the Pull List #30 – 11/18/15

A weekly column in which Jake gives short blurbs about the comics he’s picked up that week. Reviewed in the order read, which varies but generally by increasing anticipation.   Disclaimer: he knows very little about art, at least not enough to considerably honor such tremendous undertakings, so…yeh, there’s that.
 
The Astonishing Ant-Man #2

Writer: Nick Spencer

Artist: Roman Rosanas

Color Artist: Jordan Boyd

Letterer: VCs Travis Lanham

Marvel

Hot off the tail of another failed client interview, Scott Lang tries to obtain another one through a talent show.  The problem: the talent being showcased is Darla Deering, pop sensation, super heroine Ms. Thing (Not Ms. Thaaang, totally different), and, more importantly, Scotts ex-girlfriend that he never broke up with and kinda just abandoned.  Also, Machinesmith and Grizzly might be up to their old villainous tricks behind their new bosses back.  Despite all of the unfortunate events occurring in the issue, Spencer keeps the beat relatively light, thanks in most part to Scotts effortlessly likable narration.  While its not quiet laugh-a-minute as some of the other issues, the script definitely knows when to make its jokes and when to let the drama rise, making for a very balanced affair.  Rosanass lines capture both of these qualities and enhance them thanks to some expert body language and framing.  Coupled with Boyds colors, Darlas backstory splash page and she and Scotts fight with the issues villain are delightful.  While we still havent gotten to the heart of the 8-month gap that Secret Wars caused in Scotts life, it seems the snowball has started rolling at a brisk pace.  Astonishing Ant-Man is a classic down-on-his-luck superhero book that excels at both jokes and drama. 
Spider-Woman #1
Writer: Dennis Hopeless

Penciler and Color: Javier Rodriguez

Inker: Alvaro Lopez

Letterer: VCs Travis Lanham

Marvel

So, this is certainly a new direction.  In the 8-month gap after Secret Wars, Jessica Drew apparently became pregnant and we rejoin her just in time for her to go on maternity leave.  While there are some typical super heroics present, most of the issue focuses on this new aspect of Spider-Womans life and how it drastically affects her.  For what it is, its an excellent issue full of nice character work and fun little moments by Hopeless.  But one cant help but feel that this drastic upheaval for Jessica is just change for changes sake, an obvious result of the time gap and the storys refusal to show the primary backstory behind it.  This is played for laughs in story and one has to believe that well get to it eventually, but it is somewhat disconcerting to say the least.  Meanwhile, the art is as strong as ever thanks to Rodriguezs eye for detail and emotion.  The snapshots of Jessicas first few days on maternity leave are excellent and are given room on their own to breath despite being single panel affairs.  The maternity leave party is one of the most delightful crowd scenes in recent memory all thanks to Javier and Lopezs effort in detailing each character involved.  Spider-Woman benefits from the fact that the creative team is at their usual supreme strength which makes for a great experience despite the fact that the plot developments might not be for everyone. 
New Avengers #3

Writer: Al Ewing

Artist: Gerardo Sandoval

Colorist: Dono Sanchez Almara

Letterer: VCs Clayton Cowles

Marvel

This issue of New Avengers, we get a bit of downtime in which some character moments are played out and some sinister implications are made.  And then some aliens show up and kidnap Wiccan and Hulkling.  Despite coming off a rapid opening story, Ewing is not one to rest on his laurels and quickly ushers the team to their next conflict.  While its good to see some rapid storytelling in this age of decompression, the brevity of the last tale coupled with the fact that the new one feels like a bit of a retread is somewhat concerning.  We dont really get a feel for the alien abductors as characters which makes it seem like they wont be sticking around long.  Its also becoming more apparent that the art team isnt perhaps the best fit for the book.  While they certainly excel in the opening sequence and couldnt be finer there, the darkness of those pages seemingly infects the rest of the book, which Im not sure is warranted.  After all, this is a team book featuring four younger heros and a superscience base of craziness.  While it was certainly amazing when the Maker was monologuing about his mission whilst operating on a new disciple, those pages really shouldnt have the same approach as when Hulkling makes the best sandwich ever and declares himself the one true Dagwood.  For all intents and purposes, New Avengers appears out of step with itself, despite having a bunch of good working parts. 
Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl #4

Writer: Kieron Gillen

Artist: Jamie McKelvie

Colorist: Matthew Wilson

Letterer: Clayton Cowles

Image

Well it had to happen eventually.  The most Phonogram-y issue of Phonogram has arrived (long have I feared this day).  What this means this that I don’t fully (remotely) know whats happening in this issue, but I know it’s something great.  It’ll likely take me a few readings/wait until the whole series comes out/reread SinglesClub to fully grasp this issue, but, as these reviews go up day of, ain’t nobody got time fo’ dat.  The issue focuses on SinglesClub members Mr. Logos and Laura Black and theirtense relationship to each other.  Its somewhat tangentially related to the main plot, I suppose.  If I say anymore, Ill likely be exposing my ignorance moreso than by my previously saying that I am ignorant.  Art side of things, we get a lovely throwback to McKelvies Rue Britannia style and a glorious fight sequence.  Safe to say, if youve been following Phonogram and like Phonogram, youll like this issue.  If one of those two qualities dont exist for you, well, best of luck. 
Rat Queens #13

Writer: Kurtis J. Wiebe

Artist: Tess Fowler

Colors: Tamra Bonvillain

Letters: Ed Brisson

Image

Rescued from their previous predicament, the Queens explore the bountiful wonders of Mage U as certain forces move in the background.  Wiebe concocts another stellar issue, giving both stunning scene exposition and characterization simultaneously.  From Betty giddy delight at buying a siege weapon/sled to Dees quiet awe of the Mage U library, each page does the work and never seems like an unnecessary sidestep.  Not to mention the sass-filled scene between Hannah and Professor Finch, the Traveller, which is just fantastic.  Fowler and Bonvillain have a lot to work with on art, from the multiple crowd scenes and crowded panels Wiebe deals them.  However, none feel overly clustered and the teams detailed work is applaudable. The frenetic depiction of Violet and Bettys sled-ride is one of the best sequences in the series.  While the overall arc has been something of a slow burn, each issue has been enjoyable thanks to whipsmart character work by the whole team. 
BOOK OF THE WEEK
Ms. Marvel #1
Writer: G. Willow Wilson

Art: Takeshi Miyazawa & Adrian Alphona

Color Art: Ian Herring

Lettering: VCs Joe Caramagna

Marvel

Damn you Marvel for making one of my favorite books $4.99.  Though in fairness, the book is totally worth the asking price as this issue is jam-packed front-to-back with quality content.  After the 8-month timeskip, Kamala Khans life is a bit different.  Shes an Avenger now, which is awesome and for the most part some of her less than pleasant friends have made turns for the better.  Oh, also, Brunos dating someone now.  All in all, this makes for one of the more plausible and satisfying timeskip issues since being an Avenger would keep Kamala extraordinarily busy (she was already having some trouble with balance when she was just street level).  So much so that she wouldnt notice these drastic changes in her surroundings.  This is a great narrative choice as it puts us on the same level plot-wise as Kamala.  Not one to leave us in the dark, Wilson also fleshes out the backstory behind Brunos new relationship, though she does play a few other plot developments close to the chest.  However, the Bruno-revelation is a great one because we wont spend issues wondering how this could have happened and instead we get a wonderfully scripted sequence that does wonders for both the characters and the plot.  Frequent series artist Miyazawa handles the brunt of artwork duties while regular series artist Alphona handles the Bruno story.  Both are great fits for their respective angles.  Alphonas appearance on the backstory ties it back more strongly to last volume, while Miyazawa handles the Avengers superheroics and Kamalas struggle with the new status quo with aplomb.  Both stories are tied together with regular color artist Ian Herring whose palette continues to be a perfect choice for the series.  Also of special mention is letterer Joe Caramagnas stylistic choice to have Kamalas words and balloons shrink as she does.  Its a small thing (heh) but its a wise one.  Despite the hefty price tag and some timeskip shenanigans, Ms. Marvel doesnt miss a beat in its new debut.
So what did you pick up this week? Agree or disagree with anything said here? Let us know in the comments.
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