Hello everybody, and welcome back to the Pull List, the apartment down the street from the House of Ideas. This week is a bit shorter; think of it as a rest break after the marathon that was last week’s Comics Avalanche. The good news: all of these are pretty darn good.
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.
Blood Brothers #2
Created by: Fabian Rangel, Jr. and Javier Caba; Script by: Fabian Rangel, Jr.; Art by: Javier Caba; Letters by: Ryan Ferrier; Blood Brothers Logo by: Dyaln Todd; Original Series Edits by: Jim Gibbons; Cover by: Javier Caba
Still fun and weird, but a little rockier this time. We start with the action sequence telegraphed last issue — the Soliz brothers versus a gang of criminal werewolves — and while it’s brief, it’s a fun, fast re-entry into the story. Then we get some Dirty Harry, gritty-cop interrogation stuff, which feels like a nice grounding for this bizarro fantasy-noir about a cursed Aztec skull, and then it’s off to another well-drawn action sequence with a few clues for us to dig into. The ending action sequence is the highlight of this issue for me — I love that in addition to all the other weird stuff, lucha libre moves are apparently a legitimate martial art in the Blood Brothers world, and the ways the bad guys try to handled the brothers feel like a natural outgrowth of the world Rangel and Caba have created. Caba’s artwork in general is to be praised here — not only do Gabriel’s wrestling moves feel real, but there is tons of detail, and his background/supporting monsters don’t come off as just “generic monster #5-17,” but actual characters that he thought about before putting them on the page. My major complaints are that the dialogue sometimes feels a little obvious, like Rangel is worried we aren’t getting some stuff that I don’t think is particularly opaque, and that the plot twists just aren’t that impactful — while the plot has definitely moved forward I don’t feel spun around or struck with revelation, I just feel like we’re slowly moving forward in the story. Still, this is a cool enough book I’m sticking around, and it’s worth your time to give it a chance.
Power Level: 3.5 of 5
Justice League of America #11
Writer: Steve Orlando; Penciller: Neil Edwards; Inker: Sandu Florea; Colorist: Hi-Fi; Letterer: Clayton Cowles; Cover: Paul Pelletier, Sandra Hope & Hi-Fi; Variant Cover: Doug Mahnke & Wil Quintana
I am warming back up to DC in a very big way and this book is a huge part of why. This latter half of the battle with the Kingbutcher is four-color comic violence at the apex of its glory; the way the team resolves their little hyperviolent Lord of Order problem is a perfectly Justice League solution — in what may be the weirdest part of this issue, that scene on the cover happens more or less exactly as illustrated, and it’s part of a problem-solving approach that is internally consistent and coherently explained but still just so bizarre that I had to sit back and think “Man, I love superhero comics.” Outside of the action, the focus is largely on Batman and the Ray, and it’s a lovely outgrowth of the pessimism/optimism dynamic the two started developing during the Makson arc that adds a little depth and complexity to both characters and the arguments they represent. We also get a little vignette with Killer Frost and the Atom that feels sort of…workmanlike, I guess? Like, it doesn’t say a lot that’s new, it more or less just confirms “yep, this character arc and sideplot are still happening, we didn’t forget.” Still, I like that it is continuing and is on Orlando’s mind as he moves forward. There’s also a little more build of the Might Beyond the Mirror, and a hook for the next story arc that might actually have me more excited than the Kingbutcher did, and that’s saying something.
Power Level: 4 of 5
Art by: Fiona Staples; Written by: Brian K. Vaughan; Letters + Design by: Fonografiks; Coordinated by: Eric Stephenson
This issue is a wonderful issue that highlights why it can be so dang hard to write reviews of Saga: at root, this book is deeply emotional in a way that can be difficult to describe without just telling you exactly what the issue is about panel-for-panel. This issue comes back to Saga’s core themes of love and family (and the joys and pains those can cause) in a particularly fantastical way, what with Alana having, apparently, accidentally wished their stillborn son into existence; the explanation makes internal sense (I won’t claim it makes logical sense, it’s magic), and gives us a chance to both explore the emotions Marko, Hazel, and Alana are dealing with, while also explaining more about Wreath magic works; it’s very well-played, such that it didn’t even occur to me we were getting a word-building lesson, I was so caught up in the emotions. And what feels they are, friends — raw and difficult, but also kind of positive and hopeful, a welcome mix in this day and age. To top it all off, this is one of Fiona Staples’ best issues, as far as I’m concerned; her art is on point in portraying the subtle, complex experiences the main characters are going through, without skimping on the detail and action. That final splash page is so good, even the letters column calls it out. This is a great issue, and bonus, there’s a sample of Paper Girls at the end, another Brian K. Vaughan series that literally everyone should be reading. I never want this comic to end, but I also want to know how it all turns out.
Power Level: 4 of 5
Quote of the Week:
“Believing in a finer world isn’t enough…you have to build it.”
– Batman, Justice League of America #11
And there we go, short and sweet. Until next week, keep loving comics!