The Pull List – Black Friday Edition!
I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving—those of you who celebrate such things—and are resting up after Black Friday shopping—those of you who engage in such things—while the tryptophan courses through your veins and you contemplate making a cold turkey and stuffing sandwich for lunch. Thank you for your patience while set aside my reviews so I could celebrate with my family.
It’s a short week this week, and a Marvel-centric one at that. I usually like to spread the love around between the publishers, but that didn’t happen this week, more’s the pity. I did get a recommendation from reader Eric P on twitter for Skottie Young’s MiddleWest, but my LCS didn’t stock it. I’ve got them on the case, though, and hopefully I’ll have it in my grubby hands soon. What I DO have for you this week is a trio of my favorite mag that Marvel is putting out right now. I’ll admit that Uncanny X-Men is young, but I really love the weekly treatment, and I like all three of the writers on this book. We also have Immortal Hulk, the constantly-on-top-of-my-read-pile offering from Al Ewing and Joe Bennett, and the constantly entertaining West Coast Avengers by Kelly Thompson and Stefano Caselli. So, let’s get into it, shall we?
We’ll lead off with Thompson and Caselli’s West Coast Avengers #4, the wrap up to the team’s first adventure. The team subdues Kate “Don’t Call Me Katie” Bishop (turned into a giant Hawk-Woman by B.R.O.D.O.K.) before turning their attention to Hawkguy’s discovery of the villain’s reversal technology. Quentin and Clint team up to zap B.R.O.D.O.K. with the device and return him to his original form as M.O.D.O.K., who Kate, still in Hawk-form, hurls towards the sun. They still have much to deal with as B.R.O.D.O.K.’s other monster-women are still attacking Venice Beach, including an apartment building where Fuse’s sister Ramone lives. Ramone does her best to get the residents out, but she gets trapped inside when the team starts zapping the other victims of B.R.O.D.O.K. back to normal. She’s rescued by America and they clearly hit it off. Clint asks Tigra to join the team, but she has no interest, she’s going to hunt down M.O.D.O.K. for his crimes. Quentin and Gwen hate each other but totally make out. And Fuse may not be happy about America and Ramone dating. The team goes on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and Kate tells the world that the West Coast Avengers as various villains (one called Dutch Oven that I hope we haven’t heard the last of), including Madame Masque opine on the return of the team.
So here we are again with another genuinely funny look at super-heroing, mixed in with some great action and a satisfying conclusion to the obnoxious B.R.O.D.O.K. situation. I can’t wait to not type B.R.O.D.O.K. for a while. Caselli’s art is always eye-pleasing, and Thompson’s writing is filled with wit and a flair for the socially conscious, which suits me just fine. Apologies to Matt Rosenberg, who I think will do a fine job, but I was really hoping that Marvel would give Thompson a solo shot at Uncanny X-Men when Disassembled was done. Maybe someday.
In the meantime, this is a solid conclusion to the first arc, and I’m really looking forward to what this now-established team will get up to. Including bumper cars, if the preview page for next issue is to believed.
Rating 4/5, highly recommended!
Next up we have the aforementioned Uncanny X-Men #2, written by Ed Brisson, Matt Rosenberg and Kelly Thompson, with art this week by R.B. Silva and Adriano DiBenedetto. Following up on the last issue’s dramatic attack on a US Senator, the X-Men are trying to contain the Jamie Madrox situation AND deal with various animals who were previously extinct returning to terrorize the globe. The main X-Men split up, half going to Missula, Montana to deal with a dinosaur outbreak while the other half goes to Kansas to deal with Madrox…or about a few thousand Madrox dupes, leaving the newer X-Men to guard the Institute from racist protesters on the lawn. Meanwhile Beast steals away to a lab in North Carolina to recover a mysterious canister.
In Kansas, the X-Men have their hands full as Psylocke cannot make heads or tails of all the Madrox dupes—it’s unclear who is the Prime Jamie Madrox, and they are all so confused that the X-Men cannot determine what their endgame is.
In Montana, Bishop realizes that something he found days ago may be related to the disappearances and disturbances happening all over the globe, and tells Jean he needs to discuss it with her. Laura gets eaten by a T-Rex, only to claw her way out of it’s stomach.
Meanwhile back at the Institute, a clean-cut and well dressed man shows up and knocks on the door. He announced to the X-Men that are left there that he—Legion, Professor Xavier’s son—is there to save the day.
So. Legion. And not the crazed David Haller that we know with the Kid-N-Play haircut, but a dapper looking gent who looks well and collected. So what does that mean? Have David’s personalities been merged and he’s a whole person? Is this just one of his personas? Is it a trick? Thankfully we only have to wait a week, because I really wasn’t expecting to see Legion show up on the doorstep of the Institute.
The story continues at breakneck speed and a lot of action. We don’t get a lot of character moments with the main X-Men, but this is a big story, so maybe when this is all settled down we can have some quiet moments and develop the characters a little. The younger X-Men do get that development, which is nice. You need new blood, and these guys are at least compelling story-wise.
The art by Silva and DiBenedetto is good, the action scenes being the centerpiece. I really liked the arrival shots of both X-Teams in Montana and Kansas.
Still a developing story, and still in it’s early stages. I wish for more, but I get the feeling there’s plenty left to tell, so I’m giving this book high marks again this week, based on it’s momentum and it’s charm. It feels like we’re watching a two and a half hour film and we’re only 15 minutes into act one. Buckle up.
Rating 4/5, a very solid recommend for a decent start to the return of one of my all-time favorite super hero comics.
And now we’ve come to what has been consistently my favorite book Marvel has been putting out in the last eight months: Immortal Hulk #8 by Al Ewing and Joe Bennett with Martin Simmonds and Ruy Jose.
Following up on last issues big escape from Shadow Base, the Hulk is on the run, headed for the Los Diablos Gamma Bomb test site, where the Hulk was created by the monsters in Banner’s mind and the radiation from Banner’s bomb. He’s met there by Crusher Creel, the Absorbing Man, freshly upgraded by the team at Shadow Base to be able to absorb radiation from the Hulk’s body, much like the Hulk can absorb radiation from others.
Creel was recruited by Shadow Base to take the Hulk down, because they needed someone not just with the raw power to absorb, but also someone with the hubris and the pride to not allow himself to back down.
Creel and Hulk go at it, and Hulk realizes that Creel’s not just siphoning off his gamma radiation, he’s also managed to absorb whatever it was that was masquerading as Brain Banner in Hulk’s head. That power proves too much for Absorbing Man to take and it changes his body into something demonic as the Hulk prepares for round two…next issue.
Okay, so the Hulk is, unashamedly, my favorite character in the Marvel 616 universe, and he’s been mistreated for a long time. This run seems a return to form for him, and Al Ewing continues to knock it out of the park issue after issue.
Joe Bennett’s pencils are fine, again, when he’s drawing humanoid characters. It’s when he’s drawing the Hulk that Hulk ends up looking like a mutated monkey-dragon-thing sometimes. It’s growing on me, though. What I did like about the art this issue was Martin Simmonds’ contribution to the issue. He drew the Creel-centric pages, and they are rather good. I’d like to see him get a chance to take over the main art duties for a few issues. At least, then, I’d know if Joe Bennett’s work really has grown on me, or if I’m just being complacent about it.
My issues with the art aside, the story is what makes this Marvel’s best book and one of the best runs on Hulk in a long, long time. For that I give it a Rating of 5/5. Keep it coming, Al Ewing.
So that’s it for me this week. I’ll be back next week with reviews of Action Comics 1005, Heroes in Crisis 3, Return of Wolverine 3, and Uncanny X-Men 3. Keep your eyes peeled on the website and social media—we might have another guest video review of Teen Titans Go! #31. We’ll see where the weekend takes us.
Thanks for reading!