Hello everybody, and welcome back to the Pull List, the apartment down the street from the House of Ideas. We’re back to a normal load of comics this week, with a chunk of Marvel, a little Image, and a Goonies homage.
Spoilers: I try not to spoil the issues themselves too much, but I do post cover images, and I reference past events when they are germane. You won’t see any twists posted here, but some detail is inevitable.
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.
CN: Mention of doxxing and harassment
The ongoings and miniseries I can’t live without
Writer: Gabby Rivera; Pencilers: Joe Quinones with Stacey Lee; Inkers: Joe Rivera with Stacey Lee; Colorists: Jose Villarubia with Jordan Gibson; Letterer & Production: Travis Lanham; Cover Artists: Joe Quinones and Jordan Gibson; Variant Cover Artists: Tradd Moore and Matthew Wilson; Ramon Villalobos
Another attraction on the joyride that is this series. Like the cover implies, this issue is marked by the sudden appearance of the X-Men — more specifically the 80s X-Men. Thanks, time travel! The voice of this book keeps going strong, most especially during the conversation between America and Storm (sporting her well-beloved Mohawk); Storm comes off as strong and capable and confident, and America shows a rare and reluctant vulnerability that just serves to contrast how tough and smart and kind she is normally, and the lessons she receivers from this elder statesman of Marvel superheroes play into the final act of the issue in an almost perfect way. Rivera’s script is no slouch outside of that conversation, either: the weird, sweet onion of this story continues to peel layer by layer, revealing a little more about what is actually going on and suggesting that the person messing with America is someone that I am beyond excited to see her meet as the tale progresses. Honestly, the story moves so fast, and is so subtle with the details it drops in the middle of all this stratospheric weirdness, that I am sure re-reading this in trade is going to reveal data I couldn’t even think to look for. Top that all off with a hook that is so weird I can’t help but be here for it, and you have a recipe for a series I’m so glad I’m reading. Just, start reading at #1 — I can’t promise the story makes more sense if you start there, but you have a fighting chance.
Power Level:4 of 5
Writers: Mark Waid & Jeremy Whitley; Artist: Phil Noto; Color Artists: Mike del Mundo with Marco d’Alfonso; Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit; Cover: Alex Ross
I was getting set to reluctantly snip this series from my pull list — no Mercy for Marvel, after all — and then I saw this cover. For those playing the Marvel Universe home game, the “Infamous Iron Man” is, in fact, Victor Von Doom, and his appearance here is nothing less than fantastic (pun intended). Doom’s arc was one of my favorite parts of the recent Secret Wars, and seeing it continued first in Infamous Iron Man and now here gave me a serious happy; the story is gloriously bizarre four-color superhero stuff (I’d summarize but it ruins the twist), and Doom takes it on alongside the Avengers with a care and an empathy that befit a true hero, while also showing some rough edges and boundary issues that remind you this is, in fact, still Victor Von Doom we’re talking about. The rest of the cast is equally excellent alongside Doom, with Doom serving as a great foil to give the characters something to react to; Sam’s initial reaction to Doctor freaking Doom showing up at the Baxter Building is perfect, but Wasp’s reactions gave me life. (Nadia is quickly becoming a favorite of mine; I need to find room for Unstoppable Wasp as soon as possible.) My only criticisms are the art — Noto is good, but I preferred del Mundo’s style — and the final hook, which just didn’t excite me that much. That said, Waid’s superb character work, and the promise of the sneak peek of next month’s cover — trust me, you have to see it — are enough to have me onboard for #8. This was fun.
Power Level: 4 of 5
REVIEWER’S NOTE: Today, after I wrote this review but before the column went live, I was alerted to Waid’s history of anger management issues and his new penchant for doxxing and harassing critics. Avengers and Champions are now gone from my pull, per the No Mercy for Marvel rule already in place; I won’t have doxxers getting money from me every month. I won’t blame anyone who wants to enjoy a problematic fave, though, so this review will be left in place, and both books may make a return if I find Waid improves as a person, but there is so much good comic out there that it’s hard for me to spend money on the ones written by icky people.
Black Cloud #2
Story: Jason Latour and Ivan Brandon; Script: Ivan Brandon; Art: Greg Hinkle; Color: Matt Wilson; Color Flats: Dee Cunniffe; Lettering: Aditya Bidikar; Logo and Design: Tom Muller; Cover: Greg Hinkle and Matt Wilson (Cover A); Greg Hinkle (Spawn Variant Covers)
Issue #1 blew me away; Issue #2 gave me a chance to get back on my feet before blowing me away again. This issue tells us a little bit more about Zelda and the story-based world she came from, implying rather than stating a lot of things about her, her history, and her reasons for being up here in our world, with nary an infodump in sight. The emerging antagonists of the book definitely have some trappings of a certain President about them, as the cover suggests, but it’s used in an archetypal, almost mythological way, invoking certain images of his campaign for ominous effect without devolving into a parody of him or his supporters. (Really, the character(s) using the hats remind me more of Nixon or George H.W. Bush.) Everything about this book is gorgeous, from the unique, almost dreamlike way it’s telling its story, to the absolutely jaw-dropping art, to the subtle details of both word and image. I needed this series in my life, and I think yours would be bettered by it, too.
Power Level: 5 of 5
Black Panther and the Crew #2
Writers: Ta-Nehisi Coates & Yona Harvey; Pencilers: Butch Guice with Mack Chater; Inkers: Scott Hanna with Chater; Colorist: Dan Brown; Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
More funky noir storytelling with a politically woke vibe? Sign me the heck up. First off, let me just say not to worry about the cover: this has nothing to do with a certain Mr. Rogers nor a certain Empire. Instead, this issue is narrated by Storm, as she reflects on her time in Harlem during the period where the X-Men were pretending to be dead while she helps Misty Knight further investigate the death of Ezra Klein. This is a very reflective issue, largely focused on Storm’s thoughts, with only a few moves forward on the plot, but honestly it’s so well-written and feels so important that I did not notice how little things moved until I was writing down notes for my review. Coates is in his element again here, penning prose as lyrical as Black Panther proper while also maintaining its own unique, grittier voice. My only serious complaint here, like Avengers up above, is the hook — I’m definitely interested, but some of the surprise is spoiled by knowing who is going to be in this series already (I’ll say nothing more). Still, it’s earned my money for Issue #3, and I am excited to see where this story is going.
Power Level: 3 of 5
Ms. Marvel #18
Writer: G. Willow Wilson; Artist: Francesco Gaston; Color Artist: Ian Herring; Lettering: VC’s Joe Caramagna; Cover Artists: Nelson Blake II and Rachelle Rosenberg
Sweet on a day when I definitely needed sweet. This is an interstitial issue about Bruno going to school in Wakanda, and while it doesn’t appear to advance any sort of plot threads I can see from here, it is some interesting insight into Bruno as a character and a different view of Wakanda from that usually shown in Black Panther or Avengers books. The story is mostly a backdrop from which Wilson hangs some sweet, kind moments that hint at a world that is basically good, though often that good has to pay some serious freaking dues on its way through, and that’s precisely what I come to Ms. Marvel to see. Getting these once in a while is just fine by me.
Power Level: 3 of 5
New and Shiny
Misfit City #1
Written by: Kirsten “Kiwi” Smith; Illustrated by: Naomi Franquiz; Colors by: Brittany Peer; Letters by: Jim Campbell; Cover by: Naomi Franquiz, colors by: Brittany Peer; Movie Homage Cover by: Ester Zejn; Treasure Map Cover by: Paulina Ganucheau; San Diego Comic-Con Exclusive Cover by: John Allison
More indies comin’ at ya, as promised. I was drawn into Misfit City by the cover, and then discovered that the writer, Kiwi Smith, is the writer of Legally Blonde and 10 Things I Hate About You and figured I basically had to give it a try. The elevator pitch on the Comixology site made it sound like a Goonies homage, and it is — but it’s kind of overtly that, taking place in a town where a movie that is clearly meant to be The Goonies was filmed. The story only barely gets started here — the ragtag band of small-town-hating young adults finds a treasure map, and we are introduced to characters who will be some of, if not the, antagonists — but the stage that is being set looks really appealing: Smith captures small-town ennui nicely, the art is intriguing, and the characters all have strong, distinct personalities that do not come off as just broad stereotypes, and under it all I get the feeling that standard “treasure hunt” tropes are going to get at least played with if not outright subverted. They have me for Issue #2; I think it’s worth checking out.
Power Level: 3 of 5
Quote of the Week:
Doom: “Try not to shriek, Nadia. You must find the source of the magic I sense, but your intention must stay hidden. Perhaps if you seem unthreatening. If you were…”
Wasp: “Victory, are you having trouble thinking of the word ‘friendly’?”
Doom: “I suppose that gets the idea across.”
— Avengers #7
And with that, I am off. I’ll see you next week, but for now, keep loving comics!