The GeekNation Pull List – 4/24/2014

By April 24, 2014
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This week on the GeekNation Pull List, DC Comics seeks to start a new chapter in the history of their most fabled superhero team with Justice League United, Mark Waid and Chris Samnee continue their legendary run on the Man Without Fear in Daredevil #2, and we check back in with the lovable robot going through a mid-life crisis with D4VE #4. Check out the reviews for the books below!

Cover art to Justice League United #1, by Mike McKone.

Cover art to Justice League United #0, by Mike McKone.

From DC: Justice League United #0 by Jeff Lemire (Script) and Mike McKone (Art)

Writer Jeff Lemire returns to the scenario of DC super-teams with this issue after being one of the prime architects of “The Trinity War,” the Justice League crossover event that led directly into Forever Evil. Although the final issue of that major event series has been delayed to give artist David Finch more time to complete it, the universe has to keep going, and it appears as if the new Justice League United #0 takes place in a DC Universe that is recovering from the events of Forever Evil. Lemire, a darling of DC’s New 52 initiative after the success of his Animal Man title, is one of the go-to architects of the current DC Universe, and it makes sense that the exploration of a new Justice League would be explored with him at the head. But did he pull it off?

If by “pulling off,” you mean make a fun and interesting first issue that makes you want to check out the next one, then yes. Lemire crafts a narrative that helps introduce the new DC Universe to Adam Strange, an unlikely but effective hero with a lot of rich history at DC Comics. Strange had yet to make a major appearance in the New 52, but it looks as though we’ll finally be seeing him become the space-faring adventurer we know he’s destined to become. If you want to talk about a moment to suck you into a series, though, it’s the beginning. Featuring a group of heroes in distant space stopping an alien from doing a sadistic-looking experiment on an infant, the stroke that stops him isn’t a heat blast from Superman, or an energy shot from Green Lantern: it’s an arrow. When you put Green Arrow in space, it’s hard not to grab the attentions of comic book fans, and it should be fun to see how that particular element unfolds over the next few issues.

One of the things that automatically makes me enjoy this issue is the inclusion of J’onn J’onzz, aka the Martian Manhunter. You see, in the original lineup of the Justice League, there were seven heroes: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, the Flash, Aquaman, and the Martian Manhunter. When the New 52’s Justice League #1 kicked off the current DC Universe in August of 2011, Martian Manhunter was now absent from the founding lineup of the team, replaced by former Teen Titan Cyborg. While I love the character of Cyborg and had always wanted to see him graduate to the level of the League, I never wished to see that at the expense of the Martian Manhunter. As a result, J’onn’s role in the New 52 has been significantly marginalized since he just doesn’t show up as much, which is a shame. Thankfully, Lemire’s inclusion of J’onn in this series seems to be a great step in a positive direction as it pertains to the exploration of that great character, so on that basis alone, I may be hooked.

Mike McKone’s artwork is some of the cleanest of modern comics, with a lot of smooth surfacing and hyper-defined faces and bodies being the hallmarks of his artistic style. I was first exposed to his work when he and Geoff Johns relaunched the Teen Titans series back in 2003, and though the final artwork can vary depending on his inking and coloring collaborators, by-and-large McKone is a solid artist that excels in team books, and it’s great to see regular work from him once again. Overall, Justice League United  #0 is a great start to an interesting looking series, and I look forward to seeing what they come up with next. 8.5/10

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Honorable Mentions from DC This Week: Secret Origins #1, Batman/Superman #9

 

Cover art to Daredevil #2, by Chris Samnee.

Cover art to Daredevil #2, by Chris Samnee.

From Marvel: Daredevil #2 by Mark Waid (Script) and Chris Samnee (Art)

When I reviewed the first issue of this series in a previous Pull List, I ranted a little bit about the severe lack of necessity that exists when stopping a well-regarded series, only to start it over with the same creative team just for the sake of putting a giant #1 on a cover. It’s very easy for a geek writing a comic book review on the internet to complain about these things, and lose sight of whatever prime emotion the creative work has been designed to elicit from the reader. I have no choice but to bow to the sheer fun of the new Daredevil series, which is a testament to the inherent strength found in the architecture of this issue. The efforts of this issue’s creators deserve far better than any rant one can give about the idiosyncrasies of the comic book business, and if you’ve read any issue of Daredevil written by Mark Waid, then you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

Daredevil is one of the few titles running today that has a definite, yet intangible sense of classic comic book fun to it. Part of that fun is in seeing Matt Murdock’s need to establish himself in a new and unfamiliar place, but a great deal of it also comes from the heroism that Daredevil displays, as well as the playful aptitude he has for his chosen nighttime profession. He’s almost amused by learning about his primary opponent through a fight, mentally logging the areas and directions he favors while squaring off with him. But beyond that, even the new characters have a good sense of irreverent fun attached to them. I feel a little cautious about getting into the humor of these moments, though, because Waid has a history – and uncanny ability – to lull his readers into false senses of security only to have something terrible happen that pulls the proverbial rug out from underneath them. The inherent problem, though, is that the sense of fun in this issue is infectious, and almost makes you forget about any extraneous worries not directly related to the events of this story. Daredevil is a great comic book because of it, and Waid’s writing has a great deal to do with that.

You can’t talk about a sense of classic comic book fun, though, without also talking about artist Chris Samnee. Samnee’s work in comics has ranged from appearing in all-ages books to hard-lined Vertigo titles, and always manages to excel for his cleanliness, his efficiency, his emotion, and his page designs. Samnee’s layouts are beautiful, and the structure of his panels make the complete issue read very quickly, especially when coupled with Mark Waid’s uncanny ability to make his readers want to tun the page after every resonant beat in the story. Daredevil continues to be Marvel’s most fun comic book, and fans should look forward to seeing what comes next as long as these two are at the head of the creative team. 9/10

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Honorable Mentions from Marvel This Week: All-New Invaders #4, Uncanny Avengers #19

 

Cover art to D4VE #4, by Valentin Ramon.

Cover art to D4VE #4, by Valentin Ramon.

From Monkeybrain: D4VE #4 by Ryan Ferrier (Script) and Valentin Ramon (Art)

Since I skipped reviewing #3 in favor of another independent book, something compelled me to come back to D4VE this week with the release of its penultimate issue. It’s been a stellar series thus far, and though I’m sad to see it wind down, writer Ryan Ferrier and artist Valentin Ramon are pulling out all of the stops to send D4VE, S4LLY, FR4NK, TIN4, and the whole planet 34RTH out with a bang. Issue #4 is where the series makes a transition from an offbeat comedy about a robot with a midlife crisis to an offbeat comedy about a robot trying to save his race from annihilation, while trying to steer his constantly-masturbating teenage son into a positive direction, repair his marriage, and give his fellow robots the ability to help him in fighting this invasion. Among other things, of course. One of the most refreshing things about D4VE has been the fact that its irreverence and scathing criticism of corporate culture has all served a purpose, coming from writer Ferrier’s own experiences as an employee in slacks and a tie, and how maddening it was (he wrote a fantastic look at the phenomenon of “Jeans Day” in the backmatter of issue #3).

But beyond the thematic aims of the series, there’s a great deal of imagination that continues to permeate it, including a moment of alien evisceration that is both disgusting and shockingly clever, that Ferrier singles out as being the sole idea of artist Valentin Ramon. Beyond things like that, the pace is also relentless. While a rather large amount of development and interplay has transpired in the series’ four issues, they’re remarkably easy reads, and the speed with which you blow through the series may end up surprising you. Regardless of the “level” of the humor, which can range from fun and savvy technical jokes to classic and somewhat paradoxical raunch (since it’s robots describing some decidedly human activities), everything about D4VE manages to find a rather remarkable balance that feels like it hits the right mark virtually every time.

Valentin Ramon’s artwork is a big part of what makes D4VE‘s quality so high. You can tell that the writing has helped set his imagination on fire, and the series has effectively progressed from having a focus on one character in the first issue, to reaching a planetary-invasion scale action/comedy by the end of it. Ramon’s artwork continues to have a very human quality to it, and the movements and poses he places the statically-faced robotic characters into manages to give great insight into their feelings, when something like that doesn’t seem particularly easy to pull off. All in all, D4VE is still a fantastic comic book series as we barrel toward the conclusion, takes the throne as the GeekNation Pull List’s Pick of the Week, and really the only bad thing I have to say about it is that it’ll be over soon. Balls. 9/10

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Honorable Mentions from Independents This Week: Evil Empire #2, Lazarus #8

 

That does it for this week, but as usual, feel free to leave any questions, comments, or recommendations for future titles in the comments section below, and thanks for checking out this week’s GeekNation Pull List. Be back here in seven days for a fresh new batch of comic book goodness (at least we hope), and have a great week! For those of you in Chicago this weekend for C2E2, be sure to come to the panel I’ll be sitting on, and say hello as well! Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you again next 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.