Howdy comic book readers, welcome to my brand-new column! I’m Kieron Byatt, Melbourne comic-book fanatic. Each week at Supanova, I am fortunate enough to contribute to our weekly news wrap, Newstime, where we round-up all the big stories in film, anime, TV, games, comics and more.
Part of my comic news column are my weekly ‘picks’ – five titles I recommend for you to pick up from your local comic book store and possibly add to a standing order – known in comic speak as the ‘pull list’. However, since those recommendations are based on previews and intuition, I got to thinking, how well am I calling it each week?
This new monthly column, The Pull List Review, is where I will post reviews of the most notable or my favourite picks for the month. The rules are simple: at the end of each month, I’ll select some of my weekly picks and put my powers of persuasion to the test.
We’ll try and stick to single issues but if there’s any mouth-watering trades or graphic novels, they’ll be thrown in too. Without further ado, let’s kick it off with my favourite picks for the start of the year.
Wolverine: The Long Night #1 (Marvel)
This was probably my most anticipated title last month. At the end of 2018, I became quickly obsessed with Marvel and Stitcher’s Wolverine: The Long Night – the first official podcast from Marvel – and if you haven’t heard the 10-episode series yet please do, so you can pick up this book.
The pod is the example of audio production excellence – it honestly feels like watching a movie with the sound off, it’s that immersive, and Richard Armitage as Logan is so perfect it makes you want to see him wear the adamantium claws on the big screen.
This comic book adaptation of the podcast is written by Benjamin Percy, the man who wrote the pod’s script, with gorgeous art by Marcio Takara and a stunningly simple but elegant cover from Rafael Albuquerque. Percy has managed to rework the radio play formatting into a cinematic structure which doesn’t compromise on the podcast’s mystery nor its fresh treatment and reserved use of Wolverine. I’m curious to see how Percy will continue to compound ten 60-minute episodes into six issues but it’s off to a strong start!
Buffy the Vampire Slayer #1 (Boom! Studios)
I must admit, whilst being intrigued, I was also sceptical of this reboot of one of my favourite TV series. Joss Whedon’s Buffy can be found again on comic shelves in this new monthly title which brings Buffy into the modern day of smartphones and Uber Eats.
That premise may sound on the nose, but in the mere opening pages, writer Jordan Bellaire displays affection and authenticity in bringing the voice and charm of our beloved Buffy to life. Due to its brilliant structuring, the book doesn’t feel like just a simple rehash of the TV series, and Dan Mora’s sleek art style captures the faces of Sarah Michelle Gellar, Nicholas Brendon and Alyson Hannigan with an effortless touch. Seeing their likeness depicted so stunningly immediately stokes the heart flames and I personally was won over by page eight.
The dialogue is punchy and sounds just like the characters, while both the setting and turn of events are the perfect amount of freshness. In short, it feels brand new but instantly recognisable at the same time.
Hit-Girl Season Two #1 (Image)
When it was reported mid-last year that none other than Kevin Smith, Lord of the Geeks himself, would be writing a Hit-Girl arc, the fact that I’ve actually never read a copy of the Kick-Ass spin-off was never gonna stop me from picking this series up.
The synopsis alone piques interest: Hit-Girl discovers a film in development based on her exploits and she hits Hollywood for what promises to be a tale of meta-revenge. It’s a premise in-step with Smith’s signature commentary on the movie making industry, and is even reminiscent of both Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back as well as the upcoming Jay & Silent Bob Reboot.
Despite how familiar the concept feels, this first issue was a legitimate surprise. As is expected in the Kick-Ass universe, Hit-Girl Season Two #1 doesn’t shy away from violence and mature themes, but it is done so charmingly thanks to Pernille Ørum’s colourful and innocent appearing artwork.
The Danish illustrator’s bold and expressive style wouldn’t be out of place in an Archie or Disney comic, which compliments Smith’s dark but playful script perfectly. Speaking of the script, that’s why any Smith tragic will pick this title up, hoping to find the writer/director/podcaster’s signature brand of witty quips, and yet there’s only one line of dialogue in the entire issue, and it’s on the last page!
At first this may seem like an off-brand experiment but it’s a refreshing step outside of the expected from Smith and allows the characters and story the space to breathe thanks to Ørum’s incredible artwork. A mesmerising and haunting opening for Hit-Girl’s new season!
Wonder Twins #1 (DC)
One of the more intriguing titles from Brian Michael Bendis’ Wonder Comics, Wonder Twins promised to reboot one of DC’s beloved duos from the Super Friends animated series under the creative duo of writer Mark Russell (The Flintstones) and artist Stephen Byrne (Power Rangers).
For those unfamiliar with Zan and Jayna, they are superheroes from an alien planet with changeling abilities: Zan can morph into water and Jayna into animals. As goofy as that premise sounds, Russell and Byrne lean into the silliness and fun by crafting a light-hearted and delightful treatment of the Wonder Twins.
The first issue’s brilliance is in its juggling of superhero hi-jinx and high-school drama, unafraid to poke fun at both worlds while still treating the characters and premise with respect. In this first issue Zan and Jayna are refugees on Earth, due to an agreement between their father and Superman, and when they’re not embarrassing themselves in class they’re learning the ropes at the Hall of Justice.
Russell’s dialogue is punchy and not short on gags and the atmospheric warm fuzziness is enhanced by Byrne’s buoyant pencilling. What boosts the story is the balance between introducing a new generation of readers to Zan and Jayna whilst paying enough fan service in depicting the Justice League with a humorous behind the scenes look at how the team operates. One delightful scene even treats the reader to Batman and Superman sharing embarrassing teenage romantic adventures in one of my favourite treatments of the Dark Knight and Kal El. A series fit for a whole family of comic readers.