Hi everyone, and welcome back to the Pull List! We’ve got another short-but-sweet week for you here, so let’s get to it.
A Note on Spoilers: In theory, you’re reading this because you want to know what’s worth reading, which makes spoilers not only rude, but self-defeating. That said, I do post cover images, and I reference past events when they are germane, so consider yourself warned.
A Note on Credits: if you see something wrong or have information I’m lacking, let me know. I’m happy to make sure full credit is given.
The ongoings and miniseries I can’t live without
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Mike del Mundo
Color Artists: Mike del Mundo with Marco D’Alfonso
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover: Alex Ross
Waid’s current Avengers run is often a joy, but this issue is both a joy and a masterpiece. We ended #3 with Captain America announcing that he has a plan to take on Kang, now that they’ve resolved the whole endless-wave-of-alternate-Kangs problem; so how does the creative team follow that up? How do we reveal what the plan is? We switch over to an issue entirely from the point of view of Kang, and we turn it into the most poetic issue I have had the privilege to review since I started the Pull List. This issue gives me more insight into Kang than I got from even the infamously magniloquent Kirby/Lee issues, a deep peek into the character’s inner workings, and it does it with the entire team firing on all cylinders. Waid’s writing digs deep, pulling out this profound, heavy voice for Kang’s narration that really does read like a millennia-old time-traveling conqueror, complete with the villain just barely missing a chance to recognize how much of an egomaniac they are while recounting their origin story; del Mundo’s art is a bullseye on every gorgeous splash page, from the Rama-Tut portrait that actually evokes Egyptian art to the origin scenes that hint at a future that is both distinctly Kirby-inspired and also utterly alien, and everything in between. And then all of that comes together in the final two pages, when we are shown what Cap’s plan is, and Kang’s reaction to that plan, in two of the prettiest, most razor-honed panels of comics I’ve read in all my days. I am going berserk at the thought of waiting until February to find out how this ends, and I may have to go back and read this issue all over again when I’m done with these reviews, because I kind of want to commit this one to memory.
Power Level: 5 of 5
Writer: Mark Waid
Penciler: Humberto Ramos
Inker: Victor Olazaba
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Letterer & Production: VC’s Clayton Cowles
I was a little disappointed in the breather issue Champions did last month, but they more than made up for it here. The first page of this issue is a splash of a mosque on fire, and while that got my critical eyebrow cocked Waid and Ramos really stuck the landing. This is more of the Champions dealing with real-life problems — this time, populist racism — and more of Waid proving he’s just that good of a writer, managing to invest the Champions’ situation with just as much gravitas as the time-spanning tale of Kang in the issue reviewed above this one. The characters display empathy, ingenuity, and some very believable flaws, and the regular folks they deal with come across as believable themselves — there are no gross caricatures here. Not only that, but it does all this with Gwenpool guest-starring, and honestly that might be the most impressive part: this could have been a tone-deaf comic relief story, and instead the Champions are teaching Gwenpool about nuance while she helps to relieve a little bit of the pressure by her presence. (I’m still not sold on her as a Deadpool surrogate/replacement, though.) The art is a bit of a miss for me this time — it gets a little too cartoony and spindly in some of the panels, and there are moments when it took a couple seconds to figure out exactly what was happening — but the story flows along just fine, and with a story like this, that’s what counts. Really solid issue.
Power Level: 4 of 5
Midnighter and Apollo #5 (of 6)
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Fernando Blanco
Colors: Romulo Fajardo, Jr.
Letters: Josh Reed
Cover: Aco & Romulo Fajardo, Jr.
Witty, gritty, badass, and mythic, all in one too-short issue. This is the final confrontation between Midnighter and Neron, and it is everything it needs to be — Neron with the lengthy final-boss speech, Midnighter with the guttural, visceral comebacks, followed by just enough fists meeting just enough faces to give us a little catharsis in our emotional sandwich. The violence here is earned, a nice release of the previous issues’ rising action, and the twist in the whole thing is at turns cruel and touching, with the twist to that twist (spoiler?) really going for the heart. The art is spot-on, especially the colors: Hell is grungy and grimy, and the blood is just the right mix of light and dark for the story being told. I wish this series were going to continue, but I really love what they’re doing with the limited time they have available. I think the trade of this goes on my shelf when it’s done.
Power Level: 4 of 5
New and Shiny
A first issue that caught my eye this week.
The Spirit: The Corpse-Makers #1 (of 5)
Writer/Artist/Letterer: Francesco Francavilla
And then there was this. I picked it up because like any self-respecting comics nerd I have a healthy respect for Eisner’s creations, and I was drawn in by the noir cover and the classic comics feel of the synopsis. And then I had my doubts when I saw that the sole creator on this creative team had misspelled their name on the credits page (I double-checked everywhere else, and yep, typo), and unfortunately, the “doubt” side won out. This issue is just not very good. The art, I have to say, is actually pretty great, with good use of a dark palette and a nice balance of abstraction and detail. The writing, unfortunately, is a total miss — wooden, inconsistent dialogue (a character will go from using no contractions to dropped “g”s and calling people by nicknames in the space of two balloons), uneven pacing, confusing silent panels, and a plot that is quite literally spelled out in the synopsis on the credits page, with as far as I could see no twists. I’ll be giving this series a pass.
Power Level: 1 of 5
Most Comics Quote of the Week:
“Suffering. Punishment. Cruelty. All born from the right side of my timeless head. And you stand here, a man. What chance does a man have before the inspiration of all that hurts.”
“I’ve got my fists.”
– Neron and the Midnighter, Midnighter and Apollo #5
And that’s all she wrote…drew…inked…etc. Sound off in the comments with your own pull list highlights, and we’ll see you next week!