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The Pull List, 3/16/17

Hello everybody, and welcome back to the Pull List, the apartment down the street from the House of Ideas. It’s a short list this week, but everything I read this week was an absolute gem. I am so happy I get to share this with you.

Spoilers: I try not to spoil the issues themselves too much, but I do post cover images, and I reference past events when they are germane. You won’t see any twists posted here, but some detail of the issue is inevitable.

Ratings: The Pull List rates a comic’s power level on a scale of 0 to 5, where 5 is something thought-provoking, groundbreaking, and/or masterfully executed and 0 is something I wish I hadn’t even started reading.

Regular Pulls

The ongoings and miniseries I can’t live without

The Mighty Thor #17

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Writer: Jason Aaron; Artist: Russell Dauterman; Color Artist: Matthew Wilson; Letterer & Production: VC’s Joe Sabino; Cover Artists: Russell Dauterman & Matthew Wilson

The issue starts with a “super-comet” and two gods joking about killing billions of people, and gets more epic, cosmic, and darkly funny from there. The “Challenge of the Gods” between Thor and the Shi’ar deities continues, with Thor’s exasperation mounting along with the stakes, and just when you think it can’t get any more absurd, the whole thing devolves into violence of the most gorgeous, high-powered, celestial sort, with space-faring longships and Shi’ar Superguardians and just so, so very much punching, along with such singular lines as “The only apocalypse I am calling for is the one I intend to wreak upon both your faces!” Also, near the middle, we get an explanation for why the Shi’ar gods have such a mad on for proving they are better gods than Thor, and it’s both hilarious and melancholy and a reminder of the larger stories currently going on in the Thor mythos, and then at the end we get a hook that actually answers the question “how can anything feel like rising action after this?” This is superhero comics at its starfaring, hammer-swinging best, and more proof that Aaron and Dauterman are one of the best teams working in comics today.

Power Level: 5 of 5

Ms. Marvel #16

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Writer: G. Willow Wilson; Artist: Takeshi Miyazawa; Color Artist: Ian Herring; Lettering: VC’s Joe Caramagna; Cover Artists: Nelson Blake II and Rachelle Rosenberg

Ms. Marvel vs. Doc.X continues, and goes straight for the heartstrings. We finally get an origin story for Doc.X, after the revelation last issue that he literally is a computer virus, and the explanation takes G. Willow Wilson to a whole other level of geek cred, as she brings in references to the Corrupted Blood incident in World of Warcraft and also manages to fire a shot across the bow of the toxicity of online gaming communities, including what might be a world-first use of the term “shitlord” (well, “pooplord”) in a superhero comic. The core conflict here revolves around the forced outing of an LGBT character, and while that is treated as a very real danger, with very real social consequences, it is never painted as a condemnation of homosexuality, which is always treated as the perfectly acceptable state of being that it is — while at the same time, Kamala also has a totally human explosion of awkwardness as she tries to find a non-problematic way to explain she isn’t gay. Kamala’s empathy, coupled with human failings, as the primary axes of her heroism never fail to please the hell out of me; her speech about hate and fear and not bowing to them make her the hero we need and deserve right now. I love Ms. Marvel, and basically every issue, Wilson reminds me why.

Power Level: 5 of 5

U.S.Avengers #4

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Writer: Al Ewing; Penciler: Paco Medina; Inker: Juan Vlasco; Colorist: Jesus Aburtov; Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna; Cover: Paco Medina, Juan Vlasco & Jesus Aburtov

A pastiche of tie-in issues and event comics starring Red Hulk, Deadpool, and American Kaiju? I’ll take three. I know reviewers say it a lot, but in all sincerity, this issue is hilarious; it is presented as four very, very short tie-in issues to an event when actually it’s just one continuous short story, and in the process manages to mock horror comics like Swamp Thing and Man-Thing, lampshade the deeply problematic idea that heroes will assume a monstrous creature might be on the side of good only if it can speak their language, dig up an obscure Marvel character who himself pokes fun at the stereotype of Eastern European villains, and reference, of all things, All-Star Superman. The conversation between Deadpool and Red Hulk had me grinning my face off, and at the end of all this ridiculousness, we get an actually serious hook for the next issue (which, ironically, may be hooking U.S.Avengers in with an upcoming crossover event…). This was just plain fun, and brilliantly done in the process.

Power Level: 4 of 5

New and Shiny

A first issue that caught my eye this week

Batwoman #1

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Writers: Marguerite Bennett & James Tynion IV; Artist: Steve Epting; Colors: Jeromy Cox; Letters: Deron Bennett; Cover: Steve Epting

My reward for repeatedly giving DC a chance. I picked this up on the strength of Marguerite Bennett’s name and my evergreen desire to promote queer representation in comics, and I am happy to say that both of those things held true and also everything else was pretty great. The story starts right up with action, as Batwoman (Kat Kane) continues her pursuit of Monster Venom dealers from her Rebirth issue, a case which it quickly turns out is going to require her to confront a few skeletons in her closet — skeletons she appears to have accrued during one of the various reboot-triggered spans of missing time (though I may be misreading that, not being familiar with the extended Bat-Family mythos). Batwoman takes on this case at the behest of Batman, and with the assistance of Julia Pennyworth — and while the pairing of Batwoman with a Pennyworth may instantly rub you the wrong way, that idea coupled with their banter encapsulates the flavor of this issue. Bennett has crafted a perfect Batman story, that superhero noir space that the Caped Crusader occupies so deftly, and tweaked it to fit Kat and Julia in place of Bruce and Alfred. Kat is brooding like Bruce, temperamental like Bruce, but at the same time her personality is wholly her own, more direct and visceral, not simply a distaff counterpart to the Dark Knight; Julia, likewise, is much more confrontational and convivial with Kat, rather than Alfred’s more paternal style of snark. Even Batwoman’s super-high-tech Batsuit is an echo of Bruce while still being distinct from him. These themes are beautifully exemplified by Epting and Cox’s art: a dark palette with the red of Batwoman’s boots, cape, and hair standing out starkly against the browns and blacks and grays. Now, all this said, I do want to say I wish that Batwoman’s new ongoing didn’t start with her taking orders from Bruce, but I can’t expect perfection on the first try. I actually subscribed to this series, and Dear Readers, I think you know what subscribing to a DC series means coming from me.

Power Level: 4 of 5

Quote of the Week:

“For a second there, I forgot what heroes do. Sometimes you gotta take an actual bullet. Sometimes you gotta take a metaphorical bullet. Sometimes, the second kind is actually more painful.”

– Kamala Khan, Ms. Marvel #16

And with that, I am off. Sound off in the comments, and we’ll see you next week!

Tyler Dent Hayes
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Tyler is a professional writer of speculative fiction and an enthusiastic lover of comics, tabletop games, pro wrestling, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, literary criticism, ice hockey, and basically every genre of fiction and music, but especially anything about superheroes, mythology, or both. Hailing from the wilds of Mendocino County, Tyler is lucky enough to have attained an advanced degree in talking about writing and to have married his favorite person in the world. He blogs about writing, life with anxiety, and occasionally movies and comics at his website, www.tyler-hayes.com. He'd love to play Sentinels of the Multiverse with you if you're interested.

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