Hello everybody, and welcome back to the Pull List! I’m flying on a massive dose of antibiotics, but for your sakes, I’ll do my best to contain my fever-dreams.
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 & Drew Hennessy
Colorists: Jordan Boyd with Matt Yackey & Wil Quintana
Letterer: Ferran Delgado
Cover: Barry Kitson & Jordan Boyd
A darker twist to the four-color fun. As the .1 should suggest, this one’s a further installment in the adventures of the early second lineup of the Avengers, and the focus is once again on the now-revealed antagonist, Cressida. The story continues to more overt turn that began with Cressida’s commitment to outright villainy last issue, with her seeking to split up the Avengers and the Avengers seeking to, well, not get split up. The Frightful Four also show up, as the cover suggests, though I’d say they are more a backdrop for the main conflict than the villains of the piece outright. The writing and art are, once again, Waid and company playing around with Lee and Kirby pastiche, and I do not see anything wrong with that — especially not now that they’ve indicated this story is going to be ending soon, meaning I can more easily indulge it as a piece of literary candy rather than worry this is going to be popping up in my pull list monthly. Fun stuff, worth it as a bonus to the main Avengers series.
Power Level: 3 of 5
Black Panther #11
Writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Layouts: Chris Sprouse
Finishes: Goran Sudzuka, Walden Wong, Karl Story & Roberto Poggi
Color Artists: Laura Martin with Matt Milla, Larry Molinar, Rachelle Rosenberg & Paul Mounts
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Design: Manny Mederos
Logo: Rian Hughes
Cover by: Brian Stelfreeze
Once again, Black Panther made me go “wow”; this time, it did it on the first page. The narrative of this conclusion to “A Nation Under Our Feet” takes the form of a person recounting the events, so some dramatic irony and metacommentary are naturally present; and like the great writer he is, Coates uses the narrator’s hints at the outcomes to bait the reader along, making us excited to read a conclusion that is already hinted at in the beginning. If that weren’t enough, this conclusion is a true conclusion — the immediate conflict with Zenzi and Tetu and their revolutionaries is resolved, and the narrative fabric of Black Panther actually changes in noticeable ways, without sacrificing any of the political reality or deep-set character flaws the book has injected into the story of uprising and revolution. I can also honestly say I love the way the conflict is resolved — it’s an excellent encapsulation of the themes of “Nation,” and it shows real growth on the parts of T’Challa and Shuri (and perhaps just as importantly, a lack of growth on the parts of their antagonists). I am not sure how to take the contents of the very last splash panel, but I am excited to learn what it means. Next month, a story called “Avengers of the New World” starts, and that sounds promising just by the title — but really, if you get a chance to read “A Nation Under Our Feet,” it’s one of the best serious comics stories I’ve read recently.
Power Level: 5 of 5
Writer: Jeremy Whitley
Artists: Ro Stein and Ted Brandt
Color Artist: Frank D’Armata
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover Art: Simone Bianchi
Another “.mu” Monsters Unleashed tie-in, this one just unadulterated fun. By the end of the first page, it’s clear the Champions are dealing with something analogous to the Dakota Access Pipeline situation (though unlikely DAPL, the operation in this story is fully legal…), which pleased me not only for being current, but for showing that Whitley really groks the core themes of the Champions series. And speaking of core themes, Whitley has a knack for these characters’ voices that makes him easily Waid’s equal, and sometimes maybe even superior — the Champions are snappy, funny, a little awkward, and so perfectly themselves the entire time — special mention to Cyclops, who is once again embodying all the good things about Scott that the Marvel writers seemed to lose track of for some long — right down to a democratic, empathetic approach to teamwork that is just such a joy in a world of squabbling paramilitary super-teams. My only beef with this issue is that the giant monsters showing up is actually kind of a disappointment, because the story about hired supervillains protecting not-DAPL was just so interesting in its own right; that said, I appreciate that in both .mu issues I’ve read, the characters were doing something before the kaiju showed up, which lends the whole thing a nice feeling of immediacy. Though, still bothered by the name “Leviathon”…
Power Level: 3 of 5
Writer: Mariko Tamaki
Artist: Nico Leon
Color Artist: Matt Milla
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Designer: Manny Mederos
Hulk has quietly turned into my favorite Marvel series, and this issue just sealed the deal. The focus is mostly on Jen’s anxiety, with the growing threat of Maise Brewn and her “protector” looming ever larger in the background, but even though not much, strictly speaking, actually happens in this issue, it feels absolutely packed with content and meaning. The scene with Hellcat, especially, is sweet and heartbreaking. I love this portrayal of Jennifer Walters so much that I would read a comic that was just about her trying to cope with PTSD every month for the rest of my life and never complain, but the Brewn situation also helps externalize the exact thing that is making her so upset: sooner or later, for one reason or another, she is going to have to Hulk up again, and it’s not clear how bad (if at all) the change might be when it does inevitably come. I, for one, am content to wait, but also excited to see. If you deal with anxiety or PTSD in your life, this book is a must-read.
Power Level: 5 of 5
IvX #5 (of 6)
Writers: Charles Soule + Jeff Lemire
Artist: Javier Garron
Colorist: David Curiel
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover Artists: Leinil Francis Yu + David Curiel
This miniseries continues to grow on me. Plot-wise, this is the logical next step, and the continuing evolution (hurr hurr) of the core theme that emerged in Issue #4: the older actors in the conflict are being more hidebound and reactionary, while the younger characters are reacting to new data and trying to find a compromise. Forge and the young Inhumans are now working together to try to resolve the Terrigen problem, while the veterans are either hunting down that first group (to protect them or to kill them) or dealing with the Inhumans attempting to escape from the alternate realities the X-Men stuck them in. The personalities in this issue are very vivid — character voices are strong, and the emotions and decisions on display make sense with the characters involved. The fight scenes are also just plain fun, with what felt like a non-excessive amount of quipping (and from people prone to quipping this time, too) and some clever superpower spots. The team even did a good job making the X-Men feel less like the villains of the piece…I mean, with the exception of the actual villains. My only complaint is really with the ending: what is happening on the last pages feels so abrupt and on-the-nose that I am hoping Issue #6 reveals I’m wrong, because if it’s what I think it is, it’s a very flat way to end an otherwise good issue.
Power Level: 4 of 5
The Mighty Captain Marvel #2
Writer: Margaret Stohl
Artist: Ramon Rosanas
Colorist: Michael Garland
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover: Elizabeth Torque
A fun start and a disappointing finish. I love Stohl’s overtly dorky approach to Cap as a character, especially as it contrasts with the trauma she’s trying to cope with inside, and the jabs at Hollywood via the Cap’n Marvel show are tons of fun; all of that stuff meant the first half of the issue was actually pretty fun. But then Carol’s powers start causing her trouble, repeatedly, and the Cap’n Marvel show suddenly departs the scene, taking with it most of the fun; in its place we get a Captain Marvel who looks really harried and a little incompetent, and bullheaded in a way that doesn’t quite elicit sympathy. It feels like a lot happens, but not strictly in a good way: it feels like a rushed, chaotic mess, actually, with a lot of anvilicious ruminations by Carol that I’m not sure warranted caption boxes to explain them. But my biggest problem with the issue is the way Bean is involved in the story; it feels like they are implying this alien refugee kid is at the root of Carol’s powers going haywire, and to do a “the alien refugee is accidentally dangerous!” story in today’s social climate is maybe not the best look. I love Carol enough to give this series a chance, but it’s officially on notice.
Power Level: 2 of 5
New and Shiny
A first issue that caught my eye this week
The Old Guard #1
Written by: Greg Rucka
Art and Covers by: Leandro Fernandez
Colors by: Daniel Miwa
Letters by: Jody Wynne
Power Level: 4 of 5
Hmmm. I like Rucka, and the premise here is promising: old soldiers who don’t die, at least one of whom, judging the cover art, is a very impressive level of “old.” Unfortunately, the issue didn’t deliver on that premise for me. Having these unaging, undying soldiers positioned as mercenaries is logical, but I don’t feel like the issue did a lot with it that seemed new — yes, the hardened mercenary breaks her usual rules because children are in danger; OK, the job turns out to not be as simple as advertised; sure, the soldiers are all surprised when the soldiers don’t die; I get it, and it’s promising, but show me something beyond that. Those feelings are not helped by the art, which was just not my speed: I found it to be too abstract, with it being a bit hard for me to tell what is going on in some scenes, but not in a way that engaged me more with the panels so much as not want to try to understand. (During the interlude with different characters, I was not actually sure at first if the characters were different, or if the model had just shifted from page to page.) If you’re into military fiction, this is a good read, but I think I’ll pass on Issue #2.
Power Level: 2 of 5
Quote of the Week:
“I am an apostle of the life cycle, and you have reached the end of it.”
– Tetu, Black Panther #11
And with that, I am off to take my meds and pass out. Sound off in the comments, and we’ll see you next week!