This week on the GeekNation Pull List: Superman struggles to keep Doomsday caged inside himself in Action Comics, Marvel’s crossover event continues in Original Sin, and the hilarious adventures of a mid-life robot crisis come to a conclusion in D4VE. Check out the reviews for these titles below!
From DC: Action Comics #32 by Greg Pak (Script) and Scott Kolins (Art)
The Superman: Doomed crossover continues in this first part to its second sub-arc, entitled “Enemy of the State.” In the last issue of Doomed, Superman is still slowly transforming into the behemoth known as Doomsday, and in an interview with Lois Lane, Superman tells his ally that she needs to go to the masses and tell them that he can no longer be trusted. From there, this issue is all about the Man of Steel coming to terms with his horrifying transformation, along with a few heartening looks at the attempts of his trusted friends to save him. One thing that’s nice to see in this issue is that Superman’s inspiration in his friends, and even some of his enemies, is really strong. There’s a desire to help from practically everyone, much the same way you may wish to help a good friend who may be down on their luck.
From there, though, the overall concept of Doomed creeps into what has otherwise been a stellar Superman title, and drags it down to a lower level than it’s been in previous issues. When Greg Pak became the ongoing writer for Action, the series had finally begun to gain a degree of regular quality not seen since Grant Morrison’s tenure on the first 18 issues. Like his work in Batman/Superman, Pak demonstrates a keen understanding of what makes Superman a valuable character in the DC Universe, the New 52, and the 21st century. He doesn’t rely on previous conceptions of the character, he doesn’t write him as a “boy scout,” and the stories demonstrate to readers what makes Superman a continually evolving and relevant staple of modern superhero comics. The problem with the Doomed crossover, at least from my perspective, is that each part that’s read in a different title is subject to the vastly different sensibilities of each of the participating creative teams.
For my money, the best Superman writer at the moment is Pak, but because this story is being told in a few different titles, other creative teams are making a big mistake by not having Superman as the primary focus. The gimmick of his bizarre transformation into Doomsday instead takes center stage, but the Action Comics issues have proven to be the best because they stay with Superman and track what his reactions are to everything, as opposed to focusing on other extraneous matters.
Scott Kolins fills in on this issue for regular series artist Aaron Kuder, and it’s a welcome substitute. Like Pak’s writing, Kuder’s art on Superman is probably the best regular element to Superman’s ongoing adventures, but Kolins’ years of experience and reliable artistic style help to give the more emotional elements of Pak’s script a great amount of understanding for the reader. Kolins’ work on The Flash during Geoff Johns’ stellar run in the early 2000s still holds up well today, and Kolins’ style has stayed consistently good since then. Overall, Action Comics #31 is kind of a low point during Pak’s run thus far, but it’s neither the writer’s nor Scott Kolins’ fault. It’s just a casualty of the editorial requirement to cross things over right now. 6/10
Honorable Mentions from DC This Week: Batman Eternal #9, Green Lantern #32
From Marvel: Original Sin #3 by Jason Aaron (Script) and Mike Deodato (Art)
I have to hand it to Jason Aaron and Marvel: Original Sin is a very interesting premise for a comic book story, especially for a crossover event. Sure, a lot of its plot devices aren’t likely going to be permanent, since the body count on classic Marvel characters is uncharacteristically high thus far, but it’s hard to deny the storytelling potential that these events have on the Marvel Universe as a whole, short term or not. When the Marvel Universe’s biggest secret-keeper is murdered, and some of those tightly held secrets start to find their way out into the world, it engulfs the entire community of Marvel heroes — from the Avengers, to the X-Men, to Doctor Strange and the Punisher — into a flurry of chaos. Superhero teams that rely on trust in each other find that feeling shattered, and several of the heroes have also completely disappeared from sight and contact when a volley of secrets was released…and that was just the first one.
A lot of what I like so much about this series so far is its overall accessibility, but also its fearlessness. For anyone with even a cursory interest in Marvel superheroes, this issue alone produces several jaw-dropping moments, which will likely cause you to do a double-take. By the time I reached Original Sin #3’s final page, I had to backtrack a bit — twice — to make sure that I did indeed see what I had just seen. The fact that mainstream comics, especially mainstream event comics can still produce moments like that in seasoned fans is a testament to the narrative and conceptual strength this series holds, and we’re not even at the halfway point yet. Looking at other recent Marvel event series by issue #3, so far I like Original Sin more than I liked Secret Invasion, Siege, Fear Itself, Avengers vs. X-Men, Age of Ultron, and even Civil War at the equivalent points in each of those stories, and that list even includes Spider-Man having unmasked himself in the second issue of Civil War. This is a blockbuster event, to be sure, but it’s one that feels like a story that has a larger aim, which I’m forced to tip my hat to.
Mike Deodato continues the series’ spectacular artwork, making the work on each page one of the biggest feathers in the cap of this series. Every surface, from the costumes and faces of the characters, to the structures and grounds of each diverse environment have a level of detail that helps to elevate practically every facet of this story, from the emotional to the action-packed. I’m extremely impressed with Original Sin so far, I can’t wait to see where it goes, and I’m also beyond pleased that a big crossover can get me excited about it again. For fans like me, that should be the first thing on our minds about this series. 9/10
Honorable Mentions from Marvel This Week: The Punisher #6, Amazing X-Men #8
From Monkeybrain: D4VE #5 by Ryan Ferrier (Script) and Valentin Ramon (Art)
It’s sad when a series that you’ve come to love so much has to end, but even though we’re saying goodbye to the likes of D4VE, 5COTTY, S4LLY, and even HILL4RY, this series has proven that through its core strength of concept, its gut-busting humor, its unlikely heroes, and its foul mouth, D4VE is strong enough to return to, time and again, for a long time to come. Issue #5 actually starts off on a somewhat bittersweet note, with D4VE apparently having been killed in the invasion of the K’laar, the alien race that’s arrived to find Earth, or 3ARTH, now run by machines. Since the robots of the planet felt that they vanquished their enemies a long time ago, military robots like D4VE were thought to be obsolete, and the once-proud warrior for his planet was now stuck behind a desk for an awful, life-sucking job. D4VE tells the overall story of a hasty return of purpose to the titular character’s life, and we go on a hilarious romp through the new robot lifestyle that permeates the planet, all while being treated to an eclectic mix of tech-based comedy, raunch, and good old-fashioned bad-assery.
A lot of things happen in D4VE #5, but thankfully, one of the biggest places that Ferrier has succeeded across the entire series is with putting character first, Sure, some of the vernacular has hilariously changed (the term “god” is often exchanged with “Jobs,” for instance), but there’s something oddly human about this robotic killing machine, and if you go on the full 5-issue journey, you’ll certainly find a lot about his programmed personality that’s very endearing to you. The cast of supporting characters also adds a really extensive amount of humor surrounding the already hysterical protagonist, and though things may appear bleak for our hero as he barrels into the conclusion, you may be surprised at where things end up.
Which brings me to my one major criticism of the entire series, now that it’s completed: it’s not time to say goodbye. While Ferrier talks a bit in the backmatter about how he and his artistic collaborator, Valentin Ramon, are non-committal about continuing D4VE‘s adventures, he makes explicit mention of the fact that he’s “just gotten to know” these characters. That’s also true of the readers! While the creators had a specific ending in mind to these characters, this series has proven to be one of the absolute highlights of the independent digital scene, and while nobody would want a sequel to this series “just because,” I certainly hope that we have’t seen the last of these characters, as long as Ferrier and Ramon can think of a new story with them that’s worth telling.
Speaking of Ramon’s artwork, it’s just as awesome as it was for the first issue. His character renderings are clean and concise, his environments are vast, and his ability to help tell a funny and emotional story in concert with the writing clearly make his artwork one of the absolute highlights of the series. D4VE #5 sadly brings this series to an end, but such a fun and consistently good book easily makes this conclusion the GeekNation Pull List’s Pick of the Week. 9/10
Honorable Mentions from Independents This Week: Black and Blue #1, Rise of the Magi #1
Thanks for reading the Pull List this week, and be sure to come back in seven days for the next new batch of comic book reviews here at GeekNation!
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