Okay, so the name is a bit of a joke at Marvel’s expense (seriously, how many times can you rename and reboot things?) but I decided that henceforth I’d rather just number these rather than use the date in the title, especially since I very rarely actually read or write on the actual release date. It also gives me an excuse for tossing in the occasional reviews for things not released on a given week if I so choose (for example, I’ve tossed in brief scores for last week’s unreviewed reads).
With that housekeeping out of the way, I present the first Weekly Pull of 2014!
Injustice (Gods Among Us): Year Two #1
The series fell off my radar for a couple months last year, but over the holiday break I decided to catch up and fell in love with Tom Taylor’s writing all over again (oh, and if you like Harley Quinn and didn’t read the Injustice Annual, you should fix that). Taylor came out of 2014’s gate with a bang, once more demonstrating the ridiculous ability to get me laughing and choked up within a mere two pages. Though the majority of the issue is a lighthearted flashback, things have never been more dire in the present day, and a couple shocking revelations left me confident that this book has plenty more steam for the coming “season.”
4/5 [Liked It]
Inhumanity: The Awakening #2 (of 2)
I must admit, the first issue of this little spinoff surprised me with an emotional punch in its handling of bullying — a serious, serious problem among youth these days, particularly cyberbullying. In fact I was so impressed by the first issue that my expectations were probably too high coming into the second half of Kindt’s story. This time around, the social media intrusion was less integrated and felt like a distraction more than anything (with a rather predictable and eye-rolling ending), while the primary conflict and resolution of the main story were mediocre at best. It was nice to see Finesse’s past being brought up (hopefully because Marvel plans to use her more this year) and to see her attempting to empathize, and having the issue framed by Pixie’s internal monologue reminded me that I want more Pixie in my life. Unfortunately, inconsistent art and two largely forgettable new characters leave me less than enthusiastic about The Awakening.
Cataclysm: Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #3 (of 3)
After enjoying the first two issues of this mini-series so much, I have to admit I was let down by this so-called conclusion to Miles’ Cataclysm experience, not least of which because it wasn’t a conclusion at all (whatever resolution will happen in a different Cataclysm title). It felt more like filler than the more dynamic previous issue, though it had its moments (particularly a nice entrance by Bombshell). That said, I fully acknowledge that my lack of experience with the main series stripped me of the ability to appreciate what were probably some very important moments for long-time readers (not least of which the follow-up to last issue’s surprising final page). I just wish this had felt a little more self-contained than it was — a good issue, but I hate when a part 3 of 3 feels like a part 3 of 4. On the positive side, today’s Marvel solicitation news has me very happy.
All-New X-Factor #1
This was the best mistake I’ve made in a while, a book I forgot I’d added to my pull list and was ready to skip in favor of the myriad other ANMN titles I wanted to try. With no prior X-Factor reading, only passing familiarity with Gambit and Quicksilver, and no knowledge of anyone else related to the title, this book wasn’t exactly a must-read for me. But boy am I glad I did. The setup (a giant corporation hiring heroes with no obvious ulterior motives? yeah, okay) is strong enough, but it’s the banter between characters that already has me feeling like Serval Industries’ X-Factor is one big dysfunctional family (and hey, it kinda is). If Peter David’s writing is this good consistently, then I won’t have just found a new permanent addition to my pull list; I’ll have to go back and read his original run.
5/5 [Loved It]
Black Widow #1
Phil Noto sells books. That’s really all there is to it. I don’t know a lot about (nor was I too worried about my ignorance of) Natasha or writer Nathan Edmondson, but I’d heard good things in previews and Noto’s art is usually worth going along for the ride. Here, on the other side of reading the issue, I feel pretty much the same: good, but I’m not sold. The art is what I loved most about it but the story — though it had its moments — just didn’t hook me the way it needed to: I already have one awesome female spy book on my pull in Velvet, and beautiful as it was Black Widow didn’t come close to the thrill of that. With every issue I read these next couple months making or breaking a book’s place on my pull, I needed to love Black Widow. Instead, I merely liked it.
4/5 [Liked It]
Morning Glories #36
This month’s Ian-centric issue did what Morning Glories often, but doesn’t always, accomplish for me: it dropped my jaw. It’s been a while and I still can’t shake the feeling I’d be enjoying this book more in trades (or just rereading the whole series every month… as if), but this issue shook up my memory of some intriguing threads from the past just long enough to make me fall in love with it all over again. I’ve never loved not understanding something as much as I love the hair-pulling WTF moments this series provides, and as far as those go this issue’s final page was one of the best.
5/5 [Loved It]
Detective Comics #27
It’s always tough to gauge whether a seeming cash-grab is justifiable. Sure, you want DC to go all out for a 75th anniversary but you don’t want to just blindly throw money at them. This month’s first Batbook was an $8 oversized miniature anthology, and while it looked slick it could easily have just been a gimmick. Happily (for me at least) it wasn’t. Instead, it felt like a proper kickoff to a year’s celebration of the character, from a (probably unnecessary, and continuity-wise confusing, but still enjoyable) retelling of a classic origin story, to the kickoff of the crazy (but so far, awesome) Gothtopia crossover, to the Wait, are you sure this isn’t The Wake glimpse of a distant future by Snyder & Murphy. DC has made it clear that they have big plans for this year, and I can only hope that the quality of their other anniversary-oriented undertakings is up to this issue’s.
5/5 [Loved It]
The tricky thing about crossovers is that they often mean reading books or characters with which you’re unfamiliar. I know nothing of Luke Fox or the Batwing mythos, generally, but this book is part of Gothtopia and that means I’m reading it. The first thing that struck me was the art. Though generally more cartoony than I prefer, I was really impressed by some of the page layouts, and in particular the way the art team conveyed the chief conceit of Gothtopia (I won’t elaborate, but it’s pretty cool and in my opinion done better here than in the Detective Comics issue). The story moves quickly — perhaps too quickly — but as far as tie-ins go this was one of the better ones I’ve read in the last year of DC events, so I’m not complaining.
4/5 [Liked It]
I can’t say for sure that this has been my favorite arc of Fatale, but it has definitely been a different kind of ride, and seeing it all fall into place (into horrible, bloody place) was definitely rewarding. The pacing here was a lot faster than I anticipated, and a ton happens that’s been built towards over the whole arc. Phillips’ art shines (as much as anything taking place in Seattle could), and once again Brubaker has set up a devil of a cliffhanger. With the recent news that the series will be ending with issue #24, it looks like some of the elements that have been building since the beginning are about to finally come into play, making this perhaps the most excited I’ve ever been about this series.
5/5 [Loved It]
Li’l Vampi #1
As I mentioned in one of last month’s year-end lists, I adore Agnes Garbowska, and when I heard that Dynamite was publishing a scattering of all-ages one-shots with Garbowska variants I immediately told my LCS I wanted them. This week I got not only a cover but a whole book drawn by her, and it was a joy to read. Eric Trautmann’s story is quirky and amusing, incorporating a lot of supporting cast members just long enough for me (someone who’s never opened a Vampirella book) to get a gist but never feeling prohibitively involved. In addition to the main story, the bottoms of each page feature brief one or two-strip gags centered on Li’l Vampi’s cat Pantha (also illustrated by Garbowska). While a bit distracting (perhaps they would have been better collected at the end of the book?) they are generally amusing, and I’d recommend ignoring them while reading the main story and then going back through (since they have nothing to do with the main action). This is a quintessential “for kids” comic, but even a cynical critic like me needs a break every once in a while (I mean, I’d just read Fatale, for goodness’ sake), and L’il Vampi was precisely what I needed. Honestly I wouldn’t mind having a book like this on my stack more often.
5+/5 [Instant Favorite]
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I was too busy resettling into Columbus to give a proper review to the first batch of this year’s comics (and technically they came out last year ^_^) but here’s what I read:
- Ghost (2013) #1 4/5
- Fables #136 4/5
- Legenderry #1 (of 7) 3/5
- Li’l Ernie #1 3/5
- Guardians of the Galaxy #10 5/5 (way better than I expected)
- Revelations #1 (of 6) 5/5