Welcome to another edition of The Pull List Comic Reviews! An incredibly solid week as we’ve got three Blackest Night tie-ins, some speedster action and a particularly “horrible” tale, but only one issue each week tops the “list.” Be sure to let us know what you thought of these issues, we’re always interested to hear from you, the readers. As always, WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD.
PULL OF THE WEEK:
Dark Reign: The List – Amazing Spider-Man One-Shot – Marvel Comics – $3.99 US
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Adam Kubert
Norman Osborn made a list and he’s checking it more than twice as certain thorns in his side have gotten his full attention. Everyone from the X-Men to the Avengers have had to deal with him, and by now you’ve heard of how the Punisher went to pieces over his clash with the H.A.M.M.E.R. Director, so how will Spider-Man do? Hint: Spidey doesn’t win this one.
I’ll start with Dan Slott’s writing in this issue, and simply state that he crushed it. There’s no other way to say it, really. Sure, an argument could be made that Spidey should have done something by now, especially considering his history with Stormin’ Norman. Put that aside, if you ever wanted to see Peter Parker triumph at anything – he’s had a ridiculously long losing streak since “Brand New Day” – then this is the issue for you.
It’s been a few months since artist Adam Kubert penciled some pages, but with that amount of lead-time you knew this issue would be stunning. He failed to disappoint. Crammed with gorgeous visuals, the entire one-shot was a treat, even when the action had decidedly died down for the last act. One look at the very first page is all you need to know in regards to how good the art is.
This being the final chapter in the Dark Reign: The List series of one-shots, I feel that they saved the best for last. Normie also saved the best for last, and while it didn’t work out for him, it was a winner for the fans. Wonderful scripting, incredible art and Peter Parker openly standing up to the Iron Patriot, and winning? Sounds like a Pull of the Week to me.
It’s Earth-Prime, and Superboy-Prime has discovered, through his comic collection, that things are amiss. Desperately looking for answers proves futile as something has been looking for him: Alexander Luthor of Earth-3, who is now equipped with a shiny, black ring. Meanwhile, in the 31st century, some members of the Legion are about to learn a hard lesson.
Writing duo Geoff Johns and Sterling Gates effectively bring the tension in this Blackest Night tie-in without losing sight of Superboy-Prime’s incessant whining, which is a plus in my opinion. Mixing in the comic book element doesn’t always work, but here it passes with flying colors. Despite Prime’s obvious power levels, it looks like he’ll have his hands full answering to all those he’s killed recently.
In the Legion co-feature Johns teams up with Michael Shoemaker that’s low on action, but huge on importance as Blok and Mysa show Dawnstar and Wildfire what real sacrifice in the name of love means. Without much knowledge of the Legion of Super-Heroes I still found this co-feature to be an easily accessible tale, which I enjoyed quite a bit.
Legendary artist Jerry Ordway really nailed the Superboy-Prime lead story, which isn’t a surprise in the slightest for anyone who has seen his art over the years. With Infinite Crisis still fresh in my memory, I was shocked at how bad I felt for Prime by the end of this issue, but that’s what Ordway brings to the table. The co-feature artist, Clayton Henry, didn’t have much to go on, unfortunately, so he wasn’t able to stretch his legs much. Still, he nailed it when it was required, whether in a character’s body language or the simple panel of hands holding each other, which spoke louder than any words typed could. Don’t miss out on this issue if you haven’t been getting this series, it’s that good.
Amazing Spider-Man #612 – Marvel Comics – $3.99 US
Writers: Mark Waid, Joe Kelly
Artists: Paul Azaceta, JM Ken Niimura
Consider the gauntlet thrown. For months now sinister people have been putting their game plan into place, and now it seems that Spider-Man is about to experience a whole new level of danger, which will almost assuredly come with pain. Round one: Electro.
Max Dillon, better known as Electro, has finally had enough. Feeling he’s owed something, he’s a villain who has nothing left to lose, and in Mark Waid’s capable hands, that’s golden. Electro hasn’t been this fleshed out in a very, long time. Add to that the people of New York’s reaction to the villain, and more importantly Spidey himself, and you’ve got an interesting first chapter in this latest arc. The back-up by Joe Kelly is equally upsetting for the Wall Crawler’s life, but in a completely different way as the Black Cat makes her relationship with Spider-Man even more complicated. The writing in this issue overall, as expected, is pretty good to say the least.
Both Paul Azaceta and JM Ken Niimura brought different vibes to their respective stories, and while the art was beautiful in its own right, I felt that it wasn’t a good match for the issue here. Azaceta’s art didn’t bring the suspense that I felt was needed for the first chapter of this storyline, and it was hard to match up Niimura’s “all ages” tone when his story revolved around Spidey and Black Cat’s friends-with-benefits relationship. Having said that, it’s still an important issue that shouldn’t be passed up.
A seemingly off-kilter priest is holding the Huntress and Man-Bat hostage in a church while Batman, Robin and Oracle comb the streets of Gotham in search of them. Gotham being the busy city it is and all, Two-Face has begun recruiting more thugs while openly taunting District Attorney Kate Spencer, but unbeknownst to him is that Spencer is also Manhunter, who’s hot on his trail.
While this story won’t be blowing anyone’s minds anytime soon, it was still an enjoyable, if not predictable tale of not judging a book by its cover. The focus is primarily on the Huntress and her refusal to believe that some people can change, but luckily for her she gets the message just in time. I think that, with a little more time on Huntress, writer Chris Yost can really do some great things with the character. Hopefully, for us readers, he’ll get that chance one day. In the Manhunter co-feature, writer Marc Andreyko continues to make the character better and better. For those of you who passed on the wonderful Manhunter series, do yourself a favor and check out the trades.
Both Dustin Nguyen and Jeremy Haun provided more-than-adequate work in this issue. Going back to Nguyen’s run on Detective Comics, it looks like he’s increasingly getting better, and his art wasn’t subpar to begin with. Not to be outdone, Haun seems to be finding his legs as well so I’m looking forward to just how good these two artists can get.
The origins of Dr. Horrible and his feud with Captain Hammer are revealed for the first time in this new one-shot, but really, does he even stand a chance? More than you’d think…
Taking the critically acclaimed and much-loved Dr. Horrible and broadening the character’s history is no small feat, but writer Zack Whedon makes it look easy. Mixing in flashbacks from the “good” Doctor’s childhood with his brilliant yet shortsighted plans for evil left me laughing throughout the entire issue. Whedon even managed to humanize Dr. Horrible even more, which is a testament to his writing here.
Artist Joëlle Jones, who admittedly I’ve never heard of, did a remarkable job with the penciling chores. Capturing the likenesses of the actors from the original blog, Jones brought the goods while incorporating Hammer’s constant sideways grin and Horrible’s steely determination in the face of his own absurdness. Wonderful issue that everyone should read, including those who may unfortunately not be familiar with Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.
Flash: Rebirth #5 (of 6) – DC Comics – $2.99 US
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ethan Van Sciver
Professor Zoom has pulled out all the stops as virtually every speedster alive (and dead) unite to take down the psychopath once and for all. While this may sound like a battle for the ages, it’s the jaw-dropping revelations that’ll surely be the talk of comicdom.
Geoff Johns proved he could take the vast history and continuity of a character and run with it – pardon the pun – without making changes with his work on Green Lantern: Rebirth. This is no different as the Flash, and all speedsters for that matter, get the same treatment. His reveals of the West twins’ connection to the Speed Force and who killed Barry West’s mother both shocked me and pleased me, because it makes sense. That in itself is Johns’ greatest skill: the ability to take convoluted history and make sense of it. The final issue can’t come fast enough.
Artist Ethan Van Sciver – who also worked on the aforementioned Green Lantern: Rebirth mini-series – has been a little inconsistent with this project so far. While the delays have taken some of the steam out of the engine, it’s allowed Van Sciver to put that much more into his art, and it pays off in this issue. The result is a crisper, cleaner series of pages that almost explode from their paper confines.
Justice Society of America 80-Page Giant One-Shot – DC Comics – $5.99 US
Writers: Matthew Sturges, James Robinson, Felicia D Henderson, Kevin Grevioux, Jerry Ordway, Jen Van Meter, Zander Cannon
Artists: Freddie Williams II, Neil Edwards, Renato Guedes, Roberto Castro, Jerry Ordway, Jesus Merino, Scott Hampton
Dr. Fate has a message for the Justice Society of America: change is coming. Will they receive the message before they get lost within the Brownstone, and their minds?
This giant-sized one-shot is full of various creators, all of whom do some fantastic work. Each creative team’s style seemed to fit their respective character’s spotlight section quite well, and seeing Mr. America, Steel, Amazing Man, Wildcat (Tommy), Cyclone and Damage confront some of their fears was pretty good. Recommended if you plan on reading Justice Society of America and the upcoming new series JSA All-Stars that starts this December.
Art-wise this issue had more than it’s share of awesomeness, but the work of Scott Hampton – from the now defunct Simon Dark series – really stood out for me. His macabre-like pencils are perfect for anything that has to do with horror or the supernatural, so here’s hoping he continues to find regular work going forth.
The Outsiders have an unexpected visitor in the form of Terra, which is a big problem since she’s been dead for years. If that wasn’t spooky enough, Tatsu, Halo and Creeper’s transporting of Killer Croc to prison is halted by Tatsu’s very dead family. Did I mention that there are black rings all over the place?
Peter J Tomasi takes this Blackest Night tie-in and does something unexpected: it seems that after fighting and losing to the Titans, Terra has had enough and just wants to die, and she wants her brother Geo-Force and his friends to help her. Definitely didn’t see that coming. I should also mention that Tomasi, thankfully, sped through the usual “you’re not dead/you’re dead/love you/kill you” when Tatsu encounters her zombified family, so us readers don’t have to go through that dance again.
Some pretty solid art by Fernando Pasarin in this issue, and the more I see him handle Creeper the more I like the character. Pasarin’s art has been on a steady incline since taking over this title, so keep an eye out for future issues of this series from him.
Punisher #11 – Marvel Comics – $2.99 US
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Tony Moore
Following the events in Dark Reign: The List – Punisher, Frank Castle was cut to pieces and left for dead. Make no mistake, the Punisher is dead, and yet here we are with another issue. Sound strange? Then I won’t tell you about Monster Island, the Morlock Tunnels or Morbius and his Legion of Monsters. Oops.
Writer Rick Remender took this title in a completely different direction with this issue, and while I’m not entirely sold on it yet, I do see some promise in the premise. The term “FrankenCastle” sounds ludicrous on its own but mixed in with the elements Remender has set in place, it may actually pay off. Besides, how can you go wrong with Man-Thing?
I’ve got mixed feelings about Tony Moore’s art in this issue. In the scenes where a close up was used, or the panels had less going on in them, Moore’s art was every bit as great as his work tends to be. But in the larger, busier scenes, it looked like a mess. Not sure if the coloring was the culprit since I’m used to his art in black-and-white titles like The Walking Dead, but in some areas his art felt out of place. I’m hoping the next issue will have everything tightened up, and then we can enjoy Moore’s art for what it is.
Bizarro just wants to be with his friend, Solomon Grundy, but the Seven Soldiers’ Frankenstein and Man-Bat, embroiled in their own problems, have other plans. Besides, Solomon Grundy is dead, right? Oh look, a shiny black ring…
Scott Kolins does the writer/artist thing in this Blackest Night tie-in issue, which doesn’t include Batman or Superman. At all. Instead, Solomon Grundy becomes a Black Lantern and goes crusty toe-to-crusty toe with Bizarro while Frankenstein and Bride assist Francine Langstrom in helping her husband, Man-Bat. If I had read the Solomon Grundy mini-series I’d have been better prepared for this story, but because I didn’t I found that this wasn’t as accessible as it could have been. Nice touch with how the color spectrum affects Bizarro though, that’s what you’d call attention to detail.
Speaking of which, Kolins’ usual details in his art from this issue are dirty and gritty in every way, and I absolutely love it. Of all the Blackest Night tie-ins so far, I felt this was the one that had the least amount of substance to it, but not every issue can be a winner.