Hello everybody, and welcome back to the Pull List, the apartment down the street from the House of Ideas. This week is another short week, so let’s skip the preamble and get to the amble.
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.
The Kamandi Challenge #5
Writer: Bill Willingham; Penciller: Ivan Reis; Inker: Oclair Albert; Colorist: Marcelo Maiolo; Letterer: Clem Robins; Main Cover Artists: Gary Frank & Alex Sinclair; Variant Cover Artists: Ivan Reis & Marcelo Maiolo
I’ll admit, I had trouble judging this one on its own merit, because from the jump my first thought was “Ugh, Bill Willingham.” Rather than be exhaustive about it, I’ll just say I don’t like Willingham, and some of what I don’t like about him is present in this issue. Kamandi comes off as meaner in this issue than he has in the past few — his interactions with Vita come off as brittle and bellicose on both sides, with Kamandi especially being just awful to her. I also was not a fan of Willingham just discarded the cliffhanger from the previous issue without it doing more than causing…oh yes…another fall; I recognize he’s not the first of this chain of writers to do that, but this one felt especially abrupt and like the Kanga-Rat Murder Society really got short shrift (I don’t even think the script mentioned them…). It doesn’t help my take on it that the cliffhanger he leaves us on is, while definitely something new, not necessarily something interesting — it really feels like it’s leaving the next writer up a creek in a more direct way than anything that’s come before. Now, in positives I will say that Mack is a very cool character; he reminds me of the good parts of Bigby Wolf from Fables, and while he’s a hard, mean character that feels native to him, rather than it being crammed into Kamandi’s mouth. I also need to praise the art: Reis, Albert, and Maiolo produce some of the most stunning visuals this series has seen (which is no mean feat in this company…), and that Frank/Sinclair cover is simply beautiful in its attention to detail. But overall, this was an issue that was a little too low on substance and a little too high on meanness for me to give it a high grade.
Power Level: 2 of 5
New and Shiny
I Am Groot #1
Writer: Christopher Hastings; Artist: Flaviano; Colorist: Marcio Menyz; Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna; Production Designer: Anthony Gambino; Cover Artist: Marco d’Alfonso; Variant Cover Artists: Jay Fosgitt, Theotis Jones, Greg Smallwood, Skottie Young
“A Groot series written by the creator of Doctor McNinja” is a pitch that I am completely here for that this book unfortunately didn’t quite deliver on. All the surface stuff is there: Groot is the focus, specifically the infant form of Groot, and the writing has an unmistakeable Hastings flavor to it. There’s a mystery budding in this story of Groot being stranded (which I assume is partially to avoid him being tainted by Secret Empire), and we are given some details of this weird new planet that come off as potentially tantalizing. Flaviano’s art is wonderful, too, with a cartoonish flair to go with the comical tone, but a little dark edge to match the enigmatic undercurrents. But all of it honestly feels just a little bit workmanlike, like Hastings just isn’t quite clicking with his material. Now, that said, first issues have not clicked before, so it’s not the end of the world If you love Groot or want a little slightly psychedelic cosmic weirdness in your comics, dive on in; me, I’m still deciding if I want to dig into Issue #2.
Power Level: 2.5 of 5
Victor LaValle’s Destroyer #1
Written by: Victor LaValle; Illustrated by: Dietrich Smith; Colored by: Joana LaFuente; Lettered by: Jim Campbell; Cover by: Michaela Dawn; Unlocked Retailer Variant Cover by: Brian Stelfreeze; Character Designs by: Dan Mora & Dietrich Smith
This one was another pitch I couldn’t pass up: An African-American scientist using the “unnatural science” of one Victor Frankenstein to resurrect her son killed in a school shooting. The premise delivers, hitting hard right off the bat with the best splash panel I have read this week, and the dives right into its world-building without ever feeling totally unnatural about it. The script and the art, to be honest, are both a little uneven — the art loses detail in some panels where it probably shouldn’t, and some of the dialogue feels very stilted — but that is balanced out by some truly superb visuals and very real, very emotional exchanges. I’m excited to check out Issue #2, and if it starts to even out I think this one has me for the long haul.
Power Level: 3.5 of 5
Quote of the Week:
Kamandi: “How does one go from being a wrestler to a detective?”
— The Kamandi Challenge #5
And with that, I am off. I’ll see you next week! If you’re going to BayCon this weekend in the Bay Area, I’ll be there and I’d love to see you: my schedule is on my personal site here. Either way, I’ll be here next week, and I encourage you to keep loving comics!