Comics // Weekly Pull List // 11/11/2015

Here we are again, new comics! It’s a quiet-ish week though with a few books that I possibly/maybe/might pick up.

Captain America: White #4 – So I will definitely be buying this book because it features more lovely Tim Sale artwork, but I must admit to being a little underwhelmed by the series as a whole. Whether it is the result of being on the shelf gathering dust for a few years, or that it so closely resembles other books in the Loeb/Sale Marvel Spectrum series isn’t clear, but for whatever reason I’m just not that excited by anything in this mini-series.

Captain America White #4 Cover

Descender #7 – I’m excited to see this book is back after a brief hiatus. This year has seen plenty of new indie sci-fi books, most of them very good, yet this is probably one of the best (alongside Bitch Planet). It’s an interesting universe, beautifully drawn, and compellingly written.

Descender #7 Cover

Secret Wars #7 – The event to end all events (at least for another year) continues it’s late running story. It really has been a terrific book so far and I’ve no doubt it will be equally strong as we go into the final 3 issues.

Secret Wars #7 Cover

Spider-Gwen #2 – This remains a solid book even if the magic from it’s first few issues seems to have dissipated a little (I’m not sure why that is, maybe because the narrative doesn’t seem to be moving forward very much?)

Spider-Gwen #2 Cover

Thought Bubble 2015 AnthologyThought Bubble is one of the UK’s best sequential art festivals/cons (that I will be attending again this year) and their annual comic book always offers a great selection of artists and writers. Besides the awesome Babs Tarr cover this has a Tim Sale short (as did last years) so I am all in! Also the profits from the book go to charity so what’s not to love!

Thought Bubble Anthology 2015 Cover

Possibles

All-New Wolverine #1 – I want this book to be good; I’m a fan of X-23 and it would be cool to have an exciting new Wolverine on the block. Unfortunately the brief preview that I have seen is chock full of stupidness and bland writing. I’m a sucker for mutant-led books though so it’s a maybe!

All- New Wolverine #1 Cover

DC Bombshells #4 – Marguerite Bennett’s writing is really strong on this book, but some of the art doesn’t sit well with me (purely on grounds of personal taste). When Marguerite Sauvage is drawing it, it is a really great book, but the rest of the time it doesn’t work for me, and this issue looks like it is sans-Sauvage so I probably won’t pick it up.

DC Bombshells #4 Cover

Diesel #3 – I love Tyson Hesse’s art on this book, but the writing is super choppy. The main character is really quite annoying and there isn’t a strong enough narrative core pulling all of the characters/happenings together for it to be compelling. This one will depend on mood – the art could pull me in, but it might not.

Diesel #3 Cover

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Comics // Review // Civil War #5 / Secret Wars

Concise //

The great war that erupted between former team-mates Tony Stark and Steve Rogers all comes down to one final battle; Rogers has a secret weapon but Stark knows a secret. This series has been a lot more interesting than I expected it to be as writer Charles Soule has delivered on a compelling vision of a Marvel Universe still divided by the events of Stamford and it’s escalating aftermath. The entire book has followed a smart plot and this issue is no different, there are even a few fun surprises left in Soule’s hand. Lenil Francis Yu’s art is great and the epic super-heroics more than live up to the legacy of the series’ namesake. This is a great conclusion to a very well put together miniseries.

Civil War #5 Cover (Secret Wars)

Spoilerful //

Writer Charles Soule has created a compelling alternate timeline that lead to the Civil War stretching on for years and the development of a divided America hugely influenced by rival leaders Captain America and Iron Man. The Blue, a place of freedom and hard work, and the Iron, an unrivaled technological utopia with strict superhuman monitoring, have spent a decade or more in a state of cold war, but recent events have lead to all out hostilities with Cap ready to sacrifice himself to de-power the superhumans of the Iron. Tony and Jennifer ‘She-Hulk’ Walters meanwhile have uncovered the truth about the war’s escalation, it was the Skrulls all along!

Civil War remains an excellent blockbuster event (to my mind it is bested only by House of M and maybe this Secret Wars if it finishes as strongly as it has been so far), one that encompassed the entire Marvel Universe and, with the exception of the X-Men, gave everyone involved some powerful story arcs driven by action, emotion, and ethics. Soule has done well then to recapture a lot of what made that event work so well; his ensemble is broad with a healthy mix of interesting characters on both sides of the war. Centering in on Tony, Steve, and Jennifer with plenty of characters in the background is a smart move though as it anchors the epic conflict in human drama – Steve’s decision to de-power fellow ‘heroes’, Tony’s guilt over the war, and Jennifer’s general awesomeness (and love for Tony).

Whilst the revelation that Skrulls had been behind the key events driving this version of Civil War came in part 4 it is in this issue that it really hits home. All the pain, bloodshed, and sacrifice has been due to the machinations of an otherworldly foe and the weight of how misguided Tony and Steve have been really presses down on the two men. Soule is smart not to go to far with this reveal though, the Stamford incident and subsequent tensions between Cap and Iron Man were all real, in fact it seems like everything up to the final battle was the result of our heroes being at war (though who knows when Skrull-Panther took over and what she was up to in the background). This retains the ethical heft of the original story and the sense of responsibility that Steve and Tony carry for letting things get out of hand, whilst allowing for this series to follow a very different but still organic timeline. The choice of Skrulls as the overall villain here is great as it allows Soule to play with the timeline of the original universe, wherein Civil War was followed by the Skrull’s Secret Invasion (it is even noted that Veranke and her Skrulls were the remnants of an abandoned invasion plan); it’s a re-purposing of the original continuity that is fun for readers of those events at the same time as offering a natural arc for this book (plus Soule gets to play with the core universe a little by posing the question “Was Bucky ever…really back?“)

The action scenes truly are epic in this issue with artist Lenil Francis Yu really getting to have some fun; Logan and Cap fighting side by side was a highlight, but pretty much every panel of superhero warfare was awesome in scale and execution. Yu’s art flows smoothly throughout the book leading to the claustrophobic conclusion in the depths of the divide; the pacing and composition of those final panels of Tony and Steve really hit hard as both Yu and Soule deliver a great redemptive moment for these misguided heroes.

Civil War #5 Panel 2 (Secret Wars)

It was perhaps no surprise that this book would have to end with Cap and Iron Man making the ultimate sacrifice to ensure that the Blue and the Iron found peace, but the execution of that story has been excellent from start to finish. The characterisation of Tony as a weary leader haunted by the tough choices but supported by a loving relationship with Jennifer is a real triumph and perhaps my favourite version of this character ever, whilst the Cap as hardened general angle reveals a Steve Rogers who did what he had to despite the cost to his soul. The spirit of the original book is alive and well here, both sides still fighting for an justifiable cause, as is the nobility of it’s finale. Soule has delivered on the promise of revisiting a classic story and has done so with aplomb, this is easily one of the strongest books in the Secret Wars event.

Civil War #5 Panel (Secret Wars)

Civil War #5 // Writer – Charles Soule / Artist – Lenil Francis Yu / Colourist – Sunny Gho & Matt Milla // Marvel

Notes //

– The relationship between Tony and Jennifer was a real strength of this book; it served many purposes (humanising Tony and showing his growth from an adolescent playboy to a responsible adult and leader; raising the emotional stakes for Tony and the audience; giving Soule-favourite She-Hulk plenty of well-earned page time), yet despite the story-mechanics of it Soule was always able to write a touching and genuine love between the characters. It always felt like these two characters were in love and there were plenty of great one-liners amongst the frank emotional dialogue (Tony: “God, you’re magnificent” Jennifer: “You are not wrong“. Damn, now I really want these characters together in the main Marvel Universe.

– In contrast the Peter and MJ story never quite worked for me, mostly because I never really understood why MJ was confined to the Iron. This issue made it clearer as Peter finally (in the epilogue no less) explained that MJ chose the Iron as it was a better environment to raise their daughter in (as opposed to an environment where she could she her father Spider-Man everyday?!). This story was always kept a little too off-screen for it to matter, and I suspect it was only included at all because Peter was so important to the original book and he needed an emotional arc here too.

– I was pleased to see a load of X-Men well integrated throughout the story as they were largely (and regrettably) absent from Civil War. The revelation that Logan was now Grey Hulk was amazing… Amazing! Especially as the Blue threatened to send a Hulk to the Iron way back in issue 2, which Tony quickly dismissed, “If you had a real Hulk I think I’d know about it

– It doesn’t seem like there have been any real tie-ins to the wider Secret Wars event; not a big problem at all and probably a decision that gives the book a more self-contained and re-readable format, but I must admit that some of the other event books have been able to do some really fun things with the mechanics of Battle World

Comics // Weekly Pull List // 14/10/15

Many of the so far great Secret Wars tie-in series’ are bowing out now with a couple more ending this week. Just in time too, as the all new, all different, all at the same time Marvel universe relaunch has already started (even though the main Secret Wars book hasn’t even finished!).

Weekly Pull List 14.10.15

A-Force #5 // Secret Wars – Writer Marguerite Bennett can do no wrong at the moment, and working here with co-writer G. Willow Wilson, she has delivered a great start for what will hopefully become a regular all-female Avengers book. Although this series started off a little slow it has really grown into an exciting epic that has been well worth the read.

DC Bombshells #3 – The second book from Bennett this week and it is great to see artist Marguerite Sauvage return, albeit not for the full issue. Sauvage’s art is so perfectly matched to this world and story that it really elevates the entire endeavour.

Captain America: White #3 – I never thought I’d see this book come out at all, let alone regularly. Tim Sale’s art is as amazing as ever, nuff said!

Civil War #5 // Secret Wars – The original Civil War was a solid superhero blockbuster event and I wasn’t sure where this return would really have to go; fortunately Charles Soule has managed to find a very interesting alternate history that remains true to the characters involved. Lenil Francis Yu has also delivered some great art to complement the epic tale. I’m very excited to see how this one wraps up.

Diesel #2 – Tyson Hesse’s indie book about an overly eager young would-be captain and the flying city ship she inherited has some wonderful ideas and gorgeous art in its favour. The dialogue in the first issue felt a little off though, with a few jokes and scenes that didn’t quite work for me. There is a lot of potential here though, so I’m looking forward to another look at this world.

Spider-Gwen: Radioactive #1 – I have literally no understanding of how the timeline/multiverse elements of this book reconcile with the events of the still unfolding Secret Wars. My understanding is that the new Marvel U books take place 8 months after the end of SW, but whether that is true of Spider-Gwen’s pocket universe I do not know. Basically I’m imagining that this book will continue straight from the last issue, which is totally fine by me!

Comics // Weekly Pull List // 07/10/15

This is a quiet week for me with only a few comics on my pull list, with a couple of newly launched series in the mix:

Weekly Pull List 07.10.15

Doctor Strange #1 – I’ve been looking forward to this book since it was announced a few months ago; Chris Bachalo is one of my favourite artists and the last time I was picking up a Doc Strange book it was Brian K. Vaughan’s The Oath and that was an amazing mini. I’ve not always gotten on with Jason Aaron’s writing, but his vision for the character, a fun mystical adventurer type, sounds interesting and Bachalo will get me to buy literally anything

Old Man Logan #5 – The original Old Man Logan story was a fun (if dark) jaunt in a possible future and whilst it has been great to revisit that setting with this series I’m actually quite glad that the story has turned more on Old Man Logan’s journey to uncovering the mysteries of Secret Wars and making his way into the current timeline. This is definitely one of the stronger event tie in books.

Paper Girls #1 – This looks like an interesting book, pitched as Stand By Me meets War of the Worlds, and Brian K. Vaughan is obviously a trusted hand in the writing department. Cliff Chiang’s art looks great too and early buzz is that this will be a very special book.

Secret Wars #6 – There has been quite a delay waiting for this issue which finally comes out just as the post event Marvel line is getting started. Publication date issues aside the central narrative has been strong so far and the story is compelling, the fact that we’re entering the final stretch makes it even more exciting.

Comics // Quick Review // Silver Surfer #14

It’s a testament to the storytelling power of the creative team behind this book that they can take the premise of Marvel’s Secret Wars event, an epic multi-verse spanning tale of universal destruction that has been years in the making, and find a way to develop a yet grander and more monumental tale. It’s the last days of the Surfer and Dawn have managed to escape the material universe and find safety in an extra-dimensional void. Two mysterious strangers, Glorian the maker of miracles and Zee, offer to help remake the universe that has been destroyed by God Doom; can putting things right be so simple?

Perhaps its not surprising that the power to reshape the Earth, and even the universe itself, might go to ones head and cause you to make dubious decisions, but this book has already done a great deal of background work that gives those choices a grounding in the history of these characters. Dawn takes on the sole responsibility to reform Earth as much out of sibling pride and insecurity as out of kind-heartedness, whilst the weight of Norrin’s Galactus-scale-guilt leads him to question the limits of his newfound power. Glorian and Zee, and the Shaper of Worlds too (the entity that forms the fabric of the white void itself), all seem like good guys eager to put right the broken world, but with this much power at their finger-tips and the clear dangers of temptation that already pull at the fringes of our heroes minds there is a worrying shadow cast over this issue.

As usual this issue is executed perfectly by storytellers Dan Slott and Mike Allred and the moral implications affecting our leads are wonderfully exploited before anything has really happened. How much do we really know of our world, how much could we remember to remake given the power and the need? These are interesting questions, which may well come into clearer focus as this story continues, but here the real interest is on the characters themselves and the people they want to save. Dawn’s request of Norrin, that he “bring all of our friends back first” is a curiously selfish one for a character normally so selfless, but it is not surprising given the circumstances. Her father’s similarly emotional request is further evidence that this level of power can give you potentially unhealthy priorities.

Allred’s art continues to deliver on every page; his inventive designs and layouts bring the book to life even when characters are walking around in a white lifeless void. Panels such as those of the Surfer forming suns and stars, and the people below erecting sculptures in his honour, are things of wonder. Laura Allred’s colour work is similarly magnificent with the aforementioned white void inhabited and surrounded by characters and places of vibrant life. The page of Norrin doing his good work bringing back the Plorpians and sandwich shops is a perfect combination of both art and colour; one that has the playful otherworldliness that has permeated this run throughout.

This book remains one of Marvel’s most consistent successes; every issue brings fresh humour and inventive science fiction tomfoolery without ever undermining the human drama that drives Dawn and Norrin’s relationship. Dan Slott and Mike Allred’s run on the Surfer is sure to go down as one of the best with the character and this issue is no different – if you have any interest in great storytelling and fun scifi drama then give this a read as soon as you can.

Silver Surfer Logo

Silver Surfer #14 // Storytellers – Dan Slott & Michael Allred / Colour Artist – Laura Allred // Marvel