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THE PULL LIST – FEAR ITSELF 7.1, PEANUTS #0, USAGI YOJIMBO #141 & 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!

Usagi Yojimbo #141
Writer: Stan Sakai
Art: Stan Sakai
Colors: Tom Luth
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Price: $3.50

My first introduction to Usagi Yojimbo was is the 1990’s when he would appear on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon. I thought this was a different and cool character that should have more airtime.

Once I started reading the comic books, I realized I had only known to a certain extent, a tame version of the character. The Rabbit Ronin has the distinction of killing more people than any other comic book character in history. I mean more kills than Frank Castle gives you serious street credit.

The self-contained story of Yojimbo’s 200th issue is a classic tale of the wandering samurai who finds his way to a small peaceful village only for it to be over-run by thugs and deviants. Yojimbo must withdraw his sword and make it rain with the blood of the wicked. Stan Sakai created and completely owns this character and with this you get more of a personal touch because no one knows the character better than him.

This issue is also the perfect jumping on point if you have never read the book before. Usagi is an easy character to get into because he is a warrior who hates to see bad things happen and will defend the defenseless in a heartbeat.

Grade: A-


***

Avengers Academy #21
Writer: Christos Gage
Art: Sean Chen & Scott Hanna
Colors: Jeromy Cox & Veronica Gandini
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $2.99

A new day and a new class have arrived for Avengers Academy but the five remaining members of the old class are not too happy with the changes instituted by Hank Pym.

There is a lot of teen angst in this issue as the original members are angry after the events of Fear Itself and they feel Pym, Captain America and Luke Cage have no regard for what they are going through. The book ends when Jocasta is murdered and it’s discovered that a traitor lurks among the group. This is the perfect time to jump on the band wagon if you have never read Academy. You get to know the main players involved while learning a little about their back story and you get a taste of what they can do in action.

New characters are brought into the fold and the ending will make you want to come back for more.

Grade: B


***

Red Lanterns #3
Writer: Peter Milligan
Art: Ed Benes & Rob Hunter
Colors: Nathan Eyring
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99

Atrocitus has chosen Bleez as his second banana, but will this decision lead to his own undoing?

I knew at the end of the second issue that Bleez was the obvious choice.

Atrocitus sends Bleez into the blood lake and her incoherent ramblings are replaced with intelligent thoughts as she sinks closer to the bottom of the lake. When she reaches the bottom she remembers her old life before the red ring selected her to join the corps. It was a great move to focus on Bleez after two issues on the corps leader. The story appears to be a slow build towards something but I’m not sure what it is. Milligan is teasing Bleez taking over as leader but that would be too easy. The nature of Atrocitus and Bleez’s relationship is…….interesting to say the least. The artwork was just fine and the cover of this issue as well as the last issue have told a unique story.

Seeing Bleez’s past was the meat and potatoes of this story and explains the nature of her rage.

Grade: C+


***

Peanuts #0
Writer: Charles M. Schulz, Ron Zorman and Vicki Scott
Art: Charles M. Schulz, Ron Zorman and Vicki Scott
Colors: Lisa Moore
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Price: $1.00

When you ravaged through your parents newspaper as a kid, you made a bee-line for either the sports page or the comics section. The comics page always displayed the work of Charles M. Schulz and his loveable and timeless Peanuts characters.

I was not going to pick this up at first since the new-age versions of the Halloween and Christmas specials let me with a bad taste in my mouth. This book is the perfect blend of old and new. Woodstock needs a new home and Peppermint Patty is trying to pawn off an old pumpkin, Charlie Brown still fails to kick the football and Linus just wants everyone to accept his blanket. Seeing the many faces of Snoopy and seeing Sally pester Charlie Brown will bring a smile to your face. The dialog is a great mix of contemporary jargon and the articulate nature of the old comic strips and TV shows.

If you have an extra dollar to spend, you should pick this up and enjoy feeling like a kid again.


Grade: B


***

Fear Itself #7.1: Captain America
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Art: Butch Guice
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99

This book was simply a promotional tool for Ed Brubaker’s “Winter Soldier” scheduled to debut in February 2012.

Steve Rogers is distraught over Bucky’s death at the hands of the Serpent until Nick Fury informs him that Bucky is alive and he felt it was the right play to hide it from him.

Captain America snaps and beats the dog mess out of Fury until he gets a chance to quickly scream why they kept him in the dark before Cap’s shield comes crashing down on his head. The story had a lot of depth because it just as much about who kept the secret from Cap as it was about it in general being kept from him. The art and colors carried a gritty and emotional tone which was apropos for the inner turmoil Steve Rogers was going through. My only complaint is this could have been a major story to use down the road and instead it was a throw away book to promote something new.

Still, it’s an intriguing read that sets the stage for things to come.


Grade: B


***

Green Arrow #3 (Shelf Listed: Disappointment of the Week)
Writer: J.T. Krul & Dan Jurgens
Art: George Perez & Ray McCarthy
Colors: Tanya Horie & Richard Horie
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99

I assumed there would be more attention and effort put towards Green Arrow since his character was a major part of Smallville.

Seeing him need Chloe’s help to get out of trouble was exciting to watch on TV, but seeing him need Jax & Naomi’s help in the comic book just tells me he can save the day without them.

Arrow has been captured by Rush and before his impending demise, Rush wants everyone with a TV, computer and smart phone to watch and tweet about it. After Oliver is finished with the high tech hijinks, he deals with his cooperate affairs at Q-Core, which is patterned after Apple, and delivers an expo speech similar to Steve Jobs. The dialog is rife with “wonderful” lines such as “Let me guess, Achilles heel syndrome” and “Not bad for your first infomercial”.

Overall, this is the perfect example of why some people feel comic books are lame. It’s as if Jurgens and Krul were trying to make this a corny comic book because that is exactly what we have been given with the Green Arrow.

Grade: D+

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