This week on the GeekNation Pull List, DC’s Villains Month is in its second week, with some great villain spotlights making it difficult to pick just one to highlight here! Meanwhile over at Marvel, a couple of line-wide crossovers are dominating the Marvel Universe, but I couldn’t help returning to a series that was touched upon in the first edition of this article two weeks ago.
A slew of top independent books didn’t make it any easier in picking a new issue from the rankings of those publishers, but I’ll do my best to give you three comics that you should definitely consider picking up this week. Let’s kick things off, shall we?
From DC: Batman #23.2: The Riddler by Scott Snyder (Plot), Ray Fawkes (Plot and Script), and Jeremy Haun (Pencils)
For fans of the Dark Knight, Villains Month might be a little painful since the regular story appearing in Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman title has been suspended until the titles go back to regular publication. That story, “Zero Year,” is a reimagining of Batman’s origin story, and how he went from an aimless, unfocused, and powerful young man into the force for good he was destined to become. “Zero Year” also features the first major adversary the Batman ever had to face: Edward Nygma, aka the Riddler.
In this issue taking place “today” (about four years after the events of “Zero Year”) and plotted by Snyder while being written by Ray Fawkes, Riddler seeks a challenge to his “superior intellect” by breaking into the most secured building in Gotham City: Wayne Enterprises. It quickly becomes clear that Riddler is also after a degree of revenge, focused on a figure he knew during his time inside Arkham Asylum. The issue is served up with a requisite number of Nygma’s signature brain teasers, and I found more than a few vocal similarities in Riddler to his depiction in the Arkham games, which is great as far as I’m concerned.
Jeremy Haun’s artwork has a stark quality that adds an interesting element of detachment to Riddler’s personality, and one particularly violent moment in the issue is made all the more horrific almost because of Riddler’s lack of emotional reaction. He’s not crazy, per se, as much as he is just cruel. While it’s not quite as internally descriptive as I would’ve liked, I imagine much of the exploration of New 52 Riddler’s mind is reserved for the pages of “Zero Year,” but either way, this made for a good read that only heightens the anticipation for that first time Nygma crosses paths with the Batman. 8/10
Honorable Mentions from DC This Week: Action Comics #23.2: Zod, Aquaman #23.1: Black Manta
From Marvel: Captain America #11, by Rick Remender (Script) and Carlos Pacheco (Pencils)
After issue #10’s conclusion to the story taking place in Arnim Zola’s “Dimension Z,” Steve Rogers has come back home to New York City on Earth. The problem, though, is that after spending over a dozen relative years in such a different and separate world, he’s got a difficult time of adjustment ahead of him. Issue #11 features Cap not only coming to terms with newfound comforts he’d been cut off from for the last dozen years (oddly reminiscent of the end of the film Castaway), but also readjusting to a world that had only been without him for minutes.
While Remender is definitely taking a bit of a different direction with the character, and a wildly different one from the definitive Ed Brubaker run, there are a few elements that unsettled me. The ending of this issue, particularly, seemed out of character for Steve Rogers, especially considering the conflict that has defined him since he first became an Avenger in the 1960s. The ending left me cold, but since this is the beginning of a new story, I’ll do my best to keep an open mind.
Carlos Pacheco is a penciller that I really admire, and have since I was first exposed to his work when he was the regular penciller on Superman with writer Kurt Busiek in 2006. When I heard he was going to succeed John Romita Jr. as the artist on Captain America, my favorite Marvel character, I had a little bit of a “geekgasm.” Having said that, while the pencils are good, there’s something about the coloring that doesn’t quite amp it up to the quality I’ve expected from Pacheco in the past, perhaps because it was very much in-line with Romita’s artwork from the first ten issues. That style of color works far better for Romita than it does for Pacheco, and hopefully future issues can reflect that. 7/10
Honorable Mentions from Marvel This Week: Avengers #19, Indestructible Hulk #13
From Image: The Manhattan Projects #14, by Jonathan Hickman (Script) and Nick Pitarra (Art)
Probably one of the absolute best independent books on the market, The Manhattan Projects is an awesome alternate history surrounding the government initiative that created the atom bomb. What this series posits is that the Manhattan Project that we all know about was just the tip of the iceberg: it was actually a series of government-funded projects that look into things like time travel, interdimensional probing, and a whole host of other fringe sci-fi madness.
For the last year, it’s also ranked consistently among some of the best reviewed independent offerings since its premiere issue. Writer Jonathan Hickman, through his independent work, has helped showcase his diverse, high-concept talents. As the guy in charge of the Avengers titles and the current Infinity crossover at Marvel, he also simultaneously churns out really potent and high-caliber creator-owned work. Issue #14 sees a degree of fracturing within the characters of the Manhattan Projects, and it sets up a conflict for the future that all longtime readers have been waiting to see for a while.
Nick Pitarra’s artwork is a perfect complement to the written work of Hickman, with its high level of detail and a fair amount of grittiness speaking to some of the more vindictive personalities at play in the ongoing narrative. If you haven’t checked the series out, not only do I recommend the latest issue, but you should definitely seek out the Volume 1 collected edition and give it a try. I think you’ll be glad you did. 8/10
Honorable Mentions from Independents This Week: Locke & Key: Alpha #1, Walking Dead #114
I hope you enjoyed the Pull List this week. Did any of these make YOUR pull list? Be sure to leave your comments below, especially if you think I missed something awesome from this week! We’ll see you in seven days for the next installment of our Pull List, right here at GeekNation!
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