The Pull List #61 for June 22 2016

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.

Civil War II: Choosing Sides #1
Writers: Declan Shalvey, Brandon Easton, Chad Bowers & Chris Sims
Artists: Declan Shalvey, Paul Davidson, Leonardo Romero
Color Artist: Jordie Bellaire, Andrew Crossley, Miroslav Mrva
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Every big comic event comes with one or two anthology series and this is one of Civil War II’s.  Normally, I’d avoid this sort of thing because 1) I don’t care for the event (as should be obvious) 2) I’m not particularly invested in the characters in this issue.  However, Marvel has suckered me in due to that amazing Shalvey/Bellaire combo on the main Nick Fury (Jr.) story.  The art in that one is as great as that pair has ever been, perhaps even better as Shalvey is scripting his own art, given what I believe is his first major writers credit.  The plot is decent enough if one we’ve seen before (shadowy figure inside SHIELD tries to kill Nick Fury so he has to go into hiding to uncover it), however the dialogue is a bit stilted and overimposing at times.  The other two stories feature Night Thrasher and Damage Control, two entities I haven’t had much dealings with, but they are well-composed on every front.  But the biggest problem with Civil War II: Choosing Sides is not one of the featured characters in this issue actually chooses a side.  Bit of false advertising, innit?

Wonder Woman #1
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Liam Sharp
Colors: Laura Martin
Letters: Jodi Wynne
Wonder Woman goes searching for answers from a fellow goddess as her estranged…friend Steve Trevor battles the forces of an African warlord as part of a military operation.  Frankly, I can’t tell whether I wasted money buying this issue or the Rebirth one as they both hit the same essential beats of the story, aside from swapping out Diana’s frustrated introspection for Trevor’s vague combat op.  Perhaps that’s the biggest problem with Rucka’s approach to the story: vagueness.  We’ve no idea what Wonder Woman is up to until the final page, and we have zero idea why Steve’s story is relevant aside from coincidentally being in the same country as Diana just so happens to be. These things would be okay if this was the first salvo from the run, but since we got the Rebirth issue, it feels more like a frustrating spin of the wheels.  Also, if the next issue is the second storyline (“Year One”), can I completely skip it if I’m not interested in that?  At least Sharp and Martin are on their game, ably shifting from deep jungle, to CIA control room, to war-torn village.  Sharp’s attention to detail enhances every panel and Martin expertly mixes light and shadow to make images stand out.  Still, bit of a bad start for the run and I can’t say I’m too keen on getting #2…or #3, whatever.
Detective Comics #935
Script: James Tynion IV
Pencils: Eddy Barrows
Inks: Eber Ferreira
Colors: Adriano Lucas
Letters: Marilyn Patrizio
The new Bat-Team gets put through their paces by Batwoman, and the cracks are already starting to show.  Tynion does an excellent job of focusing on all of the cast members as well as providing some more hints about the shadowy organization stalking the vigilantes of Gotham city.  His dialogue is seamless in how it interweaves exposition and character.  Barrows and Ferreira are crafting something excellent here.  Along with Lucas’s colors, winter in Gotham City has rarely looked this good.  With excellent art and a well-rounded cast, Detective Comics is certainly a book to watch coming out of Rebirth.  
Ms. Marvel #8
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artists: Takeshi Miyazawa & Adrian Alphona
Colorist: Ian Herring w/ Irma Kniivila
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Set on the onset (writing!) of Civil War II, Captain Marvel calls on Ms. Marvel to make a choice, which means Kamala is stepping in it with a size 12XL boot.  Wilson, after a short prelude, dives right into Kamala working with a predictive justice squad, and readily offers up several snags in the whole ordeal.  It’s refreshing to see Kamala deal with so complicated an issue while still maintaining the charm and grace (or sometimes lack thereof) that makes Ms. Marvel so enjoyable.  Speaking of enjoyable, Miyazawa is back as the main story artist while it seems Alphona will be handling the continuous flashback sequences.  Both are excellently suited for their roles and the disparity of settings allows the book to maintain a cohesion.  While it’s unsure just how involved Kamala will become in the actual Civil War II, the ideological debate at the heart of that event will certainly have an impact, and Kamala dealing with that debate should be rather good to watch.  
The Ultimates #8 BOOK OF THE WEEK
Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Kenneth Rocafort
Color Artist: Dan Brown
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
As the effects of the opening shots of Civil War II ripple through the Ultimates, we get a look at how this team was formed, and more importantly why each member was chosen.  Ewing packs a lot into one issue and manages to pull off what should be a daunting task.  Not only does he retell Civil War II #0 from the perspective of The Ultimates, but he also gives us the team’s origin—and more importantly, shows us how that directly plays into the present story.  He also packs in the machinations of a shadowy villain.  Throw in a handful of great character moments and an excellent set-up for next issue, and I’m convinced that Ewing is some kinda plot wizard.  The book never feels rushed or cluttered despite the veritable fuckton of plot lines weaving around.  Honestly, it’s a wonder.  While it’s sad to see Christian Ward depart after such an amazing stint last issue, Rocafort and Brown return with much aplomb, bringing with them fantastic expressions and dynamic paneling.  All of these incredible factors combine to show why The Ultimates is one of the most quality books on the shelves.  
The Autumnlands #11
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Benjamin Dewey
Color Art: Jordie Bellaire
Lettering: John Roshell & Jimmy Betancourt of Comicraft
Dusty, Learoyd, and new companion, Aelbert, (who I really hope sticks around) deal with a towering monstrosity and uncover more secrets at the mountain’s summit.  Busiek doesn’t miss a beat in regards to both characters and plot, giving each cast member ample time in the spotlight and deepening the mysteries of the world in an extremely satisfying way.  Dewey and Bellaire knock every scene out of the park, managing to ably capture both horror and wonder, sometimes at the same time.  Despite the delays, The Autumnlands still remains strong.  

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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