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. Our disclaimers, as usual:
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.
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 (All-Star Superman) and 0 is something I wish I hadn’t even started reading (All-Star Batman and Robin).
Here we go. Make sure to let us know what’s on your Pull List this week in the comments!
The ongoings and miniseries I can’t live without
Civil War II #5 (of 8)
Writing: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: David Marquez
Art Assist: Sean Izaakse
Colors: Justin Ponsor
Letters: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Designer: Victor Ochoa
Cover: Marko Djurdjević (variant covers by Kim Jung Gi, Michael Cho, and Phil Noto)
So, here we are, the moment you’ve all theoretically been waiting for…heroes fighting heroes. The build-up to this fight was well-handled in the individual series starring the crossover’s main actors, and that’s echoed here: Tony and Carol’s dialogue is perfectly calibrated to be a little funny, but also a little mean, and remind us that these are friends overwhelmed by stress and emotions. The art is gorgeous, too: big, beautiful splash panels that give all the Marvel characters their own interesting super-fight moments and showcase the viewpoints that are motivating this fight. Unfortunately, the snappy dialogue does not end with Tony and Carol, but the proper calibration of it does; as with so many Bendis scripts, I find the characters are a little too witty and bantering given how serious this fight actually is. Some banter from some people is fine, especially characters like Spider-Man who are known for using it as a coping mechanism, but Nova shouting “ya burnt!” at a member of the opposing side in the middle of this of all fights rings more than a little hollow and inappropriate. Speaking of me mentioning four major characters in two sentences, this issue has a butt-ton of characters, to the point where I was not quite sure who many of them were, even with a guide to the characters at the front of the issue. Also, the most contrived part of the whole event continues to be the core character of the event, Ulysses; his powers have always come off as “the power to advance the plot of Civil War II” and nothing about how they have shifted and evolved has ever gotten me away from that feeling. Overall, this is a decent issue, and I am sticking around to find out where this goes (and recommend you do too, if only to prove Marvel can do hero-on-hero conflict justice), but I understand the decision of other comic book fans to just stick to the crossover titles.
Power Level: 2 of 5
Civil War II: Choosing Sides #6 (of 6)
Writing: Chelsea Cain (Jessica Jones); Christina Strain (White Fox); Declan Shalvey (Nick Fury)
Art: Alison Sampson (Jessica Jones); Sana Takeda (White Fox); Declan Shalvey (Nick Fury)
Colors: Jordie Bellaire (Jessica Jones and Nick Fury)
Letters: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover: Cameron Stewart & Matthew Wilson and Declan Shalvey & Jordie Bellaire (variant cover by Tuta Lotay)
The companion series ends the same way the main series did: interesting ideas that I’d like to have seen handled a little differently. The Jessica Jones story is snappy on another level, with dialogue that reminds me of the Netflix version of the character (the dig at the Captain America/HYDRA storyline is especially amazing). I also love that the art shows Jessica and some of the supporting characters as a little bit chubby, and that no-one comments on it; body diversity for the win. Sana Takeda’s art in the White Fox story is as breathtaking as her Monstress work, and Strain’s script lends a new and cutting perspective on the Civil War II event by bringing Korean history and the plight of White Fox’s supernatural ancestors into the mix, which was welcome. The Nick Fury story was a nice, spy-movie ending to a nice, spy-movie storyline, with some good visual storytelling especially, but it fell flat for me for the same reason a lot of the Choosing Sides stories fell flat: the snapshots into the greater Marvel Universe are just a touch too brief. I loved seeing more of the world and the supporting characters and getting insights into how they’re all feeling about this whole “predictive justice” issue, but I would have really liked a little more meat to each of the stories in exchange for having slightly fewer stories. Still, it’s a fun little walk through characters we don’t see much of these days.
Power Level: 2 of 5
The Mighty Thor #11
Writing: Jason Aaron
Art: Russell Dauterman
Colors: Matthew Wilson
Letters and Production: VC’s Joe Sabino
Cover: Russell Dauterman and Matthew Wilson (variant covers by Pasqual Ferry & Frank D’Armata and Mike McKone & Chris Sotomayor)
This series is what I want superhero comics to be: fun, weird, but also deep and characterful. The banter and quips always feel appropriately timed with the grimmer, more serious bits, and the characters all have very distinctive voices that still carry that Jason Aaron spark to them. This issue’s core conflicts are interesting to contemplate and left me buzzing through the pages to find out how Thor and her supporting cast wind up tackling them, and the hook for the next storyline is great, throwing something new into the mix and telling us just enough about it to show us there is a deeper mystery afoot. As for the art, nearly every panel was the best panel I saw this week when it came to visual storytelling; it carries a strong sense not only of the physical space the characters inhabit, but the feeling of being in that place, and the characters are detailed enough in their depictions and body language to give you a strong sense of who they are and what they are going through at a glance. This is definitely the best issue of a comic I read this week, and I am always glad to see another issue of The Mighty Thor waiting for me on Wednesday morning.
Power Level: 5 of 5
Uncanny X-Men #13
Writing: Cullen Bunn
Pencils: Greg Land
Inks: Jason Leisten
Colors: David Curiel
Letters: Joe Caramagna
Cover: Greg Land and Noland Woodard
I normally dislike bleakness in my superhero stories, but this one hits the mark. This X-team’s story seems like the right story to be telling with Marvel’s oppressed minority metaphor, at a time when America is really seeing just how deep systemic racism runs. The events of this issue are bloody, brutal, and sometimes depressing, but it always feels appropriate to the people involved and the situations they are in, even when it doesn’t feel like they are doing the “right” thing in a larger sense. The art is very good and serves the story well, though I don’t recall any stellar moments, and I did sometimes get confused about who was where and what exactly they were doing, especially in the wider shots. I like where this seems to be going, and I am glad I followed my colleague’s advice and picked this up. This is grimdark storytelling done right.
Power Level: 3 of 5
The Wicked and the Divine: 1831 #1
Writing: Kieron Gillen
Art: Stephanie Hans
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Wait, what? 1831? Issue #1? Oh, this is a little one-shot to take us through the calm between two big plot storms in the main WicDiv arc. Wait…Villa Deodati? Lake Geneva? Oh my God, is this a reference to the party where Shelley came up with the idea for Frankenstein? Oh be still my beating Literature degree…
To describe this issue in more detail is to spoil it, I am afraid, but it’s really very good. It reinforces what we already know about the overall plot of the series while also giving us some inventive application of their established worldbuilding. The art in this is simply stunning, always showing exactly the right amount, and the script is absolutely redolent with literary references. The script is also dense, and expects a lot of the reader, but I find this is typical of The Wicked and the Divine, and is not by and large a condemnation, though this one was even more demanding than usual. I would not jump onto the series with this issue, but it’s a lovely little taste of something different in the middle of the feast Gillen and McKelvie are serving us.
Power Level: 5 of 5
New and Shiny
The Issue #1s that caught my eye this week
Revolution #1 (of 5)
Writing: John Barber & Cullen Bunn
Art: Fico Ossio
Colors: Sebastian Cheng
Letters: Tom B. Long
Wait, a miniseries that is basically Secret Wars but for IDW’s Hasbro properties? Yeah, I was never passing this up. This is a crossover between IDW’s Transformers continuity and the continuities for Action Man, ROM, G.I. Joe, and M.A.S.K.; I might even be forgetting one. It does not seem to expect you to have read any of those series, however, which is refreshing, though the dialogue does sometimes overexplain things. Speaking of dialogue, the script has the voices of several of the main Transformers absolutely down pat; I heard Optimus Prime’s lines in Peter Cullen’s voice, as well as a couple other characters with distinctive voice actors (no spoilers). I can’t say the same for some of the Transformers, though, nor for basically any of the characters from other lines; the overall voice of the comic feels slightly rocky, and there are some lines especially that just fall flat on their faces from either unclear meaning or sheer obviousness. Also, for a story concept that is basically a kid mashing action figures together, it is particularly grim in tone, with that nasty quality of “every protagonist group distrusting every other protagonist group” that often turns me off from these kinds of crossovers. The Joes especially look bad here, as their motivations and backstories never really justify how trigger-happy they are; there are scenes between them and the Transformers where I actually wonderedif they were supposed to not be speaking the same language. I’m willing to put that down to first-issue jitters and see where this goes, given how cool the premise is, but like many of my New and Shiny titles, they’ll have to sell me in Issue #2.
Power Level: 3 of 5
Writing: Francis Manapul
Art: Francis Manapul
Letters: Steve Wands
Cover: Francis Manapul (variant cover by Jason Fabok and Brad Anderson)
Again, I try to give DC a chance. This one is, as the cover and title suggest, about Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman coming together, though in this case it’s Bats and Wonder Woman meeting up with an alternate-Earth Superman after the events of Convergence and Rebirth. I love all three characters, and they all feel well-rendered here, bringing across Batman’s paranoia and darker personality, Superman’s nobility and unease with Earth life, and Wonder Woman’s kind but warlike and direct nature. The narration, told in Diana’s voice, is very well-crafted, building on itself and echoing the issue’s themes, and the art, especially the art of Superman flying, is beautiful and dynamic. Unfortunately, the story has the continuity lockout problem that a lot of DC titles have: I was lost when they talked about one Superman being dead and this being a different Superman, and it doesn’t explain it in a way that I think a new reader would get, and it made the plot-driving mystery a little more confusing by association. I am willing to give this my typical two-issue tryout, but it’s going to have to be a home run.
Power Level: 2 of 5
Most Comics Quote of the Week:
“Idiots. I’m a C.E.O. with a super-suit. What part of that sounds arrestable?”
– Silver Samurai, The Mighty Thor #11
That’s all for this week, but keep the conversation going and let us know what you picked up this week, and what you thought of this week’s comics!