Hello everybody, and welcome back to the Pull List, the apartment down the street from the House of Ideas. We’ve got a bumper crop of comics for you this week, from all corners of the publishing map, so let’s try to ignore the heat of Zombie Summer and cool down with some high weirdness.
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 #4
Created by: Fabian Rangel, Jr. & Javier Caba; Script by: Fabian Rangel, Jr.; Art by: Javier Caba; Letters by: Ryan Ferrier; Blood Brothers Logo by: Dylan Todd; Original Series Edits by: Jim Gibbons; Cover by: Javier Caba
Fun, but rushed. This issue is the end of Book One, and therefore the conclusion of the story of the missing Aztec skull, and I really, really feel like this story arc could have been split over five or six issues and been a little bit better for it. That is not to say Rangel and Caba do not do a great job with what is here — they do — but it feels like it’s moving a little too fast for its own comfort at every turn: the art is not quite as on point, the fight sequences are lacking some of the great pro wrestling illustrations, and the explanation of the mystery feels really breathless. I like this book’s ideas, and I will see how Book Two fares, but this was a really average issue overall from a series that has been great fun before.
Power Level: 3 of 5
Generations: Miles Morales: Spider-Man & Peter Parker: Spider-Man #1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis; Artist: Ramon Perez; Colorist: Msassyk; Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit; Cover Artists: Ramon Perez & Msassyk; Variant Cover Artists: Chris Sprouse, Karl Story, & Justin Ponsor; Olivier Coipel & Laura Martin
Reader, I cried happy tears. This issue is a perfect homage to the heart of what makes Spider-Man Spider-Man, for both of the bearers of the title. As you’d expect, the time traveler here is Miles, who goes back to visit a college-aged Peter, and Bendis nails his homage to Lee and Ditko in this issue: Peter and all of his supporting cast sound like Lee himself is writing them (albeit a bit refined compared to a Lee who was writing essentially every book the company was putting out). Rather than focus on a villain or a monster, or even banter, Bendis has the two of them focus on the other thing that makes a Spider-Man story what it is: the emotion and the personal stakes. This is heroes being heroic through support and emotional labor, not violence; and seeing that makes me understand why Bendis is as beloved a comic book writer as he is. This was wonderful, and I may have to duck over and see what our friendly neighborhood hero is up to these days…
Power Level: 5 of 5
Justice League of America #15
Writer: Steve Orlando; Pencils: Felipe Wantanabe; Inks: Ruy Jose; Colorist: Marcelo Maiolo; Letterer: Clayton Cowles; Cover: Ivan Reis and Marcelo Maiolo; Variant Cover: Doug Mahnke & Wil Quintana
You wanted Microverse? We got Microverse! This issue is focused almost exclusively on the original Atom, Ray Palmer, and his experiences in the Microverse leading up to when the JLA found him last issue. If we thought Orlando’s previous JLA work was high-concept, this issue blows those out of the water. I am not well-versed enough in the Atom and the Microverse to know for sure how much of this he pulled from previous works, but I will say that I found the variety of worlds, races, and ideas that he crams into twenty or so pages of script is mind-blowing. Wantanabe and Jose most assuredly do those ideas justice (heh) with some incredible illustrations — the Celestiophage, especially, is phenomenal, but that’s a narrow lead over the rest of the book. Forcing myself to complain, I do wish that this issue had fully resolved the cliffhanger from the last one instead of adding another one into the mix, but I’ll accept that this part of the story deserved to be told and move forward. This book is pure joy every month, and this is no exception.
Power Level: 4 of 5
Marvel Legacy #1
Writer: Jason Aaron; Artists: Esad Ribic with Steve McNiven; Color Artist: Matthew Wilson; Additional Artists: Chris Samnee; Russell Dauterman; Alex Maleev; Ed McGuinness; Stuart Immonen & Wade Von Grawbadger; Pepe Larraz; Jim Cheung; Daniel Acuna; Greg Land & Jay Leisten; Mike Deodato Jr.; David Marquez; Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit; Cover: Joe Quesada, Kevin Nowlan & Richard Isanove; Variant Covers: Alex Ross; Mark Brooks; John Tyler Christopher; Mike Deodato Jr.; Terry Dodson & Rachel Dodson; Greg Land & Frank D’Armata; Amy Reeder; Skottie Young
This is exactly what I would have hoped it would be. Legacy, far from kicking off a huge company-wide event, is instead a prologue for everything coming up in the Marvel Universe — including, yes, the return of several well-known characters and concepts. In the process, it is also a reflection on what it is to be a superhero in the Marvel Universe — and on the nature of legacies, whether it be a mantle you are passing on or a body of work you are leaving behind. Jason Aaron nails both aspects, while also giving us an excellent peek into a vast web of stories upcoming in so many comics, both long-runners and new ones. Reader, I cried several times. Now, to be clear, no plot is actually resolved in the course of this issue — we get a lot of glimpses of ongoing plots but we don’t get any conclusions. Also, there are still aspects of what Marvel is doing that I do not like — Sam Wilson should be keeping the mantle of Cap, for one thing, and the character whose resurrection is revealed in this issue is one that I would have been just peachy without having happen. But overall, this tells me that the trajectory for Marvel is one that I can continue to get behind, and I am glad they aren’t just making this an ongoing miniseries. I have a lot of hope for the company; may they go forth, and unequivocally make mine Marvel.
Power Level: 4 of 5
The Mighty Thor #23
Writer: Jason Aaron; Artist: Valerio Schiti; Color Artist: Rain Beredo; Letterer & Production: VC’s Joe Sabino; Cover Artists: Russell Dauterman & Matthew Wilson; Rock and Roll Variant: Marco Rudy; Venomized Villain Variant: Clayton Crain
Wow. So, this issue is the resolution of the clash between Thor (a.k.a. Jane Foster) and War Thor (a.k.a. Volstagg), and it is handled absolutely beautifully. First of all, the violence here is A+; Schiti and Beredo deliver fight scenes that are quite literally divine, taking a superhero clash and giving it an extra dimension that brings across the incredible power and mythic scope of the problems that make up your typical Mighty Thor story. The way that fight is resolved, though, is truly first-rate writing, executed flawlessly and handled with the care and emotion it deserves; some of what was going on here worried me given the current political climate, but in the end, it was terrific. I am still leery of this whole thing where the next story is “The Death of the Mighty Thor,” but I’m giving it a chance if only because this creative team is just so incredible.
Power Level: 5 of 5
Art by: Fiona Staples; Written by: Brian K. Vaughan; Letters + Design by: Fonografiks; Coordinated by: Eric Stephenson
And now for something completely different. This issue is superbly written and impeccably illustrated, as always, but the story being told is such a diversion from the main plot over in Abortion Town that for a second I was worried I missed an issue somehow. Rather than Marko, Alana, and Hazel, this issue focuses on the Will and his own life, including some of his backstory that we have not previously been privy to. It’s a nice story about how everyone in the world (universe?) has a story — even the faceless goons are people, and someone, somewhere, cares about them. The issue is also extremely vulgar, in a very different way than the typical Saga curse-fest, and comes with a long-expected wrinkle in the narrative. It’s almost rote to say how great Saga is, but Saga is really, really great.
Power Level: 4 of 5
Zodiac Starforce: Cries of the Fire Prince #2
Publisher: Dark Horse
Written by: Kevin Panetta; Art and Cover by: Paulina Ganucheau; Colors by: Sarah Stern; Lettering by: Christy Sawyer
More plot development and character development in a series that has enough of the former and a surplus of the latter. I adore the way the ladies of the Starforce are portrayed — the diversity, the depth, the empathy and support they show each other. I also appreciate them showing their parents running the gamut, too, with one teammate’s acting supportive and another’s being outright abusive to her. The fight sequence (of course a magical girl series has a fight sequence) is well-executed and flavorful, and the villain, who gets a little more spotlight this issue, is actually pretty great. He could so easily have fallen into common tropes of queer-coding villains, but instead he is a realistic portrayal of a conventionally attractive man who is not hypermasculine, but is explicitly straight the entire time. This series is honestly just great fun with some surprising heart and mind underneath it. Though, did it feel to anyone else like a billion years went by between the previous issue and this one, though?
Power Level: 3.5 of 5
Quote of the Week:
“So what do we do? I suppose we do what our kind has always done. What has become our legacy. We stand on the shoulders of super geniuses and space gods, close our eyes and imagine a better, brighter, more amazing tomorrow. Then bring it to life. Something grand and fun mind-staggeringly ridiculous. Something full of hope and compassion. Something both real and profoundly unreal. Something mad. Something magical. Something fantas–“
– Narrator, Marvel Legacy #1
And there you have it; time for me to head outdoors and enjoy the first fits of autumn. Have a good one, and until next week, keep loving comics!