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The Pull List, 11/3/16

Welcome to this week’s Pull List, where I run down the comics from my weekly Wednesday pull and new series that have caught my eye. Before we begin, the now-usual…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.

OK, here we go. I hope to see you and your pull list in the comments!

Regular Pulls

The ongoings and miniseries I can’t live without

Bitch Planet #9

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Script: Kelly Sue DeConnick

Art/Covers: Valentine De Landro

Colors: Kelly Fitzpatrick

Letters: Clayton Cowles

Cover Design & Logo Design: Rian Hughes

Backmatter Design: Laurenn McCubbin

I always miss this series when it’s between runs; it never feels good to read, precisely, but it does feel right to read. DeConnick is on her game as always, delivering a rough, pitched, occasionally coldly matter-of-fact script that brings across a very precise set of emotions: in this case, fear, anger, and confusion. Agent Whitney as the poster child for privilege blindness works perfectly, and Penny, Kamau, and the rest are as delightful and saddening as ever; the efforts of Mr. Maki to fix everything are a perfect analogue for every real-world situation where people outside an oppressive situation try to help the oppressed and wind up making it worse through their assumptions. With everything going on in the world right now, we need Bitch Planet more than ever; check it out if you haven’t (but for your own sake, start from the beginning; it’s not dense, but it is not simple).

Power Level: 3 of 5

Champions #2

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Writer: Mark Waid

Penciler: Humberto Ramos

Inker: Victor Olazaba

Colorist: Edgar Delgado

Letterer & ProductionVC’s Clayton Cowles

Cover Artists: Humberto Ramos & Edgar Delgado

Variant Cover Artists: Mike Choi; John Tyler Christopher; Mike McKone & Andy Troy; Pascal Campion

It’s adorable and you should be reading it.

Oh, wait, I should say more than that, right? Well, OK then: Champions is the superhero comic we need right now. The writing is note-perfect, sounding youthful and nerdy and poppy without sounding like Steve Buscemi saying “What’s up, fellow kids?” The story is a nice little breather, some character-establishing moments for the nascent team before they get moving on their first big superhero adventure; everyone’s personality is showcased, everyone gets to be funny, and nobody is perfect, but it’s all in a way that is relatable rather than just making people unlikeable and calling it “flawed.” And speaking of which: the situation presented on the cover does not occur at all the way the cover presents it, and both characters act in understandable ways that do not make either of them look bad (in fact, both come out looking pretty good in the end). It’s a sweet, fun story that is clearly going to go somewhere interesting, but is also going to make sure it does in its own time. Yeah, I am so glad this is on my pull list.

Power Level: 4 of 5

Green Lanterns #10

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Writer: Sam Humphries

Pencils: Eduardo Pansica

Inks: Julio Ferreira

Colors: Blond

Letters: Dave Sharpe

Cover: Ed Benes and Dinei Ribeiro

Variant Cover: Michael Atiyeh and Andrew Marino

If the cover is confusing, don’t worry, the issue takes a little while to make it clearer for you; it only takes a few panels but it was still enough for me to make sure I had not missed an issue before continuing, and that’s not great as far as creating a sense of mystery. Also, I’m not too sure about the decision to draw obvious parallels between the Phantom Ring and the One Ring; I mean, it was there already, but maybe don’t keep that train going, even if it does provide a nice little scare mid-issue. That said, the creative team is definitely finding its voice: Jessica and Simon continue their character arcs while the Phantom Lantern storyline picks up steam, and Rami continues to be arrogant and self-loathing at the same time. There are little touches that I think are Humphries signaling long-haul storytelling for all his protagonists while still making sure there’s action and mystery to keep us going, which is the way I like my superhero books, so, gorgeous work here, really. The character of Frank Laminski is also great, a continuation of the theme of toxic masculinity as the real antagonist, and the way his arc is rendered supervillainous is cute even if it does feel like I’ve seen it somewhere before. (And as a side note, the little girl’s reaction to Jessica is a perfect reminder that representation matters; it made me feel good about being a Jessica Cruz fan.) Overall, a fine book, and nothing that will keep me from continuing to subscribe, but nothing absolutely amazing either.

Power Level: 3 of 5

Midnighter and Apollo #2

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Writer: Steve Orlando

Artist: Fernando Blanco

Colors: Romulo Fajardo, Jr.

Letters: Josh Reed

Cover: Aco and Romulo Fajardo, Jr.

I don’t know how this managed to get weirder than the first issue, but wow, did it ever get weirder. This story focuses on Apollo’s death at the hands of the Mawzir in #1, or more specifically, Midnighter’s particular for-mature-audiences-only way of coping (see the cover for a nice encapsulation). I definitely feel that this issue would make more sense with more context from the original Authority series, but it isn’t bad without the context, it’s just strange in that way where I feel like the writer is making me work for my story. The dialogue is on point, and the art is great, especially during what I will for the sake of spoilers refer to as the “magic bits” near the end. The escape scene (again, trying to avoid spoilers) is my absolute favorite part of the issue, though, showcasing Midnighter’s emotional state and coping mechanisms perfectly; I understood who Midnighter was and what Apollo meant to him without him saying anything except one word repeated over and over. This is a great book.

Power Level: 4 of 5

Revolution #4 (of 5)

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Written by: John Barber & Cullen Bunn

Art by: Fico Ossio

Colors by: Sebastian Cheng

Letters by: Tom B. Long

 

This was a mess. I found it hard to tell what was going on in a lot of panels — not because the characters were poorly drawn but because there were so many of them and the perspective was often out of whack, and it only gets worse in the fight scenes, which is too bad because seeing all my childhood toys fight was like, a third of why I was here. The plot is not a lot easier to understand: exactly who is and isn’t a Dire Wraith is not clear, and on top of that they appear to add in beings who are not Dire Wraiths but are associated with them deliberately, and honestly, I just didn’t care at that point. There are some wonderful individual moments in here — Snake Eyes! — but overall I just wasn’t engaged enough to track it thoroughly. This might be better if I were reading the tie-in books, but I have seen a crossover event book done well without resorting to referencing outside books constantly, so I have trouble thinking the problem is with me. I will read the last issue, but only out of optimism and completionism.

Power Level: 1 of 5

The Wicked + the Divine #23

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I am having a ton of trouble giving accurate credits for this issue, because they blended the credits into the framing device of this issue in a way that obfuscates exactly what each person did. WicDiv, everybody!

This issue is framed as an issue of an in-universe magazine about the Pantheon, discussing the fallout of the previous story arc and how the surviving gods are coping now. It was clever, and they really committed to the bit, but it also left me slightly cold, mostly because I did not pick up a comic expecting a series of text vignettes, which I recognize is me not letting the artists breathe as much as I should, so I am not docking them heavily for it. The team managed to make the summation of the battle with Ananke exciting, which is hard to achieve with a recap, the story served as a nice refresher and deep-dive into the personalities of the main players, and they left enough questions hanging to get me to read the next issue, as well as  — I just hope it is not also a magazine issue like this. In other words: please don’t have this turn into the comic book equivalent of Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Power Level: 4 of 5 

New and Shiny

The Issue #1s that caught my eye this week

Avengers #1

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Writer: Mark Waid

Artist: Mike del Mundo

Color Artists: Mike del Mundo and Marco D’alfonso

Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit

Cover: Alex Ross

Variant Covers: Adam Kubert & Sonia Oback; John Tyler Christopher; Alex Maleev; Butch Guice & Rachelle Rosenberg; Daniel Acuna

As the title suggests, this is the first issue of the revamped main Avengers crew; as the cover suggests, the team has some lineup changes. Iron Man is gone due to fallout from Civil War II that has not been made clear yet, and Nova, Ms. Marvel, and Spider-Man (Miles Morales) are off in the Champions; now joining the team are Wasp (Nadia Pym), Hercules, and Spider-Man (Peter Parker). This new series has a bit more of a comedic tone than the previous one, which is welcome after how grim Civil War II (naturally) left everything. Waid’s character work is some of the best I’ve seen in a team book; even Spider-Man manages to be given a clear place on the squad while also retaining that bedraggled Parker charm. The story itself is aces, too, starting with a bang (that first panel, man), giving us a snapshot of a rebuilding team, and then plunging us into a plotline that could not be more four-color. The art is a perfect companion to it all, cartoony but with a series, almost “high art” coloring style that nicely encapsulates the emotional location of the book. There is no doubt that there is some pathos to come, and you can see it peeking around the edges, but that’s warranted sometimes; it feels like maybe Marvel finally remembers why we love superhero comics, and right now, man I need that.

Power Level: 4 of 5

Occupy Avengers #1

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Writer: David F. Walker

Penciler: Carlos Pacheco

Inker: Rafael Fonteriz

Colorist: Sonia Oback

Letterer & Production: VC’s Clayton Cowles

Cover Artist: Agustin Alessio

Variant Cover Artists: Michael Cho; John Tyler Christopher; Marco D’Alfonso; Kevin Nowlan

Wow. So, this series is Hawkeye, now released from prison following his…contentious actions at the start of Civil War II, and roaming the land all Have Gun Will Travel style to right wrongs for the normal people of the world, who love him for the same reason the superheroes all distrust him: He killed one of his best friends. If that is not enough of a gut punch, this story starts with a clear analog to real events in places like Flint, Michigan and Standing Rock, with Clint investigating contaminated water supplies on a Native American reservation. Yeah, it’s as rough and as important as it sounds. Hawkeye is on fire here; you can hear the Matt Fraction/MCU version of the character in his dialogue, but with all the bitterness and self-loathing layered on top of it to make sure both sides really ring out loud. The Native characters are portrayed very well, with the exception of one bit in the middle that was just completely tone deaf (someone rides in to save Hawkeye on a horse, accompanied by wolves — seriously, guys?). This issue is clearly just a prologue to the main story, and so is a little bit flat for all that, but it does seem like it’s going somewhere interesting. I have no room in my weekly pull for this right now, but if anything else ends or goes sour on me it is going in the stack at speed.

Power Level: 3 of 5

 

Most Comics Quote of the Week:

There are three kinds of bad guys with machine guns. The first have really good aim, and they kill you. End of story. The second have really bad aim, and you get away. Throw a party afterwards. And then there’s the third…they’re deliberately missing you because they don’t want you dead. They want to capture you. Interrogate you. Maybe throw in a little torture, because they have some kind of weird psycho-sexual thing about being in control and causing pain. It’s best to avoid the third type of bad guy with a machine gun as much as the first type of bad guy with a machine gun.

– Hawkeye, Occupy Avengers #1

 

That’s all for this week, but keep the conversation going and let us know what you picked up this week, and what you thought of this week’s comics!

Tyler Dent Hayes
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Tyler is a professional writer of speculative fiction and an enthusiastic lover of comics, tabletop games, pro wrestling, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, literary criticism, ice hockey, and basically every genre of fiction and music, but especially anything about superheroes, mythology, or both. Hailing from the wilds of Mendocino County, Tyler is lucky enough to have attained an advanced degree in talking about writing and to have married his favorite person in the world. He blogs about writing, life with anxiety, and occasionally movies and comics at his website, www.tyler-hayes.com. He'd love to play Sentinels of the Multiverse with you if you're interested.

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