Apr
30

Pull List Analysis/Reviews for April 30, 2008

Posted by on Wednesday, April 30th, 2008 at 10:00:09 PM

Hey everybody, Free Comic Book Day is nigh, but if you want to pay for your comics, here’s what to expect on the shelves this week! (This got delayed a bit by technical difficulties, so it’s now a combination of analysis and review!)

A lot of books one or more of us approve are out: Action Comics, Ex Machina, Green Lantern, Immortal Iron Fist, New Avengers and X-Men Legacy all have new issues out that I don’t really have anything to say about. Elsewhere, creators we like (David Lapham, Tony Harris, Karl Kerschl) are on books we’re probably just buying because we like them. Plus there are a ton of trades/graphic novels/squarebound funnybooks out this week that deserve your attention.

Man this cover looks horrible in thumbnail form!In Superhero-land, the book everyone is focusing on is clearly DC Universe #0, the book that I guess Countdown was tying into, until they realized no one liked Countdown so they tried to quietly bury it, meaning Countdown wasn’t really counting down to anything. Written by Grant Morrison and Geoff Johns and with art by a bunch of people including George Perez, JG Jones and Carlos Pacheco, this is basically a set of trailers for upcoming books: Final Crisis and its tie-ins, “Batman R.I.P.” and whatever is going on in Wonder Woman with the “Manazons.” Also, a return that most people were expecting soon but took some by surprise. Will it reignite fan interest in all of the books DC seems to have actively sought to alienate people from in the past two years? I don’t know, but it’s only fifty cents! That’s only like two pints of gas, so a lot of people are giving it a chance. If you don’t want to, other people (like our own David) have broken it all down for you.

bluebeetle26Wednesday also brings us Blue Beetle #26 by fill-in team of Jai Nitz and Mike Norton. This is the “spanish language” issue we’ve joked about in the past: title character Jaime Reyes takes his gringa girlfriend Traci 13 to a family reunion, and I guess linguistic and superheroic wackiness ensues. Fill-in issues on Blue Beetle have thus far been aggressively underwhelming, but with Rogers off the book, that may be the best we get. I’m curious to see what (if any) coverage this book, “the first American superhero comic book published in Spanish!” or somesuch milestone, is given.

Over at Marvel, a couple promising one-shots might slip under some people’s radars: Daredevil Blood Of The Tarantula by Ed Brubaker, Ande Parks and Chris Samnee is a follow-up to last year’s Daredevil Annual #1, and appears to be another backdoor pilot style adventure of the Black Tarantula, reformed ganglord turned vigilante who has been lurking around the edges of Brubaker’s run on Daredevil. The overall package isn’t quite as elegant as Parks and Samnee’s Capote in Kansas or Brubaker’s Criminal, but if you can’t wait for the next issue of Criminal this should tide you over nicely.

Ages of Thunder coverMarvel’s also got Thor: Ages Of Thunder by Matt Fraction, Patrick Zircher and Khari Evans, the first of three self-described “continuity-free” Thor stories from times of myth and I guess somehow meant to evoke Led Zeppelin? I have to confess to not fully understanding the parallel (I thought those guy were Tolkien nerds), but the art looks pretty great and a frost giant slips in an amazing, Rudy Ray Moore style iceburn on Loki amidst all the Epic Tales of High Adventure. A winner all-around!

Hopefully Thor will soothe the pain of Fraction fans who find the final issue of The Order in their pull box. I understand some of the cast is rolling over into Invincible Iron Man in a week or two, but if you’re someone who likes endings: also taking their final bow this week are Uncle Sam & the Freedom Fighters (this was still being made?), Ultimate Human (hurry up and trade this Marvel, the movies are almost out!) and Robert Kirkman’s Ultimate X-Men run. I haven’t been following Kirkman on the book, has he gotten around to introducing Ultimate Bastion, Cecelia Reyes and Maggot yet? If not, why not?

If you’re someone who waits for the trades, DC is releasing Andy Diggle and Jock’s Green Arrow Year One, a.k.a. GAYO. As far as unfortunate DC acronyms go, the quality of this book trends closer to ASS than DONG, so fans of The Losers might want to pick this up. Speaking of unfortunate, it’s a good word to describe the way Dwayne McDuffie’s runs on two premier superhero team books have gone. His Justice League of America has become an instrument of bad crossovers, and his Fantastic Four run was really just a short vamp to give the team of Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch time to get their run ready. Now, Fantastic Four: Beginning of the End is out, and I was ready to suggest this as a fun if slight collection of stories. But rather than collecting the back half of McDuffie’s recent FF run, this book only has one of those stories (originally from issues 551-553) alongside Karl Kesel and Tom Grummet’s two-issue fill-in that was printed between the Waid/Wieringo and JMS/McKone runs. Longtime fans might remember this story for its intimation that Johnny Storm is a virgin, who has never known the touch of a woman due to his fear of setting them on fire. Along with that, they throw in the fun Tom Beland/Juan Doe one-shot Isla de la Muerte. It’s a motley collection, but since McDuffie’s previous issues are spread out haphazardly amongst three different collections, I guess it’s the best they could do without repeating themselves, and it’s a nice read for fans of the team. Still, where are those cute Stan Lee/Nick Dragota and Paul Pope stories from issue #546?

Out beyond The Big Two, there’s a ton of stuff coming out, from old faces and new.

Dave Sim’s new project Glamourpuss debuted and it’s really… um…. weird. I read a preview copy, and most of the book is Sim discussing how much he admires the “photorealistic” artwork of Neal Adams, Al Williamson, Alex Raymond and others. He’s particularly interested in the “Rip Kirby” series by Raymond and John Prentice, and shapes a bunch of old scans, tracings of old panels and other efforts at photorealism into a loose narrative that’s really more of an essay shoved into word balloons in illustrative panels. I thought this was really great. Of course, the other half of the book was Sim tracing fashion photography and turning them into a weird polemic against fashion/society/etc. But that was really pretty too! Recommended for fans of Sim or comics history, not sure what anyone else would make of it.

Other notables:
Amor y Cohetes by Gilbert, Jaime & Mario Hernandez (Fantagraphics): That last collection of Love & Rockets v1 has arrived, much sooner than expected! Now you can own the entire first volume of this book in an attractively packaged set. Fanta are even offering the at a special price, and conveniently show you how awesome these books look lined up on the shelf!

So pretty!

Bottomless Belly Button by Dash Shaw (Fantagraphics): Old Meathaus hand Shaw throws his hat in the ring of Big Reflective Graphic Novels with the impishly titled Bottomless Belly Button. Seven hundred and twenty pages! A family in turmoil! He’s even getting in on the “variant cover” craze re-sweeping DC, Marvel and the rest by offering this massive book with two different covers, “Mom” and “Dad”!

Dungeon Monstres v1: The Crying Giant and Little Nothings v1: Curse of the Umbrella by Lewis Trondheim and others (NBM ComicsLit): FBB loves French comics, even if we get tired of Joe talking about French comics. NBM’s putting out two more books by the apparently insanely prolific Lewis Trondheim: one is another part in the confusingly organized Dungeon series, which is always a lot of fun even if you aren’t into D&D. The other, I’m not really sure.

Grunts by Keith Giffen, Shannon Denton & Matt Jacobs (Arcana Studio): I don’t really know anything about this book, but lots of people (including me) like Keith Giffen. This appears to involve hard-bitten World War II soldiers interacting with “realistic” superbeings? You’ve been informed.

Klassic Komics Klub by Johnny Ryan (Buenaventura Press): This is the spiritual sequel to last year’s Comic Book Holocaust, which was Ryan doing really filthy, scatalogical riffs on beloved comic book/strip characters and artists. This time, he turns his eyes to the classics of Literature. Holocaust was kind of unrelenting to read all at once, like reading a full run of Milk & Cheese or going on a long car trip with Robin Williams. But if you like smart-dumb gross-out humor, this should be absolutely perfect as “bathroom reading”.

Nat TurnerNat Turner by Kyle Baker (Abrams): Kyle Baker breaks his exclusive deal with Kyle Baker Publishing to let Abrams put out a classy collection of his comic biography of Nat Turner. For those that have been following the book in single issues, this is a nice glossy collection with a few bonuses. For those that haven’t, now is your chance to see how “educational”/”historical” comics can be done; they needn’t read like an instruction manual or Powerpoint presentation.

Thoreau at Walden by John Porcellino (Hyperion): Speaking of nice comic biographies, the Center for Cartoon Studies has released their second biocomic, featuring mini-comics legend John Porcellino‘s take on that tax-dodging scamp Henry David Thoreau. I confess to not caring about Transcendentalism nearly as much as baseball, which informed the first book of the series (Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow by James Sturm & Rich Tommaso) but on the strength of that book, as well as Porcellino’s track record, I’ll be giving this a try, and hope there are more volumes to come.

Dororo v.1 by Osamu Tezuka (Vertical): Last but certainly not least, Vertical’s releasing more of manga legend Osamu Tezuka‘s work in English. It seems as if this is one of his earlier all-ages series, so it might not appeal as much to readers who’ve been following Vertical’s other Tezuka offerings (Buddha, Apollo’s Song, Ode to Kirihito). Me, I’ve been on a big Tezuka kick, and even if this particular series isn’t my exact cup of tea, I am heartened to see Vertical and others working to put more of his massive body of work in print in my native tongue.

Well, that’s what I think is exciting this week. Did I miss anything? Anyone picking up the first book in Radical’s line? Some other hidden gem? Let us know!

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