PopCultHQ received advance review copy of PULP TPB from Image Comics. Available January 20th, the creative team for this book features writing by Ed Brubaker, art from Sean Phillips, and colors by Jacob Phillips.
Here is PopCultHQ’s Spoiler-Free Review of…
Cover Art: Sean Phillips
Max Winters, a pulp writer in 1930s New York, finds himself drawn into a story not unlike the tales he churns out at five cents a word—tales of a Wild West outlaw dispensing justice with a six-gun. But will Max be able to do the same when pursued by bank robbers, Nazi spies, and enemies from his past?
One part thriller, one part meditation on a life of violence, PULP is unlike anything award-winning BRUBAKER & PHILLIPS have ever done before. This celebration of pulp fiction set in a world on the brink is another must-have hardcover from one of comics’ most acclaimed teams.
PopCultHQ’s Comic Book Review:
There comes a time when good men do bad. And bad men become good. The city is New York. The time is the 1930’s. America is in the throes of the Great Depression. One man’s life is about to change forever, for both better and worse. Excitement, danger, daring-do and plenty of plot twists await in the latest collaboration of dynamic duo Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips.
Writing: Brubaker is a master story-teller and wordsmith. As it has been in the past with other comics he has taken on, there is so much layered world-building that just pulls the reader in. Oftentimes while showcasing his passion for a particular genre of literature. ‘Pulp’ is a representation of that passion and a love letter to the bygone days of the pulp novel. A hallmark of Brubaker’s writing that shows up as well is his well-rounded characters. Whether it is the hero or the villain or even supporting figures, let it be known that Brubaker is a master of wholly developed fictional individuals.
Art: Phillips’s artwork paired off with Brubaker’s writing is a joyous sight to behold. However, there is an issue with this particular volume. Whether it is because the artwork is still being fleshed out or it was a creative decision, there are parts of the book where the artwork becomes just penciled lines and even just rough concepts. This is a particularly jarring thing to have happen, whether on purpose or otherwise, as it took this reviewer out of the story and left me confused and even slightly annoyed. Regardless of the annoyance, what artwork of Sean’s that does show up is beautifully illustrated and still holds to the same standard of artistic excellence he has demonstrated in the past.
Colors: Jacob’s colors really give a whole new meaning to the phrase “grim and gritty.” In all seriousness, the colors have a very grainy and muted texture. Like when an old film is viewed for the first time in decades. During the flashbacks to Max’s youth and when he is plotting out a story, there is a complete lack of color, which on the one hand, may be seen as jarring. However, the colorless pages (aside from significant red object) are reflective of Western stories and pulp novels set during that era. Unfortunately like Sean’s artwork, Jacob’s colors disappear halfway through the book, and this was also a rather annoying thing to deal with.
PopCultHQ’s overall assessment:
For those who have been fans of the pairing of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips over the years, ‘Pulp’ is another in the line of examples as to why these two work well together. Ed’s story paired up with Sean’s artwork is a powerful thing to stir up imagination. A warning though, if you do pick up this book and the art and colors are not there halfway through the story, do not let that detract from the terrific, engaging and exciting story. There’s a lot to unpack in the world of Max Winters and it is worth reading all the way to the end.