July 26, 2013

The Pull List: 24 July 2013

I like to periodically take a step back from week-to-week reviews and have a look at what are the best comic books getting put out there at the moment. I've collated them into a handy little set: basically the five best comic books coming out from DC, Marvel and Image. There are the books that I'm digging the most, and have been doing so consistently. If you're looking for a new book to try, these are the ones I recommend.
  • DC: The Wake, Batman, Batman and Robin, Batgirl and Batwoman.
  • Marvel: Thor: God of Thunder, Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Young Avengers, Daredevil and Hawkeye.
  • Image: Manhattan Projects, Revival, Prophet, Bedlam and Saga.
They're all ongoings with the exception of The Wake, which is currently two months into a ten-issue run.

Some books got delayed at my local comic shop this week, so I figured I'd review what I did buy. Under the cut, reviews of Aquaman, Batman/Superman, Constantine, The Flash, The Green Team: Teen Trillionaires, Justice League Dark, Lazarus, Star Wars Legacy, Wild Blue Yonder and Young Avengers.

Aquaman #22
DC Comics. Written by Geoff Johns. Art by Paul Pelletier and Sean Parsons.
Pelletier and Parsons really do have a beautiful visual style, and together with writer Geoff Johns a great sense of panel layout. There's a wonderful sense of urgency in the final few pages as we cut panel by panel between three simultaneous scenes. This is a great issue, high on action and building towards what promises to be a great climax. If nothing else, in this issue Aquaman punches the villain with a ship. That's got to be worth US$2.99 all by itself, surely? (4/5)

Batman/Superman #2
DC Comics. Written by Greg Pak. Art by Jae Lee.
This book has art that is simply jaw-dropping in its attractiveness. It's a strangely baroque take on Superman and Batman, high on character detail with almost non-existent backgrounds. It's giving this book a very eerie feeling that I'm rather liking. Greg Pak writes a solid script with good dialogue and great insight into his characters. My only criticism is that in terms of panels per page it's a very slight read. Then again, with art this nice it's not too hard to just go along with the flow. (4/5)

Constantine #5
DC Comics. Written by Ray Fawkes. Art by Renato Guedes.
It's only now I've read Constantine #5 that I've realised I never actually bought a copy of Constantine #4. Not that it matters too much - this issue is a tie-in to "Trinity War" and spins out of events in Justice League Dark #22 (reviewed below). It's the worst kind of tie-in. Done correctly, this could have drawn in new readers from a high profile event who could then get an idea of what sort of comic Constantine is. Instead it's a bit of silly filler, designed to take your money by latching onto a big event, but not bothering to stand up on its own. Plus it guest stars Shazam. Does anybody care about Shazam? Anybody? (2/5)

The Flash #22
DC Comics. Written by Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul. Art by Francis Manapul.
Month in, month out, this is a great read. Manapul's artwork seems particularly strong this issue, as the Flash continues to investigate the murders of all the people recently hit by the Speed Force - and both he and Iris may be the next target. Buccellato and Manapul are very good at making this comic a continuing serial: rather than writing discrete six-part stories for future trade paperbacks, they're actually allowing the comic to organically develop. Storylines bleed a little into each other, and a growing supporting cast is forming around its protagonist. This is really good stuff. (4/5)

The Green Team: Teen Trillionaires #3
DC Comics. Written by Art Baltazar and Franco. Art by Ig Guara and J.P. Meyer.
This book showed a lot of premise when it started, but from the sales and the general reaction it became clear it hasn't struck a chord with readers. I really hope people give this issue a shot, however, as the book jumps up a notch and becomes fantastic. If you're an insanely rich teenager and want to fight crime, the opportunities are endless. We've had the high-tech gadgetry that they've purchased, but this issue they take things a step further and hire master assassin Deathstroke to do the heavy lifting for them. This book is funny, fast-paced and clever. We should spread the word: DC is doing something different with superheroes here, and it deserves a chance to find its audience. (5/5)

Justice League Dark #22
DC Comics. Written by Jeff Lemire. Art by Mikel Janin.
The Trinity War heads into its third installment, and it's definitely improving each week. What I'm really getting from this part is a sense of a unified DC Universe - that's something I honestly haven't been feeling since the New 52 reboot. It's also refreshing to see characters actually act like heroes, rather than slot uncomfortably into rival camps as they did in Marvel events like Avengers vs. X-Men and Civil War. Whether or not this storyline works in the end is unknown, but I'm enjoying it for now. I also love the use of the Outsider as the villain, which has interesting implications for the storyline in terms of parallel Earths. (4/5)

Lazarus #2
Image. Written by Greg Rucka. Art by Michael Lark.
Lazarus ups the intrigue in its second issue, asking a lot of questions about its cast and setting, and suggesting some pretty shocking revelations on the horizon. This is expertly written near-future drama, with a future TV adaptation written all over it. Michael Lark's realistic art really helps to ground the series as well, giving it a naturalistic feel that only enhances Rucka's script. This is definitely another winner for Image's growing line of must-read comics. (4/5)

Star Wars Legacy #5
Dark Horse. Written by Corrina Bechko and Gabriel Hardman. Art by Gabriel Hardman.
The first story arc winds to a close with a breezy, action-packed adventure including lightsaber duels, frantic space piloting and explosions. Basically, this comic gives you everything you'd expect from a Star Wars comic, with a nice set of lead characters and a fresh backdrop of post-Empire vs. Alliance intrigue. If there's a criticism to be made it's that these first five issues have been a little too tight in its focus: despite the high-stakes drama we haven't really seen enough of the world around the characters to be fully engaged. Hopefully with the second arc things will open up a little. (3/5)

Wild Blue Yonder #2
IDW. Written by Mike Raicht and Austin Harrison. Art by Zach Howard.
If Wild Blue Yonder #1 was a promising punt down to second base, Wild Blue Yonder #2 is a home run. It picks up on the strengths of the first issue and adds fresh depth and backstory to this post-apocalyptic world of clouds and airships. There's a beautiful scene midway through this issue ("movie night") that lesser titles wouldn't bother to include. That Raicht and Harrison do include it shows that they're writing some much more interesting than the bulk of science fiction comics. I'm really enjoying this series, which has shot up into my "must-read" pile. The issue's end also has me crawling up the walls wanting to know what happens next. (5/5)

Young Avengers #8
Marvel. Written by Kieron Gillen. Art by Jamie McKelvie and Mike Norton.
First and foremost, this issue is a must-read for any fan of Gillen's run on Journey into Mystery. I'll say no more than that. Secondly, this is a wonderfully inventive chase through a variety of parallel universes, with which Gillen, McKelvie and Norton have more than a little fun. This issue's got humour, snappy dialogue, drama, character, heart, inventive panel layouts and a smart plot. If you're not reading it, you're missing out on one of the best superhero comics in print at the moment. I've reviewed eight issues now, and seven of them got 5/5. That's a hell of a standard. (5/5)

Winner of the Week: This week I'm giving it to Wild Blue Yonder. It's really worth checking out.
Loser of the Week: Constantine, although it's not bad - just pointless.

1 comment:

  1. I'll be checking out Wild Blue Yonder... but 'a punt to second base' really isn't a thing !


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