Pull List Review (6/15/11 Comics)

Alpha Flight #1: There is a Fear Itself tie-in, but it’s the typical villain attacks a city plot so the tie-in is so thin. We get a lot more of the relationships of the characters, and how some things have changed since I last read an Alpha Flight comic. Northstar is his usual pricky self, but he’s less of a background character in this series (and I think will be an important part of the ongoing story). His sister hasn’t changed much, however. Nor has Sasquatch. Plus, Aurora’s and Sasquatch’s relationship seems like it has picked up where I left them back in 1986. Vindicator and Guardian are so generic in this issue, I couldn’t tell them apart, save for the fact of the genders, but that changes at the end of the issue in a WTF? moment. Shaman is as I remember him, and Snowbird is in this issue so little it’s hard to to tell anything yet about her. In fact, I enjoyed her appearance in issue 0.1 much more than this issue. Marrina has turned into a bad-ass, and she gets the comedic lines in this issue. She tells a foot soldier of the invading ocean army to “Die, Earth scum!” Guardian chastises her about that, and she says under her breath, “Die, human scum.” So, when did she take on this personality? I really liked the relationship between Northstar and his boyfriend as it has been shown in this and the point 1 issue, but considering what happens in this issue, I’m doubting we’ll see that relationship continue, which is too bad. Overall, I’m looking forward to seeing where this series goes with the characters.

Batgirl #22: I loved the team-up between Stephanie and Squire. And Pere Pérez is back on the art! Guy Major does a great job on colors as well, but it’s so nice that Pérez is back on this title. I liked Lee Garbet’s work when the title first came out, but when Pérez took over, I really enjoyed the art. Dustin Nguyen is not bad (his covers are awesome!), but he’s no Pérez. I just love the way Pérez renders Stephanie (and the other characters). The bit towards the end when Steph and Squire talk about their mentors and the relationships they do/don’t have with them was nicely done, and makes me look forward to reading Batman, Inc. #9. If Batgirl is in the issue, then it can only be better for it. Too bad Bryan Q. Miller isn’t also writing that issue of Batman, Inc.!

Flashpoint: Deadman & the Flying Graysons #1: Last time, I commented how the Citizen Cold series was the best Flashpoint tie-in that I’d read, but this title is now my favorite. The art in this is just gorgeous. Mikel Janin does a good job, but I suspect that the colorist, Ulises Arreola, is the one that puts the art in this book over the top. We get to see Dick Grayson performing as a young adult with his parents in a circus. I don’t think I’ve ever read a story depicting this, and it was quite lovely. Plus, you get some great images of things familiar, like Dick’s Nightwing-esque performance outfit, King Shark and Ragdoll as part of the circus, and Kent Nelson who “performs” as Fate, and who can also see how things are different in this new world. Boston Brand is the same brash and arrogant performer that we’ve always seen from his past, but he does get a taste of what Fate knows, so it will interesting to see how this affects the Deadman.

Flashpoint: Wonder Woman & the Furies #1: We get some history as to why Aquaman and Wonder Woman are at war, and it’s a tragic, though overused plot device. I did like how Aquaman’s outfit has green and yellow in it–it seems more fish-like to me in a way. I hope this gets better next issue. I think that’s the problem with the books that have a direct hand in the world of Flashpoint, like this one and Emperor Aquaman. DC is using these books to give us more the back-story details of the world we’re in, and the plot of those tie-ins suffers a bit since issue one is essentially a flashback, leaving two issues to get us into the meat of the story. We’ll see, I suppose. The Scott Clark and Dave Beaty art is good enough, though everyone’s chins and overall head shapes are similar. Finally, there’s a continuity error that bugs me: when one of the Amazons announces she has the murderous traitor, she is wearing armor, then, two panels later (and what can only be a few moments in “real” time), she has put the armor on the Atlantean and reveals him to the assembled crowd. I know the comic book gutter can be used to compress time, but that’s ridiculous.

LSH #14: I totally missed the contradictory copy on the cover as it relates to actual events in the book, but the Comics Rogue caught it, and it is funny–one of those bits of hyperbole in comics that I just tend to ignore. Does the guy in the blue flame look familiar to anyone else? I knew that Professor Li was more than what she seemed and even more so as evidenced by this issue. Finally, if you had a vision that your loved one may die, would you tell him or her, as Dream Girl did? Maybe I would if I thought it would warn them to be careful, but these are Legionnaires we’re talking about–death is their middle name.

Ruse #4: The mystery and villain have been dispatched, and the art seems improved in this final issue. I enjoyed the return of these characters, but missed the original artist and some of the fantastical elements of the original series. Plus, the showdown between  the heroes and the villain seem all too familiar if you’ve read the previous series–I mean, how many times can they go on “killing” the bad guy in similar ways? Maybe that spark is no longer here. If they came out with another mini, I’d probably get it just to see if things improve, but for now, I think I’d rather go read my CrossGen trades of this series.

Pull List Review (5/25/11 Comics)

FF #4: If I didn’t already kinda love Sue Richards, Marvel has Barry Kitson go and draw this issue of FF. Homina homina! Also, the interplay between Reed and his symposium guests is wonderful. He really is shown as the smartest man in the room, and it’s obvious to all who are in attendance why Reed and his family have beaten these adversaries time after time. As Sue told Spidey, “Do you think I should be afraid of them . . . or should they be afraid of me?” And, towards the end of the issue, a nice homage to the cover of FF #1. I cannot wait to see how Sue responds to these alternate Reeds, because this is really what this book is about for me: how Sue is awesome.

Green Lantern #66: Umm, did Krona just snuff Sinestro? Of course not, but it sure looks like it. Plus, we find that Indigo wasn’t always the compassionate creature we’ve been shown. And there’s a multi-colored panel of Hal and Guy getting zapped by Krona that the artists did a fantastic job on.

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Green Lantern Corps #60: The only interesting thing in this issue is that John Stewart kills Mogo to prevent the living planet from doing Krona’s bidding. If left alive, Mogo would allow Krona to succeed, so John does the mercy killing thing. Really? John already has issues with killing a planet’s population (from Cosmic Odyssey–go read it!), so why go there? Because only Nixon can go to China? I saw someone else’s review of this event and thought it was a good idea. I don’t get it–this bit just comes across as repetitive and unnecessary.

Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors #10: Again, only one interesting thing in this title: Guy Gardner saves the Green Lantern Corps (and not Hal). I love that Guy is the one that sets Parallax free from the central battery allowing the possessed corps to be free of its influence. Guy’s rallying cry of “I love the Corps! I hate being filled with rage!” as he uses the red and violet rings to tear the battery in two is comical but powerful.

Mighty Thor #2: It’s weird reading this at the same time as Fear Itself. Odin and Thor’s relationship is completely different in the two titles. I’d like to know where they fit in relation to each other as far as continuity. I will assume for now that Fear Itself comes first, especially since they are back in Asgard and we just saw Odin restore Asgard in the event book. The main plot point of this first arc begins: the Silver Surfer arrives in Asgard heralding Galactus’s intent to feast off of the energies from the World-Tree Seed (I think?). So, of course, we have to have the obligatory super–I was about to type “human” there, but neither Thor nor Silver Surfer are that, are they?–being fight. Another comparison to Fear Itself: Odin’s cryptic responses to everything (“You wouldn’t understand”) is getting old. I call lazy story telling (both title are written by Matt Fraction). It’s ok if you do it one book for suspenseful reasons, as long as it pays off in the end, but two? C’mon, Fraction.

Ruse #3: Whereas Sigil #3 was boring, this issue of Ruse really made me feel like I was reading the old series again, with all the wit and sass it used to have. Although, two odd things happen: Simon Archard loses his temper (for a good reason, imo), and he actually gives Emma credit for coming up with the solution to the two cases they are working on. Of course, Emma has no idea what Simon is talking about, but we will next issue.

Xombi #3: Another good issue from Rozum and Irving give us the battle between David and Marantha, and there are some cool visuals in this issue. One is the “dead” body of David after Maranatha takes a big ol’ chomp out of his side. Another is the POV of Maranatha as it gets blasted by the skull gun. The panel is colored in white and violet, with an almost negative quality to it. And then there’s the scolding a ghost gives us, the readers, essentially telling us that life is wasted on the living, though Rozum has a bunch more to say about it than that. There’s still the plot dangler where David must deal with Roland Finch, who put all the events of the last three issues into motion. Unfortunately, it appears that David Kim will only have this one problem to solve before the DC relaunch. I don’t get that. Why start a new series when you know that in a few months you’re not going to continue it? Considering DC’s “more diversity” line, Xombi fits the bill in at least two ways: the title character is Asian, and it’s not your typical superhero title. DC’s missing the boat not keeping this title in its line up.

Pull List Review (4/27/11 Comics)

Action Comics #900: It’s nearly 100 pages of Superman stories commemorating 900 issues of Action Comics. The first story is the continuation of the story that’s been building with Luthor. It was interesting to see the various times in Superman’s life that Luthor makes him relive as drawn by the artists of those particular stories. Anyone whose read this site knows of my dislike for Gary Frank’s Superman art, but I have to admit, Frank’s sequence in this issue (aside from the mouths I still I can’t stand) worked well enough, especially the look of hurt and regret and sympathy Superman gives to Lex after reliving the death of Jonathan Kent. The rest of the story is merely the sad continuation of Lex’s hubris, and the fight between the Superman family and the Doomsdays (to be continued in #901).

The Ryan Sook art of the second story is lovely and understated, befitting the tone of “Life Support”, though I did not care for the Krypton setting. I’m just not interested in stories about Superman’s biological parents. The Paul Dini three-page story is hardly worth the effort, but it is only three pages; however, the RB Silva/Rob Lean art is very good, especially the celestial hippo. Geoff John’s story (a four pager), was a nice little Clark and Lois moment, featuring the Legion of Super-Heroes.

The last story, if you want to call it that, was an annotated storyboard written by Richard Donner & Derek Hoffman. I do not share Geoff Johns’s reverence of Mr. Donner, and this “story” only furthers my distaste for Donner’s comic book work. Besides, Lois wouldn’t fall for the charm of the antagonist of the story–she’s married to Superman for crying out loud! Enough with Donner and his association to Superman. (And while I’m attempting to pick at the Reverend Donner, his director’s cut of Superman II? Not so great.)

The best story, however, was the second to last one, “The Incident”. It was much ballyhooed in the press, especially the conservative spin of it. Long story short, Superman renounced his U.S. citizenship because he was “tired of having my actions construed as instruments of U.S. policy. The world’s too small. Too connected.” Nothing may really become of this, but I applaud DC for taking at least this step in this character’s evolution. It seems right. But it pisses me off that the narrow-minded conservative talking heads out there only heard Superman say he was no longer an American and that somehow negates everything Superman actually stands for. If Superman were real, I would hope he would stand for the entire world, not just America. America is just one country, after all. What this world needs, what this country needs, is a good dose of world patriotism, not this jingoistic crap that’s infested America for too long. Ok, I’m stepping off the soapbox. But I really liked this story and think its detractors need to open their eyes, as Superman did in it.

Brightest Day #24: Ok, the ending to this maxi-series was kind of a let down, but I totally loved the journey. The writing and art of this series was top notch for the most part (the early Firestorm stuff I wasn’t too keen on), and it got me excited for an upcoming Aquaman series–that’s never happened before. Plus, my beautiful Dove had more screen time, as it were (even if she did fall in love with Deadman). Sure, the destinies of the resurrected heroes and villains felt somewhat forced at times, but I like the idea that our choices, however small, can impact things in a greater way, even if we can’t see it.

So, Swamp Thing is back and he’s now the Earth’s champion–not totally original, but ok. Him murdering greedy, anti-environmental businessmen–how will that play out? We all “sin” against the Earth every day–should we all be punished for driving our vehicles? For not recycling? For being too complacent or jaded to force our government to act for our environment instead of slowly killing us all? Where will your eye for an eye justice end, oh Thing of the Swamp? Perhaps some of these things will be answered in the Brightest Day Aftermath series coming in June.

Mighty Thor #1: Given the excitement I felt about the movie, I wanted to check out this new series. Unfortunately, I did not get that same sense of excitement from this book. It’s not a bad start: Galactus is coming, and Thor pulled a seed from the World Tree and has been affected by it in some way that I’m sure is relevant. The art is ok (I do like the coloring quite a bit), though Thor’s head looks little too Neanderthalish to me. Anyway, I’ll read a few more issues to see how it’s going.

Ruse #2: Unlike my reading of Sigil, I very much enjoyed this second issue of Ruse. So much is going on in this series in comparison. I find it interesting that Waid seems to have totally dropped the fact that Emma is a witch, but maybe it will come up in the next issue when Emma has to fight, bare-knuckled, woman vs. woman in an underground match. That Simon Archard is a right bastard! The art continues to not impress me–it seems to be a little better this time, but still inconsistent, especially in the way the main characters are shown.

Wonder Woman #610: I know the cover is cliché, but I still really like it. What I am getting tired of in this storyline are all the fight scenes. The majority of the individual issues and the majority of the total issues has been filled with fight scenes. I know that seems strange to complain about in a superhero comic book, but for some reason, I expect more character growing and less fisticuffs in this title. At least Diana now has her Lasso of Truth, which I find extremely funny since she uses it tied as a noose (which, by thew way, how did she tie it into a noose so quickly? In one panel, she’s admiring it, and the next time we see it, it’s in a noose. The events of the panels do not seem to indicate that she’s tying it in any kind of knot.). We finally see Steve Trevor, though as a doctor. I would have been fine not ever seeing him in this storyline–I find him the weakest member of Diana’s supporting cast.

I also read Batman, Inc. #5, Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors #9, and FF #2, but since I haven’t yet reviewed FF #1, the #2 review will have to wait.

Pull List Review (3/16/11 Comics)

So, no foolin’ (heh), I’m only going to write about the issues where I actually have something to say. So, while I continue to enjoy, for example, Unwritten, I really have nothing to say about it. So, if you notice gaps in the series I usually write about, now you know why.

Adventure Comics #524: Hmm, I’m starting to like this Chemical Kid. Yeah, he’s a spoiled brat, but he also not afraid to put his Legion trainers in their place and do what he knows is right (i.e., he’s starting to have some depth of character). Oh, and Black Mace shows up. I remember first reading Black Mace in a 1970s issue of Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes. One nit (maybe?): Black Mace’s mace seems to grow in size panel to panel–that can’t be right, can it? Towards the end of the issue, we get a page of Cosmic Boy (this is what this story and title needs more of, my favorite Legionnaire!) talking to some old-time Academy members: Lamprey, Power Boy, Nightwind, & Crystal Kid (who, interestingly, are all from Earth). I know time is fluid in comics, but those four have been trying for years to get into the Legion. I find it hard to believe that they’re all still at it instead of trying to be a hero on some, as Duplicate Girl said, “outerworld”. Just give ’em membership already!

Brightest Day #22: When this series started, the Firestorm part was my least favorite, but over time, that has changed, and in this issue, we get a kick-ass Firestorm vs. the Anti-Monitor and Deathstorm fight (okay, not so kick-ass, but still enjoyable). I loved it when Firestorm grabs the white power battery saying “hello” and the battery responds in kind. It’s a goofy little thing, but it was a nice change of pace. Of course, something bad happens (hint: someone dies, well, a bunch of things die, but someone important to Firestorm, duh), and then the last page hints at Earth-shattering DOOM! Only two more issues to go in what has been a really good year-long series.

DC Universe: Legacies #10: The last issue. I really wished I hadn’t bought this series. It wasn’t what I thought it was going to be, even with the normal human angle spin they took with it. I mean, I have family members who have died of cancer and I couldn’t get emotionally vested in that subplot. It was just too hackkneyed of a presentation. And the frame for the whole thing? You know, the old man telling the story of the DC Universe? I’ve been waiting to find out just who he’s been talking to and why he’s doing it. Was he just talking to himself? A youngster that he would pass on his fascination and hobby of collecting stories about the goings-on in the DCU (like Barbara Gordon or Calculator!). Or maybe it was the Justice League or Legion of Super-Heroes for some reason? But no, it was just his nursing home caregiver that he tells the story to every night. Snooze. I knew going in that it probably wouldn’t be that good, but I had hope. Unfortunately, I was both right and wrong. Yay me. :T Don’t buy the trade, or pick it up in the dollar bin (heh, I used to know that as the quarter bin). See? I’m old like that guy in the comic….

Ruse #1: Oh, hey, how’d that Marvel comic get on my pull list? ;) Oh, wait, this is the CrossGen revival of my my favorite series from that line. It was an ok reunion. This first issue seems to lack the spark that drew me in to the original series, despite it being written by Mark Waid. The Mirco Pierfederici art is fine enough, but not as dynamic as I recall the original series art as being (I know, that is definitely not a fair comparison). I wonder what Marvel’s game plan is for these resurrected CrossGen titles. Do the minis and then see about an ongoing? Or do a series of minis?

Superman #709: Oh, that old Superman vs. Flash chestnut. How quaint. Actually, despite the visual homage on the cover, I liked how Flash and Superman interacted in this story, but didn’t care for Superman wondering just which of them is actually faster. God, I hate that conceit. It should always be the Flash. If you take away the whole “fastest man alive” thing, then what does the Flash have to offer? Superman is the all-around “most powerful” superhero–he doesn’t need to be fastest man on Earth. At least the artist showed Superman sweating and struggling as he raced to capture the runaway Flash, which makes Superman’s thought about who is faster even more disingenuous. Tsk tsk, Mr. Writer (I’d sure like to know if that was a Straczynski or Roberson thing). Curiously, I was okay with the one-panel nod to Superboy #4 featuring a Superboy vs. Kid Flash race (of course, I haven’t read that issue yet).