Inside Pulse 12

The Weekly Round-Up #325 With Cry Havoc #2, Saga #34, Black Magick #5, Hellboy & The BPRD 1953 – Beyond the Fences #1, Bloodshot Reborn #11 & More

Best Comic of the Week:

Cry Havoc #2I enjoyed the first issue of Simon Spurrier and Ryan Kelly’s new Image series, but this second issues has me all-in for this title.  Continuing its three-part narrative, we get a much better sense of everything that is happening.  Louise has been bitten by something like a werewolf, and in the oldest storyline, is struggling to adjust to her new life.  In the middle storyline, she’s working with a group of people like her, for a paramilitary organization, to track down another woman with her same abilities, in Afghanistan.  In the newest, most up-to-date storyline, she is the prisoner of that woman, and there are a few surprises revealed about her condition.  Kelly is such a good artist, and it’s a real treat to be getting monthly installments of his art again.  Spurrier has put a lot into this title, and shares much of his research in some very interesting endnotes, which is something I always love in a comic.

Quick Takes:

All-New All-Different Avengers #6 – Things have improved a little since the last issue, which was terrible, but I’m still not very happy with this Avengers series.  I feel like Mark Waid has rushed through this first arc (probably because of the Standoff crossover event that no one is asking for), and therefore threw the team up against Kang (in a very weird iteration of the classic character) before he was fully established as a threat, and had to rush the storyline about the Vision being used against the team (and in a manner that is not compatible with his own series).  I also think that Waid is rushing through the scenes that are establishing the relationships between the younger characters, and the budding friendship between Captain America and Thor.  I’m not going to preorder this comic any more, but will give it a couple of more issues before deciding whether or not I want to drop it.

Astonishing Ant-Man #5One thing I like about this latest relaunched Ant-Man series is that Nick Spencer is weaving Scott Lang into the Marvel universe in a much more complete way.  This issue has him travelling to San Francisco to help train the new Giant-Man, while the Power Broker releases Hench 2.0 and Hench X, new apps that will make it easier for the everyday person to hire a supervillain or become one themselves.  This continues to be one of the more enjoyable titles in Marvel’s lineup.

Black Magick #5 – The first arc of this series concludes (although absolutely nothing comes to a conclusion) with this issue which has Rowan visiting with her partner’s family before going and rescuing her witch friend from a new and dangerous threat.  This series is very interesting, and very, very beautiful, and I’m looking forward to it returning from its short hiatus.

Bloodshot Reborn #11 – The Analog Man arc (aka Old Man Bloodshot), set thirty years into the future, brings in a number of favourite characters, like Faith, Torque, and Animalia, as Ninjak tries to recruit our hero to help him stop the goo tech (derived, I believe, from his own nanites) that is threatening all life in the walled city of LA.  Ray’s not interested, but as is the norm for stories like this, personal tragedy gets him to change his mind.  The storyline here is very derivative (and way too similar to some of Lemire’s current Marvel work), but Lewis Larosa’s incredible art makes it all okay.

Chew #55John Layman and Rob Guillory take a step back from the last issue’s surprising final scene, but that doesn’t mean that this issue is not without its surprises.  As we hurtle towards the end of this series with issue 60, the pace is definitely picking up, although I feel a little left in the dark about what’s really going on in the world that has Savoy taking such extreme measures.  There’s not a lot of humour in Chew these days, but Guillory is still working in some pretty good sight gags where he can.

Daredevil #4 – We learn a lot about Blindspot this issue, including just how his family is tied in to Ten Finger’s church, while Daredevil and Steve Rogers work to deal with a bomb-maker.  As always, this is a good issue, and I like seeing Rogers being treated as an old man, instead of the way we’ve seen him in books like Uncanny Avengers.  It’s also interesting to see that Matt Murdock has some guilt around the way he’s hidden his identity.  That’s interesting, and I hope it gets explored further.

Four Eyes: Hearts of Fire #2 – Little Enrico is having a rough time of things.  After his dad died, he thought he could work to train a dragon he rescued to be a fighter, but now he’s seen first hand just how awful the illegal dragon fighting industry really is.  At the same time, a new man in his mom’s life puts him in a desperate situation at home, and it looks like he’s going to be making some hard choices from here on out.  Joe Kelly is doing a great job writing this book, and new artist Rafael Ortiz is a fine successor to Max Fiumara.

The Goddamned #3I’m enjoying Jason Aaron and RM Guera’s very dark take on the Old Testament time before the flood.  Cain is helping a woman to find her son, who has been taken by Noah’s crew.  This issue gives us a look back at life immediately after Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden, and starts to make us think that Cain might actually be a good man.  This is an enjoyable series.

Grayson #17 – I believe very strongly that DC is rushing this title towards some kind of conclusion that won’t even be written by its regular writers as part of this Rebirth nonsense, and that’s a shame.  This issue is still easy to enjoy, but the quick battles with Frankenstein and then Grifter (who is now a telepath?) lack the style of the previous issues of this series.  Part of the problem is that Carmine Di Giandemonico has come on as the artist.  While I’ve liked his work before, I’m not sure this is the right title for him, especially compared to regular artist Mikel Janin, who has a much more polished style.

Hellboy and the BPRD 1953 – Beyond the Fences #1 – Whoever it was that had the idea of adding Paolo Rivera as artist for this miniseries is brilliant.  He’s perfect for a period piece set in the early 50s, as Hellboy and some colleagues investigate some missing children in a suburbs that appears to link to the events of the 1948 miniseries.  I kind of wish that these early Hellboy stories were a little less continuity driven, but my interest is better kept here than in many of the other Mignola-verse books these days.

Invisible Republic #9My favourite science fiction series continues, as Maia finds herself bailed out of prison after being accused to causing the bombing she tried to stop, while in the present, it seems that everyone is after the bag that contains Maia’s journal.  This series works very well through it’s use of two storylines, and this keeps it exciting, while also giving the writers the chance to play with our conception of everything that’s happened on Avalon.  This is an excellent read.

Karnak #2 – It’s been a while since the first issue came out, and I’m not entirely sure that it was worth the wait.  When this issue isn’t a long silent fight scene, it’s a lot of zen mumbo jumbo stuff.  I don’t know how I feel about Warren Ellis’s new retcon of Karnak, that he never experienced Terrigenesis, but it does add an interesting new wrinkle to the character.  I think I’d like a little more content in the next issue, but am also thinking that a proper release schedule might help me enjoy the book more.  I know that the delays on this were put down to problems that artist Gerardo Zaffino has been experiencing, but I’m hoping that this being released means that there’s a new issue of Trees on the way too.

Nowhere Men #8Since returning last month, the tone of Nowhere Men has shifted some, as the two storylines have converged.  The people that have been transformed from the virus are dealing with their new situation, while Dade is trying to keep them on his side.  I still enjoy this title, but I’m not sure that it’s as good as it was before its long hiatus.

Outcast by Kirkman & Azaceta #16 – With the minister in jail, Kyle is on his own trying to conduct an exorcism, and that doesn’t go well.  Before that, we see the rest of Kyle’s conversation with his ex-wife, and unsurprisingly, it doesn’t go well either.  I’m really enjoying the way this title is building up.

Plutona #4 – Jeff Lemire and Emi Lenox have really nailed the middle school characters in this series.  As the four kids, who really are not friends, continue to hide the death of the great hero Plutona, their adolescent allegiances shift.  This book is not exactly subtle, but it is gracefully written.

Saga #34 – Since this latest arc started, we’ve been spending entire issues checking in on various members of the title’s cast.  Now, it’s time for all these different stories to begin converging, as Marko and Alana track down Prince Robot, and the newsmen help The Will track him down as well.  Hazel discovers new allies in prison.  As we’ve come to expect, this is a very good comic.

Wolf #6After the last issue of Wolf, I was ready to drop the title, but this issue, which explains much of what happened during the five year gap between issues four and five, grabbed my interest again.  Anita learns just how much her friends have done to find Antoine since he disappeared, and we are introduced to his brother, Duane.  I’m not sure I’m going to continue buying this title either way, but I’m pleased to see that Ales Kot is pulling it back from the brink a little.

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

All-New Inhumans #4

All-New X-Men #5

Boy-1 TP

Crossed Vol. 15

Faith #2

Hercules #4

Last Fall TP

New Avengers #7

Pencil Head #2

Silk #5

We Are Robin #9

Wilds End Enemy Within #6

Bargain Comics:

Justice League United #12-15Putting Jeff Parker on a team book that draws from the entirety of a shared universe sounds like a sure bet, doesn’t it?  His run on Thunderbolts was terrific, but things here just don’t work.  The set-up is nonsensical, and Parker throws so many characters into the book that they are just competing against one another for space.  It’s no wonder that this series didn’t make it after its new DCYou direction was announced.  Like so many books at DC that have potential, this completely falls flat.  I mostly feel bad for Equinox – she seemed like an interesting character, and it sounds like Jeff Lemire put a lot of work into developing her, and now I’m certain that she’ll never be seen again…

Mercury Heat #2 – Kieron Gillen is writing one hell of a hard science fiction series with this book.  While the storyline hasn’t really grabbed me yet, his vision of a future where people offload their memories into easily deleted crystals is an interesting one.  In this issue, our hero meets an ex-boyfriend she has no memory of, since she deleted him thoroughly.  There’s some very good stuff here.

The Week in Graphic Novels:

Petrograd

Written by Philip Gelatt
Art by Tyler Crook

When Petrograd came out back in 2011, I knew that I wanted to read it, but for whatever reason, it’s taken me this long to get a copy and dive into it.  What a shame that I didn’t read it sooner, as this is a truly spectacular historic graphic novel.This book tells the story of the assassination of the Russian mad monk Rasputin.  I don’t know a whole lot about Russia just before its revolution, and so can’t speak to the extent of truth in Philip Gelatt’s story.  We meet a British spy, Cleary, who is tasked with helping his friend, a Prince, in his goal to kill the man who has the most influence on the Tsarina.  England sees Rasputin as pushing for peace with Germany (this is set in 1916), and so wants him out of the way.Cleary’s old friend, Felix, is a true hedonist, and is at first easily manipulated into thinking the plot is his own idea, but as things progress, he makes the plan overly complicated and shares too much information with people who can’t be trusted.  When it comes time to put the plan in action, it’s a disaster almost from the beginning.

There’s a lot more going on in this book than just the assassination plot, however.  We get a good look at everyday life in the final days of the Tsar’s rule, and get to know a few of the Bolsheviks who are pushing for systemic change.  We also get a good look at the extent to which the royal family is out of touch with daily reality, as the cold winter and famine take their toll on the peasant class.

Cleary is an interesting character.  He has no desire to kill Rasputin, but is also terrified of being returned to the front lines of the Great War.  He has entered into a relationship with a revolutionary, but is also comfortable drinking away the night at a gypsy encampment with his old friend, who is wearing a dress.  I like the way Gelatt builds up Cleary’s character.

It is interesting to wonder if England really was so instrumental in Rasputin’s death, as that raises a whole bunch of questions about their complicity in the entire Russian Revolution.  I don’t know anything about that.

Tyler Crook’s work here is fantastic.  I believe this is his first major published work, and it shows a lot of the skill that he took to books like BPRD since then.  His facial expressions are clear, and he makes great use of the monochromatic orange he has chosen for the story.

This book has made me interested in learning a little more about Rasputin’s death.  The figure, as he is portrayed here, has no resemblance to the Starets we got to know in Alex Grecian and Riley Rossmo’s recent Rasputin series (which was excellent in its own rights).  This is the kind of well-researched historical fiction that I’ve always really enjoyed.  I hope we get to read more from Gelatt soon…

PistolwhipI’ve been a fan of just about everything (creator-owned) I’ve read by Matt Kindt, but I’d never checked out his Pistolwhip graphic novels.  I recently picked them up at a sale.  I know they’ve recently been released in colour and collected in one volume, but there’s some very cool things about this original 2001 edition.  Kindt, working with Jason Hall, tells an interesting story about an old man who likes to manipulate people into completing various odd tasks for him.  The story is very interested in the influence of old school radio dramas, and is very slow in releasings its secrets.  It took me a good while to get the gist of what was going on, as various people confront and shoot each other in the start of the book, before we work backwards to learn who they all are.  What made this interesting is seeing how the rough framework of so many Kindt stories, Mind MGMT especially, are there in a very different form.  Kindt’s art is very minimalistic, and that sometimes worked against clear storytelling.

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