Hello everybody, and welcome back to the Pull List, the apartment down the street from the House of Ideas. Some weeks the Pull List is too small, some weeks it’s enormous, this week it’s just right: three issues full of feels. Let’s do this.
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: Both the Saga review and the Quote of the Week discuss miscarriages.
Writer: Mariko Tamaki; Artist: Nico Leon; Color Artist: Matt Milla; Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit; Designer: Manny Mederos; Cover Artist: Jeff Dekal
Oh heck yes. As promised by the final panel of #5, Jen finally Hulks out here during her final confrontation with the fear-monster, and the resulting transformation actually manages to be more disturbing than I expected. The conflict of the issue is great, with the physical violence between the Hulk and the monster taking a backseat to the internal emotional violence Jen is inflicting upon herself; we are watching her try to take control of her fear and her anger and her pain and aim it in a constructive direction, and while it’s an undoubtedly fantastical scenario, the heart of it feels so real that I actually started to cry a little bit. This feels like how I’ve felt when in the throes of an anxiety attack, flushed with unpleasant chemicals and just trying to do the right thing until the wave crashes down again. It’s a superb payoff to the slow, heartfelt burn of the first five issues, and while it was not a perfect 5 — the art is a little gooey in places, and there are some segments where the pacing feels off — it was everything I hoped it would be and a little bit more.
Power Level: 4 of 5
Written by: Marjorie Liu; Illustrated by: Sana Takeda; Lettered by: Rus Wooto
First of all: Welcome to the Pull List, Monstress! After having devoured Volume 1 back when it came out in print, I had been sort of dithering on whether to pick this up, and I’m so glad I did, because this issue is everything that makes Monstress the glorious thing that it is. Plot-wise, this is the resolution of the arc on the island and the conflict with the Blood Fox, and to that end this issue might be both the most visually stunning so far and the goriest; the story plays with perception and illusion, and Takeda uses that as license to take both some interesting risks with the framing and presentation, and some serious liberties on the subject of blood and internal organs. For all that, the issue is actually pretty cerebral and philosophical in the midst of its action (I know, a shocking tack for this series), using the Blood Fox’s behavior as a contrast to the more survival-oriented darkness of Maika and the surprisingly deep emotions of Zinn; I had growing sympathy for Maika at the end of this issue, and even some feels about Zinn, which was not something I’d have ever expected back at the dawn of this story. The revelation at the end of the issue is great, too, leaving plenty of questions for the series’ return in the fall without just being obnoxiously cryptic. My only real complaint about this issue is that the ending sequence leading up to that revelation feels a bit abrupt to me — not unrealistic, given the intense level of supernatural power concentrated in our main characters, but it had a certain whiff of “we ran out of space” to it. This series deserves all its accolades, and this issue is no exception.
Power Level: 3.5 of 5
Art by: Fiona Staples; Written by: Brian K. Vaughan; Letters + Design by: Fonografiks; Coordinated by: Eric Stephenson
This one comes out swinging and never stops. The very first panel (another of Staples’ expert splash pages) has a huge sign that reads “Abortion Town,” and it doesn’t get less strident from there. Now, being that this is a reduced price issue intended as a hook for new readers, there is a detailed recap for basically the first time ever in the history of the series, but it’s told in such a funny and unique way that it never feels slow, and honestly the plot is just complex enough that I appreciated a refresher. Once the recap is over, the issue’s emotional core is Alana’s miscarriage, and fittingly the entire story is raw and angry. Vaughan’s script pulls absolutely no punches on the subjects of either politics or emotion, touching on abortion, miscarriage, family, grief, and sexism with a series of lines that hit me sledgehammers just because they were so plainly and poetically stated without trying to dress them up or dogwhistle anything. Through it all, though, the script also remembers to be funny, in that sweet, real way that is Saga‘s bailiwick, and it ends on a hook that is as perfect as all the rest of the proceedings. This series is a treasure, and this issue is one of its crown jewels.
Power Level: 5 of 5
Quote of the Week:
“Here’s the thing about miscarriages. They are painful, they are horrific, and they are very, very common. There are no funerals for Those Who Might Have Been, leaving parents to mourn their loss in strange and unexpected ways. But while a miscarriage may feel like the end of the world…it’s actually just the beginning of a new one.”
— Hazel, Saga #43
And with that, I am off. I’ll see you next week; until then, keep loving comics.