Wed
Aug 25 2010 3:31pm

Wednesday Comics Pull-List: Good Time Funny Books

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. This was a fun week for comics. Not a lot of substance, but that’s okay. Sometimes you just want to have a good time.

This week’s batch includes:

  • Batman: The Brave & The Bold #20
  • Dark Wolverine #90
  • Dracula: The Company of Monsters #1
  • Gotham City Sirens #15
  • Guarding the Globe #1 (of #6)
  • Namor: The First Mutant #1
  • Superman/Batman #75

Batman: The Brave & The Bold #20
Written by Bob Greenberger
Artwork by Robert Pope and Scott McRae
(DC Comics)

Annie says: Do you ever wake up on a dreary rain soaked Wednesday and think to yourself, “Hey self, I’d like to revert to reading comics aimed towards teenagers?” Me neither, but due to lack of judgment and long hours, that’s what I decided to do this morning. We’re kicking it old school with this comic.

It doesn’t really seem fair to tear into this comic the way I want to. It is not geared towards adults. Maybe it makes me a feel a little nostalgic and that’s making me nervous? This is a well done Batman for what it is, though it’s lacking a lot of the psychological stuff that these comics are usually packed with. It’s pretty straight forward as to what the this issue is about (love and sacrifice) and Batman examining his own life as to why he can’t really relate. The artwork is much less heavy handed—it’s cartoony, because it should be—and the characters are re-explained for any little, forgetful, hormonal tweens, but it’s also a benefit for anyone else who needs a refresher course.

There are some really good comics out this week, unless you’re feeling particularly nostalgic, I’d say pass on this one but if you’d like a quick mindless yet entertaining read, why not? We’ll call it vintage and everyone will think you’re hip.

 

Dark Wolverine #90
Written by Marjorie Liu
Artwork by Mirco Pierfederici
(Marvel Comics)

Annie says: For a series conclusion, this issue leaves a lot of doors open as to what is going to happen with Daken (also known as Wolverine’s unpleasant son) in the future. But that’s sort of it. Nothing else really happens except a lot of inner dialogue as to what path Daken is going to take now that this series is over.

The artwork is stunning. The scenery of Japan is depicted in a way that lets you know where Daken is but remains otherwise featureless so as to not take the focus away from Daken’s thought process. The focus remains solely on Daken and the decision he has to make. A lot of the imagery (a crushed butterfly, mutant/human protests, etc.) lead me to believe that Daken is going to make some poor choices as far as his legacy is concerned. The son of Wolverine is going to go rogue (see what I did there?) and that is going to make for an absolutely ridiculous series of stories. Highly recommended.

 

Dracula: The Company of Monsters #1
Written by Daryl Gregory and Kurt Busiek
Art by Scott Godleweski and Stephen Downer
(Boom! Studios)

Annie says: I know what you’re all thinking because I thought the exact same thing, “Great. Another vampire themed comic.” I can assure you, surprisingly enough, that unlike all of the Twilight rip-offs in the world, this is actually worth reading.

I’m the first to admit that I’m kind of a nerd. The other day a friend of mine mentioned the HBO series, Deadwood and I went off on a tangent about how the script was written in iambic pentameter and when he didn’t know what that was I went a step further to explain exactly what that meant. Why is that important to this review? Because, like the TV series, this comic starts off with an accurate historical backstory and embellishes it with character fiction. There are actual historical figures mentioned in the comic and things are explained well enough to remind you of your 8th grade social studies class. “Mehmed the Conquerer” is on the first page of this comic! Tell me, how many more times that’s going to happen in our lifetime?

Beyond being historically accurate, the artwork is perfect. The dark tones really set you up for the evil that envelopes this story. On top of that, the artwork transition between the 15th century into present day is almost seamless. I was actually surprised that the author decided to transition from one time period to the other as quickly as he did but, in hindsight, it made a lot of sense. Gregory and Busiek clearly put a lot of thought into separating this comic from the vampire craze we’re currently wading through and they have done so successfully. You should absolutely pick up this issue; it’s full of surprises and flawlessly written.

 

Gotham City Sirens #15
Written by Paul Dini
Art by Guillem March
(Boom! Studios)

Annie says: I’m not sure who I’ll be offending by saying this but, typically, I find female superhero books kind of lame. They never get the cool gadgets, they’re usually made fun of for their prissy attire, and are seldom as rugged as the men. Combining Catwoman, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy into one comic sounds really cool but this story quickly becomes a Lifetime movie entitled “Friends over Fellas.”

These characters always end up falling for “bad” people, which makes them second fiddles in their own book, and defines them through their relationships with men. Harley Quinn? Only kind of bad ass when she’s working alongside Joker, and that’s only because the dynamic between the two of them results in Joker ALWAYS having the upper hand. She is his pawn. Catwoman? Always second fiddle to Batman. This is something that really bothers me with all things female-focused in comics: Female villians never get a chance to just be evil because women are “supposed” to have their compassion exposed clearly and often.

As far as the story with Poison Ivy is concerned, it’s hard to say no to a guy feeding you lines like this: “We will germinate a cloud of spores, you and I, seeding land and sea alike.” HUBBA HUBBA! Take me to your lair! Homegirl, I know you can’t kiss regular people because you WERE SEDUCED BY AN EVIL PROFESSOR (case in point all over again) but take it a little slower! If you’re going to get in a relationship, go for someone who wants to go out for sushi, or maybe invite you over to their mom’s house for Christmas dinner. There are just red flags all over the place with the evil professor but, of course, she waits till the very last second to see the error of her ways. Ladies, let this be a lesson to you, as soon as a man starts talking about “germinating” and “cloud of spores,” run. You don’t need that in your life.

All jokes aside, it’s was a little cheesy but done well. Nothing overly aggressive but not something I see many readers picking up.

 

Guarding the Globe #1 (of #6)
Written by Robert Kirkman & Benito Cereno
Art by Ransom Getty
(Image Comcs)

Chris says: I was on the fence about this one at first. Image doesn’t have the best track record with team books, as they tend to come off more like you’re reading someone playing with their action figure collection. Vibrant, but somewhat non-sensical, flat in regards to character, and oddly mathematical. Character A is bested by Character A+1, only to be bested by the sudden appearance of Character A+2.

Guarding the Globe displays hints of that but mostly it is just a fun team book. The characters themselves spin out of Kirkman’s Invincible title, so they bring a bit of history with them and a lot of disarming humor. Kirkman seems well on his way to constructing a bright, fun universe within the larger Image-verse, and Guarding the Globe has the potential to be a key title in that expansion.

Also next issue they fight the Octoboss, which is just...Octoboss! I love saying that word.

 

Namor: The First Mutant #1
Written by Stuart Moore
Art by Ariel Olivetti
(Marvel Comcs)

Chris says: To me, Namor has always seemed like a character that should be far bigger in the Marvel pantheon of commercially-viable heroes. Towards that end, I feel lie he’s just waiting for the perfect pitch. A clear, brilliant synthesis of writer, artist, and concept.*

That’s not this title, but not through the fault of the creators. Stuart Moore is saddled with incorporating the “Curse of the Mutants” crossover currently running through the X-Men titles into his debut issue. That’s a bad sign right off the bat. Instead of getting to establish a world for his title character, Moore has to send him off to hunt underwater vampires. The concept comes off as silly as it sounds (although there is a brief altercation with a vampire squid).

Ariel Olivetti’s art is well suited for this kind of title. The muted, chalky colors, painted characters, and sparse backgrounds work a whole lot better for underwater vistas than they do for above-ground visuals, setting the mood instantly. You do wonder at times if Olivetti can pull off a grand image. (For example, a double page spread of the vampire squid would have been intense.) But that’s the only criticism I had of the art itself.

I can’t recommend this title right now, but I may revisit it once the crossover is concluded.

*Speaking of concepts...has anyone tried a Shakespearean approach with Namor? The character is an enormously arrogant jerk devoid of whimsy or deadly chill, so he’s hard to make appealing. However, a people and nations spanning 70% of the planet seems like it would lend itself to some amazing world-building, political intrigue, high drama, and a large helping of esoterica. Think Hamlet with Namor as Claudius, or an underwater Sandman...

 

Superman/Batman #75
Written by Paul Levitz, Steven T. Seagle, Billy Tucci, J.T. Krul, Michael Green & Mike Johnson, Duncan Rouleau, Brian Azzarello, David Finch, and Peter J. Tomasi
Art by Jerry Ordway, Teddy Kristiansen, Billy Tucci, Adam Hughes, Francis Manapul, Jill Thompson, Shane Davis & Sandra Hope, Rafael Albuquerque, Gene Ha, and more
(DC Comcs)

Chris says: Superman/Batman has always been an oasis of straightforward superhero action aside from whatever impenetrable Crisis or Day the DC Universe is currently undergoing, and this anniversary issue demonstrates very quickly just how good the title it is at being that oasis.

This issue contains contributions from multiple writers and artists and the idea plays out marvelously. Paul Levitz and Jerry Ordway’s contribution kicks everything off with just the right mixture of adventures and nostalgia. (Whenever I think of Superman, Ordway’s version is what’s in my head.) Steven T. Seagle gets a two-page riff on his own Superman/himself project, It’s a Bird. Adam Hughes supplies a gorgeous two-page spread on Superwoman and Batwoman (the Barbara Gordon version), telling their entire stories in ten panels. J.T Krul and Francis Manapul explore a pretty uncomfortable question in their two pages. There’s a showdown between Krypto and Ace the Bathound, a “Joker & Lex” strip, and much, much more.

It’s $5.00, but absolutely worth the price. It’s obvious that everyone involved had a lot of fun contributing, and the issue is filled with that infectious joy. Definitely recommended.


Chris Greenland wants you to know that his better judgment prevailed and that's why this post is free of crappie fish puns.

Annie Gala believes people might be better than Wolverine but no one trumps Batman.

4 comments
Brian2
1. Brian2
Annie, really enjoyed your review of Gotham City Sirens. As for female villains generally needing to signal compassion, you're absolutely right, though with writers like Gail Simone around, it probably wouldn't be hard to find some outliers. My knowledge of comics is less than encyclopedic, but wasn't Electra a little less compromised? I recall Greg Rucka saying that he'd done a run on her which had one of Electra's victims trying to give her a chance to recover her humantity, and redeem herself, and ended with her deciding that nope, I just like killing people for a living, but thanks for the cookies. Apparently it got shortened, since the book was being cancelled, but I had the impression the story did at least get finished.

Anyway, putting villains aside, I'm currently liking Marjorie Liu's Black Widow.
Annie Gala
2. AGala
Brian - the only problem with Elektra is that she was good when she worked with SHIELD, but disappeared shortly after and it was assumed she was putting together her own militia. Lots of flip flopping and while you're absolutely right, she's cold-blooded, the inconsistencies still happen. I'm not, by any means necessary, saying that these things don't happen with male superheroes but the truth is it's more common with female characters.

I'm actually going to pick up the Batgirl novels that Robert Campanella illustrated (between him and Tim Sale, I'm definitely a point eared fan) to see what happens there. They've been a bit but it's discouraging to read sometimes. She's been framed as sort of a dark character, so we'll see.
John Massey
3. subwoofer
I've always had my theories about Wolverine and how many children he has.

Point 1- Wolvie is really old. If he had a wife every 30-40 years then theoretically he would have quite the brood.

Point 2- Wolvie's healing factor. It is in every particle of his being, including his sperm. No spermacidal cream could kill the boys swimming around free. And the sperm could last for awhile so maybe the pill would not work either. Condoms? Well, need I remind everyone of Wolverines claws. You think Trojans would stand a chance?

Woof™.
Brian2
5. Brian2
Annie, I have no idea whether you'll see this, um, very delayed response, but I think that endlessly serialized comics hardly ever work, anyway. Not that women characters don't come off much worse in them, since that's plainly the case, but no one comes off very well.

Keep a character going indefinitely and it becomes less and less well-defined. Batman International? Yes, it does seem a little out of character, but he's been, let's see, time traveling, so it must have changed him. You end up with exactly the kind of opportunistic writing that everyone agrees would be terrible in a novel or a movie, where the characters just show up for face recognition and otherwise do whatever the plot demands. And what makes it worse is that all of these inconsistencies and fix-ups become part of "continuity."

There are intelligent people who do enjoy this kind of thing; I know somebody who gets very enthusiastic about it. Fair enough, but it's not for me, which is why I had no idea that Electra participated in SHIELD, and little idea what SHIELD is, anyway. I find it a lot more satisfying when someone's telling a unified, character-driven story. James Robinson in Starman, Neil Gaiman in Sandman, Paul Cornell in Captain Britain and MI13, for example. Then you've got something at stake.

Big exceptions, of course. One is Doctor Who, which is so unashamedly ad hoc and absurd that it's irresistible. Another is Batman. They milk the character ruthlessly, and can't decide who he is -- is he crazy or not this year? -- but Batman goes on working.

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