Hello everybody, and welcome back to the Pull List, the apartment down the street from the House of Ideas. This week we have the three Ps of comic books: politics, pop culture references, and punching.
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.
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
Black Panther #12
Writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates; Pencilers: Brian Stelfreeze and Chris Sprouse; Inkers: Brian Stelfreeze, Karl Story, and Scott Hanna; Color Artists: Laura Martin and Mat Milla; Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino; Design: Manny Mederos; Logo: Rian Hughes; Cover by: Brian Stelfreeze
A perfect conclusion to a necessary story. The recap page talks about the political happenings of issue #11 — T’Challa and company admitting wrong and calming Wakanda’s angry citizens — in the same sentence as it mentions Black Panther leading an army of ghosts, thus providing a neat summation of why I love superhero comics. The majority of the story is taken up with political and philosophical debate between T’Challa, Shuri, the Midnight Angels, and Changamire; they discuss their differences, and the need for change in Wakanda, and a way forward that appeases all of them and forces all of them to grow and change. It’s a difficult, even unsettling conversation, but it all feels very real, and ends with a paradigm shift that both feels like the logical next step for the story and something we need to see in today’s political climate. The art is stellar throughout — Stelfreeze, Sprouse, et al. finally found ways to convey these characters visually when they are out of costume, and it’s actually a part of what makes this issue so enjoyable, as we are allowed to see facial expressions from T’Challa that would normally be hidden, and to observe him and the Midnight Angels being forced to engage with more human concerns. And then, at the end of the issue, we get a hook straight out of an 80s X-Men comic, and a teaser for the next storyline that mentions missing gods. This is a story that could only come from Coates, and could only be told in a comic, and I am so happy it exists.
Power Level: 4 of 5
Writer: Mariko Tamaki; Artist: Nico Leon; Color Artist: Matt Milla; Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit; Designer: Manny Mederos; Cover Artist: Jeff Dekal
Rising tension along with rising action, from the best interior-life comic Marvel has going. Tamaki and company are crafting an excellent story here with Jen’s forced attempts at a return to normalcy, and this issue builds on what has come before in a way that few comics I have ever read succeed at. Very little happens in a material sense, but Jen’s emotional state radiates off the page, the tension swelling the closer she gets to her face-to-face confrontation with the evasive and possibly unfortunate Maise Brewn (spoilers: we already know she’s deeply unfortunate). Even the throwaway bit with Jen talking to another metahuman client feels like just an anchor for all the stress and fear going on elsewhere in the book, a bit of normalcy to provide a counterpoint. All of this ends in a cliffhanger that would be just another cliffhanger in a typical superhero book, but in Hulk is actually horrifying and tense. The issue feels like a countdown to the inevitable time Jen is forced to be She-Hulk again, and I am both hungry for the reveal and tearing in half down the middle with empathy over Jen’s fear. Also, anxiety suffererer’s shoutout to how Jen marching over to talk to Maise in person is treated as an act of heroism and bravery, because for someone in this mental health situation, it is.
Power Level: 4 of 5
The Ultimates2 #5
Writer: Al Ewing; Artist: Travel Foreman; Color Artist: Dan Brown; Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino; Cover Artist: Christian Ward
There are not enough superlatives and expletives for this issue. Everything this team does is note perfect; even Sabino’s lettering gets in on the act, with fonts and bubble colors used to convey data and mess with the reader’s perceptions — seriously, I do not remember the last time a caption freaked me out. Ewing may be the heart of this book, but Foreman and Brown’s art is the soul; I am not sure this book would be as transcendentally good as it is with a different team. And as for the writing: We start with the fight between the Ultimates and the Troubleshooters, and it is gloriously bizarre, with the conflicts and resolutions both utterly inhuman, but anchored by very natural, even ironic dialogue; then, before that’s fully settled down, we move into revelations about the nature of the cosmic plot Ewing has been hinting at since the series didn’t have a numeral two in the title. I know “mind-blowing” is an overused adjective, but seriously, parts of my brain felt like they exploded. This all feels like it’s headed somewhere we’ve been going since Doom kicked off the second Secret Wars, and I am so excited to be going there with this team. This issue and every Ultimates issue before it is absolutely worth your money.
Power Level: 5 of 5
New and Shiny
A first issue that caught my eye this week
Ghostbusters 101 #1 (of 5)
Written by: Erik Burnham; Art by: Dan Schoening; Colors by: Luis Antonio Delgado; Letters by: Neil Uyetake
A vibrant, loving rendition of beloved characters, and a crossover we’ve wanted since it was theoretically possible, but a little short on delivery. The teaser for this issue promised more or less what the cover suggests: a crossover between the classic Ghostbusters (Ray, Winston, Peter, and Egon) and the modern “Answer the Call” Ghostbusters (Erin, Abby, Patty, and Holtzmann). How could I not pick that up? Having not read the IDW Ghostbusters books up to now, I was blown away by this — Schoening’s art is stellar and unique, and I cannot say enough good things about Burnham’s script — every character, from Peter to Holtzmann to Walter Peck, feels like them, like the script perfectly captured not just the general idea of the character but the way they were portrayed onscreen. On top of it, the issue was also very funny, complete with a rib or two at the expense of IDW’s crossovers (which, as someone who heavily criticized Revolution, resonated extra-hard). Unfortunately, while all that is delightful, there is very little meat here; the plot barely gets going, to the point where this feels more like the issue zero before a series actually starts. I am in for Issue #2, but it feels like they assumed that, and that’s not a great feeling. Still, if you like Ghostbusters, I get the feeling this series will treat you well; I’m just prepared to find out in Issue #2 that I’m wrong.
Power Level: 3 of 5
Quote of the Week:
Rodstvow: “You could have stopped it…but instead, you stopped each other. Now the new normal has arrived. Now is come the end of all things.”
America Chavez: “Says you. Bring it on.”
– The Ultimates 2 #5
And with that, I am off. Sound off in the comments, and we’ll see you next week!