Welcome back the The Pull List, where I review every new comic I digitally picked up this week that wasn’t X-Men?
I’m still a few weeks away from being caught-up on non-X Marvel books, so my reads were restricted to some young DC titles, DC’s first “New Age of Heroes” launch, and Tom King’s Batman – which I mostly stay caught up upon for the hot takes.
This week’s Pull List includes:
- Avengers (2017) #676
- Batman (2016) #39
- Damage (2018) #1
- Dark Fang (2017) #3
- Days of Hate (2018) #1
- The Further Adventures of Nick Wilson (2018) #1
- Ice Cream Man (2018) #1
- James Bond: The Body (2018 #1.
Avengers (2017) #676, Marvel Comics
This issue contains a lot of talking as the Avengers try to get a handle on what’s happening and reconcile with their long dead (but newly-fabricated) fellow hero, Voyager. Meanwhile, two teams of villains – one being the mostly dead or dispersed Black Order, are ported to Earth to face each other.
Again, the scope of natural disaster here and Earth being used as a sort of Battleworld feels too big for this story, and also too repetitive. Adding to that a retconned character and villains that ought to be dead (and the idea that the Lethal Legion will stand up to the Black Order for more than 5 seconds) makes this second chapter seem more frantic than fun. I did get a laugh out of 2/3rds of the Avengers leadership being X-Men, though!
Batman (2016) #39 – DC Comics
Tom King follows up a pair of issues examining Batman’s relationship with Superman with an issue looking at him with Wonder Woman.
Whereas Bruce and Clark got to be humanized, here we focus on Bruce and Diana as tireless combatants. King makes that literal, with the two of them teaming up in dimension where time passes quickly but humans don’t age.
The rhythm of this issue just doesn’t work for me. After an introduction of Diana seeking out Bruce for a long-promised team-up, the issue cuts back and forth from Bruce & Diana to Catwoman in one and two pages increments. King is contrasting the passage of time for our warriors compared to in Gotham, but it had the opposite effect for me – it made things feel like they were moving slowly.
Beyond that, Wonder Woman is weirdly off-voice (and, at points, out of character) throughout the issue.His reductive takes on characters (exemplified by his “Bat/Cat” nicknames) tends to create pure, almost semiotic versions of heroes, but that means when he misses the mark he misses wise. King reducing Diana to an eternal warrior didn’t help him find a pureness of voice for her the way he did with Superman as a boy scout with golden heart.
It’s a shame this Wonder Woman rings so false, because Joelle Jones’s art on the issue is stupendously gorgeous. She ought to be drawing (and probably also writing) Wonder Woman. I love her bold, thick outlines, which give Jordie Bellaire well-defined space for a saturated color palette. Jones gets some wonderful facial acting out of Catwoman, who has no action.
Damage (2018) #1 – DC Comics
DC waited 18 whole months after the launch of Rebirth to add any books with tertiary characters with their “New Age of Heroes.” Damage is the first, reviving a character name from the Zero Hour era, but radically changing its concept.
It’s interesting that “Damage” is of a mid-90s vintage, because Tony Daniel, Robert Venditti, and Tomeu Morey basically deliver a 90s style Image book with this issue.Visually, it’s huge, glossy, violent book, even if the plot is not particularly challenging. (Thus the Image comparisons).
Morey has become my favorite colorist at DC, approaching must-buy status for me. He has an ability to delivery vivid, glossy superhero art that’s not overly fussy with gradients or overly busy with every color bleeding through the page at full saturation.
The action can be summarized thusly: A military-made Hulk copy name Damage can hulk out for an hour of a time, but this time around he destroys everything he plans to (including his rival) in a mere five minutes and then goes to ground.
This book looks great, but it’s not an awesome sign of health when the only narrative element that might bring you back for a second issue is the the appearance of Suicide Squad at the cliffhanger. I’m willing to check out one more issue to see if Daniel and co-plotter Venditti can give this title a little more purpose that goes beyond the collateral damage and the guest stars.
Dark Fang (2017) #3 – Image Comics
This comic has a ridiculous, solid gold concept: an ancient vampire emerges from the polluted sea to build an internet sex chat empire overnight and use her power and proceeds to wage an ever-escalating war of eco-terrorism against the companies that despoiled her prior home. It’s illustrated in a exaggerated all-ages style, but it is definitely not safe for kids!
It is totally absurd, emphasized by a ridiculous assassination of a senator who is in bed with Big Oil, yet in the absurdity the team has crafted a vampire hero that’s oddly easy to sympathize with.
This issue moves a little slower than the past two, maybe because it takes us away from Dark Fang for the first time in the series. A long monologue from the president is intercut over too many domestic scenes of seemingly random characters. I question if all that page real estate and character design was really necessary to drive the point home or to emphasize the punch line of Dark Fang interrupting the president’s speech. This causes some other holy (or unholy?) force has taken note of her campaign, and now it’s time for some payback.
Even if this issue was a little on the talky side, I am hopelessly taken with the charms of this book. I cannot wait to see what sort of bad guy objects to a creature of the night dismembering corrupt politicians one by one.
Days of Hate (2018) #1 – Image Comics
Oh, Ales Kot. He’s chief among my favorite emerging authors partially because he’s able to get hard-to-reach emotions onto the page, but sometimes the sentiment can be a little too much for me.
This book of hate fantasy about the near future of the United States is a structurally sound comic that doesn’t work for me narratively or visually. It’s 2022, and the United States is as outwardly awful as it is inwardly awful today. We follow a pair of agents who covertly blow up nazis crosscut with a woman being interrogated as a potential radical (which her ex-wife was, for sure).
It’s uninteresting and doesn’t really introduce any elements that would make you want to keep reading. The artwork has a primal, jagged, thick-lined quality to it, like it’s a charcoal sketch on a pad. It creates some memorable moments, but it’s not great for conversations or pages with a high panel count, despite Jordie Bellaire matching tone with her color work.
Also, I found the lettering to have a sort of smudged quality that made it unpleasant to read.
The Further Adventures of Nick Wilson (2018) #1 – Image Comics
This tale of a down-and-out sadsack former Superman in a relatively real world could have been a pessimistic mess of bro jokes, but it’s got a bit of heart and a great rhythm to its dialog, especially over lunch with an old flame.
The just-plain-folks artwork (willing to draw woman as NOT painfully thin) and pleasingly flat colors make this a book that’s easy to love. This will probably resonate with fans of The Fix, though that’s a much meaner-spirited title than this one.
Ice Cream Man (2018) #1 – Image Comics
A scoop of total weirdness with a sort of borderline-fugly Frank Quietly style of artwork, with all of its weirdly quivering lines and thin noses and lips.
There is something wrong with the ice cream man in this town, and with a kid who is keeping the world’s most-venomous spider as a pet, and maybe with Detective 5V, and possibly with the entire town.
Those four things thread together in this creepy picket fences tale. It’s hard to understand where it will be going from here, but it’s a strong start – especially with the official, cheerful narration boxes, which I can just about hear screaming across my brain.
James Bond: The Body (2018) #1 – Dynamite Entertainment
Ales Kot does well with some restrictions. He was amazing in his tenure at Marvel, and when he pinned himself to stricter concepts earlier in his still short career he was marvelous. Now on his creator work it feels like he’s swinging for home run sized ideas every time.
By contrast, this Bond story is terrific – a plain, essential Bond tale with a layer of misdirection in its telling that is visible to us as readers. It works as a one-shot, but also teases more story – and I almost hope each subsequent story includes the unreliable Bond as narrator and remains as self-contained. The textured colors matched the occasionally roughly-hewn artwork well.
This was a win for me – Kot brought me to a franchise I might not otherwise pay attention to, and I think I’m likely to keep reading