Welcome back to The $40 Pull List! As it was last month, I once again welcome my new co-writer, and recent comiXtreme.com News Editor, Brandon Schatz.

I got my words ready and rarin’ to go! Prepare to feel the dull slap of my italicized anger! If you act now, I will also throw in some bits of emboldened joy.

Overall, this was a pretty solid month. I isn’t often that every single is on time – as solicited, and for the most parts I found it pretty enjoyable. The only real sour spots for me were Wonder Woman and the art on Jonah Hex. To be fair, Teen Titans was something of a let-down as well. Enough of the intro – on to the list!

JANUARY’S ISSUES

Hellboy: The Wild Hunt #2, $2.99, Dark Horse. Due Out 01/07/09 ON TIME

Another good issue, but darned if the scene shift doesn’t make a lick of sense. The attack at the end of the last issue was out of the blue, we start this one with him laying in the water run-through… and then suddenly he is up with a flower and bird is talking to him? There is some good stuff here, though I can only hope it starts to come together as the story progresses.

Man, I totally need to keep notes and stuff. Up until a quick little refresher two seconds ago, I had totally forgotten what had happened in this book. But now I remember that Hellboy is a dude who totally likes punching stuff, and would like everyone to come and get some. Also, there’s some stuff that references what Hellboy did before, and some blood, and a chick who is covered in blood, and a dude with a pigs head…

You know, I get the distinct feeling that I should be reading all those swanky Hellboy trades I have sitting on my shelf before we get to the next issue.

Jonah Hex #39, $2.99, DC Comics. Due Out 01/07/09 ON TIME

Fairly good story – horrible art! Seriously! I’ll never understand why DC seems to think that smeared mud gives this book a “gritty, artistic” look. It is almost always impossible to see what is going on!

In this issue: Jonah has a gun fight, and is rewarded with consensual sex! That’s a change of pace. And I gotta’ say, I could definitely tell what was going on the whole time. An improvement from the last time Rafa Garres drew the book. What bothered me more was the computerized lettering. I think this book would’ve benifited a whole heck-of-a-lot with a good hand letterer.

Well, to be fair, the bad guys did complain that the girl was dead – implying that they might like to have raped her.

As to the lettering – you might be right, though the art was so bad to me, I didn’t even really notice the letters. Suffice to say that the visual aspects of this title could stand for some serious improvement.

Sgt. Rock: The Lost Battalion #3 (of 6), $2.99, DC Comics. Due Out 01/07/09 ON TIME

OK, sweet – Haunted Tank! A nice little cameo, though I think Tucci spent a little too much time explaining it. I think the site of the tank with the Confederate flag on the back, and some character dialogue would have been enough to establish it for those that know what it is. As it was, it kind of served as a jarring break in the action. Outside that, as usual, it was a pretty solid story. Tucci’s homework has certainly paid off.

So, if I’m reading this right, the boys saw the Haunted Tank and then a few of them died. Once again, this is a highly competent book – the art is lush and the script is good comics – but it’s boring me to death. Its like war, plus boredom, and maybe half a ghost.

Bah – this book is an experience. I don’t know why you don’t seem to be appreciating it – but at least you can at least see how well done it is. So I can’t be too upset with you.

It all comes down to the thick, syrupy blood running through my veins my friend. As a Canadian, I was taught that our boys were awesome, and you dudes sat out until you done got blowed up a bit.

Eh – royal propaganda there my friend. Canada would have been on the sidelines too, if the cord had been cut a little sooner. It hadn’t even been a decade since the UK passed the Statute of Westminster, and Canada was still basically tied to the United Kingdom at the hip until 1982. So of course Canada went to war right away – being a part of the Commonwealth, they were directly at war from the start. I somehow doubt Canada would have been so eager to participate if they weren’t still virtually a part of the United Kingdom. Far easier to go to war when your own people are fighting…

Back on topic, however, it isn’t like this story hasn’t included other nationalities. Easy Company is American, but it certainly isn’t presented like Americans were the only ones fighting the war.

Invincible Iron Man #9, $2.99, Marvel Comics. Due Out 01/07/09 ON TIME

So we have Tony trying to melt his brain, Osborne pretending he is Kal-L punching reality, and Maria Hill maybe starting to become a likable character. Overall it was OK, thought I found the issue to be a tiny bit slow.

Man, I love this book. Tony Stark is not a guy I want to like, but Fraction’s totally made me like the guy. And not only that, he’s made me… care… about Maria Hill. Let’s say that again. He’s made me care about Maria Hill.

Also in this book, big science and a quote from Caddyshack. At the end of this arc, I want Tony to win and announce to Pepper that everybody’s going to get laid.

I think Maria Hill is the best part about this story so far. Other writers have gone out of their way to make her so unlikable (I am sure there is a feminist argument in there about tough women somewhere), but Fraction has retained all of the negative aspects of her personality, while making her relatable. A huge improvement.

X-Men/Spider-Man #3, $3.99, Marvel Comics. Due Out 01/14/09 ON TIME

Honestly, I was a tad let down by this issue. It seems like the more time passes, the more each issue is a carbon copy of the previous. Yeah – there was Ben Reilly, which is cool, and the art is still nice, but the story lacks oomph. After this issue, I was glad to realize there is only one left.

Man, that was a good representation of a bad period of comics. Seriously, think about how monumentally hard it was for Christos Gage to take a story involving Mr. Sinister, Carnage, and the Ben Rielly Spider-Man – and turn it into something decent. I mean, I have a love for the Ben Rielly Spider-Man, but I know that’s a misguided love. All of these characters are terrible ideas. Kudos to Gage for makin’ it happen.

It isn’t a misguided love – there was great potential for Ben Reilly. If they didn’t drag out the clone saga far longer than needed, he might have had a chance. Trouble with this arc is the heavy clone involvement. Just invoked the worst aspects of the Clone Saga really. Probably what hurt this issue on the whole.

I get that the whole “clone” thing was a big mess, but still – Gage could’ve easilly ignored this entire part of the Spider-Man milieu, and focused on a different part in that “era”. But instead? He went balls out and came out with something that didn’t suck at all. Seriously, who else in comics could pull something like that off?

Eh – truthfully, I don’t think he pulled it off. Not this issue. When someone does something misguided and succeeds, you call it genius. When they fail – they are just plain stupid for trying it. It’s rare to say it about Gage, but in this case it is definitely the latter.

Green Lantern Corps #32, $2.99, DC Comics. Due Out 01/14/09 ON TIME

A little better this month. I liked the infusion of a little Violet in that conflict – and the backlash from the 3rd Law was predictable and made for an interesting twist to the story. As usual, the Guardians are the Corps worst enemy.

Seriously? Seriously. The Green Lanterns are totally boned. You know how many rookies are now going to be thrust head long into the shenanigans involved with The Blackest Night?? Can anyone say cannon fodder?

And seriously guys. I called it last month, but I’m reiterating this week. By the end of Blackest Night, Guy’s going to bite it. There’s a Green Lantern Corps annual on the docket for this year, and it’s going to be written by Guy Gardner writer Beau Smith. Remember all the play Superboy got during Infinite Crisis? Finally getting all his stuff together, and getting the girl? This sound anything like what’s going on in GLC? Anyone?

I don’t doubt you about Guy, but I do dread it. I don’t understand what is up with DC these days and their kill/rebirth kick. Death is a serious thing – and it seems like they look for an excuse to kill characters, while at the same time they can’t seem to resist major stories bringing characters back. I hope for the sake of this title that you are wrong about Guy – that’s the last thing it needs.

Supergirl #37, $2.99, DC Comics. Due Out 01/21/09 ON TIME

Interesting – I was really looking forward to this issue since it would really be the new team’s first real story on their own (outside the New Krypton story), but it is still married to what happened there, so it is a little difficult to get a real feel for it. Overall I think there are some positive story elements, but in general I think the characters are a little shallow and the identity of Superwoman a little too obvious (at least, so far). Not bad – but I think it could be better.

I have to say, I really have no clue as to who Superwoman is. This might be my complete lack of knowledge involving Kryptonian lore, but yeah. I dunno. I’m very intrigued as to where this story is heading – though at this point, I’m not sure I want five issues devoted to Superwoman. Whomever it may be.

Well, if they are going to stretch out her reveal that long, I am sure there will be something to it. What happened at the end of this issue makes me think there will be a lot more to this than simply “my cool mysterious mentor.”

Wonder Woman #28, $2.99, DC Comics. Due Out 01/28/09 ON TIME

This title is maddening to me. As usual – there is a lot of good in this issue, but the focus is all over the place. Instead of building the issue to a dramatic and exciting conclusion, Simone shifts the focus all over the place and once again the end is unsatisfying. I understand wanting to make a story a constant build, but come on – one thing at a time! We have two other major plotlines forming when the focus should be completely on Genocide. It’s too much.

Simone is attempting to pull a Johns, but it takes such a deft hand, that sometimes… it just doesn’t work. On the whole, I actually liked this issue. The jumps weren’t always smooth, and the thing with Cheetah is… well, from out of nowhere (curse you, Faces of Evil crossover!)… but there are entertaining monkeys, which makes this decent plus.

That’s just it – Simone shouldn’t be pulling a Johns, she should be pulling a Simone. Birds of Prey wasn’t great because she tried to follow another creator.

Cheetah was just dumb. She was the focus of the Faces of Evil issue, and she was in what – 4 panels? Meanwhile there was this awesome evil presence in the form of Genocide – more Genocide, and her face on the cover, would have made perfect sense considering the theme. Cheetah’s inclusion made no sense.

That is the most frustrating thing to me about Simone’s run on Wonder Woman so far – she constantly ignores what is great in favor of something else. The White Apes are awesome, but we get them sparingly. Wonder Woman’s new “relationship” is great, but Simone has spent no time developing it at all. It seems like every time they see each other, it advances – but you see no reason at all for the emotions. There is no spark there, because there hasn’t been any development. It is like – “Well, last time they saw each other, they kind of liked each other. Next time they will like each other a lot, and then the next time they will REALLY like each other…” Gail Simone is talented enough to write a relationship more believable than a fourth grade girl could, but she just doesn’t even seem to be trying.

So, instead of great interaction and development with Wonder Woman’s supporting cast, they are left on their own while Wonder Woman goes off on random quests that do little more than distract from what is good about this book. It’s the Superman formula – only done horribly wrong.

Oh yeah. The relationship. You know where she’s writing a romance way better? Over in Secret Six between Catman and Deadshot. Hot.

Heck, at this point, I almost want to just drop this book and trade up for Secret Six, to be honest. Perhaps next month.

Nova #21, $2.99, Marvel Comics. Due Out 01/28/09 ON TIME

Nice – nice! This story is being told exactly like these stories should be. You know Richard is right – something is amiss. But his concerns seem totally unfounded, there is a case to be made for his sanity, and all he needs to do is just accept that Worldmind really does have the best of intentions in mind, and submit. Nicely executed all around. Peaking ahead at solicits for the War of Kings, it seems Richard won’t be powerless for long, but it won’t be the Nova Force at his disposal. Seems we will have to wait a while longer before the troubles with Worldmind are fully resolved. Good stuff.

This is going to be boring, if I just end up agreeing with you…

This entirely was an awesome issue. Stuff, is going down, and the end, once again, is really jilting. I mean seriously? Nova without Richard Rider as Nova Prime? HOLY CRAP. That said… I have absolutely no idea where DnA are going with this – which is totally awesome.

I think about where this book is going long-term, and I feel like it is a chess game. You can see all the pieces on the board, and you even have some idea where they are going to go. But somewhere one piece is going to come smashing in for a sudden checkmate, and I don’t see where it is going to come from at all. These guys know how to write comics. Shame you can’t say that about more writers these days.

Avengers: The Initiative #21, $2.99, Marvel Comics. Due Out 01/28/09 ON TIME

So many good things about this book. Finding a useful spot for Clor, still using Prodigy in some fashion, Counter Force (come on, Slapstick!)… even Ramos’s art seems to work on this issue. This issue also put to rest fears that it might be cancelled now that Secret Invasion is over with, but they are directly addressing that plot point, and the characters are working to hold things together despite the fraud behind their reason for being. Good stuff.

I actually liked this a little bit better than the past few issues. While I love me some Dan Slott and how he likes to cram in as much as he can into a single issues, sometimes his sub plots can get a little unruly. They always pay off nicely, but the book always feels a little claustrophobic with different ideas being left to hang in the breeze, untouched. Gage seems to have a more streamlined way of relating all this info when he’s working purely from his own plots. It definitely feels like a slightly different book, but still totally awesome.

That is the other feeling I got from this issue – mop-up. You are right in what you say about Slott, and an unfortunate side-effect of that is that a lot of plotlines get forgotten. Gage seems to be tidying a few things up before this title evolves into whatever it is going to become in the next few months. Nice of him to do that as well – he could have ignored them all, and wouldn’t have heard too much complaining. A nice bit of fan service.

Teen Titans #67, $2.99, DC Comics. Due Out 01/28/09 ON TIME

Ok – not a half bad Teen Titans issue. But honestly – with all that is going on, who cares? The team is in shambles, rock bottom if you will, and we take a whole issue off to bring back Kid Eternity and Brother Blood? This whole issue seemed like something that should have been broken up and strung along in the background for several issues. What did Vic have to say about potential members? What’s going on with Traci 13 and Misfit? Instead we have a whole new plotline with Red Devil’s missing powers (should have come along later), and while Kid Eternity does plug a whole in the line-up, bringing a character back like that wasn’t exactly the best way to go when the team’s whole foundation is a wreck.

Is this mess all editorially mandated as a part of that Faces of Evil ridiculousness? Or did this issue just get that tag because McKeever was already planning this? I really can’t say.

Unfortunately, this book has been incredibly scatter shot since McKeever took over scripting duties with #50 – and it’s literally gutting me. The guy is capable of amazing, incredible work, but for whatever reason, on this book, I’m just not feeling it, in the least. Just like you said, stuff that happens in this issue seems to happen “just because”. I give credit in so far as this book has been one of the only books (outside of the Faces of Evil one shots) to actually follow through with the villian focus, and not just go ahead with part whatever of the bigger story… but it all really fell flat. Oh and the art? Actually a lot better than last issue. Too bad Dagnino is just on for the one issue.

Art was decent, no complaints there. And you are right – of all the Faces of Evil issues, this is the only one that actually kept up the theme. Wonder Woman was a ridiculous example, there was nothing different about that whatsoever. In an odd way, however – this almost excuses this issue to me, and makes me thing that McKeever‘s choices here were editor mandated. He was given a theme and he went with it, despite overall long term planning. On that end, at least he made an effort. Perhaps Faces of Evil is more to blame this month than anything else?

Maybe. But man oh man, is this book on thin ice with me right now. And soon, we’ll be heading into the eye of a crossover. Not sure if this book will weather the storm with the budget.

I am not as pessimistic as you are at this point, but I do have a feeling you might be right there.

Proof #16, $3.50, Image. Due Out 01/28/09 ON TIME

Well, it starts with a tiny monkey on the cover. I like Pygmy Marmosets, so maybe it won’t be so bad…

As to the issue itself, all I can say so far is weird. As with most indie books like this one, I do get the feeling that it is going to take a few issues to really get into the flow. I’ve got a decent sense of Proof himself, and generally understand the idea of “The Lodge” (Basic, stock secret investigative organization – nothing new there). Not totally turned off, but can’t say I am in love with the book yet. Gonna need some time on this one.

Proof is a rockin’ book – and each arc seems to bring some great revelations to the greater plot, which is always fun. You don’t know it yet, but the end of this issue? Sent chills up and down my spine. Nothing good can come from those two characters meeting. Next issue looks like another done-in-one fleshing out one of the side characters so… no prior knowledge required! Yay!

So I guess I will have to take your word on it about this issue’s awesomeness. I suppose for now that is doable…

For now. I have full confidence that Grecian and Rossmo will make you believe in Proof.

Get it? Because when you’re looking for Proof you’re… going to… uh…

Actually, that doesn’t work at all. Frig.

THE CHOPPING BLOCK

Well, with X-Men/Spider-Man on hiatus for February, we really don’t need to cut anything. With all of next month’s titles carrying over, we still have $4.13 left for next month’s new book.

Overall, it was a pretty solid month. If I had to pick a title this month to cut, it would be Wonder Woman. That book seems to be surviving on promise alone, and I honestly believe it is so acclaimed only because people are afraid to say that Gail Simone can’t write a good Wonder Woman. Everyone expected her to be amazing – myself included, but she just isn’t getting the job done. However, I am willing to give the book another month or two.

Craig. Guy. Teen Titans is making me sad. It’s eating my soul from the inside. There is inky festering inside my soul, Craig. I need this to stop.

I will admit that this issue was something of a letdown. But it is hardly enough to make me want to axe it all together. If we needed the free spot, I think I would agree to it (if I couldn’t talk you into Wonder Woman, which is a much better choice I think), but to me, one poor issue isn’t reason enough to totally axe it…

Curse you Reade! Looks like next month, we might have ourselves a knock-down, drag-out bru-ha-ha over Wonder Woman and Teen Titans.

Or we just shake hands and cut them both – I have a strange feeling we are going to need the space. In any case, I will own you!!

Sir, my body is not for sale. But I appreciate the compliment.

TITLES FOR FEBRUARY

Hellboy: The Wild Hunt #3, $2.99, Dark Horse. Due Out 02/04/09
Jonah Hex #40, $2.99, DC Comics. Due Out 02/04/09
Invincible Iron Man #10, $2.99, Marvel Comics. Due Out 02/04/09
Green Lantern Corps #33, $2.99, DC Comics. Due Out 02/11/09
Supergirl #38, $2.99, DC Comics. Due Out 02/18/09
Wonder Woman #29, $2.99, DC Comics. Due Out 02/25/09
Nova #22, $2.99, Marvel Comics. Due Out 02/25/09
Avengers: The Initiative #22, $2.99, Marvel Comics. Due Out 02/25/09
Teen Titans #68, $2.99, DC Comics. Due Out 02/25/09
Proof #17, $3.50, Image. Due Out 02/25/09
Sgt. Rock: The Lost Battalion #4 (of 6), $2.99, DC Comics. Due Out 02/25/09
X-Men/Spider-Man #4, $3.99, Marvel Comics. Due Out 03/04/09

NEW TITLES

If I had to pick one book to add to the list this month, it would be the first issue of Joe Kelly’s new neo-noir title, Bang! Tango #1 from Vertigo. It does fill a niche on the list that we haven’t seen since Sam Noir, and the preview pages look fairly interesting. Your thoughts, Brandon? Or do you have a different suggestion?

Man, I was entirely up for this book the moment I saw it. Capitol idea, old chap. Pip pip, wot wot, say no more.

Bang! Tango #1, $2.99, DC Comics[/b]. Due Out 02/04/09

THE MATH

Budget= $40.00 + $.12 (Bank) = $40.12

$40.12 (Budget) – $36.39 (February Issues) – $2.82 (tax) = $.91 banked for March

That’s it for this month kids – see you in March!

THE ARCHIVES
2007 – 123456789101112
2008 – 123456789101112
2009 – 1

The opinions in this article are the writer’s alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of X-World Comics or comiXtreme.com.