The Pull List Comic Reviews: ‘Atom and Hawkman’, ‘Fantastic Four’, ‘Green Lantern’ and More!

The siege of Asgard continues, Indigo becomes the new choice of color and Captain America “officially” returns in this latest edition of The Pull List Comic Reviews! Due to time constraints and unforeseen delays, this week’s column is abbreviated. As always, WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD.

PULL OF THE WEEK:

atom-&-hawkman-46-coverAtom & Hawkman #46
DC Comics – $2.99 US
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ryan Sook
Score: 9/10

Ray Palmer, known better as the Atom, has been knocked down more than most during his career as a costumed crime-fighter, but he always manages to pick himself up. Not surprisingly, that compassion of his has earned him an Indigo ring, and with the dead seemingly winning the war, Ray has figured out a way to swing the battle to the good guys; even if the good guys aren’t all necessarily “good” to begin with.

I would never have thought that, of all the Blackest Night-themed “continuation” issues, this would be the best of the bunch (so far), but with Geoff Johns at the helm, I should have known better. Johns uses a This Is Your Life presentation of Ray Palmer’s history as a canvas to show just how much the character brings to the table, and in doing so, the writer sets the stage for what could be the turning point in war against Nekron.

Artist Ryan Sook simply crushed this issue. Everything in this issue was pitch-perfect, from Ray’s past to the horrific present – every panel led to the next without skipping a beat. Instead, the body of work in this issue touched on varying types of visual storytelling that not only worked incredibly well, but also showed the artist’s vast range of skills.

Wrap all this up and throw in the aforementioned revelation of the Indigo rings, and you’re left with a can’t-miss issue that’s also the Pull of the Week.

OTHER PULLS:

avengers-initiative-32-coverAvengers: The Initiative #32
Marvel Comics – $2.99 US
Writer: Christos N Gage
Artist: Mahmud Asrar
Score: 7.5/10

Taskmaster has come to the realization that it has been far too long since he last shed some blood on his own, and with the siege of Asgard in full swing, he sets out to rectify the problem. Meanwhile, Night Thrasher and some of the other underground Avengers have figured out what really happened at Soldier’s Field in Chicago, and Diamondback finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Writer Christos N Gage continues to focus on the satellite characters and their internal conflicts in this title, and that makes me a happy reader. Gage handles Taskmaster and Diamondback, for example, in ways that add to the characters’ appeal, making them much more enjoyable than they’ve arguably ever been. Would anyone oppose to a Taskmaster mini-series down the line? I know I wouldn’t.

This issue was bursting with full-page splashes and double-paged spreads; all done really well by artist Mahmud Asrar. Tons of action involving various Asgardians, Norman Osborn’s army and so forth, but anytime Taskmaster showed up and dished out some hurt, the proverbial camera just loved him. I’m really hoping that Asrar continues on in the title, and gets some more high-profile work once Siege has ended.

BMROB Cv7 dsBatman and Robin #7
DC Comics – $2.99 US
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Cameron Stewart
Score: 8.5/10

While Damian gets some much-needed repairs done, Batman enlists Cyril and Squire to help him on a special mission in London. Batwoman winds up there as well, and she doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that a previously unknown Lazarus Pit plus Bruce Wayne’s remains can only equate to trouble.

There’s a panel in this issue that is either a lettering error, or I didn’t understand the meaning, that ultimately ripped me out of the story. Being a Grant Morrison-scribed story, it could easily be the latter, as I admittedly haven’t always understood what Morrison is trying to convey. That singular panel aside, this was still a solid read that really had me thinking “What are you doing, Dick?”

Artist Cameron Stewart starts this latest arc with a bang, as that first full-page panel stopped me dead in my tracks. From there, the art took off as scenes of Batman and Squire working together was played out beautifully before my eyes. By the end of the issue, I realized that I’m going to miss Stewart’s work on this title once the next arc/artist takes over. If nothing else, get this issue for the art; it alone is well worth it.

captain-america-reborn-6-coverCaptain America: Reborn #6 [of 6]
Marvel Comics – $3.99 US
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Bryan Hitch
Score: 7/10

Steve Rogers and Red Skull fight it out within Steve’s head while Hank Pym and some of the other Avengers do their best to free Sharon Carter and get their Captain America back. Once the dust settles, what will the future hold, not just for the heroes, but the villains as well? Put it this way: the old adage “the apple didn’t fall far from the tree” has never been more applicable to Sin, the Red Skull’s daughter.

There’s a lot going against this issue, truth be told. Obviously, the late release hurt the impact of the issue, but even so, the abruptness of how everything became resolved was a little jarring. The showdown between Rogers and the Red Skull was literally over in seconds, and the super-cool Super-M.O.D.O.K. Squadron only saw a few panels of action, unfortunately. Still, at least Steve Rogers is officially back, and he can now focus on Norman Osborn.

Despite not feeling fulfilled in the story, I thought the art by Bryan Hitch was wonderful. The action scenes were energetic and explosive, while the somber moments were just as powerful, thanks to Hitch’s attention to details like body language, facial expressions and so on. Along with Butch Guice, Hitch put together an incredible body of work in this series, so keep that in mind if you’re waiting for the trade.

fall-of-the-hulks-red-hulk-1-coverFall of the Hulks: Red Hulk #1 [of 3]
Marvel Comics – $3.99 US
Writer: Jeff Parker
Artist: Carlos Rodriguez
Score: 7/10

The Red Hulk sets out to locate a doomsday device within an A.I.M. base, and not only does he get unexpected help, but unexpected and considerably dangerous results as well. For Bruce Banner, the emergence of the Cosmic Hulk isn’t the only thing forefront on his mind as new information regarding the Red She-Hulk leaves him utterly speechless.

The hits just keep on coming as writer Jeff Parker fills in the blanks from the recently released Incredible Hulk #606. Between double-crosses and jaw-dropping beats that further affect the cast of characters, this opening chapter of this mini-series went a long way in amping up the intrigue in Fall of the Hulks. I especially loved the temporary team-up between the Red Hulk and Rick Jones – in his A-Bomb persona, no less.

Carlos Rodriguez put in some fine work in this issue. There was plenty of action to satiate most Hulk fans, and the villains had a knack for posturing, but under Rodriguez’ pencils, the posturing looked spot on. Even the M.O.D.O.K. replicating scenes – as gross as they were – had just the right amount of detail without going overboard or overly disgusting. I, for one, am looking forward to how this mini-series plays out.

fantastic-four-575-coverFantastic Four #575
Marvel Comics – $2.99 US
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Dale Eaglesham
Score: 8/10

The term “quiet family time” doesn’t seem to exist in the Fantastic Four’s world as the Mole Man drops by the Baxter Building with a warning. An underground city that used to be in the High Evolutionary’s plans has begun to rise to the surface, but how does the Mole Man and Marvel’s first family factor into it?

Since writer Jonathan Hickman took over this title, the classic silver-age vibe that Fantastic Four used to have has been re-instated, and this latest arc is no different. He’s got a firm grasp of how to use the Fantastic Four, and more importantly, the various dynamics between each team member. You could almost consider his writing as an open love letter to the Fantastic Four concept, which wouldn’t be too far off since his take has been the most fun this title has had in years.

Like Hickman, Eaglesham also knows what he’s doing where this title is concerned. Radical technology, multiple forms of species, elaborate settings… none of these have been able to slow the artist down. If anything, he’s elevated his game to a whole new level. His work on the Thing, especially, has been a treat, and I’m not referring to his temporary mutation, either. There has never been a better time to jump on board this title than now.

green-lantern-50-coverGreen Lantern #50
DC Comics – $3.99 US
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Doug Mahnke
Score: 8.5/10

The Spectre, now sporting a Black Lantern ring, is on the rampage while seeking out Hal Jordan. The combined might of various colored Lanterns haven’t been able to make even the slightest dent in the Spectre, which leaves Hal little choice but to make a deal with his own devil.

I sincerely hope that Blackest Night readers are also getting Green Lantern, because Geoff Johns makes this series equally as important as the event mini-series. Being a sucker for romantic plot threads, I was quite pleased by certain events within this issue, to say the least. All of the new colored Lanterns – see Blackest Night #6 – get their time in the spotlight, but the sacrifice Hal endures to put an end to the Spectre’s path of destruction cannot be missed. As Martin Lawrence is known to say, “S**t just got real.”

Artist Doug Mahnke drew the hell out of this issue. I could go on and on about it and ultimately do a disservice to the art, but really, one skim through and you’ll see what I mean.

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