Hello everybody, and welcome back to the Pull List, the apartment down the street from the House of Ideas. It’s October, and we begin with a trio of Marvel Comics, including a new series whose release at the beginning of Spooky Month cannot be a coincidence.
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.
Black Bolt #6
Writer: Saladin Ahmed; Artist & Cover Art: Christian Ward; Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles; Design: Nicholas Russell; Logo Design: Jay Bowen
A stellar ending to a stellar first arc. Ahmed puts to rest my worries about him; this issue he shows he is clicking along with not just Black Bolt himself, but all of his various supporting cast. The emotions in this issue run high, but never feel overbaked; every moment and payoff is earned, especially the very weird ones. The resolution to the Jailer arc is a beautiful superhero-comics solution to a beautiful superhero-comics moment — and just as importantly, this issue sets up some nice complications for Black Bolt going forward. My issues with Ward’s art are at their absolute zenith in this issue — there were multiple panels where I just could not figure out what was supposed to be going on, and it feels like the prose is doing a lot more heavy lifting than it should be. That said, this arc was great, and I am excited to see where this goes. If you haven’t read Black Bolt, I cannot give this a high enough recommendation.
Power Level: 4 of 5
Writer: Al Ewing; Penciler: Javier Rodriguez; Inker: Alvaro Lopez; Colorist: Jordie Bellaire; Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles; Cover Artist: Javier Rodriguez; Variant Cover Artists: Juan Doe; Mike McKone & Rachelle Rosenberg; John Tyler Christopher; Chip Zdarsky
And Ewing’s books continue to be pure unadulterated comics joy. First of all, something unusual: I really appreciated the writers warning me that this issue contained spoilers for Black Bolt #6 — I had already read Black Bolt prior to this, but it is so thoughtful of them to include and not something they have to do. The art this issue is excellent — it’s always good, but it’s especially well-matched to the story this time, a more intimate, detailed style to go with a more emotional issue. The storytelling here is largely personal and all enjoyable; the foci are Medusa and Gorgon (after their sudden romantic outburst last issue) and Flint (after his sudden touching a giant alien obelisk last issue). This is one of my exhibits in my proof of how good Ewing is: he takes two very different arcs, one intimate and subdued and one almost out-of-control weird, and makes them both feel equally important and equally intimate. We don’t get a lot of plot development, but what we get feels seismically big, which is a great way to backstop the lower-energy main story. The cliffhanger is a little obvious, but really, that’s the only major flaw here. Royals is good, good stuff, and I really think you should be checking it out.
Power Level: 5 of 5
New Series: Spirits of Vengeance #1
Writer: Victor Gischler; Artist: David Baldeon; Color Artist: Andres Mossa; Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit; Cover Artists: Dan Mora & David Curiel; Variant Cover Artists: John Tyler Christopher; Ken Lashley & David Curiel; Mike McKone & Rachelle Rosenberg; Chip Zdarsky; Mark Texeira
Fun, a bit dark, and with multiple people exploding — the dark-magic side of Marvel, everyone, and it’s glorious. The cover tells you more or less what you need to know as far as premise: this is the team of Ghost Rider (the Johnny Blaze version), Blade, Daimon Hellstrom, and Satana Hellstrom; if you want more detail, this story starts with what honestly looks like an angel spontaneously combusting on the bar stool next to Johnny, and frankly I was hooked at that moment. The bombast in the intro is an excellent hook, and the decision to sprinkle more moments like this throughout the issue is a great way to set the tone with what could otherwise be an issue heavy on investigation and character development (things which are necessary for the story being told, but can easily come off as dry); gore is applied with skill, too, enough to help get the mood across but not so much it feels forced or maudlin. Now I’m not in love with Baldeon’s art style yet — the way he draws faces, especially fat people’s faces, sometimes feels off to me, and there are other places where character designs feel a bit contorted — and some of the characters feel a little bit flat; however, there are other parts that are very nicely written (Ghost Rider’s moment in the sun, especially, is solid). This series has promise, and I’m definitely giving it another issue or two at minimum. If you like any of these characters or the darker, grittier side of Marvel’s magical characters, this is a great pickup.
Power Level: 3.5 of 5
Quote of the Week:
And there you have it; time for me to think about a Halloween costume. Have a great week, and keep on loving comics!