Thursday, April 28, 2016

Weekly Comic Pull #3: All the World's a Stage

Welcome to this week's installment of the Weekly Comic Pull, where I review all the new comics in my pull list this week. This week, we'll be visiting Gotham, Hell's Kitchen, and a galaxy far, far away for perhaps the longest pull I've done so far. So strap in, and enjoy the ride!

First off, though, we have some catching up to do. Last week, my pull was shortened due to a stock error, so we'll be dealing with those issues first (except for one, which I'll save until the end). Alright, True Believers, let's get started.

Totally Awesome Hulk #5

Written by Greg Pak
Art by Mike Choi

I'll be completely honest, I haven't been a huge fan of this book so far. Not that the first arc was BAD, it was just okay. Not terrible, but not great either. With this issue, though, Greg Pak finally starts getting interesting, bringing in the Enchantress to bring forth an idea that the first arc only played around with. In this issue, Amadeus Cho and his sister are trying to deal with the fact that the savage Hulk persona may be trying to break through Amadeus' control. Amadeus doesn't think so, but when the Enchantress comes into the picture determined to use the Hulk for her own intentions, things get complicated. Honestly, this is what I was waiting for. The first arc seemed far too unconcerned with what it meant for Amadeus to be the new Hulk. I have no problem with Amadeus having fun as the Hulk, but I also want the story to remember the risks involved in having that kind of a power. The story even gets into Amadeus' head a bit, looking at why he does what he does. Helping that cause out is new artist, Mike Choi, providing some stunning looking imagery, especially once the Enchantress comes out to play. Really, I just loved this issue. After 4 issues of just being okay, the Totally Awesome Hulk is finally going somewhere interesting.

Tony's Score: 9/10

The Mighty Thor #6 

Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Rafa Garres & Russel Dauterman

Really, this review should basically just be one sentence: This issue is about as awesome as this series has been since #1...okay, I'll go further. With the first arc done, the Mighty Thor starts what seems to be an arc that will mostly be told in flashbacks. While, at first, that might sound disappointing, the result actually turns out to be quite a fun ride, and a cool look back at Thor when the Odinson still held the mantle. This issue sees Loki telling a story from the age of the Vikings, and a story of when Thor aided the vikings in battle, and one viking in particular who took this protection for granted. The story is interesting, the aesthetic looks great for the time period, and the art style especially, mostly handled by Rafa Garres, His art really brings this time period to life, especially when the tale starts getting considerably darker. I'm not sure how long this arc's gonna be (can't see it being longer than 3 issues), but I have a feeling they'll get as much out of this as they can, because the setup is great. I just hope we can still get some continuation with our current Thor in the next few issues.

Tony's Score: 8.5/10

Uncanny Inhumans #7

Written by Charles Soule
Art by Brandon Peterson

In this issue, we get a somewhat understated resolution to this short arc, one that doesn't really end with much of a bang, but does manage to intrigue. Charles Soule continues to show that he has a good grip on these characters, even if this isn't his biggest issue ever. This issue sees the investigation over a stolen piece of technology bringing in investigator, Frank McGee, an Inhuman with a particular, and somewhat peculiar, set of skills. McGee is somewhat your generic detective character, but frankly, I'm a sucker for that kind of a character. I wouldn't be opposed to seeing more of him going forward. Most of what happens is fairly standard, minus one reveal towards the end of the issue that, honestly, felt kind of out of left field. It does set up an interesting status quo moving forward, but the reveal itself could've been handled better. Overall, I liked this issue. I didn't love it, but it was good. Overall, this arc isn't as good as I'd hoped it would've been, but it's held my interest, and that's enough for now.

Tony's Score: 7.5/10

Angela: Queen of Hel #7

Written by Marguerite Bennett
Art by Stephanie Hans & Kim Jacinto

This one hurt. Not because it's bad, oh, far from it, but because this is the last issue of what's probably my favorite thing Marvel's publishing right now. This issue sees the conclusion of this two issue mini-arc that ties into, and ties together, not only Queen of Hel, but also the prior Angela series, Angela: Asgard's Assassin, as well as the Secret Wars tie-in, 1602: Witch Hunter Angela. As such, it's best to have read those before going in, and I did read those, so this tale was especially touching. Despite setting up a fight with the new Faustian Queen at the end of the last issue, this issue doesn't really have a lot of fighting, instead opting to use this as the ultimate send-off for Marguerite Bennett's work with the character. As such, we get nods to the previous story arcs, but more importantly, we get plenty of time with our two main ladies, Angela and Sera, as well as their recent companion, Leah, who is central to this finale. The emotional moments are touching as ever and are helped by Kim Jacento's art. If there was really any kind of criticism I could levy at the book, it's really a somewhat oddly handled dream/flashforward/possible futures montage, though it DOES give us an excuse to get more of Stephanie Hans' gorgeous art, so no complaints from that. In the back of the book is a letter from Bennett thanking readers for sticking with her and Angela for what is essentially a 17 issue run, and what a run it's been. As sad as I am to see this story end, Bennett and her artists got as much out of it as I could have hoped for. After all, all the world's a stage, and all artists and writers merely players.

Tony's Score: 9.5/10

Batman #51

Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Greg Capullo

Speaking of endings, this week also sees the grand finale of writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo's now-legendary 5 year run on Batman before DC hits the reset button with Rebirth this summer. And while Snyder is set to stick with the Caped Crusader in his own book, All-Star Batman, there's still the matter of the main Batman book to give its proper send-off, and for what it is, Snyder does a good job homaging his past work, but also leaving the series on a hopeful note. In this issue, Batman is out on patrol when a mysterious force results in Gotham being left without power. What's the cause of this blackout? Are any of Batman's many foes involved? Those are answers you'll have to find out for yourself, but Snyder and Capullo reveal them in a very natural way. The issue feels like Batman revisiting his old haunts, especially after the events of Superheavy. The blacked out Gotham looks beautiful in Capullo's usual style, the sharp darks highlighting every silhouette in the book. There's an air of serenity to everything despite the situation, and an ominous narration that pays off at the end, giving a simultaneous air of despair and hope all at the same time. In a lot of ways, it's a low key, but still a brilliant way to end a run with such memorable stories. The story ends with a rare glimpse of Batman looking at the sunrise, and the words accompanying it are resolute, like Batman. Early in the story, the narration describes Gotham as "the last story you'll ever write." For a last story, you left us with a wonderful one, Scott.

Tony's Score: 9/10

Insexts #5

Written by Marguerite Bennett
Art by Ariela Kristantina

Speaking of Marguerite Bennett, Angela may have ended, but her other series aren't going anywhere, including her Aftershock creator-owned book, Insexts, focusing on a lesbian Victorian-era couple who can turn into insect creatures who stalk, and protect, the streets of London. Yeah. That's a thing. This issue continues the mystery of a creature, called the Hag, that has begun to prowl the streets of London, and who may have been having help this whole time. Dubbed "the London Butcher," our two ladies, Mariah and Lady Bertram, have to team up with a society of werewolves to protect the innocent of London. As crazy as the premise is, the book is executed wonderfully, and part of that is Kristantina's art. It's grimy, it's dirty, and it's strangely delicate in a sense. It's the kind of art that can go from the sensual sex between our two main ladies to the blood and guts of their transformations and brutal fights with evil creatures threatening London. Unlike a series like Image's the Discipline (which I've also been reading), it's a book that doesn't rely on sex to sell its book, and actually bothers telling an interesting story with interesting characters, and this issue doesn't fail at that either. And with the end hinting at the story taking a darker turn for our lead couple, it's certainly a book to watch.

Tony's Score: 9/10

Daredevil #6

Written by Charles Soule
Art by Matteo Buffagni

Daredevil's unfortunately not a series I'm entirely caught up with (I have #1 and 3-5, 2 is in the mail), but with the new story arc starting up, I figured it was as good a time as any to jump onto the Daredevil train now that one of my favorite writers working today, Charles Soule, is currently on the book. Soule, being a lawyer by day and comic writer by...well I suppose also by day, not only has quite a handle on the lawyer stuff since he is a currently-practicing attorney, but he CLEARLY has a great reverence for the character and his history. Gone is the Mark Waid-era's trademark goofy tone and back with a vengance is Miller's melodrama, Bendis' darkness, and Brubaker's grittiness, appropriately punctuated by this issue's guest star, longtime Daredevil lover/enemy, Elektra. This issue is somewhat light on story, but loaded with style. A good half of the issue is focused on the unlucky couple's fight over something revealed on the last page (something that I'm not sure if a reveal given my lack of knowledge of the character of Elektra), while the other half is Elektra chatting up Matt Murdock, no longer knowing who he is thanks to the still hush-hush method that Matt put the proverbial cat into the bag with his secret identity. The dialogue is expertly crafted, the art by Buffagni is stunning to look at with the noir flair to it that's been present since issue 1, and it's a good set up. If there's anything to really complain about is that Blindspot gets somewhat shafted in favor of more Elektra. Fortunately, though, I'm fine with that. Welcome back to Hell's Kitchen, Elektra, hope you survive the experience.

Tony's Score: 8.5/10

Patsy Walker A.K.A. Hellcat #5

Written by Kate Leth
Art by Brittney L. Williams

Patsy Walker is one of those comics I'm afraid will get cancelled, partially because it's just so different from anything else out there. Unlike Angela, though, it's light and fun attitude may save it yet, especially with books like Ms. Marvel currently selling like hot cakes. And really, what's there not to love about Patsy Walker? This issue concludes this arc, and sees Patsy trying to not only defeat an Asgardian sorceress (it's not Enchantress), but also trying to secure the rights to her name and the comic her life is based on away from her former friend, Hedy Wolfe. The issue is about as tongue and cheek as it's always been. Patsy's dialogue continues to be the best thing ever, and the childish way that the sorceress acts when she doesn't get what she wants, and the halfhearted effort her minions put into everything, is just hilarious. She-Hulk continues to be one of the best reasons to buy the book, and really, Patsy's entire supporting cast is great. Really, if this book does anything wrong, it's by not doing anything really TOO crazy or over the top. When your biggest sin is staying the undeniably great course, you know you've got a good book. And the upcoming appearance of Jessica Jones, teased at the end of the issue (it's not a spoiler, her appearance is advertised on the cover) teases great things to come.

Tony's Score: 8/10

Justice League #49

Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Jason Fabok

Okay. Let me see if I've got this right. So the daughter of Darkseid and an Amazonian, named Grail, has used the Anti-Monitor to kill her father Darkseid, who she hates, but also managed to (I think) damage the Anti-Monitor enough so that the embodiment of the Anti-Monitor was able to be separated and embedded into the Flash, meanwhile the other members of the Justice League except for Wonder Woman have been possessed by the abilities/power of many of the New Gods for reasons directly and indirectly related to everything else, and they've recruited the Crime Syndicate to help because reasons. Also Big Barda and Mister Miracle are here. Because. Man, this arc is confusing. I'll give it to Geoff Johns for going all out with the cosmic stuff and with the New Gods lore, but man is there a lot going on. And really, that's the only real major downfall of this Darkseid War arc, that there's SO MUCH going on that some stuff kinda gets left behind. Otherwise, I do like a lot of what's going on. As confusing as it can get, the sight of a Lex Luthor with the power of Darkseid punching the depowered Anti-Monitor is definitely cool. And Jason Fabok's art really accentuates the sheer scope of it all. This issue sees the battle becoming heated as the aforementioned Luthor fights the Anti-Monitor to buy time for the Justice League and Crime Syndicate to obtain a weapon that could end the fighting. Or something like that. If anything, I think I need to re-read this arc to be able to full appreciate it. For now, all I can say is that it's good, unless you haven't been keeping up. Otherwise, you'd be completely lost. Hell, I've been mostly keeping up, and I'M a little lost myself.

Tony's Score: 7/10

Spider-Woman #6
Written by Dennis Hopeless
Art by Joelle Jones

In a crossover with Silk and Spider-Gwen, is it weird that this is probably the best issue thus far? Something about this Jessica Drew just cracks me up, especially when she goes looking for her Earth-65 doppelganger. In this fourth part of Spider-Women, Jessica travels to her Earth-65 home to search for clues about how to get back home to Earth-616, and home to her baby. We get an interesting look at a character who, in this case, is actually gender-swapped. Earth-65 Jessica Drew is, in fact, Jesse Drew, and that's not the only thing different. This issue is really just a ton of fun. Not a whole lot happens, but we get to spend a lot of time with Jessica, and her sardonic sensibilities, especially when it comes to breaking and entering. The art by Joella Jones is honestly maybe my favorite in this entire crossover. Not only does she draw Jessica well, but this might be my single favorite drawn version of Silk and Spider-Gwen period. For what it's worth, this crossover is turning out to be quite fun so far, though with the potential revelations posed at the end of this issue, the crossover may be taking a more serious tone moving forward. Let's hope it can keep its quality, at least.

Tony's Score: 8.5/10

Star Wars #18

Written by Jason Aarons
Art by Leinil Francis Yu

Jason Aaron might be one of the best talents working in comics today, a point made all the stronger when looking at his most recent Star Wars series. This issue continues the arc, Rebel Jail, seeing a Rebellion prison stationed near a sun being broken into, inadvertently freeing all of the inmates with Princess Leia, her new friend, Sana, and one of Vader's henchwomen, Doctor Aphra, having to team up to stay alive and call for help. Really, the only slightly disappointing thing about this issue is really Luke and Han Solo's story in this arc so far being somewhat uninteresting. It's mainly just been Han losing some Rebellion funds and having to enlist Luke's help to earn some of it back, though by the end of this issue, their story does align back up with the mail tale. That tale, appropriately, has been awesome. Doctor Aphra, a character seen more often in the Darth Vader series, has been a great character, and seeing her interact with Princess Leia is a real treat. The series is also teasing us with some kind of reveal with the masked bounty hunter who orchestrated this breakout. Who this could be, I have no clue (Kyle Katarn..?...please..?), but I'm sure Aarons will make it interesting. I look forward to the next issue.

Tony's Score: 8.5/10

Black Canary #11

Written by Brenden Fletcher
Art by Sandy Jarrell

It was better..? I think? I mean, yeah it was better than last issue at least, but not by much. This issue continues with a story that seeks to uncover secrets about Black Canary's family, her mother in particular, involving a secret martial arts move and a group of ninja assassins. It's not as cool as it sounds, believe me. The story really is pretty predictable, though this issue at least packs in some great fights. In this issue, we see Canary facing an old foe of her mothers in order to save her friends, the rest of the Black Canary band. This manages to make things slightly better since it's a reminder of happier times in this series, and it does manage to be entertaining, even if I find myself unable to care about what they're fighting about. The art is...adequate. Sandy Jarrell returns from last issue and fortunately manages to not confuse who is who, but the drawing themselves aren't really much of an improvement. Awkward poses and weird faces abound, but fortunately, punching and kicking is easy enough to draw that nothing gets totally screwed up this time around. Overall, it was okay. A slight improvement on a series that's been suffering the past few issues.

Tony's Score: 6.5/10

Old Man Logan #5

Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by Andrea Sorrentino

Darkly beautiful, lovingly haunting, heart wrenching, tough as nails, and quietly some of the most intimate storytelling in comics today. And that's just my description of Sorrentino's art. Old Man Logan has, I think, quietly become one of the best Marvel series out there right now thanks to the series' dedication to being as unflinching about Logan's psyche as it has been. Every issue, including this one, makes it crystal clear: Logan is NOT quite all there emotionally and mentally, still bearing the scars of seeing his family murdered by a world ruled by supervillains. This issue, the start of a new story arc, sees Logan traveling to a distant village in Alaska looking for something. What he's searching for, and how it ties into the flashbacks he's having, I don't dare spoil. It's a heart wrenching reveal that shows just how kind of a man Logan still is, and how he's willing to do whatever it takes to protect the ones he cares about. Jeff Lemire gets to the heart of this character, and Andrea Sorrentino's art is just stunning. I mentioned it already, but it perfectly captures this man who comes from such a messed up possible-future trying to put the pieces of his life back together. The last page indicates that things aren't going to get any easier for Logan, but probably mean good things for this book.

Tony's Score: 9/10

International Iron Man #2

Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Alex Maleev

With the first issue of this series, I was somewhat disappointed, seeing as the cover had teased a spy adventure and the story within somewhat failed to deliver. What's clear at this point is that International Iron Man is largely going to be far more about Tony Stark's relationships with people, though this issue DOES tease some espionage elements. This issue sees some more flashbacks about Tony Stark getting to know the family of a woman he's been persuing, a family who happens to be the rivals to his father's company. A lot of these flashbacks tend to seem a bit superfluous, though the fact that Stark is fighting this woman in the present seems to imply that it'll all pay off in due time. Bendis in these first two issues is oddly very understated compared to his other work. While some might see this as a good thing, at times, it sorta just ends up making the dialogue feel a little awkward without his trademark energy. We get some interesting bits with Stark and his father, but it's not long enough to make enough of an impression, and what little story we get in the present really just makes me want the flashback-story to go by faster so we can get to the meat of the story. As it stands, Maleev's art is the reason to buy. The art is gorgeous, really setting a dark tone throughout the entire tale that will, hopefully, pay off. Here's hoping.

Tony's Score: 7/10

Action Comics #51

Written by Peter J. Tomasi
Art by Paul Pelletier

This is the other issue from last week that I didn't get to. Saved it for this spot since the last issue for this week is a direct continuation from this. This issue is the third part of the Super-League story, also known as the Last Days of Superman, and who would've thunk that the point where New 52 Superman starts acting more like Superman is when he's about to die? This issue sees the proper return of Supergirl to the DC Universe, ahead of her upcoming Rebirth series this summer, and it integrates her seamlessly into the story. As a huge Supergirl fan, I couldn't help but smile, not only that she's here, but that she's used so effectively. After a short explanation of what she'd been up to (as well as setting up the D.E.O. for what I can guarantee will be their permanent spot as her supporting cast in Supergirl's new book), the story moves to the Fortress of Solitude, where we get the singularly most Superman moment of this series. We see Superman essentially bequeathing the Fortress to Kara, explaining to her how, in his absence, she'll need to stand for the hope, the wonder, and the progress that Superman stood for. It's Superman essentially giving Supergirl a slightly different version of the speech from the Christopher Reeves Superman movie that Jor-El gave, and it's a great moment, not only for Superman, but also for what it symbolizes for Supergirl's character development. She's evolved from the angry, headstrong teenager from her New 52 series to a figure that can truly take on the responsibility of Superman. All the while, a figure claiming to be Clark Kent is trying to make his way into the Daily Planet building, with deadly results. It's a great chapter to what's shaping up to be the highlight of this series. Can they keep the moment going? Well...

Tony's Score: 8.5/10

Superman/Wonder Woman #28

Written by Peter J. Tomasi
Art by Ed Benes

...I'd say yes. This issue sees Wonder Woman arriving at the Fortress, and sharing quite a tender moment with Superman as she desperately tries to find some reason to keep searching for a cure to Superman's terminal illness. I haven't been super invested in this relationship, mainly due to just lack of having read much of it, but I'd be lying if I said this scene didn't tug at the heart strings. It's a quiet grief for Wonder Woman to see the man she loves slowly withering away, and it's pretty great. For a story arc that's had one or two fight scenes, the best parts continue to be the quiet, understated moments of solemn reflection. They're pulled away from the moment by the developing story of the man who claims to be Clark Kent, a story that's getting more and more interesting as it develops, especially since this guy seems to have Clark Kent's memories as well. This story is really heating up, and it's only half over. Let's hope the second half is as good as the first.

Tony's Score: 8.5/10

And that does it for this week. It sure was a long one, and hopefully next time won't be quite as drawn out due to shipping errors. So, what was your favorite issue this week? What are you reading? Let me know in the comments below, and I'll see you next week for another Weekly Comic Pull.

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