and then I’ll see, but that’s what I said about Buffy, Season 8 and I stuck around for 40 issues. :)

Mighty Thor #5: If I had to pick one word to describe this title, I would have to use BOMBASTIC! Odin headbutts Galactus?! That is some shite right there, let me tell you. I love the somewhat  unconventional elements in this storyline that Matt Fraction throws in because anything with Thor and the Asgardians as the focus should be a bit over the top. When Thor rushes to his father’s aid, he tells the old man, “. . . there are times I hate you . . . but I will escort to Hel personally anything that torments you more than I.” That pretty well sums up the relationship between these two, doesn’t it? The two plots of the book–the fight with Galactus and the conflict with the townsfolk–meet at the end of the issue with the Pastor heading toward Galactus saying, “I’ve always wanted to meet God . . .”. I’m looking forward to next issue. A pity I won’t be continuing with this book. (Also discussed in episode 9 was the price per page of content in this comic. Guess how pissed I am when I realize I only get 20 pages for $3.99?)

Sixth Gun #14: The origin story of the mummy we saw at the end of #12 and more in #13. I actually really enjoyed this interlude. It’s the usual disfigured, ostracized boy meets young girl who doesn’t care about his affliction story, but I like those, so this rendition was ok to me. We have a guest artist (Tyler Crook) for this issue, but honestly, except for the painted-looking panels, I didn’t even really notice that much of a difference, which I like. It helps maintain the overall continuity. The story ends with a revelation of a sort: Sinclair “succeeds” in remaking the world with those guns. Of course, this is according to a mummy seer, so who knows how it will all work out?

Pull List Review (8/24/11 Comics)

Batman, Inc. #8: Batman creates Internet version 3.0. Seriously. I actually liked the virtual world renditions of Batman and Babs as Batgirl, especially the panel on the next to last page showing Batgirl fly away. Even better, I loved how Batman was depicted as mostly muscle and it was Babs who had the lay of the land, so to speak. She even tells Batman later that she spends her downtime (Oracle has downtime?) “playing online against teenage masterminds in Asia”. The contrast of colors in the issue was a bit of a stumbling block for me though (too much black/gray on red backgrounds).

Batman, the Dark Knight #5: Hmm. This title, though lovely to look at when David Finch was doing the art (not to downplay the art by the other artists these last few issues), reminded me a lot of Spawn if he were in the DCU. Does that make sense? I actually enjoyed the “mystery” that started the series, but as time went on, that became moot, and it just became Batman dealing with magical threats. I won’t be returning to this title when it’s relaunched.

Flashpoint: Kid Flash Lost #3: It seems rather pointless to review these last tie-ins since we’re now two weeks into the DCnU. But I started them, so I must finish them! :) Bart becomes a Black Flash, stealing Speed Force energy from previous speedsters as he works his way to Barry. Then he transforms into a White Flash to give Barry all of that Speed Force to help Barry save the world (but I don’t get how, even after reading Flashpoint #5). Again, another pointless end to a tie-in. Also, I never want to see Scott Kolins art again.

Flashpoint: Lois Lane & the Resistance #3: What to say about this title? I liked the Brittania character. I hope she shows up in the DCnU. My main complaint about this series was that Lois Lane, while featured prominently on the marquee, was barely in the story in any significant way.

Flashpoint: Project Superman #3: There are some interesting things about this book. The Flashpoint “Superman” never developed that innate respect for human life and kills when, I guess, he feels it necessary. I first saw it in Flashpoint #5, and it’s here as well when Kal kills the Subject Zero (after a long fight scene, of course). I like how we’re shown how powerful Kal is despite that he’s been stunted by his imprisonment. I wish we would see this more often with our Superman. Speaking of Subject Zero, we’re told (or maybe I missed it in issue 1) why he has the powers he has: his DNA was spliced with Doomsday’s. I also like the Lois Lane we’re given in this story much more than her depiction in Lois Lane and the Resistance. They should have just kept Lois in this book and retitled the other Flashpoint: The Resistance.

Teen Titans #100: I. Am. So. Sick. Of. Superboy Prime! Please, please, please! DC, let this be the very last time we see this character. We’re off to a good start because the Teen Titans do end up defeating him (oh, like that’s a spoiler!). It was cool to see a bunch of past Titans, like Red Star and the second Speedy (I like her costume for some reason). I do have a problem with the Titans’ hypocrisy at the end: Superboy Prime created Connor clones that the Titans defeated by stabbing them with a kryptonite stake, yet when they’ve defeated Prime, Ravager says they should do the same thing to Prime, but the rest of the Titans go, “Whoa! That’s murder!” O.O The epilogue shows us Ravager’s softer side (I actually would have liked to see how her and Conner’s budding relationship would have progressed) and an actual character moment when Ravager realizes that Conner trusts her to kill him if he ever loses control: ” I get it,” she says. “. . . You’ll need me to kill you. Because that’s what I do.” That panel had more resonance for me than the next panel showing her crying. It was nice to see Raven and Gar end up together, and to see her happy for once. The comic ends with nine pages of pin-ups (I’m also counting the actual final page of the story). While I enjoyed seeing the various artists do their own Titans splash pages, I could have just paid $3.99 for the actual story (30 pages).

Wonder Woman #614: After how disappointing the “Grounded” story was in Superman, “Odyssey” was a satisfactory resolution, and ended up where I expected (not that it wasn’t hard to guess that our Diana would return). In fact, the best part of this final issue was the second half, when Diana returns to the world she (and we) know. The pure joy she feels when she realizes reality is once again restored resonated with me. Later, she visits with her mother, who notices her different clothing: “Themysciran themes, but in a form the mortals would find appealing.” I spoke with Oddfellow about Wonder Woman’s costume in episode 9 of the LBR podcast, but I’ll reiterate that I would be just peachy if they had kept the “Odyssey” version of her uniform in the relaunch. Later still, Diana speaks of change in the air, yet another instance where the DC writers wink and nod at we readers about what’s coming. Finally, I just wanted to note how much I liked Lee Garbett’s work on this title. He started out on Batgirl and was my favorite on that title until Pere Perez came along, but that certainly doesn’t mean that Mr. Garbett’s work is inferior, just different. His (I believe it’s his anyway) final splash page of Diana flying into the Themysciran skies was wonderful. A great ending to a pretty good final Wonder Woman story prior to the DCnU. If you haven’t been reading this, pick it up some time.

Xombi #6: I am so going to miss all the oddball stuff in this comic. Usually, I gravitate toward a character, but it was the world of Xombi that grabbed me and said, “Look at all this craziness! Isn’t it great?!” Yes, yes it was. In this issue, we get the Sisterhood of Blood Mummies, Dental Phantoms, actual Pearls of Wisdom, and dudes with eyeballs as heads! I also liked the bit where Annie rushed at the bad guy who was teleporting away and grabbed a hold of his heart. I would have loved to see where John Rozum and Frazer Irving would have taken us in the next storyline. Again, I repeat: DC dropped the ball by not keeping this title on their roster.

I also read Batman: Gates of Gotham#5 (what a disappointing series; Scott Snyder continues to elude me as being a good Batman writer. Do not waste your time with this turkey), Brightest Day Aftermath: The Search for Swamp Thing #3 (just . . . don’t bother), and FF #8 (still good, but nothing worth talking about).

Finally, have you noticed how much DC is pimping the OGN New Teen Titans: Games in this month’s comics? I love it! I cannot wait to get this (I’m sure I’ll do a podcast on it). It was especially apropos being in Teen Titans #100.

What do you think of my thoughts on this week’s comics? Agree or disagree? Let me know!

Podcast Episode 9: Flashpoint #5 and Justice League #1

In anticipation of the new DC 52, Travis and I finish our discussion (1:34:55) about the end of the DCU as represented by Flashpoint #5, and transition into the DCnU with Justice League #1. Towards the end we discuss the price per page of our comics, and one of us gets pissed at Marvel (can you guess which one?). Also, we go totally fan boy with our discussion about Wonder Woman’s new costume (pants or shorts?).

Please send your comments to longboxreview@gmail.com. Please rate and review the show on iTunes.

Thanks for listening!

Direct Download

Pull List Review (8/17/11 Comics)

Daredevil #2: Oddfellow and I discussed this title in Episode 8 of the LBR podcast, and upon further reflection, I really like how Matt lawyered his way out of Captain America taking DD in to pay for his crimes while possessed. DD’s comment to Cap about handling Cap’s shield plays so well into the focus by Mark Waid on Matt’s super-senses. It’s this aspect of the title that I’m really liking. The issue ends with a nice cliffhanger moment featuring my first DD villain (again, listen to Ep. 8!), Klaw.

Flashpoint: Abin Sur, the Green Lantern #2-3: A few posts ago, I wrote about reading some other Flashpoint tie-in number ones, this title being one of them. It turned out that Abin Sur was the only one of the bunch that I wanted to finish. I found it interesting that some elements from the GL film worked their way into this series. For example, we get a flashback scene showing Abin Sur training Sinestro. At one point, Sinestro constructs swords to attack Abin Sur, much like Hal did in the movie. The GL uniforms and the look of the Guardians also are influenced heavily from the movie. So . . . does that mean that the movie takes place in the Flashpoint universe??? In issue 3, I really loved the scene where Abin Sur creates a hand from the ring (after Sinestro cuts it off in the previous issue), yelling, “This. IS. WILLPOWER!”. Later, though Abin Sur dies trying to save England and stop the war, but he’s chosen by the White Entity to LIVE. The issue ends with him trying to keep the world from tearing itself apart from the Geo-Force bomb. But that’s the problem, it just ends. There is no resolution to the story that had been built up over the series, or at least one that feels satisfying to me.

Flashpoint: Wonder Woman & the Furies #3: Yet another weak ending to a Flashpoint tie-in. I thought I’d end up liking this series more than others, but it didn’t rise to my expectations. It ended. Meh.

JLA #60: What an interesting issue, and not in all good ways. Please listen to Ep. 8 for my and Oddfellow’s thoughts about this issue, but to follow-up, out of the stories that this JLA team supposedly handled after the Eclipso event, I would have loved to read the Saturn-Thanagar War, followed by the Fortress of Solitude’s renegade robot story, mostly for the focus on Supergirl, which is one of the characters that I actually enjoyed as written by Robinson. I know I’ve written many times about how I’ve been disappointed with Robinson’s run on the title, but I did really like seeing some of the former Titans being on the big team, even though they were portrayed out of character at times (or all the time).

LSH #16: When I saw this issue being solicited and the hand shown on the cover, I knew it would Earth Man to die. Which is too bad, because he’s been the most interesting character of Paul Levitz’s newest run on the title. I never really understood the relationship between Shady and Earth Man, but again, I found it an interesting plot point that never really went anywhere, so Shady’s grief shown towards the end of the issue doesn’t really connect with me. This title used to be full of interesting characters and relationships, but this latest volume has been pretty much devoid of that, preferring action over character. I have read that the new LSH #1 coming in September will be more of the same as the Legion is largely unaffected by the new DCU. If that’s the case, I’m afraid I won’t be long with this title (or its sister title, Legion Lost), but I am hoping that Mr. Levitz wows me because I love the Legion so much.

Spider Island: Amazing Spider-Girl #1: While I didn’t love the Spider-Girl series as much as I did Batgirl, I still was not happy when it was cancelled after only 8 issues. So, at least I get a little more of Anya Corazon in this Spider Island tie-in. It’s nice to see Anya back with spider powers, but will she keep them after this mini-event is over? I hope so. The splash page ending of the Kingpin wall crawling was pretty cool to see, too. I’m looking forward to seeing where they take Anya next.

Zatanna #16: Yet another title that Oddfellow and I discussed in Ep. 8 (I hope you’re not tired of the plugs). While we had our issues with the plot, I thought it was a nice enough ending to a troubled series, and by that I mean it ended without aggravating me. We remain hopeful that the character will get to shine in Justice League Dark (but what a horrible name for a book).

Pull List Review (8/10/11 Comics)

Alpha Flight #3: Hrmph. The plot continues on, with the capture of the team from last issue being undone this issue, but what I find interesting this month is 1) Puck is back! Yay! 2) Why are the non-human characters so derisive (Snowbird) and almost anti-human (Namorita)? Did I miss something over the years when I wasn’t reading any Alpha Flight? Or is Pak and Van Lente wanting to play up that aspect of the two women? If so, to what end? It makes the characters one-dimensional and ineffectual. In fact, ALL of the women on the team are being portrayed as antagonistic. It makes me go hmm.

Batgirl #24: As I tweeted when I read it, “heartbreaking, bittersweet, beautiful”. Check out Episode 7 of the LBR podcast (coming soon!) for more of my and Oddfellow’s thoughts about this fantastic, wonderful, amazing book. Even though it’s over, you can still go buy the trades. In fact, I may buy all of the trades so I can read the story arcs whenever the mood strikes me, which I think will be quite often. And check out the great Dustin Nguyen cover featuring every major character from this two-year-old comic.

Batman & Robin #26: After Grant Morrison left, this book lost all its steam. A few writers tried to pick up the dropped ball, but it never really worked. This last issue was more of the same, but I also enjoyed it as a stand-alone Batman comic. The whole Dada angle was enjoyable, and for this dumb reader, an unexpected reveal when I got to the end of the issue. For more about this issue, listen to Episode 7.

Birds of Prey #15: No Gail Simone? Who cares? This two-parter was such a waste of the characters and my time. I’ve never cared for Lady Blackhawk, and Black Canary was little more than scenery. Seeing an aged Phantom Lady was kind of interesting, but not that much. Poor ending to what was a really good series.

Criminal: Last of the Innocent #3: Not to detract from what a good story Brubaker and Phillips are crafting, but I can’t help it. The best thing about this issue is the artricle at the end of the book by Jay Faerber on Magnum, P.I. Squee! Here’s a guy who just gets it–gets how great this tv detective (er, private investigator) show was. In fact, we share a love for one fo the show’s finest hours, “Home From the Sea”, which never fails to choke me up, even after all this time.

Fear Itself #5: This is mostly a fight issue, but there’s still some great moments:

  • Tony Stark telling Odin to give him access to Odin’s workshop because Tony makes really. great. weapons.
  • Thor having Mjolnir punch a hole through the possessed Ben Grimm, while telling the possessed Hulk, “And him I liked. But you? You were always a giant pain in the ass.” Hah!
  • Capt. America throws his unbreakable shield at the Serpent, who catches it and BREAKS into pieces!
  • (Hmm, I just noticed this: Thor and the Serpent both make the same guttural yell when the former strikes Hulk and the latter shatters Cap’s shield. Is there something to that, or is Fraction just word echoing?)
  • Spider-Man leaving to be with loved ones (and not sticking out the fight) and Cap, at the end, admitting defeat. The second bit is too much for me. It’s only in there to make the situation sound very dire–If Cap is ready to give up then it must be bad, Billy!–but besides losing the battle, the war continues, and who knows that better than Cap? This reads false to me, Fraction. Fix it next issue, please.

Flashpoint: Citizen Cold #3: So is the lightning strike at the end supposed to be poetic justice (is that Wally exacting revenge in a Flash way?), or just deus ex machina (I suppose it’s both)? Eh, it ended.

Flashpoint: Deadman & the Flying Graysons #3: This also ended, but in slightly better fashion. The art in this story was one of the better of the tie-ins, and even though Boston Brand’s character arc is rushed, he still gets there by helping Dick Grayson, who becomes the new Dr. Fate. Now that’s a Flashpoint tie-in that I want to read!

Flashpoint: Emperor Aquaman #3: I didn’t care for the third-person narration appearing on the first page and then more than half-way through the book–it was too distracting and telly, not showy. I enjoyed this and the Wonder Woman tie-in for the back story it gives me regarding the Atlantean/Amazonian war, but that’s about it.

Flashpoint: Frankenstein & the Creatures of the Unknown #3: If these tie-ins were a way to drum up interest in Frankenstein as a character in the new 52, I would say DC failed to hook me. I did like the monster squad aspect to the tie-in, but Frank is a one-note character in this title. And I hate that the creatures’ creator is still alive thanks to the restorative factors of his new home. Ugh.

Superman #713 & 714: For some reason, I didn’t receive 713 last week when I should have from my CBS, so I’ll write about both of these issues now. Hmm. In 713, Clark tells his proteges they should stop being public heroes and help behind the scenes, like he used to, convinced he and they could do more good that way, and not a risk to their loved ones. But then Clark goes through a kind of It’s a Wonderful Life arc in that a guide shows him that Superman is important to everyone. If you can’t tell, I was not too impressed with this bit of story telling–it’s so overdone. 714 is the finale of the “Grounded” arc. You may recall that mysterious woman who has been dogging Superman and affecting him in some way for reasons heretofore were unrevealed? Yeah, she’s just an Earth woman under the spell of a Kryptonian sunstone. THIS is what J. Michael Straczynski (and later Chris Roberson) was heading towards? Meh. As always, JMS started strong (I know this story had its many detractors, but I enjoyed it for a while), but the ending suuucked. Good thing Grant Morrison is back helming the Man of Steel in Action Comics.

War of the Green Lanterns Aftermath #2: What is with the ending where the Guardians go to Ganthet and approach him with these wide, threatening eyes, their hands reaching for him? The next panel shows the central power battery and Oa’s sun with Mogo’s lantern insignia surrounding it with a caption that reads “The end . . . for now”. I know that the new Green Lantern books come September will pretty much be intact from we have read already, so I hope that this mystery gets answered at some point–it’s just an odd way to end a mini-series that I thought was supposed to tie up some loose ends, but really didn’t.

I also read New Avengers #15 and Teen Titans #99 (17 pages of fight scenes ends on a two-page splash showing Titans Tower being protected by pretty much any other Titan from this latest volume). I have not read Unwritten #28 yet since my comic shop somehow missed giving me the issue.