The Pull List Comic Reviews: ‘Dark Reign: Elektra’, ‘Nova’ and ‘Halo: Helljumper’

Don’t forget to check out the review of the “Pull of the Week” Beta Ray Bill: Godhunter, 28 Days Later and Batman and Robin on yesterday’s The Pull List

elektraDark Reign: Elektra #5 – Marvel – $3.99

Score: 7.5

“If I had wronged them, I would simply kill them all.” That quote pretty much sums up what is so cool about Elektra. If only the makers of the Jennifer Gardner movie had figured that out. Dark Reign: Elektra #5 concludes the series as Elektra, having been returned from her Skrull and subsequent Norman Osborn imprisonment, tries to find out just who has put a price on her head. After having been attacked by agent Nico and Bullseye, Elektra is by Wolverine (the good one, not the Dark Avengers one). Wolverine takes Elektra somewhere safe and lets her know the whereabouts of where he tracked Nico to.

Elektra, wanting to find out what happened that these people want to kill her that was caused by her Skrull impersonator, tracks down the agents. When she gets to the Nico and Hammer Agent Brothers, she finds out that they blame her for the death of so many S.H.I.E.L.D. agents when she and the Hand has crashed the helicarrier. At the same time, Norman Osborn has found out through his interrogations of Skrull captives just when Elektra was abducted and what the Skrulls found out from her.

Writer Zeb Wells and artist Clay Mann are a great time to work on an Elektra story. Zeb gets what makes Elektra intriguing as she lives her life in shades of gray while Clay does a great job of bringing it to the page. The only character who doesn’t fit in strongly with this story is Norman Osborn as it seems he was forced in as a main component because of the “Dark Reign” banner. It feels like it should have been more of a post-Secret Invasion tie-in instead of putting so much focus on the storytelling on Norman who has been plastered in literally every corner of the Marvel U.

He must never sleep since he is so busy screwing with every hero and villain he can. But thankfully, the focus of the issue lies in Elektra and the way she has been written allows her to be a strong enough character to carry it. It is also great to see a character who doesn’t need to constantly spout catch phrases or constant banter in order to command a title. Elektra’s strong but silent type personality works well in Clay Mann’s strength over beauty approach to drawing her. And the fact that Zeb was able to give a strong conclusion with some great Elektra moments encapsulated within the final pages made the journey through the story enjoyable throughout, but especially at the end.

Dark Reign: Elektra is bound to make a good trade when it comes out. Though separated by four months in between the first and final issue, the strong moments carried through each issue well, keeping anticipation to see where Elektra was going next. The only real negative of the series is the aching question of “When will we see Elektra next?” After the conclusion of Daredevil #500, it’d make sense to see her become involved in his story but only time will tell with that one. Hopefully though, Elektra can distance herself from the Dark Reign and Norman Osborn and rebuild the interesting character she had the potential to be before she had been abducted by Skrulls.

novaNova #28 – Marvel – $2.99

Score: 7.5

After reaching the distant planet of Kree-La where his brother is facing off against one of the strongest aliens in the galaxy and negotiating his way through King Blastaar, Nova finds out all may have been too late at the end of last issue as his brother Robbie appears to have been killed by Xenith. For those who don’t know, Xenith is the cousin of Gladiator, the new leader of the Shi’ar empire , and the only other surviving member of the Praetorian race. But Richard Rider is Nova Prime and has the full Nova force behind him as he takes the fight to Xenith to avenge his brother.

At the same time, three others from Xenith’s forces including the symbiote who took over Raza from the Starjammers attack the Nova Corps members with Rider. After some great fight scenes, Nova and his Corpsmen are able to overcome the odds but only find that Blastaar has changed the deal he made with Nova originally. Nova, thinking quickly, comes up with a way to allow he and his compatriots safe passage off the planet. Back on Nu-Xandar, currently within the head of Ego the Living Planet, Nova discusses the current state of the Corps before they head to the location of the battle between Black Bolt and Vulcan which left the Fault.

Is Nova Marvel’s answer to the Green Lantern? Absolutely. But it doesn’t make this book any less of a fantastic story. Unlike Hal Jordan, John Stewart of the thousands of other Green Lanterns, Richard Rider has been given a whole new level of power within the Nova Corps. He is the only original Corpsman who wasn’t killed during the Annihilation Wave and is looked at with an entirely new level of respect. He isn’t a cog in a machine. He is the button that sets the machine in motion. Aside from being that lone survivor, Richard Rider is the heart of the Corps. As seen at the beginning of this arc that tied in to the “War of Kings”, the Novas just weren’t right without Richard Rider being a part of them.

Nova proves himself tremendously in this issue as a fighter, a thinker, a teammate, a diplomat, a brother and a leader in the ways he handles all the situations presented in front of him. Without a doubt, this is one of the best character building pieces of Nova since it examines so many facets of him. But because of this, the issue can often times feel rushed as so much is touched upon within the issue. The fight with Xenith is somewhat brief compared to what two powerhouses like Gladiator’s cousin and the Nova Prime could have brought to the table. Rider’s solution almost seems too fast considering the heat of battle and the emotion of having seen his brother’s lifeless body.

The completion of this arc also marks a huge event in the Nova line. This is the first Nova volume to ever surpass 25 issues. And this one shows no signs of slowing down. It is widely regarded as one of the best Marvel galactic books alongside the Guardians of the Galaxy and has a strong leading character for everyone to get behind. Andrea Divito should remain the artist on this book. Everything he does with the character is spot on from his storytelling in panels to the way he gives the feel of motion from the man who is the “Human Rocket”, although I am happy Marvel did drop that nickname for him. With the creation of the Fault and the aftermath of the War of Kings, it looks like Richard Rider and the Nova Corps will have plenty to do as they try to repair the galaxy and as long as the creative teams can keep the book on course, this book is a must on any sci-fi fan’s Pull List.

helljumperHalo: Helljumper #2 – Marvel – $3.99

Score: 5.5

Having initially read the first Halo: Helljumper issue on the flight to San Diego Comic Con, something sat uneasy with me. Why did the names of the two main characters catch my eye, knowing full well they had not been in Halo or its two sequels? Reading this issue today, not being hampered by a cross country flight and aided by Wikipedia at my fingertips, it all came together. Aside from being tied in to the Halo game franchise, it is tied directly in to the Halo 3: ODST game coming out in September for the XBox 360 as the two main characters of this issue are listed as playable characters during the course of ODST’s campaign. With that “well timed marketing tie in” already etched in to my mind as I turned from the recap page in to the story itself.

Our two Helljumper ODST’s are on a planet that had sent a distress signal but no human corpses were found, save one who apparently had died from fright. After splitting up their squad, which becomes terribly hard to follow who is who or exactly how many members are in the squad since all the ODST’s look so similar, Dutch and Romeo find a Covenant crew of grunts and elites digging for something. As they report this, other members of their squad get attacked and killed by a group of jackals using energy swords, even though the swords are usually reserved to the elites in Halo lore (yes, the continuity whore is rearing its ugly head).

The rest of the issue is a massive firefight between Dutch, Romeo and their Covenant opposition. And that’s pretty much the “meat” of this issue. The combat isn’t very exciting and all of the character building from the previous issue seems to have been thrown out the door as none of it is even mentioned in the book other than the recap page.

The character designs are also very flawed as almost every Helljumper looks and speaks so identical, it’s nearly impossible to tell them apart. Even reading through the scenes with only Dutch and Romeo, they are so physically close to each other in uniform that the two become interchangeable. Overall, the game falls in to the usual pratfalls of comics based on video games and quickly becomes uninteresting only two issues in much like Halo: Uprising did. While obviously a pull for the most hardcore of hardcore Halo fans who purchase anything featuring the word “Halo” printed on it, this is something that could be left on the shelf next time you walk past it.

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