Chicago Geek Guy

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Tag: Marvel Comics

The Pull List for June 8, 2016

I’m just about to board a flight for Baltimore to meet CGG’s beloved editor for some rare face to face time. I know it’s been a while since I posted a Pull List, so I wanted to get a little something out there, even if I’m pressed for time. Here’s what I’ve been enjoying over the last few weeks.

GAREB_1_hires-4 DC Rebirth

I believe Geoff Johns “gets” the DC Universe as well as anyone alive and his efforts here as a writer demonstrate his love and appreciation of the characters. Rebirth marks a return to the time before the “New 52,” a time of unquestionable heroics and hope. The comic reveals some intriguing twists and turns, but I enjoyed it more for the breath of new life it gives to old characters.

I’ve had a chance to read the one shot “Rebirths” of Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, and Green Arrow. I enjoyed Green Arrow, in particular. That comic returns the character to an unabashed, if clueless, Social Justice Warrior. The Van Dyke beard is back, as well as the sparks between Green Arrow and Black Canary. I easily recommend reading these three books (although I found Batman disjointed) and plan on picking all the individual “Rebirths” as they hit the stands.

portrait_incredibleVision

Written by Tom King with pencils from Michael Wash, Marvel Comics

I can’t say I’ve ever quite read a comic like Vision. Without hesitation, I will say it’s the best comic Marvel publishes right now. Issue #7 provided a touching and heart wrenching behind the scenes look at the relationship between Vision and ex-wife Scarlet Witch that left me a little breathless. The book pulled back the edge of the comic boarder to reveal more personal interactions between characters that a reader rarely gets to view. King and Wash take readers into the characters’ bedrooms, nurseries, kitchens; all the mundane places that occupy a superhero’s regular life.

Empress-cov-24bd9Empress

Written by Mark Millar with art from Stuart Immonen, Icon imprint for Marvel Comics

It doesn’t take long to realize a marriage with galactic dictator might not be the best environment in which to raise kids. Millar and Immonen take a very human story of a family on the run and set it against a gorgeous sci-fi tableau. Comic Book Resources quoted Millar as saying, ““I think all the best science fiction has a very human element at the heart of it and a mother wanting to leave a dangerous relationship is very easy for readers to relate to.”

Empress will run for three six issue story arcs. They’re already up to issue three of the first tale. It’s time to jump in!

The (UN) Pull List for May 18, 2016

The wallet is only so deep. Every once and a while, I need to look at the pull list and decide what doesn’t feel worth the money anymore. Here are a couple of books I recently purged.

ddDaredevil

by writer Charles Soule and penciller Ron Garney

I don’t think any character emerged from Marvel’s 2015 mega-event, Secret Wars, as changed as Daredevil. The new volume moved him back to New York city from San Francisco, restored his secret identity, dropped his love life, turned him from a criminal defense lawyer to a prosecuting attorney, and gave him a sidekick.

In the span of one issue, Daredevil changed from one of the most entertaining and thought provoking books on the shelves to another generic superhero. Although it matches the successful Netflix show more closely, and may drag in new readers, it leaves me cold.

I’m usually a fan of Soule, but can’t describe this storyline as new or interesting. Nothing grabs me in this pedestrian tale of ninjas on a rampage. Garney’s art looks like an attempt to channel Frank Miller, and I don’t offer this critique as a complement.

NTT12 01Teen Titans

I tried so hard. I wanted to like Teen Titans. The addition of Power Girl was a missed opportunity to add a fresh perspective to the storyline. In addition, Power Girl and Bunker (a gay teen superhero) offered the potential to add some much needed diversity and interest to a white bread team. The art wasn’t terrible; although perhaps too objectifying of the young women it depicted.

Simply put, the comic is a complete mess. The convoluted storyline has become impossible to follow, I sincerely doubt that anyone knows what’s going on, anymore. I can’t say I recognize the behaviors of classic characters like (Red) Robin, Wondergirl, and Kid Flash. Unfortunately, a last minute change in author didn’t improve the final product. If anything, the twist ending and surprise reveal left people scratching their heads, their arms, and maybe even the soles of their feet.

Save the money and go buy Titans Hunt, instead.

The Pull List for May 11, 2016

Here’s a list of suggested comics due for release on May 11, 2016

LEGENDS_TOMORROW_3-copy_56b53563bf8ab1.76369780Legends of Tomorrow #3

DC Comics, various

This anthology book has nothing to do with the television show of the same name. Legends of Tomorrow provides four ongoing serials from some revered comics creators and their beloved characters. Len Wein writes Metal Men; Keith Giffen, Sugar and Spike; Gerry Conway, Firestorm; and Aaron Lopresti pens one of my favorite obscure characters, Metamorpho.

Each story offers solid comic book fare with Silver Age sensibilities. They are fun tales of good versus evil with healthy portions of humor, character development, and great art.

portrait_incredibleAll New All Different Avengers #9

Marvel Comics, written by Mark Waid with art by Mahmud Asrar

Mark Waid continues to write one of the most enjoyable comics coming out of Marvel at the moment. The author deftly balances the large cast of characters by giving each, its own, unique, voice. The relationship between Thor and Falcon feels very natural. The awkward musing of teen Ms. Marvel carry over from her own book. Dressed with all the usual trappings of a comic, this book offers a hopeful view of superheroes and humanity.

Mark Waid has created a book full of heroic optimism and fun adventure. If that’s not enough, this issue introduces the new Wasp!

JupitersCircle_vol2_06-1Jupiter’s Circle Vol 2 #6

Image Comics, written by Mark Millar with art by Wilfredo Torres

Millar and Torres wrap up the second volume of their realistic look at superheroes in 1960’s America. Throughout Jupiter’s Circle (and its sequel, Jupiter’s Legacy), Millar and Torres have focused on the all too human foibles of metahumans. The comic has explored themes of jealousy, family, and honesty, while simultaneously examining the effects of power on the human psyche. It has not always painted a pretty picture, but in spite of Millar’s trademark nihilism, a few moments of positivity have snuck in.

All of the Jupiter books engage the reader with thoughtful content and art. If individual comics are not your style, the first volumes of Juptier’s Circle and Jupiter’s Legacy are also available as trade paperbacks.

 

The Pull List for May 4, 2016

The Pull List, now on Tuesdays so you can plan better for new comics day.

Moon Knight #2

Marvel Comics, written by Jeff Lemire with art by Greg Smallwood.

The first issue of this comic flew of the shelves of my FLCS (Friendly Local Comic Shop) last month and with good reason. It’s likely the strongest first issue released in the last year. Or, at least, I think it is. It may be one of the best insights into people with thought disorders (or perhaps serious mental illness) ever produced in the genre. I’m not sure.

Always troubled by mental health issues, Mark Spector (AKA Moon Knight) starts the series confined to an institution, or so it seems. Lemire’s storytelling and Smallwood’s shifting art styles leave the reader guessing as to what is real. Both the art and the dialogue plant clues throughout the pages. I know they will become obvious in the upcoming issues, but for now they have me guessing.

Moon Knight #1 intrigued me more than any comic in a long time, I’m very excited to see where it goes.

kingsquest1aKings Quest #1 

Dynamite Comics, written by Ben Acker, Heath Corson, with art from Dan McDaid

The nostalgia bug has hit me again this week. The previews of this book offer up what looks like pretty standard fare: heroes from different times and places (Phantom, another Phantom, Mandrake the Magician, Prince Valiant, and Flash Gordon) to save a damsel in distress.

These superheroes remind me of my childhood.  The Phantom is one of the first superheroes I remember.  As a young child, I enjoyed hearing my father read Prince Valiant to me from the Sunday comic strips, and watching the Flash Gordon serials on TV. These characters will always have a special place in my heart.

Beyond my general like of the characters, this book promises to focus on someone I’m not familiar with, Jen Harris. She is a new Phantom and only the second woman to wear the mask.

I’m willing to fork over a few bucks to support my childhood friends.

A-Force #5

Marvel Comics, written by G. Willow Wilson and Kelly Thompson, with art by Jorge Molina.

Willow Wilson continues to give readers solid comic book fare with a light and comical touch. Molina’s art suits the near all female cast well, respecting their figures without objectifying them. These women wear realistic clothes and sport more accurate physiques. There is no fan service to speak of.

This issue kicks off a new story, “Rage, Rage Against the Dying Of The Light.” It’s a great place to jump onto a solid comic.

The Pull List for April 27, 2016

My picks of comics coming out on April 27, 2016.

detailThe Ultimates #6

Marvel Comics, written by Al Ewing with art by Kenneth Rocafort

This book shares nothing with its predecessor. The Ultimates of the Marvels Ultimate Universe offered up a nihilistic view of superheroes.  Now set in the mainstream universe, this Ultimates presents superheroes with proactive plans for ensuring the universes’ safety. The first story arc focused on the team’s efforts to cure Galactus of his world devouring hunger rather than the traditional formula of finding bad guys, beating them up, and walking away

Superheroes actually acting heroically and strategically, Imagine that.

Ewing and Rocafort have a great feel for this diverse cast of characters. Everyone speaks in their own voice and the art and color of the book suits its high power level.

This issue serves up a tale of truly epic proportions and wraps up the first story arc of the new series.,.

microMicronauts #1

IDW, written by Cullen Bunn with are by David Baldeon

I can’t give a detailed description of much this book, I saw a four-page preview yesterday. The art looks solid, but the snippet wasn’t long enough to get a feel for the stories or characters. Still, I’ve already added the comic to my pull list.

At the age of 12, my collecting habit started with Marvel Micronaunts series I have fond memories of trapesing to the bank to get a money order to send to Mile High Comics to get the only copy I missed on the stands, issue #1.

It could be that IDW is targeting old fogies like me with this release. If so, banking on nostalgia instead of quality will do a disservice to the property. I am hoping this doesn’t end up on a future Pull List, “The Comics I Regret Buying.”

detail (1)Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #6

Marvel Comics, written by Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclare with art from Natacha Bustos

Lunella Lafayette, the so called “Moon Girl,” is the precocious, pre-teen nerd girl I imagine a few of us could relate to. She loves science, but hates science class. While her classmates struggle with understanding the definition of theory, she’s building a scanner to find abandoned Kree technology. Her natural curiosity leads through a series of misadventures, culminating the creation of a rift in time and the arrival of a red Tyrannosaurs Rex named Devil Dinosaur

The author, Amy Reeder, creator and owner the series Rocket Girl, has crafted another adorable yet formidable female lead character.   Natacha Bustos, known for her playful artwork, beautifully complements Reeder’s writing style.

This light-read touches on familiar nerd ground: alienation, anti-intellectualism, and lack of athletic ability. I It almost crosses over to caricature but Reeder and Bustos’ ability to express deep emotions and treat theircharacters with respect keeps “Moon Girl” firmly grounded. Outside of the main characters, The authors handle the antagonists, a cohort of cave people that happen along the same time rift as Devil Dinosaur, with equal aplomb. The small group fully-clad in stolen, modern day clothing, comes off as humorous and dangerous at the same time.

This is the last issue of the current story arc. If you can’t go back and find the reprints of issues #1~#5, I hope you will at least pick up the trade.

 

The Pull List for April 13, 2016

Since I’ve been writing other comics related stuff the last couple of weeks, I thought I would spend today writing about some books you may have missed.

bpBlack Panther #1, written by Ta-Nehisi Coates with art by Brian Stelfreeze. Released April 6, 2016

This is not Black Panther or the country that he rules, Wakanda, at their peak. Both have faced turmoil: Wakanda, mass death and destruction from an attack from Atlantis; T’challa, the loss of his sister and the devastation of his homeland.

Coates sets up an intriguing premise. Can this superhero, the king, rebuild both his country and himself. Plenty of complications and challenges lie between them and success.

Coats and Stelfreeze had crafted an intriguing and modern look at an old and oft forgotten character and his world. I’m adding this comic to my regular pull list.

detailMockingbird #2, written by Chelsea Cain with art by Kate Niemczyk. Released April 13, 2016

I found the first issue of Mockingbird and intriguing slice of life story about a recently empowered superhero. While I’m not familiar with her work, Cain clever knows how to mix humor in with the narrative. Niemczyk provides high quality, if undistinguished, illustrations. Disjointed in parts, the book planted enough story hooks and questions to interest me at least through the first story arc..

WWE1v1_CASE_A_5640e7023850f1.23440311Wonder Woman Earth One OGN, written by Grant Morrison with art by Yanick Paquette. Released April 11, 2016

Morrison and Paquette offer up a modern retelling of Wonder Woman’s origin while maintaining respect for the original work from the 40’s by creator, William Moulton Marston. The Earth One version of Paradise Island is a technological wonderment. Beautifully rendered sky cycles fly above advancements as the incredibly powerful Purple Ray. This is an unabashedly anti-male version of the Amazons. Contempt for men oozes from their words as much as sensuality and good health emanates from their depictions.

This Wonder Woman very closely matches the ideals Marston related in this interview from The American Scholar in 1943.

Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power. Not wanting to be girls, they don’t want to be tender, submissive, peace-loving as good women are. Women’s strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness. The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman.

Of course this ideal brings the Amazons into conflict with the outside world, once pilot Steve Trevor crash lands on the island. The struggle between the two societies offers the reader an interesting point of view on both American and Amazonian culture. Morrison presents them both as equally flawed with various strengths.

I found the book beautiful to look at, entertaining to read, and thought provoking. I know It will be far too long before the next volume is released.

The Pull List for March 9, 2016

Since I was wrapped up in Daredevil last week, I thought I would point out a few choice items from today and last Wednesday.

vampVampirella #1 – Written by Kate Leth with art by Eman Casallos

The last of Dynamite’s Gail Simone driven reworks, Vampirella Vol. 3 #1 strips the lead character of her one-piece ribbon of a costume for something more practical for a fighter of the supernatural. I find it nice to see Vampirella step into the modern age.

The first issue of the series follows Vampirella as she makes a move to Los Angeles. Beyond the regular crop of monsters and other vampires, she also has to face the threat of the paparazzi.

The book does offer up a good jumping on point for the curious reader. Its words and art flow smoothly and provide solid fare. Relationships continue from previous volumes, but nothing so complex that they can’t be understood within the first couple of pages. I found it a fun read and I’m looking forward to picking up more.

bwBlack Widow #1 – Written by Mark Wade with art by Chris Samnee

The promise of Mark Wade’s work on a comic sucked me in again. He does not disappoint.

The book starts in media res and keeps the action moving throughout. The first issue relates one long chase scene, establishing Black Widow as the preeminent spy and, above all, a survivor.

The reader is left wanting more when the final page turns. There’s not much substance to the opening issue of the new series, but it was enough to make sure I added the book to my pull list.

jan160150Leaving Megalopolis: Surviving Megalopolis #3 – Written by Gail Simone with art by Jim Calafiore

What happens when all the superheroes of a city go insane? Gail Simone answered that question in last year’s, Kickstarter funded graphic novel, Leaving Megalopolis. The book painted a picture of a world filled with sadistic, super powered horrors.

Surviving Meglopolis revisits the devastation of the metropolis to offer a more thorough exploration of the mortals who were left behind. Overall, the comic provides a fascinating look at the abuse of power and its affects at a street level. Neither the words or art shy away from the potential, all too realistic, results of dominion gone mad.

I believe it one of Gail Simone’s best works and well worth a look see.

The Pull List for March 2, 2016

With the second season of Netflix’s Daredevil kicking off on March 18, I thought I would take advantage of a slow week and offer up some background two of the characters joining the cast. I’ve done my best to avoid spoilers, but if you haven’t read about Elektra’s appearance in the Daredevil comic, I suggest skipping the last paragraph.

3-2-2016-9-27-33-AMFrank Castle, The Punisher

The Punisher first appeared in Amazing Spider-man #129, 1974. A victim of a shooting that killed his wife and children, Frank Castle vowed to wage war on criminals. His willingness to kill, kidnap, torture, and extort bad guys made for an unusual character at that time, although he did “team up” with a number of other super-heroes. By the late 80’s and early 90’s, Punisher’s antics left him as just one of a new crop of anti-heroes. Marvel Comics did their best to capitalize on the character’s popularity by launching three, monthly comics and a feature film in 1989. The Punisher even appeared in Archie in 1994.

The characterization of Frank Castle has varied considerably through the years. At one end, he’s a soul searching, honorable soldier, frustrated by his role as vigilante. Other authors have portrayed him as completely insane, going so far as to shoot a pair of litterers (Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-man #82, 1983).

I suspect Daredevil will draw from Frank Miller’s seminal run on the comic, specifically the “Child’s Play” storyline in issues #183 and #184 from 1982. The story sets both Daredevil and The Punisher against the same villain, exposing the similarities and differences between them. An obsession to fight crime drives them both. While Daredevil strives for justice, however, Punisher seeks vengeance.

The power vacuum left by Wilson Fisk’s departure feels right for such character development. An ongoing, TV series looks like a great forum to build and explore the dichotomies between Daredevil and Punisher over time. Hopefully, this season of Daredevil will wash the rather bitter aftertaste of three so-so movies out of our mouths.

Acotilletta2-Elektra_H4HElektra, Elektra Natchios

Created by Frank Miller, Elektra first appeared inDaredevil #168, January, 1981. Introduced as a love interest to the title character, Elektra quickly emerged as a popular character in her own right. However, she has not done well outside of her handling by Miller and has yet to maintain a stand-alone comic for very long.

Elektra Natchios, daughter of Greece’s Ambassador to the US, attended Columbia University with Matt Murdock. The two became lovers. Elektra left school and the States after a terrorist attack, and failed rescue attempt by Matt, led to the death of her father. Alone and disillusioned, she wandered the orient to train in the martial arts. She eventually joined then separated a group of assassins known as The Hand.

As Punisher and Daredevil act as foils for each other, the early appearances of Elektra add a third element to mark the character development of Matt Murdock; obsession without moral direction. Elektra enters the conflict as a paid assassin, bringing her into direct confrontation with Daredevil. She begins to question her actions as her time and interactions with Daredevil increase. As the story progresses, Matthew’s desire to redeem his old lover grows and Elektra’s steps in that direction significantly endanger her.

Like Punisher, a long form serial production seems better suited than a movie to develop this character. Given Elektra’s moral ambiguity, It will be interesting to see where she fits into the established storyline of the Netflix series. Will she enter as an ally or enemy?

For all her success under Miller, it can’t be said that the often problematic author treated her well in the pages of Daredevil. She was introduced then disposed of in one story arc to only further the development of the main, male character. I’m hoping her television debut will provide writers a better opportunity to provide character depth and growth Elektra deserves.

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