Inside Pulse 12

The Weekly Round-Up #341 With The Sixth Gun #50, Batman #1, Star Wars: Han Solo #1, Wrath Of The Eternal Warrior #8 & More

Best Comic of the Week:

The Sixth Gun #50In an age where mainstream comics at the Big Two don’t often make it to fifty issues, it’s especially impressive that a quiet independent book, which has helped launch writer Cullen Bunn to stardom, would make it that far, and then finish in a beautifully designed oversized final issue.  Everything comes together here.  There is a massive battle at Boot Hill, as just about every character who has been in this book (except for Kirby and Kalfu) ends up fighting for the chance to recreate the world.  Brian Hurtt’s art blew me away on multiple pages, and he and Bunn manage to incorporate the sweeping epic stuff with a lot of strong character moments.  I’m going to miss this title a lot, but am very pleased that it got to come to its natural conclusion.

Quick Takes:

Astonishing Ant-Man #9 – Everything that’s happened in this title and its predecessor build towards this issue, as Ant-Man and his crew infiltrate Cross Industries (in a terrific take on the standard heist movie narrative).  This title, under Nick Spencer and Ramon Rosanas, is a lot of fun.

Batman #1Tom King’s first regular issue does not disappoint, if it’s all an odd choice for a first issue.  A Kobra agent fires a surface-to-air missile at a plane descending into Gotham, and Batman has to figure out how to bring it down safely.  This involves some interesting use of portable jets (which seem to have a lot of fuel in them), and some airplane wrangling.  I feel like King pushed the melodrama a little too heavily towards the end, considering some of the other feats we saw Batman accomplish in just this issue alone, but overall, this was a decent beginning.  The two new characters, Gotham and Gotham Girl (terrible name) don’t really grab my attention yet, but we’ll see what King chooses to do with them.  I didn’t really notice David Finch’s artwork, as it just seemed like some pretty regular house style DC stuff.

Black Widow #4 – I really like the way that Mark Waid and Chris Samnee are structuring this series, as Natasha is coerced into revisiting the Red Room, the place where she was trained to be an assassin, only to find that it’s been resurrected in a new form.  This series focuses a lot on atmosphere, and gives Samnee a ton of space to show what an incredible storyteller he is.  With a lesser artist, this story would either not work at all, or be a three minute read; with Samnee on it, it’s great to sit and pore over each page.

BPRD Hell on Earth #142 – The three-part story featuring a BPRD exorcist comes to its close in a good issue that can’t escape the sense that it’s spinning its wheels while everyone gets ready for the big last Hell on Earth storyline.

Carver: A Paris Story #4 – I’m continuing to pick up Chris Hunt’s rather interesting adventure comic, but I am frustrated by how decompressed each issue is.  Carver meets the masked man that has manipulated him into coming to Paris, but they aren’t able to figure things out between them before the guy who tried to hire Carver last issue comes looking for him.  I like Hunt’s art, and the way he’s playing with some of the regular genre tropes that we expect in a story like this.

Civil War II #2Much of this issue works very well, as Tony Stark slips into New Attilan to abduct Ulysses and figure out how his powers work, which sets off an incident with the Inhumans, which in turn sets Captain Marvel and her supporters after Tony, leading to the first confrontation of the ‘civil war’.  Brian Michael Bendis does well with these various characters, and the consequences to Tony’s actions make sense.  The thing that is really bothering me about this, though, is that the central premise doesn’t work.  I can understand why Tony might be opposed to overly depending on Ulysses’s powers, but at the same time, I don’t believe he would ever argue for allowing Thanos to invade Project Pegasus and steal cosmic cube fragments.  It makes sense that he’s upset that his friend is dead, and his philosophical arguments have weight, but even if Ulysses’s visions are wrong, I would think he would see no problem with posting some heroes around if he thinks that Thanos is going to show up.  I would enjoy this event a lot more if I could set that aside, but right now, it’s just not working for me.  David Marquez’s art is definitely working though, and this book looks great.

Descender #12 – It’s great to see this title return from hiatus.  Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen dig into the history of Tim-22, the child robot that lives with the Hardwire, the robot liberation movement.  When last we saw them, 22 was attacking Tim-21, our hero in this series.  This issue, after recapping 22’s life story, returns to that scene.  It’s good stuff, and Nguyen’s art is always impressive.

Devolution #5 – Rick Remender and Jonathan Wayshak end this odd little miniseries with a much more philosophical approach than what we’ve seen so far, as Raja makes her way to the moon, and learns a few things about the whole devolution thing.  Not to totally escape the more lurid aspects of this comic, she spends a good chunk of the book topless.  Remender has some strange ideas sometimes…

Han Solo #1I’m surprised that Marvel has taken this long to spotlight Han in his own miniseries, but am glad they waited, since Mark Brooks’s art is so good that I now wouldn’t want to see anyone else draw this.  The story and set-up, by Marjorie Liu, is pretty standard stuff.  The Rebellion needs to enter a ship and pilot into a dangerous and famous race as cover to help them retrieve information, and that job ends up going to Han, although he’s not their first choice.  There is a strong cinematic feel to this story, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine it on the big screen.  Brooks is very good at licensed books – the characters feel comfortably familiar, which is not always the sense I get from the regular Star Wars comic.

International Iron Man #4 – I hope that no one bought this comic simply for the Civil War II trade dress on the cover, because aside from a reference to the big fight with the Celestial that happened in CWII #1, this has nothing to do with that, aside from Brian Michael Bendis choosing to confuse continuity by having this story, from its first issue, take place between that fight and the fight with Thanos in the FCBD story.  Anyway, it’s more of Tony and his old girlfriend talking about their shared past, as Tony tries to find his real parents’ identities.  It’s a good enough story, but that’s really all I have to say about it.

Invincible #129There are a lot of reunions this month, as Mark and his family head back to Earth to check in on Mark’s family, after meeting Eve’s lover.  Robert Kirkman’s really been ratcheting up the family drama aspect of this series lately (and that’s before the surprise of the last page), and it works very well.  I love this title.

Lazarus #22 – I’m pretty excited to see Lazarus return, especially after the excellent issue 21, which left Forever in a rough spot.  Now, she’s back with her family, but needs time to heal and recover from her wounds.  That doesn’t change the fact, however, that her family is still at war, and that the war is spreading into new theatres.  This is an exciting issue, as Greg Rucka and Michael Lark clarify a few things, and push Sonia Bittner, an ally, into conflict perhaps before she’s fully ready.  There are some very cool looking action sequences in this issue.

Low #14 – Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini split this issue in two, as Stel and her companion run into some trouble on the surface as they continue their search for the probe that could contain the information needed to save humanity, and as below the sea, Tajo and Stella have to deal with the woman who is trying to kill them.  This is a pretty dark issue, as Remender continues to put these characters through their paces.  I enjoy this series, but wonder if the story is going to have to end because everyone is dead.

Manifest Destiny #20I’d forgotten that this title opened with a Cyclops skull in Washington, but Lewis and Clark didn’t, and are therefore pleased to find some more samples in the location where some previous explorers ran into trouble.  This title does a very good job of raising questions about the moral implications of exploration, and we get our first good look at a Sasquatch.  This book never disappoints.

New Suicide Squad #21 – I liked Tim Seeley writing this book, but now he’s off.  I really liked Juan Ferreyra drawing this book, but he didn’t do anything more than layouts and colour for this issue.  Once again (the first time being when Ales Kot started writing the first New 52 title), DC has convinced me to buy the Suicide Squad again, only to swap out a creative team I like for one I’m not interested in.  Oh well, it wasn’t as good as John Ostrander’s run anyway…

Squadron Supreme #8 – I wonder if James Robinson is being forced to speed up his plans for this series to fit with Civil War II, because the pacing of this book has felt off since the team returned from Weirdworld.  This issue has Dr. Spectrum getting some answers from Black Bolt, while Nighthawk gets some answers from what he thought was the 616’s Nighthawk.  Power Princess is once again used as an easy foil to explain away some plot elements, and a couple of the book’s main characters don’t even speak.  My interest in this book is starting to wane…

Star Wars #20 There have been a few of these issues with art by Mike Mayhew, that focus on Ben Kenobi and young Luke Skywalker, that come between story arcs.  I didn’t like the first two, but found that this one, which has Obi-Wan jumping in to rescue Uncle Owen from Black Krrsantan, has the right balance of action and character development.  Mayhew’s art on this issue is pretty amazing.

Turncoat #4 – I’ve been very impressed with this series, and the conclusion doesn’t change that, as the creators leave one very cool surprise for the last page.  The biggest draw for me was Artyom Trakhanov’s art, which was incredible throughout.  He uses a very interesting approach to alien technology, and the way it gets adopted into human society.  This title is the first thing I’ve read from writer Alex Paknadel, and I’m definitely going to be looking for more work from him.  This will make a very handsome trade paperback.

Wrath of the Eternal Warrior #8 – The Labyrinth arc continues, as Gilad is killed again and again at the hands of the Sovereign, who is trying to figure out the secrets of his immortality.  We see Gilad return to his home in paradise again and again, but are given no clues as to his battle with the demons that usually try to bar his path back to the world.  Still, this is an interesting arc, and Raúl Allen’s art and layouts are fantastic.

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

A&A #4

All-New Inhumans #8

Amazing Spider-Man #14

Astro City #36

Civil War II: X-Men #1

Crossed: Badlands #99

Dark Horse Presents #23

Dark Night: A True Batman Story HC

How to Talk To Girls at Parties HC

Mercury Heat #10

Nova #8

Pencil Head #5

Uncanny Inhumans #10

Vote Loki #1

Bargain Comics:

All-New X-Men #3-8 I’m pretty disappointed in this title.  I knew not to expect too much, because I have disliked Mark Bagley’s art for a long time, and find it hard to see past it to enjoy stories he’s worked on, but having read a number of Dennis Hopeless’s comics, I thought this would be better than it is.  The Kid X-Men team is wandering Paris, where they spend three issues fighting the Blob.  Cyclops gets kidnapped and almost killed by Toad, but there’s little follow-up to that.  Characters like All-New Wolverine and Angel flit in and out of the story at random.  Genesis and Idie are given almost no role (and, in Idie’s case, a terrible haircut).  There are the occasional good character moments (almost always belonging to Bobby), but generally, this is a decompressed mess.  I miss the X-Men, and wish there was an X-Title that I actually wanted to buy month in and month out (that would be Uncanny, but Greg Land).

The Week in Graphic Novels:

Noble Causes Vol. 1: In Sickness and in HealthJay Faerber is one of those comics writers who has never gotten enough recognition.  I know that I haven’t read much of his work, but I enjoyed his Copperhead so much that I thought it was time to check out Noble Causes, which has been, so far, his biggest title.  This first volume introduces us to the Noble family, a kind of Fantastic Four that has embraced its celebrity status.  In the very first issue, we get to know the family through the characters of Race Noble, a speedster, and his very normal fiancée Liz.  At the end of the first chapter, on their honeymoon, Race is killed.  From there, a number of bad things happen as we get to know the secrets of this family, which involve cheating, bastard children, a hidden pregnancy, and other such tabloid fodder.  Faerber keeps the story moving along very well, and artist Patrick Gleason, who was very new when these books first came out starting in 2001, shows a lot of the promise that makes his work such a delight today.  I’m definitely going to be tracking down the remaining volumes in this series, and am kicking myself for not reading it years ago.

Watson and Holmes: A Study in BlackThis comic by Karl Bollers and Rick Leonardi (and Larry Stroman, for the last chapter) reimagines the classic literary characters Sherlock Holmes and John Watson as a pair of black men operating in New York City.  Watson is a medical intern at a hospital who gets drawn into one of Holmes’s cases, and together they work to rescue a kidnapped young woman, which leads them to a bit of a conspiracy.  Later, they work again on a case involving babies being left in dumpsters.  The comic is well written and engaging, although I felt that the main story was left a little unresolved.  Holmes’s character is interesting, but it’s never made clear why he’s chosen this path in his life (perhaps, if there will be a second volume, we’ll get to find out there).  It’s nice to see Rick Leonardi’s art again, but the colouring or production process leave his work looking a little muddy and not recognizably his.  I would have thought that perhaps Leonardi (who I always thought to be a very recognizable artist) was trying on some new stylings, but in the back there is a reproduction of a cover by Walter Simonson that also looks nothing like his work either (you can compare it with the pencils on a different page, which is pure Simonson).

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