This week on the GeekNation Pull List: “Zero Year” has finally reached its conclusion in the pages of Batman, we learn what Spider-Man’s “original sin” was in a tie-in issue to the Marvel event of the same name, and an odd story about three very unusual sisters and their connection to Death! Check out this week’s comic book reviews below!
From DC: Batman #33 by Scott Snyder (Script) and Greg Capullo (Art)
It’s been a long time coming, but the latest issue of DC’s popular Batman series has finally reached the long-awaited conclusion of Scott Snyder’s and Greg Capullo’s re-conception of Batman’s first adventure. “Zero Year” has been active in this title since issue #21, and after such a long and winding story, it would be natural to see the finale as something that couldn’t possibly live up to the hype.
Thankfully, while issue #33 isn’t exactly perfect, it’s definitely a great read, and a fitting end for this story featuring a young Dark Knight.
While Snyder’s scripting doesn’t seem to emphasize the “lucky amateur” conception that Frank Miller had of the young Bruce Wayne in Batman: Year One, he’s spent the last 12 issues instead showing us a young man who is rough around the edges. That being said, the events of “Zero Year” have helped to teach Batman about the strength that lies in restraint, and thankfully, that lesson learned has saved Gotham City from the horrifying machinations of who is, now, Batman’s first major enemy: the Riddler. Snyder even goes so far as to show us exactly why Bruce feels that the mission of Batman will be one that will never end, tying the fortification of his own psyche, oddly enough, to the event that would create the man he’s become. It’s a unique and interesting approach to the character, and one that may, or may not, have long term effects that reach Batman in the present day.
The story also entertainingly provided some cool origin stories for two very famous Batman objects. I don’t want to spoil what they are here, but if you’ve paid attention to any of the notable settings in Batman stories throughout your life, you’ll probably smile when you recognize them. And you will, don’t worry.
Greg Capullo’s artwork is, again, just gorgeous. Everything from the overgrown plant-life through the cracks in Gotham’s streets, to the scraggly beards of characters like Jim Gordon all help to give “Zero Year” a rather grimy quality, reflecting the state in which the Riddler’s plot has placed the city. On top of that, he really excels at emotional conveyance in this issue, especially when you can practically feel Batman himself seething at the Riddler’s pompous attitude. The faces of his characters beautifully match up with Snyder’s dialogue, which is a hallmark of what makes this creative partnership so superb.
While I’m kind of sad to see “Zero Year” come to an end, I’m pretty excited at where things will go when this series meets back up with Batman in the present day. We only have one issue of “breathing room” before the next big story kicks in, but that’s okay. Keep them coming, gentlemen. A lot of readers are having a blast, including me, which is why Batman #33 is the GeekNation Pull List Pick of the Week. 9/10
Honorable Mentions from DC This Week: Superman #33, Wonder Woman #33
From Marvel: The Amazing Spider-Man #4 by Dan Slott (Script) and Humberto Ramos (Art)
As is often the case with company-wide crossover events, elements of that large story can oftentimes bleed into many of the line’s other ongoing titles. This week, the events of Jason Aaron and Mike Deodato’s Original Sin, which explores the murder of the Watcher and new details in the life of Nick Fury, has found its way into the adventures of the newly-restored Peter Parker in the pages of this week’s issue of The Amazing Spider-Man.
At the lab of his company, Parker Industries, Peter is oddly thrilled to be receiving an alert from the Avengers requiring his assistance. He thinks that this means they trust him after all, even after the damage and bridge-burning perpetrated by Otto Octavius while the villain was in control of Peter’s body. Instead, upon his arrival, Spider-Man sees that the massive threat represented by the death of the Watcher merely means that the Marvel heroes are trying to mobilize an equally massive response.
Once again, Dan Slott’s scripting is tight, humorous, and even revelatory, but as an active reader of the Original Sin series, these two titles have massively different tones. In the event book, Jason Aaron’s writing has a rather somber and serious quality and scale to it, fitting in very well with the events he aims to depict. Slott’s Amazing Spider-Man, on the other hand, attempts – and succeeds – at being far more irreverent from a general perspective. The two different styles don’t make for a bad reading experience in this issue by any means, but it is a little weird seeing how much of an emphasis Original Sin has on the cover of this issue. That being said, the actual “tie-in” to the event series is over rather quickly, instead using one of the depicted beats of an early issue of that series to simply springboard us into the next section of a Spidey-specific plot.
On that point, some readers may feel slightly cheated by seeing this labelled as a tie-in to Original Sin, especially if they’re not regular readers of Amazing. This doesn’t add anything substantive to the understanding of the event series, and instead is the next issue depicting Spider-Man’s rather self-contained stories. However, as an issue of The Amazing Spider-Man, this issue is a lot of fun, and very interesting, especially for readers who have gone at least as far back as the critically acclaimed and controversial run on this title by writer J. Michael Straczynski. Humberto Ramos’ stylized renderings are again perfectly in tune with Slott’s writing. As a tie-in to Original Sin, this book is kind of a failure. As the next issue of The Amazing Spider-Man, it’s definitely another fun ride. 8/10
Honorable Mentions from Marvel This Week: Storm #1, Daredevil #6
From Red Anvil: Owlgirls #1 by Rachele Aragno (Characters, Story and Art), Robert J. Sodaro (Story and Script), and Dave Ryan (Art)
I have to admit right up front: Owlgirls #1 is a weird comic book.
That’s not an admonishment, by any means. More often than not, when it comes to independent comics, usually the weirder it is, the better. There’s just simply a lot going on here, and the story attempts to mix so many elements together that it can be a little easy to become lost in the mix. The funny thing about that, though, is that even with so many different elements in play (period piece, ethereal mysticism, women with the heads of owls), this issue never becomes incoherent. There’s a lot to keep track of, sure, but the writing and artwork tell a story that seems to very much know what it’s doing, even if that idea is unclear to the audience upon a single read-through.
Normally, I would attempt to summarize at least the beginning for you here, but it would be difficult to do so in a way that makes a whole lot of sense to anyone that hasn’t actually read the issue. We’re introduced to a lot of characters by the end of issue #1’s first half, and the creative team has laid the foundation for a lot of interesting implications that dabble in the genres of mystery, romance, fantasy, and even noir. As a story being told in the comic book medium, it uses the inherent efficiency that comic book storytelling inherently contains and pushes the amount of information on characters, setting, rules, and overall possibilities to the absolute limit. Even having said that, I never felt overloaded while actually reading this book. What may take other creators and titles at least a few issues in the pursuit of world-building has seemingly been accomplished in a single stroke by Aragno, Sodaro, and Ryan, and on that merit alone I have to applaud them.
You won’t have all of the answers by the time you get to the last page. If anything, you’ll actually have more questions coming out than going in, but the questions you’ll have likely weren’t even conceivable by the time you started reading the issue anyway. It’s kind of cool, and definitely intriguing.
If it isn’t clear, I’m definitely recommending this book. As vague as the issue seemed to be, I never felt it was vague simply because it wanted to be. It just seems that there’s a lot of material to cover before we go on this adventure fully. So, as a first issue, I think Owlgirls has a lot of interesting potential as we head into the second issue. 8/10
If you’re interested in giving it a read, check out it on digital platforms or you can encourage your local comic shop to order you a copy that you can then pick up with your regular pull list!
Honorable Mentions from Independents This Week: Saga #21, Star Trek: Harlan Ellison’s City on the Edge of Forever #2
And that does it for this week’s reviews! Be sure to leave any questions or series suggestions for future review in the comments below, and we’ll see you in one week on a brand new edition of the GeekNation Pull List! Enjoy all of GeekNation’s coverage of this weekend’s Comic-Con International in San Diego!
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