Hello everybody, and welcome back to the Pull List! It’s a short list this week, but a fairly potent one, and if you stay tuned all the way to the end there’s a special little announcement for you. Think of it like an MCU post-credit sequence. (This one does not contain Howard the Duck.)
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 of the issue is inevitable.
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.
The ongoings and miniseries I can’t live without
Writer: Mark Waid
Penciler: Barry Kitson
Inkers: Mark Farmer with Rafael Fonteriz & Barry Kitson
Colorists: Jordan Boyd & Wil Quintana
Letterer: Ferran Delgado
Cover: Barry Kitson & Jordan Boyd
Variant Covers: John Tyler Christopher; Mark Bagley, John Dell & Matt Yackey
More of the very-enjoyable same from the “point-one” issues of Avengers, as Cap and the “Mighty Pretenders” continue to fight both crime and public opinion, with a little help from new team support character Cressida, a.k.a. Avenger X. Like the previous point-ones, this is a nice mimesis of Kirby/Lee Avengers stories, with witty-but-wooden dialogue and even some very Kingly art, but with some modern gingerbread layered onto it to make it a bit more than that. This issue gives us a little bit more depth and background for the Cressida character, or at least hints toward her actual role besides “team buffer with a messed-up secret power source”; I’m grateful that her behavior in this issue confirms she is not going to be getting a pass for the truth about her powers, but I still don’t love that this is an Avengers story that inherently involves actual mass murder as part of its backdrop; even if the Avengers aren’t directly complicit in it, it feels like too major an atrocity to pretend that they then went on being the heroes-with-problems we know and love afterwards. And while it’s a fun diversion, for now a diversion is all it is — I keep expecting this to tie into the Kang War, but I am not seeing any hints as to that possibility. It’s still fun to read, but I’d rather be getting more of the much more exciting (and ironically much more classical and Silver Age-y) main Avengers storyline.
Power Level: 3 of 5
Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Travel Foreman
Color Artist: Dan Brown
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Cover: Christian Ward
Variant Cover: Stephanie Hans
More of the apex of cosmic storytelling that just so happens to also star some of the best characters in all of Marvel Comics today. More of me being a total fanboy. We start by getting the perspective of the Troubleshooters, the New Universe-inspired super-team tasked with making sure the Ultimates aren’t operating in secret, and while it’s great to get their perspective on things — a good antagonist is always the protagonist of their own story, etc., etc. — I would have liked to get a little more detail about who the Troubleshooters are, the way that the book does with the Ultimates and cosmic-level players every time they show up. Speaking of cosmic, this book is once again Ewing showing off his remarkable skill with cosmic superhero stories, writing about a literal war of concepts in a way that absolutely makes sense while also really feeling like it occurs on an entirely different level of reality (a feeling definitely cemented by Foreman and Brown’s stellar artwork); the conflict between Galactus, Lord Chaos, and Master Order feels seismic and deific without any blatant or vulgar displays, a true conceptual battle that benefits from its simple visual expression (the coloring on Galactus is so subtle I had to double-check I saw it correctly). The implications this book has for the entire Marvel Universe make me so happy, as it suggests things about the grimness of recent events that make it seem like there is a reason to them, an order if you will (hyuk hyuk). And let me just leave you hanging and say: Oh my God that last panel. This book is staying in my pull list for as long as it exists; if it drops off, either this series got canceled or this column went out before it.
Power Level: 5 of 5
Writer: Al Ewing
Penciler: Paco Medina
Inker: Juan Vlasco
Colorist: Jesus Aburtov
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
The other shining jewel in this week’s haul. Most of this issue is info-dump about the Golden Skull, the “$kull” the storyline appears to be named after, and then set-up for the conflict with same, but Ewing and Medina deliver it with such panache that I stayed engaged all the way through to the end. Danielle Cage’s story is inventive and engaging, but also brutal; I love how smoothly this book (and Ewing’s other main book) handles alternate timelines, and I really enjoyed the nod this issue gave to the one major success that came out of the early days of Civil War II, as well as Danielle’s veiled hints about the current cosmic-level events playing out over in Ultimates2. (The visual nod to the Netflix Luke Cage in Danielle’s fighting style is also noted and appreciated.) The explanation of the Golden Skull’s personality and M.O. is definitely a jab at certain current events — the line about modern thinking regarding ideology vs. expertise is especially painful — but without just making the character into A Certain Political Figure, Except A Supervillain. The final pages doling out a little of the super-spy action promised by Issue #1 and the climax of New Avengers is appreciated, and as generic as the hook might be, I’m still excited about it, if only because it means I might get to watch Squirrel Girl and Red Hulk fight in tuxedos. In a time when it’s easy to give into despair, some superheroic fun with a little lick of social commentary is exactly what I needed.
Power Level: 4 of 5
New and Shiny
The Issue #1s and #0s that caught my eye this week
The Mighty Captain Marvel #1
Writer: Margaret Stohl
Artist: Ramon Rosanas
Colorist: Michael Garland
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Designer: Anthony Gambino
Cover: Elizabeth Torque
Variant Covers: Elizabeth Torque; Alex Ross; Jenny Frison; Skottie Young; Paulo Siqueira & Frank D’Armata
This issue is still a bit clumsy, but the new creative team seems to be finding its way. The off-model portrayal of Cap(tain Marvel) in the first pages worked as a kind of off-beat hook into the B-plot of the issue (the “Cap’n Marvel” TV show that has apparently launched in the wake of Civil War II), which neatly dovetailed into the A-plot (the alien refugees). The TV show had some nice touches and some not so nice ones: I enjoyed the tongue-in-cheek references to how female-presenting superheroes are treated in media, I enjoyed the slantwise reference to Hilary Clinton slightly less so, as apropos as it might be. The art is great, just the right amount of detail in all the right places to make sure we can differentiate characters and follow the action without ever feeling like the eye is overloaded, and I really do think a plot about violence toward refugees is topical and a great use of the modern Alpha Flight and Cap herself. I also like the character work with Cap: seeing Carol Danvers growing into a team leader while she goes around kicking everyone’s butt is both rewarding and a natural outgrowth of her story arc in the previous Captain Marvel series, while also giving her a solid grounding for the PTSD she displayed in Issue #0. My major complaint is the writing as it appears on the page: the dialogue is a bit too on the nose in places, the effort to be witty sometimes feels forced, and there’s an info-dump near the beginning of the issue that didn’t really need to be there (especially with the recap of Captain Marvel’s origin on the credits page). But while the words might not be all the way sanded down, the joy the team has for the subject matter is evident, and the story is intriguing, so I’m here for Issue #2.
Power Level: 3 of 5
Quote of the Week:
“I know I only inherited my powers in a freak accident, when I stumbled across a Psyche-Magnetron, a piece of ancient alien tech…but try telling that to the Kree life force rushing through me…propelling me higher and faster…because somewhere down there is a blue-skinned Kree kid who needs my help. And maybe this time, I’m her freak accident.”
– Captain Marvel, The Mighty Captain Marvel #1
Now, that announcement. Astute comics fans may have noticed that this week was the beginning of DC’s new miniseries The Kamandi Challenge, a tribute to the great Jack Kirby and his Last Boy on Earth, in the form of a round-robin storytelling challenge where each new creative team inherits a cliffhanger from the last one; there are more details here. The first issue was in my pull this week, but it clocks in at around ninety pages — more than I could get through on top of my regular pull. So later this week, look for the beginning of The Ace of Geeks’ own The Kamandi Challenge Challenge, as I pay a little homage to “King” Kirby and give you even more sequential art content to digest. More as soon as I am able to digest this first massive issue.
But for now: Sound off with your own comics thoughts, and see you, er…later this week!