Inside Pulse 12

The Weekly Round-Up #342 With Dept. H #3, Detective Comics #935, Rai #14, The Ultimates #8 & More

Best Comic of the Week:

Bitch Planet #8While reading yet another excellent issue of Bitch Planet, I couldn’t help but wonder how much more effective, both in terms of story and in terms of sparking a movement in comics, this series would be if it came out more often.  Kelly Sue DeConnick is writing the work of her career with this book, and Valentine DeLandro is drawing the hell out of it, but it just comes out too infrequently.  This issue introduces Kamau’s sister, who is a trans woman and also incarcerated on the Planet, while also building on the dynamic between Kamau and Whitney, and revealing a new prisoner who has been given her own wing of the prison.  Like always, the comic ends with some very well thought-out backmatter that is as interesting and rewarding as the comic itself.

Quick Takes:

Aloha, Hawaiian Dick #3 – A lot of things become clear in this issue, as Byrd runs into his younger brother (who was the focus of the first issue), and we get a good look at the various criminal wrongdoings that are converging into a singular story.  I love Jacob Wyatt’s art on this series.

The Autumnlands #11Learoyd and Dusty make their way up the mountain this issue, and while we do find out where the lights have been coming from, we are left with a lot more questions.  This arc of The Autumnlands has been shifting a lot of the groundwork from the first arc, but it continues to be a very compelling read, and I continue to be very impressed with Benjamin Dewey’s artwork.  I just wish this book came out more often…

Black Road #3 – Brian Wood takes some time to better make clear the nature of what the Christians are up to on the northern coast this issue, as Magnus and the girl continue to travel the black road, facing a pack of wolves and the danger of freezing to death.  This series is pretty slow moving, but I don’t have a problem with that, as Garry Brown’s depictions of the northern landscapes are lovely.

Captain America: Sam Wilson #10 – Once again, this title gets co-opted by a big event, as Nick Spencer uses this issue to explore the feelings of some characters about James Rhodes’s death.  Sam and a group of other black heroes get together to reminisce, and it’s a little strange, as the characters Rhodey was always closest to – Tony Stark and Carol Danvers – are absent, but characters like Brother Voodoo, who I’m not sure we ever saw working with Rhodey, are present.  I actually really like the idea that heroes of colour would have developed bonds on a different level, but a few inclusions (and exclusions, such as Adam Brashear) felt odd.  Anyway, Sam gives a  nice speech, and with the Americops subplot, Spencer shows us that he is going to continue to use this title to examine some social issues, which I embrace fully.  

Cry Havoc #6I’m not sure if this is the end of just the first arc of this series, or if it’s the end of the whole thing (things are definitely left open for more), but either way, Simon Spurrier and Ryan Kelly close off this story very well.  We learn the full secrets of Inhand Org’s mission, and what’s been going on with Lou’s pregnancy.  This has been a very interesting, well-structured story, and I hope to see either more of it, or Kelly’s artwork, elsewhere.

Dept. H #3 – The first two issues of Matt Kindt’s new series blew me away, but I found this one to be a little oddly paced and generally kind of strange.  Mia is rescued from the crevasse she fell into last issue, but her brother is not.  Convinced he’s still alive, she struggles to find someone else in the underwater station to help her rescue him, and then that plan is derailed by a different crisis on the station, after which, he’s not mentioned again.  I trust Kindt as a storyteller whose work is always very intentional, but this feels strange to me.

Detective Comics #935 – I think this title might be a winner, as this second issue digs a little deeper into the relationships forming between the various team members, the cracks in the relationship between Batman and Batwoman, and gives us another look at the antagonists that they are gathering to stop.  Eddy Barrows is doing great work on the art, and James Tynion IV manages to make each character shine.  I think I’ll be adding this to my pullfile…

Divinity II #3Abram confronts Myshka, and their fight moves through time and explores the limitations of their abilities.  I like the approach Matt Kindt takes towards time travel in this series, and wish it could be applied across the board in comics.  This is a good, thoughtful series.

Doctor Strange #9 – I continue to really love this title, as Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo have Stephen and his allies gather the last bits of magic to aid them in their fight against the Empirikull.  Strange discovers the secrets that Wong has been keeping from him for years, while the thing in the cellar is let loose, and looks like it’s going to be a big problem for everyone.  Bachalo’s art on this title is just so nice.

Drifter #12 – As has been expected for a while now, war breaks out between the inhabitants of the small town on a distant planetoid and the Wheelers, the indigenous life on the planet.  As has always been the case with this series, Nic Klein’s art is amazing, and gives the events of this issue a real sense of menace.  

Ms. Marvel #8I guess this is one book that can be trusted to take a different approach to something like Marvel’s biggest tentpole event of the year.  Kamala gets recruited by Captain Marvel to work with a group that uses Ulysses’s knowledge of future events to stop crimes before they happen.  G. Willow Wilson takes some liberties with how his powers work compared to how Brian Michael Bendis has shown them in Civil War II, but she is very realistic in showing Kamala as initially very excited about the implications of this information, until her new sister-in-law shows her the downsides.  I appreciate the way that Wilson doesn’t shy away from uncomfortable ideas (in this case, the similarities between this approach and profiling), and also like how she’s exploring Kamala’s family history, starting with Partition.  This is a thoughtful comic, so I’m going to overlook the fact that the story doesn’t fit well with the main event at all.  I actually kind of wish Wilson was writing that story too…

Power Man and Iron Fist #5 – I continue to enjoy David Walker’s writing on this book, even though I don’t really think of either Luke Cage nor Danny Rand as the type of light-hearted funny characters we see here.  This issue has the pair appear on a local radio show to try to explain how a fight with Manslaughter Marsdale really went down.  It’s cute.  I do miss Sanford Greene’s art on it, though.  Next issue is a Civil War II tie-in, so I guess we can look forward to seeing if that necessitates a change in tone.

Rai #14Matt Kindt continues to explore the long history of the Rais, this time showing us how Father often removed and replaced one Rai with another when he felt that the tone of New Japan was changing.  This is a solid issue, although not really essential to the 4001 A.D. event.

Rumble #11 – I’m very happy to see Rumble return after a bit of a delay, although the amusing and odd series takes a few dark turns this issue and makes me think it can’t go back to the lighter book that it was.  Bobby gets to talk to his mom, who has been in a coma for three years, but not for as long as he’d like.  This leads to a blowout with Timah, who may have been the person who brought her back, mystically.  Rathraq’s body is stolen from him, while poor Lerna is heartbroken, and Del gets some new roommates.  John Arcudi and James Harren are making this a very unique series, and I hope that more people start checking it out.

Thief of Thieves #32 – I was very surprised to see that this series was continuing, after the last arc really wrapped all of its plot threads very nicely.  This new story has Redmond returning to crime, although more out of boredom and a need to prove himself – he steals an Egyptian artifact from a private collector and plans to return it to the place it was looted from.  Later, a pair of Russian oligarchs hire him and two other master thieves for a job.  I like this title, and am happy to see it return, but wonder if a new arc is needed.  I hope that Andy Diggle and Shawn Martinbrough have something cool cooked up for us.

The Totally Awesome Hulk #7So here’s the thing, if I wanted to read a book about Bruce Banner, I’d have been reading the Hulk for years.  It looks like Marvel is giving Amadeus Cho (a.k.a. the Hulk I want to read about)’s book to Banner for a few issues as a way of tieing in to Civil War.  This is probably why I should be more careful about reading solicitations, because I would have just dropped this.  This was my fear about the Civil War event coming too soon into the ANAD runs; it disrupts titles that hadn’t fully found their own feet yet.

The Ultimates #8 – My fear for this title since it started was that it would end up like Al Ewing’s first two attempts at Mighty Avengers, with way too much time being given over to crossover events.  That does happen here, as Civil War II becomes the focus, but Ewing uses it to first explain the origin of the team, and secondly to dig a little deeper into events from the beginning of CWII.  It works well, and might hopefully attract some new readers (I don’t think this title is doing that well, sales-wise), but too much of it felt like something I’d just read, mostly because I’ve just read all this stuff somewhere else.

Wonder Woman #1This series is off to a strong start, even if I’m not sure I feel that so much of the issue should be given over to Steve Trevor and Etta Candy (who now looks like the classic Amanda Waller).  Liam Sharp’s art is great, and the story about Diana trying to figure out her true history is intriguing.  I need to know a lot more about the b-plot to figure out if it has any value yet, but I do like when Greg Rucka writes military stories, so this aspect works in that sense.  I haven’t read any Wonder Woman since Azzarello finished his story, and it’s kind of nice to get back to Diana.

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

Civil War II Choosing Sides #1

James Bond #7

Mighty Thor #8

Nighthawk #2

Pretty Deadly #10

Scarlet Witch #7

She Wolf #1

Snowfall #5

Bargain Comics:

Agents of SHIELD #1&2It makes sense that Marvel will have a title spotlighting the characters from the television show, but the fit remains a little awkward, especially since the inclusion of established Marvel characters like Mockingbird and the new Deathlok isn’t explained on any level.  Building a longer arc makes more sense than the done-in-one format of the previous SHIELD title, but two issues in, I don’t see a lot of reason to come back and read more (which is largely how I feel about the TV show too…).

All-New Inhumans #3-5 – I feel like this series is a bit of a mess.  Marvel is so determined to make us like the Inhumans that they borrow a few pages from the X-Men’s book, but forget that what has made those characters so popular since the late 70s has been the complex layers of interaction between them.  These characters come off a little flat, and it becomes hard to care much about any of this.  There are a few shining moments spread throughout, but I think this title needs to be a lot more clear about its premise and its intent.  Writer James Asmus is joined by very capable artists (Caselli and Araújo), so this should be working better than it is.

Nova #3-5Between the last Nova title and this one, I’ve never been able to escape the notion that this book is not being handled quite right.  Were it a little less decompressed, and were it to stop endlessly cycling back on itself (we get it, Sam is always late for school), there could be a lot of potential here.

Silver Surfer #15 – I think I waited way too long to get around to reading this Secret Wars tie-in.  That event feels like it was a hundred years ago now, and it’s more than a little hard to care.  Still, Michael Allred art is always a good thing…