The Pull List Comic Reviews: ‘Fall Out Toy Works’, ‘Invincible Iron Man’ & ‘The Torch’

To check out yesterday’s reviews of “things that should stay dead”, make sure to click here for yesterday’s The Pull List.

fall out toy works

Fall Out Toy Works #1 – Image – $3.99

Score: 7.0

When Gerard Way from My Chemical Romance had a hit on his hands with two successful runs of The Umbrella Academy miniseries with more on the way, it was inevitible that other musicians would give it a go in the comic world. Like Claudio Sanchez from Coheed & Cambria who will be debuting Kill Audio soon (whom we will be posted an interview with soon), Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz has thrown his hat in the ring as the co-creator of a work “inspired by the ideas & lyrics of Fall Out Boy” called Fall Out Toy Works. A struggling toy maker who only makes one of a kind robotic toys is approached by a man referred to as the Baron.

The Baron, who has made his money through somewhat questionable means as well as mass production wants the Toy Maker to create a robotic woman for him as his team’s previous attempts have ended less than favorably, like the most recent robotic wife letting herself fall out the window of a high rise building. Inspired by the Fall Out Boy song “Tiffany Blews”, the book also features one of the Toy Maker’s other creations a depressed robotic boy in a bear suit as well as a sentient cell phone who looks like a bee in a bowler hat and acts as the consciousness of the Toy Maker at times.

While well written by Brett Lewis, the concept doesn’t feel new. For the most part, the story feels like a traditional Japanese anime or manga story. Not being a huge fan of manga, it takes a little while to get in to the story as even the futuristic landscape shares that style at times. At the same time, there are a lot of deep layers examined throughout the course of the issue especially focused on creating “a woman” and basically playing God.

These questions are looked at subtley and are often repeatedly hit over the head of the reader as the Toy Maker faces this moral dilemma to work for the Baron or let his factory go under. Through the issue, the Toy Maker is explored thoroughly as he questions not only his ability to make what the Baron is looking for, but also the effects doing so might have on him as he succeeds. This is accomplished really well as he sits with a Japanese server at the Baron’s Doll House establishment.

Sam Basri’s art has a very distinctive feel to it. With its combined realistic cartoon/anime style, it fits the style of the book well. Though he draws children with grotesquely out of proportioned heads, he has a fantastic style of storytelling and emotion in his work. One really great creative choice was keeping the glasses on the Toy Maker opaque and only allowing his eyes to actually be seen in a really emotionally charged panel. One can also tell he has spent a lot of time studying up on the “ideal” female figure as no woman appears in the book with a body that isn’t perfect in every facet. But then again, they wouldn’t be working at the Doll House if their bodies weren’t just so.

Though not an original concept, there is a lot of heart behind the story of Fall Out Toy Works. It’s a shame it needed the “Fall Out” added to its title to get more attention though. So now instead of finding a niche group of readers who would have really appreciated it, it will be put under more hardcore criticism from the mainstream audience wondering why a musician is trying to break in to the comics world, even though he is only the creator, not the writer. But hopefully that heart in the book will be enough to overcome that criticism and encourage people to give it a chance and see if it is for them. Anyone with a soft spot for anime and manga, this might be a good venture in to the “mainstream” comics world for you.

iron man

The Invincible Iron Man #17 – Marvel – $2.99

Score: 8.0

Contrary to what I posted in yesterday’s Pull List, this is not the final part of the “World’s Most Wanted” story arc. (It was 4 am when I wrote it so cut a guy a little slack.) What is in the issue though is a ton of building to the story’s finale, whenever that does come to pass. Last issue, Pepper Potts fought Madame Masque as she forced the ever regressing Tony Stark to flee. The issue opens to a startling revelation in the aftermath of that fight as Masque drags Pepper in suit out of the burning base they fought in as she calls for Osborn to pick her up with news that Tony escapes but that she has killed Potts and has her suit. In the mean time, Tony is trying to make his way out from Kazakhstan to Afghanistan with only some of his most simple functions still working.

He stops off to use the internet and writes a email to Maria Hill in what can only be described as “bad text message spelling and grammar”, which is a great way to present Tony’s continual loss of basic social functions. It may also be writer Matt Fraction’s way of criticizing our text message happy society. They didn’t win an Eisner for this series for nothing after all. Back in New York, Maria Hill and the Black Widow continue their plan to rendezvous with Captain America to see what they can do to save Tony and take down Osborn.

Fraction does a great job using this as a building issue. With next to no action, this story still comes with a level of excitement of wonder where it’s going instead of feeling like a placeholder issue. And with the advertisement for The List: Daredevil to add to it, this issue keeps putting more and more in to the idea that Norman’s fall is coming soon and it’s only a matter of time before someone, possibly Iron Man, is going to be the one to get him. There are also a lot of questions brought up in it like how Fraction is going to get himself out of the problems in the book he has laid out, the perfect example being Pepper being revealed as killed in the very first page of the issue. One overwhelming aspect of the issue is that it feels like the tide has gotten as dark as it can get for the heroes like Tony, Pepper, Maria Hill and the Black Widow. But knowing Fraction’s style, it feels like it has to get just a little worse before it can get better for them.

Salvador Larroca is the ideal artist for this book. He captures so much in these characters whether or not they are in costume. His facials, body language and action scenes play perfectly together. His use of blur for both motion and energy is the perfect style for any Iron Man story and would probably be a great fit on the War Machine series too if given the chance. He is great at working on frustration in the faces of the characters as there are some powerful panels for everyone including Tony, Hill, Osborn and a Russian Colonel who has words with H.A.M.M.E.R.’s director. He puts an amazing level of detail in to every panel but never to the point that it becomes a distraction.

When looking at having books that build, this issue is an ideal example. Other than two young kids in the middle of a desert with a rocket launcher and a quick kitchen scuffle between Hill and Black Widow, there is virtually no action in this book but at no point does it feel any less exciting than other more “action-packed” books. This is because even though there aren’t any big fight scenes, the story keeps moving. It’s almost hard to believe that a year ago, Norman took Tony out of power in S.H.I.E.L.D. and this story has gone on for ten issues. Unlike most stories going on for that long, this one hasn’t dragged once. Though Fraction has proven himself on the X-Men outside of “Utopia”, Marvel better keep him on Invincible Iron Man for a while as it is one of their consistently best monthly series.

torch

The Tortch #1 – Marvel / Dynamite – $3.99

Score: 5.0

Spun out of the pages of Avengers / Invaders… that should have been the bad sign right there. In Avengers / Invaders, Bucky Barnes sets everything back in the world right as he stays in his own time and sends the Avengers back in the future, except where he changes the event’s of Toro’s death which resurrects the young mutant in the 21st century. As a result, the sidekick to the original Human Torch finds himself as a man misplaced with no connections left in the world except the original Vision. Seeing all that is wrong in the world, Toro goes off to find the man who was responsible for his now-voided death, the Thinker who is still sadly one of the most boring and generic villains in Marvel’s arsenal. Interrupting the Thinker who is under commission from A.I.M. to create a weapon to destroy a small town, Toro is ill-prepared for his battle which allows the Thinker to find out some very interesting aspects of Toro’s origin. It also leads the Thinker to questions regarding the original Human Torch.

And that’s basically all that happens in the issue. And as talented a writer as Mikey Carey is and an amazing creator that Alex Ross is, they just fall short in this project of making The Torch any better or more exciting than Avengers / Invaders was. And it isn’t that the Golden Age characters can’t be interested as we have seen they can be in books like The Marvel’s Project or the Destroyer miniseries, but The Torch just feels like it fell short of the mark on its potential in this first issue. The scariest thing is that the Thinker’s handler appointed by A.I.M. is the most interesting character in the entire issue as he plays the annoying onlooker to the Thinker’s egotistical straight-man persona. Toro isn’t presented in the best light either as he comes across very whiney in this issue. He doesn’t try to rationalize or plan anything out and considering he survived so long in World War II, one would think he had some semblance of military intelligence instead of just running in to battle headfirst.

Though it has a great Alex Ross painted cover, don’t expect to see Marvels here. Like the Avengers / Invaders, Alex only lends his artwork to the cover and leaves Patrick Berkenkotter to the inside artwork which doesn’t carry any excitement with it. It looks like how the characters are supposed to be and that is pretty much all it accomplishes. No panels or spreads stand out in it.

Short of the cover, there isn’t much to love about this series. It is a wonder why Marvel and Dynamite rekindled this partnership after the begrudgingly lame payoff of the Avengers / Invaders series. But after bringing Toro back from the dead, they had to do something with him. But having learned a lesson from that previous series, the next seven issues won’t be on the Pull List in hopes that there are other better, new comics to spend that $3.99 on instead.

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