Inside Pulse 12

The Weekly Round-Up #340 With Vision #8, Detective Comics #934, 4001 AD: Bloodshot #1, Star Wars: Darth Vader #21, Empress #3 & More

Best Comic of the Week:

The Vision #8Once again, Tom King blows me away with the execution and payoff of this issue.  Victor, the Vision’s ‘brother’ (and former Runaway) comes to stay with Vision’s family while completing an internship in DC, and so we get a good look at the family from an outsider’s perspective. Most of this issue is sweet and affecting, but because it’s an issue of Tom King’s run on Vision, the end takes a bit of an unexpected swerve or two, and we are once again left at a very dark place.  This series has only four issues left, and while I feel like that’s a real shame, I am very apprehensive to see how it all ends.  This is one of the best comics to come out in years.

Quick Takes:

Black Canary #12 – This odd take on Black Canary comes to a close with this issue.  I’ve liked this title, although I found that the second arc was not as strong as the first.  This final issue digs into a possible future for Dinah, before resolving every aspect of the series.  I’m not likely to follow Dinah to the new Green Arrow title, so I’m not sure when I’m going to be seeing her again.

Captain Marvel #5 – It’s taken me a couple of weeks to get this (thanks Diamond), but I’m pleased to see how the first story arc has ended.  Weirdly, the writers behind this arc are leaving the book, at least for as long as Civil War II lasts, which is odd seeing as how Carol is so prominent in that event.  Anyway, my complaint about this title continues to be valid, as it feels way too ‘TV’ for my tastes, with Puck, a classic barroom brawling character suddenly knowing how to turn water purifiers into shield generators in space.  All that said, this comic is fun like a good episode of Stargate Atlantis.

Daredevil #8Charles Soule takes Daredevil somewhere we’ve never seen him go before (except maybe in old issues of Marvel Two-In-One, now that I think about it), as DD enters a high-stakes poker tournament in Macau, one in which he cannot read the cards at all due to his blindness.  It’s an interesting issue, although it’s not clear yet why he needs to win the tournament in order to go on his real mission in the country, which involves a surprise guest star.  The real surprise for me though was that the art in this issue is by Goran Sudzuka, an artist I’ve always admired.  He sticks to the visual aesthetic started by Ron Garney on this book, so it doesn’t always look like his art, but it’s nice to see his name on something again.

Darth Vader #21 – The droids are searching for Aphra while Vader goes after Cylo and his people.  I feel like from here until issue 25, Kieron Gillen is going to be mostly just wrapping up plotlines, and it gives me the sense that this title’s best days are behind it, which is a shame.

Detective Comics #934I’m pleased that DC’s Rebirth has given me an opportunity to want to read Batman comics again.  I’ve become a big fan of James Tynion’s writing, especially his series The Woods, so I thought I’d take a look at what he might be doing with Batman, out from under Scott Snyder’s shadow.  The set-up to this series is interesting.  There is someone tracking various vigilantes in Gotham (including, somehow, Clayface), and whoever that is, they are vaguely Bat-themed.  Batman’s solution is to pull together some of their targets, and begin training them in partnership with Batwoman.  I’m not sure how Tim Drake must feel about being sent down to the minors (I thought he was the leader of the Titans for the last few years), but otherwise, this is an interesting cast of characters (Spoiler and Orphan, who is Cassandra Cain, round out the line-up), and I like Eddy Barrows’s art.  I can see myself sticking around with this title for a little while, which is a novel idea for me after so many years of avoiding the Bat-books.  I do feel like I should read the remaining nine or ten issues of Batman and Robin Eternal that I haven’t gotten yet though, as it seems to be important backstory for this series.

Empress #3 – Mark Millar’s latest science fiction adventure series continues to be a lot of fun, as the titular Empress and her family continue to run from her husband.  Their teleporting robot thing is handy, but also keeps landing them in a whole bunch of dangerous situations that will look cool when the inevitable film is made of this comic.  Stuart Immonen is having a ball with the art on this one.

The Fix #3As Nick Spencer continues his story about comically corrupt cops in LA, he has one of them start to work as a bodyguard for a teenage pop singer and actress.  This is part of his plan to get a movie made, but the girl is quite the match for him, being a bigger mess than he is.  Things take some strange turns when masked thieves show up at her house.  I’ve really been enjoying this series so far.  Each issue has introduced new story elements making the main plot (that the two cops need to pay back a crime lord) feel a bit distant, but I know Spencer is going to circle back to it eventually.  Steve Lieber’s ability to convey the most crazy scenes completely naturally adds to the enjoyment I get from this comic.

4001 AD: Bloodshot #1 – I never know if it makes sense to pick up the ancillary one-shots that accompany Valiant’s event series.  The last one, X-O Manowar, explained a key component of the main event, but this one really doesn’t.  As bits of New Japan fall to Earth, Father’s museum is lost, and that causes the reawakening of the AI that ran Bloodshot’s nanites.  It feels it has one last mission left in it, and we accompany it on a journey that doesn’t really fit with the way the Earth has been portrayed in Rai.  Anyway, it’s decent, if not all that original.

Head Lopper #4 – Andrew Maclean’s oversized quarterly sword and sorcery series has been fun, but at the end of the day, I feel like it’s a bit empty.  While I enjoy Maclean’s art, the story really stopped grabbing me a while back.

Injection #10The second arc of this series has been much more enjoyable than the first, mostly because of the wonderfully Ellisian character Vivek Headland, who, like all good fictional detectives, wraps up his latest case by bringing all the principal characters together into one room, and explains stuff.  Warren Ellis is so good at this kind of thing, and Declan Shalvey is an excellent accomplice.  After this arc, I feel like I have a much better understanding of what this series is intended to be, and am much more interested in learning more about the secrets of the Injection.

Invisible Republic #10 – Invisible Republic remains a very good read, but it’s fallen so far behind that I’ll admit to not really remembering what was going on when I started reading this issue.  Now that the second arc has finished, I hope that Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman take a long enough break that the next arc comes out in a more timely fashion, so I can immerse myself in the story again.

Island #8 – This issue is basically divided between two stories.  The first is a piece by Michael DeForge, about how Americans who die are resurrected on Saturn and live their lives in reverse there, and how America is considering going to war with the colony there.  It’s odd, and pretty cool.  Most of the comic is given over to the conclusion to Simon Roy’s Habitat, which has been perhaps my favourite part of Island so far.  Things come to a head as Habsec invades the part of the massive space vessel habitat that the Engineers have taken control of.  The end doesn’t really feel like an end to me, and I hope Roy revisits this work at some point.  His art and the levels of imagination he put into this are stunning.

Letter 44 #25 – It’s taken a couple of extra weeks for me to get this comic (thanks Diamond), but like with any issue of Letter 44, it’s well worth the wait.  President Blades is making progress in preparing for the end of the world, while the crew of the Clarke are taken back to the Chandelier to improve it, and hopefully save the Earth, if the Builders are to be trusted.  At the same time, the reporter who has been living with ex-President Carroll learns the truth about the meteor that was supposed to have destroyed all civilization.  Charles Soule has put together a very complex science fiction series here, and after so many issues, the story just keeps getting richer and richer.

Ninjak #16We get more of Ninjak running around trying to figure out what’s happened to his life, and who is working to destroy it.  This leads to a reunion with a character from his childhood, and the beginning of a confrontation with Roku.  This has been a good arc, but the pacing feels a little off with this issue.

Poe Dameron #3 – I’m glad that Charles Soule didn’t drag this first story out too long, as Poe faces off against Agent Terex in the Creche, and his unit fights Tie Fighters in the skies above.  The egg hatches, and things get a little unexplained, but at the end of the day, this is a decent issue.  I’m still very much on the fence about so much of the Force Awakens era, and am hoping that this series can put me at ease.  Really, I’m just pleased to see regular Phil Noto artwork.

Renato Jones: The One% #2 – We knew that this series would have to take on Donald Trump eventually, and so Kaare Andrews tosses him into this issue, which has the Freelancer infiltrate an orgy for the super-rich.  Andrews is building this title nicely, and it’s cool to see a comic that discusses the vast inequality that runs the Western world.  This title has a lot of promise.

Revival #40 – Things just keep getting more and more complicated, as Dana and Martha put their plan in action, only to be possibly outmaneuvered by General Cale, who is in turn possibly outmaneuvered by Rhodey.  I’m never unhappy with this title.

The Sheriff of Babylon #7Here’s another excellent comic by Tom King.  After the devastating events of last issue, Nassir is not feeling very cooperative when interrogated by the Americans.  Sofia, meanwhile, explores new options for partnership with an American organization, although she is still recovering from the attack on her.  King has put together a very compelling look at the time after the American invasion of Iraq, and does not flinch from showing what is likely an unpopular view of things.  This comic is very intelligent, requires close reading, and provides a lot of pay off.  It’s what the Vertigo imprint should always be.

The Wicked + The Divine #20 – This month Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie fill in a lot of gaps for us, as we see what really happened to Inanna, and gain some understanding of where Laura went for a while after becoming a god.  This series keeps building towards a big confrontation with Ananke, which has me excited and interested.

Wolf #8 – I was bored and done with Ales Kot’s latest series, but then the last issue turned out to be quite good, as it focused on one of the prison guards who has been holding Antoine Wolfe for a few years.  Like that famous issue of Invisibles that focused on a guy killed off in an earlier issue, it caught my eye and renewed my interest, but clearly picking this issue up because of it was a mistake.  This is not Kot’s best work; that there is such inconsistency from the last issue to this one only proves that.

Wonder Woman: Rebirth #1Okay, until Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang came along, I was never really a big fan of Wonder Woman.  I loved what they did with her though, and consider their reinvention of her history and the Greek pantheon to be the highpoint of the New 52.  Now, it looks like Greg Rucka’s going to be tossing a lot of that out (assuming the Finches didn’t – I never read a single issue of their run) as his Diana realizes that so many aspects of her life don’t exactly add up, and she begins a quest to learn the truths of her history.  Rucka’s a great writer, and he’s going to be collaborating with some wonderful artists (Nicola Scott and Liam Sharp) on the regular title, so I’m going to give this an arc or two.  I can’t shake the feeling that Rucka’s going to leave this title abruptly, knowing his history with DC and their unwillingness to change their corporate culture, but I guess I’ll stick around until that happens.  I do hope that his work honors Azzarello’s though, as that was such an interesting vision of the Amazon princess, and I’d hate to see her revert to the type of character she was through most of her history (i.e., boring).

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

Abe Sapien #34

Agents of SHIELD #6

All-New X-Men #10

Civil War II: Amazing Spider-Man #1

Crook County #13

Guardians of the Galaxy #9

House of Penance #3

Howard the Duck #8

New Avengers #12

Weavers #2

Bargain Comics:

Batman and Robin Eternal #6-15Is it bad that, after reading ten issues of this series in pretty rapid succession, I finally started figuring out what this series was around issue ten?  I remember that when Marvel first started double-shipping their titles, my biggest complaint was (aside from the financial hit) that it led to some very lazy storytelling.  That’s definitely on display with this weekly book, which picks up and abandons threads almost at random, and which really lacks clear storytelling.  I hope this doesn’t serve as an example of what to expect with so many DC titles going bi-weekly…

Grayson #19 – I’m pleasantly surprised by this, as I had dropped this title once I saw that Tim Seeley and Tom King had left the title, although the new writers, Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly are left to wrap up the long story those two had begun.  It works, although without the stylistic touches that made Grayson such a delightful series.  

Uncanny X-Men #1-4 – I’d heard a lot of good things about Cullen Bunn’s work with Magneto’s squad of X-Men, and while the first issue didn’t grab me, the cumulative effect of the first four drew me into the story quite well.  I like that this team, more of an X-Force than an X-Men unit, is working to protect mutants on Earth while everyone else has decamped to Limbo, but I’m not sure why the Dark Riders had to be the villains; they are hard to take seriously or care about.  My biggest issue with this title is, of course, the Greg Land artwork that prevented me from buying the books when they were fresh on the stands.  Bunn is a good writer, and with a more emotive and dynamic artist, this series could be very good.  

The Week in Graphic Novels:

Zenith Phase TwoI wasn’t all that impressed with the first ‘phase’ of Zenith, but actually found it to be a lot more internally cohesive than this second phase.  What I’ve learned from this is that early Grant Morrison is not all that interesting; I do like the way he was attempting ambitious ideas, but the serialized nature of 2000AD’s short chapters made it hard to ever develop any of these characters or let you sink your teeth into the story.  Steve Yeowell’s art, which I usually really like, it pretty unclear in many places.  This was a disappointment.