Originally Posted on cxPulp on May 22nd, 2012. Click here to comment.

Apologies for missing out last week – sometimes life gets in the way! So today we are going to cover the issues that came out over the last two weeks. This will wrap up everything for the month with the exception of Reed Gunther #10, which was once again delayed. More on that later.

Suffice to say this won’t be the final column of the month – should Reed Gunther be delayed once again, the next column will wrap things up and include next month’s list.

There are seven issues to cover, so I will jump right into it!



NEW ISSUES: MAY 9th, 2012

Batgirl #9, $2.99, DC Comics. Due out 05/09/2012 ON TIME
Written by Gail Simone, Pencils by Ardian Syaf, Colors by Ulises Arreola, Ink by Vicente Sifuentes

Back in 1944 Japan, young Ayumi is one of many young children who help to make the fire balloons meant to attack the United States. There was one successful strike during that campaign – six who were killed when one of the bombs detonated in Southern Oregon. Mary was a survivor of that attack – her family killed – and she found herself traveling with Haly’s Circus shortly after. Her talents attracted the attention of the Court of Owls, who recruit her as one of their Talons. Fast forward to the Night of Owls, and Batgirl finds herself facing a Talon (presumably Mary) who mysteriously attempts to bond with her during their confrontation.

 

This issue was a little confusing to say the least. I liked the introduction of the fire balloons as a tool that the Court would use, but I don’t totally understand why so much time was spent on Ayumi. It makes some sense to provide some historical background on the balloon attacks, and I suppose creating a character to help introduce that concept to the reader makes sense. But eventually citing Nagasaki as Ayumi’s home city was a little much. Is Simone trying to imply that Ayumi was killed in the eventual nuclear explosion there? Maybe I am looking too much into it, but invoking Nagasaki is always loaded. The story itself is kind of messy – I think Mary needed some internal dialogue to help the reader understand why she suddenly became so fascinated with Batgirl beyond the fact that the “both have masks.”

Perhaps I am being overcritical – but in simple terms, I think the story in this issue was very choppy. I prefer not simply say I didn’t enjoy it, and think it is far more constructive to at least attempt to explain why. When it comes down to it – I think this was far too soon for a crossover of this nature. It works in those titles that did include some build-up to the event like Nightwing, but in Batgirl – it feels like it is included only because the editors felt that all bat-family books had to take part. This title doesn’t have a strong enough foundation yet to shift gears so suddenly like this.

Batman #9, $3.99, DC Comics. Due out 05/09/2012 ON TIME
Written by Scott Snyder, Pencils by Greg Capullo, Color by Plascencia, Ink by Jonathan Glapion.


The Talons have invaded the Batcave, and Batman struggles to defend his home turf. The battle is brutal, but Bruce eventually wins the day. Battered, he ventures out into the city to help his allies protect those the Court of Owls has targeted. He races to the office of Lincoln March, but he is too late – the Owls have already gotten to him. Bruce vows to avenge their attack, and prepares to take the battle to the lair of the Court of Owls.

 

I think I enjoyed this issue a bit more than Batgirl – but I still wasn’t overly thrilled with the way it turned out. It mostly seemed like nothing was really accomplished. Snyder spent a lot of time resolving Bruce’s defense of the cave – something that was completely set up in the previous issue and was essentially a foregone conclusion. After spending more than half of the issue watching the inevitable unfold at a painfully slow pace, Bruce spends several pages rushing to save someone that was already dead.

I don’t know what would have made this issue better. The more parts of the Night of Owls I read, the more I am convinced that the story itself just doesn’t have the meat to divide up between so many issues in so many different titles. The war in the Batcave could have been handled in a single issue, and dragging out the inevitable victory for Batman in the cave when the entire previous issue was dedicated almost entirely to the fight just made this issue fall flat.

The Fall of the House of Wayne finally does start up this issue. It follows Alfred’s father Jarvis (I guess his pre-Crisis dad is back in continuity?), who believes that the Manor is cursed, and is warning his son about something horrible that is happening. The story ends with Jarvis encountering a Talon. The whole thing looks like it is a step in the direction of some continuity shifts bringing Thomas and Martha in line with the versions of the characters we saw in the films. I have to admit it was a little jarring at first, but we were all warned that the DCnU wasn’t the same as the old New Earth – and those changes are just going to pop up without explanation. The story isn’t bad – it hasn’t hooked me yet, but there is some potential there for some interesting new history.

Though if they change Batman’s origin so that the Court of Owls is really responsible for Thomas and Martha’s death… oiy.

NEW ISSUES: MAY 16th, 2012

Blue Beetle #9, $2.99, DC Comics. Due Out 05/16/2012 ON TIME
Written by Tony Bedard, Art by Marcio Takara, Color by Pete Pantazis


Jaime finds himself face to face with the New Guardians – Green Lantern Kyle Rayner, Orange Lantern Glomulus, and Red Lantern Bleez. His scarab goes into overdrive, deploying every available countermeasure to defend itself. This, of course, leads to a short confrontation that is broken up by an attempt on Kyle Rayner’s life by a hitman hired by the Guardians. Rayner’s ring is drained and Glomulus is knocked out of action. While Bleez fights the hitman, Jaime recovers Kyle’s battery so he can recharge. After things settle down, Kyle has a talk with Jaime and scans his suit with his ring – learning about the Reach and discovering that they are currently attacking the homeworld of the Blue Lantern Corps.

 

I really enjoyed this issue. It felt like progress was made for Jaime – something that has been extremely slow up to this point. Jaime stumbling through learning to use and control the Scarab was fine, but it is high time he started to take control of his own destiny. This was a step in that direction. It was also a great introduction to the Lantern titles if you haven’t been reading them… and the pitch for those other books was handled very well.

Throughout the issue there were updates on what is happening back in El Paso, specifically the search for Jaime by his family, and what is happening with Brenda now that La Dama is gone. Bedard is making it clear that these characters do matter, and I suspect it is only a matter of time before Jaime makes his way back home. I think he’s still got some growing to do before he heads back, and it looks like his friends are going to have to go get him eventually. I am enjoying the journey to that point.

Moving past this issue, I wonder what happened to Glomulus?


Nightwing #9, $2.99, DC Comics. Due Out 05/16/2012 ON TIME
Written by Kyle Higgins, Pencils by Eddy Barrows and Andres Guinaldo, Color by Rod Reis and Peter Pantazis, Ink by Eber Ferreira, Ruy José, and Mark Irwin.


Dick goes toe-to-toe with his great-grandfather, William Cobb (also a Talon), and it looks like a fight that Dick can’t win. The fight is only window dressing for the real story – Cobb’s back story, and how he came to be a part of the Court of Owls and how the Grayson name came to be.

 

 

This was a sparse recap, but it was really something best read, than read about. I’ve been down on the Court of Owls tie in issues so far, but Nightwing is very much an exception to that negativity.

The concept of the Court of Owls really is a good one. I like the idea of this odd “Lawful Neutral” faction in the depths of Gotham, trying to preserve what they believe Gotham to be. Admittedly this perspective is a bit biased by my attachment to this title, but the best part of the Court of Owls has nothing to do with Batman. I have no idea if the idea of the Court originated with Nightwing, or if Higgins just crafted a great story to link Nightwing to the idea – but it just seems to fit here. In all of the other tie ins, it seems like the extent of the stories have been “Oh no, there’s some Talons! Let’s fight!” Nightwing has a personal stake in this, and this issue was an outstanding culmination of many months of solid storytelling.

I still think a crossover event, even a limited one, was a very bad idea at this very early stage of the DCnU. A crossover appearance like we saw in Blue Beetle? That is just fine. On the other hand, major event that disrupts the evolution of very young titles just isn’t a great idea. It works in Nightwing, because so much of the concept evolved there. To me, this title showed the ways the Court of Owls could work in a story – as opposed to Batgirl, where I think it was little more than wasted time.


John Carter: Gods of Mars #3 (of 5), $2.99, Marvel Comics. Due out 05/16/2012 ON TIME
Written by Sam Humphries, Art by Ramon Perez, Color by Jordie Bellaire


During their escape, Xodar, Cathorsis, and John Carter find themselves under attack by airships from Helium – who believe them to be pirates. John falls from their ship – but is saved by an act of daring from his son. Their ship crashes, and the trio are taken captive. Only among their jailors is Kantos Kan who recognizes John Carter. They are free for a moment, but when John accidentally reveals that they escaped from the Valley of Dor – Kantos Kan is forced to arrest them for that crime. They are taken back to Helium, and John learns that in his absence Zat Arras has taken over the city. The trio are put on trial for their sin, but the will of the people turns against Zat Arras. Sola Tarkas then arrives with a message – she traveled into the Valley Dor with Dejah Thoris in search of John Carter, and learned the truth of his words. Unfortunately Dejah has been taken captive, and John Carter finds himself once again imprisoned.

 

I am such a fan of this series – and not only because I am a John Carter fan. It is also such a well crafted comic. So much happens in each issue that you really get your money’s worth. There isn’t any excessive padding, the story just moves along. The pace is perfect for John Carter as the novellas didn’t waste much time either – John was always bouncing from one dire situation to the next. And the art is just outstanding, a great fit for the story.

As an adaptation, this hits all of the high points. Yes, the dialogue is changed to make it a bit more “hip,” but that only makes the story more accessible to the modern reader. As a plain old comic book it gives me exactly what I want – great art and tons of story, without dragging things out longer than they need to be to sell more issues with less overall content. Marvel has something to be proud of with this series, and as long as they maintain this level of quality, I will be buying these John Carter books.

The Sixth Gun #22, $3.99, Oni Press. Due Out 05/16/2012 ON TIME
Written by Cullen Bunn, Illustrated by Brian Hurtt, Colored by Bill Crabtree


Drake Sinclair has escaped with Becky Montcrief, but he isn’t quite ready to flee yet. He wants revenge. He lays a trap for the men tracking them and strikes out at the Knights of Solomon. He takes a small measure of revenge, and goes on to reveal to Becky that the Knights of Solomon believe that the pistols can be used to tear down and rebuild the world – and that they also believe that Drake Sinclair has done it once before.

 

Last month I was pretty down on the silent issue, and time really hasn’t changed my mind much. I found I had a bad taste in my mouth from it, and when things returned to normal I realized just how much I disliked issue #21. Silent issues can be great or they can be disasters… I really think issue #21 fit in the latter category, not because of a lack of skill, but because of the horrible timing of the attempt. Reading through #22 made me wonder if the silent issue would have worked better here.

Moving past #21, issue #22 gives us another look at who Drake Sinclair might be. There have been plenty of hints that Drake is far from ordinary throughout this series, but now we know that he may well be responsible for the current state of all of Creation. I am not sure who the lizard-men were at the end of the issue (maybe they showed up during the brief span I wasn’t reading this title), but I have little doubt that they are going to figure into the story somewhere in the near future.

Issue #21 was a stumble, but a slight one. This title appears to be right back on track – the story continues to be outstanding.


Daredevil #13, $2.99, Marvel Comics. Due Out 05/16/2012 ON TIME
Written by Mark Waid, Pencils by Khoi Pham, Color by Javier Rodriguez, Ink by Tom Palmer


Foggy fears for Matt’s sanity, and his absence is stressing him out even more. Foggy tries to cover for him with a client, but he finds something in Matt’s office that terrifies him. Flashing back 16 hours, Matt drops Kirsten off after their date, and rushes into action as Daredevil to follow up on Black Spectre’s threat. The remaining four Megacrime Organizations choose that moment to finally come together and coordinate an attack against Matt. They eventually bring him down, and just when things look their worst – Black Spectre arrives. Matt is saved, but the rogue organization claims the Omegadrive and escapes. Only everything isn’t as it seems – the “New Black Spectre” is really the Avengers in disguise. The day is saved, but all is not right for Daredevil, who suddenly finds himself teleported to a castle in Latveria.

 

Another outstanding issue. Matt’s date with Kirsten was the perfect transition from the crossover to this high-action issue, and Waid really delivered with a solid twist that didn’t make Daredevil appear to be bumbling through this confrontation. I love the fact that the Megacrime thugs aren’t pushovers, and that Daredevil really did need to use his wits to overcome them.

I also loved Foggy confronting Matt about “whiny angsty Daredevil,” and Matt replying that he “hated that guy.” I did too Foggy – it produced some good stories, but I am glad he is gone. Hopefully that was just Mark Waid talking to the reader, and not a warning that version of Matt will be coming back.

LATE AND UNRELEASED TITLES

Reed Gunther #10, $2.99, Image Comics, Due out 04/18/2012 DELAYED – Due Out 06/13/2012

When I first sat down to write this column, I found notice that this issue had been delayed until May 30th. By the time I got here, the date changed once again to June 13th. That is 5 days shy of the auto-cancellation point, so fingers crossed that this is the final delay! Reed Gunther is an outstanding book, but for the purposes of this column especially – if you are going to solicit a monthly comic, you should be able to produce one. I understand that the Houghton’s have a busy non-comic schedule, but that shouldn’t have been a surprise to them going into soliciting this issue.

With luck, this issue will finally come out on June 13th, making all of this speculation academic.

RELEASED SO FAR

Daredevil #12, $2.99, Marvel Comics. Due Out 05/02/2012 ON TIME
Dial H #1, $2.99, DC Comics. Due Out 05/02/2012 ON TIME
Earth 2 #1, $3.99, DC Comics. Due Out 05/02/2012 ON TIME
Batgirl #9, $2.99, DC Comics. Due out 05/09/2012 ON TIME
Batman #9, $3.99, DC Comics. Due out 05/09/2012 ON TIME
Blue Beetle #9, $2.99, DC Comics. Due Out 05/16/2012 ON TIME
Nightwing #9, $2.99, DC Comics. Due Out 05/16/2012 ON TIME
John Carter: Gods of Mars #3 (of 5), $2.99, Marvel Comics. Due out 05/16/2012 ON TIME
The Sixth Gun #22, $3.99, Oni Press. Due Out 05/16/2012 ON TIME
Daredevil #13, $2.99, Marvel Comics. Due Out 05/16/2012 ON TIME

STILL TO COME

Reed Gunther #10, $2.99, Image Comics, Due out 04/18/2012 DELAYED – Due Out 06/13/2012

TRADE BANK – $10.00
Daytripper TP, $19.99, DC Comics. Due Out 02/01/2012

$.23 (Bank from April) + $40.00 (May Budget) + $3.22 (Reed Gunther #10 Delayed) = $43.45
$43.45 – $35.89 (May Issues) – $2.78 (tax) – $4.00 (Trade Bank Deposit) = $0.78 Banked for June

FREE COMICS

Still plenty of issues to give away – if you are interested, drop me a line by following this link! Passkey is “Free!”

And if you have requested issues, please come on back and let me know what you thought of them!

There will be one more installment of the $40 Pull List this month, where we will at least wrap the month up and set the list for June. See you in a couple weeks!

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