Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Pull List: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #700, DEATHMATCH #1, JUSTICE LEAGUE #15 & More!

Check out what I checked out this week.

Whether the comics are inspiring or disappointing, I read them all.

Welcome to The Pull List.

And, as always...Spoilers ahead!



Deathmatch #1 (Pick of the Week)
Writer: Paul Jenkins
Art: Carlos Magno
Colors: Michael Garland
Cover: Whilce Portacio
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Price $0.99

In a week where only seven comics were released, Paul Jenkins writes the best book of the week by bringing style and guile to a concept that is on the verge of being played out.

Thirty two heroes and villains are brought to a secret location and none of them remember how they got there. No one has a clue on who would, or could, pull this off and no one is even close to finding a way to escape.

Jenkins blends tension and thought provoking elements to the plot that are not seen in previous incarnations of this model.

The characters are imitations of DC and Marvel’s A-list.

I thought this was the right call for this particular book because the character will resonates more with the reader.

The story is told through the lens of Dragonfly, the Batman character, and he has just done something he vowed never to do. You can probably guess what the “vow” is but the soul of the story deals with how and why these characters will eventually do the same.

Strong character work, perfectly depicted emotions and great action sequences makes Carlos Magno my pick for artist of the week.

The questions produce even more questions without trying too hard and making you think too much. Everything feels like it was seamlessly put together to create an outstanding book. I just hope this series doesn't suffer from first issue-itis. You know, where the first issue rocks and every issue after that sucks?

 I don’t even know if that is thing but that’s what I’m calling it. Don’t let us down, Paul!

Grade: A

The Amazing Spider-Man #700
Writer: Dan Slott, J.M. DeMatteis, Jen Van Meter
Art: Humberto Ramos &Victor Olazaba, Giuseppe Camuncoil & Sal Buscema, Stephanie Buscema
Colors: Edgar Delgado & Antonio Fabela
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $7.99

One of the most popular comic book series of all time has come to an end.

Unless you have been living under a rock, it was almost impossible to avoid the spoilers since they were released three weeks in advance. If that wasn't enough, Dan Slott received very descriptive death threats for the tangled web he’s weaved.

Peter Parker died.

It happened while he was trapped in Doctor Octopus’ decaying body and currently Doctor Octopus is inside Peter Parker’s body. He has declared that he will be a better Spider-Man than Peter ever was, and will become a Superior Spider-Man.

Slott and Ramos get their point across with quality writing and strong visuals but the execution of the final act could have been better.

Ramos’ gets a lot of flak for his artwork being too cartoony but he has truly produced some of the best work seen in a Spider-Man series in quite a while. Slott's outstanding propensity for story telling impeccably ties up loose ends while creating new subplots particularly with Peter confessing everything to Carlie while in Doc Ock’s body. Will she investigate the matter or will she assume it’s the ravings of a mad man?

A lot of sweat equity went into the production of this comic book.

At the same time, this story arc does make you think of the clone saga and “one moment in time.”

Fans hate it when you make drastic changes to a beloved character.

I think fans hate it more when you try to change Spider-Man. His story is simple and captivating at the same time. However, like in every major franchise, at some point a major change will be set in motion in order to get people talking.

There are also two interesting back stories. One is a cartoonish and over the top tale involving Blackcat and Spidey. The other is about a grandfather who tells his grandson he used to be Spider-Man in order to relate better to him. Of course, the kid doesn't believe him. I’m not sure where this will fit in to the realm of continuity because it takes places in the future and we know how often that can be changed. It turns out the grandfather was, in fact, Spider-Man. This story was written and drawn so you can’t tell if we are looking at the future of Peter Parker or Otto Octavius. There are some clues that point in either direction which makes reading it even more enjoyable.

Doctor Octopus is now Spider-Man. Think about that for a moment. This is bizarre on so many levels, but I want to see how this goes before I pass judgment. You know Peter Parker will rise from the grave to reclaim what is rightfully his someday. Let’s just enjoy the ride and see what Dan Slott has in store for us.

In closing, I've spoken to a lot of people who are very critical about this book because of its dramatic conclusion. I understand that, but personal feelings aside, this book was well put together from front to back. This issue was more about the Doc/Spidey saga. It’s about the culmination and celebration of a series that has defined a generation. A web of spectacular books has produced a plethora of countless memories over the years. However, The Amazing Spider-Man is the definitive Spider-Man comic book and while this is one good thing that didn't have to come to an end, it definitely went out on a high note.

Grade: A-


Avenging Spider-Man #15.1
Writer: Chris Yost
Art: Paco Medina, Juan Viasco
Colors: Dave Curiel
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $2.99

This is the perfect companion piece to Amazing Spider-Man #700 that chronicles the first days of Doc Ock as Spider-Man/Peter Parker.

Epiphanies can either be enlightening or a real kick in the family jewels.

This one kicks Otto, hard, when he realizes he always got his rear end handed to him when he fought Spider-Man.

So, how do you become better than the guy who was better then you? Otto is on a mission to find out.

Chris Yost’s work on The Avengers animated series is well received and he can add this to the check list.

In many ways, this was more enjoyable then ASM #700. Sounds weird, right?

Doc Ock is an individual who marvels at his own genius which is the complete antithesis of Peter Parker. Still he finds himself accomplishing things that he feels are beneath him and doesn’t know why.

Let’s speculate, shall we?

Is this Peter Parker’s way of coming back from the dead?

Are Peter’s memories powerful enough to dictate Otto’s actions?

Or is a heart that was perhaps two sizes too small about to grow three sizes in one day?

Grade: A-

Mara #1
Writer: Brian Wood
Art: Ming Doyle
Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $2.99

If you think today’s society is obsessed with celebrity now, then fast forward to the future where the celebrity of professional athletes is everything.

At the heart of it all is Mara Prince, the Michael Jordan of volleyball.

Picking volleyball as the main character's sport of choice was a risky move but it ended up paying huge dividends. You can’t put your finger on it yet, but there is something special about Mara and it is that indescribable intangible that gives Mara her street cred, if you will.

Ming Doyle’s vision of the future brought a lot of energy to the story and Mara is drawn with athletic elegance of mind, body and soul. She is easy to like because of that “special factor” and the fact she is a grounded individual despite her popularity.

I’ll be honest; I might not have read this is if Brian Wood’s name wasn't on the cover.

Thank goodness I did because I might have missed out of on an enjoyable experience.

Grade: B+


Justice League #15
Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: Ivan Reis & Joe Prado
Colors: Rod Reis
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99

The Aquaman creative team of Ivan Reis and Joe Prado join Geoff Johns on Justice League just in time to begin the anticipated “Throne of Atlantis” story line.

Atlantis declares war on the surface world in response to an attack on their kingdom. Their war plan is beyond precise and no one is safe while the League rushes to save lives. Aquaman is torn between two sides while Batman suspects there is something he’s not telling.

Geoff John’s direction is effective enough to keep you intrigued for the coming events such as the Atlantean battle plan, the dissension over the League's leadership and other subplots that work nicely with the overall design.

Johns’ Shazam backstory reaches a critical juncture as Billy Batson finally comes face to face with Black Adam. It reeks of sheer awesomeness and is the best part of the series, nine times out of ten.

Ivan Reis and Joe Prado are a welcome artistic change in the title. They drew everything in the Aquaman series with an epic sense of adventure and this feat continues. Crossover events are a dime a dozen, but “Throne of Atlantis” promises something fun and exciting that fans can get behind.

Grade: B+


Aquaman #15
Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: Paul Pelletier
Colors: Rod Reis
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99

Aquaman #15 picks up right where Justice League #15 left off, continuing the “Throne of Atlantis” crossover.

We learn a lot more about Orm, Arthur’s brother, and the current king of the sea.

His statement, "If you aren't ruling them, then what have you been doing up here?" impeccably captures how little regard Orm has for the surface world as he dictates terms to Aquaman while flooding cities at the snap of a finger.

Arthur has more vested in this than anyone as his two worlds are at war.

Let’s talk art: Paul Pelletier’s artwork is reminiscent of Ivan Reis & Joe Prado’s previous work on the series. I’m not sure if this is coincidence or design, but one thing I loved is the creativity of his work with the images of Gotham City under water and the final page with a cliffhanger involving Batman.

Grade: B

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