In The Pull, Steve Orlando, Ricardo López Ortiz, and Triona Farrell introduce readers to a world in which the discovery of a new form of energy, Hard Heat, has brought about the end times. An entity called the Undoer is on a collision course with Earth. Can disgraced government agent Demm and renegade scientist Gayana put aside their baggage long enough to save everything?
The Pull is a book that is bursting with ideas on every page, sometimes overwhelmingly so. This is the highest of high concept tales, featuring futuristic designer drugs, wild sex, tons of bad language, and hyper-violent fight scenes straight out of an anime. There’s a lot happening in The Pull at all times, to the point where it sometimes feels like certain characters and concepts aren’t given a ton of room to breathe.
That being said, what there is on the page is quite gripping. Orlando manages to make Demm a compelling character, even though he’s never quite likable. There’s a sureness about Demm that makes him an interesting protagonist to follow, if not necessarily someone the reader can root for. And that seems to be the point — after all, this series opens with Demm contemplating ending everything. However, while the reader may find it hard to like most of the characters, that feeling also lends itself to some interesting twists and turns in the plot. It’s hard to feel comfortable with anyone, so the book is able to surprise you with some of the characters’ actions and decisions.
Where the characterization in this book soars is when Orlando explores feelings of guilt. Whether that’s survivor’s guilt or the feeling that more could have been done for the betterment of mankind, every person in this book is dealing with some form of regret. Likewise, the book explores how differently people would handle the idea of the approaching apocalypse. Some folks would do a bunch of drugs and go out in an orgasmic haze, while others would want to have a front row seat for the final light show. Seeing these different ideologies and coping mechanisms clash against one another is one of the most interesting aspects of a book that also includes high-speed battles with energy blasts.
These battles, by the way, are brought to insane life by Ricardo López Ortiz and Triona Farrell. While this may be a common point of comparison, many of the fight sequences brought to mind battles from Dragon Ball Z or Fist of the North Star, with a side order of Akira-esque body horror to bring the classic anime vibe home. Ortiz has a lot of opportunities to draw some outlandish science fiction gadgets, including killer drones and a laboratory that’s held together by a magnetic lock. Speaking of which, a sequence in which the protagonists have to maneuver their way out of a structure that is pulling itself apart at the seams is one of the most thrilling moments in the book.
Hard Heat and its applications can be somewhat amorphous in certain points of the book, seemingly adapting to whatever the plot calls for in a couple of scenes, but it has a consistent look thanks to Ortiz and the fantastic coloring by Triona Farrell. The various hues of pinks and reds employed by Farrell throughout the book give the story a unifying feel, with the pink coloring of Hard Heat feeling exciting and triumphant, only to eventually feel more like a harbinger of doom by the end of the story.
Meanwhile, the lettering throughout the book by Thomas Mauer is also well done. In particular, there are some really cleverly-designed sound effects, such as one instance where a character slides down a wall as they bleed to — the lettering on the word “SLIDE” petering out into a pathetic scrawl, almost mirroring the character as they expire.
Reading The Pull is a singular experience, taking a myriad of comic book and multimedia influences and using them to create something that feels very much like its own thing. The book as a whole can occasionally feel overstuffed, but it ultimately culminates in an oddly beautiful final scene that is likely to stick with readers long after they’ve turned the last page.
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