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

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!

Media // Other Stuff This Week #150403

Finding time to put together full write-ups of all the great books out there each week can be tough, so this quick run through will hopefully provide some pithy (and in some cases spoilerish) thoughts on some of the stuff that I wasn’t able to spend more time on recently

Gotham Academy: Endgame #1 – Writer Brendan Fletcher, with co-writer Becky Cloonan, has turned in another exemplary End Game tie-in with this book (see also Batgirl: Endgame). As a Gotham Academy reader who isn’t picking up the wider Bat-books or the End Game stuff in particular, this is exactly how I wanted to see the cross-over handled – a thematically resonant story that takes advantage of the circumstances to tell a story unique to these characters. Whilst decamped to the gymnasium in hiding from the Joker-zombies Olive, Maps, and Pomeline tell Joker-themed ghost stories. This is just great; the stories are neat YA horror tales, the dialogue is fun, and the art is a nice showcase of different talent.

iZombie (TV) #1.3 – I’m not sure how I feel about this show – on the one hand it is a perfectly fun Veronica Mars meets Buffy style show with some goofy and unique ideas, yet on the other it is a criminally formulaic police-procedural show. The plots so far have all followed some pretty well-trodden paths, and sure, they are only the skeleton around which the zombie hijinks and love story hang, but I’m already finding the approach a little dull. This episode raised a few chuckles, some interesting personal questions for Liv, and the core trio of characters remained likeable. I’m not done with the show yet, but I’m close, and I really hope they find a way for Aly Michalka’s character to less unsympathetic.

Spider-Gwen #3 – The art in this book is so damn lovely that it would be easy to forgive it a multitude of sins; luckily the writing is pretty good too. The plot still feels like it is just getting started, and it is nice to see some more flesh being added to characters like the Vulture, Captain Stacey and Frank Castle. The progression of Gwen’s place in this society is an interesting one, especially if she is de-masked, and her continued evolution as a hero is well handled. The ending beat was also particularly strong. One thing that did disappoint – we didn’t get to check in with the Mary Janes this issue!

The Flash (TV) #1.17 – After the excellent two parter in recent weeks the show-runners have seemingly decided to double down on the revelations – this episode offers up some intriguing back story as well as setting the stage for the next few episodes as we approach the season finale. Mark Hamill’s guest spot was everything I could have wanted and the meta-jokes where excellent and many. The show is very much popcorn entertainment, but it is so well put together and the balance between longer and shorter stories is so well handled (not to mention the writers’ ability to surprise) that this is consistently one of the most fun genre shows out there right now.

The Walking Dead (TV) #5.16 – This finale was an excellent end to a great, if uneven, season. There were plenty of surprises, some very tense moments, and some well deserved character beats. The handling of Darryl in the second half of this season has been particularly good so it was rewarding to see him get a lot of screen time. Likewise I’m glad that the Morgan sub-plot has progressed somewhat given it’s mysteriously slow pace all season. I’ve had qualms about the where they took Rick’s character, but it was paid off well here, and although the Deanna plot may have been quite abrupt in its resolution the stage is certainly well set for next season.

March Pull List – Some of the Best Current Comics

Every month I like to throw a spot light on some of the great comic books that are coming out right now. The great news is that the diversity of great books, characters, and stories coming out of the big two (Marvel and DC), as well as all of the brilliant independents, may well be better than ever, so there are always great comics to talk about. Last month’s selections are all still going strong so I would highly recommend jumping in on any of them if you haven’t done so already. This month features a couple of books that will be bowing out soon with final issues, but I wanted to take a last moment to reflect on the brilliant stories and art that they have offered up through their runs.

The below books are some of what I consider to be the best titles from my regular pull list. Some are new, some are nearly finished, but they are all telling interesting stories, making inventive and exciting use of the medium, and/or tackling worthwhile and under-represented subject matter:

Silk

Silk #1 Cover

Writer – Robbie Thompson / Artist – Stacey Lee / Colours – Ian Herring // Marvel

New spider-powered super-hero Cindy Moon was introduced to the Marvel universe in the recent Edge of the Spider-Verse reality-spanning Spider-Man cross-over-mega-event, and this is the first issue of her ongoing story. Cindy is a delightful character, she is fun, smart, and eager to be fight super-villains, but she is also struggling to fit in with the world she has emerged into, both as super-hero and regular person. There is some brilliant drama and some absolutely wonderful art in this issue; it is an incredible start to this new book.

Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel #12 Cover

Writer – Kelly Sue DeConnick / Art – David Lopez / Colours – Lee Loughridge // Marvel

I only recently picked up my first issue of Captain Marvel, but as soon as I finished it I ordered copies of every back issue in the Kelly Sue DeConnick run. This is a book about stirring science fiction adventure, with a brave, strong, and frankly awesome lead character in the form of Carol Danvers. I was already pumped for the upcoming Captain Marvel movie, so if it takes even a sliver of inspiration from this run it will be amazing stuff indeed.

Elektra

Elektra #10 Cover (Michael Del Mundo)

Writer – W. Haden Blackman / Art – Micheal Del Mundo / Colours – Marco D’Alfonso // Marvel

W. Haden Blackman has spun an exciting, compelling cat and mouse chase across continents, memories, and minds as Elektra sought her quarry, legendary assassin Cape Crow. The twists have kept pace with the frankly astonishing art from Micheal Del Mundo, and the emotional core of Elektra has been explored even as she beats the heck out of everyone she encounters. I’m surprised there hasn’t been more press about the end of this book given its consistent quality, but in any case it will be missed.

Spider-Gwen

Spider-Gwen #1 Cover

Writer – Jason Latour / Art – Robbi Rodriguez / Colours – Rico Renzi // Marvel

A second new title spinning out of Edge of the Spider-Verse, Spider-Gwen is the story of an alternate world where Gwen Stacey was bitten by the radio-active spider rather than Peter Parker. The set-up of Gwen’s status quo, her relationships, and conflicts are all expertly done and there is still plenty of time for gorgeous action and funny quips. This issue also takes advantage of its wholly new universe to pull in all sorts of Marvel characters in new and interesting roles (Frank Castle as NYPD captain!). There is plenty to enjoy in this book, and if it continues to be this good it will be an essential read.

Hawkeye

Hawkeye #21 Cover

Writer – Matt Fraction / Art – David Aja / Colours – Matt Hollingsworth // Marvel

Matt Fraction and David Aja, with some back up from Annie Wu, have put together an exceptional story about the unexceptional life of Clint Barton when he’s not Avenging stuff. This series has had many great moments and more than a few shocks, but this month will see the final issue in the story and it is all set to be a great finish. Clint’s low-stakes (by Avengers standards) adventure has offered some pretty memorable scenes and it will no doubt be one worth revisiting in its entirety.

Review: Spider-Gwen #1

Concise

Well, I don’t think that could have been any better. Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez deliver a storming first issue of the new Spider-Gwen solo book that picks up the threads from the Edge of the Spider-Verse one-shot and goes on to expand Gwen’s universe. The dialogue is funny, the characters interesting, and the story compelling; all of which can be found alongside incredible art, colours, and inventive lettering. This issue is the whole package, and one great start.

Spider-Gwen #1 Cover

Spoilerful

Following a fan-favourite introduction in the recent Spider-Man multidimensional cross-over Spider-Gwen is a very new addition to the wall-crawling family. So, Gwen has been out of town for a few days (getting involved in all of that Spider-Verse action as a helpful and fun editor Nick cameo informs us), and during that time a new villain calling himself the Vulture has decided to become New York’s first real super-villain. The introductory Spider-Gwen story from the Spider-Verse book gave us an insight into Gwen’s world, but this first solo issue does a lot more good work to establish the status quo of the New York that Gwen calls home. It quickly becomes clear that super-heroes are a rare breed here, for example Ben Grimm of the Fantastic Four is a regular police man in this world, and likewise Peter Parker’s Lizard seems to have been the first legit super-villian. This is important because it establishes that Gwen is walking a lonely path, there are no Avengers or X-Men to turn to here, and the recent Spider-Verse book has shown her how different things could be.

To add to the pain of self-realization is the fact that the Vulture has stepped into the lime light only because he is jealous of Gwen’s infamy, a suitably self-indulgent and petty reason that sheds a lot of light on the Adrian Toomes of this world. Immediately this is a villain that mirrors and reverses Gwen’s feeling and situation – JJ Jameson (hating on spider-types even in Gwen’s Earth-65) has made sure that Gwen is public enemy number one, which is exactly the reputation that Vulture craves. Gwen doesn’t want her life to be this way, and neither does Toomes – they are opposites about to cross paths.

Writer Jason Latour does a lot of work in this issue, he widens our lens on this alternate Marvel universe, and lays the ground work for the first arc both for Spider-Gwen and regular-Gwen, all the while throwing in some thrilling plot points and funny lines. Gwen is dejected after returning to this world, she won’t face her father and she has quit the band, but most of all she is facing into the hatred of the city she is trying to protect. But her city, like her band, need her to be what they once were – upstarts like the Vulture and ‘cousin Jim’ may be trying to usurp Gwen, but they aren’t about to have it easy. Gwen’s soul searching feels real in this book, and never descends into cloying self-pity, she has shut herself off (listening to music in a dark back alley rather than speaking to her father on the phone, or hiding in the rafters of the Mary Janes studio rather than facing her friends directly). Gwen wants to re-integrate, but after revealing her secret identity to her father, having JJ and pals brand her as a menace, and missing the band’s big gig, she is understandably afraid to take those steps. I really liked that the eves-dropping at of the band yielded a painful truth for Gwen, as Gloria takes MJ to task for being stupid and pig-headed, the words resonate with Gwen too – she makes a faltering first step with her dad (listening to his voicemail) and steps up to reclaim her city. There are a lot of great threads in play by the end of this issue, Gwen still hasn’t reconciled with the Mary Janes, Frank Castle is on her case, and yeah she just got dropped in New York Harbor.

The art from Robbi Rodriguez is simply so good in this book. The physicality and grace of Spider-Gwen is amazon, when she pivots to throw the Bodega Bandit into a dumpster it looks real and effortless and incredible. Similarly Spider-Gwen searching Toomes’ apartment features so many panels of perfect physicality, especially when Gwen makes up her mind to call the Vulture out (she looks pretty damn serious!). But it’s not just the physicality that Rodriguez nails, it’s the details too. The Vulture is a petty vindictive man and his grotesque personality is captured in those very first panels – his grin, his vulture-esque features, his perch; he has truly become a true carrion creature. The Mary Janes are illustrated amazingly, from MJ’s meltdown to her wilted form, to Captain Frank Castle ‘interrogating’ the suspect (and the breadth of Aleksei’s shoulders and chest is just awesome). There are just so many great details on every page, in every panel that this is a treat to just look at let alone read – the bandit’s shoe’s flying off when he is thrown, the city reflected in the window Captain Stacy looks out of,  Gwen dropping her 78¢ in the tip jar at the grocery store, Murder-Face the cat’s face in every panel!

Holy moley, are the colours on this book something else! Rico Renzi’s style is a perfect match for Rodriguez’s art, and for this world. The deep mingling greens and yellows of the Vulture’s smoke clouds, the rich hot pinks and greens of the street-art, and the amber/pink hues of every scene featuring the Mary Janes; these are all gorgeously rendered colours that make the visuals of this world ‘pop’ with every panel. Even the more pedestrian scenes, like Gwen in the local store feature some beautiful colour work (check out the deep shadows in Gwen’s hair or the dust on top of the hot dog grill). Gwen’s New York is a vibrant pulsating purple world and it’s skies are an iridescent mix of royal, navy, and aqua blues that long to be stared at. And then there is Gwen’s costume, a stark clean white, with internal webbed pink lining, pink eye-shadow but white void eyes, and a complex shadows from every angle – there is not a panel where the colouring on this outfit is not amazing. Truly Renzi does an outstanding job on this book!

Not to be out done letterer Clayton Cowles does some wonderful work here. The dripping paint sound effect of a spray can, the “kruka” of cracking knuckles, the “rrrummm” of an ignored phone, all of these effects are delightfully integrated into the fabric of this world. Even Gwen’s narrative text is lovely, a deep purple that matches her costume’s lining. Cowles has been doing excellent work over on Bitch Planet and it is great to see that same high quality here.

The cult of Gwen is an interesting side-note, a group youngsters who wear hoodies similar to Gwen’s costume and use graffiti to contradict JJ’s narrative of a villainous Spider-Gwen. They have a prominent scrawl on their backs that reads “YSG” which would imply that they are this world’s Yancy Street Gang; a group that would frequently harass the Thing, both humorously and otherwise, in the pages of the Fantastic Four. Their image of Gwen is accompanied by the words “who’s responsible” so it is possible they are on Gwen’s side, or maybe just they are just making trouble and keeping officer Grimm busy. It is probably also worth mentioning that Grimm survives a six-story drop and crawls four blocks before he is found – he is either preternaturally strong, or maybe there are more super-powers at work in this world after all?

In many ways this book reminds me of the excellent Batman: The Animated Series, perhaps it’s the sharp yet light art style, or the tight yet playful writing, or maybe it’s the combination of fun super heroics with deeper than at first glance story telling. In any case this is a really excellent start to this must-read book, and one that bodes well for this series going forward. If this issue is an indication, Spider-Gwen is here to stay, and I couldn’t be happier.

Spider-Gwem #1 Panel

Spider-Gwen #1 // Writer – Jason Latour / Artist – Robbi Rodriguez / Colour Artist – Rico Renzi // Marvel

Notes and Observations:

  • Is the Bodega Bandit based on a real guy?
  • Who is the mystery woman watching Frank Castle ‘question’ Aleksei I wonder.
  • I love that Gwen’s backpack is pretty much a permanent part of her costume (even if it does disappear for a couple of panels when Gwen enters Toomes’ place).
  • Oh yeah – Matt Murdock is Kingpin again!!
  • Gwen finds an ad for ‘Mr Z’ at Toomes’ apartment – Mr Z was a corrupt insurance salesman (real name W.C. Tuttle) who first appeared in the 616 universe back in 1942 via Mystic Comics #10. What is he doing here?

All art belongs to the copyright holder