The Pull List is back with brand new picks from this week that are in comic shops everywhere! Worlds collide as an early team-up story of the World’s Finest Heroes comes to a close, a personal and artful tale is told through the eyes of an Avenger, and hardcore Trek fans finally get their first-ever glimpse at the earliest moments in the life of the franchise’s most prized and celebrated villain. Read on and check out the reviews for each of these below!
From DC: Batman/Superman #4 by Greg Pak (Script) and Jae Lee (Art)
DC’s newest title that brings together their two most popular characters premiered in June with issue #1, and since that premiere, Batman/Superman has been one of my absolute favorite comic books on the stands today. Starting very early on in the careers of the New 52 iterations of the characters, Superman is still in his jeans and t-shirt while Batman is decidedly unpracticed in having to deal with any teammates. The early dynamic between the two, as characterized by writer Greg Pak, has been a great joy for a huge fan of both characters to watch. The first story arc from the title comes to a close in this issue, and while it’s not exactly a grand finale, it’s definitely an interesting one.
The story has dealt with these young, new heroes meeting their mirror reflections from a parallel planet Earth, namely Earth-2. Residing on Earth-2 are other versions of Batman and Superman, but unlike the young upstart heroes that reside on “our” Earth, this Dark Knight and Man of Steel are older, very experienced, and the best of friends. Pak makes great use of individualized thought boxes for each character, which makes it fun to see when the older Batman is either surprised or disappointed in the way his younger self operates, and when the younger Superman is tired of being spoken down to by, well, himself. The dynamic this creates has been a lot of fun, and heading into the near-cataclysmic events of this finale (where the name “Darkseid” crops up more than once), it created a pronounced and dramatically tense level of dysfunction.
If I have any criticism of the story as it’s written, it’s that it doesn’t particularly conclude very definitively. I’m very sure that this was done by design, and we may see repercussions of the events of this story in future issues, but I was hoping that the title’s first arc would feel more complete by the time I got to the last page, and it didn’t quite have that.
The artwork presented throughout this story from beginning to end, though, is quite literally astonishing. Jae Lee’s level of dimension and detail is practically unparalleled, and while his high level of stylization may not be appealing to some, the level of work that undoubtedly went into creating every single page deserves to be highly commended. It’s rather surprising that all four issues managed to ship on time, but I’m sure the schedule hiccup that was Villains Month may have helped. Overall, it’ll be sad to see Jae Lee go, but the next arc of the title should prove to be very fun coming from the mind of writer Greg Pak, and you can see that he’s plainly enjoying the fact that he gets to play with DC’s two biggest toys. 8/10
Honorable Mentions From DC This Week: Batman and Two-Face #24, Justice League of America #8
From Marvel: Hawkeye #13 by Matt Fraction (Script) and David Aja (Art)
After taking a little bit of a break, Hawkeye triumphantly returns this month with an issue true-to-form: quiet, personal, and nuanced. When this book first premiered late last summer, it took the comic book world by storm because of how unconventional it was. Writer Matt Fraction, known in equal parts for his bombastically big superhero stories (in titles like The Invincible Iron Man and Fear Itself) and for his intimate independent stories (like Casanova or, now, Sex Criminals) created a book with a superhero’s name inside a superhero universe, but largely with the conventions and scale of a far more intimate, personal story in the life of Avenger Clint Barton.
The team of the Avengers are known for a lot of things, but one of those things isn’t exactly how they’re like us. We can relate to them in a number of different ways, but when you consider that it’s three most popular members include a genius billionaire playboy/philanthropist, a super soldier that’d been frozen since the 1940s, and a God of Thunder, it’s a little difficult to find an “everyman” on the roster. That is, until now. Matt Fraction has basically taken the off hours of Clint Barton and turned them into a very compelling, heartwarming, devastating, and above all personal story that has managed to garner impressive sales and high critical reception. This issue is no different.
After the shocking events of issue #12, Fraction tells a story featuring a funeral at its center, and the places that we go to find comfort in the face of death. That death wasn’t a superhero’s or an alien’s, it was simply a fellow tenant’s, a man that Clint had become good friends with. While the community is rather rocked to the core, Fraction beautifully characterizes a sense of community with friends and family at the center of this story, in addition to the other shenanigans that come with Hawkeye’s amusingly ill-preparedness at being a member of the pre-eminent superhero team in the world.
David Aja’s artwork is beautiful largely due to its tightness, meaning that his framing always manages to keep things focused not on the extraneous details around the environment, but on the characters. In this issue, that framing and presentation was enough to bring a grown man (namely me) to tears over a simple hug, shown from a slight distance. Hawkeye continues to be one of Marvel’s absolute best titles because it continues to show us that there’s value in a superhero’s life and in superhero comics beyond big action setpieces. Sometimes you feel like watching a quiet drama instead of going to a big blockbuster, and that’s what Hawkeye is to the Marvel Universe and the Marvel Comics line. 9/10
Honorable Mentions from Marvel This Week: Avengers #21, Superior Spider-Man #19
From IDW: Star Trek: Khan #1 by Mike Johnson (Script), Roberto Orci (Consultant), and David Messina (Art)
I think it’s fair to say that although it was commercially and critically successful, this past May’s Star Trek Into Darkness was polarizing to both hardcore Trekkers and genre fans. Some felt it was too closely cloned from its 2009 predecessor, others didn’t like the way the creative team was inspired by the immortal 2nd film from 1982. For the most part, though, people were onboard with it, and it definitely renewed interest in perhaps the greatest, most formidable enemy the starship Enterprise has ever faced: Khan Noonien Singh. I’m a pretty huge Star Trek fan, and as someone who enjoyed the new film a lot, I was also glad that writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman largely stayed true to the backstory of Khan going back to even his first appearance, the original series episode “Space Seed.” The film, though, had neither the reason nor the time to delve into more of Khan’s history than we needed to understand the story of the new film, and that’s where this new comic series comes into play.
Khan has a rather storied history for a Star Trek character, especially considering that he’s only had three appearances total in the 30 seasons of television and 12 films of the entire franchise. His history has been explored in detail in a series of novels documenting the “Eugenics Wars,” and his simmering hatred of Captain Kirk and the Enterprise during his exile that led into the events of Star Trek II has also been explored. We haven’t seen a whole lot from his early life, though. That is, until now.
Because of the rules established by the 2009 Star Trek film’s “alternate reality,” everything in Trek canon up until the point of divergence (in this case, Nero’s arrival and attack on the USS Kelvin) still “counts” in the history of the alternate reality. With those rules, the entirety of Captain Archer’s adventures on the NX-01 in Star Trek: Enterprise still occurred, and the events of the Eugenics Wars also go untouched. So, in essence, this series provides fans with our earliest look ever at the history of Khan Noonien Singh, and right out of the gate, it’s already proving very interesting, with the young Noonien in 1970s India.
Artist David Messina, a Star Trek comics veteran of several previous series at IDW, returns here in good form. Making a surprise cameo in this issue is Samuel T. Cogley, a TOS character who represented Captain Kirk during his court martial (in the episode of the same name), and like all the other faces he draws, Messina does an excellent job capturing his likeness – and everyone else’s for that matter. Overall, this is a solid start, and as a huge Trek fan, I’ll be very excited to see the rest of Khan’s early history, up to the moment he’s awoken by Admiral Marcus and Section 31 right before Into Darkness. 8/10
Honorable Mentions from Independents This Week: X-Files Season 10 #5, The Shadow #18
That does it this week for the Pull List! As always, feel free to leave a question/comment/recommendation/rage in the comments below, and whatever you decide to read, enjoy it! See you next week!
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