Sunday, July 29, 2012

Dusting off the Pull List (Updated and Finished)

Got a large batch from Joker's Child and I've been finally catching up on my pull list.

I'll post a short, potentially spoiler-ific synopsis, my brief opinion on the issue, and add any additional notes I have as needed. If that works well, I'll be doing the same for all future renditions of "Pull List" posts.

Amazing Spider-Man #688
This issue revolves around a fight between Spider-Man and the Lizard in the sewers. There are flashbacks set hours before the encounter, leading up to Morbius and the Horizon Labs crew helping Spider-Man take the Lizard out, permanatly:
I really thought he was going to do it. In my head, I said "finaly!" Spidey was finally going to put down one of his villains that would never be rehabilitated or that had taken many lives. I was, of course, let down. Morbius had cooked up a serum to permanently regress the Lizard. Unfortunately, that's all it did; after the end of the "Shed" arc, Curt Connors' mind is gone. Unbeknownst to anyone present, the Lizard's mind is now stuck in Connors body.

That alone is an interesting twist that I look forward to seeing. After the death of his son, I thought Connors had finally lost all potentially interesting stories. I was wrong. If I were to arbitrarily give it a number score, I'd say an 8. What that means to me is that I liked it. It didn't wow me, but it was solid.

Hmm, explaining that kind of makes it less arbitrary... but there it is.

Amazing Spider-Man #689
Connors-Lizard plots to re-inject himself with Lizard juice. To this end, he turns Spider-Man on Moribius by causing Morbius to attack Sajani (of Horizon Labs) due to extreme blood lost. Morbius flees, apologizing constantly. Spidey follows and pounds on him, sounding like a drug addicts relative tired of throwing interventions. Connors-Lizard injects himself but only succeeds in regrowing his arm (Connors' original goal). He then injects Max Modell (head of Horizon Labs) so he can study the change and find a way to overcome it. Modell begins to transform at the end of the issue.

Spidey has become a little too proclamation heavy. It's almost like the character is bipolar, going from wanting to save everyone to eradicating everything he determines is a monster (we'll see he far he goes on this end). This issue gets a 7. Good content, good story, poor Spidey dialogue throughout.
Amazing Spider-Man #690
Connors converts the Horizon Labs staff to Lizards while Spidey beats on Morbius. In the middle of the fight, Spidey gets a DIRE warning from Madame Web (... not a character I approve of AT ALL). Spidey wraps up Morbius, has an opportunity to pull out his literal Avengers membership card, then makes it back to Horizon just before it locks down due to the Lizard epidemic. Connors himself has finally found the correct serum to get his scales back, but the issue closes on a moment of doubt -- is being a mammal all that bad?

Considering the harsh words Spidey has for Morbius, the ending of their one sided fight was anti-climactic. I believe next issue is supposed to be the true turning point for Spidey -- maybe the (Curt) Lizard will die (again)? A 7 for me. No problems, but nothing particularly exemplary.
Avenging Spider-Man #9
Spidey hitches a ride with Carol Danvers in a junk heap of a plane. They are almost hit by a young girl using a faulty jetpack. They save her and are immediately fired upon by some private security forces working alongside Boston police. Carol, now using the name Captain Marvel, fights the mech-equipped security while Spidey tries to learn information from the jetpack girl, who is apparently a Robin Hood (calling herself Robyn Hood) style bank robber. After she surrenders and is still fired on by the security force, she absorbs the blow and grows into a giant as more security forces arrive.

Like other Avenging issues, this wasn't much of a Spidey story. I found the security forces to be unbelievable in the level of violence they were allowed to use in the name of the law. Issue gets a 6.

Scarlet Spider #7
Scarlet is baking in the Houston heat when an exploding building almost falls on him. He ends up saving a helpless crowd and a falling victim. The victim turns into a one night stand who turns out to be the one who blew up the building who turns out to be the daughter of the Roxxon CEO, the owner of the building. Scarlet finds all this out after some digging, which leads to the introduction of one of the campiest looking super teams I have ever seen, the Rangers!

The most interesting thing in this issue was Kaine hooking up with the girl, who was ostensibly on an adrenaline high. It's a situation Peter would have handled wildly different and a refreshing reminder that Kaine is NOT Peter. Hopefully it will stay that way. Arbitrary rating is a 6.
Ultimate Spider-Man #12
This issue is the apparent final showdown with the Prowler, Miles' uncle. Miles decides not to work for him or be bullied by him. He decides to tell his parents (though we don't see if he does or not in this issue), then he was a pretty awesp,e fight that ends with one of the Prowlers gloves (stolen/borrowed from the Shocker) explodes, apparently killing him.

So far, this Spider-Man has his own new sets of problems, and they seem pretty interesting. I'd like to see him more interaction on the external world, but for now this was at least a good issue. Gets an 8 from me.
Spider-Men #1, #2, and #3
So for, not a terrible cross over, if a little forced. Mysterio has somehow stumbled onto a way to travel between dimensions (or at least is at the site of a portal). Spidey finds the abandoned warehouse due to an obligatory shaft of light and is eventually pushed into said portal. He almost immediately meets Miles-Spidey.

The next issue features Miles, (Ultimate) Nick Fury, and (Amazing) Peter trying to figure out what's going on, after a short fight scene (where Ultimate Spidey somehow manages to win -- silly venom sting). After the longest word bubble I have ever seen, Nick fury decides to send Peter with Miles to learn about this dimension's Peter.

The third issue features a Mysterio avatar fighting the Spider-Men. His surprise tactic is to slip them a chemical that causes their fears to manifest and be able to physically hurt them (not explained well -- yet anyways). Mysterious loses, per usual, though the avatar does blow up and knock Miles out. He comes to with the Ultimates having arrive and Peter having run off. Last panel is Peter unmasking to (Ultimate) Aunt May and Gwen, crying (... not really sure why. Maybe seeing a young Gwen? We'll see).

So far, my favorite part about the run is Miles reaction to meeting a Peter Parker, though I wish they could take some training time together (and someone get that boy some webs, damn it!) I'll rate the series as a whole when it finished in a couple episodes.

Venom #20
This is a fairly eventful title that doesn't sell itself as large as I would expect. Flash discovers his mother missing and is attacked by Death Adder. This is followed by the death of Death Adder when Flash snaps his neck, finally doing as a Venom character should -- taking out the trash, permanently. Flash then finds the Human Fly (along with his mother) and procedes to maim him (by ripping his wings off) to find out where the Crime Master is. The end of the episode shows Betty meeting the Crime Master face to face, only to learn that it his her brother, Bennet. I'd have to re-read the Crime Master introduction to see how I feel about the reveal.

For now, it was a decent issue and gets an 7 for being a turning point for the new Venom. It'd be better if I was more interested in the villains he's taking on. I'd like to see what happens to Eddie Brock, specifically.
Venom #21
Another eventful title, but it feels VERY rushed for all that happens. Venom kills off random Crime Master thugs while making his way into the hidden base. Crime Master is busy getting a little too touchy-feely with his sister (it's not overtly creepy, but close enough). Venom fights Megatek, who has his head bitten of by Eddie Brock in the modified (I guess) Toxin symbiote. Venom and Toxin fight, which apparently ends in the fiery death of Toxin AND Eddie Brock. I doubt they're killing off Eddie right now, but at the very least he wasn't looking much better then Anakin at the end of Episode III. Speaking of Star Wars, after Venom easily dispatches Jack O'Lantern, he his disabled by Crime Master. Flash looks very Luke Skywalker-esque and then pleads with Betty for help, who ends up shooting Crime Master in the back, causing him to fall into the same vat of liquid Jack just went into.

...Uh. Why build all that up just to kill almost everyone off? So far, I'm not pleased with Flash's rouge gallery. This issue gets a 7, though only because a lot of interesting things happen. It loses points for happening so quickly.
Avengers vs X-Men #7 and #8
The first issue is the follow up to Scott's statement of "No More Mutants." We see the Pheonix Five taking the high road by continuing to rebuild the world while discrediting the Avengers (supposedly -- I assume you need to be reading the ancillary issues, but I don't personally feel the need, I'm getting a bit sick of cross-overs). There are a couple fights here and there (because everyone and their mother can teleport), with the biggest news being that the Scarlet Which is the Avenger's biggest gun, actually able to hurt the Five. The issue ends with some dissent among the Five -- Namor wants to rule the world his way. Emma helps him by giving him and only him the location of the Avengers (and kissing him?).

The follow up issue opens with Namor destroying Wakanda and it taking the full might of the Avengers just to knock him down. Fortunately, that was all it took -- the Phoenix Force abandoned Namor and was spread among the remaining Four. The heroes then take refuge in the mystical city where Kung Fu was born... Yup. The idea is that Hope is going to undergo some secret, mystical training to combat the Phoenix Force.

This series has become the Michael Bay film of comic books. Tons of explosions, not very much plot movement. I'm not going to bother rating the individual issues -- I'll rate the event after the 12 issues have run their course.
Age of Apocalypse #5
This series... isn't as interesting to me as the earlier AoA stuff.

This issue featured Jean getting more training from the X-Terminated and then going on a mission to try and recruit the up-and-coming Quentin Quire, who had managed to build a network of psychics that were subservient to him. Jean has a mental conversation with him, explaining that she has lost all of her powers and showed when Wolverine became infected with Apocalypse's seed. She then offers to help Quentin sort through the voices in his head. In response, he kills himself.

Uh. What?

This issue gets a 4 from me. I don't care for the art, the X-team and, really, the series hasn't been as interesting as I'd hoped. As an ongoing title, the pace doesn't keep up with previous AoA arcs. If next issue doesn't redeem it, I'll drop it from my list and wait to pick it up when the series has ended. Maybe I'll swap in something else -- a hunt of old Exiles issues or maybe switch in X-Treme X-men. We'll see.
Batman #11
This issue the conclusion to the Night of Owls. I've seen a lot of praise for the story arc, but I'm personally not seeing it.

This issue has B-Man squaring off against the man once called Lincoln March, now calling himself Thomas Wayne. Supposedly, his is Bruce's long lost brother that Bruce's parents kept secret in a home for damaged children -- he had been hurt in a car accident that, as far as anyone else had known, had led to the early birth and death of the actual Thomas Wayne.

Batman denies it, and a fight ensues. Thomas, in his advanced Owl Armor, drags Bats throughout Gotham, going on a tirade about how his parents left him and Bruce forgot about him so Gotham could belong only to Bruce. Batman eventually shuts the rant up and the fight concludes with an under-construction tower exploding and falling on top of Thomas. No body was found, of course.

Later, Bruce has a conversation with Dick Grayson. The main purpose for this convo is so Bruce can explain that he looked up all the records on Thomas Wayne, and there is no way that Lincoln-Thomas could really be his brother. Or, you know, Probably not. With a capitol P. And that's how they leave use -- probably, mostly sure. But not really. Which, in my opinion, is a lousy way to end it. Going hard one either side of the fence wouldn't detract from a new, potentially interesting villain. Obscurity in a comic following the greatest detective... As if Batman wouldn't have managed to collect a DNA sample during the fight. It's BATMAN!

Issue gets a 6 after all is said and done, which is pretty much how I felt about the entire "Night of the Owls" run. Solid art and a decent story, but it relies far too heavily on the DC reboot to be vague and interesting. I might just be expecting too much from Batman, so I'll hang on for a bit and see what's coming up next before I kick the title to the curb.
The Ravagers #3
This issue... wasn't that exciting. We're introduced to Brother Blood (kind of), see Thunder and Lightning fighting in the buff against a horde of mindless zealots, and watch while Beast Boy and Terra make their way back to the group in order to save them.

I'm waiting to see where this series goes. So far, it doesn't seem to have any major direction, at least nothing I would consider sustainable. Then again, most of Gen 13 was spent with a team of teenagers on the run... This issue gets a 4. Still sticking with the series, but this issue didn't interest me much at all.
Red Hood and the Outlaws #11
This issue shows Roy Harper being interrogated by the enemy (soldiers of The Blight) while regaling his captors with a brief tale of Starfire's origin. Major spotlight for this issue is the revelation of Starfire's sister, who looks pretty damn awesome at the moment. Cat-fight next issue.

I'm NOT really sure what's going on with Jason's date. She travelled with them to Starfire's ship (... Starfire), and given a warriors jumpsuit to wear. I dunno if the Isabel is a known DC entity or not, we'll see (I refuse to look it up). If not, her inclusion seems pointless, other than a potential catalyst of motivation (which will be a bit contrived, if you ask me).

At the tail end of the issue is a snippet involving Essence in her quest to kill the All Caste. I... don't particularly care about these snippets -- if the All Caste are so dangerous, why have I seen several offed already?

Rating is an 8. It got me looking forward to the next issue, gave me some interesting background, and I love the art of this title.

I am going to go ahead and post this now. I still need to review Spider-Men #1, #2 and #3, Avengers vs X-Men #7 and #8, Venom #21, Age of Apocalypse #5, and Batman #11, but I'd rather have something up now and update it as I'm going along. All set! And next Pull List I will definitely be doing something different with how I break these posts down.

Unfortunately, I never put Teen Titans on my Pull List and am missing issue 10. Next time I get a chance, I'll pick it up and add Teen Titans to the next Pull List post.

For now, expect this post to be updated with the listed issues in the near future! For future posts, I'll consider breaking Pull List Reviews up a bit more -- I have enough Spider titles to make an entire post, I think.

Tell me what you think about the new theme please!

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