Hello everybody, and welcome back to the Pull List, the apartment down the street from the House of Ideas. It’s another light week for us, but with the holidays looming we can all use a break, right?
Writer: Gabby Rivera; Artist: Flaviano; Color Artist: Jordan Gibson; Letterer & Production: VC’s Travis Lanham; Cover Artist: Joe Quinones
This issue came with a dose of personal comeuppance that made it all the sweeter. The Exterminatrix storyline takes a slightly different tack here than it did in the previous issue, and one that I actually enjoyed more; where Issue #8 was about the ways that fascism insinuates itself into an otherwise reasonable, justice-leaning society under the guise of safety and security, this issue is about that society recognizing fascism for what it is, and both sides deciding it’s time to take action. I like that the inciting event for the good guys revolves around America — it really helps drive home how important America is to the people around her, how she exists as a symbol as well as an actor in her own right (a theme I love seeing in my superhero stories); as for my comeuppance, I will only say that my doubts about X’andria’s storyline were unfounded, and the way she’s handled in this issue is perfect. I did feel the resistance against Exterminatrix winds up having things a little too easy here, and that loses the issue a couple of power points — but since the idea of unity among left-leaning friends bringing down fascism has some personal narrative resonance right now, I am willing to restrict that loss to just the two. Throw in a fun raising of stakes on the final page, and that smirking, self-aware, affectionate narrative tone, and you have a solid issue. I’m not sure yet that I’m sold on Flaviano’s art, but it’s at worst inoffensive, and everything else is so great that they definitely have a chance for it to grow on me.
Power Level: 8/10
Justice League of America Annual #1
Writer: Steve Orlando; Artist: Kelley Jones; Colors: Michelle Madsen; Letters: Josh Reed; Cover: Jones & Madsen
I am a big believer in annuals being both a break from the overall storyline and a breather to allow us to have a minute before things get intense, and with the last regular issue of JLA having ended on a literal ticking time-bomb and the Might Beyond the Mirror story starting to go from slow burn to rolling boil, it could not have come at a better time; fortunately, it absolutely delivers. The three points lost here are for the art; Jones’s style has impressed me in other places, but here it really felt out of place and weird, especially the renditions of Lobo’s face, and while I could at least always tell what was supposed to be happening I felt like so many other artists could have done this story greater justice. Meanwhile, the story is a hilarious kind of perfect. We finally learn what it was Batman promised Lobo to get him to join this incarnation of the Justice League, and the answer both adds depth to the Main Man and serves as a wonderful inciting event for this deeply bizarre little side story. Everything about the story is perfect, carrying what I think of as classic Lobo flair while also maintaining a sense of connection to the JLA book; it really does feel like Orlando is being allowed to just have fun with the series, and that joy comes out in every high and low of every story, but nowhere is it more obvious than the sheer straight-faced hilarity of Lobo and Black Canary fighting someone whose reason for hating Lobo is that Lobo turned their name into a swear word. Where America up above tackles a relatively serious subtext in a fun, dynamic, humorous way, this issue of JLA takes an utterly hilarious conceit and manages to find a couple unexpected depths; it’s like America is a toll-house cookie and JLA is…okay, I got lost in that metaphor, but the point is, this annual is great.
Power Level: 7/10
Quote of the Week:
“When you’re part of the .001 percent multiverse domination is the only thing worth dreaming about, you know?”
– Exterminatrix, America #9
And with that snack-sized column, I depart. Have a great weekend, and keep loving comics!