Sunday, December 30, 2007

Issue #2 My Pull List for the week of December 19, 2007

I haven't picked up my comics that were released on Friday, December 28. I will have to wait until payday next Friday, January 4. Here is what is in my pull list file:

Action Comics #860 (DC)

Atom Eve #1 of 2 (Image)

Countdown #18 (DC)

Ultimate Power #9 of 9 (Marvel)

Next week, I only have one comic on my pull list for January 2, 2008:

Countdown #17

Meanwhile, I'll share my thoughts on the comics that I picked up for the week of December 19, 2007. I didn't pick them up until after Christmas because there was no allowance to spare after Christmas shopping.

I will rate them from ****** Greatest to * terrible.

Pull List for the week of December 19, 2007:

Countdown #'s 20 & 19 (DC)

Nexus - the Origin (Rude Dude)

Metamorpho #6 of 6 (DC)

Superman #671 (DC)

The Umbrella Academy #4 of 6 (Dark Horse)

Countdown #'s 20 & 19 * * *

Countdown is starting to pick up the pace as it approaches the end of the series and 2008's "Final Crisis" mini-series. Mary Marvel flirts with the "dark side", and Jimmy Olsen flashes another power briefly when he's endangered. We finally learn the secret of the female "boot camp" on Paradise Island. These seem to be the biggest plot lines moving through Countdown. One drawback to Countdown is that instead of alternating storylines with each issue as in 52, Countdown advances each storyline in every issue. Some storylines get a page or two. It's hard for a story to get a flow that way. Perhaps it will get easier reading theses shorter storylines by reading the completed series .

These latest issues have the feel of characters and situations moving toward the climax, or at least to the starting point of 2008's "Final Crisis" event series. I'll be glad when these events are finally over. After Final Crisis I hope to keep from getting hooked again on DC and Marvel's publicity for their next big event. As much as I enjoyed most of the ending of 52, I'm getting burned out on these event mini-series that don't really end, but just lead to the next "big" event.

Three *** will probably be all I give Countdown until the final issue. How I like the ending will determine my rating for the series. I gave 52 ****. As I said in my original post, I enjoyed Rene Montoya's and Ralph Dibny's stories the best. WWIII and the return of the multiverse I didn't like as much. WWIII had too much fighting and not enough story. I'm not sure what to think about bringing back the multi-verse. I'm sure I'll have to wait until Final Crisis to resolve that storyline. But why does DC have to bring it back. Crisis of Infinite Earths was fantastic. How can bringing it back create a better story? I guess we'll find out this year, or not.

Nexus - the Origin (Rude Dude) *****

I've only read a few issues of Nexus but I love the character and story. Steve Rude's art is modern and dynamic, yet has a retro look to it, as if it belongs next to silver age art like Curt Swan's (my favorite comics artist). Steve Rude's art on his World's Finest mini-series from the 90's was fantastic. I've never seen a bad page of Steve Rude art. This over size issue, as the title suggests, details the origin of the hero Nexus, and where the supporting cast came from. We read their origins as well. For readers not familiar with the character, it's a perfect issue to jump in with. It doesn't refer to past storylines, since it pre-dates all of them, and shows the character's motivations which are expressed in the 99 other issues that have come out. Rude Dude plans on independtly publishing the continuing series in the coming months. They came out with issue 99 last year and plan on continuing the plot where they left off from the Dark Horse issues. It will definitely stay on my pull-list.

Metamorpho #6 of 6 - Year One (DC) ****

This mini-series reprised the early Metamorpho issues of his '60's title, starting with his origin and highlighting some of his early villains. Issue #6 repriese Justice League #42, where Metamorpho is given an offer he can't refuse. He currently appears in Batman and the Outsiders. I don't read the title because of my budget, but I love Metamorpho. After Superman and Batman, in that order, my next favorite are Metamropho and Ralph Dibny, the Elongated Man, in a tie. I gave it four **** only because it was a reprise of the original stories. I would recommend it for readers who aren't familiar with the character and want to read about him in a modern setting. If you want to read Metamorpho's original stories, pick up Showcase: Metamorpho. It collects his earliest stories from the 60's. If you enjoy 1960 silver age comics you won't be disappointed. The original Metamorpho artist was Ramona Fradon, the female artist who would later draw the Brenda Star comic strip.

Superman #671 (DC) ****

This issue contains Insect Queen: Part I, a story that reprises a character from the 60's Superman silver age. She appeared mostly in Legion of Super-Heroes stories. I gave this issue four **** because it is another reprise of past characters, but then isn't most of Superman a reprise of past stories, pre-crisis? It starts out with Lana Lang in the President's office of LexCorp, and then moves to Superman giving a novel twist to throwing the first pitch of a baseball game. Lana faces a threat and Superman intervenes, which sets up the next issue.The source of that threat will be revealed. At least on face value the Insect Queen seems to contrast with the original character from the '60's. I'm looking forward to reading how this story will develop, although I'm more interested in Action's retooling of Superman's history with the Legion of Super-Heroes.

The Umbrella Academy #4 of 6 (Dark Horse) *****

This mini-series continues to amaze me. The characters are recovering from their battle at the amusement park, and the fallout of their past relationships with each other is still affecting them. We see what happens to Vanya (#7) at the hands of the Orchestra Verdammten, and the set up to the final battle the Umbrella Academy will face at the end of this mini-series. This is one title I like to save for last, but it's hard when I know how good it is.

This weekend I'll read the comics on my list for December 28 and January 4, and then I'll be able to get current on my blog. After that I would like to share a blog reviewing 2007 in comics, with the "event" mini-series and my regular titles. Until then I look forward to reading about your pull list.
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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Issue #1: Origin Issue - My Pull List

First of all, I buy my comics from my local comic book shop, Bad Apple Comics, located at the Lake Square Mall in Leesburg, Florida. The store's web site is (free plug). Most of the comics I read relate to superheroes, although I am open to titles that don't involve spandex. I don't favor either Marvel or DC, although most of the titles I read now are DC. For budgetary reasons I've cut down my subscriptions to the titles I enjoy the best, and I like enough comics from other publishers that my Marvel titles got pushed to the curb. My favorite Marvel title is Fantastic Four, with Spider Man a close second. Right now, the only Marvel title I get is Ultimate Power, and the last issue of this title comes out this week.

Here is my pull list with some thoughts about each title:

Action Comics, Superman and All-Star Superman (DC)

Superman has been my favorite comic book character for as long as I have read comics. I still enjoy the best of the silver age stories as much as the modern stories. He's not as "dark" as some characters that sell more copies, and doesn't have as"flashy" of a personality as some heroes. What I admire about Superman is what he does not do. As powerful as he is, Superman does not use his powers for domination, but for the public good, unlike other heavyweights such as Lex Luthor or Brainiac. Just like in past decades, Superman has had his ups and downs with story quality. Recently, Superman stories seem to be "up." From the General Zod storyline to Superman and the Legion to All-Star Superman, I look forward to the Superman titles every week.

Until recently, I did read Superman Confidential, but dropped it , partly because it wasn't as interesting as the first Tim Sale story, and partly because other titles squeezed it off my read list.

Legion of Super Heroes (DC)

Legion is another title I've read since childhood in the '60's. I began to regularly collect the title with Keith Giffen's "Five YearsLater" storyline in the early '90's. Although the recent spate of "reboots" has taken the luster off of the title a little, it's still good enough to keep my interest. Mark Waid's short run, while another reboot, certainly gave the Legion a different twist. He made the Legion more of a youth movement against a too perfect society than a club of teen aged superheroes.

Countdown (DC)

After 52 I wasn't going to pick up Countdown. With 52 I wasn't sure how I was going like it at first. I wasn't sure where it was going. I didn't like how Ralph Dibny was falling apart after the death of his wife Sue in Identity Crisis. Ralph, as the Elongated Man was one of my favorite "secondary" DC characters along with Metamorpho. But two things made 52 a great series: the development of Renee Montoya and the conclusion of Ralph Dibny's storyline. I'll leave it at that for those who haven't read 52 who may want to pick up the trade paperbacks. Two drawbacks to 52 were World War III and the return of the multiverse. WW III had too much fighting and not enough story to stretch over four issues. The related issue of 52 that week seemed to be enough for the story of the battle with Black Adam.

What piqued my interest was when DC announced they would incorporate elements of Kingdom Come into regular continuity. The thought of how Red Robin would enter the DC universe was enough to get me to pick up the title.

I'm holding judgement on Countdown until its final issue. The thing that first got me interested in the book is the thing that has me ambivalent now. One reservation I have is, along with the multiverse, DC has thrown in other "event" storylines from the past, like Monarch from its Armageddon event of the mid '90's. That was a bust, except for the accompanying Annuals that summer. The character Waverider searched for the DC hero to find who would become the villian Monarch and wipe him from existence. He would touch each character and see a "possible" future. These annuals reminded me of the "imaginary stories" of the '60's and led to the Elseworlds imprint of DC, where they imitated the old imaginary stories and put the characters in situations they never would haqve in normal continuity.

DC seems to be rolling all of these past events into a big melting pot, from the pre-Crisis multiverse to Monarch, taking reruns and trying to come up with something new.

Justice Society of America (DC)

As much as I enjoy comic book history, I have not been a long time reader of the Justice Society. I'm picking it up for the Kingdom Come Superman storyline. That was just too much to pass up.

Metamorpho: Year One (Six issue mini-series) (DC)

The last issue just came out and I was not disappointed. It reprises some of the original stories and villains from Metamorpho's short run title in the 60's, including his appearance in Justice League of America #42, when he was invited to join the League. However, my favorite Metamorpho mini-series is one from the '90's, where he meets a Metamorpho woman, also somewhat a reprise from the '60's. Rex Mason also deals with his son's condition, introduced in Justice League Europe, where he looks like his father, but changes everything he touches into various elements.

The Umbrella Academy (Dark Horse)

I missed the original issue on Free Comic Book Day, but I decided to pick it up after reading about it on various comic book web sites before the release of the first regular issue of this 6-issue mini-series. I haven't been disappointed. It is written by Gerard Way, lead singer of My Chemical Romance. I'm familiar with some of their music when I've had to listen to my daughter's music when she's in the car. (They're more tolerable than some groups she listens to.) The art is by Gabriel Ba. The story is about a mysterious gentleman who adopts seven infants born in unusual circumstances and trains them in seclusion. The story jumps to the future where the seven are now adults and have now gone their separate ways.Their adopted father has died and they reunite for his funeral, only to face a new threat with their father barely in the ground.
Four out of six issues have been published, and future mini-series are planned. I'll be looking out for them.

Powers (Icon, Marvel)

I started reading this title when it started it's current run under Marvel's Icon imprint. Eventually I collected the trade paperbacks from the original Image series. What caught my interest was something I look for in superhero comics: taking a familiar genre and giving it a new twist. Powers certainly did the trick. A superhero who lost his super powers becomes a police detective who solves crimes involving super heroes, both as suspects and victims. It is definitely a mature title for adult readers. I have yet to find an issue or storyline that has been disappointing. Along with All-Star Superman, Powers is one of the titles I save for last in my reading pile each week. I like to save the best for last.

Ultimate Power (9 issue mini-series) (Marvel)

The last issue of that mini-series comes out this week. It's been a great read with plenty of action, plot twist and character development tightly packed inside 22 pages. Little fluff here. I've enjoyed this mini-series as much as the two Ultimates series. I'm not picking up Ultimates 3 however. I like Jeff Loeb, but there's too many comics and not enough money to go around.

Invincible (Image)

Invincible is another title I save for last each month. It too gives superheroes a twist. Similar to Superman, a superpowered alien comes to Earth. This time it's the father, not the son, who lives on the planet. And instead of being a benevolent hero, eventually reveals himself as an agent of an alien imperialistic civilization. Only his recently super powered son stands in his way - barely. After the father's self-imposed exile from Earth, the son takes his father's place as the planet's defender.
Robert Kirkman knows how to pace the story, including scenes that set up issues and plotlines in the future. Along with Alan Moore, Kirkman is a great teacher of comic book story telling.

The Sword (Image)

This is the second series I've read from the Luna brothers. I read their first mini-series Ultra, about a super heroine who works for an agency in unison with police. I didn't read Girls because there were other titles I wanted to read. The Sword is about a paraplegic young woman whose family is murdered by a small group of strangers who who want a mysterious sword from her father. She stumbles on the sword and finds she can walk when she holds the sword. She begins to discover secrets about her late father while her life unravels and the strangers target her. This promises to be as good a series as Ultra was.

Noble Causes (Image)

Jay Farber also does a great job of giving superheroes a twist. Along with the superheroics, he looks at the celebrity and sopa opera angle of superheroes. On hiatus for a few months, Farber will be bringing it back early this next year, picking up the story five years later, after Gaia has turned herself in to the authorities over the consequences of her actions in recent issues.

Queen and Country (Oni Press)

Also on hiatus, Queen and Country has had few issues come out for several years because of Greg Rucka's hectic tenure with DC comics with various series, including 52. He apologized to Queen and Country readers on his website for the scarcity of issues in recent years and said a second volume will appear in 2009. I'll be looking out for it. It is a realistic, well researched look at the british intelligence organizations, with little in common with James Bond, as much as I like the Sean Connery and Roger Moore Bond movies.

Add to the Pile

There are some new titles coming out soon that I plan to look out for:

SuperPowers (Dynamite Entertainment)

Beginning with Alex Ross covers, this collection of public domain super heroes is a good lesson in super hero history. These heroes haven't been published since the golden age and are updated for today. One of them is the original Daredevil, (no relation to Marvel's character), who holds the honor of the first superhero to battle Adolph Hitler on the cover. Daredevil's creationis an interesting story reprised in Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters and the Birth of the Comic Book by Gerard Jones and adapted in the novel The Amazing Adventures of Cavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon.

Next Issue Project: Fantastic Comics (Image)

Image Comics has its own public domain hero project, inspired in part by Eric Larson's purchase of some golden age comics at a convention. Learning about more obscure characters is enough for me to pick this up also.

Echo (Abstract Studios)

Terry Moore's new independent title, after the conclusion of Strangers in Paradise is a natural selection to ad to my pile. I haven't read the entire run of the series, only coming in the last two years of issues. His talent as a comic book story teller makes Echo a title I will be surprised if I am disappointed in. Moore knows how to tell stories aobut ordinary people that are as interesting as any super hero battle.

That finishes my pull list (finally!) I promise to keep it a lot shorter in the future, as I won't be blogging about every issue each week. Thanks for reading, and I look forward to reading about your pull list.

Check out Bad Apple Comics at

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