This week on the GeekNation Pull List: we take a look into the future of the DC Universe and Batman’s role in it, Spider-Man is locked in battle with Electro and Black Cat, and a cool new dog conquers new ground: high school! Check out this week’s comic book reviews below!
From DC: Batman: Future’s End #1 by Ray Fawkes (Script, Story), Scott Snyder (Story), and Aco (Art)
This month marks the third anniversary of DC Comics “New 52” line-wide relaunch, and as happens every September, there’s a massive event that puts the regular series numbering on hold. In 2012, September featured the #0 issues of every title, last September was “Villains Month,” and this year all of the books are releasing one-shots that tie into one of DC’s current weekly series, Future’s End. If you’ll remember back to an early May edition of the Pull List where we reviewed the series’ first issue, Future’s End deals with a massive calamity that will cause the deaths of nearly every major hero in the DC Universe. In order to put a stop to it, the sole remaining original hero, Bruce Wayne, sends his protege Terry McGinnis into the past to stop the events that will set that future in motion. The only problem is that Terry arrives too late: five years too late, which places his arrival five years ahead of the “current” timeline of all the DC titles.
With this month exploring where each of the featured characters are by the time the weekly series is moving, we get to see a unique look at what Bruce Wayne is up to…and a lot of it is no good. Having suffered a debilitating injury, Bruce only seems to be able to serve as Batman about 40 minutes at a time, and in order to even do that, he has to push its body to the absolute limit by using an exoskeletal spinal implant, and a lot of stimulants. Events are set in motion in this issue that he has no choice but to combat if he wants to secure his legacy, because he knows that a future for Gotham in this world is a future that needs Batman. The lengths he goes to here in order to accomplish that are not just desperate, they’re really impressive. Ray Fawkes’ script does a great job of keeping the suspense turned up to 11 throughout the whole thing, causing frantic page turning so you can see how Batman, in his current state, will manage to outdo the odds in ways that only he can. The result is that the book reads pretty quickly, but it still feels like a full experience.
The greatest thing about this issue as a big Batman fan is that his tactical mind is on full display here. In these precious few minutes where he can overcome his body’s physical failings, his mind is just as sharp as ever, and indeed needs to be in order to make it through a deadly maze created by one of the DC Universe’s most iconic villains. It’s a race against the clock where the future of both the planet and the Batman legacy are at stake, and in that regard the story feels like an accomplishment. Aco’s art is quite a departure from the main Batman title’s style at the hands of Greg Capullo, but it has an innate grittiness that feels perfectly in-step with the main character on display. When it comes to these seemingly arbitrary tie-ins, they don’t have to be good. Thankfully, Batman: Future’s End #1 is proof that they definitely can be, so it’s the GeekNation Pull List’s Pick of the Week. 8.5/10
Honorable Mentions from DC This Week: Superman: Unchained #8, Infinity Man and the Forever People: Future’s End #1
From Marvel: The Amazing Spider-Man #6 by Dan Slott (Script) and Humberto Ramos (Art)
Although he’s generally the most unlucky person in the entire Marvel Universe, Peter Parker actually seems to be in a pretty good place right now, oddly enough thanks in large part to the efforts of one of his greatest enemies. He’s at the head of his own company, nullifying his normally chronic financial woes, he’s back in line with teams like the Avengers, and he’s started to cultivate a group of friends that he can trust to help with carrying the burden of actually being Spider-Man. Since Dan Slott is writing the Webslinger’s ongoing adventures, though, it’s likely a matter of time before all of that falls down. This is far from an admonishment of the work of Mr. Slott in the seven years he’s been at the forefront of Spider-Man’s adventures – he just knows how to stack the deck in a way that’s exciting and very interesting.
The new Amazing Spider-Man series has been a welcome homecoming for Marvel’s (arguably) most popular hero, and the ups and downs that have befallen him since he got control of his body back from the mind of Dr. Octopus have mostly been comical. He’s unaware of most of what Doc Ock got up to in his stead, and that’s lead to some funny situations and misunderstandings. Unbeknownst to Peter at the time, though, one of the things that Ock did was viciously pursue Felicia Hardy, aka the Black Cat, and defeated her so badly that she’s come to resent Spider-Man and all that he represents. A normally playful and teasing friendship has devolved into a great animosity, which led to Spider-Man’s identity apparently being revealed on television (again) at the close of the last issue. Chances are that when you read the first few pages of this latest issue you’ll breathe a sigh of relief, but either way, this new antagonism between former friends and lovers has grown into a bitter rivalry, with Black Cat making it clear that she will not stop until Spider-Man is dead.
Making things a bit more complicated is the presence of Electro, with whom Cat has seemingly allied in an effort to take Spidey down. There’s a problem, though: Peter’s company may be at the forefront of something that Electro has been seeking for a very long time, namely a cure to his condition. Something that can make him normal again. The implications of that possibility factor heavily into the outcome of this issue, and that alone definitely makes it worth reading. Humberto Ramos’ artwork still brings the stylized and frenetic action to this book that’s become its modern hallmark, and I’m of the mind that The Amazing Spider-Man is one of the best solo titles from Marvel at the moment. It doesn’t quite have the epic stakes or broad strokes of a title like Uncanny Avengers, but this is a solid title in a classic Marvel tradition, making this issue easy to recommend. 8/10
Honorable Mentions from Marvel This Week: Captain Marvel #7, Death of Wolverine #2
From BOOM! Box: Teen Dog #1 by Jake Lawrence (Script/Art)
Every once in awhile, I’ve found it’s good for the soul to read a comic book or two that’s not necessarily written for someone in your age group (if you’re an adult, that is). It’s good to try and reconnect with humor that’s aimed at a younger audience, since you could find it refreshing, while also connecting with that fabled “inner child” that so many people seem to want to try and get in touch with. That’s what motivated me to pick up Jake Lawrence’s Teen Dog #1: it looked like something that I could’ve appreciated at 10 or 12 years old. This book definitely falls into that category, since its premise — a cool dog that goes to high school — is simple, to the point, and effective in making a string of stories that kids will easily be able to connect with.
The most surprising thing to me about Teen Dog was its format: instead of being a single 22-page story that reads continuously, it’s more like an anthology of newspaper strips. Each “story” is only 2-3 pages long, and several of them are packed into this first issue. That’s a lot of ideas and premises, but Lawrence cleverly still operates the structure of the book on a somewhat cumulative level, so that elements of previous stories that you’ve read can help pay off in other ones. According to the brief interview with the creator at the end of this issue, this is a trend that he’ll be carrying over into future issues of this series. It sounds like he’ll have fun layering in some ideas for future stories, which is always a good element to have.
The writing is simple, but you don’t want it to be complex when considering the target audience. Lawrence does everything he needs to do to connect with his prime audience: he does a good job with introducing the characters, the environment, the situations, and some funny elements of surrealism into the overarching story of Teen Dog. Whether it’s making friends, secret handshakes, getting along with teachers, driving those same teachers crazy, messy lockers, pizza day, or whatever it may be, Lawrence has a good grasp of the kinds of little tales he wants to spin for this dog. Something that struck me as kind of funny is that Teen Dog himself seems to be modeled on a sort of 80s-90s California surfer archetype, and we’re in 2014. It’s a little anachronistic, but it’s never distracting, nor is it bad. In a way, it kind of helps make the book feel timeless, which I can definitely appreciate.
Overall, Teen Dog #1 is a fun book that’s perfect for a kid. It has an overall pragmatic approach about school which is good for younger readers, but it never manages to lose a sense of fun momentum. If you have a kid that can empathize with a school-going dog who loves pizza, then Teen Dog is the book for you. 8.5/10
Honorable Mentions from Independents This Week: Black Market #3, East of West #15
That does it this week for the GeekNation Pull List, but be sure to leave any questions or suggestions in the comments below! We’ll see you in seven days with a new batch of reviews for the fresh ink on the stands!
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