Hello everybody, and welcome back to the Pull List, the apartment down the street from the House of Ideas. Fall is finally actually starting to settle in on California (freaking climate change…), and we have an embarrassment of sequential riches to cover. What could be better?
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 is inevitable.
Justice League of America #16
Writer: Steve Orlando; Pencils: Felipe Watanabe; Inks: Ruy Jose; Colorist: Marcelo Maiolo; Letterer: Clayton Cowles; Cover: Andy Kubert & Brad Anderson; Variant Cover: Doug Mahnke & Wil Quintana
Steve Orlando is DC’s Al Ewing — the writer who can take the weirdest, most convoluted aspects of the universe they have been given to play with, and make stories out of them that not only hang together, they elevate the material. This issue, we finally get to know more about Dr. Aron Aut and the reasons Ray Palmer panicked so much when he showed up at the Ignition Point, and as villain origin stories go this one is, well, exactly what I’d hope to see from this incarnation of the Justice League of America: believable, internally consistent, but also rooted in the most bizarre stuff the DC Universe has to offer. Watanabe, Jose, and Maiolo again conspire to bring us a breathtaking visual of the Microverse, lending even more weight to Aut’s little Start of Darkness. And the final panel is pure four-color villainous gold, making me oh-so-excited for the finale of this arc. That this is not the absolute unchallenged best in my pull every week is proof of how good comics are right now.
Power Level: 4 of 5
Ms. Marvel #23
Writer: G. Willow Wilson; Artist: Diego Olortegui; Color Artist: Ian Herring; Lettering: VC’s Joe Caramagna; Cover Artists: Valerio Schiti and Rachelle Rosenberg
This issue is a G. Willow Wilson special: Some simple, back-to-basics superhero action, used as a backdrop for some big, important emotions and examinations of the life of a young superhero. As the cover indicates, this story involves the return of Laal Khanjeer, now in New Jersey; his arrival is a jumping-off point for Kamala to have to deal with two new things: another superhero working on her turf, and the worry about her becoming yesterday’s news. There are some very touching sequences that serve as reminders of how “the man on the street” views superheroes; there are also some very pointed and poignant sequences that serve as nice digs at both the U.S.A.’s casual racism and its semi-illusory status as the most developed nation on the planet. Beyond the writing, the art is also great; Olortegui draws very smooth, believable, but fantastical superhero action sequences, and his background detail work is aces, too. I will say that the story is maybe a little too basic, but it’s understandable given the amount Wilson is trying to convey with her story arc here; it’s still good, it’s just that Ms. Marvel is capable of a lot more than “good” so it feels a little hollow. It’s a good problem to have.
Power Level: 3.5 of 5
Writer: Rainbow Rowell; Artist: Kris Anka; Color Artist: Matthew Wilson; Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna; Cover Artist: Kris Anka; Variant Cover Artist: Kevin Wada; Graphic Designer: Carlos Lao
The good kind of deconstruction, courtesy of your favorite kid heroes all grown up. This issue takes the premise established in the first one — that two years down the line, Chase has rescued Gert at the moment of her death in the original series — and runs with it all the way to the finish line, allowing just the right amount of realism to ensue in Gert’s reaction both to being rescued and to the way things have played out over those years. Not only does Rowell do an excellent job with the emotional and ethical implications of Chase’s act, but the expertise with which she uses this story to recap what we need to know about the original Runaways series and what has occurred in the time between then and now is hard to overstate. I want to make absolutely certain I give Kris Anka the credit he deserves for his art, too; his faces help sell Rowell’s writing in a way that not every artist could, making everything they’re going through — even the bits involving time travel and dinosaurs — feel bitingly real. Plus, this might have the most goofy splash page ever that still manages to be hugely emotional. I am so glad I picked this series up.
Power Level: 4 of 5
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #25
Writer: Ryan North; Artist: Erica Henderson; Color Artist: Rico Renzi; Letterer: Travis Lanham; Cover Artist: Erica Henderson; Variant Cover: Chip Zdarsky (with Ryan North); Logo: Michael Allred; Special Thanks: Dwayne McDuffie
Darling, precious, funny — Squirrel Girl, everybody. This is the resolution to the whole “dinosaur Ultron” arc, and it resolves in a way only Ryan North can sell to an audience. The dialogue is North at his apex, with everyone using the same earnest, slightly stilted delivery but everyone also being genuine and emotional and kind and fun (well, except Ultron, who is just fun). The art is some of Henderson’s best on this series — the final panel, especially, is extremely touching, and that is all down to her detail and framing. It’s zany, but it’s never just zany, and that is how I like my Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.
Power Level: 4 of 5
The Wicked + The Divine #32
Writer: Kieron Gillen; Artist: Jamie McKelvie; Colourist: Matthew Wilson; Letterer: Clayton Cowles; Flatter: Dee Cunniffe
This issue is a perfect blend of character building and action, and it is absolutely brutal. The action is honestly the goriest WicDiv has gotten in…well, OK, a couple issues, but the use of gore is so expert that it hits hard every single time they deploy it, and it is no different here. On a more abstract level, the emotions of the characters — every one of them — are on full display (full marks to McKelvie for how powerfully the characters’ expressions and body language are rendered), and it is wrenching to see the small decisions and big consequences for all of them. The panels are perfectly laid out and paced, and the dialogue is surgically precise — Persephone’s bitterness, especially, is just plain vicious. Add in possibly the meanest ending hook this series has ever pulled, and this was just another issue of WicDiv, by which I mean some of the best comics you can get.
Power Level: 5 of 5
Quote of the Week:
“Sometimes evil time-traveling parents give really good presents.”
— Narrator, Runaways #2
This was an amazing week for comics. We’ll see you for the next one; until next time, keep on loving comics!