The Pull List Comic Reviews: ‘Wolverine’, ‘The Shield’, ‘Deadpool’ and More!

Welcome to another edition of The Pull List Comic Reviews! This week we have a shorter list, but as you know, it’s about quality, not quantity. Besides, all of your favorites are here, including a couple of surprises. As always, WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD.

PULL OF THE WEEK:

wolverine-under-the-boardwalk-coverWolverine: Under The Boardwalk one-shot
Marvel Comics – $3.99 US
Writer: Stuart Morre
Artist: Tomm Coker
Score: 8.5

About to board a plane for Alaska, Wolverine receives a mysterious text message asking him to go to Atlantic City instead. Stranger still is the reference to a man Logan hasn’t seen in 40 years, Phil De Blasio, a mafia underboss who tried to kill him last time they met. What transpired on that boardwalk all those years ago has found a way to catch up to him, much to Logan’s chagrin.

In this latest one-shot focusing on Wolverine, writer Stuart Moore crafts a mystery that takes the character from Atlantic City to Coney Island, searching for answers while being reminded that most of his memories contain violence for a reason. Where Moore differed from other recent writers of Wolverine-centric one-shots, however, is what made this issue work, and that is the fact that the writer never lost sight of how a haunted character like Wolverine really shouldn’t experience peace and closure.

Complimenting this wonderful story is the art by Tomm Coker. The artist, hands down, drew the nicest issue I’ve seen this week. A noir vibe that pulsates throughout, the art is every bit as scratchy and slashy as the character’s past has shown, and while the story centers more on inner reflections and whatnot, there’s still the occasional action shot that mirrors Wolverine’s famous savagery. Beautiful in every way, the art within this issue should not be passed up.

Admittedly, this was a complete surprise to me as, generally, one-shots aren’t exactly Pull of the Week material, but I’ll gladly state that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. This Pull of the Week is one of the better unconnected-to-an-event one-shots I’ve read in a long time, and I suggest you do the same.

OTHER PULLS:

deadpool-18-coverDeadpool #18
Marvel Comics – $2.99 US
Writer: Daniel Way
Artist: Paco Medina
Score: 7.5

When Deadpool asked to join the X-Men, even he had to admit that his chances weren’t good. Much to everyone’s surprise, he was welcomed into the fold with open arms, even if he was put on immediate probation. Has the transition been smooth and seamless? Well, if you know anything about ‘Pool, you know the answer to that has to be a resounding “no.”

Not too many people could write a story depicting Deadpool as the hero who successfully extinguished an explosive situation while simultaneously helping the X-Men gain public support and foil Norman Osborn’s sabotage attempt, but Daniel Way, thankfully, is one of them. Not only does all this happen with the usual, comedic undertones, but it also happens to make a lot of sense. Translation: the story of Deadpool’s temporary enrollment in the X-Men works on many levels.

Paco Medina, one of the better artists to tackle Deadpool in recent years, continues to mix chaotic action with sidesplitting antics, resulting in another solid effort. Everything, from Osborn’s cocky-to-frantic deterioration to Domino’s fear of chickens shows the artist’s knack for portraying emotion, while the Deadpool/Colossus face-off (almost literally) treads that fine line between comedy and horror. If you wanted to know which Deadpool title to read month in and month out, this is the one.

green-arrow-black-canary-27-coverGreen Arrow/Black Canary #27
DC Comics – $3.99 US
Writer: Andrew Kreisberg
Artists: Mike Norton, Bill Sienkiewicz, Renato Guedes
Score: 7.5

Everyman – the fake Green Arrow who almost killed Black Canary on their wedding night – is running with Cupid these days. Cupid’s pretty happy to have her own Green Arrow, until a black ops team shows up to reveal Cupid’s forgotten past, and more importantly, what made her snap in the first place.

The Cupid character has been a thorn in the side of Green Arrow and Black Canary for quite some time now, but her past has never really been explored. Andrew Kreisberg gives us just enough of a look into what has caused Cupid to go insane while writing both co-features in this month’s issue. By doing so, Kreisberg has elevated the character to a new, dangerous level, as the current arc picks up steam.

Artist Renato Guedes does a good job on his co-feature surrounding Cupid’s past, but the art team of Mike Norton and Bill Sienkiewicz are the real stars of the issue. Norton’s layouts are top-notch in their simplicity, and Sienkiewicz’s finishes are fantastic; everything you would expect from the fan-favorite artist. Sales numbers would suggest that not many of you are buying this title, and that’s a shame as this title hasn’t been this good since it began. Give it a shot.

nation-x-1-coverNation X #1 (of 4)
Marvel Comics – $3.99 US
Writers: Simon Spurrier, James Asmus, Chris Yost, Scott Snyder
Artists: Leonard Kirk, Michael Allred, Michele Bertilorenzi, David López
Score: 7.0

Magneto feeds a ghost; Wolverine and Nightcrawler go on a road trip; Iceman continues to work on his stand-up routine and Colossus gets a reality check from little sister, Illyana, in this latest mini-series that spotlights various mutants adjusting to life on Utopia through short stories.

All of the shorts presented in this inaugural issue are good, but if I have to choose one of them to talk about, it has to be the “Road Trip” story starring Wolvie and the Elf. Writer James Asmus put together this wonderful little tale of raising funds, but it’s the interaction between the two that had me smiling from ear to ear. Once Wolverine opens up about certain feelings, Nightcrawler’s ribbing demonstrates that these two have been great friends for a very long time.

Still on the same short story, artist Michael Allred’s distinctive style works quite well with the subject matter. No stranger to mutants and the like, Allred’s take on both Wolverine and Nightcrawler are perfect for a story that involves virtually no action. While I wouldn’t consider this mini-series as essential reading for the current status quo of mutants in the Marvel Universe, I would suggest it for anyone who likes to see how life is on “the other side.”

new-avengers-annual-3-coverNew Avengers Annual #3
Marvel Comics – $4.99 US
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Mike Mayhew
Score: 8.0

With Clint Barton in Norman Osborn’s clutches, and most of the New Avengers off on their own adventures, the girls have no choice but to take matters into their own hands and set off to rescue him. The real Ms. Marvel and Spider-Woman are joined by Mockingbird – Clint’s wife – and Jessica Jones-Cage, who dusts the old Jewel costume off for the first time in a long while.

The story beats of “Siege” continue in this Brian Michael Bendis-penned story where, as per usual, Clint’s hot-headedness gets in the way of a good idea. Focusing on the girls, though, was a stroke of genius as the re-emergence of Jewel opens up a few avenues of direction for the superstar scribe. The writer’s grasp of dialogue continues to be his strong suit, and granted, it’s always nice to see him handle the character he made famous in Alias.

Artist Mike Mayhew is generally known for his cover art, but in this over-sized annual he handles the interiors as well, to varying degrees of success. His characters are almost photo-realistic, as his art tends to be, but in some cases – like the 3 pages where the women assemble – the backgrounds are practically non-existent. Overall though, it’s quite nice to look at, and really, how can you go wrong with that last in-your-face splash page?

secret-six-16-coverSecret Six #16
DC Comics – $2.99 US
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Peter Nguyen
Score: 7.5

Deadshot and Catman are hired to break a rapist out of jail, by the victim’s father, for a little payback. Unfortunately for them, Black Alice witnesses the exchange and decides she wants to be a part of the “team.” What are her real motivations for joining a crew that has just as many “issues” as she does?

After taking a month off – filled in admirably by legend John Ostrander – writer Gail Simone returns to the title that gives as good as it gets, and she brought with her one of the characters in the current DC Universe that could rival Rag Doll’s insanity. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Alice in this setting, because her stint during Final Crisis left much to be desired, in my opinion. A perfect jumping on point for new readers!

Art-wise, Peter Nguyen does a decent job of filling in Nicola Scott’s shoes, but ultimately the final product isn’t as tight, crisp and clean as Scott’s usual work is. Still, it works within the settings contained within, and the strippers with the comic motif is a nice touch. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Daniel Luvisi’s gorgeous cover, which is definitely worth a look.

the-shield-4-coverThe Shield #4
DC Comics – $3.99 US
Writers: Eric S. Trautmann, Brandon Jerwa
Artists: Cliff Richards, Greg Scott
Score: 8.0

Lt. Joe Higgins, also known as The Shield, has just returned from Bialya and is anxious to continue searching for his missing father. Instead, he’s handed his next mission as whole villages are disappearing in the Amazon rainforest. Sensing that he’s getting the run around, he enlists fellow Red Circle member, The Web, to look into his boss, General Latham. Meanwhile, Inferno gets a little closer to finding out who he really is.

The Red Circle characters’ debut in the DC Universe, honestly, didn’t take the comic-reading community by storm, which is too bad since both writers, Trautmann and Jerwa, are molding their characters into something really interesting. Both The Shield and Inferno have proven to be unique in their own way, and the writers have shown that good stories can be done without rushing into anything.

The art by Cliff Richards and Greg Scott, respectively, is equally good. Both artists have their own style that enhances each co-feature: The Shield is very militaristic in nature whereas Inferno’s dark and gritty world is laid out clearly for everyone. If you haven’t given this title a try, I suggest you do before continually low sales mark the end of this highly enjoyable book.

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