Welcome to Wednesday Comics Pull-List, here on Tor.com! Every week we post reviews of a select handful of this week’s comic releases. We read less than usual, but loved more than most. One title in particular has Marvel Comics head honcho Joe Quesada proving himself wrong in the most beautiful way possible.
This week’s batch includes:
- Amazing Spider-Man #641
- Batman & Robin #14
- Billy the Kid’s Old Timey Oddies and the Ghastly Fiend of London #1
- The Calling: Cthuhlu Chronicles #3
- Dawn: Not To Touch The Earth
- Daytrippers #10
- Grimm Fairy Tales #50
- John Moore Presents: Dead Soldier #1
Amazing Spider-Man #641
Written by Joe Quesada
Art by Paolo Rivera and Joe Quesada
Chris says: This issue brings the “One Moment In Time” storyline to a close and pretty much answers the lingering questions left behind by the “Brand New Day” reboot.
I gave the “Brand New Day” experiment a chance when it first started as I wasn’t opposed to the ending of the Spider-Man marriage. I felt it was a non-issue, really. Unfortunately, the execution was handled very poorly and the following issues of Amazing Spider-Man just weren’t interesting enough to keep up with.
That said, I’ve really, really enjoyed “One Moment In Time” and I wish the title could pull off this kind of gravitas on a regular basis. Amazing Spider-Man #641 ends on something that I think a lot of folks would consider a cop out, but it feels like an organic conclusion within the story, so I’m willing to give it a pass. (And I’m more than happy to accept imperfection in our heroes if it feels genuine.) Moreover, the conclusion has me thinking about the title long after I finished it, which is always a great sign.
Although, the fact that the most interesting part of the whole 100-issue long “Brand New Day” experiment is the stuff dealing with Peter and MJ’s marriage kind of torpedoes Joe Quesada’s original assertion that the marriage doesn’t work. Funny that he does such a good job here that he ends up proving himself wrong on this point.
Pull?: Definitely. This is a high point of the entire series.
Batman & Robin #14
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Frazer Irving
Annie says: I have been waiting for this issue for WEEKS. When DC released the unlettered previews and we saw Damien being taken over by Joker, two things went through my mind: 1.) Damien’s really not going to bash the Joker’s head in, is he? and 2.) holy crap, I have to read this.
The cool thing about this series is the cyclical nature of it. Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne are fighting the two villains who almost destroyed the original Batman, Bruce Wayne. So in a lot of ways it’s déjà vu but in all ways it’s awesome. Frazer Irving absolutely kills these illustrations, they are drenched with evil and encapsulate every emotion Grant Morrison penned onto these pages. Professor Pyg is absolutely demented, certainly one of my favorite villains, and the panel of him hanging upside down from Mother Goat are awe-inspiring.
Pull?: You mean you haven’t already?
Billy the Kid’s Old Timey Oddies and the Ghastly Fiend of London #1
Written by Eric Powell
Art by Eric Powell and Kyle Hotz
Annie says: This comic picks up in London in the year 1888, a time where Jack the Ripper is roaming the streets and everyone, but mostly prostitutes, are fearing for their lives. We’re introduced to a rag-tag team of misfits (literally—they’re all sideshow freaks) who travel the world in a vaudeville act and, for some bizarre reason, Billy the Kid is also with them.
Everyone in this comic book is polite and well spoken, stereotypically British, so to speak, except for Billy the Kid, who is as boisterous, rude and ignorant as Americans seem to be portrayed in England. This was frustrating. I get it, he’s a cowboy and he doesn’t give a “hoot” about what other people think of him. He’s just sayin’ what’s on his mind, ya’ll! It’s comedic at times: “Fella, I seen all manner of putridness since I started runnin’ with these folks, but you win the blue ribbon for nasty!” How many times have you wanted to say some variation of that in a bar? Billy might be a good guy to bring out drinking, once. He’s definitely not the type of friend you invite to every occasion, maybe just the ones where you anticipate him making a spectacle of himself.
The problem with this comic is that it’s been done before. I know what you’re thinking and yes, it’s an original spin on a played out equation but the fact is, it’s still a played out equation.
Pull?: I want to say yes, but only for the panel that reads:
Fineas Sproule: “We’ll be in an area where there is an abundance of whores…”
Billy the Kid: “I’M IN!”
Now that I’ve ruined that for you, don’t bother.
The Calling: Cthuhlu Chronicles #3
Written by Johanna Stokes & Michael Alan Nelson
Art by Christopher Possenti
Annie says: Cthulhu Chronicles #2 was wordy and it seems that CthuIhu Chronicles #3 is even more wordy. I was hoping that this issue would retreat to the same vein as the first issue but it seems to have gone off the deep end. To the point where this new character, Stefano, has now confused not only me but all of the other characters in the story as well.
From what I could pull from this issue, The Dreamer was part of an experimental pharmaceutical experiment done by the same company that Clay works for. Then, Clay and Stefano go back to the pharmaceutical company to get more information and end up recruiting two more people to try and stop The Dreamer. So that’s what happened in this comic but it seemed like more information because of a lot of nonsensical banter? It was almost as if the author was trying to make it more than it was. A little disappointing.
Pull?: If you liked the first two issues, might as well. If not, I have a feeling it’s all going to be explained better in the 4th issue.
Dawn: Not To Touch The Earth
Writing and Art by Joseph Michael Linsner
Chris says: The character of Dawn is the goddess of birth and rebirth, as old as life itself, and as such is always painted by creator Joseph Michael Linsner in the most sexually suggestive manner possible. As a goddess, her actions often revolve around taking lovers and fulfilling her archetypal role. Here, this plays out through an old celtic myth, with Dawn representing a Faerie queen.
The role that Dawn plays in the myth is outdated in the present day and gives Dawn’s actions in Not To Touch The Earth an uncomfortable subtext that I’m not sure was intended. The story begins with an office worker named Darian coming upon a captive Dawn in the woods. He is told to “be a man” by Dawn (a sentiment echoed a few pages before by an awful co-worker) and urged to kill the monster holding her. After that, they step into a dream realm and make love. As one might expect from stories involving Faerie, Darrian eventually meets his end because of his attraction to Dawn, although that end comes off pretty awkwardly.
It’s all very squicky. Dawn chooses her lovers, but otherwise fills a subservient lover/male wish-fulfillment role, while Darrian is given little to no agency of his own. Nobody’s represented at their best here, and you end up feeling as if you’ve just read an illustrated romance paperback.
The art involving Dawn is, as one expects from Linsner, lusciously detailed. (It’s not hard to see why there are Dawn lookalike contests every year at Dragon*Con.) The story itself is forgettable, which, considering that Dawn books are rare releases, must be frustrating for existing fans.
Pull?: Only if you’re already a fan. The main attraction is more Dawn art, and while there are some great pin-ups at the end of the book, there’s just not enough to justify the $6 price tag for a newcomer.
Daytripper #10 (of 10)
Writing and Art by Fabio Moon & Gabriel Bá
(DC Comics / Vertigo)
Chris says: Damn. I wish I’d picked this title up when it started. Daytripper is a ten issue story written and drawn by twin brothers Fabio Moon and Gabriel Bá that picks out ten moments from the life of one man (Brás) and offers them up in service to a central theme: death and the continuation of life. Each issue is meant as a stand-alone story, though reading the entire series is an undoubtedly richer experience.
Fantastic circumstances and special powers are kept to a minimum here, and they’re not present whatsoever in Daytripper #10. This isn’t science fiction, speculative, action-oriented, or anything that you expect from a comic book. It’s just a well told character story. This particular issue focuses on Brás celebrating life after realizing quite matter-of-factly that he is okay with foregoing treatment for his tumors and choosing death. Aging and being a parent figure heavily into this, and even though I’ve personally experienced neither, I felt the resolution in the story brought about by these two experiences to ring simply and truly.
Pull?: Absolutely. Try and find the previous issues, as well.
Grimm Fairy Tales #50
Written by Joe Brusha
Art by Ralph Tedesco
Annie says: There is absolutely nothing wrong with a little guilty pleasure to get you through a short week. Grimm Fairy Tales (GFT) #50 is a semi-perfect balance between action and suspense, with a dash or two of mindless rhetoric to keep it interesting.
The ongoing theme in this comic is choices. The choices Sela’s father made to protect her brother and her from danger frame the story for this issue. More choices are made throughout the story to demonstrate how good Sela actually is. Which is good. She’s really, really good. We get it. To the point where her virtue borders on naiveté. That’s not just my opinion, Sela says so herself: “I have to work on my character evaluation skills.”
I really liked this comic. I know I’ve been harsh on female main characters before and Sela, more or less, fits into the mold I’ve complained about but she acknowledges her weaknesses and doesn’t pretend to be tougher than she is. I’m all for it.
This comic;s aesthetic is done very effectively. The action sequences are set up in such a way that you almost get sucked in. There’s one full page spread of good versus evil fighting and it’s gorgeous. I’d suggest picking it up just for the artwork.
Pull?: Yes, wholeheartedly, even. Guilty pleasure, people!
John Moore Presents: Dead Soldier #1
Written by John Moore & Richie Smith
Art by Dean Hyrapiet
Annie says: I’m trying to think of a coherent way to write about this comic using actual words instead of acronyms or internet speak but I’m slowly losing control over those abilities because of how unbelievable this comic is. Let’s go with: OMG GUYS! You need to read this! Immediately! Dead Soldiers is DARK. Dark and suspenseful. Dark, suspenseful and, wait for it, well-written. A triple threat!
For a first issue in a series, this is perfect. We’re given just enough information on who the dead soldier is to keep the reader interested, with slivers of really juicy war-time action to keep the action levels up. It’s hard, sometimes, for a 30-something paged comic to keep your interest while narrating an appropriate story but John Moore’s dialogue matched with Dean Hyrapiet’s artwork (which attributes for most of my enthusiasm) is magical. The images are intense; one of the first we see is our beloved dead soldier, Colonel John Donner (who is sarcastic, demonic, and borderline charming) ripping out someone’s heart and then, from what I could tell, eating it. Anyone else finding the characters name a little… appropriate?
We’re plopped down in present day Sudan and taken inside a highly confidential level of the government where U.S. intelligent officials are trying to figure out exactly what Colonel Donner is and what happened to him. Then, something happens and, well… Just read this comic.
Pull?: YES. YES. YES.
Annie Gala is on her New York hustle.
Chris Greenland would use one moment in time to finish his lunch.