Wednesday Comics Pull-List: Mad About Batman

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Welcome to Wednesday Comics Pull-List, here on Tor.com! Every week we post short reviews of a select handful of this week’s comic releases.

This week’s batch includes:

  • Abe Sapien: Abyssal Plain #2
  • Batman: The Widening Gyre #6
  • Buzzard #2
  • Incorruptible #8
  • Life With Archie: Married Life #1
  • The Return of Bruce Wayne #4
  • Time Lincoln: Fists of Fuhrer #1
  • Wolverine Origins #50
  • Wonder Woman #601

The Wonder Woman reboot…is it working for you? We’ve got some strong opinions on Batman, as well. We’re apparently done exploring Wolverine’s past, too. And is there anything greater than a time traveling Abraham Lincoln?

Dive in to our coverage and feel free to post your own reviews and/or suggest books we should read next week.

Abe Sapien: Abyssal Plain #2 (of 2)
Written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
Art by Peter Snejbjerg
(Dark Horse)

Annie says: I don’t even know where to start when reviewing this comic. I could begin with the opening scenes of a Soviet Navy ship, where the dialogue has been translated from Russian. Or how brilliantly the beginning of this comic was set up so it made reading it absolutely seamless. Or the fact that the artwork is spot on, consistent and enchanting. I could talk about all of those things but I’d really like to talk about is the zombie who’s guts explode in the first few pages.

I’m not kidding. By the third page of this comic, this zombie’s guts are EVERYWHERE. We find out his name is Iosif and he doesn’t want to hurt anyone, he just wants to guard this safe in the bottom of the ship. That’s it. He just stands there guarding the ship. And of course, the crews reaction to him is less than friendly, but he doesn’t care. He just wants to guard the safe. He’s like the pet zombie you’ve always wanted.

I don’t want to ruin how mesmerizing this comic is. If you’re a fan of historical comics it’s perfect for you. If you’re a fan of zombies you’re going to love this story. It is definitely an original, which is nice considering what I’ve been reading lately seems to be a reprint of things I’ve read in the past.

 

Batman: The Widening Gyre #6 (of 6)
Written by Kevin Smith
Art by Walter Flanagan
(DC Comics)

Annie says: Before we can dig into this comic, there are some questions that need to be answered: What the hell is Kevin Smith doing? Who exactly does this bro think he is? You make cult classic movies. You have an established fan base. You own a comic book store in New Jersey. WE GET IT. You haven’t lost your “regular guy” genes. That’s great. But, really, Kevin Smith. You get one Batman book on the New York Times bestseller list and you just keep writing Batman comics? BAD Batman comics at that?

It might not be fair to pick on Kevin Smith so hard but I am a Batman snob and these comics are awful. Every time you think there’s potential, it turns into some variation of Chasing Amy—except it always feels like Batman ends up being the confused lesbian. The first 24 pages of this comic are love scenes between Silver St. Cloud and Batman. LOVE SCENES. He proposes, they have several heart to heart talks about his inability to trust and her desire to make him feel loved. Really, Kevin Smith, this is the Batman you want people to remember you by?

The love scenes would have been fine. Even exploring the vulnerability that Batman battles every day would have been fine, but what Smith has done here is make Batman look like a pansy. He’s struck with love and everyone is so happy. He lets his guard down and actually tells his sidekick that he peed his pants on his first night out fighting crime. WHAT? We’re humanizing Batman now? Why? He’s a superhero not your sleepover, secret-sharing buddy. It truly baffles me as to why Smith took this route and especially to end the series with this particular storyline is incredibly frustrating.

I want to be able to recommend this comic but the truth is, I don’t want you to waste your time. The story is a cheap ploy to try and be unique and surprising and it falls flat. Stick to Silent Bob, Kevin Smith, and step away from my Batman.

 

Buzzard #2 (of 3)
Written by Eric Powell
Art by Eric Powell
(Dark Horse)

Annie says: I love comics about zombies. You know how it’s possible to love a zombie comic even more? Combine it with a plot that’s comparable to the movie The Professional. Buzzard is Leon, to an eerie degree, almost to the point where you have to wonder how “inspired” Eric Powell was when writing this. We pick back up where issue #1 left off, Buzzard and the kid he was paired with are making their way to…wherever it is that they’re going.

There isn’t much of a story here, which is fine because the illustrations are gorgeous. After a little background information on how Buzzard came to be, the kid he’s dragging around turns to him and asks, “You could teach me the assassin trade?” The panel immediately following this statement is a close up of Buzzard’s face. Even without pupils, you can see the characer’s surprise conveyed through Eric Powell’s artwork.

We get to see Buzzard eating arms and legs and rescuing damsels in distress, all things you expect from a Western comic, but with zombies. It’s almost perfect.

 

Incorruptible #8
Written by Mark Waid
Art by Horacio Domingues
(Boom Studios)

Annie says: It’s MAX DAMAGE and he is, INCORRUPTIBLE. Except for the fact that, historically, Max Damage was corrupt, so where does that leave us? Max Damage, once corrupt but, after a shift in conscience, now incorruptible. I can’t be the only person reading these who just gets so bored with the mathematical equation that these comics follow. Bad guy turned good plus hot female sidekick with a smart mouth plus a need for revenge equals a good story. Usually this would work but it has been done so many times that the equation is played out.

Incorruptible reminds me of a Bruce Willis movie. But not a good Bruce Willis movie. Something comparable to…oh who are we kidding, Bruce Willis is incapable of making a bad movie. However, I would pass on this comic.

 

Life With Archie: Married Life #1
Written by Michael Uslan
Art by Norm Breyfogle
(Archie Comics)

Annie says: The description for this comic read, “A continuation of the popular stories in which Archie married both Betty and Veronica” and immediately I thought, “Dang, Archie, get in there with your two wives.” Half of me needed to know how he was managing to keep both notoriously uppity women content and the other half needed to make sure the “gang” didn’t leave Riverdale and head to a small suburb in Utah. I expected to see Archie knocking on doors with a name tag and returning home to a fleet of children with Betty and Veronica cooking together in the kitchen.

Unfortunately, none of this happened because if it had, the comic would have at least been tolerable. Instead, Michael Uslan decided to get all Sliding Doors on us by showing Archie’s life with Veronica and Betty in a split comic issue. Yawn.

I can get into the classic nature of these comics but the issues that these characters are dealing with are too cliché for words. When Archie marries Veronica he ends up working for her father (Mr. Lodge) and is on the verge of dismantling Riverdale and the gang’s hang out, Pop’s. There’s a hot topic argument where the characters rail on things like being “green,” corporate America, big businesses buying our local businesses, and…oh, excuse me. I fell asleep.

When Archie marries Betty, they move to New York and live in a “cramped apartment.” Betty is the bread winner and Archie is trying to get his music career to take off by singing songs about sausage machines. I only wish I were joking.

Saving grace for this comic? The free pullout poster and the Tiger Beat-esque pictures of Justin Bieber.

 

The Return of Bruce Wayne #4 (of 6)
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Georges Jeanty
(DC Comics)

Chris says: I love being able to say the words “cowboy Batman” aloud, and I’m a fan of Grant Morrison’s work in general, so I had high hopes for this issue. Just as long as it wasn’t a re-telling of the Batman origin story in the old west…as the first few pages indicated. Uh oh.

Luckily, that’s a fake-out. What transpires instead is a gothic western that mixes in idolatry, Wayne family heritage, immortality and old magic, and a showdown between Batman and Jonah Hex. Morrison continues building the mythology that will allow him to return Batman to the present day, and at times this gets in the way of the issue’s singular tale, but not enough to make it unreadable. And not enough to make it any less exciting, either. I am definitely looking forward to seeing what comes after those last few pages…

 

Time Lincoln: Fists of Führer #1
Written by Fred Perry
Art by Fred Perry
(Antarctic Press)

Chris says: In the last hour of his life, Abraham Lincoln is unmoored from reality and cast into the timestream, where he champions a team composed of great figures from history, among them Albert Einstein (relativity specialist), Isaac Newton (thermodynamic virgin), Benjamin Franklin (syphilis monger), and George Washington Carver (200 different uses for peanuts?). They fight Void Stalin, who regularly threatens all of time.

This issue opens with a recap of how the team came together, but then jars itself immediately into action. Benjamin Franklin goes from a stately conversation with John Adams to a hellish landscape swarming with bat-winged monsters only being held off by Lincoln and his laser gun. Alright! THIS IS WHAT I PAID FOR.

Time Lincoln eventually discovers his innate time traveling powers and faces off against Mephitler (a demonic Hitler) with a very cyberpunk-looking laser gauntlet and classy stovepipe hat. He eventually nails Mephitler with a shoryuken and all of our days are saved. For now. (Or are they?)

This is a weird issue. For a concept so completely and immediately crazed, I found this issue to be a little too…exposition-y? There are a couple of sequences with the humor and general wackiness that one expects from a comic called Time Lincoln, but they’re broken up by scenes of Lincoln soul-searching and Ben Franklin explaining the plot. This comic sounds promising, but I was hoping for something smarter and more frenetic.

 

Wolverine Origins #50
Written by Daniel Way
Art by Will Conrad
(Marvel Comics)

Chris says: This issue is billed as the “series finale” for the Wolverine Origins title, which was itself originally created to expand upon the reveal of Wolverine’s origin in the 2001 mini-series Origins. The issue itself starts promisingly, with Wolverine standing over Nick Fury’s body, claws soaked in blood, and thinking:

How many times? How many times have I come out of a berserker rage, my hands covered in blood, not knowin’ whose it is? Or why I’ve done what I’ve done?

From there, the issue becomes a mindscape/dream sequence type of story, where the memories of all the women Wolverine has ever loved/killed come to haunt him. The intent is to get Wolverine to make peace with himself (also there is a train made of bones?), but there’s not enough here for a new reader to really grab onto. Readers of Wolverine and X-Men have seen this plot before, as well, and Wolverine Origins #50 doesn’t add anything new.

There is a nice back-up story involving Wolverine, Hope, and drinking in alleys, but ultimately this is skippable.

 

Wonder Woman #601
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Art by Don Kramer
(DC Comics)

J. Michael Straczynski’s run on Wonder Woman starts in earnest here, after a brief taste in issue #600 last month. Tor.com makes a very good argument regarding how little this soft reboot of the character means, and how ill-advised it is to flush out what makes the character stand out in the first place. Issue #601 refutes some aspects of that argument and bolsters others.

Beginning here, Wonder Woman has a new costume, a new backstory, and a new direction. The new origin isn’t all that clever (it’s basically “watch Batman turn into Superman”) but for new readers this approach really works. Straczynski has crafted an excellent jumping-on issue, designed to pull in folks (like me) who are only vaguely familiar with the character of Wonder Woman. Most importantly, the character is given a quest to fulfill, one that can unfold in a myriad of ways and can take us bit by bit through how Wonder Woman learns to become the larger-than-life hero she is known as. For readers like me, this is key to building me into someone who will stick with the title for years to come.

For those already familiar with the title and character, there’s a strong hint that we actually aren’t seeing a reboot here, but something else entirely. Since it’s still early on in the story, though, a hint is all it is.

The new costume works well with the story (even if it does look like it came from a Project Runway challenge), as Diana’s usual duds are for a hero who has bright adventures that are full of grandeur. That’s not this Wonder Woman anymore, at least not yet.


Chris Greenland often feels rich and depressed or happy and poor.

Annie Gala works for Macmillan, reads a lot, writes a little and loves Batman.

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