The Pull List Comic Reviews: ‘Adventure Comics’, ‘Daytripper’, ‘Marvels Project’ and More!

Welcome to another edition of The Pull List Comic Reviews! Superboy’s Adventure comes to an end, Daytripper continues to be trippy and the Rhino gets a happy ending that may actually stick. As always, WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD.

PULL OF THE WEEK:

adventure-comics-6-coverAdventure Comics #6
DC Comics – $3.99 US
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Francis Manapul
Score: 9/10

Superboy has been trying to “find himself” and determine if he’s more Superman than Lex Luthor, since his genetic make-up is made from both of them. Unfortunately, it’s Luthor who finds him first and serves notice that for all his intellect and power, Luthor still has that nasty little streak in him.

Honestly, this has been a fun, engaging run by superstar writer Geoff Johns. Equal parts adventure (which works great with the title) and drama, all revolved around Superboy’s own identity crisis, this arc hit all the right buttons without coming across as preachy or whiny; a testament to the writer’s considerable talent of making relevant topics matter in the pages of a comic book.

Artist Francis Manapul isn’t the Tonto to Johns’ Lone Ranger; far from it, in fact. For every wonderful bit of dialogue or situation that Johns came up with, Manapul brought his A-game to produce some of the best work to appear in comics in some time. Whether the characters needed to elicit rage, hope or deviousness, Manapul delivered each and every time.

While it’s unfortunate that their run has come to an end in the pages of Adventure Comics, you can look forward to these two collaborators working their magic in the upcoming Flash title once Flash: Rebirth comes to a close. In the meantime, sit back and enjoy this Pull of the Week.

OTHER PULLS:

amazing-spiderman-617-coverAmazing Spider-Man #617
Marvel Comics – $3.99 US
Writer: Joe Kelly
Artists: Max Fiumara, Javier Pulido
Score: 8.5/10

Aleksei Sytsevich – the Rhino for those uninitiated – had finally had enough with his life of crime and decided to do something about. He turned himself in, registered, pleaded guilty to his crimes and paid his dues while incarcerated. Now a free man with a new lease on life and someone to cuddle with, Aleksei finds out that, even though he’s out of the game someone wants to drag him back in.

This issue was split into two separate stories; the first centered on the debut of the new Rhino, who is much deadlier and, frankly, cooler looking than the original while the second story told the tale of the original’s journey from super-villain to honest family man. Joe Kelly wrote both, and both were fantastic. Aside from Peter Parker’s usual chaos-filled life, this issue was nothing if it wasn’t touching, and the heart-to-heart shared by Aleksei and Spidey was a perfect ending.

Max Fiumara handled the art for the first story, and his style is wonderful to see. I’m not aware if he designed the new Rhino’s look, but in either case this is one bad-ass-looking Rhino. The artist’s take on the regular cast members was also pretty solid. The second tale, drawn by Javier Pulido, was great as well. Pulido’s style can sometimes not fit the subject matter, but the original Rhino-centric story was a perfect match for my tastes. All in all, a beautiful done-in-one issue that shouldn’t be missed.

buffy-the-vampire-slayer-31-coverBuffy the Vampire Slayer #31
Dark Horse Comics – $2.99 US
Writer: Joss Whedon
Artist: Georges Jeanty
Score: 7.5/10

The three giant goddesses are still on the warpath as Buffy comes to grips with Xander’s and Dawn’s relationship, but not before making an admission of her own. Meanwhile, Twilight (shhh!) makes his next move unbeknownst to Buffy and the gang, and Willow gets her groove back.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon returns to the pages of his comic series in this “calm before the storm” issue, doing just enough tinkering to steer the reader towards the upcoming first chapter of “Twilight.” Obviously, he has a great handle on the characters so the switch in writers isn’t jarring in the slightest. Between Buffy’s pleasure in her new-found power, Willow’s usual Willowisms and Buffy and Xander’s discussion, it all came across as familiar territory, which is a good thing with a series like this.

What can be said about Georges Jeanty’s art that hasn’t already been said? His characters look like the characters made famous during the television series, the limited action scenes look great and the rollercoaster of emotions is displayed on the characters’ faces for the world to see. Should Jeanty ever leave the series, it’ll take some time for me to not immediately think “This doesn’t look right,” regardless of who the replacement artist is.

catwoman-83-coverCatwoman #83
DC Comics – $2.99 US
Writer: Tony Bedard
Artists: Fabrizio Fiorentino, Ibraim Roberson, Marcos Marz
Score: 7.5/10

Selina Kyle’s one regret in life – amazingly, theft isn’t it – is the murder of the Black Mask at her hands. This being a Blackest Night tie-in issue, you can imagine how that fateful moment is about to come back and bite her in the spandex. While her “sisters,” Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, stand by her side, it’s her real sister, Maggie that Catwoman needs to worry about.

Of all the Blackest Night continuation issues for dormant titles to this point, this is the issue that promises the start of something new, thanks to writer Tony Bedard. The temporary re-emergence of the original Black Mask – Roman Sionis – acts as more of a catalyst than the latest dead villain resurrected thanks to some new jewelry, leading to poor Maggie Kyle finally snapping and finding a new target to take her aggression out on: Catwoman. At this point I’m unaware of when this new nemesis will pop up, but when she does it won’t be a happy reunion for Selina.

The art in this issue is handles by the more-than-adequate trio of Fabrizio Fiorentino, Ibraim Roberson and Marcos Marz. All of the familiar characters looked spot on while scenes of action, terror and good, old fashioned mayhem played out. Even without the aid of green hues to signify Catwoman’s will power, one look at her features during those panels was all you needed to get the gist of her determination. The art team put together some wonderful work, here.

daytripper-2-coverDaytripper #2 [of 10]
DC Comics/Vertigo – $2.99 US
Writers/Artists: Fábio Moon, Gabriel Bá
Score: 8.5/10

Brás de Oliva Domingos has been traveling the world, always on the move. A chance encounter with a mysterious woman named Olinda causes Brás to stop moving, however, and in doing so he discovers a new outlook on life, and much, much more.

Creative duo Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon continue to mesmerize readers with this second installment of their Vertigo mini-series, and in my case, I do mean mesmerize. So far, the art has been simply gorgeous, to the point that re-reading each issue is more of a pleasure than anything else. The scenery, the back drops, the details… everything just sings to the eyes.

Story-wise, the issue is equally beautiful as I found myself not truly understanding the message contained within the story until after I had put the issue down; and once it had dawned on me, naturally, I picked it up again. I think it’s safe to assume that once this entire series is complete, I’ll find myself pouring over the pages once more, because the body of work – script and art – is something to be enjoyed over and over again.

invincible-iron-man-22-coverInvincible Iron Man #22
Marvel Comics – $2.99 US
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Score: 8/10

Tony Stark remains comatose while his friends rally around him in order to reboot him. Following his instructions to the letter, his friends realize that something’s off, and enlist the help of Dr. Stephen Strange. Meanwhile, the Thunderbolt’s Ghost makes his presence and intentions known, leading to a mad scramble for safety.

Matt Fraction takes an issue that virtually any other scribe would convert into filler-material, and he makes it shine like the rest of his work ever since this title launched in 2008. Not nearly as easy as it sounds, but Fraction isn’t your run-of-the-mill writer, either. Instead, we get some supporting character moments that help the overall story along quite nicely while Stark continues to put the pieces together in his mind, literally. And seriously, how could you not cheer for that last sequence?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Salvador Larroca has the chops, and he’s reminding us of that fact once again in this issue. It’s a true sign of how good an artist can be when you can get what the story is about without having to read the words, and Larroca pulls that off admirably, here. Throw in some great Dr. Strange scenes and you’ve got yourself a winner.

marvels-project-5-coverMarvels Project #5 [of 8]
Marvel Comics – $3.99 US
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Steve Epting
Score: 8.5/10

The birth of Captain America comes with great hope and tragedy in one, fell swoop, and not a moment to soon as the Red Skull terrorizes Nazi-occupied France. Meanwhile, the Nazis living in secret in the United States have begun to cover their tracks in a more deadly fashion while the costumed vigilante known as Angel gets a glimpse of the future.

Ed Brubaker continues to change my mind on the subject of stories taking place in the past and how enjoyable they can be. Admittedly, I’m not usually a fan of stories like this, but thankfully I’m dead wrong where Marvels Project is concerned. I’m finding myself thoroughly engrossed with the cast of characters that, for the most part, I’ve never seen or heard of before this mini-series debuted, so take a bow, Brubaker. I may have egg on my face, but I couldn’t be happier that I do.

Captain America artist Steve Epting is doing some eye-opening work in this mini as well. All the details are there for this period piece, with plenty of action, montages and larger-than-life characters that jump off the page. Speaking of pages, the layouts themselves work so well with the script that you won’t even notice them unless you’re actively looking for it. At the end of the day, this is remarkable work by a remarkable artist.

power-of-shazam-48-coverPower of Shazam #48
DC Comics – $2.99 US
Writer: Eric Wallace
Artist: Don Kramer
Score: 7/10

In another Blackest Night tie-in, Osiris gets the Black Lantern treatment, except this time, he’s not out for blood (or hearts). His discovery of what has happened to Kahndaq and his “family,” in his absence, only leads to more questions and heartbreak for the returning prince. But he’s not the only one to return as Sobek, his friend who ultimately betrayed him, has come back as well.

Eric Wallace tackles the return of this member of the Marvel family, and while I’m unsure as to why he was able to fend off the urge to feast on innocents, it was still a pretty entertaining done-in-one. I’m big on seeing plot threads resolved, so kudos to Wallace for taking the Osiris/Sobek story to an ending that was both logical and bittersweet.

Art-wise, you can see Don Kramer’s work itself was pretty good. The inking and coloring of the issue could have been a little cleaner instead of the muddy-like appearance, but still, Kramer’s work had the right things going for it. The pain and anguish splashed across Osiris’ face was pitch-perfect, and I loved that full-page spread near the climax of the issue.

punishermax-3-coverPunishermax #3
Marvel Comics/MAX – $3.99 US
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Steve Dillon
Score: 7.5/10

As the Punisher continues to find out more about the alleged new Kingpin of Crime, Wilson Fisk sets the next phase of his plan into motion. What neither of them expected, however, was simultaneously showing up on the doorsteps of famed mobster expert Mamma Cesare’s mansion. Elsewhere, a stranger in a Mennonite colony has been called for by the Rigolettos, which can’t be good news.

This re-imagining of the Kingpin’s rise has been interesting to say the least as Jason Aaron deftly peels Wilson Fisk’s origin like an onion. The systematic approach that Fisk has in obtaining control of the mob underworld has been nothing short of genius, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Even the trucker-mouthed Mamma Cesare feels right in the hands of the scribe, even if I did cringe from time to time. Yeah, she’s a doozy.

Steve Dillon’s art is known for its over-the-top violence and extremes, and he fails to disappoint with this latest chapter. Granted, the Mamma Cesare nude scenes will never leave my psyche, but that’s what you get with Dillon: a frank look at life and all the horrifically nasty details that come with it. Once again, some stellar work from the artist as things begins to heat up.

xmen-forever-15-coverX-Men Forever #15
Marvel Comics – $3.99 US
Writer: Chris Claremont
Artists: Tom Grummett, Peter Vale
Score: 7.5/10

Since being exposed as a traitor in the X-Men’s midst and fleeing, Storm has been hiding out while trying to figure out her next move. Now that she’s the Queen of Wakanda, she’s virtually untouchable as far as regular laws are concerned, but how she obtained the throne is almost as startling as her killing Wolverine.

Just when you thought Ororo couldn’t become any worse, Chris Claremont pulls the proverbial rug from under readers’ feet and shows that there’s nothing she’s not capable of doing, or willing to for that matter. While the characters of Storm and Black Panther enjoy a relatively happy life together in current continuity, this version is anything but “happily ever after” material. I, for one, can’t wait to see what Claremont does to Storm when it’s time to see justice served.

The artistic team of Tom Grummett and Peter Vale continue to pull of that 90’s vibe (the good 90’s vibe, not the bad one) that helps transport the reader back to that time when these stories could have taken place. Wakanda, specifically, looks beautiful as the Queen brings destruction with her, to suit her needs. Be sure to check out the supplement in the back pages for a look at the rest of the Marvel Universe during this time frame.

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