November 27, 2017

The Pull List: 15 November 2017, Part 1

The Wicked + the Divine is a fantastic comic book. It is almost certainly the best work that writer Kieron Gillen and artist Jamie McKelvie have ever produced - and they have done some sensational books over the years. In many ways it feels like the most refined and perfected form of their respective styles. It's energetic, musical, emotive, detailed, nuanced, funny, sad - I could literally just keep on listing adjectives, because they somehow encapsulate all of those things and more in a fashion that almost seems miraculous.

The book has been circling towards its conclusion for a while now, with a huge apocalyptic wave of ominous foreboding crashing over the entire cast. This, issue #33, was the final part of their "Imperial Phase II" story arc, and I was expecting something monumental to happen. What I did not expect was to have the rug pulled out from under my feet.

This isn't an issue to talk about without spoiling. This is an issue with big surprises, and game-changing reveals, and if I wasn't already feverishly anticipating each issue before I absolutely am now. This is one of the best single issues of an ongoing book I have read this year. (5/5)

The Wicked + the Divine #33. Image. Written by Kieron Gillen. Art by Jamie McKelvie. Colours by Matt Wilson.

Under the cut: reviews of Aquaman, Batman, Kill the Minotaur, Spider-Men II, and Superman.

Aquaman #30
DC Comics. Written by Dan Abnett. Art and colours by Stjepan Sejic.
Revolution is in the air as Rath begins to lose his grip on reality, while Aquaman reveals himself to the down-trodden masses of Atlantis. There is often a need for an issue like this - the calm before the final storm, in which the focus is more on set-up than self-contained action. Dan Abnett writes this one much better than most, finding room for a bit of action as well as shifting all of the pieces into place for next month's end game. This has been a great story arc, with exceptional art by Stjepan Sejic. I really hope he sticks around for a little longer, because a book like this is really benefitting from his painterly, somewhat epic style. (4/5)


Batman #35
DC Comics. Written by Tom King. Art by Joelle Jones. Colours by Jordie Bellaire.
Catwoman and Talia al Ghul engage in a sword fight to the death, while outside Damian and Dick continue to share a conversation over their father's decision to marry. It's beautifully written and regularly quite funny, but it's also slight. Not a lot really goes on in this issue, and that creates a feeling of poor value. On the plus side, this issue really does a lot of good work with Catwoman, presenting her as a particularly skilled and clever fighter, and reminded the reader why she is such a perfect fit to marry Bruce Wayne - no other character comes close. (3/5)


Kill the Minotaur #6
Image. Written by Chris Pasetto and Christian Cantamessa. Art by Lukas Ketner. Colours by Jean-Francois Beaulieu.
Kill the Minotaur concludes with a predictable amount of violence and gore, but a remarkably truncated finale. I am in two minds about it: on the one hand I feel cheated, with all six issues building up to a confrontation that I simply don't get to see. On the other hand what replaces the expected conclusion is such a blunt and horrific reveal that I'm actually quite impressed with it. I honestly don't know which way to go with this. It's an ambivalent end to a patchy, uneven but regularly quite excellent series. I'm keen to see if the hinted-at sequel miniseries irons out the kinks, because there's definitely something with real talent developing here. (3/5)

Spider-Men II #4
Marvel. Written by Brian Michael Bendis. Art by Sara Pichelli with Elisabetta D'Amico. Colours by Justin Ponsor.
The way my reviews of Brian Michael Bendis comics go is usually something like this: goodness they're slow moving, but hey at least his dialogue is whip-smart and his characterisation really engaging. That's true here, but the fairly slow release schedule of Spider-Men II - itself already well-delayed by a number of years - is really making the slow-moving style of Bendis' writing really stand out. Sara Pichelli's artwork and Justin Ponsor's colours are as good as they always are, so it's a pretty book - but it's also a glacially slow one. Not a huge amount has happened in four issues, and we only have one more to go to wrap everything up. It's somehow enjoyable but disappointing at the same time. (3/5)

Superman #35


DC Comics. Written by Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason. Art by Travis Moore, Stephen Segovia and Art Thibert. Colours by Dinei Ribeiro.
Lex Luthor, Superman, Superboy and Lois Lane continue their adventures on Apokolips: split up upon arrival, they have each struggled to survive and escape the warring remnants of Darkseid's army. This is pure old-school superhero adventure, with an emphasis on fun and action rather than any significant storyline or character development. That's no bad thing: there is always a place for this kind of action-oriented superhero book, and Superman remains one of the best characters with whom to do it. (3/5)

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