Despite the epic amount of press behind it (sarcasm), my local comic shop did not order any of Dark Horse’s miniseries Werewolves on the Moon versus Vampires. Just the name alone filled me with shock and terror as to what might be on the comic page should I one day be able to find this issue somewhere. As soon as I do get my hands on it though, you better believe it will make its way into a future back issue edition of The Pull List.
Until then, here’s this week’s The Pull List.
Pull of the Week:
Dark Avengers #5 – Marvel – $3.99
The first book to receive a second “Pull of the Week” accolade, Dark Avengers #5 focuses on just how cool it is to be a bad guy. Told through flashbacks taking place hours before a news interview, this issue does its best to introduce pieces of personality to almost all the members of the Osborn backed Avengers team. At the same time, Norman Osborn publicly responds to Clint Barton calling him out publicly as the former murder, the Green Goblin.
The final pages of the issue reveal that all might not be going as planned for the members of the Cabal as Norman must assemble his team of Avengers again for the next issue. Sadly, as it seems with many books that Bendis writes, if he doesn’t care about a character they don’t get much representation in his book. Daken, though seen gets a very limited role in the issue much like Mockingbird has since her return in the pages of the New Avengers.
Looking back, it wouldn’t surprise me if Bendis set up the Civil War and Secret Invasion concepts as a way to get to this point. Bendis loves writing this character. Having a villain in charge as his ultimate goal seems like too fun a premise considering just how involved Norman has become over the entire Marvel Universe. Instead of being restricted to just Spider-Man titles, he can now play a part in any story at all and turn the tables on any hero. Essentially, Norman has almost become a Deus Ex Machina that can be put in anything to add another level of depth to any conflict a hero finds themselves a part of. The other great part of Norman is that he really believes all he has done should be forgivable because of who he has “become” in the public eye. He is so twisted and delusional that it’s hard not to laugh when seeing how he handles his team of lunatic murderers and psychopathic assassins.
Again, Deodato’s dark style is perfect for this book. Nothing about this team should ever be bright and cheerful. They operate in shadows, they should be drawn the same way. There is always an air of mystery around them as shadows often cover large portions of them and their expression, leaving the reader wondering exactly what their true intentions and motivations are. Mike Deodato’s work conveys that perfectly.
Never has it been more fun to be a bad guy. Villains are being given free passes left and write for the things they’ve done as long as they can prove their worth to the former Green Goblin. If they screw up, they have a corporate and government backed juggernaut to help get them out of trouble. And as much as we have been cheering for these villains to get their butts kicked by Spider-Man, the Avengers or the X-Men over the years, now we find ourselves cheering for them. That is the sign of a good story. When it makes the reader change what they once believed to be true. That is something done in this book.
Amazing Spider-Man #596 – Marvel – $2.99
Part two of the “American Son” story arc picks up with Harry Osborn doing something Peter Parker never would have expected him to do, publically joining his father as a part of Norman’s Avengers organization. The two best friends argue it out only for Peter to be left clueless that the real reason Harry has joined his father’s team was to figure out a way to protect his former fiancé Lily who is pregnant with Harry’s child. This leaves Peter so distracted that while swinging across town he barely notices a building engulfed in flames. Later, Peter catches up with Venom in one of the most onesided battles the two have ever had before revealing his plan to the reader and finding out what American Son means.
The issue feels a lot like good old fashioned Spider-Man story. With half the time split between Peter being himself and half spent as Spider-Man, Peter is still the awkward guy who tosses out one-liners without thinking, resulting in him shoving his foot down his throat. At the same time, he is a caring friend who wants to do whatever he can to protect his friend Harry from putting himself in a position that’d let past demons like Harry’s addiction come back. The science geek in Peter comes across as his plan is revealed at the tail end of the issue as he fights Venom too. Along with Peter, Bullseye actually comes across really well in the issue as he sits idly by as Venom is busy propositioning a hooker and then fighting Spider-Man, all while Bullseye is too self-involved with picking his nose and killing rats with quarters.
Of all the characters in the long run of the series, a new one has graced the top of my “To Kill” list. Norah may be the most annoyingly written character I have read in a long time. While I hate comic book death as it often either means nothing or ends up not meaning anything as a character is brought back to life, this character needs to be taken out. Simply writing her out isn’t enough because that means another writer could use her in a future story. She needs to be taken out for good. Anything to avoid reading her spit out pop culture buzz words ever again. Why is it that the Green Goblin can kill off someone as beloved as Gwen Stacy but this girl will probably be around for the next fifty issues? But I digress…
The art of the issue is stellar with Paulo Siqueira capturing the emotion in Peter and Harry’s faces perfectly throughout. The first page is great as Harry, a former super villain himself, stands with his father and Venom in front of Avengers Tower for a press conference with the current Avengers team watching with arms crossed and looks of disdain on their faces. The sequence with Peter asking for advice is well done as its hard to tell exactly who Peter is talking to until the last panel, but then suddenly all makes sense with the reveal at the end.
A great subtle joke that encourages the reader to always pay attention to the little details comes from the scene with Venom outside of his costume propositioning a hooker with thighs that could rival Wonder Woman’s with a small bottle of wine in the bottom of the page that reads, “Wine More Day”. Though a small fan service, those who get it really appreciate it when an artist goes the extra mile for something small like that for them.
Judging from upcoming solicits and the current pacing of the story, this story is going to take Spider-Man head on with Norman. Though Norman is a good overall villain for the Marvel U, he is at his best when he is facing Spider-Man. The longstanding history between them can lead this to be one of the best story arcs since “Brand New Day”, something still needed strongly by the series after the disappointing results of the “New Ways to Die” story a few months ago.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Tales of the Vampires – Dark Horse Comics – $2.99
The first one shot comic happening in continuity to Buffy’s Season 8 series, Tales of the Vampires is a tale taking place in a small New Hampshire town and revolves around the pop culture phenomenon that vampires have become in this world. Not vampires as characters in TV or movies, but the existence of actual vampires being revealed to the world and the craze of people following them. While slayers have gone in to hiding with the proliferation of pro-vamp propaganda such as Harmony’s television show, vampires no longer hide themselves. Their bite has earned the reputation of a high without the risk of drugs.
While it was strange to have a Buffy book without Buffy in it, this issue actually worked really well. The story reminded me of one of the episodes from one of the first seasons of the show where one of the boys Buffy goes to school with wants to be turned so not to succumb to a terminal illness. He doesn’t want to become a vampire because he is a bad person and wants to hurt people, he just feels his current life has nothing left for him.
While Jacob didn’t consciously wish to become a vampire, his life had seemingly lost all meaning and motivation. He may have never asked to be turned, but letting the vampires feed off him could have been taken as a sign that he was so enthralled with their society that he would have wanted to do anything possible to become a part of it himself.
The direct correlations to drug addiction are strong in this issue. Nothing about Jacob’s lifestyle is glamorous. Everything is bleak and dismal. And as he furthers himself into the vampire lifestyle, it gets even worse. Like many addicts, Jacob doesn’t look for a way out. He just accepts life as it is and keeps doing what has gotten him to this point.
The only real downfall of the book comes from the art. Vasilis Lolos has a very cartoonish style that really just takes the reader out of the book. While trying to go for something different, it instead becomes a distraction. The characters are inconsistent in most panels and the faces just take any believability away from the book. Overall it is a strong book regardless but don’t come to it looking for the fantastic artwork that has made its way in to many of the recent Buffy issues, but instead for the story.
You can check out last week’s mega edition of the Pull List here. Be sure to check back tomorrow for the rest of this week’s Pull List!