August 19, 2018

The Pull List: 11 July 2018, Part 2

It feels a weird choice on DC's part to have Brian Michael Bendis write both Superman and Action Comics. Perhaps it was Bendis' demand when negotiating to come over from Marvel to write for the company. Perhaps DC's editors simply wanted to have a unified pair working in synch. Either way it feels like a weird redundancy.

It's an enjoyable first issue, picking up threads from the Man of Steel miniseries, but at the same time there is an unsatisfactory dourness about things. Superman performs best as an upbeat character, and to see him in both books as a morose and unhappy character feels tonally wrong. Hopefully it will pick up in the coming months, but for now Superman feels like what it is: a DC title getting written by a Marvel writer. You just want Clark to be having a better time. The art is very strong, thanks to the immeasurably talented Prado and Reis.

There's a mixture of the good and the predictable going on here. A conversation between Superman and the Martian Manhunter, in which Superman keeps zooming away to fix momentary crises, feels overly familiar, and the Manhunter's suggestion that Superman should become the world's de facto leaders feels tonally very wrong indeed. Other moments feel stronger - particularly the pretty awesome cliffhanger ending - but overall this remains a very good issue that never quite manages to be the great one that DC promised. (4/5)

Superman #1. DC Comics. Written by Brian Michael Bendis. Art by Joe Prado and Ivan Reis. Colours by Alex Sinclair.

Under the cut: reviews of The Crow: Memento Mori, Detective Comics, Isola, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Mech Cadet Yu, Port of Earth, Rat Queens, and Transformers: Unicron.

The Crow: Memento Mori #4
IDW. Written by Roberto Recchioni. Art by Werther Dell'Edera. Colours by Giovanni Niro. Backup written by Micol Beltramini. Art and colours by Daniele Serra.
This four-issue Italian take on The Crow concludes in a surprising fashion. The writing has been fairly ordinary to be honest, indulging in a lot of stereotypes and not really hewing far enough from James O'Barr's original work to be worth the telling. Where the whole series has excelled, however, has been in the superb moody artwork by Werther Dell'Edera. It's been a gorgeous viewing experience. This issue's backup by Micol Beltramini and Daniele Serra is even stronger: a nicely composed short with stunning visuals. (3/5)

Detective Comics #984
DC Comics. Written by Bryan Hill. Art by Miguel Mendonça and Diana Egea. Colours by Adriano Lucas.
With a masked criminal taking down Batman's sidekicks, Batman brings in Black Lightning to train them to stay safe. I really like this pairing of Batman and Black Lightning, who's always been an under-utilised character (though I suspect his weekly television drama may be changing that). It is always a challenge for a new creative team to make a fresh start after a successful run like James Tynion IV just enjoyed, but in this case Hill, Mendonça, and Egea are doing a great job with their first two issues. The art is solid, and the story is intriguing. It feels like an uncharacteristically smooth transition beyond Tynion's run too. (4/5)

Isola #4
Image. Written by Brenden Fletcher and Karl Kerschl. Art by Karl Kerschl and Msassyk.
This epic fantasy continues to be the hands-down most beautiful comic book of 2018, with fine line work that resembles the highest-quality film animation and bold colours that enhance that already exceptional art even further. For anybody that had been chafing at a lack of context over the first three issues gets a big reward with the fourth, as back story is revealed and the story begins to make a lot more sense. This is world class graphic storytelling; you're going to want to have been in here at the ground floor. (5/5)

Mech Cadet Yu #10
Boom Studios. Written by Greg Pak. Art by Takeshi Miyazawa. Colours by Jessica Kholinne.
As the Sharg launch a new attack against the mech base, Buddy makes an important choice to save its human companions. The Mech Cadet climax rolls on in a classical style, upping the ante and pushing the narrative yet another step forwards. It's conventional stuff, playing deliberately with giant robot archetypes but getting a satisfying story out of the end. At this stage it feels like we're only two issues or so from ending the entire series; if so things are definitely hitting the right peaks. (4/5)

Port of Earth #7
Image. Written by Zack Kaplan. Art by Andrea Mutti. Colours by Vladimir Popov.
This science fiction thriller has really firmed up and become an edge-of-the-seat adventure in the last few issues. The flashback structure keeps an ominous story running as we know something terrible is going to happen, but still do not yet know precisely what or how. This issue cranks up the world-building in particular, as Rice and McIntyre force their way into the port at last and we start to get an idea of what hides inside. This book is flying under the radar to some extent. It deserves better. (4/5)

Rat Queens #10
Image. Written by Kurtis J. Weibe. Art and colours by Owen Gieni.
The reality-scrambling storyline hits a climax. This has been a very confusing arc in recent issues, and while things wind around to where I suspected they would go I swear there had to have been a cleaner and more coherent way of getting there. I do applaud writer Kurtis J. Weibe for attempting something with a bit of ambition to shake up his long-running series, but in this case it does feel like he got a little too ambitious for his own good. This will likely read better in collected editions; as a serialised comic book it tended to get lost in the long grass. (3/5)

Transformers: Unicron #1
IDW. Written by John Barber. Art by Alex Milne. Colours by Sebastian Cheng.
Unicron. The name carries a lot of weight, not just for active Transformers fans but any kid of the 1980s who watched Transformers: The Movie. Certainly if IDW wanted to grab the attention of readers for their new six-part miniseries, then they certainly picked the right antagonist. The book itself, however, is clearly picking up from earlier issues. For me that breaks a cardinal rule of first issues: if a new reader can't pic up the story easily, your entire book has failed. This issue also suffers from art that is a little too heavily inked, cramped and busy. It's a struggle with which to engage. (2/5)

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