The Pull List: Comic Book Reviews for 8/31/11

Ready for a quick look back at this past Wednesday’s releases? It was (thankfully) a small number of releases compared to the past god knows how many weeks due in part to DC only releasing two titles. To see a full list of books that were released this week please click here.

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ZORRO RIDES AGAIN #2 OF 12 (Dynamite Entertainment)

Written by Matt Wagner
Art by Esteve Polls

Starting out with a heart to heart conversation, this issue of Zorro does a great job at giving the characters some more depth rather than relying heavily on the swashbuckling action filling in a little bit more of where the story is headed. Matt Wagner’s grasp of the characters really shines through in these dialog scenes, although the touches of Spanish seem a little forced at times but that can easily be overlooked by the average reader. The pacing of the story is top notch and the ending really seems to lead on that something big is coming in the next issue.

Another item I would like to highlight is the artwork by Polls. His art was crisp and clean. I am afraid to say that I was previously unaware of his talent before, his style is reminiscent of Howard Chaykin (To me at least). His attention to detail with full backgrounds is wonderful and even the non-action dialog scenes are rendered well with thoughtful angles and appropriate close-ups. But his power lies in the action shots where everything on the page seems to draw your eyes to the key motions and gestures in a very subtle manner. I will say that Esteve Polls is someone to watch out for in the future.

The Bottom Line – This is a strong chapter in this series and I am very interested in seeing where we are taken as the comic progresses. I would suggest that fans of the character or even adventure in general at least pick up the trade if not the single issues.

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Written by Dave Gibbons, Joe Pruett, John Arcudi
Art Scott Hampton, Tony Harris, Brenadan McCarthy

The fourth and final issue of an anthology series celebrating the pulp hero, this issue does not let us down! Kicking things off with a classic beach robbery story, then bringing us to an underwater U-Boat battle all before wrapping up with a aerial chase between two rocket propelled individual, this issue is an epic representation of the amazing comics as told in yesteryear.

It has been a long time since I have had this much fun reading a book. Living in an age of comics where story lines go on for literally years as they blend from one event to the next to the next like a long running daytime soap opera it is rare to see a story that has a beginning, middle, and end all within the confines of a single publication (let alone three in one issue!) AND maintain it’s entertainment value. The writing is easy to follow, the humor is clean yet fun, and the main character is happy-go-lucky.

The artwork in each tale has a carefully crafted innocence reflecting the time period depicted in the original series as well as the modernist style of today’s creators. It is that perfect blend of retro and contemporary that raises my enjoyment as I go from page to page absorbing as much of the beautiful renditions as I can.

The Bottom Line – BUY BUY BUY! This is big adventure, big fun, and big value featuring several top tier comic creators. Oh, and money generated from the sales go to hairy cell leukemia research. Seriously, this is a good book that raises funds for a good cause, what is not to like?

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Flashpoint #5 (DC Comics)

Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Adam Kubert

Well, it is finally here. The end of the DC Universe as I came to know it. Again. Johns has been a big name around the comics world for a bit but I have seen this before so I was a little unimpressed with the issue over-all. Individual scenes were spectacular though, don’t get me wrong. The revelation of how this world came about? Genius. The touching moment between Barry and his mother? Thought provoking. The final scene with Barry talking to Batman? Emotional. The parts were great, but knowing what came afterwards soured the experience for me.

Story aside, Kubert delivers as always. As much as his glorious splash panels and pages fill up much of the issue to show off action or key moments, the dialog is often reduced to a number of talking head panels piled up on a page but that has more to do with Johns’ script style than Kubert’s art. Sandra Hope is also noteworthy in this issue in that her inks over Kubert’s pencils really stands out with the deep blacks and shading depth added to each page.

The Bottom Line – This is how a universe dies; with a whimper, not a bang. Truth be told I had no idea what to expect when I opened the covers. I knew it was not going to be an ending in that this issue is the direct catalyst for the “New 52” that DC is pimping hard lately, but that was pretty much it. It was decent, I will give it that. I was vaguely reminded of the last “world shattering” event that was headed by Johns in Infinite Crisis but I enjoyed that immensely while this, well, it could have been better if “studio notes” weren’t so noticeable and, I am assuming, were forced onto the creative team from the higher-ups.

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The Rinse #1 (BOOM! Studios)

Written by Gary Phillips
Art by Marc Laming

When I first heard about this new crime series I admit I was automatically interested. Anyone who knows me will agree that I am a very big fan of the gritty, realistic noir comics so it should come as no surprise that The Rinse appears on my radar. What DID catch me off guard however was the one dollar price point for the introductory issue. It is very rare to get anything for a buck, let alone an entertaining high caliber book such as this. The book focuses on a street smart, baseball obsessed wise guy money launderer and what he goes through to avoid the heat. The narrative is something straight out Casino and the action is very street level. You can tell that research was done just to get the aspects and lingo of the business right. Top shelf stuff right here.

The art was a bit of a surprise since most comics like this are heavily in black and white! Nothing wrong with color, just a little unexpected is all, but it was a nice touch. The scenery is amazingly laid out to the point that I feel there might have been more than one trip to certain San Fransisco spots just to get the art perfectly represented.

The Bottom Line – For a dollar I admit that this book is worth the gamble, and not just because I am partial to the genre. BOOM! is a company that is known for seeking out high level projects to bring to shops and this comic is no different. Buy this for a buck while you can because I sense a second printing coming up once the word gets out.

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Incredible Hulks #635 (Marvel Comics)

Written by Greg Pak
Art by Paul Pelletier

The final chapter in an outstanding series as headed by Greg Pak, this issue had so many markings of an ending I thought it was one of the many DC titles that just wrapped up! Lots of guest spots as the team make their way back from the Dark Dimension to throw a beating at a gamma infused Fing Fang Foom. Predictably the good guys win but what little power remaining in the centric “wishing machine” is used to give the supporting cast the Gamma Squad the power to transform from human to powerhouses at will AND retain their smarts in either form. While the issue was not perfect it was fun as hell to read, especially the nice drive Betty and Bruce go for at the close of the comic.

Pelletier’s rendition of Marvel’s Green Goliath was straight up monstrous! The bulky frame style he used was perfect for the story. Though I would have liked to see more background in some of the more energetic moments he more than made up for with the attention to the location in the post action desert scene.

The Bottom Line – This issue was an alright ending to Pak’s run. The pacing is smart and the action is big when present, but with a blockbuster like The Hulk I would have expected something bigger, or at least longer. It was nice seeing the cast get sort of reset in a sensible way for the next creative team to come in and take the series for a spin, as if his run was like a rental car. I would say to check this out in a trade format if possible.

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Justice League #1 (DC Comics)

Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Jim Lee

Welcome to One Year Later The New 52! Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Okay, so here it is finally and all I could think as I flipped through the luscious pages by Jim Lee was “yawn”. There is only so far that expertly drawn depictions of the dark knight in a rooftop chase spread over seven pages can go, especially when those same seven pages contain a total of seventy nine words, a majority of which are on the first page! Things got more interesting as Green Lantern arrived on the scene but since this was more of a “first meeting” between the two it felt like a large introductory moment than a team-up which could come back and alienate fans of all different periods of length. All of that aside, there is one item of interest to me at least and that is the damn mystery woman in the hood who is apparently popping up everywhere starting with Flashpoint #5.

The art by Jim Lee is the art by Jim Lee. Much like the shark he has remained unevolved in his style because he hasn’t had to change a thing since his X-Men days. He is the industry standard when it comes to big action shots and this issue is no different. Seeing him draw Batman sequentially again makes me wish that the Frank Miller series he was on got a few more issues but I’ll take what I can get. The redesigned costumes are not as noticeable nor as big of a deal as others have lead on.

The Bottom Line – Despite all of the hype I was not that impressed. From cover to cover this has the typical first issue stereotypes all over it. I guess I was hoping for something more in line with Grant Morrison’s New X-Men #114. I do expect big things from this series as the next two or three issues come along but for an opening issue it had failed to floor me like we all hoped it would. Like I said, since this is a first issue I will look for the next one before I build a permanent opinion.

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The Lightning Round!

Here is a small number of the other books that were released this week and how I quickly rate them. The rating system I will be using will be ranked as:

New Release – This book is the bee’s knees. Buy this comic as soon as the issues arrive in the store!
TPB – It is okay. If you are vaguely interested then wait for the trade paperback or hardcover.
Bargain Bin – Almost a total pass that I would only touch just so i could move it out of the way in the cheap bins.

Uncanny X-Force #14 (Marvel Comics)
Back to back weekly issues is something I enjoy a lot. It cuts down on the amount of time that could lead readers to lose excitement and the way the last issue ended left me wanting more and soon. The team is now back in the 616 Marvel Universe from a trip to the Age of Apocalypse and they are greeted by the Archangel and his squad of horsemen. The issue ends with Archangel and Genocide making their mark as X-Force lay beaten. New Release

Invincible #82 (Image Comics)
After reading this issue I automatically started to wonder just what new kinds of crazy Kirkman has planned for this series in the future. There were many seeds planted in the story such as Invincible looking at more peaceful solutions instead of fists and Robot being offered, and accepting, a position to monitor all of the heroic efforts headed up by Cecil and his crew. Very interesting stuff indeed. TPB

The Mighty Thor #5 (Marvel Comics)
Silver Surfer vs Thor! Galactus vs Odin! This issue started out with an all out brawl and Galactus blew his lid! As the battle comes crashing down to earth the focus shifts to Loki and The Destroyer robot-statue-thing. The final addictive moments show what happens when a normal man puts all fear aside to involve himself in the world of the gods. New Release

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Collected Edition Of The Week:
Thunderbolts by Ellis & Deodato Ultimate Collection (Marvel Comics)
Collecting the previously two volume run in one binding, this is a phenomenal story reaching into the villainous psych of a team filled with “reforming” criminals. Spinning out of Civil War, the team headed by Norman Osborn are tasked with hunting and incarcerating unregistered super humans. Although in single issue form this series took FOREVER to come out it is still one of my favorite story lines, especially when you read this before jumping into Dark Avengers, also drawn by Deodato.

One key item of note for this is the series is that it led me to recognize the awesomeness of Marko Djurdjevic and the amazing covers that he shortly began pumping out for the entire company on a regular basis. The cover art alone is an amazing testament to the power of this series and often enough the images were powerful enough make it my PC’s background month after month. This book collects THUNDERBOLTS #110-121 and material from CIVIL WAR: THE INITIATIVE.

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