September 1, 2016

The Pull List: 31 August 2016, Part 1

Another hiatus has passed, and Saga returns for its seventh six-issue story arc. Recent arcs have seemed to take a few issues to build momentum and get up to speed, and this looks to follow in the same vein. It's solidly entertaining science fiction drama, but there is a lack of urgency about things. It is all set-up without any real explosive moments in it.

To be honest there's an awful lot of formula to Saga these days. The scathing, verbally abusive dialogue. The growing raft of characters chasing circles around each other across the galaxy. The sniggering moments of frontal nudity or sex. The entirely untrustworthy narration by the book's ultimate protagonist Hazel. It is all nicely presented, and enjoyable to read, but the urgency that led me to read the comic's earlier issues has pretty much gone. The spark feels very distant now. This is not a case of criticising a book for being bad; it's more a case of of criticising a good book for not being brilliant any more.

Hopefully this arc will pick up as it goes. Certainly the last two did. I'm figuring that's part of the formula now too. (3/5)

Saga #37. Image. Written by Brian K. Vaughn. Art by Fiona Staples.

Under the cut: reviews of Doctor Who, Silver Surfer, and Spider-Man.

Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor #12
Titan Comics. Written by Rob Williams. Art by I.N.J. Culbard. Colours by Marcio Menys.
Alice is stuck in the Time War with the War Doctor and a child Master, and saving the future - and the Doctor she knows - may mean sacrificing her own life. This increasingly complex and epic adventure just keeps satisfying my need for well-crafted continuity porn. I am quite surprised at how long the one storyline has been allowed to expand, but it is making this pretty much the best Doctor Who comic ever published. Guest artist I.N.J. Culbard has a simple style, but he captures the real-life actors very well. Of course if you're not a huge fan of Doctor Who, feel free to drop one or two points off my score. (4/5)

Silver Surfer #6
Marvel. Written by Dan Slott. Art by Michael Allred. Colours by Laura Allred.
Not just any issue this: if you count up every issue of every volume of Silver Surfer, it turns out this is the 200th. Inside, however, it is basically business as usual. A group of deep sea shape-shifting creatures have risen to the surface and seem keen to feed on the Surfer. Meanwhile his plans to reunite Dawn with her estranged mother misfire spectacularly. This is a neat blend of science fiction, superhero action (Spider-Man guest stars), character drama and comedy, all wrapped up in the Allred's constantly-wonderful retro artwork. (4/5)

Spider-Man #7
Marvel. Written by Brian Michael Bendis. Art by Nico Leon.
Miles' mother frets about what private investigator Jessica Jones knows about her son. Miles himself frets over visions of the future and Iron Man's request for him to help fight a superhero versus superhero war. One half of this comic builds on earlier issues and progresses a deep, well-characterised narrative. The other half is a waste of time unless you're reading Civil War II. I've written about good and bad tie-ins to events a few times in this column: this issue is honestly one of the bad ones. If you're not pre-invested in the miniseries, you're paying four dollars for half of a comic. (2/5)

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