Last couple weeks’s pulls
It’s been a busy few weeks, so I’ve fallen behind on stuff like comics and television, but I finally made it back out to the shop to pick up my pull list, and a couple of things off the shelf. Nevertheless, my stack was significantly smaller than I would’ve expected.
I’d actually forgotten about the Human Target. It’s been a while since the last issue came out… And seeing this on the shelf made me wonder if I had just missed a few months and the series had wrapped up without me? No. It’s still solicits issue seven at the back, so apparently the title was just paused or late. I’ve got a bone to pick though, with calling this tales of the human target. This is not a human target book. This is a justice league international book. That’s a problem. Not just the branding, but dropping a JLI book into this run, because the thing about justice league international was the book was funny. It was at just the right time, right in the middle of the comics boom, and shortly before the implosion… At a perfect time for an experiment. A perfect time for a silly book that could play with superhero tropes and give us something a little more lighthearted. It worked in that context for a while, but as the market shrink, we would see the pendulum swing back towards adventure and playing it straight with Gran morrison’s JLA.
Human target is not a funny series. And when you drop a group like the JLI into a slightly nihilistic deconstruction, it’s just awful. Justice league international when written as a satire is goofy and silly and fun. But when written as a straight up deconstruction, it makes the heroes look sad and incompetent. It’s just not a fun book.
What’s even more frustrating, is that I was warned. I’ve been enjoying human target, with a quibble here or there, a few decisions I wasn’t big on, but for the most part Tom King has just slightly touched these characters bringing them into visit as side characters in the background.They told me Tom King was up to no good, and I should’ve listened. Because this book right here is no good. I don’t know if it was planned as a bunch of back up stories or a companion piece, maybe something to throw in the back of the tree paper back… Dropping it right here in the middle when you’re already late feels like a misstep. It stops everything dead cold, and quite frankly turns me off enough that I’m not so sure I’m interested in continuing the series. Maybe I’ll just take a peek when it’s over.
Ghost Rider on the other hand continues to be good. It’s an interesting supernatural adventure… And one that’s very much in ghost riders wheelhouse. Out in the wastes we called the devils backbone, there is an annual motorcycle race… At the end of the race, you meet the devil. When you meet him, you can ask a question or a boon or something… And it’s just a cool concept well done. We need more of that. It’s interesting, because you look at some of the faces here, Dr. doom, wolverine, a lot of familiar marvel characters and it makes sense to put them in this context, that’s sort of desperation. It’s almost reminiscent of the secret six story arc about the various villains chasing after what basically amounted to a get out of jail free card, only for hell. I like this. It’s one of the better runs of Ghost Rider I’ve ever seen, and I hope they keep the creep and the quality up.
Over at Iron Man I am again a little confused, because it felt like I missed an issue. No, this is actually going back in time a bit. Before the previous issue where Tony’s captured and fighting for his life, we’ve got a rewind to remind ourselves of his relationship with war machine. That’s gonna be important, because war machine someone coming after him, complete with that black stealth suit that we see painted onto the cover. It’s a set up and a pause and again, I have to note that these sort of stories really do killed him I meant about the title, but at least in this case, it’s done well and stays engaging. Unlike that pause in human target, this issue does a good job of setting up where we’re going next.
And then there’s Batgirls. This title is also in the middle of what feels like a bridge story. We’re kind of done with the last arc, and setting up the next one, which gives us a nice excuse to hang out with the Batgirls for shenanigans. And shenanigans it is. Look, one of things I’m really enjoying here is the character development. You know, I dipped in and out of Cassie‘s Batgirl series back in the day. I was particularly interested in the brief “will they or one day“ with Superboy, and shocked by the whole “getting fired“ storyline. There was good stuff here and there on the cruise ship, things that helped us get to know Cassie, but the entire point of her character is that she doesn’t have any character. She’s basically a blank slate, and it’s harder to develop that and draw it out when you’ve just got her paired up with a mentor like Barbara. Pairing her up with Stephanie, I feel like we see so much more character development here in these nine issues than I’ve seen in the past 10 years with the various appearances in and out of her own series.
There’s also some interesting character development going on over in Spider-Man. We’re starting to see some carryover from the past series, particularly in how they’re handling Norman Osborne. It’s interesting, I’ll definitely give you that. There’s so much here that I like, and yet I’m still not sure if it’s enough to balance out the frustration over what I don’t know. This is one of those titles where I find myself more often than not dipping in and out of i’m not consistent with my reading on this one, simply because without enough information, I just don’t feel committed. The JR JR art isn’t helping me any either, but I’ve looked past that before and the colorists really does help prop him up.
Nevertheless, the writer definately has a handle on Peter’s voice. Spidey is always at his best when the writer gets him and his humor, and I think my single favorite moment in this issue is when the Vulture complains about Spidey telling someone he’s a murderer –
“But aren’t you trying to murder me right now?”
Then there’s She Hulk. Not necessarily a comic, but certainly a comic property. The first episode was OK. I think OK is really the operative word, otherwise some things that I didn’t care for. In particular, don’t let your kids watch the after credit sequence. Dropping that F bomb was a little bit shocking and didn’t make any of us particularly happy. The series has of course gotten the majority of his coverage over Jennifer‘s rant about how she does being angry better than Bruce… I don’t need to cover that here, except to say it was a dumb thing to insert. It’s not compelling, if anything it’s a self-inflicted wound. I can blow it off though, because this Jennifer Walters… She’s not a good person. She’s narcissistic self involved and aspires to victimhood. “She Hulk? That name better not stick. I can’t even exist without being a derivative of the Hulk?“ Well no. You can’t. Because that’s exactly what you are… A derivative of the Hulk. That’s what the character always was! It’s stuff like this it just turns me right off and sours the stuff that actually manages to be funny. I think Mecharandom42 on Youtube put it best – “Stop lecturing me about how bad you have it.” I agree. You office and home are WAY nicer than anything I’ve ever had. It’s just…..*sigh*.
And the funny parts? You’ve already seen all of episode one in commercials basically. It’s not untill we get into part two that we really start to get in to the story, but even then, the pity party continues. Jen is hired by a firm developing a new superhuman division. However, they want her because she’s She-hulk. She walks through the halls, bitter and angry; “I’lll never know if they hired me for my skill or just because I’m She-Hulk!”. No, you do know. You ABSOLUTELY were hired because you’re She-Hulk. And it’s gotten you a massive corner office and high salary. Here I’m just hoping that this is a character arc and that she’s a better person on the other end of this, because right now- she LOOKS like She-Hulk, but the character is still utterly unrecognizable. The Jen Walters I know, doesn’t resent being She-Hulk. Big and green actually gives her confidence and makes her feel beautiful and empowered, not….whatever this is.
Disney/Marvel? In the words of Sam Wilson – “Do better”.
Week of 3/16/22 (mostly)
It was finally time last week. The moment I’ve been waiting for, one of my most intense anticipated books in a good long while. Worlds Finest finally hit The shelves. You basically have my attention, just by putting the yellow oval behind the bat symbol. In fact, I really like the general character designs that were seeing for both Batman and Superman here. Very traditional, very much my generation.
What we get, is part one of what promises to be a fun adventure, featuring more than a few familiar faces, all designs like Lex Luthors Super Powers battle armor and traditional Batman villains. It’s all good, it’s all solid, and quite frankly, it’s the first time in a very long time – years – that I feel like I’m sitting down and reading a new comic book that was written for me. I’m really enjoying this already, and I am hard and fast on this series all the way. If DC still offered subscriptions, I’d already be there.
Also in the black label line is the flashes rogues book. This one I’m not so sure how to feel about. It’s in the future, kind of an old man Logan take… I’m hot and cold on it. Not sure if I like it or not yet. I really don’t like that Boomerang is dead (basically my main gateway to the Rogues) though the take on the young Trickster is actually pretty interesting. Not really enjoying Bronze Tiger being cast as a villian this time around though. I’m hoping we see him wrestle with his violence and morality, the way John Ostrander used to so intelligently write him. The whole thing is a real jumble that has me off balance. I’m willing to give it one more issue though.
I even took a peek in this week’s Harley Quinn.
The art is AWFUL. It’s so wierd and loopy and cartoon and it just feels cheap. Also I know that they’re kind of trying to sell Harley as a hero these days because of her popularity, but really I feel like she’s lost a lot of her edge. The Harley Quinn I know wouldn’t be heading to jail trying to be cute and avoid any confrontations. The Harley I know would saunter in with a joke and a cute smile, and then stab a chick. Ugh. Such a disappointment.
It goes about as you would expect, and it’s really cute as a fun little one shot. Of course, even as I’m writing this, my daughter has informed me that it’s NOT a one shot… And in fact just A few days ago, they posted part two… where Spider-Man is cat sitting this time.
You know what? This was fun the first time, but comes off as a little silly and excessive going any further. Still, definitely catch up first one.
That’s right, they put out an Alligator Loki comic book! Thor stumbles across our scaly friend as he tumbles out of a portal, and in an attempt to bond with this version of his brother, he takes him to an asguardian amusement park. It’s just the best thing ever. I don’t know what delights me more. Watching poor little alligator Loki try and hold on as they ride the roller coaster, or just the sight of him in one of those across the chest baby harnesses as Thor carries them around. Seriously. It was my absolute favorite thing all last week.
There’s an interesting approach to the Shadow Man, trying to treat him almost as a priest rather than just a warrior or a superhero. This is interesting, it’s a good and natural evolution of this character as we have added progressively more voodoo and horror elements to the series over the last couple of decades. Here we find him battling the incarnate spirit of the Deadside, in attempt to prevent the land of the dead from merging with the land of the living. I feel like I just saw a bunch of the story in Legend of Korra, but it remains solid. It’s one of those though that I think I might rather wait for the trade then chasing down individual issues. I’m still a little lukewarm on this version. I like it, but I feel like it needs more. Honestly what this really needs is a good supporting cast… I was so hoping that this dead side goddess would end up being Jack’s old housekeeper Nettie. I’ve been keeping with the sort of slight paranoia and twists that we used to get from the book. There’s still a solid foundation here, what it really needs is someone with a good long-term vision – I mean five years or so who can create a supporting cast around Jack figure out a good nightmare and bring back some recurring arch enemies. (in the previous issue, we got a brief appearance by master dark in Sandria and I was so excited for half a millisecond until they just use them as a throwaway villain… Such a bummer!)
Now. How about television?
The Food That Built America is back on, and I am enjoying that, there’s definitely some stuff about Dairy Queen in Carvel that I never knew. There’s a new show with Adam Richmond on after it too – Adam eats the 80’s which explores lost and changed food and candy from the 1980’s it’;s been far more interesting and fun that it has any right to be. It’s a good thing too, because I had an opening in my TV schedule – Superman and Lois was on a break last week and the Flash… I don’t know what it is the season. I almost feel like the mandate is “show the flash as little as possible“ after these last two episodes. I mean it’s fun to see Barry trapped in the locked down police station and I guess they’d have to take away his powers to make that work, but seriously. We’re getting two or three minutes of costume time each episode and I feel like I’m back in the 80s again where are these type of programs we’re still trying to pretend they weren’t superhero shows.
Week of 2-22-22
Could whoever is running the control board over at Superman and Lois turn down the “soap opera“ dial a few notches please?
Last Weeks Pulls (Week of 1/26/22)
I’d actually intended to talk this week about Nick Spencer’s run on Spider-Man last year. About how much I really appreciate him and his contributions to continuity. The man knows his stuff, and fixed one of the greatest problems in Spider-Man continuity, specifically that of the Stacy twins. But he also added in some new twists both with Mephisto and his relationship to Spider-Man on a grander scale, as well as the curse he laid on the Osbornes and how that figures into the whole overarching mythology. Good stuff. Pity it’s so gloomy and the read was such a downer. I’m glad I saw these changes made, but I didn’t enjoy reading it… And that’s really what you’re going to Spider-Man for isn’t it?
Transitioning into this new “beyond“ story line featuring Ben Riley taking over for Spidey again… I mean it’s just the aftermath of the clone saga again mixed in with a dash of corporate superhero themes that I’ve already seen a thousand times in both the Avengers and Youngblood. And of course, we’ve gotta find a good excuse for REAL Spidey to be out of the way, so radiation poisoning and hospitalization will keep Peter Parker tucked in a hospital bed until we need him again, right?
In Amazing Spider-Man 87, Peter is actually up and about. In fact, we’re going into something more of a learning curve storyline. Peters doing the superhero equivalent physical therapy, with black cat and Captain America trying to train him back up to Spider-Man levels of skill. I feel like I should hate this, but actually…
One of the big problems I feel Spider-Man has developed is we’ve lost a lot of what makes Spider-Man unique. There’s a plethora of various clones and copycats and spider people running around now. It’s not just SpiderGwen or Miles Morales, at one point during that Spencer run, we had both of them as well as Silk, and red Spider Woman and black Spider Woman and a couple others I didn’t recognize all doing stuff in the same story… There really wasn’t even enough room for Peter, much less any of his actual supporting cast. Thing is, the best superheroes are really enhanced and uplifted by their supporting caste people the ordinary, unpowered folks that surround them, and the more I read of modern Spider-Man the more I miss that. Stories with Mary Jane and Flash and Harry hanging out. JJJ and Robbie Robertson and Betty Brant up at the Bugle, Aunt May back home sharing the latest gossip from Anna Watson. Spider-Man had a rich and colorful supporting cast and I feel like they’ve been pushed out. That’s one of the things it was nice to see here. Black Cat was one of the first people that an unconscious Peter responded to in the hospital, and watching her recruit Captain America to help bring Spidey back up to speed… I feel like we’re getting a real Peter Parker story. I feel like we’re getting shenanigans with old friends, not to mention the single best Spider-Man costume ever!
More than anything, I had fun reading this. I haven’t had fun reading I knew Spider-Man comic in a good long while, and this is a welcome return to form.
Interestingly enough, there was a side story released last week as well, black cat and Mary Jane. The Hood showed up to try and force Black Cat to retrieve his lost hood and cloak… The source of his power. Otherwise he’s going to kill Peter and Mary Jane. Black Cat agrees, and demands MJ goes with her. She suggests that she’s part of the crew. It’s all a bluff to get Mary Jane out of danger, figuring that even in his incapacitated state, Peter’s spider sense will go off if he’s in any real peril and he’ll be able to take care of himself. What unfolds next is a really great one shot adventure. Equal parts heist, con, and superhero romp. MJ and Black Cat have a surprising amount of chemistry together, and again, it’s this supporting cast thing… It really plays well. Another title that I am surprised I liked so much.
A book I wasn’t surprised I liked last week was Human Target. Tom Kings actually doing a great job on this, and he and his artist have figured out how to handle Christopher Chance. They’re telling the story almost with a 40s and 50s detective throwback flare. Don’t get me wrong, this is firmly set in 2022, and really well meshed into the DC universe, especially the Justice League International that I remember so fondly from the 90s. But Chance himself has the swagger of a James Cagney, and the burgeoning romance between him and Ice has been surprisingly charming.
With the first issue being the actual job, standing in for Lex Luthor to prevent an assassination attempt and ending a poisoning, Chance is four issues in now to trying to figure out who it was it slipped the poison into Luthors drink… The poison that’s slowly killing Chance. I generally like the Human Target. Everybody has a different take on him, but this one may just work the best for me. It’s true to the character, and it’s still a nice travelogue through the DC universe.
I’d probably be remiss if I didn’t mention superman 78, which ended last week. And I’ve gotta admit… I want more. I get that this is necessarily just a six issue miniseries, never meant to go on any further, but man, I’d love to see a whole i’d probably be remiss if I didn’t mention Superman 78, which ended last week. And I’ve gotta admit… I want more. I get that this is necessarily just a six issue miniseries, never meant to go on any further, but man, I’d love to see a whole collection of miniseries like this. The story never stopped entertaining me from beginning to end, and has just enough fan service to keep me delighted, while maintaining A sense of the Superman that I really recognize. It’s not even that it’s specifically that Christopher Reeve Superman, it’s just the good old-fashioned, Boy Scout, big blue, big red “S” Superman. It’s a traditional, late 70s 80s portrayal, sort of thing that still bled into the late 80s and 90s John Byrne Superman that I really connect with. I’m waiting for this collection to come out in a trade so that I can swap out my individual issues for one big book. It’s very possibly my favorite thing to come out last year…
Well with the exception of Jeffrey the land shark of course!