Hello everybody, and welcome back to the Pull List, the apartment down the street from the House of Ideas. I’m back from my anniversary celebration, and happy to report that I got to spend part of it reading these excellent comics. Well, and then one meh one. Let’s just get to it, eh?
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.
Black Bolt #5
Writer: Saladin Ahmed; Artists: Frazer Irving (pgs. 1-4) & Christian Ward (pgs. 5-20); Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles; Cover Artist: Christian Ward; Design: Nicholas Russell; Logo Design: Jay Bowen
This book just keeps getting better. The awful cliffhanger Ahmed lobbed at us last issue is resolved in possibly the most awesome (and kind of touching) way it could have been; we get some sweet background on the life of Lockjaw and his loyalty to Black Bolt; and we also get some backstory on the Jailer that hints at more depth to the plot than was obvious at first (and also helps make Black Bolt look like a bit less of a monster for being willing to consign Maximus to this villain’s care). There are hints of catharsis, and then — of course — the twist that comes in all monthly superhero comics, but with the now-distinct Black Bolt flair. I need to stop and complain that the action scenes are kind of muddled — Ward’s art style is phenomenal at emotion and metaphor, but if there’s a lot going on it can be hard to tell what, exactly, it’s all supposed to be — and while it doesn’t impede the narrative’s advancement, that’s an issue I hope this team is able to resolve going forward. This is epic fantasy in superhero style, and I am completely here for it.
Power Level: 4 of 5
Generations: Iron Man and Ironheart #1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis; Pencilers: Marco Rudy, Szymon Kudranski & Nico Leon; Inkers: Szymon Kudranski, Will Sliney, Scott Koblish & Nico Leon; Color Artists: Marco Rudy, Dean White & Paul Mounts; Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles; Variant Cover Artists: Marco Rudy; Olivier Coipel & Laura Martin; Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers & Paul Mounts with Joe Frontirre
The most Bendis comic ever to Bendis a Bendis. As the cover and its role as a part of Generations suggests, this is Tony Stark (the real one, not the A.I.) meeting Riri Williams, and Riri learning a little about herself before returning to her usual locus in Marvel continuity; however, unlike the Hawkeye and Thor issues of this I’ve already covered, this one doesn’t appear to have a lot of growth in store for Tony, which is unfortunate given that Tony is, well, kind of a giant ball of mistakes that get heroes killed. The way Bendis frames the story is neat, in its high-four-color superhero way, but it really isn’t doing a lot in terms of deepening Riri’s character — at the end of the day, this is just “Riri decides to keep doing cool stuff,” but with some fourth-wall-leaning thrown into the mix. I also am not going to lie: I dislike the idea that Riri needs an old white man to help her decide to do cool stuff. The issue is kind of fun, but not as witty as it wants to be, and is ultimately just sort of skippable.
Power Level: 1.5 of 5
Writer: Al Ewing; Artist: Kevin Libranda; Color Artist: Jose Villarrubia; Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles; Cover Artist: Sanford Greene
Some slow-burn work on the story arc while low-level cosmic weirdness busts out in the foreground, with a dash of character development for flavor. The “Snarkwar” situation continues to mount, as the lizard aliens who showed up at the end of #6 reveal more of their motives; they’re an interesting antagonist, alien in the psychological sense as well as the typical “weird critter” sense, and they are actually kind of unsettling, which is a nice counterpart to the lofty weirdness of Royals generally. Meanwhile, the narrative with the Skyspears continues to build, with some dark comic relief in the form of Maximus being, well, Maximus; and we continue to look into the future with Accuser!Noh-Varr and Old!Maximus. All that, plus we get some great character beats for Swain and Medusa, all mixed up with Libranda’s stellar superheroic art. This series is one of the best things Marvel has going right now; Ewing is just simply incapable of wrong in my book right now.
Power Level: 4 of 5
The Wicked + The Divine #31
Writer: Kieron Gillen; Artist: Jamie McKelvie; Colourist: Matthew Wilson; Letterer: Clayton Cowles; Flatter: Dee Cunniffe; Original Designer: Hannah Donovan; Designer: Sergio Serrano
Gillen and McKelvie are slowly pressing down on the accelerator again. The character-building stories of this arc have hit the point where it’s more about resolution than build, and that manifests in heady form this issue as we get not one but two moments that made me stop and crank my jaw back up off my chest. The character work is still rock solid even as the action mounts, though; everyone behaves in believable, consistent ways, even — especially — when it’s to their detriment. The art in this issue is also some of McKelvie’s best; WicDiv is consistently incredible about delivering both nuanced emotion and big-budget magic and make it all feel like an integrated whole, and it’s really in evidence here. Like so many individual issues of this series, #31 will be judged more as a part of the larger WicDiv narrative than as an individual chunk of pages, but there are worse things to be than another mile marker on a hell of a ride.
Power Level: 4 of 5
Quote of the Week:
“Sorry. I, uh…got trapped in a reality of pure judgment a few days ago. Kind of messed me up.”
– Swain, Royals #
And there you have it; late, but still here. Also, fun fact: Literally every comic I read this week featured lettering by Clayton Cowles! Next week brings new comics and the continued trek toward Legacy; until I see you again, keep on loving comics!