Welcome to the Pull List, where I look at the comics I read every month and something new that spoke to me from the racks (or Comixology site). I hope you’ve got some fun plans for Thanksgiving this year, or at least some solid self-care plans for after it’s over; for me, these comics will definitely get me through. Before we dive into this giant pile of Marvel, disclaimers.
Spoilers: I try not to spoil the issues themselves, but I do post cover images, and I reference past events when they are germane. This is your spoiler warning.
Credits: I have given all the credits I can find in the comic itself and online; if you see something wrong or have information I’m lacking, let me know and I’ll fix it.
Ratings: The Pull List rates a comic’s power level on a scale of 0 to 5, where 5 is something thought-provoking, groundbreaking, and/or masterfully executed and 0 is something I wish I hadn’t even started reading.
I hope to see you and your pull list in the comments!
The ongoings and miniseries I can’t live without
Captain Marvel #10
Writers: Ruth Fletcher Gage & Christos Gage
Artist: Thony Silas
Colorist: Matthew Wilson
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Artist: Kris Anka
Title Page Design: Anthony Gambino
Another Marvel series ends and is picked up under an altered name — in this case, concluding Captain Marvel and moving on to The Mighty Captain Marvel. Speaking on a meta-level, I am really enjoying how Marvel seems to be using book titles as a way of indicating major shifts in the narrative. As for the issue itself: so, right off the bat, this issue is great because it finally shines a light on the many reasons Carol Danvers has been acting so militant and self-righteous lately, and does so in a way that does not give her a pass but also adds depth to her character. This issue also pays off a minor plot point from two months ago that I was not expecting to ever have come up again, and does so in a way that I wouldn’t have predicted even if I had noticed the gun on the mantelpiece. The action sequence is dynamic and engaging, the villainous plot both archetypal and interesting, and there’s even a nice lampshade hung on how supers come back from the dead all the time, and to top it all off, there is some frank, witty, uncompromising stuff about sexism at the end, both with Carol having a moment of clarity about it and with her demonstrating how to pick your battles. Even the final panel of this issue, and therefore of this series, is perfect, wrapping the character and narrative arcs up in one pithy final line that leaves me excited to try the next thing. Stellar.
Power Level: 4 of 5
Civil War II #7 (of 8)
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: David Marquez*
Color Artist: Justin Ponsor
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Designer: Victor Ochoa
Cover Artist: Marko Djurdjevic
Variant Cover Artists: Kim Jung Gi, Michael Cho, Phil Noto, Chris Sprouse & Dave McCaig, Jim Steranko
*There are more art credits to give, but they are in spoiler tags at the end of this article.
Short version: Damn it, Tony.
Long version: This issue explains and expands on some of the weird, confusing bits in earlier issues, but honestly, I wish this explanation had been foreshadowed a little more heavily than it was. The cameo in this issue is a bit out of left field, but I like how it plays into the larger narrative, and the way it winds up feeding in is both interesting and a little bit predictable, which for my money is good when you’re dealing with the kind of high weirdness that Ulysses and “predictive justice” bring to the table. The core narrative arc here, between Captain Marvel, Captain America, and Ultimate Spider-Man, is beautifully done; all there characters come off looking like a million bucks, with Carol not absolved of the predictive justice movement’s dark side but also given depth and heroic justification, as well as good intentions and self-awareness, that really help redeem her. The scenes between the three of them are tense and sad, but also perfectly true to who they are. My only big complaint is that the hook at the end is working way, way too hard to hook us into the final issue, which doesn’t fill me with enthusiasm for that conclusion.
Also, damn it, Tony.
Power Level: 3 of 5
The Mighty Thor #13
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Steve Epting
Color Artist: Frank Martin
Letterer & Production: VC’s Joe Sabino
Cover Artists: Russell Dauterman & Matthew Wilson
Something about crossing the high fantasy genre with modern military tactics always pleases me, so it should not be a huge surprise when I say I thought this issue was perfect; this blends the two (with a large helping of espionage and spy thrillers) in a way I have not seen since the early days of Fables. The dialogue in this book is particularly impressive, witty and engaging and evocative of the characters saying it, with that self-aware Aaron tone we know and love. The plot of this is pretty basic, getting us from an interesting point A to an interesting point B without a lot of deviation, but that’s not really the point of this issue — this is getting us set up for the emotional battle going on inside Thor and getting us used to the characters of the League of Realms. The hook is a good, solid comic book hook, the and the ending is a perfect example of the human/magic duality Aaron, Epting, and Dauterman handle so well. That this comic is only my fourth-favorite comic every month really speaks to how great comics are right now.
Power Level: 4 of 5
New and Shiny
The Issue #1s that caught my eye this week
All-New X-Men #1
“Idie Goes on a Date” Credits:
Writer: Sina Grace
Artist: Cory Smith
Color Artist: Andres Mossa
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
“The Last of Us, the Last of X” Credits:
Writer: Rex Ogle
Artist: Andrea Broccardo
Color Artist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Generally: I loved and needed this issue, even if I don’t have the pocketbook to subscribe to this right now.
“Idie Goes on a Date”: I love that Marvel took something as weird as the original X-Men being brought forward in time and managed to build a team out of it; not just a team, but a team that grows and changes in membership, tone, and mission, all without losing the root ideas that formed it in the first place. That said, I would have really appreciated a dramatis personae; everyone is referred to by their first names, and not everyone on this team is as iconic as the original X-team. (Example: is that Skin with the gray skin? It turns out it’s Genesis/Evan Sabahnur, but that wasn’t even the second person I thought of. There are a lot of X-Men with gray skin…) Also, it’s a little weird that Scott is both here and in the Champions; I know other people have multiple team allegiances (see: Wolverine, Wolverine, and Wolverine), but it’s still jarring. That’s where my complaints about this story end, though. Grace took the X-Men’s primary themes about prejudice and marginalization (and the quasi-AIDS metaphor of M-Pox) and brought them to the disturbing, subtext-riddled forefront as Idie and a young man just try to go on a date and find themselves faced with fear and hate. Having the bad guys be white men in white-collar casual could not be more timely or more cutting, and the way the conflict resolves (“resolves”?) is on target, as well. I hope some of the people most at-risk are able to read this and take some solace from it.
“The Last of Us, The Last of X”: We needed “Idie Goes on a Date,” but I personally needed “The Last of Us, the Last of X.” This story, starring Danielle Moonstar and Magik, is touching, sweet, and painful; like the All-New X-Men stuff in general, it brings back something weird about a long-running character (her status as a Valkyrie) and gives it new relevance and emotional weight. This is a story about anxiety — quite literally panic attacks, actually — and about living in a time of great pain and great fear and the temptation to escape both. The way Broccardo handles drawing Dani’s “death sense” is really cool, evocative without being over-the-top in the bad way, and the way Ogle resolves this short conflict, like the story preceding it, is perfect, satisfying without sacrificing complexity.
I almost didn’t read this, reasoning the first issue of the restarted series I love (see below) was good enough for my Issue #1 this week, and I am so glad I did not go the easy route. Like Magik says in “The Last of Us, the Last of X”: “Our world sucks, but it’s the only one we got.” May we live up to the hope these two show.
Power Level: 4 of 5
The Ultimates^2 #1
Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Travel Foreman
Color Artist: Dan Brown
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Cover: Travel Foreman
Variant Covers: Risa Hulett; Christian Ward; Mike Deodato & Frank Martin; John Tyler Christopher
My reaction on page 1: This psychedelic space-supers art is nigh-upon Kirby in its perfection.
My reaction on page 2: Oh my stars and garters!
This issue blew my mind. The implications for the Marvel Universe — for from the events of Infinity to Secret Wars to Civil War II to the upcoming IvX and a million other little moments — are vast, putting a spin on almost everything that’s happening in every series that is both real and valid without diminishing anything’s impact. The stakes are high, and communicated in a way that makes the situation both relatable and beyond human ken. The conversation between Blue Marvel and Spectrum at the start of the book is gorgeous and spoke to me on a very deep level, and the way Ewing handles the cosmic-to-divine-level stuff that spins out after that conversation is nothing short of a tour de force; the final panels of this have me so hyped for the rest of this series that my reaction to The Ultimates #1 pales in comparison, and that was maybe my favorite single issue of a comic in recent history. This series is off the hook already and I am so excited to see where it goes.
Power Level: 5 of 5
Quote of the Week:
“Well…life is an experiment…a grand and never-ending observation of the richness of the universe. The laboratory of everywhere, constantly showing us new truths, new patterns. Science is looking at the magic in the world…the beauty…and seeing the inner beauty that makes it work. That makes us fall in love with it.”
– Blue Marvel, The Ultimates^2 #1
That’s all for this week; tell us what you thought of this week’s comics, and have a happy Thanksgiving!
Old Man Logan Artists for Civil War II #7: Andrea Sorrentino, Marcelo Maiolo