We here at io9 love nothing more than sitting down with a stack of comic books and just getting lost in the fantasy and adventure of worlds nothing like our own. We’ve always covered comics that caught our eye, but at the same time, we’ve always wanted to read, share, and spread the word about more.
But writing individual stories about every single new, indie comic we end up reading just isn’t feasible because there are only so many hours in the day and there’s almost always breaking news that takes priority. So why not just put out a weekly list of the freshest, most gripping new comics we think everyone should be reading?
We’ve been doing that the last few Fridays, but now we’re doing it more officially. The Pull List won’t be an exhaustive list in any given week, but rather a selection of two or three first issue comics that grabbed us and pulled us in with its prose, gorgeous illustrations, and/or fascinating concepts. We already write plenty about books coming out of Marvel and DC, so we want to use the Pull List as a place where we can highlight books from smaller publishers and indies that might get swept up in the mix of things—although occasionally some of the more esoteric comics from the Big Two might show up, as you’ll see below.
The Pull List is all about discovery and exploration—getting outside of our comics comfort zones and digging into fantastic stories, like Atari and Dynamite’s Centipede or Image’s Redlands, that might not be on an end cap at your local comics shop. These are the comics the io9 team is talking about to one another and we want to make you part of the conversation. If you come across a nifty comic be it physical or digital, share it with us either in the comments or shoot me a direct e-mail (just click my name in my byline above).
This’ll be fun, it’ll be weird, but most importantly, it’ll be io9. With that said... let’s talk about comics, folks.
You have to put an incredible amount of faith in the world to agree to be cryogenically frozen and put in stasis before being awoken in the future. Any number of unforeseen things could happen while you were on ice and end up killing you. Your life support system might go down in a power outage, a natural disaster could suddenly sweep you away or, as is the case in Cold War, you could wake up hundreds of years in the future and be immediately conscripted into a war.
Cold War imagines a world where waking up into a war that you didn’t agree to fight in is a daily occurrence and most of the disoriented soldiers end up dead mere moments after regaining their consciousness. Young, old, male, female, people from all walks of life are suddenly thrust into a brutal conflict they don’t understand and given a single direction: kill.
Christopher Sebela’s writing is crisp but purposefully light on specifics about just why the battle in Cold War is going on. You’re meant to be as confused and disoriented by the sudden rush of information and the horrors of war because that’s how the soldiers feel themselves. Artist Hayden Sherman illustrates the battlefield with a minimalist brutality that’s packed with kinetic energy. By the end of the first issue, Cold War will throw you for a loop that’ll make you realize you have no idea where the series will go and that’s a very, very good thing. (Christopher Sebela, Hayden Sherman, Aftershock Comics)
Three Red Pills walk into a bar after attending a seminar hosted by a noted pick-up artist who promises that for a low, low price, he could teach each of them how to become the kind of Alpha Male™ women will love.
Death of Love takes the premise of this very bad joke and spins it into a wild story about Philo Harris, a down-on-his-luck man who gains the ability to see cupidae—the normally invisible, Cupid-like creatures who cause people to fall in love—after taking a pill from the disguised god(dess) Eris. Though Philo doesn’t know it about himself, he’s a stand-in for every man who’s never been able to understand why being a “nice guy” doesn’t automatically guarantee that women want to date him.
Another creative team might have introduced Philo to one of the cupidae and set them off on a heartwarming mission where Philo learns the true meaning of love and why nobody owes him anything, but writer Justin Jordan and illustrators Donal Delay, Omar Estevez, and Felipe Sobreiro have a much better idea. Not only does the mysterious red pill open Philo’s eyes up to the existence of the cupidae, it puts him smack dab in the middle of their ongoing war. (Justin Jordan, Donal Delay, Omar Estevez, and Felipe Sobreiro, Image)
The whole of DC and Young Animal’s “Milk Wars” purposefully-absurd, but Shade, the Changing Girl/Wonder Woman Special #1 uses the inherent wildness of the publishers’ event to deliver a timely and all-too-real message about the world we live in.
Retconn, the reality-warping organization at the heart of “Milk Wars,” turned Superman into a homicidal milkman and Batman into creepy pastor who leads a cult of Gotham’s orphan children—in other words, it turned them into hyper-sanitized, but also much more intense versions, of the people they already were. It tracks, then, that when Retconn got its hands on Wonder Woman, it would transform her into the Wonder Wife, a paragon of domesticity who would put June Cleaver to shame.
Though Wonder Woman is every woman, Wonder Wife is the distillation of the kinds of problematic ideas about women that Diana was originally created to fight against. Everything about Wonder Wife’s identity is tied to her ability to perform her wifely duties for Steve Trevor and to maintain a veneer of perfection that requires her to be disconnected from her emotions. In place of her own feelings, Wonder Wife is assisted by the Shade Force—a squad of Shades, the Changing Girls, who each represent a different emotion a la Inside Out. Though the other Shades are content with their lives in service of Wonder Wife, Happiness suspects that something is amiss... something Wonder Wife would rather she not think about too, too deeply.
There are layers to Shade, the Changing Girl/Wonder Woman Special #1 that will make you want to go back and read it over and over again, and unpack the way writer Cecil Castellucci plays with the dual concepts of female hysteria and Shade, the Changing Girl’s madness. (Cecil Castellucci, Magdalene Visaggio, Mirka Andolfo, Sonny Liew, DC Comics)