Pull List Review (6/22/11 Comics)

Brightest Day Aftermath: The Search for Swamp Thing #1: Hmm. I was looking forward to this considering how much I enjoyed Brightest Day, but I might have been sold a bill of goods. Yes, it’s kind of nice to see John Constantine interacting with superheroes, and the bit between him and Zatanna was kinda cool, however brief (Marco Castiello and Vincenzo Acunzo drew Zee very well), but overall, I’m confused. In Brightest Day, I thought we were shown that the Alec Holland Swamp Thing had returned to be the champion of the Earth, but here, Holland shows up crawling out of a Louisiana swamp apparently not a swamp thing. I’m confused, and I shouldn’t be. What a way to squander the good feeling I had about the Brightest Day storyline, DC.

Flashpoint: Kid Flash Lost #1: I didn’t think I was going to like this comic that much, and while it isn’t great, it’s not as bad as I thought it would be. But can I just say how much I HATE it when writers make androids say things like “Statement” and then have the character make the statement (they have Red Tornado in Batman: Brave and the Bold do that, too). Do they think it’s cute or something? It’s so 1950s robot and should forever be abolished. Anyway. So we have another Flash who knows that the time stream is not what it should be, but since much of this issue is Kid Flash escaping the clutches of Brainiac (and is this a shout out to the world of DCUO?), not much goes on here. Actually, I’m starting to see a pattern with these Flashpoint tie-ins: many of the first issues so far barely have a chance to set up the premise before they’re over. We only get three issues, so I’m starting to think the actual story for each of these is pretty thin, and that kind of pisses me off. I guess I should reserve judgement until I read issue 2 of each, though.

Flashpoint: Lois Lane & the Resistance #1: This one kind of bored me. The only bit of character drama here was Lois’s desire to continue what Jimmy was involved with regarding the Resistance, but the Lois we’re shown at the beginning of the story definitely isn’t the Lois Lane I love. I’m getting worried that this is an indication of the kind of Lois we’ll end up with post-Flashpoint. Again, I’m probably judging prematurely. Regarding the cover, you’ll see the Canterbury Cricket and the Demon, but much like many of the covers for these tie-ins, they do not appear in this issue; however, the cover does tie into the story of the Canterbury Cricket one-shot, so why didn’t that come out first? Odd timing.

Flashpoint: The Reverse Flash #1: When I read this, it felt like it was an epilogue to Flash: Rebirth, or at least the first six issues of the latest Flash series. It doesn’t really seem to have anything to do Flashpoint per se, but maybe the events in the main even book will bear this comic out in some way.

Mighty Thor #3: That’s a pretty bitchin’ cover. Unfortunately, what’s inside is pretty standard fare. Thor beats up on Silver Surfer, and the Asgardians prepare for war with Galactus (wearing some pretty Kirby-esque armor). Also, there’s the very uninteresting story B involving Volstagg and the people of Broxton. I will go low-brow here for a moment and comment how well Olivier Coipel and Mark Morales draw Lady Sif. Heh. I can’t decide if I like this series or not. I think I expect a more action oriented Thor series and I’m not getting that so far.

This cover has NOTHING to do with the interior

Sigil #4: This was a waste of time. Not much really happens, other than the protagonist becomes aware that she has special abilities. I bought this not knowing what to expect, and knowing that I love Mike Carey’s work, but I didn’t really care about any of it.

Superman #712: As with Sigil, this was a waste of time. I usually don’t mind breaks in the main story for a one issue diversion, and they’ve already done that once with the Lois Lane story, but this time, it didn’t work for me. Maybe I just don’t identify with Krypto? Yes, you kinda feel for the mutt, but this was a filler issue, and it shows, despite Kurt Busiek’s involvement. Let’s get back to the “Grounded” storyline, shall we?

Zatanna #14: Wow! Two stories in a row where Zee doesn’t get gagged or tied up! But the whole bit with her lecturing her cousin seems awfully familiar. Other than that, it’s a generic rescue plot, with Zee coming across as the uptight, older family member. And the joke at the end? Lame-o. Certainly not worth a splash page. This title being cut come September is a mercy killing.

I also read Batman: Gates of Gotham #2 (yawn) & JLA #58 (which was actually somewhat entertaining and not as cringe-inducing as usual).

Pull List Review (5/18/11 Comics)

Alpha Flight #0.1: Back in the 80s, John Byrne’s Alpha Flight was one of my very favorite titles, so now Marvel is giving us the old team back in a newish way. To start this review, you gotta love that Phil Jimenez cover! A pity he’s not doing the interiors. Jimenez does a great job evoking Byrne’s art on that original run. The interior art is done by Ben Oliver and Dan Green, and it’s pretty damn good. It has a painted quality to it, so maybe colorist Frank Martin deserves a large portion of the kudos as well. I found it interesting that Aurora is shown on the cover in her later gold and white costume, but inside she’s wearing her old black & white suit. Also, Sasquatch is the only character that does not look like the “original” version from Byrne’s era (Jimenez did it correctly on the cover, though).

The story by Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente is a well enough reintroduction story that sets up some things that I’m sure will show up in the limited series. I’m looking forward to it.

Batman & Robin #23: This was to be the last arc of this series for me, but it’s now being canceled in the wake of the DC relaunch. I will probably get the last issue that follows this arc (26) just to see how it ends. This issue, however, demonstrates just how bad ass Jason Todd is. And he is shown that way, but I just don’t buy it. I never did. Jason was never this smart. He was capable, and fearless, but he did not live long enough before the Joker killed him to obtain the skills and resources he supposedly possesses. Plus, how is it that he appears to be about the same age as Dick? I just don’t buy this guy at all. But if I forget the past and just go with the idea of Jason Todd as a former protégé of the Batman, I actually enjoyed this story a bit. Todd’s demeanor and past with Batman (both of them) makes for some fun interplay. And did you notice the two artists on this issue? I think I prefer Andrei Bresson’s art just slightly more than Guillem March’s, but both did a fine enough job.

Batman: Gates of Gotham #1: Hmm. I’m not sure about this one. I like the idea of the Bat family getting together for one last hurrah that includes ties to Gotham’s past before the DC relaunch, but I just wasn’t drawn into this like I thought I might be based on the solicitation. Then there’s the art, by Trevor McCarthy–I don’t care for it. Too jaggedy, too many lines. It sort of reminds me of the art in Invincible, line-wise, but this is too much. I need to decide after issue two if I should stick around for the five issues.

Teen Titans #95: I mostly liked the imagery of this issue, because the story was a yawner–the plot progresses, but it just isn’t that interesting. I’ve complained before about Nicola Scott’s work on this title in the past, but she does do well on certain characters, and I love her rendition of Ravager. Speaking of Ravager, when this newest Teen Titans group was announced, I looked forward to having Ravager around. Unfortunately, she has been underused–the best bits with her involved her pairing with Damian Wayne. I also like how Scott and the color artist, Jason Wright, render Kid Flash. His costume comes across as sleek and shiny, befitting a speedster. Another good image is Rankor spitting out demonic locusts at Kid Flash, and then at the end of the issue when Rankor sits upon a nine-headed, ten-armed, golem-like stone creature.

Zatanna #13: Oh. My. God. Zatanna doesn’t get tied up or gagged. Her father isn’t mentioned. What the hell?! Where is my usual Zatanna experience? ;) The whole Spectre scene seems to be a green herring (though I’m guessing he’ll show up in the next issue or two), and the revelation that Brother Night is a character’s father is just so cliché. So far, issue 12 has been my favorite. Plus, I’m relieved that this title is being canceled because of the DC relaunch (you’re going to read that a lot over the next couple months, I think)–it’s a mercy killing!

I also read JLA #57 (I cannot wait for the Justice League title from Johns and Lee in September! Maybe that will be enough to sooth the sting that was this James Robinson run), LSH #13 (even though Paul Levitz is writing the new title coming in September, I’m hopeful we get better storytelling), and Sigil #3 (wow, the most boring issue so far).

Pull List Review (4/20/11 Comics)

I have been so lazy. I read these comics a few weeks ago, and yet, here we are over a month later. Bah! Enough self-flagellation! On with the reviews!

Green Lantern #65: Since the GL power battery is compromised, Hal gives the other Earthmen GL’s the rings of his former “band of brothers” (now trapped in the Book of Oa). It was interesting that John was going to choose the orange ring, but Hal talked him out of it. I would have liked some more on John’s choice, however. What was going through his head as to why he’d want the ring of avarice? And why does he get fatigues with a headband for a uniform? Hal doesn’t wear a jet pilot’s uniform. The other two wear variations of their GL outfits. Is this really how John thinks of himself?

Green Lantern Corps #59: I just like the cover. I’m glad I’m not reading this regularly–I can’t stand the interior art (assuming the artist was on before the War of the GLs started).

Sigil #2: I liked this issue much better than the first one, despite the fact that I’m really no closer to understanding what the heck is going on. Too, the period language got a little grating since there was so much of it. You would think I would appreciate the authenticity of the narrative, but it mostly stuck out like a sore thumb, as if the writer was trying to impress me with his knowledge of 17th century sailor talk, and I love Mike Carey’s work usually. I’m still somewhat engaged by the story, but we’re two down with two to go, so I’m wondering when things will start moving.

Sixth Gun #11: My favorite character is this series by far is Becky. Cullen Bunn has created a very interesting fantasy/horror story wrapped in a Western setting. They should make a movie out of this. I did find it strange and was somewhat pleased that a new storyline starts with the next issue, #12. How will the story up to #11 be traded now? Or is this one of those rare comic books where the story just goes as long as it needs to, and is not “written for the trade”?

Teen Titans #94: So we have the ultra-brooding Raven back (see, this is the trouble with reading comics for a long time: everything old is new again), and I find it very annoying. I did like, however, Solstice’s comment to Red Robin (god, I hate typing that name out–pick another identity, Tim, now that Bruce is back): “And here I thought all Americans only knew about Greek mythology”. Pretty much. I have to admit, I know almost nothing about Hindu mythology, but I’d like to know more now.

Zatanna #12: I actually enjoyed this issue, the first time through it. Zee got to use her powers in an inventive way, even if it wasn’t her that figured out what to do (ok, in a way she did, but the fairy gets most of the credit). Though, the palindromes at the end did get a little grating, but at least one of the characters pointed that out to Zee. Also, I loved the bit at the beginning with Zee using flash cards to practice words she may need to use. And then there was the page and a half wher Zee is touring magical spots in San Francisco–I liked the narrative there. On the negative side, however, “Backslash”? Really? Wouldn’t “Backspace” be more appropriate? Anyway, it’s as if Sturges used this issue to show how clever he is with words, but it falls very short, and the joke goes on too long. I want to be done with this series, but I keep thinking it’ll be canceled soon (maybe after August’s issue, when the DCU starts all over again?), so at least I’ll have the full run (and I do love the character). Is that worth it…? At the very least, I’ll get some lovely Adam Hughes covers for a few more months.

I also read JLA #57 and LSH #12 (such a ringing endorsement of those titles, wouldn’t you agree?).

Pull List Review (3/9/11 Comics)

Batgirl #19: Gah! I just noticed this on the issues of Spider-Girl that I just read: we have a new artist on this Batgirl issue and I find I’m not liking these artist change ups. But it appears that this was a fill in since even the cover states Dustin Nguyen as the issue artist (he did do the cover, which looks amazing), but it’s really Ramon Bachs, and according to the DC Comics website, Dustin’s back for issue 20 (and Pere Pérez is back on 22!). It’s not as if Bachs’s art is bad, but I do like Nguyen’s better. Am I just getting too old and cranky? Yes, probably. :) As to the issue, I enjoyed the interaction between Batgirl and Gotham’s newest masked vigilante, the Gray Ghost. He should provide a bit of amusement for a while.

Batman and Robin #21: Meh. This title used to be so much fun (thank you, Mr Morrison). Now, not so much. This latest arc by Peter Tomasi is somewhat interesting, but not very engaging, and it’s over next issue. These three-issue arcs by different teams just isn’t working for me. I think I’m done with this title very soon.

Batman, Inc. #3: I made a comment regarding issue #1 (I think) about how the artist portrayed female and male characters differently, with the women looking curvy and, well, feminine, while the men looked rough and angular. I want to amend that because I think it has more to do with the inker. Regardless, we get more pretty women and macho looking guys in this issue. I do love the little bits from Morrison that I have come to expect. After Batman asks if El Gaucho wants to be part of Batman, Inc., and Gaucho tells him no, Batman responds with, “Wait a minute. You said what?” Hah! I love that Batman is surprised by the answer. Later, Gaucho asks Batman why he’s impersonating Bruce Wayne, and says, “I’ve met Wayne and you don’t fool me.” Again I say, hah! The layers of identity are getting thick here, and yet another reason I love Morrison’s take on this character. And apparently the glowing bat symbol is intentional, as revealed at a C2E2 panel recently, and not just an artistic interpretation. Batman can turn it on and off as it suits him (usually when holding beaten thugs he’s about to interrogate). Gag.

Birds of Prey #10: What I loved most about this issue? Huntress gets to shine. I’ve never really cared for Huntress after Crisis because she was just another pissed off vigilante with a crossbow to set her apart from Batman. And here in Birds of Prey she is little more than a background character when Black Canary is around, though I do love the interaction between the two. But here, Huntress takes charge (and yes, she’s bad ass, but we already knew that) and effectively saves herself, Dove, and the waste of ink that is Lady Blackhawk (that lobs for you, Oddfellow ;)). I really loved it when she threatens Calculator with the idea that he’s brought down the wrath of all metahumans who owed Oracle a favor: “Congratulations. You just pissed off Superman.” Another hah! (Though, wouldn’t it have been better to say Batman?) And even when Black Canary does show up to pummel the bad guys, she tells Huntress her plan for Helena: “Go be Huntress, would you?” This is why I loved this book from issue one: the interaction between the characters, and the love and respect they have for each other. Anyway, what Dinah means is to scare the shit out of Calculator, which Huntress does. Final thing: I really like how Batgirl is featured in the background (center) of the cover.

Guarding the Globe #4: I’m just not that excited about this book. I keep thinking any superhero book written by Kirkman will be like Invincible, but they haven’t been. The Astounding Wolf-Man and now this title both pale in comparison to how I feel about Invincible. I do like the art, however, and some small bits, like Yeti and the sort of depth of the problems that Chupacabra brings to the title, but it’s not enough. If this gets turned into a regular series, or even another limited series, I won’t be along for the ride.

Legion of Super-Villains: Wow, Saturn Queen is bad ass. I remember when she was pale reflection of Saturn Girl. When she actually gets her team of bad guys to the Rock of Eternity I actually said, outloud, “Whoa.” So, good one, Mr Levitz. And then when she collides two planets onto the Rock? Again with the wow. I can’t wait to see where this is going. One nit: I know I missed a lot of Legion stuff between the end of my tenure with the 5-Years-Later team and the Waid reboot series, but last I knew, Mekt was reformed and living with Garth and Imra on Ranzz. When did he become all “I hate the Legion” again? I don’t care for that return to the past. Curious, too, why have this as a special? Why not have it part of the LSH book?

Sigil #1: The first of the revived CrossGen series from Marvel. I never read the original book, so this is all new to me, but it’s written by Mike Carey, who has never disappointed me. Well, until now, but only in a bit of characterization. Now maybe I’m missing some vital information from the previous series, but the way Tamara is portrayed as wanting to beat the shit out of Samantha at the end of the issue seems a little too much. She’d really break down a door at school to do that? Too Hulk smash! for me. I’m intrigued by the time (or is it world?) hopping that Samantha does, and the promise of great power. I am aware that the yin-yangish sigil was shown across the CrossGen books, so I assume that Samantha is very important to the whole CrossGen world and I’m wanting to know more. I loved the cover art (by Jelena Djurdjevic), and the interior art (by Kirk & Tadeo) is not bad, though some pages seem rushed.

Wonder Woman #608: Continuing the trend, I like this cover, too. Unfortunately, this issue is just one big fight scene, with Diana getting the snot beat out of her. If not for the timely arrival of Dr. Psycho, she would have been toast.

Zatanna #10: That cover’s a little creepy, yeah? At the risk of being repetitive, why is this series so repetitive? First, there were all of the Zatarra appearances, and now we get a lot of bondage situations involving our favorite superhero magician. Plus, the situation Zatanna finds herself in where she’s trapped in a spell where she has no free will is similar to the story where she almost married that casino owner. I know there’s nothing new under the sun (if you’ll pardon the cliché), but variations of the same story within 10 issues of a title is insulting, to me and to the character that Paul Dini purports to love. DC, please get somebody else on this title. I love the idea of a Zatanna comic, but written by someone new. I’ll stick around for the return of Brother Night, but then we’ll see if I stick with this title.