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.

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
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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.

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.

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
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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.

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
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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.

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
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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.

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