October 11, 2017

The Pull List: 27 September 2017, Part 2

In the past year or so UK publisher Titan Comics has expanded into publishing 'bandes desinees', French comics that sit somewhere between American-style floppy issues and trade collections. The page counts are generally higher per installment than their US-counterparts. In France they are usually handsomely packaged in hardcover editions. Here they're just repackaged as thick comic books, but it still affords readers a chance to experience stories that were previously unavailable in English.

The Beautiful Death, by writer/artist Mathieu Bablet, follows a group of young scavengers working their way through a massive dead city. After more than three years on the run every other human is long dead, and they are rapidly running out of supplies. They are being pursued by giant insectoid creatures intent on killing them, and the stress is beginning to tear them apart.

As a scenario it isn't strikingly fresh, but it is excellently developed and beautifully illustrated. The extra page length is a godsend here - you could honestly see the same plot get squeezed by an American creator into 20 pages. Instead the real loneliness and hopelessness of the situation has time to fully sink in. Bablet's art has a nice distinctive style to it, reminding me a little of Noelle Stevenson's Nimona in its aesthetic. Bablet's colouring work is masterful. (4/5)

The Beautiful Death #1. Statix Press/Titan Comics. Story and art by Mathieu Bablet.

Under the cut: reviews of Batgirl, Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter, Saga and War Mother.

Batgirl #15
DC Comics. Written by Hope Larson. Art by Chris Wildgoose and Jose Marzan Jr. Colours by Mat Lopes.
Who is the Red Queen? Batgirl and Nightwing team up after the Mad Hatter is hospitalised by a mysterious new villain with their own Alice in Wonderland connection. Working together brings back memories between the two heroes - and may be rekindling an old romance. The Batgirl/Nightwing romance is something DC has been teasing off and on for decades, to the point where I kind of feel they have to either act on it or drop it for good. Any other option just feels cruel to the readership. Chris Wildgoose's artwork is great; I think he has really settled well into this title, as has writer Hope Larson. It's back to the sort of quality we were getting just before Rebirth, and that's a great thing. (4/5)

Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter #1
Titan Comics. Written by Dan Abnett. Art by Tom Mandrake. Colours by Sam Mandrake.
Titan run a strong line of TV and film tie-ins, and they've added to it with Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter: a rather unexpected spin-off from a 1974 gothic horror film about a swordsman hunting down the undead. The more unexpected part is how they've done such a sensational job with it. Writer Dan Abnett nails the pulpy tone of the film, and artist Tom Mandrake gives the entire piece a very old-fashioned style that suits the script marvelously. It is a near-perfect package for fans of old-style horror comics, and a pleasant surprise. (4/5)

Saga #47
Image. Written by Brian K. Vaughan. Art by Fiona Staples.
Anybody expecting an update on Marko and Alana might be frustrated with this issue, which instead focuses upon the Will getting tortured for information by a vengeful alien. Thankfully it's a great conversation, interspersed with key flashbacks of the Will's life as he is interrogated. His torturer Ianthe also seems an intriguing new character. Once again Fiona Staples does an outstanding job of designing new characters and settings - Ianthe's spaceship in particular is just wonderful. How everything ties up next issue remains to be seen; with six-issue arcs being the norm here, there seems a fair bit to squeeze in over the next 20 pages. (4/5)

War Mother #2
Valiant. Written by Fred Van Lente. Art by Stephen Segovia and Roberto De La Torre. Colours by Andrew Dalhouse.
Ana, the 'war mother' of the Grove, has signaled for her people to join her at a new home - only to be immediately captured by a mysterious force. Now she must break free and defeat the evil force before her community walk into a deadly trap. War Mother is a post-apocalyptic science fiction comic. It reads an awful lot like a 2000 AD serial, and that's not bad thing. Segovia and De La Torre's artwork is very strong and engaging, while Fred Van Lente's script offers a fairly simple but entertaining storyline. If you're looking for a new series to read with some neat science fiction ideas and a strong female protagonist, War Mother seems a good bet. (4/5)

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