December 24, 2016

The Pull List: 21 December 2016, Part 1

70 years after the Soviet Union enveloped the whole of Europe, and 21 years after the Americas finally fell under Russian control, the Red Brigade is formally announced as the world's primary security force. The heroes of the Valiant Universe - Bloodshot, X-O Manowar, Shadowman, and so on - all work for the safety and security of a brutal and totalitarian state. History has gone wrong, and the only person who seems to remember this is Colin King. Back in the real universe he worked for the British government under the code-name Ninjak. Here he masquerades as a Soviet security chief while quietly working to find allies and a means of changing the world back to rights.

The original Divinity was an intelligent and quite unusual miniseries about a Russian cosmonaut turned into an uncontrollable super-powered entity upon his return from outer space. It's fair to say that things have developed quite a way since then. This is a classic 'mirror universe' storyline for the Valiant characters, boasting great art, an intriguing set-up and a lot of entertainment value seeing the alternative versions of all the popular heroes. If there's a criticism it's that not quite enough happens in this first issue. It's a great set-up though; I'm keen to see where writer Matt Kindt takes it. (3/5)

Divinity III: Stalinverse #1. Written by Matt Kindt. Art by Trevor Hairsine and Ryan Winn. Colours by David Baron.

Under the cut: reviews of Aquaman, Batman, Jem and the Misfits, Star Trek/Green Lantern: Stranger Worlds, and Trinity.

Aquaman #13
DC Comics. Written by Dan Abnett. Art by Scot Eaton and Wayne Faucher. Colours by Gabe Eltaeb.
NEMO continues its secret war on both the USA and Atlantis, while Aquaman tries to demonstrate the organisation's existence to the Justice League, This issue pushes "The Deluge" along nicely, raising the stakes and juggling the book's growing range of supporting and guest characters. Dan Abnett is writing a rock-solid storyline here that demonstrates once against just how good Aquaman can be in the right hands. Eaton and Faucher's artwork is strong traditional superhero stuff, and very brightly coloured by Gabe Eltaeb. (4/5)

Batman #13
DC Comics. Written by Tom King. Art by Mikel Janin. Colours by June Chung.
'It's not impossible,' remarks Catwoman at one point in this issue, 'it's Batman.' When we last saw Batman he was kneeling at Bane's feet, having betrayed by Catwoman and with his carefully assembled personal 'suicide squad' in disarray. Part of the joy of this final issue is seeing how Batman gets out of this situation and wins the day. After all, he's Batman. This is a solid conclusion to the story, albeit one that's cursed with following an absolutely brilliant issue #12. Anything was going to be a let-down at this point, and Batman #13 commits the crime of merely being very good. I'm interested to see where the story goes next: what happens to Psycho Pirate now that he's recaptured? What happens between Bruce and Selina? (4/5)

Jem: The Misfits #1
IDW. Written by Kelly Thompson. Art by Jenn St-Onge. Colours by M. Victoria Robado.
Kelly Thompson's re-imagining of TV cartoon Jem has always been a pretty entertaining read: and one that's surprisingly good given its 1980s heritage. Now evil girl group the Misfits are getting their own comic book, with artist Jenn St-Onge jumping onboard to illustrate Thompson's script. After burning their relationship with every record company in the world, the Misfits are forced to launch their own reality TV show. Throw in some 'how the band got together' flashbacks, and you've got a breezy, funny, hugely enjoyable comic. By no means is it a groundbreaking title, but it's fun. (3/5)

Star Trek/Green Lantern: Stranger Worlds #1
IDW. Written by Mike Johnson. Art by Angel Hernandez. Colours by Alejandro Sanchez.
Last year's crossover between IDW's Star Trek comic and DC's Green Lantern obviously sold pretty well, because they're back for a second round. This new series picks up some time after the last wound up: the Green Lantern Corps now live alongside the United Federation of Planets, and Sinestro is Emperor of the Klingon Empire. It is fan pornography to the nth degree, of course, but for those wanting to indulge in something over-the-top, nonsensical and silly it is fairly well written and boasts clean, engaging artwork by Angel Hernandez. Personally I find it all just a bit too ridiculous to accept. (2/5)

Trinity #4
DC Comics. Written by Francis Manapul. Art by Emanuela Lupacchino and Ray McCarthy. Colours by Hi-Fi.
Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman continue their voyage through Poison Ivy's mysterious dream world. Following adventures in the childhoods of both Clark and Bruce, this issue it's Diana's turn to revisit her past. On the one hand this storyline is bonding the three characters together nicely and showcasing where they came from, but on the other it's becoming all a bit too tedious several issues in a row. I hate dream worlds, and this one is as tedious as they usually get. Emanuela Lupacchino and Ray McCarthy's artwork is solid, but for a book sold on the back of writer/artist Francis Manapul it seems a bit of a cheat for Manapul not to do the interior artwork. (2/5)

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