Monday, July 18, 2016

Weekly Pull List #13: Here Lies a Vision

Welcome to this week's installment of the WEEKLY COMIC PULL, our weekly show where I run down what I'm reading in the world of comics. This week, we've got an extra special comic pull, with a double sized pull list with a huge variety of books. From Batman to Guardians to The Wicked + The Divine, we've got some great stuff, so let's get into it.

Hal Jordan & The Green Lantern Corps Rebirth #1

Written by Robert Venditti
Art by Ethan Van Scrier

It's weird giving this issue such a low score considering I'll probably still be picking up the first issue of this series. This is one of those unfortunate Rebirth titles that I feel is saddled with having to explain an entire backstory to the reader before they can get to anything really interesting. This issue begins with Sinestro and his Yellow Lanterns parking their massive battleship/planet, Warworld, in the space where Oa used to be, with Sinestro declaring that their war was won before it even began. Also, Sinestro's old, which is never actually explained (I assume it's backstory stuff). And from there, pretty much the rest of the issue is exposition. It was basically just Hal Jordan giving a long monologue explaining stuff that happened in Venditti's run of the New 52 (along with some basic Green Lantern mythos stuff), and really, aside from one quick bit that gets Jordan back into the game, not much happens. We've had Rebirth issues where not a lot happens, but few of them have felt so lacking. Wonder Woman Rebirth had little happen, but it introduced the concept of Diana's background being lies and started her on her search. This just has Jordan talk a lot. It's a situation where I don't feel I got a real clear vision of what this new series is actually going to be, and that's disappointing. I'll at least try the new #1, hoping that it'll be better since it's not burdened by extraneous exposition. Here's hoping.

Score: 6.5/10

Nightwing Rebirth #1

Written by Tim Seeley
Art by Yanick Paquette

Oddly enough, this issue is actually an excellent example of how to do exactly what Hal Jordan & the Green Lantern Corps Rebirth failed to do, tell a great story that feels meaningful, even if you are burdened with exposition to tell. This issue is essentially recapping Dick Grayson's current situation, as well as reminding us of the kind of people he has connections with. Finally, it sets up his current mission: to infiltrate the Parliament of Owls. The way it does this, however, is by giving us scenes that let us peek into both Grayson's current state of mind, but also the states of mind of his friends and allies. His interactions with Damian and Midnighter in particular were pretty memorable. Midnighter especially. Every time I see Midnighter in anything, it reminds me how much I need to go back and revisit his old series. It's a Rebirth issue where not a lot happens, but what does happen is made to be meaty and enjoyable. It also does my heart good to see his interactions with Batman in this. What's clear at this point is that Dick and Bruce aren't the old "Batman and Robin" dynamic. Dick's not his sidekick, you can feel that they're equals. They're partners. Welcome back, Nightwing

Score: 8/10

The Vision #9

Written by Tom King
Art by Gabriel Hernandez Walta

At this point, I gotta include this disclaimer. SPOILERS FOR THE VISION #1-8. Seriously, don't let this series be spoiled for you.

Can we just admit already that Tom King is basically a writing genius at this point? This series is nearing its conclusion, which makes me sad, but what is very clear is that, at this point, the gloves are off for King. In this issue, the Vision's son, Vin, has discovered that Victor Mancha, the Vision's "brother," is working with the Avengers to find out the truth of what's been going on. Most of the issue is flashback on Victor's part, showing him everything that lead him down this path and that lead him to working with the Avengers. Everything that's made this series as good as its been comes out here. Victor's story is as tragic as any of the other stories King has been telling, and it makes the events of this issue all the sadder. You feel the pain in Victor's situation, and the horror of what ends up happening. I would hate to reveal what happens, but when it does happen, it hits you like a ton of bricks. Walta's art is excellent in this, and the colors in particular do a great job of highlighting motifs and running themes throughout Victor's memories, which often tie into Avengers history. The ending in particular really packs a punch, and leaves you wanting more. I can't wait for the next issue, even if it means we're one issue closer to the end.

Score: 9.5/10

Wonder Woman #2

Written by Greg Rucka
Art by Nicola Scott

After the first issue's tense action and atmosphere, it's somewhat surprising that the second issue, and the first chapter of the Wonder Woman: Year One storyline, chooses to be a more relaxed starting point. For this issue, Rucka opts to give us more of a look at Diana's home and her home life more than anything else, as well as Steve Trevor's own life. What's interesting about seeing Themyschera like this is I've kinda already seen this in the recent Legend of Wonder Woman series, albeit not as good as this. This shows us more of Themyschera before a lot of the things that would drive the plot forward begin, giving us a look at Diana hanging out with friends, sparring, attending classes where they observe the stars, and even shooting arrows with her mother. On Steve Trevor's side, we get to see his life in the military with his comrades and friends. And while we most definitely get some real plot in this issue (that cover isn't a lie by any stretch), Rucka manages to put it in a nice context, allowing us to be invested in this world before we stir it up. There's even a throwaway line that hints Diana's previous love interests on the island (which, by the by, basically admitting that she's bisexual). The Amazonians feel more concrete than ever, which makes it really interesting when Trevor lands on the island (well, "lands" is a relative term...). At this point, I'm actually not sure whether I'm more excited to see what happens with Wonder Woman: The Lies or with Year One. Either way, I know Greg Rucka will probably be bringing the fury with these stories, and I look forward to seeing them develop.

Score: 9/10

Old Man Logan #8

Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by Andrea Sorrentino

After two arcs of some memorable and dark delves into the psyche of this damaged man, Jeff Lemire puts the breaks on the story and lets us see what Old Man Logan is like when he's left to his own devices. What we find is a paranoid and truly scared old man. This issue shows a night in Old Man Logan's life here in the modern Marvel universe and what his mind goes through. In this issue, the young Jean Grey from the All-New X-Men series decided to try to help him out, to show him that the future he came from wasn't going to happen again. What I really love about this was the wisdom in choosing to use the young Jean Grey while you have her here, because, as many long-time X-Men fans know, Logan and Jean Grey have a long history with each other, but romantically and not. Fortunately, Lemire doesn't go as far as to tease a romance between these two, especially seeing not only how old Logan is but also because Jean Grey is underage, and instead goes for representing this relationship as a very personal friendship, especially for Logan. Logan is known for having a lot of young, plucky female sidekicks (Jubilee, Kitty Pryde, ect.), and this makes me want to see this partnership. Meanwhile, when it comes to Andrea Sorrentino's art, what can I say that hasn't been said before? It looks amazing, and the way they portray the flashbacks to the day the heroes fell in Logan's timeline is harrowing. Seeing people like the Wasp and Daredevil go down as brutally as they do is something to behold. What Lemire and Sorrentino have been doing with this series has been some of the best stuff that Marvel's currently publishing in my opinion, and some of my favorite stuff that Jeff Lemire's written.

Score: 9/10

Silk #10

Written by Robbie Thompson
Art by Tana Ford

Everything comes to a head here! Except for the part where it doesn't. But at least it's cool! In this issue, the current storyline of Silk working undercover for the Black Cat finally reaches its logical conclusion, with the Black Cat and Silk squaring off. And while this rivalry isn't exactly finally put to bed by the end of this, this at least marks the end of this era of Silk's career. We also now know that Silk's two close friends know who she is, though they don't exactly get much of a chance to tell her before she fights Cat. The fight itself isn't anything too flashy, but what makes it feel real is how invested we've become in this story. We've seen Silk build such a close relationship and repertoire with Black Cat that to see it all fall apart is sad. The art is, once again, Tana Ford, and while I've expressed before how much I don't like her art, here, it's a bit more subdued. It's better than previous issues, and doesn't get in the way like it did before, at least not as badly, which is good for such an important issue. We also finally get some follow-through on the mysterious figure who's been trailing Silk for the last arc or two, a seemingly ghostly figure who is finally revealed to be...well, that would be spoiling, now wouldn't it? Where the book goes from here, I'm unsure, but if this means Silk has a new ally to pal around with, then I'm all for it!

Score: 8.5/10

The Wicked + the Divine #21

Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Jamie McKelvie


The last couple issues have mostly been set-up. THIS, however, is where the payoff begins. Ananke and the gods that remained allied with her have stolen Minerva back, and are prepared for a final stand as Ananke's plans begin. Meanwhile, Persephone, the Morrigan, Dionysus, and Baphomet begin their assault on the gods' compound to stop Ananke once and for all. For the most part, this issue is all action, with tons of god vs. god action going on, including the appearence of Woden's Valkyries defending the compound. The issue doesn't forget, though, to keep developing these characters. We start seeing hints to just how desperate Ananke is getting, and a hint of Woden possibly beginning to doubt whether he's on the right side here. We also get to see what Dionysus brings to the table for the battle. Seeing as he's a god with the abilities to basically just make people dance, he'd seem like the guy you'd least want to have backing you up in a fight, but he quickly proves just how useful he can be. And no, he doesn't make the Valkyries dance. Much to my chagrin. The art is as fantastic as ever, Persephone's as badass as ever, and everything is really getting real. As we get closer to what's looking to be major change in this world, all we can do is hunker down and hope our favorite characters make it out with their heads intact. No promises.

Score: 9/10

The Flash #2

Written by Joshua Williamson
Art by Carmine Di Giandomencio

If there's anything really holding this issue back, it's an uneven pace, which is hilarious given the guy who's names on the cover. In this issue, the Flash is dealing with his friend from the police department suddenly being given access to the Speed Force, and therefore super speed abilities, due to what seems to be some kind of freak occurrence. Of course, at this point, the Flash isn't one to believe in coincidences much, but he does his best to try to teach his friend the basics of using his new powers, as well as the responsibilities of said powers. This latter part is the more interesting half, seeing as I find it interesting to see the Flash having to teach his friend the lessons that he had to learn the hard way. Lessons like when not to use your powers, the difference between justice and vengeance, and how even superheroes have lines that they shouldn't cross. Much of the rest of the issue is taken up by what I can only assume is the main plot of the arc rearing its head, and somewhat awkwardly, might I add. It almost feels like Joshua Williamson is trying to figure out how to tie in this Black Hole group while he's writing. It technically works, and it gives the Flash and his new partner a chance to work together, but it's somewhat clumsy in how it's fit into the rest of the book. There's even a quick bit with the black Wally West where he's starting to learn to use his powers, but we don't spend enough time with him to feel like any of it matters. By the end of the issue, though, the real meat of this arc finally comes in, so here's hoping things get better from here on out.

Score: 7.5/10

Detective Comics #936

Written by James Tynion IV
Art by Alvaro Martinez

In this issue, the worst has come to pass. The Batman has fallen. And it's up to Batwoman to unite the team to fight a mysterious foe who calls themselves "the Colony." This issue is tense, with much of it being taken by Batwoman trying her best to lead this ragtag group, and watching as her plans end up being put through the ringer. By the end, the Colony are on their tail, her allies are undertrained, and she finds herself on the receiving end of easily the biggest twist of this series so far, one that throws everything we know about both the Colony and Batwoman herself into question. Probably the best part of this issue is part of what I loved about James Tynion IV's previous maxiseries, Batman & Robin Eternal, the idea that these people aren't supposed to just do the exact same thing Batman would do. They make a point in this that they're not doing things the way Batman would, they're doing things Batwoman's way, which, seeing as Batman's way got him captured, seems like a good idea. Alvaro Martinez turns in some great work, and my favorite character, Orphan, gets one of the standout moments of the issue, single-handedly taking on a squad of the Colony's men. The end leaves things uncertain and grim, but if anyone can protect Gotham from the Colony, it's this team.

Score: 9/10

Daredevil #9

Written by Charles Soule
Art by Goran Sudzuka

If there's one complaint I had about Daredevil #8, it's perhaps the somewhat mismatched tone. Daredevil playing poker, Casino Royale style is interesting, but it's not very Daredevil-y. This issue does a complete 180 on that, giving us a story that feels through and through like a good old fashion Daredevil/Spider-Man crossover. This issue continues the thread from the last issue, having Daredevil and Spider-Man go after a mysterious case that Daredevil needs to acquire for...some reason. It's kept very hush hush, and by the end, even though we don't get details, we get the gist of why it's so important. Most of the issue, conversely, is really just watching Spidey and Daredevil kicking butt together, like old times. They even remark about how they go back a long time, something that eventually comes back when Spidey wants to know what's in the case. The case itself reeks a bit of MacGuffin, but seeing as it's a nice catalyst for some great dialogue and interaction between the duo, I can't say I mind too much. The ending itself feels a bit too neat, but it's the journey I'm more concerned with. Sudzuka's art is great, and the banter between the two makes this issue more than worth the pick up. It's not an innovative issue, and there's probably more story issues than there should be, but it's fun, and that's all I'm asking for with a story like this.

Score: 7.5/10

The Unbelievable Gwenpool #4

Written by Christopher Hastings
Art by Gurihiru

Well, it's about time Gwenpool caught a break. In this issue, we deal with the issue of M.O.D.O.K. finally figuring out that Gwenpool really isn't anything special and has no real powers, and that her killing his best agent was basically just blind luck. Fortunately for Miss Poole, she's got a few tricks up her sleeve once M.O.D.O.K. decides to try to off her. Most of this issue is taken up with the fight between Gwen and M.O.D.O.K., with Gwen using her wiles and her quick wits to take the big man on. She even uses an ace in the hole hat connects to an earlier issue. Part of the fun of this issue is just seeing how great Gurihiru is at doing action as well as just Gwen lounging around. I've mentioned it before, but Gurihiru is one of the best comic artists I've ever seen in a long time, and I'm very happy to see their continued work in this book. I honestly hope they get more comic work from Marvel and DC (I would totally read a comedic Supergirl book drawn by Gurihiru). The end teases that things will be changing quite a bit for the titular Poole, so I'm interested to see just where things go. Especially since the teaser image for the next issue shows off Gwen meeting Miles Morales.

Score: 8.5/10

Guardians of the Galaxy #10

Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Valerio Schiti

For the record, yes, I basically only picked this up cuz Angela is on the cover. Sue me. And by the way, she easily steals the show at the end. Otherwise, I've mentioned before that this series is something along the lines of "fun but you won't learn nothin," and I do still stand by it. It's almost a slightly less smart version of the film, which I know a lot of people take issue with, but I enjoy. It's a series with few stakes but gives a lot of opportunities to be a frolicking, fun adventure, almost more like the crew of an animated show than anything else. This issue finishes off this arc, with Peter Quill being stuck in an alien gladiatorial ring for crimes against the slaver planet of Badoon, where he will be brutally murdered by huge monsters. That is, unless the Guardians have anything to say about it, including Quill's fiancee/girlfriend/wife/maybe ex/I think they're still dating, Kitty Pryde. Most of this issue is basically just a good ol' fashion brawl, with the Guardians fighting off hordes of the Badoon to free not only Quill, but also the legion of slaves that they have imprisoned on the planet. It takes up most of the issue, and it's stylish, flashy, and a great showcase of Valerio Schiti's artistic skills. Really, the only part about this issue I didn't like was the ending, not because it was bad, but because it gets the Guardians involved in Civil War II. Of course, the next issue also has Angela on the cover, so I'm pretty much obligated to buy it. 

Score: 7.5/10

New Super-Man #1

Written by Gene Luen Yang
Art by Viktor Bogdanovic

Making flawed characters is hard. It's a precarious balance of making a character who is flawed enough that they have somewhere they can grow from, but likable enough that you care enough to go on that journey. That's the trouble with Kenan Kong, the protagonist in this New Super-Man series that sees him become China's Superman. The problem here is that he seems to be too unlikable here. When we're introduced to him, Kong is in the middle of bullying some kid for their lunch money. Throughout the issue, Kong never seems to ever be interested in any noble ideals, sympathetic goals, or even being a decent person. He's completely consumed by his ego and always wants to be the center of attention. We get some bits that his home life might not be ideal, but not enough to justify how much of a jerk he is. And to top it all off, everything that happens seems to be blind luck. Kong stands up to this supervillain who just so happens to decide that hurting Kong isn't worth his time (we still don't have an explanation for why, though), which just so happens to be seen by a secret government group that his father just so happens to have been obsessed with proving was real. Kong also just so happens to be the perfect candidate for a program to give a human Superman-like abilities, and also JUST SO HAPPENS to be the one person that it works on. So, not only is Kenan Kong unlikable, but the way he gets his powers is completely contrived. Not exactly the best start for China's premiere superhero. Kong doesn't seem to be learning anything other than his brand of self-centered egoism is the way to go, and that's a damn shame. The art is respectable enough, but it's a poor start for a series that I felt had a lot of potential. 

Score: 5/10

Action Comics #959

Written by Dan Jurgens
Art by Tyler Kirkham

There's a fine line between homage/honoring something and relying too much on it. Probably one of the biggest mistakes this issue makes is relying too heavily on the Death of Superman iconography. And while, sure, I understand that it's gonna come up given who this Superman is and who he's fighting, all the shots with Lois basically giving us panels from the original story are mostly unnecessary. The other major issue I have, though, is the idea that they're sacrificing the story for the action. Throughout this issue, they're constantly teasing the identity of this mysterious person who believes he's Clark Kent, but we keep being pulled away from a potentially interesting revelation because Superman and Doomsday haven't punched each other yet. The Doomsday reveal was great, but it's starting to overstay its welcome in lieu of paying more tribute to the Death of Superman. Artistically, I think the issue looks fantastic. I'm just somewhat disappointed at the lack of any followthrough with the interesting storytelling. Hopefully, Jurgens doesn't let this series fall into a rutt.

Score: 6/10

And that will do it for me this week, folks. As always, let me know what you've been reading. Have you been reading Vision? Did you check out the New Super-Man? Whats your favorite series out now? Let me know in the comments below, and I'll see you next week.

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