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Weekly Comic Book Pulls for 4-30 and 5-07-08
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Henchman21   |  @   |  
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Yes, enough with the two weeks’ worth of comics reviews, I know. Too many big books over the last few weeks, so this one’s gonna be a big one. I’ve got lots of stuff to cover and recommend, even though you’ve probably bought it, read it, and stored it away by this point. In fact there’s so much I have to break this into two parts: one for Marvel and DC books, and one for the indies. If you have questions, comments, complaints, by all means leave me a comment. Let’s get some discussion going people! On to the books.

PULL LIST 04-30 & 05-07-08

  • DC Universe #0
  • New Avengers #40
  • Mighty Avengers #13
  • Secret Invasion #2
  • Avengers Initiative #12
  • Amazing Spider-man #558
  • Batman: Death Mask #2
  • Logan #3
  • Ultimate Human #4
  • Rann/Thanagar Holy War #1

DC Universe #0
The big one from two weeks ago, I will compliment the book for its low price point. If it had been a full $3 I would be screaming bloody murder, but at 50 cents, I can stomach a book of trailers for other stories to come. I don’t quite see how this bridges the gap between Countdown and Final Crisis as was promised in the solicitations, but then again I didn’t read Countdown, so maybe I’m just missing lots of info. What you get here is a collection of prologues to future DC books, specifically the Legion of 3 Worlds mini, Grant Morrison’s Batman R.I.P. arc, and upcoming arc of Wonder Woman, next summers Geoff Johns’ written Green Lantern event “Blackest Night”, and finally Final Crisis itself. I don’t have to spoil who’s narrating the framing device, as you’ve probably heard that it’s Barry Allen, the original Flash. The weird thing about this issue, is that it’s seems like it’s designed to sell the future stories to DC fans, who are going to buy all these books anyway. I’m not much of a DC reader these days, and the previews did not entice me to pick up any of the books I wasn’t already going to buy, so I don’t quite see the point of the issue. I will say that DC went out and made sure their best artists provided the interior work, and the book looks great. DC fans will enjoy it, mostly because they’re the only one’s who will know what’s going on. For other readers, if you’ve got an extra fiddy cents, you can do worse, but don’t expect too much. —3 out of 5

New Avengers #40
We follow DC’s sort of big event with the trio of books dealing with Marvel’s big event, Secret Invasion. First up comes New Avengers #40, in which we get some background on what is motivating the Skrulls, and who the big players on their side of the war is. This was a weird issue, in that it seems like it should be a fun look at some aliens, and why they’re invading Earth, but the whole issue was frankly pretty boring. It read way too fast and felt like there was not much plot spread over too many pages. Jim Cheung‘s Skrulls look nice though, and I’ll enjoy anything he’s drawing, but even he couldn’t save the lack luster script. Even a kind of shocking last page can’t save it. Between this, and the recent issues of Mighty Avengers (see next), I’m wishing we could get back to the regular heroes. —2 out of 5

Mighty Avengers #13
This one continues the adventures of the unemployed Nick Fury. You know, when I was out of a job, I slept in late, kind of lazed around for a while, what does Nick Fury do, he recruits a bunch of kids of former heroes and villains and creates his own team to battle the Skrulls. Brian Bendis uses this issue as an excuse to peruse the back of the Marvel Handbook to create a few new characters as well as bring in a few fairly new ones (Ares kid, and Bendis’ own creation Layla Miller make appearances). As with New Avengers #40, this feels like half an issue stretched out to fill space. A lot of people love Michael Gaydos‘ art, but I have to say I’ve never been a big fan, and his work here doesn’t really change my mind. It works well for this story since its all dialog, but it’s just fairly boring to look at. Maybe Marvel should have combined these issues together into one, but like I said, if I buy and issue of Avengers, I want to see Avengers. These are just weird pieces that tie into the bigger story, so this gets a —2 out of 5

Secret Invasion #2
At least here, we see what I would want to see in the Avengers books, which is big crazy action and Skrull-y goodness. This issue picks up where the last issue ended, with the current heroes facing down their circa-1970’s counter parts, not knowing who’s good and who’s evil. Predictably, they come to fisticuffs, which leads to some reveals of what’s going on, but mostly just serves to split the groups up. Meanwhile, the Young Avengers are in New York viewing the Baxter Building get sucked into another dimension, when they become witness to ground zero of the invasion, and Leinil Yu gets to strut his stuff with a great two page spread. Yu’s art continues to look great, and it’s all to the credit of his inker, Mark Morales. The art work looks far and away better than what it did when Yu was going without an inker, it’s quite amazing. The big event books don’t have to be thought provoking masterpieces for me to enjoy them, they just have to be fun, and that’s where this series is succeeding so far. Bendis gets to use the whole Marvel U to tell a great action story and I’m still along for the ride. It’ll be interesting to see how the series continues to roll out, especially as more tie in issues get involved. —4 out of 5

Avengers Initiative #12
Rounding out the Avengers corner comes the close of the first year of the Initiative. In this issue, we see the first batch of recruits get assigned to their regular team, the return of the original New Warriors, and we see the departure of Henry Gyrich from the program. Lots of good moments in the issue, with all the main characters getting their own moment to shine. The showdown between Tony Start and Henry Gyrich is classic, but I’ll be kind of sad to see him go. In fact, this book will be kind of weird most of the cast is turned over in favor of new characters. The strength of this book is the care which Dan Slott (with help by Cristos Gage) has given to the wide cast, making sure that the reader knows who everyone is at a glance. This book has all been about the juggling of a massive cast, and I hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Cloud 9, Komodo, Trauma, Vance Astro, and especially Slapstick (I love Slapstick, maybe a little too much). But still, I bet Slott and Gage will be able to keep the action moving. This may be the little brother of the Avengers line, but it’s been one of my favorite books for the last year. I just hope it continues well into the next one. —4 out of 5

Amazing Spider-man #558
This issue was a little disappointing to me, maybe because it’s the debut of Barry Kitson on art, and his work wasn’t as good as I hoped it would be. In fact the theme of this issue is boring. We’ve got a reused villain from a few months ago, which gives me the feeling that the creators really like Freak, and they’re going to make you like him, no matter what it takes. The story just kind of cruises along without moving any of the subplots forward. Kitson’s art is perfectly fine, but we’ve seen better art from him recently, and he doesn’t seem to be a great fit on Spidey. Not an awful issue, but it just kind of treads water, and I was hoping for more. —3 out of 5

Batman: Death Mask #2
I think I missed reviewing issue #1 when it came out but I wanted to bring it up this time. This is the second part of a four issue mini that is DC’s attempt to attract some of that manga audience to its regular stories. Now, I read a lot of manga, and I read a lot of US comics, so I’m the ideal audience for this, and I like it so far. The story takes place in two times, as Batman deals with a serial killer who takes of peoples faces in the present, and remembers a bit from his martial arts training in Japan. Writer/Artist Yoshinori Natsume has a decent, middle of the road manga style, which should still appeal to both manga fans, and more casual fans. The story has some good action and a bit of creepiness to it. Like I said, I’m enjoying it, but I don’t know if there’s much of an audience for it. US Batman fans probably won’t enjoy the manga style, and manga fans won’t like the Batman stuff. If you are interested I will also warn that it’s in traditional Japanese right to left reading style, which I know some people can’t handle. —3 out of 5

Logan #3
I wish I could say this book was a knock out of the park, but honestly, I couldn’t remember the plot details 24 hours after reading it, so clearly, it didn’t leave much of an impression. It’s not that it’s bad. Brian K. Vaughn‘s script has lots of great moments in it, with Wolverine remembering falling in love with a Japanese woman just as the atomic bomb hit Hiroshima, while fighting a mutant he met at the same time in the present (reminiscing is a big theme this week). And Eduardo Risso does his usual stylistic job on the art, and looks great in either color or black and white (Marvel was nice enough to put out both versions for all three issues). It’s just that nothing in the story stuck with me or said anything new about the character. Fans of Risso’s art will want to pick it up for that alone, but casual fans may want to give this a pass and read the first 100 Bullets trade for a better story to go with his art. —2 out of 5

Ultimate Human #4
Warren Ellis and Cary Nord bring their four issue mini to a close and much like Logan, it’s kind of forgettable. Ellis takes the Ultimate versions of Iron Man and the Hulk, has them fight, teams them up against a common foe, and leaves them pretty much where they started the series. Like Ellis has said, the series is basically just an excuse for Marvel to have the stars of it two big summer movies in a book together in time for them to capitalize. This will make a really nice trade, but it’s basically just a throw away story. Nord’s art is fantastic, and I hope he moves from this to a larger profile book, maybe Ultimates 4 or Ultimate X-men. I’ve enjoyed his recent work on Dark Horse’s Conan series, and it continues to impress here, with a very powerful Hulk that smashes his way through the Ultimate Leader’s HQ. The series is enjoyable enough; just don’t look for a deep, meaningful read. —3 out of 5

Rann/Thanagar Holy War #1
This series kind of continues the adventures of Adam Strange, Starfire, and Animal Man, started in 52, continued in Countdown to Adventure, and now found here. I have no problem with this as I love these three characters and their interaction together. The 52 creative team really caught lightning in a bottle when they put these three characters together. Coming along for this adventure is the reborn Captain Comet (now just Comet), the Prince Gavyn Starman, Tigorr of the Omega Men, Hawkman, and Bizarro, basically a who’s who (or more of a who’s that) of DC’s cosmic heroes. Putting this together is the dream team of cosmic storytellers, Jim Starlin and Ron Lim. The story is good fun, building on the recent stories, and Lim’s art tells the story well. It seems like the only DC titles I feel like following these days involve relatively obscure characters, so this one is right up my alley. Fans of Marvel’s Annihilation series may want to check this out. —3 out of 5

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