July 8, 2015

The Pull List: 8 July 2015, Part I

For a brief, wonderful time Invader Zim was the most stunning cartoon on American television. Created and produced by comic book creator Jhonen Vasquez, it followed the adventures of an incompetent alien sizing up the Earth for invasion while masquerading as a human schoolboy. Originally commissioned by Nickelodeon as a TV series for young children it staggeringly failed in its actual remit while becoming an enormous cult success.

Oni Press have scored a real coup by launching a much-anticipated monthly comic book adaptation that not only brings in one of the series animators, Aaron Alexovich, as artist, but Jhonen Vasquez himself as the writer of the first issue. Viewers of the cartoon will feel right at home here. Readers of Vasquez's early comic book works like Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, Squee and I Feel Sick will know pretty much exactly what to expect. The tone may be a bit more all-ages than usual, but honestly it's only a bit.

This is a hilarious comic book that, understandably given its pedigree, replicates perfectly the tone and humour of the original cartoon. It's wonderful: it's like meeting an old friend long after you assumed they had died. I can't remember the last time a comic book spin-off was published that so perfectly captured exactly what made the source material so beloved. And now I have to wait a month to read more. (5/5)

Under the cut: reviews of Bloodshot Reborn, Star Trek/Green Lantern and Unity.

Bloodshot Reborn #4
Valiant. Written by Jeff Lemire. Art by Mico Suayan.
Mico Suayan's artwork has just completely sold me on this book. It's striking and realistic, and really enhances the quite grounded, horrific story that Jeff Lemire is telling. I'm not sure if there's a better-looking book of its kind on the market right now. How he's managing the monthly schedule is beyond me. This issue pretty much wraps up the first section of the story, and sets it up for a cat-and-mouse game between Ray and the police in the future. There are still a world of questions hanging in the air, but Lemire's script keeps the story satisfying while continuing to trail those questions in front of the reader. This comic is sensational stuff. (4/5)

Star Trek/Green Lantern: The Spectrum War #1
IDW/DC Comics. Written by Mike Johnson. Art by Angel Hernandez. Colours by Alejandro Sanchez.
Comic books have always been pretty big on crossovers, and not just within separate companies. For decades there's been a whole cottage industry in grabbing two completely separate pop culture franchises and throwing them together: Superman meets He-Man, or Spider-Man meets Spawn, or Archie meets the Punisher, or even - surely the most popular of them all - Alien versus Predator. IDW and DC Comics are at it again, starting this month, as the Green Lantern Corps come face to face with the crew of the USS Enterprise in Star Trek/Green Lantern: The Spectrum War #1. This is basically a prologue issue, setting up the scene and introducing the characters. It's a neat concept, and so far is playing out pretty well. Angel Hernandez's artwork is stunning as well: all of the characters look just how you'd expect them to, including an unexpected villain from the Star Trek universe. (3/5)

Unity #20
Valiant. Written by Matt Kindt. Art by Jose Luis with Sandro Ribeiro, Allison Rodrigues, Livesay and Jefte Palo. Colours by Andrew Dalhouse and Ulise Arreola.
A villain from Earth's ancient past, the War Monger, has returned to raise hell on Earth in the present day. The Unity team are all set to be dispatched against her - except she's already struck, taking the ninja superspy Ninjak out in his own home. This issue has the weird structure of basically being two brief flashbacks to the 19th and 20th centuries as the War Monger tells her life story in the middle of a fight. It gives the issue an unconvincing vibe that's difficult to shake. It also seems in part to be an excuse for Matt Kindt to do a little parody of Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - or that might just be the risk you take creating a superhero team in the 19th century. This isn't a bad issue by any stretch, but it simply doesn't quite work in the way it should. (3/5)

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