The GeekNation Pull List – 11/14/2013

By November 14, 2013
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Welcome back to the GeekNation Pull List! This week, the dawn of the Dark Knight takes greater shape, a new and unique take on the X-Men bows, and SOMETHING TERRIBLE arrives from the independent scene! Take a look at our reviews for the new titles below!

Cover art to Batman #25, by Greg Capullo and FCO Plascencia.

Cover art to Batman #25, by Greg Capullo and FCO Plascencia.

From DC: Batman #25 by Scott Snyder (Script) and Greg Capullo (Art)

“Zero Year,” the New 52 origin story for Batman, has spilled outside of the Batman family of comics titles and into other areas of the DCU. While some of the so-called tie-ins have ranged in quality from “okay” to “terrific,” it’s time this week to get back to the main story that pulls it all together in the main Batman title. At the conclusion of the last issue, the Riddler made his presence felt in Gotham for the very first time, and as a result, the city has been plunged into a blackout. Making things worse is a string of mysterious murders taking place around the city, of which the mysterious vigilante known as the Batman is a person of interest. The issue also features a fair amount of surprises, from a frightening and intriguing reimagining of one of Batman’s earliest Golden Age foes, to a surprise twist featuring a well-liked supporting character, to a revelation of personal animosity between Bruce Wayne and James Gordon. Batman #25 was pretty packed with a great deal of plot and character, and the issue is a very engaging read as a result.

One of the best elements of this story is that we truly get to see how Batman is built from the ground up. How Alfred and Bruce deal with using a cave full of bats as a base of operations would likely cause problems with the technology that Batman employs in his crusade, and it looks like we may actually see how Bruce solves the problem of “guano” build-up that seems more than possible. The early days of the Batcave are interesting for more reasons than that, though, as this issue even gives us a glimpse as to how Bruce and Alfred get power down there to actually do some work, in addition to seeing that having a bunch of generator wires coming up out of a hole in the ground may raise some unwanted questions from unwanted people. Beyond these things, though, Snyder is taking the template of what we know not only in characters like the Golden Age Dr. Death, but in heavily established cohorts like Lucius Fox and even Jim Gordon. After reading, watching, playing, and absorbing as much Batman material as I have in my life, when a comic book story teaches me something about those characters that I don’t know already, I tend to relish those moments when they’re executed well. And, for the most part, these were.

Greg Capullo continues to kill it in every issue he puts out of this series. His attention to detail and unsettling design of Dr. Death in particular is very striking and memorable, but he’s also one of the absolute best action choreographers in the business of comic book art. It goes without saying that a book called Batman has to absolutely be dynamic and engaging from an action perspective, and Capullo’s work brings those elements fully to bear even in relatively quieter issues, as this one was.

Batman continues to be one of DC’s best ongoing titles, and the cliffhanger for this issue brings great anticipation for future issues of “Zero Year.” I can’t wait to see what this team has in store for us next as we continue to see the construction of Gotham’s Guardian. 9/10

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Honorable Mentions from DC This Week: Superman/Wonder Woman #2, Nightwing #25

 

Cover art to Marvel Knights: X-Men #1, by Brahm Revel.

Cover art to Marvel Knights: X-Men #1, by Brahm Revel.

From Marvel: Marvel Knights X-Men #1 by Brahm Revel (Story and Art) and Christiane Peter (Colors)

Recently, Marvel has decided to revive their old “Marvel Knights” imprint. The difference between Knights and the rest of Marvel’s line is that Knights is, according to Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada, supposedly reserved for series that “think outside the box” and challenge readers’ preconceived notions about some more longstanding characters. The line has produced some of Marvel’s most critically-acclaimed series of recent eras, with the Kevin Smith and highly celebrated Brian Michael Bendis runs of Daredevil taking place under the imprint. My first exposure to the line was in Garth Ennis’ terrific starting run on The Punisher, of which the first story arc was loosely adapted into what became the 2004 film with Thomas Jane in the title role. It always seemed to me, through Daredevil and Punisher anyway, that Marvel Knights was designed to push the envelope just a little bit further, more than the mainline Marvel books but less than a book made explicitly for mature audiences.

Marvel Knights X-Men‘s first issue has not shown me why it falls within the previously established rules of the line, but some backmatter in the issue helped explain to me that Marvel is reinventing what “Marvel Knights” means. Instead of established mainstream comics talent working on the characters like the Ennis’, Bendis’, and Grant Morrisons, we would instead be seeing stories by talent that your basic Marvel or DC fan may not be familiar with yet. And, it just so happens that as a comic book reading experience, there’s quite a bit to like about writer/artist Brahm Revel’s efforts here.

The story, clearly taking place in the mainline Marvel Universe, features the X-Men catching wind of a small town’s murders. When it becomes clear to Beast and Wolverine that the murders are targeting young mutants, Logan takes Rogue and Rachel Summers to investigate and protect the two remaining mutants. What they find is a town in the deep south that isn’t particularly tolerant of mutants, but the apparently larger secret behind the murders should intrigue established X-fans and neophytes alike.

Revel’s a good storyteller, with well-paced dialogue and a good narrative flow, but I’m not completely sold on his artwork. It might just be because I’m not used to it yet, but it’s a little rough around the edges. That doesn’t take away from the strength of the first issue, and on that basis alone I think I’m likely to return next month for issue #2. 8/10

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Honorable Mentions from Marvel This Week: Captain America: Living Legend #3, Superior Spider-Man #21

 

Cover art to Something Terrible by Dean Trippe.

Cover art to Something Terrible by Dean Trippe.

From Independent: Something Terrible by Dean Trippe (Story/Art)

Okay, I’m going to say something personal here, but I truly don’t want to take anything away from the story told by Dean Trippe in this comic. As someone who grew up in a household of relative stability but then endured mental trauma that pushed me to the brink of my sanity, I gravitated to the story of Batman and his world for one very basic, simple reason: he was a beacon of the brightest light that humanity can hope to embody, that willfully paraded as a symbol of darkness. His is a story of overcoming trauma, and becoming a symbol of light in a world that can get a little too dark. Batman, in so many ways, means the world to me, and has deeply informed my worldview, my sense of morality, and a fundamental desire for social justice, among many other ways too numerous to list. A symbol designed to be feared is one of infinite hope for me and millions of other Batman fans around the world, and the stories that take that notion and treat it with the scale and truth it deserves always manages to heavily effect me on an emotional level.

After reading Something Terrible, I think I’ve found a kindred spirit in its creator, Dean Trippe. He tells an incredibly personal and courageous story of trauma and what it took for him to overcome it, and he should be deeply commended for doing so. Much the same way genre fans find more than simple enjoyment or entertainment in our stories of choice, Trippe conveys in his story how fiction, especially of the bombastic variety featuring capes, cowls, starships, or turtles, can often be more than mere stories for those that need something to believe in: they can be a gateway to a new kind of hope that helps show us not only how cool these characters can be, but how the stories can also awaken something deep inside of us that is all-at-once educational, inspiring, invigorating, and in the times we truly need it, even comforting.

somethingterrible_safeSomething Terrible is an homage not just to the kinds of storytelling that draws so many people together into one of the most diverse and inclusive communities any member of the human race can ever hope to be a part of, but also (and perhaps more importantly) to anyone who has had to go through something terrible in order to find something greater beyond the darkness.

What Dean Trippe had to endure to be able to tell this story is beyond heinous, beyond redemption, and certainly beyond reason. The masterful way that he has used that trauma in order to illustrate to others, not just how his desire to get beyond it led him to one of the greatest fictional characters ever created, but how it has shaped him into becoming the man he is today reminds me in no small part of the story of a young boy vowing to become something more on a very fateful night. Dean Trippe gives a voice to people who don’t just enjoy these characters and their stories, but also to those who are truly and deeply inspired by them.

The kind of will and determination that he inspires in this story is not only the single best homage to Batman and his brand of story that I’ve ever  had the pleasure of reading, but also greatly inspires me by explicitly showing how the creation of a will to act and persevere can lead to an inexorable conclusion that I think Mr. Trippe will understand very well in the words of a mutually loved comics creator.

As long as characters like our favorite can continue to help create similarly inspired, just people, then truly: “there will be no hiding place for evil.” 10/10

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Something Terrible can be purchased digitally for .99 cents directly from Trippe HERE. I’d greatly encourage you to do yourself a favor and give it a read, especially considering that the sale helps Trippe to create more comics.

That does it this week for the GeekNation Pull List, but be sure to come back next week when the passing of another Wednesday means the arrival of new four-color adventures! Have a great week!

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Chris Clow
As a former comics retailer at a store in the Pacific Northwest, Chris Clow is an enormous sci-fi, comics, and film geek. He is a freelance contributor, reviewer, podcaster, and overall geek to GeekNation, Batman-On-Film.com, The Huffington Post, and Movies.com. He also hosts the monthly Comics on Consoles broadcast and podcast. Check out his blog, and follow him on Twitter @ChrisClow.