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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!

Saga #11 (Pick of the Week)
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Art: Fiona Staples
Colors: Fiona Staples
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $2.99

Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples need to produce a crappy issue of Saga already. That way, I would have something new to say instead of the usual praise that spews from my fingers.

You know, how Saga is “the best there is”, “the best there was”, and “the best there ever will be”.

That sort of praise is standard for this series because the superb craftsmanship that exudes through every page, every panel, and every word balloon in this book. Alana and Marko are a duo that you just have to love and their opening sex scene speaks to their passion under unfortunate circumstances.

Baby Isabel’s narration makes you care about everything that’s happening even more because we are witnessing events of days gone by which could mean the stars of our story are already dead. Knowing this makes you cross your fingers and hope they survived all of this star-crossed prejudice. That is the least they deserve considering Marko’s father makes the ultimate sacrifice to save his family which occurs just as he warms up to the idea of his granddaughter being of two races by commenting on her beautiful eyes.  

Saga is the gift that keeps on giving because not only is every issue absolutely amazing but it just keeps getting better and better.

Grade: A

Star Wars: Legacy #1
Writer: Corinna Bechko & Gabriel Hardman
Art: Gabriel Hardman
Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letters: Michael Hesisler
Cover: Dave Wilkins
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Price: $2.99

Dark Horse goes back to the Legacy saga of Star Wars and follows Ania Solo, the great-great granddaughter of Han and Leia.

This all takes place 138 years after “A New Hope” which pretty much frees the creative team of any continuity issue. Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman are renowned for their work on the “Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes”series because of the strong character work which gave real and important stakes for everyone involved.

That trend continued in this opening installment of a new legacy. The Jedi Council, The Imperials and the Galactic Alliance have formed Triumvirate in order to keep peace in the galaxy. The script shows how uneasy this peace really is as each branch tries to push their own agenda to the forefront and is quickly reminded of how things need to be done in the best interest of everyone. These moments are subtle and tense at the same time because it augments this idea that faction warfare is on the horizon.

Ania Solo is a young lady who is tough, clever, spunky, and like her great-great grand pappy, she is not afraid to shoot first. At first, it was kind of depressing seeing her searching for scraps in a junk yard in order to make ends meet, considering her lineage. However, this shows how far the family name has fallen in the galaxy which means the reputation of her name sake will do little good.

Ania’s confidant is an engineer named Sauk who is a timid soul that gets a lot of guff because he is a Mon Calamari. You feel for Sauk not only because of the treatment he endures but he resonates with the reader because he looks an awful lot like Admiral Ackbar. I’m not sure if this was by design or maybe all Mon Calamari look alike. Either way, the resemblance will have you screaming “It’s a trap.”

The tone of the art work was gritty and almost unrefined which was a great way of showing what life is like in this day and age, in the Star Wars universe.

If you weren’t sold on this the first time you read it, read it again. I did, and I’m happy I did as Bechko and Hardman have set the stage for what might be an epic adventure.

Grade: B+

Daredevil #24
Writer: Mark Waid
Art: Chris Samnee
Colors: Javier Rodriguez
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $2.99

I think it is safe to assume that Daredevil will always be one of, if not the very, best book of the week as long as Mark Waid is telling the story.

The last issue showed Matt Murdock dealing with news that his best friend, Foggy Nelson, has cancer.

Meanwhile, someone has something sinister in store for the “Man Without Fear” and the meticulous nature of this plot is scary despite not knowing what it actually is. What we do know is that this individual is recreating the accident that cost Daredevil his sight, which is also scary to think about.

Despite the serious tone of this issue, there is some humor to balance everything out such as a child on a school bus calling our hero “Red Batman.” Samnee’s work on this series is on another level from anything else in comic books today. The cartoon nature of his illustrations has a certain gravitas that effortlessly conveys the story Waid is telling.

There is something deadly coming down the pipe for Daredevil, and the issue serves as a prelude of what’s to come. As cliché as it sounds, this is truly one of the best values in comic books today.

Grade: A-

Action Comics #18
Writer: Grant Morrison & Sholly Fisch
Art: Rags Morales, Brad Walker, Cam Smith
Colors: Brad Anderson & Jordie Bellaire
Letters: Carlos M. Manqual
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $4.99

I loved the first four issues of Grant Morrison’s run on Action Comics and then it got way too weird for my taste.

It even got to the point where I was counting down days until his run was over. This issue marks the end of his run, and I found it very enjoyable. The grave peril that Superman faces in the 5th Dimension serves as the back drop to Morrison’s blending of the classic elements together that we’ve come to expect from the Man of Steel.

One of the reasons people seem to generally hate on the Superman Returns movie is because the title character didn’t throw a punch.

I know we would prefer Superman to answer the world’s problems with a right hook to the jaw, but some problems can’t be solved that way. When Superman faces those odds, he digs down deep and finds a way to save the day whether it is by out-smarting his opponent, or getting a little help from those who truly care about him.  Ultimately those who believe in Superman wouldn’t want to live in a world without him.

Sholly Fisch’s back stories have been my favorite part of this run and the writer goes out with a bang with a simple yet inspiring tale of a boy who draws from inspiration, from Superman’s legendary example, and stops a bully in his tracks. The facial reactions were depicted quite nicely and left you thinking this is the ideal way Superman would want oppression to be stopped.

The book is more than worth its $4.99 price tag because it is stories like this swan song that make you believe you are truly reading the exploits of Earth’s greatest hero.

Grade: B+

New Avengers #4
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Art: Steve Epting & Rick Magyar
Colors: Frank D’Armata
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99

The fact that Jonathan Hickman is writing both Avengers titles is proving to be a winning concept.

While the expanded Avengers worry about universal threats, the new group led by Black Panther and Reed Richards contain planetary dangers.  New Avengers has a more intelligent vibe which makes every facet of them more intricate because sometimes, the world’s problems need more attention than the might of “Mjolnir”.

Speaking of problems, their adventures take them to an alternate Earth ruled by Magneto, who is in the process of sacrificing the planet to a certain purple world eater in order to save their universe.

You can never, ever go wrong with the art talent of Steve Epting, and the coloring of Frank D’Armata is the perfect compliment. If The Avengers is an action thriller, then New Avengers is a sci-fi thriller that always has something under its sleeve to shock the audience.

Grade: B

Conan the Barbarian #14
Writer: Brian Wood
Artist: Mirko Colak
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Cover: Massimo Carnevale
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Price: $3.50

To say Brian Wood is on a roll would be an understatement.

He is kicking heavy-duty booty with the ongoing Star Wars series and Image Comics’ Mara and he is turning in some masterful work with Conan the Barbarian.

If love is a battle field, Conan’s love life is a theater of war, literally. Conan yearns for his love, Bêlit, who wants some space after losing their child, but the Cimmerian warrior will have none of it.

In fact, he wants to be with her so badly that he joins a legion of troops that just so happens to be planning an invasion of the very castle where Bêlit is seeking solace.

In a way, Wood has written the ultimate love story.

Who joins a random war effort in order to be with the one you love?

Conan does and his enlistment is not without mystery, suspense, and life threatening danger.

Mirko Colak’s work spoke to me more than most this week because of its painstaking attention to detail and the emotion he is able to depict. The warning and look Conan gave those who had an eye for his lady made me careful not to look at her in upcoming panels. No matter how you slice it, Brian Wood is money all day and makes Conan one of the premier books you should definitely be reading.

Grade: B+

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

Flash Gordon: Zeitgeist #10 (Dynamite Entertainment)
Zeitgiest reaches its series conclusion with a fun story but an abrupt ending that may call for more closure.

Hellraiser: The Dark Watch #2 (Boom! Studios)
Tiffany has assumed a shaky leadership role of a group out to kill puzzle box collectors and Cenobites.

Captain America #5 (Marvel Comics)
Steve Rogers faces ultimate test of his mettle as the Zola virus about to take over his body.

Justice League #18 (DC Comics)
Cyborg host a gather at the Watchtower in recruit new members and of course, it doesn’t go as planned.

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