September 14, 2017

The Pull List: 6 September 2017, Part 2

Is there a comic book equivalent to cinema's "mumblecore" movement? The sort of shoe-gazing, low key conversational works that do not feel a need to have an urgent plot, and spend more time on introspection that traditional storytelling? Whatever that term is - and we may as well borrow mumblecore for convenience's sake - it applies very firmly to Sophie Yanow's What is a Glacier?

This autobiographical one-shot depicts a vacation to Iceland with a friend, and a bad romantic break-up. Yanow's artwork is almost gestural. Everything conforms to a simple six-panel grid in black and white. Detailed art is not the focus here, however. Instead it is a simple tool to express a rather effective exploration of anxiety.

The narrative is not clearly structured. As I alluded to above, it really is an introspective meander across a story rather than a tightly plotted drama. It is curiously effective: a simple way Yanow has drawn a line here, a description of being heartbroken there.

This is not the greatest comic of its type, but it is a good and effective one. Fans of this kind of comic - and you can probably work out if that's you from the cover art alone - will get a bunch out of this. Superhero book lovers may find it a challenge. (4/5)

What is a Glacier? Retrofit/Big Planet Comics. Story and art by Sophie Yanow.

Under the cut: reviews of Doom Patrol, 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank, Superman, Usagi Yojimbo and The Wicked + the Divine.

Doom Patrol #8
DC Comics. Written by Gerard Way. Art by Nick Derington and Tom Fowler. Colours by Tamra Bonvillain.
Keeg analyses Dannyworld's difficulties in teleporting, while Casey is reunited with her cat, with unexpected consequences. It still all feels like Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol, but at the same time it also feels a bit like a poor photocopy of it. There are fresh ideas in here, indeed some rather great ones like Casey's mutated anthropomorphic punk cat, but it's possibly the tonal fidelity that still makes it all feel more like a tribute than an original take. I'm enjoying it, but that's honestly half nostalgia. (3/5)

4 Kids Walk Into a Bank #5
Black Mask. Written by Matthew Rosenberg. Art by Tyler Boss.
Despite some production delays, 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank has been a fantastic miniseries. A girl worries that a group of  bank robbers are about to rope her ex-con father into 'one last job', and so she convinces her friends to help her rob the bank first and get in their way. It is beautifully illustrated by Tyler Boss, and hits its long-awaited climax here. It is a really odd ending. one that hand-waves away half of the overall conflict in the book and instead depicts the actual robbery attempt by the kids. The heist itself is wonderful. The characters work brilliantly. As the final part of a five-issue narrative it wobbles in the most frustrating of ways, particularly when it comes to its incredibly abrupt conclusion. It doesn't ruin a great series, but it does ding it pretty hard. (3/5)

Superman #30
DC Comics. Written by Keith Champagne. Art by Ed Benes, Tyler Kirkham and Philip Tan. Colours by Dinei Ribeiro, Tomeu Morley and Sunny Gho.
Superman has been infected by the Parallax entity, leading Sinestro to kidnap him and take him to Qward. This feels like filler, pure and simple. It isn't connected to the ongoing Mr Oz story arc, it doesn't continue Superman's relationship with Lois or Jonathan in any particularly meaningful way, and it doesn't even get a proper conclusion (Sinestro and Parallax continue their adventures over in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps). This two-issue storyline can easily be passed over without any fear of missing something particularly good or important. (2/5)

Usagi Yojimbo #161
Dark Horse. Story and art by Stan Sakai.
Stan Sakai's rabbit samurai returns with a new adventure, packed with the typically great writing and crisp black and white artwork. It is a little disappointing, however, to find yet another murder-mystery for Usagi and his friend Inspector Ishida to solve. It feels like we have had a bunch of these in succession over the last few years, and I'm craving a new direction or a different kind of adventure for the book. The thief Kitsune returns as well, which again feels like something I've already read from this book quite recently. It's solid stuff, but I feel the characters deserve a little more this time around. (4/5)

The Wicked + the Divine #31
Image. Written by Kieron Gillen. Art by Jamie McKelvie. Colours by Matthew Wilson.
Woden, Cassandra and Dio prepare to use a concert to charge their machine. Persephone lets Ball know where Sakhmet is going. Unexpected and terrible things happen. There comes a time in most long-running comic books where you hit a key issue, and something momentous happens, and you wind up being particularly taken aback by the developments you have just read. Issue #31 of WicDiv feels exactly like one of those issues; the ground seems to have shifted, and the book is clearly stepping into a new phase. McKelvie's artwork is effectively faultless, with tremendous colours by Matthew Wilson. (5/5)

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