Hello everybody, and welcome back to the Pull List, the apartment down the street from the House of Ideas. Summer has decided to take another swing at us with everything it has, but that didn’t stop me from getting to this week’s comics with a vengeance. Let’s go.
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: Gabby Rivera; Penciler: Joe Quinones; Inker: Joe Rivera; Color Artist: Jordan Gibson; Letterer & Production: Travis Lanham; Cover Artist: Joe Quinones
The series is still fun and kinetic, but this outing is a little bit disjointed. The story is interesting and longtime readers will know I am pretty much always here for a superhero story that has interesting things to say about fascism and the resistance thereof, especially when it focuses on how good people can be convinced to give up a little liberty in exchange for a little safety. I also, as always, love how empathetic and kind the main characters are; this is a book where people are happy to see each other happy, where emotions are communicated honestly without the narrative sweeping trauma and fear and personal struggle under the rug, and where the greatest good is people being allowed to be themselves and keeping others from being hurt instead of just punching cryptofascists in the mouth (though that, too). However, there are a few rough patches: there are places where it feels like the narrative skipped something important, or else leaned on the art to convey more than it was able to (I looked at a couple panels twice to be sure I didn’t miss something); X’Andria kind of gets short shrift here for the sake of advancing the larger plot, which is unfortunate because she’s a really compelling supporting character; and, of course, there is the common comic book issue where the cover sort of spoils the comic itself (we knew Exterminatrix was coming from previous issues, but it’s obvious from the beginning how she’s involved in a way that the comic at least seems to think it might be surprising us with). This is a fun story told in a fun way and I’m here for it, but I hope that next time the script and the art are a little more harmoniously blended.
Power Level: 3.5 of 5
Justice League of America #17
Writer: Steve Orlando; Penciler: Ivan Reis; Inkers: Julio Ferreira & Oclair Albwert; Colorist: Marcelo Maiolo; Letterer: Clayton Cowles; Cover: Ivan Reis & Marcelo Maiolo; Variant Cover: Doug Mahnke & Wil Quintana
A fun resolution to a fun storyline, as only Orlando and Reis can bring us. This is the capper to the Panic in the Microverse storyline, and as you’d expect it comes with a whole raft of development for Ryan Choi. Some bits of the resolution here do not make sense, in a fairly typical “only 20ish pages to get all of my story beats out in the world” way that can hit final issues of storylines, but for the most part all of it hangs together, and I never stopped enjoying it at any point, especially the weird pseudoscience powering the four (count ’em, four) Bio-Belts this issue has bouncing around. In addition to our spotlight character getting a nice, fulfilling day in the sun, (Killer) Frost gets some excellent development in her limited panel time that feels like the core of what this book is about; the Might Beyond the Mirror meta-plot continues to advance; a couple mysteries are sprinkled into the mix; and we end with the appearance of some reappearing DC villains whose reason for facing the JLA should be fodder for some excellent conflict and hero/villain patter down the road. Couple all that with the excellent artwork, and you have one of my favorite dang books going today.
Power Level: 4 of 5
Art by: Fiona Staples; Written by: Brian K. Vaughan; Letters + Design by: Fonografiks; Coordinated by: Eric Stephenson
Another, more emotional, interlude, this time featuring our favorite grizzled/adorable (grizzledorable?) seal-person, Ghus. The cover doesn’t lie here — the spotlight is on Ghus and Squire Robot, and it’s actually a really touching, emotional story even as it manages to be a little grim and a little absurd, with Hazel’s narration layered over it to tell us some of what the themes are here. The cover also doesn’t lie in terms of how gorgeous this issue (all issues, really) is, with Staples again showing off her capacity for blending the familiar and the bizarre when creating their universe’s flora and fauna. It’s a little bit weird that we still don’t know the full extent of what happened in Abortion Town, but it does feel like we know enough for the book to go elsewhere, so I am not sure how much to hold that against Staples and Vaughan. Meanwhile, the story that is in this issue is a complete one, and while its structure is simple and its resolution is a little bit convenient, it carries a surprising (for any series but Saga, anyway) emotional and philosophical depth — the themes this time being death, violence, and the unfortunate necessity of both for life to perpetuate itself, which are deep subjects that nevertheless get conveyed using a seal-person, their telepathically linked walrus-creature buddy, and a boy with a monitor for a head, and possibly better than they could have been using default Earth humans. The issue even manages to throw in a dash of hope for the future — specifically, the possibility that the generation of kids we are seeing grow up in this story’s pages are going to move beyond the generation of adults we see trying to raise them, in every way possible. The hook at the end of the issue is Saga encapsulated: no promise of action, but tons of promise of relationship shifts and stories about the family we choose and mostly importantly, lots and lots of feelings, all against the backdrop of sci-fi surrealism and war. I love that the future and the family unit and politics are the constant main stakes of this series when they could easily make it about saving the world, and I never tire of wondering what this series is going to bring — even when they do as they’ve done this issue and go on vacation.
Power Level: 4 of 5
New Series: Ghostbusters: Answer the Call #1
Written by: Kelly Thompson; Art by: Corin Howell; Colors by: Valentina Pinto; Letters by: Neil Uyetake
The cover and title once again do not lie here: this is the story of the Ghostbusters team as presented to us in the recent film, and in addition to being pretty faithful, it’s also pretty fun. Howell and Pinto’s art is great, a relaxed, cartoonish style that goes along well with the tone of the movie while also staking out its own visual territory (right down to a more subdued palette compared to the brighter colors of the film); it suffers from the action problem I often have with comics, though, in that there are several panels where it’s not entirely clear what’s supposed to be happening. Thompson’s writing, meanwhile, really feels like it nailed the team’s personalities while also allowing them to be new interpretations; Holtzmann is the only one who feels off, but I think that’s because Kate McKinnon’s physical acting can’t be easily duplicated in sequential art, forcing Thompson to rely on patter that makes her occasionally feel both too wordy and too inert, even if the words are appropriately brainy and reckless. I also like that the book doesn’t spend a lot of time on introductions — each Ghostbuster gets one panel and one narration bubble, and we are already on a case when the story starts rather than trying to give us a whole history of ghosts and the busting thereof, while also reminding us of who these four wonderful characters are. The storyline is a teensy bit basic, but that is true of nearly all Ghostbusters stories, and there is some promise of it getting more complex as it goes. All in all, this is at least worth an Issue 2, and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes.
Power Level: 3.5 of 5
Quote of the Week:
“One day, a boy decided to break the rules. Like in most children’s stories, he then had an adventure. This experience taught the boy that those aforementioned rules were there for a reason. But he also learned another important lesson…that one should break rules as often as possible. Because who the hell doesn’t want to have an adventure?”
– Narrator, Saga #48
And there you have it. Until next time, keep on loving comics!