A Pulp Review – Just a Day at the Office

TITLE: Pulp
AUTHOR: Ed Brubaker
ARTISTS: Sean Phillips, Jacob Phillips
PUBLISHER:
Image Comics
RATED:
T
PRICE:
$16.99
RELEASE DATE:
August 4, 2020

By Rob Siebert
Prefers no pulp. But will still drink it.

Everybody loves a good comeback story. It’s inspiring. It’s hopeful. Lord knows we could use a good comeback story right about now. Like the old gunslinger who picks up his pistol one last time to do right, in the process reliving the glory days of his youth. Perhaps he even goes down swinging, fighting valiantly until the very end.

Pulp is like that. Sort of. Maybe. Much of it depends on how you see good guys and bad guys, and what the difference is between them.

Set in the ’30s with World War II in full swing, our main character Max Winters is an elderly man writing Western stories for the pulp magazines, barely making ends meet for he and his wife in the process. It’s a far cry from his youth, lived much like the characters he writes about. Max Winters was an outlaw. But the world has changed, it’s leaving him behind. Until a face from his past abruptly re-enters his life. After all this time, Max Winters might have to become an outlaw one last time…

The most interesting aspect of this book is the two very distinct eras it takes place in, separated by the Second Industrial Revolution. One one end, you’ve got the late 1800s in the American West. Cowboys, horses, six-shooters, stagecoach robberies, etc. On the other, you have New York City circa World War II. The effect is almost like time travel, as we see this cowboy simply trying to adjust and keep up in a big city. Heck, space travel, as it feels like a different world altogether.

On top of everything else, Max has a heart condition. So you can more or less see where Pulp is going. Combine that with all the lamenting, the bitterness, and the urge to pull one last job, and we get something very Brubaker-ish. Fans of Criminal and Kill or Be Killed will feel right at home here.

At this point, Brubaker and Sean Phillips have done so much together they’re almost their own noirish, pulpy, crime-ridden sub-genre. As with any highly established creative force, that works both for and against them. Readers know what to expect and are happy when you give it to them. But at the same time, how does Pulp make itself stand out among such an extensive catalog?

The answer, ultimately, is it doesn’t. Yes, there’s a certain novelty to seeing Phillips draw cowboys, and I like this twist on the “old gunslinger” story. But other than that, there’s nothing here that’s necessarily outside their usual wheelhouse.

If they’d stayed in the old west, perhaps it would be a different story. We’d get to see the Brubaker/Phillips give their gritty, moody spin on a Western. But it’s hard to say what we might have gotten there, as Pulp becomes a different book altogether. It definitely loses its old gunslinger hook.

If you’re new to the Brubaker/Phillips world, then I’d absolutely recommend Pulp. Almost like a starter story or an appetizer. Let this wet your appetite, then look for one of the tentpoles. But for those of us who’ve been here before, it’s largely business is usual. Which is to say business is good. Nothing too surprising. Just a day at the office.

Special Thanks to Edelweiss for providing an advance review copy of Pulp.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Weekly Comic 100s: Negan Lives, Ghostbusters, and More!

***”Weekly Comic 100s” keeps it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

So can we all just stop with this “The Walking Dead comics are over” thing?

Negan Lives!, Robert Kirkman’s commendable attempt to drive readers back into comic shops came out this week. The Walking Dead #173, the “final” issue of the series, came out almost a year ago to the day. So they barely made it through another 12 months before coming back to the well. Mind you, no one could have predicted COVID-19. But my point still stands: The Walking Dead is not done. There’s too much money on the table, there’s still fan interest, and most importantly, the creators clearly still love doing it.

It might not come back as a monthly series. There might be years at a time where we don’t see it. But mark my words, The Walking Dead will rise again.

For the record, that’s not a bad thing. It’s a very, very good thing.

TITLE: Negan Lives!
AUTHOR: Robert Kirkman
ARTISTS: Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn (Gray Tones), Rus Wooton (Letterer).
RELEASED: July 1, 2020

Negan Lives! is pretty much what you want it to be: A return to the Negan character, with the door left open for more stories. It’s a fun time, but nothing shocking enough to wake the dead.

For better or worse, this return to form did make me realize how much I miss The Walking Dead. All the more reason to cut the BS and bring it back, already.

TITLE: Ghostbusters: Year One #4
AUTHOR: Erik Burnham
ARTIST:
Dan Shoening, Luis Delgado (Colorist), Neil Uyetake (Letterer)
RELEASED:
July 1, 2020

This issue gave me the warm fuzzies for Harold Ramis. I suspect that sentimental factor is partially why they saved Egon for last.

Ghostbusters: Year One ends on an open-ended note related to Egon. As this book is meant to be a prelude of sorts to Ghostbusters: Afterlife, I’m wondering if this leads into something in the movie. On the other hand, it could be another Burnham/Schoening comic. Either way, the fans win.

TITLE: Devil’s Highway #1
AUTHOR: Benjamin Percy
ARTISTS:
Brent Schoonover, Nick Filardi (Colorist), Sal Cipriano (Letterer)
RELEASED:
July 1, 2020

Like Dead Body Road last week, the success of Devil’s Highway largely hinges on the likability of its female protagonist. In that sense, it’s successful. But thus far the book doesn’t have much else going for it in terms of uniqueness. It’s a standard horror story, with art that’s not particularly memorable.

I’ve been a fan of much of what AWA Studios – Upshot has been putting out lately. But I can’t say Devil’s Highway will be a high priority for me going forward.

TITLE: I Can Sell You A Body #4
AUTHOR: Ryan Ferrier
ARTISTS:
George Kambadais, Ferrier (Letterer)
RELEASED:
July 1, 2020

I’m not sure how I expected this book to end. But I enjoyed what they did. Denny and Henrietta don’t get a textbook happy ending. But they don’t get a tragic one either. They wind up in a fun middle-ground.

All in all, I’d call this book an overachiever. It managed to be both intriguing and funny. Moreover, it’s memorable. It stays with you after you close an issue. I’ll be keeping an eye out for both Ferrier and Kambadais going forward.

TITLE: Batman: The Adventures Continue #7
AUTHOR: Alan Burnett, Paul Dini
ARTISTS:
Ty Templeton, Monica Cubina (Colorist), Joshua Reed (Letterer). Cover by James Harren.
RELEASED:
July 2, 2020

This one is a mixed bag. I appreciated the different sort of way Azrael was introduced, the way Catwoman was involved, and that they let him have his original costume before putting him in the Knightfall Batman suit. But I’m not so much a fan of how the suit is created in the DCAU. It’s almost done as an afterthought. Or worse, something they did just to sell toys.

And in all fairness, maybe that’s why they did do it.

TITLE: That Texas Blood #1
AUTHOR: Chris Condon
ARTIST:
Jacob Phillips
RELEASED:
June 24, 2020

Think Criminal meets early Southern Bastards. Then you’ve got a decent idea of what That Texas Blood is all about. At least at this juncture.

Solicited as a “neo-Western crime series,” the issue has a certain southern-fried charm to it. Case in point, our main character, 70-year-old Sheriff Joe Coates, is trying to retrieve his wife’s casserole dish when he stumbles into trouble. Coates has a simple likability that should balance well with the violence that’s sure to ensue in the coming pages.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.