So I guess that title may not make much sense to those of you who aren’t big comic readers, so first, a brief explanation!
Some people collect comics by creating a “pull-list” – this is a list that your comics’ retailer uses to reserve copies of comics for you (kind of like pre-ordering a book!). As comics are now in the physical and digital domain, my pull-list is for use in the brick-and-mortar store where I buy physical copies of my comics. Pull-lists are useful because comics are obviously a serialised form of fiction and they generally come out monthly, and I may not get into the store before they sell out of the title I want. (Well, I rarely go into the store, my little brother does and we share a pull-list! This is good because a) my paycheque frequently runs out halfway through the month and I can owe my little brother the money and b) when I get into a comic shop, I tend to spend way more than I ever intend to!)
Having said that, I will occasionally cancel titles or a series will come to an end, so those things come off the pull-list. I thought I’d give you all a few mini-reviews on the things I’m no longer collecting! These will be spoilery, so watch out for that!
Batman And Robin – by Peter Tomasi (writer) and Patrick Gleason (artist), published by DC Comics.
I have greatly enjoyed this series! I love Tomasi’s writing and Gleason’s art, and they work really well together as a team. I was wary of this series initially – I loved the pre-reboot series and adored Dick Grayson as Batman – but as I read it, I came to see how fantastic this title is. The dynamic between Bruce Wayne and Damian Wayne is played out very well, and it was a joy to see them grow together as father and son, to see how they interact as family. The initial story-arc was incredible, Tomasi’s writing was on top form and Gleason’s art supported and illustrated that beautifully. I think it was unfortunate that the comic was forced to tie-in to two other Bat-title events – Night of the Owls and Death of the Family, as I felt most of Tomasi’s strengths laid in writing issues that stood on their own, or story-lines not tied into the wider Bat-range. Still, the comics leading up to #18 were all of a good quality and I’d happily recommend them to anyone interested in these characters.
And then. Then we had Batman Inc. #8. One of the two main characters of B&R is killed – and not even in his own comic!
So we come to B&R #18 with Damian Wayne dead, and Bruce going through the stages of grief over his son. If you ever needed evidence that Bruce Wayne is deeply, deeply fucked up, then look no further than these issues. Some are better than others – indeed, B&R #18 and #23 are both a masterclass in how to gutpunch your readers into tears (#18 doesn’t even have any dialogue!), but the introduction of Carrie Kelly in #19 feels forced and it’s an unfortunate mis-step to include her at this point, I think. Overall though, B&R has been consistently brilliant, with Tomasi’s stories and characterisations spot-on and Gleason’s art is accomplished, interesting and in near-perfect sync with Tomasi’s stories.
You may wonder why I’m giving up this title, when I can’t seem to praise it enough – well, I don’t care for Carrie Kelly (yet! I could be convinced!) and I have practically zero-interest in a Bat-title that doesn’t include Damian. Depending on how well others like it, I may pick it up in trade format, but for my money, B&R ends with #23 and it ends on a high.
Aquaman – by Geoff Johns (writer) and Ivan Reis, Paul Pelletier, Sean Parsons, and Art Thibert (artists), published by DC Comics
Cover to Aquaman #6
Aquaman was a title that I bought mostly on a whim – I like the idea of Aquaman, but he’s not a character I was particularly familiar with. The previews made Arthur look hot (yep, I’m that shallow!) and Mera (Arthur’s wife, pre-reboot, now they’re apparently not married? But they are still in a committed, long term relationship) seemed to have a big role to play, which I am all about.
Geoff Johns’ writing has been a lot of fun and he’s mostly had interesting ideas to tell. The longer story-arcs have largely been interesting enough to keep me buying, although I’m not normally a fan of super-long story events nor am I particularly invested in The Others, which is a group of super-heroes Arthur was with in the past and who have been making reappearances. As the comic moved away from the surface world and included more of Atlantis and its politics, I started to lose interest. I’m only capable of caring about royal intrigue for a small amount of time, apparently!
Still, the writing and art have all been competent, and were the series to move away from politics and have some more standalone issues, I’d probably return to it, although the writer is about to change. Overall, I’d say this has been a fun comic with great art. Arthur is a character I’m definitely more interested in, and if Mera got her own series, I would snap it up in a heartbeat! I definitely think if you get a chance, you should thumb through a few copies of the trade and see if it’s for you!
Red She-Hulk – by Jeff Parker (writer) and Carlo Pagualyan, Jana Shirmer and Francesco Francavilla (artists), published by Marvel Comics
Cover to Red She-Hulk #2 (Hulk #59)
Firstly – Red She-Hulk is a standalone title that only lasted for 10 issues, but if you look at the cover or Marvel’s website, it begins with issue #58 and ends on issue #67 – this is because before it became Betty Ross’ (the Red She-Hulk) title, it was for a different Hulk (the other red Hulk? IDK), and so the main character changed but the numbering system did not. Don’t ask me why.
Anyway! I was pretty sad to see this title end, because there is a dire lack of leading female characters in the big-two’s output right now and also because it’s an awesome series! The story involves shady organisations and a world computer called the Terranometer, Betty Ross fighting against an awful future she saw in a vision given to her by a little girl and a machine man named Aaron Stack. Yes, all of those things are ridiculous and yes, there are even sillier things throughout the series.
Much of the storyline revolves around Betty trying to prevent the future she saw, but luckily Parker doesn’t just focus on that, this story has plenty of other elements and little side adventures to help keep the pace going strong. I’m a big fan of Betty Ross and Aaron Stack, both of whom I’ve read in other titles, and as the series progressed we also had the appearance of Jen Walters (the cousin of the original Hulk, Bruce Banner and a She-Hulk herself) and Man-Thing as regular characters. Man-Thing I’ve never heard of, but Jen Walters is a character I would wade through Hell to read about, so this was an event that excited me! You can therefore imagine my disappointment that this title only lasted 10 issues, and ended on the idea of a team formed out of the above four characters! (the wailing you hear? Me.) Alas. Still, the 10 issues we did get were pretty awesome and included a lot of action and adventure, the art was pretty great throughout and this is a series I’d recommend picking up in TPB if you get the opportunity!
Gambit – by James Asmus (writer) and Clay Mann + various (artists), published by Marvel Comics
Cover to Gambit #15
Gambit’s been my favourite X-Man since I watched the cartoons as a child, so of course I had to pick up his solo title! It’s been fairly good, although not quite as fun-packed or interesting as I’d have hoped!
Mostly this series revolves around Remy’s issues about leaving his roots as a thief behind and carrying on as a hero – he’s pretty conflicted about it and misses the rush. The first storyline to arise out of this was interesting – but I think Asmus dragged it out too long, and the emotional climax didn’t hit as hard as it should have done, because it took too long to get to the point. Still, it had a few high points, and a few of the issues weren’t directly related to the overarching storyline, which helped to keep my interest going.
As the first storyline finished and we moved onto new ones, I think the pace really picked up and the series was a lot of fun to read. As the series came to the end, we were introduced to a new story – Remy’s dad comes back and wants Gambit to head the Thieves’ Guild. I’m pretty glad that the series ended when it did, because it meant we didn’t have to spend too long on what I thought would end up another bloated, boring arc.
Although I don’t regret buying this title, I think if it hadn’t been cancelled at #17, I would have dropped it soon anyway, as the extended storylines and Gambit deciding to be more of a thief than a hero didn’t excite me very much. Interestingly, the issues where Gambit does reveal his heroic side were the ones that worked the best for me! Those, and the shower scenes (we got two!). If you like Gambit, and want a series that has him being really cool in it, and has recurring female characters that are more than love interests, you should check out X-23 – he’s a supporting character in it, but it’s one of my favourite versions of him! Links to where to get it are in my about page.
Peter Panzerfaust – by Kurtis J Wiebe (writer) and Tyler Jenkins (artist), published by Image Comics
Cover to Peter Panzerfaust #11
Peter Panzerfaust is an interesting title – it’s sort of Peter Pan retold in a WWII setting, but then again… not. It starts out with Peter (an American boy) helping the lost boys (French orphans) to escape Calais, and then rockets along from there. There’s action, intrigue and plenty of adventure to go around. This is a title I really wanted to be excited by, and it’s certainly got some great storytelling going on! Wiebe is an accomplished writer and although Jenkins’ isn’t my favourite art style, he’s still a very good artist. However, I found myself drifting from this title and could never get quite as enthusiastic about it as I wanted to. It’s certainly very good, and if you’re into war or action stories, you should absolutely be checking the TPB’s out! It gets consistently high praise all over the internet, and I can see why! It just, unfortunately, doesn’t work well enough for me to keep spending money on it.
So there you go, the five titles that have come off of my pull-list, as of September (well, alright, Red She-Hulk ended in July, but it took me so long to get around to catching up on my reading I didn’t notice until September!). Have any of you read them? What did you think?