The GeekNation Pull List is back once again, and this week we have some really interesting comics up for review. Ever wonder what might have happened the first time the Man of Steel crossed paths with the Clown Prince of Crime? How about some of the adventures enjoyed by Marvel’s Thor when he was worshiped as a god by the Vikings? Curious as to how well a robot could serve as a private investigator? Check out the reviews in this week’s pull list, and get some answers!
From DC: Adventures of Superman (digital edition) #40 by Max Landis (script) and Jock (art)
I’m taking a bit of a different approach with this week’s DC pick, and going with one of their digital first titles purely for the fact that I think this creative lineup is too great to ignore. The artist, Jock, is one of my favorite stylistically gritty renderers working in comics today, and he’s something of a “Batman comics celebrity” due to his recent work with Scott Snyder in Detective Comics before the New 52.
The writer, Max Landis, is the screenwriter of the awesome found footage supervillain movie Chronicle, who seems to be developing a closer relationship to Superman in the minds of fans since he made an admittedly hilarious video with his friends detailing everything he felt was wrong about the character’s death in the comics, as well as another monologue video by himself about everything he felt was wrong with the Man of Steel film. Particularly in the second video, Landis demonstrates that his perceptions of Superman are largely borne out of a big love for the character, and as a fan of comics, it makes sense that he would, at some point, be tapped to write for him.
So, Landis believes that Superman is special, the most “enduring superhero since Hercules,” as he put it. How does he choose to illustrate that uniqueness? Simple: he puts arguably the genre’s most popular, cynical, enduring antagonist across from him. That villain is Batman’s nemesis, the Joker.
This first half of the story, for lack of a better term, is absolutely superb. In a way, the story that Landis has written is very metatextual and reflexive of what the real-world perceptions of the characters themselves are. Those perceptions primarily being “Superman is boring, Batman is deep and interesting, and the Joker is delightfully mad.” By using that simple baseline for a story, Landis crafts what could easily be a two person, one-act play between the world’s greatest hero and its most heinous villain, all while staying true to the constitutions of each of their personalities, and easily showing why the Man of Steel, despite a mass of popular misconceptions, is one of the most awesome characters in comics.
Jock’s artwork, as usual, is also stunning. What I didn’t expect was how, during some of the Joker’s more zany monologues, Jock renders him in the styles of some of his most memorable portrayals with his own unique and consistent style – but also with stunning accuracy. These include Jerry Robinson’s early comics style, Bruce Timm’s design from “Batman: The Animated Series,” as well as off center shots with the likenesses of Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, and Heath Ledger. Beyond that, though, his images of Superman are iconic, his environments minimalist yet vast, and all of the emotions come through the page with extraordinary ease.
As a result, “The Sound of One Hand Clapping” part 1 is the GeekNation Pull List’s Pick of the Week. If you’re interested in giving it a look, you can do so now at ComiXology for .99 cents. 10/10
Honorable Mentions from DC This Week: Earth 2 Annual #2, Batman: The Dark Knight #27′
From Marvel: Thor: God of Thunder #18 by Jason Aaron (Script) and Das Pastoras (Art)
Thor: God of Thunder, to me, was one of Marvel’s more successful recent relaunches. While not rebooting or changing anything but the costume, the first issue of this Marvel NOW! series seemed to represent a rededication, in a way, to the broad and big storytelling that the God of Thunder deserves. Jason Aaron’s methods of bringing Thor and his world to life have managed to feel oddly gritty and grounded, but also simultaneously expansive, largely due to the efforts of the concepts of the writing and the sheer strength of regular series artist Esad Ribic. The first arc of the series dealt with Thor, from three vastly different eras, having to contend with a “god killer,” a being that would travel around the cosmos committing deicide within an innumerable amount of cultures. This issue focuses on one of those eras, where young Thor has to square off against a dragon…at least that’s how it’s sold to us.
The actual story is a bit of a tragic one-off about the rise and fall of an uncharacteristic friendship between the young Thunder God and an outcast dragon. It starts with an extraordinary sense of fun, adventure, and irreverence, but Aaron’s deft writing manages to slowly morph the tone into one of a bit more tragedy by the time we get to the issue’s end. The dragon more or less becomes the character of focus, and a hard upbringing and home life drives his behavior toward a certain point that will eventually lead to a standoff with Thor. It’s a very well-written “done-in-one” issue, and feels like a substantive aside in the story of Thor’s life.
Artist Das Pastoras is filling in for Ribic on this story, and while his overall style is different, the tone of the series as a whole remains intact. The finish of the full artwork feels a bit more pastel-like than some of the previous work on the series, but it fits in very well with the style of the artist, and it also works oddly well with the overall aim of the story.
I enjoyed this issue immensely. It’s not the best of the series, but that’s only because the series thus far has been one of Marvel’s absolute best. 9/10
Honorable Mentions from Marvel This Week: Guardians of the Galaxy #11, Superior Spider-Man #26
From Monkeybrain: Copernicus Jones: Robot Detective #1 by Matt D. Wilson (script) and Kevin Warren (Art)
I’m kind of high on the minds of Monkeybrain Comics right now, since they’ve been great in creating independent, digital stories with a high level of artistic quality. Regular readers of the Pull List know that I’ve absolutely fallen in love with D4VE, another work of Monkeybrain, and when I saw that they were taking another crack at the world of robots through the lens of a detective story, that was kind of too much for me to ignore. So, up for review in this week’s indie slot is the debut issue of Copernicus Jones: Robot Detective.
While the kind of humor is similar in concept to D4VE, the world in which it takes place is completely different. The absolute best part about the structure of this issue for me was that it was playing within the tropes of a traditional detective story in a film noir setting. The artwork is presented in black and white, Copernicus’ office has Venetian blinds, he has overdue bills on his desk, and a “beautiful dame” walks through his door with the promise of the biggest payout this private detective has ever heard: “Enough to keep me in replacement screws and 10W-40 for the foreseeable future.” Here, robots and humans seem to live together and co-exist peacefully: streetside diners serve human and robot food, robots and humans work together in legitimate work and in crime, and classic noir mystery seems to befuddle man and machine alike.
Kevin Warren’s artwork is perfect for the story being presented. The work is extremely clean and easy on the eyes, but also layered, with certain details poking fun at the premise of the story finding their ways into the eyes of sharp-eyed readers. Copernicus Jones makes for a fun book that’ll likely be even more rewarding for people who enjoy the likes of both Star Wars‘ droid-centric narrative style and the unfolding mystery of The Maltese Falcon, melded together in a way that’s just too fun to ignore. And, with a .99 cent price tag, it’s also a bargain! 9/10
Honorable Mentions from Independents This Week: Star Trek #29, Saga #18
That does it this week for the GeekNation Pull List. Be sure to come back next week for a brand new round of new comic book reviews, and don’t forget to sound off in the comments and let us know what you think about these or other favorite comics you’ve picked up this week!
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