December 19, 2015

The Pull List: 16 December 2015, Part II

The Spire is one of the best comics on the market right now. In terms of storyline it's a murder mystery in a massive castle-like city - the Spire - in the middle of a toxic desert. Sha is the guard captain assigned to investigate the murders. She's also Sculpted, a magically transformed warrior race that suffers at the hands of city-wide prejudice. She's also secretly sleeping with the Spire's princess. As the murders appear to be taking place in the lead-up to a critical peace treaty negotiation, there's a particular urgency in seeing them resolved. Writer Simon Spurrier has put together something that's both gripping and familiar while also feeling quite evocative and fresh.

Tonally the book has the sort of spiky, cynical edge one might get from Warren Ellis or Antony Johnston's The Fuse. Aesthetically it's a neat blend of influences - Jean "Moebius" Giraud and Hayao Miyazaki are the two that leap out most obviously. Jeff Stokely has a wonderful and distinctive aesthetic as well, that manages to draw in these influences but make his own work still seem distinctive and highly appealing.

Is this the best fantasy comic on the shelves at the moment? I'm inclined to say yes. If the remainder of the series continues at this level of quality, it's going to make one hell of a collected edition. (5/5)

Under the cut: reviews of Batgirl, The Mighty Thor and Ms Marvel.

Batgirl #46
DC Comics. Written by Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher. Art by Babs Tarr. Layouts by Rob Haynes. Colours by Serge LaPointe.
Criminal gangs are forcing residents out of their Burnside apartments. Barbara Gordon is trying to stop them both by day in her civilian identity, and by night as Batgirl. Her efforts are sidetracked, however, when she's forced to come to the aid of Spoiler - on the run from Gotham's Japanese crime syndicate. This is basically following up on a loose plot thread from Genevieve Valentine's run on Catwoman. I like this sort of tie-in; if you didn't read Catwoman, there's no problem understanding what's going on here. If you did read it, it's basically an added bonus: sewing together the edges of two Batman spin-offs and strengthening the character relationships. With Batgirl and Black Canary running strong in their solo series, and with Spoiler and Bluebird getting extra development in various titles, it really does feel like a Birds of Prey relaunch can only be just around the corner. (4/5)

The Mighty Thor #2
Marvel. Written by Jason Aaron. Art by Russell Dauterman. Colours by Matthew Wilson.
Thor engages with Odin's forces before heading off the the realm of the elves. Loki engages with father-son bonding time with his father Laufey before heading off to murder Thor. There is something oddly inconsequential about this issue. All of the ingredients are there, but for whatever reason it just feels a little hollow and dull. I wish I could put my finger on what it was. I think it might just be the large cast of fantasy characters and Norse gods circling around a chessboard without properly pushing their story forward. Russell Dauterman's art is a highlight, mind, and is excellently coloured by Matt Wilson. (3/5)

Ms Marvel #2
Marvel. Written by G. Willow Wilson. Art by Takeshi Miyazawa. Colours by Ian Herring.
Ms Marvel continues doing what Ms Marvel does best: breezy superhero storylines, teen melodrama, and pitch-perfect humour. Here Kamala juggles fighting boy troubles with investigating a new real estate company buying up her neighbourhood at an accelerated rate. It all rolls along with G. Willow Wilson's typical lightness of touch, and Takeshi Miyazawa's cartoony, exaggerated artwork. A highlight this issue: Kamala's ultra-conservative brother planning to date in a typically conservative way. (4/5)

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