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The Pull List: STAR WARS #7, JUSTICE LEAGUE #22, POLARITY #4 & 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!

Daredevil # 28 (Pick of the Week)
Writer: Mark Waid
Art: Javier Rodriguez & Alvaro Lopez
Colors: Javier Rodriguez
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $2.99

Most issues that come after the conclusion of a major storyline tend to serve as filler until the next big arc arrives.

That couldn’t be further from the truth with this issue as Mark Waid produces a story that pulls at the very essence of Daredevil’s past, present, and perhaps, future.

Nate Hackett, a childhood bully of Matt Murdock requests his representation in court.

The very idea of this infuriates Murdock to no end as all of his bad memories come crashing through the floodgates. Hackett’s justification for why he believes Murdock should help him almost turned the law office into a crime scene.

What first looks like an open and shut denial of Murdock’s help turns into a reluctant yes as the wonderful artwork of Rodriguez and Lopez takes us down memory lane.

The hard part to swallow in all of this is Hackett was bullying Murdock the day he lost his sight and chased him into the street, right before the incident that robbed him of his sight occurred. Hackett was the last person Murdock ever saw which must absolutely suck on so many levels.

Hackett reveals he only bullied Matt because he never played with him or the other kids in Hell’s Kitchen. There is a perfectly good reason why, but instead of letting Hackett in on the secret, he goes a different route and feels remorse for thrusting a sense of rejection on his tormentor.

Later on, Waid’s script turns into a pulse pounding thriller as the events in the court room take the reader and the characters completely off guard for a brilliantly executed finale.

In fact, every facet of the story is executed with brilliance that not only highly entertains, but makes you think about the situation as a whole as you take in all of the awesomeness that is the twenty eighth installment of Daredevil.

Grade: A

Superman Unchained #2
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Jim Lee, Scott Williams & Dustin Nguyen
Colors: Alex Sinclair & John Kalisz
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99

Superman Unchained is so good that DC Comics should consider canceling the ongoing Superman series.

That sounds kind of ludicrous considering that particular book has been in circulation forever. However, the New 52 has been unable to find a definitive voice for the Man of Steel until Scott Snyder and Jim Lee brought their talents together.  Speaking of Man of Steel, the movie has garnered a lot of criticism and one of the reasons is because Superman doesn’t save anyone while fighting Zod.

I didn’t have a problem with this because in most situations, when you are in a fight, the only thing you are thinking about is the person in front of you trying to take you out.

If that was your biggest gripe about the movie, fear not with this comic. The opening scene in this issue shows the good ol’ boy scout trying to figure out how to save thousands of people, while being knocked around Dubai by a giant robot.

Oh yeah, he only has nineteen seconds to do it in. Superman’s inner dialogue presents some tense moments because, for each idea he comes up with, he immediately thinks of a reason why it won’t work. If you are one of those who feels that Superman is so powerful that he is boring, then General Sam Lane is your new best friend. He has created some powerful toys that could keep our hero in check.

While Lex Luthor has something up his sleeve, it is Lane who is the true villain of the story. He is unapologetic in his vendetta against Superman and takes pride in the fact that he has the tools to beat him. There is a good back story involving Batman that ties into his appearance in the main story and sets up an interesting development. Jim Lee’s artwork is exactly what we’ve come to expect. Detailed splash pages are filled with action, action and more action. There is just something awe inspiring about Lee’s depictions where he makes the simplest things, such as Superman flying in the sky, look majestic. The first issue of this series was the highest selling comic book in the month of June. The second issue is looking like it might do the same thing in July.

Grade: A-

Star Wars #7
Writer: Brian Wood
Art: Ryan Kelly
Colors: Gabe Eltaeb
Inker: Dane Parsons
Cover: Rodolfo Migliari
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Price: $ 2.99

Brian Wood’s limitless imagination of the Star Wars universe shines on every page.  Despite already knowing the end result of things to come, you will be absolutely enthralled by every crevice of the story.

Tensions are at a fever pitch as Princess Leia is running out of options in locating the Imperial spy within the Rebel Alliance.

Han and Chewie are denied at every creative turn while trying to escape Coruscant and Luke Skywalker decides to take a gamble that will either pay huge dividends or get him killed.

One of the things that makes this series so exciting is that the dialogue sounds like something you would hear in the films. Darth Vader’s secret emissary gets no time to implement their plan as the Emperor chews her out with furious anger. Ryan Kelly did a phenomenal job of illustrating the rage that is equal to the script.

It was so daunting that I thought Palpatine was yelling at me. On Tatooine, Luke visits the graves of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru and the scene just tugs at your heart strings because we see Luke going through the mourning process which we never saw in the film. All and all, Star Wars is the comic book gift that just keeps on giving no matter which galaxy you reside in.

Grade: B+

Polarity #4
Writer: Max Bemis
Artist: Jorge Coelho
Colors: Felipe Sobreiro
Letters: Steve Wands
Cover: Frazer Irving & Logan Fareber
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Price: $3.99

“It’s been in my DNA, in my blood since my birth, an encoded destiny that spelled out the fact that I’m nothing more than an unhinged dreamer whose fantasies of normalcy and peace were always far out of reach.”

This is life according to Tim, as his superpowers brought on by his mental illness, bring about an inevitability that may or may not be pre-conceived.

Musician Max Bemis, who shared his own struggles with mental illness, touches on underlying issues of bi-polar disorder while producing a highly imaginative story that results in one hell of a comic book.

Bemis uses mental illness as a vehicle while sending us on an adventure filled with action, romance and hilarity. One of the funnier moments occurred when Tim’s friend puts him on blast, in front of his girlfriend no less, for liking the Vanilla Ice metal album which made me chuckle because I considered using the “Ice, Ice Baby” remake as my entrance theme when I first started wrestling……don’t judge.

Tim has been duped by the one person he could trust: his therapist, Doctor Mays.

The mad doctor feels Tim has gone from asset to liability and wants him terminated. This turn of events cuts deep because Mays has been the Obi-Wan Kenobi to Tim’s Luke Skywalker. Mays also belittles Tim’s“illness” which twist’s the knife even more and leads to a cornucopia of chaos where Tim has to dig through the emotional bedlam of his psyche in order to save the day. Jorge Coelho did a wonderful job illustrating facial reactions, body language, and anguish.

One of the great things about this series overall is Bemis’ portrayal of Tim. Absent is the stereotypical, self-loathing whiner with a bleak outlook on life and present is the stereotypical, self-loathing whiner of sorts who is troubled by the degeneration of his generation. The real difference is that now he has the power to actually do something about it. The ending teases the possibility of a sequel down the line and while there was no stone left unturned, Bemis and the entire creative team have turned in something special and I hope we haven’t seen the last of Tim and his “Manic-Man” persona.

Grade: A

Breath of Bones: A Tale of The Golem #2
Writer: Steve Niles & Matt Santoro
Artist: Dave Wachter
Letters: Nate Piekos
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Price: $2.99

Always expect the unexpected when the name Steve Niles graces the cover of a comic book.

The New Jersey born horror writer has an incredible of knack of humanizing horror characters to a degree that resonates with readers more than most.  The second installment of this World War II mini-series jumps right into the thick of things as a German battalion approaches a small village in Europe where the villagers are frightened because they are hiding a British pilot that was shot down in combat.

With all of the men having left to fight on the front lines, only the elderly and the children remain, which turns the volume up on the fear factor because they are left defenseless.

Niles’ script, the black and white artwork, and our knowledge of this point in time make the reader appreciate the realism to the point that you forget you are reading a comic book.

Some want to turn the pilot in while others want to continuing hiding him and this makes you really feel for these people as you get a constant reminder from the panels of Dave Wachter that the Germans are coming. The central figures are a young boy named Noah and his grandfather,

Jacob, who the people look to for leadership and who carries a secret that will unleash the Golem. The buildup to this moment is satisfying because you really get to know these people and the possibility of them being killed by a death squad is alarming and the prospect of this massive creature on the cover taking out Nazi’s is a fun one to explore.

Grade: A-

Justice League #22
Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: Ivan Reis
Colors: Rod Reis
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99

Shots are fired in the opening salvo of Trinity War which pits all three branches of the Justice League against one another.

This issue is rife with great moments created by Ivan Reis and Rod Reis who seem to be the go to guys for Geoff Johns.

That is quite the compliment because Johns is phenomenal at injecting several plot points into a single comic which debunks the myth that less is more.

Pandora believes Superman can help her vanquish the seven deadly sins, Shazam finds himself in an area of the Middle East where U.S. interference is strictly forbidden and the forces of evil spring a trap that not even Madame Xanadu can see coming.

This moment reveals the super villains are officially in play. Battles are a dime a dozen in comics, but there was something about the way Shazam punches Superman into oblivion that is astonishing as the child in him yells “Then you shouldn’t have started it”. Atom is given a decent amount of page time which suggests she will be a key component in things to come. Batman is always one of the main focal points of any arc he is involved in and that is the case here as the mystery surrounding who broke into the Batcave and stole the Kryptonite ring is a severe point of contention among the League.

Trinity War is off to a great start. I’m glad DC held off one year before doing a cross over event because it gave the New 52 time to earn its reputation and establish who these characters are under their new light.

Grade: A-

The Shadow/Green Hornet: Dark Nights #1 of 5
Writer: Micheal Uslan
Art: Keith Burns
Cover: Alex Ross & John Cassaday
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Price: $3.99

This was razor close to being my pick of the week.

Why? It is chock full of mystery and suspense all surrounding a centuries old conspiracy that shapes the fabric of human history.

This forces The Shadow and The Green Hornet to team up and put a halt to the evil that has influenced the likes of Adolf Hitler.

The puppet master recognized the dictator’s potential years before he was even relevant which adds to the intrigue that hooks the reader in from beginning to end.

It was refreshing to see Britt Reid and Lamont Cranston brought together first instead of coincidentally fighting the same bad guy on the street. This will increase the anticipation when their super hero alter egos meet for the first time.

Michael Uslan, who is the executive producer of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy, throws in several interesting sub plots that add to the overall arc. Keith Burns’ art style perfectly complements the shadowy tone the book establishes. There are no references to what occurred in Dynamite’s crossover event Masks so it is free from continuity restraints.

If you are one of those fans who primarily frequent the big two in your comic assortment, it’s time to dabble with the independent variety and pick up Dark Knights. Trust me. You’ll be glad you did.

Grade: A-

Here are some titles that didn’t make the list but may tickle your fancy.

Batman #22 (DC Comics) 
Comic book fans have been inundated with Batman origin stories over the years. Scott Snyder manages to create some new elements that will serve as a fun read.

Hawkeye #12 (Marvel Comics) 
Matt Fraction delivers the goods in a tale about Clint Barton’s down and out brother, Barney aka Trickshot.

The Bionic Man #21 (Dynamite Entertainment) 
Steve Austin hunts down a computer wiz who hacked into system and OSI has taken notice for what may be the wrong reasons. This is one of the best books in Dynamite’s catalog.

East of West #4 (Image Comics) 
Jonathan Hickman’s ambitious narrative is dynamic and highly compelling.

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