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The Pull List: CHIN MUSIC #1, BATMAN #20, THE WALKING DEAD #110 & 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!

Star Wars #5 (Pick of the Week)
Writer: Brian Wood
Art: Carlos D’Anda
Colors: Gabe Eltaeb
Cover: Rodolfo Migliari
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Price: $2.99

Brian Wood and Carlos D’Anda have created something special that reminds us of why we fell in love with Star Wars.

They are just two creators that simply get it when it comes to the ways of the force. The Empire is closing in on Princess Leia and her stealth X-Wing squadron.

Meanwhile, Han Solo may need to spend his newly earned credits to get off of Coruscant, alive.

D’Anda’s artwork during the space battle was truly extraordinary and the best illustrations of the series.

 He has this uncanny ability to make it look like the battle is unfolding in front of you while producing amazing character work that conveys the gravity of the situation. There was a menacing image of a tie fighter pilot in the cockpit that just screamed danger for the Rebellion.

Later on, we see the image again only this time, we see the pilots eyes which immediately justified the earlier fear as a deadly blow is struck. These battles are a pivotal part of the Star Wars franchise and it’s nice to see a comic that does them justice.

Wood’s dialog is simple, effective and echoes the voice of the characters. He writes Han Solo better than any writer that I’ve seen. Others who write expanded universe stories try to put their own spin on the character but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and Wood knows this and keeps him true to form. For example, the argumentative banter between Han and Chewie is sure to put a smile on your face. Five issues in and it’s safe to say that Dark Horse has a real winner here!

If you shy away from Star Wars comic books, please, make this series the exception. Read it now!

Grade: A-

The Walking Dead #110
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Art: Charlie Adlard
Colors: Cliff Rathburn
Letters: Rus Wooton
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $2.99

When you think of The Walking Dead, zombies are often the first thing that come to mind.

Often times, we forget that they merely serve as a back drop to the big picture at large. Glenn’s death in the 100th issue lit a very long fuse that is about to ignite.

Rick gets the Hilltop gets ready for war with the Saviors, but a mole might just spoil the party. Battlelines are drawn as some feel it is better to live in fear instead of being lead to slaughter.

One of the elements that Robert Kirkman weaved into the story was sympathy for those who did not want to fight.

The next thing you know, Negan shows up and you immediately want to stomp him into the ground.

The main focus is on the interaction between Michonne and Ezekiel who we met two issues ago. He is a theatrical individual who has proclaimed himself “King” and has a pet tiger. Yes, a pet tiger. He is an integral part of Rick and Jesus’ plan. Michonne is always skeptical of everyone but she appears to look at Ezekiel in a different light.

You are not really sure what her feelings are towards him. Could they be respect, attraction, or is she simply keeping an enemy close? This is an excellent issue all around with a lot of fun elements that all build to what is going to be a violent and bloody affair.

Grade: A-

Justice League of America #3
Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: David Finch & Richard Friend
Colors: Sonia Oback
Letters: Rob Leigh
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99

JLA improves upon the mistakes of the canceled Justice League International series by making the little things matter.

For example, The U.N. commissioned the JLI with the intent of having a culturally diverse squad with no hidden identities.

A.R.G.U.S. runs this particular show, and Amanda Waller and Steve Trevor calls the shots. Geoff John covers a lot of ground with this issue that serves as the tip of the iceberg for things to come. Waller handles the team’s public image with a disappointed Star Girl while Trevor hatches a plan to flush out the secret society. The other elements of the story serve as a potential sign of things to come. Vibe is still trying to get the hang of his powers, which is interesting because his placement on the team was designed to take out the Flash, who expertly knows how to use his powers.

Despite all he has done, Green Arrow is not allowed on the team, but Catwoman, a convicted felon, is allowed on the team since her presence is essential to the League’s mission. David Finch’s art is always fun to look at, and the image of Hawkman punching Green Arrow in the night sky looked like it should have killed him. It is abundantly clear that Martian Manhunter is not to be trifled with and Matt Kindt (Mind Mgmt) produces a mind-bending back story that digs deeper as to why.

Unlike most Justice League back stories, this one examines the plot within the plot that was a small element of Geoff Johns’s story, but Kindt makes it an essential piece of the puzzle. The Kindt/Manhunter combination fits like a glove, and an ongoing series is something the DC Comics brass should explore. The third time seems to be the charm for this new series as the setup and establishment is over and now the team swings into action.

Grade: B+

Chin Music #1
Writer: Steve Niles
Art: Tony Harris
Letters: Bill Tortolini
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: 2.99

Steve Niles love for horror is evident in every comic book he writes.

The unique way he puts together a story often captivates the reader from page one and all the way down to the final frame. As good as the story is, it is Tony Harris’s artwork that steals the show in spectacular fashion. There is no dialog in the first five pages which sets the tone for this Chicago prohibition-era yarn.

Shawn, a private eye who is haunted by ancient demons of his past has a thing for taking out gangsters. If that is not enough, Shawn, unbeknownst to him, is being investigated by Elliot Ness.

Yes, that Elliot Ness!

And any comic book that has the leader of the Untouchables is OK by me. Niles holds the readers hand more than most who write these type of comics since it is the little things that make the biggest difference. That doesn’t prevent this book from being any less enjoyable as sometimes, writers don’t hold the readers hand nearly enough.

Supernatural crime dramas are popular right now and while Ed Brubaker’s Fatale is currently leading the charge, Chin Music establishes its own creative path in that realm.

Grade: B+

Batman #20
Writer: Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV
Art: Greg Capullo, Danny Miki, & Alex Maleev
Colors: FCO Plascencia & Nathan Fairbairn
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99

Our main event of the evening is scheduled for one fall and features Bruce Wayne versus Bruce Wayne.

Well, actually it’s Clayface as Bruce Wayne.

It’s still pretty cool, especially considering that the clay menace has evolved. The issue right before a mega event can leave a lot to be desired.

Scott Snyder doesn’t play by those rules when he puts Batman in an unfamiliar situation of not being the cleverest guy in the room when his fail-safe protocols fail him.

Greg Capullo captured these moments in spectacular fashion. The geek out moment of the book comes when a short but very sweet Batman Beyond moment comes into play.

James Tynion’s Batman and Superman backup story concludes as the duo fights a will o’ the wisp demon. It was nothing fancy but it was enjoyable to read. With “Year Zero” right around the corner, Snyder and company prove this series is highly compelling under any circumstances.

Grade: B+

Avenger Assemble #15AU
Writer: Al Ewing
Art: Butch Guice, Tom Palmer, Rick Magyar
Colors: Frank D’Armata
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99

The “Age of Ultron” tie-in books have done a very good job in augmenting the story as a whole.

We find out how bad things are in England as Captain Britain and Captain Marvel have their backs against the wall. Al Ewing incorporates some nice little subplots with the two captains.

Marvel can’t fly due to his brain tumor and Britain’s confidence is shaken, which affects his powers greatly. We are also treated to the origin of forgotten hero Computer Graham who has the power to enter machines.

Self admittedly, the most complicated machine he has ever conquered is a Commodore 64.

This means hacking into Ultron is a ridiculously huge step up but he is up to the task. Butch Guice’s character work is stunning and really brings life to the book as a whole and Frank D’Armata polished coloring is the cherry on top. As we learn more about what’s happened to the super heroes of the Marvel Universe, it pretty safe to say these tie-in issues are more than holding up their end in relaying that information.

Grade: B

Damsels: Mermaids #1
Writer: Matt Sturges
Art: Jean-Paul Deshong
Colors: Ivan Nunes
Letters: Simon Bowland
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Price: $3.99

What happens when a scorned Mermaid and an exiled Prince get together?

Absolutely anything!

Matt Sturges’a underwater fairy tale isn’t all smiles and sunsets. The oppressive Hieromancers of Atlantis are the villains of this story.  While it’s is not evident what they did to be so bad, it is clear that people hate them with strong conviction. The protagonists are flawed which adds a level of depth to their characters that is intriguing instead of the cookie cutter hero that is the norm.

Jean-Paul Deshong’s artwork brought a majestic sense of wonder that is captivating to any eye who beholds this book. This was the first of a five issue story arc which should serve up quite the adventure in the months ahead.

Grade: B

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

Alpha: Big Time #4 (Marvel Comics) 
Josh Fialokov has done something I didn’t think could be done. He has made Alpha likeable.

X #1 (Dark Horse Comics) 
The violent antihero strikes again as he has a new ally in his fight on

The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror #4 (IDW Publishing)
The final act of this fun adventures shows a rocketless Rocketeer as the only hope to save the day.

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