Wednesday, December 21, 2011

$30 Pull List for 12/21/2011


Had to make budget this week, so someone gets the axe. Who is it? Let’s find out in the $30 Pull List.

Solid:
Hellblazer #286:Pick of the Week Consistency is good when you keep it at a high level. Hellblazer does just that. Wrapping up the Trenchcoat plot and continuing on with the tale of Gemma and John’s search for peace between them, this issue hits all the marks you want it to.

Catwoman #4: Judd Winick continues to bring the good on Catwoman. Not as good at 1-3, but good enough to be rated a solid and not slip.

Wolverine and the X-Men #3: Speaking of continuing to bring the good. WATX is more of the old Excalibur crazy goodness that starts confusing, gets more confusing, then manages to wrap itself up in a thoroughly non-confusing and humorous manner. Sometimes, you just want a fun superhero comic, and right now, this is the only one on the shelves.

Cobra #8: With the Cobra Civil War over, the new Commander starts to set the business of global domination on a new track. A brief interlude that helps establish the new status quo.

Chopping Block:
Birds of Prey #4: Dropping hard this week. Steals a plot point from Batman. Tells, doesn’t show. Writing is off. Character moments are almost nonexistent. Not a good issue.

Thunderbolts #167: Slipping down again is Thunderbolts. Nothing particularly bad here, just not very good, and in a heavy week, not very good gets you a down grade.

Red Hood and the Outlaws #4: I believe Asimov said, “Get the little things right and people will buy the big things.” Or it might have been Clarke. Either way, Red Hood and the Outlaws fails to get the little things right, and it hurts this issue in a big way. I will accept, even encourage cheesecake art and poses if you got a decent story to tell, but you haven’t got one here. You also have the dumbest B story I have read this year happening with Starfire in a moment ripped from Superman 2.

Justice League #4: Continues with being the dumbest, most inept, egotistical, poorly written, muddled artwork mess on the stands today. DC needs to scrap their “Flagship” title and take it back to the drawing board in very short order.

Mass effect Invasion #3: Still the worst of the Mass Effect tie-ins. Still incomprehensible if you haven’t played the 2 games and read the 3 novels, and reading the other comics wouldn’t hurt as well.

Death Row:
GI Joe: A Real American Hero: Didn’t even make it home. I looked at my stack, knew it was too rich for the week and gave it the axe. Good night.

Total Price: $32.93
Image from dcwikia.com

Thursday, December 15, 2011

$30 Pull List for 12/14/2011


Well, a moderate week tempered by the handy dandy frequent shopper card. Let's see what makes the cut on this week's Pull List.

Solid:
Batgirl #4: Babs uses her best attribute, her brains, to set a trap for Mirror and change the battlefield to one that she controls. A heartwarming moment is interrupted by someone I'm not sure Barbara really wants to see. Nice wrap up for the first story arc.

Suicide Squad #4: Pick of the Week Proving that Blackest Night/Brightest Day is no longer in continuity, the Squad, lead by Captain Boomerang 1 goes on a retrieval mission where the ransom for their target is has an unexpected price. The issue ends with less than 20 minutes to live, the Squad has to stop a riot that may have one of their own at it's heart.

Blue Estate #8: A transition issue that opens the next chapter after issue 7's climax. It's the expected lull as plost start to wrap themselves up.

Avengers Academy #23 In what I am sure is not a coincidence, X-23 joins the band. Stryker and Julie Powers have a heart to heart, and Reptil is still his future self and playing a game to ensure his family isn't erased from history. Despite all that, this has was a weak issue for the series, but not as weak as the Fear Itself tie-ins.

Chopping Block
Demon Knights #4 Why did this slip? Start with a new origin for the Shining Knight that invalidates the superb Seven Soldiers of Victory, makes the character a fairly generic knight figure, and happens to be a boring waste of 3/4s of the issue. That's why this slips.

Deathstroke #4 Why did this slip. Because as amusing as Slade going psycho-killer on everyone was for 3 issues, by 4, I want more. And the little bit of plot this had was not enough. Even the BIZ cover was lackluster.

Image from dcwikia.com

Thursday, December 8, 2011

$30 Pull List for 12/07/11

Another light week for the pull list. Only 5 issues this week made it home. So, lets see what we got.

Solid:
GI Joe #8: The new Cobra Commander is crowned (helmeted?) then another contender steals the title by proving to be a better manipulator and schemer. GI Joe is under a congressional inquiry and things are not going well for Destro.

Penguin Pain and Prejudice #3: Red Skull started out strong, then sunk quickly. P^3 started weak and has gotten better. This issue explores the two sides of Oswald Cobblepot while Batman looks on. Very good character work.

Hellblazer Annual 2011:Pick of the Week With the awesome covers and the legendary stylized work in Heavy Metal, I sometimes forget Bisley is still really good a sequential story telling. John is forced to confront something from his past and how it affects the future. Once again, it shows that people who get close to John meet with tragedy.

Huntress #3: Huntress is still tracking her target but having trouble getting the shot she needs. Half way through the series and still going strong.

Chopping Block
Green Arrow #4: Favorite thing about this issue is that JT Krul's name is not on the cover. A step in the right direction, but it still needs to get better before it becomes solid. Giffen will get at least 3 issues to impress me.

Total Price: $19.43

Thursday, December 1, 2011

$30 Pull List for 11/30/11




Ultralight 5th week. Whatever happened to 5th week events anyway? I liked those. Only 4 issues made it home, and not all of them were good.

Solid:
Cobra #7: Steeler is discovered and Blacklight makes his move. Joes get shot. A lot of action for a normally more cerebral comic.

Thunderbolts #166Pick of the Week. Mr. Hyde plays Mr. Ripper as the T-Bolts land in Victorian London. Thunderbolts has hugely improved recently. Even if this hadn't been a light week, this would be a PotW contender.

Death row:
Red Skull Incarnate #5: Well, it was better than issue 3 & 4, but not anywhere near the promise of issue #1.

Fables #111: Done. When you kill a beloved comic relief character and I don't care, it's time to give it up. Good bye Fables.

Total Cost: $14.03
Image from marvel.wikia.com

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

$30 Pull List for 11/23/11


Light week with only 6 issues coming in this week. Helps make up for the heavy week last week. It's the day before Thanksgiving, and I know we are all thankful for the Pull List.

Solid:
Wolverine and the X-Men #2:Pick of the Week. Picking up where issue 1 ended, the new Hellfire Club is throwing down with Wolvie & crew. Iceman pulls a new power stunt and shows that maybe these years of us being told he was one of the most powerful mutants on the planet is actually true. We also see Broo get named and fall in love, Kitty get kissed, and Hank worry about having left some Frankenstein on. More crazy goodness.

Secret Avengers #19: The high point of Warren Ellis's run so far, and a serious step up from the last few issues.Good pacing, good action, and good dialogue. That makes this a good issue.

Teen Titans #3: Kid Flash pulls a Billy from Family Circle and Tim makes a new friend. This is kind of a mediocre issue which really only serves to introduce a new character.

Justice League Dark #3: John Constantine is John Constantine and seems to be a bit of a magical Magpie. Deadman is still a disturbing sexual predator. shade goes looking for a new member. Enchantress finally finds June. Moving forward at a good pace and in an interesting way, that makes this pretty good.

Hellblazer #285: The penultimate chapter of Constantine's coat hunt brings the three storylines together, as John tracks the demon summoner, the mafia plans to bring the war to John, and the coat tags along for the ride.

Captain America & Bucky #624: The final issue of Brubaker/Andreyko's run on Cap sees the story come full circle, with Bucky telling his tale of life as the Winter Soldier. This period has really been the low point of Brubaker's Cap, which until this year had been an incomparable run of awesomeness that only the first 100 issues of Fables came close to matching for long term excellence. But really, the time has come for new writers.

Image from marvel.wikia.com
Total cost: $21.95

Thursday, November 17, 2011

$30 Pull List for 11/16/11


Heavy week, kind of makes up for the last two light weeks. Despite the budget busting, I'm still very pleased. This has been one of the most enjoyable weeks in comics in months. for the first time in weeks, my choice for pick of the week wasn't based on which comic rose above the mediocre, but between multiple seriously good issues that all deserved the slot. But only one issue gets the most coveted prize in comics, the $30 Pull List Pick of the Week.

Perma-Pull:
Blue Estate #7: Three plots intersect as Rachel is forced to do some improvisation. All the threads become weaved together bloody violence.

Solid:
Red Hood and the Outlaws #3: Pick of the Week. You get some good background on the characters here. That is the main thing with this issue. History, background, personality is all delivered quickly, deftly and with excellent artwork. The final 4 pages are tragic and touching.

Birds of Prey #3: We get to see that Ivy’s power set has changed a little. We also find out that explosives triggered by nursery rhymes can be inserted by physical contact three times. We also get a dubious anatomy cover. I’m still on the ledge about this comic. It might be dipping into Chopping Block level.

Catwoman #3: Judd Winick continues to tell a hell of a story. Catwoman’s escapades catch up to her and it costs her a friends. This issue sets a quick pace and ends on a cliffhanger. Good stuff here, it leaves me wanting more.

Batman #3: Batman gets close to the Talon and the Court of Owls, maybe too close for their liking. This issue is good, but not great. One of the issues is Greg Capullo imitating Howard Chaykin’s style. For me, some of Chaykin’s best work has been when his art work doesn’t have his signature style, like Bite Club.

Thunderbolts #165: Thunderbolts claws its way back into the Solid range. Finally an issue that is better than good enough. Witty, quick, and exciting. About damn time.

Snake Eyes #7: This was almost a perma-pull, but the last few issues have been mediocre. Even with Kwinn making his second appearance. Better than issue 6, but still not up to the first 4's standards.

Avengers Academy #22: Hank calls in a favor to get Magneto to take a look around the death of Jocasta. This does not go well as accusations are leveled at Quicksilver and the kids decide to stick up for their teacher. Nice little character developing issue.

Chopping Block:
Justice League #3: Modern comic writing is built around the trades. So a story arc runs about 6 issues. That's about 120 pages, give or take. We are 60 pages in now. It took half the arc to introduce all the characters, we still have no sighting of the villain, and no sign of an actual villainous plan. Wonder Woman, Flash and Cyborg are so far the only characters that aren't assholes. For DC's Flagship title, this has been lackluster at best.

Captain America #4: Four issues into the new run, not feeling it. Pacing is poor, the plot is meh, the art is inconsistent. Really, I expect more from Brubaker, who this time two years ago, I would have read his interpretation of a phone book.

GI Joe: A Real American Hero #172: Darklon is captured, but Lady Jaye is seriously wounded. One of the Ninjas Three doesn't make it as a new techno-ninja surfaces. I seriously debated demoting this to Death Row this week.

Mass Effect: Invasion #2: The Mass Effect comics have always been the weak link in the series. This is the weakest of the weak link. It makes no sense if you aren't already up on the fiction, the art is murky, vague, and unattractive. If I wasn't already emotionally invested in the series and Mass Effect 3, I would be avoiding this like self inflicted groinal contusions.

Total Price: $43.72
Image from dc.wikia.com

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

$30 Pull List for 11/9/2011


Light week with not much compelling on the shelves. It also marks the 1st time for an All DC PULL LIST EXTRAVAGANZA!

Solid:
Demon Knights #3: Xanadu buys time for preparations against Mordu’s horde at great expense. It doesn’t look good as only Vandal, Sir Yustin and Exoristos look ready to stand and fight at the end. Good issue, but suffers from a common plague amongst the New 52, it needs to pick up the pace a little.

Huntress #2: Stupid artwork mistake aside, Huntress #2 is really good. Being a limited series, there is an economy of storytelling that is missing from DC’s other fair that really helps the pacing. A good issue and a good follow up for #1. Now if we only knew how this fit into continuity.

Suicide Squad #3:Pick of the Week. Really close week this week, but the Squad snags the title for being more fun than any other comic this week. The dynamics of the team are explored and we begin to get insights into the characters, their personalities and motivations. We also learn that Waller has no intention of ever letting the Squad rest and is willing to rotate leadership if she is displeased or challenged.

Batgirl #3: The runner up for pick of the week. Babs misreads Mirror's intentions and gets many people killed for it. She also does a little romantic sparring with Nightwing. Good issue. Fun, but not as fun as the Squad.

Chopping Block:

Resurrection Man #3: It’s actually the same quality as previous issues, but it isn’t going anywhere fast enough. 60+ pages and we still barely have a plot, almost 40 pages of being in the same hallway. This is ultra-decompressed storytelling, but the characters aren’t compelling enough to carry it.

Deathstroke #3: How many issues does it take for balls to the wall action with minimal plot to get old? The answer is 3. There is a reason old Judge Dread ran about 5 pages a story, there is a limit to how much the average reader will take before wanting more. Higgins delivers the chaos, now can he deliver some plot?

Total Price: $19.42
Image from dc.wikia.com

Thursday, November 3, 2011

$30 Pull List for 11/2/2011


Not much on the shelves today, picked up my usuals, plus the missed Catwoman #2. Did give me a chance to make up for last week’s budget breaking haul.

Solid:
Catwoman #2:Pick of the Week Almost makes it perma-pull. Another fun issue full of sex, wit, and violence. You can’t beat that combination. So far, this is the inheritor of Power Girl, Doom Patrol, and Zatanna. The comic that didn’t forget comics are supposed to be entertainment. Sometimes, that means just being fun. You can be fun and tell a story, you can be fun and exciting, you can be fun and dramatic. This is that comic for the new 52.

Avengers Academy #21: Another issue that plays to the series strengths, but this time borrowing plots from Teen Titans, which that series used more than a few times in the past 30 years. This is the first time we’ve seen it in the Academy, so let’s see how it plays out. Fairly straight forward and nothing unexpected, just like a Bob Ross painting. You know what’s coming, but it’s still amusing to see the happy little bush get painted.

GI Joe #7: I got Cover A, or the Fetish Fuel cover. DT calls a ground zero airstrike and the Tuna gets sunk as the Joes try to survive what Cobra tosses at them. Blood makes some kills, but the Joes look they they are done taking it in the face and are ready to punch back.

Route des Maisons Rouges: The China Dolls Maison is set to close due to the Governor's edict to open a new casino, and despite the best effort of all the Maisons, it comes to past. It is discovered that the former mayor, a former mistress of a Maison who found love off the route is still alive and imprisoned by the current mayor and governor. A plan is hatched by the heads of the Maisons with Gill, but Gill is putting his own plan into play without letting anyone else in on it. There is some issues with the placement of text balloons that made figuring out who was speaking an issue at a couple points.

Chopping Block:
Green Arrow #3: The teaser in #2 was a lie, no Black Canary here. Bets thing about this issue? It ends the JT Krul era on Green Arrow. It takes a very special kind of untalent to make me not want to read a Green Arrow comic.

Total Price: $18.35
Image from dc.wikia.com

Friday, October 28, 2011

$30 Pull List for 10/26/2011

A heavy week sees me over budget, but I was indecisive on the cut (after reading this weeks issues, the choice became obvious), so everything came home. Resurrection Man #2 finally came in for me, and I'm told Catwoman #2 will be in next week.

So, let's see what this week's pull list holds.


Solid:
Teen Titans #2: Solstice made the cut. Skitter gets introduced. Kid Flash is officially Bart. Step up from the last issue, as we get more action and more character development. Still wondering about the history here, as Tim indicates there have been previous incarnations of the Teen Titans, despite DC saying this is the first (while claiming that Cyborg is a founding member).

Avengers Academy #20: One goes, seven join. A decompression issue that resolves Fear Itself (thank Odin) plot lines and begins moving the comic forward to its next arc. It does what it does best, focusing on the characters and not the costumes.

Justice League Dark #2:Pick of the Week Ok, I’m not following Hawk & Dove, and I didn’t follow Brightest Day, so I had no clue Deadman and Dove were an item, last I saw in BoP, Hawk was trying to establish a relationship with her. So that’s new. In issue 1 it didn’t register with me that that was Dove when June Moon showed up. Also new to me is the fact the Deadman is a letch and morally corrupt, willing to use the bodies he possesses in the worst ways, making him probably a rapist, as well as emotionally abusive and manipulative. Excellent work DC. Fortunately, Dove had enough sense and self-respect to walk out of him. Meanwhile, Constantine keeps samples from past loves, Zatanna enters a trance, and Madame Xanadu goes for the most obvious Xanatos Gambit there is. So obvious, I’m not sure it actually is a Xanatos Gambit and not just a Briar Rabbit ploy. But, it all stands up as good writing, good art work, and a good story.

Wolverine & The X-Men #1: Did you like the Crosstime Caper Era Excalibur? Tne you should like this. Aside from an odd choice of skin tone for the Illinois native Jewish girl Kitty Pryde, this was good. Witty, quick paced, and amusing. Not exactly an action packed comic, but still entertaining.

Cobra #6: We get Steeler's origin story and a slipping of entertainment value. Hopefully it is a momentary blip in quality. Nothing else to really say about this issue.

Spider Island: Deadly Hand of Kung Fu #3: A Kung-fu battle royale finishes off the three issue mini-series in a satisfying fashion. I'd still pay to read a Bride of Nine Spiders or Fat Cobra series (maybe a double feature?).

Secret Avengers #18: This is good Warren Ellis. Mad science, crazy action, and just on the far side of subversive. Shang Chi appears in 2 comics this month, as Commander Roger's heavy this time. Good stuff.

Captain America & Bucky #623: Bucky and Toro assign themselves to the rescue of a spy that results in the discovery of a concentration camp. Drama unfolds in a rather predictable fashion, but like a classic wrestling match, the conclusion is foregone, you are only watching for the execution. In this case, the execution was only a little above average. I expect more from a Brubaker Captain America book.

Chopping Block:
Resurrection Man #2: Not that this is bad. There is really nothing I can point out that is wrong with it, other than a Liefeld-esquely drawn bad gun and hand on one page, I'm just not feeling it. As I see that my comics habit has gotten worse since the New 52 launched, something has got to go, and it may just be Resurrection Man.

Death Row:
Red Skull Incarnate #4: with only 5 issues in the series, the slide to sub-mediocre couldn't take too long. With the second to last issue, we officially hit "This Sucks". A super-promising start ends with crap, and I won't be getting issue 5.

Total Price $36.70
Image from dc.wikia.com

Friday, October 21, 2011

$30 Pull List for 10/19/2011


Texas Comic Shop ran out of Catwoman #2 before I arrived. That combined with my frequent shopper card allowed me to squeak in just under budget. It’s the end of an era (or maybe error depending on how you received Schism) in Marvel while the New 52 marches on with DC’s flagship title.

Perma-Pull:
Snake Eyes #6: Snake and Duke head out to extract the latest entry in the Cobra Commander race, while Scarlett holds down the fort. This story feeds directly off of the last ish of Snake Eyes and features the style of artwork and writing normally found in GI Joe, as opposed to the higher quality that we usually see in Snake Eyes. Still a good issue. Only problem I had was why Snake would be wearing his BDU pants straight legged instead of bloused.

Solid:
Uncanny X-men #544: The last issue until the relaunch. Sinister narrates; Cyclops puts his past in a box. Beast says what I’ve been thinking. Not exactly action packed, but it brings the series to a close in a good enough fashion. If you haven’t been reading it, no point in starting now.

Mass Effect: Invasion #1:
To follow along with this, you have to have read the second and third novels, Ascension and Retribution. This is a sequel to Retribution, which takes place 1 year after Mass Effect 2. The art is pretty much the same as the previous two Mass Effect comics and the writing is below the Bioware standard, but it’s good enough. But, if you don’t like Mass Effect or have no clue about it, this is neither a good place to start, nor will it do anything to change your opinion.

Red Hood and the Outlaws #2:Pick of the Week We find out that Jason Todd did not head to the mystical city alone, he brought his friends along. We also find that he does have feelings for Kori, and despite her saying otherwise, she has them for him, and is feeling a little guilty over what happened with Roy. Like Avengers Academy, this is better when it focuses on the characters, not the action. A very good follow up. and Kori stays mostly clothed, wearing a business suit for the majority of the issue.

Birds of Prey #2: Helps the cause by upping the game. Katana joins the team and could be talking to spirits, or could be insane. Poison Ivy also makes her BoP debut in this issue. It ramps up the action, ramps up the characterization, and ramps up the storytelling. It needed all three.

Batman #2: If there is a week link in the New 52, it is poorly defined new villains. The Court of Owls is the latest. Their operative isn't introduced in a mysterious or suspenseful way. It's more of a "why should I care?" way. Otherwise, good issue here.

Fables #110: Once again, an issue that is only slightly better than the previous one. At this rate,BY 2014, Fables will have returned to the high point it hit when Boy Blue took the fight to the Gepetto. At least we are making forward progress in both quality and story lines.

John Constantine Hellblazer #284: Piphy and Gemma go on the hunt for John's lost coat, as John stumbles around with his abilities and reality out of control due to its loss. The art work is of a jarring style when compared to the previous issues, but we still get an awesome Bisley cover that tells the story in a glance.

Chopping Block:
GI Joe: A Real American Hero #171: The extraction of Darklon goes bad, Sneak Peek’s debrief continues, and a new ninja decides to put an RPG into the Arishikage Russian offshoot dojo. A lot happens for really nothing to happen. I was giddy for this coming back, but it’s worn on me. I have a feeling this will be my last issue after I take a night to sleep on it.

Justice League #2: Is a damned mess. The art work is over reliant on computer effects, the writing is either crap or every character besides the Flash and Cyborg (who isn’t Cyborg yet) is a flaming bag of asshole. Batman reigned it in a bit, from the raging dick he was last issue to annoying douche nozzle. Please, this needs to go somewhere, needs to do it quickly, and needs to do it very well to survive much longer.

Total Price: $29.80
Image from dc.wikia.com

Thursday, October 13, 2011

$30 Pull List for 10/12/2011


A rather light week, but nothing compelling on the shelves. Resurrection Man #2 didn't make it in this week, so it'll get picked up in a later pull list. Until then, let's look at what did arrive.

Solid:
Deathstroke #2: Slade makes what is probably the bloodiest commercial in the history of TV that doesn’t involve my eventual rampage against all of reality television. Very good, very violent, but not as top notch as issue #1. The good thing is Slade looks to continue his filming of The Terms of Enrampagement as he seeks answers for the McGuffin he picked up in issue #1.

Suicide Squad #2: Another of the new 52 hits issue 2. The Squad stays even with the last issue, which makes it pretty good. It is darker than previous runs, both in art and writing, it also lacks chemistry between the characters, but that may come with time. Otherwise it is passable entertainment.

Batgirl #2: Babs gets the snot kicked out of her by a new Gotham psycho and keeps going following the trail. Determined, smart, and probably in over her head, it’s a good way to develop drama and anticipation for a hero. Now, if only DC would let Gail Simone write something else as well.

Demon Knights #2:
Pick of the Week Still in the same village as issue #1. The first wave is beaten and now comes the second as our heroes(?) decide to flee, only to be trapped by Mordru and Morgaine. Seems much more rushed than issue one, but not in a way that generates tension or excitement, more in a too much, too quick way. All the solid issues tie this week, so I pick Demon Knights for having the fewest flaws.

Blue Estate #6: A transition issue between action pieces sees Rachel schmooze and con the gangsters holding her brother, unwittingly setting up a confrontation between them, her husband, and her AA sponsor. This issues weaves the threads of the five plots together so that the whole mesh can be unraveled in the next 2 issues. Good, but not great, but there was bound to be a slow point in this series.

Death Row:
New Avengers #17: Any comic that starts with every hero carrying the idiot ball, playing hot potato with it, and then finishes them being stupider than when they started, doesn’t deserve to be read. When two of them are Spider-Man and Iron Man, two of the bigger brains in the MU, it is worse. This comic has been running at the edge of the abyss of crap for a while, and it is now over the edge. Good bye.

Total Cost: $20.50
Image from dc.wikia.com

Thursday, October 6, 2011

$30 Pull List for 10/5/2011


Light week allows me to pick up two extra issues in the Penguin and Huntress miniseries. A better than average GI Joe comic makes the pick of the week through the benefit of being just slightly better than everything else.

Solid:
Gi Joe #6: Pick of the Week The Joes go to ground in Cobraville and encounter Cobra’s post Armageddon plan as a BAT has been deployed to protect the city. We also see that while the Joes have made headway against Cobra, Cobra kept the wheels within wheels turning and has put our side even more on the ropes than they know. Good, strong issue and a step up from #5.

X-Men: Schism #5: See previous blog post for this one.

Chopping Block:
Thunderbolts #164: Thunderbolts buys its life one issue at a time, living on the rag tag edges of disaster by putting out two issues of drek followed by an excellently executed exciting episode. That’s this one. Disguised as WW2 era heroes (a disguise for Satana that is both more modest and somehow sexier at the same time) they are torn between helping Captain America, not knowing how it will affect their own time line.

Green Arrow #2:Best thing about this issue is that the teaser for issue 3 hints at the return of Black Canary into Green Arrow's life. It hangs on due to the fact that JT Krul has 1 issue left before he is replaced with a more competent writer.

Penguin: Pain and Prejudice #1:Mr. Cobblepot is in the sweet spot on the Venn diagram where Michael Corleone, Buffalo Bill, and Norman Bates intersect. There is really nothing bad about this, I'm just not feeling it. If it is a heavy week when issue 2 streets, this will get a pass.

Huntress #1:Helena is in Italy tracking down human smugglers. Alludes to Batman and Superman, but does not come outright and say this is in/out of mainline continuity (word on the internet is it is the new Earth 2 that will feature the JSA). Suffers from the same problem as Penguin, nothing bad, just not doing anything for me.

Total Price: $21.58
Image from: gijoe.wikia.com

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

X-Men Schism #5


This was originally going to be part of this weeks $30 pull list, but I had enough to say on the issue that it deserves it's own post:

The final issue of the series is the weakest story wise, but it does provide a cap to the story and lead in to what happens next. This serves as a point of reflection for the reader, where do you draw the line? Which side do you fall on?

For me, I side with Wolverine. Following the X-men through the Utopia age has really changed the character dynamics of both Wolverine and Cyclops. Wolverine has become the grizzled protector, doing what he does because he knows how and doesn’t want to burden they people he sees as his family with the events that haunt his life. He has done everything Cyclops asked without hesitation, even sticking by Cyclops with the death of Nightcrawler, doing all of Cyclops bloody, dirty deeds. All he asked was that the younger mutants, the kids they were supposed to protect, stayed out of the fight.

Cyclops, not only failed at that, he stopped paying lip service to it. He became a dictator, a good intentioned one (maybe) but still a dictator. There was no way but his way, and he was willing to do whatever it took to have his way. He created his own country with no negotiation, he did this through a thinly veiled threat of hostile action against the rest of the world. He created an illegal prison, first on what was American soil, to house people who were held without trial an due process. He created a wetwork team to commit assassinations on his behalf with no oversight. He gave the “citizens” of his country no choice, no freedoms; he was father, teacher, leader and they died, fought, starved, lived, played and ate all on his word alone. He backed all of this up with the threat of ostrasization or violence. He even maintained a cadre of mind readers to ensure there would not be threats to his plans.

In the end, there was only one thing Cyclops would not do, and that was get himself dirty. He ceased to be the leader of a team of superhumans, and became a head of state using people as weapons to enforce his political agenda. He did not commit murder, he had others do it on his behalf, he did not rip secrets from the minds of others, he had others do it for him. In the end, he was willing to send teenagers to fight for his country and his dream, potentially die, rather than see his vision put at risk.

Cyclops was the villain of this story. His actions brought death to Utopia, brought war to his doorstep. Last panel, three pages from the end, notice who is standing with him. 3 historically villainous characters and a teenage girl who is functionally his granddaughter. A girl he sent other people to die for and is for the most part ignorant of everything except Cyclops's and Cables's propaganda. Not his oldest friends (Beast left long ago, and Iceman left with Wolverine), not the voices of reason (Shadowcat left with Wolverine and Nightcrawler is dead because of Cyclops). With the spoilers on the upcoming X-comics covers, we know that even his brother and sort of daughter side against him.

Image from marvel.wikia.com.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

$30 Pull List for 9/28/2011


A week full of comics, but nothing really outstanding. A week when Teen Titans and Captain America disappoint is not a good week for comics.

Solid:
GI Joe #5: A let down from previous issues, but really, the main GI Joe comic has been the weak link in the series since it started in Vol 1, not that the link is all that weak, just not as strong as Origins, Snake Eyes or Cobra. Baroness sets a trap for the Joes that backfires and results in her capture, leaving Krake thinking she is dead and has the upper hand. Now that the Joes have both Baroness and her doppelganger Chameleon, will they take the chance to put a mole in Cobra?

Snake Eyes #5: Also takes a quality dip as this one ties in with GI Joe main and Duke’s infection with an engineered super virus. A new player in the Cobra Civil War steps to the plate and is spreading chaos and destruction, but not targeting Joes directly. Still not bad, just not as good as issues 1-4.

Batman #1: Missed it last week, got it this week. Continuity Watch: It’s all in continuity baby, unless I tell you otherwise. Pretty good issue. Not the best Batman I’ve read, but it hits all the marks and really feels like the first episode of a new TV series. All the players get an intro, you get just enough characterization to establish their characters, and it leaves you halfway into the story and awaiting the next episode.

Spider Island: The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #2:Pick of the Week. Continues from last issue, Silver Sable has picked up Shang Chi and helps him track Bride of Nine Spiders to her lair, where we find that she is not fully in control of herself. A good comic in the tradition of Iron Fist/Immortal Weapons.

Avengers Academy #19: A Fear Itself Tie in. Concluding the Absorbing Man/Titania Fear Itself related plot, finally. The Cadets have their Mettle tested (literally and figuratively) and are forced to make the hard choices. In the end, one of them decided the best choice is to not be there. Once again, this comic is best when dealing with the drama and issues of being a hero as opposed to the actual heroics.

Chopping Block:
Secret Avengers #17: Let’s get this out of the way, this is the ugliest art work I have seen in a comic since the Peter David era of X-Factor (circa 1991). Not only is it bad, it’s inconsistently bad, as Kev Walker is not even able to stay bad for the same reasons from panel to panel. He also believes everyone is a child of Mick Jagger and Angelina Jolie who then got a collagen treatment. It’s even more remarkable because you have these wooden scowling giant lipped leatherfaces in the comic and then he pulls a single panel (last on page 6) that is sweet, emotional, perfectly shaded with the most expressive eyes I have seen in a comic, that is also totally out of character and out of place within the context of the scene. Valkyrie also found Michael Jackson’s stash of ‘80’s jackets and has taken to wearing them.
Story wise, this is the kind of high concept crazy Warren Ellis excels at, but this is definitely not his best work. It’s not even Black Summer level. This feels like a comic on the downward spiral and is running out of chances.

Justice League Black #1: For a comic that features some of my favorite characters involved in some of my preferred craziness, you think this would rate higher, but it's all intro and no plot. Sure, little June Moon has snapped, but there is no why and no one gets a chance to be explored. If you didn't already know who these characters were, this would do nothing for you. Even knowing who everyone is, this comic commits one of the few truly unforgivable sins in comicdom, it's boring.This gets another shot based solely on concept potential and Peter Milligan's past work. If you don't dig the concept or Hellblazer, just walk away from this, it isn't worth it.

Teen Titans #1: Red Robin is seeking to build a team of super teens before the mystery group NOWWHERE kidnaps them. There are already continuity issues, as DC has stated Cyborg is a founding Titan, but this appears to be the first group of Titans. It's not really bad, per se, it just isn't very good. Also, Red Robin can now fly and his wings/cape is bullet proof. He also seem estranged from Batman in this, but appears in the family scene of Batman #1, so that needs some clarification. It'll at least get the second issue.

Captain America and Bucky #622: This is rapidly approaching the dubious honor of being the first Ed Brubaker comic cut from the pull list. Much like JLB #1, it's boring, and this is despite there being a fight with a Nazi Ubermensch. I'm really not digging this and there is a very good possibility issue #623 doesn't make it home next month unless the week is light.

Total Cost: $32.38
Image from marvel.wikia.com

Friday, September 23, 2011

Addressing the sexual nature of Catwoman and Red Hood and the Outlaws #1


So, every comic blog and its brother is up in arms about the sexual nature/activity/attitudes of Catwoman and Red Hood et al this week, except me it seems like.
I enjoyed both these comics, they were fun, exciting, and yes, sexy.

Both were rated T/T+ and neither one featured anything you aren’t currently seeing on network television or MTV (for those with short memories complaining about Starfire standing around in a bikini in provocative poses, please recall the soft core masturbation material that was MTV Spring Break from the early to mid 90’s for an example of how that and worse was marketed towards teenagers nearly 20 years ago).

First let’s just skim the Catwoman issue. I have Catwoman comics dating back to Her Sister’s Keeper. I enjoyed Ed Brubaker and Darwyn Cooke’s work as well as Loeb’s. This might be a little more on the explicit side, but there is nothing that isn’t already set in precedent in Catwoman’s character. She exposed more skin in When in Rome, has almost always had the hots for Batman, and was never above using her sexuality and sex appeal to get her way. Notice, she went out of her way to not be disguised as a prostitute and only exposed herself to the Russian mob boss as a distraction, never letting him actually do anything. When she did make sexual contact with someone, it was with Batman, and then, they kept their costumes on, because to her, that is more exciting, more erotic than being naked. It’s the excitement and mystery of it that gets her, not the exposing of flesh. To her, that is something lesser people find erotic and it is a tool in her larceny toolbox.

So on to the Starfire issue:

Let me say first, I’m not that bothered by this partially because I have never emotionally invested in the character of Starfire, dating back to when I first read Teen Titans in the Judas Contract period.

But also because Starfire has always been an adolescent sex fantasy fulfillment fan service character. A superhot, sexually open and available alien from a planet of exhibitionists that has the hots for a teen sidekick that was used for the majority of his career as a reader POV character? Her primary reason for being is to appeal to 13 year old boys.

Yes, over the decades, her character has developed beyond that, but that part of her character has always remained present. Her costume has always been a scandalously cut swimsuit with a T-back or racer back rear (epically displayed during the sun salutation of Titans#16). The next issue, Titans 17, they go out of their way to point out that she doesn’t wear underwear (while sporting only a Batman logo T and strategically placed milk carton). The BBQ scene in issue 18, she is wearing less than my wife wears to bed. The end of issue 21 sees her in a submissive FDAU pose after being attacked by Phobia. So, in 4 issues out of 6, she serves a cheesecake purpose.

I choose those, because the trade for those issues happens to be close at hand when I write this, so I don’t have to go digging through my longboxes or bookshelves to find examples. There are plenty more across her entire career as a character.

If you want a point to be upset about with her, it shouldn’t be the displayed sexuality, it should be that these relationships mean nothing to her. A cornerstone of her character development has been her love of Dick Grayson, and his rejection of that love and its effect on her. That is tossed out the window and erased from her memory. It’s not that she has sex, acts overtly sexual, displays herself as sexually provocative that should be the issue, it should be that it is all meaningless.

But you can also see that as being in service to the plot they are building in Red Hood et al #1. The art and actions show that while her fling with Jason Todd is meaningless to her, and while he pretends to be nonchalant about it, it is not meaningless to Jason. He goes to his “friends” to help him with an issue from his past, and finds them in bed with each other. Instead of accepting it, and their help, he chooses to move on alone, putting himself at greater risk rather than facing the pain of a woman he has emotional attachment to sleeping with his best friend.

If you want a female character whose treatment you should be outraged with, it’s Power Girl. A female character, that while sexy, has treated her physique in a tongue and cheek manner. She was also on a power level equal to Superman, led the Justice Society, is an entrepreneur and philanthropist on par with Batman, and a scientific genius equal to Mr. Terrific (third smartest man in the DCU if you need to be reminded). Since the relaunch she has been downgraded to Mr. Terrific’s Booty Call.

Yet, I don’t see a lot of outrage about that reversal of a depiction.

Also, the lead in image? Titans issue #1. She spends 3 pages traipsing around a pool completely naked.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

$30 Pull List for 9/21/2011


A heavy week sees the pull list go a little over budget. An impressive feat, as DC is able to be the top pick for 4 weeks in a row, so the New 52 is at least delivering some consistent entertainment. Otherwise, DC gives us a taste of the not so nice, and Marvel gives me a double shot of X-Men. T-Bolts barely makes the cut in this weeks $30 Pull List.

Perma-pull:
Captain America #3: I may be downgrading my first Captain America title. Really, it may not be so much a problem with this comic, but that Brubaker set the bar so damn high from the Winter Soldier saga on that it was inevitable the quality slip, and these three issues seem to be it. Still good as a whole, decent art, good story, likable characters. But’s the third serving of meatloaf good. It’s still the same great dish, but it gets old after a bit.

Solid:
Catwoman #1: Pick of the Week. Continuity Watch: Catwoman doesn’t know if Batman knows her real name and doesn’t know Batman’s. This destroys most of their previous relationship, ends the existence of her daughter Helena and throws Gotham City Sirens, her last series and a good portion of the past decades Batman stories out. It’s sexy, it’s fun, it’s exciting. Judd Winick can write the hell out of Catwoman. Really good issue that won’t take much to be kept on board the pull list.

Red Hood and the Outlaws #1:
Continuity Watch: Tamareans has poor memories and can’t tell humans apart. The earlier incarnations of the Teen Titans existed in some form, Starfire was a member of them, had a relationship with Nightwing/Robin, but doesn’t remember it. Starfire’s characterization is a little odd, but otherwise, this is a good issue. The art is chaotic at points to enhance the story, but never difficult to follow. Jason Todd and Roy Harper are being set up to be the new Booster/Beetle. Definitely gets a few more issues.

John Constantine Hellblazer #238: With the previous storyline wrapped up last issue, this begins the tale of John, Gemma, his coat, and the horrible things that follow all three. It’s standard Hellblazer here, which makes it pretty damn good. One of the things Hellblazer has going for it, and this may seem like a little thing, but it is important to me, is the paper. It used a nice, solid, gritty feeling paper which is comfortable under the fingers, as opposed to the magazine, glossy, slick paper most comics use. It makes you want to hold the comic longer, really study the pages, and it is better in a well lit room as you don’t get glare from the lights on the matte finish. Most Vertigo titles use this paper, and really, I wish all comics would as well.

X-Men Schism #4: Gives us a Days of Future Past homage on page 6 as Box, Nemesis, and Wolverine attempt end their sentinel problem. The conflict between Wolverine and Cyclops comes to blows at the worst moment as both sides are wrong and there doesn’t seem to be a right answer. A very strong issue.

Uncanny X-Men #543: The final Fear Itself tie in (thank Odin). The Colossus-naut hits Caine Marko hard enough to knock him back sixty miles only to find out why it was so hard for Juggernaut to not be destructive. His mind infection with Cyttorak ‘s power puts Peter Rasputin at odds with Kitty Pryde, but not because of the power, but the decision to take it and all the decisions that lead to that point. It also sets the stage for her choice in Schism.

Chopping Block:
Birds of Prey #1: Continuity Watch: The old Birds of Prey apparently never happened, Black Canary is a wanted criminal. This also solidifies that she and Green Arrow never married and she was never in the Justice League. It’s Meh. It gets Canary’s characterization pretty well, Starling shows no personality except to be a watered down Lady Blackhawk, and the only other character with significant face time is killed on the last page. It gets a second issue, but not much more unless it impresses me.

Thunderbolts #163.1: T-Bolts avoid death row, barely. They basically do it by not being the worst comic I got this week. That would be Birds of Prey.

Also, as an aside, I watched 9/11 live on television in a rehab clinic waiting room waiting to take my first daughter to an appointment with my pregnant wife by my side. I remember it vividly. It has sickened me to see all the business take advantage of it. It has sickened me to see the politicians take advantage of it. It sickens me to see the American people buying into all the crap both of those groups throw out for their own gain. It sickens me that we didn’t treat the first responders right, it sickens me that we haven’t rebuilt those towers, it sickens me that it took a decade to get the mastermind, it sickens me that our soldiers are still fighting and dying when this should have been handled quicker and better . And it fucking pisses me to be seeing products commemorating the tenth anniversary of the worst tragedy in America in my life so far. Even Marvel’s tribute reprints piss me off.

Fables #109: Fables continues to tread water, which is better than the downhill run it did during the Mr. Dark plotline. The wolves start trials to see who is the next North Wind until the 3 other cardinal winds show up. Ms. Duglas (Spratt) continues her side adventure and Rose Red returns to the farm with Mayor Cole, Beauty and Beast. Bufkin and crew continue their misadventures in revolution in the land of Oz. Nothing particularly noteworthy here.

Total Price: $32.38
Image from dc.wikia.com

Sunday, September 18, 2011

$30 Pull List New 52 Supplemental


Picked up three issues of the new 52 that had sold out at Texas Comic Shop. How do they stack up? Let's turn to the big board to find out on this, the first $30 Pull List Supplemental.

Solid:
Demon Knights #1:Pick of the uhhh... Supplemental. Continuity watch: Sir Yustin(a) from Morrison's Seven Soldier of Victory is the Shining Knight circa approx. 1300. This means she never entered Castle Revolving, which means Seven Soldiers has changed. Madam Xanadu and Jason Blood team with Vandal Savage, Lady Yustin(a), an Amazonion named Exoristos and Al Jabr, an Arabian techie that dresses like a background character from Assassin's Creed against Mordu and Morgaine Le Fey. Xanadu also happens to be double timing Blood with Etrigan. Nice little issue that reminds me of the best of the most recent Shadowpact volume.

Suicide Squad #1: Continuity Watch: the part of Amanda Waller is now played by the actress from the "With a New Girl Friend" Allstate commercial. It hits all the Suicide Squad beats with Savant washing out about halfway through. Harley's outfit, which has been described a Juggalo Stripper and Suicide Girl Harely looks better inside than it does on the cover. It ends on a cliffhanger, or a skydiver. It's pretty good.

Death Row:
Swamp Thing #1: Continuity Watch: Death of Superman happened, as did Brightest Day and Blackest Night by association. This is bad. Slow, plodding, no development. Poor characterization, no plot to speak of, and thoroughly uninteresting.

Image from dc.wikia.com

Thursday, September 15, 2011

$30 Pull List for 9/14/2011


DC’s advertising and sales gimmick is working. Texas Comic Shop had sold out of both Suicide Squad and Batwoman by the time I made it there, and I grabbed the last copy of Resurrection Man. Now, are they any good? That’s a question that can only be answered by the $30 Pull List (Why is there not a new Question series? Dc can answer that one).

Solid:
Cobra #5: Issue 5 picks up where #4 left off. Blood is on the move, Blacklight is on the move, Tomax is on the move, the Joes are on the move. Chameleon is pulled out of her bath and Steeler continues to double deal. A lot happening on too few pages, it builds tension, but feels rushed instead of tight. I’m normally OK with the dark and semi-obscure art in the Cobra title, it fits the tone and helps the mood, but this time, it made everything to indistinct and did not help the story being told.

Deathstroke #1:Pick of the Week I know how Slade feels on page 7. I spent about 10 years as a pro wrestler, 3 as a ref. Had good matches, had bad matches, the odd train wreck horror show embarrassment, and maybe even a 5 star classic or two in there. Safe to say, been around the block once or twice. I’m not the biggest guy, but at 5’9 and 200, I’m pretty solid. One time, my buddy Biggie asked me to come look at and work with some new rookies he had. That’s Page 7. What the hell was with these kids. Not a single one was old enough to drink, I had thirty pounds on the biggest, and there was only one guy who had any talent in the group. "What the fuck are they doing?" was all I could think. “What the Hell is this?” indeed Mr. Slade, indeed. Reminiscing aside, this is good, really good. It’s better than Batgirl, which makes it the best of the New 52 so far. Higgins, Bennett, Thibert, Wright bring it on all fronts, the Bisley cover is dynamite. It genuinely makes me giddy for issue 2, and for a jaded comics fan who lived through 1993 and has been reading for almost 30 years, that says a lot about how good this issue was. If the next issue is ¾ as good, this becomes an Perma-Pull .

Resurrection Man #1: Opens with an interesting twist, closes in a way that feels like Hellblazer, and that’s a good thing. It sits on the high end of middle of the road, not really blazing any new ground, but doing what it does well.

Criminal: Last of the Innocent #4: Bringing home the story of ersatz Archie who is willing to go the extra step to ensure his life is perfect. A fine finish to a good series.

Criminal Macabre: No Peace for Dead Men #1: Standard Steve Niles goodness with a twist ending that sets up the next limited series. With the exception of 30 Days of Night, I have loved everything I've read by Steve Niles, and this does not break that streak.

Chopping Block:
New Avengers #16: There is a saying on tvtropes.org, to paraphrase “Tropes are not bad,sometimes they are just used poorly”. Bendis is in that zone. Daredevil kicks more ass than all the other Avengers have been doing, Daredevil shoots a big ass gun, Daredevil saves a baby, everyone sits around and says how awesome and cool Daredevil is. The last two issues have read like Bendis is picking a new character to demonstrate the Worf Effect with each month. One more month, and I’m out.

GI Joe: A Real American Hero #170: The quality is rising from issue 168’s low point. Snake, Storm, and Billy get the low down on Middle Master’s offshoot schools, Destro and Baroness find out about Darklon’s survival, the annoying Firefly plot is wrapped up in a thankfully quick manner, and Lady Jaye, Flint, and Roadblock deploy for a covert op.

Total Price: $27.54

Image from dc.wikia.com

Thursday, September 8, 2011

$30 Pull list for 9/7/2011


DC puts the new 52 on display. Thanks to the handy dandy Texas Comics frequent shopper card, I come in under budget and pick up a couple extras. Did miss Swamp Thing because Tom sold out by 1pm. Which I'm happy for, even though I missed an issue, anything that helps Tom stay open is good by me.

Solid:
GI Joe: Cobra #4: Major Blood starts making his move, explains his motivations and lays out a compelling case for why he is the ideal candidate to be Cobra Commander, despite not believing he is a serious option. More spy games happen with the search for the mole inside the Joes. Cobra continues to be the most cerebral of the three IDW GI Joe titles.

Batgirl #1:Pick of the Week Continuity Watch: The Killing Joke is in continuity and happened 3 years ago in comic book time. Babs, freshly able to walk, is trying to slip into the old Batgirl tights and take to the streets, relearning her capabilities and discovering a new limitation. Gail Simone is rarely bad, and while this isn't top shelf, it's better than everything else this week.

Chopping Block:
Thunderbolts #163: The Second Sting T-Bolts play All This And World War 2 (if you get that, write and claim your Marvel Geek badge), winding up in 1944ish German as Namor and Cap A drop in to slug it out with some Nazis. Moonstone ramps up the Vamp/Psychological Warfare side of her that really makes the character fun, Satana is more interested in the next incarnation of Man-Thing than anything else as that storyline continues. It's actually better on reflection that it seemed while reading it.

Green Arrow #1:Damning with Faint Praise: It isn't as bad as the last Green Arrow run. Continuity Watch: Oliver Queen never lost Queen Industries, he also never got the sweet goatee. Continuity Question: His apparent age also indicates Conner and Mia aren't in continuity, but we could be surprised. Ollie busts some superpowered thrill seekers in France, Ollie misses a meeting. Does the set up, but nothing more. It gets a second issue, but I don't guarantee a third.

New Avengers Annual #1: Simon Williams's team of heroes takes it to the New Avengers to show them that they should disband and have made the world worse by existing. Simon's right, but his plan for getting them to stand down (aggravated assault and property destruction)is probably off the mark, considering no one is listening to him, I can understand his frustration, but I would have Wikileaked that crap until everyone was too embarrassed to keep the big A running. The real downside to this is the art, which is a case where less would have been more. I understand the attempt, trying to make the battle look as confusing and chaotic to the reader as it felt to the Avengers, but it is too much, too chaotic, too muddled, too difficult to follow.

Red Skull Incarnate #3: I like Greg Pak. Greg Pak got me to read Hulk and Hercules and care about the characters for the first time in, I don't know, since Secret Wars 1 maybe? But this dropped hard and fast. If the first issue had been this quality, I wouldn't have picked up #2. It is only here now because of Issue 1 and my hope that is finishes strong. Mediocre art with bad writing.

Death Row:
Justice League International #1: The first new DC title to get cut. Continuity Watch: The old JLI never happened, throw it all out, meaning the implications of those not happening really screw with other in continuity choices. This really tries to be a more light hearted and fun superhero comic, and fails horribly because it misses all the chemistry that made the old JLI fun. Not worth it, go read the trades.

Total Price: $20.72

Image from dc.wikia.com

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

$30 Pull List for 8/31/2011


Real light week for the pull list, and despite actively looking for something to spend my money on, even Tom, the proprietor of Texas Comic Shop had no recommendations other than perusing the back catalog.

Solid:
Route Des Maison Rouges #5:Pick of the Week RDMR is like a Top 40 radio stations. It's nobody's favorite, but it's everybody's second favorite. It's not the best noir comic, that's Blue Estate. It's not the best cheese cake art comic, I have to say Zenescope does it better. It's not the best writing, right now that's IDW's GI Joe. But it does all of that really well and in a very entertaining fashion. This week, that's good enough to be the best. This issue sees the murder of the Dark Ladies Maison's Mistress solved and continues the conspiracy between the Mayor and his yet unseen master, the Governor. word of warning: If you get this, go back and grab the first 4 issues, or you will be lost, and the release schedule isn't exactly consistent, and you do have to deal with some translation artifacts. Despite that, it's worth it, so we have that going for us.


Spider Island: Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #1: This was an impulse pick up. Light week, Kung Fu, Immortal Weapons? I’m in like Flint. Strong opening for the limited series. Sets the scene, summarizes enough that you need know nothing else about Spider Island to read, and well written. The art work is stylized, but very good and keeps in-line with the previous Iron Fist/Immortal Weapons comics. It also has a Fat Cobra cameo, so we have that going for us.

Chopping Block:
Justice League #1: The flagship title of the re-launch. They cleared the schedule to give this the week alone. The showcase of DC’s Creative and Artistic talent. And it’s not good. An origin story that introduces us to 4 characters 5 years before today. Green Lantern is …well Green (I imagine that will be said a lot across the internet) and now way overpowered. Batman is Frank Miller’s All Star Batman and Robin’s Batman, not year 1’s Batman. Superman is no longer a dick, just a fratboy douchebag. Cyborg gets some more depth, so there’s that. The art is very well done, but you expect that from Jim Lee, and we get a guaranteed return of the 4th World, so we have that going for us. So, it at least buys itself a second issue.

Secret Avengers #16: Yeah, that bad it slips. I normally like Warren Ellis, I’m a big fan of Nextwave. This takes a turn for the Nextwave, but not in a good way. I’ve never been a fan of Jamie McKelvie’s art, and this does nothing the change that opinion. But the cover is great, so we have that going for us.

Total Price: $15.11

Thursday, August 25, 2011

$30 Pull Lust for 8/24/2011

A full week does not necessarily equal a good week. Over budget, but not over entertained. Despite not reading them, I'm burnt out on crossovers. At least September will bring the DC relaunch and an end to a couple of crossovers, you know, until they realize they made a mistake and do another Crisis Crossover in a year or two.

Perma-Pull:
Snake Eyes #4
:Pick of the Week Snake proves he earned his 3B0, Helix strikes the first return blow on Cobra, and Iceberg skis the hell out of a slope to save Alpine. The consistent quality I’ve come to expect from IDW’s GI Joe comics is present here as this wraps up the first arc of what looks to be this generation's Special Missions. Good stuff here, a step down from the previous issue, but hitting that high mark every time out would be near impossible, so that really isn't a complaint. Snake Eyes looks like he's going to become a regular feature in the Pick of the Week slot.

Captain America & Buck #621: Continuing with the early partnership of Bucky and Cap, told from Bucky's perspective. It's good, but not great, and really that's all I can say about it.

Solid:
Teen Titans #100: The final issue of this volume ends in mediocre fashion. Plots tied up, relationships are established/reestablished/broken/damaged and will promptly be forgotten. It is less offensive than the previous two issues, but still substandard.

X-Men Schism #3: Came out last week, but I didn’t get my copy until this week. Cyclops crosses the moral event horizon in a very disturbing, but realistic manner. Halfway through the mini, and I have a feeling the last act will be rushed, because based on the spoilers we have seen so far, there is a lot of development that needs to be packed into 2 issues.

Chopping Block:
GI Joe: A Real American Hero #169: Better than last issue, but it seems off. There is a lot going on, really too much for a single issue. Snake, Storm, and Billy's road trip should have been pushed off an issue to give Chuckles interrogation more space to develop. Kwinn being the ghost in the machine is interesting, and hopefully will come into play more.

Death Row:
Gotham City Sirens #26: As DC wraps everything up for the relaunch, Catwoman plays both sides of the struggle between OTB and Poison Ivy and Harley. A series that I keep coming back to after leaving it for dead finally ends my indecision for me.

DC Comics Presents: Justice League of America 100 Page Special #1: One day, DC will shorten that title. One day, I will stop being a sucker for these 100 page specials. Reprinting a collection of JLA and Green Lantern from '98-'00. Honestly, this reminds me of why I wasn't reading JLA, or DC in general in the late '90's. It's horrible and I wasted $8 on it.


Total Price: $33.49

Friday, August 19, 2011

$30 Pull List for 8/17/2011


A heavy week means no extra pick ups, but after the past two light weeks with nothing else worth looking at on the shelves, I'll take it. Dive in the ink is fine for the $30 Pull List.

Perma-Pull:
Zatanna #16: Adam Hughes gives us the best cover I have seen all year. Inside is a quick one and done fill in featuring Limbo Town, Fuzzy Slippers, Extradimensional Giants, and Cocoa Butter. Nice issue, but nothing outstanding.

Captain America #2: I have to give this issue the worst review I have ever given a Captain America comic written by Ed Brubaker, Forgettable. Entirely forgettable. To the point that when I first wrote this post, I forgot to put anything here about it, forgot I bought the issue. It took me 4 days and digging through the recent issues to remember I had said nothing about it.

Solid:
Avengers Academy #18: Continues the (Give It Up Already!) Fear Itself crossover with the Cadets continuing to be hounded by Titania and Absorbing Man. Last ditch plans and dirty pool fail and the issue closes with a round about Micronaughts cameo. A step down from previous issues, but I’m blaming that on the dumb ass, drawn out crossover.

Powergirl #27:Pick of the Week Really good issue from a series that has been very good for most of it's run and now ends. Calculator comes up with a plan that has crossover written all over it (one that has a better basis than Fear Itself, Blackest Night or most recent mega-events) and used PG as his test subject. Too bad this is a plot that will probably be dropped in the reboot like everything else, because it deserves to be explored. The only issue is the coloring. What is it with DC's colorists and their easy to spot mistakes that editors glance over? First Titans, then JLA, now Powergirl. Is no one proofreading their work? DC's editorial department needs to step it up.

Uncanny X-Men #542: Now firmly in the Solid category, just as it gets cancelled, as Cyclops tosses everything at Hammer Bros. Juggernaut and fails. Kitty and Pete take a field trip with Illiyana and the end reveal has already been spoiled by the solicits for next month, so it is no spoiler to say, Colossus gets a power up. Look for major fisticuffs next issue.

Chopping Block:
Titans #38: Questionable art aside, if this comic wasn’t already cancelled, this would be the last issue I picked up. Poorly executed at just about every point, a shock cover that would have been at home in the Silver Age, and developing pointless plot threads that will most likely never be followed up on.

Fables #108: Another slow, story building issue that is superior to the Mr. Dark plot while dealing with the fallout. Nothing much happens, but at least it happens in an entertaining matter.

Justice League of America #60: Daniel Sampere is quickly rising in my favorite artists list. Not just because he came here and explained what happened with the coloring in issue #59, but because he gave me a two page spread with the Duke of Oil. The final issue of this run explains how this iteration of the League disbanded and hints at Dick's return to Nightwing. Art is good, writing is nothing to write home about.

Total Price: $34.53

Image from dc.wikia.com

Thursday, August 11, 2011

$30 Pull List for 8/10/2011


Another low volume week for the Pull List, but this time, it isn't bolstered by quality. Even looking to spend another $13 at the shop, I couldn't find anything I felt worth $2.99. Cloak & Dagger almost made it, but the last handling of them left me flat, I'm burned out on crossovers (hey Marvel, at least finish one Avengers based event before you start the next), and I couldn't care less about Spider-Man.

Perma-Pull:
Blue Estate #5: The Rachel Situation is finally being handled. And her brother is being manhandled. For an issue that did the most to actually advance the plot, it was a weaker read than the character development issues that preceded it. Still really good.

Criminal Last of the Innocent #3:Pick of the Week This isn't the best of the 3 issues so far, that would be #2, but it is the best of this week. The aftermath of Issue 2 is laid out as well as the plot of issue 4. This is a transition issue.

Solid:
New Avengers #15: Continuing with the Fear Itself tie-ins (god, end already), this time focusing on Squirrel Girls opening day encounter with Sin’s Battletech Knock-offs. Of course, it uses the now over used post mission de-brief framing devise, so you know nothing bad really happened to her. It also tries to do a little elaboration on Wolverine’s expansion pack past and skim the surface of Logan and Doreen’s previous relationship (easy money bet: he slept with her as he was training her to be a ninja. We can then add statutory rapist to Wolverine’s resume since she isn’t much past 20 now and they hint at it being years ago). The issue does open with a heat segment of building up Wolverine by having him take down Iron Fist during a sparring session, only to have SG hold serve on him, thus making Wolverine officially the Worf of New Avengers. Go read TVtropes to get the references, god knows this is so paint by the numbers Bendis is.

Teen Titans #99: Second to last issue before the relaunch, and JT Krul and crew pull out all the stops, but not in a good way. The writing is crap, the art alternates between crowding the page and leaving massive areas of unused black space. There is a section where it looks like another page should have been as one panel has Ravager hitting Indigo with a sword and the next panel has all the baddies flying off to assault Titan’s Tower despite only Headcase and Inertia not being on the losing end of a fight the last time they were seen. Overall, disjointed and sub-mediocre.

Birds of Prey #15: The last issue of this run closes with something it hasn’t been before, average. It caps off the Phantom Lady story from last issue in an easily forgettable way all around.

Total Cost: $17.82

image from marvel.wikia.com

Thursday, August 4, 2011

$30 Pull List for 8/3/2011


A light week, really light week. Coming in way under budget, and unable to find anything else on the shelves that looked even remotely interesting, I walked out with only 5 issues. But it was 5 good issues, any week with a 1.00 batting average is a good week.

Perma-Pull:
Secret Six #36:Pick of the Week. It is with a deep sadness that I say goodbye to the Secret Six. For 36 issues, 3 years straight, this comic has been excellent. Near the top, if not the absolute pinnacle, of what DC produced every month. Bane's plan with-in a plan is finally revealed as the eight members of the six go against everybody, really, everybody. They know they are going to lose, they all know that they are destined for hell now that the mcguffin that started the run has been used. Everyone would rather die then go back to jail. So they go for it. They lose, because they always lose.

Red Skull Incarnate #2: Not as strong as the first issue, but still solid, as we continue to follow a young Johann Schmidt as he navigates his way to adulthood.

Solid:
GI Joe #4: Zartan and Storm Shadows assault on the Pitt has left the Joes divided and scattered. Scarlett and Flint are left to try to set-up a new base, Hawk and Dial Tone rendezvous with Shiprwreck, and Duke and his team are left chasing snakes. One of my favorites, Lifeline, makes his first appearance in the series.

Avengers Academy #17: As the team tries to come to grips with their actions in the previous Fear Itself tie-in issues, they are interrupted when the Norse powered Absorbing Man and Titania come looking for Hank Pym. The issue ends with the cadets stranded, out matched, and divided. This is generally the best Avengers title currently running, and this issue does nothing to stop that trend.

Chopping Block:
Thunderbolts #161: When the worst comic of the week is better than average, it's a pretty good week. Thunderbolts manages to actually advance it's own plot while being a Fear Itself tie-in. Fixer's side deal comes into play and the magical duo of Man-Thing and Satanna are playing a game not everyone else is in on.

Totla Price: $17.51

Image from: dc.wikia.com

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

More JLA Art


Sigh (I seem to start a lot of posts with that lately). Comic Book Resources gave us a look at the upcoming JLA with David Finch's take on the team.

One, where's Cyborg?
Two, canonically Wonder Woman is equal in height to Hal Jordon, so based on perspective, she should be at least equal height to him, if not slightly taller. So, besides regressing to pants less Wonder Woman, she is now a 5'6, 15 year old girl in a push-up corset, as opposed to, you know, a woman with equal stature and ability to her male counter parts.

Bigger version is available here: www.comicbookresources.com

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Aikido Technique: Ryote-tori Tenchi-nage Irimi

One of our (Dojin Aikikai is the our in this case) former Aikido students who is now studying Karate with me was asking me about the usage of Tenchi-nage, and how he doesn't feel he ever really "got" the technique and didn't feel comfortable with it. In his case it would be the titled Ryote-tori (two hands grabbing two wrists from the front) Tenchi-nage (Heaven and Earth Throw) Irimi (into your opponent) (your transliteration may vary). Unfortunately for him, the school he was attending was shut down abruptly, but that's a different story, at a point in his training where he was expected to explore the technique beyond the basic mechanics of it.

Knowing that if one person has a question about something, there are probably more, and the fact that his question forced me to explore a technique I hadn't given a second thought to in 3+ years, I figured I'd do a little break down of the technique.

Now, for those unfamiliar with the art of Aikido as it exists outside of Steven Seagal movies, there are 2 training principles you need to know for this to make sense. One, Aikido is an amalgam martial art, you could call it a mixed martial art, but as that particular phrase is now almost exclusively associated with UFC style fighting, it presents an unrealistic image of what Aikido is to people, so I use amalgam. It is a blend of jujutsu (wrestling) with kenjustsu (sword fighting), yarijutsu (spear fighting), and kyudo (archery) movements and principles. The kyudo is what we are going to look at this time. Two, there are some Aikido techniques that exist not for their particular combat effectiveness, but as a teaching tool and stepping stone to future techniques. Ryote-tori Tenchi-nage Irimi is one of those "teaching techniques".

So, if you open your copy of Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere to page...wait, you don't keep a copy on you at all times? Ok, well, if you do find a copy, Projection #9, which begins on page 271 is Tenchi-nage Tenkan (around). The tenkan version is what would be combat applicable, and the irimi version which we are talking about leads into that one.

Before we go into the mechanics of the technique, we need to focus on what the technique is supposed to teach. The technique's main focus is to teach extension and projection with a lesser focus getting your hands to do two things at once. It's a good white belt technique because those the first two (and sometimes the third) are among the hardest concepts for the beginning Aikidoka (Eye-Kee-Doe-Ka)to get, that you have to extend through the target and the project them away.


To start with, both partners stand facing each other, at about half ma-ai (in Aikido, we generally just use one "fighting distance" if both partners extend both their arms straight out from the shoulders, making fists, and approach each other until their knuckles touch, this is ma-ai, also called So-ou Ma-ai. It is enough distance that you can take 1 step and strike your partner). The Uke ("fall guy" or the attacker) reaches out and grabs both the Nage's ("thrower" or the defender) wrists.


The nage then steps forward with one foot. The nage wants to just pass to the outside of the uke's foot and behind it, the hand on that side needs to reach down as if trying to pick up an object just beyond the point of their toe. At the same time, the opposite hand draws back to the nage's cheek/ear and rotates away from the body so that the palm is facing down. as you move forward, this hand will end up slightly behind the nage.

At this point, the uke needs to just stand there and try to hold on. The uke shouldn't move their feet (but if the first step is done right, the uke is often forced to step back with one foot to maintain balance and not fall) or let go if possible. Remember, we aren't concerned with combat effectiveness, we are concerned with learning principles. I know no one is going to just grab your wrists and stand there, but we aren't concerned with that now. What the uke needs to do is provide feed back to the nage. If the technique is correct so far, the uke should feel like they are starting to fall backwards, in some cases, with a nice deep extension of the downward hand and an uke whose back is not that flexible, they will even fall at this point, that's good. If the uke does not feel themselves falling or on the verge of falling, they need to let the nage know. It is a sign that the nage's first step and downward hand extension was not far enough behind the uke or went too wide, and they should return to the start position and begin again.


Once the uke's balance is broken, the nage steps forward with the other foot, bringing it towards and past the initial step, so that both feet end up on one side of the uke. The hand that is by the cheek extends forward and past the uke's ear, as if trying to grab an object off a far wall. At this point, the uke will be falling backwards, and would be advised to let go and execute a backfall or roll, if they haven't done so already.

Now, you say to me "Wait. I can't just walk forward, he's still there, I'll bump him, or worse, get kicked in the jimmy as he falls backwards!" Not true. If your second hand extends past the uke and you are really reaching, you will find that you have just accomplished "projection" and they will fall backward and away from you, and you have also just experienced another Aikido concept called "Body Displacement". Basically, physics tells us that two objects cannot occupy the same point in space/time simultaneously. Since the nage will now find their ending position to be just about where the uke was standing, this means the uke is moved out of the way. Body Displacement is a wonderful concept that comes into play in many martial arts techniques whether the practitioner understands it or not, but that's a different, and perhaps longer discussion.

Friday, July 29, 2011

$30 Pull List for 7/27/2011


While there was nothing outstanding in comics this week, there was a lot of very good. And I mean a lot, even cashing in my 25% off card, somethings that caught my eye didn't make it home. This was a good week. A good week brings good comics in abundance, as we go In Search of... The $30 Pull List.

Perma-Pull:
Captain America & Bucky #620: Zipping back to 1940, it tells the secret origin of Bucky from James Barnes point of view, from the tragedy that left him an orphan to his secret training with SAS to his assignment as Cap’s partner. Not really all that much here, but Brubaker & Co (masters of the slow burn plot) have bought a lot of leeway with me over the years, so we’ll see where this goes.

Solid:
Birds of Prey #14: The issue from a few weeks ago that didn’t come in made it this week. It’s the first half of a two partner that caps the series by revisiting OG BOP Phantom Lady, Zinda, and the original Black Canary. A case from 1950 comes back to haunt them. It’s a strictly paint by the numbers story a couple of minor art/color gaffes, but it otherwise hits all the beats it needs to in the right order.

Teen Titans #98: Sigh. It’s like JT Krul woke up and said, “I need to destroy all the good will Teen Titans has built up so everyone will be happy when we reboot in 3 issues.” First, I have to deal with a story featuring Superboy Prime, one who looks like Bruce Campbell circa Evil Dead and has apparently studied Tai Chi. Next, Indigo was a member of the Outsiders, not the Teen Titans, and she wasn't a member until after Donna was killed. Tim could be saying our team meaning “The Good Guys”, but then it wasn't Indigo that killed Donna Troy and Lilith, it was a robot Superman (Indigo was only responsible for it's reactivation), I could just be lashing out like a continuity fanboy though. Minus that, this was a halfway decent issue, not up to the last arch's standard, but good enough.

Secret Warriors #28: The series finale ties up the plot and sends Nick Fury off into the sunset, at least until he takes over SHIELD again when they decide Captain America doesn’t need to do it anymore. This is a series that can’t be taken on individual issues, and really needs to be seen in its entirety. Alone, this issue is nothing special, but if read as the final chapter of a saga, it is a fitting end to the story.

X-Men Schism #2:Pick of the week. Part 2 of 5, and Cyclops loses his perspective. Stuck in a no win situation in regards to the mutant terrorist, Scott picks the worst option. He pisses of Wolverine, lies to Steve Rogers, and shows almost no political savvy. But it actually fits. It fits with the way he's been portrayed the last few years, and fits with his position of establishing a mutant nation that will not be bullied. In a week with lots of strong, but nothing outstanding, the most character and plot development wins.

Bomb Queen: All Girl Special #1: Bomb Queen is one of my guilty pleasures, one I normally get in trade because it reads better that way. This is a one and done that acts as a transition between BQ 6 and BQ 7. A Xanatos Gambit on behalf of our Beloved Queen (not their Beloved Queen) succeeds in a surprising way against the quintet of Shadowline's female heroes. It maintains the quality that has been consistently above average for the entire series.

Criminal: The Last of the Innocent #2: Like most of Brubaker's work and the currently ongoing Blue Estate, each issue doesn't seem to do that much and is difficult to take on their own. With each issue, you have to go back and read all the previous issues to capture what is happening. This one pushes the plot forward and closes the first act with what you knew was coming, but were excited about anyway. Like all Criminal issues, this one closes with an essay, and while previous issues introduced me to noir classics I had never seen, this one brings back warm memories of In Search Of...

Cobra #3: Tomax proves that with a big enough lever, the largest boulder can be moved. He also gives a shout out the the production companies behind the classic GI Joe cartoons. On the Joe side, Steeler knows there is a leak in the Joes, and he thinks he may have just found it. Next issue, Vengeance will most definitely ensue. Cobra is the more cerebral of the three Joe comics, and it continues in that form.

Chopping Block:
Fables #107: Looking in on the going ons around Briar Rose. With various warlords vying to be the new emperor, one sees his chance in the awakening of Sleeping Beauty. Too bad the goblins have a different idea. A step up from the Mr. Dark story, thankfully.

Secret Avengers #15: Slipping from Solid to Chopping Block. What is really an excellent example of modern comic artwork is marred by the story. It serves as a Fear Itself aftermath issue and wants to be a serious discussion on death and loss in the Marvel Universe. Unfortunately, it is hammy, heavy handed, and poorly executed.

Death Row:
Gotham City Sirens #25: The good news is: I have nothing bad to say about this issue. The bad news is: I have nothing good to say about this issue.

Total Price: $31.97 with my cashed in frequent visitor card.