This week on the GeekNation Pull List: Villains Month may be over, but evil still rules the DC Universe! Plus, Apocalypse still falls over the splintered team of Avengers trying desperately to stop them, and superstar creators Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting reunite to tell the story of an unsuspecting woman who turns out to be the most bad ass secret agent in the world! Check out this week’s reviews on the GeekNation Pull List!
From DC: Justice League #24, by Geoff Johns (Script) and Ivan Reis (Art)
With a cover echoing the image now embedded in everyone’s mind from the beginning of the New 52 relaunch, Johns pens this direct Forever Evil tie-in in an effort to further flesh out the world that the Secret Society is occupying, and the backstory of Superman’s dark reflection: Ultraman. The issue begins on the Earth-3 version of Krypton, where a great catastrophe is on the verge of destroying the planet. Shoving their way through the frantic crowd are Jor-Il and Lara, with their son Kal. Jor tells Kal that he’s an inherent disappointment, weak and inferior, and that the only way he could ever redeem himself will be in conquering his new home, Earth. From there, we see a shockingly vile interpretation of Jonathan and Martha Kent, who resemble nothing of the good-natured, warm and moral couple that would take in the Kal-El we all know and love, who eventually becomes the Man of Steel.
The rest of the issue follows Ultraman in his attempt to discover how “twisted” our world is, and how every example of strength he was so accustomed to has been replaced by weakness: he’s sickened by the fact that we “coddle” our poor and sick instead of readily casting them out as he would have on his Earth, and even walks into the Daily Planet to torment a familiar and beloved Superman supporting character that absolutely doesn’t deserve it. All of this leads to an incredible-looking confrontation that we’re promised is followed up on in Forever Evil #3, and if you’re a DC fan (or even a fan of the Injustice video game), then you might be pretty surprised and interested at who exactly promises to stand up to the seemingly infinite power of Ultraman.
Artist Ivan Reis brings with him a consistent quality and unmatched scale, truly helping to make Justice League the centerpiece of the entire DC Universe, as it should be. From his previous work on Action Comics, Green Lantern, Blackest Night, and Aquaman, he’s definitely made rounds across the DCU to come to the point where he gets to render the big team book, and like all of his other work, his artwork in this series and specifically this issue is nothing short of exemplary.
While a lot of people tend to have an automatic distaste for big crossover events in general, I actually really enjoy the direction that the DCU is taking with Johns and Forever Evil at the helm. The stakes feel undoubtedly high, and if the momentum from this tie-in issue can continue, even partially, into the main series’ next issue, then it’s sure to be a very interesting ride. This issue makes me seriously pine for a bout between Ultraman and Superman, but if I can’t have that, then I’d love to see Lex Luthor put the smug, evil, vindictive Kryptonian in his place. 8/10
Honorable Mentions at DC This Week: Aquaman #24, Batman: The Dark Knight #24
From Marvel: Uncanny Avengers #13 by Rick Remender (Script) and Daniel Acuna (Art)
Uncanny Avengers continues to be endlessly intriguing, not just for what it aims to be as the center point for the sometimes disparate worlds of the Avengers and X-Men, but for what it has proven itself to be: thought-provoking, character challenging, and pure fun in the strictest Marvel sense. Writer Rick Remender has been telling a story about the future Apocalypse twins arriving on Earth in order to try and make a better future for the planet’s mutants, and that plot goes into overdrive as we move forward to the conclusion of this story.
The issue is segmented into three sets of characters, with the first focus being on Captain America, Havok, and Wasp. We then get to encounter Thor, and later, Wolverine being tortured at the hands of his deceased son, Daken. All of these events definitely meet in endlessly interesting ways, the culmination of several previous years of celebrated Marvel storytelling in other titles – which is where my only real critique of this issue and story comes in: it’s not particularly easy to just jump into. But hey, that’s what Wikipedia is for, right? This is truly a quality series from a great creative team, featuring a plethora of Marvel’s coolest and most interesting characters. While some of the events may give a neophyte or initiate in Marvel Comics a little bit of pause, the storytelling should prove emotionally compelling to anyone that really buys into the notions of the characters, especially considering the mutants’ place in the world of Marvel as disenfranchised citizens. In that regard, Uncanny Avengers is a universally good example of comic book storytelling.
Artist Daniel Acuna’s work exudes a darkness that fits some of the sense of foreboding that you get from this story. While it’s certainly not entirely dark and gloomy, it’s pretty astonishing how he makes the antagonists easily blend into the surrounding dark, while all of the heroes really pop vibrantly like beacons of light in a lot of ways. Overall, his style fits the tone of this story very well, and it’ll be interesting to see how he renders the forthcoming issues. Uncanny Avengers is one of the best titles at Marvel right now, and issue #13 proves to hold that rule firmly in place. 8/10
Honorable Mentions at Marvel This Week: Iron Man #17, Daredevil #32
From Image: Velvet #1 by Ed Brubaker (Script) and Steve Epting (Art)
Back when I was still, pretty much, a DC-only comic book reader, one of the first stories I read that made me see true value in the superhero stories that Marvel told was in Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting’s now unforgettable run on Captain America. It was this run that first told the story of the Winter Soldier (which is being adapted into the second Cap film in April), this run that actually killed Steve Rogers in the wake of the Marvel Civil War, and this run that continued to capture the attentions of fans, critics, and comics awards throughout the entirety of it’s existence. Naturally, feeling very strongly about Brubaker and Epting’s work in helping me establish a new personal favorite character, I’m going to be extremely interested in any new project that unites them once again.
That project hits this week from Image in the form of a new series called Velvet. The first issue reads almost as if it’s adapting the visuals of some of the early Connery Bond films with the angst and attitude that helped to define Skyfall, but it’s much more defined than even that description. What we have here is a comic revolving around the world of spies, with Brubaker citing his inspiration in Bond, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and The Man from UNCLE in the backmatter of this issue. The main character, at first glance, seems to be a dialed-in version of the classic Miss Moneypenny. Instead of a secretary by trade, though, she is one of the best and most skilled secret agents that there’s ever been. Or at least, she was. The story begins with the murder of a British agent that our main character, Velvet Templeton, has grown very attached to. That murder starts her on the trail of the facts behind it, which eventually reveals to us, the audience, exactly the kind of woman we’re dealing with: someone that’s truly not to be trifled with.
Steve Epting’s art retains a lot of the gritty dimension it did during his early issues on Brubaker’s Captain America, but it has a decidedly darker quality with that consistency and quality fans have come to expect from him. The storytelling is certainly interesting and eye-catching, and with the amount of nuance and detail Brubaker is known to put on each page, it likely deserves more than one read before issue #2 drops next month. Velvet looks to be a terrific new series from a proven creative team, and I’ll be very happy to add it to my own pull list at my local comic shop. 9/10
Honorable Mentions from Independents This Week: Sex Criminals #2 (be sure to pick it up, it almost made the cut!), Star Trek Ongoing #26
That about takes care of things this week for the Pull List, but as always, feel free to leave a question/comment/recommendation/rage in the comments below, and whatever you decide to read, enjoy it! We’ll be back next week to bring you our latest picks from the comic shop!
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