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, with some comedy, the end to the latest of infinite Marvel event comics, and a first-time comics writer whose name I had to read three times before I clicked “Pre-Order.”
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.
The ongoings and miniseries I can’t live without
IvX #6 (of 6)
Writers: Jeff Lemire + Charles Soule
Pencils: Leinil Francis Yu
Inks: Leinil Francis Yu + Gerry Alanguilan
Colorist: David Curiel
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover Artists: Leinil Francis Yu + David Curiel
This was actually a pretty good ending, if grim and problematic. The opening page is excellent, with a close-up of Emma Frost that instantly tells the reader that there’s more going on here than meets the eye; Yu’s art on this page is spectacular, as it is throughout the issue. Via the young Inhumans, we get a reveal that was kind of lacking in the miniseries earlier — the Inhumans had no idea the situation with the Terrigen Cloud was advancing on such a short time-table — and the fact the resolution to the whole conflict comes together fast once the Inhumans are, well…informed of the problem is actually very nice storytelling, very human and understandable. The drama inherent in deciding whether or not to destroy the Terrigen Cloud is well-played and well-paced, giving us some tension without just dragging it out. Unfortunately, after that decision is made (no spoilers!), things fall apart a tiny bit in the climax and denouement, as the personal motivations behind the Inhuman/mutant conflict erupt. This should be a homerun (seriously, look at the splash page with the Sentinels), but it shows some cracks I’m a little leery of the justification for Emma’s behavior here — Lemire and Soule literally suggest losing Scott drove her mad, and that feels…well…regressive. Other than that, the climax and denouement are really solid, with characters and the world around them changed in real, tangible ways that don’t feel like they poison the well of anyone’s characterization — a conversation between Inferno and Old Man Logan on this point is one of the best (if most brutal) summations of the forgiving attitude heroes need to take to these kinds of high-emotional conflicts — and I am curious to see what’s coming in the new Inhumans and X-Men series that this conflict is helping to launch. I am just not sure I like Emma’s complexity being sacrificed to get here.
Power Level: 3 of 5
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #18
Writer: Ryan North
Artist: Erica Henderson
Color Artist: Rico Renzi
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Logo: Michael Allred
Cover Artist: Erica Henderson
A slightly darker offering from the most heartfelt comic in the Marvel lineup. This is the continuation of the conflict between Squirrel Girl and Mrs. Morbeck, and I have to say, I was shocked and pleased when the revelation of Morbeck’s villainous nature came in the middle of the issue — I was worried at the end of #17 that this storyline was a bit tired and trite, and just getting the “secret villain” stuff out of the way and moving on to the meat of the conflict is appreciated. And what meat it is; Morbeck turns out to have a philosophical issue with Squirrel Girl, and the majority of the issue is spent exploring this in a conversation that is surprisingly dark and serious for UBS, while also employing the earnestness and comedy that are the series’ trademarks. Really, in a way, Morbeck is as intimidating and disturbing a villain as she is because she’s appearing in UBS — her presence feels like as much of a disruption and intrusion as it probably feels to Doreen herself. Which brings me to my favorite little twist to this issue: the pages where Morbeck and Squirrel Girl are going head-to-head (in a discussion, because this is Squirrel Girl) do not have the marginal commentary that North normally peppers throughout each issue, giving a very real sense that things have gotten serious. This issue is a shade darker, but I think that’s good variety for the series, and I am really amped for more, because it’s clear that we have only seen the beginning of what North can do with his writing.
Power Level: 4 of 5
The Wicked + The Divine #27
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Jamie McKelvie
Colourist: Matthew Wilson
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Flatter: Dee Cunniffe
Possibly the most challenging, and most rewarding, issue of WicDiv yet. We start with a great, action-filled opening, with Baal and his surrogate family suffering another attack by the Great Darkness, followed by a melancholy sequence with the characters discussing their death days — a conversation that felt so natural (well, natural for the high-drama nature of the Pantheon) that I didn’t notice until late into the issue that this was our reminder the time for this iteration of the Pantheon to die is coming up fast. After that intro, though, this issue blows wide open, breaking the pages down into a series of spreads containing something on the order of eight little “microstories,” vignettes played out in eight or ten small panels that give us insight into how each member of the Pantheon is coping with the bill for their lives coming due. I had to re-read the microstories twice to fully grok them (Tip: rather than try to read every panel sequentially, find the ones with the same color borders and read those as their own miniature “pages”), and I think on subsequent reads I’ll find even more meaning, and even more newfound sympathy for these doomed characters. The issue ends on a professor discussing academic and sociological studies of the Pantheon throughout history, lending a verisimilitude that makes the internal struggles of the Pantheon feel that much more concrete and bitter. This series is amazing, and frankly after this issue I am almost sad it is working its way toward an ending.
Power Level: 5 of 5
New and Shiny
A first issue that caught my eye this week
Man-Thing #1 (of 5)
Credits for “A Different Direction”
Writer: R.L. Stine
Artist: German Peralta
Color Artist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Cover Art: Tyler Crook
Credits for “Put A Ring On It”
Writer: R.L. Stine
Artist: Daniel Johnson
Color Artist: Mat Lopes
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
When I went trawling for an Issue #1 for this week, I saw this miniseries and knew I had to try it; like any child of the 80s and 90s, I cut a few horror-fan teeth on the Goosebumps books, and I wanted to see what Stine could do with a horror-adjacent Marvel character like Man-Thing. Unfortunately, the answer winds up being: not that much. Now, I want to tell you the good: Peralta and Rosenberg make some excellent comics art in this book. The art style is fluid and detailed without being overwrought, and I understood and enjoyed every panel. No, the writing is where this one falters; Stine narrates basically every panel. He employs an appropriately dramatic style that I think might be aiming for the old EC horror narration, but with modern comics having shown us the power of carefully chosen words, it means the art feels very suffocated, and some of the panels come off as overexplained. Also, the majority of the main story is taken up with recapping Man-Thing’s origin, which is fine except that the flashback to it is used to pad out a very basic plot. Stine also repeatedly tells us how gross and disturbing Man-Thing is, which is not borne out by the art (possibly that’s just because I am used to what Man-Thing looks like, though). The backup story, “Put A Ring On It,” is a simple little Tales from the Crypt-style horror story, and doesn’t add a lot to the book. Overall, this series is a pass, unless you are really into those old horror comics and want to see if this scratches the same itch.
Power Level: 1 0f 5
Quote of the Week:
Mrs. Morbeck: “I arranged a talk on campus because I wanted to meet you, Doreen. And when I said, ‘with great power, comes great responsibility,’ what did you hear?”
Squirrel Girl: “I…need to be careful how hard I punch?”
Mrs. Morbeck: “‘I need to be careful how hard I punch.’ Good grief. What else did you hear? ‘Am I polite enough when helping old ladies across the street’? ‘I already recycle, but could I recycle…even more’?”
– The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #18
And with that, I am off. Sound off in the comments, and we’ll see you next week!