Weekly Pull #5

As soon as they dropped the Level Two Snow Emergency down to Level One, I dug my car out of last night’s wintery deposit and braved the inconsistently-plowed roads to make it to the Laughing Ogre. At the forefront of my mind was, finally, Ms. Marvel #1, but that wasn’t all I picked up. This week also brought with it X-Men #10.NOW, Detective Comics #28, Revelations #2, and DC Comics Presents: Harley Quinn #1. Toss in Deadpool: The Gauntlet #5, and you’ve got a small but decent week to talk about.

X-Men #10.NOW

I’ll be the first to admit that my enthusiasm for this title has been lagging (as with most things X-Men) since Battle of the Atom. In last issue’s review, I said “There are a lot of dominoes in place and if they fall right, the next couple issues could be very exciting. If they don’t, this title is at risk of plunging into mediocre territory pretty quickly.” Happily, this issue went the exciting route.

Arkea and the new Evil Sisterhood are supposed to be a global threat, and this issue finally drives that point home as we see multiple teams of X-Men, including the young ones, trying to handle multiple emerging problems around (and beyond) the world. Brian Wood mentioned in a recent interview his desire to incorporate the younger mutants in his book (until Marvel finally gets the good sense to give them their own title again), and it was very cool to see the likes of Pixie, Rockslide, and Hellion playing a more active role in this issue. But perhaps the biggest moment of this issue was the reveal of which nasty ladies from the X-Men’s past are being revived by Arkea…and while I’ve seen many people guess one or the other, I don’t think anyone expected it to be both. Things are about to get insane in this title, and Wood and co. have my full attention.
5/5 [Loved It]

Detective Comics #28

I actually bought two ongoing DC titles this week: this, and Batwing #28. You’d think I’d have learned from Birds of Prey, but I didn’t, and once more found myself frustrated to have bought a book solicited as a tie-in to Gothtopia only to discover it wasn’t one. But this time around it was worse, because Batwing #28 takes place after Gothtopia, and a major reveal in Detective was spoiled for me in a footnote in that issue. The issue itself wasn’t bad, but I’m not planning to follow Batwing, and it reflects poorly on DC to have misled me with the scope of this crossover multiple times. In the interest of fairness to the creative team, it’s an otherwise solid start to a new arc — 4/5 [Liked It].

Happily, Detective Comics #28 is a good follow-up, to the last issue of Detective but moreover to the last Gothtopia tie-in, Catwoman #27. In typical Batman fashion, Bruce’s incarceration wasn’t an accident, and this issue fleshes out some good ol’ detective work, albeit rather hastily and implausibly conveyed (again, in typical Batman fashion). Selina makes a brief and important appearance, but the real star of the issue is Poison Ivy (whom Batman and Catbird landed in the slammer last issue), playing the unexpected role of assistant and sidekick in Batman’s attempt to rid Gotham of its unwitting nightmare.

I don’t always comment on art, but I found Lopresti,Thibert, and Blond’s work particularly good, especially the villains (and especially especially Poison Ivy). One particularly kinetic fight scene stands out as the book’s artistic highlight, though it’s rivaled closely by fear gas sequences. The issue does seem to move a little too quickly, and a few developments felt like they belonged in a separate issue. There are no major surprises here (except perhaps the last page, but that didn’t make me go “OH” the way perhaps Layman hoped it would), but overall, this was a strong entry in the crossover. Gothtopia is proving to be a good start to 2014 for Batman’s anniversary year.
4/5 [Liked It]

Revelations #2

My introduction to the Jenkins/Ramos creative team was last year’s Kickstarter-funded two-shot FairyQuest: Outlaws, an adorable and quirky take on Little Red Riding Hood and childhood stories. Revelations is a decidedly different kind of book, complete with swearing Brits, murder, and devil-worshippers sacrificing animals. All of this takes place in the Vatican, of course.

If this reads more like a review of a first issue than a second, it’s largely because I never did review the first issue, and as a miniseries most of what happens here is tightly contingent on what happened before…in other words you’d be lost or spoiled, and I don’t want to be having any of that. What matters is that this is a book about a cynical ex-priest, working for Scotland Yard, looking into a murder where all may not be as it appears. If that doesn’t sell you, the fact that this is a book written by Paul Jenkins and drawn by Humberto Ramos should.
4/5 [Liked It]

DC Comics Presents: Harley Quinn #1

In what may be one of the company’s most baffling decisions in recent memory, DC decided to drop this little gem in the midst of its New 52 Harley Quinn opening window. In a way it’s like rubbing salt in the wound, because between the issues of blood-soaked insanity with which DC is actively infuriating old Harley fans, they remind us of what we no longer have by re-releasing one of the most classic and hard-to-find snippets of her pre-reboot stories.

For those unacquainted with the old Harley, this 100-page, oversized and overpriced (this’ll cost you $8) medley is a fantastic ticket into the past, and a perfect case study to hold up against the new self-titled issues to see just how much they’ve changed the look, tone, voice, and behavior of this character they have the gall to call by the same name. This is the cartoony Harley, the lovelorn, the smart, the impetuous, the tragic in a relatable way Harleen Quinzel who fell for the wrong guy and couldn’t help herself. This is the Harley Quinn who became best friends with (and probable paramour of) Pamela “Poison Ivy” Isley, and whose relationship with the latter strengthened her…in more ways than one.

This is the book I wish still existed in the New 52, the kind of fun shenanigans which were willing to get dark or uproarious without becoming outright despicable. Whether you loved the character and want to send a message to DC to do more like this, or have never met the old Harley and are looking for an introduction, this is definitely a book you should seek out.
5/5+ [Instant Favorite]

Deadpool: The Gauntlet #5

Wade Wilson is one of the most conflicted individuals in comics. Is he a good guy or a bad guy? Is he truly a mercenary? Does he have any hopes and dreams?

Deadpool is, of course, the last kind of person to ask such questions of himself, but you do have to appreciate the situation he finds himself in. What started as a simple transport mission (unsurprisingly) became a lot more, and now he’s fighting Blade — a man after his own heart, when it comes to Team Edward — while trying to figure out whether he’s falling in love with a woman/succubus/monster he just met.

This book continues to be quite the ride (often literally), but this issue felt a bit sloppy, wrapping one thing up a bit quicker than I expected while immediately jumping to something new. On the one hand, a fast pace makes the scope of the story feel like it’s quickly getting out of hand, but on the other hand it makes the Infinite Comic go by a bit too quickly. This is a full-priced comic, but it still doesn’t feel like a full-sized one. Lucky for Marvel, it does feel like a fun one.
4/5 [Liked It]

Ms. Marvel #1

At long last, Kamala Khan has arrived. And she’s adorable.

I guess maybe that shouldn’t be the first word that comes to mind, but in many ways it is. I wanted to give her a huge hug. From her longing gaze at a BLT to her heartbreaking argument with her father to her beautiful naïveté at how drunkenness works, Kamala won a place in my heart immediately.

That doesn’t mean this is a puppies and rainbows book, though. G. Willow Wilson isn’t pulling any punches here, and the “well-meaning” insensitive remarks made by folks like Zoe sting through the lighthearted daydreaming of Kamala’s hero worship enough that I actually gasped. As I told a friend while describing this book, “If this had been written by some white guy, it’d be offensive. But it’s not. This is a person who knows what she’s talking about, who has lived this. Conversations like this… they just feel shockingly real.

This is going to be a powerful book. The conclusion of this issue — part one of a five-part arc — has raised a lot of questions and good discussion, and I’m really excited to see that continue as Kamala learns a quintessential Marvel lesson in power, responsibility, and the greenness of grass in the lawns of Others.

5/5+ [Instant Favorite]

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