The Pull List Comic Reviews: ‘Captain Britain and MI13’, ‘G.I.Joe: Cobra’, and ‘Tales from Wonderland: The Cheshire Cat’

To take a look at yesterday’s Pull List Reviews, click here.

Captain Britain and MI13 #14 – Marvel – $2.99
Score: 8.5

This is one of the times where the vocal minority needs to help save a book. If Spider-Girl could be saved, this book most certainly deserves it. Unless something happens in the final issue #15 that prevents the characters from being able to appear in future issues like the entire nation of England being nuked off the map, there is no reason the series shouldn’t continue.

At the New York Comic Con this past February, Paul Cornell was praised for his work on the series. Now months later, it is being brought to an end far too soon. The past few months, the book has fallen just short of the top 100 comics in terms of sales which may be why Marvel is giving it the axe despite being the best Captain Britain series in recent memory, especially after the dismal storytelling of New Excalibur.

By the end of the previous issue, the war between Dracula and his vampire army and the nation of Britain had taken a huge toll. Captain Britain had been expelled from his country as Spitfire had turned on her own team, resulting in the deaths of Pete Wisdom, the Black Knight and Fauza. Blade also turned his back on the battle and walked away. The hardest part of this issue is to describe the events that happen within because of the sheer volume of spoilers it would contain. Most of the enjoyment of the issue comes from the surprises that come up that would only be ruined if I tried to describe the plot in detail here.

Usually comics lend themselves to the “holy crap” moments with a stunning final panel setting up for the next issue. This issue bucks that trend in its first few pages. What follows is a great example of Leonard Kirk’s fantastic pencils of action scenes combined with the dry British dialogue that Paul Cornell has mastered so well, probably since he hails from Britain it gives him an unfair advantage writing it. Kirk also does a great job with the way he draws blood in the issue. Often times, gory battles can come across as gratuitous.

Kirk’s work instead has a subdued take on the violence that helps keep the storytelling running smoothly instead of covering the pages with buckets of red. The issue also comes with two great cameos, one that was somewhat expected from the way the story arc began and one that comes somewhat as a surprise but is impactful none the less. This issue just goes to show that people should read the Annuals to their ongoing series as important things carry over from them as well, instead of just being a way to make an extra $3.99 a year on a title. Even the art alone on the issue’s cover with Dracula standing over the corpses of all of Britain’s greatest heroes should signify that something good awaits inside.

In addition to being an exciting issue by itself, the book sets up for what looks like will be a battle of epic proportions in the final issue of the series. Paul Cornell has done a fantastic job of taking a mismatched group of heroes and brought them together in to a team the readers really care about, bringing both Blade and the Black Knight back in to relevance and expertly continuing the interesting kinship that exists between Pete Wisdom and Captain Britain.

Hopefully like many series in the past, this book can be revived with a second volume. Until then for fans of Cornell’s, his only other current work right now is Dark Reign: Young Avengers. Hopefully Marvel can take the seeds he has sown in these fourteen great issues and keep running with them.

G.I. Joe: Cobra #4 – IDW – $3.99
Score: 8.0

There must have been a memo that went out this week to comic book companies to see who could come up with the better twist after comparing what Marvel’s Captain Britain and G.I. Joe: Cobra from IDW brought to the plate. At the end of the last issue, Chuckles was forced to make the ultimate sacrifice for his mission and kill a fellow Joe, his lover Jinx, who had been captured by Cobra forces.

This fourth issue, the final of the miniseries shows Chuckles doing what he thinks he has to do in order to dismantle Cobra from the inside. Chuckles has found out that his wet work ops he had been forced to do working for the organization were all an effort to destabilize national governments to get them to hire Cobra’s Crimson Guard as a private army. This in turn would allow Cobra to take control over the governments and resources of nations around the globe.

Chuckles knows he needs to destroy both Cobra’s R & D department as well as the training and housing facility for the Crimson Guard. But that’s not enough for him. Chuckles needs to take out the character only referred to as Mr. X. With a cameo of some classic well known G.I. Joe characters, the book gives multiple twists that no reader would even begin to expect after seeing how the last issue had ended.

The only thing not to like about this issue is that it is the final one of the miniseries. Although, IDW was nice enough to announce a G.I. Joe: Cobra Special #1 coming out in September as this book leaves the reader wanting more. One of the most intriguing things about the issue is the Parental Advisory warning above the barcode on the cover. This is a risk that IDW has taken that has really paid off in terms of overall book quality. Rather than write a trite story to simply capitalize on the upcoming G.I. Joe movie, they took risks and wrote a story for the true G.I. Joe fan.

Everyone who grew up on G.I. Joe and the cartoon would eventually look back and ask themselves why no one was ever killed in a show about people in the army. The cartoon could never get away with that because it was geared towards children and driving toy sales. Now, long time fans get a story they deserved. All the questions that had been left unanswered to them for years are brought forward by a story that both capitalizes on nostalgia as well as uses quality storytelling and artwork to make an adult story of infiltration as a war begins to brew between the Joe’s and the still virtually unknown entity of Cobra.

Again, Christos Gage takes a character that had lived in relative obscurity and made him a star in this title. There are more levels to Chuckles in this book than what any toy designer or Saturday morning cartoon writer could have ever likely imagined. Of all the Joe’s since the relaunch of the franchise with this title, G.I. Joe, and G.I. Joe: Origins, he is by far the most interesting, thoroughly explored and deep character they have.

With any luck, G.I. Joe: Cobra Special #1 will both continue the tale of Chuckles and give further insight in to the formation of Cobra. If you haven’t picked up this book, buy the trade when it comes out or the back issues. It’s well worth the investment.

Grimm Fairy Tales presents Tales from Wonderland: The Cheshire Cat – Zenoscope – $3.99
Score: 7.0

In an effort to help support smaller comics press through reviews and exposure as stated in my earlier article this week, I decided this week to pick up Tales from Wonderland: The Cheshire Cat from Zenoscope, the same publisher who had brought us their disturbed takes on Grimm’s fairy tales. While knowing little about their Wonderland series, I had assumed the Cheshire Cat would be one of the good guys as he had aided Alice in the classic fairy tale. And in some ways, he actually was.

The issue tells the tale of a Japanese college student named Lina picking out a cat from the pound, naming it Oreo. When she takes the cat home, her roommate Becky instantly doesn’t like it. When the cat enters the room while Becky is having sex with her boyfriend, Becky throws the cat in to a locker. Oreo hears the racist remarks of Becky’s boyfriend as Becky kicks him out of the room.

When Lina comes back, she takes Oreo to cuddle with her to sleep and begins to tell the cat all of her problems with different people around the school who give her a hard time or say things about her behind her back. Of course, this is no ordinary cat or the story just wouldn’t be any fun. What follows is a series of gore filled horror movie-esque murders, ultimately resulting in Lina realizing what her cat really is.

Tales from Wonderland: The Cheshire Cat is basically a 22 page slasher flick, and I mean that in a good way. It takes all the staples from unnecessary semi-nudity to over the top murders to a sorority house full of obnoxious girls you can’t wait to see killed off and puts them in one little blood soaked package. There’s nothing overly sophisticated about there’s story but there doesn’t have to be to keep it enjoyable. You don’t want to over think while watching a slasher flick so you most certainly don’t want to over think reading one either.

The artwork was what one would expect from a company that surrounds itself with booth babes dressed as a whorey (yes, it’s a word) Little Bo Peep and a slutty Snow White. The women drawn in the issue are all T & A but they are well done. There is nothing sloppy about the artwork or coloring. If anything, you can tell that extra time was put in to making the T & A and gore in the issue its strongest points. Overall, the issue can be summed up as fun. This isn’t one for the squeamish but for a fan of gore flicks, this book is a definite pick up.

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