The Pull List Comic Reviews: ‘Amazing Spider-Man’, ‘Thunderbolts’ and More!

This is part two of this week’s edition of The Pull List. For yesterday’s collection of reviews, and The Pull of the Week, click here.

Amazing Spider-Man #594 – Marvel – $2.99
Score: 7.0

Mark Waid’s “Open 24/7” story arc finally comes to a crashing ending, not in a bad way but with a literal crash. I’ll get to that later though. After being blinded by a faceoff with the new Vulture at the end of the last issue, Spider-Man is forced to start off this book by asking himself something every one of us has had to ask ourselves at one point, “W.W.D.D.D.?” (What would Daredevil Do?) There isn’t one among us who doesn’t hope that if blinded, our other senses would kick in and pick up the slack. That’s exactly what Spidey deals with as he struggles just to survive this confrontation with the carrion eating new villain.

The issue also continues the story of Aunt May’s romance with J. Jonah Jameson Sr. which had a much better mental image left behind than when Peter had caught them knocking boots a few issues back. In an effort to keep Spider-Man tied to current “real-life” events, much of the latter part of the issue takes place at the new Yankee Stadium where mayor J. Jonah Jameson (Jr.) is enjoying a day at the ballpark with his “adoring public”. This happens to be where the big crash happens as Spider-Man is sent through the skybox window of Norman Osborn during his fight with the Vulture.

While the arc itself was never bad, it took a lot of steps to reach a conclusion that could have been reached much more quickly. A new villain was revealed with a somewhat lackluster debut with little insight as to who he actually is. It almost feels like this new Vulture has been stamped with a B-Level across his forehead already because of the way the character has been treated with such a quick defeat and generic origin. What the issue does well is build excitement in its final pages for the change in the focus of our hero. As the series has always spoken of great responsibility, Peter realizes that having fun embarrassing  J.J.J.’s isn’t living up to his mantra. Instead, Peter sees there are much bigger fish to fry than someone who only smears his name.

Artists Kitson and McKone do a great job bringing this story to page despite their overwhelming amount of detail on a nude Peter Parker. Their varied choices of panel presentation help give the book a very dynamic feel as no two pages are laid out the same. Their choice of design on the new Vulture’s costume is also a great take as he comes across as quite menacing in his crimson costume flying through the night.

So what next for Spider-Man? In the coming months it looks like the “American Son” arc will kick off along with a new addition to the Osborn family all leading up to the 600th issue which looks like it is pointing to the return of a well known Spidey villain. With stakes like that ahead, there’s no doubt the series is ready to pick up steam.

Skrull Kill Krew #2 – Marvel – $3.99
Score: 4.5

Sometimes books get placed under the banner of events for little reason. So far, Skrull Kill Krew is one of those books, as nothing in it has had anything to do with Marvel’s new status quo under the reign of Norman Osborn.  Along with that inconsistency, the book itself suffers from a number of flaws. But first, a recap of the issue. Much like last issue, the book follows the same formula of setting up the trap by the Skrulls that humans have fallen in to, big battle with little threat to the main characters occurs and then a little post-battle epiphany about one of the Krew.  This issue treats the reader at least to a moment of embarrassment with a cameo from  one of the company’s flagship characters.

One of the most glaring faults of the story lies in the disconnect between the first two issues of the miniseries. At the end of the first issue, it is revealed that Ryder himself may have not actually been one of the humans effected by the Skrull meat which created the Krew but instead one of the Skrull offspring. This issue completely ignores any mention of this, even in the recap at the start of the book. 

Instead, the issue stands alone with the only connection between the two being the inclusion of Ryder as a character and the repetitious plotting of the two stories. Ryder also isn’t that great of a “hero”. He never seems to act in time to save everyone despite being given the chance. Instead, he hesitates and costs the lives of the innocents he had been aiming to protect.

The art of the issue does little to help the book as its artwork resembles Archie and Jughead more so than the superhero story it should intend to be. The child-pleasing bright colors and thick outlines starkly contrast the violent nature of the story told underneath it. Even having two different artists working on separate pieces of the story didn’t help improve the presentation.

The style of the cover’s artist seems like it would have leant itself better to the story that writer Adam Felber was attempting to tell.  The story of the Kill Krew leaves a lot to be explained and much more to be desired.  If it doesn’t show any improvement in the coming month, it’ll help open up an additional $3.99 to the Pull List’s budget.

Uncanny X-Men #510 – Marvel – $2.99
Score: 7.5

X-Scribe Matt Fraction continues his run on the Uncanny X-Men with the team fighting the Sisterhood back from the brink of defeat after having all been brought near their breaking point at the end of the last issue. The one thing the that Madelyne Pryor and her Sisterhood didn’t count on though were younger X-Men they had not encountered before.

Pixie, having dealt with the trauma of losing a part of her soul, shines in this issue as she takes a leadership role in helping turn the tide of the battle. On the contrary, Armor seemingly begins to fall apart no longer being at the side of Wolverine like she is in the pages of Astonishing X-Men. Seemingly fearless backing up Wolverine, Armor crumbles under the pressure of what seems like impending defeat. The issue ends with the reveal of what exactly the plan of the Sisterhood was in a dramatic, but not entirely unexpected, confession from Wolverine to Cyclops.

Thus far, Fraction has done a great job working on this X-Men story that has seemingly been going on under the radar in comparison to the events of the Messiah War. But, as seen from the end of the issue, all these events playing out in Uncanny X-Men are bound for massive implications on the X-Men story. Like Joss Whedon’s work on the series, Fraction knows the voices of all these characters he is writing for.

At one point, he brings back a brutal side that has been missing from Emma Frost. It seems like the inner turmoil has been building with her role in Osborn’s Cabal and this issue gives her some release for it both verbally and physically on the unfortunate Lady Mastermind. With the upcoming Dark X-Men team, it is likely this side of Emma will become more and more prevalent.

Greg Land does a fantastic job on his artwork of the issue, with the only notable exception being his odd take on Armor’s power, leaving her psychic armor looking almost teardrop shaped in some instances. He more than makes up for it though with some fantastic action sequences including a splash page with no dialogue or verbiage as the revived body of Psylocke and Wolverine face off.

Land does a great job of making the women in the story look especially beautiful with his great work on their facial structures and hair. How he is able to so quickly turn them to violent and bloodied foes so quickly after is also remarkable. Because of the sheer amount of female heroes and villains in the issue, Land was definitely the perfect choice for it. For some reason, Land’s take on Cyclops also looks a little bit like Matt Fraction… weird. Between Land’s artwork, Fraction’s superb understanding of the characters and the A-Bomb level sized reveal at the end of the issue, Uncanny X-Men is one of the more shining books on a somewhat average week.

Thunderbolts #132 – Marvel – $2.99
Score: 7.0

Every now and then an author can take you on a ride that, when you reach the final pages of a book, you have one of those “didn’t see that one coming” kind of moments. Writer Andy Diggle does a great job doing so in this issue as he starts to take the reader inside the heads of the current Thunderbolts team for really the first time since they had been formed. Most deeply explored is the inner workings of Ghost. Mostly a mystery to the reader and his own teammates, Diggle gives a character that has taken neuroticism to a new level.

While greatly creative in its execution, the same problem plagues this issue as it has since the Thunderbolts roster change took place. No one really seems to care about these characters due only to the fact that so little is known about them. The most delved into character, Ant-Man, is only so known because of the twelve issue series he was created in by Robert Kirkman and his time recently spent in the pages of Avengers: Initiative.

The others are still virtual unknowns or have had little attention on them as more than second rate characters, like the Paladin. Had the team been made up of members at least as well known as Ant-Man, the story itself could have had much greater impact. But, in this issue as stated before, Diggle is trying to remedy this problem as he tries to give insight in to one of the least known characters, Ghost.

The artwork of this issue departs from the cartoony style present during the previous Deadpool crossover arc. Roberto De La Torre gives this book the dark and dank feel it needs. With many panels filled with more shadow than color, this Thunderbolts team is shown as being as far away from its predecessors who were looking for redemption. These men are killers, mercenaries and sociopaths and make no attempt to hide it.

After losing its all-star cast comprised of Norman Osborn, Bullseye and Venom to the Dark Avengers and the exile of Songbird, Swordsman and Radioactive Man from the team, the Thunderbolts book has fallen to a more mediocre status than it once was. Like some series, Thunderbolts has fallen in to times of a rebuilding period. Hopefully with the proper characters and exciting stories, Diggle can bring the team back up to the level it deserves.

Don’t forget to check back on The Flickcast each Thursday and Friday for the newest edition of The Pull List!

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