December 28, 2017

The Pull List: 20 December 2017, Part 1

Batman and Superman are trapped in a dark dimension at the behest of the demon Barbatos. In order to save the DC Universe from being consumed by Barbatos' legions, the Justice League desperately need to arm themselves with the mysterious "Nth Metal". As a result three teams of heroes have journeyed to the corners of the universe to retrieve it.

Dark Nights: Metal is a ridiculous comic. It's a "throw everything at the wall and see what sticks" extravaganza, with an expansive cast, over-the-top villains, and a very self-aware attitude to just how ridiculous it is. This is a comic where a passing fish will see Deathstroke desecrate an Atlantean tomb with a cry of "Poseidon's beard!", where Starro the Conqueror will leap out from behind a curtain shouting "Hahaha! I'm back, losers!", and Batman and Superman can be snatching from certain death by Daniel from Neil Gaiman's The Sandman.

The bottom line is that is just fun. It's the sort of book we used to read as kids, where we didn't really care if anything made sense, we just liked watching superheroes have adventures and colourful images enchanted us. It's a deliberately over-egged pudding, filled with characters we like and throwing so much stuff into the mix that it'd be impossible not to find at least a few likeable elements. I adore all of it. This stuff is brilliantly stupid, and just plain brilliant. (5/5)

Dark Nights: Metal #4. Written by Scott Snyder. Art by Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion. Colours by FCO Plascencia.

Under the cut: reviews of BatmanLazaretto, The Wild Storm, and a delayed review of Scales & Scoundrels.

Batman #37
DC Comics. Written by Tom King. Art by Clay Mann. Colours by Jordie Bellaire.
Batman, Superman, Lois Lane and Catwoman go on a double date together. It's a ridiculous premise for an issue, and yet it works astoundingly well. It explores both characters and character relationships. It finds humour throughout, but never finds it at the expense of its cast, nor does it puncture holes in the fragile set-up of superhero stories. Best of all it nails that optimistic, noble tone of DC Comics at its finest. More issues like this one would not go astray. (5/5)

Lazaretto #4
Boom Studios. Written by Clay McLeod Chapman. Art and colours by Jey Levang.
Things go from bad to worse inside the university dormitory, quarantined off during a horrific viral outbreak that is only getting more nightmarish with every issue. Jey Levang's artwork is critical to this vibe. It has a wonderfully grotesque style and colour scheme that just makes everything feel damp and sickened. Chapman's story definitely descends to a new level of horror, as Charles and Tamara face not just increasingly deranged senior students but new and previously unknown stages of the virus as well. (4/5)


The Wild Storm #10
DC Comics. Written by Warren Ellis. Art by Jon Davis-Hunt. Colours by Steve Buccellato.
Both IO and the WildCATS are preparing for rival heists, while in orbit Skywatch make plans of their own. As is usually the case with The Wild Storm, issue #10 continues to slowly build the narrative and increase its cast in a slow but steady fashion. The rhythms still feel way off for a monthly comic book, but familiarity is building and it's becoming more of an expected convention. Jon Davis-Hunt's artwork continues to impress with its distinctive style and grounded character designs. This isn't a series with individual highlights - at least, not yet. This is a series that is gradually building something, and it's a joy to see it slowly pull together. (4/5)

Scales & Scoundrels #4
Image. Written by Sebastian Girner. Art and colours by Galaad.
(This is a delayed review from 6 December.) Luvander falls from a great height, while her separated companions find their way to an entire underground community buried far underground. Scales & Scoundrels is just a delight, every single issue. It nails the Dungeons & Dragons-style setting - particularly the sprawling, underground quest - and is filled with enormous charm and humour. Each issue further fleshes out its characters as well, and they're universally intriguing and likeable. It's fast becoming one of my must-read comic books. (4/5)

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