Monday, August 18, 2008

My Pull List

I've been thinking critically about the comics that I choose to purchase for the past few days, as I recently closed my subscription account at the local comic book store so that I can purchase comics through on-line mail order sites.

I'm always interested in other people's pull lists. Each person's taste is unique, and the reasons people have for buying different comics vary greatly. I also think it is interesting to consider the books that people would like to buy but do not, and the reasons for that.

So here is my pull list. One thing to keep in mind is that this list only includes comics that regularly appear on the shelves every month (or so), not things like graphic novels or one-shots.

Comics that I regularly buy in pamphlet form:

Daredevil: This Ed Brubaker book stars the blind attorney/super-hero in street-level crime stories. I absolutely love this book and think that it lends itself very well to the monthly pamphlet format -- each issue gives you a solid story with a beginning, middle, and end, but ties in with the long story arcs and usually concludes with a good cliff-hanger. The always-on-time nature of the book also helps.

All Star Superman: This series ends in one issue, but I have been blown away by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's work here. They are at the top of their game: Morrison's ideas are fantastic, Quitely's art is unique and gorgeous, and together they make the Man of Steel both more human and more heroic than any Superman comic I've ever read. I will be sad when this ends.

Astonishing X-Men, X-Men Legacy, Uncanny X-Men: I am grouping these books together because the primary reason that I buy them is that -- big surprise here -- I like the X-Men. I grew up as a fan of these characters, and I still think that the core concept is fantastic. The recent Messiah Complex crossover goosed my interest by giving the books an over-arching plot and starting point for future stories. In addition, Marvel usually puts good creators on these books. Currently Warren Ellis writes Astonishing and Ed Brubaker writes Uncanny (although it is probably his weakest book). Outside of the big crossovers, I typically don't branch out to the other titles in the X-family, like X-Factor, X-Force, or Wolverine's solo title, because I just don't have the time and money.

All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder: I've been buying this because I am a hard-core Frank Miller fan, but I have not been terribly impressed with this series. Jim Lee's art, while technically perfect, is just too perfect for the writing. They don't work well together. Outside of the funny/shocking confrontation with Green Lantern in the all-yellow room, it's not doing it for me. But I'll stick with it; it's not like it's putting me out much money, since it only comes out three to four times a year.

Astro City: This comic by Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson is unique on my pull list, since I purchase all the new issues in pamphlet form but am also going back to the beginning of the series and buying the collected trades that I missed. As you'll see below, I don't typically do that -- normally I would just start at the beginning with the trades and ignore the more recent issues until I reached that point. But here, I just couldn't resist. The world that they have created is so much fun to explore, and has such depth, and the characters are so appealing, that I just couldn't stay away. I needed to know what was going on in the city, and I am never disappointed. Like All Star Superman, this comic bursts at the seams with ideas.

Comics that I regularly buy in collected editions:

Casanova, The Order, Immortal Iron Fist, Invincible Iron Man: I've fallen for Matt Fraction. Hard. He writes all of these books (although The Order is now defunct, the second collected volume has not yet been released) and I can't get enough of his work. It's fun, funny, and exciting, with good action, great characterization, and real emotion. I haven't gotten into his Punisher War Journal yet, but that might be because the other Punisher book -- the one that he doesn't write, the one I talk about next -- is probably my current favorite comic. I also have been tracking down all of the one-shots that Fraction has worked on, and I have been very impressed with his work on Thor.

The Punisher: I first bought this when issue number 50 came out, and I was so captivated that I have since gone back and purchased all four hardcover collections of the series, and the From First to Last hardcover collection of one-shots, and the Punisher: Born mini-series collection, AND the Punisher Presents: Barracuda mini-series collection. This thing is INCREDIBLE. Writer Garth Ennis has created something unbelievably compelling with his work on the Punisher. Frank Castle has never been so perfectly written, and now that Ennis is leaving the book, that high-water mark will stand for a long time. The stories and images from this book are indelible, unforgettable explorations of darkness.

DMZ, Northlanders: I really enjoy Brian Wood's ongoing series DMZ, about the exploits of a photo-journalist in an alternate-world, war-torn New York City. Wood has done a terrific job creating this fictional world that feels so real. DMZ is one of the few comics where the main characters actually develop and learn right along with the audience. I only have read the first issue (available here) of Wood's newer ongoing series, Northlanders, but on the strength of that issue and his work in DMZ I've decided to sign on for the collected versions. I'm looking forward to delving into this Viking adventure.

Criminal: Ed Brubaker's best book, a comic noir about dirty deeds and people living on the wrong side of the law. Sean Phillips's art is top notch and fits the writing very well. If you like crime fiction, I can't recommend this highly enough.

The Umbrella Academy: This series of mini-series by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba has a lot going for it. The characters are interesting, the story exciting, and the art is outstanding. I have the feeling that they haven't hit their stride yet, however. There is so much going on here that can be (and, I think, will be) developed further that I think it will be some time before this comic is truly appreciated as one of the best super-hero books around.

Ongoing comics that I do not currently purchase but, given the time and money, I would be most interested in purchasing:

Scalped: Like the other titles in this section, I have heard nothing but praise for Jason Aaron's Vertigo crime series, set on an American Indian reservation. I read and enjoyed the first issue, available for free here. Of the four comics in this section that I am most interested in purchasing, this one probably needs my dollar the most, as it is less established and does not sell many copies in pamphlet form. It must be doing fairly well in collected form, however, as Vertigo still is publishing it. I plan on getting into this comic as soon as possible.

Captain America: Another Ed Brubaker book, this time a super-hero espionage thriller starring everyone's favorite patriot (well, other than Tom Brady). I think the only reason I do not currently buy this one is that when I came back to comics, the comic had been ongoing for a while and I didn't want to jump into the story in the middle. I plan on going back at some point and reading the whole thing from beginning to end.

Fables: This Bill Willingham Vertigo book places characters from fantasy into New York City. I have the first collected volume, but haven't gotten to it yet. Again, another book where I want to start at the beginning before getting myself up to speed, but it's looking kind of daunting right now. You can read the first issue for free here.

Hellboy: I really liked Mike Mignola's first two mini-series, but have not gone out to get the rest . . . yet.

So that's my pull list. Some day soon I'll post a list of the no-longer-ongoing comics that I'd like to purchase.


  1. Well, this looks like some good stuff. Perhaps you'd like to purchase some pills to make your penis bigger?

    Sorry, I just thought thats the kinda of comments that people leave on blogs, judging from my band's page....

  2. I am not into comics, but what a great blog for those who are. Best of luck with your blog.

  3. I know what I will be getting you for your birthday! line em up! in order of favorites!

  4. I can only hope you've at least have been thumbing through Foolkiller by Gregg Hurwitz.

    It's sweet.vglmuuhf