It’s been a long time between reviews, yes? Between the revamp here and PopCultureShock’s server crapping out for almost a week, I skipped my Pull List Propaganda column this month and the pile is growing again. I’m saving the TPBs — including Bluesman Vol. 1 & 2 and East Coast Rising — for next month’s column, but here’s six quickees for your consideration.
Thunderbolts #103 (Marvel, $2.99): The first Civil War tie-in I’ve read so far and it was actually better than the main event itself, which is really just a series of “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if…?” moments Mark Millar’s stringing his plot-hammered story together with. (Civil War #2’s big reveal had slightly more fanboy impact than Earth 2’s Superman bursting off the last page of Infinite Crisis #1 — which isn’t saying much, of course — but without seeing the thought that presumably went into the admittedly big decision over in his primary series, it lost some of its intended oomph.) I’ve been enjoying [New] Thunderbolts since I discovered it via the relaunched series’ first TPB, One Step Forward, as Fabian Nicieza has nicely balanced the serial format with healthy doses of action and plot and character development. While not “new reader friendly” by today’s revisionist standards — really, most of the comics of the 70s were as steeped in continuity as today’s are; just pick up Essential [Take Your Pick] for proof — few current comics writers are as good as Nicieza at seeding just enough background information into every issue to snag a new reader’s interest without resorting to forced expository dialogue (or
thought bacaption boxes). From the team banter in the opening scene that quickly establishes several of the major players and the dynamics between them, to Zemo’s deftly handled monologue midway through that hits the high points of the team’s origins while clearly establishing him as a leader to be taken seriously, Nicieza delivers a story that clearly has many threads running through it, but like the best ensemble TV serials, he never let’s any of them distract from the story at hand. Notably, his was one of the few House of M tie-ins that worked the crossover into its primary storyline, and he does an even better job here, almost seamlessly pulling Civil War into the story that’s been unfolding for over a year now, and upstaging the big summer event with a big reveal of his own. Tom Grummett and Gary Erskine’s art work is classic superhero and perfect for the tone Nicieza sets throughout, making this the best team book Marvel’s currently publishing.
Green Lantern Corps #1 (DC, $2.99): Despite my ongoing pull list pruning, this managed to slip into my haul purely out of curiosity, thanks partly to my fondness for the Adam Strange mini-series a little while back and partly to my hopes that DC can pull off a good team book that doesn’t suffer from the constraints that come with characters who either have their own series or are prominently featured in other high profile storylines. I read a couple of issues from the Recharge mini and thought they were solid, and I’m a sucker for superheroes in space, so I was pretty pleased with Dave Gibbons’ first issue, a nice blend of table-setting and action with a rare sense of there being actual consequences for that action. Patrick Gleason and Prentis Rollins (with Moose Bauman on colors) do a nice job with the artwork, with energetic layouts and some effective money shots, bringing a surprising but appealingly less-polished style to the proceedings. It’ll get another couple of issues to prove itself pull list-worthy, and may end up replacing Teen Titans if Geoff Johns goes too far with the Superboy cloning nonsense.
Robin #151 (DC, $2.99): I was worried about the direction Adam Beechen (and DC) was going with Cassandra Cain last issue, flipping the script and having her effectively become what I’d proposed they do with Tim Drake instead of Jason Todd — becoming the one willing to go where Batman won’t — but he pulled back from the edge of the cliff this issue and kind of made it work. Some have argued this change falls into the same category as the senseless death of Spoiler and the tainting of Leslie Tompkins in the “War Games” / “War Crimes” fiasco a while back, but I don’t think so, at least not in the context of the last year or so of Batgirl‘s run under Andersen Gabrych. Beechen also introduces a new hero to Gotham, hints at a forgotten Joker plot that may destroy the city, and nicely sets up his next arc featuring the new Captain Boomerang, the son of Tim’s father’s killer. Freddie Williams II is the best regular artist Robin has had since I first picked it up a few years back during the end of Daimon Scott’s run, which got worse with each issue, particularly for his age-appropriate depictions of Robin, Cassandra and the loathsome Killa Nilla.
Casanova #1 (Image, $1.99): I’ll have more thoughts on this one at a later date, but suffice to say it makes quite an impressive debut, with head-spinning action and intrigue, excellent two-color art, and a boatload of potential. It’s like Fear Agent and Fell crossed with Godland, but better than all three. Kudos to Mssrs. Fraction and Bá!
Nightwolf #0 (Devil’s Due, $0.99): Very impressive spin on werewolves, with the lead character attempting to atone for murdering his own parents by becoming a nocturnal vigilante, while his brother acts as his sidekick, tracking him during his hunts to keep him in check. Stephen L. Antczak’s story is much more involved than that shorthand description makes it sound, and it’s complemented by some unexpectedly beautiful black-and-white artwork from Nick Marinkovich. I’ll be adding this one to my pull list.
Public Enemy #0 (American Mule Entertainment, $2.99): Um…I respect Chuck D and Public Enemy too much to bash on them for this comic book version of themselves — emphasis on comic book, with every negative “Biff! Pow!” connotation it’s ever had — so I’ll just say that my $2.99 would have been better spent elsewhere. It’s arguably more embarassing than any scene in Flavor of Love, which at least only directly involved Flava Flav.