December 7, 2018

The Pull List: 5 September 2018

The saga of Esther and Ed's awkward will-they won't-they romance hits that stage where Rachel finally decides she loves Ross, but then he comes back from China with Julie in the Season 1 Friends finale. We all know how that ended, and I'm sure there will be a similar resolution here. Giant Days is that kind of comic book, after all. It has the familiarity of a old, worn blanket, and is just as warm.

We don't praise John Allison's writing enough. He develops superb characters, feeding on archetypes, but he also allows them to gradually mature and develop. He tells funny stories that are often done in one issue, but they all feed into longer-term dramatic arcs as his characters fall in and out of love, make mistakes, have little victories, and so on. It feels effortless, but I suspect it's a much trickier job than most of us realise.

Max Sarin's expressive, cartoon-like artwork simply increases the appeal, as do Whitney Cogar's very effective colours. It looks sweet, and that's the perfect tone for these sweet, enchanting stories. A specific shout-out to the Babylon 5 advent calendar: this is a comic with broad, populist appeal, but Allison's a proud nerd at the core. (4/5)

Giant Days #42. Boom Studios. Written by John Allison. Art by Max Sarin. Colours by Whitney Cogar.

Under the cut: reviews of Avengers, Batman, Green Arrow, Immortal Hulk, Justice League, and Star Wars: Doctor Aphra.

Avengers #7
Marvel. Written by Jason Aaron. Art by Sara Pichelli and Elizabetta D'Amico. Colours by Justin Ponsor.
The first story arc of Jason Aaron's Avengers relaunch introduced the idea of the Earth's first Avengers: a group of prehistoric superheroes led by Odin, Thor's father. This one-shot gives the origin story of the world's first Ghost Rider, a Paleolithic warrior with a familiar flaming skull but a demonic mammoth replacing the famous Rider's motorcycle. It's a neat idea, and rather fun, but at the same time it does feel a bit more like trivia than an actual story. That said, it's a nice excuse for Sara Pichelli to provide some guest art for The Avengers and that is never a bad thing. (3/5)

Batman #54
DC Comics. Written by Tom King. Art by Matt Wagner. Colours by Tomeu Morey.
Matt Wagner is an industry legend, so it's pretty sensational to see him illustrating this one-shot story for Batman, particularly when his work is so deftly coloured by Tomeu Morey (who also colours Justice League this week). Still emotionally bruised from being left at the altar, Bruce reminisces on his past with the help of adopted son Dick Grayson. It's a great character piece, and a timely re-affirmation of both their personalities and their relationship. A must-read for classic Batman and Robin fans, and nicely self-contained. (5/5)

Green Arrow #44
DC Comics. Written by Julie Benson and Shawna Benson. Art by Javi Fernandez. Colours by John Kalisz.
Oliver Queen has been targeted for execution vigilante-style in his civilian identity, for a murder he doesn't remember committing. In his Green Arrow identity he is racing against the clock to stop the social media-connected villain Citizen from killing both Queen and other more corrupt millionaires. There's a strong urban feel to this arc that really calls back to the classic Mike Grell era of Green Arrow, and that angry 'street-fightin' man' tone really does highlight the character at his best. (4/5)

Immortal Hulk #5
Marvel. Written by Al Ewing. Art by Joe Bennett and Ruy Jose. Colours by Paul Mounts.
This issue is a weird combination of good and bad ideas, as the Hulk confronts Sasquatch in a hospital. Turns out Sasquatch has been possessed, which is a great basis for a horror story in itself, but the identity of the possessor simply doesn't work for me. Bennett and Jose provide great art, and Paul Mounts' colouring gives everything a delightful retro feel. It just winds up sticking on the villain's identity. I see other reviews are much more excited by the reveal; for me it's just awkward and a bit silly. (3/5)

Justice League #7
DC Comics. Written by Scott Snyder. Art by Jim Cheung, Mark Morales, and Walden Wong. Colours by Tomeu Morey.
The League's fight against the Legion of Doom for control of the Totality reaches its climax. This has been the perfect kind of Grant Morrison JLA pastiche: the famous heroes and villains, and a big-screen 'out there' combination of large scale crisis and head-scratching surreality. I was a little concerned over how Snyder would script a conclusion in one issue with so many balls in the air, but he absolutely pulls it off. Throw in the great superhero artwork, and this is a superb seven-part story. Get the trade paperback as soon as you can. (5/5)

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra Annual #2
Marvel. Written by Si Spurrier. Art and colours by Caspar Winjgaard.
Two monster hunters find themselves dispatched to a remote planet on the payroll of rogue archaeologist Chelli Aphra. Their mission: to capture a rare creature on the orders of a galactic criminal gang lord, while avoiding the artefacts and traps of an ancient temple. Things, however, are not how they appear. This is a great one-shot that combines action, comedy, and surprise plot twists, although has surprisingly little Aphra in it. That's forgiveable: her absence makes the story to a large extent. Caspar Winjgaard does a great job with the art and colours. (4/5)

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