The Pull List Comic Reviews: ‘Lobo’, ‘Buffy’, ‘Psylocke’ and More

Welcome to The Pull List Comic Reviews! First off, a huge thanks to John Carle for covering the column last week, he did a fantastic job. Make sure you check out The Flickcast’s podcast this week where he was also a guest-host! The dude’s everywhere. Okay, on with the comics. As always, WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD.

PULL OF THE WEEK:

lhth1Lobo: Highway to Hell #1 (of 2) – DC Comics – $6.99 US
Writer: Scott Ian Artist: Sam Keith
Score: 8.5

You’re sitting there, asking yourself “How in all that is holy is Lobo: Highway to Hell the Pull of the Week?” Believe me, I’m asking myself that very same question. You see I’ve never dug Lobo. I’ve read a good chunk of his various issues over the years and I’ve never seen the attraction to the character, but seeing as variety is the spice of life, I figured I’d give this a shot. The premise sounded interesting enough…

Lobo’s chillin’ at home when he receives a message – in the form of slain dolphins – from the big bad himself: the Devil. Even though the Main Man has been banished from Hell for quite awhile now, he figures it’s time to go on a road trip and pay a not-so-friendly visit to his old pal, Beelzebub. Along the way everyone’s favorite Czarnian runs into more violence, mayhem, booze and floozy “women” than he can shake a stick at, but what happens when he finally comes face to face with the cutest evil… waitaminute… CUTE?!?

He hasn’t had a starring role since 2007’s Batman/Lobo: Deadly Serious, so when DC Comics dusted the mothballs off of the character, they decided to get a fresh take on him. Enter Scott Ian, the guitarist for the band Anthrax. Ian’s first foray into comic writing is pretty decent, but it’s how he handles the title character that blew me away. There was just enough here to add weight to the usual aloofness that the character normally projects, which clicked beautifully. While the big payoff will be next issue’s finale, so far this has been a very enjoyable ride.

The Maxx creator Sam Keith, who had both writing and artistic duties on the aforementioned 2007 mini-series, makes his return to the character. Bringing his distinctive style that is every bit as manic as Lobo is, the art looks great, even while juggling different levels of detail throughout the issue. From what I could tell, the creative team looked like they catered to each other’s strengths, culminating in a fun romp that became our Pull of the Week.

OTHER PULLS:

Assault on New Olympus Prologue – Marvel Comics – $3.99 US
Writers: Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente, Jeff Parker Artists: Rodney Buchemi, Gabriel Hardman
Score: 8.0

It seems that anything even remotely connected to Olympus is now coming to a boil as Gods, heroes and villains alike attempt to prepare for the Fourth Extinction, better known as Continuum®. Making matters worse alliances are being made by the enemies hiding in the shadows while Hercules and Amadeus Cho continue to not speak to each other, and let’s not forget about Amatsu-Mikabashi, either.

Writing team Pak and Van Lente, for anyone who has been reading Incredible Hercules will tell you, are so adept at bringing the action and the funny that it’s generally been one of the best titles on the stands for the past year. In this over-sized one-shot, they up the ante in every aspect, leading to some truly memorable moments and zingers. Parker’s Agents of Atlas back-up also starts off with a bang, with both stories acting as lead-ins to this New Olympus storyline that’s coming over the horizon.

While Hardman’s art is nice, Buchemi’s art is gorgeous. The latter shows off some dynamic action sequences while mixing in plenty of hysterical facial expressions; especially during the Spidey fight (yes, he’s in here too, and apparently he’s yet to learn that he has zero luck with the ladies). If you’re a fan of either Hercules or Agents of Atlas, this should be considered a must-read.

bc36Batman Confidential #36 – DC Comics – $2.99 US
Writer: Royal McGraw Artist: Marcos Marz
Score: 7.5

When Bruce Wayne gets a demonstration from Blackhawk Industries, both parties get more than they bargained for as a storm brings back none other than Ted Gaynor, one of the original Blackhawks who also happens to have been dead for 60 years. This time, however, it looks like Gaynor’s got more than heroics on his mind.

Being a relative newcomer to comics, writer Royal McGraw starts off this latest arc with mystery, intrigue and suspense, all fine qualities that enhance any Batman tale. Throw in a dash of humor for Bruce and Alfred to bat around and you’ll find that this is a pretty solid issue from cover to cover. I’ll be keeping an eye out for McGraw’s future exploits, if this is any indication.

If you haven’t seen Marcos Marz’ art yet, you’re not alone. Aside from an issue here and there, he’s also new to the world of comics, but upon viewing his layouts, and his action scenes especially, it’s not a stretch to state that legend Mike Mignola of Hellboy fame is an influence on his style. Really nice work here, give this a read.

Black Widow: Deadly Origin #1 (of 4) – Marvel Comics – $3.99 US
Writer: Paul Cornell Artists: Tom Raney, John Paul Leon
Score: 7.0

Natasha Romanoff has more connections in Marvel’s history than most characters, so when her guardian, Ivan, is murdered the Black Widow sets out to find out why and dish out a little payback at the same time. Unfortunately, what is known as the Icepick Protocol has been initiated, meaning anyone she’s ever cared for is in jeopardy.

Paul Cornell does a good job of bringing the espionage angle to the forefront in this first issue. Utilizing flashbacks from various points of Natasha’s life, we’re front and center to what kind of upbringing she endured, including an interesting exchange between herself and the Winter Soldier – also known as Bucky Barnes, the current Captain America – as well as her ties to Wolverine.

Artist Raney handles most of the art here, which looks all right but has too much of that cartoony feel for this type of story, in my opinion. Leon handles the flashback sequences, and the first thing I thought of was Tommy Lee Edwards’ art on Marvel 1985, which I enjoyed quite a bit. All in all, a good start to the mini-series.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight #30 – Dark Horse Comics – $2.99 US
Writer: Jane Espenson Artist: Georges Jeanty
Score: 7.5

The war has broken out, the Slayers are powerless and the Goddesses have been summoned. Too bad said Goddesses don’t discriminate who they fight. The injured and the dead are spread out all over the battlefield, and Buffy is out of options. Or is she?

Writer Espenson continues her “Retreat” arc in this fifth installment, increasing the doom and gloom as the issue progresses. Some great moments from the beloved characters of the television series are smattered throughout, and just when I thought I’d seen it all, a new development/twist at the very end left me wondering what could possibly be next.

Jeanty has provided the art for the majority of this series so far, so you know what to expect in those regards. At times the issue looked a little rushed, but with the visuals presented here, it can be forgiven. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention guest cover artist Adam Hughes’ work in Jo Chen’s usual spot; it’s just what you’d expect from him.

dptu899Deadpool Team-Up #899 – Marvel Comics – $2.99 US
Writer: Fred Van Lente Artist: Dalibor Talajic
Score: 7.0

Deadpool’s recurring dreams have him worried, so he sets off to face it like a man… and winds up stuck in a labyrinth with Hercules. Can the intellectually challenged duo last long enough to take down the villainous forces who’d sooner see them dead? Can they escape the never-ending maze? Is there enough beer?

Van Lente puts together an amusing story that consistently pokes fun at itself and comics in general. The problem is that, in recent months, we’ve seen this before thanks to the barrage of Deadpool titles of late. Still, if you know this going in, you’ll enjoy what the Merc with a Mouth brings to the table.

I wasn’t a fan of the art by Talajic, unfortunately. Deadpool’s usual, over-the-top antics require a style that fits it, and I don’t feel that Talajic, who’s art here looks a lot like Marcos Martin’s, did the job. Humberto Ramos provided the cover to this issue, and it left me wondering if he would have been better suited for the project.

Iron Man & The Armor Wars #4 (of 4) – Marvel Comics – $2.99 US
Writer: Joe Caramagna Artist: Craig Rousseau
Score: 7.0

You’re Tony Stark and it’s very early in your career. You’ve got all the money, women and power in the world at your disposal, so things are pretty good, right? Wrong. The Red Barbarian has stolen all of Stark’s armor, has woken up Omega Red and the government has branded Stark a traitor. Adding insult to injury, it looks like Stark’s been backstabbed by his best friend, Rhodey. Oops.

Now that this mini-series is complete, I have to admit that it was a good, early look at Tony Stark’s exploits. Everything from the plot to the dialogue was good, culminating in a fun story that should be read by any Shellhead fan. Writer Caramagna provides everything you could ask for while never losing sight that this Tony happens to be very young. Take a bow, Joe.

Likewise, Rousseau’s art was also enjoyable. Even though his style looks like something from the Marvel Adventures child-friendly line of comics, it’s still got lots going for it so it’s definitely worth a read. Imagine a Pixar movie – fun for the whole family! – done in comic form, that’s what you have here. Pick up the collected edition when it’s released.

Marvel Zombies: Evil Evolution – Marvel Comics – $4.99 US
Writer: Karl Kesel Artists: Adam Dekraker, Rob DiSalvo, Corey Soriano
Score: 4.5

Behold! The Marvel Zombies and Marvel Apes are squaring off in… umm, yeah.

Mamma Loria brought me up to not say anything if I don’t have anything nice to say, so… Ooo, look! A shiny sword…

p1Psylocke #1 (of 4) – Marvel Comics – $3.99 US
Writers: Chris Yost, Duane Swierczynski Artists: Harvey Tolibao, Steve Dillon
Score: 7.5

How do you deal with your own dead body? That’s what Betsy Braddock has to figure out. Looking to find herself, figuratively, she takes her body to Japan for a proper burial, but The Hand show up with a last minute change in plans. Infuriated, she sets her sights on the one person she believes is responsible: Matsu’o Tsurayaba.

To say that Psylocke is a complicated character is an understatement, but in the capable hands of writer Yost, she’s easy-peasy. A lot of inner dialogue throughout the issue gives us readers a good look into her current disposition, and the interactions with the rest of the X-crew firmly plant Betsy back into the fold like she was never gone. I’m looking forward to how this all plays out.

Really loved artist Tolibao’s art in this issue, which is surprising since I thought it resembled some of the horrific art of the 90’s, at first. Upon closer inspection I realized how good it was, and those action scenes need to be seen to be believed. I should note that there’s a small back-up story by writer Swierczynski and artist Dillon revolving around Cable and Hope, but if you’re already reading Cable there’s nothing new here.

X-Men Origins: Iceman – Marvel Comics – $3.99 US
Writer: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa Artist: Phil Noto
Score: 6.5

Young Bobby Drake discovers that he’s a mutant, and despite his parents’ best efforts, things go from bad to worse when he tries to keep his girlfriend safe from some local bullies. With anti-mutant hysteria reaching a fever pitch, can the arrival of Professor X and Cyclops extinguish the flames of hatred?

Naturally, this being an origin story told countless times, you’ve heard all this before. But for the newest, latest generation of comic readers, this one-shot written by Aguirre-Sacasa does a good job showing some of the familiar characteristics we’ve seen in Iceman over the years.

Artist Noto, who has done some magnificent work over the years, captures the innocence of the time period, but doesn’t bring the substance. What we’re left with is art that comes across as flat, which is unfortunate as Noto’s done a lot better. Regardless, this is a good issue for new readers, even if the price point is a little too high.

  • Sal Loria
    November 5, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    You didn’t miss anything, John. 😉

  • John Carle
    November 5, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Marvel Zombies: Evil Evolution is the first “Marvel Zombies” title I have not picked up. Talk about exploiting a franchise to death.

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