This week on the Pull List, DC’s hottest title delves into the genesis of one of it’s most iconic villains, Marvel kicks its major event into even higher gear as it speeds towards its conclusion, and we couldn’t help but go back to a galaxy far, far away for our indie pick this week! Check out the reviews for our picks at the comic shop this week, which all dropped in stores yesterday, October 9th!
From DC: Batman #24 by Scott Snyder (Script), James Tynion IV (Epilogue Script), Greg Capullo (Main Feature Pencils), and Rafael Albuquerque (Epilogue Art)
Now that Villains Month is in the rearview mirror in regards to DC releases, their main, ongoing titles are back in regular form and with the ongoing Batman series, this is definitely a welcome return. Since starting his run on the Dark Knight with the dawn of the “New 52” initiative in September 2011, writer Scott Snyder has plotted out truly memorable stories that have taught us a lot about Gotham City, even when seasoned Bat-fans like myself thought we knew everything about it that we could. (To see what I mean, you need only look at this creative team’s first story arc on the title “The Court of Owls,” where Batman faced an enemy that had always been hiding in the shadows of his city, all the while sharing a very personal connection to him.)
Nowadays, Snyder is taking on a task that at first glance may seem pretty risky: he’s rewriting Batman’s origin story. While Frank Miller’s acclaimed Batman: Year One from 1987 has been the standard for the last quarter-century, Batman’s evolution along with many of the characters around him made Year One a beginning that just didn’t fit anymore. As a result, Snyder and his collaborators are creating “Zero Year,” a new origin for Batman that really begins at the bottom and shows the Dark Knight’s creation from the ground up.
While the first few issues helped to set up the state of affairs in Gotham and how it looked immediately preceding Batman’s arrival, issue #24 really is the first strike of the Batman and the “opening shot” of his war on crime. With the “Red Hood Gang” having been at the forefront of the first three issues of the story, Batman pulls out all of the stops in his first effort to stop the group at the A.C.E. Chemical Plant. That plant, if you’re familiar with it, has previously been the location of a very important event in Batman’s early career, and Snyder has maintained that event in this story: historically, the Ace Chemical Plant has been the site of a criminal falling into a vat of chemicals to emerge as the Harlequin of Hate himself, the Joker. How the event unfolds in the issue is very suspenseful, and very much worth reading.
The artwork of Greg Capullo is perfect for the type of story Snyder is telling. While to anyone not looking too closely at it the work might seem cartoonish and exaggerated, Capullo has an incredible amount of detail in every person, object, building, and environment he renders. The epilogue work by Rafael Albuquerque is a dark, pastel-like contrast in some ways, but the spirit of both men’s work seems to be in step with each other. Overall, Batman #24 is a very solid issue featuring the birth of not only Batman and apparently the Joker, but another classic Bat-villain that promises a massive conflict in the issues to come. This is a great comic book. 9/10
Honorable Mentions at DC This Week: Superman/Wonder Woman #1, Forever Evil: Arkham War #1
From Marvel: Infinity #4 by Jonathan Hickman (Script), Jerome Opeña, and Dustin Weaver (Art)
Marvel’s current Avengers-focused event Infinity is big in a lot of ways: the scale is cosmic, the characters are all of the big guns, the stakes are limitless, and the creative team has some of the absolute best talents working in the comics industry today. While most large-scale crossover events from the House of Ideas in recent years have tended to focus on Earth or even solely on New York, Infinity has a focus that is, well, infinite. From the sands of the Earth to the furthest planets in the stars (to even the stars themselves), this one goes everywhere – all the while including such memorable Marvel aliens as the Kree, the Skrulls, the Shi’Ar Empire, and implacable Avengers adversary Thanos.
The story is told on multiple fronts. In the Avengers titles written by Jonathan Hickman, an ancient alien civilization known as “the Builders,” have presented a threat to the very existence of the universe, and the Avengers head off into space to meet the threat and combat it directly. Meanwhile, on Earth, Thanos has returned, and has targeted specific members of the Marvel hero community known as “the Illuminati.” One of the chief targets of Thanos is Black Bolt, leader of the Inhumans, and they collide in a massive way in this issue. The biggest moment of the issue, though, involves the God of Thunder himself, Thor. Sent to “negotiate” with the Builders’ leader, the “Creator,” Thor finds the alien vindictive and uncompromising. The way he deals with this is the catalyst that drives the conclusion of this issue, and left me with an incredible sense of awe and unyielding power as I closed up the final pages of the book. Hickman’s writing and the uncompromising visuals of the artistic team have created maybe my favorite single Marvel moment of the entirety of the last year.
The overall trend of Infinity has been one of great positivity in both the complexity of the story presented, as well as what its aims are for a comic book event. Although it seemed like Age of Ultron had a far greater profile than this series, that story had a profound lack of substance when compared with the cosmic themes and rich character interplay of Infinity. The artwork of Jerome Opeña and Dustin Weaver helps to accentuate the heights at which this story aims, and all of the elements really combine into a series that is worth any fan’s time. If you’re not all that familiar with some of the characters, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much you’ll know by the time you read this story, because while it is a great piece of escapist fiction, Hickman and his team are really crafting this as a dramatic philosophical endeavor about what’s truly great about all aspects of the Marvel Universe, from the skyscrapers of New York to the far reaches of space. Terrific story, and fabulous issue. 9.5/10
Honorable Mentions at Marvel This Week: X-Men #6, Thor: God of Thunder #14
From Dark Horse: Star Wars #10 by Brian Wood (Script) and Carlos D’Anda (Art)
I know I did a Star Wars book last week, but anyone that doesn’t know about this series by Brian Wood and Carlos D’Anda really should. You see, there’s a great deal of brilliance in the simplicity of what makes this series so great, and that is that literally anyone who’s seen the original Star Wars film can get into it with no problem. Since Star Wars stands as one of the defining sci-fi phenomena of our time, chances are that most people have seen that film. This series, simply titled Star Wars, takes place in the immediate aftermath of the original film, telling a story of a Rebel Alliance high on their incredible victory against the Galactic Empire by destroying the Death Star, but that are now roaming the galaxy searching for a new base of operations.
The series has already visited very familiar locales in the Star Wars universe, from the ruins of the planet Alderaan to the capital city of Coruscant, all while featuring the characters we all grew up with and know so well. Darth Vader is lurking in the shadows keeping an eye on the young pilot who bested him at the Death Star, and writer Brian Wood’s portrayal of Vader has been one of the things I’ve enjoyed the most about the series as a whole: a man who has become so lost in the power and murkiness of the Dark Side of the Force that he’s genuinely beginning to forget who he used to be, until the name “Skywalker” has started to permeate his life once again in the form of Rebel hero Luke. All the while, the character interactions between everyone feel incredibly authentic to the original film, and really help to expand what we know between adventures.
The latest issue begins with a number of crazy events having transpired. In the ruins of her former home, Leia finds the scientist responsible for the construction of the Death Star’s infamous superlaser, Luke and fellow pilot Wedge Antilles are on an undercover mission with great risk, and Han Solo and Chewbacca have just evaded the precise rifle of Boba Fett. While Luke and Wedge come dangerously close to the unforgiving fist of Vader, Leia’s discussion with the scientist proves to be an extremely emotional moment that Wood orchestrates with great execution. Carlos D’Anda’s artwork has a very expressive quality that allows readers to easily tune into the emotional overtones of each situation, and his renders of ships, characters, and environments are among the cleanest in comics as far as I’m concerned.
With the deadline for Marvel’s ownership of Star Wars comics fast approaching due to the Disney purchase, I sincerely hope that the company continues this series, if it’s permissible, after Dark Horse has to hand the franchise over. Brian Wood already works at Marvel across a few titles, and if he had the chance to continue telling the caliber of Star Wars stories he’s telling in this series, then chances are they can keep one of the best translations of the fabled Star Wars universe in publication. 8/10
Honorable Mentions from Independents This Week: Walking Dead #115, Rachel Rising #20
Thanks for reading the GeekNation Pull List this week! As usual, any concerns or suggestions you may have will absolutely be read and taken into account for future installments if you post them in the comments below! Enjoy your comics!
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