Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Issue #8: My Pull List for the week of 2/20/08

Comics for the week of 2/20/08:



Invincible #48 (Image)

Umbrella Academy #6 (of 6) (Dark Horse)



This is a between-week (between paychecks), and so I will review these comics in the next issue of this blog. For this issue I thought I would begin sharing some of the titles that are my favorite, and that I pull out of my comic boxes and read through again, from time to time. The first title I want to share is Planetary, published by Wildstorm Comics, a DC Comics imprint.



Planetary was created by writer Warren Ellis and artist John Cassaday. It began publication in 1999, and the story wrapped up with issue #26, cover date December 2006. There was a two year hiatus from 2001 to 2003 because of illnes on the part of Ellis, and the schedule of Cassaday.

There was a preview story published in Gen13#33 and C-23 #6 (both titles carried the same story). This preview story was collected with the first six issues of Planetary in the title's first trade paperback.

The first issue begins with Jakita Wagner entering a diner in the middle of nowhere to recruit an old man who wears a white suit, by the name of Elijah Snow. She works for an organization called Planetary. The organization is run by a mysterious man called only "The Fourth Man". Her other partner is called The Drummer. He always carries a pair of drumsticks that he taps on anything within reach. He has the ability to sense any electronic information flow, including broadcast signals, computers, or any other electronic device. Jakita seems to be invulnerable and can move at super speed. It turns out that Elijah Snow had a power linked to his name, heat extraction.

Planetary the organization styles itself as "mystery archaelogists" who "excavate" the secret history of the world. Eventually we find out the purpose for this "excavation".

Throughout the series we meet a number of characters who are homages to various characters from popular culture throughout the decades. We become familiar with a group of people who share the same birthday, January 1, 1900. Because of their birth at the first moments of the new year, these people have unique abilities which they use to influence society in the background.

Issue #6 introduces the main villains of Planetary. Called simply "The Four", they resemble another famous quartet in comics. they have a similar purpose as Planetary, but to a more sinister end. Subsequent issues flesh out their back story, as well as that of the Planetary team.

Issue #26 contains the penultimate conflict between Planetary and The Four, and while this issue does not wrap up every single plot thread introduced in the series, elements from earlier stories play a part in this final issue.

Warren Ellis has written a script to issue #27, which will be an epilogue issue. he has said that John Cassaday is drawing it right now, but I have not found anything online saying when this issue will be published. It might be later this year or early next year.

The first issue of Planetary I read was issue #19, titled Planetary: Mystery In Space. It reminded me of the cover of the DVD 2001: A Space Odyssey. It involved Planetary finding an alien spaceship traveling thorugh our solar system, which also draws the attention of The Four.

The first new issue I bought was issue #20, titled Rendezvous, which was the conclusion to the story begun in issue #19.

I was hooked. Eventually I got all of the back issues, some in individual issues, and the rest in trade paperback.

Here are the trade paperback collections of Planetary:

Planetary Book 1: All Over the Workd and Other Stories

Planetary Book 2: The Fourth Man

Planetary Book 3: Leaving the 20th Century. This trade collects issue #'s 13-18. I have yet to see a collection of issue #'s 19-26.

Planetary: Crossing Worlds collects the following one shot issues:

Planetary/The Authority: Ruling The World

Planetary/Batman: Night On Earth

Planetary/JLA: Terra Occulta

DC Comics has published a special edition of Planetary: Absolute Planetary. It contains the first twelve issues of Planetary, as well as the script for issue #1.

If you are looking for something completely different in comics, as Monty Python used to say, then try Planetary. It's original, it's different, and it has a depth that goes beyond the 22 pages of a comic book. That makes it a title that you can reread many times and never get tired of it, and enjoy it as much the last time you read it as you did the first time you read it.

In fact, I've talked about it so much I think I'm going to have to dig it out and re-read it for myself again.

The titles on my pull list for the week of 2/27/08 will be:
Action Comics #862 (DC)
Justice Society of America #13 (DC)
Legion of Super-Heroes #39 (DC)

On my next blog I will review the comics for the weeks of February 20 and 27.

To send e-mail about this blog, write to: mypulllist@gmail.com.

I also have a podcast. Superman Fan Podcast can be found at http://www.supermanfanpodcast.mypodcast.com/.
Expanded show notes can be found at: http://www.supermanfanpodcast.blogspot.com/.
E-mail about the podcast can be sent to: supermanfanpodcast@gmail.com.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Issue #7: Catch Up Month

Well, it's not catch up week, it's catch up month. It's worked out that I go to Bad Apple Comics (http://www.bacomics.com/) every other week on payday. The last several weeks have been busy, and I've fallen behind, but I'll catch up here and hopefully keep up from here on. One of my goals for this year is to blog about the comics I buy every week (without spoilers), even if it late. On the weeks between paychecks, unless there is a topic that I want to give an opinion on, like in issue #7, I will feature a comic book title that I still enjoy reading. After all, this blog is about sharing the comic books I enjoy with others, not necessarily critiquing comic book titles I don't like. While most of the comics I enjoy are mainstream superhero comics, there are some titles that I read from smaller publishers. My hope is that some readers of this blog may find a title(s) that they may have not have had any thought of picking up, but this blog may pique their interest. So let's get to it:

Comic books on sale for the week of January 23, 2008:

Countdown #14 (DC)
Legion of Super-Heroes #38 (DC)
Superman Confidential #11 (DC)

Countdown #14 (DC) * * * * *

Superman Prime attacks a Monitor on the perfect Earth-51. Ion protects Ray Palmer, while Red Robin appears, the same Red Robin, at least the costume, from Kingdom Come. A scene also occurs reminiscent from the Infinite Crisis mini-series. And an attack on Monarch's forces comes from an unexpected source. The back-up feature is a short origin of Gorilla Grod.
What makes this a better read than a lot of super hero fights are the moments of character development in the midst of the conflict. This issue, as well as the previous issues on Earth 51 have not been just a bunch of long pajama parties beating each other up. That's why I rate it so high. It's not just the super hero fights; it's the character development through conflict that interest me.

Legion of Super-Heroes #38 (DC) * * * *

The stranded Legionairres on Triton finish their fight against strange alien destroyers, and Lightning Lad is caught in the mire of United Planet bureaucracy. The issue feels like set up for future issues, but it's still interesting with character interaction. I would have to say that Jim Shooter's return to LSH holds promise.

Superman Confidential #11 (DC) * * * * *
This is the conclusion to the opening storyline that started the title, done by Darwyn Cooke and Tim Sale. Why this issue was delayed so long, while other storylines were published, I don't know. The secret of the "sentient" kryptonite is revealed, as well as the reasons for its ties with evil tycoon Tony Gallo.
Again it's character development, and this issue is full of it. There is even a reprise of the final moments of the planet Krypton. With all of the flashbacks of Krypton over the years in the pages of Superman comics, it was an original look at Krypton. Superman gets in touch with his Kryotonian heritage.
In short, it was worth the wait. Now I'll have to read the whole storyline once again to refresh my memory on the earlier issues.

Comic books on sale for the week of January 30, 2008:

Countdown #13 (DC)
Action Comics #861 (DC)
Dan Dare #3 (Virgin Comics)
Fantastic Four #553 (Marvel)
Project Superpowers #0 (Dynamite Entertainment)

Countdown #13 (DC) * * * * *

Superman Prime and Monarch finish their battle on Earth 51, and elements of this story are similar to Kingdom Come, without just rehashing plot devices. Darkseid makes an appearance, and promises to have a major influence on the conclusion to Countdown. Without gettng into spoilers, this was a tragic issue. It didn't have as much of character development as previous issues, but this issue was one where all of the events on Earth 51 come to a head, so there isn't room for as much of it. But when character development takes place in the issues leading up to this one, an issue of mostly battles has more punch, pardon the pun, and significance in the story.
As much as I've enjoyed these last issues of Countdown, I have to say that this will be my last issue of that title that I will read and review. Because I'm trying to keep my comic book reading hobby within a reasonable budget that my family finances can handle (one of my new year resolutions, along with this blog and my podcast). Not buying a $2.99 comic every week will make taht easier. I have read about the next weekly comic book that DC will publish, Trinity, starring Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. As interesting as that sounds, I won't be picking it up. I've added as many titles as my budget can handle at the moment, and I like to leave room for variety as much as I can. I've come to realize that a weekly comic book, on a limited budget, won't allow me to do that.

Action Comics #861 (DC) * * * * *

This issue is part four of the Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes storyline. Superman and a group of underground Legionairres land on the planet Colu, now ruled by former Legionairre Brainiac 5. The UP is planning an attack on now isolationist Earth. This issue starts to reveal some of the dark secrets of the zenophobic Justice League of Earth. And a Legion spy is revealed on Earth. Next to All-Star Superman, this title is my second favorite Superman title at the moment. If you aren't a Superman fan, I think you will still like this storyline. It has all of the story elements that any comic book reader, even non-super hero comic readers, would enjoy.

Dan Dare #3 (Virgin Comics) * * * * *

Being a science fiction fan, I have to admit that it will be very hard for me not to like this title. Not having read Dan Dare's original stories, I find this series respects those original stories by not trying to "retell" the story for a new generation, or "ret-con", but to start the story after the end of the original run of the character. It picks up with Dare and Digby, the troops and the last of colony survivors being tracked by indiginous creatures, and the young captain of the Achilles who faces a decision of obeying orders to return to Earth and strand Dare and his party. Meanwhile Peabody, as Home Secretary, discovers strange goings on by the Prime Minister. And true to the first two issues, this issue ends in another cliff-hanger. I'll certainly be back for next issue.

Fantastic Four #553 (Marvel) * * * * *

The Fantastic Four were the first Marvel characters I can remember reading about, and they remain my favorite Marvel characters, with Spider-Man a close second. I picked up this title again, after dropping it at the end of the Civil War mini-series. I decided to pick up the FF with this issue, and not the first Mark Millar and Brian Hitch issue with #554, because this issue resolves the previous storyline done by Dwayne McDuffie and Paul Pelletier. It involves time travel and the "present" FF meeting their future selves and a future Doctor Doom. That's all it took to hook me into reading this issue. Time travel and alternate versions of characters is certain to grab me. Even having not read any of the previous issues in this storyline, between the introduction page and the dialogue between the alternate versions of the FF caught me up quickly so that I could get into the issue on its own merits. Credit goes to the creative team for this. "Our" FF are faced with a tough choice, believe the future Doom's claim that the future FF have gone mad and become dictators of Earth, or side with their future selves against Doom. The solution is both creative and totally in character for the FF. After this issue, and the coming Millar / Hitch run on the title, I've added the FF to my pull list.

Project Superpowers #0 (Dynamite Entertainment)

Any project involving Alex Ross gets my attention. I don't have an understanding with my comic store, Bad Apple Comics, to pull anything by Ross for me, but if I can afford it, I will check out any book he is involved with. This title introduces, at a great price, a group of public domain super heroes from the Golden Age. We are first introduced to the Fighting Yank, and a dark secret he has lived with into old age. A flag cloaked spirit reminds him of a "final mission" with fellow super heroes, all of whom are obscure characters from long-cancelled comic book titles, including the original Dardevil and the original Blue Beetle, with their names slightly changed to not conflict with present copyrights. Marvel and Image are also coming out with similar projects, and I'm glad to see it, to add to our familiarity with comic book history. This is the only title of the three I will add to my pull list, because the others are priced too high for my budget.

Comic Books on sale February 6, 2008

Justice Society of America #11 (DC) (Published the week of December 5, 2007)
Justice Society of America #12 (DC)

Justice Society of America #11 (DC) * * * * *

I missed JSA #11 the week it was released in December. I had not officially added it to my pull list, but was relying on my ability to catch it on the shelf when it was released, and I should have known how unreliable that is. Sydney at Bad Apple Comics (www.bacomics.com) was able to order a back issue for it. As much as I enjoy these Golden Age characters, I am only temporarily adding this title because of the Kingdom Come storyline. It begins with the Jay Garrick and Wally West Flashes on the cosmic treadmill, trying to reach the dimension of the "Kingdom Come" Earth, only to find black nothingness. Power Girl is still grieving in the aftermath of the conclusion of the Infinite Crisis mini-series. The Kingdom Come Superman tries to adjust to a new life on this new, less tortured Earth, for now. He begins by meeting with Power Girl, two lost souls seeking comfort with someone sharing a common grief. It ends with the super hero Mr. America being called to a bizarre murder scene. This pre-Kingdom Come storyline has my interest, as well as the Alex Ross covers.

Justice Society of America #12 (DC) * * * * *

This issue starts with the modern Thunderbolt joining the JSA in the gym with Wildcat sparring with Judomaster, brought into the fold in the last issue. Alan Scott Green Latern, Jay Garrett Flash and Carter Hall Hawkman go over potential candidates to join the JSA, and the scene moves to a scene involving the Amazing-Man, an early African-American super hero who became involved with the civil rights movement. He is recruited by Power Girl and the Kingdom Come Superman in New Orleans. Mr. America finds the culprit of the bizarre murders, which seems to tie into a possible Kingdom Come prequel. I'm definitely on board through the end of this storyline.

Comic books on sale for the week of February 13, 2008:

Fantastic Four #554 (Marvel)
Superman #673 (DC)

This was a great week for reading comic books, even though I only had two titles on my pull list for this week.

Fantastic Four #554 (Marvel) * * * * *

This issue is the first of the Mark Millar / Brian Hitch storyline, the next project for the creative team responsible for Marvel's Civil War event series. Even the cover looks different, like a celebrity magazine cover. The FF look a little older, like they have been around almost forty years, but look far from being over the hill. They still look in their prime. Their costumes are similar the the Ultimate FF design. The issue opens with another time travel scene. Someone must have told Marvel how much I enjoy time travel stories. It reminded me of the Back to the Future movies. There are no super villain battles, just the FF having a normal day. The four have some down time to allow each membe to follow individual interests. Johnny leaves to follow some entertainment interests, Reed and Ben make an appearance at Ben's old school, and Sue starts a new super team. Don't worry, the FF aren't breaking up. You'll have to read this issue to find out what she's up to. Someone from Reed's past comes back into his life, with a fantastic proposal, and that's no pun.

Superman #673 (DC) * * * * *

This is the third and final part of the Insect Queen storyline. I wasn't sure how I would like this story, but this third part did not disappoint. Superman and Lana have a titanic struggle with the Insect Queen, and there is a resolution of sorts with the Chris Kent relationship. Lana reaches a turning point running LexCorp. And next issue promises to be equally great with a teaser blurb for Mon-El and Daxam, a planet of super-powered beings similar to Krypton in a way. Superman comics have really improved in recent months, starting with All-Star Superman and continuing with Action Comics and now Superman. And being the host of Superman Fan Podcast, for me, that's a good thing!

To send e-mail about this blog: mypulllist@gmail.com.
Find my podcast at http://www.supermanfanpodcast.mypodcast.com.
Expanded podcast show notes can be found at: www.supermanfanpodcast.blogspot.com.
e-mail my podcast at: supermanfanpodcast@gmail.com.

Next week will be another betweeen paychecks weeks, so I will not be buying any comics. To begin my "off week" blogs, I will look at comic book titles that I still enjoy re-reading, beginning with Planetary, by Warren Ellis, John Cassady and Laura Martin.

Until then, I look forward to reading what's on your pull list.

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