Inside Pulse 12

Pull List Roundtable 1/6/2016 – A-Force #1, Bitch Planet #6, X-O Manowar #43, Obi-Wan and Anakin #1 & More (Spoilers)

Mike Maillaro

Quick programming note: Last week, Marvel had shipped out several books that were not supposed to be released until this week. This included Amazing Spider-Man #6, Howard The Duck #3, Nova #3, Obi-Wan and Anakin #1, Rocket Raccoon and Groot #1, and Spider-Man 2099 #5. So if anyone went to the shop last week looking for these comics at our recommendation, we apologize.

  • OBI-WAN AND ANAKIN #1 – I have been enjoying Marvel’s Star Wars comics quite a bit. But most of them have been set during the events of the original trilogy. It is nice to see them expanding a little more, though Clone Wars seemed like it told us pretty much everything we could ever need to know about Obi-Wan and Anakin. But I am looking forward to this series anyway.
  • ROCKET RACCOON AND GROOT #1 – Looks like this is the only new #1 I am buying this week (other than Obi-Wan and Anakin). While I do think Marvel has been doing a little too many Guardians of the Galaxy series lately, I have been enjoying the Groot and Rocket Raccoon solo series. Skottie Young has really brought some new life to these characters. Right now this is the only Guardians series I am buying. Guardians has not been faring well since All-New All-Different Marvel. It’s pretty much the only Marvel line I don’t care about.
  • A-FORCE #1 – Considering Fearless Defenders only lasted 12 issues, I am not sure this book has any chance of surviving. But, I like the creative team, and I think a book of all female heroes can be great. Hell, I loved Fearless Defenders before it ended. I am hoping that since this book has some higher profile characters that will help it’s chances of survival, but I will admit I don’t have a lot of faith here.
  • DOCTOR STRANGE #4 – This is my sleeper pick for 2015. I didn’t know what to expect from a Doctor Strange book, but with Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo, I was willing to give it a shot. I’m glad I did. It has been one of Marvel’s most entertaining titles every month. Some real creative use of art style and color has really made Doctor Strange stand out in a crowded superhero market. It also helps that the preview pictures of Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange in the upcoming movie look terrific. 2016 is shaping up to be the year of Doctor Strange.
  • UNCANNY X-MEN #1 – To be honest, I am still not 100% sure what I think of the mutant line in Marvel All-New, All-Different. I like All-New X-Men, but Extraordinary X-Men has been real hit or miss. I like a lot of the ideas there, but not too sure of the execution. Uncanny X-Men is by Cullen Bunn and Greg Land, which should be a great creative team. I don’t have the Greg Land hate some people do. But the team seems more like X-Force than the X-Men. “Magneto has gathered together the deadliest team of mutants ever assembled for one goal – to proactively eliminate any and all threats to their species. They’re not afraid to get blood on their hands. And if you see them coming, you should run the other way.” I will give this book a fair shot, but I don’t have a lot of expectations.
  • DARTH VADER #15 and STAR WARS #14 – Vader Down is the first crossover of the Star Wars line. It started off promising with Vader causing some serious destruction to the Rebel Fleet. But, the biggest problem with the Star Wars line is that since most of the books are set during the original trilogy, it’s hard for me to feel a lot of anxiety about the fate of the characters. When Leia faces off against Vader calling for a bombing strike that could kill them both, you know neither character is going to die or even be seriously hurt. That really kills any cliffhangers these books try to set up.
  • SURVIVORS’ CLUB #4 – Another book that has sort of flown under the radar. Vertigo made a big push this year to release several new titles, but to be honest, they haven’t done a real good job promoting them. Survivors’ Club takes a look at the survivors of several horror movies and shows what their lives would be like. It’s a really cool book, and I love Lauren Beukes. She’s easily in my top five novelists right now.
  • TOTALLY AWESOME HULK #2 – One of the biggest problems with being a comic book journalist is that for the most part, I have to buy all of the books that I review. There are some companies that do a great job getting review copies out, but Marvel and DC are not on that list. A few weeks ago, I decided to pick up Totally Awesome Hulk to cover in our Open Mike Night column. I really enjoyed the book, but not so much the $5 cover price. Still, it’s a good comic and definitely worth checking out.

Another quick comment, you might notice that when I do these lists, I don’t typically cover a lot of DC books. This is not because I have any aversion to DC. In fact, I have about 30 DC books on my pull list. I don’t know what it is, but DC always does a terrible job getting me excited about their books. When I read Grayson, Batman and Robin Eternal, Secret Six, Flash, Sinestro, Titans Hunt, and many, many DC books, I always enjoy them, but when I see them listed on a solicitation list, I just don’t feel all that hyped for them.

Part of me thinks that is because it is such a pain to get their cover images. It may sound petty, but when companies make it hard for me to promote their books (DC with the lack of good cover images on their website, IDW not making their Disney line available digitally), it makes me far more inclined to give the attention to companies and books who make my life easier.

James Fulton: I’m curious Mike – are you buying DC titles out of obligation or a sense of habit, or is it just one of those things? I’ve always been a more creator-focused reader. There are characters I love, but if I don’t like the writer and artist, I can hold off. A prime example – I love the X-Men and Batman, but not what either companies are doing with them right now. And since most of the creators I follow are doing their own thing… I’ve found that the New 52 and the endless cycle of relaunches at Marvel make it easy to drop stuff I’m not feeling (Convergence and Secret Wars really helped with that).

Mike: Nah, I genuinely enjoy the dc books I buy. I just feel literally nothing for them before I am reading them. It’s the oddest thing.

James: Interesting. There’s probably a lesson here for whoever runs (or isn’t running) the DC Hype Machine. Personally, the last time I bought so few DC titles was just before John Ostrander launched Suicide Squad. There are a lot of characters I love at the company, but I’m just not feeling their output these days.

Matt Graham: Since you mention DC, I find myself in the same boat as Mike. The characters I preferred the most don’t have titles (Supergirl will always be more interesting than Superman to me) or the titles aren’t as great as they were in prior volumes (Wonder Woman was a big step back in concept for me). Secret Six is cool, but I don’t find much of DC that interesting ever since The New 52. Batman, Black Canary, and Green Arrow are about all I follow these days, and often I prefer it in trade. It’s not bad, but it’s rare to be excited about a DC title.

Marvel isn’t exempt on this, and I share Jim’s lukewarm attitude there. I have a lot of love and loyalty for characters there yet I just can’t stay excited about what they do. I feel like there’s little point reading events or series because they’re over and done with before they are executed (Hi, Secret War). One of the most common replies I hear from friends, fans, and comic shop staff about a lot of new titles I check out is “I give it 4 or 5 issues.” Something is wrong when the reaction is “This book or character won’t make it, don’t bother.” That seems counterintuitive to a medium where a subscription is key.

For both publishers, I think a lot of the magic was ruined by the Internet. Official leaks and forecasting ruin any suspense or draw as it seems they spend more time buying advertorials for what’s coming without ever executing on what they promised was coming three months ago. I also know too much about how the industry works now, and as Mike demonstrated with A-Force, it’s hard to get excited when trends and numbers lock down a title’s future before an arc was even finished. That’s not even getting into creator politics or things like the Fox and Marvel Studios pissing contests that just ruin it for the consumers on all mediums.

James Fulton

  • Bitch Planet #6 – It’s always a good week when this series comes out. I love the way Kelly Sue DeConnick has structured this story, which is very insightful and unpredictable.
  • Fade Out #12 – I’ve really enjoyed the latest series by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. Their work together is always very good, but with this title only being twelve issues, and not using any fantastical elements (it’s a film noir set in postwar Hollywood), they’ve been very focused and tight from the beginning.
  • Four Eyes: Hearts of Fire #1 – The first Four Eyes series came out a long time ago, and it featured a young boy in the Great Depression who ends up befriending a young dragon. It was a cool series, mostly because of the incredible art by one of the Fiumara brothers (not sure which one right now). I’m happy to see it returning, and hope that the intervening years allowed the creators the time to complete the whole series…
  • Midnighter #8 – I don’t want to be labeled a DC hater because of my comments above, so I wanted to take a moment to mention how much I love this series. Steve Orlando and ACO have taken the character, and page layouts, in some new directions, and alongside Omega Men, this is one of the few DC books that I can feel excited about.
  • Saints #4 – I picked up the first issue of this series on a whim, and now I’m very invested in it. Catholic saints are returning to the Earth with superhuman powers, and, of course, organized religion is looking to exploit them. This is a cool comic.
  • Star Wars #14 & Darth Vader #15 – The Vader Down event concludes in these comics (I’m pretty sure). This has been a fun crossover, giving some of the characters that Kieron Gillen created to round out Vader’s book the chance to play with the big name characters from the parent book. While I don’t know how this is going to end, I do know which characters aren’t dying…

Matt Graham

  • Paper Girls #4 – I like this book. There’s a lot of raw energy and passion in the pages between the art and characters. In an era where superheroes are cluttering the silver screen, who knew revisiting 80’s PG-13 pulp adventures would strike back in print?
  • Bitch Planet #6 – Kelly Sue DeConnick is one of my favourite comics writers just because she steps out of her comfort zone and takes risks. Like Deadly Class and Pretty Deadly, this story could only be told as a comic book even when it wears its influences loud and revealing.
  • Heavy Metal #278 – Thinking about Bitch Planet made me crave Heavy Metal magazine.
  • Ultimates #3 – It’s strange how Marvel’s best X-Men book is called All-New Inhumans and their best Avengers book is called Ultimates.
  • Doctor Strange #4 – Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo deliver some of the purest Mighty Marvel Manner in years. Decades, even. This is the sort of thing that hooked me into comics and Marvel. Entertaining, creative, and art that makes you want to tear out every page and pin it up.

Paul Miranda

  • STRAITJACKET #3 (of 4)
    This disturbing mini has me in its grip!! Go go, Amigo!!!
    I’ve been immensely enjoying this take on time travel. The writer was beyond generous in mailing me the first six issues to catch up since I started with #7. To say that it’s a wild ride is an understatement.
  • DMC vol. 2
    Darryl McDaniels has his second hardcover graphic novel ready to go. It’s tricky, trippy, and fantabulous!!
  • BATMAN & ROBIN ETERNAL #14 (of 26)
    I despise delays. This was supposed to ship sometime last month. At any rate, Heavy Metal extends past its magazine to offer us a surreal sci-fi story with Canadian illustrator Dylan Burnett.
    BKV got lots of recognition this past year. It’s not surprising. He appeared as a fave on several year-end lists, but overall he’s one of the absolute best.
  • A-FORCE {2nd Series} #1
  • UNCANNY X-MEN {4th Series} #1
    Three of six ANADM titles rear their heads to ring in the New Year. I’m banking on S-M/DP, obviously. I love the Webhead to death. I’m ready to have my sides split over the Merc’s massive man-crush on the Friendly Neighborhood Man.
  • DR. STRANGE #4
  • VISION #3
    How many covers are in this book? Hard to say. It’ll be a quick flip.
  • STAR WARS #14
  • SPOOK #1 (of 4)
    This came out two weeks ago. I don’t understand why Red 5 Comics is re-shipping it.
    Affordable intros for one single dollar!!! It’s fab that the major companies produce these re-prints.

John Babos

  • Batman and Robin Eternal #14 – The 75th anniversary celebration of the debut of Dick Grayson, Batman’s sidekick Robin, continues with all of the Dark Knight’s “children” as focus. A fun book so far.
  • Batman Beyond #8 – An adult Tim Drake as the future Batman. Awesome stuff.
  • Green Arrow #48 – Oliver Queen’s comic adventures are not as popular as his CW TV series, but they’re an interesting, gritty read.
  • Green Lantern #48 – The march to #50 and a confrontation with the pre-Flashpoint Parallax continues.
  • Telos #4 – The pre-Flashpoint Parallax also has Telos in his sights.
  • X-O Manowar #43 – A new arc featuring Ninjak begins. Should be fun.
  • Omega Men #7 – Didn’t realize I missed it last week until I read James’ Monday column. This is a wonderful mini-series.

Phil Allen

  • A-Force #1 – i really liked the series that ran during Secret Wars and with Ms. Marvel writer G. Willow Wilson this is something not to be missed.
  • Action Comics #48 – New arc! After the events of the Annual and other recent issues, Superman is desperate to recover his powers while saving a fellow Justice Leaguer.
  • The Fade Out #12 – Series conclusion! I can’t wait to see what Brubaker & Phillips have in store for us next.
  • Swamp Thing #1 – From “Swamp Thing” original co-creator Len Wein and horror master Kelley Jones, this is a can’t miss!
  • Bitch Planet #6 – New arc! We learn more about the another inmate.
  • Injustice: Gods Among Us, Year Five #1 – I’m still a little behind in reading so I haven’t finished Year Four yet, but I’m excited for this series which is supposed to be the final “year”!
  • Other issues I’m looking forward to:
  • Archie #5
  • Batman Beyond #8
  • Batman and Robin Eternal #14
  • Darth Vader #15
  • Detective Comics #48
  • Green Arrow #48
  • Paper Girls #4
  • Star Wars #14
  • The October Faction #12
  • The Woods #19

Joe Smith

  • The Last Contract #1 – I’m looking forward to this title about a former contract killer who is brought out of retirement. It’s written by Ed Brisson who is a good talent. For the most part I’m continuing to enjoy Boom Studios’ stuff.
  • Woods #19 – My favorite title coming out this week ensures that I’ll be hitting my LCS on Wednesday.
  • Batman and Robin Eternal #14 – Grayson and company seems to have brought themselves up to speed. I’m still liking this book.
  • X-O Manowar #43 – I enjoyed the Exodus story arc, but I’m ready for this upcoming one. X-O is finally ready to fight the Vine plants and Trill. This has been a steady title that I’ve been reading since the first issue.