The GeekNation Pull List – 6/12/2014

By June 12, 2014
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This week on the GeekNation Pull List: the new Justice League receives its first intergalactic test, an ambush on Cyclops leaves the X-Men in disarray, and an independent title explores the political grime of the solar system and its inhabitants in a fresh indie title! Check out this week’s comic book reviews below!

 

From DC: Justice League United #2 by Jeff Lemire (Script) and Mike McKone (Art)

Cover art to Justice League United #2 by Mike McKone.

Cover art to Justice League United #2 by Mike McKone.

Back when I reviewed this series’ zero issue, I liked a lot of the included characters, and the story seemed to have some promise. I skipped reviewing issue #1 officially on the Pull List because DC had a better offering that week, and it seemed like Lemire was getting a little too comfortable with something I have personal difficulty in abiding in superhero comics: camp. It’s not the kind of camp that Batman endured in his ’60s TV series, but there was definitely a conscious stylistic choice in Justice League United #1 to hit the reader over the head with some exposition, and the interactions of the characters in some places felt forced. For the second issue of the series releasing this week, a lot of those criticisms are still valid, but for whatever shortcomings the exposition and dialogue may have in this setting, the overall concept of the series is working.

After the events of Forever Evil, the DC Universe is in disarray. Up is down, black is white, and Lex Luthor is a part of the Justice League. It makes sense that other DC heroes would try and stand up to fill a bit of a heroism vacuum, and the lineup of characters chosen to lead this book is inspired. Not only do you have Martian Manhunter, an unsung pillar of the DCU, but you also have Lemire mainstays Green Arrow and Animal Man, former Justice Society heavy-hitters Stargirl and Hawkman, and for good measure you throw in a character like Adam Strange that hasn’t gotten his due in the New 52 yet, and this issue even throws an ‘S’ on the team by adding Supergirl into the mix. This is definitely one of the most haphazard DC team lineups since the beginning of the New 52, but somehow, Lemire manages to bring these disparate characters together in a narrative that demands a diverse response.

Sometimes, the dialogue feels clunky, and some of the attempted humor in the character interactions feel forced. Even with those specific issues of the structure, though, it’s pretty easy to get into the overall story: a group of worlds ravaged by war want to try and unite the peoples of the galaxy by creating a child, culled from materials of dozens of worlds. When a being comes in to try and turn that child into an ultimate weapon, this new iteration of the Justice League must come together and step in to stop it. Pretty straightforward, but also pretty strong stuff. Mike McKone’s artwork is as clean as its ever been, and only adds to the luster of a strong issue. Overall Justice League United seems to have a degree of thematic strength to it, but it could benefit from streamlining the dialogue. 8/10

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Honorable Mentions from DC This Week: Detective Comics #32, Constantine #15

 

From Marvel: Uncanny X-Men Special #1 by Sean Ryan (Script) and Ron Ackins (Art)

Cover art to Uncanny X-Men Special #1 by Gary Choo.

Cover art to Uncanny X-Men Special #1 by Gary Choo.

The X-Men are another group of characters that you could say has hit a rough patch. After the events of Avengers vs. X-Men, Charles Xavier is dead, there are two groups of the team with very different ideas on how to go about finding their places in the world, and the overall feeling towards the mutant community is probably in one of its lowest-ever points. The story told here in Uncanny X-Men Special #1 doesn’t seem to be doing them any favors either, but beyond that…it’s hard to really understand why this story is being told in the first place, and what overall value it adds to the currently-unfolding narrative of one of Marvel’s premiere properties. Probably the first sign that something’s strange is that Marvel didn’t publish this in any of the proper series devoted to the X-Men, of which there are about 5,000. Instead, they create a “special” spinning out of the characters in Brian Michael Bendis’ ongoing Uncanny X-Men title, but that’s basically where the similarities to this special’s namesake begin and end.

While training a group of his students from the new Xavier School in flying the X-Jet, Cyclops and his class are ambushed by a pretty big villain in the Marvel Universe, and by issue’s end, we’re led to believe that the next part of the story is going to be involving characters like Iron Man and Nova (as if the cover wasn’t hint enough). There’s certainly a lot going on in Ryan’s narrative that should keep both X-Men and Marvel fans interested, but one of the main problems with this new story is that there just doesn’t seem to be much point in telling it. While this will likely satisfy fans who have Cyclops and Iron Man as their top two favorite Marvel heroes (of which there are more than you might think), it doesn’t look like this issue is substantively adding to the currently unfolding story of Marvel’s mutants in the same way that books like Uncanny X-MenAmazing X-Men, and Uncanny Avengers are. Those three titles, particularly Uncanny Avengers, have set themselves up as being quite the major “go-to’s” for the continuously evolving story of the mutants and the X-Men, and that kind of substantive addition to the overall narrative is definitely missing from this issue.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with telling a story “just because,” since that’s basically how comic book and superhero storytelling began. When you have a climate within the two major publishers of the cross-pollination being so important, though, it’s a bit out of left field. It would’ve been nice if this story could’ve had a title other than Uncanny X-Men, because with that comes the expectation that this will somehow react to the events currently present in that series, while in reality it only uses a few of the characters. The story seems interesting on a base level, and the artwork by Ron Ackins is perfectly competent and well-rendered. I was expecting something different, though, and I think I would’ve liked what I expected a bit more than what I was given here. 7/10

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Honorable Mentions from Marvel This Week: Wolverine #8, Original Sins #1

 

From Image: Red City #1 by Daniel Corey (Script) and Mark Dos Santos (Art)

Cover art to Red City #1 by Mark Dos Santos.

Cover art to Red City #1 by Mark Dos Santos.

Sometimes, what you expect can be smaller than what you’re given. When I walk into my local comic shop every Wednesday, I usually decide to take a chance on an independent book based solely on the cover. Oftentimes, this makes for quite a crap shoot: the cover artist may be of a much higher caliber than the interior artist, the order of the creators’ names can sometimes be misleading, and even the cover itself might promise something that you just won’t get out of the book. The thing that caught my eye about Mark Dos Santos’ cover to Red City #1 was how much it looked like one of my all-time favorite sci-fi films: Blade Runner. That can’t be a bad piece of material to draw from, and even if it didn’t remotely resemble Blade Runner, that kind of visual style seemed appealing to me.

Red City isn’t anything like Blade Runner. But thankfully, this was a very pleasant surprise, because it managed to create a conceptually more vast world with a great deal of political intrigue with all of the major players, and instead feels far more like a neo-noir procedural crime drama that has a great sense of humor, and a lot of history behind the formulation of that world as it is (even if the main character doesn’t really care too much about those specifics). The fact that these kinds of elements are in play for this new world’s story shows a great deal of care in crafting the history and overall function of the story’s setting, and shows a terrific amount of imagination by taking from some time-tested tropes of police fiction to create something refreshing. Red City‘s world is actually far more vast than the cover would have you believe, and that vastness from the first few pages becomes both abundantly clear, and thoroughly interesting.

In the classic noir style, the main character is just a bit player in a very large and overarching system. That system of relations between planets and the history of Earth, along with everything from references to economy and political climate and corruption, give kind of a Billy Wilder vibe to a sci-fi world, even throwing in a threatening femme fatale for good measure. Mark Dos Santos’ art is one of the absolute highlights of this reading experience, giving depth and a great sense of design to the snappy, easy-to-follow dialogue of Daniel Corey’s world-building. Red City was a wonderful surprise, and comes highly recommended as the GeekNation Pull List Pick of the Week. This is definitely a book that any sci-fi and film noir fan should check out. 9/10

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Honorable Mentions from Independents This Week: Dead Letters #3, Star Trek Ongoing #34

That does it this week on the Pull List, but be sure to leave any questions, concerns, or suggestions in the comments below! Have a great rest of your week, and we’ll see you in seven days with all-new comic book reviews right here at GeekNation!

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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.