Hello everybody, and welcome back to the Pull List! California continues to slowly fill up with water, but that won’t stop us from talking to you about mutants and things similar to but legally distinct from mutants.
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
IvX #4 (of 6)
Writers: Jeff Lemire & Charles Soule
Artist: Javier Garron
Colorist: David Curiel
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover Artists: Leinil Francis Yu & David Curiel
We begin with a miniseries I’ve been lukewarm on but that manages to warm me up in this issue. This issue focuses almost entirely on the Inhumans — the mutants are around, but are basically always framed in terms of Inhuman interaction with them — and I suspect that might be why I like it so much, having been on Team Inhuman since the beginning of this conflict. (I mean, as far as conduct and tactics go…I’m not a fan of the idea of extinction.) On the Limbo side, we get Medusa and company attempting to escape the prison the X-Men have improvised for them, and this storyline is a near-perfect microcosm of what I love about superhero comics: I am on record as a sucker for creative use of superpowers, which is basically the entire overarching plot here, but it also aces the human part of “Inhumans,” showcasing Medusa as a savvy, experienced leader as well as a powerful combatant. This keeps going through the other main storyline here, focusing on the young Inhumans and NuHumans, giving them room to show off their own personalities and also experience a revelation that promises to be a spanner in the works and also a possibility that there won’t just be wall-to-wall hero-on-hero violence for the entire duration. I quite enjoyed that revelation as an ending to this issue, but wish it had been telegraphed a little bit better: the new information the young ones get was honestly something I thought they knew already, so the surprise was not entirely a good one on a reader-experience level. Still, this series is pulling up as it goes into the back half, so I have some hope.
Power Level: 3.5 of 5
Ms. Marvel #15
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Takeshi Miyazawa
Color Artist: Ian Herring
Lettering: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Artists: Nelson Blake II and Rachelle Rosenberg
This issue made me sit up and take notice. Ms. Marvel felt like it had been sleepwalking a tiny bit since that excellent election issue, but this one came right back into it. This continues the story of the hacker/troll who started tormenting Ms. Marvel last issue, but rather than focus entirely on her conflict with said trilby, we instead get a snapshot of Kamala’s daily life through which we learn more about the greater plot — a trick used here and in its spiritual predecessor Spider-Man that I think bears great fruit overall, but here it’s because of the very real issues Wilson raises through her script. A character talks about having personal conversations with a crush released publicly, and we see her become a target of typical victim-blaming — which dovetails with a conversation among Kamala’s friends about the pain of people of color or LGBT people (or their families) being forced into being representative of their entire subgroup/race/culture. This story also allows Kamala to have a moment to showcase the empathy and inclusivity that have made her one of my favorites since she came on the scene. On top of all that meaty subtext and text, the issue also brings some strange hints and revelations about the nature of the hacker Ms. Marvel is facing, taking what felt like a slightly vanilla storyline and layering on some comic-book strangeness that has me excited for next issue. Thank you for reaffirming my faith, Ms. Marvel.
Power Level: 4 of 5
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #17
Writer: Ryan North
Artist: Erica Henderson
Artist, [SPOILER] Panels: Chris Schweizer
Color Artist: Rico Renzi
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Michael Allred: Logo
Cover Aritst: Erica Henderson
Special Thanks: CK Russell
A fun issue, but one that could have used a little more spice. Squirrel Girl is, as usual, some lovely, earnest wackiness with a focus on historical trivia and computer programming; it is also, as the cover suggests, the debut of a new costume for Doreen, and one that I really like the look of and the way it evolves the crimefighting side of her character. The desultory supervillain clash in this issue is classic North and Henderson Squirrel Girl, with Doreen once again showing off that her most powerful weapon is her empathy; the villain in question is heavily off-book in his speech patterns, but it’s in the same way basically everyone is off-book in their speech patterns in Squirrel Girl, so I’m not going to complain too much about that. I also want to give North a nod for the subtle progressive flavor of having a character refer to people having “one or more cool dads” (bonus: it’s also a funny line). All that said, the twist at the end of this issue is a little bit predictable, so much so that the narration itself jokes about how predictable it is, but it comes after I had already moved on from the idea that said twist was coming — I honestly went “Oh, I expect this to happen” and them wrote it off when it didn’t get foreshadowed within a couple pages. There is enough mystique around the twist — OK, this character has this hidden motivation, but why and how? — that I want to keep reading, for sure, but it’s still a little bit of a disappointment after some of the gorgeous experimental issues this run has produced.
Power Level: 3 of 5
The Wicked + The Divine #26
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Jamie McKelvie
Colourist: Matthew Wilson
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Flatter: Dee Cunniffe
A good issue, but still a little fatiguing. This month, we get more data on the giant monster made of shadows and/or bugs that showed up last time — because of course some of the Pantheon know more about the Great Darkness than they were letting on — and we also see some new mysteries starting to build up in the wake of the previous major mystery of the series being resolved. The art and layout are stunning in this issue, particularly during the Pantheon meeting that takes up the bulk of the second act, and the Pantheon’s personalities come through very strongly in this issue — I could almost guess who was going to come down on which side of the debate before they started picking sides, which speaks very highly of the detail that has gone into this series. I’m especially intrigued by what’s going on with Persephone, Dionysus, and the Norns. Honestly, though, I was a little exasperated at what looks like another elongation of a story that felt like it was coming to an end; I adore this series, I really do, but there are times when I feel a bit tired of it. I think that may just be my feelings on more decompressed comics in general, but it still tainted this issue for me. Still, when the issue is otherwise solid gold…
Power Level: 4 of 5
New and Shiny
The Issue #1s and #0s that caught my eye this week
Justice League of America Rebirth #1
Writer: Steve Orlando
Penciller: Ivan Reis
Inkers: Joe Prado & Oclair Albert
Colorist: Marcelo Maiolo
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Cover: Ivan Reis, Joe Prado & Marcelo Maiolo
So you all know I am pretty critical of DC these days, so please understand what I am saying when I say this series looks very promising. I went into it eyebrows raised and thesaurus in hand, all fired up to critique a series that sticks Lobo and Killer Frost in the lineup of the JLA, but what I found once Batman’s motivation in recruiting them was, it honestly felt…right. The ad campaign had focused on how this was “the toughest League yet,” which had me rolling my eyes, but the actual theory behind this JLA — that they are a team intended to show normal people that everyone can be a hero — makes perfect sense. Of course you put a redeemed villain in there. Of course you put an anarchic tough guy in there. Just like everyone else is an example for the regular folks with good in their hearts, Lobo and Killer Frost are proof that people can change, that there might be good in you, too. That honestly touched me. The art is also really nice — special shout-out to the inkers and the colorist, who give the proceedings a blend of light and dark that feels in sync with the narrative playing out between the characters. My only complaint is honestly some tacked-on conflict — Black Canary comes out looking kind of dim, especially — and one or two slightly wooden exchanges that were nevertheless necessary to the story. I’m honestly kind of excited to see where this goes, and seeing that Eddie Berganza’s name isn’t on this one, Issue 2 may have to make it into my pull…
Power Level: 4 of 5
Quote of the Week:
“This will teach you to meddle in the affairs of megafauna, little squirrel!”
– The Rhino, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #17
And with that, I am off. Sound off in the comments, and we’ll see you next week!