This week on the GeekNation Pull List: The Man of Steel debuts the latest adventure from his newest creative team, Peter Parker swings back into the Marvel Universe with the return of The Amazing Spider-Man, and Khan Noonien Singh continues his harrowing tale leading up to the events of Star Trek Into Darkness! Read on for this week’s comic book reviews!
From DC: Action Comics #26 by Greg Pak (Script) and Aaron Kuder (Art)
Last month saw the debut of the new creative team on Action Comics with a tie-in to the Batman story “Zero Year.” Taking place some six years in the past, we got to see what the young Superman’s response to the events in Gotham were, and how they would affect his early career as the Man of Steel. This month, Action jumps back into the present, with the new creative team telling a story taking place in the DC Universe’s here and now, and showing some great character moments for the world’s first superhero.
Hopefully, most of you have seen the Man of Steel film by now. If so, you know what happens at the end of the film (if you don’t then look away now), where Superman is given no choice but to kill General Zod in order to stop his rampage across Metropolis. This was highly polarizing for the established fans and new fans that were brought in by the film, because that single act clashed with the sensibilities of many comic book fans who staunchly believe that Superman should not kill, ever.
Being the fan of the character that I am, I tend to agree with that stance, but I also understand that a rookie Superman may need a visceral experience to push him into that ultimate line of thinking, and I think the climax to Man of Steel provided that. In a way, Action Comics #26 feels like a kind of response to the end of the most recent film, because Superman is pitted against a monstrous creature that seems to know nothing but the language of violence. Pak takes us on a journey to help explain why Superman deals with the creature the way that he does, even invoking a heartbreaking moment from his childhood that leads him to his ultimate decision.
For the moment depicted, I’ll say this: it’s totally Superman. This issue does nothing but increase my anticipation for the next, and for the first time in a while, I feel like at least one of the solo Superman books is on the right track. Aaron Kuder’s artwork provides a great amount of kinetic fun, but he’s also a master of expression of emotion in the moment of a scene, both on the faces of the characters and in the way that his panel shots are composed. I’m very happy with this issue, and greatly look forward to what comes next. 9/10
Honorable Mentions from DC This Week: Batman/Superman #6, Earth 2 #18
From Marvel: The Amazing Spider-Man #700.1 by David Morrell (Script) and Klaus Janson (Art)
Late last year, Marvel did the unthinkable and killed Peter Parker.
Well…maybe not the unthinkable, since both major comic book publishers have killed their fair share of characters only to bring them back a while later. This story felt different though, since not only was Peter dead and gone as far as we knew, one of his most diabolical enemies had started to inhabit his body. Worse yet, nobody in the Marvel Universe knew about it! This gave birth to the series known as The Superior Spider-Man, which sees Doctor Octopus actually carry on being Spidey while inhabiting Peter’s body. It’s been a successful series, but fans have been regularly speculating on when Peter will end up making his triumphant return to his red and blue tights.
The Amazing Spider-Man hasn’t been an active Marvel Comics title since issue #700 that saw Peter’s demise. This month, though, Peter is back starring in a new story as the one, true Amazing Spider-Man, but if Marvel is gearing up for Peter’s return, then you’d never know it by reading this issue. Not only does it make no mention of the still-active Superior Spider-Man title either in past or present tense, but several characters are simply not where they should be, or are missing entirely.
So what does that mean for this issue? Off the top of my head, I’m not sure what the significance is of telling this story under the title of The Amazing Spider-Man, because it reads like a Spidey story that could be told at most points in the character’s history. Right now, it just seems like an untold tale from the past that we’re just now getting to experience.
Taking place right before a massive snowstorm in New York, we get to see a bit more of the somber side of Peter Parker, who seems to be looking on his activities as the Webslinger with a degree of futility. He’s getting drained, emotionally and physically, by the routine of it all, and it’s not until disaster strikes a little too close to home at the end of this issue that he finds some of his resolve to actually do what needs to be done, and step up as Spider-Man.
David Morrell’s (Yes, First Blood David Morrell) story is very tight, and very interesting. He’s abandoned the more typical tropes of the wisecracking Peter Parker to dig in a little more to the man’s soul, and exactly what motivates his sense of duty to New York. Klaus Janson’s artwork, while gloomy, manages to be clean and even beautiful in the depictions of a snowed-in Big Apple. Is Marvel getting ready to give Peter Parker back to the Marvel Universe? It’ll be interesting to see, but even if that’s not the case, this was a solid issue that I’m glad I read. 8/10
Honorable Mentions from Marvel This Week: Inhumanity #1, Amazing X-Men #2
From IDW: Star Trek: Khan #3 by Mike Johnson (Script), David Messina (“Present” Art), and Claudia Balboni (“Past” Art)
Seeing the rather familiar story of Khan Noonien Singh play out in comic book form is a lot of fun, but also even more interesting since this is the first, truly in-depth look at the character’s past in the history of the Star Trek canon. The nature of the creation of the alternate reality in the 2009 film means that up until the point where he’s awoken by Admiral Marcus before the events of Into Darkness, the history portrayed here counts for both the Ricardo Monatlban and Benedict Cumberbatch iterations of Khan. For a Trek continuity nerd, that’s awesome.
The story itself, though, is a tragic one. Although Khan is definitely a tyrant, you can also see that he treats his people very well, especially when compared with the other genetically augmented leaders that have managed to take control of the Earth’s governments. Khan and his followers are content to find a new home among the stars until they are rudely awoken, and this story definitely gives a lot more weight to Khan’s words at the end of the new film as he’s crushing Admiral Marcus’ skull: “You should have let me sleep!”
The next issue in this story will be the point where the true revelations will come about: why does Khan look and sound so different than he did on Earth? What exactly did Section 31 say and do to recruit Khan, and start the chain of events that lead to Star Trek Into Darkness? Did Khan ever really believe in what he was doing, or did his tyrannical desire for total control force Admiral Marcus’ hand in trying to exert his own power over the augmented man? Issue #4 should be full of a lot of interesting answers in a series that has proven to be stellar thus far.
David Messina provided just a couple of pages of “present” artwork (meaning future, since this is a flashback), setting up the trial of Khan as he continues to give his side of the story. Claudia Balboni’s artwork for the “past” segments does an excellent job in representing the Montalban iteration of the Khan character, as well as invoking some of the aesthetics for the characters and era established by “Space Seed,” the original Star Trek episode that Khan first appeared in. Mike Johnson’s story is one that takes the best elements of what we know of Khan from Star Trek continuity and expands them without feeling like overkill, and it’s great fun seeing the story of, arguably, Trek’s greatest villain play out in a new medium. I’m greatly looking forward to issue #4, since the standard set by these three continues to increase with each issue. 8.5/10
Honorable Mentions from Independents This Week: Velvet #3, The Star Wars #4
That does it for this week on the GeekNation Pull List! Be sure to come back in seven days as we check in on some of the best comic book releases for next week!
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