The GeekNation Pull List – 11/7/2013

By November 7, 2013
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This week on the GeekNation Pull List: As the “Zero Year” blacks out Gotham City, the Man of Steel rises to stop a storm! Plus, a legendary X-Man who’s been dead for a long time may have a way back to the land of the living, and the Future of Law Enforcement is on the run from the cops! Here are this week’s reviews from our picks at the comic shop!

Cover art to Action Comics #25, by Aaron Kuder.

Cover art to Action Comics #25, by Aaron Kuder.

From DC: Action Comics #25 by Greg Pak (Script) and Aaron Kuder (Art)

Exploding in the main Batman title by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo is the story “Zero Year,” which details the New 52 origin of the Dark Knight as well as the first strike of the Riddler, who totally blacks Gotham out in the wake of the city’s most devastating storm. This month, DC is showing how the events of “Zero Year” are spilling over into other corners of the DC Universe, and the newest issue of Superman’s Action Comics is one of the issues with a big “Zero Year” banner across the top. This is moderately misleading, because while the story content is derived from the heavy storm Gotham is experiencing, by no means is this issue an actual part of the story that Snyder and Capullo are telling. Be that as it may, this is the debut issue of Pak and Kuder’s ongoing run on the title, and the story that they tell could’ve been done whether tied to “Zero Year” or not. Either way, though, it’s a fun personal tale.

Because this is taking place during the “Zero Year,” it seems like this may be mere weeks after Clark started his career as the Man of Steel. As a result, when saving people he’s met with more fear and hostility than even the openness and love he was shown by the masses in the first couple of issues of Grant Morrison’s run on this title.

The main driving point of this particular narrative is Superman’s estimation of his own power. While he’s definitely the most powerful being on Earth, by this point he’s not as powerful as he’ll eventually become, but still feels like he can take on some responsibilities that are still even out of his own grasp. The issue also causes Superman to encounter a dilemma caused by his powers, which is basically whether his actions make him a hero who helps people, or just a bully that picks on people less powerful than he is (we know the answer even if he doesn’t yet. He’s Superman!).

Aaron Kuder’s artwork is spectacular, because he gives a great sense of emotional insight into the characters, and has the right sensibilities to showcase Superman’s raw, early power. Kuder drew a couple of issues of the regular Superman title in the last year, and I hoped that we might see his work on a more regular basis in Metropolis sometime soon. Thankfully, he’s now the regular artist on Action, so I’m glad.

While this title has lagged considerably since the departures of Grant Morrison and later Andy Diggle, Action Comics might be back on the right track with Greg Pak at the helm. This issue certainly gives me hope for what’s to come, and I can’t wait to get excited for new adventures of Superman in Action Comics created by this team! 8.5/10

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Preview images courtesy of Comic Book Resources.

Honorable Mentions from DC This Week: Forever Evil #3, Superman Unchained #4

 

Cover art to Amazing X-Men #1 by Ed McGuinness.

Cover art to Amazing X-Men #1 by Ed McGuinness.

From Marvel: Amazing X-Men #1 by Jason Aaron (Script) and Ed McGuinness (Art)

Last week, the conclusion to the “Battle of the Atom” X-Men crossover really disappointed me. It started off strong, but it seemed to get bogged down by so many non-events and X-cliches that it just degenerated into relative worthlessness. That kind of hurts me to say, because individually I’m a fan of all the writers that worked on it, some admittedly more than others. The one I enjoy the most is probably Jason Aaron, because other than Grant Morrison and perhaps Joss Whedon, Aaron helped me get into the X-Men in a way that I didn’t think possible. His association with the team as a whole started in a mini-series called X-Men: Schism, detailing the formation of an emotional and ideological rift between Wolverine and Cyclops. That series, in turn, led to a new ongoing called Wolverine and the X-Men, largely detailing Logan’s efforts in creating a new school for young mutants and perpetuating the legacy of Charles Xavier. That mission, and that title, became even more important after Xavier’s death at the hands of a Phoenix-possessed Cyclops in Avengers vs. X-Men.

With Aaron taking over a new X-Men title, my first thought was optimism, which was quickly drowned out by pessimism after last week’s “Battle of the Atom” conclusion. After reading the actual first issue of the new series, though, we may be back to good form with Aaron at the helm.

A few years ago in another X-crossover, the mutant known as Nightcrawler did what so many of the X-Men often seem to do and died. Pre-release publicity for Amazing X-Men #1 promised that this issue would lead to the return of Nightcrawler to the land of the living, which made me automatically worried about its quality. In true, classic fashion though, Jason Aaron has written an issue that I had a great deal of fun reading, and I even find myself mildly interested in the plot of bringing Nightcrawler back. So many of the great character dynamics and humor present in early issues of Wolverine and the X-Men made a great return in this issue, only accentuated by the gorgeous artwork of Ed McGuinness and Dexter Vines. Amazing X-Men #1, while not exactly “amazing,” was still pretty damn good (especially for a reader with low expectations), and I find myself interested in a story I thought would be dead-on-arrival. Well played! 8/10

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Preview images courtesy of Comic Book Resources.

Honorable Mentions from Marvel This Week: Captain America #13, Iron Man #18

 

Cover art to RoboCop: Last Stand #4, by Declan Shalvey.

Cover art to RoboCop: Last Stand #4, by Declan Shalvey.

From BOOM!: RoboCop: The Last Stand #4 by Steven Grant (Script) and Korkut Oztekin (Art), based on the original RoboCop 3 screenplay by Frank Miller

1987’s RoboCop directed by Paul Verhoeven is a very beloved film for sci-fi and satire lovers. Although its trailers were laughed at and the concept was considered bizarre before it hit theaters, its success ensured that we hadn’t seen the last of the Future of Law Enforcement. This is both a gift and a curse, because on the positive side it means that the original film and its characters have continued to persist in peoples’ minds 25 years after the release of the original film, and on the negative side it means that we’ve seen countless attempts to revisit the character that have, by and large, been pretty bad, if not downright awful. The RoboCop 2 and RoboCop 3 feature films are considered to be some less-than-stellar efforts, and an early-nineties TV series and a couple of animated efforts have done little to redeem Robo’s enduring exploitation. I personally enjoyed the 2000 Canadian mini-series Prime Directives quite a bit, but many people are correct in pointing out that it wasn’t given anything close to a “respectable” budget.

The one area in which RoboCop has enjoyed a higher level of critical success outside of his first film has been in comics. It was the comics that first gave rise to a really interesting crossover between RoboCop and the Terminator, an ongoing series at Marvel that was reliably good (though not stellar), and it was comics that gave us our first look at what RoboCop 2 could have been by adapting Frank Miller’s (yes, that Frank Miller) original script for the film. Miller saw a great deal of value in the world established by that first film, and was enthusiastic about expanding the mythology in a sequel, but was eventually turned off on Hollywood filmmaking for years after the studio tampered with his original story. In 2003, Avatar Press gave Miller the chance to show the public what he really envisioned for RoboCop 2, but even then some people seemed even more thankful for the bad movie.

Miller now gets another chance to give us a better version of a RoboCop sequel with this new series, Last Stand, which adapts his original screenplay for the third film that he’s also credited with writing. There has to be something in this series that’s better than that third film (which currently stands at a riveting 3% on Rotten Tomatoes), since nobody liked RoboCop 3. Well, the issue is entertaining to a degree, but I wouldn’t call it good per se.

Here’s my general problem with modern Frank Miller work: he gets so bogged down in these stark, emotionless moments of “badass” violence that there’s very little humanity to anything. While Steven Grant’s name is on this as the writer of the script, you feel Miller’s influence because it seems so disconnected. The original RoboCop that so many people fell in love with was because we were made to feel something for the cyborg, and Miller doesn’t quite seem to get that. He’s more interested in showing us why you shouldn’t cross him than he is in showing us why we should care. By extension, the artwork feels as if it’s trying to show off more of the dystopian environment of Old Detroit than the characters. I was really hoping to like this series since I’m a big RoboCop fan, but while Miller’s name might be a selling point for the fan who only remembers his stellar work on The Dark Knight Returns, I think it’s time to give ol’ Murphy a writer that actually cares more about the man than the machine. 5/10

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Honorable Mentions from Independents This Week: God is Dead #3, Fatale #18

That does it for this week’s Pull List here at GeekNation! Be sure to check us out again next week for new picks from the comic shop, and until then, happy reading!

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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.