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The Pull List: FOREVER EVIL #1, CODENAME ACTION #1, BALTIMORE: THE INFERNAL TRAIN #1 & 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!

Superior Spider-Man #17 (Pick of the Week)
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Ryan Stegman & Livesay
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Pubisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99

The rip in the time continuum, due to the events in the Age of Ultron, is causing a plethora of damage all across the time stream.

The appearance of Spider-Man 2099 in the regular Marvel universe has been rumored for months and it has finally come to pass. Fans have been dying for a battle between the two web crawlers for years.

The timing of this is brilliant because Miguel O’Hara would have been the pseudo bad guy, but now Peter Parker is out and Otto Octavius is in.

This situation makes it impossible for Miguel O’Hara to be the bad guy, and makes the reader want to see Spider-Man go down.

An interesting revelation takes place during the book’s time in 2099.

O’Hara, not understanding why 2013 is so important, and the realization that he will have to come face-to-face with the original Spider-Man, realizes this means that the whole Peter/Otto mind swap is not a publicly known fact in 2099. The humor that Dan Slott injects into this series is often under-rated, but it works on so many levels because it’s not done for the sake of being laugh out loud funny, but done with the purpose of enhancing a character and the story. Otto’s spider sense is going off ad nauseum and bringing him to the point where he says “What a completely useless super power! Be more specific, damn it!”

It is funny and absurd at the same time because the particular power is a hallmark in the Spider-Man mythology, but it figures that someone like the good doctor could never appreciate it. While the Spider-Men don’t lock horns in this issue, next month’s showdown is brilliantly set up in a manner where you care about every facet of the story being told.

Grade: A

Forever Evil #1
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: David Finch & Richard Friend
Colors: Sonia Oback
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99

Geoff Johns helms the majority of DC Comics crossover events and it’s only fitting that he does so again with Forever Evil.

The Justice League is dead and the Crime Syndicate reigns supreme.

Of course, the manner in which the League was put out to pasture is unknown for the time being. That particular mystery is really the driving force behind everything because we don’t know if they are really dead or are they just heavily incapacitated to help cover the Syndicate’s real agenda.

All of the super villains have been freed from incarceration.

However, some evildoers are skeptical as they wonder how these news killed the League where they have failed so many times while others will not look a gift horse in the mouth.

There is a jaw dropping twist involving Nightwing that comes out of nowhere, and barring a miracle solution, has irrevocably changed the course of his life.

Lex Luthor is the star of this issue and the take on his character here is something the New 52 has been missing.  The way he blackmails Thomas Kord, using Darwinian logic made you want to choke Luthor while applauding such a grand performance from the character at the same time.

There are several developments that will make the course of events over the next few months full of speculation and intrigue.

Grade: A-

Baltimore: The Infernal Train #1 (of 3)
Writer: Mike Mignola & Christopher Golden
Artist: Ben Stenbeck
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Price: $3.50

I had the pleasure of meeting Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden at Boston Comic Con last month.

While everyone wanted to talk Hellboy, I went in a different route and talked about the vengeance-filled vampire hunter, Lord Henry Baltimore.

Their work on this series is some of the best stuff I’ve ever read. So you can imagine my surprise when the duo told me that reviewers love this series, but the fan community is kind of quiet on the subject of Baltimore.

I found this disheartening considering the character has been in circulation for six years.

That’s not a milestone of any means but it does say something about the staying power of a series that, despite its excellent reputation within the industry, the dollars and cents of it all might not add up.

Does this mean that comic reviews are more enlightened than others? What I think it means is that there is a lack of appreciation, or even notice, for a story that takes a carefully crafted spin on a popular genre like vampires. Baltimore’s hunt for Haigus has brought him to Budapest. Most of the cities he traveled to are crippled with fear of coming terror. This time, people are celebrating what may be the end of times which doesn’t faze him in the slightest.

The Infernal Train rolls into town, with a mysterious conductor, and she makes him an offer too good to be true. Baltimore is on the case and with good reason.

Ben Stenbeck’s artwork has optimized this series in such a way that it not only enhances the plot, but gives the book that sense of infinite darkness. There is one panel in the beginning of the book where people are buying and trading goods with street vendors. There is even a little white dog barking at people passing through. It’s a scene with pedestrian activity but the way it is drawn, coupled with Dave Stewart’s coloring, gives you the impression that these folks are already dead and we are witnessing some of their final moments.

If capes and cowls are not for you and you are tired of the vampire thing, this is a must read because it’s brought so much more to the table than you could imagine.

Grade: A-

Codename Action #1
Writer: Chris Roberson
Artist: Jonathan Lau
Colorist: Ivan Nunes
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Price: $3.99

This was not a bad first effort from Dynamite on the Codename Action front.

It starts off as another comic using a particular war as the vehicle, but it turns into much more as the story progresses. It’s Mission: Impossible meets James Bond with a masked superhero mixed in.  Volatile world leaders are acting more volatile than usual and threatening to nuke each other if their demands are not met.

The U.S. government sends in the best agents of yesteryear and today in order to stop World War III.

After all, it’s not as if the genuine articles are being replaced with identical replicas…or are they?

 Jonathan Lau’s artwork helped the pacing of the story, which really established the tone of the series in many ways. The good guys are being kept on their toes and it has one of those WTF type endings that make it all the more interesting.

Grade: B-

DC Universe vs. Masters of the Universe #1
Writer: Keith Giffen
Artist: Dexter Soy
Letters: Deron Bennett
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99

With the exception of a few gems, Keith Giffen’s take on Masters of the Universe has been largely overlooked. It’s not hard to understand why, considering the dialog is dull and tries to sound like something you would hear in Game of Thrones.

The current arc in the ongoing series is rehashing the Adora/She-Ra under Hordak’s control story line. I wasn’t looking forward to this miniseries, which bothered the child inside me considering I would have been one of those kids chanting “He-Man, He-Man” if the Ghostbusters arrived at my Birthday party (note the Ghostbusters II movie reference).

I was pleasantly surprised with what we got out of this book, and even though the two teams don’t collide, Giffen did a great job in establishing the story. This is a very wordy issue, but it doesn’t take away from anything that transpires. Queen Marlena and Madame Xanadu steer the narrative on its plotted course. John Constantine and Skeletor give fans of both universes instant street credit by admitting, with trepidation, that they have heard of each other’s existence.

This was well done and enhances the story if you like one franchise a lot more than the other. The grave situation on Eternia forces He-Man and Teela to make a deal with the devil in order to turn the tide against the Horde. The explanation of why Skeletor wants to conquer Earth was surprisingly refreshing, and is something that we’ve always known, but just never thought about until now.

I’m just happy that it wasn’t the whole “Earth looks weak so I’ll rule there instead of Eternia” direction they could have gone in.

Grade: B

G.I. Joe: The Cobra Files #6
Writer: Mike Costa
Art: Werther Dell’edera
Colors: Arianna Florean
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Price: $3.99

Truth be told, I’ve never been much of a G.I. Joe fan.

I know that sounds silly considering the fact that I write for a site called Forces of Geek.

Hear me out though. My brain can only handle so much pop culture that things need to be kept on the shelf for exploration at a later date.

Mike Costa examines the fabric of who Flint is as a person. He has always done what was needed in every situation. Now, he questions his ability as a leader because of his new found relationship with Chameleon.

This issue serves as a biography of sorts, just like the previous issue did with Clockspring, who also has feelings for Chameleon and is not too happy with Flint.

The dark and rough style of Dell’edera’s artwork doesn’t offer a lot of detail, but it does what it needs to do in order to convey the story being told.  While this book won’t have you screaming “Yo, Joe”, it serves a different purpose on the spy front that is equally exciting to see unfold.

Grade: B+

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