Inside Pulse 12

The Weekly Round-Up #321 With Grayson #16, Bloodshot Reborn #10, Hellboy Winter Special, Jupiter’s Circle #3, Saga #33 & More

Best Comic of the Week:

Grayson #16I’m not really sure what DC’s plans are for Grayson.  The latest Previews show new writers on the book, and with all of this Rebirth stuff coming down the pipe, it’s hard to know if the series is even going to exist in a few months, which is a real shame, as this issue puts the title back into my good graces after the Robin Wars interlude.  Grayson and Agent One are working their way through Spyral agents, and it’s one Bond homage after another.  This is an immensely entertaining issue, which feels like it’s building to something very big.  I really like seeing cameos from a number of DC and Wildstorm characters I love, like Bronze Tiger and Tao.  Whatever happens with Rebirth and all the boring Owl stuff that is being tossed into Dick’s life, I hope there is some sort of title at DC by Tom King and Tim Seeley; it doesn’t have to star Grayson for me to like it, it just has to be this well-written.  *UPDATE* Just as I’m organizing this column, I see that Seeley and King are off Grayson one whole issue earlier than expected, which means I’ve also preordered the new team’s first issue without knowing it.  Way to screw up another great title DC!

Quick Takes:

All-New, All-Different Avengers #4The team has to fight a powered-up Cyclone in Atlantic City.  The team has a new headquarters, which is a crappy old Stark facility in New Jersey.  Jarvis is back, but is not impressed with the shoestring operation.  I have no idea why the Avengers are so poor, or why the characterizations of Tony Stark, Thor, and Sam Wilson don’t really fit with how these characters are being portrayed in their own books right now.  This book is not as disappointing as Extraordinary X-Men, but I expected more.  I think that if things don’t improve quickly, I might be jumping ship on the only Avengers book I’m currently buying.  

Black Canary #7 – Artist Annie Wu really impresses with this issue.  Black Canary (the team and the character) face off against the Quietus, the sound creature thing that has been pursuing Ditto since the beginning of this series.  It feels like Brenden Fletcher is wrapping up all of his plotlines with this issue, and then we are reminded that there was a mysterious white-clad ninja type who had been flitting in and out of the scene for a while.  This is easily one of the best issues of this series so far.

Black Magick #4 – Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott are doing very good work with this comic.  This issue focuses more on the book’s police procedural aspects rather than the magical stuff, although that’s there too.  This is very much a middle of an arc issue, so I don’t have a whole lot to say about it, beyond mentioning that I’m enjoying it a lot.

Bloodshot Reborn #10Jeff Lemire and Lewis Larosa give us an interesting take on an Old Man Logan/Mad Max mashup, as they jump thirty years into Ray’s future.  Our hero is looking after a small settlement of people living near LA.  The community depends on Ray’s stealing water from the walled city on a regular basis, which always puts him at risk of attack from the Shadowmen, a cult based on the little-seen Valiant character of the same name.  This issue is very well written, and is gorgeous.  Larosa has a very detailed approach, which looks nice on the shinier paper that Valiant’s ‘prestige format’ books are printed on.  I’m not sure that we need yet another time-jump arc in a series (especially since Lemire just finished doing the same thing in All-New Hawkeye) so soon after the Book of Death event explored the future of the Valiant characters.  I’d rather see more of what’s going on in the present, but perhaps I’m in the minority there.

Chew #54 – For being one of the funniest comics published, Chew really can go for the jugular sometimes.  This issue features the death of yet another character who is very close to Tony Chu, and the reason why she’s been killed is not very clear yet.  There are only six issues of this comic left (plus another Poyo special), and I’m starting to wonder if anyone is going to make it out alive.  I intend to fully enjoy this book for as long as it has left.

Cry Havoc #1I’ve been looking forward to this new title, mostly because it’s been a while since I’ve gotten monthly doses of Ryan Kelly’s artwork, which is something I always enjoy.  Simon Spurrier is setting up an interesting story, made more so by his choice of story structure.  We follow the main character, Lou, through different stages of the story, beginning, middle, and end, in a non-linear order.  She is a musician who gets bit by a werewolf (or something that actually isn’t a werewolf, but she thinks it is) and ends up working with a group of people who have had similar experiences, and who have promised her that they can cure her, if she helps them find another like them who has gone missing in Afghanistan.  This series has a lot of research and thought behind it, as evidenced by Spurrier’s copious notes in the backmatter, but more importantly, has a strong sense of heart.  This book feels very much like a Vertigo title from ten years ago, but is published by Image, which has, I guess, become the new home of books that used to get published by Vertigo.

Daredevil #3 – Nothing says Daredevil like a good fight with the Hand, and that’s what Charles Soule gives us, as he has DD mix it up with everyone’s favourite ninjas once again.  Ron Garney continues to really impress with his new approach to this title, and we get to see what it’s like for Matt Murdock to have a boss.  This has been a successful relaunch of this title, although I do wonder just what was done to hid Matt’s identity again.

Deadly Class #18I think that Saya might be one of my favourite characters in comics today.  Wes Craig draws her so well, and makes her action scenes in this issue look incredible.  The entire population of the secret assassin’s high school has gone insane, as they all try to track down a few ‘rats’ and murder them for credit.  Marcus and his last two friends, as well as a literal red shirt, are trying to escape to the world above, while various others plot and scheme.  This is a very exciting comic, especially since, like with most Rick Remender comics, it’s completely unpredictable.

East of West #24 – It looks like Jonathan Hickman is building up to something pretty major, as the various Chosen characters, and the Horsemen, among others, receive invitations to a gathering.  It looks like a lot of different plotlines will be colliding soon, which seems right, because we’ve been building to this stuff for a long, long time.

Extraordinary X-Men #6 – Jeff Lemire’s first arc on this title was a disappointment, and while this first issue of the second arc was better, I’m not sure it was good enough to get me to come back for the next issue.  The team has travelled to Weirdworld to find some mutants, including one who is an old friend, but whose identity Storm wants kept secret for questionable reasons.  Before that, the team hangs out in Limbo a bit, and we learn something new about the nature of that land.  Everyone is worried about Nightcrawler, who has apparently lost his mind, and Iceman has a chat with Anole about his (Bobby’s) sexuality, which might be a bit awkward when you consider that Anole is probably still a teenager…  Victor Ibanez’s art is preferable to the work that Humberto Ramos has done on this title so far, but the weird shaved-sides haircuts that most of the team has kept distracting me.  I also can’t help but wonder where all the other prominent X-Men are, since most everyone is supposed to be at X-Haven.  For example, why does Teen Jean need to enter Nightcrawler’s mind with Storm as her guide, when Rachel Summers is hanging out somewhere nearby?  Too much of this series feels editorially-driven, in the worst possible way.  I’ll give the next issue a flip-through on the stands, but I think I’m downgrading this title to the type I buy when it’s on sale or in a dollar bin, which is a real shame, because that means I’m not reading an X-Men book right now.  This, more than anything else, convinces me that we are back in the 90s…

The Fuse #17The Perihelion arc has had our two Detectives running all around the Fuse space station dealing with all manner of weirdness.  In this issue, Clem works to take down the man holding a hospital hostage, while Dietrich has to go to a food processing plant to handle a man who believes that Satan is poisoning the station’s residents.  Antony Johnston is having a ball with this arc, and it’s really very entertaining.

Hellboy Winter Special – I’ve been feeling more and more disinterested in the Mignolaverse over the last year, but I thought since this had Tim Sale art, it was worth picking up.  The stories here are pretty standard fare.  I could have done without it.

Island #6 – This might be my least favourite issue of Island so far, but I still enjoyed it.  Half the issue is given over to a webcomics artist named Onta, who has a story about a group of gay and questioning (I think) anthropomorphic dogs attending a gay pride parade.  Jesse seems conflicted about his sexuality, and is terrified that he’s going to be recognized by someone from school, while his friends are much more comfortable.  We do see a scene of bigotry, but it comes off as the least realistic part of the story, at least for this day and age.  Onta’s art is gorgeous.  Also very beautiful is Gael Bertrand’s Tarot chapter, which is a silent comic.  The story was a little hard to follow, but it was still very pretty.  I liked that Brandon Graham is using this platform to give greater exposure to new and up-and-coming artists.

Jupiter’s Circle #3Mark Millar is moving away from the smaller arcs that made up the first volume of this series, and is instead running a few different plotlines at once.  Skyfox has kidnapped the Vice-President of the United States in a bid to end the war in Vietnam, while an old villain of the Utopian’s figures out how to steal his powers.  Oh, and Rockefeller wants the Utopian’s sperm.  It’s nice to see Chris Sprouse on this book, even if he did only do rough pencils for most of the issue.

Old Man Logan #1 – I wasn’t too sure what to expect from this book (aside from gorgeous Andrea Sorrentino artwork), as Jeff Lemire’s recent Marvel track record hasn’t been all that impressive.  He starts Logan’s story right at the moment when he arrived in the 616 present day, and shows us some glimpses of his life in the future that line up well with Mark Millar’s original OML storyline.  It seems that no one remembers the Secret Wars, and so Logan heads out to start righting the wrongs of his future.  The characterization feels very different from how he has been portrayed in Extraordinary X-Men so far, but I like it better here.  I think I’m intrigued enough, and artistically impressed enough, to give this series an arc or two.

The Omega Men #8I’m really going to miss this title when it’s gone.  This issue has the Omega Men taking Kyle Rayner to the last world in the Vega System anyone ever goes – the planet Voorl, which the Citadel have completely depopulated.  It’s a dark issue, but an effective one, as Kyle is forced to decide how far he’s willing to go to stop the Citadel.  Great writing by Tom King, and artist Barnaby Bagenda has really grown on me, to the point where I’m likely to buy whatever he draws next.

Outcast by Kirkman and Azaceta #15 – A lot of characters reveal a lot of truths in this issue, and that’s not really a healthy or good thing, as these truths admit acknowledging that there are demonic possessions going on all over the place, therefore making the confessors look more than a little nuts.  Robert Kirkman has built this series very well, and he has me excited to see what could happen next.

Pastaways #8 – I’m glad to see a new issue of this fun time travel series by Matt Kindt and Scott Kolins.  Our three surviving time-lost explorers make an attempt to get home, but as with everything in this series, it doesn’t go the way they’d wished it would.  One issue left!

Prophet: Earth War #1I’m pretty pleased to see that Brandon Graham and his amazing team (which includes Giannis Milonogiannis and Simon Roy) have finally published the beginning of the end of their excellent Prophet saga.  As with previous issues, this one tosses a whole bunch of odd ideas into the blender, as Old Man Prophet and his allies prepare for war with the Earth Empire.  Great art, weird science fiction concepts, and an off-kilter pacing make this one of my favourite comics.  I never even remember that this all began as an idea in Rob Liefeld’s head.

Revival #36 – If you felt that the only thing lacking in Revival was a sword-wielding special ops Amish weaver named Fannie, then it’s time to start buying this book.  Since Dana and Martha have disappeared, the General in charge of the revived is feeling responsible, and is turning to outside help (while staying within the quarantine zone).  Tim Seeley and Mike Norton avoid giving us any clue as to Martha and Dana’s whereabouts, instead giving us an issue that mostly focuses on secondary characters we haven’t seen a lot of lately.  This is a very well-plotted series, and I like these quieter issues when they come along.

Saga #33 – It’s time to check in on Upsher and Doff, the journalists from earlier issues of Saga.  They’ve figured out that the spell placed on them by The Brand has worn off, and that means they are investigating Hazel’s story again, trying to catch up on all that’s happened over the last several years.  It’s nice to see issues that focus on minor characters, although it’s a little strange to not have the comic narrated by Hazel for (I think) the first time.  It’s Saga, so it’s always good.

Southern Bastards #13Almost since this series began we’ve been hearing about how important it is for Coach Boss and all of Craw County that his football team beat their rivals from Wetumpka County during Homecoming.  Well, that game finally happens, and it does not go the way that Boss was intending.  I know pretty much nothing about football, but found this to be an excellent comic, as we see an old man realizing that the one thing he has done terrible things to hold onto is about to be taken away from him.  Jason Aaron and Jason Latour are doing amazing things in this comic, which I wish came out more often.

Spider-Woman #3 – A lot of the ANAD relaunch titles have started with three-issue arcs, but this is not one of them, as Jessica still works to rescue a large group of pregnant alien women from a group of Skrulls who have taken over the Alpha Flight hospital.  This issue is a little silly, but it gives artist Javier Rodriguez lots of chances to have fun, and he makes the comic look great.

The Twilight Children #4 – I enjoyed the ending of The Twilight Children, the Vertigo miniseries by Gilbert Hernandez and Darwyn Cooke, although I think I might have been happier with some more explanation at the end of it all.  This is a nice looking comic though, and I found its choice of setting refreshing.

Comics I Would Have Bought if Comics Weren’t So Expensive:

All-New Inhumans #3

Art Ops #4

Batman and Robin Eternal #17

Dreaming Eagles #2

Faith #1

Vertigo Quarterly SFX #4

We Are Robin #8

Bargain Comics:

Batman and Robin Eternal #1-5
I like the idea of a series spotlighting the Bat-Family, and this one starts off pretty interestingly, but I came across some pretty major issues with it.  To begin with, I realize that I have no idea who Tim Drake is in the New 52.  I picked up from random books I’ve read with him that he’s much more a genius than his former incarnation, but this one is smarter (and perhaps less likeable).  The biggest issue I have with this series, though, is that it is retconning yet another aspect to Batman’s early life.  We’ve already squeezed the Owls into Gotham’s history, and now we’re also squeezing in Mother and the Orphan.  It’s kind of too much.  Also, not a whole lot happens over five issues, for a series that seems to be very busy throughout.

The Week in Graphic Novels:

Fashion Beast

Story by Alan Moore and Malcolm McLaren
Adaptation by Antony Johnston
Art by Facundo Percio

So apparently back in the day, impresario Malcolm McLaren convinced Alan Moore to write a movie script for a story idea he had.  The film was never made, and the script languished for a while, before being acquired by Avatar Press, who then got Antony Johnston and Facundo Percio to adapt it for comics.  In some ways, the idea of two icons like McLaren and Moore working together is as interesting as their final product, but this story also stands on its own without worrying about its providence.

Fashion Beast is set a little ways into the future (as seen from the vantage point of the 80s), after England has been plunged into a nuclear winter, while it still fights some sort of war against an unnamed enemy.  London is slowly emptying of young men of fighting age, as well as undesirables.  The economy has tanked, and things are looking pretty grim.

This is not the case, though, for the fashion empire of Celestine, a reclusive designer whose gigantic salon remains brightly lit.  Doll Seguin is an androgynous young woman who works in the coat check of a local nightclub, until an unruly patron causes her to lose her job.  She ends up auditioning as a model (really, as a mannequin) for Celestine, who hires her against the wishes of the two simian Madames who actually run his operation while he sits in the dark and sketches clothing.

Not long after being hired, Doll discovers that the person who caused her to lose her job, Johnny, works at the salon.  Their rivalry pushes the two of them to do greater work.  When Johnny criticizes Celestine’s designs, it is Doll that takes that criticism to the great man, and they are incorporated into his collection, which further enrages Johnny.  Things continue like this for a while until the tragic secrets behind Celestine’s self-imposed exile from the world come to light, and Doll has to decide whether or not she will remain complicit in the deception at the heart of her new job.

I’m not sure how this would have worked as a film, unless it had been directed by Peter Greenaway, with a big, ostentatious score by Michael Nyman.  It definitely feels like a story whose time has passed, but that doesn’t make it ineffective.  Johnston, as always, does a fine job of adapting Moore’s screenplay, pacing the comic nicely to make it work across ten issues.  Percio is pretty Avatar-esque in his art, but that’s not exactly a bad thing.

At the end of the day, this is really just a footnote in Alan Moore’s career, and an odd piece of trivia in McLaren’s, but it’s good that it managed to make its way into the world.

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