Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Weekly Comic Pull #12: Unite the Seven

Welcome, one and all, to this week's installment of the Weekly Comic Pull, the show where I run down everything on my pull list this week. This week (July 6th), we're back with some great stuff from DC, Marvel, and even an indie. So, without further delay, let's get into this week's comics.

Justice League Rebirth #1

Written/Art by Bryan Hitch

Who are the Justice League? What do they stand for? Are they still relevant? Can we have a team of these heroes in a world that's more unsure than ever? In 20 or so pages, Bryan Hitch answers those questions and plants the flag for the Justice League going forward. The plot for this issue is simple, classic Justice League. A mysterious alien force is attacking a major city, and it's the League's job to stop them, aided by a new and unsure Superman. It's a simple premise, but it's the simplest stories that are the most impactful. There's no pretense, there's no extraneous fluff that doesn't contribute something, it's the Justice League, no holds barred. What little else we get is some light lip service paid to this new (old?) Superman's uneasy alliance with the League and a quick flashback to the League's grief at losing their old (newer?) Superman. The League and Superman put aside any of their doubts, however, when it finally comes down to saving the world. The ensuing battle takes advantage of everyone's strengths, and everyone gets their chance to shine. Bryan Hitch's art can occasionally result in some awkward faces here or there and some of the finer details can get lost, but for the most part, he does a great job at making the action really feel powerful. By the time we reach the end, the League's final warning to the aliens who threaten their world feels powerful. And the final page spread of the Justice League reads as an iconic image declaring that the League is here to stay. Hitch taps right into why the League works, and man, does it ever work.

Tony's Score: 9/10

Superman #2

Written by Peter J. Tomasi & Patrick Gleason
Art by Mick Gray

I didn't get around to reviewing Superman #1 last time, which is a shame, because as crazy as it might sound, other than maybe Wonder Woman #1, Superman #1 might be the single best issue that's come out of this Rebirth so far. In a single issue, Tomasi captured the wonder, the awe, and even the fears that being the son of the greatest hero to ever live would be, and this issue continues that trend. In this issue, after a fearful near-encounter with the Justice League, Johnathan is taken by is father to the Arctic to get some real superhero experience under his belt. What at first seems to be a routine rescue operation quickly shows to be a bit more than Superman and his burgeoning Superboy were expecting. The action is short, but it's memorable, with one of the best moments so far being Superman encouraging his son to try to help, to show that he can use his powers for good too. Once it's over, the real meat of the issue opens wide, with this issue dealing in Johnathan learning from his father just what kind of man deserves to wear that S. It's a heartwarming moment, and it proves that having a son was the best possible thing to happen for the Superman books in Rebirth. The issue even finds time to drop in a few hints at the developing storyline, with a character familiar to longtime Superman fans making his surprise return at the end of this issue. It's a great moment, and one that I know Tomasi will take full advantage of. Mick Gray's art helps make this issue, as well as this series, the kind of hopeful, but not naive, romp that this deserves to be. It's sobering, it's inspiring, it's rousing, and it's heartwarming. In short, it's Superman. It's everything Superman should be. It's Superman earning the name, the Man of Tomorrow.

Tony's Score: 10/10

Paper Girls #7

Written by Bryan K. Vaughn
Art by Cliff Chiang

SPOILERS FOR PAPER GIRLS #1-5. Seriously. Go read the whole thing if you haven't already. You've been warned.

The future sucks. Especially when it's the present. Your present anyways. Unless you don't actually have a present, which I guess is the future for some of these kids since their present is 1988 which is our past...let me start over. In this issue, of Paper Girls, we meet up with the girls as they continue to adjust to this strange new world of 2016, a 2016 that is increasingly looking stranger and stranger, especially as someone else who doesn't belong makes their entrance. But while that's going on, the girls and the future (or present, I guess?) Erin try following the clues they found from the futuristic Apple device. the two Erins end up heading to an abandoned mall while the other two girls make their own way, and come across a surprisingly dark discovery. Every bit of this issue is intriguing. The Erin/Erin banter is always fun to read, and even without our protagonist, Mac and Tiffany find plenty to do, with their musings about our present day all the more amusing. Meanwhile, our msyterious interloper, who looks a lot like 80's Erin, is quickly leaving a trail of destruction in her wake. Just who, or what, is she? No clue, but the reveal will probably hurt my brain in several ways. KJ is still missing, but seeing as she was the girl I was least interested in, I'm not too heartbroken, and I'm confident Vaughn has something really interesting planned for her when she does return. Chiang's art is still as wonderful as ever, and the end of this issue really served as a nice kick in the rear, and proof that Vaughn plans to get as much out of the time travel gimmick as he can. It's certainly gonna be a story to remember.

Tony's Score: 8.5/10

Batman #2

Written by Tom King
Art by David Finch

If there's anything I know about Tom King after reading both Vision and Batman so far, it's to never think you know where the story is going. Last issue of Batman ended with the Caped Crusader meeting a pair of superhuman beings, named Gotham and Gotham Girl, who claimed they were here to save the city. The obvious choice would've been to turn these two into rivals, trying to oust Batman from Gotham and claim it as their turf. Fortunately, Tom King doesn't deal with the obvious. This issue sees the pair finding that they're not as experienced as they should be, and surprisingly, actually come to Batman asking for his guidance. It's not where I expected the story to go, but it's really effective at making sure the audience knows that Batman is still at the top of this hierarchy. Tom King's writing is top notch in this issue, with probably the best lines coming from Alfred, making some jokes that had me laughing out loud with how sardonic and sarcastic they are. Gordon also gets a great line partway through the book, a great joke that many Batman fans will be familiar with. Apart from that, everything is top notch, from the art to the pacing. King has yet to disappoint with this series so far, and I can't wait to see what direction he goes with this story. 

Tony's Score: 9/10

Moon Knight #4

Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by Greg Smallwood

This series excels because of it's secret ingredient: ambiguity. Throughout this entire series, the running theme has been the inability to really trust out narrator, Marc Spencer, because we're never really sure if he's actually not crazy. This issue takes that as far as it possibly can with it, and while this arc doesn't rap up until next issue, Jeff Lemire is clearly bringing out all the stops for this one. This issue continues Marc's journey with his old friends and his girlfriend to escape the mental facility that (we think) is secretly the Egyptian god, Seth's, prison for them while he takes over New York. In the process, they must venture through a New York that looks vastly different from the one they left behind...but IS it really different? I've said this before, but the art really sells this more than anything. The grimy, dirty, dusty look gives it this surreal, dreamlike quality to it. It's the main source for why things don't exactly feel right. The downside of this issue is that there is a bit of a dip in the series' great pacing. Things slow down towards the middle of this issue that I found to be kinds strange given what had just transpired. Regardless, the book did eventually pick back up with a development that threw yet another wrench into our notions of what this world is. The ending especially is a shock to the senses, and teases the end of this arc, and ending that will surely be a bang instead of a whimper. I can't wait for next month's issue.

Tony's Score: 8/10

Green Lanterns #2

Written by Sam Humphires
Art by Robson Rocha

Green Lanterns stand for overcoming great fear, and no one knows more about fear than Jessica Cruz. Out of everything that's come out of this series so far, Jessica Cruz' character is EASILY the best part. It's not common that you see a superhero that's so afraid of even going outside. I don't suffer from anxiety, but as someone who knows people who do suffer from anxiety and panic attacks and the like, it's quite refreshing to see a superhero who openly deals with issues like that, and who is constantly overcoming them. As she admits in this issue, she didn't even want to be in the supermarket she finds herself trapped in, but sucks it up and does her job. This issue sees her trying to save her sister in a supermarket full of people infected with a bloodthirsty rage, courtesy of the Red Lanterns themselves. Meanwhile, Simon Baz is trying his best to get her out of there so they can deal with the larger threat together. The one big thing that's really gnawing at me is that, in the Rebirth issue, Hal Jordan told the duo that, in order to learn to work together, he would fuse their power batteries together, meaning they couldn't turn into Lanterns unless they were together. And yet, they don't seem to have any problem being able to transform on their own. It's really not something that detracts too much from the story, which overall is very engaging, especially when we see Jessica trying to muster the will to bring herself to actually form a construct with her ring, but it's a leap in logic that still hasn't been explained. It's really the only reason my score is bumped down somewhat. Regardless, I would still recommend this issue. If they simply decide to ignore that from here on out, that'll be one thing, but for now, it bothers me somewhat.

Tony's Score: 7.5/10

That'll do it for me this week, folks. As always, what are you reading? How are you enjoying Tom King's Batman? What did you think of Justice League Rebirth? Have you been reading Superman? Let me know down below in the comments, and as always, I'll see you next time.

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