This week on the GeekNation Pull List: Dick Grayson steps out of vigilantism and into the world of secret agents and espionage in his brand-new series, Matt Murdock does his best to give Foggy Nelson a send-off that he can be proud of, and the new crew of Star Trek comes face-to-face with one of The Next Generation‘s most defining adversaries! Check out this week’s comic book reviews below!
From DC: Grayson #1 by Tim Seeley, Tom King (Script), and Mikal Janin (Art)
After the initial announcement and the mediocre setup, the first issue of former Robin/Nightwing/Batman’s new status quo has finally arrived in the form of Grayson #1. As I noted in the May 29th edition of the Pull List, co-writers Tim Seeley and Tom King created a rather haphazard transition for Grayson into a secret agent from his effective role as Nightwing. It didn’t seem like the setup necessarily warranted Dick’s massive occupation change, and as a result of that setup issue in Nightwing #30, it was easy to find myself bracing for proverbial impact rather than anticipate the story that would be told in the upcoming series. So, does Grayson #1 succeed in cementing Grayson as the DC Universe’s new surreptitious operative, or does it fall on its face so hard that fans should be begging for Nightwing’s return tomorrow?
For this fan, at least, the first issue has intrigued me enough to want to see the next one.
After reading issue #1, it becomes clear that Nightwing #30 was more of a stop-gap: a necessary transitional issue that got all the major players exactly where they needed to be in order to begin this first issue in proper fashion. That by no means excuses the mediocrity of Nightwing #3o, but to the credit of Grayson #1, it picks up the ball and runs with it pretty effectively. Although I found myself not caring nor believing too much in this change in Dick’s vocation as a favor to Batman, there’s something that’s definitely appealing about Dick doing his thing as a secret agent, all the while feeding information to the Dark Knight. In this first mission, Dick also gets to show off exactly what he can do without breaking a sweat. Really, any of the DCU’s secret organizations would be greatly benefitted by having an operative that was directly trained by Batman, especially his star pupil, as one of its agents in the field. There’s one scene in particular in Grayson #1 that makes it abundantly clear just how big a feather in Spyral’s cap Dick Grayson will be. On top of this, though, there’s also a surprising character introduction: someone Batman fans will likely know pretty well, and who has been altered a bit for the New 52. It’s a welcome addition, and should make things a bit more interesting going forward.
Mikel Janin’s artwork is gorgeous. He’s one of the smoothest artists working in comics today, and with a very strong line and ability to choreograph action and emotion, Janin’s work is easily one of the stand-out elements of Grayson #1. While I’m still not personally convinced about the longevity potential this title and concept has, I count Grayson #1 as a win because I didn’t expect it to be intriguing enough to warrant a look at issue #2. It’ll at least be interesting enough to go that far, but here’s hoping that the title, and concept, can ultimately go the distance. 8/10
Honorable Mentions from DC This Week: New Suicide Squad #1, Detective Comics #33
From Marvel: Daredevil #5 by Mark Waid (Script) and Chris Samnee (Art)
The adventures of Matt Murdock under the guiding hand of writer Mark Waid have been a joy to read. His artistic collaborators have all been top-notch, the stories told featuring Daredevil have returned the character to a place of prominence and adventure, and what might be considered a shaky concept for an ongoing superhero title has shown itself to be very strong thus far. Revealing the identity of a superhero to the public is always a shaky prospect, because no matter how long the writer doing it stays on for, the very nature of an ongoing superhero title means that their identity will need to turn secret again at some point. In the hands of lesser creators, this concept could seem less than stellar at times. Thankfully, Mark Waid and Chris Samnee’s immense storytelling skill have placed readers right where they want us: just thinking about the here and now.
Daredevil’s most beloved supporting character is likely Foggy Nelson. Matt’s best friend, business partner, and all around good man, Nelson has recently been afflicted with cancer, and has been battling it for the last several months. After a turn of events definitively outing Matt Murdock’s identity as Daredevil, Matt wants to take proper precaution to make sure his friend is protected from Daredevil’s enemies, and the primary way Matt wants to ensure this is to fake Foggy’s death. Foggy is less than enthused about this prospect not just because he’s nervous about going into hiding, but because he feels that as just a “regular guy,” he can’t effectively make his death mean something to people.
From there, the issue is a beautiful testament to the friendship between Matt and Foggy, and shows just how far Daredevil is willing to go to make sure his friend’s needs are met. One of the greater elements of the issue is just how real and three-dimensional the relationship between Matt and Foggy is in this instance. Waid has always excelled with his character work, but given the recent hardships Fogy has been put through, it’s impossible not to empathize with what his desires are for his death to mean something, and like a good best friend always should, Matt understands that entirely.
Chris Samnee’s artwork is, as usual, top-notch. For a story that relies on true emotional weight, Samnee again excels by telling his story through the actions and expressions of the characters, while also giving great credence to the bombastic action that’s expected from this Daredevil series. I can’t go into exactly why without spoiling, but suffice it to say that Daredevil #5 is one of the more beautifully emotional issues of Waid’s entire run with the character thus far, easily making this issue the GeekNation Pull List’s Pick of the Week. When a comic book is this good, shedding a tear or two is not only possible, but inevitable. 9/10
Honorable Mentions from Marvel This Week: Spider-Man 2099 #1, Avengers #32
From IDW: Star Trek Ongoing #35 by Roberto Orci (Story), Mike Johnson (Story and Script), and Tony Shasteen (Art)
The 2009 Star Trek film was kind of a blessing and curse in disguise. It was a blessing because we now get to see new adventures of the original Star Trek crew without necessarily being tied to what they’ve been seen to do before, allowing for brand new stories and exploitations with the franchise’s most classic characters (albeit with new faces, and even attitudes). It was a curse because, for the Trek-devoted, the 2009 film basically shut the door on the longstanding continuity of the Star Trek universe that spanned forty years, ten movies, six television series, and nearly thirty seasons of episodes. One of the more ingenious elements of the way that the “reboot” was written is that it wasn’t a reboot in the classic sense. It didn’t just do away with everything that came before, it took a different path by creating an alternate reality. All of the previous movies and episodes are preserved in the “prime timeline,” while the new adventures of Kirk and crew all take place in an alternate reality, where anything is possible.
Official Trek fiction hasn’t really explored a scenario that sees the prime timeline interact with the alternate reality in any substantive way, outside of the two Spocks conversing — until now, that is.
Star Trek Ongoing #35 begins a new, six-issue story for the series entitled “The Q Gambit.” Picking up immediately after the events of Star Trek: Countdown, the mini-series that bridged the gap between The Next Generation and the 2009 film, the Federation’s ambassador to Vulcan, Jean-Luc Picard, sits aboard Captain Data’s USS Enterprise-E and mourns the apparent death of the legendary Spock. At just that moment, his old adversary Q appears, and tells him that not only is Spock alive, but that his arrival in the past gave birth to an alternate reality. As Picard pleads with Q not to meddle in the affairs of the newly-created reality, he vanishes, and it’s not long before we see him face-to-face with the new Captain Kirk. For Trek fans this should already be very interesting, since stories featuring Q’s interaction with Captain Kirk are relatively few and far between. Although this isn’t the classic Kirk, the new Enterprise crew are still rather mystified at the existence of an apparently omnipotent being.
Beyond the novelty of this interaction, though, the story looks like it’ll be going to some very interesting places over the course of the next several issues, starting with a locale that should be very familiar to Trek fans. Tony Shasteen’s artwork is impeccable when it comes to capturing the likenesses of the characters’ actors, and while it may be a little rough around the edges, it adds an enormous amount of authenticity to the adventures of the characters from across the Star Trek universe. Overall, the first issue of “The Q Gambit” was really fun and very interesting, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store next. 8.5/10
Honorable Mentions from Independents This Week: Red City #2, Black Dynamite #3
That does it this week on the GeekNation Pull List, but as usual, feel free to leave any comments or suggestions for future books in the section below! We’ll see you in seven days with a brand new batch of comic book goodness, right here at GeekNation!
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