Welcome to the latest edition of The Pull List, where we take a look at a few single issue comics that came out this month. There’s a lot of series finishing up in the next few months, from Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ amazing Fatale, to the only decent DC Comic around, Wonder Woman, so it seems like as good an opportunity as any to take a look at some of the more accessible titles that came out this month and see what we’ll be reading in the future.
This month sees the launch of a brand new series from Warren Ellis, Trees, with art by Jason Howard. Trees has been, somewhat bizarrely, kept under wraps for a while now, although the plot is nothing like as original as people may assume. All over the world, a number of enormous trees appeared ten years ago, and now the world is in a kind of atypical post-apocalyptic scenario. We follow a few different characters as they explain (in some rather forced expositional scenes) how the world is, and set up the story for the rest of the series. The result is better than perhaps I have described above, and Ellis does manage to mask most of his forced dialogue into some fun scenes. My main issue with the comic is that it doesn’t feel as though it has his touch on the script as much, where the debut issues of Transmetropolitan, Planetary and Nextwave were distinct, funny and a bit horrible, this is just a very normal debut issue of a good comic. That, in itself is not out and out a bad thing, since even a good (but not great) comic by Ellis is typically much better than the average output from most creators, but at times Trees feels like it’s unsure of itself. A less confident debut than one would expect then, but definitely interesting enough to warrant buying some more of the series.
Another new book launched itself this month, with Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s The Wicked and The Divine. This book is so achingly cool that it already has a hashtag, though one suspects that would appeal to its cast of characters, teenagers embodied with the souls of gods, worshipped by legions of teen fans, only to die after a few years. It’s a neat premise, and the duo, who wrote the fantastic Phonogram, as well as the lesser Young Avengers, do a good job of setting up the story. Gillen’s writing at times can be frustratingly vague, his Young Avengers run was, at times, all over the place, and it’s nice to see it pared down ever so slightly here. The writing has a few problems – our main character Laura is barely sketched out, and the middle of the issue takes the form of an incredibly clunky expositional interview. But these are typical first issue problems, and there’s always the chance that they’ll get fixed in the next few issues. As should be expected by now, McKelvie’s art is the main draw. His characters ooze expression, and look like teenage gods. Even more praise should go to colourist Mike Norton, who is easily one of the finest artists working in comics these days. Colourists barely ever get any kind of recognition and it’s a proper shame, since his work here is genuinely stunning. The Wicked and The Divine, about teen gods, with their huge crowds of fans, and the one lucky girl who gets to hang out with them, has a point to make about fans and the way that pop stars perhaps treat them. In that way, it perhaps has more in common with something like Almost Famous than it does Young Avengers. That’s an interesting angle to take with such a story, and I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes next.
Finally, Wraith finishes up this month, although issue #7 isn’t your average finale. The prequel to Joe Hill’s novel NO54R2, Wraith has been telling the story of a number of prison escapees and guards who wind up in Christmasland, an horrific nightmare dimension which is home to the murderous Charlie Manx, and an army of children whom he has kidnapped over the years. That story, which was absolutely fantastic by the way, ended with issue #6, and for the epilogue, Hill has taken a markedly different approach. Wraith #7 is a prose short story, illustrated by artist CW Wilson III, telling the story of an con-man whose eventual role in the origin of Charlie Manx murderous tendencies becomes clear over the course of the issue. It makes for a brilliant done-in-one tale, one which admittedly works best when you have read the rest of the series, and the novel (although to be honest, I’d be surprised if you’re picking this up without having read either), and is an enjoyable conclusion to what has been one of my favourite titles of the year. One only hopes that Hill has more from the NO54R2 universe in him, as with this and Locke & Key under his belt, he’s fast making a claim for being one of the premier horror writers in modern comics.