August 1, 2017

The Pull List: 19 July 2017, Part 3

Michael Cray, the world's best professional killer, is given an offer he really can't refuse. Angela Spica, who ran away from her employer IO with a highly advanced nano-technology super-suit, is reunited with the elusive billionaire whose life she saved. Perhaps most importantly, some things get explained and the set-up phase of The Wild Storm is completed.

Six issues initially seems an intolerable length of time in which to set up a comic series, but it's important to realise that Warren Ellis is playing a long game. The Wild Storm was conceived as a serialised 24-issue narrative, so this really is essentially the end of the first act. The cast has been introduced, the conflict revealed, and a huge amount of cool science fiction and technology concepts thrown up in the air. The issue's other great asset is artist Jon Davis-Hunt, who has managed to give it all a detailed and engaging look via his artwork.

Truth be told, the story will probably be more readable once collected into trade paperback form; there is an abrupt and arbitrary nature in the way the book simply stops at the end of each issue rather than hit a proper conclusion or cliffhanger. This issue ends more neatly than most; an indication, perhaps, that the first six issues will be collected together before long. (4/5)

The Wild Storm #6. DC Comics. Written by Warren Ellis. Art by Jon Davis-Hunt. Colours by Steve Buccellato and John Kalisz.

Under the cut: reviews of Britannia, Descender, Invader Zim, Kill the Minotaur, Rapture, Secret Weapons and Time & Vine.

Britannia: We Who Are About to Die #4
Valiant. Written by Peter Milligan. Art by Juan Jose Ryp, Ryan Lee and Roberto De La Torre. Colours by Frankie D'Armata.
As Rome spirals into insanity, Antonius Axia finds himself face-to-face - and sword-to-sword - with the god Apollo. This final issue wraps up an excellent blend of supernatural horror, historical fiction and a nicely old-fashioned mystery story. Juan Jose Ryp's artwork (aided here by Lee and De La Torre) presents a nice semi-realistic rendition of ancient Rome with just enough of a grotesque edge to match Peter Milligan's script. Britannia has now run through two great miniseries in a row: I desperately hope that Valiant publish a third. (4/5)

Descender #22
Image. Written by Jeff Lemire. Art and colours by Dustin Nguyen.
"Rise of the Robots" begins. Telsa has seconds left to live. Quon takes on Tim-22. Andy and Effie attack the Machine Moon, where Tim-21 remains a prisoner. Then two fleets converge for the beginning of all-out war. This feels like a very climactic storyline, with everything that has developed over the previous 21 issues coming together all at the same time. Dustin Nguyen's artwork continues to stand out: its light water colours are presented in sharp contrast to the fast-paced, technology-based storyline. It is a technique that makes Descender feel distinctive and also just a little bit weird. (4/5)

Invader Zim #21.
Oni Press. Story and art by Dave Crosland. Colours by Warren Wucinich.
An unexpected mishap involving a mind-swapping machine and a pile of pudding sees Zim and Gir swap minds with Dib and Gaz. This issue captures the tone of Invader Zim fairly well, but I was more impressed by Dave Crosland's artwork. It puts a very distinctive spin on Jhonen Vasquez's original designs; the characters look broadly like their cartoon counterparts, but they have their own different style at the same time. As is often the case, this comic is enjoyable without every feeling like a must-read. (3/5)

Kill the Minotaur #2
Image. Written by Chris Pasetto and Christian Cantamessa. Art by Lukas Ketner. Colours by Jean-Francois Beaulieu.
Theseus and his companions begin to explore the labyrinth, where the Minotaur appears to already be stalking them. This is a dark, bloody telling of the Minotaur myth which, despite the claims in the back material of both this issue and the last that it was a more contemporary take, actually feels more like the original telling than anything more recent. People often forget just how bleak and violent the Greek myths were. That said, there are some intriguing design choices here and a couple of nicely unpleasant surprises. For dark fantasy fans and mythology enthusiasts, this book is well worth checking out. (3/5)

Rapture #3
Valiant. Written by Matt Kindt. Art by Cafu and Roberto De La Torre. Colours by Andrew Dalhouse.
Ninjak and Shadowman's adventure through Deadside continues. There is some tremendously inventive stuff in this issue, involving the art and the dialogue, that lifts this issue above just another superhero universe miniseries. In case that sounds a little too highbrow, however, it still features a superhero fight and a demon cat that shoots energy beams from its nipples. Great art, great writing: once again, Valiant proves that they're the most underrated publisher of superhero comic books in America. (4/5)

Secret Weapons #2
Valiant. Written by Eric Heisserer. Art and colours by Raul Allen and Patricia Martin.
A group of young people were forcibly given psychic powers, but when their powers manifested they were too arbitrary and minor for the man who experimented upon them. After being abandoned to a care facility, they are now on the run from a mysterious creature named Rex-O. The concept is just irresistable to me: the real achievement here is that Eric Heisserer has given the characters genuinely funny, absurd super-powers, but then given the issue real heart and drama. Allen and Martin's artwork gives it a nice 'indie' vibe as well. This is one of Valiant's best miniseries in a while. (5/5)

Time & Vine #1
IDW. Story and art by Thom Zahler. Colours by Luigi Anderson.
This is an odd new series from writer/artist Thom Zahler, about a winery whose wines - when drunk - transport the drinker back in time to the year in which the wine was bottled. It's a quirky, sort of wonderful little idea. Zahler keeps the story quite intimate and gentle, which really makes it stand out from many of IDW's other books. It does tend towards the twee from moment to moment, and the art style is oddly cartoony, but altogether it's an original and very pleasant concept. It will be interesting to see how the story develops beyond its original set-up. (3/5)

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