The GeekNation Pull List – 6/26/2014

By June 26, 2014
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This week on the GeekNation Pull List: Superstar DC Comics writer Geoff Johns returns to the Man of Steel and brings one of Marvel’s most renowned artists with him, the Avengers make a last ditch effort to save Earth, and Walking Dead‘s Robert Kirkman begins a brand new original series! Check out this week’s comic book reviews below!

From DC: Superman #32 by Geoff Johns (Script) and John Romita, Jr. (Art)

Cover art to Superman #32, by John Romita, Jr.

Cover art to Superman #32, by John Romita, Jr.

It’s probably fair to say that since the beginning of the New 52, one of the characters that’s received the shortest end of the stick is Superman. While the first year-and-a-half of Action Comics enjoyed creative and editorial consistency under the guiding hand of Grant Morrison, the months (and now years) following his exit left Superman in a great deal of disarray. DC editorial shuffled through 3-4 different creative teams on the Superman title before settling on a writer with largely mediocre delivery, a rather public incident involving writer Andy Diggle cut short a promising run on Action before it even began, and through it all, fans and creators knew that something was amiss concerning the direction of the publisher’s foremost icon.

Superman did have a few bright spots, just not in his own titles. One of those spots was in the ongoing Justice League title, written by DC Comics’ Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns. Since taking up his more involved executive position at DC Entertainment, Johns has had to limit the titles that he actively writes. In the New 52, he kicked off Aquaman in style, making it one of the initiative’s biggest sellers right out of the gate. His continuous amplification of Justice League resulted in stories like “Throne of Atlantis” and the Forever Evil crossover event, and after a wonderful late 2000s run on Action Comics, Johns has come back to the Man of Steel as the new, ongoing writer of Superman.

With him comes superstar Marvel artist John Romita, Jr., whose body of work includes high-profile runs on characters like Spider-Man and the Punisher. As a creative team, this pairing has a great deal of potential.

So how was their first issue? Pretty solid! A great way to start a new run with a new fundamental direction for this wayward title, and hopefully one that will get Superman fans excited.

The story looks like it’ll be an interesting parallel to Superman’s own origin story, but one of the things that makes me most happy with this issue on its own is the return of the supporting cast from the Daily Planet. One of the ways in which Superman in the New 52 has been floundering was by getting rid of the camaraderie and established dynamic of supporting characters like Jimmy Olsen, Perry White, and Lois Lane, and the fact that this first issue from the team shows that those characters will be important already makes me very optimistic. John Romita, Jr.’s artwork is also uniquely his, but he also brings a great sense of scale and force to the action scenes that require it, while showing clean layouts and an overall awesome set of pages.

With such a strong opening for a run that seems to be bringing back the classic elements of Superman while pushing things forward, this issue demands the spot for the GeekNation Pull List’s Pick of the Week. I’ve been longing for the day when I can place Superman back in the upper echelons of DC’s superhero books, and with this team in place along with Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder on Action Comics, hopefully that point is getting closer once again. If this issue is any indication, I think it is. 9/10

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Honorable Mentions from DC This Week: Batman #32, Justice League #31

 

From Marvel: Uncanny Avengers #21 by Rick Remender (Script) and Daniel Acuña (Art)

Cover art to Uncanny Avengers #21, by Daniel Acuña.

Cover art to Uncanny Avengers #21, by Daniel Acuña.

This story, “Avenge the Earth,” has been one hell of a ride, and we’re only on the fourth issue! In what starts out this month as the apparent payoff of the three previous issues of mayhem, writer Rick Remender and artist Daniel Acuña lay out the rug to facilitate the Celestial’s ultimate defeat, before quickly pulling it out from underneath us as we start to recognize the true plot that was put into play. It’s disorienting and compelling, all at the same time, because as it has been since it began, Uncanny Avengers is shaped up be the “A-team” book for Marvel Comics. With so many of their best characters under one roof, with stories being told that befit a giant crossover event all their own, this title feels both like one of Marvel’s best, and perhaps its greatest value because of the sheer forward momentum all of the plots thus far have had.

As we begin to see the true plot unfold, again it becomes very clear how well Remender has command of the individual voices of this large cast. He can go from giving inspirational strength through Captain America, down to the monosyllabic and forceful threats of Wolverine at the drop of a hat. The dry wit of Iron Man and even the clarity of the Superior Spider-Man both also make an appearance here, all over the backdrop of crazy, cosmic action, combined with earthly heroics for a true total package of Marvel Comics.

Daniel Acuña’s art had a pretty tall order to fill this time around as well, since both the characters and environments are so varied. As each issue of this story goes by, it becomes increasingly clear how good of a fit he is for a title like this; one that features a lot of characters and designs within several different distinctive environments. Through all the craziness, Acuña never overloads readers with the extravagance of the events as they play out, and his layouts only add to the overall flow that this title maintains.

While the plot takes a minor dip because of the major threat making its presence felt at the 11th hour, overall this is a comic book series to be enjoyed above all other factors. Chances are if you like the brand of storytelling Marvel can reach with a cast of diverse characters and situations, you’ll still find a lot to like about Uncanny Avengers as we scream toward next month’s finale for “Avenge the Earth.” 8/10

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Preview pages courtesy of Comic Book Resources.

Honorable Mentions from Marvel This Week: Savage Hulk #1, New Avengers Annual #1

 

From Image: Outcast #1 by Robert Kirkman (Script) and Paul Azaceta (Art)

Cover art to Outcast #1, by Paul Azaceta.

Cover art to Outcast #1, by Paul Azaceta.

Chances are that when you walk into your local comic book store, you’ll find more than a few people who will absolutely swear by the work of writer Robert Kirkman. A lot of comics neophytes have found their way into our quirky little world through his work on The Walking Dead, but Kirkman has been a very prolific creator during his time at Image, along with a sizable stint at Marvel in both creator-owned and superhero projects. Whether he’s loved or hated, it’s easy to see Kirkman’s impact on modern comics because of one largely undeniable fact: everybody, from the most seasoned fans to the people walking into a comic shop off the street, has an opinion about some facet of his work.

I kind of hate to say it, but I could never really get into it.

Maybe it’s because I prefer my human drama with zombies more from George A. Romero, to whom The Walking Dead seems to owe a major debt (which, to his credit, Kirkman has acknowledged). Or, maybe it’s because Kirkman himself rudely blew off a friend and I at a convention a few years ago. Whatever has painted my perceptions of the man and his work, it’s hard to deny his work ethic, and his love of the medium itself. So, it was in that spirit that I decided to give his newest creation, Outcast, an earnest try. What I ultimately found after finishing the issue was very good, taking one of the more ethereal elements of the real world and amplifying it into the human drama that Kirkman seems to really enjoy creating, while also making it a good fit for the medium in which he’s telling the story. I have a hard time seeing how sustainable this premise is going forward, but for the most part what’s on the page in Outcast #1 is pretty solid.

The basic premise of Outcast revolves around demonic possession. The main character that we meet, Kyle Barnes, has had two major interactions with people very close to him who were apparently possessed, and the resulting trauma has caused him to isolate himself from everyone, including his loved ones. When a young boy begins exhibiting some of the very signs that Kyle observed in his previous encounters, the local Reverend asks for his help in expelling the demon, and saving the boy’s immortal soul. What follows is a visceral encounter between Kyle and the demon, and the events that transpire will lead Kyle to try and discover more about these forces that seem to seek him out when he actively avoids them.

Paul Azaceta’s artwork is excellent. It lends itself to an overall vibe of creepiness and frenetic perception, adding to the disorientation likely felt by the characters in the moment they have to deal with some of the craziness. While Outcast #1 has proven to be a strong concept with this opening issue, it has a ways to go in proving that it will be a solid overall series going forward, but this first issue is definitely a good place to start. 8/10

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Honorable Mentions from Independents This Week: Saga #20, Trees #2

Thanks for reading this week’s Pull List! Be sure to come back here for a fresh batch of new comic book reviews next week, and be sure to leave your thoughts about this week or suggestions for future weeks in the comments below!

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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.