Welcome back to the GeekNation Pull List! This week seems like a big one for event comics, since DC, Marvel, and even Dark Horse have all launched series that you might qualify as blockbuster titles. At DC, this week saw the beginning of “Villains Month,” where the company is actually suspending it’s regular publications throughout September and instead releasing a series of 52 one-shots featuring the bad guys of the DC Universe. This all surrounds their encompassing event series, the first time we’ve seen a major company crossover at DC since they started with the “New 52” back in September of 2011.
Over at Marvel, the Infinity series is still encompassing the Avengers titles, but a new crossover event begins this week on the other side of the Marvel Universe with the X-Men. And at Dark Horse this week, the first issue of a new limited series was released that gives a whole new perspective on an old, very beloved story.
So, without further ado, here are the picks of the GeekNation Pull List this week!
From DC: Forever Evil #1 by Geoff Johns and David Finch
While DC has had a great deal of high-profile series emerge from their universe-wide relaunch in the New 52, they actually managed to stay away from the big crossover events for two solid years. While there were “spiritual” crossovers like last years release of a plethora of #0 issues, and specific character-focused crossovers in the Batman, Superman, and Green Lantern titles, they’ve decided to dive back into the business of universe-spanning events, and they’ve done it in quite a big way.
Hot off the heels of last week’s Justice League #23, which saw the return of the alternate Earth Crime Syndicate, Forever Evil begins with Ultraman, Owlman, and Superwoman boldly claiming that the Justice League is dead, and a new order is about to take hold. That order is the Secret Society, a New 52 revival of the Secret Society of Super-Villains, where the most powerful antagonists of the DC Universe joined together in common pursuit of the destruction of the Justice League. Forever Evil‘s Crime Syndicate takes that notion and places it on proverbial steroids, with the Society now actually serving as a new regime for the planet Earth. While an army of villains join up with the society quickly, there are a couple of holdouts, a particular (and ominous) absence, and a great moment with a very unlikely person saying that the Society’s arrival is, “a job for Superman.”
Writer Geoff Johns has often excelled where DC’s villains are concerned, with particular greatness coming in his voices for the Flash’s Rogues and of Lex Luthor. Artist Davd Finch is bringing his gritty visuals to bear here, and it’s hard to think of a series to which he can be better suited. While I’m not too sure of what to think about a moment featuring one of my absolute favorite supporting characters in Batman’s world (the internet will likely be lit up with it soon enough), Forever Evil #1 proved to be a very solid start in an unsure world, where even some villains may recognize that there’s value in the existence of the Justice League. 9/10
Honorable Mentions at DC This Week: Superman #23.1: Bizarro, Batman and Robin #23.1: Two-Face
From Marvel: X-Men: Battle of the Atom #1 by Brian Michael Bendis, Frank Cho, and Stuart Immonen
While DC has practiced a lot of restraint in the last couple of years with their employment of crossovers, Marvel never really has. This isn’t a bad thing if the stories are worth reading, and the first chapter of Battle of the Atom definitely looks like it may be worth giving it a shot. When All-New X-Men began last year, the Marvel U was in disarray. In the wake of Avengers vs. X-Men, Professor X was killed, and Cyclops had become something of a radical mutant revolutionary, even having made friends with the likes of Magneto. While Wolverine leads the group of X-Men occupying the new Jean Grey School for Higher Learning, Cyclops and his allies have had to go underground, since the former leader of the X-Men is wanted by humans, mutants, and even Avengers for the murder of Professor X.
X-Man Beast, sensing that his former friend had gone astray, went back in time to bring the original X-Men lineup (Cyclops, Jean Grey, Beast, Iceman, and Angel) into the future in hopes that the younger Cyclops may be able to talk some sense into his older self. Since then, the modern X-Men have been shellshocked in interacting with the classic team, especially since Jean Grey is sort of alive again.
Battle of the Atom seems to bring all of these events to quite a head. In the course of the first issue, one of the classic X-Men gets caught in some mortal danger, which briefly erases one of the modern X-Men from existence. This causes quite a stir in the ranks, with the modern team feeling that the time for the classic group in their future has come to an end and that they need to return home. The only problem is that most of them don’t want to go home, and when they see what the future may hold if they do in fact leave, events are set in motion that could change the fate of the X-Men forever.
One thing that made me happy about this issue is that writer Brian Bendis decided to pace himself. Some previous events written by him have tended to overload the reader with too much too fast, but Battle of the Atom #1 feels like it has a good flow, which I found refreshing. Artists Frank Cho and Stuart Immonen always create pages that are gorgeous in their own unique ways, and this issue is no exception. Check out the first issue, and if you like it then the story continues across multiple X-Men titles over the next month. 8/10
Honorable Mentions at Marvel This Week: Infinity #2, Superior Spider-Man #17
From Dark Horse: The Star Wars #1 by J.W. Rinzler and Mike Mayhew, Adapted from the Screenplay by George Lucas
It’s plain to see that whether you’re a diehard fan or a vehement detractor, Star Wars is a cultural phenomenon. The original trilogy’s story of a son trying to redeem his father resonates with millions of people the world over, and the creation of such classic cinematic icons as Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Darth Vader, Princess Leia, and so many other encapsulates what allows the Star Wars universe to persist.
From the looks of this comic, though, it came from some wildly different beginnings.
Sure, the concept is the same. Wars in the stars! But the amount of changes to the specific details in the original conception of the space opera are downright surprising. Luke Skywalker, that character we know so well from A New Hope as a curious and promising young farm boy appears here as an old, grizzled “Jedi-Bendu” general ready to wage war against the Empire. Annikin Starkiller appears here not as an antagonist or even as the fabled Jedi of the Clone Wars, but as a young man who lost his brother, ready to learn from Skywalker. Darth Vader is present as well, but he’s far more human than we’re used to seeing him, and every word that comes out of his mouth is dripping with even more resentment and sardonic mockery. Overall, the whole affair feels closer to the types of spacefaring serials that Lucas would’ve watched in his youth. The first issue of this adaptation begins to tell a story that feels somewhat familiar, but it has a ways to go before we start to put some of the more specific pieces of plot together.
Writer J.W. Rinzler certainly has his work cut out for him, but as this is an adaptation it’s hard to see how much of his own voice has come through the rough-draft script of Lucas’, especially since there are several moments where the dialogue shows definite signs of Lucas’ writing. Artist Mike Mayhew was a fabulous choice to bring this story to life, since his style is photorealistic enough to make your jaw drop, and stylized enough that you believe in the high-concept world he’s helping to bring to life. This book will be an interesting experiment as time goes on, and according to the people at Dark Horse, has George Lucas’s full blessing for what Star Wars might’ve been. Right now I’m inclined to believe that everything ultimately worked out for the best, but a comic like this has the potential to change my mind as time goes on. 7/10
Honorable Mentions from Independents This Week: Black Bat #5, Chew #36
That does it this week for the GeekNation Pull List! Did you pick up a book that you feel should’ve been one of our picks? Have you read any of this week’s choices? Leave a comment below, and we’ll see you right back here next week!
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