Having witnessed Marvel’s Infinity pulverize DC’s Trinity “War” just a mere 2-weeks ago, we’re back with yet another Face-Off between the Big 2. In one corner we have GHG’s resident DC man, Friar-I-want-to-be-a-Minister Gabe Carrasco, and in the other, the Giant-of-Marvel, thinks-he’s-the-fairest-in-the-land-of-the-nerd, “The Apostle” Lance Paul. This week sees the DCU’s most dastardly players taking over the fallen Justice League in Forever Evil #1 vs. the original creators of teen angst seeing mutant triples as the time continuum comes to a head in X-Men: Battle of the Atom #1. Who will take the prized GHG’s “Buy me” Trophy of the Week? Follow our nerdrant, as we do our mightiest to match-up these two “jumping-on” points to find out just who deserves your well earned George Washingtons!
Minister Gabe!: DC is finally coming out with another great epic Universe-wide storyline, perhaps the best since Blackest Night. And oh, would you look at the writer! Mr. Geoff Johns? What a surprise! This series immediately follows the events of Trinity War, where in the final issue we saw the quickest reveal and death of any comic book character ever, Sea King (Aquaman’s Earth-3 evil counterpart). Behind him, however, was a very alive and very determined Crime Syndicate — Earth-3’s evil version of the Justice League. In Forever Evil #1, we don’t specifically follow the Crime Syndicate through the entire comic, but when we do finally catch up with them, they’re busy opening up every major prison in the world — including Gotham’s Arkham, of course — and reveal to the newly-freed inmates that the Justice League is dead. There’s also a really cool “what the fuck!?”moment with Nightwing towards the end of the comic that I’d rather not spoil, but it’s definitely a shocker. Poor kid was in the wrong place at the wrong time. So Apostle, how’s Marvel gonna compete with that?
“THE Apostle” Lance Paul: I will have to agree with you for once, Minister! After having tread through awful storyline and pointless character arcs in Trinity War, which did not end up Superman vs. Batman vs. Wonder Woman or Justice League vs. Justice League of America vs. Justice League Dark like most expected, I am happy to see DC finally doing something with a crossover event. I just wish the current line-up of JLA was as cool as this new Crime Syndicate. Over here in the House that Stan Built, we have our first issue of the highly-anticipated X-Men crossover event, Battle of the Atom. Brian Michael Bendis (All-New X-Men and Uncanny X-Men scribe) and Frank Cho (Savage Wolverine) put on their unoriginal hats and decide to use the usual mutant mash-up in this crossover blender. We have Sentinels. We have the “Original 6” X-Men. We have the present X-Men (with disparate groups led by Wolverine and Cyclops). We have Future X-men…and more melodrama than a daytime soap.
Gabe!: Thus, you have…problems.
LP: While it pains me to say this, Minister, you and your Forever Evil cronies may have won the true “Battle” this week. Sure, you did have an immensely useless crossover to build up the line-wide storyline, but who’s counting. And, this conclusion is only more shocking to me, because Battle of the Atom does bridge from the phenomenal work Bendis has been doing all year with his dual X-titles, Brian Wood’s phenomenal X-WoMen title, and Jason Aaron’s beastly efforts in Wolverine and the X-Men. After years of messing with the time continuum through one too many crossover events — and the most recent original Jean-lead X-Men returning from the past — the Marvel Universe’s space dimension is finally fracked. Instead of an awesome gathering of all that is mutant, Battle plays more like a cheesy Syfy “who stepped on the Butterfly” episode with all the superhero hokiness halfway through the ish. Typically, Marvel’s time-travel storylines present fresh timelines that makes things all hunky dory. Are you telling me that the almost DC-bad, Age of Ultron had a point? The issue ends with a very roguish “Newest of the New” X-Men coming back to the present. Atom #1 could have used some more action, considering all of the event’s marketing that played up these future mutants — now making up a Three’s Company of sorts — and, yet, we don’t see them till the end.
Gabe!: What?? A way-too convoluted X-Men plot line involving time travel? Just to clarify, are you reviewing a comic from the past, present, or the movie from the future? Either way, as long as you’re on this timeline, you should keep reading Forever Evil. What reminds me of Blackest Night is how well Johns’ balances the characters and their dialogue. Villains are interacting with one another, reacting differently to the new information and changes going on in the world. We aren’t following the same five or six characters throughout the plot; we’re seeing how characters from all rogue galleries are affected by this huge shift in status quo. What I found interesting is Johns’ choice to keep Lex Luthor in the forefront. Since Evil doesn’t seem to have an actual protagonist — and the Justice League is nowhere to be found throughout the entire issue — having Luthor run the narration boxes when all this surprising shit goes down kinda feels right. Comic readers need to see big events like this through the eyes a character, and Luthor makes a far more interesting choice than any Justice Leaguer could have. And, I absolutely loved the irony of Luthor reciting the famous line, “This is a job for Superman.”
LP: I know, I know. Another time-travel story. With so many different eras of X-Men taking place in this one comic, there’s no wonder your ever-lovable Apostle gets dazed-and-confused once again. Now, don’t get me wrong; this first issue still ranks higher then some of the recent DC and Marvel craptastic mash-ups. Atom #1 and it’s follow-up, All-New X-Men #16 (also out this week and written by Bendis), are still very enjoyable reads if you ignore the shattering of the face on your watch. A lot of what has made Bendis’s run on the X-titles so enjoyable is still present in this event, such as the continued expansion of Kitty Pryde as the time-displaced originals mentor. We also have the introduction of a new mutant with creative original powers, and thanks to Frank Cho, a great dialogue-free spread showcasing her brief origin tale. This new mutant, Animax, helps contribute to some needed comic relief, too. Can only “Hope” we see more of her in the future!
Gabe!: Speaking of Hope, where the hell is she? I’ve, too, noticed that both universes have been lacking in the quality crossover department for a while. I like the sound of a new mutant with an original power though! Only time will tell how that goes. Back at good ol’ DC Comics. As much as I loved Evil #1 to death, I still had a few minor gripes about the issue. The New 52 take on the Crime Syndicate is great (Superwoman’s barbed-wire lasso is a nice touch!), but I wouldn’t have minded a little less jaw-jacking coming out of the mouth of the cowardly Power Ring. I get it. It’s supposed to be the opposite of our Hal Jordan’s brave and brash super-ego, but “I don’t like how they’re looking at us”? Come on, dude! A little less sissy Power Ring; a little more condescending, badass Owlman.
LP: The dude from Watchmen? Haha.
Gabe!: Nite-Owl? Kinda… Also, Deathstorm has the exact same name, and skull-faced design as the Black Lantern version of Firestorm, but is missing the “totally radical” over-the-top dialogue that made him so awesome (despite Johns writing both characters?). Did we run out of concept ideas, DC? On that same note, not to speculate or anything, but Deathstorm seems to a care-taker to Power Ring in two different instances in the issue, and speaks to him as if he were his mentor. I would love to see the dynamic between these two explored more in the next few issues. Lastly, what’s up with the kryptonite-addict Ultraman? I love how he basically appoints Grid as his own personal drug dealer “…and tell no one else.” Yeah, keep the whole “our fearless leader has a serious kryptonite snorting problem” thing to yourself, Grid. I’m sure Earth-3’s greatest detective has no clue. Was this happening back home on Earth-3? Was young Clark Kent skipping school to shove glowing green dust up his nose? Pa Kent would be so disappointed.
LP: You know, Minister, the biggest issue I have with DC is all these numerous different Earths. Are we rooting for Earth One Superman with the Meth problem, Earth Two Superman with a small case of superhero HPV or Earth Three Superman with the “I like to sniff Kriptonite” problem? Even more confusion. Least over here in Marvel, we have: early Human Beast, present day used-to-be-a-cat-now-Ape Beast, and Future “Half-Jackalope” Beast. See that? So much easier! Look, early kinks in the armor aside, Battle of the Atom #1 could still end up quite the enjoyable series. We have been dealing with these time-displaced X-kids for the past year, and I’m sure everyone would like to know the game plan. Do we get to keep Jean? Does powder-puff Ice boy stick around? Or how about a human Beast for a little bit?
Gabe!: Does the All-New X-Men issue help shape up this “Atom” at all?
LP: Funny you should bring that up. I sort of wish Moody had me review that issue instead, because that’s when the action really starts to take off. All-New #16 shows off more of the future X-Men with Xavier’s grandson in a sick hoodie, and who doesn’t like Future folks and their hoodies? But, like most Marvel crossovers, the middle issues are usually the most action-packed and fun. If this event wants to stand the test of time like Days of Future Past — a sort of similar event, which makes you wonder with the Bryan Singer flick coming up — Spidey’s Home just needs to work on their pick-up and close. Kinda like you Friar Gabe! Ha! Either way, F.E. #1 is a much better book, but, if you’re a mutant-diehard like myself or the Neophyte, the 3 Bible Battle of the Atom #1 is still worth snatching up. Sorry peeps.
Gabe!: Oh? How’s this for a good close: At 4.5 Bibles, DC Comic’s Forever Evil #1 is a must-grab this week at your local comic book shop! The biggest regret most comic readers usually have is not getting the first few issues of a series that turns out to be worth owning from issue 1, and having to go looking for the leftovers to play plot line catch-up. The art is a breath of fresh air from the (awesome, but) overused Doug Mahnke, Ivan Reis, and superstar Jim Lee. David Finch gives the book a darker feel with heavy shadows on every villain’s wrinkle and scowl. The beautiful 4-page spread in the middle gives avid DC followers a fanboy moment to stop reading and happily name as many villains as they can. This all-too hyped up Villains Month may play better than expected. Now, take a good look at the bad guys!