This week on the GeekNation Pull List: the entire Superman line at DC is caught up in a Doomed battle, Wolverine’s deep-cover with S.H.I.E.L.D. puts him in a dangerous place (especially without his healing factor), and a newly-assembled montage helps create the feel of a lost episode of the original Star Trek series. Check out this week’s comic book reviews below!
From DC: Action Comics #31 by Greg Pak (Script), Aaron Kuder, Rafa Sandoval, and Cameron Stewart (Pencils)
This week, DC released three chapters of their newest Superman crossover, which they’ve dubbed Doomed. This issue of Action Comics represents the second issue of the story, although it’s labelled as “Chapter 1” on the cover. Immediately following the events of the Superman: Doomed one-shot, which also released this week, Superman is reeling after a sprawling battle with Doomsday is put to an end in his own hometown of Smallville, but even after seemingly vanquishing his one-time killer, something’s not right. He’s injured, and not healing as fast as he should. He’s quick to anger, which is far from a regular tenet of his personality. He’s also experiencing some strange physical changes that are far too familiar for comfort, and spell trouble for probably every single person that lives in the DC Universe.
Now comes honesty time: for the past several years, Superman-centric crossovers have left me pretty cold. Let me qualify that statement further by saying that the Man of Steel is unequivocally one of my top two favorite characters in all of comics, and nothing has been able to shake that devotion my entire life. Even going back before the launch of the New 52, though, it seems that DC hasn’t been able to fully grasp the scale and philosophy that a sprawling Superman story should have, at least since writers like Geoff Johns, James Robinson, and Greg Rucka were building the early parts of the New Krypton arc from around 2008, which also fell apart pretty handily by the end.
But in Greg Pak’s hands, this issue is a solid read. Since Pak began his association with the Man of Steel by writing Batman/Superman about a year ago, he seems like a writer with a keen understanding of the ideology and attention to compassion that makes Superman a rather unique character in today’s pantheon of superheroes. Using the backdrop of the Doomed story, and taking into account that Superman is now a younger man since the beginning of the New 52, he seems truly unsettled by the changes that he and others are noticing in him, which makes for an interesting character study that I hope is continued well into the end of this arc by the other involved writers.
On the artwork front, it’s a little disjointed, but that’s only because there are three pencilers on this one issue. This was likely done to meet its deadline, but overall, all three artists show a strong pedigree in their craft, and Aaron Kuder’s place as the main artist on Action Comics continues to be very well-deserved, since his renderings of Superman have a classic style to them while still evoking the modern version of the character. Overall, Action #31 is a solid part of the overall Doomed story arc, but it’s also one piece of a larger puzzle that you may or may not want to jump in to. 8/10
Honorable Mentions at DC This Week: Batgirl #31, Justice League United #1
From Marvel: Wolverine #6 by Paul Cornell (Script) and Gerardo Sandoval (Art)
Wolverine can be a tricky character to write. As much as people complain about Superman being difficult to create conflict for because of his power level, in many respects, the same issue exists with Wolverine. No, Logan doesn’t have the same wholesome idealism that Superman does (why is it easier to write cynicism by comparison anyway?), but he’s a character that has been depicted as virtually invincible. You blow his face off, it grows back. You try to break his bones, chances are yours will get broken because of his unbreakable skeleton. There have even been stories where Wolverine was blown up into, literally, a skeleton, but because a single cell survived on his body, he grew his whole body back. At least when Superman “died,” he stayed in his grave for a few months.
This current series, though, has taken his healing factor, and even his internal claws, out of the equation. After losing those mutant abilities at the end of the last series, Wolverine has left the X-Men, instead opting to become a deep-cover agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. in order to prove that he can be valuable, even as a normal human being. In an odd way, this premise fits the character very well, but over the course of this issue, detailing one of his deep-cover assignments in Madripoor, I had a hard time figuring out exactly what story it was trying to tell. A classic Wolverine foe appears here, and the pages give some pretty great service to that conflict from years past, but the overall scope of Wolverine #6 felt a little rushed, leaving us with an interesting cliffhanger, but not exactly serving the character arc Logan is going through in respect to his identity crisis of sorts.
The artwork didn’t seem to fit the story particularly well, either. Gerardo Sandoval has a very distinctive style (reminding me in no small way of current Amazing Spider-Man artist Humberto Ramos), but the exaggerated proportions and anatomy of Sandoval’s work just clash with the overall tone and aim of the story as it’s presented here. I don’t think Sandoval is a bad artist, by any means, but his style seems more suited to Marvel’s more irreverent characters, like Deadpool, rather than Wolverine.
It should be interesting to see how the next issue unfolds, since the ominously titled “3 Months to Die” story will start in this title with issue #8. Paul Cornell is one of comics’ most talented storytellers, so I don’t think it’s out of line to believe that he’s got something up his sleeve for the ol’ Canucklehead. 7/10
Honorable Mentions from Marvel This Week: All-New X-Men #27, Avengers #29
From IDW: Star Trek: New Visions #1 by John Byrne (Script, Photo Montage)
For a comic book based on Star Trek, this is certainly a different approach to the material that I’ve seen. Instead of hiring an artist to render traditional comic book art pages for the story, instead, celebrated comics writer John Byrne has compiled photographs from actual Star Trek episodes and reassembled them into something new. While the first few pages aren’t particularly creative or remarkable in their assembly, as you progress through the story, Byrne begins to more extensively doctor the images, creating new environments, placing familiar characters in unfamiliar circumstances, and putting characters into new and existing sets that they never visited over the three seasons of original Star Trek. It wasn’t too long before I really began to enjoy what I was reading, and began adding the classic soundtracks and sound effects in my mind for the creation of a new, full-length episode of Star Trek.
Part of the greatness of this lies in Byrne’s commanding knowledge of the individual flow of each character’s dialogue. He really does seem to have a great understanding of how each character is supposed to speak, as well as what their roles in the story are. Because of that, the adventure being told here feels very authentic to what the plot of a new original series episode might be, and since that incarnation is my personal favorite version of Star Trek, I found this issue an absolute joy to read. It’s also a bit of a larger read as well, clocking in at 43 pages, which also reasonably equates to what the length of a modern TV episode might be if you follow the old adage of 1 page equaling 1 minute of screen time. So, in the respect of both length and content, classic Star Trek fans will likely find a lot to like here.
As for the content of the actual story, Byrne decided to start off this new bi-monthly series with a bang, by creating a sequel to one of Star Trek‘s most absolutely beloved episodes: season 2’s “Mirror Mirror.” When the Kirk and Spock of the Mirror Universe find their way back to the prime universe, Mirror Kirk has plans he’s set in motion to make his crew regret the day they ever listened to Spock, who’d heeded the real Kirk’s advice at the end of the episode. As a continuity nut for Star Trek, I enjoyed and appreciated Byrne approaching the writing of this story as a writer from the period in which it could’ve been made, rather than trying to force backhanded references from the Deep Space Nine Mirror Universe episodes into this story. It works exceedingly well on its own, not contradicting anything told in later series, but also not confirming them either. Overall, I was rather shocked a just how enamored I was with the story presented here, which is why this gets my recommendation as the GeekNation Pull List’s Pick of the Week. If you like classic Trek, chances are you’ll enjoy the story dubbed “The Mirror, Cracked.” 9/10
Honorable Mentions from Independents This Week: The Waking Dead #127, Lumberjanes #2
That does it this week for the GeekNation Pull List! Be sure to leave any ideas, suggestions, or questions in the comments section below, and we’ll see you next week with a fresh new batch of comic book reviews!
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