Welcome to this week’s Pull List, where I run down the comics from my weekly Wednesday pull, new series that have caught my eye, and new trades worth sticking on the shelf. Before I write about 1000 words about clones, Transformers, and clones of Transformers, our disclaimers:
Spoilers: I try not to spoil the issues themselves, but I do post cover images, and I reference past events when they are germane. This is your spoiler warning.
Credits: I have given all the credits I can find in the comic itself and online; if you see something wrong or have information I’m lacking, let me know and I’ll fix it.
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.
Let us know what you thought of this week’s comics and what’s on your Pull List in the comments!
The ongoings and miniseries I can’t live without
Doom Patrol #2
Writing: Gerard Way
Art: Nick Derington
Colors: Tamra Bonvillain
Letters: Todd Klein
Cover: Nick Derington (variant cover by Michael & Laura Allred)
So, the first issue of this series had a nuclear war occurring in a microscopic world inside a gyro; the second issue opens with a fighter jet, co-piloted by a talking matryoshka doll, that may or may not be part of either an alternate reality or a hallucination. So, Way and crew are definitely staying on message here. Derington and Bonvillain continue to bring the bright, pop-art visuals, and they continue to be perfect for this offbeat, Lynchian little world. I have no idea what is going on in this story, but I can see something is going on, and can discern at least an overview of who the major players are; in that David Lynch way, as weird as it is, I also feel like continued exposure will make it all make sense. I love how easygoing Casey is about the next-level weirdness she has found herself in; it is disruptive to her life, but she and her partner take it in stride, only getting angry when it causes real-world inconveniences. The world of Doom Patrol is a world where a robot with a human brain blowing up your apartment is about as worrisome as being suspended from work for answering calls that weren’t actually from your dispatcher (and that might indicate your ambulance is sentient); this is a world that, curse my eyes and my bank balance, I am going to look forward to living in once a month going forward. As a bonus, this issue also has a sneak preview of “Cave Carson Has A Cybernetic Eye,” another Gerard Way series; it looks neat, weird in the same way as Doom Patrol, and anyone who is intrigued by that title or Way in general would do well to check this issue out.
Power Level: 4 of 5
Uncanny Avengers #15
Writing: Gerry Duggan
Art: Pepe Larraz
Colors: David Curiel
Letters: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover: Meghan Hetrick (variant covers by Mike Deodato & Frank Martin; Whilce Portacio & Chris Sotomayor; and Khoi Pham & Chris Sotomayor)
My first Civil War II aftermath issue! “Aftermath” is appropriate in this case, with the issue’s internal arcs revolving around the two key events of the previous issue. The plot arc revolves around the discovery that the Hand know where Bruce Banner’s body is, and the Unity Squad attempting to stop our local undead ninja before they can create an undead Hulk; meanwhile, the character arcs revolve around Steve Rogers’ decision to disband the Unity Squad. In other words, this is Marvel doing what Marvel does best, giving us a superheroic story to hang our superheroic character arcs on. Deadpool, in particular, is going through some fascinating stuff under his gleeful-renegade exterior, lending a sad, even tragic cast to his usual antics (the meta-joke about how all his miniseries seem to be Deadpool versus someone is especially pointed). Rogue is also struggling, in a way that makes me more interested in her character than I ever was in my X-Men days. The character notes from the rest of the team are nice contrast to these two core arcs, with Wasp even adding in commentary on how this is the second plot arc this year involving villains trying to resurrect a dead Avenger. Overall, it is a fitting follow-up to the bomb-drop of the previous issue; the last panel is a great “aw crap” moment that tells us things are getting back to a twisted kind of normal after the Civil War, even as a lot has changed, from team makeup to alive-and-dead statuses. This issue is a great time to jump onto a solid book.
Power Level: 4 of 5
Revolution #3 (of 5)
Writing: John Barber & Cullen Bunn
Art: Fico Ossio
Colors: Sebastian Cheng
Letters: Tom B. Long
Crisis on Infinite Hasbros: now with Micronauts!
My biggest kudos this issue go to the art; three issues in, it’s clear that this miniseries (and IDW’s Hasbro work as a whole) took a multifarious lineup of characters and gave them a feeling of belonging together while keeping their aesthetics distinct. That’s not easy, and it deserves to be called out for the success it is. The writing is hitting a little closer to the target this issue, rendering earlier hints into clearer statements; unfortunately, it is also doubling down on some of its past sins. Issue #3 verifies that some unknown quantity of the human characters have been replaced by Dire Wraiths, which lends clarity to Rom’s behavior in Issue #1 and explains some of the shadier behavior of the G.I. Joe and M.A.S.K. camps, but even allowing for Wraith manipulation, the Joes still come off as bloodthirsty and paranoid. This echoes into the behavior of Rom and the Transformers, who have a disagreement that rings so hollow it qualifies as an echo chamber: the accord they come to over the course of the issue feels like something that they could have all agreed on in the beginning, giving the impression that this conflict was just there for the sake of conflict (or padding page count). There is also an egregious amount of info dumping from Baron Karza, and the revelations about the connections between the Micronauts and the Transformers feel sudden and forced. (This might not be the case if I were reading the ongoing series attached to this event, but I have not been left this cold by other crossover books where I have not read every related title, so I am disinclined to be too forgiving on this point.) The issue’s character arcs end in intriguing places, but it feels like they used a crowbar to bend things into that shape. Overall, this is another good-but-not-great entry in a great idea; if you like the concept of Revolution, it’s worth checking out, but at this point I am just finishing to give this middle a chance to land well at the end.
Power Level: 2 of 5
Wonder Woman #8
Writing: Greg Rucka
Art: Bilquis Evely
Colors: Romulo Fajardo, Jr.
Letters: Jodi Wynne
Cover: Bilquis Evely (variant cover by Jenny Frison)
This is me, picking up another recommended DC series. This issue gives us some background on the character of Cheetah (Barbara Ann Minerva), who is a pivotal character in this book right now, and it does a masterful job of it. This is a timely (and maybe all-too-timeless) story about a smart, capable woman dealing with the patriarchy, from the enshrinement of “logical” thinking (read: dismissal of a woman’s theories as “irrational” and discounting any evidence to the contrary as doctored or false) to concern-trolling in the guise of “friendly advice.” It is a bit hilarious to see characters in the DC Universe of all places doubting the existence of Amazons and vampires, but it drives home the kind of opposition Cheetah faced as a scientist, and superhero comics embody the phrase “go big or go home,” anyway. Evely’s faces are amazing, conveying complex and deep emotion through single-panel close-ups; the use of font and word bubble shape/color to indicate language, volume, and tone are also creative and nice, speaking volumes in a way unique to the comic book medium. This issue was fantastic, and sad, and a reminder of how deep and engaging superhero comics can be; I will definitely be picking the next issue up, at least.
Power Level: 4 of 5
New and Shiny
The Issue #1s that caught my eye this week
The Clone Conspiracy #1
Writing: Dan Slott
Pencils: Jim Cheung
Inks: John Dell
Colors: Justin Ponsor
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover: Gabriele Del’Otto (variant covers by Jim Cheung & Jason Keith; Mark Bagley, John Dell & Richard Isanove; and Alexander Lozano & Morry Hollowell)
Yes, Marvel is going back to the Clone Saga well; yes, they seem to have learned from the last time. I was struck right from the beginning how very “Spider-Man” the tone and feel of this book is; Dan Slott understands the character in a way few writers can boast. I like the evolutions the character has gone through since I was a regular reader, too; this may not be new to current subscribers, but the additional tech Peter is packing feels like a natural progression of the character, and the addition of Anna Maria Marconi as his “mission control” scans for me, giving both characters depth and affording Peter dialogue that isn’t just snappy combat banter or internal maundering. As far as the plot goes, the comic-book science of the cloning technology is back with a vengeance, but the book’s larger dedication to being a superhero story in a superhero universe makes it a bit less jarring: I’ll accept weird ideas about how DNA and brain cells work in a world where radioactive spiders give you superpowers and goons in gimmicky costumes are the logical escalation from normal goons with guns. This book’s core super-fight is nicely executed, a quick breather that provides some contrast to the somber-to-angry vibe elsewhere (as if to say “this situation is so not normal; this is normal”) and adds some questions of its own to the pile. The final panels are snappy and hooky without just being bizarre or shocking for its own sake; you kinda figured something like this was going to happen, but you weren’t necessarily guessing that this would be the form it took. The backup story is a clever retelling of a seminal moment in Spider-Man history from a different perspective, also shedding light on the main Clone Conspiracy arc. Readers who labored through the original Clone Saga as it was happening might be less enticed by this one, but I really enjoyed it; it’s a nice dose of four-color at a time when the Marvel Universe can be (understandably) pretty dang gray. Also, referring to Gwen Stacy’s death as a “bridging” earns this one a few Tyler Hayes Meta-Snark Points; it was one of the earliest and most persisent examples of fridging, but at least we are having some fun at its expense now. I’m definitely reading this series; I wish I had the funds to pick up the regular Spider-Man books as well, but the economy is a harsh master.
Power Level: 4 of 5
The Great Lakes Avengers #1
Writing: Zac Gorman
Art: Will Robson
Colors: Tamra Bonvillain
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover: Will Robson & Ian Herring (variant covers by Michael Allred & Laura Allred; John Tyler Christopher; Dale Keown & Jason Keith; and Damian Scott & Nathan Fairbairn
Par for the course with the GLA, this book is silly fun, with cartoony, kinetic art to match. The dialogue feels like it came out of a script for Unbreakable Kimmi Schmidt, and I mean that in the best possible way: it feels genuine and bizarre at the same time, with pathos and tragedy just beneath the surface. The story they’ve set up is (rather deliberately) no great shakes, but also definitely a Marvel Universe story. Also, the jabs about body acceptance from Big Bertha are really appreciated updates to her character, which was at best problematic in its early days. This book seems rad; not quite my speed, at least not with other funny-superhero books already on my pull list, but anyone who likes some humor in their superhero, or more accurately some superhero in their humor, should check it out.
Power Level: 3 of 5
Most Comics Quote of the Week:
“Hey, you haven’t seen a big dude around, right? He’s technically formless but, like, all space in the universe comes from within him and back to him it will return when the last atom in existence finally ceases to be? You’d probably know him if you saw him.”
– Doorman, Great Lakes Avengers #1