This week on the GeekNation Pull List: Batman confronts one of his oldest enemies about his fallen son, Marvel’s major crossover event kicks into a higher gear thanks to the Winter Soldier, and arguably Star Trek‘s best TV episode gets a new perspective with an adaptation of Harlan Ellison’s original teleplay! Check out this week’s comic book reviews below!
From DC: Batman and Ra’s al Ghul #32 by Peter Tomasi (Script) and Patrick Gleason (Art)
When Damian Wayne was killed off last year in Grant Morrison’s Batman Incorporated, it appropriately sent shockwaves throughout the entire line of Batman comics. This was Bruce Wayne’s son, serving as his most direct crimefighting partner, and most people who know how the Dark Knight’s mind works knows that he doesn’t take loss – particularly familial loss – very well. In the months following, the Batman and Robin title has evolved into a quasi-team-up book, and each new character sharing the title every month has showed the Dark Knight as a man possessed with getting his son back. His grief was palpable, but as a largely reasonable man, he seemed to start making some peace with leaving his son behind, and getting on with his life.
Then, the Demon’s Head himself stole Damian’s body, and dragged Batman right back down into the despair he’d tried to fight his way out of.
Ra’s al Ghul is one of Batman’s absolute best enemies, mostly because his megalomania is virtually unmatched, and always on a global scale. While stories pitting Batman against the Joker are often great character studies with some crazy action and partial horror thrown in, those stories today are generally more personal in nature. By contrast, when a story pits Batman against Ra’s, it always takes on a generally more cosmopolitan scale than many of his other enemies can provide. With the publication of Robin Rises – Omega #1 coming in July, along with the promise of “a” Robin standing beside Batman once again in January of 2015, things have gotten progressively more dire for Batman, and there’s no sign of this slowing anytime soon.
One of the most striking moments in this issue helped to illustrate just how far the Dark Knight has been pushed by Ra’s. The continued efforts of the Demon’s Head to re-secure the bodies of his daughter and grandson have taken a toll on Batman, and it’s very clear in a splash page late in the issue just how far he’s been pushed when he looks in Ra’s’ eyes, and says something that modern Batman has rarely said, and that I don’t believe New 52 Batman has ever said.
Patrick Gleason’s artwork is still extraordinary, and when you have artists like Gleason and Greg Capullo providing the artwork on two major Batman titles means that comic book fans are spoiled when it comes to artwork for the Dark Knight, and Gleason’s renderings of Batman, Ra’s, Frankenstein, and the action in the issue all help make for another gorgeous book. All in all, things are about to get even more interesting in the unfolding post-death Damian story, which is saying something, since this team knows the characters and situations to make the turn of events continually compelling and unique in the world of the Batman. 9/10
Honorable Mentions from DC This Week: The New 52: Future’s End #7, Wonder Woman #32
From Marvel: Original Sin #4 by Jason Aaron (Script) and Mike Deodato (Art)
The event train keeps on chugging this summer at Marvel, and with the shocking ending to Original Sin #3, it’d take some pretty exceptional occurrences to outdo those events in the follow-up. While issue #4 of this series may not have had as much “oomph” as the last issue, it still managed to move the narrative along at a fast pace, and also featured some pretty awesome interactions that you can only really get in a big crossover event. Have you ever been curious as to what kind of conversation the Punisher would have with Rocket Raccoon? Well, maybe you should consider picking this issue up!
The mystery behind the murder of the Watcher is still shrouded in secrecy, but Original Sin #4 did contain a lot of forward momentum of the plot that’s beginning to draw in some other, less obvious Marvel characters from across their entire spectrum. One of the most rewarding things about reading this series thus far, especially for fans of many different subsets of Marvel characters, is just how broad of a story this is. In some cases, like Civil War for example, crossovers usually stay in one place (ground level, space, etc.) and include other characters just out of the sheer requirement of a crossover. In Civil War, it’s hard to think of every major Marvel character being affected by a US law, but some of the tie-ins and even the main story shoehorned in characters that didn’t fit all that well into the main crux of the story.
By taking a cosmic character that the entire Marvel U is aware of and making him the subject of a murder mystery, Aaron successfully intertwines the cosmic with the ground level which makes for some really great character moments, and a compelling narrative. With the way that issue #3 closed out, it’d be hard to outdo the shock value in that. While #4 walks back a bit from the big shocker that ended things last time, it does help to make the stakes all the more interesting…especially when you see who’s on the last page, and how the character looks. It’s…different.
Mike Deodato continues his very atmospheric and dimensional eye to the issue’s artwork with excellent results, while still maintaining each character’s most defining visual traits. All in all, Original Sin is still a spectacular Marvel event. We’ve only just now reached the halfway point, and if this issue is any indication, the volume is about to get turned up pretty fast. 8/10
Honorable Mentions from Marvel This Week: Daredevil #4, Uncanny X-Men #22
From IDW: Star Trek: Harlan Ellison’s The City on the Edge of Forever #1 (of 5) by Harlan Ellison (Original Teleplay), Scott & David Tipton (Script), and J.K. Woodward (Art)
“The City on the Edge of Forever” might be my absolute favorite episode of the original “Star Trek” TV series. Renowned sci-fi author Harlan Ellison — known just as much for his attitude as he is for his priceless contributions to science fiction prose, television, and film — crafted the story that saw Captain Kirk and Spock have to go back in time to save their friend and fellow officer and history itself. In the process, Kirk falls in love with a woman of the period, and to actually fulfill his responsibility to preserve time as it’s supposed to unfold, has to make a terribly painful sacrifice.
That’s the version that we know. The legend goes that Ellison’s original teleplay for the episode actually took things further, but conflicts with producers and series creator Gene Roddenberry ultimately delivered a “watered down” version of Ellison’s originally intended story. We’ve never really seen how that story unfolded in the established Star Trek universe…until now.
This first issue of the five-issue series that will painstakingly and faithfully recreate every element of that original teleplay in a visual art form (which Ellison himself has called “the perfect art form”) has already set itself apart pretty drastically from the actual episode. You see, Gene Roddenberry’s primary vision for the original “Star Trek” series had involved the evolution of humanity beyond pettiness. We had finally reached a point where, as a species, we had “matured” beyond greed, fear, famine, and many bad behaviors. Right at the beginning of both Ellison’s original teleplay and this first issue, a crewmember aboard the Enterprise is shown as a narcotics dealer toward other members of the crew, as well as a penchant for greed that can be destructive. No matter what pain this bad man causes, though, he doesn’t seem to care too much.
From what I understand, fundamentally this was something that Roddenberry could not abide. It’s this crewmember, not Dr. McCoy as in the final episode, that ultimately leads Captain Kirk and Spock into the past. While the other differences will become even more apparent into the second issue, this first one presents the events truthfully and all within the visual style that “Trek” fans know so well. While devotees to the episode as it was filmed may find that they prefer the final product, the sheer presentation in this issue will definitely give them a strong understanding of what might’ve been. J.K. Woodward’s art is absolutely gorgeous, with likenesses and familiar set designs captured perfectly, and the unfamiliar given a vastness and wonderful sense of vast scale.
Overall, this looks like an interesting look at the episode that could have happened, and as each new issue comes out, we’ll have a great new, visual way to compare the classic episode with its original vision. That awesome possibility and re-examination of pop culture history helps propel this issue to the GeekNation Pull List’s Pick of the Week. 9/10
Honorable Mentions from Independents This Week: Fatale #23, The Manhattan Projects #21
Thanks for reading this week, and as usual, be sure to check back here in seven days for a brand new batch of fresh ink reviews! Have a great week!
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