The GeekNation Pull List – 4/10/2014

By April 10, 2014
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This week on the GeekNation Pull List: three all-new #1‘s! The Dark Knight returns in a new title, but this one will be released EVERY week! Marvel’s fabled Immortal Iron Fist premieres a new #1 issue, and a scout camp has the adventure of a lifetime against yetis, huge falcons, and three-eyed wolves. Check out this week’s comic book reviews below!

 

Cover art to Batman Eternal #1, by Jason Fabok

Cover art to Batman Eternal #1, by Jason Fabok

From DC: Batman Eternal #1 by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV (Story/Script), Ray Fawkes, John Layman, Tim Seeley (Consulting Writers), and Jason Fabok (Art)

It’s been a while since DC Comics tried the weekly comics game, but if any one of their characters can keep fans coming back for a new entry every single week, it’s the Dark Knight. A veritable who’s-who of Batman writers from the start of the New 52 up until today are adding to the creative lineup, and if the first issue is any indication, Batman Eternal looks like it should be memorable. Fans should be wary, though, because while DC put out the largely stellar 52 weekly series back in 2006-07 with their four best writers, their latter two efforts with Countdown to Final Crisis and Trinity left a lot to be desired.

So, how does the opening shot of Batman Eternal look by the end of the last page? Very interesting, and certainly engaging for anyone who enjoys Batman’s supporting cast of allies almost as much as Batman himself. The issue begins with the arrival of a new Gotham P.D. Major Crimes Unit recruit by the name of Jason Bard. Bard is actually a relatively established DC character, and the last time Batman fans saw him was when the then-private eye was serving directly under Batman as his daytime eyes and ears. Since the New 52, Bard has been nowhere to be found, so his appearance in this issue marks his New 52 debut as a young, and somewhat idealistic police officer that reveres Jim Gordon and his brand of justice. Bard is met by Harvey Bullock, one of the cops in Gordon’s inner circle, because Gordon himself is a little busy in attempting to stop a hostage situation with eccentric villain Professor Pyg.

It’s not very long before Batman himself shows up, causing Pyg and his main henchman to bolt in two different directions. Batman and Gordon give chase, with the Dark Knight seeking out Pyg, and Gordon chasing the henchman down into the subway tunnels. All hell breaks loose pretty fast after that, causing a chain of events that place Gordon in serious jeopardy, setting up at least the next several issues of the series. It looks like there may be an ethereal presence at play, but within the walls of Gotham City, you never really know. Is a magic-wielder causing problems for Batman and Gordon? Is it a hallucinogenic drug from someone like the Scarecrow? Batman’s villains are so diverse that we likely won’t know what’s really going on until Batman himself does.

Jason Fabok, who until recently was the regular artist on Detective Comics, gives the issue an appropriate visual flavor that gives the series a true “blockbuster” beginning. Fabok’s work is extremely detail-oriented, and his knack for rendering Batman and Gotham City in general make it very clear that his talent is given the proper spotlight by working in the world of the Dark Knight.

As far as establishing a weekly series, the first issue of Eternal does a bang-up job. It’s not extremely earth-shattering, but the event setting things in motion is hardly small in scale either. It’s a tragedy that certainly has the ability to feed a classic mystery, and there’s no one better to try and solve that kind of mystery than the “World’s Greatest Detective.” I’m looking forward to what Eternal has to offer, especially in an already crowded lineup of Batman titles, but if it manages to rise above the rest then hopefully it will be one of the more memorable exercises DC Comics has taken with a weekly format. Here’s hoping! 8.5/10

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Honorable Mentions from DC This Week: Superman/Wonder Woman #7, Green Lantern Corps #30

 

From Marvel: Iron Fist: The Living Weapon #1 by Kaare Andrews (Script/Art)

Cover art to Iron Fist: The Living Weapon #1, by Kaare Andrews.

Cover art to Iron Fist: The Living Weapon #1, by Kaare Andrews.

The character of Iron Fist is one of the more intriguing superheroes in Marvel’s library. He doesn’t seem to get a whole lot of mainstream attention (at least not yet), but fans and creators alike all seem to have a very soft spot for Danny Rand. He’s been an Avenger on multiple iterations of the team, notably served as Daredevil during the high-profile Civil War event, and was featured in a highly critically acclaimed series by high-profile creators Ed Brubaker (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) and Matt Fraction (The Invincible Iron Man). This week, Iron Fist returns to his own series by writer/artist Kaare Andrews (creator of the great Spider-Man: Reign mini-series), and similar to the creator’s other work, it doesn’t seem particularly happy or bright.

In truth, though, when it comes to most superhero origin stories, there’s anything but light at the beginning of the tunnel. This first issue helps to explain the very beginning of Danny Rand as Iron Fist for the uninitiated, and it does a great job of it. It quickly moves, though, from a re-explanation of his origins to a modern adventure that is tied to his origin, which, of course, automatically arouses in Rand a quest of great importance. Kaare Andrews has a very unique and resonant way with words, and his descriptions of the thoughts and emotions active in Danny’s head help make this first issue a stand-out experience, not just as a character study for Iron Fist, but for comic book character study in general.

Though my personal familiarity is a bit higher than many others but certainly lower than Iron Fist fans, Living Weapon #1 made me feel, and more importantly understand what drives Danny Rand to do the things that he does, and why his unique experiences have led him to the life that he now lives. In a weird way, this issue makes me feel like the prime characterization of Rand that I’d read in the Avengers titles didn’t even scratch the surface of what makes him so uniquely compelling as both a hero and a human being, so I’m very interested in seeing what the next few issues hold in this new adventure of Iron Fist.

Adding to the luster of the issue is Andrews’ artwork, rough around the edges but popping with emotional vibrancy and frenetic action. While his style may take a little bit of getting used to, once you get into its method of delivering story, it helps add to the overall enthralling nature of the entire issue, and hopefully the rest of the series going forward. This is one of the more surprising recent #1’s I’ve read from Marvel in a while, and as an introduction – and perhaps re-dedication – to the character of Iron Fist, it’s easily a must-read. To recognize that even more, I’m calling this one the GeekNation Pull List’s Pick of the Week9/10

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Honorable Mentions from Marvel This Week: Nightcrawler #1, Secret Avengers #2

 

From BOOM! Box: Lumberjanes #1 by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis (Script), and Brooke Allen (Art)

Cover art to Lumberjanes #1 by Brooke Allen.

Cover art to Lumberjanes #1 by Brooke Allen.

When looking for an interesting independent book to review for the Pull List, I always endeavor to find something that will be easy to jump into. If an indie publisher has the rights to a familiar franchise, that certainly helps, but nothing in comics symbolizes the ease of jumping into a new series than a big fat #1 on the cover. So, to round out this week’s selections, I thought it might be fun to take a look at Lumberjanes. It has a unique visual style and a solid recommendation from my retailer (whom I trust for such things), so it made it a pretty easy choice. So, how does it pan out?

This is probably one of the more fun books I’ve read in a while, and that feeling is abundantly fed by the energetic writing and the stylized and comedic artwork. I’ve never read the work of any of these creators before, but I’m certainly glad I gave this book a try, since pretty much everything about it had a fun vibrancy to it, largely due to the zany characters that we get to meet over the course of the first issue. At the very beginning, it was a little off-putting, only because it drops you right in with no warning or setup. This can be disorienting for a new reader, but it also has the potential to be particularly rewarding when things start to become clearer. Fortunately in Lumberjanes, the whole tenor and aim of the series becomes very clear by the time they reach the office of the leader of their summer camp, Rosie.

All of the characters have very distinct and separate personalities as you read the issue, made even more fun by the situations they all find themselves in early on. Lumberjanes is a creative shakeup of summer camp storytelling, and the girls all seem to embody the “team” that they’re a part of by having separate identities that manage to add up in a complementary fashion. Not to mention the fact that they’re extremely skilled as a unit, easily dispatching a group of three-eyed ravenous wolves with expediency. It plays with expectations for similar situations in fun and interesting ways, bringing surprises and smiles with many of the page turns.

Overall, Lumberjanes is a fantastic first issue that can be enjoyed by readers of all ages, creating a group of heroines that look like they’re in for some interesting adventures as time goes on. It’s definitely recommended as a great all-ages book, but if you have a little girl in your household then Lumberjanes may make for a particularly strong comic book experience for her. 8.5/10

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Preview images courtesy of Comic Book Resources.

Honorable Mentions from Independents This Week: The Walking Dead #125, Shotgun Wedding #2

 

That does it this week for the GeekNation Pull List! Be sure to let us know if there are any suggestions, questions, or comments regarding this week’s selections in the comments below, and we’ll see you right back here next week for an all-new edition with brand new looks at next week’s comics! Take care, and 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.