Hello everybody, and welcome back to the Pull List, the apartment down the street from the House of Ideas. It’s well and truly autumn, so let’s curl up with some comics. See what I did there?
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.
Writer: Marguerite Bennett; Artist: Fernando Blanco; Colorist: John Rauch; Letterer: Deron Bennett; Main Cover Artist: Fernando Blanco; Variant Cover Artist: Michael Cho
Batwoman vs. Scarecrow continues, this time with a side of plot advancement! The star of this issue, like the last one, is once again the art — Blanco and Rauch are doing some very creative things here with the Scarecrow gas hallucinations, telling a story in the art that’s complementary to the script rather than simply illustrative. Bennett’s version of Crane is gloriously scenery-chewing; I could practically hear Henry Polic II reading all of his lines. I’m so glad Bennett is flying solo on the scripts now — it’s really helping give the book its own voice. I did find some of the action sequences — especially the bits in the cells — hard to follow in places (I’m still not clear on what’s supposed to be happening in one panel, and Kate was explaining the sequence of events to the reader the whole time). But, I am interested to see how Batwoman beats Scarecrow, and how this ties into the Many Arms of Death, and basically this was a good issue in a good series.
Power Level: 3 of 5
Bitch Planet: Triple Feature #5
“Everyone’s Grandma is a Little Bit Feminist”: Matt Fraction and Elsa Charretier, with colors by Nick Filardi; “Mirror, Mirror”: Jon Tsuei and Saskia Gutekunst; “Basic Bitch”: Bassey Nyambi, Eyang Nyambi, Nyambi Nyambi, and Chris Visions
The last set of Triple Feature vignettes before we go back to the main plotline was is a whimper instead of a bang. The first story, “Everyone’s Grandma is a Little Bit Feminist,” has some chilling components to it, and some nice subtext (which was echoed in all the stories this time out) about how very often sexism and racism go together like a hand in a glove; it’s a perfectly fine story but the title really tells you most of what is going on there. The second story, “Mirror, Mirror,” is a perfectly reasonable comment on the racism of the movie industry, but it’s not a Bitch Planet story at all — no element of the BP world is necessary for it to be told, and it doesn’t actually involve women or gender roles at all. The final story, “Basic Bitch,” is a commentary on cultural appropriation and police violence, and it does use sci-fi elements to tell its story; it’s also a topic that needs to be tackled often and with great fervor in today’s society, and for that I welcome it. However, it’s once again not exactly a Bitch Planet story. The art is all perfectly fine, but none of it knocked my socks off. Overall, this felt like a miss to me.
Power Level: 1.5 of 5
The Mighty Thor #700
Writer: Jason Aaron; Artists: Walter Simonson & Matthew Wilson, Russell Dauterman & Wilson, Daniel Acuna, James Harren & Dave Stewart, Becky Cloonan & Stewart, Das Pastoras, Chris Burnham & Ive Svorcina, Andrew MacLean & Stewart, Jill Thompson, Mike Del Mundo, and Oliver Coipel and Stewart; Letterer & Production: VC’s Joe Sabino; Cover Artists: Russell Dauterman & Matthew Wilson; Variant Cover Artists: Stephanie Hanks (based on the original cover of The Death of Captain Marvel by Jim Starlin); Adam Hughes; Mike McKone & Rachelle Rosenberg; Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers; John Tyler Christopher; Chip Zdarsky
Is anyone shocked anymore when I declare a Mighty Thor issue the crown jewel of the week’s pull? OK, good. This is, as the new Legacy-spawned numbering suggests, the 700th issue of a Thor solo series, dating all the way back to Smilin’ Stan, and what a beautiful, loving, lyrical celebration it is. There are a whole host of artists working on this issue, and rather than feeling jarring, they are used absolutely perfectly, with the fifty (yes, fifty) pages of comics using the artists to signify and weave together disparate storylines about a whole host of Thor-adjacent characters, from Thor proper to Odinson to Loki to Volstagg to Throg, the Frog of Thunder! Aaron’s writing feels like a Norse saga, weighty and brutal and poetic, giving every character involved their due and lending an air of importance to everything from an Earthly battle with She-Hulk to Malekith’s slow takeover of the realms to Throg chasing a murderer through Central Park. We get some cosmic-level stuff that is drawn and colored with pure love of King Kirby’s work in mind, right down to a Kirby-original character who was hinted at during the Asgard-Shi’ar War making their triumphant on-panel return; we also get some villainous speechifying of not one, but three different varieties. We also get even Throg’s comedic little appearance ultimately weaving into the other stories in a meaningful, heroic way. This series is the real deal, and this issue so transcendentally good that I’m not even mad Jane Foster might be about to die — or at least, not mad yet.
Power Level: 5 of 5
Writer: Dan Abnett; Pencils: Brett Booth; Inks: Norm Rapmund; Colors: Andrew Dalhouse; Letters: Josh Reed; Cover: Booth, Rapmund & Dalhouse; Variant Cover: Dan Mora
All action and reveals from beginning to end, and all of it enjoyable. As I was afraid might be the case after last issue, original-flavor Wally West appears to be dead (though the fact that they’re still mid-action right now means he might not be gone for good — superheroes, everyone!), and the tragedy of that is not only played up, it’s played into the overall plot in a way besides “he’s dead, now things are serious!“, which is a spin I really like. Really, having the Titans fight a villain explicitly trying to cause them angst as the goal of the conflict is perfect Titans writing — they so often mix angst and combat anyway, why not have an antagonist who can make that work for them? Plus, making sure the fight has an emotional core is so important for superheroes generally. The art is also phenomenal, still coming off like all the good parts of the Nineties with all the crusts trimmed off (and actual visible feet). I will say, though, that this issue relies on knowledge of the Titans’ backstories heavily, enough so that the reveal at the end, which was clearly impactful to the characters, left me totally cold. But at least for that, they had our old friends notes from the editor to tell us which issues to go back and look at for more information, so they knew what they were doing and were prepared to address it. In summary: This is a fun series, and I’m going to keep reading it for the time being.
Power Level: 3 of 5
Quote of the Week:
“Our time grows short. If today we must bleed, then let us do so as Norns.”
“Aye…and Norns…bleed stories…stories of revelry and woe, of triumph and tribulation. Stories of war and thunder. Stories of hammers and Hel and the twilight of the gods.”
— The Norns, The Mighty Thor #700
And there you have it. Until next time, keep on loving comics!