The Pull is a title from TKO Studios releasing November 17th as part of its third wave. Superstar writer Steve Orlando creates a world where resource overuse causes the end of the world. Orlando uses this setting to demonstrate how factionalism comes about from such an event. The art by Ricardo Lopez Ortiz, colors by Triona Farrell, and lettering by Thomas Mauer all assist Orlando’s message by showcasing factionalism’s primary component empathy.
The Pull of The Story
Orlando puts a lot into The Pull, so much that even the general outline is a lot. The world is ending in not-so-subtle allegories to resource mismanagement; this one happens to have an eldritch abomination called the Undoer comes knocking in reaction to the Hard Heat energy source. A scientist tried to warn everybody, but only some eco-fanatics listened; the scientist Maximo Tith went mad from the data and general public’s rejections, so he forms a doomsday cult. The cult’s plan, pull off some crazy science project to send people’s essence to a new universe, ergo, a mass suicide plan. However, Maximo’s elite law enforcing son-in-law Brenton Demm got in the way, accidentally killing hundreds of the cult members.
The Pull takes place a year after this event, with the Undoer less than a week away. People have lost hope, with many looking for means or reasons to off themselves in the face of Armageddon. Demm, after surviving the incident, has lost all motivation to live or die. Now he does his job as the only thing keeping him going and some hedonistic pastimes. But when his ex-wife and Maximo’s daughter Gayano Tith shows up with a plan to try and save everything, Demm takes the chance to make something out of the limited time.
The Pull: How Factionalism Weaponizes Empathy
The Pull releases at a time when political discourse and factionalism reach an all-time high. With the real world on the brink of crisis, empathy seems like something the world needs more than ever. But Orlando puts into action how fundamentally flawed this way of thinking is. Empathy is both a form of love and exploitation, where people’s feelings manipulate them. Both Maximo and Gaya are the ones who think of the people who listen to them; because in their minds, they’re the ones best suited to handling situations, and people have to follow their lead. But given how narcissistic they can be, imagine this in the context of a Covid-19 vaccine that only might work; will you put your faith into someone who’s supposed to know what they’re doing, or are you too tired to be skeptical?
Feeling responsible for other people’s feelings is a sign of projecting and toxicity. However, the most startling realization comes from how, in the end, the reader is the one most guilty of this. Orlando might be the one who set everything up, and the characters moved the plot, but it’s the reader who projects themselves onto the characters and setting. Some of them will relate to Demm more; others will relate more towards Gaya based on how much they can relate or look up to. The reader is complicit in the activities of The Pull by being the one to turn the page. Effectively the reader is the one making the choices for the characters. The reader probably isn’t even aware of this, thanks to how the art encourages their feelings.
The Weight Of Illustration
Ortiz, as the artist, presents kinetic and dynamic action to whatever scene takes place. The angles at which action scenes featuring Demm give the impression that the reader can feel each move and blow. Plenty of close-ups also increase the intensity to increase the subject at hand even further. A hard heat blast charging for a shot at Demm’s head features a first-person close up toward’s Demm. It serves as both an empathetic link to the attacker who suffered losses in part to Demm, but this also punishes the reader if they wanted to kill somebody in cold blood. In effect, it’s not just the world of The Pull, revealing its worst but also the reader’s world as well.
The Color In Space
The coloring by Triona Farrell adds another element to the empathetic intensity. The flashy lights of the Hard Heat effects always steal attention. The earlier charging effects feature the light from a blast increase with the emotional intensity. In this way, the reader embraces the appeal of its use. This, however, makes the reader just as guilty as the denizens who abused this energy source. Wanting to see more of the effects of Hard Heat in action like invisibility is what pulls the reader closer to a cataclysmic end. With each quest growing more intense with a red light of Hard Heat glowing brighter, so too does the inevitable clash with the Undoer.
Empathy/Sympathy Flip Lettering
Thomas Mauer, as letterer, enhances The Pull‘s narrative experiences from the above artwork. For example, a dynamically styled “Woosh” wordmark accompanies Demm’s mad dash to fill the reader with excitement. In turn, that leads to the dramatic “DON’T” a few pages in the initial disaster. The reader feels Demm’s agony and trauma because of his recklessness; it’s what makes his later appearances a little more sympathetic. Because after that experience, the reader would probably rather watch him from a distance.
Embrace The Pull With Context
The Pull is very much a product of its time, capturing the feeling of factionalism that plagues modern culture. People will always empathize with who they’ll like more, but that should never mean they make decisions for them. The most carefully constructed means of doing so are compelling, but that should be no excuse for listening only to them. The decision to see through something until the end is a group effort that all parties must agree for. Otherwise, people will factionalize over moral superiority.