March 9, 2015

The Pull List: 4 March 2015

Over the past year or so I've been paying closer attention to Boom Studios, who have been expanded the diversity of their books considerably. That diversity has been enhanced through their purchase of independent publisher Archaia, who have a long-established reputation for smart, beautifully illustrated titles.

HaloGen is the  latest Boom/Archaia title. It's a four-part science fiction miniseries written by Josh Tierney with art by Afu Chan, although it's been co-created by the excellent Giannis Milonogiannis (Old City Blues). A dead god has reportedly been found in orbit around a giant city-spaceship, so everyone is scrambling to find out if the rumours are true and to secure the god by any means necessary. It's an imaginative science fiction blend with a lot of visible influences, one of the key ones apparently being Ghost in the Shell (not a surprise, given Milonogiannis' involvement; Old City Blues was very GitS-inspired as well).

It's not the perfect first issue - it's a little disorientating and all over the place - but it's certainly an intriguing one, and it shows enough potential to really pick up as the series goes on. I'll be keeping an eye on it. Sci-fi fans looking to try out a four-issue miniseries should definitely give it a go as well. (3/5)

Boom Studios/Archaia. Written by Josh Tierney. Art by Afu Chan. Colours by Shelly Chen.

Under the cut: reviews of Batman Eternal, Black Science, Descender, Detective Comics, Doctor Who, Justice League 3000, Revival, Saga and The Woods.

Batman Eternal #48
DC Comics. Written by Kyle Higgins. Story by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV. Consulting writers: Tim Seeley and Ray Fawkes. Art by Fernando Blanco. Colours by Marcelo Maiolo.
Jason Bard wants to get Jim Gordon out of prison. Hush has taken control of the Batcave. Batman's companions are all desperately attempting to contain multiple schemes by Gotham's most dangerous criminals. Half of the city is on fire. Batman is nowhere to be seen. The ramp-up to Batman Eternal's climax really kicks into gear this week; I finished this issue and desperately wanted to see what happened next, which is about as good a compliment as you can pay a serialised comic book story. Fernando Blanco's artwork is strong, Kyle Higgins' script is tight, and the plot really is rocketing along now. (4/5)

Black Science #12
Image. Written by Rick Remender. Art by Matteo Scalera. Colours by Moreno Dinisio.
The third arc kicks off for Black Science, a universe-hopping science fiction book that's become so oddly complicated that they spend an entire page at the start just recapping what happened in the first 11 issues. Don't let that put you off: this is smart, suspenseful material. This kind of series, in which a small group of people keep jumping between parallel universes, could easily be episodic and repetitive, but Remender has been developing a clever, complex and intriguing storyline throughout. It's brilliantly illustrated by Matteo Scalera. New colourist Moreno Dinisio does a fantastic job as well. This is one of Image's best-looking comics. (3/5)

Descender #1
Image. Written by Jeff Lemire. Art by Dustin Nguyen.
Image launches yet another imaginative, beautifully illustrated science fiction comic. This one is set in a far future where humanity is spread across nine star systems. When an unprecedented attack comes close to decimating the human race, robots are outlawed - and several years after that a robot boy unexpectedly wakes up on a deserted colony. Dustin Nguyen's art is distinctive and evocative, while Jeff Lemire's script demonstrates a huge amount of promise. There are a lot of echoes of Steven Spielberg's A.I. in this issue, which may intrigue some and irritate others - you all know which ones you are. (4/5)

Detective Comics #40
DC Comics. Written by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato. Art by Francis Manapul. Colours by Brian Buccellato.
The "Anarky" arc comes to a fast-paced, thrilling conclusion in this issue. It's achieved quite a few things over the past few issues: the Mad Hatter is now a much more horrid, disturbing villain (they're clearly riffing on Lewis Carroll's real-life obsession with Alice Liddell), Anarky has been established in the New 52, and police detective Harvey Bullock had received another great storyline to further develop and enhance both his character and his relationship with Batman. I love how this issue uses Bullock, despite his being badly injured at the climax of issue #39. Manapul and Buccellato's artwork is an ongoing delight. I hope they're sticking around on this book for a while, because it's currently the best-looking Batman book on the market. (5/5)

Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor #9
Titan Comics. Written by Al Ewing. Art by Boo Cook. Colours by Hi-Fi.
There's something a bit off about the dialogue in this issue: a lot of the Doctor's lines feel like they've been cribbed from actual episodes. It's off-putting, and slightly disappointing given how well Al Ewing has been writing the dialogue so far. I'm also not quite sold on Boo Cook's artwork in this issue, which is the first part of the climax for everything that's happened so far. The Doctor is off to shut down the mysterious ServeYouInc once and for all. So far this 11th Doctor comic has been pretty entertaining; this is the first issue to really disappoint me. (2/5)

Justice League 3000 #15
DC Comics. Written by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis. Art by Howard Porter. Colours by Hi-Fi.
Justice League 3000 continues to do what it's pretty much designed to do: tell a light-hearted, slightly silly story of genetically re-engineered superheroes acting vaguely incompetent in the 31st century. It's never going to be a must-read comic - it's too heavily invested in nostalgia for the late 1980s and early 1990s for that - but it is a consistently fun one for its fairly narrow target market. (3/5)

Revival #28
Image. Written by Tim Seeley. Art by Mike Norton. Colours by Mike Engerlt.
I was blind-sided by this issue, expecting to get more of the standard mystery and creepiness I've come to expect, and instead actually seem to have received part of the answer to what's been going on this whole time. Revival follows a small Wisconsin town where the dead simply stopped dying, and while it's been a sensational read for the past three years it's never really gone too far in explaining what caused the notorious "Revival Day" to happen. Every issue of this comic is great, but this issue was both great and surprising. (5/5)

Saga #26
Image. Written by Brian K. Vaughn. Art by Fiona Staples.
So with its storyline split into three sections, Saga is struggling a little to advance them all. We get a little bit of progression three times over, which will probably read fine once in a collected edition but which is a little frustrating as a self-contained issue. There is a bit of an attempt to link them thematically, but for me it doesn't quite work in the way it should. Fiona Staples' artwork is sublime, and inventive, and while I'm still a little unsteady when it comes to Brian K. Vaughn's storyline in recent issues he does have a brilliant handle on character and tone. (4/5)

The Woods #11
Boom Studios. Written by James Tynion IV. Art by Michael Dialynas. Colours by Josan Gonzalez.
I've really been enjoying The Woods for the past four or five issues, but to be honest this specific issue is a little frustrating. It has a lot of plot developments, but no real solid through-line when it comes to the action. As a result it feels like set-up for issue #12 rather than a satisfying story in its own right. All of the elements that have made earlier issues so enjoyable are still here, but they're simply not put together quite as well. The issue stops, rather than ends. (3/5)

Winner of the Week: Revival
Loser of the Week: Doctor Who

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