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The Pull List: STRAY #1, JUSTICE LEAGUE #39, ETERNAL #2 & More!

Check out what I checked out this week.

Whether the comics are inspiring or disappointing, I read them all.

Welcome to The Pull List.

And, as always…Spoilers ahead!

Bitch Planet #3
Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Artist: Robert Wilson IV
Cover: Valentine De Landro
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.99

Bitch Planet has a strong feminist component that reinforces the message of self-acceptance when everything around us says we’re not good enough. While the male perspective might roll their eyes at this type of social commentary that doesn’t appeal to them, the reality is, it does.

Kelly Sue DeConnick has made Bitch Planet an enthralling and entertaining premise for the comic book medium that fits like a glove in all its splendor. The creators have laid out a format where every third issue will shy away from the main narrative and focus on the origin story of a specific character.

This time around, the jail bruiser Penny Rolle is the subject of examination as she is brought in front of a parole board of sorts.

Instead of judging the rehabilitation of a criminal offender, they are discussing the merit of Penny Rolle finally bending to Father’s will.

Artist Robert Wilson IV presents this opening deliberation in an environment that most people can relate to. Being strapped to a chair while listening to a dozen talking heads on a screen tearing down the core essential elements of her being is equivalent to feeling trapped in a locker filled hallway as the school antagonist stridently points out your flaws in order to hide their own insecurities.

The coloring is a funky, almost disco pallete of greens, blues, and pinks which suggests that everyone needs to hang loose and simply comply even though only one section of the population gets the benefit of free will. The story continues on to explore Penny’s childhood where DeConnick sets us on the standard journey of seeing someone pure and innocent get dealt an ugly hand as the happy go lucky Penny is torn away from her loving grandmother.

While she becomes rough around the edges through years of ridicule, or, for the sake of this world, reaffirmation, Penny snaps, fights back, but instead of becoming this evil villain, contrary to Father, something different occurs which was empowering for a variety of reasons.

As I stated earlier, this might not sound like the most fulfilling comic book experience, but the synergy of the creative team makes it so with an important message cleverly intertwined into a plot that makes it impossible not to jeer the bad guys and cheer the good women with resilient conviction.

Score: 5 out of 5

Stray #1
Writer: Vito Delsante
Artist: Sean Izaakse
Colorist: Ross Campbell, Simon Gough
Publisher: Action Lab Entertainment
Price: $3.99

Using archetypes to craft tales about superheroes and their young sidekicks now grown up, is a rich storytelling opportunity that lends itself to unique and personal tales.

In this case, The Doberman, one of the greatest costumed crime fighters of all time has been murdered. His former Justice League-esque stable of heroes and his former sidekick, the Rottweiler, are nowhere to be found.

The setup is simple, and the artwork does its job fairly well, but everything about the narrative felt rushed and none of the plot points were exciting or had any weight to them.  We are told the Doberman is a legend but we are never shown, or even get to know him. So, why do we care that he has bought the farm?

Rodney, the former Rottweiler is all grown up and sells drugs in the club scene and there is nothing compelling about him except for his past, which again, we hear about but never get to explore. The artwork is solid, but nothing stood out visually except for a page where Rodney flips around a bar to pounce some bad guys. Maybe we will get something more interesting in the months ahead, but this maiden voyage was a solid execution without the slightest twist or turn.

As a concept, Stray has enormous potential and I wanted to love it, but it this issue feels too familiar and doesn’t bring enough of it’s own spin to this familiar tale.

Score: 3 out of 5

Eternal #2
Writer: William Harris
Artist: Stefano Simeone
Colorist: Adam Metcalfe
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Price: $3.99

“The immortal will never allow themselves to become mortal over something trivial as right or wrong.”

This is the perfect quote to sum up William Harris’ life spanning saga, Eternal.

If you had the opportunity to live forever, would you take it no matter who gets hurt in the process?

In the year 2270, it seems to be the majority of the world’s population as the cloning company called New Life are tasked with capturing natural humans called “Pures” to help the clones maintain everlasting life through consciousness transference into a new body.

The last issue brilliantly sets the stage and introduced us to all the key players in the story and this chapter raises the stakes.

In the beginning, we heard a lot about the torturous conditions of the Enclaves where Pures are being held. This time we get to see some of what goes on in these places and Stefano Simeone’s artwork deserves five star praise for capturing the sheer horror with emotion and sharp and defining visuals.

Gail Jensen is the leader of the Human Liberation Army who are looking to free the Pures from the enclaves. They made a decision to use cloning technology in order to fight, which has put New Life on high alert because now they face an enemy that can’t die.

This comic reminded me of 1997 film Gattaca, where test tube babies were considered superior to naturally born humans. There was no wide spanning prejudice involved because that notion was widely accepted in that world.

In Eternal, life is what you make of it, as long as it’s prolonged through the New Life way of thinking and real people are valuable cattle to be poked and prodded when a someone needs a new organ or a disease cured. I appreciated the dirty and dingy world that was created instead of a clean aristocratic look and feel that we would normally see when the rich are in control. This war between life and death has ravaged the world because of the unnatural but legal stakes involved.

The creators have produced an excellent follow up that has me super excited to see how the last two issues play out.

Score: 5 out of 5

Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man #10
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: David Marquez
Colorist: Justin Ponsor
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99

With two issues left in the series, Miles Morales has found himself in a whole heap of trouble.

Of course, he gets a little bit of down time after the emotional roller coaster of discovering that his father was an undercover S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent back in the day.

It was really nice to see Miles enjoying life as a teenager again, even if it was brief because it was a much needed reminder that he is just a kid.

There is also a visit from Cloak and Dagger which augments Miles’ fun loving nature which shines through.

David Marquez and Justin Ponsor constantly provide impressive imagery. Body language always speaks volumes when various characters are fighting or engaged in conversation.

There has been a lot of conversation about the new Spider Power being introduced and while it could pay dividends in the right situation, it’s really nothing special. With Secret Wars right around the corner, the future of Miles Morales in the Marvel Universe, aka, Battleworld is uncertain.

His immediate future, however, is embroiled with Hydra, which was capped off with great emotion on the final page.

Score: 3.5 out of 5

Justice League #39
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Jason Fabok
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99

The tension is at an all-time high as what’s left of the Justice League must contend with the devastation of the Amazo Virus, created by Lex Luthor as a way to kill Superman.

This current arc has done a great job of making this story feel like a big deal within the DC Universe. Geoff Johns is the master of juggling several different stories at once, but this centralized conclusion also highlighted his strengths as a writer when there is one goal.

One of the things that really hit home for me was how Batman couldn’t prevent himself from being infected from the virus, which sent a message that if he can be conquered, no one is safe.

Many felt the departure of Ivan Reis from this series was going to leave a visual void. Jason Fabok had done a great job with this series and really found his footing with this issue. One of the moments that was captured in epic fashion was when Superman uses his heat vision to pierce his skin in order to provide a blood sample Luthor needs to fight off the virus.

Seeing Wonder Woman and Captain Cold fighting side by side was an unusual but welcomed sequence that contained action and humor when Cold blushes over Diana calling him by his real name, Leonard.

Brad Anderson’s coloring isn’t too bold or loud, it’s nearly perfect with the right tones at the right times. The end result of the virus will provide some interesting scenarios down the road which were teased in the final pages.

The ending of this issue seemed a bit rushed, but the book was well done and does a great job of getting fans excited for the upcoming Darkseid War.

Score: 4 out of 5

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