This week on the GeekNation Pull List: Batman returns to the present day and follows the Dark Knight tracking a mysterious killer, Original Sin‘s penultimate chapter leaves many of the Marvel heroes breathless, and an insane Star Trek crossover sees the new Captain Kirk square off against “Deep Space Nine” character Gul Dukat! Check out this week’s comic book reviews below!
From DC: Batman #34 by Scott Snyder (Story), Gerry Duggan (Story & Script), and Matteo Scalera (Art)
The first post-“Zero Year” issue of Batman takes us through a “done-in-one” tale about a new murderer on the loose in Gotham City that has very interesting…shall we say, appetites. His victims aren’t the most visible people in Gotham City, so this killer mistakenly thought that he couldn’t possibly attract the attention of the city’s foremost crime fighter. But when some of the victims are patients of one of Batman’s dearest friends – namely Dr. Leslie Thompkins – it very much becomes the business of the Dark Knight. This issue of Batman has a bit of a different feel to it, largely because writer Scott Snyder only plots this issue while leaving the actual scripting duties to writer Gerry Duggan, whose last major comic book work has been in co-writing Marvel’s Deadpool with comedian Brian Posehn. Batman, obviously, has a very different tone from the book that features Marvel’s Merc with a Mouth, but for the most part the script manages to keep to the overall tonal structure of previous issues. Just because Snyder doesn’t actually script this issue doesn’t mean that his influence isn’t felt, either. This is an issue that drives forward more horror than outright superhero/detective action, and Duggan certainly helps to keep things together with a pretty tight script.
One place that the pacing kind of trips up here, though, is in the compulsory mention of events happening in the currently running weekly series Batman Eternal. It stops the momentum cold in its tracks as Batman recounts what’s happened to the likes of Catwoman, Commissioner Gordon, and with the Gotham Police, before moving on once again with no other mention or thematic tie-in in the rest of the issue. As a regular Batman reader who’s decided to check out of reading Eternal (and I suspect I’m not the only one), that two-page splash was rather meaningless, outside of the nicely composed artwork by Matteo Scalera.
Speaking of which, Scalera does a very nice job with his work in this issue. His overall style is far from the aesthetic of regular series artist Greg Capullo, but it doesn’t seem all that dissimilar from another different but great Batman artist in Dustin Nguyen. Lee Loughridge’s colors are also stark and give the environments and characters a somewhat detached feeling, which is a good thing in that it adds to the overall creepiness of this new killer and his actions.
Overall, Batman #34 is a good issue, but its pacing was stopped nearly dead in its tracks by the continually running train of Batman Eternal. Next month, the entire DC Universe will stop in its tracks to tie-in to its other weekly series, but who knows? Maybe we’ll get something memorable out of it. 8/10
Honorable Mentions from DC This Week: Superman/Wonder Woman #11, Batgirl #34
From Marvel: Original Sin #7 by Jason Aaron (Script) and Mike Deodato (Art)
The event train keeps running through the Marvel Universe in the form of Original Sin, but this is one event that has continually surprised me over the past seven issues, with the latest one being no exception. We’re almost to the end of the road with this series, and the creative team seems to be pulling out all the stops in order to make as big a splash as possible as we barrel toward the conclusion of the series. Nick Fury’s secrets and lies have reached a fever pitch with the Avengers and many of the other Marvel heroes, and it looks like the secrets that Fury has been exposed to have given him a distinct advantage as this series starts coming to a close.
One of the continually refreshing things about Aaron’s story in Original Sin is that it feels substantive. Not only is it a knock-down, drag-out action fest in many of the issues, but it ties through Marvel Universe history in a way that feels very satisfying. It retcons a few things, which in general can be a bad idea, but Aaron adds some interesting and unique elements to the history of Nick Fury, and Original Sin has been far more of a Fury-centric story than I expected it to be. For a while there, it seemed as if Marvel was sort of brushing Fury under the rug in favor of Nick Fury, Jr., a newer version of the character patterned on Samuel L. Jackson’s portrayal in the Marvel Studios films, as well as the Ultimate imprint’s incarnation of the character. While Fury, Jr. has seen an interesting arc in his appearances thus far (particularly as a member of the Secret Avengers), the history and relationships established by the original version of the character are not so easily pushed aside, and Aaron is giving great credence to the character if, indeed, this is his last hurrah (for a while, anyway).
At this point, I’m running out of positive adjectives to assign to Mike Deodato’s awesome artwork on this series, a trend he easily continues into the seventh issue. Environments are varied and vast, characters are emotive, and all the action is very dynamic. Deodato’s talent with action can sometimes make you question whether or not you’re looking at static images, since the flow of the action moves so well between the layouts and pages that it sometimes feels like it’s moving. Crazy, I know, but he’s very good at what he does, and I’m extremely pleased that Marvel had the confidence in him to show his work off in a high profile series like this one. He never disappoints.
With only one issue to go, Aaron and Deodato have the task to bring the whole story home in time for the completion of issue #8. That doesn’t seem like it’ll be a small feat considering what issue #7 ends with, but if the prior issues are any indication then this is just the team to get the job done. 8.5/10
Honorable Mentions from Marvel This Week: Amazing Spider-Man #5, Hulk #5
From IDW: Star Trek Ongoing #36 by Roberto Orci (Consultant), Mike Johnson (Story/Script), and Tony Shasteen (Art)
“The Q Gambit” is a story of a hardcore Star Trek fan’s dream. Not only did we get to see more of Q and Ambassador Jean-Luc Picard in the first issue of the story, but we now get to see that irreverent omnipotent being actually clash with the new crew of the Starship Enterprise that first sailed across the stars in J.J. Abrams’ 2009 film. The end of the last issue certainly raised the crossover stakes by a great deal, though, when the Enterprise was met face-to-face with station Deep Space Nine.
There’s just one problem: this issue makes it pretty clear that this is not the DS9 that we got to know over seven seasons of the TV series. No, apparently the new Enterprise has been flung forward in time into their own future, meaning that this is the 24th century of the alternate reality established by the 2009 film, and as soon as Q flung them forward in time, the ship disappeared from history. The result appears to be that the terrifying antagonists from the latter half of Deep Space Nine, the Dominion, with whom the Federation engaged in a brutal war, has actually grabbed power. DS9 is known as Terok Nor, and the Cardassian/Dominion alliance has found quite an interesting prize appear on their doorstep in the form of an historical relic: the Enterprise.
This issue is filled with interactions that I’ve always been curious about: Enterprise vs. Jem’Hadar, Kirk vs. Dukat, Spock and the Dominion, and there are a great deal of elements here to satisfy Star Trek fans who have enjoyed the other series in addition to the new films. Does that make it new-reader friendly? Well, not exactly, but considering the storytelling potential that this series seems to be going for with this new story, the truth of the matter is that compelling storytelling reaches across the lines of “new” and “old” Trek fans. This is good, cosmic sci-fi that utilizes elements of the Trek universe that have laid dormant for too long, and in that respect, “The Q Gambit” is a refreshing and unique story thus far.
Tony Shasteen’s artwork may look a little rough around the edges, but his ability to recreate the likenesses of all of the principal cast members is downright astonishing. From Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, and Anton Yelchin, on down to Marc Alaimo’s Gul Dukat, Avery Brooks’ Benjamin Sisko, and even Rene Auberjonois’ Odo, even to John de Lancie’s Q, the artist has a command of capturing photorealistic versions of their likenesses as we knew them on the various Star Trek series. This gives the whole story a ring of authenticity that only adds to the enjoyment, and makes this an extremely fun moment for Trek fans. This story has been terrific thus far, is easily the GeekNation Pull List’s Pick of the Week, and if you like Star Trek even a little bit, I highly recommend it. 9/10
Honorable Mentions from Independents This Week: Sex Criminals #7, Judge Dredd – Anderson: Psi-Division #1
That does it this week on the Pull List! Be sure to leave any comments or suggestions for future reviews in the section below, and we’ll see you in seven days with another fresh batch of comics reviews!
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