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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!

Batman and Red Robin #19 (Pick of the Week)
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Art: Patrick Gleason & Mick Gray
Colors: John Kalisz
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99

The hype surrounding this issue involved the appearance of Carrie Kelley.

However, the meat and potatoes involves Red Robin and Frankenstein.

One of the things Batman is known for is being cool under pressure no matter how bad things are. Damian’s death has not been easy. In fact, it is making him act irrational for the first time, in a long time.

He is emotionally scarred and he “enlists” the help of Frankenstein in order to resurrect his fallen son. Using the Lazarus Pit would have serious repercussions so using a science he can understand is the way he wants to go, even if it is unnatural. Batman is super smart so he knows the ill effects of using Dr. Frankenstein’s methods. This means Batman can be completely taken over by emotion, and it took the death of his son to do it.

That would do it for just about anyone but it’s surprising to see such crazy behavior from The Dark Knight because he is usually the voice of reason when others are on the brink of madness. Another continuity question regarding the New 52 emerged as Batman mentioned how he and Superman died and came back to life. Now, Batman and Green Lantern were the only characters whose pre-New 52 characters were completely left intact but the lettering inside the word balloon was bold for only Superman’s name which could be a telling sign that Doomsday has, or will be a factor in this current universe.

Despite what you see on the cover, Carrie Kelley presence in this story doesn’t suggest in the slightest that she will be the next Robin. Still, she was an important part of the story as her connection to Damian pretty much guarantees we haven’t seen the last of her. I don’t want to spoil what her character brings to the table, but it creates a wow factor that opens up a whirlwind of possibilities while creating more questions at the same time. Tomasi and Gleason deserve a standing ovation for their spectacular work on this book as it is a crescendo of action and superb storytelling.

Grade: A+

Star Wars #4
Writer: Brian Wood
Art: Carlos D’Anda
Colorist: Gabe Eltaeb
Cover: Alex Ross
Price: $2.99

Personally, this is one of my most anticipated titles of the month.

Brian Wood has done something very special here. He expands on the mythos that make this franchise so amazing while keeping its familiar and celebrated voice firmly intact. In The Shadow of Yavin, the Rebels are looking for a new base location but the Empire shows up at every turn and every scouting mission.

This leads Leia to the obvious conclusion that there is a spy among their ranks. Wood’s script shows a perilous sense of danger for the rebellion because no matter how many secret protocols are created, a fleet of Star Destroyers appear in the blink of an eye.

Leia is running out of options and you start to feel that she may never find a new home base. That is a testament to how well this book is constructed, because you know they eventually find the planet Hoth, and yet it completely sucks you in. Han and Chewie’s escape from an imperial garrison on Coruscant while flying through the planet’s lower levels. Everything about the chase, from the dialogue to the art direction, made me feel that I was watching this unfold in a movie.

I’ve said it for the last three issues and I’m going to say it again. If you are not reading this series, you are doing yourself a huge disservice as a comic book or Star Wars fan. Read it now!!!

Grade: A-

X #0
Writer: Duane Swierczynski
Art: Eric Nguyen
Colors: Michelle Madsen
Cover: Raymond Swanland
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Price: $2.99

This Rated-R crime story is about a vigilante who kills mobsters in a brutal fashion.  We don’t get to meet the man behind the mask, but that doesn’t stop readers from enjoying the blood splattering imagery of Eric Nguyen.

Still, one might think getting to know the person who exploits your reading helps you care about a little more about the entire process.

Not to worry. See, the bad guys are the scum of the earth, and seeing them getting their comeuppance is more than enough to sink your teeth into.

While I worry about interest in the long term, Duane Swierczynski has written a great first installment that is worth going out of your way for.

Grade: B

Age of Ultron #5
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Bryan Hitch & Paul Neary
Colors: Paul Mounts
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99

I received a poster in the mail that said this issue of AU changes everything.

While nothing actually changed, we now know a lot more about how Ultron destroyed everything. The Avengers find Nick Fury hiding out in the Savage Land, and an idea is floated among our heroes.

What if Hank Pym never created Ultron?

That question spawns several theories that some agree with and some disagree with. If Ultron was never created, Vision would have never existed and the Scarlett Witch would have never married him.
It’s a domino effect of possible scenarios that would truly change the landscape of the entire Marvel Universe.

The artwork and coloring are at a series’ best with strong detail in the character work and great page layouts that help with the suspense filled pace of the story.

We’ve reached the half-way point of this mega event and now that the gauntlet has been thrown down, things will no doubt get very interesting.

Grade: B+

Avengers Assemble #14AU
Writer: Al Ewing
Art: Butch Guice & Tom Palmer
Colors: Frank D’Armata
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99

One of the questions that had remained unanswered until now is: how did Black Widow’s face become disfigured?

Avengers Assemble opens on a sunny afternoon in San Francisco which is also the day Ultron took over the world.

 It was a little weird seeing Natasha enjoy herself in a normal and peaceful manner with friends. Ultron attacks and like a light switch; she turns on the cold and calculating assassin and immediately goes to work.

The art did a fantastic job of illustrating a beautiful day turned into a war ravaged nightmare. I normally ignore cross over tie-ins but this is the third one that has beared some real fruit in the overall scheme of things.

That can be attributed to the plethora of questions that still need to be answered, but Al Ewing’s entertaining script nicely fills in some of the blanks.

Grade: A-

The Walking Dead #109
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Art: Charlie Adlard
Colors: Cliff Rathburn
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $2.99

Robert Kirkman has a knack for the slow burn in storytelling. While that is no problem for some and a necessary evil for others, it comes across differently in The Walking Dead.

Even what is normally just a fill-in issue has a major development in the plot. In this issue, it is the calm before the storm. Nothing has been the same for Maggie and company since Glenn was murdered at the hands of Negan.

Rick’s secret plan to take out the ruthless madman has come at a cost.

Now, everything is about to come full circle as we are about to get our reward for several months of watching Rick taking it on the chin. Jesus is getting things at The Hilltop in order before they move on Negan, but it turns out that may have a mole in their midst. Charlie Adlard’s character work really shines in the moment of Jesus’ realization where he might have made a mistake in trusting the wrong person. This moment resonates so much because a lot of careful planning has gone into this moment.

The idea that all of Rick’s hard work might be for nothing kind of pisses you off because you so want Negan to get his skull caved in. Most times, we know the good guy is going to end up on top but that is never a guarantee in Robert Kirkman’s world.

Even if the good guy wins, they never come out of it unscathed.

Grade: A-

Titles that didn’t make the list but may tickle your fancy.

Batman #19 (DC Comics) 
Millionaire Bruce Wayne robs a bank while Clayface has evolved into something far more dangerous.

Hawkeye #9 (Marvel) 
Depending on who you are, Clint Barton’s love life is either a dream or a curse.

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