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). The holidays continue to slouch closer, but the comics keep on coming just the same.
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
Writers: Charles Soule + Jeff Lemire
Penciler: Leinil Francis Yu
Inker: Gerry Alanguilan
Colorist: David Curiel
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover Artist: Leinil Francis Yu
Variant Cover Artists: Kenneth Rocafort; Ardian Syaf; Dexter Vines + David Curiel; Terry Dodson + Rachel Dodson; Chip Zdarsky; John Tyler Christopher; Mike Del Mundo; Michael Cho; Wilfred Santiago
The good in this comic is in the details. The mood of the comic is perfectly crafted; the first panel is powerful and is followed up with some equally stiff punches. The art is excellent, especially the faces (Karnak in particular broadcasts some very subtle emotions without any narration to assist) and the way the creative team represents Black Bolt’s rather infamous power, a gorgeous mix of art and lettering that I have seen only rarely. The writing manages to treat the truly bizarre ups and downs of mutant and Inhuman continuity as though it were normal, without ever skimping on how weird it is for those who didn’t live it. And as far as the advancement of the narrative arc, the way the mutants execute their plans is tremendous, with the author really thinking about how powers and personalities will interact as the titular conflict of the series starts brewing. But while this book is doing all the little things right, but I can’t quite get fully behind the big thing it is doing: namely, the entire Inhumans vs. X-Men plot. This is echoed in my feelings about the meeting between the various X-Men teams; several characters feel like they are being characterized a little to the right of their actual personalities, and the excuse of the desperation and gravity of the situation works for some of them (Magneto, Emma Frost, Old Man Logan…) but not so well for others (Young Beast). I want to see where this goes because I want to see how we resolve the problem of the Terrigen Cloud, but I’m getting iffy on buying this on a monthly basis vs. shotgunning the issues after the series is complete.
Power Level: 3 of 5
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #15
Writer: Ryan North
Artist: Erica Henderson
Dream Comics Artist: Zac Gorman
Trading Card Artist: Michael Cho
Color Artist: Rico Renzi
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Cover Artist: Erica Henderson
Special Thanks: CK Russell
As the cover suggests, this issue is all about Nancy Whitehead’s cat, Mew, and it delivers on that promise in a way only North and Henderson can. The framing story of Squirrel Girl, et al’s conflict with Taskmaster is handled with artistic excellence, with every panel truly making it feel as though there is an epic superhero battle happening that just isn’t quite the focal point of the issue; Henderson also deserves props for rendering Lucky in such a way that I instantly knew who he was without them having to add a caption or otherwise hit me over the head with it. The Taskmaster/mastering tasks jokes go on just long enough, the way the whole thing resolves is unique, appropriate, and adorable, and North even manages to put racism and sexism on blast without having to pause the story to do it. If you had asked me before today if I need a story where Mew and Pizza Dog fight Taskmaster, I would have been too confused to even look at you funny, but after today I can tell you that my life is closer to complete for having read it. Thank goodness for the spiritual glass of perfectly chilled water that is The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.
Power Level: 5 of 5
Uncanny Avengers #17
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Pepe Larraz
Color Artist: David Curiel
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover Artists: Steve McNiven, Jay Leisten & David Curiel
Meh? So, this issue exists, and it is not a bad issue, but the fact that I feel the need to qualify it with that statement speaks a few volumes, doesn’t it? So, in this issue, the Unity Squad throw down with the undead Hulk some more, and taken in a vacuum, the way that conflict is resolved is really inventive and fun and requires all of the team to use their powers (Synapse, especially, gets a lot of attention). There are some emotional high points with Wasp that are genuine and touching. The laying out of the plans for the next arc of the series has me intrigued. But that plan really is a big part of what is bothering me here — the arc they are moving onto is about the thing that was theoretically the focus of the entire team at the beginning of the post-Secret Wars run, and the entire conflict with Zombie!Samurai!Hulk doesn’t factor into it, making it really feel like this whole mini-arc was just playing for time and acting as a weird superhero breather episode before we got back to the heart of the series. Some of the combat quips feel disjointed (Rogue asking “is this a wrestling move?” of, apparently, her own attack just feels off), and this is at least the third time this year that Uncanny Avengers has had the cliffhanger from the previous issue resolved in the first couple pages, and it’s gotten really transparent and really old. The next arc does seem like the gritted-up classic Avengers that this series has been at its height, so I am in for at least one more issue, but this series is currently on notice.
Power Level: 2 of 5
New and Shiny
The Issue #1s and #0s that caught my eye this week
Writer: Joe Harris
Artist: Megan Hutchison
Letterer: Michael David Thomas
Designer: Tom Muller
I picked this up based on the synopsis: possibly psychic detective investigating a Led Zeppelin-level rock band? Hell to the yes. This issue delivers on that promise, too; the story feels like it takes place in an alternate 1970s or 80s (exact time is hard to place), giving off a bleak, washed-out vibe that also radiates with the passion the creative team has for the rock n’ roll of the era. The narration is stellar, with a strong and unique voice that is rooted in noir but not slavishly recreating its conventions, and the art is great at conveying reams of information in a very compact space. I am intrigued by the overall story, even if “rock n’ roll meets black magic” is played out; like Stranger Things, which this reminds me of a bit, it makes the concept feel fresh but also doesn’t pretend it is the latest in a long line of worthy predecessors. I’m probably adding this to my monthly pull, and I hope it continues to rock out quite this hard.
Power Level: 5 of 5
Quote of the Week:
“Hey, here’s an idea! Maybe next time don’t duplicate the powers of sexist jerks, you might have a better time in the world!”
– Squirrel Girl, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #15
That’s all for this week; tell us what you thought of this week’s comics, and Happy Holidays!