Hello everybody, and welcome back to the Pull List, the apartment down the street from the House of Ideas. This week we have a nice crop of stories for you, including some classic Kirby and the march toward Marvel Legacy; let’s dig right in.
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.
Writer: Gabby Rivera; Archery Consultant: Kelly Thompson; Artist: Ramon Villalobos; Additional Inks: Walden Wong; Color Artist: Tamra Bonvillain; Letterer & Production: Travis Lanham; Cover Artist: Jen Bartel
The most relentlessly positive and sweet comic on the market that is not a. marketed to children nor b. skimping on the villain-punching. This issue had every excuse to be grim, what with America’s betrayal at the hands of her friend and ex-girlfriend in #5, but instead this issue is about love, and forgiveness, and taking a third option; it takes what is a totally by-the-numbers supervillain plot (starring one of our most by-the-numbers supervillains — no spoilers!) and instead writes this amazing story about trust and togetherness against all odds. The subversion of what would be a simple white-meat superhero plot is fun, but the heart of this is its…well, heart. America Chavez, Kate Bishop, and their supporting cast feel like millennial superheroes done right: young supers bringing back the mutual trust and closeness and believing the best of people, in the wake of a generation who got a little obsessed with conspiracies and civil wars. This comic is like Steven Universe but with 100% more space-time shenanigans and Marvel super-villains, and for that it gets the highest rating I can give it.
Power Level: 5 of 5
Black Panther & The Crew #6
Writers: Ta-Nehisi Coates & Yona Harvey; Pencilers: Butch Guice w/Mack Chater; Inkers: Scott Hanna w/Chater; Colorist: Dan Brown; Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino; Design: Manny Mederos; Logo: Rian Hughes; Recap Art: Brian Stelfreeze; Cover by: John Cassaday & Paul Mounts
A great ending to a first arc, but an unsatisfying end to a series, and through no fault of the writers. This issue is a perfect summation of what has come before: the problems inherent in revolutions, the ways in which revolutionaries can easily lose sight of the goal, and the tools fascists use to get the resistance to destroy themselves. It is also a fun little superhero story that also serves to cap off the mystery. All of this is done with some really incredible dialogue and some very solid art…and yet, it falls just a tiny bit hollow. See, things Get Worse at the end of the story, even though they found the bad guy and “beat” them, and that speaks to the message of Black Panther & The Crew at large; this sees them established as a team, each a little worse and a little better for the interaction, all clearly dedicated to serving the black community at large and the Harlem community in specific. It’s a great origin story, and we’re never getting a sequel. I’m so sorry to Coates, Harvey, Guice, everyone involved in this process…you, and we, deserve better.
Power Level: 3.5 of 5
Darkseid Special #1
“The Resistance!”: Writer: Mark Evanier; Artist: Scott Kolins; Colorist: Dave McCaig; Letterer: A Larger World’s Troy Peteri; Cover: Chris Burnham & Nathan Fairbairn; Fourth World Created By: Jack Kirby
“OMAC: One Man Army Corps”: Storytellers: Paul Levitz & Phil Hester; Inks: Ande Parks; Colors: Dave Stewart; Letters: Todd Klein; Special Thanks: Steve Rude; OMAC Created by: Jack Kirby
“Raid from Apokolips”: Edited, Written & Drawn by: Jack Kirby; Inked by: Vince Colletta
“The All-Seeing Eye”: Writer: Unknown; Inker/Penciller: Jack Kirby
Monday was Jack Kirby’s birthday, so I of course couldn’t pass up their Kirby homage offering for this week. Like the previous ones, this is a main story and a backup story, with some brief Kirby originals to round out the page count. The Darkseid story is all it should be: hopeless, grim, bombastic, depressing, and with a little speechifying and a touch of Omega Beams. The writing and art are both right on point in terms of bringing across the oppressive, horrifying existence that is life on Apokolips, and Darkseid is presented as the absolute terror that he has always been, while still getting a brief bit of humanity (as it were) in the course of events; my only complaint is that Darkseid is not given room to give the speeches (“the tiger-force at the center of all things”; “it is with one billion mouths”; etc.) that are such a hallmark of the character. The OMAC backup story is brief, but full of Kirby pomp and circumstance, with plenty of exclamation-point-laden homage to his dialogue style and a fluid, cartoony homage to the mohawked super-soldier he created so long ago. The New Gods and “All-Seeing Eye” backup stories are fantastic and very much classic Kirby, but as has always been the case with this series of one-shots, the stuff at the end is filler, a neat back look at Kirby’s ouevre that doesn’t stand up as a main attraction. Happy Birthday, King; thank you for forever changing this medium with your presence.
Power Level: 3.5 of 5
Generations: Hawkeye & Hawkeye #1
Writer: Kelly Thompson; Artist: Stefano Raffaele; Color Artist: Digikore; Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino; Main Cover Artist: Greg Smallwood; Variant Cover Artists: Alex Ross; Elizabeth Torque; Meghan Hetrick
If you saw this cover and were hoping for both Hawkeyes in full snark mode: You got everything you asked for. Like America above, the backbone of this story is a totally standard plot, well-worn since the days of The Most Dangerous Game, but it fits with the apparently Silver/Golden Age version of Clint the Generations time-travel shenanigans have selected, and it’s also used as a perfect backdrop for a metric ton of piss-taking, quip-slinging, and fourth-wall-leaning by the leads. Following on from the Thor Generations issue, this is also a nice way to expand both characters a little bit, reminding us and them about what they have in common and what they can take from each other; but more importantly, it’s heartfelt, weird superhero fun from start to finish. I loved the heck out of this issue and it’s definitely got me excited for Legacy.
Power Level: 5 of 5
Justice League of America #13
Writer: Steve Orlando; Pencils: Ivan Reis; Inks: Ivan Reis and Julio Ferreira; Colorist: Marcelo Maiolo; Letterer: Clayton Cowles; Cover: Ivan Reis and Marcelo Maiolo; Variant Cover: Doug Mahnke & Wil Quintana
The weirdest and most feels-tastic issue yet, and therefore the continuing climb of this series toward its apotheosis. The Microverse is utterly bizarre, but Orlando and Reis do yeoman’s work in making clear how much it is the natives’ normal; things like quantum storms and sentient planets are discussed in the same way we would discuss extreme weather events or monuments. Speaking of utterly bizarre and yet somehow normal, Reis, Ferreira, and Maiolo are at their zenith here, giving us truly alien landscapes and making them feel oh-so-real the entire time, pulling out little details that had me kind of giddy the whole way through the issue. On a character level, Orlando continues his comfortable work developing just a couple people at a time: Both the Atom and Frost get some excellent focus here, with the others around to play foils to their arcs, and it works very nicely. I also adored the cliffhanger at the end of the issue for just how over-the-top and four-color it is (a thing that astute readers might maybe have noticed I tend to be into). This series is just so, so great, and “Panic in the Microverse” is proving to be a particularly great arc already.
Power Level: 4 of 5
Art by: Fiona Staples; Written by: Brian K. Vaughan; Letters + Design by: Fonografiks; Coordinated by: Eric Stephenson
The Abortion Town arc goes where it is inevitably going to go, and it is as heartbreaking as you would expect. Vaughan and Staples wed their visual and textual crafts together gorgeously, giving us a disturbing figure in the Endwife and some truly gut-wrenching interactions between Hazel and the magical projection of her dead baby brother. The conversation between Marko and Endwife is nicely nuanced and philosophical on the subject of abortion without shaming it or pretending it is unnecessary (or that it is anyone but the childbearing person’s decision), and never tries to pull punches on how awful a thing it is to have to do and how hard that decision is. In the B-plot, there’s some interaction between Prince Robot and Petrichor that serves as a further shot of philosophy, reminding the reader of the fluid and subjective nature of our understanding of history, and the challenges in unlearning prejudices baked into you from our childhood, especially vis a vis war. For an issue where it feels like very little happens, a whole lot happens to our thought processes, and that, right there, is the magic that makes Saga what it is.
Power Level: 4 of 5
Quote of the Week:
“And if this Bullseye kills me with a playing card, please…tell nobody. Make up a good story!”
– Clint Barton, Generations: Hawkeye & Hawkeye #1
And there you have it. A note that next week we might be a day late releasing; Wednesday is my wedding anniversary, and I cannot promise I will have time that day to file a column. Either way, we’ll be around next week, and we want you to keep loving comics!