This week on the GeekNation Pull List: Future’s End gives us another look at what’s to come for the Dark Knight, the looming Spider-Verse event introduces us to another universe’s web slinger, and a young girl with an interesting magical back story tells us what it’s like to try and be normal! Check out this week’s comic book reviews!
From DC – Batman and Robin: Future’s End #1 by Ray Fawkes (Script) and Dustin Nguyen (Art)
Although last week’s comic was also a Future’s End Batman issue, the cover for this one suckered me in right away. The beautiful mug that’s plastered on it is that of the Heretic, otherwise known as the murderer of Damian Wayne/Robin in Grant Morrison’s Batman Incorporated series. In a lot of ways, Bruce Wayne is still feeling the death of his son, and the current regular storyline in the Batman and Robin title sees all of those elements come to a head, as Batman will have a new Robin by his side at the end of it. Whether that’s a resurrected Damian or someone entirely new remains to be seen, but either way, the Heretic is one of the few enemies of the Dark Knight that can garner such a visceral emotional reaction out of him. Unfortunately for us in reading this issue, we don’t actually get a whole lot of answers. The appearance of the Heretic is little more than a means to provide a brutal and intense fight, where the physically impaired Batman has to struggle for his life against the immense strength and ferocity of the Heretic.
That’s not to say that this isn’t a good comic book reading experience, because it certainly is. There’s just not a whole lot of substance here. Fawkes’ script does an excellent job in creating an intense string of suspense that effectively runs from the first page of this story to the last, and makes this one quite the page turner. He also introduces us to the Robin of this point in the future, which in all likelihood isn’t the Robin that Batman will end up with at the end of the “Robin Rises” story, but this “Duke” character certainly lives up to the legacy that he’s embodying. While we’re not given a whole lot of time to connect with the new character in the story, we’re definitely given enough of a perspective on him to know that he’s a solid and worthy Robin.
The artwork in this issue is handled by Dustin Nguyen, one of Paul Dini’s best collaborators on that writer’s definitive run on Detective Comics. The result is a solid outlook on layouts and dynamic action, and they likely couldn’t have chosen anyone better. Overall, while this issue isn’t exactly the highest when it comes to substance, it’s definitely an exciting read, and an interesting look into the future operations of Gotham and Batman himself. 8/10
Honorable Mentions from DC This Week: The Multiversity: The Society of Super-Heroes -Conquerors of the Counter-World #1, Justice League: Future’s End #1
From Marvel: Edge of Spider-Verse #2 by Jason Latour (Script) and Robbi Rodriguez (Art)
The origin of Spider-Man is one of the most fabled tales in the entire publication history of Marvel Comics. The story crafted by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in 1962’s Amazing Fantasy #15 was a truly resonant one, simplistic by today’s standards, but giving a great constitution to what would become arguably Marvel’s most popular single superhero. Seeing that tale reworked is relatively commonplace in modern superhero comics, whether it’s a story that seeks to put a familiar character in unfamiliar situations, or putting someone else entirely into the position of the major hero, strength of core concept helps to illustrate how right on Lee and Ditko originally were when crafting the origin of Peter Parker. With the massive Spider-Verse event coming later this year from Marvel, which will see Spider-Men (and women) from many different universes come together to join the original hero, Edge of Spider-Verse has a goal as a series to give us a pre-release tour of some of the new iterations of the web slinger we’ll encounter.
This issue is effective for a couple of different reasons, the primary ones being that it creatively remixes the rock solid origin story of Spidey, and applies it to one of his most timeless supporting characters: Gwen Stacy. In this universe, it’s Gwen, not Peter, who gets bitten by a radioactive spider and becomes Spider-Woman. Parker, on the other hand, meets a very different fate than what we’re normally accustomed to, and serves as a primary catalyst for Gwen’s ultimate realization of how she must use her new abilities in this world. While the actual moment of her being bitten is a litle simple and too easily dismissive of its own importance, the rest of the issue is a clever remix of the status quo in Spidey’s New York, and makes for a fun issue.
Robbi Rodriguez’s artwork was very striking to me. It seemed to have a very pastel kind of feel to it, and while there was a fair amount of stylization in the overall layout and anatomy of the characters, it was a solid look overall, and the design of Gwen’s Spider-Woman costume is really cool. Overall, I’m really looking forward to seeing how this Spider-Woman interacts with the original Spider-Man, and can’t wait to see what kinds of circumstances will bring all of these disparate characters together for one massive event. 8.5/10
Honorable Mentions from Marvel This Week: All-New X-Men #32, Avengers #35
From Image: Oddly Normal #1 by Otis Frampton (Script/Art)
As most people who started life as children (which should be most of you) can likely agree, childhood can be uniquely cruel. Ever since I technically became an “adult,” I’ve been a little surprised at how nice people have become, since it seemed throughout my time in elementary and middle school, it was pretty normal to be on the defensive from something, or at least someone. Children are really mean to each other, often creating sometimes cruel social ladders and cliques when they aren’t even aware of it, and if a kid has something “abnormal” about them then they almost always find themselves being picked on as a result. Otis Frampton’s Oddly Normal #1 manages to get across just how mean kids can be to each other in the opening pages of his new book, since a young girl with green hair and pointed ears would likely be ridiculed a little too much in the hallways between classes.
In the end, though, Oddly Normal is about a young girl trying to cope with being different, and ultimately, learning the consequences of her actions. Frampton manages to keep a cutely sardonic sense of humor very present in Oddly’s young worldview. Frampton manages to create a shockingly complete portrait of this character through an excellent use of pathos, helping to define what her needs are moving forward, as well as he burden she seems to carry being so different. She’s not broken by her differences though, and this still manages to be a fun and funny read in places because of her pragmatic approaches to her detractors and her own family life. There is an element of tragedy here, though, because she feels like she isn’t heard by the two people who need to be taking notice of her problems the most: her parents. That being said, Frampton has manages to create an endlessly interesting heroine for this story who has a great deal of fortitude, and the final page of this issue will certainly put that fortitude to the test.
Frampton is also responsible for the artwork in the issue, and he does a spectacular job. From a relatively cartoonish take on character design, it’s easy to look deeper and see the great attention to emotional conveyance he pays to each character. Overall, Oddly Normal is a fantastic first issue, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store next for this new character. This is easily the GeekNation Pull List’s Pick of the Week, and I highly encourage you to pick it up. 9/10
Honorable Mentions from Independents This Week: George Perez’s Sirens #1, God is Dead #20
That does it for this week, but be sure to check out next week’s comic book reviews in the next edition of the GeekNation Pull List!
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