Pull List Worthy Comics: January 20

pull list wor·thy

po͝ol list wərT͟Hē
adjective

1. a comic book that is deserving of effort, attention, respect and purchase.
“Bitch Planet is such a provocative read, it is totally pull list worthy.”


Happy Wednesday, nerds! I have cultivated a fine list of pull list worthy comics for you to check out when you hit your comic shop this week. In the mean time, tell me what’s on your pull list in the comments! Continue reading

Wonder Woman Is …

Imagine for a moment being on Wonder Woman’s bad side. And then she shows up unexpectedly to have a little talk with you.

Cue awe and soiled garments.

That’s a scenario writer Gail Simone and artist Nicola Scott set up beautifully when Diana confronted our favorite anti-heroes in Secret Six #12. Wonder Woman’s memorable guest appearance through issue #14 was the icing on top of one of Secret Six’s best arcs, “The Depths.” There are so many things about this story I love, starting with the stark contrast between the highly principled princess and the most delightfully morally ambiguous crew in comics. In this arc, Wonder Woman was an imposing, justice-demanding force of nature. In other words, awesome. (Spoilers ahead) Continue reading

2011 Memorable Moment: A Scandalous Threesome and the Venomous Six

This memorable moment is a twofer, and probably the one nearest to my heart.

We all (should) know that Death of the New Gods was a terrible story that did nothing but muck up continuity and convolute the lead-in to Final Crisis (while also having terrible grammar throughout the series). The last thing Final Crisis needed to be was more confusing. Those annoyances aside, the most tragic part of DotNG were the deaths of some particularly awesome New Gods, specifically … Knockout. Continue reading

2010 Memorable Moment: Cat Got Yo’ Face!

Daddy issues much?

Secret Six is a book that was consistently good throughout the year. Gail never ceases to blow the line between morality and immorality completely to smithereens in ways that only work with the Six. While there have been many, many “Oh, Shit!” moments in Secret Six, issue #22 made my jaw hit the ground so hard it nearly broke.

In the final chapter of the “Cats in the Cradle” story arc, Thomas Blake takes his animal inclinations to the extreme. After hunting his son’s kidnappers by blazing a trail of blood and entrails, he finally confronts them. A meta by the name of Wallace is particularly arrogant and sinister upon Catman’s arrival, and the fight ensues. Wallace seems to be under the impression that he has the upper hand because he’s all electrical. Whilst lightning and shit-talking are plentiful, Blake takes one lunge at Wallace, and bites his fucking face off. One bite. Then he kills him with his claw-knuckle thingie and the best one-liner … ever. Gail officially sent Thomas Blake up the river to Homocidal Maniac Town, never to return.

J. Calafiore’s illustration is so epically perfect and gruesome that one cannot help but be utterly shocked.

I’d also like to give Calafiore some major props for his work on Secret Six as a whole this past year. He’s more or less melded with the Six, and I love, LOVE how he draws them. Calafiore has stepped his game up every month, and continues to improve. I’m so impressed by this book’s consistency, which is what Secret Six deserves.

Pull List Assessment – Part Two

E. inspired me to take a crack at my pull list …

I’ll miss you Nimue

GREATNESS
These are the books I absolutely cannot live without. If I were broke and had to choose between lunch on Wednesday or these comics … I’d be a hungry fangirl.

Madame Xanadu – Often times, the art on the book is nothing shy of perfect. Amy Reeder does an amazing job. I’d also like to give mega-kudos to Shelly Bond over at Vertigo for this most recent arc, Extra-Sensory. Six books, six different female artists, all of them relatively new to the game with the exception of Reeder. What a wonderful way to shine some light on female comic art talent. Marley Zarcone and Chrissie Zullo are new favorites of mine because of it. But it has been the story all along that stole my heart. Matt Wagner’s Nimue is one whom I will love forever. He’s developed Madame Xanadu into a beautiful character of substance. I am truly sad that this book will be over in two issues. Continue reading

G3 Review: Secret Six #22

Cover art by Dan LuVisi

Secret Six #22

Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: J. Calafiore
DC Comics
Released: June 9, 2010

The comics that I deem “good” are the ones that really tug my emotions or shock the shit out of me. The final installment of the Secret Six “Cats in the Cradle” story arc was a full on jaw-dropper, kids. If you haven’t been reading, you need to grab the trade. I went back to issue #19 and read straight through. This story is intense, fast-paced and clever, Continue reading

Comic Judgment: The Hit Parade

Maybe I was feeling a tad sensitive last week, but there were several comic book moments that left me all verklempt. It was also one of those rare weeks when my pull list produced nothing but hits, with two (Batman and Robin and Secret Six) in a dead heat for first place. There will be spoilers.

Batman and Robin #12: Damian Wayne has haters for days, but the more Grant Morrison delves into his character and unfortunate lineage, the more he grows on me. As the book opens, Damian’s mother, Talia al-Ghul, has literally turned him into a puppet whose movements are being remotely controlled by Deathstroke to kill Dick Grayson. But Talia has (again) underestimated Dick’s Batman-certified skills, as well as her son’s ability to resist manipulation. Once Dick and Alfred shut down the puppet show, Damian decides to confront his mother, who offers an ultimatum: Come back home, or consider yourself my enemy. No one will ever accuse the littlest Wayne of being cuddly, but when Damian asks her, “Can’t you just love me for who I am? Not what you want me to be?” we’re reminded that he is, after all, just a 10-year-old boy. As expected, Talia’s response is not the stuff of greeting cards — and it is thoroughly on. A moving story, plus the no-they-didn’t ending revealing creepy Oberon Sexton’s identity, adds up to one awesome issue. Dick wins the Best Line Award for his response to Damian’s concern that Talia will have him killed: “She can try.”

Secret Six #21: Am I the only one who hears Young Joc’s “It’s Going Down” while reading Secret Six? Because every time I think Gail Simone’s scripts can’t get any more gangster, she finds a bigger machine gun. This book almost never fails to deliver a satisfying blend of poignancy, spit-out-your-Coke-Zero humor and medieval conflict. Tom’s (Catman) early memories, dominated by his repugnant father, are gut-wrenching, thanks to J. Caliafore’s all-too-vivid illustrations. Back in the present day, the anti-hero is on a mission to punish the crew that kidnapped (and possibly killed) his infant son, and his former teammates are following the trail of corpses. The Sixers have seen just about everything, so you know it’s bad when they’re taken aback. After observing the sliced-and-diced remains of one of Catman’s victims, the usually unflappable Deadshot says, “All right. I don’t know what normal people think. This is &^%$ed up, right?” Yeah, but it’s a tea party compared to what Tom has in store for the sadist, metahuman thug, Loki. It involves back trouble, and very big cats.

Red Robin #12: I’d say any comic that shows Ra’s al-Ghul stammering in disbelief is worth $2.99, but in this issue, Tim Drake cracks Mr. al-Ghul’s face — at least metaphorically — with flair. With a little help from his super friends, my favorite Robin thwarts an elaborate plot to kill Bruce Wayne’s associates and bilk Wayne Enterprises. Ra’s throws Tim’s battered body through a skyscraper window, but Dick Grayson (in Batman mode) grabs him right on time. Call me a sap, but I really dug the moment when Dick asks Tim how he knew he’d be there to save him. “You’re my brother, Dick. You’ll always be there for me.” Sniffle! The Best Line Award goes to Damian Wayne, who goes off on his grandpa via walkie-talkie for sending rank amateurs to take him down: “Really, Grandfather? Ninja? I’m insulted.” Writer Chris Yost is moving on after this issue, but he’s ended his Red Robin run on a high note.

Brightest Day #1: Now this is more like it. Following the #0 issue that left about as much of an impression as zero suggests, Brightest Day #1 (or at least part of it) finally feels like an epic adventure with some surprises up its sleeve. I certainly appreciated the moment when Aquaman and Mera put a hurting on some child kidnappers at sea, and a pedophile’s death-by-undead-shark was a particularly awesome touch. However, the subplots are breaking down neatly into care/don’t care categories: Filed under “care” are the Aqua posse (including) scary Black Manta, Martian Manhunter, Hawkman and Hawkgirl. In my “don’t care” category are Firestorm (sorry, Shag), Boston Brand and Hal Jordan/Carol Ferris/Sinestro. I’m just a tiny bit burned out on these three lanterns in general. Nothing personal, guys.

What did you like last week?

Gail Was Robbed!

Cover art by Dan LuVisi

Secret Six #20 played out like a well-acted revenge thriller. Catman reminded me of Liam Neeson in Taken. Those baddies effed with the wrong guy! Still, I wish Cheshire had come along to help with the revenge portion of the show. Maybe Gail will bring her around later. Let’s hope.

On the whole, this issue was fast-paced and full of that shock factor these characters are known for, and it set the stage for a hell of a story arc. Thanks again, Gail, for reminding me why I buy monthly issues instead of waiting for the trade. Continue reading

Secret Six Casting Call

With all due respect to Green Lantern and Batman, the live-action superhero movie DC/Warner Brothers ought to be making isn’t really about heroes at all. Two words: Secret. Six.

Aside from being one of the most consistently good mainstream comics around, the current incarnation of Secret Six is a carnival ride of moral ambiguity; wildly amusing yet sickening. While darkness seems to plague this colorful cast wherever they go (Junior, Devil’s Island, *shudder*), there’s also plenty of humor and the perfect Hollywood cliché of stuff just … blowing up. That’s a filmmaker and casting director’s dream (or at least the dream of the alternate universe versions of V and I that make movies).

Let’s face it; a smaller, off-kilter movie about a group of rogues stands a better chance of being good — or at least interesting — than any live-action Justice League movie a studio would whip up. (I’m not saying I don’t want to see a live-action JL movie, but I just don’t see how it could possibly be done well.)

We’ve got our own ideas about casting Secret Six: The Movie, but first we want to hear yours.  Who’s your big-screen dream team to portray Bane, Jeanette, Catman, Deadshot, Ragdoll and Scandal Savage — or Knockout or Black Alice?



Comic Judgment: A Pull List Overview

Cover art by Frank Quitely

I read a bunch of comics this week. Here’s how they stack up, from best to worst:

1. Batman and Robin #10
During its short run, this title has ranged from brilliant to odd to plain inscrutable — in other words, classic Grant Morrison. Fortunately, things are back on the upswing with Andy Clarke’s wonderful art and a storyline pitting Damian Wayne (Robin) against Dick Grayson (Batman). Actually, it’s not Damian who’s gunning for Dick so much as his mama, Talia al-Ghul, who wants her son back at her side. Damian may be an arrogant little sod, but there are signs that he’s grown to respect Dick and even enjoy their partnership. As they search Wayne family portraits for signs that Bruce is alive, Damian seems genuinely glum about the end of his crime-fighting relationship with Dick: “If my father returns, we can’t be Batman and Robin anymore, can we?” Things get even more interesting with the appearance of the mysterious Oberon Sexton, and I’ll be very interested to see how these plot threads tie in with Morrison’s The Return of Bruce Wayne saga.

2. Secret Six #19
Black Alice develops a big, honking crush on Ragdoll. If that doesn’t move you, turn in your longboxes immediately.

3. Ultimate Spider-Man #8
This has long been one of my favorite comics, and the recent focus on Peter Parker’s crowded home life — new girlfriend Gwen Stacey, Johnny Storm, Bobby Drake and ex-girlfriend Kitty Pryde — plays to Brian Michael Bendis’ strengths as a writer. This issue is full of the usual crackling dialogue, but I just wasn’t that into Peter’s neighbor, Rick Jones, who spends roughly half of the book complaining about his new found superpowers as Nova. Being chosen by an alien to help save mankind is heavy stuff for a 16-year-old, but Jones’ extensive, why-me tantrum made me want to smack him. Come to think of it, Johnny Storm wanted to do the same thing. But even on the rare occasion when Ultimate Spidey doesn’t fire on all cylinders, it’s still a good read.

4. Red Robin #10
I love me some Tim Drake, but I didn’t really connect with this book until the last couple of issues. However, #7-9 were downright delightful, illustrating Tim’s considerable ass-whipping/detective skills while introducing a perfect potential girlfriend: button-cute Tam Fox, daughter of Wayne confidante Lucius Fox. Since I’m already way too invested in the Tim/Tam flirtation, Stephanie Brown’s appearance was a serious buzzkill. On the other hand, it was fun to see Stephanie’s Batgirl beat the snot out of a particularly annoying member of the League of Assassins. And I’m still giggling over Alfred’s withering reply to reporter Vicki Vale, who shows up at Wayne Manor looking for Tim: “Master Timothy is far too young for you.” Hee!

5. Justice League Rise and Fall Special
Despite our well-documented loathing of the Black Canary/Green Arrow relationship, there’s no denying that Oliver Queen’s sketchy personal life is good plot fodder. But this one-shot, which takes place immediately after Green Arrow offs Prometheus in Cry for Justice, isn’t about action so much as brooding: Ollie brooding about his maimed son and dead granddaughter; Ollie brooding about hunting down The Electrocutioner; Dinah brooding about Ollie’s fragile state of mind; Justice League members brooding about Ollie’s slide toward the dark side. I’ve generally enjoyed J.T. Krul’s work, but this issue is pretty stagnant. And like V., I’m way over Black Canary following her angry husband around like a wounded groupie. However, there are a few noteworthy moments, like Ollie’s ice-cold rejection of Dick Grayson’s assistance in Star City (It’s my city, “Batman.” Ouch!)  and Barry Allen getting all Judgy McJudgypants when Green Arrow’s lethal act comes to light. But for $3.99, I’d have liked a little more than panels of glowering and fretting.

What did you like this week?


Amanda Waller Will Cut a Bitch

I used to be a huge “Smallville” fan, but over the years, my appreciation of the show has ebbed and flowed. I enjoyed season 8 quite a bit, as the writers finally decided to weave in more DC continuity. Besides, Tom Welling is always easy on the eyes.

Not that I could have ignored all the publicity if I wanted to, but I was quite looking forward to the “Absolute Justice” episode that aired Feb. 5.  The story was solid and plausible, and the costumes were so not corny, as I had feared. The acting was “meh” at times, but that was all forgiven when legendary brick house Pam Grier showed up as the diabolical operative Amanda Waller. My insides leapt with joy as Grier nailed the character. (Spoilers ahead!)

Cut to a scene of the villain, who has freezing powers, all tied up in a large heated room. Waller finishes interrogating him, says he’s served his purpose and puts a bullet in his head. “Welcome to the Suicide Squad,” she says as she exits the room, swagger fully intact. The doors that close behind her bear the Checkmate symbol. Like, whoa. Greg Rucka’s Checkmate series is one of my favorites, so that scene was like “butta.” I’m looking forward to more Grier as Waller on “Smallville,” which will give the show some much-needed edge.

Cover art by Dan LuVisi

This has been a good month for Waller, who has also been center stage in one of G3’s favorite titles, Secret Six. It’s hard to upstage the Sixers, but that’s exactly what she does in issue #18, the final installment of the “Danse Macabre” storyline. In her attempt to extract Deadshot from the Six for her own purposes, Waller wreaks serious havoc. Meanwhile, as Belle Reve prison burns down around them, the Six have to contend with some nasty Black Lanterns during a tense standoff with the Suicide Squad. In the middle of it all is Waller, who is as fearless as she is unethical. (Spoilers ahead!)

Just how gangsta is The Wall? She threatens to detonate Bane’s cranium by clicking a pen that would trigger the chip in his head she previously installed. When Black Alice refuses to give Nightshade back her powers so that she can teleport Waller back to headquarters, she punches Alice, knocking her out cold. Again: She punches Black Alice. In the face! We haven’t even gotten around to how Waller disposes of the Black Lanterns with an ingenious combo of grenades and a very handy Manhunter robot, or how she takes a bullet from Deadshot in stride. In addition to serving up some sharp, funny dialogue, the writing team of John Ostrander and Gail Simone really captured Waller’s essence. The Wall is shady and ruthless, but she always gets the job done.

Secret Six: Who Do You Love?

G3 Review: Secret Six #16

Secret Six #16
Writer: Gail Simone
Penciller: Peter Nguyen
Inkers: Doug Hazelwood & Mark McKenna
DC Comics
December 9, 2009

The Story

*Spoiler Alert*

We’ve all watched movies with serial killers where you wished nothing more than for Justice to assail them squarely in the nuts.  Well, our favorite amoral anti-heroes of Secret Six do much, much worse. Leave it to Gail to make demented so delicious.

The issue opens up with Catman and Deadshot abducting a serial-killing child molester from police custody, only to turn him over to the father of 9-year-old Katie Sanchez, one of his victims.  Mr. Sanchez wants revenge.  Before parting ways, Catman gives the bereft father a few tips.  “When you flense him, don’t think of him as human. It’s just tissue.”  Catman and Deadshot exit scene  to talk about … dinner!  Gail perfectly articulates the fine line these lovable psychopaths teeter on.  The diabolical duo don’t get very far before the one and only Black Alice makes her presence known.

Now, I am beyond thrilled that Alice is back in Gail’s hands.  I loved her at inception, and have been champing at the bit for more of the character ever since.

Having witnessed the tutorial on torture, Alice is unaffected and wants to join the Six.  In her bratty, teenager fresh-from-hell kind of way, she refuses to take no for an answer.  Throw in some strip club shenanigans, Black Alice’s magical mojo, some sentiment from the teddy bear that is Bane, the always welcome witticism of Ragdoll, and you got yourself a Dionysian good time.

The Art

I pretty much jizzed on myself when I got a look at LuVisi’s cover back in August.  I LOVE HIS ART.

But I have to admit; I really missed Nicola, who is about as good as a comic artist can get.  Having said that, I think Peter Nguyen did a excellent job.  The facial closeups were awesome. I absolutely loved what he did with Alice’s costumes as she moved between magics.  The Alice Banshee was some rock star shit, fa sho.  I also dig the ink, which is appropriately ominous. My only criticism is that the faces seemed elongated in certain panels. All in all, enjoyable.

I had a great deal of anticipation for this issue, and I was not disappointed.  I look forward to whatever fuckery the Six can get themselves into next and … and what happens if (OK, when) they make Alice angry.  Cowabunkle!