The Pull List Comic Reviews: ‘X-Factor’, ‘Amazing Spider-Man’, ‘Green Lantern Corps’ and More!

Welcome to another edition of The Pull List Comic Reviews! The latest mutant milestone issue gets top billing, Spidey winds up in the wrong sandbox and Guy Gardner sees a whole lot more than just red. As always, WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD.

PULL OF THE WEEK:

xfactor-200-coverX-Factor #200
Marvel Comics – $4.99 US
Writer: Peter David
Artists: Bing Cansino, Marco Santucci, Karl Moline
Score: 9.5/10

X-Factor Investigations makes the move from Detroit to New York in hopes of wrangling some new clients of the super-hero variety, but when their first client winds up being Franklin and Valeria Richards – the children to Reed and Sue Richards of the Fantastic Four – the team realizes that all is not what it seems.

Long-time X-Factor scribe Peter David continues to mix jaw-dropping plot bombs with great characterizations and intelligent humor in this over-sized anniversary special. The mystery of the missing Invisible Woman, on it’s own, is a great story, but throw in Monet’s father being abducted by terrorists, Siryn’s shocking rendezvous with an old flame (hint: he’s nuts) and Layla Miller’s surprising allegiance to Latveria, and you’ve got one hell of a jump-on issue.

The art team of Bing Cansino and Marco Santucci do a great job of pacing this mammoth story, and their takes on the characters are both familiar and fresh. With a title that relies heavily on many speaking scenes, which should come as no surprise to current readers, their art is right on the money, but they also flex their proverbial muscle in the action scenes, especially where the Thing is involved.

The overall story was good enough to be the Pull of the Week, and yet there’s much more to be enjoyed. A nice back-up story featuring Siryn and Reverend John Maddox, an X-Factor cover gallery, Official Marvel Index entries on the team members AND a first issue reprinting of the excellent Madrox mini-series from 2004?!? Nothing else stood a chance, this week.

OTHER PULLS:

amazing-spiderman-615-coverAmazing Spider-Man #615
Marvel Comics – $2.99 US
Writer: Fred Van Lente
Artist: Javier Pulido
Score: 8/10

In order to help his friend Carlie Cooper, Peter tries to find out what three separate murders have in common, which leads him to suspect that Sandman’s behind it all. Arriving at Governors Island, Spidey finds out rather quickly that Sandman’s not alone, and he’s got some new tricks up his sleeve as well.

Writer Fred Van Lente, in this follow-up to the first “Gauntlet” chapter, wastes little time in revving the engine and getting this story off to a flying start. What really stood out for me, however, was the conversation between J. Jonah Jameson and Robbie Robertson while looking on the ruins of what used to be the Daily Bugle. As good as it gets, in my opinion.

The art by Javier Pulido, which is very similar to Marcos Martin’s style, was gorgeous, and yet not gorgeous. I love the lines, first and foremost. The layouts assist the story quite well. The characters tend to be more dynamic rather than appearing static in nature. Still, after all that, I’m not sure this is how I want a Spidey tale to look like. Potato, potAHto.

cable-21-coverCable #21
Marvel Comics – $3.99 US
Writer: Duane Swierczynski
Artists: Humberto Ramos, Lan Medina, Paul Gulacy
Score: 6.5/10

Feeling that they’ve escaped Bishop and the Brood, Cable and Hope spend a couple of years in hypersleep before crashing back on Earth while Bishop continues to pursue them. An aged Hope finally unleashes a sample of her mutant power, but will it be enough?

This latest arc in the Cable/Hope saga as they try to return home, by Duane Swierczynski, shows that you can’t keep an obsessed man down. Bishop, time and time again, has found a way to keep on his target’s tail, and at this point I’m wondering when we’ll see the endgame. Don’t get me wrong; Swierczynski’s writing is almost the only reason I continue to read this title. I’m just looking forward to the next, real chapter of Cable’s adventures with, or without Hope.

This issue contained three distinct sections with three different artists, and wound up suffering a bit, as a result. Ramos, Medina and Gulacy are all solid artists in their own right, but thrown together with contrasting styles made this issue jerky. I wouldn’t mind seeing a full issue from any of them, however.

captain-america-reborn-5-coverCaptain America: Reborn #5 (of 6)
Marvel Comics – $3.99 US
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Bryan Hitch
Score: 7.5/10

Now that the Red Skull has taken over Steve Rogers’ body, is the current Captain America, along with his trusty pals, too late? Not necessarily, as the Red Skull isn’t the only person occupying Chéz Rogers. If that’s not enough incentive, have you seen the Super-M.O.D.O.K. Squadron? Yeah, that’s right, Super-M.O.D.O.K. Squadron.

The true wielder of the shield, writer Ed Brubaker, continues the story of how Steve Rogers came back in this penultimate issue of the mini-series. I say it in past tense since other various Marvel titles have already “conveniently” done that for you. Still, that’s not Brubaker’s fault, especially since this issue kept the intensity level cranked as we head to the conclusion. Here’s hoping Brubaker has a lot more Captain America stories to tell after this is all said and done.

The art in this issue dropped a touch from the previous works by Bryan Hitch. I’m not sure if it was Hitch himself or Butch Guice’s inking, but at times the art looked a little rushed. Rumors or confirmation – depending on whom you listen to – of delays may have attributed to this as well. Regardless, when the two artists are on their game, the work speaks for itself. Lastly, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, I love the Super-M.O.D.O.K. Squadron.

dark-avengers-12-coverDark Avengers #12
Marvel Comics – $3.99 US
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Mike Deodato Jr
Score: 8.5/10

The Molecule Man, aka Owen Reese, has just handed Norman Osborn, his Dark Avengers and H.A.M.M.E.R. their collective asses, so Deputy Victoria Hand decides to surrender on behalf of the United States of America. The real threat, however, is the Sentry himself…

This current arc involving the Molecule Man, by Brian Michael Bendis, is hitting all the right spots. I’m getting a tremendous amount of satisfaction seeing all of the Dark Avengers taken down a few notches, not to mention how Normie’s unraveling is starting to reach a boiling point. But, just to yank the rug out, Bendis goes and makes the Sentry, arguably, one of the scariest beings in the Marvel Universe. Yikes.

Love him or hate him (nothing but love here), Mike Deodato Jr. sure can map out a story. I thought he did such a great job on this storytelling-wise that, in someone else’s hands Bendis’ story might not have been as good. I also thought the choices he made for splash pages and huge panels were bang on. Being a sucker for minimalistic covers, one look at his told me that the team was in some serious trouble. I’ll stop gushing, now.

dark-wolverine-81-coverDark Wolverine #81
Marvel Comics – $2.99 US
Writers: Daniel Way, Marjorie Liu
Artist: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Score: 6.5/10

Karla and Daken – the Dark Avengers’ Ms. Marvel and Wolverine, respectively – have a spot of tea and a nice, little chat. What starts out as Karla’s desire to find out what makes Daken tick winds up being more than she bargained for, since it becomes abundantly clear that Daken cannot be trusted, at all.

This series, so far, has been a guilty pleasure of mine. I like how the Daken character is portrayed, and feel there’s a ton of possibilities for the character after “Siege” ends. This particular issue, however, fell flat. It’s unfortunate too, for writing team Way and Liu have done no wrong in my eyes to this point.

Giuseppe Camuncoli’s art, which I’m usually a fan of, also lost a step here. It’s possible that the almost non-existent use of action hurt the issue, but I keep going back to that close up of Daken’s face when Karla figures out how nutty he is, and it’s just not a great image. I get the feeling that the goal was to make him somewhat scary in that scene, but instead it was simply ugly. This was a sub-par issue for a creative team that has done some stellar work, unfortunately.

forgetless-1-coverForgetless #1 (of 5)
Image Comics – $3.50 US
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artists: Scott Forbes, Marley Zarcone
Score: 7.5/10

Here’s what I know so far: there are these super-model assassins who shoplift, tweet a lot and don’t like hot dog vendors or koalas. They do, however, want to go to a club called Forgetless, which also happens to be the destination of choice for three under-aged teens that sell a dog in order to afford fake ID’s. Got it? Good.

Disclaimer: I haven’t got the foggiest of what is going on here, but I can tell you that I like it. Writer Nick Spencer put together an issue that had me scratching my head – both times that I read it – and yet I can’t wait for the next issue. It’s crazy and quirky, and the central characters had just enough time in the spotlight that I got invested in them fairly easily.

The issue is split into two stories; one for the super-models and one for the teens, with completely different styles, and it works. This is my first exposure to both Scott Forbes and Marley Zarcone, and I’ve seen enough to know that if they keep this pace up, they’ll have one excellent body of work on their hands once the mini-series is done. Try this issue out for something completely different.

green-lantern-corps-43-coverGreen Lantern Corps #43
DC Comics – $2.99 US
Writer: Peter J Tomasi
Artist: Patrick Gleason
Score: 8/10

Kyle Rayner has sacrificed himself to save the main battery on Oa, making for one incredibly pissed off Guy Gardner. Guy becomes so incensed that a ring of a different color comes recruiting, which he dons without hesitation. Too bad he’s a bit premature in his rage, wink, wink. Oh yeah, almost forgot, Mojo enters the fray.

Peter J. Tomasi, you sneaky… Yes, bringing Kyle back so soon after his “death” would appear to cheapen it, but you more than made up for it with Guy Gardner spewing rage like no man’s business as a Red Lantern. That, in itself, was worth the price of admission. While I’m sure there’ll be some repercussions that Kyle will have to face down the road, in the meantime I can look forward to Mojo’s arrival, and what, exactly, Mojo will do next issue.

Patrick Gleason rocked this issue, as he has been known to do for some time now. His depiction of Guy in all his rage-induced glory was a sight to behold. Admittedly, I figured we’d see this after the last issue’s events, but my expectations on how that would look were blown away. If blood could ever be described as beautiful, then this is the work that warrants it.

hulk-18-coverHulk #18
Marvel Comics – $3.99 US
Writer: Jeph Loeb
Artist: Whilce Portacio
Score: 5.5/10

Doc Samson fans, rejoice! This Samson-centric issue is Samsonrific! Doctor Leonard Samson undergoes a psyche evaluation of his own, and the results could prove terrifying for the Hulks. Plural, as both green and red versions are about to find out that Samson’s not playing Mr. Nice Guy anymore.

Jeph Loeb is one of the more polarizing creators in the comics industry, and while I usually side with those that like and appreciate his work, I’m on the other side for this issue, and series as a whole. Granted, there has been a lot of fun moments, like punching a Watcher for example, but this issue simply didn’t need to be made. This story could have easily been included as a short in the recently released Fall Of The Hulks: Alpha one-shot.

The only reason this issue got a score as high as it did was Whilce Portacio’s art. This has to be some of the best art he’s done in quite some time. It’s gorgeous in every way; especially amazing considering the story he had to work with. While I wouldn’t recommend purchasing this issue to anyone, I would suggest checking out the art at the very least.

power-girl-7-coverPower Girl #7
DC Comics – $2.99 US
Writers: Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti
Artist: Amanda Conner
Score: 8/10

After a contraceptive bomb hits his city, Vartox of the planet Valeron sets his sights on a suitable mate to keep his people from dying out. Unfortunately for Power Girl, she’s the prize that he keeps his eyes on. Making matters worse, in a bid to impress Pee Gee during the courtship, Vartox unleashes an indestructible beast on Earth.

For a good time, call dynamic writing duo Gray and Palmiotti, they’ve got what you need. Hilarious from start to finish, this issue – which is a new arc, so get on board if you haven’t already – also has it’s fair share of action and intrigue, and if you’re like me, you’ll fall in love with ridiculous characters like Chancellor Groovicus Mellow and the Blue Snowman.

Amanda Conner continues to be one of the better storytelling artists in the business today. She’s also got a gift for the funny, and her action scenes are nothing to shake a stick at, either. Her character designs should also get some mention, as the costumes worn by Vartox and Mellow are so convincing that I feel like we’ve stumbled into some 70’s porn. Fantastic.

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