Another week has gone by, which means there are more new comics on the racks! This week on the Pull List, Villains Month concludes at DC and goes out with a bang with a massive profile on the unstoppable monster that killed the Man of Steel. At Marvel, Infinity and Battle of the Atom rage in the respective Avengers and X-Men books, but the title that unites those two worlds seems to be building to something bigger than the current crossovers, if this week’s issue is any indication. On the independent front this week, Image comes out again with both arms swinging, letting a proven creator in both the creator-owned and superheroic worlds tell a brand new story that delves deeply into some…provocative territory. See the detailed looks at each of our picks in the reviews below!
From DC: Batman/Superman #3.1: Doomsday by Greg Pak (Script) and Brett Booth (Pencils)
When you’re a big comic book fan, most of the time the villains’ names that you might spout off fall on clueless ears. Not many people are aware of names like Kang the Conquerer, Professor Zoom, Cassandra Nova, or Black Hand. The realm of superhero comics and their villains is so vast that fans will always be far more aware of certain characters than the mainstream. Comic book movies are definitely giving people a lot more recognition for certain villains, with Red Skull, Loki, Talia al Ghul, and Faora being some that more people are aware of due to their appearances in some high-profile comics films. What about, though, some villains that many people are aware of, but that haven’t been adapted into a big budget motion picture? The list of characters like that isn’t very long, but one of the names on it is definitely Doomsday.
Because the Death of Superman was one of those rare giant media events in comics not tied to any film or television release, and because the actual issue where Superman died sold over 3 million copies, Doomsday, in many ways, is in a class all his own. While certain attempts were made for a very long time to get the story that made him famous turned into a feature film, they never panned out, but this has done very little to dampen his recognition by the public. Most people aware of the fact that Superman died 20 years ago in the comics are also aware that the monstrous behemoth that perpetrated that act was called Doomsday.
When the New 52 initiative started in September of 2011, it seemed like much of DC continuity was thrown into question. A lot of things that had happened in the past were now gone, but a few events stuck around. One of those events, as we found out in Scott Snyder’s Swamp Thing #1, was the death of Superman. Still, because Superman did die at some point in the past doesn’t mean that it happened the same way. Through the prism of a Kryptonian prophecy seen in this issue, though, we probably have a far better idea of how it actually went down.
Writer Greg Pak tells us about Doomsday largely on Krypton, and manages to tie it in a little bit with his previous Villains Month profile issue for General Zod. As the incoming writer on Action Comics in November, he seems to already be building what the Superman world is going to look like when he comes in to play around with it, and the way that he’s moving the pieces seems both interesting and dangerous for the Man of Steel. Artist Brett Booth is no stranger to dynamic action in the DCU, having come off of titles like Teen Titans and Justice League of America. This was a surprisingly awesome issue, and while you might expect an overbearing amount of explosions and craters where Doomsday is concerned, you might be surprised at how nuanced the story ends up being. 8/10
Honorable Mentions at DC This Week: Justice League #23.4: Secret Society, Aquaman #23.2: Ocean Master
From Marvel: Uncanny Avengers #12 by Rick Remender (Script) and Salvador Larroca (Art)
Uncanny Avengers was the kind of title I really always wanted from Marvel. In the wake of the reverberating Avengers vs. X-Men event, Captain America comes to the very logical conclusion that the gap between the mutants and other superpowered beings in the Marvel U had grown way too far apart, and so he decides to create a new team consisting of both Avengers and X-Men. The first 4-issue arc out of the title took that notion and ran with it, since a classic theme of the X-Men (protecting a world that hates and fears them) was perverted and heightened beyond anyone’s imagination by a classic Avengers villain, solidifying in both the characters’ and readers’ minds that this title is where both major sides of the Marvel Universe will intersect.
Since then, the title has really carved a niche for itself as the flagship title of the line, where anyone and everyone has a chance to pop up in some fashion. With the core team featuring Avengers stalwarts Captain America, Thor, and the Scarlet Witch in addition to famous X-Men like Wolverine, Havok, and Rogue, the history and diversity of the stories is one of the absolute best components of the series. Really since the end of the first arc, the title has teased that something big is coming in the future, and issue #12 helps lay the groundwork for a future catastrophe. Time travel is at the center of the plot, as Kang takes us on a journey to discover the origins of the Apocalypse Twins, while we also get to see a surprise appearance from Banshee. All in all, it’s quite an eventful issue and I truly hope that writer Rick Remender has a cork board above his computer that details all of the crazy time travel shenanigans and inconsistencies so he can always determine what’s happening when.
Artist Salvador Larroca is one of my absolute favorite modern Marvel artists, completely due to his amazing work on Invincible Iron Man with writer Matt Fraction between 2008-2012. Some artists can get in a habit of creating the same face for some of their figures, but Larroca has always been very good at distinguishing characters from each other, and for giving a great deal of easily interpretable emotion on the faces of everyone. While I’m not sure exactly how long he plans on being on this title, whenever Larroca’s name appears on a cover then you know quality artwork awaits your eyes. All the elements lead to a solid comic book. 8/10
Honorable Mentions at Marvel This Week: Wolverine and the X-Men #36, The Trial of the Punisher #1
From Image: Sex Criminals #1 by Matt Fraction (Script) and Chip Zdarsky (Art)
Writer Matt Fraction has been nothing short of a critical powerhouse throughout his comics career. His labor of love, Casanova, often gets cited as one of the best espionage comics in existence, and his work with Marvel superheroes (like Iron Man and especially Hawkeye) often turn heads for the in-depth and intricate narratives he tells, in addition to the ingenious methods he uses to elicit emotion out of his readers. One of the things that really struck me after reading Sex Criminals #1 was the directness of the title to the concept of the series. In the past, Fraction has been a little ambiguous or symbolic in his use of titles in other works, but the title of this series is actually exactly what it’s about: two people have the power to stop time when they have sex. Naturally, this leads them to rob banks.
Fraction begins this story by introducing us to the female lead, and the way in which she…happens upon her ability. It’s an odd but successful mixture of an awkward young woman becoming fascinated at the changes she goes through as she gets older, combined with a sci-fi kookiness that’s too fun not to get enthralled in. Clearly, a young girl discovering this with virtually no knowledge of human sexuality would be shocked and excited by what happened (and Fraction throws in a pretty awesome and perceptive dig at the public school system’s skiddishness in effectively educating young people on the topic), so naturally she’d have some questions. One of the more entertaining scenes in the book sees her try to seek out people that may be able to help, and the results are less than stellar for her, and very entertaining for us.
Artist Chip Zdarsky has kind of a cartoonish quality to the way he renders his characters and environments, but the work is very clean and really fits with the exuberance and overall whimsical tone to much of this issue. There are several very effective emotional beats as well that are effectively illustrated through the eyes of the characters. Zdarsky embellishes the eyes a bit, and this definitely helped to dial me in on what the predominant feeling was for each scene.
Overall, Sex Criminals #1 was a very solid first issue with a very interesting premise, and I’ll be keenly interested to see how it’s explored in the future. Fraction’s done it again! 9/10
Honorable Mentions from Independents This Week: Star Trek Ongoing #25, Saga #14
Hopefully you have a better idea of some of the awesome comics you’ll be able to find in your local shop this week, and we look forward to giving you the same idea next week! If you’re not quite sure where you’d be able to pick up some of these fine releases, be sure to visit the Comic Shop Locator Service to find a local retailer, and then dive on into the expansive and inclusive comic book community. Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you next week!
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