Hello everybody, and welcome back to the Pull List, the apartment down the street from the House of Ideas. This week it’s a nice, simple trio of comics, with one from each main good group (DC, Marvel, and Other) — including the Pull List debut of a series I have been desperately wanting to subscribe to, that social mores and justice finally allow me to partake of.
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.
The Mighty Thor #701
Writer: Jason Aaron; Guest Artist: James Harren; Guest Color Artist: Dave Stewart; Letterer & Production: VC’s Joe Sabino; Cover Artists: Russell Dauterman & Matthew Wilson; Variant Cover Artist: Alex Ross
Reading Alex Ross’s Thor is like reading an epic Norse saga that sometimes takes place in Brooklyn and/or involves machine guns; in that vein, this issue was like reading the beginning of…well…Ragnarok. As the cover (and so much foreshadowing in previous issues) indicate, this issue sees the return, full-bore, of the Mangog, the living embodiment of the rage of a dead planet; in the other corner stands Volstagg wielding the Ultimate Thor’s hammer, bearing the rage of a dead universe. The clash between these two is nothing short of breathtaking to read; Aaron and Harren capture the incredible power of these two characters without robbing us of any emotional beats or failing to keep the plot of the fight flowing. In and around their literally earth-shattering melee, we see the continued advancement of the Malekith/Roxxon-driven War of the Realms, in a juxtaposition of modern warfare and mystical battles that would be ludicrous in less talented hands. And then the ending, well…covers don’t lie, but the particular form, the particular framing, of this truth is absolutely touching and heartbreaking, and sets the stage for the end of “The Death of the Mighty Thor” in a way that left my heart in my throat. It’s incredible to think that essentially the same plot has been going since Jane Foster first took up the hammer, with some breaks, and that not once has it felt endless or tiresome or like it was holding the characters in place. When I think back on great arcs in superhero comics, Jason Aaron’s Mighty Thor run is going to be one of the foremost in my mind; getting to read it in real time is nothing shy of a treat.
Power Level: 4 of 5
Writers: Patrick Gleason & Peter J. Tomasi; Artists: Travis Moore, Stephen Segovia & Art Thibert; Colorist: Dinei Ribeiro; Letterer: Rob Leigh; Cover: Patrick Gleason & Dean White; Variant Cover: Renato Guedes
Welcome to the Pull List, Superman! Supes has long been one of my favorite characters, kept from my subscription list only by the knowledge I was encouraging DC to keep a known abuser on staff by buying his books, so I was all set to be incredibly critical of this series. I’m happy to say I couldn’t find a whole lot to be critical of; quite the opposite. To get it out of the way, having three artists on one issue really showed — Supes, especially looks distinctly different in several panels, and it didn’t take me out of the moment exactly, but it was hard not to notice, and that’s not a great look. Other than that, though, this issue was terrific. The storyline, for those just jumping on with me, is that Lex Luthor (who, remember, is currently a hero — at least apparently) has managed to first get the people of Apokolips to think he’s their destined savior, then managed to make them turn on him, and has gotten Superman, Lois, and their son Jon stuck in this mess with him. This issue plays like a four-color superhero buddy-cop movie, in the absolute best way; Clark and Lex play off each other perfectly, with Lex trying to be good but also still being his arrogant, morally flexible self, and Clark trying to trust him but also trying to teach him to be better. The Apokoliptan characters are written with the perfect amount of Jack Kirby bombast, and their reaction to the disappearance of Darkseid is believable while also being exactly as dramatic as you’d expect from the people of a planet called Apokolips. Not only this, but Lois’s and Jon’s characters are perfectly captured, too: far from being a wilting damsel in distress, Lois reacts to crisis by buckling down; and far from being an annoying tagalong, Jon is able to not only strike out on his own, but do some good through just being the good person that we all know a child raised by Superman can be. Tomasi and Gleason have perfectly captured the Man of Steel and his supporting cast here, and I am so, so grateful that DC finally did the right thing and let Big Blue back into my life.
Power Level: 4 of 5
The Wicked + The Divine #33
This issue was perhaps the most deeply messed-up issue of this entire series, and anyone who has been reading for the past thirty-two and change knows that’s saying something. I want to comment specifically on the writing or specifically on the art, and the difficulty I have doing that is testament to not only how great they both are, but how seamlessly Gillen and McKelvie work as a unit: the art facilitates the writing, which breathes depth into the art, and that’s nearly always been true in this series. As far as plot, we step back from the action again this go-round, in favor of some character revelations that spin a whole lot of things about the series on its axis — not even the core mythology is entirely untouched by it. I literally gasped at a few of the pages in this issue, sometimes in horror and sometimes because of the way it forces me to reconsider everything a character has done, and it’s not just one character who makes me feel that way. Add to that plot advancement some character progression for a few other divines (I don’t want to specify because spoilers), and you have an essentially perfect issue of The Wicked + the Divine, all tied up with a bow. I never fail to be excited by where this story is going, and it would take a disaster for me to not see this series through to its end.
Power Level: 4 of 5
Quote of the Week:
Superman: “You planned this.”
Lex Luthor: “Improvised.”
– Superman #35
And now, I am off to go read up on Superman back issues. Have a wonderful weekend, and please: keep loving comics!