The GeekNation Pull List – 7/3/2014

By July 3, 2014
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This week on the GeekNation Pull List: the World’s Finest heroes have a chance to change the fate of Earth-2 forever, Marvel’s current crossover continues in grand fashion, and an independent tribute to three of comics’ most important creative pillars unfolds! Check out this week’s comic book reviews below!

From DC: Batman/Superman #12 by Greg Pak (Script), Tom Raney, and Ken Lashley (Art)

Cover art to Batman/Superman #12, by Jae Lee.

Cover art to Batman/Superman #12, by Jae Lee.

When DC Comics was having some noticeable trouble with the creative quality of their Superman titles, writer Greg Pak swooped in and pretty much saved the day. When he started this Batman/Superman title last June, he helped craft one of DC’s absolute go-to books. When he jumped on Action Comics later that year, he gave Superman fans a title they could be proud of again. One full year after the beginning of Batman/Superman, he’s largely keeping the momentum that he started way back in issue #1, and what better way to commemorate a year of this title than by going back to the beginning?

Batman/Superman #12 allows the titular heroes to actually revisit the events of the first arc of this story, where Batman and Superman met their older, more experienced counterparts from Earth-2. Earth-2 is also another title at DC Comics that chronicles the events of the heroes’ lives in that alternate universe. The very first issue of the Earth-2 title saw the deaths of that universe’s Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, and Batman/Superman #12 uses the baseline of events from this title’s first arc to actually attempt to affect the deadly outcome of Earth-2 #1. Can our Superman and Batman avert the deaths of their counterparts in the alternate universe? Well, I won’t spoil the issue here, but suffice it to say that our Superman and Batman have a lot of hard choices to make when it comes to people they care about (even though these versions aren’t “their” loved ones).

Pak’s script is a lot of fun, and very interesting for fans that like to see some crossover between the two universes. There are also some very solid character moments, and great interactions between multiple versions of  DC’s biggest icons.

While the writing of the issue is great, the artwork is less than stellar. This isn’t because the efforts of the actual artists is bad, but I tend to have a big problem with splitting the workload of a single issue between two pretty different art styles. Tom Raney does the majority of the work here, which is good. For some reason, though, Ken Lashley came in for the final three pages.

What the point of that is, I don’t know. Raney should’ve been able to finish the issue just fine on his own. Overall, Batman/Superman #12 is a great issue, but it’d have been better if they could’ve just stuck with one perfectly fine artist. 8/10

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Honorable Mentions from DC This Week: Superman Unchained #7, Green Lantern #33

 

From Marvel: Original Sin #5 by Jason Aaron (Script) and Mike Deodato (Art)

Cover art to Original Sin #5, by Mike Deodato.

Cover art to Original Sin #5, by Mike Deodato.

When it comes to giant crossover events in comics, there are a couple of things that usually happen. More often than not the hard-hitting concept that made the first few issues at least partially compelling starts to wane around the mid-point of the story, and the writing can reflect that with “middle chapter syndrome.”

When it comes to Original Sin, I think writer Jason Aaron has managed to deftly avoid that.

Unlike the first four issues of the series featuring startling revelations, and more than one high-impact murder, Aaron manages to keep the overall tone of the series interesting by instead refocusing this fifth issue on one character: probably the single biggest secret-keeper in the Marvel Universe, Nick Fury. Just by the very nature of Fury’s character, the architects of the Marvel Universe always want to keep a bit of a mysterious shroud around him. You never really know what Fury’s up to or what he’s thinking of getting up to, and on those brief occasions over the decades when we’ve been able to fully grasp the big picture of his actions, it’s always with a level of intrigue that manages to be interesting.

For this issue, Jason Aaron keeps that trend going, but what we also find in this story is probably one of the most revelatory aspects of Fury’s life that we may have ever seen. While learned Marvel fans will likely know Fury’s history back-to-front and vice versa, the retcon introduced in this issue for other things that Fury has been up to for decades should definitely prove to have interesting implications, not just for the future of this series, but for the Marvel U going forward. It feels like a development that could have a lot of new interesting implications on past Marvel Universe stories, or even new stories that exploit days gone by. Aaron manages to give Fury the grandeur that a character like him greatly deserves, but rarely receives, and this feels like we’re genuinely learning something new about him.

Mike Deodato’s artwork is, again, fantastic. His style fits the tone of this series very efficiently, and the darkness that his style contains is very appropriate for a character like Fury, even in the expansive environments we see him traversing in this issue. Overall, Original Sin still stands as the Marvel event I’ve enjoyed the most in years, and hopefully it’ll use the foundation of these very solid first five issues to bring it to a creative and fitting conclusion. We’ll find out next month! 8.5/10

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Honorable Mentions from Marvel This Week: Captain America # 22, Daredevil #0.1

 

From Fantagraphics: DKW: Ditko Kirby Wood by Sergio Ponchione

Cover art to DKW: Ditko Kirby Wood by Sergio Ponchione.

Cover art to DKW: Ditko Kirby Wood by Sergio Ponchione.

Big names in comics today are very easy to see, even though practically every creator enjoying success owes at least part of it to their forerunners, some of which haven’t gotten the proper respect in the public consciousness. Modern heavy-hitters like Jim Lee, Scott Snyder, Brian Michael Bendis, Jonathan Hickman, and Geoff Johns are all very competent creators with wonderful bodies of work, but a lot of that work is built on characters created by others. In this one-shot published by Fantagraphics, writer/artist Sergio Ponchione tries to shine a light on three creators who have forever shaped comics and graphic storytelling forever. If you’re someone who finds yourself as a newly minted comics fan and haven’t absorbed the work of Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby, or Wally Wood, you owe it to both yourself and your peers to dive into their extraordinary imaginations headfirst.

In this book, Ponchione creates three distinct mini-biographies of each of the three titular creators. Steve Ditko, the 87-year old living in New York City and focused solely on his work, is appropriately presented as a mysterious and enigmatic figure. Although Ditko is the co-creator of Spider-Man, designing the iconic costume and many of the timeless supporting characters himself, he is a notorious recluse. As directly mentioned in the Ditko porton of this issue, the last public photo that was taken of him, at least that we know about, was in 1959. In the age of Twitter and Instagram, that seems equally impressive and alarming. The Ditko portion is rendered in a familiar Ditko style as well, adding to the authenticity and grandeur of reading about one of the most brilliant and eccentric creators in all of comics. And you thought Alan Moore was a shut-in.

Jack Kirby’s work and impact was appropriately explored on the infinite canvas of space, and posits an interesting development for Kirby that sees his work continue on into the echoes of time and space. Ponchione’s theory for Kirby’s fate, up through today and beyond, is something that is so utterly Kirby-esque that I can barely contain my joy at the mere idea. Kirby, of course, was one of the single most important architects in the entirety of comics, creating or co-creating some of Marvel and DC’s most timeless characters, including Captain America, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, the Hulk, Nick Fury, and Darkseid. And that’s just to name a few. Ponchione’s love letter to Kirby is my favorite element of this story, but that doesn’t discount Ditko’s, nor does it discount the final profiled creator.

Wally Wood’s work can likely be summed up as “tragic brilliance.” Presenting the story of his life in an appropriately prose-filled section with art highlights rendered in his atmospheric and dimensional style, Ponchione really delves into what made Wood so unique in his prime, and ultimately the elements of a self-destructive lifestyle that ended up taking his life. He dedicated all of himself to being a science fiction storyteller, and given his legacy that was created in the prime of his career, it will be that which will define him for decades and centuries to come.

Panchione’s artwork is just as evocative of the profiled creators as the writing is reverent to them. As a celebration of some of the most important creators in this medium’s history, DKW gets nothing but the highest recommendation, and easily slides into the spot of the GeekNation Pull List’s Pick of the Week. Get your hands on this if you can find it, because it’s a win-win: if you’ve never or rarely heard these names, you’ll learn something valuable. If you’ve loved these creators’ work your entire life, then you’ll find a lot to love here. Excellent book. 10/10

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Honorable Mentions from Independents This Week: East of West #13, RoboCop #1

That does it for this week, but be sure to check out our brand new comics reviews on a new edition of the Pull List in seven days! Take care!

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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.