This week on the GeekNation Pull List: Batman begins a journey across the DC Universe that he hopes ends with Robin at his side, Marvel’s event series continues with Nick Fury taking events to a whole other level, and a unique exploration of a world beyond death is created in a new independent book! Check out this week’s comic book reviews below!
From DC: Robin Rises: Omega #1 by Peter Tomasi (Script) and Andy Kubert (Art)
Just about a year ago, DC Comics shocked a lot of readers by announcing that Damian Wayne, the son of the Batman and the incumbent Boy Wonder, Robin, would die in the pages of Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham’s Batman Incorporated series. The lovable, deadly little bastard had only just learned how to be a kid, after spending his early life training under his grandfather and mother’s brutal League of Assassins, and it wasn’t until he was able to live and train under his father that he truly began to act his own age. There was still a lot of rage in the boy, though, and series like the New 52’s Batman and Robin emphasized that young Damian’s killer instincts may always be a part of him. While not tolerating murder as a general rule, in a moment of clarity Batman understood that Damian needed to be approached differently, both because the boy wanted to be a hero, and because he was Batman’s son.
Then, in Batman Incorporated, Damian directly disobeyed his father and ended up being killed. It was a heart-wrenching moment, and the aftermath of that occurrence saw Batman struggle with a new death in the family: first his parents, and now his son. Peter Tomasi’s Batman and Robin saw Batman go through a stage of denial, and try to bring the boy back from the jaws of death. After potentially making peace with the occurrence, though, we have arrived here: at the cryptically titled Robin Rises: Omega. The issue goes out of its way to relay all of Damian’s history, from the first encounter between Bruce, Ra’s al Ghul, and Talia, on up through the boy’s death. The issue then spends a great deal of its 38 pages on a battle, before using its aftermath to lead into the next issue of Batman & Robin, which will pick up the threads going forward.
Although you could make a decent argument that this issue doesn’t have a great deal of plot, it seemed to serve an important purpose, especially for readers who may jump into the new story: you get a great idea of both the love and admiration that Bruce has for his son, which gives a good baseline for how far Batman is willing to go to try and bring him back. There’s also some interesting back-and-forth between Batman and some of the new Justice League members, including Lex Luthor, that may make you smile especially considering some…recent encounters between the Dark Knight and Superman’s nemesis.
Andy Kubert returns to art chores for this issue, in some places recreating his work on Batman and Son from 2006, while also giving an awesome sense of visual continuity for the story of Damian. Kubert was Grant Morrison’s artist when the character was created, and its awesome seeing him here again, telling the beginning of the next story with the character. While this story will continue over the next several months in the Batman and Robin title, it will end this December in Robin Rises: Alpha #1. We’ll revisit it then in the Pull List, but for this opening shot, you’ll probably have a pretty good time. 8/10
Honorable Mentions from DC This Week: Teen Titans #1, Future’s End #11
From Marvel: Original Sin #6, by Jason Aaron (Script) and Mike Deodato (Art)
It’s really hard for me to contain just how much I’m enjoying Original Sin. As I’ve talked about in the past, normally crossover events are akin to blockbuster movies, except for the fact that they temporarily drive an entire line of other stories: there’s some flashy moments, some revelations, but things will always settle back down and get back to business as usual. More and more, though, Original Sin seems like it will have very lasting repercussions throughout the Marvel Universe that can’t simply be wiped away by the last page of the final issue. With what we’re learning about Nick Fury, his role in defending the planet, and about all the characters seems to be something that could stick around for awhile, and issue #6 pushes those notions forward.
While the last two issues of the series haven’t been as pounding as the previous four, by the end of issue #6 it starts to become apparent that those were, perhaps, our last chances to breathe before issues #7-8 kick the wind out of us once again. The stage is apparently set for events between Fury, Dr. Midas, and the Avengers to come to a head, and the question that Fury poses to his motley crew of assembled heroes looks like it’ll make for some very interesting events to unfold not just in this series, but in others that follow. What’s refreshing about Original Sin is that it continues to feel like an event with a greater meaning behind it than many other recent Marvel events, like Siege, Fear Itself, and Avengers vs. X-Men. A new role in the Marvel Universe will be created here, one way or another, and there’s a chance it may be filled by someone we may not expect. I like that possibility immensely.
Mike Deodato’s artwork continues to be spectacular for this series, giving a great deal of scale and emotional weight to the events that are transpiring. In the quieter moments, though, he also places the visual perspective close to the faces and in a way that gives a contemplative energy to the characters telling the story at any given time. In a type of story that can all too often rely on explosions and massive fights, Deodato helps to give the quieter events of this series a great deal of legitimacy.
All in all, I really feel like Original Sin is both unique and well-orchestrated even after issue #6. While things are likely about to get hairier in a more traditional sense for a big crossover event, it’s hard to go wrong with what the series has been producing thus far. 8/10
Honorable Mentions from Marvel This Week: Uncanny X-Men #23, Ms. Marvel #6
From Oni: The Life After by Joshua Hale Fialkov (Script) and Gabo (Art)
Stories that gravitate toward exploring some kind of hidden, unknown truth about life, or death, always prove to be interesting to me on some level. The creativity of the minds that tell the story, especially in a creator-owned comic book, virtually have no limits in trying to convey what they want to teach you about the unknown life, and the version of a life beyond…well, life, is explored expertly by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Gabo in their new independent book, The Life After.
Fialkov’s story begins by highlighting the crushing hopelessness that can come with continued mundanity. At some point, people may begin to notice a pattern in their lives and try and break it, or in the case of The Life After, to perhaps “wake up” from it. The main character goes on a journey that seems to both end — and begin — with death, after bearing witness to something he cannot understand. All because he decided that enough was enough, and it was time to do things a little differently than he or others had expected. That kind of message always tends to be one that excites my imagination, because it feels so well-rooted in true human desire. Why do we subscribe so heavily to things that are so easy to hate? The answers are obvious: to live, of course. But there is undoubtedly some damage done to our psyches by keeping ourselves tied to routines we can’t abide, but sometimes deviation from those routines can cause some very unexpected consequences — like being face-to-face with one of the planet’s most legendary writers, for instance.
The Life After gives a strong debut issue that builds a world where routine is the norm, and control by external forces is rampant. What’s perhaps more interesting than that, though, is how it ties the concept of life after death to the equivalency of “waking up” from lives that may be unfulfilling. I’ve heard of a life within a life, but actually escaping a pervasively mundane existence through dying — and still living — proves to be a very interesting setup for this new series going forward. The creative team does an excellent job of showing mundanity without getting bogged down by it in their attempt to relate it to the reader, and the issue’s exposition is clear enough to give us an idea of what the series will strive for, while also being vague enough to be very interesting. Gabo’s artwork emphasizes the human experience of the main character, Jude’s, most interesting new experiences, and the climax of the issue really does leave the door open for a brand new exploration of what The Life After really is in this world.
All in all, this is a very solid debut issue for this series and this team, and the interest its created easily makes this the GeekNation Pull Lis’s Pick of the Week. Give it a read, I think you’ll find it’ll take you on an interesting ride. 9/10
Honorable Mentions from Independents This Week: Star Trek: Special – Flesh and Stone #1, Lady Zorro #1
Thanks for checking out this week’s comic book reviews! Be sure to come back next week for a brand new edition of the GeekNation Pull List, and if you have any comments or suggestions, feel free to leave them below!
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