Saturday, June 07, 2008

The Pull List

Every week I buy a small stack of comics. It can range depending on each week, but I'd say it's an average of 6 or 7. It's also, primarily, the only reason I'm holding on to my job at the comic shop now that I am gainfully employed full time elsewhere. Comics are getting more expensive, and although their still a few bucks each, that starts to build up when you look at what I buy monthly. And yes, I am cutting back. Here's a small sampling of my most recent purchases. I bring these up because it was a pretty good couple of weeks, and I think these comics would be of interest to people who read my blog.

Stephen King's Dark Tower: The Long Road Home #4(Of 5)
Script: Peter David, Art: Jae Lee & Richard Isanove
As I wrote awhile back, I have a sort of love/hate relationship with Stephen King's Dark Tower series. On the one hand I find the early books to be long winded and exceedingly dull, full of aimless wheel spinning. On the other hand, I really dig the first novel, and I found the final 3 books to be exceptionally entertaining, despite a few embarrassing missteps(the weird, out of nowhere Harry Potter references were cringe inducing). The first comic series, Gunslinger Born, was pretty faithful adaptation of Wizard & Glass, the 4th book(the comics will be tackling the story chronologically, not by the release date of the books). The oddly distorted art by Jae Lee and Richard Isanove, along with Peter David's writing, which can be hard to get into if you aren't used to the speech patterns of King's characters, gave the whole book the epic tone it deserved. Now we're into the second series, which picks up directly where Gunslinger Born left off, and is showing us a part of the story not really mentioned all that much in the book. It gives the writer a bit more freedom, and it's safe to say he's using every bit of it he can. I'll have to wait until the final issue hits next month to make any real judgment, but so far I'm not sure I like all the new changes. It was already established that this series is a reinterpretation, and not a strict retelling, but I can't quite divorce the story of this comic from the one in the books, and something in me keeps balking at most of the changes. I figure eventually I'll get over it, and nothing has happened yet that actually contradicts the book, so I guess it could go either way.

Giant Size Astonishing X-Men #1
Script: Joss Whedon Art: John Cassaday
So it's finally here, the final issue of Joss Whedon's incredible Astonishing X-Men run. The series was an immediate hit with fan boys, who quickly turned on it when the publishing schedule became... irregular to say the least. But shipping delays aside, the book has been consistently hilarious and emotional and epic, basically what you'd expect from a Joss Whedon project. It's saying something that Whedon has finally made me accept that Cyclops might have the makings of a true badass after all. The story line is supposedly in continuity, meaning that the events in this series have affected the overall Marvel universe, but it's also been entirely self contained, meaning that the Marvel universe hasn't affected this story at all. Bringing together plot threads that Grant Morrisson brought up in New X-Men, Whedon has mined some terrific storytelling opportunities that have been largely ignored by the rest of the Marvel universe. And here it all comes to an end. A bittersweet, entirely awesome end. I had chills. Warren Ellis is set to take over this title soon, and I love Ellis, but I honestly don't think I want to see another writer continuing this team's adventures.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 8 #15
Script: Drew Goddard Art: Georges Jeanty
Speaking of Joss Whedon, things at his flagship property just keep getting better. Drew Goddard's arc, which garnered attention from the news media when Buffy had a lesbian tryst with another slayer, concludes quite spectacularly here. It's odd that my favorite moments in the series have mostly been by people other than Joss, when the exact opposite is true in the television series. While this issue gets a bit over the top in an enjoyable, but completely silly way with, say, the giant Mecha-Dawn in Tokyo, it pays off with Andrew's geekgasm as he watches from a rooftop. The ending to this story line is anything but neat and tidy, with some pretty doom infused foreshadowing, and some serious emotional content familiar to anyone who's seen the show(hint; when the characters are happy, bad stuff is about to happen). Any fan of the show should be picking this up.
P.S. Favorite moment of the issue; Willow's exchange with Buffy: And, just so you know, I never wanted to sleep with you either.

Trinity #1
Script: Kurt Busiek Art: Mark Bagley
(Backup story art by: Scott McDaniel & Andy Owens)
The first issue of DC's new weekly comic, following in the footsteps of the excellent 52 and the overall average Countdown. Kurt Busiek left Superman to write this, and at the time I was a bit depressed, since his Superman run has been one of my favorite reads over the last couple years, but now, reading this, some of my sadness has disappeared. The focus of the series is apparently going to be Batman, Superman & Wonder Woman, the holy trinity of DC comics, as they investigate the meaning behind some cosmically ominous dreams. This storyline didn't do much for me, and Mark Bagley was great on Ultimate Spider-man, but is less than stellar here. He seems particularly ill-suited to drawing Wonder Woman. But then came the backup story, which runs concurrently with the main story but from a villainous perspective. This was much more intriguing, with some creepy glimpses into the possible future of the DC universe; one, showing Green Arrow clashing with Ragman over who gets to guard Gotham City, seems to tie into the currently running Batman R.I.P. story that Grant Morrisson is writing. I'll be picking this up next week, and hopefully the quality of the first story will rise to meet the standard of the second story.

Final Crisis #1
Script: Grant Morrisson Art: J.G. Jones
Forget what you've heard about this being a confusing let down, it's all just over reactive backlash against the hype. I found this to be a pretty solid affair, although much less flashy and bombastic than most DC 'events'. Most DC comic books require a PHD in comic book continuity to fully appreciate them, and either I'm picking this stuff up through osmosis, or this comic book is toning that down a bit. I didn't have to open up Wikipedia once! Ok, but ONLY once. The story seems to be following some of the other DC books I haven't been reading, like Death of the New Gods, but it's grounded enough in the main stories that I had no trouble following along. Grant Morrisson loves 70s comic books, and he resurrects a couple villains here that haven't been seen since. As a primer it might help to read Justice League of America #21 or DC Special: Justice League of America #1, both released last month, one reintroducing the pivotal character of Libra, and the other reprinting his only previous appearance, from 1979. He's a cool villain, and the possibilities look to be just the kind of cosmic psychedelia that Morrisson loves so much.

Kick-Ass #3
Script: Mark Millar Art: John Romita Jr.
And here it is, the entire reason I chose to write about comics this post. Kick-Ass has been enjoyable from the start, with lots of sickening violence and humor, with a character that probably describes just about every kid(or man stuck in adolescence) that reads comics. Or, at least the vast majority of them. David is kinda a dork, but not a caricature. He isn't unpopular or despised, he has friends, he just doesn't fit in with the cool crowd. It's a much more honest portrayal of teenage life than most comics even attempt. Plus there's lots of violence. Did I mention that? In his free time, David reads comics, and has become obsessed with putting on a homemade costume, grabbing a couple of bats, and prowling the streets looking for criminals to beat up. Usually this goes wrong, and he gets beaten up a LOT, but he keeps trying. He becomes an instant sensation when someone puts a video of him protecting someone from gang members on youtube, and suddenly he's adored by millions. He starts a myspace page that people with problems can use to contact him, as we see in this issue. Things go typically awry and David seems to be about to get his ass kicked again, until someone very unexpected arrives to save the day, and adds another dimension to the idea of dressing up in tights and beating up evildoers. My pulse quickened reading this book, and I have made it my mission to annoy everyone into reading this book. So go do it!

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