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Pull List: May 2016, Part 1

Black Panther #1 cover
Black Panther #1; cover art by Brian Stelfreeze.

Black Panther #1, written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, cover art by Brian Stelfreeze, interior art by Brian Stelfreeze and Laura Martin, lettering by Joe Sabino, design by Manny Mederos, logo by Rian Hughes. Marvel Comics, April 2016. $4.99.

Oh man, Stelfreeze and Martin’s art is gorgeous—Stelfreeze’s figures are dynamic, the compositions of each panels intriguing; Martin’s color palettes add so much mood and sense of place to each panel. Black Panther #1 isn’t an issue to read quickly; there’s a lot going on, with Coates introducing lots of setup and fascinating characters; so many intertwined conflicts of different scopes are laid out to be explored. A great first issue.

Black Panther #2, written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, cover art by Brian Stelfreeze and Laura Martin, interior art by Brian Stelfreeze and Laura Martin, lettering by Joe Sabino, design by Manny Mederos, logo by Rian Hughes. Marvel Comics, May 2016. $3.99.

This issue delves further into a changing Wakanda and the various struggles that T’challa is facing: shame, rage; a myriad of complex emotions. There’s a lot going on and at times it’s difficult to keep up, but it also feels like there’s a large story going on that will take a few issues to bring into rhythm. The artwork is great; the swirls and squiggles of the two pages in T’challa’s mind are particularly interesting, a different textural landscape to illustrate the powers interfering with him.

Bruce Lee: The Dragon Rises #0, created and written by Shannon Lee and Jeff Kline, cover art by Bernard Chang, interior art by Brandon McKinney and Zac Atkinson, lettering by Troy Peteri, design by Steve Blackwell. Darby Pop Publishing, May 2016. Free Comic Book Day.

Co-created by Shannon Lee, Bruce Lee’s daughter, Bruce Lee: The Dragon Rises is a fictional all-ages adventure comic in which Bruce Lee escapes the facility in which he was held and finds himself in the year 2012. The artwork is expressive and the story is a fun setup for the series. Some of the writing is a little too silly for my tastes, but other audiences may enjoy it more.

Lady Mechanika #0: The Demon of Satan’s Alley, created and written by Joe Benitez, art by Joe Benitez and Peter Steigerwald, lettering by Josh Reed. Benitez Productions, May 2016. Free Comic Book Day.

Lady Mechanika captures a creature terrorizing local residents, only to discover that the creature knows about her mysterious past. “The Demon of Satan’s Alley” takes up about half the issue, with the other half comprised of excerpts from Lady Mechanika volumes 1 and 2. I’ve seen Lady Mechanika around a number of times and always liked the art—it’s ornate and dynamic, and the stories and excerpts feel like fun adventure fiction. But I always find myself disappointed and troubled by visions of steampunk that reproduce colonial England, a power dynamic that’s especially apparent in the Orientalist fantasy that the preview of volume 2 shows. So, mixed feelings about Lady Mechanika.

Silk #8 cover
Silk #8; cover art by Yasmine Putri.

Silk #8, written by Robbie Thompson, cover art by Yasmine Putri, interior art by Tana Ford and Ian Herring, lettering by Travis Lanham. Marvel Comics, May 2016. $3.99.

Another chapter in the Spider-Women arc—again I’m only going off the blurb in the front to bridge between the issues. This time it was a little harder to follow what was going on, but Silk #8 is still an enjoyable read. I’m really loving Tana Ford’s art, and, reading this issue right after reading Lady Mechanika—which has a bit of cheesecake design—I’m struck by how realistic Ford’s illustrations of body types are, how refreshing it is to see costumes follow how fabric actually works: no boob-socking, for example. It’s great, and I’ve really grown to appreciate Ford’s art and the expressiveness of the characters. 616!Cindy’s character also takes an interesting turn in this issue, and I’m curious to see how things work out. I may have to pull the other issues of the Spider-Women arc or wait for the trade paperback after all…

Pull List: March/April 2016

Catching up on my massive comics backlog! /o\ 13 issues for review this month:

Black Canary #9, written by Matthew Rosenberg, cover art by Guillem March, interior art by Moritat and Lee Loughridge, lettering by Steve Wands. DC Comics, March 2016. $2.99.

One-shot story. Black Canary plays a private show for a young girl’s birthday, only to run into some difficulties: the attendees are all villains and assassins. A cute self-contained story that makes for a fun read.

Black Canary #10, written by Brenden Fletcher, cover art by Annie Wu, interior art by Moritat, Sandy Jarrell, and Lee Loughridge, lettering by Steve Wands. DC Comics, April 2016. $2.99.

Batgirl teams up with Dinah; while Dinah continues to search for clues about her mother, the “ninja death cult” continues to pursue Dinah in search of the Five Heavens Palm technique. Standard action-adventure issue.

Black Canary #11 cover
Black Canary #11 cover; art by Annie Wu.

Black Canary #11, written by Brenden Fletcher, cover art by Annie Wu, interior art by Sandy Jarrell, Wayne Faucher, and Lee Loughridge, lettering by Marilyn Patrizio. DC Comics, April 2016. $2.99.

Dinah reunites with the other members of Black Canary in Berlin, only to find herself facing the villain Orato in a private battle. Another standard action-adventure issue, though the ending was one that I didn’t expect—admittedly, these last couple of issues didn’t really capture my interest, and I might be dropping Black Canary after this arc concludes. The earlier issues were much stronger imo; I’m less interested in seeing yet another story about a white person guarding secret kung-fu knowledge.

Monstress #4, written by Marjorie Liu, art by Sana Takeda, lettering by Rus Wooten. Image Comics, March 2016. $3.99.

Gorgeous artwork from Sana Takeda as usual. This issue introduces us to more of the tensions and politics going on in the world of Monstress, as well as Maika’s very intimate struggle with the Monstrum inside her. Maika’s own fear, as well as Kippa’s terror over Maika’s uncontrolled abilities, are so palpable. A slow-moving issue that gives us fascinating glimpses into the various settings of Monstress.

Monstress #5 cover
Monstress #5 cover; art by Sana Takeda.

Monstress #5, written by Marjorie Liu, art by Sana Takeda, lettering by Rus Wooten. Image Comics, April 2016. $3.99.

Every issue of Monstress feels rich and so full of worldbuilding as well as character development, and this issue is no different. Maika’s reminisces about Tuya deepen her loneliness and her need to find connection; the introduction of the Dusk Court adds another layer of intrigue to the story.

Ms. Marvel #5, written by G. Willow Wilson, cover art by David Lopez, interior art by Nico Leon and Ian Herring, lettering by Joe Caramagna. Marvel Comics, March 2016. $3.99.

I am loving Nico Leon’s artwork—it’s clean and dynamic; the results look effortless, but the scenes with crowds and multiple Kamala golems show Leon’s mastery over detail. All the characters are wonderfully expressive; G. Willow Wilson’s writing continues to be fantastic, and Kamala’s struggle to balance all her responsibilities rings with verisimilitude. I’m excited to see how this plot resolves in the next issue.

Ms. Marvel #6, written by G. Willow Wilson, cover art by David Lopez, interior art by Nico Leon and Ian Herring, lettering by Joe Caramagna. Marvel Comics, April 2016. $3.99.

What a perfect conclusion to this arc—I’m so, so glad that Ms. Marvel asked for help, and that Captain Marvel and Iron Man were both supportive with Kamala setting boundaries for herself. Wilson is so great at writing Kamala as a vulnerable teenager learning how to care for herself, and I’m so glad to see Kamala learning these lessons. Leon’s art and Herring’s colors continue to be fabulous; the wedding scene in particular sparkled with how vivid it was. A wonderful issue.

Pretty Deadly #9 cover
Pretty Deadly #9 cover; art by Emma Ríos.

Pretty Deadly #9, written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, art by Emma Ríos and Jordie Bellaire, lettering by Clayton Cowles. Image Comics, April 2016. $3.50.

As reapers duel on the battlefield, Cyrus continues to struggle against War, who wants to take him as his own. Emma Ríos’s art never fails to be stunning. Ríos shares in common with Mike del Mundo, another favorite artist of mine, the skill of telling stories through sequential art without traditional paneling—pages 12 and 13 in particular are incredible, allowing the eye to flow from scene to scene effortlessly. Bellaire’s colors are fantastic as well, especially with War and Fear being represented by different colors: the visual effect on the page is gorgeous. When it comes to Pretty Deadly, the actual events of the issue are less important to me than how they’re told. The storytelling, both in writing and in the visuals, never fails to be atmospheric and epic. Another excellent issue.

Red Wolf #4, written by Nathan Edmonson, cover art by Jeffrey Veregge, interior art by Dalibor Talajić, José Marzan, Jr., and Miroslav Mrva, lettering by Cory Petit. Marvel Comics, March 2016. $3.99.

Deputy Ortiz and Red Wolf pursue the people suspected of attacking Sheriff Knight with rattlesnakes. What I appreciate about Red Wolf is that it’s not just action—both Deputy Ortiz and Red Wolf have their moments of character development, and, at the end of this issue, Red Wolf demonstrates his agency by choosing to pursue those who have hurt the Deputy and the Sheriff. Talajić and Marzan are fantastic at including detail in the lineart that feels effortless, and Mrva’s colors always feel harmonious and perfectly applied, each palette tailored to the mood of the scene.

Red Wolf #5, written by Nathan Edmonson, cover art by Jeffrey Veregge, interior art by Dalibor Talajić, José Marzan, Jr., and Miroslav Mrva, lettering by Cory Petit. Marvel Comics, April 2016. $3.99.

While Red Wolf and Deputy Ortiz continue to pursue their suspects, Miss Haberly puts additional pressure on Mayor Babbish for more land. This issue in particular highlights the unique way Talajić, Marzan, and Mrva handle negative space in their panels; it’s a fascinating technique used to great effect that I haven’t seen others do before. The issue itself passes by quickly, building up tension to end with the reveal of a character we haven’t seen in a while. I’m enjoying Red Wolf’s development and the growth of his partnership with Deputy Ortiz, and I’m eager to see what happens in the next issue.

Silk #6, written by Robbie Thompson, cover art by Helen Chen, interior art by Tana Ford and Ian Herring, lettering by Travis Lanham. Marvel Comics, March 2016. $3.99.

Silk and Black Cat take out the Goblin Nation. I adore how much Robbie Thompson reveals about Silk’s character and her psyche, from little details like how she doesn’t like closed doors to the bigger, heavier issues like her anger. It’s rare to see a story about an Asian-American woman struggling with anger issues, so reading Silk is always a breath of fresh air. Ford is great at rendering Silk’s angry outbursts so that they feel visceral and terrifying.

Spider-Women Alpha #1, written by Robbie Thompson, cover art by Yasmine Putri, interior art by Vanesa del Rey and Jordie Bellaire, lettering by Travis Lanham. Marvel Comics, April 2016. $4.99.

Spider-women going out for brunch! I love seeing Gwen, Jessica, and Cindy team up and support each other; Vanesa del Rey’s brushed linework works wonderfully with Jordie Bellaire’s colors. I’m not sure if I’ll pull the individual issues of the Spider-Women crossover, but this issue sets up the plot nicely and leaves me curious as to what else is going to happen.

Silk #7 cover
Silk #7 cover; art by Yasmine Putri.

Silk #7, written by Robbie Thompson, cover art by Yasmine Putri, interior art by Tana Ford and Ian Herring, lettering by Travis Lanham. Marvel Comics, April 2016. $3.99.

I adore Yasmine Putri’s cover art for this issue; it’s gorgeous! I’m reading this issue without having read Spider-Gwen #7, but the summary from the beginning is enough to catch me up to speed on the Spider-Women story. This is a fun issue, with Cindy discovering that Earth-65!Cindy has cut her family out of her life and become a super villain. I’m interested in seeing how Earth-65!Cindy diverged from Earth-616!Cindy; now I’m more tempted to pull the remaining issues of Spider-Women, or at least wait for the trade…

Pull List: February 2016

Cover of Black Canary #8; art by Annie Wu.
Cover of Black Canary #8; art by Annie Wu.

Black Canary #8, written by Brenden Fletcher, cover art by Annie Wu, interior art by Sandy Jarrell and Lee Loughridge, lettering by Steve Wands. DC Comics, February 2016. $2.99.

This issue takes a turn from the battle of the previous issue. Dinah’s trapped near Berlin and has to fight her way out without her voice; the rest of the band has to try to save her without Ditto’s help. Mostly action and not too much character development or other narrative; I found this issue less interesting than the previous ones. I’m intrigued by the hints about Dinah’s mother, though, and I’m getting something of a Kill Bill vibe in her backstory that leaves me curious about future issues.

Ms. Marvel #4, written by G. Willow Wilson, cover art by David Lopez, interior art by Nico Leon and Ian Herring, lettering by Joe Caramagna. Marvel Comics, February 2016. $3.99.

Oh, what a fun issue! A new story arc starts in this issue with Kamala struggling to balance her Avengers duties with her school life and family life. She ropes Bruno into creating golem clones of herself to be in multiple places at once—but then something unexpected happens with the golems. Wilson’s writing effortlessly introduces cultural issues into the story, and I appreciate that Sana Amanat is on editing—I can feel lived experience coming in through the words, and I wonder if that’s her hand. The artwork is clean and fun, and Ms. Marvel seems to always rock the beautiful color palettes. Fantastic issue.

Cover of Pretty Deadly #8; art by Emma Ríos.
Cover of Pretty Deadly #8; art by Emma Ríos.

Pretty Deadly #8, written by Kelly Sue Deconnick, cover & interior art by Emma Ríos and Jordie Bellaire, lettering by Clayton Cowles. Image Comics, February 2016. $3.50.

Another gorgeous issue of Pretty Deadly. We go deeper into the war with Cyrus and Melvin and see their friendship grow. Rios’s paneling is exquisite as always, and the stark lime green against blood red of the gas mask scenes shows Bellaire’s skill at commanding unique atmospheres through color. There are so many subtle details to note in the pages, and the in-depth process details in the backmatter illuminate so the thought process that went into constructing those brilliant details. The tale of the farmer in this issue becomes particularly poignant when interlaced through the violence of the war. Fantastic installment.

Red Wolf #3, written by Nathan Edmondson, cover art by Jeffrey Veregge, interior art by Dalibor Talajić, José Marzan, Jr., and Miroslav Mrva, lettering by Cory Petit. Marvel Comics, February 2016. $3.99.

Unlike the last issue, which was more expository, this issue is packed full of action and throws us into a bigger plot. I’m loving all the characters in Red Wolf and am particularly fond of the titular character—he’s smart, observant, and does his best to adapt despite being thrown way out of his element. Both sheriffs have great personalities too, and I’m dying to see how the cliffhanger in this issue resolves itself. The narrative pacing of Red Wolf is great, too: a lot happens in every issue, but I don’t feel overwhelmed with how much happens. Fantastic art as always, and these two panels are my favorite—I get the sense that Veregge is offered a real hand in consulting for the comic:

Panels from Red Wolf
DEPUTY ORTIZ: Hey, Apache Joe, how about you back off our crime scene?
RED WOLF: Cheyenne.
DEPUTY ORTIZ: What?
RED WOLF: I’m not Apache. I’m Heévahetaneo’o. You might say Cheyenne of the South. Apache were an enemy, though my people didn’t fight them directly. And as a matter of fact, more than anything I was raised by my mother, who, on the outskirts of—
[OFF-PANEL]: Deputy!
Silk #4, written by Robbie Thompson, cover art by Helen Chen, interior art by Veronica Fish and Ian Herring, lettering by Travis Lanham. Marvel Comics, January 2016. $3.99.

Oh my god, I was not expecting the twist at the end of this issue. Thompson’s writing continues to be poignant and funny all at the same time, providing such a great voice for Silk’s character. I teared up over Silk’s flashback to her last moments with her parents; when her dad asks her if she really wants to spend her last moments outside ice-skating with her old man, I felt such a wave of affection come over me—I’ve had my own dad ask me similar questions when I spend time with him. Thompson’s great at including tiny details of verisimilitude and emotion. I loved Veronica Fish’s art for this issue; it’s a combination of Ford’s style and Lee’s style, fitting the aesthetic I’m coming to associate with Silk, with more fantastic color work by Ian Herring. Great issue.

Silk #5, written by Robbie Thompson, cover art by Helen Chen, interior art by Veronica Fish and Ian Herring, lettering by Travis Lanham. Marvel Comics, February 2016. $3.99.

A twist to end the twist! This issue felt a lot more decompressed, the opposite of the tightness of Red Wolf—it went by really quickly, though I’m not sure if that’s necessarily a bad thing. I’m loving Fish’s art, and the twists and turns in Thompson’s stories keep things fresh. This issue had less emotional content and more action, though it’s heartwarming to see how much Silk’s friends and mentors are watching out for her—I only hope that Silk comes to see that herself, too. Can’t wait to see what happens next!

Pull List: January 2016

When I found out Monstress #3 was coming out today, I rushed to the comic store after work and picked it up along with the rest of my pulls for this month. Finally got caught up on Black Canary in time for this latest issue—none of my pulls this month disappointed; I adore all the comics I’m following. Seven reviews below:

Cover for Black Canary #5. Art by Annie Wu.
Cover for Black Canary #5; art by Annie Wu.

Black Canary #5, written by Brenden Fletcher, cover art by Annie Wu, interior art by Pia Guerra, Sandy Jarrell, and Lee Loughridge, lettering by Steve Wands. DC Comics, October 2015. $2.99.

Oh man, I’m such a sucker for Battle of the Bands type stuff, and this issue takes Black Canary right into that territory. I love the camaraderie that Dinah has with her bandmates; I’m so intrigued by all the tiny hints Fletcher is dropping about the true purpose of Black Canary. I love Jarrell’s artwork on pages 18 and 19—Maeve’s expressions are great—and both Guerra and Jarrell are great at rendering motion fluidly.

Black Canary #6, written by Brenden Fletcher, cover art by Annie Wu, interior art by Annie Wu and Lee Loughridge, lettering by Steve Wands. DC Comics, December 2015. $2.99.

What a phenomenal issue. I’m so impressed by the pages that showed Bo Maeve’s band fighting against Black Canary—Wu’s paneling and Loughridge’s colors bring the “head-to-head” part of the battle into vivid relief; the orange and blue create a fantastic clash that works so beautifully in this medium. I’m really not sure if the visuals of this issue would be able to translate properly into any other medium; the panel showing punches overlaid on guitar frets in particular is so unique. I’ve grown so attached to these characters, and I’m dying to find out more about Ditto and the band.

Black Canary #7, written by Brenden Fletcher, cover art by Annie Wu, interior art by Annie Wu and Lee Loughridge, lettering by Steve Wands. DC Comics, January 2016. $2.99.

Eee, that first page! The layout is deceptively simple—a 4 × 4 grid of panels, all the same size—yet the imagery in each panel and the movement in the gutter spaces convey such a sense of gravity in addition to the text. And the way the last page mirrors it… this whole issue is brilliant in structure and craft; the battle scene laid out on a musical staff was a fun touch. There’s something to be said about the level of skill it takes to create sequential art that reads fluidly without text; Wu packs so much into the extended battle scene, and the beats of the battle were well-paced so that the ending felt earned to me. This issue takes a couple of sharp narrative turns, but they’re ones that feel fresh and keep me hanging on to find out more.

Cover of Monstress #3; art by Sana Takeda.
Cover of Monstress #3; art by Sana Takeda.

Monstress #3, written by Marjorie Liu, art by Sana Takeda, lettering by Rus Wooton. Image Comics, January 2016. $3.99.

Gorgeous artwork by Sana Takeda, as always. This issue moves more slowly than the previous two—it’s clear that Liu and Takeda are laying down building blocks for the world here, with hints of exposition between moments of action. The last two pages are haunting, both in imagery and implication.

Beyond the comic itself, I appreciated Marjorie Liu’s response in the letters column to a fan who critiqued the “Asian” ambiance in the story, saying that words like “Constantine” and “Cumae” felt more Roman/European. In her response, Liu discusses the hybridity of Asia and the expansiveness of the term “Orient,” which covered so much more than just modern Asia. I’m looking forward to seeing how the worldbuilding and story play out. I typically don’t go for slow stories, but Monstress is clearly an epic fantasy in scope, and I’m willing to be more patient.

Ms. Marvel #3, written by G. Willow Wilson, cover art by Cliff Chiang, interior art by Takeshi Miyazawa and Ian Herring, lettering by Joe Caramagna. Marvel Comics, January 2016. $3.99.

Once again Miyazawa’s lineart is such a delight, and Herring’s color palettes throughout do such a great job of setting different scenes and moods. I absolutely love love love that Kamala came to an understanding of Mike in this issue, and that they got to bond and team up—yes to more stories about girls being friends instead of hating on each other over a love interest! A great conclusion to this three-issue arc; I’m looking forward to the next arc.

Red Wolf #2, written by Nathan Edmonson, cover art by Jeffrey Veregge, interior art by Dalibor Talajić, José Marzan, Jr., and Miroslav Mrva, lettering by Cory Petit. Marvel Comics, January 2016. $3.99.

The artwork is expressive, with clean lines that don’t feel stiff at all. Jeffrey Veregge’s covers stand out so much from the rest of the cover art at Marvel; the designs are bold and stylized. I’m disappointed that the credits page doesn’t include Veregge’s name; the signature on the cover art is legible, but there should still be a byline included. As for the story itself, this issue is less fast-paced than issue 1; it’s mostly setting the groundwork for getting Red Wolf from the time jump into the modern day setting. Interested to see where this story goes.

Cover for Silk #3. Art by Helen Chen.
Cover for Silk #3; art by Helen Chen.

Silk #3, written by Robbie Thompson, cover art by Helen Chen, interior art by Tana Ford and Ian Herring, lettering by Travis Lanham. Marvel Comics, January 2016. $3.99.

I didn’t like Tana Ford’s art at first—it’s such a contrast to Stacey Lee’s artwork, which I loved—but Ford’s art is really starting to grow on me; I’m finding in particular that the looser lines do a great job of mirroring Cindy’s mental and emotional states. I adore that this run of Silk is delving into Cindy’s mental health, and that she returns to see her therapist despite struggling to acknowledge her feelings and experiences. The trauma she’s been through rings the truest through the stories and the representation has been fantastic so far; it’s been so great to see, given that Asian-American communities in real life deal with a lot of invisibility and stigma when it comes to diagnosing and treating mental illnesses. I have high hopes that Thompson will continue to handle Cindy’s story sensitively.