• The Forty Dollar Pull List - August 2011

    The $40 Pull List is a monthly column that sets out to recreate the "Pull List" experience at your local comic shop, with a budget of just $40.

    In this month's $40 Pull List, Brandon and Craig squabble a bit about the perceived message in Generation Hope #9, cash in the Trade Bank on Koni Waves: The Perfect Wave, speculate about the mysterious shrinking Gates of Gotham series, and talk more about the upcoming DC Comics Relaunch.

    Read on for the August 2011 installment!




    AUGUST 2011
    by Craig Reade and Brandon Schatz

    Reade: Welcome to another month of the $40 Pull List! In honor of the only warm month of the year for Canadians, Brandon will be tweeting photos of his new grass skirt and coconut bra while we write this month's column.

    Schatz: Just be thankful that I'm rocking the birthday suit. Because it is my birthday.

    Reade: Why would I be thankful that you are rocking the Birthday Suit?

    Schatz: I assume everyone is.

    Reade: Just like Peter David posing on a couch, there are some things people should not be forced to endure.

    JULY ISSUES

    Cashing in the Trade Bank
    Koni Waves: The Perfect Wave, $19.95, Arcana Studio. Released 09/07/2010
    Written by Mark Poulton, Art by Stephen Sistilli, Dexter Weeks, Mike Capprotti, Amber Davis, Samantha Cox, Natalie Cutrufello, and Diego Molano
    Ex-stripper and disgraced police officer Koni Waves finds herself in the middle of a supernatural mystery. Prince - in an effort to gain his power - attempts to resurrect the demon-god Puea, and control his power. Koni manages to thwart him, and in the process Prince is merged with the defeated Puea, and the two are transformed into a Tiki, which finds itself in Huko's bar.

    After an encounter with the Black Bear Clan, Koni's sometime-boyfriend Pete has become a vampire, a fact he struggles to keep secret from her after she believes him to be cured. The Clan's leader was killed, but her lover Keanu has taken control of the group.

    Puea resurfaces later (after Koni defeats an alien and a group of zombies lead by an Egyptian immortal), and Demonslayer (Avatar Press) arrives to help Koni put an end to the demon. The encounter frees Prince, who later summons Pahulu, a spirit demon guardian of Lanai, who objects to the presence of the rock band Adema. Defeated once again, Prince turns again to Puea to plot Koni's destruction.

    Koni must return to the Apanapana Ballroom and go undercover as a stripper to locate a succubus who is attacking members of the Wave Runners football team. While Koni deals with the succubus, Prince uncovers Keanu's heart, and uses it to bind the vampire to his will. After Koni defeats a pair of werewolf volleyball players, Prince makes his move. Pete must reveal himself as a vampire (and also confess his feelings) in order to save Koni, in a battle that ultimately costs him his life.
    Schatz: While it's clearly not the case, I'm going to go ahead and believe that this book is a sequel to the movie Point Break.

    I have to say, most of this book reminded me a whole hell of a lot of the Tiki-Noir 40s crime series Hawaiian Dick, from Image - except the star is female. And more... boobish? Which is where the book actually suffered a bit, in my eye. Hawaiian Dick, being the same sort of idea, delivered a similar premise with a lot more character, IMO. That's not to say this book wasn't fun though. I had quite a bit of fun reading it.

    Reade: You are not the first person to compare this to Hawaiian Dick.

    I actually have a lot to say about this story, but I will start with one of the things you pointed out - the boobishness. At first, I kind of groaned when I saw it - I mean, an ex stripper, current party-girl? Another one? Then I thought about it. When it comes to noir private detectives, they are usually flawed men - failed cops with some kind of drinking problem and a little bit of depression. They might even use drugs, and many of them definitely are promiscuous. On the other side of the coin, the females only partly fit in that role - the alcoholism and career path remain the same, but they fall in the "tough-as-nails-manhater" role.

    Give Koni a penis, and she is the spitting image of a male noir detective. She's extremely flawed in all the same ways that the men are, with her partying and her reckless, irresponsible behavior. Her past is somewhat seedy with her former stripper life, and she is totally unrepentant about it. This story ended up being refreshing looking at it from that perspective.

    Schatz: It's the whole "guys sleep around and they're players, girls sleep around and they're whores" thing - only more within the noir genre. Yeah, I get what you're throwing down, and it does twist my thoughts on this. What I would probably amend this to, is this book is much more popcorny than Hawaiian Dick. Nothing wrong with that at all, though I prefer the other flavour better. And again, this book was quite a bit of fun - which, I'm pretty sure was the goal.

    Reade: I will absolutely agree that this is a little less thought-provoking. Popcorny is an excellent way to describe it, and I think that could be considered a weakness.

    One other thing I found that I really liked was how well it was structured. You know me - I am a sucker for the serial story, and this is a collection. Each issue had a defined purpose and a complete story - while one or two constants continued to evolve in the background. If you look at this series from a serial storytelling perspective, it was about perfect. A lot of mainstream comic writers could learn a lot from the way this was put together. So often I see writers who spend so much time and effort building the overall arc, and forget that you need smaller, self-contained stories to carry you through. You need a reason to read an issue beyond "Well, a little part of this is filling out the big picture. If you are going to pad something, pad it with another smaller story.

    I think Poulton has a few areas he could improve as a writer, but he seems to have the structure-side of comic writing down cold. He's a natural.

    Schatz: True. And popcorny isn't a bad thing. There's a reason why huge action movies make tons of money. Are they good? Eh. But are they fun? Shit yeah.

    And I agree with the pacing here. A lot of the argument for the wider story arcs had to do with trades, and how the story would read better in the trade. I really enjoy books like this, that can afford me a nice break in places. You can put it down, read something else, go back to it, whatever. I kind've like it. And as a serialized story, it probably worked quite well. If it was serialized. I'm not even sure.

    Reade: And this read fantastic as a trade - there is no reason you have to sacrifice the serial style for collected readability. If you want to create a graphic novel - don't release it as a serial first. I know the industry is geared more towards the monthly release in this country, but you can't change that by sitting in the box.

    Oh, it definitely was serialized. This trade collects a bunch of stuff, including the first two volumes of the comic, the 2007 Koni Waves/Demonslayer one-shot, and the Headdress of the Undead convention exclusive. The ending is exclusive to the collection - so we got a little new material here as well.

    I also think there are comparisons to be drawn here to Magus - this series told strong, individual stories, while at the same time leaving things open to a larger story while it went. This is what I was talking about when I was mentioning what Magus should be going for - it lacked the short-term story that really made this series I think.

    Schatz: I can see what you're getting at. Still really enjoyed both, though.

    And I will say you probably would've hated Hawaiian Dick when it was coming out. Solid stories, but not a single one of those individual installments shipped monthly. One series was nominated for Eisner's over three separate years - and the longest run that title has had is about five issues.

    Reade: Well, I wouldn't go so far as to say I would hate it - I just wouldn't have bought it. I do think it a little ridiculous that it could earn multiple Eisner's though. That's like a movie getting Oscars for three years straight since it was never finished. But then, that's kind of one of the problems with the comic industry these days.

    Anyhow, I as much as I liked Koni Waves, it's probably time we moved on. We have an empty Trade Bank, and nothing new picked. Has anything caught your eye?

    Schatz: A couple of things. One just came out, called One Soul. It's from Oni Press, and it's by Ray Fawkes, and it follows the lives of 18 people. Each page is a nine page spread, and so on the two pages, there are 18 panels. Each panel follows the life of a person, from life to death - and it reads beautifully. It shouldn't. It really shouldn't, but it does. It's a sight. I believe its $25

    There's the Green Wake collection coming out in Image in September, which has been a stunning series. The art is by Proof's Riley Rossmo, and man, does the art look amazing here. Just stunning. And its 18? 19?

    And I've always wanted to read Who is Jake Ellis? which is supposed to be amazing. It's like a strange spy series from Image. It'll be out in October, or some such.

    Reade: Well, of what you listed, Who Is Jake Ellis? sounds the most interesting. Might be a little Noir overload, but as long as we switch up next time - well, it should be ok. It comes out October 12th, for $16.99. We could start off with $4.50 in the Bank and add that one if you like!

    Schatz: Sounds like a thing to do.

    ADDED: Who is Jake Ellis? Volume 1, $16.99, Image Comics. Due Out 10/12/2011
    ADDED: $4.50 to the Trade Bank


    Reade: Done and done.

    ---

    Reed Gunther #2, $2.99, Image Comics, Due Out 07/06/2011 ON TIME
    Written by Shane Houghton, Art by Chris Houghton
    John is taken to a cave by Professor Turk, who reveals a mysterious artifact to him. Warning him that he has to protect the town, keep them away from the caves, and keep the artifact a secret - the Professor is killed while John flees. Years later, John is forcibly trying to prevent people from entering the caves when Reed Gunther and Sterling arrive on the scene. John is taken out of the picture, and our heroes are hired by Mr. Picks to go into the cave and see what gold John is hiding. Starla just happens by the same town, completing a job, when she frees John from his cell to help Reed. Mr. Picks actually runs a freak show, and manages to take some of the creatures from the cave for his show - escaping. Meanwhile, John blows the cave, and Reed and Sterling must escape before it all comes crashing down on their heads.
    Schatz: I really did enjoy the first issue - though the "all ages" needle swung a little too far down the scale towards "kids book" - but this issue was pretty gosh darn fantastic. There seemed to be quite a bit more meat to the story, a bit more action and a solid sense of danger. Every few pages, I found myself thinking, "Well, just how are they gonna get themselves out of this one?"

    In the end, they did get out of it, with a few threads that may be picked up later. Nice way to go.

    Reade: I completely agree - this issue was far less kiddie. Sure, it was still all-ages friendly, but it had a little more universal appeal. I honestly didn't expect Starla to be a regular character, though truth be told she seemed a little forced here.

    This issue was solid entertainment, with a story that would pass muster in a more adult-oriented western comic. Decent stuff.

    Schatz: I liked her inclusion here, but as you said, the last issue made it seem like she was heading off. And maybe that was their intent when they made the first one? These first few issues were self published some time back, and maybe they just did the first one as a test, to see if they could make something like this happen, and then brought her back when they decided to make more, to add to the cast. Like how guest stars in pilots end up popping back as a more regular presence due to a creative spark, or whatever.

    But hey, whatever the case, I'm glad the character is sticking around. The dynamic Reed and her have is fun. Oh, and slightly unrelated: I still want a bear sidekick.

    Reade: Bear sidekicks are often cool.

    I will say that despite how odd it was that she was there, they did a great job in actually including her. She had a reason to be there, and ended up being a familiar way to advance the plot while Reed was in the caves. And this issue was packed with story - it may be an all-ages book, but there was more content in this single issue than most issues of mainstream books these days. That was quite impressive.

    Schatz: Man, it's a good thing so many minis ended last week. If it was a tight one, we may have missed out on this issue. Sometimes things just work out then.

    Reade: Indeed. I still think this book bears the"if I need to cut something and nothing else sucks..." mark, but for now I am enjoying it.

    ---

    Red Skull #1 (of 5), $2.99, Marvel Comics. Due Out 07/06/2011 ON TIME
    Written by Greg Pak, Art by Mirko Colak, Color by Matthew Wilson
    We start in 1923 Munich, when a young Johann Schmidt suffers through life in a Germany in utter ruin - until the Nazis rise to take power. We see a Nazi rally put down by the police - and young Johann fleeing from his orphanage to a dog-catcher, whom he asks to teach him how to kill dogs. It turns out to be harder than he thought.
    Schatz: Jesus, what a horrifying book. The kind of thing where you're helpless but to watch as a person just crumbles and stumbles toward the wrong path, due to a little bit of nature, and a heaping scoop of the wrong kind of "nurture".

    Doing a book like this is sort of dangerous - especially when Pak came right out and said it was a companion piece to his Magneto: Testament book, which was about the "flip side" of this particular coin. But as he states in the back, there's a bit of merit in being reminded about monsters. Real monsters - or at least stand ins for the real monsters. I mean, the book still concerns itself with the fictitious creation of a super-villain, but god dammit. It's still harrowing, and honestly, makes me a touch sick to watch.

    Reade: Well, I am sure you were expecting this, but the story was ridiculously slow. Way too little meat in this issue.

    That aside, it was a decent start. I did like where Pak started this story - if only from a "correct history" perspective. Germany under the Nazi's is rightly painted as evil, but few people really understand what drove them to that point. After World War I, Germany was broken, weak, and starving. Then the Nazis came and ended all of that - desperate people reached out to the only ones who seemed willing to help them, and they got the help they wanted. You actually saw that in this comic a bit - just a flash. It surprised me... you don't usually see that angle, because people are too afraid to be seen as sympathizing with Nazis. Solid stuff.

    Schatz: I didn't expect you to say that, actually, though I'm pretty far removed from having read the issue. I liked the pace of it, as well as those historical touches. Pak has clearly done some research here, and I'm glad for it. Something sloppily pasted together would've rang false, and would present a bit of a danger of misinterpretation, in terms of what the book is hoping to accomplish. After all, this is a "historically accurate" story set in the Marvel U. It'd be very easy for it to come across as cheap if the right beats aren't there.

    Reade: I wasn't expecting much from this series - but what we are getting is fairly decent. It's light - sure, but otherwise it is well constructed. As a mini, I am far more willing to excuse a slow first issue, since we don't have an unlimited amount of time to develop background. I'm willing to give this one time to overcome one fault.

    Schatz: That is very magnanimous of you.

    Reade: Nothing wrong with having expectations as a consumer. Now if they are going to stretch a single issues worth of content into five - well, I don't particularly like paying five times the price, you know what I mean? I am not seeing that so far...

    Schatz: Neither. I was actually quite please with the way this first issue went. I actually felt like I learned stuff about things, and got a solid foundation for character from which to go on.

    ---

    Birds of Prey #14, $2.99, DC Comics. Due Out 07/13/11 ON TIME
    Written by Marc Andreyko, Pencils by Billy Tucci and Adriana Melo, Color by Nei Ruffino, Ink by Billy Tucci and JP Mayer
    The original Phantom Lady, Lady Blackhawk, and Black Canary pay a visit to a veterans' hospital, which leads us to a flashback to 1950, which Zinda, Phantom Lady, and the original Black Canary are on their way to Argentina to track down Rutger Bruggerman, a Nazi surgeon who fled Germany. They go undercover as Christian Missionaries and arrive at their destination - but the village is abandoned. It turns out to be a trap, as an army of "Hitler Youth" attack. Unfortunately, someone who was witness to those events is currently in the very Veterans' Hospital the Birds find themselves in, and revenge is on his mind.
    Schatz: Oh Hitler, will you never learn? Oh what's that? He didn't? Hmm.

    Another solid issue of Birds, albeit from a different writer. And hey, it also manages to continue springing "guest artists" on us with the inclusion of Melo, who was not originally included in the solicits. Originally, this was going to be allllll Tucci. Seems like a weird curse, for this book, doesn't it?

    Anyway, given the fact that this is pretty much a two issue fill in before the big change in September, I thought things were handled quite well. The only other thing I would've liked would've been a follow up to the last page of the last issue, where Oracle vows, uh... something. For the life of me, I can't remember, but I know I was sitting there thinking, "man, I really hope the next bit deals with that". But it didn't.

    Sigh.

    Reade: I thought Melo and Tucci made a great combination. Tucci's usually quite good with the "classic" looking stuff, and Melo's just great with the Birds... so the art worked.

    The story was meh. You are right -we are completely in fill-in territory right now, which is something I was afraid of. Once again a major DC event kills a title's momentum! And some people are surprised by that...

    Schatz: There's a slight difference between what DC will do with a book and what Marvel will do with a book in these situations - and honestly, I don't really see why DC didn't let a few books disappear when their arcs ended, rather than let them continue on for a few months with fill in stories. It seems like time and money better spent on getting your other ducks in a row, you know?

    Reade: I could not agree more. There was no reason to continue this book for two more months if we were just getting a filler story. Truth be told, I'm half tempted to drop it next month if this is all we are going to get. But more time to discuss that later.

    Schatz: Indeed.

    ---

    Batgirl #23, $2.99, DC Comics. Due out 07/13/11 ON TIME
    Written by Bryan Q. Miller, Art by Pere Perez, Color by Guy Major
    Stephanie is back home - and finds a mess waiting for her. The Grey Ghost is dead, and the Reapers have gone on the offensive. The Reapers break Slipstream out of prison. But they don't leave the prison... they just start a riot and look for their target. Batgirl arrives - and quickly finds herself outmatched. She calls for help and it arrives in quick order. They mop up the baddies, and Stephanie learns exactly who they were going to kill.
    Schatz: Surprise! Okay, so I don't really know all that much about Stephanie, but from working in the comic shop, and from reading the letter's page, I've gleaned enough to know that the final page? Was a fantastic twist. I applaud Bryan Q. Miller. That was great.

    Reade: Yeah, it was a nice "mark-out" moment - I especially liked the touch where he had all of her newspaper clippings taped to his wall. It's been a really long time since we saw the old Cluemaster and this story was long overdue. The only real drawback is that this story deserves more than one issue! It can't be helped, I suppose - and it isn't Miller's fault, but damn. Stupid crossover/relaunch/events...

    Schatz: I live in hope that he returns to comics soon. The guy has a pretty solid grasp on how to work them - ongoing threads interwoven through shorter stories, and you can't fault that culmination.

    Reade: Not in the slightest. I'm actually glad he stuck it in there while he still had the chance. I have to wonder if he abandoned the original end of his Reapers story just to get to Cluemaster.

    Books like this ending are one of the things that frustrate me most about event/relaunch fever. I just want good stories, and constantly having entire lines affected by the latest marketing gimmick of the day has done a lot to dampen my enjoyment of comics in recent years.

    Schatz: This is an unfortunate casualty, yes. Though I see the mass DC relaunch as something that will make their entire line a whole lot healthier - which given DC sales as of late, is something they desperately need. Hell, something like this change is what all of comics need. Fact is, while I really enjoy this book, it never did sell like the rest of the Bat-line - so it falls under the fiscal line of "it's broken, so fix it" that's part of the September relaunch. Man, if only more people had read this book.

    Reade: I really can't help but disagree with you there. As opposed to making it healthier, I view this as another step along its demise. It is throwing away all the good along with the bad, and is muddying the water at the same time. If they were truly doing a real reboot I'd think differently - but outside a short term sales boost, this is going to become a drag on their sales before year's end.

    I agree with you - sales for this title were low. But things like this relaunch aren't going to magically make low selling, quality books more attractive to readers. The only positive about this thing is the same-day digital release. I forsee half of these books will be rolled back into the old status quo within 6 months, and many others being outright cancelled. Massive line-wide tie in promotions year after year that were poorly handled is the reason that sales have taken a dive overall - and this seems no different to me.

    Change was needed - true. But this solution is little more than desperate flailing.

    Schatz: I'm going to disagree with you as well - though I'm pretty sure I know where this conversation is going to go. You have your thoughts on how this relaunch is going to go, and I have mine. I've got mine tempered by the fact that, if this doesn't work, I'll be really, really hungry. Now, that said, I have absolutely never seen more people interested in what's happening in comics in my life. I'm getting e-mails, getting walk ins, getting strangers who used to read or have never read comics walking though the door, asking what's up. More to that point, when I travel the world, I carry with me some of the 300+ of the New 52 giveaway books DC built for promotions to hand out to random people. Now, that's just me. That's just my store. I'm not exactly sure what's happening elsewhere, and really, we can't be sure how this will shake out for quite a few months.

    And regarding the bathwater and the baby thing, no. They did not do this relaunch perfect. But the majority of it is pretty good.

    Reade: I can say with certainty that appeal and interest in comics outside the usual comic customers is totally unchanged. I can't speak for your personal experience - but I can say that the only aspect of this that has any impact at all on comic sales as a whole is the digital release bit. Starting the whole line over? No one outside comic nerds cares at all about that, one way or another.

    I know you aren't going to agree with me on it, and you are not at all alone. But I've seen this before - many times before. DC's done this before recently - though not in such an extreme fashion. And where I may or may not be wrong about how this will pan out, I know my interest in DC comics has deflated to an all-time low, thanks to this and their other marketing gimmicks in past years. With every one of these things, they keep reminding us that they don't care about telling good stories, they are more interested in the short-term sales boost. When they were on top a couple years back, they let the great stories dictate what they were going to push. Now the great stories are in the way, and must be wiped out.

    So we get things like Birds of Prey for a couple months. Thankfully, it looks like this book is at least going to finish strong.

    Schatz: Very strong, yes.

    ---

    Repulse, $6.99, Image Comics. Due out 07/06/2011 DELAYED - RELEASED 07/20/2011
    by Szymon Kudranski
    Sam Hagen is an investigator with After Crime, a unit of detectives that can relive the last memories of dead individuals by injecting their dead brain matter into themselves. He is soon called on to investigate the death of an officer who may have been involved in the disappearance of his son, and he learns that the man was killed by some kind of robot. Soon, all of the officers originally implicated and later cleared in his son’s disappearance become targets. Hagen soon learns of the robot’s origin and its true nature, and faced with a situation with no real solution.
    Schatz: I was surprisingly charmed by this book. I say surprisingly, because of my general aversion to gritty looking books that are both written and drawn by the same person. For the most part, this perception comes from the recent spat of writer/artists over at DC, whose books just don't grab me. To be fair, I usually find myself fairly outnumbered in that way - the books have an audience that enjoys them quite well, but they just happen to be missing those somewhat intangible things I'm looking for in a comic book. This book was very well done, though. The biased part of my brain wants to credit the scripting assist by Jeff Mariotte, but that said, that wouldn't near account for plotting and pace. Plus, it shows that not only does Szymon Kudranski know where his strengths are, but he know which parts to get a bit of help with. And man, this book was great as a result of just... all of that.

    The art really feels like what you would see from Alex Maleev. Also, Kudranski has a good sense of his skills. Having flipped through a few issues of his Spawn art, you can tell he's changed his style a bit for this book, working with the black and white to produce art that takes up space - not leaving space for the colours. Not sure if I'm describing that quite right, but whatever he's done, it works here.

    Reade: The script assist probably helped more than you know - if more writer/artist books would emply someone that did just a bit more than an editor, more would come out this good.

    I really did enjoy it. I figured out fairly early on what was happening (thanks in part to the teaser for the story), but that didn't diminish my enjoyment. The path the plot was taking was obvious, but that didn't make me enjoy the ride any less. I found myself thinking that this would make an excellent short film.

    I think you are spot-on about the art, though there were one or two panels where I think he went just a little crazy with that ink. A few anomalies didn't take away from an otherwise gorgeous book.

    Schatz: I didn't really research this book a whole lot before we dove into it, so I was probably a bit more surprised by the events than you. And I more than willing to forgive a few panels of experimentation. Not every part of a book can always be a winner, and creator owned books are often the place to try something to see if it'll work or not. Even then, I can't really point to any spots like that, myself.

    Reade: No real reason to point them out - it could have been a personal thing. It's tough to read comics anymore without the Editor coming out, so I can be hyper critical.

    I am glad this one worked out as well as it did. And I am always game for an Image book like this one, as opposed to something like Nonplayer. I hate to say I told you so on that one, but #2 still isn't even being talked about... but the guy has time to go around to every convention in the country, and even won a "most promising newcomer" award for an artist who shows "superior ability in the art of making comics." Don't you actually have to MAKE comics to show superior ability in it?

    Totally off track I know, and an absolute personal pet peeve, but that comic was the worst example of what Image has to offer. If you want to tell stories, tell a complete story - don't put out the tiniest piece and then string out the rest whenever you feel like getting it done. If it takes you over six months to complete a single issue of a comic, you are in the wrong business.

    Anyway - this is the opposite of that. A great story, solid art - and it's done. No looking month after month for a part 2 that may never materialize.

    Schatz: I like this model of release. I definitely think that if Non-Player #1 was about double its size and managed a bit of a conclusion, you'd've been all over it. And revisiting my argument at the time, in terms of the European album style, I have to admit: albums generally have conclusions - or at least wrap ups. I still liked that book, and apparently, the industry was okay with it.

    Reade: Well, the industry is absolutely ok with it, to a point. Because most readers who buy that kind of book put up with the abuse, frankly. Nonplayer will never make that much money, because you simply can't live if all you can manage is a single issue or two a year that only sells a couple thousand copies. He's getting a ton of attention now because the first issue was a strong first effort, but by the time he comes around to releasing #2, that universal praise will be gone. He's not "new" anymore, and there will be less to celebrate.

    Unless he is independently wealthy, it is going to come down to putting food on the table or being a comic creator. Unless he learns that being a comic artist means actually drawing, as opposed to doing whatever the hell he is doing with his time - well, he won't be a comic artist for very long.

    I am perfectly ok with a single issue with some semblance of an ending, and then coming back a few months down the road for a new story. If Nonplayer #1 was structured more like Repulse, I'd have been more excited about it. Now I just look at Nate Simpson's self-congratulatory tour of comic conventions with a little bit of disgust. The guy made a single issue of a comic, and has spent more time soaking up praise than actually producing. He is dooming himself to failure with that attitude.

    Schatz: Might be. For all I know the dude is probably still knee deep in doing video game art? I dunno.

    Reade: You'd think he'd have a better concept of deadlines then - considering that video game companies are slavedrivers. Yeah - I have a feeling we will eventually see #2, and then that is the last we will see of Simpson. Shame too.

    Anyway, Repulse is awesome. More stuff like that is doubleplusgood.

    ---

    Daredevil #1, $3.99, Marvel Comics. Due Out 07/20/2011 ON TIME
    Written by Mark Waid and Marcos Martin, Pencils by Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin, Color by Javier Rodriguez and Muntsa Vicente, Ink by Joe Rivera
    Daredevil stakes out a crime family wedding after receiving a tip that a hit was planned. Only it isn't a hit - The Spot is attempting a kidnapping, hired by an inside man. Daredevil defeats The Spot, kisses the bride, and hits the front page of the Bugle. Meanwhile, Matt Murdoch is having a hard time getting back to defending cases with his identity as Daredevil public - despite the fact that he continues to deny he is Daredevil. Matt is visited by the new Assistant DA, Kirsten McDuffie, who suggests that there may be something more to a client's case than Matt realizes. Daredevil goes to investigate, but someone who knows him very well has decided to intercept him.

    In the back-up story, Matt and Foggy take a little stroll through Manhattan.
    Schatz: The Spot! I love the Spot. I love the way Daredevil's echolocation vision hit the Spot, and I also loved how Paulo Rivera drew that vision in general.

    This book was definitely a lot of fun - a showcase of great talents, and a great character. Waid went through great pains to give this book more of a lightness (which was complimented by the new series artists), and he managed to do so while still acknowledging the book's fairly dour past. Nothing was negated, and the old stories were used to build something new, which is absolutely how these things should go. I was very pleased with the way this issue turned out, and hopefully others are as well - I'd sort of hate for Waid to be yanked off this book in a short span of time so that someone can cut off one of Matt's legs.

    Reade: This was a great start to a new Daredevil story - it was absolutely new-reader friendly, while at the same time introduced a very solid story. And you are spot-on about The Spot. A great inclusion and the art when dealing with him was fantastic.

    I really haven't enjoyed a Daredevil issue this much in a long, long time. The fun departed this title a long-time ago when they made everything so serious and angsty. You could almost call it Batman it was getting so thick...

    Schatz: Heck, it got even thicker than Batman at times. The man straight up murdered Bullseye, which is pretty harsh. But yeah. These are the kinds of comics I like. There is a bit of darkness at play, right below the surface, but there's a conscious choice here to have fun - and I love it when comics are fun.

    Reade: Daredevil kissing the mob boss's daughter while fighting The Spot? That's the Daredevil I want to see. And that's the one we got. A very promising start.

    ---

    Generation Hope #9, $2.99, Marvel Comics. Due Out 07/20/11 ON TIME
    Written by Kieron Gillen, Art by Jaime McKelvie, Color by Jim Charalampidis
    A group of teens playing Truth or Dare get into a bizarre conversation about sexual fantasies involving mutants. One of the three objects... sympathetic to the pain that becoming a mutant brings to some of those afflicted. His empathy is well times, as his own mutation suddenly manifests - and his skin begins melting from his body. His friend mocks him, and takes photos and videos to post on the internet, making his life a living hell. Hope and the Lights are on the way... but they arrive too late.
    Schatz: Very much an issue with a clear attempt at metaphor. Here, I thought it worked beautiful. A bit preachy? Sure, but the words still need to be said.

    Reade: I think you got something totally different out of this issue than I did. I thought it was well done - and I actually liked the fact that we are seeing different outcomes to the manifestations of these new mutants.

    But metaphor? Words that needed to be said? I am not with you on that front. The only possible message I saw in this was some kind of anti-bullying message, which I found shallow and a little disingenuous. But that's a political discussion for another day - I found it was easy enough to ignore that angle and enjoy an otherwise good concept.

    So while I enjoyed the issue, it appears I hate your interpretation of it. So the universe is right! We can still argue about this book!

    Schatz: Honestly, I have no idea what to say to that Craig. Really, none at all. It took a few years, but you've rendered me speechless.

    Actually, no, are you ****ing KIDDING ME? What kind of anti-bullying message were you seeing here, Craig. What kind of teasing, that causes younger folks to commit suicide. What's been happening lately, what.

    Reade: Brandon, bullying has always been happening, since the dawn of time. The difference is, today it is a cause-celeb, and people are acting like it is the first time in history that kids bullied other kids, or kids killed themselves because they thought they couldn't handle the pressure. This is thanks in-part to technology... because the kids are dumb enough to film that crap, and now people can see it first hand.

    Anyway, I despise causes like that because all it ever amounts to is a bunch of people talking so they can feel good about themselves - moral superiority for spouting a message that makes them feel good, but accomplishes nothing. No anti-bullying initiative today (or none of the ones I have seen before) is going to do a damned thing. The answer is- and always will be parenting. Teach your kids not to be little shits, or teach your kids to overcome adversity, and the problem stops. People don't want to parent though - they want to have a bumper sticker and hold a sign or make a statement, take the praise, and go on to thinking about themselves. If this comic was trying to make some kind of anti-bullying statement (which is big down here right now)... well, that kind of thing turns me off.

    The bit with Wolverine at the end was a better moment, and the one I'd choose to focus on.

    Schatz: Well yeah, that was sort of the point of the book. You show the heinous shit, and then you say why it's wrong, and what can be done. In this instance: make the world not so shitty. This is what I'm saying. Not whatever the hell you just went off on.

    Reade: Makes me wonder if you are even looking at what I said.

    You don't make the world a better place by making "statements" like this. If that really was the point of this issue, then it was completely self-aggrandizing and utterly meaningless. What the hell is the point of it? To say "oh, bullying is bad!" Well no shit. Is it going to do a damned thing to stop it? Of course not. The same people who look at something like this and join in the self-important statement making are the same people who's remarkable lack of parenting either creates bullies, or create kids that can't adapt and overcome it.

    Bullying has always existed, and will always exist. It is primate behavior that is a part of who we are. There is an acceptable limit, and that is usually established by good parenting. Trouble is, these days you aren't allowed to spank kids, and you have parents who honestly believe that the best way to raise a child is to give them whatever they want, and to let them act the way they want. You have to let them express themselves, after all! Trouble is, by the time they hit 10, they are "expressing themselves" by beating the crap out of the kid with asthma. Funny thing is, these are the parents who are starting the "anti-bullying" movements.

    I chose not to see that message in this book, because if it were there - it would completely deflate what I thought to be an otherwise sound book. Bullying is bad, great, yeah. Putting that message in a story like this isn't going to accomplish a damned thing beyond making whoever put it there feel morally superior.

    So I will choose not to see it.

    Schatz: Righto. I will employ a similar technique with... whatever it was you were trying to justify there, and just be happy you enjoyed the book, I suppose.

    ---

    Batman: Gates of Gotham #3 (of 6), $2.99, DC Comics. Due Out 07/20/2011 ON TIME
    Written by Scott Snyder and Ryan Parrott, Art by Trevor McCarthy, Color by Guy Major
    The Gates complete the original Wayne Tower, and their lives begin to take off. However, the both brothers don't trust Gotham's elite families the same way - Nicholas is thankful for the support they have gotten while Bradley eyes them with more suspicion, and is convinced that the moment the city is done, they will be abandoned. Nicholas is later picked to decide a critical dispute, and he opts to remain loyal to the Waynes, as he believes them to be loyal to him.

    Batman interrogates Hush with his fists, but he won't give anything up. Robin and Black Bat have survived the explosion, while Red Robin has uncovered a clue to the bomber's identity. Robin and Red Robin move to track down the lead on the suit while Batman and Black Bat try to find out what Hush is hiding.

    Nicholas' loyalty is suddenly thrust into doubt after his brother suffers a fatal accident on the site of the Kane Bridge.
    Schatz: An issue very much mired in the second act. Things are still in motion here, but after a crackerjack first act, this one ends up coming up a little shorter. That said, "a little short" from those first two issues is far and away better than most. It's still a great read, filled with great characterization for the whole Bat-team assembled. And the brothers. You can't forget about how well those two were painted, in such small time frame.

    Reade: I have to say that the differences between the various wards is highlighted so well in this series it shocks me that these characters have been handled so poorly. The only one that is suffering at all is Black Bat - and I can't decide if that is Snyder's fault, or if they just don't know what to do with her yet. Damian, Tim, and Dick are all very richly portrayed - there is no doubt who they are and what they represent. If you took all three of them as they are in this series and merged them into a single character, you would get Bruce Wayne. It's kind of creepy.

    And I really love how alive Gotham is in this series. Describing it as a character is right on the money.

    Schatz: Synder has been using Gotham as a character in all of his Batman stuff. It's really part of what makes his stories so great and so different. And the Black Bat stuff, well, I can't speak for Cassandra Cain. I don't think I've read a single one of her adventures, so the way she is here, is how I know her. Though I did like in the last issue, the little dig toward her from Damien. Of course that kid doesn't like her, what with both of their ties to the League of Assassins.

    Reade: I was a big fan of her Batgirl run back in the day, and who she is now is completely different. She should be more like Damian, just less bratty. But in this series, I don't see her acting like an assassin with a really screwed up childhood. She's too well-adjusted, too happy, and way too vocal. This Black Bat has no past, she's a generic Batgirl with very little depth. Again, I don't blame Snyder for this... this is how she is across the board right now, so it's clearly an editorial call.

    Schatz: I'm going to defer to your wisdom on that one.

    Reade: In any case, this remains an outstanding series. Looking forward to #4.

    ---

    Captain America and Bucky #620, $2.99, Marvel Comics. Due out 07/27/11ON TIME
    Written by Ed Brubaker and Marc Andreyko, Art by Chris Samnee, Color by Bettie Breitweiser
    Back in 1935, we get a look at Bucky's early life, and the deaths of his parents, and learn how he came to live at the army base despite his age. A bar fight teaches him a little something about his father that he never before knew, and the Major recommends him for special training that eventually leads him to become the partner of Steve Rogers.
    Schatz: A nice bit of characterization for Bucky in this issue. I may be wrong about this, but I think this is the first time anyone has dug into Bucky's pre-Bucky existence. I liked how that worked out and loved the Chris Samnee art. That dude is amazing. Though I sort of expect you thought this issue was a touch slow...

    Reade: I think it's been done a few times, and all with stories similar to this. If I recall correctly, this back-story was done to explain why the heck a minor was put into a warzone with Captain America in the first place. A hair far-fetched, but certainly better than the original story.

    The story was slow, but it wasn't padded - the later is what I usually have a problem with. There is nothing that says a story can't be slow, but the pacing has to have a purpose other than to just extend the story length. There wasn't much wasted space in this story. I really didn't have much of a problem with it.

    I love World War II Captain America. If this book stays in that era for a while, I will be very happy.

    Schatz: It should. At least for this arc. Actually, no honestly, there's a very good chance this whole book will be like this - which would be rad as hell. But it's always been my opinion that Bucky will be back to life by the end of Rocktober, and this arc would wrap, oh, let's say right in time for that reveal. But I'm basing this on pretty much nothing - plus, I would love for this to be a WWII series, with all that pretty, pretty period piece Chris Samnee art.

    Reade: The more smashing Nazis, and the less "Brubaker with his political preaching," the better this book will be. It's off to a good start.

    ---

    THE CHOPPING BLOCK & NEW TITLES

    The List So Far:

    Reed Gunther #3, $2.99, Image Comics, Due Out 08/10/2011
    Red Skull #2 (of 5), $2.99, Marvel Comics. Due Out 08/03/2011
    Birds of Prey #15, $2.99, DC Comics. Due Out 08/10/11
    Batgirl #24, $2.99, DC Comics. Due out 08/10/11
    Daredevil #2, $2.99, Marvel Comics. Due Out 08/17/2011
    Generation Hope #10, $2.99, Marvel Comics. Due Out 08/17/11
    Batman: Gates of Gotham #4 (of 5), $2.99, DC Comics. Due Out 08/03/2011
    Batman: Gates of Gotham #5 (of 5), $2.99, DC Comics. Due Out 08/17/2011
    Captain America and Bucky #621, $2.99, Marvel Comics. Due out 08/24/11

    TRADE BANK - $7.00 towards Who is Jake Ellis?, $16.99, Image Comics

    Current August Budget: $41.20
    Value of uncut August List: $33.50

    Reade: Well, I think we need to start by discussing Birds of Prey. I am willing to entertain re-adding it next month, but there seems like no point in buying next month's issue. What do you think?

    Schatz: I'll agree to that. It was a good issue, but this list is about bang for your buck and junk.

    Reade: Agreed. It wasn't a bad issue per se, but it was a real step down in my eyes. We've enough fluff on the list.

    DROPPED: Birds of Prey #15, $2.99, DC Comics. Due Out 08/10/11

    Reade: That leaves us room for a couple new books - shall I just add Mystic now, or shall we squabble about it for show?

    Schatz: That was going to be my first suggestion, so I'm absolutely okay with that.

    ADDED: Mystic #1 (of 4), $2.99, Marvel Comics. Due Out 10/03/2011

    Reade: Swell.

    That leaves us with enough room for 2, $2.99 issues. I was thinking of Amazing Spider-Man, since that is now semi-monthly, and Spider Island is starting... but since that's $3.99, its kind of out. you have any suggestions?

    Schatz: New $2.99 books are hard to come by looks like. DC is taking a knee for premieres and Marvel's books usually run $3.99 for the premiere issue, regardless of what the price point will be afterwards. Like, the new Punisher book by Greg Rucka would've been a good pick, but they're double shipping this month and the first issue is $3.99.

    Oh man! I almost forgot. Scott Snyder has a new horror book shipping from Image this month called Severed, and that's in our price range. It should be rad.

    Reade: I could be into that... What if we added that, and tacked on The Sixth Gun #14 at $3.99, and called it a day?

    Schatz: I say yes! The Sixth Gun is still an amazing book, and the next issue should be fine to pop into.

    Added: Severed #1, $2.99, Image Comics. Due Out 08/03/2011
    Added: The Sixth Gun #14, $3.99, Oni Press. Due Out 08/31/2011


    THE MATH

    Batman: Gates of Gotham #4 (of 5), $2.99, DC Comics. Due Out 08/03/2011
    Severed #1, $2.99, Image Comics. Due Out 08/03/2011
    Red Skull #2 (of 5), $2.99, Marvel Comics. Due Out 08/03/2011
    Mystic #1 (of 4), $2.99, Marvel Comics. Due out 08/03/2011
    Reed Gunther #3, $2.99, Image Comics, Due Out 08/10/2011
    Batgirl #24, $2.99, DC Comics. Due out 08/10/11
    Daredevil #2, $2.99, Marvel Comics. Due Out 08/17/2011
    Generation Hope #10, $2.99, Marvel Comics. Due Out 08/17/11
    Batman: Gates of Gotham #5 (of 5), $2.99, DC Comics. Due Out 08/17/2011
    Captain America and Bucky #621, $2.99, Marvel Comics. Due out 08/24/11
    The Sixth Gun #14, $3.99, Oni Press. Due Out 08/31/2011

    TRADE BANK - $7.00 towards Who is Jake Ellis?, $16.99, Image Comics

    $1.20 (Bank from July) + $40.00 (August Budget) = $41.20
    $41.20 - $4.50 (Trade Bank Deposit) - $33.89 (August Issues) - $2.63 (tax) = $0.18 Banked for September

    Reade: Batman: Gates of Gotham double shipping this month was kind of a killer as well. I also notice it went from 6 issues to 5 – I love it when they change the length of a mini mid-release. I am sure both have everything to do with next month’s relaunch.

    Schatz: It was always intended to be five issues - though there might have been a misprint somewhere along the line. I would almost assume that this would've been Synder's next arc on Detective, had this relaunch not been happening, hence the co-writer. But man, if the series is any indication, that Kyle Higgins guy will be going places.

    Reade: Well, there must have been a ton of misprints, because not only did I have it as six issues, but Comixology and Previews had it for six as well. In fact, nothing changed to "of 5" until last month's issue 4. I just missed it that time around. In fact, if you look at this old story from newsarama, it is obvious this was initially intended as a six issue mini.

    Of course, in your typical Orwellian fashion, I am sure DC is saying it was always meant to be five issues, but a little research in this case proves otherwise.

    I do find it funny that you never believe me when I point out that a mini series magically gains or loses solicited issues! You have no faith at all in me man!

    Schatz: Usually because I order the books. It's my actual job to know these things, is why. Diamond has info for issue two being "of 6", but that was a misprint. And last month's issue was #3. You can see why it might be understandable, as to why I usually don't take your word for these things.

    Reade: You always fall back on the "it's my job to know these things," but I have been correct every time on it... have a little faith! They call it a typo back in issue #2, but that is probably just what they were telling people. As I said - Orwellian. It was always five issues. Comic shop managers aren't the only people who have cause to read the solicits...

    Nonetheless, that should pretty well wrap up this month. Go get good and sloshed... work's done. Happy Birthday.

    Schatz: Woooooooo!!!!!!!!!!
    Comments 4 Comments
    1. Ben Mayfield's Avatar
      Ben Mayfield -
      The X-men have always had meaningful metaphors for prejudices of the real world, and Generation Hope #9 is that one comic for this generation of readers. I thought the allegory for gay teen suicide was pretty clear early on, and the convo with Wolverine should have clued anyone that missed it initially.

      After I read it, I told all my friends to find it. It doesn’t matter if they didn't read X-Men, or Marvel, or even comics. This is a story that transcends all that with its powerful message, brought with uncomprosing intensity and honesty about our social evils and how we need to be better.
    1. Craig Reade's Avatar
      Craig Reade -
      Well, I get your opinion, but I still fundamentally disagree. If that was the message they were trying to convey, it came off as empty, hollow, and ultimately futile. Even if I grant that the statement needed to be made, there was nothing particularly artful about the way he tried to present it. It was a shallow and obvious parroting of a theme we've seen thousands of times before in X-Men comics.

      If this comic is the "one issue" for "this generation of readers," then I weep for this generation if this really is the best they have to offer.

      This issue was good despite the attempt at a message, and not because of it.
    1. Ben Mayfield's Avatar
      Ben Mayfield -
      Quote Originally Posted by Craig Reade View Post
      Well, I get your opinion, but I still fundamentally disagree. If that was the message they were trying to convey, it came off as empty, hollow, and ultimately futile. Even if I grant that the statement needed to be made, there was nothing particularly artful about the way he tried to present it. It was a shallow and obvious parroting of a theme we've seen thousands of times before in X-Men comics.

      If this comic is the "one issue" for "this generation of readers," then I weep for this generation if this really is the best they have to offer.

      This issue was good despite the attempt at a message, and not because of it.
      You're welcome to that view, but I completely and utterly disagree. It would be hard for me to see it any further in the opposite direction. It was no mere "attempt". It was an absolute success. Tackling such an issue had to be near perfect, and Gillen and McKelvie certainly did that. Judging by the plethora of 4.5 and 5 stars reviews all over the internet, a lot of people agree.

      Matt Fraction had a great quote about the issue: "It's not the type of story that fits in any other major superhero book. It's simply not what those books are about. But the X-Men? X-Men is a book about mutants, used as a metaphor about prejudice. And of the X-Men books, Generation Hope is fundamentally about new mutants trying to survive dealing with the fact they're mutants. With the metaphor in place, you can not just do a story about it - I dare say you should tell a story about it. In a real way, it's the sort of story Generation Hope exists to tell. If we can't tell this story and tell it as well as we can, the book may as well not exist."
    1. Craig Reade's Avatar
      Craig Reade -
      Well, the disagreement is what it is - and unfortunately Fraction's comment about it doesn't change my opinion. There is no "metaphor" here for starters - and the very fact that they are trying to couch it in those terms puts an even worse taste in my mouth, and really supports my initial comments.

      Obviously there isn't anything I can say that is going to make you feel any differently, and I can't add much to what I have already said. I just refuse to laud something that is a pale shadow of something that we've seen dozens of times before, that was only included for self-serving reasons. And yes - I consider making a "statement" about something to make yourself seem more "compassionate and evolved," while accomplishing absolutely nothing to be self-serving.